Sunday, December 31, 2017
A Warning From the Lord Regarding America's Future
If She Doesn't Change Her Ways
by Pastor Paul J. Bern
To view this on my website, click here :-)
For my final posting for 2017, I'm going to pass along another warning from the Lord regarding the future of our country, or the future of the USA if the reader lives elsewhere. First, let me point out that prophecy doesn't mean being able to foretell the future. That's called divination, which is of the occult, which is essentially a form of Satanic worship. Prophecy, in the scriptural sense, simply means affirmatively declaring the Word of God, or of conveying the will of God and letting it be known with precision. For example, if I say, “Jesus will return next Christmas Eve”, that's a prediction of the future, and in this case a pretty bad one. But if I say, “Everyone act, think and live as if Jesus will return by next Christmas, for He will return at an hour when many do not expect him”, then I have prophesied the Word of God by allowing myself to be used as a vessel for God's Word to humankind, or as a conduit for God's awesome power (which is beyond all human imagination). And so allow me a few paragraphs and yourself several minutes to relate what I believe is this important Word from the Lord God Almighty through his Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb that was slain and yet lives!
As it was in the times of the prophets of old, so it is today – “my people perish due to a lack of knowledge”. Everyone today seems filled with book knowledge, and yet can't perform basic life skills like preparing a budget, reading a local bus schedule or changing a flat tire. America's days as a superpower, both militarily and economically, are just about over. Do you not see what is happening all around you? Your government is printing money at maximum speed to keep your rigged capitalist economic system, a system based on indebtedness and greed that is a laughingstock both up in heaven and down in hell, from imploding. It is as plain and bright as the daytime sunshine God created that America's pyramid-schemed economic system has run its course. It will soon be exactly as it was written by my beloved son and apostle John, “In her heart she boasts, 'I sit as queen, I am not a widow, and I will never mourn'. Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning, and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry, 'Woe! Woe, oh great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!'” (Revelation chapter 18, verses 7-10)
A controversy has been raised for centuries regarding the identity of “Babylon, city of power” mentioned above. In times of old, most people of faith concluded that it was the Vatican. More recently, Islam has been declared the culprit, but I'm not sure that's the case either. Granted, the Islamic nations are mentioned in Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39 as being in alliance with “the king of the north”, which likely includes Russia. So we can rule out the Catholic and Muslim faiths. Guess what modern country is left? Is there anyone who still doubts that this passage of Scripture was written about our country, the United States? Go back and read that again, or better yet, read Revelation chapter eighteen in its entirety, it's all right there in black and white. “In one hour her doom (will) come”....
The US is the world's biggest (by far) military power. We're also #1 globally in homicides, the production of pornography, first in the number of people in prison, and the only developed industrialized nation that withholds medical care and higher education from its population unless we pay exorbitant prices to obtain them. Never mind that medical care, together with higher education and internet access, are fundamental, basic human rights. When the government – any government – sins against its own people, it sins collectively against God! So how else is the US government sinning against God? Our dollar, or more accurately the rate they are being printed, makes a major currency devaluation likely, possibly even in the near future. This is particularly true if the abuses on Wall Street, as well as Washington, DC, continue unabated. This huge cover-up of the abuse of power will result in America's destruction unless it is all forcibly stopped immediately! If the US does not repent of these egregious sins and get its house in order, God will punish our country with more economic hardship, natural disasters and plagues than it has ever seen in her lifetime. I know there are those who will not take my warning seriously, but I remind you that the future of our country is at stake. I do not speak for myself, but I speak on the Lord's behalf through Christ Jesus his Son. He is the composer of this message; I'm just a courier of his.
We have taken the earth that God created and ruined it. Everything is polluted, even our own bodies. Oil residue still exists on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and western Florida more than 7 years after that oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico; the seafood (not OUR seafood, since it all belongs to God) is contaminated with mercury and hundreds of tons of scrap plastic; our livestock are catching deadly new strains of the flu, and our IQ's become ever more diminished due to ingesting fluoridated water for decades. Autism, once thought to have originated from childhood vaccines, is now being more correctly understood as having environmental rather than medical causes and origins. We're doing all this to ourselves. Humanity has collectively become suicidal, and we're taking the whole stinkin' planet with us on the way out. We have collectively become insane, and it's all because of a group of psychopaths that have hijacked the US for their own enrichment. Since it is ourselves, the bottom 99%, who are on the receiving end of all this abuse, we will have to band together to get out of this untenable situation. For some ideas on how you can peacefully fight back, get a copy of my book “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome” from this link.
Hard times are coming, of that we can all be sure. Wars threaten to break out everywhere we look. God has shown me that gas rationing and food rationing are both in America's future. Poverty will increase by leaps and bounds, creating a permanent underclass of Americans who will become the spearhead of a Second American Revolution. Civil unrest is definitely coming, the likes of which haven't been seen since the 1960's. Rioting may occur in (hopefully) isolated areas, and people may have to stay barricaded in their homes and apartments for days and weeks at a time. With 70% of America's economy dependent on consumer spending, this is ominous to say the least. If and when the dollar collapses – a very real possibility – all these things will be much worse (God forbid). The Bible warns us that “a day is coming when no one will be able to work”. We have been taking our privileged lives for granted for too long. God is a patient and loving God who is slow to anger but swift and sure regarding his punishment for those who willfully disobey. When we take a look around us, we see our neighborhoods, subdivisions, schools, churches, businesses, and industries, and all the infrastructure associated with them. Yet God is warning you all that even the tallest tower – which here in Atlanta is just over 52 stories – will not be left standing upon the arrival of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. It is only then, when the arrival of Christ Jesus splits the Mount of Olives in two, that “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord”. You children of his are all just about out of time.
