Monday, February 26, 2018
Sunday, February 25, 2018
At least some of the conspiracy theories about the government turning on us are turning out to be right
Sinister FDA Won't Approve Cutting Edge Flu Drug,
Proves Our Government Is Working Against Us
by pastor Paul J. Bern
First, I want to thank and acknowledge Yahoo News for the inspiration for this article, which was in last Saturday morning's on-line edition. The headline read, “Japan has a new drug that could kill the flu in 24 hours. So why doesn't the FDA approve it?”. I clicked on the article only to discover that it had taken down and removed from the website (hence the absence of a link). They don't want people to know what just transpired, which is that a drug that is demonstrably superior to anything we have has been deliberately withheld from the American public. I have seen articles and postings on alternative media, and even You Tube, that magnify the fact that we are currently stuck with a for-profit health care system that has a vested interest in keeping us sick! There are even stories of cures being found for various types of cancer, but they are being withheld from the world, ostensibly because that would be too many other people to feed and look after once they're cured. Evidently this is far too cost-intensive for the ultra-rich elites, the top one percent who want everything all to themselves regardless of the cost to others. These people simply have to be stopped. We can't stop them at the ballot box because they are non elected usurpers who are the paymasters of those in Congress and the Oval Office. Some far more decisive means will have to be employed, such as a massive wave of nonviolent resistance.
Now let's contrast this with what they Bible says about healing and taking care of one another. Jesus raised a widow's son from the dead in Luke chapter 7, cured a man of leprosy and healed two demon-possessed men in Matthew chapter 8, restored the sight of two blind men in Matthew chapter 20, healed a deaf and mute man in Mark chapter 7, and raised Lazarus from the dead in John chapter 11. In none of those cases did our Lord and Savior charge any money for his services. Since Christ died on the cross for our many sins without charge – having paid the ultimate penalty in our place – it stands to reason that he healed without charge as well. Now here's the kicker – many of these people who are part of America's for-profit healthcare system attend church regularly. They self-identify as Christian, as emulators and ministers of Christ, while doing exactly the opposite of what their 'faith' calls for. As you know, we call people like that 'hypocrites'.
The United States is the last developed country in the world to deny free or low-cost national health care to its citizens. Moreover, our government, together with 'Big Pharma' and the insurance lobbyists in Washington, are more than happy to rub our noses in it. So in the developed world, the US is dead last in looking after the health and well being of its citizens, but first in weapons exports, first in the number of incarcerated people, and a murder rate that's number one in the world. We should be ashamed of ourselves because it's happening on our watch, and not enough people are doing anything about it (Lord knows I'm trying)! What has me shaking my head the most is that these same “conservatives” who are administering our for-profit health care system are the ones who self-identify as being “pro-life”! Does anybody besides myself see a glaring contradiction here? It reminds me of the late George Carlin's diatribe, “They'll do anything to stop an abortion, but once that kid is eligible for military service, they're f – d!”
The Bible – the undisputed Word of God – gives us all some guidelines about how we should care for one another. In this past week's Bible study, which I publish every Thursday, Acts chapter 2 tells us how the early Church was managed and administered. “The disciples were devoted to the teachings of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. A feeling of fear came over everyone as many amazing things and miraculous signs happened through the apostles. All the believers kept meeting together, and they shared everything with each other. From time to time, they sold their property and other possessions and distributed the money to anyone who needed it. The believers had a single purpose and went to the temple every day. They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. At the same time, they praised God and had the good will of all the people. Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group.” (Acts 2, verses 42-47).
