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Idris: A Turkish Student in New York City

Following a rally demanding the reunification of the abducted children the United States government abscounded with at the southern border, with their their parents, I began a conversation with a first generation Irish American woman. Our lingering conversation intrigued Idris, a Turkish student studying film in the city. He had been filming during and after the rally and asked for a short statement from us. I in turn asked to film a statement from him. Unfortunately, I missed the first half of his truly enlightening statement because I forgot to hit record. Luckily, I’m not being graded! Take a listen and share his story!

Idris bw
It turned out we were filming with the exact same camera. That made us both happy!
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Devotional: Prayer for His People

Prayer for His People: John 17:6-19
Read

“During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.” “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.” (John 17:12-19)

 
Reflect

The world hates Christians because Christians’ values differ from those of the world. Because Christ’s followers don’t cooperate with the world by joining in their sin, they are living accusations against the world’s immorality. The world follows Satan’s agenda, and Satan is the avowed enemy of Jesus and his people. Jesus didn’t ask God to take believers out of the world but instead to use them in the world. Because Jesus sends us into the world, we should not try to escape from the world, nor should we avoid all relationships with non-Christians. We are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), and we are to do the work that God sent us to do. A follower of Christ becomes set apart through believing and obeying the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). He or she has already accepted forgiveness through Christ’s sacrificial death (Hebrews 7:26-27). But daily application of God’s Word has a purifying effect on our minds and hearts. Scripture points out sin, motivates us to confess, renews our relationship with Christ, and guides us back to the right path.

 
Respond

Jesus prayed, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17). You can pray that prayer for yourself or someone else. In what ways has God already revealed his truth through his Word? How has his Word helped shape your priorities and purpose?

 
Source: Life Application Study Bible, October 26, 2016

2016 © Tyndale House Publishers 351 Executive Drive • Carol Stream, Illinois 60188, US

TYNDALE and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

 
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Quote: Justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other.

None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight. Every time something like this happens, somebody says we have to have a conversation about race. We talk a lot about race. There’s no short cut. We don’t need more talk. ….

But, it would be a betrayal of everything Rev. Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on to go back to business as usual. That’s what we so often do… to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudices that still infects our society. To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change. That’s how we lose our way again. …

Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other.  That my liberty depends on you being free, too. That history can’t be a sword to justify injustice. Or a shield against progress. It must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. How to break the cycle. A roadway for a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind, but more importantly an open heart.

~ President Barack Obama, from Eulogy for Reverend and Senator Clementa Pinckney, Charleston, NC, June 26, 2015

Obama on justice


Read President Obama’s full remarks here:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/26/remarks-president-eulogy-honorable-reverend-clementa-pinckney

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…and the people said “HELL NO!”

Note: The context of this post was written in October 2014. Although, I have moved through the rawness of the feelings shared here, I believe it’s important to share process. Our faith walk is not always pretty. Believers do a great injustice to fellow Believers within their proximity when they make-believe there is no hardship in love.

Your love will be rejected repeatedly. People will hate you through no effort of your own. Love anyway.

One of my first blog posts was titled, “Can I love you?” In it, I described how I was a beggar for love with a deep desire to reach out to everyone within my proximity with openness, joy and acceptance of who they are. That was in 2009. By the end of 2014, I felt completely defeated and infected. Corrupt. Depleted. Jaded and hated. I can’t name one person that I’ve attempted to have a relationship with who is an active part of my life today. Worst still – I no longer care. I view that whole process of reaching out and being rejected, making myself available only to be ignored, offering help only to be passed over, issuing invitations and being cancelled out, opening myself to those who continually shut me out – I view all of this as God ruthlessly pruning my life and fusing His Spirit into me more deeply.

There is now a hardness about me that wasn’t there before I asked to be a lover of people. That’s not to say that I’ve become hard-hearted. Quite the contrary, my heart is extremely tender – it feels and sees more now than ever before. But it’s also well-protected. It’s no longer open to anything-or-everyone who simply crosses my path. I am operating on an invitation-only system. I am free to shake the dust of the inhospitable from my feet and I revel in the release that revelation provides me.

I used to love with a purity of hope…

We cannot know how deep or resilient hope is until we experience its revival after a period of devastation. I’ve experienced the revival of my hope, so I no longer think it’s possible for me to be hopeless. However, my hope has become abstract in a murky darkness. There is no longer any detail in my vision and no fire in my passions. This is not a report claiming that love has failed – for that would be an impossible lie. I am reporting that the people I have crossed paths with have not been interested in a love that looks like me, sounds like me, feels like me. I’ve been observing how people are not interested in sharing time or conversation with me. There are certainly those who are content to dump their trash into my ears but those are not the ones who choose to share any measure of joy with me.

