Tag Archives: organized religion

Proven Innocent But Still Locked Up: Our Broken Criminal Justice System

God Wants Justice and Mercy, Not Religion,

and We’re Falling Short

by Pastor Paul J. Bern (Isaiah 58)

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For this week’s message I have been inspired to write about the true meaning of the twin brothers of the Spirit of the Lord known as justice and mercy. I saw an item of general human interest on the evening news on one of the local channels here in Atlanta about a man, one Sonny Bharadia, who has been locked up for 17 years for a crime he did not commit. It has only recently come to light that the DNA evidence in his case points to another man who is already serving a life sentence for murder in a separate case. And yet the state prison system here in Georgia is refusing to hear the evidence and release the man (to view the whole story, click here). This is injustice at its absolute worst! So I took this to the Lord in prayer, as I often do, and inquired as to what part of the Scriptures I should use to deliver a message condemning the State of Georgia’s refusal to hear the evidence that would exonerate this man. The result of my communication with the Lord will be a message on Isaiah chapter 58, and I will begin at verse 5.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58, verses 5-7)

Fasting, from a Biblical standpoint, is the voluntary abstention from all food and drink except for plain water. This usually means abstinence from sexual relations as well, and for a certain period of time, usually for anywhere from 24 hours up to an entire week or more. So, when God defined fasting through his prophet Isaiah, he meant different kinds of fasting besides simply doing without food. What can we compare this to today? In the first place, what we call ‘dieting’ today is what used to be called ‘fasting’. When we’re dieting we’re still eating, but a lot less of it. But when we’re fasting, we’re doing without everything all at once. By doing this, we rely on the Lord for our sustenance and him alone. That’s why fasting brings us closer to God. Although my fasts are of the 24 hour variety because I have medical issues, I find even little fasts like those can bring me into closer union and harmony with God.

False humility will not cut it before the Lord either. Go ahead and give your unwanted clothing and chattel furnishings to the charity of your choice, tithe your 10% to the church of your choice, and when you attend your charity gala’s, be sure to be there to see and be seen. Those are the people who gladly humble themselves when everyone is looking at them, but when they are out of sight they turn into ravenous beasts of prey. But we know who they are, don’t we? But then the Lord corrects us in verse 6: “Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and …. to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke?” To me at least, ‘loosing the chains of injustice’ would include the injustice that has been committed against men and women like Sonny Bharadia. Although the Bill of Rights contained in our still-beloved Constitution says we are all innocent until proven guilty, oftentimes in today’s American criminal in-justice system the defendants in these cases are considered guilty right from the start, which is clearly unconstitutional. This is apparently what happened to Mr. Baradia.

To “set the oppressed free” in today’s world means, to me as an American, normalizing relations between Native Americans, other minorities and people of color with the remaining majority white Anglo/Caucasian population. To ‘set the oppressed free’, then, should be defined as normalizing race relations in America. As we have seen from the police shootings of unarmed Blacks, not to mention Rosanne Barr’s racist tweets and Neo-Nazi’s openly running for political office in states like Illinois and Virginia, my country has a long way to go towards ‘setting the oppressed free’. What about this, people? Please, we have to do something about America’s race problem immediately! Otherwise, our ‘Christian faith’ becomes little more than a Sunday morning social club.

What about “breaking every yoke”? This would presumably mean yokes of bondage. Nearly 2 ½ millennia ago when these words were written, ‘bondage’ meant being sold into slavery, or living one’s life as a slave. Although human slavery still flourishes here in the 21st century, the number one form of bondage in modern times is debt, the second is very low wages and the third is taxes. Never mind the latter two – I have already written expensively on the need for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage, and I outlined a simple way to overhaul the tax system in chapter 9 of my 2011 book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, which is still available in its third edition on Amazon from here. Debt is a topic for yet another day.

