Will you be my Valentine? I mean Free Reader?

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Whether you’re a Valentine’s Day lover or hater, we hope you’re a free book lover! There are lots to choose from, including nine from Findley Family Video Publications. Come pay a visit to our facebook event page and see all the free books! Some are free only certain days so be sure to check throughout the three day event!

http://bit.ly/2lEM6Ds

Or come straight to the Christian Women Writers’ website to see what’s there! Whoa! A free Kindle giveaway!

http://cwwriters.com/readers/valentines-day-event-plus-kindle-fire-giveaway/

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Peace, Unity, and Refugees: the Executive Order

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If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people. Romans 12:8

Eric Costanzo, pastor of the South Tulsa Baptist Church (SBC) in Tulsa, OK co-signed a protest letter published in the Washington Post, wrote a facebook article, and posted a blog supporting the Evangelical protest of the temporary immigration halt from seven countries. In the Tulsa World he wrote that we have a “blindness to the degree of polarity between their [refugees’] needs and our extravagance that allows us to somehow justify our selfishness and inaction to their suffering.” The plight of many is desperate. It is also possible that there are more refugees in the world than the entire population of the USA.

His comments are typical of what many believe. “Whether or not we will admit it out loud, our conservative culture is quick to dismiss injustice if those who are oppressed are Muslim. The Bible contains several mandates from God that his people show compassion, provide refuge, and care deliberately for the foreigner who is in need.”
If this statement is true, why didn’t Jesus do this? Jesus fed people who listened to His teaching. This is not what most people mean by providing refuge and care. Jesus had no homes, clothing, money or food to give people.

Pastor Costanzo wrote: “These verses and stories are not hard to find, and their applications to the current refugee situation are hard to miss.” There are many great needs; refugees, our brothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea, the Sudan, China, and families next door. Meeting specific needs is certainly a responsibility commanded in Scriptures. So is providing for your own families and neighbors. Our abilities, resources, time and income are extremely limited. With billions of needy people on earth, what are God’s priorities?

“I believe it is the responsibility of every evangelical leader,” Pastor Eric wrote, “and every believer, to speak out against injustice; to take action on behalf of the refugee; and to be willing to step into the messiness of their lives in order to be good news.”
How does speaking out against injustice help us to teach and preach the Word, glorify God, worship, and make disciples? Great injustices have been committed in the name of speaking out against injustice.

He wrote “Of all the countries who have accepted and are accepting refugees from the Middle East, the U.S. has accepted a very low percentage. This has been true regarding refugees for decades.”

According to the UN, however, “The United States is the world’s top resettlement country for refugees.” “In fiscal year (FY) 2015, the United States resettled 69,933 refugees and in FY 2013 (the most recent data available) granted asylum status to 25,199 people.” migrationpolicy.org/article/refugees-and- asylees-united-states. According to the UN, though there are over 21 million refugees in the world, only 107,100 have been resettled. unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a- glance.html So about 70% of all resettled refugees in the world are in the USA.

From the Ice Age, the time of Job and Abraham, through the New Testament, refugees in the modern sense did not exist. Until recently, everyone on earth either owned enough property to properly take care of themselves or they were property, in other words, a slave. You either found some way to take care of yourself and your family, you died, or your were enslaved.

The letter Pastor Eric signed in protest of President Trump’s executive order says, “we are deeply concerned by the recently announced moratorium on refugees.”

Why? This letter dwells at length on the plight of many people. It also makes many false implications about those who do not agree with their position.

In an attempt to correct some of the worst errors in the Washington Post letter, here are some quotes from the actual Executive Order by President Trump, “the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by- case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.” Sec. 3. (g) “Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program.“

Defining terrorism-related attacks is difficult. Some make a definition which claims that there have been very few assaults since 9-11. Others use a very broad definition which leads to hundreds of thousands of assaults. It is pointless to attempt to convince anyone whose mind is already made up. There is no question that the Boston marathon bombing was terrorism-related. The thousands of unsolved homicides by illegal aliens in LA are not as clearly connected to terrorism.

Section 1 “In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

It is so sad that Pastor Eric’s blog perpetuates the myth that “We are afraid that refugees from the Middle East will be our enemies.” A proper understanding of Islam reveals the radical form of the religion of Islam is our enemy. That is understanding, not fear. Radical Islam has declared war on the USA and Christians. Do we understand that?

For an example of how one country handled the very human and laudable desire to open its arms to refugees, look at Sweden. The best intentions to help the helpless turned Sweden into a nightmare where few are helped and many, including both refugees and native residents, regret this misguided attempt at giving refuge.
http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/09/how-sweden-became-an-example-of-how-not-to-handle-immigration/

To briefly summarize, the writer explains the generosity of the Swedish people in accepting disproportionately large numbers of refugees. It details the types of people who came, and what was done to try to help them. And it frankly covers the consequences to the native population and to the refugees, including the youngest people. Gang cultures, attacks on woman, a murder and rape epidemic, and forced child prostitution are just a few of the consequences.

