Where’s Your Hope? Why Conservative Christians Fear the Syrian Refugees

Last week, a host of Republican governors openly declared that their states would not welcome Syrian refugees fleeing the terror of ISIS and their war-torn country. I was deeply troubled by their remarks, because before the Constitution was even ratified, it was already clear that the control of immigration would rest squarely with the federal government. (See Arizona v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 2492 (2012), for a history.) But even more troubling for me has been the response from the community of people who claim the name of Jesus.

This is just one more heartbreaking episode of a recurring drama in American political life. Those who claim to know Jesus—the God-man who summed the entirety of the Old Testament law in two commands: Love God and Love Others—are the very same people who more often than not assume a political posture that is cold if not outright hateful.

In one conversation I had with another Christian on the subject, I was belittled for thinking that the Bible says we are to care for the marginalized and the oppressed, even at great cost to ourselves. Beyond that, my knowledge of the law was questioned because it did not comport with his view that Obama wishes to be king and the States are doing a brave and noble thing by saying no to those in need. Continue reading Where’s Your Hope? Why Conservative Christians Fear the Syrian Refugees

The Secret to Forgiveness

Some years ago, I got involved with the high school youth ministry at the church I was a part of, and very quickly I came to care for a number of students, one girl in particular.

I’ll never forget the Friday night that this girl called me up and told me that she had gone to bed early under the guise of reading her book because her mom was drunk and she didn’t want to be around for the hurtful words that were going to spew from her mother’s mouth if she stuck around. As the son of an addict, it broke my heart, and I quickly came to care for this girl. I knew her pain.

Nevertheless, through a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications, my relationship with this girl was severed. I pushed for answers. I wanted reconciliation, but got nothing except the angry and protective rants of this girl’s father. He would have none of it.

I knew the history of this family. I knew that they had once been close with another family in our church, and that when the fathers had collaborated to do something about the alcoholism of this girl’s mother, the mother had found out through an intercepted text and slandered the father of the other family, saying that he had made a pass at her. The relationship rotted as the church leaders did nothing. Continue reading The Secret to Forgiveness

Worship: It’s Not What You Think

When you hear the word worship, what comes to mind? Do you picture a cantor and a hymnal? Or perhaps an organ? Maybe you picture a hearty Gospel choir, clapping and singing with such deep and resonant tones that heaven’s angels get a little jealous. Or perhaps it’s the sensation of heart-pounding drumbeats in a dimly lit room, interspersed with brightly-lit LEDs and the distorted melodies of an electric guitar.

Perhaps for you, worship has nothing to do with music. Perhaps for you, worship brings to mind dancing, painting with water colors, or finishing that two-thousand-foot vertical ascent, only to be robbed of your breath by the view.

In the modern Church, worship has come to mean a lot of things for a lot of people. There’s just one problem: of all the things worship has come to mean for so many, none of them come close to encompassing what worship means in the Bible.

So, what is worship?

Continue reading Worship: It’s Not What You Think

Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation

For those of you who know coffee, you know that the Big Island is home to the only place in the United States where coffee really thrives: the Kona Coffee Belt. This summer, I had the pleasure of visiting the Big Island of Hawaii, and one of the things I desperately wanted to do was visit the Kona Coffee Belt and learn as much as I could about coffee.

Kona coffee is known around the world for its unique flavor, produced from the rich volcanic soils of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa—two of the Big Island”s volcanoes—on the slopes of which Kona coffee is grown. One of the primary reasons coffee thrives so much in the Kona Coffee Belt is the climate. With sun every morning and afternoon showers that are practically guaranteed, the area makes for ideal coffee-growing conditions.

On a warm, clear Thursday morning, I left the place I was staying and started the twenty-minute drive into Kona. As I neared the town, the weather quickly changed. (For those of you who have visited the Big Island, you know that the climate changes every twenty miles or so as you travel around the island. And for all you ski-bums: Yes, there’s even snow on the top of Mauna Loa.)

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A Taste of Ketchum

For the Fourth of July this year, my family and I headed up to Sun Valley, Idaho to spend a few days vacationing together. Family vacations are usually interesting for me. I handle my family well when I have my space, but when I’m crammed into tight quarters with them, it becomes much more difficult. So I was a little worried about this vacation, and despite a few run-ins, the trip actually turned out to be quite nice.

My mom and I arrived in Ketchum late in the day on Thursday, July 1. My dad and sister had arrived earlier in the day, but due to my mom’s work obligations and my need to be in class, we weren’t able to leave until later. At any rate, we started the trip off right with a nice meal at a Mexican restaurant in Ketchum. I ordered a chicken quesadilla, and I must say, it was quite delectable.

As the trip progressed, I found that the more pictures I took of Ketchum, the more I loved this little town – so much so, in fact, that I one day hope to buy a small condo in the town. With Tully’s Coffee on the corner across from where we were staying, I loved getting up each morning and enjoying some coffee delight while diving headlong into a good book.

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