Still at the head of the New Year and on the eve of another February Black History Month, I am posting what the Lord led me to write for all, but especially the young, black American male inmates that read the print version of The Strong Man Of God Monthly Newsletter distributed by Strong Man Ministries to mostly Oregon and Washington prisons.1 These young men fill prisons across America. In the cause of Strong Man Ministries to restore men, their families and communities, I have gone forth as its Director into the prisons, streets, schools, football fields and basketball courts preaching the Gospel, teaching God’s Word and witnessing Christ to the end of saving even a willing few.2
Devontay was among the most promising of the twentysomethings I had encountered in our prison ministry. He was street smart, tough, but real and humble about wanting to turn his life around as I write in this anecdote. I have only done a minor edit and added footnotes to it. If it would be helpful to steer other young people (to include any of his four children) away from what he had endured in his life and suffered from his admitted poor choices which is my aim (hence, “cautionary” in the title) then, Devontay would be glad for me to put this post out. May it be so, Lord!
(There will not be a post next week, February 7th as I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary with my wife--praise the Lord! The Lord willing, my next post will be on the following Sunday evening, February 14th.)
Originally Published January 2021
The news put me in shock as the sudden death of those we know always does. I had not heard about the tragic early morning accident on the local television news shows I typically watch as I learned later was reported on. I found out about the accident that ended the mortal life of 27 year-old Devontay Rhodes back on October 22, 2020 from another one of my spiritual sons in the Christian faith who is on lockdown at Oregon’s Deer Creek Correctional Institution (DRCI), Martin Lockett, in a letter he wrote to me just before Thanksgiving.3 He thought I knew.
Martin had met Devontay when they were both at Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI). Devontay was transferred there after first being at the Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) in the fall of 2015 where I encountered him as a participant in our Ministry’s Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study.4 Even now, my heart breaks thinking about how so very young he was and too many of our black American incarcerated males are. Unlike many of his peers though, bright, energetic and determined Devontay was genuinely eager for change in his life.
When an upcoming periodic baptismal service was announced during the study, Devontay requested that I baptize him. As a seasoned pastor, I proclaimed the Gospel to him to make sure the faith in Christ he professed rested on biblical grounds. However, I declined to baptize him until I had the opportunity to instruct him more in what it was about. He was disappointed, but clearly undeterred because he showed up at the service requesting again to be baptized. I relented. After giving him instruction, I baptized him.
As it turned out, Devontay was transferred soon after and I could not do any further instruction except through correspondence. I also wrote and asked Martin to help Devontay in the faith and he did up until his release. After his release, Devontay called me with some life issues I gave biblical counsel on how to handle. Then, began what became only our occasional phone contacts and more recently, e-mail exchanges until his death. In fact, we last exchanged e-mails this past August 31st in his renewed desire to live for Christ. I sent him a final follow-up e-mail on September 22nd.
My August e-mail to Devontay was like most of our previous phone conversations and e-mails with me providing biblical counsel on a life issue that went unheeded (Proverbs 19:21). In it, I addressed his ambition to be a bartender as a Christian and gave one reason it was incompatible with our faith being that serving alcohol to some led to intoxicated driving and tragic accidents. He died thirty days later ironically after a man charged with DUII crashed into his car on Oregon’s I-84. Devontay was eager for change in relationship with Christ, but was just not ready to do all of what He requires to obtain it! What about you? You only have so much time (Luke 9:23-26, 13:1-9)!
1 Subscription to the digital E-version of the newsletter is available.
2 Learn more about our evangelism and ministry among youth by visiting the Strong Man Minute Page on the Strong Man Ministries Web Site, The Strong Man Of God.Org.
3 Learn more about Martin Lockett (who will be released this year) and our ongoing national Books To USA Prisons Project on the Give Page of the Strong Man Of God Web
4 This is the same Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study available for purchase in the Strong Man Store and most major internet booksellers.
Joe Biden was sworn in this past Wednesday, January 20th as the forty-sixth President of the United States. This reality happened despite weeks of disputing the election results and widely declared pre- and post-election prophetic assurances supposedly from the Lord through professed Christian prophets, prophetesses and well known evangelical personalities that Donald Trump would remain in office. The voices making these prophetic declarations obviously all got it wrong. Clearly too, they all uttered their prophecies at cross-purposes with God. So, how did they get it wrong and what should the biblical response of the Body of Christ be to these false prophets?
As it turns out, this is a final post in a series the Lord has led me to write concerning especially professed Christian conservatives praying and teaching at cross-purposes with Him.1 This situation hits home and hard for me. This is because of the struggle I have had since surrendering to Christ in February 1979 first with ignorance as a babe about serving Him in the prophetic ministry He began to quicken in me with the foundational burden for His Church (Ezekiel 8; Revelation 1:9-3:22).2 After that, it was trying to understand the burden, gifting and ministry in the context of Baptist churches that did not recognize the biblical calling and a seminary education that falsely rendered it obsolete.
I have written several posts over the years chronicling my mostly negative experiences among the churches and giving biblical instruction on the gift of prophecy along with the prophetic ministry Heaven will not retire until the Lord Jesus returns!3 I know well the temptation to speak what God has not spoken to me. My saving grace to date has been a healthy fear of God and being wrong with a number of close calls (fulfillment is not always immediate) since according to the standard He gave for those He uses in the prophetic ministry, proof the words they speak have come from Him is their consistent accuracy (Deuteronomy 18:9-22; Matthew 26:31-35, 47-56, 69-75; Acts 11:27-30).
