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Witness For Justice #845 - 21st Century Race Matters

Witness For Justice #845 - 21st Cen…

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Witness For Justice #845 - 21st Century Race Matters

Maybe it's me, but it seems we who consume news in the many ways we prefer are being exposed to more coverage regarding acts of racism in America. Could it be that media outlets are deciding that it's time to shine a brighter spotlight on this vile plague that continues to try to strike fear at the heart of U.S. citizenry? No matter the cause, people worldwide are able to have access to these reportings. As many a person of color can attest, the United States of America is currently not post-racial. Nor has it been in its recent past as had been reported after the election of former President Obama.

American actor, comedian, and filmmaker Jordan Peele brilliantly depicted his musings concerning race matters in the 2016 box office hit, "Get Out." Get Out is being lauded as a "social thriller" in the same vein as "The Shining" and "Rosemary's Baby," among others. While on the surface this horror film may rightfully scare its viewer with suspenseful music and intermittent jolts from characters on-screen, more deeply imbedded in this movie are greater racial truths as experienced by African Americans.

Oregon-based millennial actor, Seth Rue critically addresses race in 21st century America. "Part of what makes the American iteration of white supremacist patriarchy peculiarly powerful in its destruction is that the mechanisms it employs to constantly assert and reassert its oppressive hegemony have been crafted and honed over hundreds of years to be invisible. These mechanisms all collude to be extremely effective together, and it is incredibly hard to identify them at all, let alone fight to protect against and ultimately break them. It is even more difficult to find any mainstream popular media that is allowed (by the industry) to highlight them. Get Out does this, and in a fashion that is equally stunning and satisfying."

Chicago-based millennial activist and illustrator, Bianca Xunise has this to say about race in America. "I really enjoyed how Get Out portrayed what it is like to see the world as a black person. Often we get told (by white people) that we are exaggerating or that what we see is just us being paranoid, but microagressions are apparent and prevalent throughout our day to day. Though in this film it is pushed to the extreme, it does still capture that overwhelmed feeling." She further states, "Get Out offers a great opportunity to gain some understanding to the plight of people of color and offers those who are curious a moment to walk in our shoes. Plus the movie is also pretty funny!"

Sadly, what is not funny is the reality that people of color do regularly experience aggressive and microaggresive acts perpetrated by the dominant culture which are meant to terrify and subjugate those already marginalized. This is typically done as a measure of control.

Recently Cleveland Cavaliers basketball phenom, LeBron James, spoke out at a press conference intended to address the 2017 Basketball Finals that his L.A. home had been vandalized by someone (or a group of someones) who spray-painted the "N" word onto the side of his property. James soberly stated that "no matter how many people admire you, you know, being black in America is – it's tough."

As an activist and minister for more than three decades, I could not agree more with each of these featured voices. It is tough! Fortunately, there are many people, old and young, who are not fearful to use their platforms to share experiences and truths as it pertains to race in America. What makes me equally appreciative is that American media has become less hesitant to let the world know what is happening in our own backyard. For this willingness, I am grateful.

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“I Tell You, It’s time to Separate the Men from the Boys!”

You see the Almighty declared, “I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” [Ezekiel 22:30]. How alarming that God would have to look for a man. How astonishing He could not find a man. This verse is not only amazing, this verse is disturbing. God had to go and search for a man. The words “I sought” carry the idea of diligently going from place to place; from person to person; seeking, asking, and trying to find someone to do His work. Every time I read this statement I think of how appalling it is that God would have to even look for a man, much less “diligently” search for one. You would think that after all that God had done for us that the line to serve him would be so long that it would wrap around Heaven. You would think that we would be ready and willing to be used of God. But most of us, who are doing nothing for God, have become so apathetic to the cause of Christ. Some of the saddest words that you will ever find in the Word of God are right here before us: “BUT I FOUND NONE.” Listen, it is one thing to reject a preacher of the Gospel. It is one thing to have a closed ear and a closed heart to what you hear from God’s Word. However, it is another thing to reject the Lord and Savior of the world. God could not find one man to make up the hedge! No one took His challenge seriously! I tell you it’s time to separate the men from the boys!

