In 1985, my life smashed into a brick wall. I needed thousands of dollars to start a publishing company and bail my family out of debt. My sources were all maxed out and the hope level in my reservoir was hovering at empty. I was finished.
The only untouched asset I had was a $125,000 life insurance policy. So, my solution seemed obvious: suicide.
As for taking my life, I had no problems with it because I was an agnostic. No God equals no problems with eternal judgment, right? It wasn’t personal, just a business solution for my family and me.
My plan was uncomplicated. I figured on enjoying one last weekend with my family and then committing suicide on that Monday evening.
Thus, on May 20, 1985, I spent the day finishing up loose ends. Then, for some reason, I stopped at an insurance agent’s office. Although we knew each other, Bill and I were not intimate friends and had never really talked to each other before that day.
Bill invited me into his office. We discussed baseball. Then in the middle of our conversation, he stared at me and said, “You’re thinking about committing suicide, aren’t you?”
His words hit me like a sledgehammer. How did he know? I told no one. It was my secret $125,000 payday. I was speechless. As I sat there, a vision played across my mind about my car ramming into a viaduct and killing me.
I wept and although I tried to regain my composure, I could not. “How did you know?” I asked.
“Oh,” said Bill, “the Lord told me while we were talking to each other.”
His words shattered my unbelief. God was alive and He cared about me. We continued talking and he finally gave me a book to read: Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers.
When I arrived home, I began reading the book. After a few pages, I walked into the bathroom, closed the door and knelt in front of the sink. Looking into the mirror, I prayed, “Jesus, I’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked. I guess I’ll give You a try.”
Instantly, I was changed. Fear and shame were no longer a part of me, but instead, joy and hope filled my heart. Bowing and worshipping my new King, I promised to never let go of His hand.
If my story were a fictional Hollywood movie, perhaps it would resemble It’s A Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart would play me and Donna Reed my wife. The angel would get his wings and everyone would live happily ever after. The end.
But sadly, my life has not been a work of fiction. It has been a day to day journey, filled with a few good experiences, but also many mistakes, false starts and failures. Divorce. Loss of friends. Numerous firings from sales positions. Low-paying jobs. Poverty. Rejection. Loneliness. Not exactly, a picture perfect Christian life.
And yet, it has been in the deepest valleys where the Lord has truly revealed Himself to me. It was there He became my loving Father and I learned His grace was sufficient for me.
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35 NKJ)
Numerous Bible teachers, including Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel Church network, and Hal Lindsey, author of The Late Great Planet Earth, have interpreted Jesus’ words of Matthew 24:32-34 as a prophecy about Israel.
Their collective prophetic teachings state that the budding of the fig tree in verse 32 refers to Israel becoming a nation in 1948. The people born in 1948 and the years afterward would then be the generation that would see the return of the Lord. Each teacher figured a generation was forty years.
Thus, 1988 was the projected year of Jesus’ return, but alas, Jesus did not return as prophesied.
Rather than admitting their error, Smith, Lindsey and most of the other Bible teachers stated that their mistake was not in their premise about Israel, but rather in their assuming a generation was forty years long. They decided a Biblical generation was really seventy years. 2018 was supposed to be the new predicted year for the return of Jesus.
And when Jesus did not return in 2018, these teachers doubled down again and stated a Biblical generation was eighty years. Therefore, these teachers are betting 2028 is the year when Jesus will return.
Will a hundred years be the next guess for these teachers?
Okay! Let’s do some checking for ourselves.
29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Luke 21:29-33 NKJ)
The fig tree parable is presented in Matthew 24:32-35, Mark 13:28-31 and Luke 21:29-33. All three are similar except Luke states, “Look at the fig tree, and all of the trees.”
By adding the words – and all of the trees – Luke removed the emphasis on fig trees and placed it on the rest of the words Jesus spoke in the four verses. And what was Jesus referring to in the four verses? All of the prophetic words He spoke in Matthew 24:4-31.