As you can see, authentic followers of Jesus Christ were people who placed the welfare and well-being of others ahead of their own. Today the equivalent to this would be people selling off their assets and then giving away the proceeds. When's the last time you saw that happen? Probably never, excluding rich philanthropists like Bill Gates, but he only gives away a small portion of his total net worth. But back then, everybody was doing this. In this respect the modern church by and large has miserably fallen short. If organized religion doesn't get its act together, they will find themselves locked outside heaven's gates in the darkness, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Here's how the apostle Matthew recalled this in chapter 9 of his Gospel: “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues preaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the Harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'”
When Jesus saw those crowds of people who were hungry, hurting and desperate, “he had compassion on them”. Instead of seeing an opportunity to turn a nifty profit, Jesus felt sorry for them – exactly the opposite to the situation we currently find ourselves in here in the “good old US of A”. What else did Jesus say? “As you go, preach this message. 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick; raise the dead; cleans those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have recieved; freely give. Do not take along any gold or copper in your belts; take no bag for your journey, nor an extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.'” (Matthew chapter 10, verses 7-10) Now if Jesus said, “Freely you have received, so freely give”, that seems quite cut and dried enough for me. Under no circumstances should any money change hands when we heal the sick. I'm not picking on those in the medical profession, nor am I implying that any of them should work for free. But churches and evangelists – and so-called “healers” -- should never charge.
Churches today, taking their cue from the government instead of from God, demand 10% of people's incomes. While the term “tithing” is Scriptural, modern churches take this out of context. Leviticus 27: 30 reads, “A tithe of everything from the land....”, which meant the crops or livestock. There was no money in those days as we now know it. Moreover, “everything from the land” referred to an annual harvest. The giving of tithes on a weekly or monthly basis is something that was not started until the rise of Catholicism in the third century AD.
Now in closing, let me share one final quote from the Book of James, one of the Twelve and the eldest of Jesus' half-brothers: “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any of you sick? He should call on the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered up in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James chapter 5, verses 13-16) The Scriptural solution to sickness and disability is prayer, not an emergency room. Emergency rooms and the hospitals where they're located rely on modern technology, and quite a few doctors are atheists. While I certainly respect their right to their own opinions, many of the modern doctors need to re-examine themselves and their relationship to their patients, as well as to the Maker of them both. Until this change is made, not at the managerial or administrative level, nor at the doctor-patient level, but rather at the Spiritual level, medical care in America will be profit-driven instead of patient driven, and the God who made all this possible will continue to be left out of the picture. If that happens, God will not put up with it for long!
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Monday, February 19, 2018
Sunday, February 18, 2018
The 'Flip Side' of the Teachings of Jesus Christ
by pastor Paul J. Bern
For this week's commentary I will, once again but from a different angle, demonstrate that the teachings and presence of the Lord in Spirit and in Truth are more relevant today than ever before. I'm not talking religion and I'm not talking about doctrine, I'm just writing today about Jesus Christ and what he taught, because people everywhere seem to be hungry and thirsty for real truth and authenticity. So today I am once again putting Jesus up on a pedestal where he belongs. My topic is what we now call the Beatitudes of Christ, or just 'the Beatitudes' for short. I'm going to give you 2 different sets of quotes, the first from the apostle Matthew's gospel and the second from Luke's. These are very powerful instructions from our Lord and Savior, so let's examine what happens when we obey them, followed by what can happen if we don't. So let me begin with Matthew chapter 5 and verse 2.
