COVID19: uncertainty or opportunity

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COVID-19These are uncertain times. The Coronavirus has upended our entire lives. Many people aren’t working. Kids are home from school. Church services have been cancelled. We’re now having virtual church services. On the positive side we’re now spending more time with our families than ever before. The words “I’m too busy” are absent from our vocabulary.

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High school seniors are struggling with the rest of their senior year cancelled.

High school seniors won’t be going to prom, awards ceremonies, and graduation. Athletes were forced to give up their winter tournament schedule. Their spring schedule never got started. They’re scared, angry, sad, and some are depressed because their senior year is NOT what they expected. College seniors are facing similar frustrations. Spring term was cancelled. Their room and board fees aren’t being refunded. They don’t have enough credits to graduate, so that cancelled or delayed commencement ceremony doesn’t mean much after all.

Fear and anxiety can be debilitating. It can cause us to just to silent – praying all this will come to an end. Guess what? This too shall pass. “What”, you say? Yes, this season of our lives will come to an end and we’ll move on to the next problem. The question is, how will the Coronavirus crisis define us?

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Family spending time together reading God’s word.

As followers of Christ, we can’t be silent during these times of uncertainty. Ignoring these situations means forgoing an opportunity to share Christ. I’m not talking about sharing Christ with the people across the street, or around the world. I mean sharing Christ with OUR KIDS. They’re struggling to make sense of it all. They’re afraid. Anxiety is running rampant. Our top priority should be to make Christ followers of our kids. That’s discipleship. Our kids must be our top priority.

I can’t help but be reminded of the Old Testament story of Queen Esther who God used to deliver the Jews from genocide. Esther 4:14 are the words of Mordecai, Esther’s uncle and mentor. He counseled her against keeping silent. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?”

Keys for Kids and Unlocked

Keys for Kids and Unlocked devotionals available at https://www.keysforkids.org/

I’m the President of Keys for Kids Ministries. We are here for such a time as this — providing tools for parents and grandparents when you don’t know what to say. Our Keys for Kids devotional for kids ages 6-12 and our Unlocked devotional for high school teens in print can help with that. If you don’t want to wait, download the apps. Search for Keys for Kids or Unlocked devotional on the app store. 

We also teamed up You Version to create a seven-day devotional called Conquering Fear. Search for that on the You Version app. We’re also providing Activity Packs with coloring pages, stories, journal, and power pages to let us know how to pray for you. You can find that at keysforkids.net and follow links.

These are uncharted waters. They’re full of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety if you’re looking through the world’s eye. They’re full of opportunity in God’s eyes.  

When You Lose A Friend

As a follower of Christ it’s great having friends who you not only enjoy being around, but will tell you hard things. True friendship is when that works in both directions. There are many friendships where it only works one way. You know it’s a good friendship when you can part company after a tough discussion with a big hug and a “love ya man” no matter the conversation.
 
I’m sure you know the kind of friend I’m talking about. It’s one where you can spend hours with that person or in a group of people (which is especially fun) and laugh until you can’t breath. You look forward to your time together. If there’s significant time in between meetings, you can continue on as if it were yesterday.  But the “specialness” of the relationship I’m talking about isn’t just the fun, but those “real” moments that turn serious. Moments when you talk about spiritual things. Eternal things. Family. Personal struggles. sadness, anger and more.
Lee Geysbeek, Chris Geysbeek, Jeremy Fleming, Greg Yoder at Griffins Hockey game (2018).
This friendship is more than words or time together, though. It’s demonstrated. Calling or texting out of the blue asking each other to do something — watch a baseball or hockey game, grill halibut, steaks, or eat our favorite wings and ice cream. Meet for breakfast or coffee. A guy who texts your daughter to tease her and show love for her. When you have that kind of friendship — a trusting deep relationship kind of friendship — you not only value it you crave it.
 