So in light of “Father’s Day” [Sunday, June 18th] this message is directed to all men. Listen, I know times are tough. I know that many of you have to work more than ever. I know that some of you have been dealt a bad hand. But do you understand that until you do as the Word of God says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, then and only then, will all other things be given to you.” The Word of Haggai says, “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. …Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came too little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” [Haggai 1:6, 9]. I tell you the hedge has been severed! The gap is widening! The enemy is attacking! It’s time to separate the men from the boys! Listen, God has not sent me here to get on you. God has not sent me here to make you feel guilty. God has sent me here to tell you that He is still searching. My assignment for this hour is to tell you that some of the hedge is down! By the grace of God, is there any man that will say, “STOP THE SEARCH?” For God only needs one person! One who will build up a hedge and hold up God’s holy standard? One who would hold back the tides of judgment? One, who like Shammah will take his stand in the middle of the field, defend it and strike the Philistines down, causing God to bring about a great victory. [2 Samuel 23:12]. I ask you, is there such a man? [2 Chronicles 16:9].

“You know a few years ago I saw a huge familiar billboard it was a lifelike picture of a Marine sergeant. Underneath his portrait were only five words, but they said it all. They said: Wanted: A few Good Men! Not many words but a message it was, indeed. It said, by implication: [1] this was not for everyone. This was not a general call for the average man on the street. The word few indicated that this was an isolated, somewhat specialized opportunity. [2] The word wanted indicated that there was a role to fill, and someone needed to fill it. Not everyone could, but someone must. [3] The request was not limited only by number, but by quality. A few good men meant only those of a certain caliber need apply. [4]The word men meant it was limited not so much because of discrimination, as by specifics. So the call was clear. A specific need existed that could only be filled by a few special men who would have to be a certain kind of man to qualify. I tell you, God is looking for a few good men. A few spiritually qualified men whose lives demonstrate the nature of God with such clarity that they might be like beacons set before the body of Christ to lead it through this age. ‘Mighty Men.’ Men who are of courageous faith. Men who are committed and willing to contend for what God has given them. Real men who make sure they stay close to God, and who are sensitive to His desires for their lives.”

I ask you, is there such a man today? If so, God is calling, “I want you.” Will you heed the call? Will you be like the men in the [Navy] and be dedicated to the Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment to build the foundation of trust and leadership upon which our strength is based and victory is achieved? Will you give Jesus Christ first place in your life? Will you let “Semper Fidelis” be your motto: which will guide you as it does the [Marines] to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to our country [Kingdom of God] no matter what. Will you consecrate yourself to God today? Are you courageous enough today to say with Joshua and Caleb, “Even though the odds are against me; even though it would be much easier to compromise and hang with the crowd; even though it may cost me friendships, family relationships, pleasures, or even my life, I will do what I know is right?” I hear the Lord’s voice, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” [Isaiah 6:8]. Is there one that will say here I am Lord, send me? If so, you are challenged to go forward for the cause of Christ and be a good soldier for Him. [2Timothy 1:6-9] One life to live – One life to give to our Lord and Savior, our Coming King!

Happy Father’s Day!

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Witness For Justice #843 Sanctuary Rising: Lifting up hope in times of fear and hate

Every day we face a new story of a family being separated and children torn from their parent. This is the result of an outdated immigration system and a President who rode a wave of xenophobia all the way to the White House. As people of faith who are committed to loving our neighbor we must inspire hope and take action to push back against the harsh and inhumane policies being pushed by the Administration.

How is the faith community reacting? It's reacting in ways both big and small. For 86 days Jeanette Vizguerra sought protection from deportation, taking up residence in the First Unitarian Society of Denver. She was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people for lifting up her prophetic voice and taking leadership in the Sanctuary Movement. Thanks to her courage and enormous public pressure, she was offered a stay of removal for two years; a huge victory for her family and for the community that supported her.

Shadow Rock United Church of Christ was recently featured on 60 minutes to highlight the case of Sixto Paz, who has been living in sanctuary for nearly a year. At the same time the congregation is mourning the loss of Marco Tulio Coss, a father of three, whom the congregation had helped get a stay of removal in the past. He was deported after ICE misled his lawyer and the community, urging him to report to ICE offices under false pretenses where he was abruptly detained and deported.

People of faith across the country are helping thousands of asylum seekers and undocumented people find safe refuge and legal service support. Pilgrim UCC in Buffalo is even helping asylum seekers find their way to Canada where the government is actively welcoming them at the border because they have a credible claim of fear of persecution.

