A Progress Report For All My Readers

Progress Report to All My Readers on My Blog and Social Media: the New Social Gospel Blog and Website Have Gotten Off to a Very Strong Start, Thanks to You All

by Minister Paul J. Bern

 

golgotha_christ_crossHello, everyone, it’s your on-line pastor and virtual evangelist Rev. Paul Bern, and I’m happy to send this overwhelmingly positive report here in the fall of 2020. I am writing this on a newly rebuilt computer that I acquired on Ebay. I bought it without a hard drive; just the box and that’s all. Then, I performed a hard drive transplant from my old computer to my new(er) one, installed a badly needed Windows 10 upgrade, and now, here we are, back and better than ever.





This could not have been accomplished without some dedicated followers who contributed a few small donations to get the 2 websites (I have a second one for my books at authorrevpauljbern.com) up and running, plus the money for the computer. You all have probably noticed that I only rarely ask for money, if ever. Moreover, I draw no salary from this ministry. I have some books on the market, but my monthly income is often very small. So for contingencies, there’s a little ‘donate’ button on the header of the home page for this ministry, at the top center of the page, for anyone who feels led to give.





As far as the future goes, you all have undoubtedly seen my new email campaign’s new look and feel. I have switched from a social-media driven to an email driven marketing platform, and so far it seems to be working fairly well. There’s been no dramatic increase in book sales, but the books are secondary and the ministry is of primary importance as far as my priorities are concerned. And the online ministry is what is growing the fastest. Thank you all so very much for your participation.





Other things coming up in the near future are the release of my 3-book trilogy on the writings of the apostles Luke and Paul (consisting of the books of Luke, Acts of the Apostles, and all of Paul’s letters to the churches, from Romans to Philemon, and everything in between). They will be sold either individually, or as a 3-volume set, and they will be available either from my website, or exclusively from Amazon in either print, digital (Amazon Kindle and Kindle-compatible), or audio (Amazon Audible) formats. There will also be the release of yet another nonfiction book this winter having to do with American politics and the Bible. I’m still in prayer about the right title, but the interior of the book is essentially ready for market. I had wanted to release it this month, before the elections, but there just wasn’t enough time. But, after much prayer, I am at peace with the delayed release of this latest book.





Plus, now that I am finally ready to record video’s and music, thanks to this newly acquired equipment, you will also begin to see a steady flow of video’s from yours truly, so be sure and watch for that. There are already about 15-16 videos already up on You Tube, and there will soon be plenty more where that came from. My weekly commentaries and Bible lessons will continue as always, and I have plans for a monthly newsletter on my book website too. So stick around and watch all this unfold before you all, and I intend to enjoy myself while doing all this as I possibly can. Shalom….

Announcing the New Website for the Social Gospel Worship and Learning Center with Minister Paul J. Bern

Welcome to my new website! Join my mailing list and get weekly commentaries, a Biblical study series, plus merchandise and videos (almost ready) https://shoutout.wix.com/so/46MqclWtE #socialgospel #realBible #Christianblogs #blogsabouttruth #wisdom

The Alleged Resurrection of Jesus Christ From the Grave

The Apostle Paul’s Teaching About the Resurrection (part 2)

(1st Corinthians chapter 15, verses 35-49)

 

When we finished last week’s study, we were focused on the apostle Paul’s teaching to the early church about the true nature of the resurrection of Jesus Christ after being buried in a borrowed tomb for three days. After admonishing them for allowing some man-made teaching about the Resurrection to infiltrate their congregation, Paul then continues with his explanation of the resurrection from a Scriptural viewpoint by answering what is apparently yet another question the congregation had raised regarding the nature of the Resurrection. Paul continues his train of thought beginning at verse 35.

 

“But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as He has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.” (1st Corinthians 15: verses 35-41)

 

I think the main thing Paul the apostle was trying to communicate here is that what kind of bodies we will have after we die is neither here nor there as far as the Word and our Faith are concerned. It is a side-issue in the form of an unhealthy diversion from Truth. Our “bodies” will be spiritual, and there is simply no comparison between spiritual beings and physical ones since they are of a completely different nature. It would be like trying to compare insects to fish (imagine that!). There are many different types of bodies of various kinds, and each has its own beauty in its own way, with each having a special uniqueness that sets it apart from the others, emulating the uniqueness of each person within the whole of humanity.

 

All of us are unique individuals, and by extension sovereign forms of life here on earth and of the heavenly and magnificent kaleidoscope of the universe. And since each was created by God, it becomes a reflection of His glory for all to see and marvel. Paul then goes on to compare all this to the last resurrection in the book of Revelation, where all those who ever lived and died will rise for one final judgment, and each will have to give an account of themselves – how did they live, who did they help, who did they protect, and above all, who did they serve.

 

“So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; if it is sown in dishonor, it will be raised in glory; if it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit’. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have born the likeness of an earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” (1st Corinthians 15: verses 42-49)

 

Paul’s commentary here is pretty clear, and so requires no explanation per-SE. But I think that it would be helpful to those readers less familiar with the Bible if I substituted some 21st century vernacular for the Biblical terms of old. We are born mere mortals, but unwavering belief in Christ makes us immortal, effectively giving us a chance for eternal life. Paul’s second comment applies directly to me and others like me, who started out in life as orphans or as unwanted “throwaway kids”: Although I was “born in dishonor” (with no real family or social standing and no inheritance of any kind), accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior back in 1992 has caused me to be “raised in glory” at His second coming because I did everything in my power to try and mold myself into someone useful for Him, leaving my old life and all the negative stuff that went with it (bad childhoods, crappy marriages, etc.) behind in the past, where it belongs. That is my personal testimony regarding this portion of Scripture, and I exhort and encourage all who read this who started out in life as being disadvantaged in any way to follow my example in this matter as I have tried to follow the example of Christ. Oh yes, you can all do this, and the Bible tells you how.

 

For example, if you are “sown in weakness”, lacking confidence and/or self esteem, belief in Christ will cause you to be “raised in power”, giving you a quiet confidence and internal peace that can only occur when we give our hearts completely over to Jesus Christ, because doing so blocks out all fear. And fear is something we should all be doing without, substituting unconditional faith in Jesus in its place. Paul then goes on by comparing Adam with Christ, with Adam being the first man and Jesus being the last in the form of a “life giving Spirit”, foreshadowing the future spiritual coexistence with God for all eternity in heaven after our physical lives are over. “And just as we have born in the likeness of an earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the Man from heaven.”

 

So, in closing, if there is anyone reading this who has not given their heart over to Christ and wishes to do so, now is as good a time as any. You don’t have to do anything dramatic or fancy, just quietly ask Jesus to come into your heart, for the purpose of Him abiding there forever, in whatever way feels comfortable to you. You can rest assured that once He enters, and He will, He will be there to stay for the duration of your life. In the process, you get a new friend in Jesus, a new dad in the form of God the Father, and millions of new brothers and sisters – as few or as many as you want. So let the peace of Christ, which is beyond human comprehension or intellectual understanding, be within you, replacing all the old negative emotions and traumas that you can now let go of. Because now you have something infinitely better to take their place, the man in the glory, Jesus Christ!