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” What happens today when somebody sees a homeless person rummaging through their trash, or when a vagrant camps out on the porch of a vacant house on their street? Does anybody share food or offer any warm, dry shelter? No, they call 911 and watch triumphantly through their windows while the cops haul the homeless guy off to jail for trespassing. Provided, of course, the homeless guy survives being arrested. There are even people being put out of whole families – banished, actually – for reasons real and imaginary. The reason this condition exists to the extent that it does in American society today is because forgiveness is no longer being taught in the home. How can we expect our children to learn forgiveness and loving kindness when many of us are lacking in these qualities ourselves? One thing is for sure – this is a time of reckoning by a lot of people. It is a time of reckoning and taking stock of ourselves and the world in which we live. And when we have done these things, only then can the repair work begin. Now let’s finish up this week’s message starting at verse 9.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: ‘Here am I’. If you do away with the yoke of oppression; with the pointing finger and the malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58, verses 9-11)

Those who practice true justice and mercy, those who show compassion and empathy, those who put others before themselves, they are the ones who, when they cry out to God for help, their prayers get answered. So, if you’re crying out to God for help and it seems he’s not listening, try doing something really nice for some people. Bake them a cake, mow their grass, babysit their child, you get the idea. Whatever you do will come back to you. But as the prophet went on to say, “If you do away with the yoke of oppression; with the pointing finger and the malicious talk….” It’s time for America to pack up her outdated and mean-spirited racial prejudices and carry them to the curb. It’s also time to clamp down hard on human trafficking – too many women and children have become sex slaves for the rich and powerful, and not enough people are talking about this. Well, I am one who is, and I want to know why there aren’t more joining with me in exposing this distasteful business! In the meantime, these same people maliciously point their fingers at others and judge them for perceived wrongs real or imagined. As you judge, so you will be judged. Never forget that.

“…. if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday.” Notice that Isaiah wrote “spend yourselves”, not ‘spend your money’. How is this accomplished? By devoting our bodies to a little work, maybe get a little sweaty, or giving our precious time to a cause greater than ourselves, such as helping the survivors of a natural disaster. You can even make a career out of this kind of work, people do it every day. “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs….” But, mind you all, only if you walk in His ways instead of your own. I know, I know, this seems counter-intuitive on the surface of things. God gave us a brain, it’s our own responsibility to use the darn thing. So making our own decisions based on our own best judgments is the responsible thing to do, and that’s right. Except, our minds can sometimes play tricks on us, causing us to see or hear things differently than they actually are, creating what we perceive as audio or visual distortions. Our emotions often give us even bigger problems than that. So consequently we take the wrong actions. Whether this is purposeful or not is besides the point when it still turns out to be wrong.

“…. he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden….” There are hidden benefits – more like bonuses, actually – to consulting with God prior to putting our plans into action. Are our plans congruent with God’s? Better yet, does that work both ways as well? Because if it does, God doesn’t just reward us. He reinforces us in ways that we cannot do ourselves. God can and will give us an overhaul – sometimes whether we ask for it or not! Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt. But God doesn’t allow us to go through these things to be hard on us, or to be mean to us. He does it to build us up and to strengthen our character. So cheer up! Life isn’t so hard. You’re just like a well-watered garden when you consult God first. Who else would know any better except for your Maker?

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This just arrived at the White House and every church in America, all at once…..

If God Sent An Email To Our Leaders

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

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Given the state of affairs of leadership in general throughout the world, and particularly here in the US with the current crop of Christian “leaders” such as Sarah Pailin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckaby and Michelle Bachman, I can’t help but wonder what God must be thinking about all this. As you recall, Mr. Romney stated during the closing days of his 2012 presidential campaign that, if elected president, his first act as chief executive would be to launch an airstrike on Iran. Keep in mind that this is the same guy who is opposed to abortion and who calls himself “pro-life”. He fights for the rights of the unborn, but if you’re already alive and living in Iran, you’re toast. Go figure.