Every day I hear from congregations who want to know how they can accompany the immigrant in our midst. Any congregation can become part of the Sanctuary Movement. Already, more than 800 congregations have joined, more than half since the 2016 election. Many of these communities are prepared to house someone fighting a deportation order if needed. However, congregations who might not have the space, or are concerned about legal risk, can still be part of this movement through a spectrum of solidarity activities including assisting with legal services, fundraising for families in need, and engaging in advocacy to stop deportations. With our partner denominations we hope to assemble more than 1,000 Sanctuary congregations to demonstrate to the administration and the broader public the power of the faith community and the depth of our concern about these harsh policies, which are hurting families in our community.

Together, we must also continue to confront our decision-makers in Congress to push back against the massive cuts to social safety nets. Want to do something right now? Stand up for a just budget. We cannot steal from the poor in order to pay for the wall, increase border militarization and immigration enforcement. Congress controls the power of the purse, not the administration. Contact your congressperson today

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“Lord, If You Just Get Me Out of This Mess…!”

I promise you I will never do it again! I’ll stop sinning! I’ll do anything you say, Lord! Please Lord! Help me! Get me out of this mess! I tell you the nerve we have trying to bargain with God! Ain’t that ‘bout a pickle! But we do it all the time. We are all guilty. In fact, we are so good at it, and so used to it, that we think it is normal, right, and expected. Tell me, how many times has God come through for you? How many times has He moved mountains in your life? How many times has He caused peace in the storm? How many times has He met your need, done the impossible, and proven Himself to be God for you? But what I really want to know is how many times have you renege on your promise to God after he has delivered you out of your mess? And now you got the nerve to ask Him to deliver you again?

I tell you we ain’t no different they those in the Book of Old. You see Abraham tried to negotiate God’s peace with Sodom, in return for finding a certain number of righteous people in the city; Jacob was willing to devote himself to the Lord in exchange for safety and provision on his long journey; Jephthah bargained with what he assumed would be an animal of his to be sacrificed if the Lord granted him victory over the enemy; and Hannah was willing to give any son the Lord gave her back to Him, if He opened her womb. The truth of the matter is that we have no bargaining position. We are utterly owned by God and we are squatters on His land. Every breath we take is a gift from Him. Every virtue we perform is because of His grace. We must remember that God owes us nothing; we are complete debtors to Him. The good news here however is that in all of these cases, God fulfilled their requests because of His love and His grace.

I want you to know that trouble is often didactic [intended to teach a moral lesson]. Some of the most amazing lessons of your life will come in times of stress and strain. You may not believe this now while you are in your mess, but you will be better because of the trouble you went through! You will be stronger and you will be wiser because of it! Your praise will even be where it needs to be because of it! I tell you, trouble came to make us better. I can testify that by my own experience when I experienced trouble I became a better person because of it. The things I’ve learned in sorrow are the things I’ve learned the best! You see no matter how difficult the circumstances may be, you have to see the hand of God in it.

You know Job made a request to God and then he took a stand in God. Perhaps that is what God is saying to someone today who is big on the request side, but suffering on the stand side. You cannot ask God to do, if you refuse to be. Your convictions must be clear. Your stance must be sure. Your resolve must be resounding. You are not reading this because you wonder if God is going to do it. You have a history with God. You have seen God do too much over the years to even let doubt come out of your mouth. You know God is going to do it. The real question is how long are you willing to wait for God to manifest it into your life? I know it is rough, but wait it out. I know you are pushed to the edge, but wait it out. If you just wait this thing out, God will work it out. The trials and adversities of life are never pleasant, but it is in them that we learn the secrets of dependence, of grace, of hope and of God’s presence. None of us wishes for trials or adversity, but it is through them that God refines the metal of our lives and molds us into His image. Just as metal is placed in a furnace and heated to a white hot state so the dross can be removed, God allows us to enter the furnace of affliction so that He might refine and purify our lives. Rather than complain and be depressed, know there is a blessing tucked away in the midst of the trouble.

“If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established. [Isaiah 7:9]

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Witness For Justice #842

A couple of months ago, African students living in Delhi, India had to bear the brunt of angry mobs. The provocation was the result of a rumour that some African students living in Noida, a suburb, had sold drugs to a young Indian student who later died of overdose. The fact that an outsider, a black African at that, was the source of death seemed a good enough reason for a violent response. Similar incidents of attacks on African students are reported from time to time from other Indian cities.

