A service of Death and Resurrection for Phyllis F. Friederich will be held tomorrow, Saturday, June 30, 2018, at 10:00 at the Martin-Becker Funeral Home. Jenny will be officiating.
I’m sorry for bringing it up, but sometimes I experience a deep, burning, fire-in-my-bones need to be on the record about an issue (see Jeremiah 20:9).
The Trump administration has released a 68-page report on international human trafficking. This report stated, “Removal of a child from the family should only be considered as a temporary, last resort.”  At the same time children as young as three years of age are being forced to appear in immigration court by themselves, without their parents. Not only are the children there without their parents, according to NBC, “They are not entitled to an attorney but rather are given a list of legal services organizations that might help them.”  How does a three-year-old make use of a list of legal services organizations? How do we expect justice to be done when there is no one present to advocate for the child? How do we expect them to make their case when they are not yet old enough to comprehend the dangers that prompted their parents to take them and flee? This is wrong. This is insane. This is evil and it’s being done in our name. There may not be much we can do, but we must do that much. I urge you to call and/or write your representatives.
P.S. According to other reports I heard, this occasionally happened under previous administrations. It was wrong then, and that doesn’t make it right now. Taking a wrong practice and making it far more common, does not make it right.
 Noah Bierman, “Ivanka Trump Helps Unveil Administration Report That Decries the Effect of Separating Children from Parents,” Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2018, accessed June 29, 2018, https://lat.ms/2NbOfUP.
 Christina Jewett and Shefali Luthra, “Toddlers Are Having to Appear in Border Courts All Alone,” NBCNews.com, June 28, 2018, accessed June 29, 2018, https://nbcnews.to/2KATUWo.
“The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things; the church is a group of people caught up in the same story, with Jesus at the center.” — Rachel Held Evans
What do you think? To me, that sounds like a pretty good summary of Abilene First United Methodist Church.
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 157.
I woke up enraged at all the rank injustice in the world. I was angry and I wanted to let someone have it. And then I remembered this quote that someone sent to me in a photo from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial recently:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
— Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We need to work for justice, but we need to do so with love, not hate. Right now I’m asking God to take away the hate I feel put love in my heart.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Stength to Love (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 47.
As I mentioned during announcements yesterday, Jenny and I are looking to lead a book study on God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, a book that sets out a biblical case for affirming gay and lesbian men and women. As we’ve stated before, we’re not trying to change anyone’s mind we only want to begin a discussion (as opposed to a debate) in anticipation of the special called session of General Conference coming up in February of 2019 and we believe it would be helpful if both sides knew the biblical arguments for an affirming position (our assumption is that you already know the biblical arguments for the traditional, non-affirming position). So far we’ve had about six people express an interest. Let us know if you would like to be added to that list. Please call our cell phones or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com.
Addition: during the discussion of God and the Gay Christian we plan to be present the traditional counter-arguments (to the best of our ability) so that participants can hear both sides.
Do you ever worry that you don’t believe in God? Dallas Willard has a keen, insightful response:
“I never worry about someone who wants to believe, because I know they already believe enough to want to believe more. If they did not already believe a great deal they would not even want to believe.”
Dallas Willard, Life without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2018), Kindle.
Speaking on the topic of the separation of families seeing sanctuary in the United States, Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) said, “I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible, to see families ripped apart, and I don’t support that one bit.”  Graham supported Trump’s presidential bid; he is a “conservative evangelical” and not a “liberal” or a “progressive.” Fortunately, some issues still transcend our political and theological divides, and the separation of children from their parents is one of them. The executive order Trump signed appears to be on a collision course with previous judicial readings and the children already taken from their parents remain apart from them. Please continue to pray and act that God’s will might be done.
 Joe Marusak, “Franklin Graham Rips Separating Kids and Parents at Border: ‘It’s Disgraceful.’,” The Charlotte Observer, June 14, 2018, accessed June 22, 2018, http://bit.ly/2yABoZg.
In case you missed it, Andrea and John Purvis became members last Sunday (June 17, 2018). Please welcome them to First the next time you see them.
“We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it,” he said, “or even when we believe that we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.” — Dallas Willard
Not sure you whether or not you believe in God, not confident that you have faith in Jesus, act as if you do. Act as if you do and give the Holy Spirit time to work on and in you.
Dallas Willard, cited by Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 186.
Another day, another quote featuring Elton Trueblood:
It is therefore correct to say, with Elton Trueblood, that “faith is not belief without proof, but rather trust without reservation.” Therefore faith is more an act of courage than it is an act of knowledge. 
I don’t think “trust without reservation” means not having any doubts, it means choosing to act as if we didn’t. Let us take courage and live out our faith.
 Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure and Courage (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 81.
I think this one speaks for itself:
“The historic Christian doctrine of the divinity of Christ does not simply mean that Jesus is like God [the Father]. It is far more radical than that. It means that God [the Father] is like Jesus.” — Elton Trueblood
Elton Trueblood, cited by Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 55-56.
Jenny and I are currently in Wichita for the Great Plains Annual Conference meeting, but we’re looking forward to coming back to officiate the wedding of Randi Jennings and Josh Evans at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon (Saturday, June 16, 2018).