Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Salt is a wonderful additive to food, especially if it’s freshly ground sea salt. But let it set on a shelf or in a shaker for too long and it becomes clumpy and tasteless. You might as well be shaking air on your food. It does nothing for a salad or a stead. It is useless because it’s lost its flavor. The only use for it is to throw it on the walkway to melt the ice in the winter. Jesus tells us in Matthew that we are like salt. In this passage, He talks about useless salt, salt that has lost its flavor. If we are the salt of the world, and we lose our flavor, then we become useless. We cannot improve anyone’s situation. We can’t properly minister to others because we have nothing to say. We are as useless as the salt that people use on the ground in the winter time. We aren’t fulfilling our purpose. We must strive to ensure that we don’t lose our “saltiness.” We must read and study and spend time in prayer so that when the time comes when someone needs our salt, we will be ready.

Father, Help me maintain my “flavor”. I never want to be useless to You. I want to be an asset to You. Show me how to maintain my “saltiness” so that I may be useful to the building of Your kingdom. Amen.

Indigenous History of Healing by Our Great Creator and Mother Earth!

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=ZkEoAwAAQBAJ

The Herbalist The pages of this blog are designed to give an insight into alternative sources of medicine from the perspective of the Native Americans. It must be important to note that about the Native American practices that are enumerated in this dossier of herbal plants and practices employed by the Native Americans in their preparation, we aim to respect the traditions that are carried over from each tribe of Native Americans whose practices have contributed to the overall lore that we now know of, in the use of herbal medications to augment our body’s ability to heal and counter the symptoms experienced from a myriad of various health conditions. For the first part of this book, we talk about the proper practices that are to be observed when one seeks to engage in the art of herbalism. It must be remembered that this book relates to the use of healing herbs in a Native American approach, and in deference to the various tribal customs that pertain to how these herbs are to be gathered and stored for use, their practices are to be maintained as one goes throughout the various steps outlined in this book. Chapter 2 is a compendium of the common herbs and plants that the Native Americans have deemed essential to the healing process, and which plants tribal lore has deemed as efficacious in the treatment of various afflictions in the body, and thus are commonly used by various Native American tribes in the treatment of diseases. An important tradition that must be mentioned is the importance of prayer before one begins to harvest the plant. In a metaphysical sense, you must be attuned to the plant before you pick it, in keeping with the cherished traditions of the people who have walked the land before us. A traditional rule observed is that one must not harvest from the plant that you have chosen to pray to. Native Americans believe that the plant that is the subject to your supplications as an herbalist is the means by which you maintain attunement with the rest of the native flora. Offerings must be made to nature: First to the earth, then to the sky, then to each of the four cardinal directions—whose importance we will tackle later on in this book, but general consensus provides that offerings should start from the east, then south, west, and north. The central part of the cardinal directions must also share the same honor and have offerings given to it. Cornmeal is an important part of the ritual, as this creates a transcendent connection between you and the spirits. Cornmeal is placed on the heads of the gatherers. Tradition must be observed, and thus, you never take more than what you need from the plant. It is taboo if you gather from the herbal grounds of another person, or another tribe, as these grounds have been passed on from generations before. Native American beliefs state that there are specific items of clothing that are to be worn as a symbol of respect towards the spirits of the plants. 1.1 Herb Gathering in the Wild One of the more prevalent practices used by herbalists is gathering herbs in the wild. However, due consideration must be given in how you select the site where the herbs you need are to be gathered. Because we utilize the approach of the Native Americans, it is also important that their traditions in how they gather specific herbs are observed. One of the established practices in herbalism is the use of Wildcrafting. Wildcrafting is defined as a tradition engaged in by herbalists throughout the world that centers on the harvest and promotion of the use of natural healing through the use of various plants. The practice of Wildcrafting is symbolic of the renaissance of the use of herbal remedies for the treatment of illnesses, and its vogue is reliant on the ability of these herbal remedies to heal the illnesses that tradition and lore have stated these plants to be effective for. The practice of wildcrafting, however, is easier said than done. For the uninitiated, numerous herbs can be obtained through this practice. Herbs gathered in this manner remain subject to overharvesting, where one takes too much of an herb in the wild that the plant may not be able to sufficiently recover from the amount harvested and subsequently withers and dies. If you can cultivate the herbs you need, then that would be a more economical and ecologically-friendly alternative that ensures that we do not affect any particular ecosystems where these herbs are found and that there is a sufficient quantity of herbs for others to gather as well. As animals are considered endangered, as well as other flowers and trees, it is reasonable enough for us to understand that there are some herbs that cannot be gathered at all as zealous herbalists have overharvested these herbs or the biome in which these herbs naturally flourish have been severely affected by a human intervention which has resulted in the destruction of their usual growing conditions. Contrary to the earlier promotion of herb cultivation, some plants cannot be cultivated at all, even in the most controlled environments, as these plants can flourish in the wild. Goldenseal and several varieties of Cohosh are among these herbs that remain popularly used by many and are best grown in the verdant woodlands where they best grow. Like how a chef would substitute ingredients for another, it is possible to use alternative herbs with the same curative properties in place of these wild herbs. The United Plant Savers website http://www.unitedplantsavers.org contains resources that would help you and other herbalists to help conserve these endangered herbs. Another danger that some of these herbs face results not from the excessive harvests made from the plant or the destruction of their native ecosystem, but because the continued use of these herbs creates a strain on a particular population, in that these herbs, which are usually utilized by a specific tribe, are exploited to such a degree that they are gathered in large quantities and sold to the highest bidder. This drives up the prices of the herbs, and, therefore, because the said tribe is unable to use the herb due to its exorbitant prices, they cease to use the herb or plant in their tribal practices. Some of these herbs and plants subjected to these treatments are of such high nutritive and curative value that modern marketing has labeled these foods as superfoods, and thus, a word of caution must be taken when you choose to purchase these types of food, as the people who have subsisted on them before, may no longer be able to use them, as they have become a prized, and overexploited commodity. Reasonable substitutions can be found for these foods, and though they are not as unusual as their foreign counterparts, they are of equal nutritive and curative value. If you are in for the discovery of wild herbs, there are certain practices that must be observed as you engage in wildcrafting; as it must be recalled, one wrong move can cause a cascade of effects that can affect the environment where these herbs grow. The Rocky Mountain Herbalists’ Coalition outlines certain ethical practices. 1.An endangered or threatened species should never be gathered. Consult your local botanical garden or herbarium for a list of these plants. The American Herbalist Guild may be contacted by mail for a more comprehensive list at AHG, Box 1683, Soquel, CA, 95073. 2.Positively identify the plant before you harvest. Identification keys and voucher specimens are to be used. 3.Ask permission and give thanks, acknowledge the connection to life and show your gratitude. 4.Grandparent plants- those that produce seeds and those that are sufficiently matured should be left where they are or at the top of an elevated area, where they would be able to seed the slopes of the elevated area. Work upwards. 5.If doubtful, you should not harvest more than 10% of the plant and its root if it is a native species, or 30% of a plant if it is a naturalized species or has native leaves and flowers. Gather the quantity you need from ample plants. Be conservative when you harvest to ensure that the plants are maintained, and the well-being of the plant ecosystem is assured. 1.2 Site Selection Certain steps must be undertaken before you harvest the herbs from a specific site. These steps are taken from the Rocky Mountain Herbalist’s Coalition. Get permission: On land that belongs to the US Bureau of Land Management, a permit for free use can be obtained with a minimal fee. Regulatory practices from the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management provide that you cannot pick herbs in and around campsites and picnic areas. You cannot gather from areas that are within 200 ft of the trails, and you cannot gather from the sides of the road. Avoid areas that are situated downwind from pollution sites, stay 50 ft away from roadsides, areas with high tension electric wires (as these areas cause mutations in the plants around them), lawns and public parks that are fertilized, areas that are located downstream from mining and agricultural businesses, locations near parking lots, and areas you believed that might have been recently sprayed. There are areas maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Services through routine spraying. The same criteria are applicable to private land, where you will have to inquire about the use of herbicides and pesticides. Use discretion when you are in a fragile environment, as you can alter the ecosystem with one irresponsibly performed action. 1.3 Gardening and Propagation Techniques The techniques outlined by the Rocky Mountain Herbalists’ Coalition are designed to ensure that the wildcrafter exerts a minimal impact upon the ecosystem where these herbs are gathered. The use of proper wildcraft techniques ensures that the environmental impact of the wildcrafter is kept to a minimum; that the plants are able to optimize their yield and continue to serve as fodder for the local fauna. It is advisable that you do not harvest from the same plant all the time, but care for it when possible. Thinning, the practice of root division and top pinching ensures that there is an adequate supply of grandparent plants that would propagate the landscape and guard more immature plants. Awareness of erosion factors is essential as you dig up the roots of the plant. If you replant, and if you propagate the seeds. Care for the plants that grow on the hillsides, and cover up the leaves and replace the dirt from the plants already harvested. It may be necessary to gather nearby foliage and spread it around nearby plants. Avoid the use of shoes with hard soles, as these can inflict damage upon fragile ecosystems. If your main goal in harvesting is just the leaf, do not pull on the roots. Utilize flower pruning as a means to improve the quality of the root yield as well as increase the amount of leaves. Wildcrafted areas are subject to seasonal observations, and you should mind the plants from which you regularly harvest and consult with their expected growth cycles. This is the best means to know how much your actions have impacted the biome in which these plants grow. Observations from an experienced wildcrafter have shown that a healthy plant would see a 30% increase in its yield initially until such time that it remains in a static state. A lower yield rate would indicate that the plant is in a decline. 