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Love

The message of Jesus is simple:

Love God. Love others.

That’s it.

Everything else is secondary.

No “buts.”

No sinner’s prayer.

No conversions.

God loved us before we knew who God was.

So we should love God, it’s only fair.

God loved others, too, while God loved us. So we should love others, too, like God does.

It’s difficult, sometimes, to love others who are particularly unlikable, much less lovable.

Pause and consider for a moment, I’m sure you can think of someone who is difficult to love.

God calls us to love. No matter how difficult is is to love some people, God loves us, and them, too.

God loves us as a child loves a parent.

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The love of God made us, and the breath and love of God courses through our veins and pumps our hearts.

God loves us.

There’s no need for scripture — if you call yourself a Christian, and don’t understand God’s love, then you’ve missed the point of scripture, anyway.

If you’re not a Christian, then you probably won’t believe scripture. Just know, that God loves you, too.

God loves us. From the most self-deprecating, to the most self-righteous, we are loved.

The creator of the wind and the sun and the stars and moon shares the same spirit, and calls us to connect to the same breath that blows through and across and in each of us.

We are loved.

You are loved.

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Baptist women in ministry

Despite the efforts of Southern Baptists and other fundamentalists to rewrite history and erase ordained women preachers from history, Baptist women have persisted.

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There have always been Baptist women preachers. Perhaps taking inspiration from examples in Paul’s letters, as well as a call from the Lord, the first known Baptist woman preacher in the United States was Martha Stearns Marshall, sister of Separate Baptist Shubal Stearns and wife of Daniel Marshall, who preached and prayed in the late 1750s.

History records Frances Townsley, Imogene Stewart , Addie Davis — eventually hundreds of women ordained to preach the Gospel in Baptist churches.

I have no point to this, other than to respond to the Baptist churches that oppose women in ministry. They are on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of God.

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Anne Frank

People are suffering.

Seeking freedom and the American Dream. Searching for safety and security.

Many American Christians have gotten so used to not seeing the poor at their church doors, that they can no longer see the refugees at our nation’s door.

People who have lost everything but hope are turning to the United States, and the country is turning them away.

After hundreds of years to develop and grow, American Christians have perfected a type of Christianity that values nation over people and government more than Grace. And ironically, while they discriminate, marginalize others, and pledge allegiance to a flag, they think they are the ‘true Christians.’

Thousands of lives have been lost — the hopes and dreams of thousands of Anne Franks, while too many American Christians have done nothing.

This isn’t the message of Jesus.

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Why Christians should oppose banning anyone

Because the Bible says discriminating is wrong. Scripture says favoritism is wrong. For example:

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?  But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” ~ James 2:1-13

This is just one of dozens of examples. 

You can approve of discrimination, but if you do, you aren’t a follower of Christ or a believer of the Bible. 

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What’s better than 100 percent success?

Immigration officials have been 100 percent successful in stopping terrorists from entering the U.S. from the countries covered by the president’s ban.


The vetting process is 100 percent successful.

The current vetting process is 100% successful.

There have been zero terror attacks in the U.S. by a refugee from those countries.

Zero.

The president claims the ban is needed to improve procedures that are already 100 percent successful.

The process can’t get any better than perfect.

Since it’s impossible for the process to demonstratively improve, will the ban remain in place forever?

The president, his apologists and pundits in mainstream media babble about the need to “keep us safe.”

Are they ignorant of the facts or are they lying?

The ban can’t improve something that isn’t broken.

The ban is succeeding in keeping students and professionals out of the country while simply victimizing people who are already victims and asking for help.

People who support the ban are colluding with the oppressors the refugees are fleeing.

For example:

  • Syrian refugees are fleeing ISIS and oppressive dictator Bashar al-Assad.
  • Assad is backed by Russia. Trump is signaling possible closer U.S. relations with Russia and lifting of sanctions..
  • By banning Syrian refugees indefinitely, the president is giving Assad a better opportunity to murder and silence dissidents and victims of the regime.

The countries on the list are places where people face violence, dictators, and death. Countries where the president has economic investments and business partners aren’t on the list.

While making victims of some Muslims, the president continues to conduct personal business with Muslim-majority countries that produce terrorists.

From the New York Times.

The seven countries whose citizens are subject to the ban are relatively poor. Some, such as Syria, are torn by civil war; others are only now emerging from war. One thing these countries have in common is that they are places where the Trump organization does little to no business.

By contrast, other neighboring Muslim countries are not on the list, even though some of their citizens pose just as great a risk — if not greater — of exporting terrorism to the United States. Among them are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. A vast majority of people living in these countries, like the people living in the seven subject to the immigration ban, are peaceful and law abiding. But these three countries have exported terror to the United States in the past. They accounted for 18 of the 19 terrorists who perpetrated the Sept. 11 attack on American soil (an attack which was directed by another Saudi, Osama Bin Laden, with the assistance of an Egyptian, Ayman al-Zawahri).