Sweden is known for being one of the most generous, compassionate, and liberated countries in the world. If their hospitality can backfire on them so profoundly, are we so arrogant as to think that our compassion cannot blind us to the potential for a failure just as great?

We have to rightly divide the Word of Truth. We cannot react with well-intentioned compassion that is not guided by a true interpretation of Scripture. Of all the times when we need God’s guidance, one of the most critical is to discern what we can do to show Christ’s love to this world. Humanitarian aid and hospitality to foreigners in distress is wonderful.

But we have a mandate to communicate truth, and the truth is that we can only fight against man’s greatest needs with the greatest weapon, God’s truth in His Word. The weapons of our warfare are not material, but effective to the destruction of spiritual powers.

Thank you President Trump for standing for the Word of God, the rule of law and constitutional rights.

Here is a link to Pastor Costanzo’s blog post: https://ericcostanzo.me/2017/02/09/why-i-signed-the-letter-to-president-trump-on-behalf-of-refugees/

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English Only, Please! But …Post by Mary C. Findley

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I work at a major retailer and try to provide customer service to many people from other countries setting here in the United States. I don’t know their legal status and that isn’t what this post is about. I do believe people should enter their chosen country legally and that they should learn the language of that country. However, when it comes to America and its language, that could be more difficult than it first appears.

  1. English is probably the number two most difficult languages in the world to learn. Chinese is supposed to be more difficult.
  2. Even if you get a handle on basic communication of the spoken language, you might still be defeated when it comes to the written language. (example: I have had people show me their smart phone with a picture of the item they need to find. They can say a few words to me but they can’t get out the whole message of what they need.)
  3. Going beyond the written language, there is the symbolic language of advertising and product packaging. This is where I really want to start explaining how hard American English is to understand.

I have had people ask me to help them find the right size of diapers. They look at a package and see a visual assault of varieties and sizes. Which blocks of graphics with numbers are sizes and which refer to weight of child, age of child, type of diaper, amount of time it should last before needing to be changed? Whew! I have a lot of compassion for people who have to try to figure this out.

A little family of four was out shopping and the father needed a belt. He brought me an extra large one. He had no idea how to figure out which one he really needed. I ended up having to go back with him and put belts around him until we came up with a 34-36 waist. So I showed him belts that had numbers instead of small, medium, large, or extra large, and with a lot of pantomime, I hope he found what he needed.

Many items no longer have a numerical price printed on them. Just a barcode and its numbers representing the UPC code that contains pricing information. We have a scanner near my work area but sometimes the results are frustrating. Why is this on a sales rack but not on sale? Did someone forget to change it in the system, or did another shopper just drop it off on the rack where they found cheaper items? Even people who speak English have trouble understanding that. One person showed me two items, one of which was on sale, the other seemed at least similar, but was not on sale. She could not understand that I did  not have the authority to give her the sale price on the second item because it was not the same thing. She stood around for a good while as if waiting for circumstances to change, occasionally saying phrases like, “Okay, see you again sometime,” but clearly not really knowing what they meant.

Back to the people showing the picture on the smart phone. Say they want laundry detergent. I can take them to that aisle, but when they get there will they be able to sort out what the different products do? I can’t read their minds and know what they are really looking for. The variety and choices for an ordinary American are bewildering. What if you can barely (or still can’t) make out what the words on the package mean even after you have some basic conversational English down?

I remember an old illustration told as a story of some people arriving in the United States, going to a store, and happily coming home with a can displaying a beautiful picture of fried chicken. They opened the can and found … solid vegetable shortening. Is it clear, what’s in that can, even if you know a fair amount of English?

A couple of examples on the other side of the coin. A woman who spoke very good English demanded a discount on a clothing item that was supposed to be two pieces (top and bottoms) but had only one of the pieces. I pointed out to her that it was already half price. She said, “I don’t think you understand what I’m saying.” I replied that I did understand but she still walked away angry that I wouldn’t just give her what she wanted — an even lower price. Another person called the store, I answered, and she wanted to know when customer service closed. I gave her the time, only twenty minutes or so in the future. She said, “But I’m on my way there now. They aren’t going to close early and I won’t be able to do my business?” I repeated the closing time three times, while she got more angry. In effect, insisted that I was personally going to cheat her out of the chance to get her business done because I would not assure her that Customer Service was not going to be closed when she got there. She used an obscenity to express my lack of ability to communicate to her satisfaction. Both of us spoke perfect English. No real communication took place.