But when your friend’s heart beats for the last time you grieve. You grieve hard. You cry ugly tears (stealing words from my friend Amanda) because you know that kind of friendship can’t ever be replaced. You even get angry wishing you’d said more, hugged more, got together more, laughed more, prayed more, read more and dreamed more because that person isn’t here anymore. You KNOW you’re going to grieve because THAT’S missing. Then you feel guilty because you’re friend’s family seems to have it more together than you do.
 
As a follower of Christ you feel guilty because you’re constantly wishing them back. It’s selfish. It’s NOT what they would want. In past conversations the “shut-up, I’ll be with Jesus” conversation comes to mind and you realize that just about everything we talked about had that common ending — Christ. Being with Christ. Having a relationship with Christ.
 
My friend Lee Geysbeek lost his life to a heart attack on Saturday, December 1, 2018. As I type that, I have to quickly correct it. While he lost his physical life, he gained eternal life with Christ alone.
 
Lee has so many friends. It would be insulting to him or them to say any differently because I believe each one was special to Lee. The only reason I say that is because of the hundreds of people who came to his celebration of life service who said, “Lee was such a good friend.” We often said to each other, “You’re my brother from another mother.” But for ME, Lee was one of MY closest friends. He was the guy I called when I needed advice professionally, personally, and spiritually. I can safely say that because I don’t have too many people I say that about. How’d it start?
Lee and Greg at WMPC Sharathon
In 1988, Lee wanted to hire me at a radio station in Grand Rapids. While I turned him down that time, in 1995 he asked me to become the Executive Director of Mission Network News. I don’t know why. I didn’t have the right credentials. I wasn’t even sure I had a passion for it. But I accepted and that literally changed my life. I went on and served at MNN for 20 years. Professionally, our leadership team at Cornerstone University had a great bond. Our love for Christ was the passion. Together we won awards, went on trips, and more. I felt grateful and indebted to him. But over the last 30 years our relationship changed from that cool guy in GR who offered me a job, to boss/employee relationship (which only lasted a few months), to becoming a true friend.
Frank Wright (NRB), Greg Yoder and Lee Geysbeek at 2008 Award Presentation
 
I’m nothing like Lee. I can name my top friends on one or two hands. At Lee’s celebration of life service there were hundreds of people who loved him. One person I met said he was one of Lee’s closest friends. I can’t recall Lee ever mentioning him, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t true. Lee love people. I’m sure Many people had similar relationships that he and I had.
 
While my selfishness is oozing from me tonight as I write this therapeutic blog, I can’t help but ask these questions:
  • What’s the lesson?
  • What do I do?
  • How can I honor my friend?
  • How can I honor God?
  • What do I do when I need “Lee” advice?
 
I don’t have answers to any of these questions. But this is what I do know. I want to be more like Lee, which is really being more like Christ. I want to show love to more people. I want to remember names better. I want to spend a lot of time laughing. I want to encourage people. I want my family to say that I was a loving father. I want my wife to feel adored. I want people to know that I LOVE Christ and that’s what I’m about. I want those who disagree with me to enjoy our time together even though we disagree.
 
One of the things Lee and I shard, the same verse that convicts us and motivates us. I Timothy 1:15b-16, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” We talked openly about sin we struggle with. After lamenting, we were quick to remind each other that God’s grace is greater.
 
While the grieving continues, and the sadness lingers, I’m thankful for Lee Geysbeek. It was a friendship that started 30 years ago. It was a friendship that “was ordained from God.” That was Lee’s response to everything and I’m sure he said that about ALL his friendships. It’s hard to understand, but even Lee’s passing was ordained.
 
You lived well, Lee. You taught us how to love. You taught us how to laugh. You taught us it was okay to cry. You taught us God grace is truly amazing. You taught us that the Gospel is the most important thing. For me, you taught me that even guys give big bear hugs.