Monday, December 25, 2017
Friday, December 22, 2017
“The Apostles In Plain English Vol. 1: the Apostle Paul” by Rev. Paul J. Bern (c) 2017 by Rev. Paul J. Bern and CreateSpace.com
Five years in the making, this first of a series is a lot more than just a compilation of Bible studies. This collection of Paul's writings presents them from a broader perspective that are much more applicable to modern life than one might expect.
This study of Paul's writings is done from a whole new 21st century perspective that is sure to educate while making the process enjoyable. Over 500 pages of enlightenment! A must-read for believers, whether they attend church or not! An inspirational guide for secular folks too!
Watch the video at https://youtu.be/N4RXD3iOnxI
The Love Chapter
[1st Corinthians chapter 13]
Today in our continuing study of 1st Corinthians we will cover chapter 13, which is sometimes called “the love chapter” by ministers, Bible scholars, and independent pastors like myself. This 13th chapter is not only a deeply meaningful and eloquent piece of scripture, it has literary beauty as well. The words flow like a gently running stream through a magnificent landscape of cascading spirituality, defining what true love is and how it is shared between ourselves and others in compassionate and tender fashion. Let me begin this lesson at verse one right away. This chapter of 1st Corinthians is so good it won't wait!
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1st Cor. 13, verses 1-3)
When the apostle Paul wrote these words he was not writing about love in a physical sense and he was not commenting on being married vs. remaining single. He was writing about the kind of love that Jesus said we should all have in abundance as He taught us about the two greatest commandments. When asked about this during His ministry, Jesus replied, “These two commandments are that you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and that you must love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commands rest all the law and the prophets.” And so it doesn't matter what we do for God if we have no love for serving others and do not practice putting them before ourselves as I try to do with this ministry. All the effort in the world will come to nothing if we have no love in our hearts. Paul then goes on to point out the meaning of that statement.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1st Cor. 13, verses 4-6)
I could say that this passage is pretty much self-explanatory and move on, but before I do let me comment on what the inverse of this scripture looks like. When Paul wrote that love is patient and kind, he was warning us against being impatient, demanding, unkind and mean. Paul was also telling us that there will be no bullies in heaven. Bullying is completely un-Christian, and this kind of behavior must be opposed in the name of Jesus at every turn. Moreover, when Paul wrote that love is not envious, boastful or proud he was warning us – and the entire Church – against being jealous, arrogant, obnoxious and conceited. When Paul wrote that love is not rude or self-seeking, he was reminding us to be considerate of others while warning us not to be belligerent, controlling or manipulative because such behavior never comes from God.
When Paul wrote that love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs, he was reminding us to control our tempers, to never hold grudges (especially for very long), and to never be abusive towards others for any reason. When Paul wrote that love rejoices with the truth and never delights in evil, he was reminding us that standing against social and economic injustice and the abuse of power is the responsibility of Christians everywhere, as Rev. Dr. King Jr. (who was himself a minister of the Gospel) so memorably reminded us of a generation ago. If love always protects, then it is never negligent nor does it lack diligence. If love always trusts then it is never dishonest. If love always perseveres, then love is relentless, never giving up. Let me now continue our study of this truly beautiful passage of Scripture.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away;For we know in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” (1st Cor. 13, verses 8-10)
“Love never fails”. Even though the world around us is coming apart at the seams, love will still be standing when it implodes because God, who is eternal, is the personification of love. Even though marriages fail, love will drive men or women to seek another relationship to replace it. Even though our country's unsustainable debt-based economic policies threaten to crash the capitalist financial system straight into the ground (and make no mistake, that is exactly what will ultimately occur), love will still be standing even when your money is no good anymore (and that day is also coming, so take heed). Even though nations go to war, love always rebuilds the population when the war finally ends. And it is love from which we derive compassion and empathy, two more human virtues that similarly never fail.
Before I move on, let me comment briefly on verse 10, “For we know in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” Knowing and prophesying in part is an acknowledgment of our one-on-one relationship with Christ Jesus. We know Him through our daily walk with Him, through being in an ongoing state of prayer, and we proclaim his Word because we have read it, understood it and are actively obeying it. We only know Jesus in part because we have never actually seen Him, but our faith in Him makes up the difference. Still, until He returns, we only know Him “in part”. “But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears”. The word perfection in this verse symbolizes and is used as a synonym for Christ. So when He returns, our imperfect relationship with Him will be made perfect because we will have seen Him and in so doing we will be achieving Spiritual fulfillment. Now that I have analyzed this I will move on and finish this up.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1st Cor. 13, verses 11-13)
Paul is comparing maturing from a child to an adult to our growth in faith in Christ as we are first transformed from lost nonbelievers to born-again Christians and then subsequently becoming ever stronger in our walk with our Savior. As of now, we can only hope to emulate Jesus as best as we can, and we freely choose to believe in Him and to uphold the sacredness of His name even though we have never seen Him. But one fine day we shall all see Him face to face, and we will all instantly recognize Him. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully...; our journey as Christians does not end until we are with Jesus in heaven in New Jerusalem, to dwell with Him forever.
Love is the greatest virtue, it has no equal and thus reigns supreme because its source is from God, a supreme being. True Christian love is unconditional, with nothing held back. It is not selfish or egocentric, it is not used cynically to manipulate or control people, nor is it given in exchange for anything, but instead it is distributed freely and always without expecting anything in return. The three greatest virtues as Paul names them are faith, hope and love – but “the greatest of these is love”. Jesus said in the gospel of John, “A new command I give you, that you are to love one another”. If we just focused all our energy on this one thing, the world would quickly become a far more enjoyable and much safer place to live. And that's a worthwhile goal anytime.
Get the digital edition on Kindle ($7.99) at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=the+apostles+in+plain+english+1%3A+the+apostle+Paul
Buy direct from the author ($19.95) at http://www.pcmatl.org/#!books-and-donations/c17et
Get it in audio format on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Apostles-Plain-English-Vol-Appearance/dp/B0746TTGBN/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503076680&sr=1-1&keywords=the+apostles+in+plain+english+vol.+1%3A+the+apostle+Paul
Watch the video at https://youtu.be/N4RXD3iOnxI
Happy holidays from Rev. Paul J. Bern
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Does Anybody Really Know What Time This Is?
