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  • House Democrats push for No Ban Act, as White House threatens veto over coronavirus

     
    Demonstrators listen to speakers during a rally outside the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday Jan 28, 2020, in Richmond, Va. President Donald Trump's travel ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries is going back before a federal appeals court. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
    March 11, 2020
     

    (RNS) — House Democrats are pushing for the passage of a bill rescinding President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, even as Republican House leaders and the White House argue the bill could impede the government’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act, known by its acronym as the No Ban Act, is scheduled to come to the floor of the Democrat-controlled House on Thursday (March 12), when lawmakers will vote on the ban for the first time since it was enacted over three years ago.

    “Muslim bans are not who we are as Americans,” Rep. Judy Chu, who introduced the bill last year, said on a call with reporters. “They hurt families and hurt our national security, and we must stop this president from overextending his authority and banning people from entire countries simply because of their religion. This cruel ban continues to needlessly tear families apart and cause misery and psychological trauma.”

    The No Ban Act would repeal all iterations of the ban, constrict a president’s ability to “suspend or restrict aliens from entering the United States” and prevent “religious discrimination in various immigration-related decisions, such as whether to issue an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, with certain exceptions.” The bill has 219 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats. An identical bill in the Senate has 40 co-sponsors.

    The bill does include an exception for responses to safety or public health issues such as COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. Still, Republican officials have linked the bill to the novel coronavirus this week, arguing that it would impede the president’s ability to respond quickly to such threats.

    The White House warned that Trump’s advisers would recommend he veto the bill if it lands on the president’s desk.

    President Donald Trump listens during a meeting on the Coronavirus with health care company leaders, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    “This legislation would limit the President’s authority to suspend or restrict aliens from entering the United States when he determines such action to be in the national interest,” the president’s executive office said in a statement released Tuesday (March 10). “Notably, the President’s authority to restrict travel into the United States has been central to the Administration’s ongoing efforts to safeguard the American people against the spread of COVID-19.”

    House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have both called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pull the bill from consideration this week.

    “The president ought to be able to keep potential terrorists from coming into our country, but now with this outbreak of coronavirus, the president also needs to have all the tools available to limit people coming in from countries with a high propensity of coronavirus,” Scalise told reporters. “You wouldn’t want legislation that would make it more difficult.”

    Advocates of the bill argue it only targets discriminatory immigration orders and would not hinder a response to the coronavirus.

    “Racism is not a disinfectant,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates. “In fact, it is more important than ever to pass this bill. Today, likely millions of American families have been separated from their loved ones. Sick people have been denied lifesaving medical treatment. And scientists, academics, engineers and doctors have been kept out of the country at a time when we need them most.”

    If the bill passed this week, co-sponsor Rep. Ilhan Omar told reporters, Muslim and African communities affected by it would see a “sweet victory.”

    “I know firsthand how destructive this policy is to millions of people around the world who want to come to America to seek a better life,” Omar said. “Families who haven’t been able to see their loved ones and who have been separated from them will have the ability to see accountability happen in the United States.”

    After campaigning on a promise for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” Trump issued his first version of the ban in January 2017. The ban faced legal challenges and was eventually amended to halt all travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela.

    The ban, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018, saw an expansion late last year, growing to restrict travelers from six more countries: Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

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  • Devotional: Tips for Raising Godly Children

    ( news@gospelherald.com ) Aug 23, 2017 10:34 AM EDT 

    August 23, 2017: Having a family full of laughter, memories, care and courage is a beautiful contribution because thus we send our children out into the world with a solid foundation that equips them to make wise choices and then make their own contributions

    "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6 Stock Photo

    Very carefully read these words from Edith Schaeffer's What Is A Family: "...a family is an ever changing life mobile....a formation center for human relationships....a perpetual reality of truth....a museum of memories....All these things a family is and much more" (Schaeffer, 1975, p. 18).

    Understanding this concept, First Lady Barbara Bush said in her commencement address to students graduating from Wellesley College in 1990, "Our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house." In that home, ideally, there should be visible expression of care between the mother and father. Truly loving our spouse is needed. We give ourselves to one another; that does not mean one takes and one gives. It does not mean one controls the other. Children need to have the security of knowing that the two people they love most love each other.

    Writing in the early 70's, Mrs. Schaeffer says: "There is no possible way of having good relationships....if there is no one who understands that it takes time, patience, hard times, unselfish work, sacrifice of a variety of sorts and planning on the part of someone to insure memories of beauty sprinkled all through the difficulties" (Schaeffer, 1975, p. 29).