The Apostle Paul had a similar problem with the Church in Thessalonica in that they were confused about when the Lord would return. He answered their fears by writing:
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NKJ)
Paul listed two things had to happen before Jesus returned:
1. Christians falling away from their faith (the great apostasy).
2. The antichrist is revealed to everyone.
Did Jesus mention the falling away of believers and the revealing of the antichrist in His Matthew 24 discourse?
And at that time many [believers] will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. (Matthew 24:10 NASB)
Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation [antichrist] which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand (Matthew 24:15)
The Apostle Paul’s words agree with the prophetic words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 24.
So, it looks to me like we need to lay our easy-peasy formulas down and follow what Jesus said:
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42 NKJ)
I am presently reading Imagine Heaven for the second time. It is even a bigger blessing this time than it was on my first reading.
To date, this book has had 9,240 customer reviews with 95% being five-star and four-star reviews. I would guess that most of these reviews have come from Christians like me, who want to know more about heaven. As one man said, “If we don’t think rightly about heaven, we won’t think about it at all.”
The author presents over a hundred stories about various Near-Death Experiences and all are worth reading, but this one really grabbed my heart:
“Before her Near-Death Experience, the concept of God as a loving Father made no sense to Crystal. Why didn’t He protect her at age three when the sexual abuse began? Why did He let other men abuse her if He loved her? Why would He allow all the pain and suffering and chaos from her father leaving, an abusive stepfather, and a partying mother who left her with questionable company? By age nine, doubts about God’s love or existence had a stranglehold on her…” (Excerpt from Imagine Heaven)
Crystal gave her life to Jesus at nine years of age and was baptized. She stated, “I felt like my soul had been scrubbed.”
But sadly, the feeling didn’t last because the sexual abuse in her life continued. The shame, hurt, and anger felt like it was her identity. She blamed herself for the abuse she suffered.
A pregnancy. An abortion. Affairs with married men. A failed marriage. An unsuccessful suicide attempt.
At age thirty-three, Crystal went to the hospital for pancreatitis. Due to complications, she died for nine minutes and found herself in heaven.
“Crystal always assumed her experience of Heaven would be different. She had imagined herself asking God a barrage of questions… Crystal says,
“I wanted to know why He didn’t love me. Or why He let bad things happen. And yet, as I stood in front of Him in heaven and faced Him, I fell to my knees and raised my hands. The question I called out to Him was, ‘Why didn’t I do more for You?’ Because in an instant, He revealed His true self to me, which is love…” (Excerpt from Imagine Heaven)
You can read the details about the book and more excerpts here.
Hey, the book does not replace Scripture, but it does add light for our thinking on heaven. Burke does a thorough job of using the Bible to explain the various stories.
All new Christians need an inner desire to be the best believers they can be for our King and the Kingdom of God. This must be a part of our spiritual makeup. The driving force for our desires must be the Holy Spirit. As far as our natural bodies, they will resist all efforts by the Holy Spirit and attempt to weave fleshly attitudes and pride into our spiritual makeups, thereby weakening them.
One of the Holy Spirit’s main jobs in our lives is to separate the chaff in us from thew spiritual wheat as we walk with the Lord.
In a perfect vacuum, the Holy Spirit would successfully guide and help us put down all of our fleshly desires, especially pride and lust. We would be overcomers in every situation. Yet, none of us live in a perfect vacuum, we live on earth, which is controlled by the god of this world − Satan.
I had a simple dream as a young believer, which should have helped me in understanding my walk with the Lord.
In it, I stood outside a major league baseball stadium, but all of the entrance gates were locked shut. The crowd inside the stadium roared for its favorite teams. The excitement stirred me to hunger for being a part of the action.
I banged on the gate with both hands. The gate finally opened and I entered, not to sit in the grandstands with the crowd, but instead, I was escorted onto the playing field to be a member of Jesus’ team.
