Let the children come……

children_on_border

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Statue of Liberty

June 22, happy birthday Emma Lazarus. Most of you have no idea who that is, but she wrote the poem above. A poem that so many Americans love and hold on to. How we welcome people from all over and take them in.
Lately many Americans don’t seem to believe that this should be true. There is a growing fight over what to do with the refugees crossing our southern border. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is planning on activating the National Guard to keep the illegal aliens out and America safe. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is working to find a place for 1,000 of the children that are crossing the border daily.
This seems to be our history. Anytime a large group tries to immigrate into America some people get all up in arms and try to ban them. Jon Stewart puts it this way. “Why would you not come to a place that great? In fact, it’s why all of our ancestors came to this country, and were themselves originally unwelcome. Because that’s the story of America. From Ben Franklin’s worry that Germans were ruining Pennsylvania, to our 19th century 60-year ban on the Chinese immigrants who had just finished building our rail system, to our very real and justifiable concerns about the Irish, and their insatiable “applying for jobs”.” (Note the last part is sarcasm. You can watch it at the link below)
Stewart puts it a lot better than I can. These are Children. They are not a threat, nor an invasion. They are running from poverty and danger. They have no parents in a strange land wanting help.
While I do understand that there is a problem with just allowing everyone into the country, I don’t think we can just throw these kids back to where they came from. Setting up camps to immunize them and give them places to live is the most humane thing we can do. Sending them back to where they came from will be death for some of them. Many of them will just try again, hoping that someone will care this time.
As a follower of Jesus I have to ask what we can do for the least of these? If all we can do is throw them back to the wolves then you don’t know what Christ taught. Many of you like to throw out verses from Leviticus so here is one. 19:33-34 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
Love them as yourself. I think Jesus said something about that too. That is one of the two great commands. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Maybe you might ask, “Who is my neighbor”. When you get down to it, it’s everyone you ever see, hear about, etc… Your neighbor is these kids. Start treating them with love. Take care of them and you will have your reward. “’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
Time to start doing what Jesus asked us to do.

http://dailysignal.com/2014/07/19/6-cities-react-illegal-immigrants-communities/
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865607317/Massachussetts-governor-offers-to-shelter-immigrant-children-Says-the-Bible-inspires-him-to-do-so.html
http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/21/politics/perry-national-guard-border/
http://www.compellingtruth.org/illegal-aliens-immigrants.html
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2014/07/16/daily-shows-jon-stewart-tears-into-protesters-of-migrant-children-shelters

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A Religious State: What I fear

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May 20, 325 – 1st Christian ecumenical council opens at Nicaea, Asia Minor. This was the first major marriage of Christianity and state. The Emperor Constantine the (not so) Great called the church together to figure out what they believed. All those who disagreed with the Nicene Creed were kicked out of the church. Within 60 years (380 Edict of Thessalonica) all other Christian beliefs and ideas were deemed heretical and the “church” proceeded to eradicate them. This kind of thing is why we have separation of church and state. So we can have freedom of religion.

The same kind of thing had been happening in England for quite some time. When the Church of England broke from Catholicism in the 1500’s the King (or queen) became the head of the church. Whatever the king or queen was (protestant or Catholic) the other was persecuted. There was a revolution in which Oliver Cromwell and the far right Protestants took over and then were over thrown. For six years (1653-1659) the Commonwealth of England controlled the nation’s religion. People were jailed, killed or exiled for speaking their minds. Cromwell did have some people exiled instead of killing them to show his tolerance for religions. (Yeah, right, as I roll my eyes)

Many of the colonists that came to America were running from the wars and religious oppression from the government. They often settled in the Virginia area and in New England. This is where many of our founding fathers were from. Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, and Patrick Henry were born in Virginia. Hancock, Franklin, John Adams, and Samuel Adams were all born in New England. They were born into areas filled with people who did not like the government and religion being married as one. I find it interesting that the bigger leaders and the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution all came from these areas, as well as our first six presidents.

The conservative Christians in America want a “Christian government” like our founding fathers but our founding fathers didn’t want religion in government. They had seen its affects on the people around them. I question how many of them were really Christians. John Adams said the Bible was full of myths. Jefferson took out all the miracles in the Bible when he printed the Jeffersonian Bible. That includes the resurrection. Washington seldom spoke about Jesus, only about the almighty God.   Franklin was a womanizer and Madison said “The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles” Not exactly what you would call Christian ideas.

Madison also stated that “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

The end of that is really what scares me if this country becomes a government run on religion. Our government would start persecuting based on the bigotry of whatever religion was in power. We don’t need that. We need freedom. The freedom that the founding fathers wanted us to have.  The freedom to worship without being persecuted. And when I say persecuted I mean beaten, thrown in jail and killed.  That would actually be persecution.

