Feb 1, 2017

For Christians, in the 25th chapter of Matthew, Jesus makes clear that how we treat “the stranger” is how we treat him. That’s what the Gospel text says. And the “stranger” means immigrants and refugees — the citizens of other nations living and traveling among us. Therefore, this is a faith issue for us as Christians. Donald Trump’s executive order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” is in conflict with our Christian faith, and we will oppose it as a matter of faith. President Trump’s executive order is not about security; it is about ideology. All of us want and value security. But these refugees have already been thoroughly vetted. They are mostly women and children who have had to flee situations of violent conflict — for their very lives. They are in danger; they are not a danger. They are refugees fleeing from violence, not the agents of violence toward us. The world’s experts on refugees around the globe clearly contradict what the ideologues of the new White House are saying. This is a political policy, not a rational one. This is a cruel policy aimed at refugee families in great need and danger; not a protective policy for American families. This is a payback policy aimed at satisfying a political base that has become hostile and hateful to refugees and immigrants. This is a dangerous policy that is already alienating our partners around the world, will be used by our enemies to recruit against us, and will make us less safe. We will oppose the executive order as a matter of faith. This is also a policy aimed at a religion: The seven nations cited are Muslim-majority nations. Furthermore, the executive order directs the government to prioritize admittance of refugees (both as possible exceptions to the current ban and to get special treatment when and if the refugee ban is lifted) who suffer “religious persecution” and belong to “minority religions” in their countries. This amounts to showing preferential treatment for Christian refugees over Muslim refugees, which President Trump admitted to a Christian broadcaster. Giving special treatment to Christians fleeing violence over Muslims doing the same is both religiously offensive — to many of us who are Christian — and contrary to America’s best and constitutional values. This policy is also aimed at race: The Muslims being banned by this order are primarily people of color; and their targeting is directly related to the white nationalist ideology that has now taken up office in the White House, which is a great danger to America’s future. The use of religion and race for political purposes undermines the United States’ fundamental commitment to being a pluralist and democratic society. Christian leaders who supported Donald Trump must speak up as Christians against policies that attack “the strangers” for their religion and their race. Christian leaders who supported Donald Trump should also stand in opposition to Donald Trump’s recent re-embracing of torture — which is contrary to Christian values and principles. Torture is anti-Christian, most Christians believe that, and all of us must now say that again. Whether it’s the banning of refugees, the targeting of another religion, the subtle or direct appeals to racism, or the endorsement of torture, it is time to speak truth to power. Religious leaders must speak up against these moral choices of our new president. There is more than politics at stake here; at stake is the integrity of our faith and the future of our country. (Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners)

Posted at 08:04 am by preacher314
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Jan 31, 2017

Jesus begins in the Sermon on the Mount by affirming that everyone in his audience is called, loved, powerful, and valuable. This was remarkable in his day because the religious people in Jesus' day liked to say some people are out and some people are in, and the way that you get in is by doing things the right way and not being sick. People like lepers and people with bleeding diseases were believed to be cursed by God because of a sin of their parents. There was this system in place where some people were in, and some people were out. Jesus comes on the scene in the Gospel of Matthew in Chapter 5, and he begins with the beatitudes in which he says that everyone belongs. He begins by saying "blessed are the poor in spirit." Don't misunderstand, being poor in spirit is not a virtue. Poor in spirit means you're spiritually bankrupt. Blessed are you if you mourn. Blessed are you if you've been a doormat your whole life. In Luke, he says blessed are you if you're poor, if you're persecuted, if you're unwanted, if you're uninvited. Jesus says to these people you are called, you are loved, you are light, you are salt. PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for accepting me. Even through my weakness, illness, and sin, I am loved by you and the salt of the earth. REFLECTION: If you were there in Jesus day, do you think you would be in or out? (Pastor Bobby Schuller)

Posted at 07:54 am by preacher314
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Jan 30, 2017

Verse Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:10 Voice But no one should ever be locked away simply because they share the same race, ethnicity, or religion as a spy or terrorist. If that principle was not learned from the internment of Japanese Americans, then these are very dangerous times for our democracy. Fred Korematsu Prayer God, remind us that all of humanity is invited to feast at your table. adapted from Common Prayer

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Jan 27, 2017

Verse Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 Voice The outstretched arms of Jesus exclude no one, not the drunk in the doorway, the panhandler on the street, gays and lesbians in their isolation, the most selfish and ungrateful in their cocoons, the most unjust of employers and the most overweening of snobs. The love of Christ embraces all without exception. Brennan Manning Prayer Surround us with living saints who remind us of the sort of people we are trying to become. Common Prayer (Sojourners, sojo.net) (**A special note- Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Let us remember the millions of innocents murdered by the Nazis, the many Christians who put their lives on the line so that Jewish people might live, and those who survived but still struggle with bitter memories and crippling poverty. (International Fellowship of Christian and Jews). WE REMEMBER THEIR DIGNITY AND SACRIFICE

Posted at 06:51 am by preacher314
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Jan 26, 2017

