Despite the Pandemic We Are All Living Through, We Will All Come Out the Other Side Much Better Than When We Went In

Instead of Complaining About the Pandemic Crisis, Become the Change You Desire and Live It

By Minister Paul J. Bern (Jeremiah 29)

We all need to look for ways to improve our lives and change our world for the better. We’re all here for a purpose, as it is written: “11) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12) Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. (Jeremiah chapter 29, verses 11-13) Today I will show you, by the publication of this article, how this applies in modern times. It’s why God put us all here. It’s nice to make and keep new year’s resolutions, put a troublesome person out of your life and break other old habits, but many more people are waking up to the fact that it’s smarter to improve our surroundings and make the kind of contributions that leave legacies than it is to merely break a bad habit or two. Breaking bad habits is good, but helping to build a better world is far better.

To begin with, we can’t create a better world if we haven’t yet imagined it. How much better then, if we are able to touch such a world and experience it directly, can we enact in the here and now the world we actually want to live in? The days of electing politicians to public office to do these things on the behalf of the US constituency must undergo fundamental change if the American populace ever desires to overhaul our electoral process. These kinds of organized grassroots efforts come in all shapes and sizes. At the bottom end of the scale we see Utopian flavored mass movements like “We are the 99%”, Black Lives Matter, the fight for a higher minimum wage, and Occupy Wall Street movements with their stands against inequality, ethic of social and economic justice, and experiments in direct democracy. At the other extreme we see the ongoing civil war in Syria (and its predecessor, the Arab Spring of 2011) which continues to this day.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality,” Buckminster Fuller once advised“. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” A brilliant insight, but he was only half right, because the best direct actions – and social movements – actually do both. Consider the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1950’s and 1960’s. They were not only brave acts of resistance against the racism of the Jim Crow South, but they also beautifully and dramatically prefigured the kind of world the civil rights movement was trying to bring into being: blacks and whites sitting together as equals in public spaces. The young students didn’t ask anyone’s permission; they didn’t wait for society to evolve or for bad laws to change. In the best spirit of direct action, they walked in there and simply changed the world. At least for a few moments, in one place, they were living in an integrated South. They painted a picture of how the world could be, and the vicious response from white bystanders and police only proved how important it was to make it so.

Many people at the forefront of the nonviolent civil rights movement were moved to action by their Spiritual commitments. Be it the “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” of the Four Gospels, or Gandhi’s call to “Be the change you want to see in the world,” the ethical traditions of many religions have powerful roots in dogma that is largely the teachings of men. It is only when people of faith, such as followers of Jesus Christ like myself, try to live out their deep principles and actually walk their talk in the Spirit that they they tend to come up against the power of tradition. Jesus himself (who promised that anyone who followed his teaching would always be in trouble) was one of history’s more brilliant invaders of the human conscience. He didn’t merely argue that true greatness comes from humbly serving others, he illustrated it by washing his disciples’ dirty feet just before the Last Supper. By socializing with outcasts and the poor, visiting lepers, and always raising up “the least of these,” Jesus didn’t simply prophesy a future filled with a beloved community of believers, He made it manifest. And if Jesus did it, so should we.

With the dominance of paranoia surrounding the Covid-19 crises, provocations that stretch our political imaginations are more vital than ever. I would go a step further, arguing that we need to bring back Utopian thinking. Utopian thinking is necessary, because it provides a compass point to determine what direction to move toward and a measuring stick to determine how far one has come. However, in an era of media saturation and distrust, this is increasingly hard to do via criticism alone. Using dystopian visions to sound the alarm – a more and more popular strategy – is just another form of criticism that leaves the status quo standing. What is needed instead are direct interventions that both embody and point toward Utopian possibilities. Contemporary social movements, it turns out, are chock full of them.

Of course, we all know that this has about as much chance of occurring as the WTO has of abolishing itself, that GE is actually going to give back the taxes it dodged, or that DuPont is finally going to do the right thing and compensate the 100,000 victims of the Bhopal chemical spill for decades of suffering. Could we possibly ever live in such a world? “Yeah”, people are saying, “why don’t we live in such a world?” And we’re more motivated than ever to go out there to make it happen!