    Writing 35 years later in his New York Times bestseller The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Timothy Keller says: "Children come into the world in a condition of complete dependence. They cannot operate as self-sufficient, independent agents unless their parents give up much of their own independence and freedom for years. If you don't allow your children to hinder your freedom in work and play at all, and if you only get your children when it doesn't inconvenience you, your children will grow up physically only. In all sorts of other ways they will remain emotionally needy, troubled and overly dependent. The choice is clear. You can either sacrifice your freedom or theirs. It's them or you. To love your children well, you must decrease that they may increase. You must be willing to enter into the dependency they have so eventually they can experience the freedom and independence you have" (Keller, 2009, p. 202).

     

    Mrs. Schaeffer encourages us with these words: "The family is the place where loyalty, dependability, trustworthiness, compassion, sensitivity to others, thoughtfulness and unselfishness are supposed to have their roots. Someone must take the initiative and use imagination to intentionally teach these things" (Schaeffer, 1975, p. 83). As these qualities are taught, they are usually also caught as the child sees the example of these teachings in action.

    "Time can never be brought back, and like money, it is spent one way or another. Once spent it is gone - except for the memory. Time spent in yelling for what is not possible means it is lost for the use of what is possible....When people insist on perfection or nothing, they get nothing. When people insist on having what they dream is a perfect relationship, they will end up in having no relationship at all....The waste of what could be, by demanding what cannot be, is something we have all lived through in certain periods of our lives, but which we need to put behind us with resolve" (Schaeffer, 1975, p. 74).

    "When we stop striving for perfection, we become more gracious to ourselves and more gracious to those who live with us," writes Lisa McMinn in The Contented Soul: The Art of Savoring Life (McMinn, 2009, p. 95). "Jesus accepted people as they were, meeting them in their messiness, imperfection and even wrongheadedness" (McMinn, 2009, p. 94).

    This spirit, that Jesus had, strongly applies in how we deal with our children. In The Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children, Dr. Wendy Mogel writes: "A paradox of parenting is that if we love our children for their own sake rather than for their achievements, it's more likely that they will reach their true potential" (Mogel, 2008). Children must be keenly aware of the fact that we love them "for their own sake" and not because of their performance or any part of them that makes us look good. They are not our trophy. Our children were each a gift entrusted to us to raise them up. Not everyone can be valedictorian, or the best goalie the school has ever had or destined for the NFL; these things pass with time. But everyone can learn for a lifetime to be kind, generous, encouraging and interested in the well-being of others.

    We want to intentionally raise our children so that they will be easy to live with because we only live with them for eighteen short years, but someone else has to live with them for the rest of their lives. Spoiled children become spoiled adults and spoiled adults are not likely to live a happy, balanced life because they have been conditioned to think of their needs first.

    We must watch our children closely enough to guide them away from being "takers" or from thinking they are entitled or somehow above others. As always, Jesus is the ultimate example here: He was God, and He did not see Himself as being entitled to anything except death on a cross. Mrs. Schaeffer writes that "Compassion and understanding of what another person needs comes through having been cared for....Generally this is true, but there are some who have not had care but by God's grace have become caring....A family is the place where this kind of care should be so frequently given that it becomes natural to think of the needs of other people" (Schaeffer, 1975, p. 86). It is hard to learn the importance of caring for others first unless you have experienced it and seen how it works in the home, or in Christ, or hopefully both.

    Particularly before we actually have children, we might think of child rearing as something that must not be so hard because everybody does it, but the truth is we need to prayerfully study our children and ask God daily for help in guiding them. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old (i.e. 'grown,' according to the footnote in the New International Version of the Bible) he will not turn from it." The depth of this instruction would surely require thought and prayer and since it is written in the book of Proverbs, teaching children the way of wisdom is also implied (NIV Bible, p. 976). Also along the way, everybody needs to know that somebody cares and that their care is unconditional. If our children do not sense that their home is a haven for them, then eventually they will find a haven somewhere else.

    Child rearing is an art, but it is not something that we can do perfectly. I just encourage you to be mindful of these things and do as well as you can and still be one, finite person who depends on God. Your child should not expect you to be perfect anyway. "The expectation that 'Tomorrow we'll do better' lends an important atmosphere, even though we need to allow for a repetition of mistakes on our own part and the child's....making it clear that....how to deal with and live with human beings takes a lifetime" with the idea of 'progress' bringing a "feeling of excitement to the whole relationship within the family" (Schaeffer, 1975, p. 70). This implies the idea of a lifelong relationship in encouraging each other toward godliness and doing good to others. Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

    Edith Schaeffer writes that in some instances, "Criticism of each other may be very necessary....but there must be encouraged sensitivity to the fact [that] the whole point of communication is to have growing relationship coming forth. If criticism is degenerating....there can be a change of subject, an introduction of a pleasant thing....Every discussion in which two people are differing does not need to continue to the bitter end" (Schaeffer, p. 83). In Boundaries in Marriage, Henry Cloud and John Townsend say that "When two people are free to disagree, they are free to love. When they are not free, they live in fear and love dies" (Cloud & Townsend, 2002, p. 9).