Kids need one thing…hope

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Mahlik suffering in Etheopia (photo by Greg Yoder)

Grand Rapids, Mich (K4K) — I have traveled all over the world. Many say our world is falling apart. Wars, social injustice, and child abuse have left their marks. What’s the common theme? Children are suffering. They’re the ones who suffer most in these situations. Through no fault of their own, they’re left to try to survive as adults make mistake after mistake.

While the physical suffering is heartbreaking, even more heartbreaking is that many are suffering without knowing Jesus. And as they grow up, many are looking for truth. In Arab nations, many believe the lies of Islam. In India, it’s Hinduism and Buddhism. In North America it’s humanism and materialism.

In Syria, children are homeless. They’ve been forced from their homes because of years of civil war. Death is all around them. In India, the fight against the caste system continues, and abject poverty enslaves them. In America, they’re enslaved to something aspired to throughout the world — greed.

The physical suffering is obvious, which draws the attention of millions of dollars. But the spiritual suffering isn’t as clear. And it’s not just affecting those struggling physically, it’s hit our kids, too.

Our culture has told our kids our world wasn’t created, it evolved by chance. God has been rejected and at times our faith has been called hate speech, and gender is now considered a matter of choice. There has to be answers to all of these issues. There is one answer, Christ alone.

There is a window of opportunity that we have to speak to children. Barna Research tells us that nearly 70% of all people who gave their hearts to Christ, did so between their 4th and their 14th birthdays. That’s called the 4/14 Window. That means we have a brief 10 year window in which to reach them with the Gospel, and help them grow in their faith.

Are we raising moral kids?

Teach your kids the Truth found in Christ through Keys for Kids devotionals (photo by Janelle Ruppert)

Interestingly enough, ministry leaders at the 4/14 Window indicate 80% of all kids worldwide are searching for spiritual truth. That’s right. They’re searching for it. That’s why support is needed today more than ever to to make sure ALL kids can not only have God’s Word, but understand it.

That’s why Keys for Kids Ministries is needed today. It’s providing stories that are pointing kids to God’s Word, where they’re learning the only hope for paying for their sins is Christ. As they’re reading God’s Word, the coinciding stories are helping them understand Scripture and how it applies to them TODAY. The lessons they learn are providing them the tools they need to defend their faith — becoming apologists in a world craving answers.

Keys for Kids is at a crossroads. There are over a billion kids who need Christ, but we’re only printing a few hundred-thousand each year. The only way to change this scale of need is to ask God for a miracle. That miracle, though, starts with you.

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Keys for Kids devotionals are igniting a passion for Christ in kids and their families (Photo by Greg Yoder).

Your financial support may be the tool God uses to motivate someone else to reach out in a profound way. Your prayers may be what releases an amazing blessing from our Father. Or, your passion for this ministry via Facebook or Twitter could be the viral fire we need to exponentially grow this ministry through grassroots marketing efforts.

The biggest problem we have isn’t that there is a need for God’s word to reach kids. It’s knowing that Keys for Kids Ministries has the tools to empower parents, grandparents, friends and nieghbors to share Jesus with kids all around them. Would you become a Keys for Kids ambassador?

Begin by sharing this story. Follow it up by encouraging people to “like” our Facebook page (Facebook.com/keysforkidsministries). Then, start sharing our daily email devotionals. Purchase copies of our printed devotional to leave in the lobby of your church, local business or other community centers.

Go to keysforkids.org to find out more about Keys for Kids Ministries. You can also listen to our full-time radio station for kids at keysforkids.net.

Why This Evangelical Voted for Trump

In reading many posts of Christians internationally, many seem shocked that evangelicals voted for President Elect Donald Trump. I estimate that nearly 20 million American evangelicals voted for Trump. There were many reasons.