In 2006 members from a coalition of environmental groups posed as a government agency – the Oil Enforcement Agency – that should have existed, but didn’t. Complete with SWAT-team-like caps and badges, agents ticketed SUVs, impounded fuel-inefficient vehicles at auto shows, and generally modeled a future in which government takes climate change seriously. Clever protest campaigns can bring little shards of utopia not just into the streets but also into our elections and even legislatures. When Jello Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979, one of the planks in his platform called for beat cops to be voted on by the neighborhoods they patrolled. Once out in the open, this and other seemingly radical ideas were revealed as the reasonable proposals they were, and thousands of San Franciscans voted for Jello.

Even legislation can be Utopian. A legislative bill called, “What Would Finland Do?” aims to introduce a bill in the New York legislature to prorate traffic fines according to the net wealth of the driver. It wouldn’t pass, but a lot of New Yorker’s might think: “Why not?” and the long fight for greater economic equality might inch a tiny bit forward. (Finland, by the way, has such a law, and in 2004 the 27-year-old heir to a sausage fortune was fined $204,000 for driving 50 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.) Whether religious or artistic, a playful thought experiment, or a serious attempt to be true to one’s values in the face of state violence, Utopian engagement allows us to experience for ourselves (and demonstrate to others), that another world is necessary, possible, and maybe even beautiful. Oh yeah, and it will be healthy as well.

Our Trigger-Happy Police, Unarmed Civilians, and What God Has Said About All This

I Wonder What Would God Say About

All These Police Killings In the US?

(Jeremiah 7: 1-11)

By Minister Paul J. Bern

 

The United States of America is evidently coming apart at the seams. That’s an observation of current events in America, not just my opinion. Police shootings of unarmed Black men and youths – and some white folks too – are epidemic and increasingly notorious. Lately I have been seeing and learning, much to my own horror, that civilians are taking matters into their own hands by assassinating police officers while they are on duty. We’ve had at least two such incidents this year so far – one where a cop was shot execution style while fueling up his patrol car, and the other where an officer was dragged for several miles and was later pronounced ‘DOA’ at the hospital. So does this mean we have descended into a deadly game of tit-for-tat on American streets? Does a state of civil war now exist between African-Americans and law enforcement?

 

Of course, there are always two sides to every story. In several of the shootings of unarmed Black men, police officers have just recently been charged with murder, as you know. Yet by the same token, there was a nationally reported incident earlier this year where a white man who had carjacked someone started shooting at the police when they cornered him, for which the perpetrator paid with his life. In cases like that, I believe police shootings are without question fully justifiable regardless of race. God gave me a passage of Scripture earlier today that fits this very well. It is a prophetic bit of Scripture taken from the first 11 verses of Jeremiah chapter 7 in the Old Testament. For those who don’t know where this is in the Bible, it’s between Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I am going to take this just a verse or two at a time, because there is so much of the Holy Spirit in here that one cannot simply breeze through this and quickly move on.

 

This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message. Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord.‘” (Jeremiah 7, verses 1-2) How would we say this in 21st century English? Allow me to paraphrase: ‘Stand at the entrance to the church, right in the middle of the doorway, and tell all the people who come here to wait outside and hear this message before entering the sanctuary.’ Church services, it seems, will be starting a little late today. God is telling the modern north American churches to stop what they are doing and hear these words. Otherwise, He is saying, you have no business coming in here, into my Father’s house. You would then become invaders in my house, encroaching on My holy territory, says the Lord. This, says the Bible and the prophet Jeremiah, is extremely serious and at the top of God’s priorities.

 

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” (Jeremiah 7, verses 3-4) “Reform…and I will let you live in this place”. What place is this? When it was first written by the prophet Jeremiah, it was a reference to the Temple in Jerusalem in the years leading up to ancient Israel being taken into captivity by the Babylonian Empire. But in a modern context, it is a prophecy from the past that is equally applicable to the near future. Applicable to Israel just like in days of old, you ask? Partly, but also equally applicable to Israel’s chief protector and ally in modern times, the USA. Prophecy, you see, is multidimensional – just like the God who we prophesy about.

 

If you really want to change your ways and your actions and to treat each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless, and the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers forever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7, verses 5-7) Do we treat each other justly when we’re shooting at each other like it’s the end of the world? Who is worse, the cops who are killing the unarmed Blacks, the Blacks who are killing each other, or everybody else who is shooting and ripping off everything and everybody else? Is there anybody reading this who seriously believes that God is pleased with America in its current state of affairs? I should think not! If nobody is right, then everybody’s wrong.