As John Adams once said, “Government has no right to hurt a hair on the head of an Atheist for his Opinions. Let him have a care of his Practices.” Nor should it hurt the hairs on any head of a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jehovah Witness, Mormon or any other religion. Let’s allow all people to worship as they like, no matter if we disagree with them.  Keep religion out of the government and we can all have true freedom.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Thessalonica

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Puritans_from_1649

http://www.usconstitution.net/constframedata.html

 

 

Guess who said that. Founding Fathers and God

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Many people over the years have told me how Christian our founding fathers were but I have found that our founding fathers had some very harsh things to say about Christianity.  I put together a few of their statements.  See if you know who said them.

I have thrown in quotes by the following.  Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, and John Adams.  I also threw in some quotes by Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and Hitler just to throw you off a bit.

1) “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

2) “But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed? How has it happened that all the fine arts, architecture, painting, sculpture, statuary, music, poetry, and oratory, have been prostituted, from the creation of the world, to the sordid and detestable purposes of superstition and fraud?”

3) “There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny, or to doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations….Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration.”

4) “Those who fight in God’s cause will be victorious.”

5) “What we have to fight for is the freedom and independence… so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator.”

6) “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible”

7) “No oppressed or deceived or wrong, no master and no slave, but free brothers in a society over which, God willing, shall flutter the banner of brotherhood and quality. “

8) “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”

 

 

1) James Madison

2) John Adams

3) Thomas Jefferson

4) Saddam Hussein

5)Hitler

6) Ben Franklin

7) Gaddafi

8) Thomas Paine

 

How many did you get?  Yes, these are just a few quotes and there were many founding fathers.  Many of them it is hard to find quotes on Jesus or Christ.  They often use God providence or Almighty.  Even so I get the feeling that they are not unlike the politicians of today that use God, Christ, and religion to get elected.  Publicly they played the part, but privately they showed their true self. I’m sure that there were some that were Christians, but often it is made to seem like they all were deeply devoted Christians and they were not.

 

 

Where I got some of the quotes.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/08/23/list-of-hitler-quotes-he-was-q/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/m.html

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=103×340428

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gaddafi-quotes-the-dead-libya-dictator-275336

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/04/35-founding-father-quotes-conservative-christians-will-hate/

http://www.barefootsworld.net/founding.html

 

Fun Predictions for 2014

2014

Everyone seems to make predictions about the coming year.  Some get real specific about it and some don’t.  We all look forward to a coming year because it is a new start.  We can leave behind the pains of the past year and look forward to a fun and exciting year filled with promise.  I don’t know if it is ever as good as we hoped it would be but that is just life.  We often want more than what we can handle or really need.  So let’s have a little FUN and predict a few things I know will happen this year.

So as I look into my crystal ball, here are my 10 predictions for the coming year.

1)       Someone famous will pass away and we’ll all be sad.  Happens every year.  Nothing we can do about it.  It will remind us of some past good times when we enjoyed their movie, TV show, or music.  Even though it will make us sad, we will be happy in our memories.  It will help us connect with others who also share the same feelings.   We may even get out old videos of them or their music and watch or listen to them over and over just to take us out of our real lives just for a little while.   Hey we might even sell their action figures and make money off it.  That is the American way.

2)      President Obama will not be impeached for a so called impeachable act that some people don’t like.  If you really want some impeachable acts, look at our last president.  And the one before him.  And the one before him, and the one before him, and the one …. Ok, I think you get the picture.  Almost every president we have had has done something that could have gotten him impeached. So if we wanted to drag the country through an impeachment and waste our money on that instead of on things that were important we could. Of course we don’t waste any money now do we?  So, I guess whether you like him or not President Obama Is with us until January of 2017.  Vote Hillary/Jeb 2016 or is it Jeb/Hillary?

3)      Tuna.  Tuna will be the big thing.  McDonalds will offer the Tuna burger by mid August.  Then McDonalds will close and other fast food places will follow.   We will then all be a little thinner and happier for next year.

4)      My team will not win the championship.  Think about it.  No matter what sport it is there are around 30 other teams trying to win.  Odds are that my team isn’t going to win it.  Sure, they will have a good record just to tease me and give me hope that this is going to be the year.  One of them will wait until the last week of the season to fall apart and make me mad.  Another may get into the playoffs only to be beaten by that hated rival of mine.  You know who you are!  But really, I won’t be lucky enough this year to have my team win it all.  I’ll just have to wait until next year.  Oh wait it is next year.  Yeah, Go TEAM!