Some voted out of fear of Hillary Clinton and her policies that we felt would destroy the American foundations as we know them today. We were concerned that she would appoint Supreme Court Judges who would arbitrarily change our constitution, rather than by the proper ratification by the people (i.e. The states). We were concerned that her pay-for-play international get rich scheme would continue. We were concerned that she would continue to appease radical Islam, making our country more unsafe as the Obama administration did with Iran. We were also angry that the media failed to talk about her roll in her husband’s multiple affairs — destroying the lives of women who were his victims. We were also concerned about her two agendas she has (one public and one private) which she clearly outlined in a speech to big supporters.

I voted for Trump because I wanted to STOP Hillary Clinton’s 30 years of scandals which seem to follow her wherever she goes. I voted for Trump based on the good men and women he chose as his running mate and advisors. I chose Trump because he named his Supreme Court nominees before he was elected and all are constitutionalists, not activists. I voted for Trump because I didn’t feel that the current administration was concerned enough about leading the world and less concerned about our national security.

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Anti-Trump protesters

Because I voted for him, the other side has called me terrible names. Because I voted for him, the other side is protesting our American way of life (our election system) which is a revolt and protest against our constitution. Some are even saying they want a Revolution. Because I voted for him people now question my salvation (some international Christians have,too).

So, why am I writing this? If nearly 20 million evangelicals prayerfully voted for Trump and God allowed him to win, don’t you think you owe it to God and your fellow Christians to wait and see what President Elect Trump does BEFORE you judge us? I would never pick Trump as a friend. I agonized over who I should vote for. I certainly wouldn’t have picked him as my candidate to win the primary, (my choice was Ted Cruz) but God did. Why? I have no idea, but I’m anxious to see what could happen. Since everything has a purpose, I’m curious to see God’s plan.

If you are a Christian, PRAY. America needs Jesus more than ever. Those protesting, many of them are paid agitators. Many are lost young people with no moral compass. Many are decent people who are scared because of a corrupt media who told lies about Trump and left out the truth about Clinton. There have been a few journalist who have apologized for their behavior. Many of them need the hope of Christ.

One thing is certain, this IS God’s plan — for better or for worse.

Russia is now a country on the watch list

Russia2014_20140212_0031For those of you who know me, you know how much I love Russia. I have traveled to Russia about a dozen times. My fascination with this country started when I was a kid, during the “cold war.” I was always concerned about the possibility of another World War. More importantly, I was always concerned about a nuclear attack. I thought often about the number of Russian kids my age who were also concerned about it. If they were concerned, we weren’t that different.

So, with that backdrop I tried to learn everything I could about the Soviet Union. I wanted to know why they thought the way they did. Why would a government oppress their people so badly? Why would people accept that kind of oppression. Why wouldn’t the Soviets want freedom. Why wouldn’t they do something about it? As the interest grew, I always thought that I would like to visit Russia some day.

Fast-forward to 2003 my wife and I were talking about adoption. After much research we decided to adopt a child from Russia. Because of that I kind of feel like we’re connected to Russia in some way. We also developed a love for orphaned children in Russia. As a result we have travel multiple time to Russia with a couple of different groups to provide love, compassion, and the Gospel to kids who have either have been abandoned or orphaned.

Up until now Christians from the west have been able to do it fairly freely. Most of you know that I work with Mission Network News. This week I did an interview that would break my heart.

On April 30, 2015 the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom issue their religious freedom report. For the first time in the history of the report (1998) RUSSIA was included in the report.

According to the 232-page document, there are 17 nations listed at Tier 1 abusers of religious freedom. They include: Burma, Central African Republic, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

There are 10 on the Tier 2 list, including Russia. Mission Eurasia Director of Religious Freedom Issues, Wade Kusack, says Russia being on the list is a big deal. “This is a first official announcement, or recognition, of the persecution from the U.S. government’s side.”

What does this mean? This means that the severity of Russia’s persecution against Christians has reached a point where even government are paying attention. President Vladimir Putin has created legislation that has a direct impact on evangelical churches and para-church ministries. If they receive any funding from outside of Russia, the government considers them foreign agents. They’re basically calling them spies.