Jesus and the Apostles Preached Against Wealth and Materialism, and I’m Repeating the Message

My Prophecy Against the Rich

(Matt. 22, 37-40; James 1, verses 26-27; James 5, verses 1-6)

by Minister Paul J. Bern

I have been struck lately by the fact that several key issues are being completely ignored in the 2020 US presidential race. One is the urgent need for development of clean energy and a green economy. Another big one that is being brushed aside is climate change and what we can do about it, not to mention what I view as the urgency of that situation. But the biggest issue by far that is being ignored is economic inequality, the fact that 98% of America’s wealth is in the hands of 2% of the population. This situation is much the same throughout the world. It is not something that is peculiar to America at all – far from it.

Both of the candidates running for the top office in the land are in the top 2% who own nearly everything, and who lord it over everybody else. Although I’m not naming names, it seems that these same people who are part of the problem are putting themselves forth as being the engineers of the solution. President Donald Trump is, without question, the best example of this so far. The fact that he’s another billionaire from New York underscores the rampant and often extreme economic inequality that exists in America today. The primary reason that working Americans are being ignored is because there is someone from the top 1/10 of 1% who is occupying the oval office.

According to statistics published by the Economic Policy Institute, and backed up by data from the US Office of Management and Budget, one in every seven persons currently living in the USA lives at or below the poverty line. One in seven sometimes goes hungry, especially children. For over one forth of America’s school children, lunch at school is their only meal of the day. One in seven pregnant women don’t get enough food for themselves and their unborn child. One person in every seven lives in a household with a gross income of under $14,000.00 per year for a single person, allowing only slightly more for children. Poverty devalues the individual in such a way that it can damage the mind or crush the spirit of anyone in its path. The hunger pangs are only what’s on the surface. Poverty is everyone’s problem because when one person is marginalized, then society as a whole becomes marginalized, and this is compounded the more that person becomes devalued. I submit to you all that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image and likeness of the same Almighty God who made us all (see Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-27).

It is our capitalist economic system that is broken, and we are all feeling the effects of it. More and more people are being thrown out of work, often losing their homes, their transportation and their dignity as corporate America continues to re-size downward. The more that American business downsizes, the more people will be affected. Life can sometimes be like a game of musical chairs, and people are starting to notice that the music has stopped playing and there are no chairs left. Many US jobs were out-sourced overseas, and many more American workers that still remain will be replaced with robots and artificial intelligence within 10 or 15 years. The US economy, plus the job market or what’s left of it, is in much worse shape than we’re being told (surprise, surprise). People are banding together by family or by neighborhood to ensure each other’s well-being. In Detroit, in particular, people are beginning to say the only way to survive is by taking care of one another, by recreating our relationships to one another, that we have created a society, over the last period, in particular, where each of us is pursuing self-interest. We have devolved as human beings.

We have been focused on taking care of ourselves for so long that we have forgotten how to take care of each other. Now that hard economic times have hit us right between the eyes, we need to do more to take care of each other. Get plugged into a volunteer program in your community. That would be one good place to start. Do this knowing that by helping to pick others up, you ultimately pick yourself up with it. And do it all knowing that God is watching over you as you go about your business. So, do not put God out of your life but rather keep Him within your heart and allow Him to dwell there. That is when you will know for sure that you are on the right track.

Jesus summed this up perfectly when He defined the two greatest commandments, “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22, verses 37-40) The apostle James similarly wrote, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James chapter 1, verses 26-27)

That’s not all the apostle James had to say about the loving the world as opposed to loving God. He connected it with the same mass inequality that we see today when he wrote, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men who were not opposing you.” (James chapter 5, verses 1-6)

Your wealth has lost its value! Your investments have divested themselves of their own worth! Not just their net worth either. Not only have you lost all your interest, you have lost your principal as well! Your entire portfolio is forfeit! Total disaster will overtake all of you who put yourselves into your careers and climbed the corporate ladder to the exclusion of everything and everyone else! In so doing, you have fallen into idolatry. ‘Idolatry, you ask? But how?’ By prioritizing your careers over your worship, and by valuing your material goods over the supreme sacrifice Christ made for you on the cross. Make no mistake about it, the shed blood of Jesus Christ is more valuable than anything else on the planet – period! The biggest mansion, the most expensive yacht, the fastest car or truck and the trendiest clothes and night clubs are rubbish when compared to the purity of Christ. Besides Him stands no other! Jesus stands alone, heads above the rest!

Speaking of Jesus, he had lots to say about rich people. But, one of His most famous comments comes from the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew chapter 6, verses 19-21) The more attached we become to our material stuff, the farther away we get from God. But it’s about more than just stuff. We can become more attached to our spouse or significant other, to our children, to our careers, and even to recreational activities like water skiing, snow boarding, our boats and motorcycles, or fitness training. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above. But we must always put our personal relationship with Christ first and foremost, because it’s invariably the most important. I cannot overemphasize this one main point!

Both of the candidates running for the top office in the land are in the top 2% who own nearly everything, and who lord it over everybody else. Although I’m not naming names, it seems that these same people who are part of the problem are putting themselves forth as being the engineers of the solution. President Donald Trump is, without question, the best example of this so far. The fact that he’s another billionaire from New York underscores the rampant and often extreme economic inequality that exists in America today. The primary reason that working Americans are being ignored is because there is someone from the top 1/10 of 1% who is occupying the oval office.

According to statistics published by the Economic Policy Institute, and backed up by data from the US Office of Management and Budget, one in every seven persons currently living in the USA lives at or below the poverty line. One in seven sometimes goes hungry, especially children. For over one forth of America’s school children, lunch at school is their only meal of the day. One in seven pregnant women don’t get enough food for themselves and their unborn child. One person in every seven lives in a household with a gross income of under $14,000.00 per year for a single person, allowing only slightly more for children. Poverty devalues the individual in such a way that it can damage the mind or crush the spirit of anyone in its path. The hunger pangs are only what’s on the surface. Poverty is everyone’s problem because when one person is marginalized, then society as a whole becomes marginalized, and this is compounded the more that person becomes devalued. I submit to you all that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image and likeness of the same Almighty God who made us all (see Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-27).

It is our capitalist economic system that is broken, and we are all feeling the effects of it. More and more people are being thrown out of work, often losing their homes, their transportation and their dignity as corporate America continues to re-size downward. The more that American business downsizes, the more people will be affected. Life can sometimes be like a game of musical chairs, and people are starting to notice that the music has stopped playing and there are no chairs left. Many US jobs were out-sourced overseas, and many more American workers that still remain will be replaced with robots and artificial intelligence within 10 or 15 years. The US economy, plus the job market or what’s left of it, is in much worse shape than we’re being told (surprise, surprise). People are banding together by family or by neighborhood to ensure each other’s well-being. In Detroit, in particular, people are beginning to say the only way to survive is by taking care of one another, by recreating our relationships to one another, that we have created a society, over the last period, in particular, where each of us is pursuing self-interest. We have devolved as human beings.