5)      Another possibility is that a blue and a red state will become a purple state and politics will no longer divide them.  Instead we will look at what America actually needs and work on those issues.

6)      The world will not end.  Yellowstone will not explode, a gigantic meteor will not hit the earth and the sun will not explode.  Yes there will be disasters and people will say we are nearing the end, after all each day we are getting closer.   But, it won’t be this year.  We might have some group buying Nike’s, standing on mountains, or drinking poison.  This might be their last year, but the world will keep spinning.  There is, however, a strong possibility though that Martians may invade.

7)      Some summer night this year, you won’t be able to get a song out of your head.  It will make you want to shout.  When you hear it,  you’ll be like a dancing queen and you’ll put your hands up in the air, they are playing that song once again there you’ll go on your own singing a song about your baby’s back.   Ok, do you really want to hurt me now? I guess I’ll just go get some ice baby and when you start singing it, call me….Maybe?  Hammer time!

8)      The gas problem will continue to plague us.  But maybe we should get rid of Mexicans.  After all if you eat a bean burrito you will truly have a gas problem.  But the Mexicans will keep coming and we will continue to have those problems.  Maybe we should mix the problems and see if Mexico wants to become the 51st state.  Then the beans won’t be from Mexico, but from America.  And we all know that if it is American made it must be good.  Then the gas problem will go away.  Maybe we can solve all the problems of the world like that.  All we have to do is make everyone just like us.

9)      The movie, Noah will have a flood, which ends in a rainbow.  Can a movie about God have a rainbow in it?  Noah will get confused about if he’s supposed to take 7 of the animals or 2.  The unicorn will get left off and evolve into a narwhal.  The sea water will go away and recede like my hair and people will go on with their lives, eating, drinking, and marrying just like they have for between 6,000 and 200,000 years.

Hope you have enjoyed your first day of the New Year and that this year will bring you many blessings and toilet paper.

Are we different yet?

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana

December 7th 1941, a day that shall live in infamy. This attack was a start of Americans being scared of Americans. Because the Japanese attacked the U.S., Americans assumed all Japanese must somehow be evil and placed them into internment camps for the length of the war. What if today a small group of individuals did something horribly wrong and we blamed the entire race or group? We took their property and rights away and jailed them for simply being themselves. They couldn’t help being that way.  It was nothing they could change and no matter how long they had lived in America they were treated as if they were the enemy.   If something like that happened today, would we stand up for those oppressed, agree with the oppressors or keep silent?

History is full of people being oppressed because of a few people doing something wrong.  In the past decade Americans have learned to hate all Muslims because of 9-11.  Americans throw out hate towards those on welfare because of a few that abuse it.  We spew out hated words against illegal aliens because they don’t come here legally but the government sure doesn’t make it easy to come here.  By the way our ancestors may not have been invited either.  If you are like me and your ancestors came from Europe then it is quite possible that your ancestors and mine conquered the land, driving the Native Americans away and killing many in the process.  I bet if you were to talk to many illegal aliens they would tell you they are here to find a better life.

Americans are not always the nicest in the world.  We had to have a war to end slavery; we rounded up all the Cherokees and marched them off their land because white people wanted it.  We haven’t given equal rights to African-Americans and women until the last 100 years.  And I still think we have a long way to go with that.  We ignore atrocities in some countries because they have no oil, global positioning, or usefulness to us but invade others to “protect our interests.”

I believe that this bigotry or prejudice comes because of fear.  Fear of people who are different.  And we all know that “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (Yoda)  We look different, act different, worship different, have different customs etc…  Abraham Lincoln once said “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”  What if we took that approach instead of the hate/fear approach?  It is easier to sit back and condemn others.  It is much harder to get to know people and to learn where they come from so that you understand why they believe what they do.

I grew up in upstate New York.  If I had continued to live there I would not have learned this because I would not have had to learn a lot.  From my birth I was taught what people living in my area believed.  There was no big culture difference from family to family.  But then I moved to Indiana and then to Ohio. I moved from the country to the suburbs.  To different cultures to people who were different.  Not because one was better than another, but simply different.

Today I have friends that are white, black, Jewish, Christian, agnostic, Atheist, homosexual, heterosexual, young and old.  Some have money and some do not.  I also have many female friends but that may be because I teach and there are certainly more females in that profession.   Wherever I have gone I have been able to make friends.  I think mostly because I have learned to listen to them.  In college, people I barely knew would ask to talk to me about their problems and I always took time to listen to them.  Most of the time I felt like I had no idea how to help them, but they always thanked me for listening.  Think about what kind of difference we could make in this world by taking time out of our day to get to know those who are different from us.  What if we were to listen to their problems, not to fix them but just to be there for that person?  I bet we would find that no matter what religion we followed, what race we were, what areas we grew up in that we would not be that much different.  Try it, you might actually like it.  And others.