The situation that, I believe, tipped the scales was what’s happening in eastern-Ukraine. Kusack told me when Russian-back separatists occupied eastern Ukraine, the persecution began. “[They] started to hunt evangelicals, confiscate church buildings, kidnap and torture Christian leaders, and some of them were tortured to death.”

If you’ve studied Russian history at all you know that just about the time things were going well, they self-destruct. Look it up for yourself.

Why am I blogging about this? Because I want people to pray. There are many evangelical Christians who are actively involved in Russian government. Pray that God will allow them to use their influence to make a difference. Also, pray God would do a work in President Putin’s heart. He’s obviously being more aggressive on the international stage. He’s sending nuclear capable aircraft into American and European airspace, he’s bend on invading Ukraine and other form Soviet Bloc nations, and he’s making friends with Iran, North Korea and China.

But, God is also doing an incredible work in the hearts of people in both Ukraine and Russia.

If you’d like to know more about what’s going on there, go to MissionNews.org.

Progress is being made, but…

On Saturday, December 21 it will be four weeks since I dislocated my knee while trying to be safe while running in Johnson Park in Kent County, Michigan. It’s funny how I have played the scene over and over again in my mind. I keep asking myself, “how could I have avoided this injury.”  The more I think about it, the more I realize this wasn’t an “accident.”  This was planned. It wasn’t MY plan, but God’s plan.  I’ll explain that in a minute.

My knee December 19, 2013

My knee December 19, 2013

Today marked my fourth physical therapy appointment. I have made some significant progress. I’m now bending my knee to 130 degrees, I’m doing step-ups, leg extensions, squats, and other exercises. The swelling is still there, but it’s much less than it was 10 days ago. What is the goal? According to my physical therapists, “it’s to get you to Sochi, Russia.”  At least that’s what she said today. I said, “I thought it was to get me running again?”  She’s pretty cut and dry. She said, “Do you want your knee going out before you leave, or while you’re there?  Don’t plan on trying to run until you return.”

What does that mean for my recovery, or the possibility for surgery? It means I’m going to continue with therapy until I have to leave for the Olympics, hoping the strength in my quadriceps improve to where I won’t need surgery. The knee cap isn’t as stable as I would like right now, but it’s making progress. If I was allowed to, I could jog and run up stairs. But, I am only allowed to spend as long as I like on a stationary bike. I enjoy that. I’m finally working up a sweat.

Why do I think God planned this for me? As I look back on the past four weeks I’ve been forced to slow down. Instead of focusing on make my mileage goal for the week or month, I’ve been focusing on my family. I’ve spent more time keeping the holiday traditions alive. I actually made Christmas candy this year. I’ve spend more time in God’s Word than I have in a long time. I’ve been forced to trust the Lord more.

What are my plans? I plan to work hard and run again. While I may not be  able to start running again until February, I may be forced to run the 10K at the Fifth-Third Riverbank Run, rather than the 25k. But, we’ll see.

 

Setbacks and trials

It’s amazing what can happen even when you’re being careful. Let me explain.

Saturday is typically the day I run long distances. I try to run between 14-20 miles a week, depending on how I feel and if I’m training for something. Yesterday (Saturday) was an easy day. To stay on target, I needed to run five miles. I decided to over-achieve and run six. It was cold. I believe the temperature was in the 20’s. The windchill was in the teens. It had snowed, but there wasn’t any snow on the road. So, I decided to head to Johnson Park to do my running.

When I arrived, there were few runners. But, I headed out anyway. It was a difficult run. The first time running with winter gear is always hard. I made it to the 1.5 mile mark and noticed a little patch of ice. I found the shortest distance across it and gingerly tip-toed across it — only slipping a little. I ran out to the bridge across the Grand River and started heading back. At one point there is a spot where you can choose if you want to run on the road, or take the trail. I decided to take the trail because I figured it would be more protected from the wind. As I approached the icy spot I decided I would walk across the ice, just to be safe. So, I started walking. I put one foot on the ice and the next thing I know my right foot is slipping out to the right and I felt this incredible pain in my knee and fell in a heap.