We have been focused on taking care of ourselves for so long that we have forgotten how to take care of each other. Now that hard economic times have hit us right between the eyes, we need to do more to take care of each other. Get plugged into a volunteer program in your community. That would be one good place to start. Do this knowing that by helping to pick others up, you ultimately pick yourself up with it. And do it all knowing that God is watching over you as you go about your business. So, do not put God out of your life but rather keep Him within your heart and allow Him to dwell there. That is when you will know for sure that you are on the right track.

Jesus summed this up perfectly when He defined the two greatest commandments, “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22, verses 37-40) The apostle James similarly wrote, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James chapter 1, verses 26-27)

That’s not all the apostle James had to say about the loving the world as opposed to loving God. He connected it with the same mass inequality that we see today when he wrote, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men who were not opposing you.” (James chapter 5, verses 1-6)

Your wealth has lost its value! Your investments have divested themselves of their own worth! Not just their net worth either. Not only have you lost all your interest, you have lost your principal as well! Your entire portfolio is forfeit! Total disaster will overtake all of you who put yourselves into your careers and climbed the corporate ladder to the exclusion of everything and everyone else! In so doing, you have fallen into idolatry. ‘Idolatry, you ask? But how?’ By prioritizing your careers over your worship, and by valuing your material goods over the supreme sacrifice Christ made for you on the cross. Make no mistake about it, the shed blood of Jesus Christ is more valuable than anything else on the planet – period! The biggest mansion, the most expensive yacht, the fastest car or truck and the trendiest clothes and night clubs are rubbish when compared to the purity of Christ. Besides Him stands no other! Jesus stands alone, heads above the rest!

Speaking of Jesus, he had lots to say about rich people. But, one of His most famous comments comes from the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew chapter 6, verses 19-21) The more attached we become to our material stuff, the farther away we get from God. But it’s about more than just stuff. We can become more attached to our spouse or significant other, to our children, to our careers, and even to recreational activities like water skiing, snow boarding, our boats and motorcycles, or fitness training. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above. But we must always put our personal relationship with Christ first and foremost, because it’s invariably the most important. I cannot overemphasize this one main point!

In closing, the fact that Donald Trump may still be considered the front-runner in the early part of the 2020 presidential race to the White House says a lot about the state of our country. The most eligible candidate, if the Republicans get their way, would be President Trump, the one with the most money. But Joe Biden has also raised very large amounts of cash, even to the point where he and Trump are currently in a dead heat. So, the bottom line here is that the two presidential candidates in the 2020 election are both top 2%’rs who profess to have the solutions to the plight of the remaining 98% of us, when it’s already an established fact that no matter who wins, the winner is beholden to the mega rich who bought the election in the first place. Capitalism – and the materialistic, consumer lifestyle that goes along with it – has conquered the world without firing a single shot. In so doing, the top 2% are in charge of, and in many cases own, just about everything, right down to the land every building is built upon. But when Jesus returns, all power and authority will be given to Him on earth as it is in heaven, and the rich will find themselves destitute.

The Forced Resignation of Jerry Falwell, Jr. Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg When It Comes to Malfeasance In the Ministry

My Prophecy Against Phony Churches

and Their False Teachings

by Minister Paul J. Bern

This past week on the Lame Stream Media, I noticed that Jerry Falwell, Jr., son of the TV evangelist Jerry Falwell, was forced to resign his position as head of Liberty University in South Carolina after evidently getting caught up in a bisexual love triangle with his wife and another younger man. You probably know by now that this little incident is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corruption in the ministry in modern Christian churches of today. Having written a Sunday message about financial corruption in government and the churches just a few months ago, I will skip over that for now. Today, I want to alert everyone who reads this to be aware of certain other teachings that are being taught in some churches as being factual and prophetic when in fact they are neither. These three erroneous teachings, in no particular order, are the ‘prosperity gospel’, the “pre-tribulation rapture”, and tithing”. Allow me a little of your time to sort through these because this is stuff that people, be they Christian or otherwise, need to be made aware of. Otherwise one may find themselves on the wrong road, forcing them to back-track. I cannot stand idly by and allow this to occur, so here we go.

First and foremost, in the “prosperity gospel”, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite – God uses the believer. Word of Faith, or ‘prosperity theology’, sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God’s will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them. The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1st Timothy 6:10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20), and teaching His disciples to do the same. Let’s also not forget that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas, and we all know what happened to him.

James chapter 4, verses 13-15 clearly contradicts the prosperity gospel: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive. Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

The second of the 3 false teachings is the so-called “pre-tribulation rapture”, which is based on the rapture of the Church as written in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, verses 15-18, among other places. In this passage of Scripture, the Lord returns for His people, his Church, and for His Bride, which are one and the same. The ‘rapture’, as it’s called, coincides with the Great Tribulation as foretold in the books of Revelation, Daniel, Zechariah and others in the old and new testaments. The reign of the Antichrist, as foretold in Daniel chapter 12, will last for exactly three and a half years.

But in the very next sentence it says that prior to that, there will be a period of 1,335 days (about 3.6 years) of turmoil upon the earth, with wars, plagues, pestilences and much death being inflicted on humankind. It is this period of time that signifies the first part of the Great Tribulation (as prophesied in Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 21), that is in question by these “pre-tribulation” believers. The “pre-tribulation” rapture simply says that all followers of Christ will be taken up at the very beginning of the combined 7-year tribulation period (that is, the 1,335 days plus the 3.5-year reign of the Antichrist just before Jesus’ return).

But this implies that Christians – particularly American Christians – will (allegedly) not have to endure any of the Great Tribulation period. Brothers and sisters, nothing could be further from the truth! The Bible clearly states in Revelation 13, verses 6-7, “He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander His name and His dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” “He” in this passage refers to the Antichrist, and he clearly will wage war against Christianity – and the Antichrist will win up until his end comes, which it most certainly will.

Any Christian – including Catholic, Protestant and Jewish Christians – who think they will escape persecution in the terrible times soon to come is ill-informed and dangerously naive. If any US resident who is in the top 2% income bracket is reading this thinks they can stay safely barricaded in their gated and walled communities during the time of the Great Tribulation – which according to prophecy will likely begin any time now – I’m sorry but you are all sadly mistaken. I realize I’m not going to be winning any popularity contests (especially here in the US) for making that statement, but it is in your own best interests that the truth be told.

The rule of the Antichrist will be global, meaning he’ll be running the North American continent just like everywhere else. And yes indeed, some American Christians are going to wind up getting killed for refusing to worship the image of the Antichrist or take his mark. I fully expect to be one of these fortunate individuals. Yes, I wrote “fortunate” out of due deference to the apostle James, who wrote: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promise to those who love him.” (James chapter 1 verse 12) Jesus himself said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for their righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5, verses 11-12) So I tell you boldly that we are not to fear persecution when it comes, and it is surely coming! Instead, the Bible commands us to embrace it.