Does Anybody Really Care?
By Web pastor Paul J. Bern
This week's commentary is titled the same as that 1970 song by “Chicago”. The holiday season is what time it is. Question is, does anybody really care about the original reason we celebrate Christmas? Thanksgiving is long gone, Christmas is this coming week, and it will be 2018 before you know it. Some will say to themselves, “I'm so glad it's the holidays, I love this time of year”, and really mean it. Others will say the same thing but inwardly they are always relieved when it's all over and done with. And then there are still others who struggle to get through the holidays, those for whom this is a stressful time. Is it any wonder people get stressed about this time of year? All the frenzied shopping and materialistic acquisition of the latest gadgets, the most up-to-date technologies, the loveliest jewelry, the finest watches and accessories for men and women, and all the new clothes, are soon followed by all the returns, swaps and refunds, and let's not forget the miserable traffic jams while we're at it. Let's remind ourselves one more time – why are we doing this? Because it's the holidays, and everybody loves the holidays because everybody loves to shop! Right? I mean, we all do think and act like everyone else as we're supposed to, right? Or is that anywhere near being a correct statement?
The ugly truth is that we have been programmed to behave this way. For generations we have been bombarded with advertisements via the media. First it was newspaper, then radio, then TV became the biggest player in advertising and marketing until the Internet came along, and the Web will soon eclipse them all in terms of sheer volume. Back in the days before the Internet some sales were made in stores, but many other products were sold door-to-door, and a lot of people wouldn't buy anything that way because they were afraid to trust door-to-door salespeople, and sometimes for good reason. Well, the large volume of advertisements of all variations that we see today on TV or the Internet, or that we hear on the radio, are a lot like those door-to-door salespeople of a generation or two ago. People don't listen to or watch the ads for the most part. They are regarded as a nuisance that one can't do much about. Suppose, just for a moment, that the Internet didn't exist. What if all those TV, radio and Internet ads were door-to-door salespeople? It would be like going back to 1960! It would also mean your doorbell would ring once every minute 24/7! That works out to 1,440 doorbell rings per day, 365 days a year. Well, if nobody would put up with that, why do they put up with all the ads? The answer is because we have been brainwashed, conditioned to accept advertisements not as just a part of everyday living – there will always be ads, even in space someday – but as a necessary part of life.
OK, let's step back and look at this from a broader perspective. It is indisputable that we are programmed to spend, and this is true throughout the Western hemisphere. Who benefits from this bastardization of the birth of our Lord and Savior? Where does all the money we spend at Christmas time wind up? Walmart? Target? Sears? Amazon? Their stockholders get a portion, granted, and the company gets better capitalized, that's true. The rest of it goes to the top 1% of the richest people in America and Western Europe, and let's not forget Canada and Japan while we're at it. There are about 400 families globally who control roughly 40% of the liquid assets of the entire world. They are the ones who are ultimately pocketing our money after all the counting is done after Christmas. They are the ones running the ads with all the subliminal messages while directing them at your children and grandchildren. They are the ones who want to get in between your ears and mess around with your brain. Why knock on your door to sell you something when they can come at you right through your television or computer screen? The only solution to this is to unplug your TV's and unsubscribe from your cable or satellite company.
The 400 richest families mentioned above are also the ones who fund the international banking system with portions of their proceeds. This means these 400 families help fund Monsanto so they can poison the ground we grow our food in, they fund 'Big Pharma' so we can be pumped full of drugs of often questionable value, and they help fund the “black projects” like HAARP and the blanketing of our earth with “chemtrails” that poison the air. They also fund the Wall Street bankers who are stealing us blind. And all this is being marketed and advertised by way of those ads we all get thrown in our faces on a continuous basis. I won't presume to speak for anyone else here, but is anybody else besides me fed up with the current state of affairs to the point that we are ready to join a revolt – or perhaps even lead one? Moreover, don't you think this is the complete opposite of what Jesus would want us to do to celebrate his birthday? By poisoning the world his Father created and the people and animal life that inhabit it? “Jesus”, the worn out cliché goes, “is the reason for the season”. Well if that is the case, then why do we celebrate Christmas every year by enriching 400 families who already have more money than they could ever physically spend in their lifetimes? What is it going to take to get you all to rise up against our oppressors?
As I wrote in a Christmas message from a couple years ago, Jesus wasn't born on December 25th anyway. He was born on the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, which is in late September or early October by our Western calendar, depending on the year (the Jewish calendar has 360 days). So I won't be redundant by restating that. But the holidays are not just about the birth of Jesus. Christmas is a time for a celebration of his life. Normally we have celebrations of people's lives at their funerals. But, since Jesus rose from the dead and still lives, Christmas is a time of celebration for what Jesus accomplished with his life. Jesus is far more than a little baby boy born in a manger (A 'manger', by the way, is a feeding trough for livestock. “This is my body, broken in remembrance of me....”). He was an apostle for 12, and later for 72, a healer of multitudes, a performer of miracles, a bouncer of demons, a teacher of humanity, a Savior of the world, and a King of the universe. He sits at the right hand of God, his only begotten Son, and his Holy Spirit inhabits the hearts of all who will humble themselves enough to ask him in. At Christmas time we celebrate the life of the man who died on a wooden cross by being nailed to it. Once this was done, that cross was stood straight up and dropped into a hole in the ground so that Jesus was about 5 or 6 feet off the ground. He was likely tied to the cross with ropes to keep him from slipping off the nails. I cannot conceive of having to endure such agony. Jesus' only consolation as he hung on that cross was his occasional relief from the pain as he slipped in and out of consciousness due to the great loss of blood.