There I stood in the outfield, wearing a new white home team uniform with a baseball hat on my head and a glove on my left hand. I looked around at the beautiful green grass, the reddish infield dirt and the gigantic stadium. It was such an exhilarating feeling, knowing I was a member of the team.
Then, like a little boy, I took off running around the outfield. Here and there, helter-skelter, I didn’t care what others thought and ran around the outfield in my excitement, kicking up my heels. I noticed numerous other players in the outfield, doing much the same thing. We all ran around, waving our hands in the air and yelling like a bunch of sugar intoxicated kids.
Now, mind you, the game was going on.
A baseball would fly or bounce into the outfield every so often, but because we were all just aimlessly running around, we couldn’t catch any of them. The best we could do was chase after a ball and wait for it to stop rolling. One of us would pick it up and toss it back toward the infield to a waiting infielder. We outfielders then reverted back to aimlessly running around.
The team somehow promoted me into the dugout to be used for offensive purposes. I was no longer dressed in a glorious white uniform, but instead, I was a wooden baseball bat, hanging on a bat rack with numerous other ones.
A bat, I thought. I’m just a bat! All of my preparation and training has prepared me to be just a wooden bat. How can this be important?
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the score tied, Jesus readied Himself to bat. He walked over to the rack and chose me as His bat. He walked up to the plate with me in His hands.
The pitcher, Satan, threw a hundred miles per hour fastball on the first pitch to Jesus. The Lord timed the pitch perfectly and smashed it high over the center field fence. He hit a walk-off, game winning home run.
Jesus headed for first base on His home run trot and tossed me − His bat − into the dirt. The crowd stood, cheering and praising Jesus for the victory, but as for me, I laid there, doing nothing and saying nothing.
A batboy came, picked me up and placed me back on the bat rack, waiting to be used sometime in the future by Jesus again.
This simple dream reveals a game within a game whereby we believers move from immaturity to maturity, ending in deaths to our own selfish desires. We are then used by the Lord Jesus to defeat the purposes of Satan.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
RUSSIA’s APPETITE FOR THE UKRAINE IN KINGDOM PERSPECTIVE
Tell a bear to stop eating meat and become vegan, because it is “in and green.” What would that bear do? Probably have you for breakfast…
The biggest challenge for anyone trying to grasp what is going on around the globe has always been this: If you don’t understand God, you won’t understand the world. Most of the Western media outlets trying to report on “Bloody Putin” versus “Oh So Holy NATO” entirely miss this. Same is true for the Russian-controlled press, just the other way around.
A prophetic friend of mine, John Mulinde of Uganda, once said – and I call that Kingdom truth # 1: “God preaches through geography.”
In his insightful book, “Prisoners of Geography“, journalist Tim Marshall describes Russia as a prisoner of its own vast – and vulnerable – geography. He portrays Putin as someone who goes to bed praying: “Why, God, did you not put some mountains into Ukraine?!” Russia has always been most vulnerable towards the Western flatlands – and will forever try to protect its imperial interests there.
On a mundane level, the cultural West often conveniently “forgets” to mention that, as the Soviet Union went bust in 1989, they made a deal with NATO to completely withdraw from East-Germany against the NATO-promise that they will not extend NATO eastwards. Russia kept that deal, NATO absolutely did not. So, Russia – no choirboy in that matter itself – has been betrayed and is agitated.
And if you come too close to a dangerous and hungry bear, setting up a tent right in front of its lair, what will be the outcome? Peace and cozying up? No way, Norway, a country trapped right in between a rock and a hard place.
The Kingdom truth # 2 is: Russia is a prisoner of an imperial spirit placed in it by God himself.
The world has seen its sequence of “Age of Empire” -Jesus calls it the “Kairos of Nations” (in Lk 21:24). Daniel 2 and 7 introduces four creatures that are the hallmark or Totems of four empires that will come and rule on the earth: The “lion with wings like an Eagle”, Babylon; the bear, Medo-Persia; the leopard, Greece; and a mutant-monster chimera, Rome.