 

Does America oppress the alien? As long as racial profiling is allowed to continue within the ranks of law enforcement, this will continue to be the case. Moreover, all those people crossing our southern border into our country are not an invading hostile army such as the likes of Donald Trump have implied. The ugly truth is that they are economic and war refugees from Mexico and Central America. The war refugees are escaping the civil wars being waged by the drug cartels of Central America and Southern Mexico – wars that are being fomented by America’s very own CIA. The economic refugees come here looking for work – work that is simply unavailable in their former countries.

 

Also, there is a huge wage disparity between those countries and the US. According to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, a factory worker in Mexico has an average take-home pay of about $55.00 per month USD (as of 2018). A person in the US working full time at a minimum wage job takes home approximately $640.00 monthly after taxes (which is why the current US minimum wage must be increased). So these “illegal” immigrants, as they’re called by all the right-wingers (many of whom identify as being Christian) see immigrant take-home pay increase ten or 11 times just by relocating to America. Is it any wonder they are coming to America in droves? If the US used its foreign aid that it so freely distributes to create enough new jobs down there in Mexico or Guatemala, etc., those people wouldn’t have to come to the US looking for work. Instead, US taxpayers spent $35 billion last year alone on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a plane America does not need.

 

Can I go on? Does America oppress the “fatherless”? All one has to do is visit America’s jails and prisons. Eight out of every ten people who are incarcerated either grew up without a dad, or are estranged from their fathers – often because of prior abuse. It’s a cycle that can often get passed down from one generation to another, a cycle that runs in families. Does America “oppress the widow”? Is there evidence of this ever occurring? All over America we see boarded up old houses in blighted neighborhoods, houses that people used to live in. But some smooth-talking mortgage broker came along one day and talked the homeowner, who was usually elderly and minimally educated, into taking out a new mortgage on a home that was decades old and sometimes in need of repair, only to have the homeowners fall behind on the payments, and they ultimately found themselves homeless.

 

For another example, visit any nursing home in America, and you will find multitudes of elderly people who have been long forgotten by their families. In many cases, they have outlived everyone they ever knew and loved. America’s elderly have become a disposable people just like America’s workers, its former middle class. Is God pleased with this? On the contrary, He is deeply offended! God is filled with rage against humans who oppress other humans for profit. Can I get an AMEN, y’all?

 

What about “shedding innocent blood?” Does America currently, or has America ever, shed innocent blood? For me, a guy who genuinely loves his country but despises and fears his government, the answer is hard to look at and still more difficult to receive, but look I must. America has shed innocent blood in the form of millions of civilian casualties in the two Iraq wars, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Vietnam, Korea and both world wars. But there is more – America has shed innocent blood right here at home. We have killed innocent men on death row, men who were not guilty of their crimes, but who were executed because they were presumed guilty because they were African-American. So many more Blacks have been executed in lynchings since the end of the US Civil War that the country has lost count. So yes, most definitely, America has shed much innocent blood.

 

Does anyone seriously believe that God has not noticed, or that He was looking the other way at the time? What about that last one? Have we “followed other gods to our own harm”? This is evidently talking about addictions, although this can have to do with substance abuse just as easily as it could addiction to a spouse, sports hero, career, or getting a bigger house whether you needed one or not, the latest computer and electronic gear, yet another new car that you really didn’t need, always wearing the latest fashions, and so on. Try unplugging from the world. Disconnect from your cable TV and save money, watch Christian stuff on the Internet instead (no, not “Christian TV”), and become a minimalist. Despise materialism, shun worldly wealth and those who crave it. ‘Go green’ or live ‘off the grid’. Do something! Please don’t just sit there playing your pointless video games. Sorry if that offended anyone, but that still needed to be said. And now I’ll conclude this message, beginning at verse 8.

 

But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come before me and stand in this house, which bears my name, and say ‘we are safe’ – safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!’, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 7, verses 8-11) How are we trusting in deceptive words that are worthless, you ask? What is God talking about here to each of us through the prophet Jeremiah? I strongly believe this has a double meaning. In one sense, God is telling us our country’s leaders can no longer be trusted because they have their own interests at heart instead of, or ahead of, “we the people”.

 

Undoubtedly this is one point I need not explain to anyone. But why aren’t we more outraged about all the waste and corruption in Washington? To me, if we are not opposing it then we are condoning this criminal behavior of our nations leadership. That makes us accomplices, and under no circumstances do I ever want to be seen that way by God. If this were to ever occur, that would be the day I would begin to pray in vain. Since I “work out my own salvation with fear and trembling”, I could never in my right mind go there or do that anyway.