That is what we are actually celebrating – not just Jesus' birth, but his life and how he lived it! “I have come so that you may have life, and have it to the fullest.” (John 10: 10) Jesus' life, and the eternal life he has offered to everyone in exchange for our undying faith in him, is what Christmas is really all about! It's about the birth of Jesus, granted, but there is so much more to it than that. It's all about what Jesus did with his life once he was born. Christmas isn't a solitary calendar date, it's a starting point for a process that is still ongoing as each of us blossoms into the creation we were meant to be. Just as the Father enabled Jesus and his 3 ½ year ministry to blossom into all that it was meant to be. So this Christmas, let's do more than just celebrate Jesus' birth. Let's celebrate Christmas as the starting point to His magnificent life.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
What the Phony News Media Haven't Bothered to Tell You, or Have Overlooked, About the California Wildfires
Various Wildfires in the Bible
by Web Pastor Paul J. Bern
Everything in the world is in agitation. The signs of the times are ominous. Coming events cast their shadows long before their arrival. The Spirit of God is withdrawing from the earth, and calamity follows calamity by sea and by land. There are hurricanes, tornado's, earthquakes, deadly wildfires, floods, mass shootings and murders of every description. Who can read the future? Where is security? There is assurance in nothing that is human or earthly. The only true security can be found in Jesus Christ. When our lives are over and our bodies inevitably wear out and die, we can't take any of our stuff with us. Too many people live their lives to see how much they can accumulate while they're still here. What we should be doing instead is to live our lives to see how much of a legacy we leave behind when we're dead and gone.
Isaiah 30 verse 27 says, “See, the name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire.” One of the things that impressed me most about the west coast wildfires is they can spread faster than a human can run. That is, they can overtake and consume someone who is trying to flee without a vehicle. God's Word, the Bible in whatever format or version you choose, is a “consuming fire” that spares nothing and no one, even to the very soul! The fires of hell are just as real as those wildfires you've been watching on the news, or preferably on Alternative Media. Jesus said as much in Matthew 5 verse 22: “....I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca', is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'you fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” “Raca” is an Arabic gesture of contempt, like calling someone an expletive or talking down to them as if they are worthless. That person may well seem worthless to their accuser, but the accuser forgets that God made them both.
In Mark's gospel chapter 9, verse 43 mentions the fires of hell too. “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, where the fire never goes out.” Wildfires, no matter how out of control they may become, are all eventually put out. Not so with the fires of hell. And if Jesus tells us that hell is a real place, you had best believe it is because Jesus cannot lie – it's just not possible for the Son of God to do that. In the same way that none of us could swim in a swimming pool filled with hydrochloric acid, Jesus cannot lie any more than a house cat can transform itself into a leopard. So hell is real, and any person who says otherwise is in a state of denial. No apologies. The apostle Paul wrote about what occurs in instances like the California wildfires, or the huge hurricanes we had earlier this year, when people put their faith in the wrong things. “....his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to the light. It will be revealed with fire, and fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
“The Day” is a reference to the Biblical return of Jesus to reign forever here on earth. The “Day of the Lord”, as the Bible calls it, will be marked by the wholesale destruction of everything man-made. Just as God destroyed the earth once before by the Great Flood, as he destroyed earth before with water he will soon destroy again with fire. Our legacies cannot be consumed by fire, only our material goods, together with ourselves in a worst case scenario. “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” Just as those who made it through the ferocious fires out in California escaped with only the clothes on their backs, so those who hoard possessions and wealth in this life will have the least in the next, if they make it to be with the Lord at all! You materialistic people – you know who you are – are living your lives all wrong! Some don't realize it and others just don't care. As a famous preacher once said, “People who don't care leave holes in time.” One final thought just below about the California wildfires, and that will be all for this week. Be blessed in Jesus' mighty name!
The Jerusalem Fire, a Sign or Coincidence?
Commentary By: Gordon King at https://endtimebibleprophecy.wordpress.com
Signs of the times, or mere coincidence? I don’t know, you be the judge.
This year has been a year of devastation and disaster as we see not only economic, social, and political disaster, but also man-made and natural disaster.
We see wildfires all across the Western United States, huge massive fires endangering lives, causing mass evacuations, and threatening property.One of these fires located in Northern California is named “The Jerusalem Fire”.
I am not saying that this is a sign, yet isn’t it odd, the Jerusalem fire? Jerusalem, the middle of controversy for the entire world. Jerusalem, “it shall be a burdensome stone”. It’s something to think about.
If it’s not a sign, then it should at the least be a wake up call! Things in the world are just not right, the world is on fire! And the center of the world, Jerusalem, is in the middle of a fire storm.
Don’t take my word for it, read the holy scriptures, the Bible, see for yourself what the Lord says regarding the end times.
God bless! Maranatha! To view the original article on the Web, click here!
Sunday, December 3, 2017
Humiliation and Shame for Sex Perverts is Deserved
by pastor Paul J. Bern
I don't have to explain my topic for this week. Everybody has been watching or hearing about what has been going on in the halls of power in Washington as well as in Hollywood. Accusations of sexual assault, or lewd acts, or of randomly exposing oneself to whomever have suddenly started boiling to the surface. It started with former New York congressman Anthony Wiener, and he is now paying a very high price for his indiscretions in the form of a 21-month stint in federal prison. This was followed just a few months later by disclosure in Hollywood of producer-director Harvey Weinstien being accused of multiple counts of unwanted sexual advances and even outright assaults. Then several more Hollywood directors disclosed of their own sexual indiscretions, presumably to keep from being humiliated, followed by the flap over actor Kevin Spacey's allegedly uncontrollable sexual advances. While all this has been going on, president Trump has been accused by at least 20 women of unwanted sexual advances. Most recently, formerly popular Matt Lauer, the morning “Today” show host, was abruptly fired for his own incredibly poor judgment in failing to contain his own sexual appetites. On and on this goes, and where it stops nobody knows – except God.