1.4 The Best Times to Gather Certain Herbs For the purposes of this discussion, it is important to note that in reference to the gathering of herbs; it is noted that this would include the other parts of a plant commonly used by the Native Americans, and is not limited to the leaves, but also to the roots as well as the bark. For the parts exposed to the air and above ground: The best time to gather these is in the morning from 6 am to 10 am, before the ambient temperature rises enough to wilt these parts. If you harvest the leaves of a plant, the leaves are at their best the period before a plant effloresces. If you gather the flowers, they are at their prime, just as their petals begin to fully bloom—this is identifiable if you are able to perceive the color of the bud. If the harvest is dependent on the moon cycle of Native American Tribes, these plant parts above ground are at their most potent during the period near or on the full moon. Roots are best harvested after the plant has dispersed its seeds and before the sun has touched the plant—early morning. For the roots of biennial plants, they are best harvested in the fall of their first year or spring of their second year of existence. Moon cycles dictate that these are at their prime in the new moon phase. The barks of trees are best harvested in the springtime or fall. Do NOT strip the bark from the tree. Take the whole tree. Tree thinning is considered a permissible practice when the tree is part of a large population. Be sure to leave trees that are the healthiest in the group. If only the bark from the smaller branches is required, take measures to ensure that the remainder of the tree is not susceptible to fungal rot. A practice with most bark usage is that the inner portion of the bark, called the cambium, is the part that is alive. Short trunks for the tree are left to be pollarded, and low stems are meant to be coppiced to ensure that others can harvest from the tree later on. In accordance with the moon cycle, barks are to be harvested on the three-quarter waning moon phase. Saps and pitches are liquid substances that are best harvested in the later parts of the winter season or in the early months of springtime. Seeds and fruit are best harvested when they have reached maturity, except for citrus fruits and certain plants. 1.5 The Preservation and Proper Storage of Herbs Central to the preparations that are listed in this book are herbs in their fresh, dried, and extracted states, as various environmental factors are able to affect the ability of the herb or plant to cure the illness it was harvested to treat. Subsequently, the herbalist must be familiar with the steps to properly store the herbs you have taken great care to harvest to ensure that you cure, not exacerbate, the illness you mean to treat. The drying process is best done in the period immediately once you have harvested the part of the plant that you need. As with ancient civilizations’ ancient food preservation techniques, the drying process ensures the prevention of spoilage and inhibition of bacterial growth upon the herb itself. Contrary to the ancient methods, the drying process takes place without direct exposure to sunlight in a place that is free from moisture and has sufficient air circulation. Additionally, the drying process that the herbs are subjected to ensures that the herbs’ potency as a curable substance remains intact. Several steps must be followed to ensure that your herbs are properly dried. Separate the leaves from the stems and spread them in a single layer. The leaves must NOT come into contact with each other. Heavier plants may be suspended from a line in a dry area, such as in a cellar or attic. Because the herbs at this point may retain some of their fragrance, they would need to be protected from insects that may infest the herbs as they dry. This is best done with the use of a cheesecloth covering over the drying herbs. There is no specific time outlined for how long each herb is to dry. The rule of thumb is that the shorter the drying period the herbs are subjected to, the better they are for medicinal uses. Most herbs take a week to dry out properly. The best way to adjudge if an herb is properly dried is if it still retains its scent yet is easily broken from its stem. If the dried herb crumbles with your touch, you have subjected the herb to an excessive drying period. If it is the roots of the herb that you wish to preserve with drying, the roots must be completely cleansed of any dirt attached to them. The general assumption is that roots take longer to dry than flowers and leaves and have an estimated drying period of 21 days. Roots may be cleansed with the use of a pressurized hose, and in some instances, the roots must be brushed by hand, especially if the plant has grown in soil with the consistency of clay. Heavy Roots that have no scent may be cut lengthwise for proper storage. Do not wash the leaves or the flowers of the herb that are to be dried. Simply shake them to loosen and remove any dirt that is attached to them or any bugs that may have remained upon them. If the amount of herbs and flowers are of a sufficient quantity, they may be gathered into a bundle, with a diameter of 1 and a half inches (3.81 cm). An alternate way to dry these leaves involves spreading them in a single layer on screens. If the bark of the plant is to be dried out, simply scrape off the outer portion of the bark, as the cambium, the inner layer is more important. This is a process referred to by herbalists as tossing. The safest means by which herbs can be stored, regardless of their form, is the use of the Mason jar. The Mason jar is an indispensable tool for the herbalist who wishes to store herbs in their fresh, dried, or extracted state. The Mason jar is a receptacle that is readily made and inexpensive to use for the storage of herbs. However, it does have one drawback: it lacks a tint to the glass. Suppose you have seen medications that have tinted bottles. In that case, you will know that this is important in medications, as exposure to light can potentially decrease the potency of the herbal medication. If there are no mason jars that have tints, it is more feasible to simply store the jar in a place where it cannot be exposed to sunlight. Dried herbs in a mason jar have a shelf-life of one to five years, while tinctures that are stored in such means can last up to a decade. The shelf-life of certain herbal preparations is dependent upon the type of preparation, as dried forms and tinctures, as earlier mentioned, can last for several years. Oils and salves, because of the nature of their composition, can easily become rancid, and thus, are best used within half a year to a year from their preparation. Lotions, should you have made these from the herbs, can only last for up to 3 months, but their longevity may be increased if you stick them in the refrigerator as these are products that are emulsified. Once the herbs are properly stored, it is important to remember to use them when possible. The best way to determine their usability is if the herbs still maintain their aroma and if they have not bleached away their color. Additional signs include the detection of their tastes. If you can still taste the herb, it is still potent enough. Additional rules include: 1. Avoid the exposure of herbs to light and excessive heat, as these can destroy the rather volatile aromatic compounds of the herbs, as well as other compounds that make the herb medicinal. Once the herbs are dried out, the use of food-grade plastic bags, fiber barrels, or other air-tight and water-tight receptacles helps preserve the potency of the herb for an extended period of time. 2. Always label the stored herbs with their dates and the location where they were harvested. 3. Remember that herbs that have been altered in the structure are less valuable compared to herbs whose structures are intact. 1.6 A Glossary of Herbal Preparations Herbs are a versatile form of medicine wherein they have numerous applications that can affect the body in various ways. The knowledge of herbal lore is an important aspect, even without the integration of Native American beliefs, as herbal preparations form part of the body of knowledge in Alternative Medicine. Though herbal remedies utilize the plant in its raw and unprocessed form, certain preparations must be performed by the herbalist, regardless of skill level, to extract the essences needed and make judicious use of the plant. These herbal preparations may take several forms, which include: 1.6.1 Infusions We commonly encounter this form of herbal preparation in the form of teas and tisanes. Often the simplest form of herbal preparation involves pouring water that was brought to a boil the herbs in either their fresh or dried forms. The usual parts of the plant that are made into teas are the leaves and the flowers (this may be seen in other forms of tea if you are a tea connoisseur). The usual ratios of infusion preparations are as follows: 1 teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of water; 4 teaspoons of a fresh herb to a cup of water. 1.6.2 Decoctions They are a form of herbal preparation that involves immersing herbs in water brought to a gentle simmer or a full boil. This form of herbal preparation is designed to fully extract the pharmaceutical compounds that are present in the plant, specifically in its hardest parts: the bark, seeds, and roots. The rations for decoctions are 1 teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of water; 4 teaspoons of a fresh herb to a cup of water. Simmer for five minutes, then strain the mixture before you use the preparation. 1.6.3 Percolations Similar to how one would operate a coffeemaker, the process of percolation involves the use of a medium, either water or a form of alcohol, that drips onto a mass of herbs—usually powdered in form. The ratios for a percolated solution are 100 ml of liquid that is dripped onto 10 grams of the powdered herb. Repeat this process if you would like to obtain a more concentrated product. 1.6.4 Tinctures The process of creating tinctures will be discussed at length later on as we delve into the basics in this chapter. Tinctures are alcohol-based preparations in which chopped herbs have been blended into. Alternatives are available to use in place of alcohol—cider vinegar and glycerin solutions are popular alternatives used by herbalists. Tinctures may be created in a blender. 1.6.5 Fomentation To create a fomentation, you must first create a decoction or infusion of the herbs you need to use. A piece of absorbent cloth is then dipped into the mixture, where you wrap the cloth around the injured area. Only use enough of the decoction or infusion to cover the area that was injured. Care must be taken as certain compounds, when used, may be skin irritants. 1.6.6 Poultices Fresh herbs are first pounded, then macerated. The herb mixture, which is now a sodden mass, is then placed over the injured body part. As with the fomentation, the quantity of the herbs made into a poultice is sufficient to cover the wound. 1.6.7 Powders They are herbal preparations that use the herb in its dried form, where the herb is subsequently pulverized. The herbs are transferred into capsules with a maximum weight of 1 gram in their powdered form. 1.6.8 Oils and Salves—Among the herbal preparations with the shortest shelf-life The oil is the medium where one prepares the herb, and its pharmaceutical compounds may be extracted into the oil. The oil is then thickened and made more viscous with the use of beeswax. Animal-based fats are more readily absorbable when compared to plant-based fats when you have to choose which medium you would like to use as a base for your herbal oils and salves.