“....He began to teach them, saying, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who came before you.'” (Matthew 5, verses 3-12)
“Poor in spirit” could mean a couple of things. Besides those who are dispirited and disenfranchised, it could also mean people who are mentally depressed, and so by extension Jesus could have been taking about the mentally ill or mentally challenged individuals. Most likely it's all of the above. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Most often this verse is associated with those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, particularly a spouse or a child. But this can also mean those who have suffered catastrophic losses, like the survivors of hurricanes and wildfires who have nothing but the clothes they're wearing. They too will be comforted, because they will regain much of what they have lost. Moreover, those who have lost loved ones will see them again, and maybe sooner than we all think.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Why? Because at some point in the fairly near future, all the warlike people will kill each other off because of their addiction to fighting and conflict. They thrive on it, so let it consume them. The meek, mild, compassionate, loving and gentle people will be the only ones left. Let those whose only motivations are anger and rage roast in hell! “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Notice that it reads, “for they will be filled”. That means those who get filled with righteousness will derive theirs from God, through his only Son Jesus Christ. Those whose righteousness is self-generated – this is, generated by the human ego instead relying on the Holy Spirit – is egocentric by nature and is derived from human emotions. So we can conclude that righteousness that is received from above is from God, but self-righteousness is of Satan and is Luciferian in nature. So the two are totally incompatible.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Be forgiving and merciful towards others, and you will get the same in return. Likewise, when we show mercy and kindness towards God's creations – other people – we can expect the same from God. Conversely, mean people – particularly those with violent tempers and those who seem to be always angry – and those who commit violent crimes such as murder (like school shootings!!) and forcible rape, should expect no mercy from God whatsoever unless they repent of their ways once and for good! “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Since we all have a sinful nature that we must work hard to control (see Romans 3, verses 9-18), people who are “pure in heart” are those who don't partake in the corrupt nature of the world in which we live. That is, it is not possible for any human being to keep his/her heart pure while they allow themselves to be surrounded by the gross impurities of this world. Greed, malice, hate and prejudice, wall-to-wall sex all the time, pornography, every kind of addiction you can imagine, subliminal messaging and imagery designed to program the human mind are just a sampling of what's out there. All you “Christians” who look at porn, party at clubs all night, use dangerous drugs like heroin and meth and so-called “spice” (“artificial marijuana” that is neither), you had better take a step or two away from what you're doing, and from the person you have become, and take a good long look at yourselves. You don't have much time left to get yourselves right with God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” While this needs no explanation, it also says, 'Cursed are the mercenaries who kill for profit, the politicians who send our sons and daughters off to fight and die in wars that benefit only a few people and their families. Cursed are those who pollute the earth that God created and divert its resources exclusively for themselves, causing hardship and starvation for hundreds of millions. Cursed are they who deny electricity and clean drinking water to 25% of the planet so they can keep it all for themselves. Cursed are they, for they will be called the sons of the devil! “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” All the Christians who have died or who will die for their faith, fall into this category. So do all whistle-blowers within government and industry, all of whom see, to die mysterious deaths under equally mysterious circumstances. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., presidents Kennedy and Lincoln, as well as Malcolm X all fall into this category.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” If you have ever been cussed out, threatened, or physically attacked by Christian haters, you know exactly what I mean. What's the flip side of this one? Simple – if one has never had to defend one's faith, the depth of one's belief is directly proportional to the vigor with which one is compelled to defend one's faith. Conversely, if we never talk to anyone about our faith and what Christ has done in your life, our faith lacks depth, which limits how we interact with the Risen Spirit of Christ the Lord. Never be afraid to talk to others about your faith, because you never know when you can help someone. You could even help lead a soul to their Savior, of whom they were previously unaware. Jesus has already saved your soul, hasn't he (but if not PLEASE ask him now!!)? So go and pay it forward, that's your job! And now let me briefly quote from Luke's gospel.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6, verses 24-26) So there you go, that sums things up rather nicely, exactly what God's Word is saying to us, spoken through his Son Jesus (or 'Yeshua' in Hebrew, the native language of Christ). There are two sides to every teaching of Jesus, and sometimes more than that. This is just one of dozens of examples throughout the Bible where God's Word can mean more than one thing and still be consistent. In the meantime, and in closing, everyone please continue to pray for peace in our nation's schools, as well as in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula. Shalom....
Monday, February 12, 2018
“Sole Survivor: One Man's Testimony for Christ”, by Rev. Paul J. Bern, rated 4.3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.com!
Watch the video at http://youtu.be/5Bxi7x0nUc0
The next time I had an encounter with God – which interestingly enough never occurred when I was in church – was about a year later. By this time the abuse that had been going on had gradually gotten worse. The animosity between my parents and myself had grown a lot right along with it, and the beatings had become more frequent. I remember hating not just my parents, but my entire family situation as well as detesting school. Quite frankly, I was bored nearly to the point of insanity with school. Second grade was a rehashing of first grade, third grade a rehashing of the second, and so on, as if we needed to learn everything twice in order to grasp its meaning. I have heard some talk and read on the Internet about the “dumbing down” of America primary and secondary schools. Well, this has been going on ever since the 1960's at least, and probably even before that. It's just that no one noticed it at first because it began so gradually. To this day, education reform has been one of the causes I have undertaken in my adult life.