My favorite book – the Bible – has plenty to say about sexual immorality. Everybody knows that, although not everyone believes in it. Allow me to name a couple of examples, and then I'd like to list a few bad things that can happen when we will not or cannot control our own sexual desires. First Corinthians chapter 6, verses 12 and 13 says, “'Everything is permissible for me' – but not everything is beneficial. 'Food for the stomach and the stomach for food' – but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.'” Having multiple sex partners in the times in which we live can be downright dangerous in a worst case scenario, particularly if your partner is already married or living with someone without telling you so. We think he/she is single but they're not, and next thing you know you-know-who comes home, and there you are. Some say, “Well, I don't care for the bar scene, so I use dating services to help me locate Mr. or Ms. Right so I can screen people first”. Let me point out that, according to data from the CDC located right here in Atlanta, 1 out of every 5 people on the dating websites have an STD. Out of those individuals, fully 80% don't bother to tell their new partners they are infected. You can imagine how that will turn out for everyone involved! The moral here is that, while we have the free will to do whatever we want, there can be an extremely high price to be paid when we abuse it.
Another example can be found further down in the same chapter of 1st Corinthians, verses 18-20, which read, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” The word 'flee' means to turn and run away from something or someone who poses a clear and present danger to yourself or your livelihood – even your very life! What happens during mass shootings? People turn and run for their lives, and that's exactly what we should do with regards to sexual immorality. That hot new partner you just stumbled upon could end up slowly killing you slowly long after the lovemaking is over – very, very slowly, in fact – with some STD that the newly infected person probably never heard of.
One final example I feel should be mentioned on the topic of sexual sins and perversion can be found in 1st Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 3, and I quote: “But among you there should not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.” OK, right here it is in black and white, everyone! God ranks having multiple partners right up there with the top 1% and all their insatiable greed. You know, they have 99% of America's wealth, while the remaining 99% are left with the remaining 1% – those people? Think of how much you likely despise those people, and that's how offended God is with our sexual immorality (Never mind how offended God is with their greed. I've already covered that topic extensively, and I will do so again, God willing!). This includes people – and particularly those who self-identify as 'Christians' – who hang out at nude or topless clubs, who look at porn, and in many cases even the singles bars should be off-limits to true Christian believers who are single. If anyone feels so lonesome that they would go to a night club and risk getting shot or stabbed just to find someone to love, I've got a news flash for those individuals – you won't find that special someone there. All you'll meet are a bunch of drunks, and who wants that? Those who truly desire a soul-mate should ask God to send him or her to you. Believe me, when the time is right, he will.
The apostle Paul, who wrote all the quotes I'm using today including this last one, said it best in this regard: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1st Corinthians chapter 7, verses 8-9) Anyone who is really burning up with that much passion should go ahead and find a spouse to keep themselves from sinning – there is nothing wrong with this at all. But none of us – I am single myself – will find our future spouses on-line, or in some bar, no matter how fancy or attractive they may seem. Moreover, you will never find him or her watching porn either! If anyone really wants a spouse, they should pray to God to send them one, because when we do, and those prayers are made with the utmost sincerity, God will answer that prayer. That's one thing I know for sure. The other thing that we have all seen for ourselves on the news and other media is that, when we cannot contain or refuse to curb our sexual proclivities – or if certain people think they can get away with their unwanted sexual advances because of their status, wealth, or both – those days just came to a sudden and dramatic end! I, for one, am glad this has occurred. It happened for the good of our country and for ourselves. This series of incidents has proven conclusively that sexual immorality, when carried to its extremes, will destroy the lives of the perpetrators. Chalk one up for gender equality, for mutual respect, and for Jesus Christ, the originator of gender equality.
Friday, December 1, 2017
Another free sample from the latest book offering from Rev. Paul J. Bern; “Cannabis Legalization and the Bible: Compatible Or Not?”
Watch the video https://youtu.be/o_UXdIsBuf8
The United States likes to portray itself as the “Land of the Free”, yet a 2013 study by the ACLU found that one out of three people in the United States are arrested by the time they are 23! 1 out 3 arrested by the time they are 23?!? You want some more shameful stats? Last year there were more than 1.6 million people arrested on drug charges and over half of those arrests were for marijuana possession alone. With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something much different – and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter. It is time to find an exit strategy from our 40 year old war on drugs that is unquestionably a failure. Here's a few examples:
- There are more African American adults under correctional control today – in prison or jail, on probation or parole – than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
- As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
- A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.
- If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life. (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing under-caste – not class, caste – permanently relegated by law to a second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.
The drug war has been brutal – complete with SWAT teams, tanks, bazookas, grenade launchers, and sweeps of entire neighborhoods – but those who live in white communities have little clue to the devastation wrought. This war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. In fact, some studies indicate that white youth are significantly more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than black youth. Any notion that drug use among African Americans is more severe or dangerous is nullified by the data. White youth, for example, have about three times the number of drug-related visits to the emergency room as their African American counterparts. That is not what you would guess, though, when entering our nation’s prisons and jails, overflowing as they are with black and brown drug offenders. In some states, African Americans comprise 80%-90% of all drug offenders sent to prison. This is the point at which I am typically interrupted and reminded that black men have higher rates of violent crime. That’s why the drug war is waged in poor communities of color and not middle-class suburbs.