The last thing I need to mention here is ‘titheing’. The word ‘titheing’ has its roots all the way back in the Old Testament to the books of Moses, in this case to Leviticus – it can also be found elsewhere too, but for the sake of brevity let me side-step that for now. The definition of titheing is the giving of 10% of one’s net worth, or in ancient times one’s crops or livestock, to the Lord. This had two purposes. The first and most important was as an atonement for sin, and the second was as a donation towards the upkeep of the Temple in Jerusalem as well as to the High Priests for their sustenance. But that was the Old Law, or Law of Moses as it is still called in synagogues to this very day. Jesus Christ was the final sacrifice which fulfilled Levitical law, which says there must be shedding of blood for our sins. Sorry if that seems too graphic for some people, but I didn’t write any part of the Bible, I’m only a messenger.

But on Resurrection Sunday when Jesus rose from the grave to live forever and to be seated eternally at his Father’s right hand, the New Testament, or law of Christ, not only supplanted but entirely replaced the Law of Moses. A new deal took effect – a fresh covenant. Jesus Christ is the new sacrifice, He is the new covenant and the fulfillment of the old one – all at the same time. Only Jesus can do that. What does the Bible tell us about this? “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who are baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3, verses 26-29)

OK, so if we are all heirs due to the sacrifice of Christ, then we are also all equals, am I right? At the very least, we would be Jewish by adoption in the eyes of God, but not so in the eyes of men. So, it no longer matters how much we put into the offering basket, because Jesus has paid the price for us all. This teaching about tithing is cut from the same cloth as the ‘pre-tribulation rapture’ and the ‘prosperity gospel’. Virtually all of the modern churches are teaching the Old Testament concept of tithing, the giving of 10% of the profits, or of one’s income, for the support of the Temple at Jerusalem and all the Levitical priests.

Today in most churches, its members are still expected to “tithe” 10% of their income because the pastors haven’t read their Bibles in so long they have forgotten what’s in it. Sacrifice can also be done in far more ways than merely giving money. The apostle Paul wrote something that I think is very timely concerning the modern Christian church and its “teachings” about titheing. “If the willingness is there”, Paul wrote, “the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” And again it is written, “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth’, he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (Luke 21, verses 1-4)

Notice that this is exactly the opposite of what most of the modern evangelical/Christian churches are teaching, especially those with a strong television presence. Instead of sending our money to the TV evangelists, donate it to your own churches where you congregate, or to the charity of your choice. Give what you can to others first, and to the church second, according to your ability. “I desire mercy”, Jesus said, “not sacrifice”. The size of your offering does not matter. Real Christians will not judge your offering. Only the bogus ones will size you up. The one true God won’t judge your offering either.

Of Right Wing Nuts, Illiterate Bible Scholars, and What the Real Bible Actually Says

The ‘Christian Right’ Would Disagree With Me If I Told Them What Was Really In the Bible

by Minister Paul J. Bern

 

I met someone this past week who insisted that the King James Bible is the only legitimate version available. As far as he was concerned, all other Bible versions currently in print, including my New International Version and my New Living Translation Bible, were “not from God”. I don’t care to elaborate on this much except to say that I don’t agree with that at all. But I’m using this example to make the point that there are a lot of “conservative” right-wing nuts like that guy who have some views about the Bible and Christianity that are totally contrary to the Scriptures. If indeed these people’s beliefs are inconsistent with Scripture, then the question becomes – why do religious extremists on the right (and Christianity has them just like the Muslims do) get away with proclaiming what Jesus would or wouldn’t support (such as endless wars)?

 

 

The answer is simple: Conservatives have not read the Bible. Of the ones who do, an overwhelming number of “Christians” are astonishingly illiterate when it comes to understanding the Bible. On hot-button social issues, from same-sex marriage to abortion, Biblical passages are invoked without any real understanding of the context or true meaning. What America needs is Christianity without the dogma, and faith without the spiritual pollution of conservative politics. Nondenominational Christianity with the commandments of Jesus Christ being first and foremost, viewed from a liberal or leftist perspective, would be far closer to what Jesus originally taught than the ultra-conservative slant being espoused all over the right-wing media today. That’s why it’s vital as we live in these last days to help the helpless whenever possible. In so doing, we become ambassadors for Christ while living our lives in complete accordance with God’s will.

 

 

It’s surprising how little Christians know of what is still the world’s most popular book. The political Right have successfully re-branded liberals who gave away free health care, higher education, and were in favor of redistributing wealth into a white-skinned-only, trickle-down, union-busting conservatives. So how much do secular Americans know of the Book that one-third of the country believes to be literally true (like I do)? Surveys that I pulled up on the Internet show that 60 percent of Christians can’t name more than five of the Ten Commandments; 12 percent of adults think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife; and nearly 50 percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple. A 2013 Gallup poll shows 50 percent of Americans can’t name the first book of the Bible, while roughly 82 percent believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a biblical verse.

 

 

So, if Americans get an ‘F’ in the basic fundamentals of the Bible, what hope do they have in knowing what Jesus would say about labor unions, taxes on the rich, universal health care, and food stamps? It becomes easy to spread a lie when no one knows what the truth is. That’s why the Right has successfully re-branded liberals who gave away free healthcare and were pro-redistributing wealth into a white-skinned-only, trickle-down, union-busting conservative.

 

 

The truth, whether conservatives like it or not, is not only that Jesus was a meek and mild liberal Jew who spoke softly in parables and metaphors – except when He threw the money changers out of the Temple in Matthew 21, verses 12-13 – but when one reads down a couple more chapters in any of the 4 Gospels, it was the religious conservatives who had Jesus killed. The fact that He rose again on the morning of the third day tells us everything we need to know about Jesus’ view of so-called “conservatives”. The American conservative establishment, however, have morphed Jesus into a muscular, masculine he-man warrior, in much the same way the Nazis did with their “Aryan nation”, as a means of combating “terrorism”, which has become a synonym for American world domination.

 

 

Knowing the Bible requires a contextual understanding of authorship, history and interpretation. For instance, when Republicans were justifying their cuts to the food stamp program back in 2013, they quoted the 2nd book of Thessalonians: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” One poll showed that more than 90 percent of Christians believe this New Testament quote is attributed to Jesus. It’s not! This was taken from a letter written by the apostle Paul to his church in Thessalonica back in the 1st century AD. Paul wrote to this specific congregation to remind them that there were too many people in the congregation that were freeloading off that church. Only a few were doing all the work and making the majority of the financial contributions, and everybody else was just hanging around for the free food. What Paul did say is that anyone too lazy to contribute anything shouldn’t expect anything at dinner time, and that’s just common sense.