I landed hard on my hind-end and my knee cap slid over to the outside — dislocated. The exact same injury that required surgery in 2010 that took a year to heal. The pain was so intense. I was in the middle of nowhere with nobody around. I quickly reached down and pulled my knee cap back in place and sat there in pain wondering how I was going to get back to my car 1.5 miles away, or be found by someone who could help me.

I use the Nike+ Iphone app to keep track of my runs. I quickly turned off the app and tried calling my wife. In God’s providence, Ann was calling me. She doesn’t typically call while I’m running because I don’t typically pick up. I told her I was hurt. I had fallen and dislocated my knee again. The problem? I was on a trail, in a valley, away from the road. How would she find me?  I knew I was near Veterans Memorial Park Road, but not really sure where. So, I told her I would try to get to the road. I said, “Go to Johnson Park. Drive by Johnson park and at the first right, turn right. You’ll run into me.”

I made it to the road. A few cars drove by. I tried flagging them down, but none of them stopped. I just needed a 1.5 mile ride to my car, so I could either get home or go to the emergency room.

SwollenKneeNov23-13Unfortunately, I was now in the teeth of the wind — sweaty and in pain. I decided I needed to keep moving or I was going to freeze. So, I started walking. The pain was intense. I tried keeping my right leg as stiff as I could. Ann finally found me. Isn’t it amazing how God works these things out? My wife drove me to my car and I INSISTED that I drive myself to the Sports Medicine Clinic, which I did. They took x-rays and made sure nothing was broken, which there wasn’t. But, as you know x-rays don’t show soft tissue damage. Now, I’m waiting for the swelling to go down to figure out what’s next.

Now, however, I’m dealing with frustration. I have been working so hard to stay in shape, keep the weight off and take care of my knee. I have been lifting weights, working out and doing everything I thought I needed to do to avoid having to have surgery again. I wanted to reach my goal of running 700 miles for the year (I’m about 40 miles away with five weeks to go). I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen unless I have a miraculous healing (which could happen).

I’m also asking the ‘why’ question. Which, is very frustrating to me. I keep thinking, “Thanksgiving is coming. We need to get our Christmas tree. We have a lot going on. I have to go to Russia in February. Surgery just isn’t part of MY plan.

MY plan. I wish MY plan was God’s plan sometimes. In my head I know that God does everything for a reason, or as my friend Steve says 10,000 reasons. Some we may not even know about. For whatever reason He has me side-lined physically. I’m praying that through this new season of uncertainty, that God would make himself even more real to me — especially at this time of year.

But, I’m also praying for quick healing. I don’t want surgery again! Pray with me, would you? I’ll keep you post.

Project Hope gives hope for orphans

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching I can’t help but think about that holiday season. It’s really my favorite time of the year. I love the family gathering, the festive mood, the traditions, the music, the food — everything. Believe it or not, I even enough the shopping, but I would say that it’s not my favorite thing about Christmas — there, I said the politically incorrect WORD.  Christmas. There I said it again.

I didn’t mean for this blog to be political, instead I’m writing this blog to tell you about something exciting our family is doing this year that will actually give to orphans in the former Soviet Union.

Anastasia before she was adopted and now.

Anastasia before she was adopted and now.

As some of you know, my daughter is from Irkutsk, Russia. We adopted her in 2002 from Baby Home #1 in December of that year. In fact, the adoption was official just one day before the New Year. Why is this an important fact? Well, because my daughter wants to give something to her former orphanage at Christmas time, and you can help her.

The program is called Project Hope. When you donate $25 at http://www.YouCaring.com/projecthope you can provide more than a Christmas gift to a child without a family at Christmas time. You’re providing the greatest gift of all — the Christ of Christ.

How does it work?