By the time I was age nine I had decided to take matters into my own hands. So I prayed to God and I told him, “Lord, I can't stand my home life any more. But I can't leave because I have no where to go (at this time it was during the winter, and Ohio winters can get very cold). If you won't do something to make my dad go away or to get him off my back, then I will be forced to defend myself when the time comes”. At the time I got no reply at all, and I remember being concerned that God hadn't heard my prayer. I had been saving the small weekly allowances my parents would give me, 25 cents here and 50 cents there, that sort of thing. And so I resolved in my mind that I was going to settle things between my parents and myself once and for all by spending what I had saved on a cheap handgun and shooting my parents. Fortunately, at the time I prayed this misguided prayer I barely had a third of the money I would have needed to buy a cheap 22 caliber handgun, and I had also forgotten to include the cost of ammunition, not to mention the fact that I was only nine years old. But I will tell you without a doubt that I was serious about wanting to kill my adoptive/foster father because I was very afraid of him. I couldn't even stand to be in the same room with him. I recall that the consequences didn't matter much to me at that time. As before, fortunately, I never got to carry out my dad's assassination. But it is what occurred a couple of years later that made me understand why such a heinous act would be unnecessary. It was not just because it would have been a grievous sin and a capital crime. It was because God wanted to show me that I wasn't alone, and that He was standing beside me.
After this prayer with no response, about two and a half years went by. Things were continuing to get gradually worse, and I continued to hate school all the more. I kept waiting for God to do something about my parents, especially my dad, but I saw no sign of change. So I would do things that would get me away from home more often so that my parents and I couldn't argue about anything. I played in the band at school and took music lessons, and I discovered that I was good at music. I joined the Boy Scouts so I could finally have a chance at having a few friends, and because it was one of the few things my 'adoptive' parents would let me do. The rest of the time I was kept cooped up in that little house, and the tension at times was unbearable. One Saturday morning a year or so later some of the boys from the scout troop and a number of their dads went on a 10 mile hike in the Kentucky countryside. My foster/adoptive dad went along too, much to my surprise, since he only occasionally took me anywhere. So we left Cincinnati in a small caravan of cars and drove south down I-75 into Kentucky to our starting point, with our destination being a monastery near the central Kentucky town of Bardstown. I recall that there were about 20 or maybe 25 people altogether. So we started out on our hike together on a mild November day, and we'd been hiking about 3 hours or so when my dad suddenly stopped walking and crouched down on one knee. When one of the men asked him if he was OK, I remember him saying, “I've got this pain in my chest”. So we stopped for five or ten minutes and rested before starting out again after my dad said he felt well enough to finish the hike (at this point the monastery was in sight in the distance).
Unfortunately for him, we had only walked a few more steps when my dad abruptly collapsed to the pavement. I remember turning around in complete surprise, only to hear that little soft voice within me that I had heard three years before saying to me, “Now watch what I do for those who wait on me.” It was the same low, soft voice that had told me how I couldn't possibly imagine what God has in store for me. It was only then that I made the connection to my misguided prayer nearly three years earlier about shooting my parents, a prayer that by this time I had almost given up on. Even though God saw fit to wait until just after my 12th birthday, I saw my dad collapse into a heap on the ground and I stood there and watched him die. God took my dad's life to prevent me from attempting to do any such thing myself. He knew I would have been making a horrific mistake in my young life long before I ever could have. What I still failed to understand at the time was that God was interceding in my life on a regular basis, and that this happens with all people whether they realize or believe in it or not. God had something really good in store for me. I didn't realize it at the time because I was still too young to comprehend the insurmountable power of God.
I was in the sixth grade when my dad died, and I remember feeling an enormous sense of relief at his passing. As I began to get older I gradually started doing better from a mental health standpoint, but I still hated school and I stayed bored most of the time. This was also a period in my life where I began drifting away from God. I had never cared for all the ritual, pomp and circumstance of the Catholic masses I was required to attend as a child (in Catholic schools the kids go to mass every day). So I was never really drawn toward the God of the church. It was not until much later that I learned that the true God does not live in buildings, he lives inside human hearts. But long before this occurred, my disconnecting from God as I understood him at the time had already begun to take me down the wrong road. This is usually what happens to people who turn from God like I did.
