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Trump & Refugees

People are angry! They are wondering how the President of the United States would ban helpless people who need our help. This is not the time for us to turn our backs on refugees.  After all, we are a nation of immigrants and we must welcome all.

Before we take to the streets and the hashtags, let’s study the situation and make an educated judgement.

My perceptive comes from being a daughter of refugees as well as working with refugees in the US for more than ten years. Coming to America as a refugee is not easy. I’ve seen men who were doctors in their homeland compelled to work at minimum wage in the US because their degrees are not recognized here. I’ve seen nurses and engineers having to work two jobs in order to pay for the airline ticket because refugee agencies do not cover that expense for them. I’ve seen refugees dumped in the slums of our cities in roach infested apartments and furniture that can easily be found in American alleys. I’ve seen refugees getting help from public aid because they can’t pay for their groceries. I’ve seen how their kids grow up in bad neighborhoods and having to be detained in correctional centers. Coming to the US is not always pretty, easy or fun for refugees.

The ideal situation is for them to live in their homeland. However, war and destruction make it unlivable for them to live there. So they flee to find hope, help and safety.

But we have a second problem…it’s not the President of the United States…It’s us, the citizens of America. You see, we are quick to object to an executive order, but we do not obligate ourselves to help the refugees that already live here. We are quick to hashtag our opinions but ever so slow to host a refugee in our home. We are quick to picket airports rather than provide for those that just arrived our country. Our talk is big but our action is small. The Bible says: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).”

How can we love in action and not just with words and speech?

  1. We can send support to refugees through UNHCR (United Nation High Commissioner for refugees), Baptist Global Response, or World Relief.
  2. We can help the refugees we currently have in our country by befriending them and helping with their financial and emotional needs.
  3. We can support our government officials to provide a safe place for us and for them.

We can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Picketing our airports gives you a loud voice but not a hearing. Pointing your finger at President Trump makes you a fault finder not a problem solver. President Trump has banned some people for coming in the US for six months, he didn’t ban them forever and he’s not saying we won’t help them. Former President Obama banned Syrians from coming to the US for six months as well. No one protested him. During four years of Syria’s civil war, The US welcomed close to 50,000 refugees per year but only allowed less that 250 Syrians to enter for the entire four years. Yet nobody protested or picketed.

Refugees are often displaced for several years. Waiting another six months is not a big deal to them as it is to us. Most refugees can live in a refugee camp from 2 to 10 years until they are resettled to another country. How about we channel our energy and resources to helping them instead.

America, let’s be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Let’s love with action rather than words and hashtags. Let’s lock arms and be a powerful united force to provide a safe place on our soil and the soil of other nations.

Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem!!

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Mary Magdalene a Prostitute?

The movie “Risen” came out this weekend and I was anxious to see it. Some friends and I saw it today and the solider did a fabulous job playing the role. The movie probably depicted an accurate picture of what transpired from the perspective of the Roman leaders. However, there is one glaring story that is not true to the Biblical text and it seems that every Christian movie gets it wrong. It is that of Mary Magdalene. According to the Bible, Mary:

– was a woman healed of 7 demons (Mark 16:1)

– supported Christ’s ministry and traveled with Him (Mark 16:2)

– was at the crucifixion of Christ (Matt. 27:56, John 19:25)

– followed Joseph of Arimethia when he took Christ’s dead body to the tomb (Mark 15:47)

– was one of the first people at the tomb after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1)

– was the first person to see Christ after His resurrection (John 20:1)

– was the first person to tell the disciples that Christ rose from the dead because Jesus instructed her to do so (John 20:18)

The Bible does not tell us whether she was single or widowed. In Middle Eastern culture, it was absolutely unheard of that a young single woman would be in the inner circle of 12 men and traveling with them unless this young girl had no family around. My sanctified guess is she was an older woman who was widowed that was wealthy enough to support Jesus financially, purchase spices to anoint Christ’s dead body and to travel with twelve men.

What amazes me about this woman as I studied her life closer is her love and devotion to Christ.  It seemed that she surrendered her time, talents, and treasures to Him for freeing her from seven demons that tormented her. She had a pure love, unwavering devotion,  and a deep gratitude to Christ.

And for that, Jesus honored her! She had the privilege to see Him first after His resurrection. He spoke to her first as the resurrected Lord. He gave her a message to give His disciples. Christ seems to single this woman out to honor her and I believe it was because of her utter surrender to Him. What an honor!  What a privilege!

So I ask myself…how grateful am I that Christ freed me from the power and penalty of sin? Has my heart over flooded with gratitude that it overflowed into my life, attitude and actions? Do I love Him like Mary loved Him?

Mary was not a prostitute. She was a woman Christ freed from bondage. She was at the end of herself and Christ rescued her. All her resources could not free her from the seven demons and Christ freed her with one touch or maybe one phrase…”Be free!”

Jesus freed me when I was at the end of myself but do I love Him like that? Have a surrendered everything to Him? As I embark on Easter, I’ll be asking myself this very question: How much does my life and my actions show my love, surrender and devotion to Christ?

Lord, that I would love you, surrender to You and devote my life to you like this remarkable woman: Mary of Magdala!

I’ve Got Your Back!

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD ‘ S hand Double for all her sins.” A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. “Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; (‭Isaiah‬ ‭40‬:‭1-4‬ NASB)

Encouragement to soul is like water to the body. A soul can thrive from the encouragement of a loved one or a dear friend. Our souls can also wither, suffocate and die when encouragement is withheld from us. Charles Stanley shares his story of feeling rejection and dejected. One day a teacher said of him in hearing, “I like Charles, he’s a good boy.” To this day, he never forgot it. After 70 years, he’s still encouraged by that comment. If I were to ask you who has been the most influential person in your life, no doubt you will mention those who encouraged you and stood by you. Our souls crave encouragement!

God, the Creator of the universe, is our ultimate Encourager! He longs to breath Words of comfort, healing and strength in our souls. He declares in this passage to comfort His people and speak tenderly to their hearts. He tells them that He’s got their backs! How does that in two ways…

The first way is by relieving them from war and the penalty of sin. He tells them that Israel “has received of the Lord’s Hand double for all her sins.” Does that mean that they paid for the penalty of sin? Of course not! What I believe this passage is saying is God is satisfied for all the ways they’ve tried to pay for their sin. An example of this is when your kindergarden child comes home with a drawing. You cherish the drawing as if it is the Mona Lisa. It does not have the value of the Mona Lisa because you can’t sell it and pay off your bills. However, you receive it as the Mona Lisa and yet pay the bills.

The same is true for God and Israel. God knew that no matter how many animals were sacrificed, Israel could never atone for Her sin. But God has received her gifts as a double payment and still covered for Her sin! He’s got their backs! And He has our backs because He’s covered our sin through His Son too!

Second way God has our back is by sending a forerunner to prepare the way for the Messiah. God will level every mountain and smooth out any roadblocks. He is not holding back and will not be intimidated or hindered by anything that stands in the way.

Today, we can take Him at His Word. God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. The first purpose is to clean our hearts and souls from any impurity and the second purpose is to use us for His Glory. He will level the mountains and make the way smooth to make that happen. Continue reading I’ve Got Your Back!