These empires are given a time window to be imperial as a corrective and pedagogic measure of God, after his own people had rejected his rule over them (1 Sam 8:7). God simply said: You, my own people, reject me to be who I am, King of kings? OK, then as a homework for the next couple of thousand years, y’all learn what it is to be under the fist of global empires that will fill the God- & King-shaped void. Then you will say: Oh my God, we would have better submitted to you than those brute colonizers!
Kingdom truth #3: These empires still exist; their imperial spirit is still alive, although they are coming swiftly to an end in our very days. If you are just following the beasts, you will see that the first empire (Babylon), is still alive in the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation” with Henry the LION and the EAGLE as its original double-totem (yes, remember Hitler). It does not take much prophetic acumen to see “Russia the Bear” as an heir to the Medo-Persian bear-spirit. And, for the sake of completion, the British Empire, with originally a LEOPARD, not three lions, in its flag, is a continuation of Greece under Alex the Great. And what is left of the USA is nothing but a Roman Empire Spirit gone West – and now soon going South (as in: falling apart). Watch it.
Kingdom Truth #4 is that Russia, called names like Magog, Gog, Thogarma or Mesech (see Ez 38 + 39, and don’t forget Rev 20:6) has a gaff in its cheek, a hook, a leash placed there by God himself (Ez 38:4). The bear is God’s bear and will dance to God’s flute.
Kingdom truth #5: The bear was told by God: “Eat much meat!” (Dan 7:5). Just as every animal on our planet has a divine thought and intention that created it and gave it persona, God makes nations to do the same: To be vessels for good or bad, holy or unholy. Does the pot have the right to tell its potter: Why did you make me like this? No. But it has the right to ask: WHAT is my purpose? And God would answer: You are carrying a partial Kingdom truth as a narrative and message about a world that ran away from me. You are whom I made you to be. And a bear is not a pussycat!
Although most bears actually like being a bear, to be a voracious and devouring bear is not the prettiest and most romantic of animals. Remember that most of the current “Russian population” (in inverted commas because most “Russians” are actually not ethnic Russian) is probably fed up by Czar Putin and his bloody wars (like Afghanistan or Syria).
This is why many in Russia will now turn away from the empire mindset that traps a man like Putin – and start looking for a better framework for their future, a better allegiance than with Soviet Union 2.0. And this search mode will lead many to the discovery that yes, there is exactly such an empire – totally loving, benevolent, powerful and meaningful – under the wise rulership of a Czar of czars. And this empire is called The Kingdom of God, and it is ruled by Jesus the Christ.
Be ready, therefore, for a huge Kingdom harvest in Russia of many who are getting tired of PK – Putin & Kyrill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, running in circles.
Now let’s land on earth again after all these Kingdom perspectives and remember the very earthly truth that what is Russia today actually started in Kiev, as a loose federation of Slavic States called “Kievan Rus,” along the Dnieper River in what is todays – Ukraine!
“I had a vision that showed a black river flowing out of America’s inner cities, filled with black apostles and prophets. Their moral characters were at a level never before witnessed in America.
“No longer would believers have to gaze back at John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, Billy Graham or whomever for examples of godly men because these black apostles and prophets would raise the bar of godliness to a level approaching the character of Jesus… This is the generation of men that America has been longing to see. (Excerpt from Chapter 13 of “A Black River”)
God is never late, but He sure misses lots of opportunities to be early. This is especially true for Black Americans who have suffered through four hundred years of oppression and discrimination while chasing the American dream. The years have all merged themselves together into one long day of weary hopelessness.
But now at last, hope arises. The same God who looked upon Israel’s captivity in Egypt, is looking down on the Black Americans living in our nation’s inner cities and is preparing to act.
How? What? Why?
“A Black River” is one of the most important ebooks published in 2021, especially for those believers hungering for revival.
