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.)
The female pastor walked to the pulpit and began her eulogy for my friend Brad. I have no idea what she said because the Lord chose that moment to speak to me.
I felt Him whisper to my heart:
“My church is a bunch of nice losers. They lay their hands on the sick and pray for them, but when they die, they aren’t mad at all. They don’t check themselves out to see what happened or what they may have done wrong with their prayers and actions. They accept defeats and don’t think any more about them.
“Now, Major League baseball teams are all filled with good players. Each player has to be one of the best in the world to make it to the Major Leagues. Losing teams have good players on their rosters, too. But after a while, losing teams’ players don’t mind losing because after all, they still receive their Major League paychecks and bonuses.
“But winning Major League baseball teams are different. They hate losing and will do anything and whatever it takes to win. They hate losing.
“I want My church to hate losing!”
This time the grief, which hit me, measured a ten on the Richter Scale. (Excerpt from my memoir, The Hunt for Larry Who)
These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” (Mark 16:17-18)
I have prayed for numerous sick people in the last few years. What have been the results? Many have died and others have continued on in their ailments. I’m not exactly a ringing endorsement for the truths of Mark 16:18.
Finally, I am fed up and angry about my efforts!
You see, I mirrored what the Church as a whole has been doing. Like them, I’ve gone through all of the traditional motions. Anointing the sick with oil. Laying hands on them. And tossing prayers out there for their healing. Maybe even fasting a little. But I failed to ask myself some tough questions: why are the sick still dying after my prayers? Why are they still ailing and crippled? What am I doing wrong?
I have become like the losing Major League baseball teams. I didn’t hate losing…until now.
Recently, I sought the Lord on what I was doing wrong.
Yes, I have seen healing miracles through these gifts over the years, but to be honest, these gifts have not been consistently working through me in the last few years. And from my observations, these gifts haven’t been working that well in the Church as a whole.
You see, the Church and I have been guilty of trying to walk in the gifts used by Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts, William Branham, Jack Coe, Paul Cain, A. A. Allen and others during the healing revival of the 1940s and 1950s. But the problem is that healing revival is over and the next healing revival has not arrived here as yet. We are living in the in-between time period.
So, what changes am I planning on doing in the future?
But Jesus turned around and when He saw her, He said, “Be of good cheer, your faith has made you well…(Matthew 9:22)
Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well… (Mark 10:52)
And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19)
This man was listening to Paul as he spoke. Paul looked at him intently and saw that he had faith to be made well (Acts 14:9 NASB)
I plan on giving a short teaching to each person that I pray for. Something like this:
“Listen, I am going to anoint you with oil and lay my hands on you according to James 5:14- 15 which states that my prayer of faith will heal you. Do you believe that? If you are instantly healed, we will both rejoice.
“But if you aren’t instantly healed, do not despair because instant healing is not always the Lord’s way. Instead, it will probably be through your faith. My anointing you with oil and praying a prayer of faith will be your point of contact to activate your faith in the Lord for your healing. Our belief is that the Lord will eventually say to you, ‘Your faith has made you well.’
“Do you believe that?”
Healing by faith works. We need to learn how to walk in it and also teach people how to receive their healing through faith.
A few weeks ago, I had a vivid dream in which I saw Americans struggling with today’s COVID issues. Masks. Six-foot distancing. Vaccines. Possible vaccine passports. All of us felt so frustrated with the foolishness and hype attached to these issues. We just wanted to return to normal.
But next in the dream, I saw new strains of COVID hitting our nation. The foolishness and hype ramped itself up again with new government mandates as politicians hoped to remain in control of each outbreak. Everything happened quickly but the politicians always seemed to answer all questions with: “Let’s follow the science.”
Then, in the dream, new plagues and pestilences hit America.
No longer were a mere 1 – 2% of the people dying from the diseases, but now, 10 – 20% were dying. Pharmaceutical companies, scientists, the media and politicians threw their hands in the air. They no longer had answers. Chaos and hysteric pandemonium reigned throughout America!
I felt so overwhelmed in the dream. There seemed to be no hope.
The dream finally ended.
Maybe your first thoughts upon reading about my dream is: “God wouldn’t allow that to happen! He’s a God of love. This guy must have had a bad pizza experience.”
And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people…. (2 Chronicles 36:15 NKJ)
Like many of you, I am frustrated with the administration, our governments and the media. I feel – with rare exceptions – these institutions have mishandled COVID 19 and its various strains.
But at the same time, I also realize the Lord God Almighty has allowed the administration, various governments and the media to be set in place for this time period. This is the hand we are dealt with by the Lord and how we play it out may well determine the life and death outcomes for many people. Maybe even our children and grandchildren!