GOD’S Social Justice; Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

When we see wicked people entering troubling times we should not fear – and neither should we gloat. We should simply take comfort in God, knowing that all will be well and that the fate of the wicked is not the fate we, God’s children, will face.

Dear God, I thank you that I can have total comfort in you. Lord, in times where the wicked are experiencing storms and trouble, may my heart be still. I know that the fate of the wicked is not a fate I will face. I also pray that in these times, may they be compelled to repent of their wicked ways. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

“Social Justice Jesus” has always existed. Faithful followers of Christ have always seen their Lord as a defender of the weak and oppressed—the helper of those in need of help. Likewise, the true followers of Christ have always responded to their Lord’s call to duty to address disparities and injustice wherever they find them. For these faithful servants, social actions are not seen as works of salvation but as fulfillments of the tenets of the kingdom of heaven. The pursuit of equity and justice are not only actions requested within the teachings of our Lord, they are duties assigned by our King. As such, they do become part of one’s salvation, because failure to be socially responsible and active—to love one’s neighbor and even one’s enemy—is grounds for denied entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Nowhere is this more evident than in Jesus’ epic sermon, the “Sermon on the Mount.” Unfortunately, much of modern Christendom believes that this sermon is a remnant of an old covenant and that these epic words of Jesus no longer apply to us. Nothing could be further from the truth, and believing this erroneous deception has been spiritually lethal—both individually and corporately. What a tragedy! What terrible confusion this has produced within Christianity, and what a loss of opportunity for the Christian church! This is why I have written “Social Justice Jesus.” Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in the Gospels, is a manifesto of the kingdom of heaven. It is a guide to how the followers of Christ are to live their lives. Within this sermon, Jesus indicates multiple times that his words—his instructions to his followers—remain valid far into the future, and that they are the pathway to current blessings and eternal life. Following them is faith in Jesus. Christians need to correctly understand this. Jesus’ words shape the proper influence and impact that Christianity is to have on earth. Their implementation brings the peace of heaven to earth—a major objective of the kingdom of God. Failing to implement his words would be a form of taking God’s name in vain—claiming to be a child of God but living as if one were free of the duties God desires us to perform. Calling oneself a Christian but failing to follow Jesus’ words is a misrepresentation of Jesus’ mission on earth, the nature of the kingdom of heaven, and God’s character. Many Christians have always intuitively understood their role as followers of Christ and have been active in the duties he has assigned. The words of their king are not taken lightly. The Sermon on the Mount greatly influences their lives. I know, because it has greatly influenced me. It has helped me see the value of every human life and has encouraged me to be active in service to others. It helped direct the course of my academic studies. It took me to Africa for seven years, where I helped meet the needs of war-displaced refugees and thirsty nomads. Jesus’ sermon has been the material of many of my Bible study classes and the topic of multiple sermons of my own. Jesus’ epic sermon is not a relic of the past. Correctly understood, it is a guide to Christian living. And the life he is directing us to live is exciting! This is what I want to share with you. For well over two decades, I have been studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, collecting thoughts, jotting down notes, thinking, and rethinking its applications, and trying to see how each theme connects to the previous topic. When I began, I had preconceived ideas of what Jesus was trying to say, but I wanted to dig deeper into every word. Jesus gave us a clue that his sermon was the fulfillment of God’s Law and Prophets. This means that his words are built upon past teachings. So, I took key words from within his sermon and tracked their usage in the Old Testament. For example: what is the meaning of someone who is “pure in heart”? Who are they? What do they believe? How do they live? Initially, I believed I knew the answers to these questions, but as I dug deeper into the Word of God, the revelations that I discovered took me in a direction I did not originally expect, and Social Justice Jesus began to take shape. These new discoveries profoundly called into question my own commitment to Christ. Was I really following him? Does he expect more from me than I have been giving? And if so, how do I put into action his request? My journey into God’s word was a revelation to me, and I anticipate that what I am about to share will be a revelation to you as well. On December 31, 2019, I made a New Year’s resolution to put my research and knowledge to paper in the form of a book. I have written other books of a technical nature; they were tedious but not difficult to compile. I anticipated, however, that this book would be  do they live? Initially, I believed I knew the answers to these questions, but as I dug deeper into the Word of God, the revelations that I discovered took me in a direction I did not originally expect, and Social Justice Jesus began to take shape. These new discoveries profoundly called into question my own commitment to Christ. Was I really following him? Does he expect more from me than I have been giving? And if so, how do I put into action his request? My journey into God’s word was a revelation to me, and I anticipate that what I am about to share will be a revelation to you as well. On December 31, 2019, I made a New Year’s resolution to put my research and knowledge to paper in the form of a book. I have written other books of a technical nature; they were tedious but not difficult to compile. I anticipated, however, that this book would be harder to complete. It would require more effort to organize and convey my knowledge and insights, and would be controversial to many Christians, but I felt I had to do it. I work full-time, so on weekends and evenings, when I had the time and strength, I attempted to write. Early on, it was slow going. Writing requires large chunks of time and mental energy, where one wrestles to analyze thoughts, and tries to conceive the best way to communicate ideas. By mid-March I had only completed two chapters, and I realized that fulfilling my New Year’s resolution was going to take an exceedingly long time. Then suddenly and unexpectedly, the world was hit with a new coronavirus. My employer deemed me nonessential and sent me home for weeks. The government told me to stay home and shelter-in-place. By a strange turn of tragic events, I suddenly had time on my hands. I knew what God wanted me to do, and I felt an urgency to complete the task. So, I began to write, and this book began to take shape in ways that have surprised even me. Then, amid this world tragedy, multiple social injustices became public, and people around the globe began to cry out for justice with a fervor that has seldom been acknowledged in recent generations. Their cries should be heard and evaluated. Injustices need to be corrected. There is, however, a danger that the pendulum will be swung to its opposite extreme, and one set of injustices will be substituted with another set. What needs to occur is a stopping of the pendulum altogether. Society needs to see all humanity as the creation of God, and it must value every life. Without justice for all, injustice will always exist. True justice, however, requires a true standard, and we have a standard presented to us in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Social justice and equity are dominant themes within the message of Jesus as found in the Sermon on the Mount. However, Jesus teaches that justice and mercy go hand in hand; correcting society’s failures requires action, but it also requires forgiveness. This is a message that many do not want to hear, but for Christians it is the Word of our King. Throughout my studies over the years, and while writing this book, I have often lamented the fact that if we Christians had taken Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount literally, we would have had nearly two thousand years of leading the cause of social justice and equity, peace and love, to all the world. Where would the world be today if Christians, past and present, fully understood Jesus’ words and diligently applied them? The world’s social and equity disparities may have already been corrected by the actions of Christ’s followers. The unrest we see today may never have been. Only the God of heaven knows for sure. What I know is that the Sermon on the Mount is an indispensable part of Jesus’ gospel—it is God’s word—and it too is to be preached to all the world. It is my hope that as you read this book, you will see clearly what Jesus was trying to communicate to us that day on the mountainside. It is my hope that you will be surprised and convinced by what Jesus still has to say to us today. It is my hope that you will see its universal and eternal application. And finally, it is my hope that you will accept the themes of his message and become a devoted follower; putting his words into ction and helping to build his kingdom of heaven here on earth.