We know that throughout the world, here in the U.S. as well as India, most perpetrators of violence and crime in any country are homegrown. Statistics reveal that most crimes are committed by people who are known to their victims. And yet we continue to treat racial and religious minorities, immigrants and refugees, and the poor as scapegoats for these crimes. The "other" - the outsider – is easily cast as a vile predator capable of harming us or draining our wealth.

The fear of the unknown might make some feel vulnerable. Fair enough, but beyond this fear of harm there seems a greater fear, the fear of humiliation that stems from being violated by an outsider, someone seen mostly as inferior or pitiable. It seems too hurtful to the fragile collective ego of the majority. The fact that a small percentage of people own over 90% of wealth on an average in almost every country in the world doesn't seem to bother many as much as the imagined depletion that some people in need could cause to national reserves. Over and over we see that isolated expressions of assertion or emancipation by the marginalized evoke more resentment than the obscene display of power and wealth by some, right in the face of misery and deprivation. Ironically, the powerful, privileged majority imagine themselves as victims by exaggerating the capacities of people in need and thus ascribe to them a non-existent power.

It is not greed alone that compels one to be unjust, but also certain notions of power that overwhelm one's sense of self to feel superior by dominating and disempowering the less-powerful other. Many cultures and nations have these ideologies of power at their foundations. Most religions, through their institutional expressions, have been their nurturing grounds for this dynamic. The person who does not belong to the fold is the "other" - incomplete, ignorant and doomed. The current fundamentalist religious resurgence is once again baring this demonic potential of religion. An imagined enemy, even if weak and vulnerable, is crucial for right-wing politics. These values overwhelm our common sense today.

Justice, as a value guiding all human interaction, is also a state of consciousness shaped by one's sense of being in relation with the other – people and all of God's creation. These values provoke our conscience and evoke conscious efforts to safeguard the interconnectivity of life. Justice, therefore, is not only sought in political and economic spheres but is required if we are to transform belief systems, worldviews and cultures. These are challenges that the progressive forces in all religions can alone address. We must nurture a morally and emotionally healthy human community and we cannot allow God's vast and diverse creation to be distorted and destroyed by the pathological obsessions of those who want to feel superior by denigrating and decimating others.

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“Preach Preacher Preach!”

I want you to know that change is in the atmosphere. We are in a season of change. God said this is a season of change, major change. He said prophesy and tell my people change is coming. Prophesy and tell my people major shifts are about to take place. Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name; He said, “You’ve compassed the mountain long enough; it’s time to come out.” Am I talking to anybody today? Is there anybody ready for change? Is there anybody sick and tired of being sick and tired? Is there anybody ready to break the cycle of lack? Is there anybody ready to break the cycle of sickness? If there anybody ready to break the cycle of debt? If so, then tell yourself, “Enough is enough!” Now tell the Devil I’ve had enough! I’ve had enough hell in my life! I’ve had enough fear and confusion in my life! I’ve had enough disappointment in my life! I’ve had enough lack in my life! I’ve had enough rejection and betrayal in my life! I’ve had enough discouragement in my life! I’ve had enough misery in my life! Today is a new day! No More! I’m ready for change. I’m ready for a turnaround.

Now I don’t know who this is for, but somebody’s facing a situation that seems impossible ... it appears that there is no way out. Somebody else is in a legal situation and you need God to move and turn that thing around. Somebody needs a miracle in their finances. Somebody’s standing in the gap for their children and you know that if God don’t move they’re in trouble. Well, I want you to know that the Bible is a book of turnarounds; from Genesis to Revelations we see God turning things around. One of the worst-case scenarios in the Bible is in the book of [Ezekiel chapter 37] the Valley of the Dry Bones. Yes, it looked hopeless; yes, it looked impossible; yes, it looked beyond the point of no return, but when the man of God started prophesying to those bones something started happening; things started changing; the situation started turning around; bones started coming together, and they didn’t just come together, but every bone found its matching bone. Tell yourself it’s time for change. Oh, I feel a turnaround in the atmosphere. I feel a turnaround anointing rising up in my spirit, right now. Somebody’s getting their breakthrough, right now. Somebody else is getting free right now; free in their mind, free in their emotions. Somebody’s financial situation is turning around. Somebody’s marriage is turning around. Somebody’s getting a healing in their body. Pain is leaving your body right now. By His stripes you were healed! Glory Hallelujah!

