Monday, July 17, 2017

Please get HR2642, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act, out of Subcommittee

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that people connected to my church were deported to Indonesia, where their lives are now in danger because they have 2 strikes against them, they are ethnically Chinese and Christian.
Below are the names and phone numbers of the members of this subcommittee:

Chairman Raul Labrador(ID-01):                (202) 225-6611
                                                                        (208) 667-0127
Ranking M. Zoe Lofgren(CA-19)  (202) 225-3072
                                                                        (408) 271-8700
Lamar Smith(TX-21)                           (202) 225-4236
                                                                        (512) 912-7508
Luis Gutierrez(IL-04)                         (202) 225-8203
                                                                        (773) 342-0774
Jim Sensenbrenner(WI-05)          (202) 225-5101
                                                                        (262) 784-1111
Pramila Jayapal(WA-07)                                  (202) 225-3106
                                                                        (206) 674-0040
Jim Jordon(OH-04)                              (202) 225-2676
David Cicilline(RI-01)                        (202) 225-4911
Ken Buck(CO-04)                                  (202) 225-4676
Mike Johnson(LA-04)                        (202) 225-2777
Andy Biggs(AZ-05)                                (202) 225-2635

Please call them and encourage them to move HR2642, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act forward for a vote. Remind them:
1.     The lives of those we deport are in danger. We are sending these Christians to a life of persecution and the possibility of death. This bill will keep them safe.
2.     We resettled these folk incorrectly in the 1990’s, it is our fault that they can not seek asylum. We forced them to overstay their visas. This bill fixes our mistake.
3.     These folk did everything right, they’ve been here for decades as model refugees—now they are being forced into hiding for the sake of staying with their children. It doesn’t need to be that way, America is better than this.
Again, there is so much going on in the world today I am deeply thankful to anyone willing to put in a few minutes of phone time to protect these people, maybe even saving a few lives in the process.

Peace,

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Romans 8, said differently

Dear Christian Siblings,

         I pray to God  that I have not left you in despair.
I ended my last letter with you lamenting the infection of both the Law and our Flesh by that Parasite, Sin.
         But know this—Christ’s coming has scrambled sin, in order that the Spirit might move in.
         It has acted as an anti-Parasitic—chasing out Sin from all things. You flesh, once hellish, may be Holy.
         Christ came in the Flesh, flesh like yours and like mine—that we all might have a holiness like his. And so, there is no condemnation! Through the power of the Spirit, Christ Jesus is in you!

         Not only that, he fulfilled the Law, which Sin would not allow, and as such, by his frustration of Sin’s hold there, the Law is made whole—Disinfected and filled too with the Spirit.
         Therefore, you are now in the Spirit and the Spirit in you, and the Law, it is now a Law of Spirit.
Wow, you may live the Law, you might inhabit your flesh—both of these in a Spiritual way!

         Let’s go back to another metaphor, you were enslaved to Sin—a servant of Sin’s household, but the Spirit is now your adoption papers—you are not only freed, but made a child in the household of God.
         That doesn’t do it for you? Well, maybe you don’t hear it quite right… you see, in my day powerful men had children everywhere, but rarely were they fathers to them. It was only the rare child who would be adopted—for they were the man’s favorite—they became his heir. That’s the context in which I speak the word Adoption.
         So too, you are adopted—you receive God’s favor—you are Christ’s heir! You, through the power of the Spirit, may cry out as Christ did—“Father! Father!” To God, our first parent.

         Yet, I can hear, even through the vastness of time and space—there is some harumphing going on at these simple statements of mine. And it is fair that you consider my words carefully…
That you think a bit about my proclamation that you are disinfected—free to follow the Law of the Spirit, Adopted as highly favored children of God, blessed among a big and growing family of God
—you say, “sure, but those are just words… it often doesn’t feel like that—the Spirit has not launched me into a perfect paradise… It seems that all these things are still far from me!”
         To this I respond—“exactly!”
In fact, the Spirit makes you realize that—the Spirit infects you with longing—with hope—you note the chasm between the world as it is, and as it should be.
         You shoulder too, the sweeping disparity in your soul between Saint and Sinner! Your best self and who you are.
         In short, you notice that time and our flesh conspire, you notice these great divides, both within you and outside of you. You notice…
         You notice, that too is of God—that uncomfortable space between it all, is filled with Spirit.
If you saw everything in yourself and the world around you—as all right, when it isn’t—then you’d have much to fear! Then you’d be lost to your Sin infection—but no! No, you know the needs of the world and you know the absence in your soul! That is the Spirit moving you!
         Moving you to cry out—to pray! Pray for the gap between intention and actuality—pray for the tears in your soul, that they may become balm.
        