Of course, if you live in Syria, where the government is slaughtering the governed and where there is no oil, you’re on your own. Yet in Iraq, where there is plenty of oil, we have occupied that country since 2003 while killing over 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians, over half of whom were women and children. But that war was supposed to be different because we toppled a terrible dictator. Never mind that that same dictator, none other than Saddam Hussein himself, was a former CIA collaborator and “asset”. So much for loyalty among allies. Yes, that’s what our country has been doing in the Middle East since Gulf War 1 in 1990-91. And it is the American military-industrial-incarceration complex that has been doing this same thing throughout the globe since the Cold War of the 20th century.

Meanwhile here at home, one person in five depends on SNAP benefits to eat. Lots of people can’t afford medical care or insurance so they show up at emergency rooms, only when they absolutely have to, knowing that the medical bills they are about to incur will bankrupt them. Twenty four million Americans can’t find sufficient work (if any), but since they can’t afford to go back to school and get retrained because of the staggering cost of America’s for-profit higher education system, they remain stuck in their situation with no relief in sight. As I wrote in my first book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto” (scroll down after clicking the link), our country has more than enough money to pay for lifetime medical care and higher education for every single American who wants either or both. All they have to do is call off all the endless wars and bring our troops home.

As I explained in this 2011 book, if the US government took all the money that is spent in just one day on the wars/occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan and put it into an interest-bearing bank account, there would be ample funding for 4-year college educations for every school kid in America from pre-K through high school, including tuition, books, housing, food and transportation. Internet too. Yeah, just one day’s war expenditures would do that. Besides, there is sufficient legal precedent in doing this very thing in the form of the GI Bill that was passed by Congress after the end of World War 2. If they could reeducate G.I.’s back then (and that law remains in effect), they can do it for everybody now.

But what do we have instead? Overseas military adventures purely for the sake of economic domination by the US against any country regardless of cost. This is not just unsustainable, it is sheer madness! Our government has been taken over by a bunch of psychopaths. They operate from behind the scenes bent on world conquest at any cost, failing to understand that the “superpower” era is over, and they are an integral part of the so-called “new world order”. Unless they are stopped they will take the world over the brink of the abyss of World War 3. Yet these people are, by and large, religious conservatives of one church denomination or another. Their counterparts in the Muslim world are similarly conservative religious fundamentalists. Only their names for God are different. Yet, as far as I am concerned, there is only one true God who is undoubtedly far greater than the sum of all the world’s different religious faiths combined. If this very same almighty God, who is “The Great I Am”, sent us an email about all this mess down here on earth, I think it would be worded something like this:

“My children, I appear before you now to bestow upon you a supplemental to the New Testament. I offer this directly to the peoples of earth, without intermediary, cleric, or agent of any kind. Circumstances have compelled me to sever all ties, contracts and assignments with my earthly representatives. I have been, in fact, very dissatisfied with their performance of their duties for some time. Children get molested in some churches, adultery runs rampant in others, while still others have turned their churches into businesses and have enriched themselves with material possessions beyond all reason. You pastors and evangelists who drive around in cars with six-figure price tags while flying around in your own jets, you know who you are. There’s nothing wrong with having a nice car and a comfortable house, but a good bit of that plane money should have been used to feed the poor and house the homeless, whom you are ignoring. But the rape of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and other crimes committed in my name by the USA, not counting the additional war plans they have made, has forced my hand. All my earthly representatives are now terminated! They no longer speak for me.”

“Humankind, however, remains in my affections and always shall. But it would be remiss of me not to explain why I have taken such drastic measures. War displeases me. Five thousand years of war among the humans over the right way to pronounce my name, not to mention the earth’s resources which I gave you, has exhausted my patience. I will no longer be responsible for any more murders committed under color of my authority. Although I do not require that you worship me in any certain way, I much prefer that you who claim to believe in me should put some legs on your faith. It’s good when you fast and pray, but it’s far better to go and find someone in need and doing whatever you can to help him or her.”