 

 

What often comes as a surprise to your average Sunday wine-and-cracker Christian is the New Testament did not fall from the sky the day Jesus ascended to Heaven. The New Testament is a collection of writings, 27 in total, of which 12 are credited to the authorship of the apostle Paul, four to the Gospels (Luke also wrote Acts), and the balance with the remaining apostles. What we do know about Jesus, at least according to the respective gospels, is that Jesus’ sentiments closely echoed the social and economic policies of the political left in the 21st century. The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount read like the mission statement for the ministry: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is kingdom of heaven,” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” and, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called ‘Sons of the living God’.” Jesus also said, “Judge not, or else you shall be judged, for you who pass judgment do the same things yourselves”, and “Sell what you have and give it to the poor” (I’m paraphrasing here). So, when Republicans accused president Obama of being a Black socialist who wants to redistribute the wealth, they were actually thinking of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Biblical illiteracy is what has allowed political conservatives to get away with shaping Jesus into their image. That’s why politicians on the right can get away with saying ‘the Lord commands’ that our healthcare, prisons, schools, retirement, transport, and all the rest should be run by corporations for profit. When the Christian Right believes it’s channeling Jesus when they say ‘it’s immoral for government to tax billionaires to help pay for healthcare, education and the poor’, they’re actually channeling atheism. When Bill O’Reilly claimed the poor are immoral and lazy, that’s not Jesus, it’s atheism! The price this country has paid for Biblical illiteracy is measured by how far we’ve moved toward atheism’s “utopia”. In the past three decades.

 

 

We’ve slashed taxes on corporations and the wealthy, destroyed labor unions, deregulated financial markets, eroded public safety nets, and committed to one globalist corporate free-trade agreement after another. With the far-right, Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Koch brothers’ Citizens United, the flow of billions of dollars from anonymous donors to the most reliable voting bloc of the Republican Party — the Christian Right — will continue to perpetuate the Biblical incompatible, anti-government, pro-deregulation-of-business, anti-healthcare-for-all American version of Christianity, and I for one have had more than enough.

The Only Man Who Ever Lived Who Remains Unchanged Is the Man of Glory, Jesus Christ

Of Changes In Values Across the Spans of Time, and How Jesus Remains Constant Through It All

(1st Corinthians chapter 11, verses 1-16)

Jesus-is-my-rock

For this week’s Biblical teaching series on the writings of the apostles Luke and Paul, I will be continuing to focus on the promotion of Jesus Christ and his agenda, which is to reach out across the Web and help save souls through this little on-line church. I am personally bound and determined to get the message of eternal salvation of the souls of those persons on the Internet who would normally not be found in traditional churches or their respective denominations. We all have so little time left before His return, which is why the message I am passing along today has such urgency.

The world as we have known it is dying from rampant pollution, pointless wars that have no end, overpopulation, potentially catastrophic climate change, and the overuse and misallocation of natural resources. And so it is time for all of us to get our minds off all the negative forces that make up our dying world, and to begin to focus on and engage with the forces of good. In so doing, the best way to begin to do this is to focus our hearts and minds on Jesus Christ, whose Spirit causes us to rise up and stand against the forces of evil. That brings me to the topic of 1st Corinthians chapter 11, which delves into what is fitting and proper in the course of worshiping Christ, who is the world’s only remaining Hope. This is the first of a 2 part series.

I’m going to skim through the first 13 verses of chapter 11 without much comment due to some rather antiquated concepts about dress and personal grooming taught from a 1st century perspective. The most important is verse 1, which simply says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”, and this is timeless advice any way you look at it. We learn to follow the example of Christ by reading his Word and putting it into practice, and this should be an ongoing practice for everyone because faith in Jesus is serious business, especially in a world where we are surrounded by evil and deceit.

Paul then writes in verse 3, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God”. Although these values were very relevant when the apostle Paul first wrote them 2,000 years ago, the part that says, “the head of every woman is man” is no longer true in today’s world. Modern values dictate that men and women are equals and that there is parity between the two genders. Such thinking as this would have been considered heretical in Paul’s time, and anyone convicted of heresy always got the death penalty.

I grew up in a household where the father totally dominated everything and everybody else, both inside and outside the marriage and the family. The end result was a dysfunctional family that was ruled by fear and intimidation instead of by love and unity as it should have been. In short, the relationship between the father and the other family members was abusive. Abusiveness and domestic violence such as what I experienced when I was growing up simply have no place in any household, and that is doubly true for a Christian household, regardless of church membership or denomination. And so I have seen this precept misused by “religious” people over and over again (“spare the rod, spoil the child”).

Jesus does not rule over us by domination and control, He does so out of love, grace and mercy (“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”). The remainder of these first 13 verses is where Paul the apostle writes, mainly from his own viewpoint, about the type of dress right down to the length and style of the believer’s hair. Very seldom will you see me disagree with anything in the Bible, but this is one of those rare exceptions. Paul even got into whether or not people should cover their heads during prayers (as if that still matters).

It is common to see me in church wearing casual clothes such as cargo shorts in the summer (it gets plenty hot in the summer here in Atlanta where I live) or jeans in the winter. I find it most unfortunate that some churches use these verses in 1st Corinthians 11 as an excuse to dress up like they are going to a fashion show instead of to a house of worship. I have been in churches where men and women alike were wearing literally thousands of dollars in high-end clothing and jewelry, and these types of people invariably sneer at those who can’t afford to dress as they do. Remember what Jesus said when he was teaching in the temple at Jerusalem, and I paraphrase: ‘it matters a lot more what is on the inside of a believer than what is on the outside.’ External appearances don’t count for very much in the Church of the last days before His return. God is far more interested in the state of our souls than in the state of our wardrobe.

The apostle Paul seems to at least attempt to clarify this when he wrote in verses 11 and 12, “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” In the following verse Paul further clarifies, 13) Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14) Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15) but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16) If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

It is difficult to tell whether Paul is offering this as a continuation of his train of thought in the previous verses, or that it is a caveat for the same. Customs for dress and personal care are radically different today than they were back in the First Century. In today’s world, there is far more freedom of expression than there was back then. Verse 16 is particularly telling with respect to the mores and customs of centuries ago. Personally, I do not believe that long-haired men or short haired women will get sent to hell for their hairstyles any more than I believe people who don’t listen to religious music will be condemned to hell for their musical tastes.

It is at this point where we are near the middle of this week’s lesson, that I think would be a good place to pause for the sake of brevity. First Corinthians chapter 11 has 34 verses in it, so there is no way I can do justice to this chapter by cramming it all into one lesson. So everyone please be sure and return at this time next week for Part 2 of this installment of the Social Gospel Learning Series. Until then, everyone take good care.

We Are the 99% and Occupy Wall St. Are Predecessors to Black Lives Matter: Even Jesus Had Something to Say About It

What God Would Say About Inequality Compared to Black Lives Matter and the ‘Occupy’, ‘We Are The 99%’, and the Arab Spring Movements

by Minister Paul J. Bern

already_dead

I have been watching the evening news on wireless TV and on the Internet from the alternative media (I don’t waste my time or money with cable TV) with much admiration lately as the political turmoil unfolds in street demonstrations all over the US over the deaths of unarmed Black men and teenagers. At worst, they had committed misdemeanor offenses, but many of them have been hapless but innocent victims of law enforcement. Just like the Arab Spring in 2011 in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, with a civil war still winding down in Syria while more threatens to break out in Iraq, all the people are taking to the streets for justice, and for their inalienable human rights and freedoms. It stirs my heart without end to see all those throngs of people united in one purpose, coming up against an overwhelming established authority, and all without any weapons.