What is shared between people molds the relationship they have.

I’ve noticed how people rush pass me or turn about to rush in the opposite direction when I approach. It was a little intriguing at first – much like wondering if there was a mark on my forehead that discouraged attempts to connect. Luckily, I got past the idea that something was wrong with me. Unfortunately, getting past that, led to intense disgust with people. The disgust came from the fact that I have lived my life to be the best person I can be. That doesn’t mean I’m always everybody’s idea of a great person when we share time and space. It means that I constantly work on being present and engaged, available and honest as I move through this world. I don’t speak in niceties, I speak my truth. I have committed myself, for as long as I can remember, to only speaking my truth and presenting my sincerely authentic self to the world in every moment of interaction. My truth and authenticity may not always be pretty or bouncy or joyful or what the world prefers, but it has always been me at my most basic. Me at my most human. What my journey has shown me is that even though I have striven to be open and honest and sincere and accepting of people as they are, those same people were not interested in accepting me as I am. Over and over again that’s what the disregard, neglect, rejection and general hatred amounts to. Whoever I am, whatever I am seen to represent is not wanted. I am not seen as necessary or valuable.

Now I’m learning to love through faith.

In my disgust, I remembered Jesus on the cross. He too was rejected by the masses. I’ve asked Him numerous times, “Dear Jesus, how did you keep yourself from stepping down off the cross and killing everyone cheering for your death? Certainly you could have done that and then climbed back up onto the cross to give Your Life for the rest of the world?” Just a thought. Ruminating on how Jesus, in all His power and glory, could continue to fully execute God’s plan for His life IN THE FACE of hatred and WITHIN HEARING of shouted blasphemies humbled me in a such a profound way.

Since the beginning of our human story, people have been saying, “hell no; no thanks; that’s ok; uhhh… I’ll pass; maybe next time” to God. God offered paradise. Adam and Eve wanted something else. God gave individuals the right to rule themselves and their territories. People asked for a king to rule them instead. God provided a sacrifice to absolve mankind of all its sins in the person of Jesus Christ. People choose continually not to believe or accept the sacrifice. Jesus lived as an example for all to follow, yet so many give up seeking along the way.

I don’t want to say hell no, no thanks to my Lord and Savior. I don’t want to be so beaten down by the world that I give up my anointing due to weariness and disappointment.

It was in asking Jesus how He kept from destroying the people who not only eagerly sought to destroy Him, but actually taunted Him to destroy them, that I better understood the choice to love.

People walked by and insulted Jesus and shook their heads, saying, “You said you could destroy the Temple and build it again in three days. So save yourself! Come down from that cross if you are really the Son of God!” ~ Matthew 27:39-40

I thought my faith journey would only produce more love, joy, peace and wisdom. The world teaches that love is a soft thing – warm, cuddly, tender, weak. Perhaps those who bask in the labor of someone else’s love experiences warmth and softness, but those who labor to love… well we weather tempestuous storms, debilitating uncertainty and endure heart-breaking on-the-job training. We don’t immediately see the benefits of the humiliation, shame, loneliness, sadness, abuse or temptations that hammer at us throughout the workday. But when we get to a certain point on our walk, we are able to look back and see where one humiliation prepared us for the next… until humiliation was no longer a concern. We see how shame shrouded us in darkness… until we decided to cast off the weight of shame and expose ourselves to more light. We can look back and see how loneliness felt excruciating for a time… but it was only in our aloneness that we were able to draw closer to God. There is a reason for everything connected to our life. There is a purpose for each season we are presented with on our journey. Keep walking. Keep trusting our Lord and Savior. Choose to love by continually choosing to receive the Love presented to you.

Every year at the time of Passover the governor would free one prisoner whom the people chose. At that time there was a man in prison, named Barabbas, who was known to be very bad. When the people gathered at Pilate’s house, Pilate said, “Whom do you want me to set free: Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?” Pilate knew that they turned Jesus in to him because they were jealous.

While Pilate was sitting there on the judge’s seat, his wife sent this message to him: “Don’t do anything to that man, because he is innocent. Today I had a dream about him, and it troubled me very much.”

But the leading priests and elders convinced the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be freed and for Jesus to be killed.