“Someone who goes to church every Sunday but does nothing more during the week is not as faithful in my eyes as someone who donates to charity, who volunteers their free time, who is a role model for the fatherless, or who visits the sick, the elderly and the prisoner, and someone who is a defender of the widow, the orphan, the homeless, the mentally ill, and other vulnerable individuals. I created you with a divine spark, in my image. But you persist in snuffing out that spark and destroying that image in those who don’t agree with you about whether or not it is permitted to draw my face. Until you prove you can worship the divine spark I put in all of you, and desist from the mayhem and slaughter that you love more than me, I will summarily reject and disallow all your claims to my providence.”

“You have banded yourselves into tribes, nations and races and the results have not been pleasing to my eye. I take some responsibility for this distressing development; I should not have given you an earth so large. But had I started with a smaller Eden, you would have corrupted and polluted it until it became uninhabitable millenia ago. You have proven your refusal to understand the panoply of laws and wisdom I laid down for you when I set you upon the earth. I have been mistranslated by your spirit guides and abused by your leaders. Perhaps I was too complex. Let us try to simplify. Respect my creation and all the inhabitants thereof. Any so-called religious leader who tells you otherwise is a false prophet and does not represent me, my brethren or any part of my Kingdom which is to surely come.”

“Those of you who find comfort in organized religion may continue to do so. I understand – I created you as vessels for love and love rejoices in the presence of others. Keep your churches, mosques and synagogues, but cease your bickering. And remember, when you engage in bloodletting in My name, you commit blasphemy. I realize that in severing my ties with so many of the sects, denominations and “holy men” that you rely upon for moral guidance, I have created confusion where there was once certainty in your souls. But that cannot be helped. Your certainties were almost certainly wrong and most certainly misapplied.”

“But do not despair, my children, for I have not abandoned you. There is a little piece of me inside all of you, a fail-safe guide to good and evil, a moral compass that never leaves you, a true voice you can hear amid the storms of fire that drive you mad with hatred and confusion. It is called your conscience and it always points upward. Follow it and you will be walking in my light. Ignore it and you’ll be lost in the darkness cast by your own shadow. Here is your New, New Testament, starting with Commandment One:”

I have given you a conscience. Use it.”

Sort that out to my satisfaction and maybe next millennium we can talk about the dietary laws.”

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Greed and Inequality Flourish While Organized Religion Ignores It

Mainstream Churches Fail to Condemn Greed

While Inequality and Homelessness Mushroom

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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Inexcusable! Our nation is being savaged by economic hard times, but many pastors are afraid to talk about its causes, lest they offend anyone and risk losing members who pay their ‘tithes’. In light of this I would like to present some comments of my own, since I am not the least bit shy about stirring up controversy. It has been my observation that too many preachers and teachers of the Gospel stop short these days when it comes to preaching about the evils of greed. Instead, they encourage their congregations to get through their financial woes by making larger financial contributions. “If you have a need”, one famous TV preacher once said, “you must plant a seed”. Unfortunately greed, like charity, begins at home. Apparently they don’t want to alienate the most well-off members of their congregations by talking about what’s really behind the nation’s economic woes. I can sum it up in one sentence: “I’ve got mine and I’m doing well, how about you?” An alternate sentence could read, “I’ve already got mine, too bad for you!”

The reality is that certain people may wind up creating anti-economic-growth and anti-capitalism concepts in their minds. Greed and our capitalist economic system fears anything that even remotely resembles first century communism or socialism (see the book of Acts chapter 2, verses 44-47; chapter 4 verses 32-36, and 2nd Corinthians chapter 8, verses 13-15). The very idea of sharing anything, or of equal economic distribution in any form, makes these “Christians” furious! Never mind that caring and sharing are two fundamental concepts of true Christianity: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew chapter 6, verses 2-4, NIV). The continuing aftermath of the Great Recession is far more than just an economic crisis. It has become a spiritual dilemma for some of the nation’s pastors and their parishioners. Nearly eight years after an implosion of the US financial system helped push the country into its worst economic nosedive since the Great Depression, many pastors are still trying to figure out how to address people’s fears from the pulpit. But first they have to deal with their own fears, and in some cases their own greed.