Because Russia and other countries in the former Soviet Union don’t allow Christmas gifts to be SENT in to the country, Russian Ministries started a program called, Project Hope, the Great Gift Exchange. The money is collected in the United States and sent to partnering evangelical churches in country. These churches then purchase toys, candy, personal care items and God’s Word. These items are placed in a festive boxes and are then hand delivered by Christians.

In partnership with Baptist Bible Church of Irkutsk, my daughter wants to send Project Hope Christmas boxes to all 150 children in her former orphanage. While the goal of $3,750 is a formidable goal, the church has a goal of distributing 1,000 gifts 12 orphanages in Irkutsk.

Nikolas Yonker before and now.

Nikolas Yonker before and now.

Anastasia isn’t working alone, however. She’s working with three other families who have adopted children from the same city, who now living in the United States. Niikolas Yonker, Annika Tuls, and Matt and Katie Olsen are joining together to help the Baptist Bible Church accomplish their goal.

From now through December 18, 2013 these young people are collecting money to help provide these gifts. They want to make sure these children have more than a Christmas this year, they want them to hear about Jesus. Through Project Hope and your contribution, you’ll ensure they have both.

Anika Tuls before and now photo.

Anika Tuls before and now photo.

Today, there are more than 700,000 children in the orphanage system in Russia alone. Since Russia has banned all adoptions to the United States, and more countries could be banned in months today come, these children have little hope of being adopted. That’s why this program is so important. It gives a child hope during one of the most hopeful times of the year — a time when Jesus brought hope to the world when he was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago.

Katie and Matt Olsen before and now.

Katie and Matt Olsen before and now.

 

Please give generously. $100 provides four Project Hope Christmas gifts. Your donation could make an eternal difference in the life of one child, or many children. It will also empower the Baptist Bible Church to have incredible impact in their community.

You can give safely and securely on-line at https://www.YouCaring.com/projecthope. If you have questions, please email me your personal information at gregsyoder@gmail.com and I’ll get back with you asap.

Why is it always President Bush’s fault?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. President George W. Bush is getting bum wrap when it comes to the poor economy that many claim was given to President Barak Hussein Obama. Here’s why.

Here’s an email I received the puts much more clearly than I ever could.

The day the democrats took over was not January 22nd 2009, it was actually January 3rd 2007 the day the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress. The Democrat Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995.

For those who are listening to the liberals propagating the fallacy that everything is “Bush’s fault”, think about this:

January 3rd, 2007 was the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress.
At the time:
The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77
The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
The Unemployment rate was 4.6%
George Bush’s Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB GROWTH

January 3rd, 2007 was the day that Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee. The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?
BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES!
Unemployment… to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FIASCOES!

President Bush asked Congress 17 times to stop Fannie & Freddie – starting in 2001 because it was financially risky for the US economy.

And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie? OBAMA and the Democrat Congress. So when someone tries to blame Bush. REMEMBER JANUARY 3rd, 2007…. THE DAY THE DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER!”

Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democrat Party.

Furthermore, the Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 and 2009 as well as 2010 and 2011.

In that first year, they had to contend with George W. Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.

For 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budgets.
And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009.

If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets. If Obama inherited anything, he inherited
it from himself.

In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th.

Why is it that nobody is talking about this, not even Fox News? It’s quite frustrating to hear the Democrats saying that we’re better off than we were four years ago. I’m not. I’m not only making less money than I did in 2008, but I had two years of retirement taken away, I’ve been paying more for health insurance, and I’m paying double for energy including gasoline, home heating, and electricity. Also, food prices have doubled.

Another issue for me is religious freedom. Today, we have less religious freedom in the United States than we had in 2008. If you remember, both houses of Congress passed Hate Crimes legislation that adds sexual orientation to the list of groups under the protection of the federal law. It also gives states and local jurisdictions federal help in prosecuting hate crimes. This law could be the law that prosecutes Christians for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality — calling it a sin.