Just sharing a few thoughts so that we can be more compassionate when someone who doesn’t know English as well as we would like comes up to us and needs help. Give that help. As much as you can.

And when your English and my English are just fine and we interact, but you aren’t satisfied with the outcome, please remember that civility costs nothing, and treat me and my fellow retailers with compassion too.

(image credit johnhain at Pixabay)

 

 

 

 

 

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Even I Can Use Instagram — Post by Mary C. Findley

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I haven’t written an actual “writing” post for awhile. As I posted not too long ago, it’s been a year of upheavals and little or no writing for me. Still, I have picked up a few ideas for writers in my stumbling, fuddy-duddy way, that might help. I tend to discover things other people have known and used for a long time, and one of those is Instagram.

Unfortunately, I discovered it after I dunked and destroyed my first and only smart phone. I’m back to a regular old keyboard phone for now. I joined a group of authors on a lovely new blog called Candidly Christian (see my first post here)  http://candidlychristian.com/life-lessons/ .

The moderator asked us to join Instagram to help promote. I did that, on my laptop. I discovered that I could join, follow, and like (or heart) posts, but I couldn’t post anything myself from my computer. I kept getting messages in my email to download the app, tormenting me with the memory of my dear departed smartphone. So I figured I was doomed to never know the joys of true Instagram participation. I flashed back to the days I started using Twitter and didn’t have any tweets. https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/curiouser-and-curiouser-an-authors-adventures-in-twitterland/

Or so I thought. I do know that in the world of devices there is usually some kind of workaround. It didn’t take long to discover that there is indeed a Chrome extension for Instagram that works on laptops and desktops. The picture at the top of the article, which is Ruth, daughter’s “hearing-aid” cat, referred to in my first Candidly Christian post, is also my very first Instagram post. I know, I know. In the future I will crop and clean up images better. But I like to share my struggles as well as my successes with struggling fellow writers.

When you set up your Instagram profile, you might fetch up against the daunting task of including your self-description. Describe yourself and your reason for being there in 140 characters. Not easy. I based my profile description on my Amazon author page. Here’s the highly distilled, Instagram version:

Cover artist ❤ pets cross-genre author w/never-say-die heroes crazy smart husband 3 kids 18-wheeler shotgun Proverbs 16:3 Book midwife elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com

Here’s a link for a Chrome Instagram Extension. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/instagram-for-chrome/opnbmdkdflhjiclaoiiifmheknpccalb?hl=en-US

Here’s my Instagram profile. https://www.instagram.com/marycampagnafindley/ It’s lonely over there, and I’d appreciate follows and whatever else you do on Instagram. (still figuring that out.) And pointers.

And, oh, dear, I hear there’s something called Snapchat! eeps!

 

 

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What Did Jesus Do? — Post by Michael J. Findley

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Sheldon’s question, “What Would Jesus Do?” has driven some people to attempt great deeds for Christ. It has driven others to do things which can best be described charitably as questionable.

Few people invest the time and energy to study what Jesus actually did. When Jesus knew that he had less than a day before he would be crucified and return to the father Jesus spent his last hours fellowshipping with and teaching his disciples.

“Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know?” Jesus asked him. “The person who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9 ISV)

Jesus spent his last hours with his disciples. Not all, or many or even most of disciples, but Jesus chose to be with just the twelve; eleven after Judas left. We do not know if there were servants or children or others who were not mentioned. Jesus chose to spend all of His remaining time fellowshipping with and teaching his disciples. Instead of trying to reach more people, Jesus spent His time teaching those who were the most knowledgeable; people who were already well taught.

After His resurrection, Jesus walked over seven miles with two men. Then Jesus told them, “O, how foolish you are! How slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! The Messiah had to to suffer these things and then enter his glory, didn’t he?” Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them all the passages of Scripture about himself. (Luke 24:25-27 ISV)

Jesus then met his disciples in a locked room in Jerusalem.
Then he told them, “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds so that they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44 ISV)

Jesus met with his disciples several times after his resurrection. Probably the most well known is the meeting with seven disciples in Galilee when Peter goes fishing. After his resurrection, Jesus spent his time either teaching or building relationships with his closest disciples.

We certainly have many other responsibilities that we read about throughout God’s Word. But teaching the Word of God and building relationships is very important. Based on what Jesus did, we certainly need to make teaching and building relationships a priority in our lives. We need to understand what Jesus did. His relationships were based on obedience to the Word of God. And the doctrine He taught drew men into a closer relationship with Himself.

Relationships based on this world will fail. Doctrine which is not taught to others fails to build relationships. And without a relationship with Christ built on a correct understanding of the Word of God, relationships with other people will also fail.