But what about all those violent criminals and drug kingpins? Isn’t the drug war waged in ghetto communities because that’s where the violent offenders can be found? The answer is yes – in made-for-TV movies. In real life, the answer is no. The drug war has never been focused on rooting out drug kingpins or violent offenders. Federal funding flows to those agencies that increase dramatically the volume of drug arrests, not the agencies most successful in bringing down the bosses. What gets rewarded in this war is sheer numbers of drug arrests. To make matters worse, federal drug forfeiture laws allow state and local law enforcement agencies to keep for their own use 80% of the cash, cars, and homes seized from drug suspects, thus granting law enforcement a direct monetary interest in the profitability of the drug market. The results have been predictable: people of color rounded up en masse for relatively minor, non-violent drug offenses. In 2005, four out of five drug arrests were for possession, only one out of five for sales. Most people in state prison have no history of violence or even of significant selling activity. In fact, during the 1990s – the period of the most dramatic expansion of the drug war – nearly 80% of the increase in drug arrests was for marijuana possession, a drug generally considered less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and at least as prevalent in middle-class white communities as in the inner city. In this way, a new racial under-caste has been created in an astonishingly short period of time – a new Jim Crow system. Millions of people of color are now saddled with criminal records and legally denied the very rights that their parents and grandparents fought for (and in some cases, died for). Affirmative action, though, has put a happy face on this racial reality. Seeing black people graduate from Harvard and Yale and become CEO's or corporate lawyers – not to mention the current president of the United States – causes us all to marvel at what a long way we’ve come. Recent data shows, though, that much of black progress is a myth. In many respects, African Americans are doing no better than they were when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and uprisings swept inner cities across America. The black child poverty rate is actually higher now than it was then. Unemployment rates in black communities rival those in Third World countries. And that’s with affirmative action! When we pull back the curtain and take a look at what our “colorblind” society creates without affirmative action, we see a familiar social, political, and economic structure: the structure of racial caste. The entrance into this new caste system can be found at the prison gate. This is not Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. This is not the promised land. The cyclical rebirth of caste in America is a recurring racial nightmare.
In a report published by reporter Tom McCarthy in The Guardian on Wednesday March 4th, 2015, police have killed more than twice as many people as reported by US government. According to this report, an average of 545 people killed by local and state law enforcement officers in the US went uncounted in the country’s most authoritative crime statistics every year for almost a decade. The first-ever attempt by US record-keepers to estimate the number of uncounted “law enforcement homicides” exposed previous official tallies as capturing less than half of the real picture. The new estimate – an average of 928 people killed by police annually over eight recent years, compared to 383 in published FBI data for the same time period – amounted to a more glaring admission than ever before of the government’s failure to track how many people police kill.
The revelation called into particular question the FBI practice of publishing annual totals of “justifiable homicides by law enforcement” – tallies that are widely cited in the media and elsewhere as the most accurate official count of police homicides. This bureau of justice statistics (BJS) report, produced in collaboration with RTI International, the research institute, explodes the notion – if its findings are accurate – that the figures the FBI publishes annually are anything other than hugely misleading. The data underlying the FBI tally “is estimated to cover 46% of officer-involved homicides at best” for the years 2003-2009 and 2011, the BJS report concluded. But the published FBI tallies cover even fewer of the total deaths, closer to 41%, in part because the FBI publishes no data from Florida. A separate tally of “arrest-related deaths”, conducted by BJS itself, was slightly more accurate for the years in question, capturing 49% of law enforcement homicides, at best, the report found. The report estimated “an average of 928 law enforcement homicides per year” for the years in question, suggesting that the FBI’s published count of 414 such deaths in 2009, for example, might be 124% off, while its count of 347 such deaths in 2005 might be 167% off. The years under study saw several high-profile homicides by law enforcement of unarmed civilians, such as the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant in a train station in Oakland, California – an episode that would become the subject of the award-winning film “Fruit vale Station” – and the 2006 killing of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 bullets outside a nightclub in Queens, New York. But the majority of victims in law enforcement homicides for those years not only went unnamed – they went uncounted in any one tally. Even the two counting systems combined, as overseen by the FBI and BJS, missed an average of 263 homicides by law enforcement each year, BJS found.
Academics and specialists have long been aware of flaws in the FBI numbers, which are based on voluntary submissions by local law enforcement agencies of paperwork known as supplementary homicide reports. No law requires local agencies to fill out the reports, and some agencies do not, especially not for officer-involved homicides, according to experts who have studied the issue. But no accredited source had publicly ventured to claim that the numbers published by the FBI were more than 100% wrong. That’s notwithstanding an unusually public airing of doubts about the numbers by the FBI director, James Comey, in a 2015 speech at Georgetown University. “It’s ridiculous that I can’t tell you how many people were shot by the police in this country – last week, last year, the last decade – it’s ridiculous,” Comey said. While the FBI and other government tallies have long been criticized for under-reporting, an admission of the problem at the top levels of US government is swiftly emerging. Joining Comey and Obama this year has been the outgoing attorney general, Eric Holder, who in January 2016 called the government’s accounting for use of force “unacceptable”. In a highly anticipated investigation of its own, Holder’s Justice Department released a report the following Wednesday that African Americans were subject to a full 88% of use-of-force cases actually documented by the police in Ferguson, Mo., according to a law enforcement official familiar with the department’s findings.
I have presented everything in this book the way I have to reveal the government's not-so-surprising rationale for America's extremist drug laws – race. The first anti-drug law in our country was a local law in San Francisco passed in 1875. It outlawed the smoking of opium and was directed at the Chinese because opium smoking was a peculiarly Chinese habit. It was believed that Chinese men were luring white women to have sex in opium dens. In 1909 Congress made opium smoking a federal offense by enacting the Anti-Opium Act. It reinforced Chinese racism by carving out an exception for drinking and injecting tinctures of opiates that were popular among whites. Cocaine regulations also were triggered by racial prejudice. Cocaine use was associated with African-Americans just as opium use was associated with the Chinese. Newspaper articles bore racially charged headlines linking cocaine with violent, anti-social behavior by blacks. A 1914 New York Times article proclaimed: "Negro Cocaine 'Fiends' Are a New Southern Menace: Murder and Insanity Increasing Among Lower Class Blacks Because They Have Taken to 'Sniffing.'" A Literary Digest article from the same year claimed that "most of the attacks upon women in the South are the direct result of the cocaine-crazed Negro brain." It comes as no surprise that 1914 was also the year Congress passed the Harrison Tax Act, effectively outlawing opium and cocaine.