Get yours on-line directly from the author at www.pcmatl.org/books-and-donations (tax deductible) for $9.95.
Or, get the e-book ($4.95) on Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=sole+survivor%3A+one+man%27s+testimony+for+Christ&rh=n%3A154606011%2Ck%3Asole+survivor%3A+one+man%27s+testimony+for+Christ
Also available in audio format at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daudible&field-keywords=sole+survivor%3A+one+man%27s+testimony+for+Christ&rh=i%3Aaudible%2Ck%3Asole+survivor%3A+one+man%27s+testimony+for+Christ
For I-books and other Apple users, as well as Kobo, Nook, Fire and more, get yours from https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/587492
See the video at http://youtu.be/5Bxi7x0nUc0 Thanks so much! Shalom....
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Immigration Reform, the Dream Act,
and Progressive Christianity
by pastor Paul J. Bern
This week's message revolves around the current topic of immigration reform, a.k.a. the “dreamers”, as opposed to what the Bible says. Not any particular government, faith or denomination, mind you, but none other than the Word of God! We have all heard more than enough from the American media 'presstitutes' regarding both sides of this issue as dictated by their Republican and Democrat masters. From conservative to progressive to liberal, as well as independent voters like myself who do not follow the crowd, the issue of 'illegal immigration' festers like an open wound across America without any first aid being applied. Like any other kind of serious wound, illegal immigration is an American political issue that needs immediate attention.
First let me say that I was formerly on the conservative side of this issue due to the fact that had once lost a good job in the computer/IT profession due to my being replaced by workers who had just arrived on H1B work visas. So, I was understandably bitter because I had lost my job to an imported worker despite the fact that I was more qualified. Actually it wasn't just myself either. The company I was working for at that time had laid off everyone in the branch office where I worked and replaced us all with a batch of workers from the Philippines with green cards. At the time I felt like my career had been stolen right out from under me, and all attempts to replace this job of mine had yielded only temporary jobs that lasted from several months duration to as little as one day.
Then one day in the early summer of 2008, I took yet another temporary job out in west Texas, and so I put most of my things in storage and left Atlanta for parts previously unknown to me. I had never been to Texas before, and I found a completely different culture than what I was accustomed to back in Atlanta. There were three things I noticed immediately soon after my arrival. The first was the oppressive heat and humidity, which made Atlanta seem mild by comparison. The second was that people ate burritos in place of burgers. There were burrito joints on nearly every corner and a few McDonald's, and that was just about it. The third thing I noticed was that approximately one third of the population was Hispanic (or Latino/Latina, take your pick). One of the first things I remember thinking when I realized that one third of the population spoke only Spanish was that this must be ground zero for so-called illegal immigration, or so I thought at the time.
But I spent four months out there in Texas, and as my days turned into weeks I began to notice little things that seemed insignificant in and of themselves. For example, I saw Latino men – and a few women as well – hanging around temp agencies, construction sites, and even at a U-haul truck rental company in the hopes of getting a job at least for that day. I remember being struck by the parallels between what those immigrants were having to endure as they searched for work and a piece of the so-called American dream compared to my own job search experiences. Some of these workers lived at homeless shelters, others in campers or vans, and the more prosperous ones lived in rented mobile homes or apartments. I saw the same thing day after day, with hundreds of workers gathered around in groups of as few as eight or ten, and as many as several dozen men and women. And so I found myself beginning to question my own intense dislike of these immigrant workers.
Before I go any further with this message, I think I should point out that my basis for resenting many of these immigrant workers was economic rather than racial, and more social than cultural. Nevertheless, my beliefs and opinions were heavily slanted towards an American rather than a more realistic world view, and so I found myself beginning to question my motives for feeling the way I did. One day soon after I did some research on-line and at the local library regarding this issue, and here is what I found out. The average worker in Mexico earns the equivalent of about $50.00 per month USD, and this is so because of reasons that I was previously only generally aware of – namely, the differences in currency valuation between the two countries, and the fact that Mexico is by and large a third world country that happens to border the United States. When you live in a third world country,m the workers earn third world level 'wages'.