I had accepted a volunteer position to help participate in famine relief efforts in one of Africa’s poorest nations. It was something I had longed to do for many years, and now, God had granted me the opportunity to serve him through service to others. Since I was a child, I intuitively knew that being a Christian required that we do what we can to help others in need. This is one of Christ’s predominant messages throughout the Gospels. It is the message in the parable of the sheep and the goats, and the main theme of Jesus’ epic Sermon on the Mount. It was this desire to be of service that led me to study theology, which eventually morphed into a degree in international development. I had envisioned myself working as an agricultural developer in Central or South America. Instead, after graduation, I landed a job at an agricultural research facility in Barstow. It was the perfect place to prepare for where God was about to send me, though I did not know it at the time. It was early August when I received a surprise phone call from a Christian international relief organization that had previously rejected my request for employment. Africa was in trouble; a severe famine had reached a crisis point, and the world was responding by sending food. The relief organization needed coordinators in place, and they needed them fast. Would I be interested in participating as a volunteer for three months? I was! So, It was a leap of faith, but I knew this was the Lord’s work, and I was willing to give it a try.

Now, I am working on a fundraiser to help build human trafficking safe houses in America. I could only hope and pray to God that he would be with me and guide me for the next three months. Little did I know that this poor, war-torn nation, plagued with social injustices and racial and religious.           misunderstandings, was going to be my home for the next seven years. In today’s world, the pursuit of equity within all sectors of society is known as “social justice.” Social justice has many definitions, and its application means different things to different groups, but essentially it is the philosophical theory which asserts that there are dimensions of fairness—justice—that go beyond those embodied in the principles of civil or criminal law, which themselves can be unjust. It looks to correct disparities that are perceived to exist in the communal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges. It seeks to treat all people with equality, fairness, and dignity. Social justice advocates can be viewed as heroes or terrorists, depending on their actions, underwith social injustices and racial and religious misunderstandings, was going to be my home for the next seven years. In today’s world, the pursuit of equity within all sectors of society is known as “social justice.”            

Lying motives, and who they represent or who feels championed or threatened by them. Our whole world is divided by many political ideologies, races, cultures, and spiritual paradigms, and anyone who advocates a change to someone’s norm is open to suspicion and initial resistance. And rightly so. A change advocated by one, can be the violation of another’s sacred beliefs—a violation of their moral standards and taboos. Take, for example, the fight for marriage between same-sex couples, or the right for the terminally ill to end their lives. While some calls for justice will remain hotbeds of controversy, other battles for “justice” are eventually accepted and no longer questioned—like the right for women to vote. This book is written primarily for a Christian audience, so certain assumptions are made regarding the mindset of my readers. How However, the teachings of Jesus hold value to anyone, Christian or non-Christian, and what I have to present should be of interest to those who wish to study how Jesus interpreted the Mosaic Laws, and how he applied them to the social deficiencies of his time and to ours. There are limits, however, to how far Christians can use Jesus’ message. The gospel messages, for example, cannot be used to extrapolate a position on the legalization of cannabis, or to gain insight on whether an electric car is good or bad for the environment. There are some things we must figure out on our own. “Social justice”, as referred to in this book, will be presented within the context of Jesus’ time and culture, and to how he advocated for a greater compliance with God’s fairness toward all sectors of his society. Jesus saw the law of God being incorrectly folfollowed, and part of his ministry was to correct its misapplications. Jesus preached social justice, but he preached it within the context of his time and the laws of Moses that governed his community. Does this mean that Jesus’ teachings are irrelevant to our present age? No, far from it! His teachings address social issues that are still plaguing us today, and his wisdom gives us valid solutions to these problems. So, the social justice teachings of Jesus are timeless and still relevant to anyone who wishes to be a part of his kingdom of heaven. This book will focus on the teachings of Jesus as found in the Sermon on the Mount. Early in my Christian walk, I rarely considered Jesus to be the consummate social justice leader, but his equity themes became more and more apparent as my studies into this epic sermon deepened. They took me in directions that made it impossible for me to ignore Jesus’ repeated social justice themes. The context of his sermon is a revelation of the nature of a kingdom of heaven forming in his time—not just a future kingdom. It is a kingdom to be put into action, now, by those who hear him. Kingdoms have manifestos—policies and principles to be followed. These are formed for the good of their communities. The Sermon on the Mount is a manifesto outlining Jesus’ revelation of God’s law in action. Social justice and social equity are major themes of that law, given for the good of all who live on this earth. Much has been written about Jesus’ epic Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospels. It is a sermon that has fascinated me since I was a child, partly because, unlike other parts of the Bible that I have found difficult to understand, this sermon was understandable. Its concepts seemed straight-forward, and I could see the logic of applying its principles to my everyday life. However, as a child, I did fail to comprehend the broader applications of Jesus’ message. I did not fully understand the context of the sermon or see how Jesus’ words were often a rebuttal to the teachings of his day. I missed the way in which this sermon reframed the Old Testament Law and the Prophets in easy-to-understand terms. I missed that Jesus essentially declares himself to be the “prophet” promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15–19. I missed that he puts his words, uttered that day, on par with the Law and the Prophets, and declares that his words, if obeyed, lead to safety and eternal life. As a child, I also missed the fact that this sermon is about what Jesus calls the “weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith,”1 which Jesus says are not to be neglected. However, as I grew older and studied this sermon in depth, I began to see that its message is indeed the law of God, and its focus is the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. It is a message calling for social justice and “equity,” a word often used to define “righteousness.” It is a message that calls disciples to take equitable actions, now, to begin the kingdom of heaven in their lives, for the benefit of themselves and for all who live on this earth. It is a message that has a cost to those who practice it, but calls for its disciples to have faith that God the Father will provide for their needs as they pay the price of implementing this kingdom in their lives. Surprised? Yes, you should be surprised if no one has told you this before! It is sad that what is probably the most straight-forward aspect of Jesus’ message is the one most often miscomprehended or ignored. Perhaps this is because our religious leaders over-spiritualize Jesus’ teachings. For example, pastors often take the beatitudes and frame them in terms of future benefits to members of God’s kingdom. In so doing, they miss the immediate calls to action and the current benefits that Jesus is presenting to those who act now. And these benefits are not for followers only; they are for the blessing of all humanity. Perhaps today’s “faith alone” Christians find the works-oriented themes of the Sermon on the Mount too divergent from their mainstream Christian paradigms. Maybe the face value of Jesus’ message is considered too radical or impossible to follow.