Marijuana prohibition also had racist underpinnings. This time it was the Mexicans. Just as cocaine was associated with black violence and irrational behavior, in the southwest border towns marijuana was viewed -- beginning in the early 1920s -- as a cause of Mexican lawlessness. A Texas police captain from that time period suggested that marijuana gave Mexicans superhuman strength to commit acts of violence: “Under marijuana Mexicans [become] very violent, especially when they become angry and will attack an officer even if a gun is drawn on him. They seem to have no fear. I have also noted that under the influence of this weed they have enormous strength and it will take several men to handle one man while, under ordinary circumstances, one man could handle him with ease.” The American Coalition – an anti-immigrant group – claimed as recently as 1980: "Marijuana, perhaps now the most insidious of narcotics, is a direct byproduct of unrestricted Mexican immigration."
Since then Congress has enacted a spate of comprehensive anti-drug laws with strict penalties. For example, today one can be sentenced to life for distributing one kilogram of heroin; 40 years for distributing 100 grams, and 20 years for distributing any quantity at all. Nevertheless, this has not stemmed the country's appetite for illicit drugs in spite of every administration's continued "war on drugs" since President Nixon established the Drug Enforcement Agency in 1972, which has grown through the years to a staff of almost 10,000 employees and a budget of $2 billion annually. According to data from the 2010 National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 120 million Americans 12 or older – roughly 47 percent of that population – reported illicit drug use at least once in their lifetime; 15.3 percent admitted to using an illegal drug in the prior year; and 8.9 percent – roughly 23 million people – did it within the prior month. The New York Times recently reported that one out of every 15 high school students smokes marijuana on a nearly daily basis. When it comes to sentencing, the main culprit is drugs. About half of the roughly 220,000 criminals in the federal prisons have either brought them into our country, have distributed them here, or have otherwise associated themselves with this illicit activity. This means that probably half of the $6.8 billion of the Bureau of Prisons budget is eaten up by incarcerating the criminal druggies. Half of the prison population is there because of drugs, costing us billions of dollars a year to keep them in jail.
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Thursday, November 30, 2017
Sunday, November 26, 2017
Obeying Authority: When It's Right and When It's Not
by pastor Paul J. Bern
Today we live in a world where the abuse of authority has gotten completely out of control. This is about so much more than merely being unhappy about Donald Trump's presidency or the way he is running the country. This abuse of authority dates all the way back to at least the early 1960's, when certain people in authority conspired to assassinate president John F. Kennedy on live TV. It was a bloody coup, and Kennedy's assassins and their compatriots have been running the country ever since. We were lied to about President Kennedy's assassination by the Warren Commission, and we were lied to again five years later concerning the Robert Kennedy assassination. We were lied to about Rev. Dr. King's assassination that same violent year of 1968. President Nixon lied to us about Watergate. We were lied to in 2003 as a pretext for invading Iraq for a second time when it was not necessary. And we were lied to by president Obama when he won the 2008 election while telling us all that he would bring us “change we can believe in”. We got some serious changes all right, resulting in the largest spy and unmanned drone network the world had ever seen. Under the Trump presidency, this drone war has not only been stepped up, it has been taken to the next level.
On the home front, the police have become thoroughly militarized, and they are having lots of fun on the job thanks to all their new toys and gadgets, not to mention fully automatic weapons, and even tanks! They can stop us and search us without cause and without the Constitutionally mandated search warrant. They are breaking our doors down in the middle of the night and murdering unarmed citizens. A 92-year-old woman was shot 19 times and killed by the police several years ago right here in Atlanta where I live and work, and people of color as well as the poor are being specifically targeted by the police, often on the flimsiest of pretexts. In the case of the elderly woman, it later turned out the police had the wrong house.
Speaking as a minister of the Gospel and as an ambassador for Jesus Christ, I have done a little research as to what the Bible says about governmental authority and the abuse of power. It turns out that there is ample argument for both sides of this coin. The first part has to do with submission to authority in the context of being a law-abiding citizen as the apostle Paul saw it when he wrote the Book of Romans approximately 1,950 years ago. At the time that this was written, all of what is now modern-day Israel was under the military occupation of the Roman empire. Similarly, much of the world today is occupied by the American Empire. Paul wrote these words in that context, so I will quote from the book of Romans, chapter 13 and verses 1-5.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (Romans 13: 1-5)
At the time that the apostle Paul wrote this, the death penalty was commonplace. Capital punishment existed as a means of absolute control through raw intimidation, and that punishment was carried out with utter ruthlessness and without mercy. Moreover, unlike the Jewish religious establishment of that era, Paul was a Roman citizen and as such he was given rights and privileges that were not shared equally with other non-citizens. But how does this compare with life in the early 21st century? Although the death penalty is still administered for capital crimes such as murder, it is carried out with relative infrequency compared to the days of the Roman empire. There were also debtors prisons in Paul's day. People who ran into financial trouble back in those days were routinely imprisoned until their debts were paid. In contrast, today if one gets into financial difficulty, bankruptcy laws exist that are much more fair and equitable than prison. Compared to the times in which the apostle Paul lived, we get a complete picture of a much more fair, equitable and comparatively lenient world in the present day. Let me now make some comparisons between Paul's world and ours using this passage of scripture as a backdrop to the picture that I will now paint for you with my words.