So, at the very least, pray about my dream and ask the Lord for discernment.
If you feel the Lord has told you to ignore the warning, God bless you.
If you believe my dream is a warning from the Lord, then you have two options:
I had a vision in the first month of 2021 in which I saw a train speeding across the plain states. Somehow, I knew the train represented America.
My perspective changed in the vision and I saw hundreds of miles ahead of the train. There I saw a deep gorge, but the bridge over the deep chasm was out. The train was heading toward disaster!
My perspective changed again in the vision and I was inside the train. There I watched Christians preoccupy themselves with attempting to change the train’s engineer and crew to their viewpoints or if that didn’t work, to set in place a new engineer and crew. It was loud and competitive! A few people had divine insights about the disaster lying ahead of the train and attempted to warn the Body of Christ, but their seemingly mere whispers were drowned out by the louder voices concerned with the engineer and train crew.
I then felt the Holy Spirit ask me: “Do you want to board the train and attempt to warn people? Or do you want to spend your time preparing for the upcoming disaster?
I chose the latter.
The vision ended.
“Politics is one of the Church’s worst problems. It is her constant temptation. The occasion for some of her worst disasters. It is a trap set for her by the prince of this world.” (Jacque Ellul)
Yes, we should vote for good, moral men/women to represent us. This is our civic duty and I believe the Lord endorses our efforts in carrying out these obligations.
I believe the Church needs to wash its hands of ever endorsing a political party or any candidates. Let each believer make up his or her mind without any judgmental attitudes from churches or its leaders. Period.
Yes, it’s been quite a while since I’ve written a new article. But it’s not like I haven’t had some ideas, it’s just that I ended up deleting all of them before finishing a first paragraph.
Did I suffer from “writers’ block?” No! I suffered from “Holy Spirit block?”
Holy Spirit block?
I use this term to explain how my inner man feels when the Holy Spirit does not show up while I’m writing. It’s taken years to develop this inner sense so that it now feels like a gigantic STOP sign, halting my progress. So far, this block has kept me out of major writing problems.
As some of you may remember from an article I wrote in January 2020 (Ride #955), I drive for a ride share company. Every problem I mentioned in that article is still a thorn in my flesh today, but now, I’m 75 years old and still dying daily as the Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian Church.
My block ended with Ride #5795. (That’s not a typo. I now have over 5,800 rides!)
I picked up a tall, well-built, good looking young man named Jason in Scottsdale, Arizona. My app showed his destination as being the Cubs Baseball Park on Rio Salado Parkway in Mesa.
That address was too much for me to contain my curiosity. “Are you a baseball player?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Major league or minor league?”
“I’ve been up and down over the years.”
“Infielder, outfielder or pitcher?”
“Pitcher. I’m on rehab assignment right now and hoping to get another chance in the major leagues later this year.”
“Even though I’ve suffered through arm problems in the past, this time I injured my ankle.”
“Yes, they traded him to the Chicago White Sox, which I think is the perfect trade for a player.”
“Then, your wife and children don’t have to pack up and move to another city.”
This one answer touched my heart. You see, Jason has his priorities in the right place. Family first. Career second.
It wasn’t until later when I checked Jason out on the internet that I learned he was a devoted Christ follower. You can check him out on Twitter here, or read about his accident here.
Okay, so what’s the big deal about Jason Adam, the baseball player?
I really believe the Lord has His hand on Jason’s life. I really believe the struggles Jason has suffered through for almost ten years has been allowed by the Lord so He can mold this almost thirty-year old man into a Major League Baseball star. Why? So, Jason can be a witness to God’s faithfulness and an example of what God can do for those who persevere.
My prayer for Jason:
Lord, do the same for Jason as You did for Lazarus when you called him out of the grave by saying, “Jason, come forth.”
Through Satan’s coup d’état and by default, Adam and all future subjects on earth, were placed under the reign and authority of Satan and his angelic government.
Spiritual warfare has been fought between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness since the Garden of Eden. The King desires to reclaim His subjects under His righteous reign while Satan hopes to continue his government of enslavement, depravity, and sin. The battles still rages today.
For us believers, we are dual subjects while we live on earth, in that, we are royal sons of the King, but still live in a world ruled by Satan. Our dual citizenship poses daily problems for us.