Rest assured, this sermon was radical even in Jesus’ day. Shortly into his equity message, Jesus has to detour and address his listener’s concerns that what he is saying may be a violation of the Law and the Prophets, as it has been taught to them. Nearly one-third of this sermon is devoted to correcting the misguided instructions that the people have received from their religious leaders. Could it be that we also need similar correction today? Later, Jesus must balance his equity themes with encouragements that living a life of equity is not as hard as listeners might expect. And finally, Matthew’s Gospel records that at the conclusion of Jesus’ teaching, the people were “astonished” by what they had heard and the way in which Jesus presented his message.2 Let me show you what Jesus teaches, and I believe you will be astonished too. The logic and structure of his social justice and equity message will become remarkably clear. His message is brilliant. If taken literally and acted upon by the whole of our Christian community, Christianity would become a far greater force for good in this world. We would be a government that transcends those of the nations of earth, filling in the needs of humanity where earthly governments fall short. We would be the kingdom of heaven on earth as Jesus intended us to be. The word “intended” is the key point here. The kingdom of heaven works through human agents, and it needs knowledgeable and committed followers working its tenets for the good of humanity. In this article, I will start with some background information concerning the kingdom of heaven and its expected arrival.

This will set the atmosphere within which the people heard the message of Christ. It is important contextual information and will give us vital clues for understanding the themes Jesus will be addressing. Next, we will take an in-depth look at every verse of the Sermon on the Mount. This is not as dry as it might sound. Looking at each verse, comparing it to other parts of the Bible and tracing key words back into the Old Testament, unlocks new insights and revelations—wondrous concepts that are rarely shared in weekend sermons or Sunday School lessons. These new revelations will leave you shaking your head in amazement. I am positive you will have this experience multiple times. The process of this study will be straight-forward as we progress through this sermon from beginning to end. Each new topic or theme will be treated as a separate chapter. Longer chapters will have divisions so you can take breaks in thought and later return to the book as your schedule permits. I do not expect you to read this book in one night. There is too much illuminating information to expose yourself to all at once. Feel free to pace yourself as you like. As you read this book, you will frequently see the use of the word “equity.” This term has often caused confusion for some readers and is mistakenly thought to mean equality or having a financial stake in some sort of property. “Equity” is more than this, and this book draws on one of the word’s alternate means and signifies a quality of being fair or impartial in one’s personal conduct with others. But it is also more than this. The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words from which the Bible derives the English words for right, righteous and righteousness, are often defined using the word “equity.” And the biblical definitions of these three words are matched with the equivalent words of lawful, beneficence, and equitable deeds.3 These latter concepts of doing right, following the law of God, being charitable, fair, and just, on a personal level, are what best define my use of the word “equity.” So, is our Lord and Savior a social justice warrior? After comprehending the Sermon on the Mount, it will become clear that social justice is a tenet that has its origins in heaven. Its principles were set in stone by God and existed before the foundation of the world. However, the disciples of God’s true social justice are not the same as the militant actors that we see in many of today’s secular warriors. Like Jesus, ChrisChristian warriors will seek change and fulfillment of God’s law by way of the same meekness and forgiveness displayed by their king. Like Jesus, they will not only advocate for change, but they themselves will be the solution that is needed. There is a sad note, however. The unfortunate truth may be that the social justice turmoil of our day has arisen due to Christians failing to be the social justice leaders for which Jesus had advocated. The gospel message is about Christ’s death and his forgiveness of our sins. It is also about his resurrection and victory over death, and his ability to grant us eternal life. But as you will soon see, the gospel message is also about the promotion of social justice and equity. All these elements are to be preached to all the world before the end comes. We have been strong in promoting Christ’s grace, but too often deficient in participating in his calls for social responsibility. The participation in the promotion of justice and equity are part of our great commission as faithful Christians. If Christians fail to preach this aspect of the gospel message, we could be in danger of being passed by, as God gives this message to others—to children, or even to the stones to cry out.4 Perhaps this is where we are in history today. As Christians, it is imperative that we understand the full gospel message, and apply every aspect of it to our lives. By Jesus’ own words, it is a matter of life or death. So, I invite you to take a journey with me now, and take a closer look at a literal view of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Look at the information and determine for yourself how Jesus wants the followers of the kingdom of heaven to live. You will be surprised! You will be changed!

Please enjoy this reading. Blessed are those who read and study the Living Word of God, in Jesus name Amen

Father, I know that You supply all my needs, according to Your riches in glory. Help me to remember that when I put others ahead of You. Remind me that I am not to put my trust on man, but in You. Man cannot love me like You do. Man cannot understand me the way You do. Only You know my heart. Only You know what I need. I thank You for Your abiding love for me. Amen. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

Thank You, Father God, in Your Son Jesus name Amen

We have come to the last Sunday before Lent and we are presented with an unusual reading from the letter of Paul to the Galatians.

One of the biggest distortions I have heard is that only some can be saved. Jesus is clear that he came to save all. Whether all will have eternal life with him is another question for another day, but since salvation is a gift, not something to be earned, to say that some cannot be saved doesn’t ring true. Paul answered this question in many of his letters as does John in his. Luke’s gospel in his prologue gives us the guide we need to judge if what we are being told is true to the gospel. Sometimes it seems daunting to read a gospel straight through, but it’s the best way to get a feel for what the evangelist is trying to say.

This is important because another way the gospel message can be perverted is to quote it out of context. Almost anything can be proved if you take things out of context! When my first child was born, I wanted to know everything I could about how to raise a child. I consulted several different “baby books” to see what I should be doing. What did I find? Let the baby cry, don’t let the baby cry. Feed the baby when he’s hungry, feed the baby on a schedule. Don’t use physical punishment, no problem with physical punishment. You get the picture. Scripture out of context is the same. If you really want to know the true gospel, read it, study it, reflect upon it. Don’t be led astray.

God wills us to be conscious of the paths we take in life. Sometimes we actually have to stand still, take a look at the options before us, and ask God which way we should go. It’s better to take these lengths to ensure we are walking in the right way, than to rush ahead and make a ton of mistakes.

Dear God, in times where I am at a crossroad in my life, I ask that you will give me the counsel that will help me make the right decision. I do not desire to go in the way that is not pleasing to you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

He lifts the poor from the dust
    and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
    placing them in seats of honor.