“The authorities that exist have been established by God”. This one solitary sentence, while being a biblical verse, has been more misused than any other in my opinion (It was reportedly Hitler's favorite Bible verse). Although Paul sincerely believed at the time that he wrote these words that he was absolutely correct, he was speaking more as a Roman citizen and a Hebrew religious scholar than he was as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In modern America, our rule of law is the Constitution of the United States and so I am writing today in this context as an American citizen. We have the right to free speech and freedom of religion today that did not exist in the apostle Paul's time. That right which is established under the 1st amendment to the US Constitution allows me to write these words without fear of punishment. As such I am within the law and I will remain so for as long as the law is fair and just. It's when it's unfair to the point of being oppressive that things can get a bit dicey. But hold that thought as I continue.
The apostle Paul continues his train of thought as he writes further: “Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.” The same applies today. Take the patriot movement and so-called “preppers” of today as two examples. Organizing any armed revolt in modern-day America is an idea that I am very much against, since I preach and teach as a man of peace who tries his best to emulate Jesus, the Prince of Peace and the redeemer of my soul. Besides, the police have very well-armed SWAT teams, and there is always the National Guard that exists within any given state. So I think one would be foolhardy to try and take on authority in this manner. On the other hand, it is perfectly legal, and I would also say that it is even necessary, to engage in peaceful protests against laws and policies that we disagree with, particularly when they are unjust. The US Supreme Court's decision that money equals free speech – the so-called “Citizens United” ruling – is one good example of an unjust law. The counterproductive and sometimes downright stupid War on Drugs is another one, particularly when it comes to the topic of medical marijuana, which clearly needs to be legalized. For a Christian perspective on medical marijuana, get a copy of my book. “Cannabis Legalization and the Bible” by yours truly. The first amendment to our Constitution gives us the right to protest or uphold any and all of the above, something that did not exist during Paul's time all those centuries ago. In this regard, I think we can interpret this passage of scripture a little differently than what Paul wrote back then.
The apostle Paul then continues making his point, and so will I. “Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.” It is sad to say that this is not always true in the modern world. Bad people vilify good people for doing good things for a lot of different reasons, most of which have to do with envy, malice or guilt. Trying as I do to do what is right, I often find myself looked down on by the many godless people I encounter when I'm out riding public transit around town. I put up with the occasional verbal attacks because I am openly Christian, but I do so knowing that God is watching everything I do and He is listening to everything I say. But still, it is wise to be “free from fear of the one in authority”. The best way to follow this principle is to obey the commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ. We learn his commandments and what his will is by reading his Word daily, even if only for a few minutes (Try a chapter a day, particularly if you're just getting started; it only takes 5 minutes). Just by doing this, we can keep ourselves out of much trouble. Besides, the Bible says in the Old Testament to “obey the laws of the land, that it may go well with you in the place you are abiding”. Those words were written at least three thousand years ago, and they are still just as true today as they were back then.
By the same token, there are things happening and situations unfolding within the US government that are completely contrary to God's laws. Take the ten commandments as an example. The eighth commandment says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”, which can be expanded to include this simple command: you shall not lie and gossip about people you dislike. Yet America found itself embroiled in a war in Iraq that was based on a lie. Specifically, that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was still in power. Of course, those WMD's turned out to be non-existent, and it took 4,400 US fatalities – and over 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, one third of whom were children – to find that out. The same applies to Afghanistan. Our troops have been there since 2001, first to find Osama Bin Laden even though everybody in Southern Asia and the Middle East knew he was in Pakistan. Now that he has been deceased for quite a few years, are our troops all back home yet? Absolutely not, effectively making Afghanistan a de facto US territory with an open ended US military presence. The US government has been spending $6 billion dollars a week on this occupation, a thoroughly obscene sum of money by any standard.
Yet all the while, there is unemployment here in the USA that is officially around 4%, but that doesn't count all the millions of long-term unemployed who have stopped looking for work, as well as those who are working part-time when full-time work is what is needed. If these facts were figured into this equation, the true unemployment rate is hovering at around 24 percent. There is no money to create over a million badly needed jobs in our country, but there is an unlimited supply of cash for multiple illegal military occupations and drone strikes all around the globe. This is a moral outrage, and anybody with even a little bit of a conscience should be out in the streets protesting against the US military-industrial complex. That may not be in the words of the Bible, but it most certainly is in the Spirit thereof.
Paul then writes in verse 5, “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” This is just as true today as it was when it was first written. Being an outlaw will only get us into trouble, and jail is no place for anybody to be except for the worst criminals. For example, it is a bad idea to drive your car at 90 miles an hour because it is against the law for obvious reasons. On the other hand, I'm old enough to remember famed boxer Muhammad Ali who, back in the 1960's when he was known as Cassius Clay, had his career interrupted when he had to serve time in prison for refusing to report for the military draft. Going off to war for people who had enslaved his ancestors, he said, in order for him to go and kill even more, was too much to ask and he refused to go fight in the Vietnam war. He spent a year or two in prison, as I recall, for making that decision, and that's something I've always admired about Muhammad Ali. The fact that he converted to Islam makes no difference to me, because the same Almighty God made us both.
The ten commandments must be obeyed, to be sure, but let's be sure to obey the teachings of Christ all the more. We have been commanded not to steal, lie or commit adultery, nor should we have any false gods in our lives, such as money and all the 'things' it can buy. We are commanded to “love the Lord your God with all your strength, all your mind, all your soul and all your spirit”, and to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22, verses 34-40). We can and should worship the one true God and Him alone, who sent His only Son to die for our sins and then to rise from the dead on the third day after He was crucified. In the same way that we submit ourselves to God we should, as far as it is possible, submit to authority here on earth. But if that authority becomes abusive, especially to the point of being dangerous or menacing to its citizens, then our obedience to that authority should become more discerning. And we should do so not only “because of possible punishment but also because of conscience”. But here in the 21st century, we can and should oppose and protest against the government similarly because of matters of conscience. It is part of the laws of our land as they exist today, and we can and should exercise this right because our rule of law says we can. This is also in keeping with God's commands, and I hope and pray that it always remains so.