And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you in the Messiah. (Ephesians 4:32 ISV)

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Image Credits: WWJD? graphic by Mary C. Findley

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church [1], Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” Stained glass: Alfred Handel, d. 1946, photo:Toby Hudson Wikimedia Commons

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What Is The Gospel? Part Five: The Eternal Gospel

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But we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve like other people who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus God will bring those who have died with him. For we declare to you what the Lord has told us to say: We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died. With a shout of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of God’s trumpet, the Lord himself will come down from heaven, and the dead who belong to the Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

According to the Latin word translated here as caught up, this describes the rapture. The moment this takes place, there will be no believers left on earth to proclaim the gospel.

Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed—in a moment, faster than an eye can blink, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ISV)

As a trumpet sounded on Sinai, so this trumpet not only signals the resurrection of the Church, but alerts the inhabitants of earth to God’s change in His methods.

This begins another phase in God’s plan of redemption. Satan will be cast out of heaven, his time will be short and demonic forces will have greater access to those alive on earth at that time. Many who accept Jesus as the Messiah during this time will face rapid martyrdom. It will be the time of 144,000 Jewish witnesses, 2 special witnesses, and an angel flying through the air to proclaim the gospel.

Then I saw another angel flying overhead with the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the time for him to judge has arrived. Worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6,7 ISV)

Image Credit: Unknown  illuminator An Angel with the Eternal Gospel Date about 1255 – 1260 Getty Center Source/Photographer KwFA0VOH3o96DA at Google Cultural Institute Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

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What Is The Gospel? Part Four: Our Responsibility

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In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through him all things were made, and apart from him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1 ISV)

New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942 to evangelize unreached people groups who have no knowledge of either the God of the Bible or the history of Israel. According to their website “Unreached people groups have no concept of the God of the Bible. So Bible teaching begins at the same place God began with His chosen people: at the beginning. Chronological Bible teaching presents a foundation for understanding Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

Paul used this formula when he spoke to the Athenians. After beginning with the legal requirement of not introducing a new religion, basing that claim on their statue to the unknown god, Paul introduced, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” (Acts 17:24 ISV)

The problem Paul and every Christian up to Augustine had with the Greeks and the Romans is that many believed the earth was brought into existence around 1500 BC. They mocked the Jews for believing that the creation was so old (4000 BC). Ovid’s Metamorphoses is one example. Ovid, like most pagan authors, has creation followed by a Golden Age, a Silver Age, a Bronze Age, and finally the Iron Age.

After teaching the creation, the fall, the flood, the founding of the Jewish nation, God’s call out of Egypt, God’s judgment on the sin of the nation, then we teach the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

Now I’m making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you have taken your stand, and by which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message I proclaimed to you – unless, of course, your faith was worthless. For I passed on to you the most important points that I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive!—and he was seen by Cephas and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Next he was seen by James, then by all the apostles, and finally he was seen by me, as though I were born abnormally late. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ISV)

We must understand that Paul lived in Corinth for two years teaching the Old Testament. Paul taught the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of sin, the need for atonement, and the fulfillment of this need through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But in the modern western culture, Christians have an additional barrier to overcome. Western Culture has made Secular Humanism an established religion. A person born into a culture with no knowledge of God has to begin with Creation.

But a person born into the indoctrination system of secular humanism must first understand that they have been indoctrinated. So the person with no knowledge of God who does not have to unlearn indoctrination is easier to teach than the person who is indoctrinated.

It is possible that John wrote what we call the first epistle or 1 John as the last book of the New Testament, making it the last book written of the entire Bible. He faced a very similar problem in Ephesus after being released from Patmos. His answer was to affirm the validity of what they witnessed about Jesus.

What existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we observed and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life! This life was revealed to us, and we have seen it and testify about it. 1 John 1:1,2 ISV

This is the definition of science. Heard, seen, observed, touched, and testify. There are standards for examining evidence. If the scientific evidence for Jesus is ignored and rejected, then history, any history, is impossible to understand. Nothing in all of ancient history is documented as well as the history of Jesus.

But our responsibility when presenting the Gospel is to faithfully present the Word of God to people who are willing to listen. God is responsible for the results.

In the presence of God and the Messiah Jesus, who is going to judge those who are living and those who are dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly appeal to you to proclaim the message. Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient. Refute, warn, and encourage with the utmost patience when you teach.

For the time will come when people will not tolerate healthy doctrine. But with itching ears will surround themselves with teachers who cater to their people’s desires. They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths. But you must be clear headed about everything. Endure suffering. Do the work of an evangelist. Devote yourself completely to your ministry.

I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for my departure has come. I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. The victor’s crown of righteousness is now waiting for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on the day that he comes, and not only to me but also to all who eagerly wait for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-8 ISV)

Image Credit: Codex Alexandrinus of the end of 2 Peter and Beginning of 1 John Public Domain photographer unknown Wikimedia Commons

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