 

 

It also bears a strong resemblance to Black Lives Matter, “Occupy Wall St.”, and “We Are the 99%” movements here in America and abroad, of which I have personally been a part. I have personally self-published two books about these movements, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto (4th edition)”, and “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome”, which you can buy at a huge discount from my website listed in the link above (or, just click here). All of these ongoing revolutions were accomplished without any more than minimal bloodshed (excluding Syria and Gaza), and were at least partly peaceful. Of course, this is excluding all the looters and vandals elsewhere, as well as those who start fires, whose activities I will never endorse. It is nonetheless very good that so many people were set free by rising up against established abusive authoritarians and taking charge of our own destinies. This is how real change is brought about and this is how (mostly) peaceful revolution is brought forth by those persons bold enough to step up and retake the freedom that is rightfully theirs.

 

 

Watching those events unfolding on live TV caused me to compare what was happening in the US and all those other places in North Africa and the Middle East beginning 9 years ago to what had happened during the American Revolution during the formation of the original colonies. The main difference between then and now is that modern-day Arab and American protesters didn’t have guns – and didn’t need them, as it turned out. This evokes the memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the ultimate peaceful campaigner for civil rights. His advocacy of non-violent social change and the civil rights legacy that he left behind are irreplaceable. And I also believe that same legacy is based on that of Moses, who so famously told the Egyptian Pharaoh to “let my people go”. Soon, a time will be coming for the entire world, from the most developed countries on down to the poorest, when the shackles of debt will be forever broken, and when all the people of the world will be freed from the scourge of usurious interest that is charged on loans. Soon all of us will be free from a debt-based economy as capitalism dies of old age, as we begin to move toward a resource-based economy. But that is a separate topic for another time.

 

 

The same thing has since happened in America, as you all know, with the blossoming of the Black Lives Matter movement. This loosely organized political federation is gradually congealing into something more, growing into something far more substantial. The economic state of the populations of Egypt and America are similar, with high unemployment, rampant homelessness and crime. The inordinate concentration of wealth towards the top 1-2 percent, combined with its use as a weapon to pollute and corrupt government and politics, runs rampant in both countries. America is most certainly ripe for revolution, given the state of the middle and working classes in this country, the lack of decent jobs, the lack of affordable housing, and the rising cost of food.

 

 

The Black Lives Matter movement may well be the vehicle for a 2nd American Revolution. I also think this vehicle will be accelerated by the fact that America is rapidly headed for third world status as a country when it comes to the standard of living of the blue and white collar classes, otherwise known as “we the people” in the Preamble to the Constitution. When this is combined with the unfair, unethical concentration of wealth throughout the world then it becomes tantamount to an undeclared economic civil war. There can be no doubt that we are going to have to unite together as a people to stop this great robbery that is happening right up in our faces each and every day, so we can take back our country. The longer we wait to do so, the more difficult it will become.

 

Actually, the far-left and the far-right have more in common then they would want to admit. Both sides are absolute in their ideology and uncompromising in their politics. This is like a poison flowing through the body politic of America and it will cripple our democracy unless each of us acts as an antidote. Otherwise this kind of childish selfishness and narrow-minded stereotyping threatens to tear the fabric of America apart.

 

 

What is particularly troubling in today’s political environment – with Black Lives Matter being just the tip of the iceberg – is the level of anger and even outright hatred that is being displayed by all sides. I have been trying to figure out the source of this anger and hatred for some time now. Some of today’s rabid emotionalism can be traced to old-fashioned racism, but I think for many people it goes much deeper than that. It would appear that this anger and hatefulness is really a response to fear. Fear is an emotion we don’t like in ourselves and anger is a way of covering up our fears with an emotion that makes us feel more powerful.

 

 

We now live in a world where society, technology, the economy and demographics are rapidly changing and this change is deeply threatening to many people. Such people have not yet discovered the simple key to letting go of their fear, which is to believe and have faith that God is in charge of everything, combined with understanding that if we will just let go and let God, He will cause all things to work out well, as it is written, “All things work to the glory of God for those who love Him”. God is always there for you, as it is written and was uttered by Jesus himself, “Never will I leave you, and never will I forsake you.” So He isn’t going to let anything happen to you, and it would be to the benefit of anyone reading these words to rest assured about this and stop worrying. (For additional perspective on what Jesus said about worrying, read Matthew chapter six. Here is a nice little portion of it:

 

 

25) Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26) Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27) Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28) And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29) Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30) If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31) So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32) For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6, verses 25-34)

 

 

If we want American democracy to survive, we need to grow up and wise up. We need to stop projecting our fears onto our fellow citizens, and we need to let go of our own childhood fears and insecurities. We need to stop yelling at each other and learn to start listening to each other. We need to replace competition with cooperation, and we need to first learn self-respect as an important step toward acquiring mutual respect. Only when these things have been done can a new economic system truly be born, one based on resourcefulness and cooperation instead of outmoded concepts like competition and financial gain. We need to accept the reality of change and begin working together to find productive ways of dealing with a world that is constantly changing. Besides, the fact is that America was built upon compromise. Our great experiment in democracy is founded upon the belief that each issue has many sides and that the most workable solution comes from a compromise that blends together many disparate views. Compromise is the glue that holds America together.

 

 

Change is inevitable. It’s the way the universe is constructed. The fact that time exists means that change must occur. Rather than fear change, we need to make it work for our benefit. Rather than trying to go back to the past, we need to work together to create a better future. In so doing we emulate God, because He too only cares about our future, not our past. If the American experiment that has been ongoing since the 18th century is going to grow and mature for the rest of the 21st, ‘we the people’ will also have to grow and mature. We have to put our irrational fears behind us and start working together as mature adults in order to deal successfully with the challenges that change presents to us. Besides, change is what keeps us on our toes.

 

 

God allows change to happen to us to help grow us into something more than we were before. It’s time to stop the name-calling and to start having rational discussions about the issues before us. Most important of all, it’s time for the police to put all their military hardware in storage and go back to being officers of the peace and detectives of various kinds. It’s time to turn away from those in the media on cable TV, and on talk radio, and on the Internet who feed our fears and fuel our hatreds like pouring gasoline on a lighted backyard grill. It’s time to start respecting each other as fellow Americans. Each of us must stand up for a fundamental American truth – united we stand, divided we fall.