Though millions of Americans are justifiably angry over the new minimalist economy (meaning, nobody can afford much of anything anymore), little moral outrage seems to be coming from mainstream religious denominations, and ditto for many unaffiliated nondenominational churches. Too many pastors opt for offering platitudes from the pulpit or from TV studios because they are afraid their ‘partners’ will stop giving money if they hear teachings against greed. Money, and the acquisition thereof, is one of the last taboos in church (not counting preaching against the extreme immorality of waging warfare, which ranks number one in my mind). The economic anxiety from the pews has become so palpable for some pastors, though, that they now feel like they have no other choice.

The Rev. Andy Stanley, a prominent evangelical leader, said some in his congregation cheered when he launched a preaching series called “Recovery Road” to talk about politically touchy issues such as personal greed, the unsustainable federal deficit, and the sins of sub-prime home loans and predatory student loans. Rev. Stanley says he took a risk preaching about greed to his suburban Atlanta congregation, but it has paid off. The senior pastor has told his church members they should look in the mirror before they start blaming politicians for the nation’s economic woes. Any economic recovery “begins with me, not they,” Stanley said. It continues when pastors ask how such a wealthy country can stumble into such a financial mess. “Any time the entire country is talking about something, pastors should pause and talk about it,” Rev. Stanley said. “We know what Republicans and Democrats think, but what does the Bible and Jesus say?’’ Other ministers say an economic recovery also must involve pointing fingers. They say Jesus calls his followers to struggle against those people and policies that helped lead to the Great Recession and overwhelming economic inequality.

It’s good to pull a bunch of people out of the river when they’re drowning, but it’s also smart to go upriver to see who’s been throwing them in the water in the first place. Should pastors speak truth to economic power? Absolutely – they’d be cowards not to! There was a time when American pastors routinely took stands on the big economic issues of the day. During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist minister, inspired others to fight against the economic inequality of the time with the “Social Gospel.” Social Gospel ministers helped inspire President Theodore Roosevelt to break up business monopolies and abolish child labor. I personally wear such a mantle upon my own shoulders, and I wear it proudly.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spent the last three years of his life focusing on poverty. When he was assassinated in 1968, he was on the cusp of leading a nonviolent, interracial army of poor people into the nation’s capital to demand a fairer distribution of wealth. Rev. Dr. King and others like him took on the big economic issues of the day, and they were inspired by the example of Jesus, who angered the powerful by condemning the economic exploitation of the poor. Jesus took sides – he said he “didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.” The hard truth is that pastors who are afraid of angering congregants by talking about touchy economic issues like greed ignore the Gospel. You can’t preach the Gospel without alienating people. That’s part of the job. You’re not helping helpless people if you’re not alienating the greedy. Economic hard times and its accompanying low wage jobless recovery divides preachers as well as politicians.

Preaching what Jesus would say about the Great Recession is controversial by nature. The Bible doesn’t record any instance where someone asked Jesus about the morality of a sub-prime loan, or of waging undeclared, unofficial wars overseas, or the best way to reduce the federal deficit (all that has to be done is to nationalize the Federal Reserve!). That leaves pastors with the challenge of interpreting Jesus’ message for today’s economic woes and other related problems. On that front, the pulpit is as divided as the nation’s politics. Consider the cause of the 2008 economic meltdown. Was it primarily the result of Wall Street greed? Greed was a factor in the 2008 financial crisis, but not it’s primary cause. There were other major factors, including the tendency of Americans to live above their means and policies that encouraged banks to relax mortgage lending standards. In addition, large financial institutions were encouraged to engage in risky behavior because they knew the federal government would bail them out. The causes of the 2008 crisis was so complicated that some of the smartest people in the world either failed to anticipate it, or they looked the other way so they would not see.