— I Samuel 2:8 NLT

I Samuel 1 and 2 tells the story of Hannah. Chapter 1 tells us that Hannah had prayed to God with “deep anguish” while “crying bitterly.” She vowed that if God would give her a son she would give him back to the LORD. When Eli the priest found out about her prayer he said, “. . . go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of Him,” and Hannah did find peace in his words and was no longer sad. And the LORD did grant her request and she gave birth to Samuel.

Chapter 2 records a second prayer Hannah prayed after she had given Samuel back to God at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. It is a paean of praise and thanksgiving to God. Its main proclamation is “There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” The earth is the LORD’s and He has the power to lift up those who are faithful to Him and He has the power to bring down the wicked and proud.

Our verse for today is part of Hannah’s second prayer. Just as the LORD lifted Hannah up from her sadness and shame to a place of rejoicing and strength, so likewise He can lift the poor and needy from the dust to a place of honor. The contrast could not be greater. The poor can move all the way from the garbage dump (other translations say “dunghill”) to a position held by princes.

Perhaps you feel today like you have been cast down to the dust and have been thrown into the garbage dump. You have prayed to the LORD with deep anguish while crying bitterly. Go in peace! The LORD has heard the request you have asked of Him. One day, just like Hannah, He will fill your heart with a paean of praise and thanksgiving because of the great things He has done for you.

Bible in a Year

Old Testament Reading
Numbers 30, 31

Numbers 30 — The Law of Vows

  NIV   NLT   ESV   NAS   GWT   KJV   ASV   ERV   DRB


Numbers 31 — The Slaughter of the Midianites and Division of the Spoils

  NIV   NLT   ESV   NAS   GWT   KJV   ASV   ERV   DRB


New Testament Reading
Mark 9:30-50

Mark 9 — Jesus is Transfigured, Heals a Boy with an Evil Spirit; Who Is the Greatest; Do Not Cause to Sin

  NIV   NLT   ESV   NAS   GWT   KJV   ASV   ERV   DRB


Reading Plan Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.

Tyndale Life Application Daily Devotion

But then I recall all you have done, O LORD;
        I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
        I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

— Psalm 77:11-12 NLT

Insight
Memories of God’s miracles and faithfulness sustained Israel through its difficulties. The Israelites knew that God was capable and trustworthy.
Challenge
When you meet new trials, review how good God has been to you, and this will strengthen your faith.

Morning and Evening by Spurgeon

Isaiah 48:10 I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come–God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready–God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.” Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say–

“Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,

I’ll follow where he goes.”

Daily Light on the Daily Path

Proverbs 3:5,6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. • In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Psalm 62:8  Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Psalm 32:8-10  I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. • Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. • Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him.

Isaiah 30:21  Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.

Exodus 33:15,16  Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. • “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

We have all been chosen to be disciples of God, to spread the Good News concerning the coming of the Kingdom. We might be afraid that we are not up to the task, much as Jeremiah was. But just as God spoke to Jeremiah promising to help him, he is with us as well. The without the witness of the early disciples, we would not know of Jesus. Without our witness, how will future generations come to know Jesus? How will we know what to say? What will others think about us? But God is by our side helping us, giving us the words we need at the right time.

Our job is to look for opportunities. Once on a cruise ship, a woman stood next to me and the conversation turned to God. We had a wonderful conversation about our faith, our trust and confidence in God. I don’t know if anyone else heard us, but we didn’t care. Sometimes these conversations begin when a friend tells us about a loved one being sick and we offer to pray for them. Sometimes it comes after a political ad or speech. More often a discussion might evolve because of a tragedy, either from a weather incident or after one of the many terrorist attacks the world has dealt with in the past few years. In any case, it’s important for us to be open about our faith and also willing to listen to the views of others. We have been appointed; we need to accept the responsibility to spread the Good News.

If a person claims to love and know God, but it is clear in their actions that they are not loving towards the people around them, then this means that they actually do not know God. God is the epitome of love and we cannot have a relationship with Him if we do not express who He really is.

Dear God, I pray that I may never be ignorant of the way I treat people. Lord I want to know you completely and I know that in order for me to do that, I need to be loving to every single person around me. May you help me live this out, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Charting Worlds: Five Longreads About Maps

From fantasylands to unique cartographers (including one that’s non-human), here are five stories about maps.

Charting Worlds: Five Longreads About Maps

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

The word “chaff” is an odd word. We don’t use it much in everyday life, though farmers are pretty familiar with it. Chaff refers to the casings, or husks/hulls, left behind after a crop of corn or grain has been harvested. It is completely inedible to humans, but is sometimes used as fodder for animals. Essentially, chaff is the waste product left behind after the harvest is complete. Symbolically, in the Bible, the word is used to refer to anything that is worthless. In this case, wicked people are compared to chaff. Unlike the Godly man, the wicked man is worthless and will be blown away by the slightest wind that comes his way. Unlike the Godly man, the wicked man cannot be steadfast and will be “driven away” by the storms of life, because there is no substance to him. This verse spells out very clearly that the wicked man will in no way prosper in God’s world. Wickedness is not virtuous; it is, on the contrary, worthless and empty.

Father, Help me to not be like the wicked man in this verse. I don’t want You to see me as worthless. I find my worth in You. I strive to be a Godly person who follows Your way. I want to be useful in Your harvest, not left behind as worthless chaff. Help me Lord to be pleasing in Your sight and to follow You in all things.

The Pharisees came to ask Jesus for a sign even though they had witnessed the many miracles of healing he had performed. They had heard him preach and knew the authority with which he did it. Why didn’t they believe, what more were they looking for! We declare our belief in Jesus yet we often do the same. In our darkest moments don’t we wonder where Jesus is? I know I have said, “Please just let me know you’re there?” What about you? We see people pick up pennies from the sidewalk and if the date on it is the same as the birth or death year of someone we love, we think this is a sign that they are in heaven. How different is this from the Pharisees?

Our faith is tested every day. Sometimes it is tested in small ways, sometimes in a big way. It is tested when someone we love is seriously ill or dies. We ask, “Why God? He was a good person, prayed, went to church. Why him?” Or we lose our job just as our children are ready for college. Why me? Wildfires rage and hundreds lose their homes. Storms rage and lives are lost. Haven’t you ever wondered how a good God could let things like this happen? We are not that different from the Pharisees. Some people allow the doubts to turn into denial that God exists. The rest of us hang on knowing that God doesn’t cause bad things, he helps us get through them.

Dear Father God, forgive me in Jesus name for any doubts. I am sorry for not keeping trust in You when I am not feeling well. For me for grieving the Holy Spirit when my soul is down. And, I thank You Jesus for Your great love through your blood.

I praise Your name for everything wonderful gift and all the beautiful grace in my life because of you.

Bless the Father, Bless the Son, Bless the Holy Spirit, in Jesus name I pray Amen

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The forbidden fruit is illustrative of temptation and sin in general. Eve took and ate what God had commanded her not to eat due to three factors: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the prideful desire to acquire “wisdom” apart from God. We too struggle in today in all three areas in striving to resist sin.

You have promised, Lord, to always provide a door of escape when we face temptations. But we must be looking for that escape hatch and must be willing to use it. We are tempted to please our bodies, eyes, and prideful minds more than to please you; but by your grace, Lord, we can overcome every temptation that Satan may attack us with.

Every gardener knows that one of the secrets to healthy plants comes from cutting away the dead parts. When the leaves begin to wither and turn brown, that part of the plant has died and needs to be pruned. The dead parts can contaminate the healthy plant and if the gardener refuses to prune, the entire plant could die. In this passage, God is the gardener who must “cut off” the descendants of the wicked. He does this to protect the “godly ones”–the healthy part of the plant. He does this because He is just God and wishes to “preserve” us forever.

Jesus wants to heal us. What kind of healing do you need? There are days when I wake up with a terrible sinus headache. There are times when I grieve for and with others. There are times when I wonder if I have been a good parent, a good daughter, a good friend. There are also times when I’m not sure that I have been the person God has called me to be. In all of these times, I turn to prayer – and in the case of the headache, medicine! I do believe that my prayers will be answered, even if I don’t always recognize the answer. Just as those who came to Jesus for healing in the Gospels, we come to Jesus looking for physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological healing.