I want you to know that no matter where you are in your situation know that God loves you too much to leave you there. You see, the Essence of God not only understands where we are, it challenges us to be where we need to be. Love affirms us, shifts us, and reminds us that God has more for our life. Know that God is sending this word as confirmation to tell you that you are about to walk in the greatest season of your life. This will be a season where God will silence your enemies. This will be a season that God will blow your mind. “Eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of men the things God has in store for your life.” Yes, you planted in the winter and you stayed faithful and kept serving him and now God says he is about to bring about a harvest that is about to blow your mind. Your OVERFLOW will be SO BIG it will cancel out all the losses of the past! So in the midst of what looks like a catastrophe, keep speaking the blessing. Line up your mouth-the rudder of your life-with the Word of God- decree and declare where you are going. Old things have passed away, behold God will do a new thing. The favor of God has been poured out over you because you belong to Him. Therefore, whatever you declare trust that it is established. I tell you, you are about to walk into the greatest manifestation you have ever gone through before. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Get up on your feet right now wherever you are and start moving, take a prophetic step, and activate your faith. If you can’t walk, stomp your feet. If you can’t stomp your feet, wave your arms. Do something to signify to God that, “Whatever, He’s doing in this Season, Don’t do it Without You!”

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Witness For Justice #840 A Reluctant Marcher

I have a confession to make. I get awfully grumpy about all these marches.

Which is not to say I don't go. In the ten years since I moved to DC I've been to more rallies, protests and prayer vigils than I can count. I am deeply concerned about injustice, so despite my bad attitude, I show up. But every time another big one comes around, I find myself getting grouchy all over again.

"Why don't people march in their own cities?" I ask as I push through the crowds on the metro platform.

"Wouldn't a visit to your legislator be more impactful?" I huff as I clean up discarded protest signs on my walk home.

"What difference does all this marching even make?" I grumble as I lace up my shoes once again.

And every time, despite my lack of faith, I am rewarded.

Here's the thing I always forget – advocacy is not an activity best done in isolation.

Worrying about the world, reading endless articles on the Internet, and sending frustrated Tweets out into the ether will wear you down after a time. Being with other advocates; sharing stories of hope and struggle; seeing the diversity, creativity and beauty of our country first hand - these are the things that feed the spirit and fortify a heavy heart.

It is an unexpected joy to witness to your beliefs with nothing more (or less) than your physical presence. In a world where time is money, it sends a quietly powerful message.

We can only change the world if we do it together. This is not simply a statement of scale. The injustices of racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental degradation and more cannot be endured alone.

We need to surround ourselves with other warriors for justice. We need to be stretched and challenged by the stories of communities on the front lines. We need to roar in the face of oppression and challenge the political status quo. We need it, even when we do not know that we do.

Take it from me - you don't need to set aside your skepticism. You just need to show up. Bring your bad attitude if you have to, along with your walking shoes, water and snacks to share. I'll see you out there.

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“Instead of Just Diving in I tell you....You Really Ought to Read the Warning Signs!”

You see, “only a Fool dives head first into something without reading the warning signs! The Warning Sign says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life!” [Romans. 6:23]. The Warning Sign says, “The person who sins will die.” [Ezekiel 18:20] The Warning Sign says, “ And I will punish the wicked for their iniquity, and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” [Isaiah 30:11]. The Warning Sign says, “Sin is not to be embraced.” The Warning Sign says: Be alert! Be on guard! Be on watch! For sin is an enemy of mass proportions. When sin is finished it brings forth betrayal. When sin is finished it brings forth grief. When sin is finished it brings forth agony. When sin is finished it brings forth brokenness. When sin is finished it brings forth alienation. When sin is finished it brings forth torment. When sin is finished it brings forth condemnation. When sin is finished it brings forth despair. When sin is finished it brings forth heartache. When sin is finished it brings forth misery. The Warning Sign says, “Sin is deceitful. Sin is desirous. Sin is destructive.” The Warning Sign says, “This is the purpose behind everything Satan does. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” [John 10:10]. The Warning Sign says, “Sin need to be closed down, burned down, demolished, destroyed, annexed, and annihilated from your life; for it kills and destroys everything it touches. The Warning Sign says, “All sin is against God. The Warning Sign says, “All sin is a violation of God’s law. “[Psalms 51:4] The Warning Sign says, “Sin Is transgression against Life [Deuteronomy 4:40; 5:33]. And the Warning Sign says, “Sin will take your soul all the way to hell!” Who is the Warning Sign: God Is!