Why don’t more Christians condemn the growing gap between rich and poor? Denouncing a presumed (and enforced by the police) gap between rich and poor is a moral imperative, not to mention prophetic wisdom, in today’s Church. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, income disparity in the United States has increased 40% in the past 30 years. In 2010 the nation’s poverty rate rose to a 17-year high, with more than 46 million people – 15.1% of the population – living in poverty and 49.9 million living without health insurance (this was before so-called ‘Obamacare’). These grim statistics point to the hard truth that people born in America today can no longer “succeed” like their parents and grandparents did. Working hard and getting a good education are no longer enough. Higher education is currently only for the well-to-do and the creditworthy, and working hard, long hours only guarantee jobs for as long as it takes any given employer to find and hire someone else who is willing to work for $1.00 per hour cheaper than those they replace. In short, the American Dream is dead on arrival. It has devolved into a lie. The fact that millions of people want jobs and can’t find them is a sign of that capitalism is dying of old age, and the profit motive is doomed to die with it because there is way too much money in the hands of far too few people while everyone else gets (literally) left out in the cold.

It’s very clear to me that greed was a major factor in the 2008 economic collapse, and that the widening gap between the have’s and have-not’s is social and political dynamite. Quite frankly, economic inequality is a recipe for revolution, and it is a revolution that is long overdue. Henry Ford once said, “If the American people knew how their banking system worked, there would be a revolution by tomorrow morning”. This statement was uttered roughly 80 years prior to the birth of social media! History shows that an increasing gap between the rich and the poor is a prime indicator of imminent spiritual, financial and cultural collapse. What is sorely needed today is a movement among the nation’s churches to re-examine the country’s economic values. Unfortunately, many of the nation’s pastors and TV evangelists operate like politicians, afraid to alienate their wealthy donors. Their sermons sound more like rehearsed sales pitches than they do Spiritual messages. Shame on them all!

Where have all the prophets gone? If pastors choose not to preach about the causes of economic calamity, they can still talk about the issue through the standpoint of personal behavior. Some church members have been hit hard by bad economic times. But instead, they hear about the cures and not the causes for the nation’s economic ills. It has been my observation that too many pastors have reduced Jesus to a financial adviser or life coach rather than the Son of God who was a prophet and teacher, and who saved us all from death by the free gift of eternal life for all those who truly believe, and who back up their beliefs with charitable acts and much faith.

Pastors should also call for equality and justice as a part of this message. In point of fact, it’s a crime that no bankers or financial leaders behind the 2008 collapse have gone to jail, and it is indicative of culpability and complicity on the part of our nations “leaders”. We’ll send an African-American teenager off to the slammer who robs a 7-Eleven, and ditto for smoking an innocuous substance like marijuana, but people won’t do one stinking thing to any banker who helped cause the collapse of the entire banking system. There are tens of thousands of once-robust working Americans who are now homeless and living on the streets because of the gross irresponsibility and criminal activity of Wall St. bankers. But most preachers won’t dare say that, because much of the church is too captive to greed to address the moral challenges of the nation’s economic problems. In my opinion, this is due in no small part to the “prosperity gospel” that is being “taught” in many churches today. In other words, it’s OK to be greedy, so long as one is doing so for the sake of Christ. They are forgetting that Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”, and again when He said, “You cannot have both fresh and salt water flowing from the same spring. You either love one master and detest the other, or you will cling to the other and despise the former. You cannot worship both God and money”.

We can’t expect politicians, pastors, teachers, evangelists or other business and political leaders to stand up to apostasy within the Church because too many are beholden to the rich and powerful who keep their houses of worship operating in the black! A prophet is someone who is willing to tell us the unpleasant truth about ourselves. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s why he was crucified by the Roman Empire. If we can’t bring unpopular messages, who will do so in our place? It’s all up to us, and anyone who willingly does not do so is ignoring at best, or willfully bastardizing at worst, the true and timeless Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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