 

But what is the second part of the meaning? This time, instead of talking about political and corporate leadership, God is speaking to us through the Prophet about the leadership within our churches. The Bible says, “Judgment begins in the house of the Lord”. That’s us, people. It’s talking about us. Those who teach falsely and know it, and there are a dismaying number of “preachers” who do, will pay the ultimate penalty in eternity. Will we continue to commit sin after sin, hop from one affair to another, mating like rabbits as we lie, cheat and steal and think we got away with it because nobody saw us?

 

Those who do any of those things are only kidding themselves. Have our churches become a den of robbers? As long as certain preachers continue to demand 10% of everyone’s income, whether they can afford it or not, then the answer is yes. The money-changers have once again occupied the temple, and Jesus will soon return to throw them out again. Apparently these corrupt religious people didn’t learn their lesson the last time our Lord administered it 2,000 years ago. “But I have been watching, says the Lord”!

 

This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message. Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord.‘” (Jeremiah 7, verses 1-2) How would we say this in 21st century English? Allow me to paraphrase: ‘Stand at the entrance to the church, right in the middle of the doorway, and tell all the people who come here to wait outside and hear this message before entering the sanctuary.’ Church services, it seems, will be starting a little late today. God is telling the modern north American churches to stop what they are doing and hear these words. Otherwise, He is saying, you have no business coming in here, into my Father’s house. You would then become invaders in my house, encroaching on My holy territory, says the Lord. This, says the Bible and the prophet Jeremiah, is extremely serious and at the top of God’s priorities.

 

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” (Jeremiah 7, verses 3-4) “Reform…and I will let you live in this place”. What place is this? When it was first written by the prophet Jeremiah, it was a reference to the Temple in Jerusalem in the years leading up to ancient Israel being taken into captivity by the Babylonian Empire. But in a modern context, it is a prophecy from the past that is equally applicable to the near future. Applicable to Israel just like in days of old, you ask? Partly, but also equally applicable to Israel’s chief protector and ally in modern times, the USA. Prophecy, you see, is multidimensional – just like the God who we prophesy about.

 

If you really want to change your ways and your actions and to treat each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless, and the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers forever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7, verses 5-7) Do we treat each other justly when we’re shooting at each other like it’s the end of the world? Who is worse, the cops who are killing the unarmed Blacks, the Blacks who are killing each other, or everybody else who is shooting and ripping off everything and everybody else? Is there anybody reading this who seriously believes that God is pleased with America in its current state of affairs? I should think not! If nobody is right, then everybody’s wrong.

 

Does America oppress the alien? As long as racial profiling is allowed to continue within the ranks of law enforcement, this will continue to be the case. Moreover, all those people crossing our southern border into our country are not an invading hostile army such as the likes of Donald Trump have implied. The ugly truth is that they are economic and war refugees from Mexico and Central America. The war refugees are escaping the civil wars being waged by the drug cartels of Central America and Southern Mexico – wars that are being fomented by America’s very own CIA. The economic refugees come here looking for work – work that is simply unavailable in their former countries.

 

Also, there is a huge wage disparity between those countries and the US. According to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, a factory worker in Mexico has an average take-home pay of about $55.00 per month USD (as of 2018). A person in the US working full time at a minimum wage job takes home approximately $640.00 monthly after taxes (which is why the current US minimum wage must be increased). So these “illegal” immigrants, as they’re called by all the right-wingers (many of whom identify as being Christian) see immigrant take-home pay increase ten or 11 times just by relocating to America. Is it any wonder they are coming to America in droves? If the US used its foreign aid that it so freely distributes to create enough new jobs down there in Mexico or Guatemala, etc., those people wouldn’t have to come to the US looking for work. Instead, US taxpayers spent $35 billion last year alone on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a plane America does not need.

 

Can I go on? Does America oppress the “fatherless”? All one has to do is visit America’s jails and prisons. Eight out of every ten people who are incarcerated either grew up without a dad, or are estranged from their fathers – often because of prior abuse. It’s a cycle that can often get passed down from one generation to another, a cycle that runs in families. Does America “oppress the widow”? Is there evidence of this ever occurring? All over America we see boarded up old houses in blighted neighborhoods, houses that people used to live in. But some smooth-talking mortgage broker came along one day and talked the homeowner, who was usually elderly and minimally educated, into taking out a new mortgage on a home that was decades old and sometimes in need of repair, only to have the homeowners fall behind on the payments, and they ultimately found themselves homeless.