When these same workers come to the US they make minimum wage, more or less, which is currently still stuck at only $7.25 per hour in Texas as well as Georgia. Some are paid substantially less while those who enforce the rules look the other way. Since a sizable chunk of these workers make less than minimum wage while being paid in cash under the table, I'm going to use a rounded out number of $7.00 hourly. A 40-hour work week at seven dollars an hour yields gross pretax earnings of $280.00 per week before taxes and Social Security. But since many of these workers don't work full time their take home pay is even less. At any rate, this works out to gross earnings of $1,120.00 per month for a 40 hour week. If each worker pays a regular tax rate as we Americans do, and many don't because their employers are cheating the tax man by paying in cash, they wind up with an average net take-home pay of approximately $740.00 per month.
I challenge anybody out there to try and live even for only a month on such substandard pay as this! Seven hundred stinking dollars – go ahead and try that! I challenge anybody who thinks they can live on such an absurdly small amount of money for an entire month, especially if you're a homeowner. In order to better understand this, instead of Mexico and the US being the two countries involved, let's use the US and Canada instead. If any given American working professional were offered a job in Canada, what would that be in relation to the US and Mexico? When we do the math, for any Mexican/Latino who emigrates to America, the jump from fifty bucks a month to 740 dollars equals a pay increase that is 11.4 times the going rate in Mexico or, for that matter, any central American country.
Now, let's contrast that to an American jumping ship and leaving the US to go and work and live in Canada. With an average net earnings of roughly $35,000.00 annually (before taxes) for American workers, if any of us were to be offered a job in Canada – or for that matter any other developed or emerging country worldwide – at 11.4 times the going rate here in the US, that would amount to an increase in take-home pay to $399,000.00 annually before taxes. OK, so let's ask ourselves a simple question: Would you or I be interested in a pay increase of 11.4 times the amount we have been earning previously? Without a doubt!! So, now you know why the Latino/Latina folks are migrating – legally or not – to the US in search of work. It's not because they are foreign invaders on an economic and social offensive to overrun America. It's because they are economic refugees from the third world who are searching for a better life for themselves and their families! So, instead of resenting or even hating this influx of foreign workers, the Christian thing to do would be to reach out to the Hispanic communities in all fifty states and minister to them. Like so many long-term unemployed here in America, they don't want a handout, they simply want to go to work. But I felt convicted in the Holy Spirit for harboring such negative and bitter thoughts, and I repented immediately and have never looked back. Sometimes it's best to simply admit we're wrong and move on. So let this be a cautionary lesson for everyone.
Showing compassion to foreigners and strangers is central to biblical teaching and morality, and there are quite a few people of faith who have started joining the fight to pass immigration reform, including myself. Congress needs to pass this into law because it is the morally right thing to do. Those who base their position on immigration reform on unacknowledged or hidden racial prejudice, irrational fear, or worries about losing elections to far-right ideologues are too often the same people who loudly proclaim their religious convictions as guiding their political decisions in violation of the First Amendment's separation of church and state. Politicians who are professing Christians need to consider what their faith has to say about immigration if they want to be considered authentic. If they oppose reform and refuse to offer compassion to our immigrant brothers and sisters, they should justify their positions on moral grounds (if they can). We join with other faith communities in asking for a moral and religious conversation about immigration reform – not just a political one. God's passionate, abiding concern for immigrants and foreigners, strangers and travelers – and for our neighbors – is obvious to anyone reading through Scripture.