Listen, the Bible says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon”. [Isaiah 55:7]. “It’s high time to surrender to the Lord’s Word and will... turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.” [Ezekiel 14:6]. The Bible says that when King Hezekiah became ill, the prophet came to him with a message, “...Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” [2 Kings 20:1]. The Scriptures tell us that King Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and “wept sore” [v.3] as he repented and asked for mercy. And God is saying to you today, “Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”. [Isaiah 1:18]. “…Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not… For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” [Proverbs 8:32-36]. May you swim and not drown!

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“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!”

“Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.” [Ezekiel 34: 1-10]. “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2) “I will remove [you] from tending the flock so that [you] can no longer feed [yourself]. I will rescue my flock from [your] mouth, and [they] will no longer be food for [you]. May the sword strike [your] arm and [your] right eye! May [your] arm be completely withered, [your] right eye totally blinded! [Zechariah 11:17]. Behold, I am going to feed [you] wormwood and make [you] drink poisonous water, for from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land [Jeremiah 23:15]… False Prophets and Empty Oracles! “Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning ... [James 4:9].

If you only knew the pain and frustration you have caused Christ, [Jeremiah 9-11] you would tremble in shame. I weep when I think about you standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ. You have prophesied lies to the people. You have taught them after the imaginations of your own hearts. Instead of “crying aloud, sparing not, lifting up thy voice like a trumpet, and showing the people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” [Isaiah 58:1] you have taught false doctrines. I want you to know that when the Spirit says, ‘Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith Yahweh,’ the words are straightforward and plain.” I tell you as [Ezekiel 22:25] makes it very clear, “There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey….. “ Pastors, Bishops, Preacher, Minister, Prophets, Apostles, Teachers, whatever you want to call yourself, ‘take heed’ to what is being said. This message is not light writing that can be easily dismissed for, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you….” [Deuteronomy 30:19]. I tell you, you ought to treat your position with great fear and trembling as you are very accountable before God! [Acts 20:28].

“Am I now trying to win the approval of people, or of God? … If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” [Gal. 1:10].

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!” [1 Timothy 4:6].

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Witness For Justice #835 Republic of Fear

Increasingly, the land of the brave is becoming the republic of fear. The list of people the Trump administration would have us fear is long and includes undocumented workers, the media, citizens from a list of Muslim majority countries, and refugees. President Trump has issued two executive orders of questionable legal validity that would, among other things, "pause" refugee entries into the United States for 120 days, call for "extreme vetting" and slash the number ultimately resettled in the U.S. during the current fiscal year from 110,000 to 50,000. The first executive order attempted to block Syrian refugees from entering our country altogether.

Behind these orders is the fear that terrorists will enter the U.S. as refugees. Candidate Trump repeatedly warned that Syrian refugees entering the U.S. were "a great Trojan horse" that would generate acts of terrorism.

The Refugee Act of 1980 instituted systematic procedures for accepting refugees into the U.S. We already have the most stringent vetting procedures of any nation on earth; it typically takes two years and sometimes longer to complete the necessary security checks. According to the libertarian Cato Institute, not a single American life has been lost since that time due to terrorist attacks carried out by resettled refugees—not one. This includes the more than 780,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since 9/11.

At the same time, more than 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every single year; over half a million since 9/11. Even so, President Trump signed legislation nullifying regulations requiring background checks for people with severe mental illness who were "determined by a court or similar authority to be a danger to themselves or others." The action is as incomprehensible as it is reprehensible.

While the current round of fear-mongering is not limited to refugees, they are among its most vulnerable targets. Sadly, this is not the first time we have turned them away. In 1937 Captain Gustaf Schroder brought 937 German Jewish refugees across the Atlantic on the steamer MS St. Louis. Secretary of State Cordell Hull advised President Roosevelt not to accept the Jews; Roosevelt took his advice. Finding no sanctuary in the Americas, the refugees were returned to Europe where many died in Nazi death camps. Shall we again turn away from our shores refugees fleeing for their lives?

Recently I visited Greece and witnessed the work done among Syrian refugees by a Greek church body. A clergy person said that when he looks in the faces of refugees, he sees an icon of God. If we look and see only potential terrorists, then we exit the land of the brave and enter the republic of fear. And when fear overtakes us, we are in danger of losing our republic altogether.

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