 

For another example, visit any nursing home in America, and you will find multitudes of elderly people who have been long forgotten by their families. In many cases, they have outlived everyone they ever knew and loved. America’s elderly have become a disposable people just like America’s workers, its former middle class. Is God pleased with this? On the contrary, He is deeply offended! God is filled with rage against humans who oppress other humans for profit. Can I get an AMEN, y’all?

 

What about “shedding innocent blood?” Does America currently, or has America ever, shed innocent blood? For me, a guy who genuinely loves his country but despises and fears his government, the answer is hard to look at and still more difficult to receive, but look I must. America has shed innocent blood in the form of millions of civilian casualties in the two Iraq wars, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Vietnam, Korea and both world wars. But there is more – America has shed innocent blood right here at home. We have killed innocent men on death row, men who were not guilty of their crimes, but who were executed because they were presumed guilty because they were African-American. So many more Blacks have been executed in lynchings since the end of the US Civil War that the country has lost count. So yes, most definitely, America has shed much innocent blood.

 

Does anyone seriously believe that God has not noticed, or that He was looking the other way at the time? What about that last one? Have we “followed other gods to our own harm”? This is evidently talking about addictions, although this can have to do with substance abuse just as easily as it could addiction to a spouse, sports hero, career, or getting a bigger house whether you needed one or not, the latest computer and electronic gear, yet another new car that you really didn’t need, always wearing the latest fashions, and so on. Try unplugging from the world. Disconnect from your cable TV and save money, watch Christian stuff on the Internet instead (no, not “Christian TV”), and become a minimalist. Despise materialism, shun worldly wealth and those who crave it. ‘Go green’ or live ‘off the grid’. Do something! Please don’t just sit there playing your pointless video games. Sorry if that offended anyone, but that still needed to be said. And now I’ll conclude this message, beginning at verse 8.

 

But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come before me and stand in this house, which bears my name, and say ‘we are safe’ – safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!’, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 7, verses 8-11) How are we trusting in deceptive words that are worthless, you ask? What is God talking about here to each of us through the prophet Jeremiah? I strongly believe this has a double meaning. In one sense, God is telling us our country’s leaders can no longer be trusted because they have their own interests at heart instead of, or ahead of, “we the people”.

 

Undoubtedly this is one point I need not explain to anyone. But why aren’t we more outraged about all the waste and corruption in Washington? To me, if we are not opposing it then we are condoning this criminal behavior of our nations leadership. That makes us accomplices, and under no circumstances do I ever want to be seen that way by God. If this were to ever occur, that would be the day I would begin to pray in vain. Since I “work out my own salvation with fear and trembling”, I could never in my right mind go there or do that anyway.

 

But what is the second part of the meaning? This time, instead of talking about political and corporate leadership, God is speaking to us through the Prophet about the leadership within our churches. The Bible says, “Judgment begins in the house of the Lord”. That’s us, people. It’s talking about us. Those who teach falsely and know it, and there are a dismaying number of “preachers” who do, will pay the ultimate penalty in eternity. Will we continue to commit sin after sin, hop from one affair to another, mating like rabbits as we lie, cheat and steal and think we got away with it because nobody saw us?

 

Those who do any of those things are only kidding themselves. Have our churches become a den of robbers? As long as certain preachers continue to demand 10% of everyone’s income, whether they can afford it or not, then the answer is yes. The money-changers have once again occupied the temple, and Jesus will soon return to throw them out again. Apparently these corrupt religious people didn’t learn their lesson the last time our Lord administered it 2,000 years ago. “But I have been watching, says the Lord”!

 

I prophesy right here and now to each and every one of you – God sees all of what I have just written about. He is totally fed up with everything, as am I, and judgment is coming to America and the rest of the world as a result. As I write this in the late summer of 2020, the Judgment will be forthcoming, mark my words. I can’t say when because I have not been given that much information. But I can say with certainty that hard times are coming to America. They will arrive in the forms of natural disasters, economic crashes, disease and pestilence, and numerous wars that will kill about three fifths of the global population (see Revelation 9, verses 13-16). The global wars that America has been waging for decades will come home to roost. Let’s just hope that those inside the Beltway in Washington will be the most affected by all these things, instead of the majority of the country’s population.