It is the biblical call to "welcome the stranger" and Jesus' concern for "the least of these" that inspires and motivates us. "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself … " (Leviticus 19:33-34). The biblical word "ger" for the foreigners in our midst occurs an astounding 92 times in the Hebrew scriptures, with the consistent instruction to protect them. In the New Testament, the stranger, and all who are vulnerable, are at the very heart of the Gospel (Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan (see Luke 10, verses 25-37) is just one example of many). In the book of Matthew, Jesus offers a vision in which caring for foreigners is the defining mark of God's kingdom: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me" (Matthew 25:35-36). Now let me ask you all – when's the last time you did that for somebody? When's the last time you did any of the above for a stranger?
That evangelical as well as mainstream Christians would finally act to reform the immigration system should surprise no one who has a conscience, not just for theological reasons, but also for moral reasons. Undocumented immigrants have joined our congregations; we understand the problem firsthand. They are our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. And we know that by reforming our immigration laws, we can create a system that also reflects the best values of our nation and the highest ideals of our faith. We act because, as the book of James reminds us, "faith without works is dead."
For me, I think the biggest change hasn't been in the pulpit, it's been in the pews and out in the streets. It's one thing when 11 million people are a statistic. But it's an entirely different matter when one of those 11 million is your friend, a human being who you now know as a neighbor, or as a co-worker or a worshiper. Our faith has always been about compassion and it compels us to do something. If we take the principle of compassion out of the Bible, it wouldn't be the Bible any more. Compassion is indeed all over the Bible. I pray it will also be found in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and in the workplace and our neighborhoods and subdivisions. It's time for Christians in and out of Congress to stand up in support of immigration reform, and for the Dreamers, or to explain why they won't — as Christians. If they follow their faith, we will see the miracle we need. And let's remember that there is no such thing as an illegal human being.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
Friday, February 9, 2018
Sunday, February 4, 2018
I think I've found the reason for the recent surge in school shootings, but you may not like my findings
Staggering Numbers Of Millenials Are Leaving Church
and It's All Our Own Fault
by Web pastor Paul J. Bern
For viewing in any browser, click here :-)
For decades, the United States has been thought of as a Christian nation around the globe. But today that is dramatically changing – especially among America's young people. The truth is that all of the recent polls tell us that Americans under 30 years of age are rejecting the Christian faith in unprecedented numbers. In fact, what the numbers reveal is not a slow move away from the Christian faith. Rather, they clearly portray a massive wave of young Americans running away from traditional Christianity as fast as they can. Not only that, but the vast majority of young adults in America today do not go to church, do not pray and do not read the Bible. Just consider a few of the results from a fairly recent (2015) and deeply troubling survey of 18 to 29 year old Americans:
- 65% rarely or
never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves
- 65% rarely or
never attend worship services of any kind.
- 67% don't read
the Bible or any other religious texts on a regular basis.
That is a solid two-thirds of American young adults who don't even have the slightest connection to traditional Christianity. If the current trends continue, the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Daewoo, Plymouth and Saturn dealerships from just a few years ago. The survey did find that 65% of those surveyed did call themselves "Christian", but among that 65%, the majority are what I call CINO's (Christians in name only). Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.
But it just isn't this latest survey that is showing a mass exodus from the Christian faith by America's young people. According to a more recent (2016) survey by America's Research Group, 95 percent of 20 to 29 year old evangelical Christians attended church regularly during their elementary school and middle school years. However, only 55 percent of those young evangelical Christians still attended church regularly during high school, and only 11 percent of them were still regularly attending church when they went to college. That's it, just a paltry 11 percent! And that was among self-identified evangelical Christians.
But the most recent survey from this same nonprofit was perhaps even more troubling. According to that survey, 15% of Americans now say they have "no religion" – which is up from 8% in 1990. However, what was much more disturbing was that 46% of Americans between the ages of 18 to 34 indicated that they had no religion in the survey. Is it any wonder that atheism is on the rise? Forty-six percent is not just a trend. That is not just a landslide, either. I would define that as a stampede. Today there most certainly is a mass exodus of America's young people from the traditional Christian faith. There is simply no getting around it. Another recent poll by America's Research Group showed that less than 1 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 23 hold a Biblical world view. And what is a Biblical world view? This has been defined as someone holding on to the following six key beliefs:
1) Believing that absolute moral truth exists.
2) Believing that the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches.
3) Believing that Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic.