I recently gave a ride to a married couple. We talked about various subjects, with one of them being our Christian faith.
“Where do you attend church?” I asked.
“Assembly of God,” he replied.
“A charismatic church,” I said.
“Well, they aren’t into that so much anymore,” he replied.
His answer reminded me of what an Assembly of God pastor proclaimed to me almost thirty years ago: “I belong to a Pentecostal denomination that is almost embarrassed of its heritage – speaking in tongues.”
The Assemblies of God, Church of God in Christ and other Pentecostal churches have their roots in the Azusa Street Revival (1906 to 1913). It was during that revival that a black pastor named William Seymour taught on the gifts on the Holy Spirit. He watched thousands of believers being baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and eventually going into all of the world to introduce others to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Most believers, then and now, do not have problems with the gifts of healing, prophecy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, working of miracles and so forth, but there is one gift that carries a heavy stigma with it: speaking in tongues.
Does it make sense to speak in a mysterious language, not understood by other men, and only understood by God? No! It defies logic!
And yet, the early apostles felt every believer needed it:
The Apostle Paul said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2)
If the believers answered Paul negatively, what did the apostle do? He prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit:
And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they began speaking with tonguesand prophesying. (Acts 19:6)
I believe the Lord will soon pour out His Spirit on men and women like He did at the first Pentecost, almost two thousand years ago.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with different tongues, as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out. (Acts 2:4)
This move of the Holy Spirit will totally shake up the Body of Christ. Believers will leave their present churches and seek ones that will allow them to use their gifts. This revival will make the Charismatic Revival of the 1970s and 1980s look small by comparison. It will be a spiritual tsunami!
“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” (Hebrews 12:26)
The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians a couple of years before he was executed. By comparison, the letter was written six or seven years after he wrote his second letter to the Corinthian church.
For I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. (Philippians 4:11 AMP)
How can a person be content while being beaten, flogged, stoned, shipwrecked and more?
Contentment while suffering is not normal for us Americans. We want to voice our complaints on social media or wherever there are sympathetic ears who will commiserate with us in our agony. Misery loves company!
So, how could the Apostle Paul learn how to be content?
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NASB)
Although the above scripture is often used to reinforce our super-Christian mentalities, the scriptural context actually implies that Christ’s strength is there for us in our sufferings.
My prayer for 2022 and beyond:
Lord, teach me how to be content in all things for 2022 and the years beyond, whether it is prosperity or bankruptcy, feast or famine, happiness or grief, because You said that Your strength would empower me to face whatever comes my way.
The best way to compare Tony and me would be to say we’re formed from two different molds. Both of us are committed followers of Jesus, believe in grace to the nth degree and pray often about everything. Yet, I’m more of a hammer looking for a nail to smash while he is more of a teddy bear searching for hurting souls to smother with his love.
One cold morning, Tony and I sat drinking coffee in an old farmhouse we rented. I looked toward my left and saw the world’s fattest mouse sitting in the middle of the linoleum floor. It taunted me with its fearlessness.
“Tony, look at that mouse. We need to kill it,” I said, pointing toward the varmint.
“Oh brother, we can’t do that,” he said. “That is God’s creation and all creatures shall praise the Lord. We need to capture it and then release it outside.”
“Yes, I will not allow you to kill that precious creature.”
Herman the mouse coexisted with us until Tony came up with a method to capture it. How he was planning on doing this, I don’t know, because life interrupted Tony’s plans. His girlfriend, Janelle, stopped for a visit on the next evening. Tony explained about Herman and how he protected the helpless little fellow from mean, nasty Larry.
Janelle reacted by running to the front door.
“I’m not coming back again until that mouse is gone. I hate mice!” she proclaimed before leaving.
Tony walked into the living room where I sat on the sofa.
“What’s your plan now?” I asked.
“We’re going to kill the little sucker!”