Mischief In the Sanctuary; Why Churches Who “Speak In Tongues” Are Getting It All Wrong

Settling the Controversy, and Dispelling the Myths, of ‘Speaking in Tongues’ In Church and In Prayer

(1st Corinthians chapter 14, verses 1-17)

 

 

In this week’s lesson we will begin the 14th chapter of First Corinthians which I will break up into 2 parts for the sake of brevity. There is considerable confusion within the Christian church as a whole regarding the issue of speaking and praying in tongues. Some believe speaking in tongues is evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and this is essentially true. But there is an erroneous teaching that presents speaking in tongues as the primary – or worse yet the only – evidence of being a ‘born again Christian’. As you are about to read, this teaching is incorrect and misleading because it is based on verses of Scripture being taken out of context. In a worst case scenario, it drives away new believers who mistakenly think that since they do not have the gift of speaking in tongues, then they must be falling short when it comes to their level of faith. This kind of teaching is damaging and ultimately destructive to the propagation of the Gospel. That’s why I stand against it. Let’s now read what the apostle Paul wrote about it, beginning at verse 1.

 

 

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.” (1st Corinthians 14, verses 1-5)

 

 

In verse 1, the first five words are written in the form of a command to the first century Corinthian church, and that command is equally applicable today as it was when Paul the apostle wrote these words nearly 2,000 years ago. The words “follow the way of love” refer to the two Great Commandments Jesus gave in the 4 gospels: “Love the Lord your God with all your might, with all your soul, with all your heart and with all your strength. And the second command is like it; love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments rest all the law and the prophets.” This is ‘commandment number one’ for not only the church, but for the entire world.

 

 

The apostle Paul is also stating that it is not possible to truly serve God through our relationship with Christ unless we first practice and obey these first two crucial commandments. Anyone who does not obey them rejects Christ, and by extension God. Only after that does Paul write, “eagerly desire Spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy”. This intense desire for Spiritual gifts is evidence of our devotion and loyalty to Christ and to the saving power of his Blood. Paul then goes on to explain why he believes prophecy to be the most important Spiritual gift.

 

 

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit…. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues…..” In this verse of scripture Paul makes it abundantly clear that, while all gifts of the Spirit have their place and their importance, the gift of prophecy trumps speaking in tongues (and all the other gifts), and therefore gets precedence within the true Church. Paul then continues with this train of thought beginning at verse 6.

 

 

Now brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. So it is with you. Since you are eager to have Spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” (1st Corinthians 14, verses 6-12)

 

 

As you can clearly see here, the apostle Paul is stating emphatically that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about exercising the Spiritual gifts, and especially that of speaking in tongues. Abruptly speaking in tongues in the middle of a service, for example, would be a distraction at best and an interruption at worst, ruining the spirit of the moment during the act of worship. Not only is there a time and a place for it, it would be out of place for someone who does not have the gift of speaking in tongues to attempt to imitate those who do. If you see others that have this gift and realize that you do not, there is no shame in this at all, and let no one tell you otherwise! No one can rightfully fault you for your silence in that case.

 

 

Silence in church can be a kind of reverence, provided that our thoughts are directed towards Jesus. God simply has a different place for you within the Bride of Christ, and a different gift that suits you best. Let go and let God. Allow the gifts of the Spirit to come to you through prayer, persistence and faithfulness, and do not attempt to blindly pursue it on your own. The Holy Spirit will lead you down the correct path, so do not concern yourselves with that. Paul then continues in verse 13.

 

 

For this reason anyone who speaks with a tongue should pray that he interpret what he says. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.” (1st Corinthians 14, verses 13-17)

 

 

Although I can and do pray in tongues, it is not my main spiritual gift and it’s not something I do on a daily basis. When I do I am usually in church and I pray quietly to myself, but if I am in public and alone, such as walking down a street or waiting for a bus or subway, I also sometimes pray in tongues when the Spirit moves me to do so. I would not pray out loud with others present unless I can interpret what I am saying (and I often can’t), otherwise bystanders on the street or other folks in church would be mystified and bewildered at best. There is such a thing as one person in church being able to interpret what another is saying in tongues, but I have only seen one such church where this gift of the Spirit was present in over 27 years of being a born again Christian.