The temptation to prophesy what is not from the Lord arises from two related desires: to please people in telling them what they want to hear and self to the same end. The Lord led me to write about our desires as the core means Satan uses to tempt and deceive any gullible or unguarded Christian into sin no matter how far along in the faith.4 False prophets telling the people what they wanted to hear and out of their own hearts as a living in ancient Israel was condemned by God through His faithful prophets (Jeremiah 14:10-16, 23:9-15). While the false prophets cried “peace,” God’s faithful warned of judgment and charged the people to repent (Jeremiah 23:16-22, NKJV)!
Being on the king’s payroll gave financial incentive to tell him only what the false prophets knew he wanted to hear. It took faith in God, a genuine calling complete with divine encounter, courage and fortitude in suffering to stand often alone 450 to 1 to speak God’s prophetic Word as did Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-7, 18:1-46) and Micaiah who was outnumbered 400 to 1(1 Kings 22:1-18).5 The false prophets prophesied lies out of their own hearts to please the king. Indeed, as Micaiah revealed in his situation, God had even permitted “a lying spirit” to come to and help the false prophets along in their utterance; bringing about the downfall of the king as God willed (1 King 22:19-40, NKJV).
This latter thing has happened before our very eyes within professing Christianity here in America during the just passed Presidential election and interim transition to the next President. Men and women among the ranks of professed Christians that are politically conservative and purportedly operate in the prophetic and word of knowledge gifting were so intent on a Trump second term, they were captured on video in various settings prophesying to and over him supposedly from God with that aim. Aware of the biblical lying spirit incident, one of the prophets is quoted acknowledging this as the only way they could be wrong.6 Pleasing like-minded donors and absorbed with them in the idolatrous delusion of American perpetuity and rabid patriotism seems to have been the major drivers.
Searching out their own motives and publicly confessing the sin with contrition and repentance is what I pray each saved one who uttered false prophesy on now, former President Trump’s behalf will do, since you have given the Lord’s enemies cause to mock, misled His flock and brought shame on the prophetic ministry. The faithful should restore such ones with mercy though having come short of the Lord’s standard, never again receive a prophecy from them!7 For the rest who have made a career out of trafficking in false prophecy and refuse to repent, the Lord calls you ‘“foolish’” and declares, ‘“I am indeed against you.’” You will suffer His judgment on earth and eternally for prophesying falsehood at cross-purposes with God (Ezekiel 13; 2 Peter 2:1-17; Jude 10-13, NKJV).
Seeing then, that false prophets are and will remain among us until the end as forewarned by our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles, the faithful must be vigilant in discernment to recognize and deal with them (Matthew 7:15-23, 24:11, 23-28; 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22; 1 John 4:1-6; Revelation 13:11-18, 16:13, 19:19-21). Finally also, as a wrap up to this series receive the Word the Lord gave me back on September 6, 2020 for our times. In reply to and firm rebuke of my prayer offered in frustration from a long wait on His guidance for my life circumstances, the Lord sent me to hear Him from Jeremiah 45. I was humbled, repentant and good! The next day the globally heard about fierce winds and firestorms descended upon our Northwest region that brought choking smoke for weeks.8
1 Read the January 10, 2021 post, Praying At Cross-Purposes With God, under the category, Bible Prophecy and the one following on January 17th entitled, Teaching At
Cross-Purposes With God, under the category, Instruction.
2 See the October 2, 2016 post, Gifted With A Prophet’s Heart, under the category, Call To Repent.
3 Read the October 30, 2016 post, No One Speaks For God?, under the category, Instruction. Also, the three-part repost beginning November 13, 2016, Without Honor
In The Churches, under the category, Glory To God!
4 Read the November 8, 2020 post, Why So Easily Deceived?, under the category, Instruction.
5 This is beyond incredible in this land of majority rule! For this cause all of the Lord’s faithful prophets and prophetesses in the Bible fulfill the definition of the aspiring
strong man and great woman of God I write about respectively in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics published by Open Door Communication Minis-
tries, Inc. It is available in print or digital formats at major internet booksellers. You can also purchase a print copy in the Strong Man Store.
6 View the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) produced Christian World News story, Prophets Say They Did Not Get It Wrong: ‘It’s Not Over’ that aired the day after
the election, November 5, 2020 and includes the supposed word from the Lord to CBN founder, Pat Robertson, Trump would win re-election. They were all deceived!
To the credit and integrity of CBN News, though it puts their founder in a bad light, they have left the story intact and available to view.
7 1 Corinthians 14:29-32. It is situations like this that the Lord shows His amazing grace and another of His tough standards: love (2 Corinthians 2:1-11). For here He
has me calling for the faithful to show mercy to largely guilty whites that repent from sin (imperfection does not give Christians a pass from sin guilt that must be con-
fessed and repented of to be forgiven by God) knowing that if it were me as a black man, it would not be as readily forthcoming. As a matter of fact, though the Lord
has caused me to accurately declare His written prophetic Word as well as that which has been extemporaneous, I have been treated as if I have been a guilty false
prophet especially by many whites that consider me inferior because of my black skin, but not to exclude the many who share my skin color out of pride and the psy-
chological legacy of self-hate (removable in Christ) from our American experience to date that will not allow us to easily regard one another.
8 It turns out the multi-year wait for the Lord’s guidance from Jeremiah 45 had been before me all along. I was just not willing to receive it. What about you?
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