Donald Trump has just said that torture “absolutely” works and that he would approve it in his administration if his team agrees. That torture works is a lie and a moral aggression that would directly lead to the use of torture again by the United States. As many diverse Christian leaders have said, torture is anti-Christian. Will the Christians who supported Donald Trump stand up against torture under his regime? “Speaking the truth to power” is a necessary and invaluable Christian practice and tradition which may become central again in our witness to the presidency of Donald Trump. Perhaps John the apostle puts it best: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (My Note- LET US REMEMBER EPHESIANS 4- "We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…. So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.”) (Jim Wallis)

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Verse God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Deuteronomy 10:18-19 Voice you have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land Warsan Shire Prayer God, may our lives, and voices, say, "welcome." adapted from Common Prayer Sojourners, sojo.net)

Posted at 07:46 am by preacher314
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Jan 25, 2017

President Trump signed an executive order greenlighting construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. This action signals he prioritizes corporate oil interests at the expense of environmental protection and the well- being of Americans. Tell President Trump: Keystone XL and Dakota Access stand in opposition to our values. As people of faith, we must stand together to resist Trump’s actions that destroy the environment and harm our fellow Americans. This move comes a month and a half after the victory at Standing Rock, where people of faith stood in solidarity with the Water Protectors to protect our water and climate. We’ve stopped Keystone XL and Dakota Access before. Let’s stand together to do it again. In faith, The Sojourners Team (Sojourners, sojo.net)

Posted at 07:07 am by preacher314
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Jan 23, 2017

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the Cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:11-12 In the 1800s, Queen Victoria was crossing the English Channel on her royal yacht. During the course of the trip, her eye fell upon a tiny bird, who with fluttering wings, tried to follow the ship. Apparently, the bird had been attracted by the brightness of the silk flag which floated at the masthead. The queen turned to her daughter and pointed to the bird. As they watched, they could see the bird was becoming weak and weary, darting down to the waves, then climbing back up, trying to find some place to rest. But as this bird was a fragile creature used to the woods and not the company of man, it refused to settle down on the ship. With a faint cry it rose from the waves, soared up to the masthead and, unsuccessfully, tried to rest upon the flag, which had drawn it from the land -- away from safety, shelter and home. The heart of the queen was filled with pity and she commanded her sailors to save the weary bird. Wishing to please his Monarch every able-bodied man jumped to do the job Victoria had entrusted to them. They used every art and every device to capture that bird. Sadly, all their efforts to rescue the bird only terrified it more. At last it fell upon the deck at the feet of the queen. Her majesty stooped and picked up the dead bird and held it tenderly in her hands. Victoria, Queen over an empire upon which the sun never set, had been absolutely helpless in sparing the life of a single, small, scared bird. Her good intentions had not been good enough; her power had proven to be insufficient to the task. I would like to point out that some things don't change. In the worlds of politics, medicine, education and philanthropy, there are many who, with good intentions, are eager to try and save us. It is true, they are willing, but it is equally true, they are not able. Most certainly, they may assist you with simple problems and minor difficulties, but they cannot correct or cure the great sickness of sin that besets and condemns our souls. Nobody can save us other than Jesus. That is because Jesus alone • has lived a perfect life so that our sinful imperfections might be forgiven; • has resisted every temptation so we might be found innocent on Judgment Day; • has conquered death and shown to this doubting world that His sacrifice to save us has been accepted and is complete. THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we give thanks for those people of the world who do their best to make a positive impact. Bless them in their service. Most of all, we pray that every sinful soul may see only Jesus can save from condemnation and damnation. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen. (Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

Posted at 07:29 am by preacher314
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Jan 20, 2017

Two Critical Roles for People of Faith Under a Trump Administration 1. Faith must stand up for itself, for its values, for its standards, and for its priorities. 2. Leadership means sacrifice for the greater good, instead of just the personal one. YOU MUST STAND UP WITHIN, FOR, AND LIVE YOUR FAITH! IT IS MORE VITAL THAN EVER THAT WE DO SO. AND WE MUST BEGIN NOW!!!!!!! And perhaps the value that our country needs most right now, in an age of almost complete cynicism about politics, is the power and promise of hope. We can decide to spend our time, energy, and the gifts of our lives to make this a better world — for those around us, especially for those on the edges, and to be good stewards of the creation itself. That’s who people of faith are supposed to be; that is what we are supposed to do. And there is no better time to do that than right now. No matter what politics says and does, it is always time for faith to flourish and move forward. (Sojourners, sojo.net, Jim Wallis)

Posted at 07:01 am by preacher314
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Jan 19, 2017

INAUGURATION DAY “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” — Exodus 3:5 Leaders can easily fall into the trap of being out of touch with the people. Most leaders of nations enjoy luxuries that the general public does not. It’s easy to become insensitive to the needs of the common man or unsympathetic to a poor man’s plight. God, on the other hand, says “Don’t you dare! My people are my precious children.” Moses was commanded to remain as sensitive as he was at that moment until the day that he died. Insensitivity is a trap we all can fall into. It’s hard to empathize with the hungry if your stomach is always full, or to feel for the homeless when we are enjoying the comfort and warmth of our own homes. But, friends, we who serve the Lord are on “holy ground.” We must remain acutely sensitive to the needs of His children and do our best to meet them, whenever and however we can.

Posted at 07:15 pm by preacher314
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