    There are some people who enjoy an argument. Well, let those who enjoy such heated conversations have their debate with those who also enjoy spending their time in this way. Some folks just enjoy hearing themselves talk or regretfully sometimes they enjoy somewhat "talking down" to someone they feel is "less" than they. Certainly in the family as well as outside the family, this kind of speech should never be. Once certain words are said, they can never be erased. Yes, we can and should apologize, but it is far better to guard our mouth as Scripture says: Our speech should be "gracious" (Proverbs 22:11) and an encouragement to others as in verses like 1 Timothy 4:12 and Colossians 4:6. These last two verses were written by Paul, the great persecutor of Christians. His change from darkness to light is a great example of what God can do in a life yielded to Him. This is the kind of thing God wants just as much in our lives.

    "If you aren't faithful to encourage, you can be sure you will eventually exasperate your child. But if you are faithful, then when the times for necessary correction come....the adjustment will be far more effective because the environment you've created isn't correction centered, but grace centered" writes C.J. Mahaney in Humility: True Greatness (Mahaney, 2005, p. 106-107). Grace is incredibly important because grace is at the heart of the Gospel. We show grace by giving our children the sense that we are approachable, and when we are approachable we are also winsome. We should be approachable first with our own family and then with others. One way to do this is to be open about your own struggles to whatever degree is appropriate; also James 1:19 applies so strongly here as well as many other Scriptures. God wants us to be real. You must first be real at home because if you are not real there, then you are not real at all. You see, those people at home are the most important people in your world. They look to you for guidance and for strength, and you are the one God uses to turn their minds toward Him. The ultimate hypocrisy, dear souls, is to be ungodly at home and a sweetheart to the world. Nothing good can come from such hypocrisy. Meshed with this can be a subtle tendency to be easily offended. A person who chooses to be easily offended can never have, or give, real peace. So be careful to examine yourself and your motives a bit, remembering that being real is a lifelong discipline - but it is a discipline that invigorates and inspires, causing you to feel free and more alive and yes, you will be more winsome.

    Having a family full of laughter, memories, care and courage is a beautiful contribution because thus we send our children out into the world with a solid foundation that equips them to make wise choices and then make their own contributions. In raising my own children, my hope, my intent comes from a quote in my kitchen: "Home - Where you are loved the most and treated the best."  To whatever degree that happened, may the Lord be praised. Those in the White House will come and go, but the memories you and I make last and multiply themselves for generations to come.

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  • Overcoming Fear Outside The Comfort Zone

     

    March 16, 2020 – Sergio M. Fortes  Some time ago I wrote about the benefits – and limitations – of living and working in the “comfort zone,” areas we find comfortable and familiar. We find security there, but staying there may inhibit our personal and professional development. Why do we remain there? I believe it is because of what we might call “the Fear Zone.”

    When we make the important decision to abandon the comfort zone, we find ourselves entering an unfamiliar, untested realm characterized by an absence of self-confidence. Fearful of challenges we have never faced before, we might feel overpowered and influenced by the opinions of others. Rather than boldly venturing into the unknown, we take refuge in excuses.

    Fear is not necessarily bad. It puts us on alert, adrenaline surging within us to prepare us for threats that surround us. But fear can also paralyze and disable us from taking any action, even positive steps for growth and professional advancement. Over the years I have learned this is the strategy of the enemy of our souls – Satan – as the Scriptures warn us. We are told he “roars like a lion looking for a victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Immobilizing fear can turn us into easy prey.

    There are many kinds of fear: Fear of going wrong. Fear of not making the right decision. Fear of what others might think. Fear of the unknown. This brings to mind the people of Israel after they had been freed from slavery in Egypt. Despite the adversity they had left behind, it still represented a “comfort zone” for them – the known and familiar. Discomfort with the unknown turned into dread. They began to rationalize: “It wasn’t so bad back there.” They wanted to give up and turn back, to return to the “onions and garlic” from Egypt. Amazingly, they concluded that dying in Egypt would be better than surviving in the desert.