The bottom line is I don’t feel better off than I was four years ago. 24 million Americans who are currently unemployed (and millions more who are under-employed), the 40 million plus people who now receive food stamps, and the 1 in 5 million Americans who are now living in poverty certainly aren’t better off.

So, the question remains, if President Obama was a CEO of any major company in the U.S. or around the world would he be fired? Would his contract be renewed with five trillion in debt, 8+ percent unemployment, and four years without a federal budget? If he would have said, “you can’t blame me, the former CEO left a mess” they wouldn’t have cared very much.

So, if you are a democrat and plan to vote for President Obama, pretend you’re a stock-holder. Pretend you’re evaluating his performance as a CEO. Is there enough evidence to renew his contract? Is there evidence of quality leadership that has taken our nation to the next level, or has his leadership been divisive? Has he been one to lead through international calamity? Has he helped lift democracy in the Middle East? Has he led in these situations from the front, or followed from behind?

Michelle Obama said it well Tuesday night. She said, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” It certainly did in President Obama’s situation. It revealed he’s divisive, can’t unite, can’t budget, and can’t lead.

Elizabeth Warren has it totally wrong. She’s demonizing corporations who HIRE people. To demonize them cripples the corporations who hire people.

Religious freedom winds waning in America

I received this email today from the National Religious Broadcasters’ Craig L. Parshall. He’s NRB’s Sr. Vice President & General Counsel. He writes:

“When the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 5th in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, one particular tenet of religious freedom was clearly front and center – namely, the constitutional “autonomy” of religious groups to apply their doctrines to their relationship with employees. The case involves the so-called “ministerial exception,” a court-made rule that exempts the positions of “minister” and similar religious leadership roles from interference by secular courts. What quickly grabbed focus, however, was a stunning series of statements by the lawyer for the Obama Administration, Leondra Kruger, who slashed away at basic rights of religious freedom in her arguments. Kruger, an Assistant Solicitor General in her mid-30’s, announced – quite matter-of-factly – that religious groups have no special rights of association any greater or different than, say, labor unions. To which Justice Scalia exclaimed: “That’s extraordinary. That is extraordinary. We are talking here about the Free Exercise Clause and about the Establishment Clause, and you say they have no special application?” Then there were tough exchanges, evoking near disbelief even from liberal Justice Kagan.

“Do you believe, Miss Kruger, that a church has a right that’s grounded in the Free Exercise Clause and-or the Establishment Clause to institutional autonomy with respect to its employees?” asked Justice Kagan. Ms. Kruger replied: “We don’t see that line of church autonomy principles in the religion clause jurisprudence as such.” Said Justice Kagan: “So this is to go back to Justice Scalia’s question, because I too find that amazing, that you think that the Free – neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the Establishment Clause has anything to say about a church’s relationship with its own employees.”

Legal principles, like shifting sands, often change with the tides, little noticed when our attention is directed elsewhere. Ten years ago I argued a similar case (Montrose Christian School v. Walsh) before the Maryland Court of Appeals, which also involved the First Amendment rights of religious organizations to govern their own employee relations. We were blessed with a victory, defeating the lawsuit by the ACLU, in a unanimous decision. The rule established in that case was followed again in another religious liberty case in 2003, but by 2007, the high court in Maryland had slowly begun to back away from the constitutional principles established six years before.

Some principles are too important to submit to the shifting sand of political correctness, or to novel constitutional theories that elevate “the public welfare” (attorney Kruger’s phrase) over the rights of religious freedom. We cannot afford to miss these alarming clues. There is a new generation of lawyers – some of them now in the office of the United States Solicitor General – who apparently have either forgotten, or have never learned, which liberties our Founders once pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to protect.

This is frightening! I never thought in my lifetime I would hear a government official claiming churches or religious freedom wasn’t protected under the U.S. Constitution. What is clear here is that our nation is at war, but it’s a spiritual war.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”