Another example, Jesus answered the disciples’ questions about when things would happen by prophesying in Matthew 24: 4-31. The disciples would have thought Jesus was referring to the destruction of the Temple. Yet, when Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D., not all of the scriptures were fulfilled. The complete fulfillment will occur during the tribulation.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So, the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelations 12:7-9)
If you read Revelations Chapter 11 and all of Chapter 12, the only conclusion you can reach is that this will happen during the tribulation. But I believe an early fulfillment of this prophecy happened when Satan and a third of God’s angels rebelled against God and were cast out of God’s third heaven. I believe these angels then became Satan’s demonic hierarchy in his kingdom of darkness.
I watched various students crisscrossing the Campanile Esplanade on their way to classes. They looked normal, wearing typical college apparel. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. My spiritual eyes then kicked in, and what appeared normal in the natural realm was not so normal in the spiritual one.
Have you ever seen pictures of a flying dinosaur known as a pterodactyl? It has a long, slender head with a mouth of sharp teeth, scaly-like body, web-like wings, and talons for feet. This sort of resembles the creatures I saw, sitting on the shoulders of almost every student walking below me. Each creature was the size of a large crow and had wolf hair on its body and a slender rat’s tail. They constantly whispered into the ears of students while holding a wing over the students’ other ears. The creatures also defecated and vomited on the students so that each person dripped with slop and sewage. It was ghastly and I yearned to warn the students.
“Follow those two over there,” said the angel, pointing toward two guys.
I focused on the two students. They continued talking to each other as they walked into a free speech area where a street evangelist preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. Both stopped and listened. I watched the pterodactyl-like creatures use their beaks to snatch the seeds of the gospel out of the twosome’s hearts with swift surgeon-like precision. The two students walked away after a few minutes, none the better for their experiences.
I wanted to shout and warn everyone. Someone needed to do it. Why not me?
The angel touched my shoulder again with his hand. I turned toward him.
“Now, it’s time for your spiritual ears to be opened.”
He reached up and touched both of my ears with his hands.
Wouldn’t you think it would be quiet in the spiritual realm over the University of California, Berkeley? Well, it is not. There is constant clamor, reverberating throughout the whole atmosphere, most of which comes from the ruling principality. But what really shocked me was the demonic principality’s words mirrored the liberal attitudes on the campus, from the deans down to the professors, and then, to the students. The religious principality constantly spewed out proclamations like:
“All white Americans are racists… All wars are immoral and wrong… Homosexuality is not a sin… Pro-choice is a woman’s right… Same-sex marriage is morally acceptable…Traditional Christianity is irrelevant, mean, hateful, judgmental, and dogmatic…Jesus never said anything about homosexuality…Jesus is the Way which is open to other ways, such as Hare Krishna, Buddha, and Mohammad…God is a God of love and not judgment… Satan and demons are fictional beings, thought up by fundamentalist nuts…The Bible contains no more authority than the Koran, Buddhist sutras, Veda, and other spiritual writings…Creating social justice is the main emphasis of the gospel…Global warming is a Christian stewardship concern…”
I stood there with my mouth open, drool running down my chin.
“Hey, many of these statements I agree with,” I muttered aloud, not realizing I had done so.
“And that’s why you are deceived.”
“Yes, you and most liberal Christians who believe such garbage.”
“But, but –”
“Not only are you deceived, but your faith is dead when it agrees with Satan’s agenda. He’s always a liar, even when his words sound like truth. Your faith, in order to have life, must be based on what the Lord has stated in Scripture and is presently saying to His church.”
I kept quiet as his words ripped my theology apart.
He paused for a beat or two.
“Not only is this IOU collection day, but it is your deliverance day,” he said in an authoritative voice. “Your past deception, your dead faith, and your deliverance from all of it will give you an understanding of the spiritual battles taking place on America’s college campuses, beginning with the University of California, Berkeley.”
His eyes locked on mine.
“But how –” I stopped myself. How could I complain when I did not know what I was talking about?
The angel almost grinned.
“Now, you’re starting to learn.”
He pointed down again.
There just below us, was a student resembling a fluorescent light bulb walking across the esplanade. She lit up the whole area around her as she hurried on her way. Unlike the others, she did not have a creature sitting on her shoulder, but instead, one hovered around her head, trying to alight on her, but for some reason, the creature could not land. Deep frustration etched a gully in the creature’s face.
“Listen,” said the angel.
My ears adjusted themselves to only listening to the girl. Her footsteps and the movement of her arms came through loud and clear, but also something else.
“Dee, dee, bah, bah, hooka mah hundae,” she whispered over and over.
She spoke in tongues as she walked along.
“Your message to Christians on college campuses is very simple,” said the angel. “It’s the same one Paul gave to the believers in Ephesus when he said, ‘Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Then he added, “In case you have forgotten, these scriptures are located in Ephesians 6: 17-18.”