    Anxiety has been called “one of the evils of the century,” something that afflicts all ages, from children to the elderly. We fear in advance things that have not yet happened and may never happen. How should we deal with fear? The Bible provides us with precious guidance:

    A divine command. Addressing the Israelites, God instructed, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Whether leaving our comfort zone or facing a big challenge, confronting fear is a divine directive. We might regard this as the 11th commandment: “You shall not be afraid…” (Psalm 91:5).

    Spirit of a winner. Paul the apostle was mentor to his young protégé, Timothy, who found himself surrounded by obstacles imposed by Jewish leaders who did not want to leave their own comfort zones. Paul challenged him to persevere, to win: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, pf love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

    Confidence despite uncertainty. Fear is often inevitable. Circumstances, problems and obstacles attack our faith. However, drawing from personal experience, the psalmist David wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you…in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4).

    No fear, not even of death. Life can put us into situations that appear hopeless, when it seems our end has been decreed. But God’s Word comes to us with unbeatable power: “Even though I walk through a dark valley like death, I will not be afraid of anything. For you, O Lord God, are with me; you protect me and direct me” (Psalm 23 4).

    Do you find yourself outside your comfort zone and into the zone of fear? We can stare it down, because of the certainty that Almighty God is with us. The Fear Zone is worth facing and overcoming, because as I will write in a future edition of “Monday Manna,” the next stage is the Learning Zone!

    Sergio Fortes is a mentor and consultant in logistics and corporate strategic business. As a member of CBMC in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, he has coordinated the translation of Monday Manna into Portuguese for more than 20 years. He is committed to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ – to make disciples.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. By way of review, how would you define the “comfort zone”? What makes up the comfort zone for you? How difficult do you find it to venture outside this comfort zone?

     

    1. Fortes suggests a “Fear Zone” confronts us if and when we determine to step beyond our comfort zones? What kind of role do you think fear plays in encouraging us to remain with the familiar and comfortable?

     

    1. What kinds of fear do you find yourself dealing with most commonly? In what ways have you been able to overcome them?

     

    1. A number of biblical promises are presented for enabling us to overcoming the fear of venturing outside our comfort zones. Do you find them helpful? If so, in what ways? If not, why?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages:
    Isaiah 26:3-4, 41:10-14; Jeremiah 29:11-13, 33:3; Matthew 6:25-34; Ephesians 3:20

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  • Urbandale Teen Creates Christian Clothing Brand to Spread the Word of Christ

    URBANDALE, Iowa-- As a high school student at Des Moines Christian, Blake Stanley said they were always taught to use their gifts for the glory of God. This led him to use his creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to serve his faith.

    Stanley saw the ways in which people promoted Christ to young people, and thought it wasn’t quite cool enough. 

    “There was all these Christian t-shirts out there that were really cheesy,” Stanley said. 

    This is when he decided to make his own Christian clothing line to spread the word of Christ. He named it, BLDR, otherwise known as the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. 

    “My whole desire is for people to get excited about wearing something and not just because the message but because of how it looks,” Stanley said. 

    Stanley mentioned that his friends and family were first apprehensive about BLDR, not wanting him to be judged off of sharing his faith. Though in the beginning, he didn’t get much support or money from this business venture, Stanley’s customers inspired him to keep going. 

    “The stories that people would share with me of how they're making an impact with their shirt and if they're able to share the story of salvation and the story of what they believe in, with others is what kept me motivated,” Stanley said. 

    Now two years later, Stanley has taken a year off of college to focus on his mission of spreading the word of Christ throughout Des Moines. He donates 25% of his proceeds to causes like The Salt Network, which plants churches on college campuses nationwide. 

    “Romans 1:16 says for I'm not ashamed of the gospel for it's power of God through salvation through who believe, and I want to live that out,” Stanley said. “I want to be unashamed of my faith and what I believe in.” 

    Stanley will have his first pop up shop of the year on March 7th at Freedom Blend Coffee, to learn more about BLDR, visit this link

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  • 5 Christian movies coming to theaters in 2020

    Five movies coming in 2020

    The success of faith-based films in recent years has led to a resurgence in Christian movies being released on a grand scale. 

    In 2018, the film "I Can Only Imagine" based on the life of Christian singer Bart Millard brought in $17.1 million domestically during its opening weekend and over $83 million overall, surpassing expectations. 

    Several films in 2019 also featured religious themes, such as “Overcomer,” while other Hollywood films highlighted the faith of the characters and real-life individuals the actors portrayed. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Harriet,” and “Dark Waters” were among those blockbuster mainstream releases.

    2020 is looking to continue the trend. Here's a list of five faith-based movies coming this new year.

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