Pilate said, “I have Barabbas and Jesus. Which do you want me to set free for you?”

The people answered, “Barabbas.”

Pilate asked, “So what should I do with Jesus, the one called the Christ?”

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

Pilate asked, “Why? What wrong has he done?”

But they shouted louder, “Crucify him!”

When Pilate saw that he could do nothing about this and that a riot was starting, he took some water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. Then he said, “I am not guilty of this man’s death. You are the ones who are causing it!”

All the people answered, “We and our children will be responsible for his death.”

Then he set Barabbas free. But Jesus was beaten with whips and handed over to the soldiers to be crucified. ~ Matthew 26:15-26

He Knows by Jeremy Camp

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ACAD – Praise: Leviticus 19

The Lord Is Holy

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, andyou shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.

“When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire. If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is tainted; it will not be accepted, and everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned what is holy to the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from his people.

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life[a] of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

You Shall Keep My Statutes

“You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.

“If a man lies sexually with a woman who is a slave, assigned to another man and not yet ransomed or given her freedom, a distinction shall be made. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free; but he shall bring his compensation to the Lord, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, a ram for a guilt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven for the sin that he has committed.

“When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden.[b] Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the Lord your God.

“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.

“Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.

“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

“You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin:[c] I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the Lord.”

Footnotes:

  1. Leviticus 19:16 Hebrew blood
  2. Leviticus 19:23 Hebrew as its uncircumcision
  3. Leviticus 19:36 An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters; a hin was about 4 quarts or 3.5 liters

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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A Chapter a Day: 1 John 3

1 John 3ESV

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Love One Another

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers,[c] that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,[d] and God[e] in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 John 3:2 Or when it appears
  2. 1 John 3:9 Greek his
  3. 1 John 3:13 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verses 14, 16
  4. 1 John 3:24 Greek him
  5. 1 John 3:24 Greek he
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Two Life Living Lessons from Mom

The two most memorable lessons I learned from my mother are:

1. Treat others as you want to be treated.
2. You can’t hate for anyone.

Nearly everything I learned from my mother, I learned from watching her live; observing how she interacted with and treated others. Occasionally, I ignored one of her lessons and took my cues from how people treated her – dismissively, disrespectfully or abusively. When I responded to them in kind, mom would rebuke me with a great deal of irritation, “You don’t do what other people do! If they jumped off a bridge would you follow behind them?”

I’m sure a couple of times I responded with some slick comment, like, “It depends on how high the bridge is….” In my youth I didn’t understand why she got so angry with me for defending her against people who claimed to love her but treated her so wrong….

What I’ve learned since is, I am like a mirror and a sponge. I soak up everything in my environment and reflect it back to its source. Usually with an intensified twist. So, when I fought mom’s attackers back (usually verbal), I was fighting for a knock-out. I was never interested in back and forth or tic for tac; I wanted to shut the other person down. Had my mother allowed that destructive, errant willfulness to develop, I would have perhaps grown into an angry, hateful, vengeful adult. Emotionally crippled. Spiritually deficient.

On the flip side, when I reflect back any measure of love, kindness, or appreciation within my sphere, it is magnified with a radiance that creates a special space for relationships. My mother re-focused my rare aggressive energy onto things I could do to improve difficult situations, “Instead of doing this, try doing that,” she would say. I didn’t understand it at the time, but she was training me to be a very tolerant, forgiving and resourceful person. Her position was not that ill treatment should be tolerated, however, only that it shouldn’t be responded to with more wrong behavior. In other words, don’t stoke the fire – turn the other cheek. I used to tell her I was out of cheeks.

Mom died fifteen years ago – I was barely a legal adult, but she prepared me well for life. Amazingly, I am still learning about her and still growing from the lessons she imparted so many years ago. I appreciate her more with each year I live. Her most powerful lesson to me was that not even for her should I dishonor myself (the God in me) by returning evil for evil.

If you can’t even hate a person who’s mistreating your mom, then who can you hate?

No one.

Every day I work on being the best person I can possibly be in every interaction I have. I admit it’s a struggle sometimes. Some days my best may be a mere fraction of what my best on better days may be. But I always strive to acknowledge and root out any destructive willfulness that may be looking for a knock-out. I thank God for the loving nurturer He graced my life with. Mom gave the best of herself and she nurtured the best in me.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.  ~ Matthew 7:12

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury:  ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.  ~ Matthew 5:38-39

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  ~ Matthew 5:43-45

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.  ~ Proverbs 22:6