4) Believing that a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or by doing good works.5) Believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth.
6) Believing that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.
Using those six criteria, less than 1 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 23 hold a Biblical world view. That's no more than 3 million out of 330,000,000! The implications of this are staggering. The truth is that the United States is quickly becoming a highly secularized nation. Europe has already been down this road, and now America is rapidly following. Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of churches will close in the next 10 years as more and more people simply quit going. Large numbers of Christian ministries, radio stations, television shows and book stores will have to shut their doors because there will not be nearly enough people to support them. But the most frightening thing of all is that we are losing almost an entire generation to the world. Never before in U.S history has an entire generation rejected the Gospel as much as this one has. America's young people are rejecting the Christian faith, and yet the mainstream Christian establishment keeps running around and telling everyone that everything is fine. Fine??
No, everything is not fine. Not even close -- in point of fact, nowhere near! The Church in America is broken – completely! It is very rare to find a church where authentic Christianity is being practiced anymore. Our young people are not stupid. They know what is real and what is not. When they hear pastors tell them they must give 10% of what they earn each and every week, that's not what the Gospel says and they know it. When they hear TV evangelists trying to convince them that God wants us all to be rich, when our youth hear them condemning gay people when it's not their business to judge, when they see 'conservative Christians' protesting abortion in the streets as they send your sons and daughters off to fight wars that benefit only a handful of people, millennial's can see the hand-writing on the wall. If the Church in America – yes, I said the Church – would repent and turn back to real, authentic Christianity, at least we would have a chance of capturing the attention of those young Americans who are honestly looking for the truth. But instead, people of all ages – not just the young – are hungry and thirsty for some real truth. They're fed up to here with all the spiritual bull-crap being dished out by for-profit churches and all the con artists on TV who have the nerve to call themselves “apostle” or “bishop”, and they're looking for some authenticity. You know, like the kind Jesus had?
What did Jesus say about all this? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew chapter five, verse 6).” Translated into 21st century English, this simply means come to Jesus Christ in and of himself, and simply leave the churches behind. You will no doubt recall that Jesus put his money where his mouth was in this regard when he threw the money changers out of the temple. He wasn't nice about it either. He didn't have to be. In the here and now of the modern church – or Church Incorporated as I like to call it – anybody can see that the descendants of the money changers have once again set up shop in houses of worship. As a result, you had best be really sure that He is returning very soon for yet another house cleaning. Christ will be far more angry the second time around as he was the first. So much more....
On the surface, it would be easy to say that every bit of the fault for this lies with modern church leadership. But that is not entirely the fault of the Church, although the leadership does bear a good bit of the responsibility. The truth is that we – the parents of the millenials I'm writing about – have created a society where our children are taught that Jesus and Christianity are not important any more. Our public schools teach our children day after day after day that they evolved from monkeys, that abortion, indiscriminate sex before marriage and homosexuality are perfectly normal for everyone, and that anyone who disagrees is either a bigot or an idiot. Then these same accusers go home and surround themselves with endless entertainment for the rest of the day (television, video games, Internet, movies, and often pornography), effectively isolating themselves from their families and each other. The overwhelming message regarding the Christian faith in the above forms of entertainment is that either Christianity is irrelevant, not true or should be openly mocked. Only thing is, they have forgotten that you can't mock God or Jesus. You cannot mock God any more than a Chevy can mock General Motors.
So should we be surprised that the overwhelming majority of our children and grandchildren have rejected the Christian faith? Should we expect anything else? What else were we expecting, John the Baptist? We have raised our children in the godless society that we have constructed and now we are so surprised that they are godless. People everywhere are pulling their hair out trying to figure out why all these school shootings have sprung up seemingly out of nowhere over the last 15 years or so. But nobody should be surprised. We are just reaping what we have sown, and we now have an unexpected bumper crop of wanton violence. I'd say we have our work cut out for us for the foreseeable future, so we'd better get started. Because if we don't start repairing the damage we have caused by letting electronic devices do our parenting for us, we are going to lose an entire generation. And that, ladies and gentlemen, would be totally unacceptable.