When my parents were very ill, I didn’t really know what to pray for, I left it in God’s hands, and the healing for them came in their being welcomed into eternal life. For me, it came in the peace of knowing that they had lived their lives believing in God’s love for them. When dealing with physical suffering, the healing might come in giving us the courage to deal with the pain. Whatever our need may be, Jesus is by our side, walking with us because he knows our pain, our doubts, our fears, our insecurities. Just as he looked to his Father for answers, he invites us to do likewise and just as Jesus’ requests on behalf of all those who came to him in today’s Gospel were granted, so will his requests on our behalf be granted as well.

For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.

The created world even now displays the glory of God, yet many are blind to it. The Bible is available to untold millions, and in it the glory of God is revealed, yet many are unable to see it there either. But when Christ, in whom all the fullness of God’s glory dwells, shall return to reign on the earth, God’s glory will be known to the whole world as never before.

Help us, O Lord, to see your power, love, wisdom, and all your glorious attributes even now in this imperfect age. But we also encourage our hearts with the knowledge that your glory will be displayed in full splendor in the age to come. We look forward to the day when no man will teach his neighbor saying “Know the Lord, ” for they will all already know Him. (Jeremiah 31:34)

What does it take to be “Family?” For me, it means love, forgiveness, compassion, courage and sacrifice. Today we see Mary and Joseph bringing the baby Jesus to the temple to complete the purification rites according to the law of Moses. They are greeted there by Simeon, who realizes that he is in the presence of the promised Messiah, and by Anna, who has spent many years worshipping in the temple and also seems to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. What must Mary have thought when Simeon told her that a “sword would pierce her heart” even as this child was to do great things?

As a mother, I am sure that every parent’s heart is pierced by a sword at some time or another. I am equally sure that every adult and child’s heart will at some time also be pierced by a sword because that is the price of love. The broader our definition of family, the more we are called to be open to suffering. We have our nuclear family, our extended family, our friends, our neighborhoods, our parish, our community and also the all-inclusive family of God. Our hearts break when we hear of tragedies even when we don’t know the people involved. We work to end violence and discrimination even when we are not the victims.

The poet John Donne said it well in his poem, “No Man Is An Island.” We are all connected to each other. When Mary said, “Yes,” to the angel and Joseph welcomed Mary and the child yet to be born into his home, they both knew at some level that there would be sacrifices to make. This did not stop them from accepting what was to come. Let us all pray for our families in a special way today – living and dead, far and near, known and unknown to us, because God has called all families to be “Holy.”

Of course, this could also be called, “Practice what you preach!” This week’s gospel reading gives us several directions in which to go. Humility would be another direction from the one I have chosen, but in our world today, it is so hard for children to distinguish right from wrong, that I settled on this topic.

Think of the difficulty today in teaching sexual morality to preteens and teens. I am appalled at many of the television programs that completely ignore the Scripture’s teachings and promote bed-hopping with no thought given to the damage this does psychologically to young people. Our children don’t see that there is anything wrong in that as “everybody does it these days.”

How many times have you heard parents swearing at their children for using foul language? Stealing is wrong, but it’s okay to bring home supplies from the office; lying is a sin, but I’m not going to tell you the truth if it gets me into trouble or makes you think less of me. Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. How we would hate to have that term used for us, but we all need to take stock once in a while and do a self-check. Am I a living example of how I want my children, my grandchildren, or others who know me as a Christian to live? If the answer is “no” then what can I do to make sure that what I say, I also do.

God created both male and female in his image. From the beginning, he made both man and woman and caused them to fellowship with him and with each other in the garden. And God gave Eve to Adam to be his wife, and this was for a picture of the Church, the bride of Christ, whom the Father would give to the Son.

O Lord, we know you have created men and women both in your image and for your glory. You have given them each their proper strengths and roles. Some you call to serve you as singles, and devote fuller time to your kingdom. Others you call to marriage, and this is a picture of your love for your Church. May we all be content with the calling you have called us with.

Thank you God for everything in your Son Jesus name I pray Amen

Father, Thank You for protecting me and preserving me. You have promised to cut off the wicked so that they will not prosper. I do not have to fear their descendants because You have pruned them away. Amen.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING NEWS: Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever. North America’s – Indigenous people: Native American Poverty in Ohio 2019 to 2022

Surviving Human Trafficking! And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away

I am a 47 year old Native American woman who has servived being raped, being beaten and being shot by my husband who then selflessly killed himself in front of me. Seven years have past but I still can’t get the image out of my head. But, I thank God for keeping me alive. My past is my experience. An experience you can’t get in any class room. It was a hard challenging life, but By the grace of God I am here. Only to be a true testimony for the living God. To glorify His Holy Name. Fasting and prayer work hand in hand with each other. You cannot fast without praying – otherwise you will simply be on a hunger strike. The point of fasting is to sacrifice earthly needs in order to focus more on communing with God. Prayer is how we commune with God during this time of fellowship. It is in these times we can receive visions, revelation

I am a 47 year old Native American woman who has servived being raped, being beaten and being shot by my husband who then selflessly killed himself in front of me. Seven years have past but I still can’t get the image out of my head. But, I thank God for keeping me alive. My past is my experience. An experience you can’t get in any class room. It was a hard challenging life, but By the grace of God I am here. Only to be a true testimony for the living God. To glorify His Holy Name. Fasting and prayer work hand in hand with each other. You cannot fast without praying – otherwise you will simply be on a hunger strike. The point of fasting is to sacrifice earthly needs in order to focus more on communing with God. Prayer is how we commune with God during this time of fellowship. It is in these times we can receive visions, revelations of God’s word, and a refreshed assurance I got through this. He saved my life on the cross. There were times I felt abandoned so did Jesus on the cross. He said ABBA ABBA, why you for forsaken me. Trouble is a part of a Christ fill life.

Lieff Cabraser is investigating reports of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation occurring on social media platforms across the country, including on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, OnlyFans, Facebook, Backpage, and Craigslist. Our investigation has revealed that such companies knowingly permit and financially benefit from sexual abuse that occurs daily on their websites, including by ignoring requests to remove posts that advertise trafficked people for sex and/or solicit and distribute pornographic images of children and other vulnerable people.

We understand that talking to anyone, let alone a lawyer, about these kinds of cases can be difficult and daunting. We also understand that every survivor brings a different level of comfort to the facts of their individual case. While the law does require victims to file suit sooner rather than later, we encourage you to take the time you need to marshal your emotions and gather your energy before using the secure, 100% confidential contact form on this page

https://delanaforsyth.blogspot.com/2019/02/native-american-poverty-in-ohio-2019.html

Please open every website post I put up.

Do not be deceived by the party culture. Do not be lured by alcohol. While wine and beer and other alcoholic beverages are popular and promise a good time, more often these drinks make fools of us. Too much alcohol leaves one intoxicated. When someone is intoxicated, he/she does not make wise choices. When we listen to the crowd or the promise of fun or relief alcohol claims, we are being foolish. True relief only comes from faith in Jesus Christ. Ask him to help you resist the temptation today.

There is an old distinction between “profession” and “confession” which seems to apply here. To profess is to simply make a claim with your mouth to be a Christian; to confess is to give witness from the heart of what you know to be true. Those who confess Christ and are not afraid to do so before other men, will have their reward from Him.