Herman died in a trap the next day. His mouse girlfriend, Helen, suffered the same fate the following day. Traps were readied for God’s little furry creatures from that time forward.
“I’m mad at you,” Tony said, looking up at me as I walked into the living room.
“Why?” I asked.
“We don’t have any food in the house because God is working on you.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Of course, it doesn’t make sense, but I’m hungry and you’re the only person I can get mad at right now.”
I walked to the front door and opened it. Three friends stood on the old farmhouse’s front porch.
“Come in,” I said, leading them into the living room.
They removed their coats and sat down on chairs. One of them explained the reason they had stopped to visit us. They needed prayer.
We began praising the Lord and singing songs. The presence of the Lord fell upon us. Then, Tony and I prayed for each of them. They left after a short time of fellowship.
“I’m still hungry and mad at you,” said Tony as soon as their car left the driveway.
Rick and his wife stopped to see us a few minutes later. They walked into the living room carrying sacks of McDonalds. Each had a quarter pounder, French fries, and a milkshake. They proceeded to eat their food in front of us while we watched. All the while we talked about what was happening in our lives.
They finally left.
“I’m really, really mad at you now,” said Tony.
Five minutes passed before another knock rapped on the front door. Rick stood on the porch as I opened the door.
“Brother, the Lord spoke to me to give this to you,” he said, handing me a fifty-dollar bill. He gave me a hug and left.
“Now, I’m mad at you because it’s too late to go out and eat,” said Tony, heading toward his bedroom.
The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity. (President U. S. Grant)
Tony and I lived together before I met Carol and married her and then after our marriage, Tony and his wife, Janelle, lived with us. This happened over a period of two and half to three years back in the late 1990s. We were friends who loved each other and the Lord.
Now fast forward to the worst phone call I have ever had, which happened on Thursday night when I spoke to Janelle and learned that Tony had died from a massive heart attack. I wept, but a numbness hit me that has still not left me.
At 75 years of age, I am sure there will be more phone calls like this in the future as other friends pass away. But I doubt if any of them will ever hurt more than this one.
Harvard’s Spangler Auditorium was filled to capacity. A few people stood at the back of the auditorium, but the fire marshals limited the number to a hundred standing-room-only people. Fortunately, the event was also live-streamed to the whole Harvard community.
The Harvard Crimson labeled the debate: “A Black firebrand professor debates a stuffy white Christian dean on white supremacy in the Church.”
The Black firebrand professor was Dr. Isaiah Rashad, head of racial conflict in America and author of four books, dealing with white supremacy. His scheduled opponent was Dean Jonathan D. Edwards from the Dallas Theological Seminary.
The curtain went up, revealing a podium at center stage with three people sitting behind it: one Black man, one Asian woman and one white man. The woman stood up and walked to the podium.
“Good evening,” she said. “My name is Dr. Clara Chung. I will be the moderator for this debate. I first want to announce a change in the debate. Dean Edwards tested positive for COVID this afternoon and offers his regrets for not being able to be here. The East Coast Vice President for Business Men’s Fellowship and owner of eight restaurants – Harvey Whitman – has graciously offered to take Dean Edwards’ place.”
She paused to check her notes.
“The rules for the debate are simple because there really aren’t any, except each must treat his opponent with the highest respect. Thus, they have the freedom to roam wherever they choose in their dialogues. Each may make an opening statement, not to exceed thirty minutes. After that, it will be an open debate format.
“Because of a coin flip, Dr. Rashad will speak first.” She turned around toward the two men behind her. “Dr. Rashad, the podium is yours. “
Dr. Chung sat down while Dr. Rashad walked to the podium. Rashad looked more like an athlete than an academic with broad shoulders and long cornrow braided hair. His muscular arms bulged inside his tailored black sport coat.
“Thank you, Dr. Chung,” said Dr. Rashad. “And a big thank you to Harvard University for putting on this debate during black history month. I am proud to be a part of Harvard’s faculty, knowing our university desires to be at the forefront of racial changes in America.”
