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.
The Word of God is as plainly stated as it can be from Genesis to Revelation about what a man and woman are; their order, roles and responsibilities. It is equally clear there is only one divinely appointed organism on earth from the first century A.D. that God has directly charged to disseminate, live out, model and teach His Word especially to disciples of Jesus Christ: His Church (Matthew 16:13-18, 28:18-20)! However, the many professed Christians and the local churches they assemble in that are guilty have failed to remain true and obedient to God’s Word on man and womanhood as they have a multitude of other doctrines of the biblical faith such as covetousness.
Because of God’s clarity in His Word, there is absolutely no excuse for the rebellion that has taken place among guilty professed Christians and their local assemblies over the last half century in particular that now, oppose the very biblical doctrines in word and deed they are supposed to be upholding and teaching. As a result, without the heartfelt repentance He has been calling for they have brought the Lord’s judgment upon themselves; potently and undeniably displayed during this Coronavirus pestilence. Or don’t you realize that if “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against” His Church, surely, no earthly government can either unless the Lord permitted (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)!1
What kind of Christianity do you have that allows you to compromise with and stand on the same side as the world system led by Satan in rebellion against the Lord; declaring Him to be unrighteous, unjust or unfair in any possible way? It may not be said directly with words, but this is exactly what many professed Christians in their churches are saying when out of emotion in the flesh their attitudes, philosophies, conduct or works of advocacy run contrary to God’s Word and in lockstep with the world. You cannot be with the Lord and against Him at the same time (Matthew 12:30; 1 Corinthians 10:21-22)! As a result, their churches differ little spiritually from the world.
This reality is made all the more apparent when professed Christians assail those such as me for standing on God’s Word as it is written concerning man and womanhood! Having been in this warfare to cast down the demonic stronghold of feminism in the churches that with the world assaults God’s enduring order, role and responsibility assignments of mankind as long as I have, I am no longer shocked that these professed Christians exist. However, I fear for them now, more than ever since the Lord has made His opposition to the world’s and professed Christian rebellion against His will, way and Word in His Coronavirus judgment abundantly evident for those willing to see.
Indeed, the Lord’s call to self-examination and repentance within professing Christianity at this hour is very obvious (2 Corinthians 13:1-6)! As I repeatedly assert, it is of His grace, mercy and nearly exhausted forbearance (Romans 2:4-11). Therefore, know the Lord is able to and will outlast to victory this world of fallen men and angels in the unfolding, intensifying contest of wills He has prophetically foretold (Psalm 2; Isaiah 2:10-22, 14:12-15; Revelation 6:12-17, 19:11-20:3, 7-10)! But we have been called out from under Satan’s rule to the Kingdom and rule of Christ. As He charged the apostle Paul, we are supposed to be living out this reality (John 17:14-16; Acts 26:12-18).
To that end, this Ministry stands with all Christians that will be faithful and obedient to our King! We are ready to come along side of you to serve with instruction, encouragement and the Strong Man Of God Brand Resources the Lord has led us to create. My book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics stands as our foundational print resource followed by the in depth companion work group studies it has generated--The Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study and The Great Woman Of God Women’s Group Study.2 These print resources are easily integrated into a family, church or other Christian entity’s plan for teaching and equipping new and maturing disciples of Christ. For this reason, we make no apology for the group studies being in depth; requiring a time commitment.
As the Lord Jesus demonstrated with His twelve, making disciples is a process that takes time (John 14:9). Truly, another of the sins of following after the world He would have guilty churches repent from is taking His sheep through a microwave fast discipleship process. If more time was taken teaching and mentoring in the fundamentals of the faith, man and womanhood early in the process, churches would not have to spend so much of it doing this later while counseling Christian disciples struggling with personal and marital issues! Too, if folk do not want to take the time to obey Christ and be taught His Word, then, they do not really want to follow Him (Luke 9:23-26).3 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 This being true, though God has permitted the governing authorities to shut down churches during the emergency situation created by the Coronavirus, those authorities
that have done so with anti-Christian bias and enmity in their hearts (God knows) as well as in oppression and unfairness should be warned from the experience of an-
cient Babylon when God used that nation to punish Israel (Isaiah 13:17-22, 47:1-11). For this reason again, churches should not take it into their own hands to resist
their governing authorities on reopening for meetings or aren't the other calamities of 2020 to include the fires in Western States still burning evidence enough the sover-
eign God is at work and in control? Opportunity to make a real Kingdom stand for Jesus is coming soon enough.
2 The book, published by the Publishing Division of Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. with fresh editing in 2019 for greater clarity and updated web addresses in
the footnotes, is available as is The Women’s Group Study at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and ChristianBooks.com. These book sellers
with Apple also have the digital download of the book. Type the titles into their search engines if necessary. You can also purchase the book and all Strong Man Of God
Brand Group Study Print Resources in the Strong Man Store!
3 Membership in a local church is not the end of becoming or the same as signing on with repentance and faith in the Gospel of Christ to be His follower! This deceit has
hurt many a souls that are church members, but not disciples and churches should stop employing it. The guilty will give an account. God’s Kingdom priority is not
warm bodies to fill local church membership rolls and seats, but true disciples that go to Heaven where “the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are regis-
tered” there reside for now (Hebrews 12:18-24, NKJV)!
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