…You will keep my commandments! Doesn’t that sound easy? But, like the Rich Young Man in the Gospel, and the scribe who wants to know who is his neighbor, it’s just not that simple. Today’s world makes it a lot more difficult to figure out what the commandments mean. On the surface, many of them sound easy to keep because we don’t think we adore other gods, and we don’t believe in murder, and what does covet mean anyway? When we dig a little deeper and realize that the god we worship is often ourselves, or those curse words that slip off the tongue are just part of today’s speech, or who doesn’t tell a little white lie occasionally, we realize that the commandments are more difficult to keep than we originally thought. Perhaps it’s time to review the seven deadlies and see how they work into this equation. Do I let pride make me put God or others at the end of the line? Am I envious of the good fortune of others? Do I fuel the fires of anger instead of forgiveness? Do I allow lust to take root in me so that unhealthy relationships enter my life – in person, or electronically? Does gluttony for the good things in life rule my days so that work or the desire for money is more important than family? Perhaps sloth is a problem. Am I too lazy to pray, to go to church, to help my neighbor? You see, when these sins are rooted out, the commandments become a lot easier to follow, and that goes for the most important commandment at well – love others as Jesus has loved us. And as Jesus tells us, we don’t have to go it alone, the Holy Spirit is there to help us. All we have to do is ask.

While the laws of the world may change, the law of the Lord remains forever. His Word never changes. His Word is holy. The church is the Lord’s house. His house, the church, is holy because it recognizes His Word. The church should strive for holiness and service unto the Lord. Much like the church, we should also strive to honor God’s Word in our hearts by how we live our lives. If the Lord lives in our hearts, then we should make this a holy house for him as well.

Dear God, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God. We bow reverently before your throne. May we honor your laws which you gave us in the Bible. While we know things of the world may pass away, we know that your Word lasts forever. It does not change. Allow our hearts to fix on your truths above all others so that we may live holy lives. Help us to honor your laws by our actions and our hearts. May our hearts by a welcome home for a holy savior. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Human Trafficking 

Human trafficking is the illegal exploitation of a person. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, and it can occur in any U.S. community—cities, suburbs, and even rural areas. The FBI works human trafficking cases under its Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking program. We take a trauma informed, victim-centered approach in investigating these cases.

Here in the United States, both U.S. residents and foreign nationals are being bought and sold like modern-day slaves. Traffickers use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to exploit victims. Victims are forced to work as prostitutes or to take jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay. Human trafficking is a heinous crime that exploits the most vulnerable in society.

Under the human trafficking program, the FBI investigates:

  • Sex trafficking: When individuals are compelled by force, fraud, or coercion to engage in commercial sex acts. Sex trafficking of a minor occurs when the victim is under the age of 18. For cases involving minors, it is not necessary to prove force, fraud, or coercion.
  • Labor trafficking: When individuals are compelled by force, threats, or fraud to perform labor or service.
  • Domestic servitude: When individuals within a household appear to be nannies, housekeepers, or other types of domestic workers, but they are being controlled and exploited.

Report Trafficking & Get Help 

If you are a human trafficking victim or have information about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also submit a tip on the NHTRC website.

If you believe a child is involved in a trafficking situation, submit a tip through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline or call 1-800-THE-LOST. FBI personnel assigned to NCMEC review information that is provided to the CyberTipline.

Human Trafficking Task Forces 

The most effective way to investigate human trafficking is through a collaborative, multi-agency approach with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners.

  • FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces operate within nearly every FBI field office. The ultimate goal of these task forces is to recover victims and investigate traffickers at the state and federal level.
  • The Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiative builds human trafficking enforcement efforts and enhances access to specialized human trafficking subject matter experts, leads, and intelligence. Each team develops and implements a strategic action plan, which leads to high-impact federal investigations and prosecutions. The initiative is a collaborative effort among the FBI, the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Labor. Twelve FBI field offices participate in the initiative, including Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, El Paso, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Newark, Portland, and Sacramento.
  • The Enhanced Collaborative Model Human Trafficking Program is a multi-agency task force initiative funded through the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance. This program supports the development and enhancement of multi-disciplinary human trafficking task forces that implement collaborative approaches to combat all forms of human trafficking. These multi-disciplinary task forces include members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, local prosecutor’s office, federal law enforcement, state/local law enforcement, and a community service provider, with the goal of proactively identifying and recovering victims of human trafficking.

Investigations

Human trafficking investigations are conducted by agents within the human trafficking program and members of our task forces. Investigations often begin through:

  • Tips from the public
  • Calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline
  • A referral from a law enforcement agency
  • A referral from a non-government organization
  • Proactive victim recovery operations
  • Outreach to state governments and community entities

Victim recovery is the primary goal of trafficking investigations. The FBI’s multi-disciplinary team of agents, analysts, victim specialists, and forensic interviewers work together to ensure a victim-centered, trauma-informed response. FBI victim specialists work with local state and federal resources to provide immediate assistance (shelter, food, clothing) and long-term support (counseling, education assistance, job training). After recovering a victim of human trafficking, field offices seek to arrest and successfully prosecute the traffickers.

Over the past decade, the FBI’s human trafficking investigations have been responsible for the arrest of thousands of traffickers and the recovery of numerous victims. The FBI will continue to take part in multi-agency efforts to combat the threat.

Trafficking Victims Protection Act

The 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was the first comprehensive federal law to address human trafficking. In addition to the protections offered through immigration relief for foreign national victims of human trafficking, it focuses on prevention through public awareness programs, both domestically and abroad, and prosecution through new federal criminal statutes.

The TVPA granted the FBI the statutory authority to investigate matters of forced labor; trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor; sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion; and unlawful conduct with respect to documents in furtherance of trafficking.

The TVPA gave law enforcement the ability to protect international victims of human trafficking through several forms of immigration relief, including Continued Presence and the T visa. Continued Presence allows law enforcement officers to request temporary legal status in the United States for a foreign national whose presence is necessary for the continued success of a human trafficking investigation. The T visa allows foreign victims of human trafficking to become temporary U.S. residents and apply for permanent residency after three years. The TVPA also established a law requiring defendants of human trafficking investigations to pay restitution to the victims they exploited. More on human trafficking laws.

Innocence Lost National Initiative 

The FBI, in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), launched the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address the growing problem of child sex trafficking in the United States. In the years since its inception, the initiative has expanded to 86 dedicated Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces. These task forces, with the Offices of the U.S. Attorneys and the FBI’s Victim Services Division, have successfully worked to identify and recover thousands of children.

Additional Resources 

Victim Services

The FBI is committed to ensuring that victims receive the rights they are entitled to and the assistance they need to cope with crime. Treating victims with respect and providing them with assistance benefits victims and helps us build better cases.

Human Trafficking News 

God Greatest Gifts for a Great Love

The Greatest Gift

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap . . . yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” 
Luke 12:24

Although the battle for healthy self‐confidence is most often fought by women, many men also struggle with the issue. Unlike a woman, a man derives his sense of worth pri‐marily from the reputation he earns in his job or profession. He draws emotional satisfaction from achieving in business, becoming financially independent, developing a highly respected skill, being the “boss,” or being loved and appreciated by his patients, clients, or business associates. When his career fails, however, look out.

His confidence often falters, and he becomes vulnerable. Depression, anger, and withdrawal are just some of his potential responses. Wives, here’s something to remember: More than anything, your man needs your respect. Compliment him on the qualities you most admire in him. Avoid comments that debase or embarrass him—especially in the eyes of others. As much as is reasonably possible, understand and support his career, but also create such an affirming atmosphere at home that he will be happy to leave career concerns at the office.

atmosphere at home that he will be happy to leave career concerns at the office.

The better you understand your differences, the more you’ll appreciate the gift that is your mate.

Just between us . . .

• (wife) What achievement are you proudest of? (wife)
• Are you satisfied with the current state of your career?
• (wife) How can I help you with your career?
• (wife) How can I show more respect for you and what you do?

(wife) Father, thank You for my husband—for the energy, skills, and ambitions you’ve placed in him. Help him to know that You love him no matter how he performs, and please help me show him the honor and respect I feel. Amen.

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