He stood at the podium with the microphone in his hand.
“In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The most segregated hour in this nation is Sunday at 11:00 am. Interestingly enough, a few months before King’s statement, a Gallup poll showed that one in seven Americans believed there was a biblical basis for the separation of races.
“Does anyone seriously believe anything much has changed over the last sixty years?”
Rashad wove the sad American Church narrative from our nation’s early slavery beginnings to the present time. Over and over again, he pointed out how white supremacist attitudes fueled skepticism and resistance to true peace between the races.
“Today’s white Evangelicals are more concerned with checking all of the right boxes without considering that true repentance means more than just saying, ‘We’re sorry.’ It means being willing to walk through the valley of transformation so that both races arrive at true reconciliation, even if that takes twenty to thirty years or more. It’s only then we will see a lasting peace.”
Dr. Rashad looked at his watch, nodded his head to the audience and walked back to his seat.
Dr. Chung walked to the podium.
“Mr. Whitman,” she said, “it is your turn.”
Whitman stood up and slowly walked to the podium.
If the outcome of the debate depended on looks and charisma, Harvey Whitman was at a decided disadvantage. Short, bald, ten pounds overweight and a meek manner certainly did not play well on most stages, especially following someone like Rashad.
Whitman picked up the handheld wireless microphone and walked back and forth across the front of the stage with his head down and his eyes almost closed. He said nothing for a few minutes. The crowd moved restlessly in their seats.
Then, he stopped and spoke. “Dr. Rashad accurately laid out the problems facing the American Church with its racial issues. I only disagree with him on one point – that it will take twenty to thirty years to work through these problems. And I will prove him wrong in the next twenty minutes.”
He stopped walking and looked toward the crowd to the left of him. He pointed with his left hand.
“Right over there, about twenty rows from the front, is a young woman named Tina Andrews. Tina, would you please stand up? Don’t be shy! The Lord has something for you.”
A young black woman stood up.
The crowd gasped. How could this man know Tina’s name?
Whitman paid no attention to the crowd and said, “I feel that Lord has just shown me that you received some bad news yesterday. Is that correct??
Tears dripped down her face as she nodded her head.
“The Lord is going to heal you of cervical cancer right now in Jesus’ name.”
The woman screamed and fell over backwards into her chair.
Whitman moved to the center of the stage and pointed into the crowd.
“Denzel Martin, stand up.”
No one obeyed his command. The crowd looked around.
“Okay, that would be Denzel Martin at 227 Eighth Avenue, Apartment 2. Do you want me to give out your phone number, too?
A black man stood up, shaking his head.
Once again, the crowd gasped and murmured aloud, wondering how he knew Denzel.
“You just flunked your vision test to be a pilot in the Air Force, right?” Whitman said.
The man nodded his head.
“The Lord is going to heal your eyes right now in Jesus’ name.”
The black man fell over backwards into his chair.
“Denzel, go have your eyes rechecked tomorrow. They will be better than 20/20.”
Whitman called out the names of eight more people over the following fifteen minutes. He accurately told them their problems and then prayed for their healings.
“Has everyone noticed that I have only prayed for black people tonight?” said Whitman. “Okay, have any of these black people cared about my skin color? No! They were just happy that someone was able to walk in the spiritual gifts to help them out of some major problems in their lives.”
Whitman walked to the front of the stage and looked at the crowd with blazing eyes.
“We can debate. We can talk. We can write. We can do all of this and more, but this will take years to unravel all of our racial problems. Or we can learn how to walk in the gifts of the Spirit and do miracles for each other. If we learn how to do this, it will break down whatever barriers are holding us back in a short period of time. Do you realize this is what Jesus did? Shouldn’t we do the same?”
Dr. Rashad walked over and hugged Whitman.
(Just so everyone knows: I modeled Harvey Whitman’s spiritual gifts on the ministries of William Branham and Paul Cain.)