In his own words

Nelson

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Typically I write about things in my life, but today I want to pay tribute to one of my heroes.  Nelson Mandela has truly been a one of the greatest individuals that has lived in my lifetime.  I’m guessing that many people have looked up to him and we should.  He brought such great change to the world, not simply South Africa.

How easily it would have been for him to get angry while he was in prison.  He could have wanted vengeance on those who put him in there.  Most of us would have wanted to get back at those people.  We could have easily learned to hate.  Many of us would have plotted to do the same things to anyone and everyone in our path when or if we ever got out.  While I am guessing Mr. Mandela did have some of those thoughts, he did not act on them. That is what makes a difference in the world.

While, I could say one thing after another about this great man, I simply want to leave you with some of my favorite quotes of his.  If I left out one of your favorites, please leave it in the comments.  Mr. Mandela will never die as long as we remember what he stood for.

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.”

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.”

“I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people.”

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort.”

I got my quotes from the following sites, please visit and enjoy his wisdom.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/7-nelson-mandela-quotes-you-probably-wont-see-in-the-us-medi

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/15-of-nelson-mandelas-most-inspiring-quotes

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/n/nelson_mandela.html

Is it too hard to be kind?

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1 Colossians 3:11 & 12  Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Is it wrong to be kind, or is it too hard?  This may sound like a stupid question, but I’ve come across this several times recently.  I am not saying that I am perfect.  I certainly have missed times when I could have been nicer.  I’m trying to do better and I hope we can all look at ourselves on this issue.

One of my friends on facebook had posted a very negative picture of our president.  I thought it was a little distasteful and commented that no matter our political views we as Christians should try to be nicer and treat one another with love and respect.  Then friends of that person lambasted me for being of opposing political views and how this president was destroying America and how I was self-righteous for quoting Bible verses about treating people with love and kindness.  I was taken aback at how much hate was seemingly thrown in my direction for simply asking if we could be nicer.

This episode also reminded me of a church that my family once attended.  My family went through a very difficult time.  Within one year, we lost 4 family members, had a live power line fall on our car, and my wife was diagnosed with an immune disorder.  These seemed to be the highlights.  Every board meeting the pastor or other leaders asked how my family was doing.  I replied every time that we were hurting and having a hard time.  Several times during the church services one of us would talk about the pain that we were going through.  The response left us feeling empty.  Over the entire time my wife received 2 cards, and the church gave us a little money to help pay for the funerals.

This caused us a lot more hurt because we felt that people only seemed to care in words, because very few seemed to reach out to us beyond the times we saw them at church.  So, not too long after this we decided to leave the church and so I resigned from my position.  I told the pastor and church board it was because we needed to heal from everything that we went through. Although I don’t think the church meant to hurt us, we felt let down, unwanted, and unloved.  Later after we had left the church we tried to address these issues with leaders of the church but we felt like they simply blasted us by saying we were selfish, and liars among other things.  Again I was left asking, why is it hard to be nice?  (Some time later a few have tried to make things better).

As I write this I am home from work because of a car accident that has strained the lumbar muscle in my lower back.  My wife has an upper respiratory infection, plus some injuries from the accident.  A coworker of mine called to ask if they could do anything.  I told them that I didn’t know what they could do.  A few minutes later another call.  “I’m buying you diner, I’ll have it there at 5:00.”  Now that is nice.  What was so hard about stopping by a restaurant and bringing us dinner?  Kind people have now also brought us candy, bath salts, muscle ache pads, aspirin, another dinner on the way, raked our lawn etc. etc…  What made these people act this way?  Why did they reach out to us?

One person described those that I felt were not nice like this.  “In a worldview that is often black and white (concrete, dualist) and highly values in-group loyalty – you’re either with them or you’re against them. Your request for niceness was likely perceived as a lack of loyalty.” It’s not that I wasn’t loyal.  I REALLY thought people should simply be nice.  That is all.

This reminds me of the words in Matthew, 5:46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”  Christians are called to be different from the world.  Jesus tells us that even those people that you really hate are nice to their friends.  For the next couple chapters Jesus compares and contrasts how we should be. Then in chapter seven he brings his thoughts to a conclusion.   7: 12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” and  7:26 “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” (NIV)  seem to sum up his thoughts.  Do nice things to ALL people, not for rewards, but because you are following the will of God.  God will see you and that is the only reward that you need.

So I ask you, is it wrong to be kind?  Is it just too hard? Is Jesus asking too much from us? Or what is it that keeps us from doing what is right?