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The Bible is a thick book.  Always has been.  In the first century, an expert in the Old Testament Scriptures asked Jesus to summarize all of the commands in the Bible into the greatest commandment, to slim down that thick book into something easy to remember.  Jesus tells him the greatest commandment is to love God with all your being and he throws in a close 2nd, to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:35-40)

In a different conversation, another expert in the Old Testament Scriptures wanted to press Jesus further on this issue.  He asks Jesus, Who is my neighbor?  These experts in the Law would be the equivalent of a modern day seminary professor and pastor rolled into one.  The expert in the Law in Luke 10:25-37 was testing Jesus as well as seeking to justify himself.  Jesus’s answer is no less astounding 2000 years later as it was when it came off his lips.  But we so often miss what makes it so astounding… Continue Reading…

Quick, what’s your take on immigration?

Well that depends if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.

What’s your take on abortion?

Again, it depends on if you sport the elephant or the donkey.

On helping the poor.

On Syrian refugees.

On systemic racism.

Even on sexuality.

Of these many hot button issues, where do you go to get your guidance?  Sure, there is the Sunday School answer of “Jesus” or “the Bible,” but it only takes a stroll down Facebook lane to see Christians are getting their answers to these moral and spiritual dilemmas from the mouth of the elephant or donkey, not from the Lamb of God. Continue Reading…

Dear Refugee, (Documented and Undocumented) Immigrant, Muslim & African-American:

This is a letter to tell you you are loved.  I love you and many others do as well.  Recently some have spewed hate in your direction.  They’ve scrawled it on bathroom walls, spray-painted it on dugouts and have told you to go back to “where you came from.”

Graffiti of swastika on a softball field dugout in Wellsville, N.Y., Nov. 9, 2016.(Photo: Brian Quinn, Wellsville Daily Reporter) Click to read the USA Today article

Graffiti of swastika on a softball field dugout in Wellsville, N.Y., Nov. 9, 2016. (Photo: Brian Quinn, Wellsville Daily Reporter) Click to read the USA Today article

These people do not represent all of us and they do not represent me.

Notably, these people do not represent Jesus or his Church.

With this recent election, there have been some tragic dots connected by many: there is a renewed outburst of racial hate speech (that you have had to endure)… which people feel free to do because Trump is the President-elect… because Trump gathered many of his followers based on racist caricatures and fear mongering… and Trump won the election because of Evangelical Christians (polls say 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump)… so this hate speech is now a reflection of Jesus and his Church.

And I know it’s not just the hate speech, but also some potential policies that might be barrelling toward some of you, and the fear and anxiety you currently have to live with of these policies. Continue Reading…

Matthew Soerens is the US Director of Church Mobilization for World Relief.  Noah Filipiak interview Matthew about a biblical response to undocumented immigrants, the Mexican border, Syrian and other Muslim refugees, and much more.  The episode closes with a poem called “Home” by World Relief’s Jacob Mau (www.jacobmaumusic.com) Continue Reading…

I did an interview last year with an Iranian Christian friend of mine who lives in Lansing.  My friend converted from Islam when living in Iran and thus had to become a refugee to escape those trying to kill him, namely his father.  You can read the interview here:  After Death Threats from Muslims in Lansing, Post Deleted, Reposted Anonymously.  In the article I mention my friend’s pastor from Iran, the man who led him to Christ and who was now serving a prison sentence for being a Christian pastor, Pastor Farshid Fathi.  Pastor Fathi’s arrest and imprisonment is the event that led my friend to flee Iran on the week of his own wedding as a refugee.

For those who read that interview, I wanted to share the great news that according to BosNewsLife, Pastor Farshid Fathi was released from prison this week!  You can read the details of his release in the BosNewsLife article here. 

Praise God!  Be in prayer for Pastor Fathi and his family.  And continue to pray for American citizen Pastor Saeed who is still being illegally imprisoned in Iran.