The president is intentionally confusing countries that have created terrorists with countries that haven’t. He is intentionally creating a smokescreen to obstruct his business dealings in countries that produce terrorists. Or else he’s simply a fool who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

The president is counting on public ignorance and xenophobia to distract from the money flowing into his pockets from Muslim majority countries with citizens who have committed terrorist acts in the U.S.

For Christians to approve of the ban conflicts with every message in both books of the Bible. Repeatedly, scripture tells us not to discriminate against widows, orphans and children. Scripture says not to deny help to others because they are different. Jesus says to love others.

The ban turns the United States into the wrong characters in the good Samaritan story.

When U.S. Christians support the ban and the president, they become the Roman government, denying the humanity of victims simply because of where they happened to be born.

When we deny basic human rights and dignity to innocent victims seeking help, we deny Christ at our airports, and send him away.

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A morning prayer

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His name was Alan Kurdi

He drowned in the Mediterranean Sea on Sept. 2, 2015.

He was three years-old.

Photos of his body on the beach continue to illustrate the refugee crisis in Syria.

As the parent of a three year-old, it’s too painful to post a photo of Alan, alive or dead.

He was born in Kobani, Syria. His father thought Kobani more dangerous than a 30 mile boat ride in the Mediterranean.

Alan died in Turkey, along with his mother and brother. They are buried in Kobani.

Refugees aren’t generalities or stereotypes.

They are people with hopes and dreams and loves and families.

Thousands of suffering children, women and men are waiting and dreaming of a better life.

As the debate around refugees, walls and religious persecution continues, remember that these are children. Children who are victims and in desperate need of help.

If xenophobia and bigotry are so strong that you only see danger when you look at innocent victims, then you’ve lost the great spirit of the United States and you certainly have no idea what the lesson of Jesus Christ is supposed to be.

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Division

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“What you do for the least of these, you do for me.”

On the day the world recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the White House issued a statement that ignored six million murdered Jews, the president signed an executive action that will ensure the deaths of innocent people.

The order triggered protests and chaos as different federal officials in different airports struggle to interpret and apply the order, issued with little guidance.

The order bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.

The ban doesn’t extend to countries where Trump has ongoing business interests.

No provisions were made for legal residents with green cards or those in the process of immigrating, which includes years of investigations and background checks.

Trump said the goal is to screen out “radical Islamic terrorists” and to give admission priority to Christians.

The executive action is called: “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The baseless nonsense is simply anti-Muslim bigotry.

According to USA Today, “The order also bars for 60 days any kind of legal immigration from seven countries with close ties to terrorist organizations. Three of them — Iran, Sudan and Syria — comprise the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The other four — Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — are designated “terrorist safe havens” by the State Department.”

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Zero terrorists have come to the United States from Syria.

Babies, children, will die, because the U.S. won’t accept them. A Syrian child in a refugee camp might grow up to be a terrorist. A refugee child in the U.S. will never be a terrorist.

According to actual facts, and not bigotry, “of the 3,252,493 refugees admitted to the US from 1975-2015, 20 were terrorists, 0.00062% of the total… Of the 20, only three were successful in their attacks, killing a total of three people.”

Refugees aren’t terrorists.

Immigrants aren’t refugees. Refugees are fleeing a dangerous situation at home. In the case of Iraq, the fallout of a war the U.S. started.

Refugees are vetted by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other federal agencies.

Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country where the president has business partners, supplied 15 of the 19 9-11 attackers. None of them were refugees.

** This should say “on US soil”

The ban claims to address a problem that doesn’t exist.

There are zero facts to support this ban.

The Vice President opposed the ban, 18 months ago.

But that was when he was governor. Since then, he’s sold his soul and his morals for the vice presidency and 30 pieces of silver.

This isn’t about protecting the United States — each year more Americans are killed by toddlers with guns than by native born American Muslims.

The ban is counter to who the United States is as a nation.

This is counter to who Jesus calls Christians to be.

If you support banning innocent children from entering the greatest country in the world, then the USA is no longer the greatest nation.

In 1939, around 900 Jewish refugees reached the shores of the United States, seeking sanctuary from the Nazis. The U.S. refused them entry, they returned to Europe and 254 of them were murdered by the Nazis.

Christians today have the opportunity to do the right thing and demand refugees be given sanctuary. Or we can turn our backs on the message of Jesus, turn our backs on children in need and tell ourselves we did it to protect our country from a fictional threat.

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