 

 

 

Poverty, Inequality and the Pandemic: Making the Case For a Bottom-Up Solution Instead of One From the Top Down

Poverty and Inequality Continue to Be Everybody’s Problem, and Everybody Is Part of the Solution

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

poverty is un-American This week, as I continue to follow the progress and calculate the damage to the world’s economy caused by the Corona virus pandemic, I find myself concerned – but not afraid – about its unfolding outcome. In about 2 more weeks, the overall death toll is projected to exceed the 100,000 mark. Parents have lost children and children their parents, and those who remain behind have their hearts, minds and souls permanently scarred by their experiences. But the biggest issue by far that will have lasting repercussions is the aggravation of the preexisting scourge of economic inequality. Workers from all walks of life are watching helplessly as their loved ones, not to mention their jobs and savings, slip away. This situation is much the same throughout the world.

 

 

According to statistics published by the Economic Policy Institute, and backed up by the CDC, one in every seven persons currently living in the USA lives at or below the poverty line. One in seven sometimes goes hungry, especially children. For over one forth of America’s school children, lunch at school is their only meal of the day. One in seven pregnant women don’t get enough food for themselves and their unborn child. One person in every seven lives in a household with a gross income of under $14,000.00 per year for a single person, allowing only slightly more for children. Poverty devalues the individual in such a way that it can damage the mind or crush the spirit of anyone in its path. The hunger pangs are only what’s on the surface. Poverty and economic inequality are everyone’s problem because when one person is marginalized, then society as a whole becomes marginalized. I submit to you that we are all made in the image and likeness of the same Almighty God (see Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-28).

 

 

It is our capitalist economic system that is broken, and we are all feeling the effects of it. More and more people are being thrown out of work, often losing their homes, their transportation and their dignity as corporate America continues to re-size downward. The more that American business downsizes, the more people will be affected. Life can sometimes be like a game of musical chairs, and people are starting to notice that the music has stopped playing and there are no chairs left. Many of our jobs are being out-sourced overseas, and many more that still remain will be replaced with robots and artificial intelligence within 10 or 15 more years. The US economy, plus the job market or what’s left of it, is in much worse shape than we’re being told (surprise, surprise). People are banding together by family or by neighborhood to ensure each other’s well-being. People are beginning to see the only way to survive is by taking care of one another, and by renewing our relationships to each other. Contrast this with today’s economy, where we have created a society where each of us is pursuing only our self-interest. We have devolved as human beings by what I see is an enforced kind of inequality.

 

 

We have been focused on taking care of ourselves for so long that we have forgotten how to take care of each other. Now that hard economic times have hit us right between the eyes, we need to do more to take care of each other so we can get our own needs met. Let’s all get plugged into volunteer programs in our communities. That would be one good place to start. Do this knowing that by helping to pick others up, you ultimately pick yourself up too. And do it all knowing that God is watching over us as we go about our daily business. So, do not put God out of your life because of misfortune, but rather keep him within your heart and allow him to dwell there. That is when you will know for sure that you are on the right track.

 

 

Jesus summed this up perfectly when He defined the two greatest commandments, “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22, verses 37-40) The apostle James similarly wrote, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is made worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James chapter 1, verses 26-27)

 

 

That’s not all the apostle James had to say about the loving the world as opposed to loving God. He connected it with the same mass inequality that we see today when he wrote, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men who were not opposing you.” (James chapter 5, verses 1-6)

 

 

Your wealth has lost its value. Your investments have divested themselves of their own worth. Not just their net worth either. Not only have you lost all your interest, you have lost the principal as well. Your entire portfolio is decimated. Total disaster will overtake all of you who put yourselves into your careers and climbed the corporate ladder to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. In so doing, you have fallen into idolatry. Idolatry, you ask? But how? By prioritizing your careers over your worship, and by valuing your material goods over the supreme sacrifice Christ made for you on the cross. Make no mistake about it, the shed blood of Jesus Christ is more valuable than anything else on the planet – period! The biggest mansion, the most expensive yacht, the fastest car or truck and the trendiest clothes and night clubs are rubbish when compared to the purity of Christ. Besides Him stands no other. Jesus stands alone, heads above the rest.

 

 

Speaking of Jesus, He had lots to say about rich people. But, one of His most famous comments comes from the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew chapter 6, verses 19-21) The more attached we become to our material stuff, the farther away we get from God. But it’s more than just stuff. We can become more attached to our spouse or significant other, to our children, to our careers, and even to recreational activities like water skiing, snow boarding, our boats and motorcycles, or fitness training. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above. But we must always put our personal relationship with Christ first because it’s invariably the most important. I cannot overemphasize this one main point!

 

 

In closing, the fact that there are over 20 million people in the US alone who have lost their careers and the businesses they owned says a lot about the real state of our country. The bottom line, then, is that the only ones not affected by this pandemic are in the top 1% of US households. Many rich people profess to have the solutions to the plight of the remaining 99% of us. When it comes to the presidential election this fall, it’s already an established fact that no matter who wins, the winner is beholden to the mega rich who bought the election in the first place. Capitalism – and the materialistic consumer lifestyle that goes along with it – has conquered the world without firing a single shot. In so doing, the top 1% are in charge of, and in many cases own, just about everything, right down to the land every building is built upon. But when Jesus returns, all power and authority will be given to Him on earth as it is in heaven, and the rich will be destitute. That’s what I would call poetic justice.

During a Time When We Are Expected to Mind Our “Social Distancing”, the Corona-virus Is Bringing an Army of Volunteers Closer Together. Ironic, Isn’t It?

Taking Care Of One Another During the Pandemic Has Been Teaching Many People the Real Meaning of Life

by Minister Paul J. Bern

eat_the_rich It goes without saying that we are now living in a world which seems to be imploding on itself. As I write this, well over 20 million Americans have become unemployed thanks to the ever-present Corona-virus, which is wreaking havoc on the American economy. Before that, back in the 1990’s and 2000’s, US workers were dealt another low blow by having all the middle class jobs exported overseas to the third world – headed up by China – and they are never coming back. An increasing number of these workers were juggling 2 or 3 part-time jobs just to make ends meet. The US government’s official unemployment rate, according to the mainstream news media, is said to be around 15 percent as I write this. This is a complete joke to those persons like myself who have been following current events, because many US workers who had already used their unemployment benefits prior to the Corona-virus are not being counted. This includes are so-called “discouraged” workers who have dropped out of the job market and are sharing living quarters with immediate family, or sometimes sleeping in tents or motor vehicles.

 

Without any family safety net in place, some unlucky people wind up homeless through no fault of their own sooner or later. I know this to be true because I was once one of those unfortunate individuals a few years back. Despite my best efforts to find full-time work in my field, which was computer/IT, I could only find temporary jobs of short-term duration. I spent roughly a third of my time searching for more work. By the time I finally wound up homeless my health soon simply collapsed, and I wound up being forced to take early retirement. I have learned the hard way that being homeless and on the street with no transportation or income permanently damages people. Becoming homeless breaks one’s spirit, it wounds the soul, and it fractures the mind in ways that most people aren’t even able to imagine. The one positive thing about my homelessness is that it brought me closer to Christ, just like Jesus said: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matt. Chapter 8, verse 20)

 

The evaporation of these millions of US jobs is having severe repercussions for the overwhelming majority of Americans. There were about 5 million foreclosures in the US between 2008 and the end of 2012, and about 3 million more annually since then. Cars and trucks are being repossessed at record rates, and an increasingly larger number of college graduates who cannot find any jobs at all are simply walking away from their student loans. Record numbers of these unemployed college graduates, some of them in their 30’s and 40’s, are moving back in with parents or siblings due to their being victims of foreclosures or evictions. They simply have no where else to go. Except maybe the streets.

