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.
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.)
Eusebius, an early Church historian, stated that Matthew wrote his Gospel in 41 A.D. If this is true, then maybe the Apostle Paul had already read Matthew’s book when Paul wrote his second letter to the church in Thessalonica in 52 A. D.
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day ofthe Lord had come. 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 2:1-3 NKJ)
Paul gave two specific events that had to occur before the day of the Lord occurred: (1) the falling away of professed Christians from their faith and (2) the Antichrist is openly revealed for all to see.
Now, where did Paul get this information? Did he receive it solely through the Holy Spirit or was he also inspired by Matthew’s Gospel?
It’s just an interesting possibility that we’ll probably not know until we arrive in heaven. But look what Jesus said in Mathew’s Gospel:
And at that time many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another.
Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand (Matthew 24:10, 15 NASB)
Even though Jesus and Paul warned us about the great falling away, what is the American church doing to prepare their congregations ahead of time?
90 – 95% of America’s Evangelical churches are not teaching on the end times or the Book of Revelation. This becomes even sadder when one considers that Jesus admonished us to understand the end times in Matthew 24:15.
In the weeks ahead, let’s take a look at what we can do to prepare ourselves for the end times so we do not end up being casualties in the “great falling away.”
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.
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.”
“I had a vision that showed a black river flowing out of America’s inner cities, filled with black apostles and prophets. Their moralcharacters 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 long days 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 books published in 2021, especially for those believers hungering for revival.
After writing quite a few blog posts on the 2020 election, I decided to write a short book on the 2020 Presidential Election:
Over forty years of America treading down a path of superficial spirituality has brought us to this moment of time, with Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.
How could the Lord have let Evangelical Christians down? What about all of the prophecies proclaiming a victory for Donald Trump? Didn’t God understand the importance of the 2020 presidential election? What about Israel? What about Planned Parenthood and abortions? What about our religious freedoms? What about this? What about that?
What did God really accomplish by allowing Joe Biden to win the 2020 Presidential election?
This book answers many questions about how white Evangelical Christianity, the Prophetic Movement and the Republican Party have ended up in the mess we are in right now. And what we can do to move forward.
I stood on a starting line waiting for a race. A man dressed in a long white robe stood off to my left, wearing leather sandals on his feet. His dark beard and long hair framed his bronze face. He held a starter’s gun in his hand and nodded at me.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
I pulled up my red track shorts, yanked my white athletic t-shirt outside my shorts for more freedom of movement, and checked to see if my shoestrings were tied tightly on my Nike running shoes. Everything seemed ready. I nodded back at him.
“Now remember,” he said, “you need to go as fast as you can. This is a timed race. You only have a limited amount of time to finish it, okay?
I looked over the racecourse. In the distance, I saw the finish line with healing, deliverance, prosperity, miracles, wonders, peace, and joy awaiting me on the other side. Between the starting and finishing lines stretched an obstacle course. Posts sticking out of the ground. Fences. Brick walls. Quicksand pits. Mud bogs. Trees. Rivers. Water falls. Railroad tracks. Highways. Tunnels. Dangerous cliffs. A narrow path zigzagged its way through the course like a switchback jungle road. It looks easy enough, I thought, just stay on the path and run as fast as I can.
I nodded again to him.
I got down on my haunches.
I rose into a sprinter’s position. My feet and legs strained, set to slingshot my body forward.
“But first, you’ll need this,” he said before firing the gun.
He walked over and covered my eyes with a black blindfold. Not one ray of light touched my eyes. I could not see a thing, not even my feet.
“Now, don’t forget, you must go as fast as you can.”
I heard a faint whispering behind me, a soft voice saying something. I paid no attention to it.
I took off like an Olympic sprinter, running as fast as I could.
I hit a post and fell to the ground. My nose felt like it was broken with blood gushing from it. The warm wetness soaked through my t-shirt. It hurt so much I wanted to just lie there and quit.
The dark haired starter walked over and stood above me.
“Now, don’t forget this is a timed race. You need to run as fast as you can.”
I struggled to my feet. As I did, the same soft voice whispered words behind me. But again, I paid no attention and took off running.
I fell into a quicksand pit and found myself sinking under the heavy glop. The more I flailed my arms and legs, the faster I sank. The sandy goop soon reached my neck, not far from my nose.
“Help me, Lord,” I shouted.
My body relaxed and I floated over to the edge, crawling out of the pit. I flopped down there. It was all I could do to catch my breath from the all-out physical effort of trying to survive. I wanted to quit.
“Don’t forget. This is a timed race. You need to go as fast as you can,” the starter exclaimed.
Why I stood up, I don’t know. Maybe I was a glutton for punishment or possibly a modern day Don Quixote searching for futile endeavors to joust against. I brushed the sand off my legs and attempted to clean my shoes. I once more heard what sounded like soft whispers in the background, but like the earlier times, I ignored them.
My sense of direction was completely out of kilter. I could not figure up from down, let alone north, south, east, or west. However, I gave it the old college try and took off running.
I fell into a deep river with fast-moving waters rushing over me. The hurtling rapids sent me flying downstream in a haphazard manner, smashing my body against rocks and floating logs. I attempted to swim toward shore, but the full force of the current battered my body, flinging me about like a rag doll in a typhoon.
“Lord, help me!” I screamed.
My hand reached out and grasped a tree limb. I pulled myself across the stream, hand over hand on the limb, and climbed onto the shore. This was the end. I couldn’t handle anymore.
I heard the soft voice whispering to me once again. This time I gave it my full attention and listened.
“Stand up,” said the gentle voice.
I obeyed it.
“Okay, now turn to your right ninety degrees.”
Again, I obeyed.
“Walk four steps ahead and stop.”
I walked ahead and waited for the next command.
“Turn forty-five degrees to your left.”
“You went too far. Turn to your right five degrees.”
I adjusted myself in accordance with the instructions.
“Walk ten steps forward and wait.”
I stopped after walking ten steps.
“Won’t this take a long time to finish the obstacle course,” I said.
The gentle voice laughed.
“My system is the fastest way through the obstacle course. However, you can always choose to return to your running blindly method, but as you have learned, that can be extremely painful. What do you want to do?” the voice said.
“Lord, what’s Your next instruction?”
Then I awoke with a Bible verse on my mind:
“Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21 NLT).