 

 

Do not allow the topic of speaking and praying in tongues to distract you in your walk with Christ. Jesus is the Savior and kinsman redeemer of all humankind and it is by His blood that we are saved – that and grace, which is a separate topic. Continue to make sure He is the center of your life and the focus of your faith. And when this is all over some day, we will be united in heaven with Him forever and ever with one language, the elegant language of praise in Spirit and in Truth. So be sure and praise Him and be thankful every day, and next week we’ll cover the rest of 1st Corinthians 14.

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.

Our country is in very serious trouble. Sorry if this offends you, but it’s my job to warn people.

This is a prophecy for the USA that was shared by an acquaintance of mine just recently, and he asked me if I could share this with my audience (which continues to grow, BTW) for God’s glory.

“My son, war is coming to this nation. This is the fourth judgment upon this nation.”

December 4, 2017 2:42 PM By James Bailey

Appearing as a guest on a Christian television program, author John Shorey shared a prophetic warning given to him by a friend, as shown in the 10-minute video shown below, which was uploaded to YouTube on November 20, 2017.

“The Lord says, “My son, these words I give you. The sounds of killing in Las Vegas is the sound that will be familiar to all in this nation. The strange (foreign) armies that will come up on this land will strip everything and all will be ravaged. This army will have no mercy, and death will be a common site. My son, those who hide in Me will be saved. Those who repent and bend the knee will be saved. Those of My remnant who are led by My spirit will be saved.

“My son, the windows of heaven are open, ready to pour out mercy and grace. But no one will listen, no one listens to My prophets. Those that criticize My prophets will not be ready. The season of the hurricanes are almost over, they are still cleaning up. The season of earthquakes has begun. I showed you the three volcanoes in the west. They will blow because of the earthquakes. Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Mount Adams will all erupt during the earthquakes. But even after all that, My Church will not wake up. My church believes the lies of the false prophets. There will be no prosperity, happiness, and the false happy days of the past. My church will know strength, humbleness, and prayer. Many millions will perish, but those who are My remnant will walk in power never seen before on this earth.

“My son, many voices will speak in the last days of peace, prosperity, longevity, and happiness, but they do not hear My voice. They hear the voice of a lying spirit. My son, war is coming to this nation. This is the fourth judgment upon this nation. Many of the sons and daughters will die by the sword. Many churches will be utterly destroyed. I tell you now what the fourth judgment is because now have all the plans been laid. The armies will come from the north and the east. Big cities will be a heap of rubble. I will have My remnant flee to save zones; there mighty revivals will happen. The body will wake up and move in power. It is during this time that My bride becomes the brightest light. This is when I will come and gather her unto Myself. My bride will be pure and without spot or wrinkle.”

He also shared the following word received on October 20, 2017: “Hear My cry, hear My prophet who warned you to prepare. They have heard My voice, and My prophets tremble even though they only know in part. Beware the false prophets who say the world is going to experience good times and seasons. They do not hear Me, for judgments are coming and are here. Millions will perish, millions upon millions will perish from all parts of the world. America, you will suffer a great loss and will not recover. Have your house in order and be prepared to love your neighbor.”

Confirmations:

Two prophets, Byron Searle and Brother Billy Nelson, both received similar warnings of four judgments coming with increasing severity, as reported in an article I posted on September 9, 2017. However, the details about the fourth judgment were not revealed at that time. Byron was simply told, “Many will perish in this judgment that will finally drive the Church to its knees, crying out for repentance.”

I believe these warnings because they confirm what I saw in a dream in 2014 when I was told about a plan to mass murder the American people. I saw the United States had already endured a series of severe problems, but each time, the news media worked in cooperation with our federal government to lie to the American people, assuring them all was well and a plan was in place to solve the problems. Most Americans believed the lies, so after each problem surfaced, they went “back to sleep” and did not prepare for the more severe judgments ahead. I was also shown the one leading the attack was Barack Obama, fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy: He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god. (Daniel 11:39)

The people I spoke with in my dream all referred to him as President Obama, which shows he will return to power either openly or perhaps even covertly. He had a large organization of ruthless thugs working for him, carrying out his plans, with an evil woman overseeing them. She reported directly to Obama. Also confirming the warnings shared by John Shorey, God has shown many of His people there will be safe zones within the United States. However, in my dream, I was warned to leave the country to avoid being killed. I believe God has specific plans for each of us, so we each need to seek His instructions.

Author: James Bailey

James Bailey is an author, business owner, husband and father of two children. His vision is to broadcast the good news of Jesus Christ through blog sites and other media outlets.

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