 

 

All the rest, the multitudes of disillusioned, disenchanted and disenfranchised US workers who lost their jobs and careers, their housing and their transportation are winding up in homeless shelters or sleeping under bridges. The more fortunate ones in this group of people that capitalism has discarded still have their vehicles, so that’s where they sleep. Yet if we study the four Gospels, we find that it was to this very group of poor people that Jesus gravitated towards the most. Houses of worship and charities are supposed to be helping these most unfortunate people, but too many of them use their ‘501c3’ tax status to remain tax-exempt, and so they can get grants from the government. Who are they worshiping first, Jesus or the IRS? Jesus prophesied against these kinds of organizations in Matthew chapter 23, verse 23 when He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.”

 

 

Since we are living in these last days before Christ’s return, we would do well to emulate Jesus’ compassion and unconditional love for us all. It used to be that when I encountered a homeless person asking for money, I would walk on by them without saying a word. Having since experienced homelessness myself for a few months, I find that I can no longer walk on by without stopping and witnessing to them about Christ, and how He has brought me all the way back from the brink of oblivion. As I talk to them I inquire of the Spirit whether I should help them or not. Usually I give them whatever spare change I have, and sometimes more if I have enough. Occasionally I buy them a burger and fries, particularly if they are in really bad shape or when the Holy Spirit encourages me to do so.

It’s just that being a follower of Christ has filled me with compassion, and I allow His peace to overshadow any anxiety I may have about whether the homeless strangers I encounter pose any threat to me or not. The majority are harmless. Jesus always comes first with me, others second and myself third. That’s what it takes to be a true follower of Christ. We are to emulate His example of unconditional love for us by showing that same love for others. And as hard times continue to get harder and meaner, an increasing number of folks from all backgrounds find themselves emulating Christ in one way or another whether they realize it or not.

 

 

As a rapidly growing population of long-term unemployed begins to congregate regularly at shelters, churches, soup kitchens and food banks, a good number of them volunteer in order to help give back what these charities have given them. In so doing they are finding themselves interconnected in ways that they may not have been previously. It is one thing to be connected on Facebook or Twitter, but being in groups of people and having direct contact with others while we all maintain our “social distancing” is another thing altogether. The exponential growth of the Internet, as well as computer and information technology in general, has been increasing the amount of time we spend in front of our screens than we do with other people. Of course, that is only counting the people who still have the means of acquiring the trappings of being solidly middle class. As I write this, an increasing majority of unemployed American workers are putting these items into storage or dumping them at pawn shops in a desperate attempt to get some money in their pockets.

 

What do we do to solve this dilemma? What are we going to do with all these displaced workers who desperately want to restart their careers and their incomes, but can find no way of doing so due to a complete lack of opportunity that is beyond their control? First, we have to come to the realization that our economic system is broken and in need of replacement. Not just fixing it, mind you, I’m talking about starting all over again on a clean sheet of paper. For some detailed commentary on this subject, you can order a copy of my book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto 4th Edition”.

For now all I will say is that the entire concept of profits and its benefits needs to be reexamined. When we have literally trillions of dollars in liquid wealth or assets of one kind or another in the hands of so few people, any claims of democratic government by this tiny but extraordinarily powerful group of people becomes completely ludicrous. We have been stuck in worn-out concepts of representative democracy that worked much better when the population of the earth was far lower than it is today. This has caused us to believe that it’s by getting the government to do things for us that we progress.

 

The Internet and information technology have made these concepts obsolete. If we can interconnect directly with one another, then who needs big government? Big government and the bureaucracy that accompanies it clearly creates more problems than it solves here in the 21st century. And I think that we’ve reached the point now where we’re stuck with a whole lot of antiquated concepts, so that when movie moguls like Michael Moore speak about the relatively small number of people who make all this money while so many other people don’t, it sounds as if we’re struggling for equality with them. We don’t want equality with the rich, we want equality equally for everybody. Who wants to be equal to the rich? Who wants to imitate people who hoard billions while formerly middle class people are living in vehicles, shelters, and in cardboard boxes under bridges? I think we have to be thinking much more profoundly than mere capitalism and the empty acquisition of material wealth for its own sake that accompanies it. The earth’s population has become so great that we would all be far better served by spending our time helping others instead of helping ourselves. The needs of the many far outweigh the needs of the few – or of the individual.

 

Actually, if you go back to what Marx wrote in The Communist Manifesto over 150 years ago (and I’m no fan of Karl Marx, OK?), when talking about the constant revolutions in technology, he ended his explanation by saying, “All that is sacred is profaned, all that is solid melts into air, and men and women are forced to face with sober senses our conditions of life and our relations with our kind.” We’re at that sort of turning point in human history right now. And I think that, talking about recovery, talking about democracy, we too easily get sucked into out-of-date notions of what we want. So I’m expecting massive civil unrest in the near future. I don’t mind protests, in fact I encourage them at times.

But what happened in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2011 in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and England, plus the ongoing civil wars in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, that is when people have gathered to say another world is necessary, another world is possible, and that we’re all longing for something better. It’s already started here in the 2000’s in the US with the Occupy Wall St. and the “We are the 99%” Movements. (For more details, have a look at my book, “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome”) These movements are the new civil rights marches of the 21st century by Americans who are becoming aware that our governmental – and particularly our economic – systems are broken. In Detroit, for example, – or what is left of it – people are beginning to say the only way to survive is by taking care of one another. This could easily happen in your city or town too.

 

 

We are collectively arriving at the conclusion that greed is bad and that excess profit always equals equally excessive greed. Human progress, on the other hand, depends on pursuing goals collectively for all our mutual benefit. In so doing we are evolving as human beings. Jesus commanded us all to “love your neighbor as yourself” and to “love your enemies”. Natural disasters tend to draw people together, with volunteers flooding into the hardest-hit areas where the need is greatest. The current economic instability we are experiencing due to the pandemic is turning out much the same way. More people are volunteering to help the poor and the less fortunate, which now includes much of the former US middle class.

 

 

So in closing I would encourage each of you to find something or someone that needs help and go and find out what you can do to help. By the same token, if you are in dire straits, take heart and do not be afraid. Your guardian angel (everybody has one) and Jesus himself are right there with you. You are not alone. “Be of good cheer,” said our Lord Jesus. “I have overcome the world”. This means Jesus hasn’t just mastered your situation, it means he has overcome all the bad luck on the entire planet, including yours. Remember, if you are in need of help, there is no shame in asking for it. And, if you don’t need help, there is no shame in showing it. So show it by helping someone else, even a total stranger. God is watching you and you will be rewarded according to all your good works.