         What then ought we say about all these things? About the liberation of our Flesh and the Conduct now allowed under the Law of the Spirit? About our first cry as Children of God? About the tensions pulled taut in this world, as it is being redeemed by God? What ought we say when the Spirit speaks through us with glad but strange prayers, prayers stronger than anything that we’d expect to come from our lips?
         In all this—God is for us, so who might be against us? God has given his own Son to us, so is not everything ours? To the mad barks of judgement against us, let us remember it is God our Father who is the only judge. When all condemn—let us remember it is all, except Jesus Christ, who does not condemn, but instead speaks well of us—and that is all that matters!
         I admit, that the tension of this world pulls us to the breaking point—hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword—yes even slaughter—but the Spirit also points us to the conquest of all these things done by God for us!
         Death, sure it looms, life itself—heavier than we’d like, powers beyond our control twist us this way then that, our fate and inclinations attempt to imprison—but it is my conviction that none of these may separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

New Sermon: Sin=Parasite

         Dear Siblings in the faith,
         I Paul write to you once again, for I believe you need yet another metaphor for Sin. I have already told you it is like an enslaving contract, but today, I wish to tell you about Sin another way, that you might more fully feel the insidious nature of sin, and understand the way in which you are trapped.
         Sin is a parasite. Your Pastor, Pastor Chris, once told you about the Holy Spirit—the Paraclete, and how it was like a Paramedic, Paralegal, and Parallel… perhaps you’ve grasped that the pre-fix Para means beside. And if so, you no doubt know that a Parasite comes from Para-Sitos—Eating at another’s table.
         And that’s just what Sin does. It lives by living in another creature—using it.
         Sin is a parasite—such creatures were unknown in my time—but through your natural sciences are now well known. They are creatures that infect hosts and use them to live and reproduce. In extreme cases you get parasites like Toxoplasmosis, which can only reproduce in cats, so they infect mice and birds, scramble their brains, and make them unafraid of cats, which leads to their host’s death and the parasite’s life.

         Yes, Sin is just such a parasite, with no life or strength of its own, save infection and manipulation.
         And know this, Sin has infected the Law and infected your Flesh.

         Now, when I say that Sin has infected the Law, you as a Gentile Church—that is a non-Jewish Christian Congregation, may hear something heading toward heresy—you may assume the Law of Moses is a throw away, or even you may make a simple equation of my warning of infection—you may say “Law=Sin.”
         This is by no means true!
         Instead, the Law has been infected by that parasite Sin… in fact, I’d venture if you looked at any law, those of Moses or those of any other peoples, including your own, with careful eyes, you’d see Sin’s sinister hold upon it.
         But, let’s stick with Moses’ Laws… I know in my bones—if not in literal history—that God said “Take Anything But This”… and I, we, coveted that thing immediately. Sin swept into that Command of God and commandeered it.
         It said, “Really? Not even a little taste? Not even a little lie? Not even a small death?”
         At the same time as it chipped away at it, it also built up the Law—making it more than it was, “Don’t just avoid this sin, avoid nearness to it at all costs!”
         Like cattle being rustled, it used the Law to chase me—one way, then another—it shouted, “Never! Never!” and “Just a little! Just a little!” until I nearly exploded. Popped like a pimple—my worst self revealed and inflamed.
         Yes, the Holy Law of God—reprogrammed to do me ill!
         How much more then the Laws of men? Imagine what Sin can do with them!

         And so too, my own Flesh
—Am I not of the Earth—this good home of ours?
Has it not been said that we are the height of the created order?
Are we not little lower than angels?
         For that matter, do I not have a moral compass? Do I not hear my conscience guiding me?
I do!
I really do!
         Yet, hear I as well the parasite disrupting paradise. The very good I am granted in my soul sloshes away from me. I am stuck!
I wish to paddle toward the North Star, but instead I choose to sink my boat!
         I know what is life giving, yet I give into death—for Sin uses me—riding roughshod over my better self!

         I, Paul, have experienced the Tempest released when these two goods—Law and Flesh—are infected, when the Parasite Sin sends them a clashing against one another!
         I heard the early church—they preached Jesus as Lord and Messiah—the Blessed One, the Savior.
         But I knew the Law. “All who die upon a tree are accursed.”—Deuteronomy 21:23. So says the Law!
         Infected with Sin, the Law blinded me to its central command—“Love God, Love Neighbor.”—Deuteronomy 6:5.
         Infected with Sin, my Flesh took it several steps further—I first held coats as Stephen was stoned to death for his faith.
         I then, with great zeal and righteousness
—as a religious duty, to fulfill the Law of God
—went and persecuted the Church of God.

         See how that all worked? Sin stunted the Law of God and lived in my most religious self. It infected us both—taking our best, so that it might be embittered and become our worst.
         Wretched man that I am, who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Amen.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Contact your representative about House Resolution 2642 Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act!

Hi all.
As you probably know by now, ICE deported some members of FISDAC (First Indonesian Seventh Day Adventist Church). I’ve talked with folk on both the enforcement and protest side of things who seem to be in the know. Short of hiding Indonesian Refugees (for a short explanation the particular way the US government mis-settled persecuted Ethnic Chinese Indonesian Christians click here) in my home and church, the best way to resolve this particular injustice is through the passage of House Resolution 2642, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act. It essentially resets the clock for Indonesian Refugees to seek asylum here in the US.

So, please contact your representative. Ask them to encourage the leadership to bring HR2642 to a vote, and then vote yes on it.

Tell them:
1. The lives of those we deport are in danger. We are sending these Christians towards persecution and maybe death. This bill will keep them safe.
2. We resettled these folk incorrectly, they had no way to seek asylum. Essentially, we forced them to overstay their visas. This bill fixes that problem.
3. Those in hiding are living in terror of being separated from their families—they’ve been here for decades and done everything right.

I know there are lots of political things going on, most of us feel pulled in a billion different directions, our hearts breaking or hardening all the time. But please contact your representative, ask them to bring HR2642 to a vote and vote yes on it.