My Coffee Shop

Sitting in my coffee shop one evening last week was a snapshot of the atmosphere there. A local musician was playing guitar for live music night, a young man was making chalk art at one table, and a young woman was making artistic cards at another table Local artists have paintings for sale hanging on the walls.

The clientele is quite eclectic. Some are students, some are very much alternative lifestyle, some are educators, some live near the coffee shop and some work nearby.

There is a hospital across the street with a mental health clinic, so there are some outpatients who come in for a safe space to be in.

I am thankful for the opportunities Jesus has given me at the coffee shop. One day perhaps in a year or so, they will come to an end. The building has been sold and from what I hear will be torn down, so an office building can be built there. The other shops in the building have slowly been closing

I know wherever I go that Jesus will give me opportunities, but I do worry a bit about the people who rely on the coffee shop for a safe space. Until that time, I will continue to go there to relax, share my jokes, and hope for opportunities to share Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- I Am Free Performed by Jared Anderson

Today is Independence Day in the USA. Today we celebrate freedom in this life such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion that we enjoy in the USA.

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But there is a far greater freedom that cannot be corrupted or taken away. That is the freedom we have in Jesus. Freedom from sin, freedom from oppression by darkness, freedom from judgement and much more. Jesus frees us to become what we were created to be which is sons and daughters of God.

Happy Independence Day

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Freedom in Jesus- Happy Independence Day

Tomorrow will be Independence Day in the USA. It is the day we celebrate our freedom and historically when the USA became an independent nation. In the Declaration of Independence , freedom and rights are acknowledged as coming from God with line such as:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

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While I am grateful to live in a country where I can worship God freely and have other rights, it pales in comparison to the freedom we can have in Jesus. In Jesus, we can be freed from sin and judgement. In Jesus, we can be freed from the bondage of the effects of being abused, shame, and victimhood.

The bible says of Jesus in Luke 4:18:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,”

It starts with first coming to know Jesus personally as our Savior. Jesus said in John 8:32:

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

and in John 14:6:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”

Jesus is the truth. When he comes into our lives, he sets us free from the snare of sin, our own and the effects of what others have done to us.

Ultimately we will experience it fully when we enter into heaven, but we can know that freedom in our souls in the here and now no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

Happy Independence Day to all of my fellow bloggers and readers in the USA.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Happy 4th of July USA

It is Independence Day here in the USA. I would like to wish my followers and readers in the USA a Happy 4th of July.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

This famous line from The Declaration of Independence recognized that rights come from God but our freedom in the USA has not come free of cost. It has been paid for by the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of men and women who gave their lives defending our freedom.

Our freedom from sin and judgement also came from the sacrifice of one person for all. Romans 5:8 says:

 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus gave his earthly life for us so that we can be forgiven and have relationship with God.

On Independence Day, I am thankful for freedom and remember the sacrifice of many for our freedom. I am also thankful for eternal life because of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

So Happy for My Yazidi Friend- He Is A Citizen Now

One of my joys in teaching and in my ministry is to see my students experience success and special accomplishments. On Wednesday one of my students in my U.S. Citizenship class passed his test and had his ceremony the same day. He became a citizen this week. 🙂

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His back story underscores why I was so pleased for him. He is Yazidi. In his home country, Yazidi people are oppressed by the majority group. He was in Iraq when the latest genocide against Yazidi people happened. He came to the U.S. a little over five years ago as a refugee. Now he is a citizen.

My schedule will be a bit lighter next week, so we are going to celebrate by having lunch together. Of course it will be kebab. 🙂

My city has the largest number of Yazidi people in North America. One of the things I look forward to so much is being able to visit them in their homes again after a few more weeks. After I had my second dose of the vaccine yesterday, I realized in only two more weeks, it will be okay for me to visit people again.

I have more Yazidi people in my Citizenship class, so I look forward to more celebrations in the future.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Who Is Losing The U.S. Presidential Election?

My blog is not for political purposes. I have written about some issues I care about such as human trafficking, but not a political post. But I have to get something off my chest.

One of my wonderful privileges over the years has been to attend a Citizenship ceremony for friends who become citizens. I have helped people prepare for the citizenship test for many years out of friendship. The joy on their faces as they receive their Certificate of Naturalization is rewarding to see.

In each Presidential election there is a winner and a loser. That is the way it works.

This year the real loser is neither candidate. The loser is our democracy and the American people. Why do I say that?

A few examples:

A Federal Court ordered Pennsylvania to stop counting until they allow poll watchers in to observe ballots being counted. In Philadelphia they defied the court order and continued counting.

For the first time, unsolicited mail in ballots were sent out in mass and in some states are being counted days after Election Day. Corruption has set in. Mass mail out ballots are not the same as absentee ballots or requested ballots. Mass mail out ballots happened on a smaller scale in 2018, so they are not about COVID this year.

Now both sides are and will be filing lawsuits. Recounts will be demanded.

The way things are going, it does not matter who declares victory or who is declared the winner, because the other side will not accept it as valid. If Biden wins, Trump supporters will not believe it is valid. If Trump wins, Biden supporters will not accept it is valid. That is why the real loser is our democracy and the American people. The confidence in our system does not exist.

That is a completely different scenario than being upset your person lost, but living with it and hoping for a different result the next time and perhaps working for a different result next time.

Whichever side you are on, you might read what I wrote and be ready to point the finger at the other side. If that is the case, you have just proved my point. We need to instead work to ensure every election is safe, legit, and fair.

Thankful for Freedom of Religion

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

Something I appreciate and value so much is freedom of religion. The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives us freedom of religion.

That freedom is something some have sought to hinder or take from us, but thanks to the Constitution, when such cases come before the Supreme Court, they get struck down.

An example from only 7 years ago is the case of The Little Sisters of the Poor. Obamacare tried to force The Little Sisters of the Poor to have provisions for birth control. I am not Catholic, but from what I understand, when a woman chooses to become a nun, she makes a vow of chastity meaning no sex. Furthermore, for serious Catholics, use of contraception violates their faith. The Federal Government under Obama went after The Little Sisters of the Poor, so they went to the Supreme Court and won. You can read about it at- The Little Sisters of the Poor.

It seems absurd to me that the government under Obama would do so because after all, a woman who chooses to become a nun has made the decision to not have sex for life. It was the government under Obama trying to strong arm a group of nuns.

It did not surprise me since Obama had referred to bitter clingers clinging to their religion. Such rhetoric was concerning to me.

My city has the largest number of Yazidi refugees in all of North America. They are so grateful for freedom of religion. They were a minority group in Iraq and Syria and were severely oppressed for it because of their religion.

I am thankful my Yazidi friends and friends of other religions have freedom here. I am also thankful I can share about Jesus with them, and remain friends with them whether they receive Jesus or not.

We need to be vigilant in the U.S. about freedom. Losing freedom will happen here not all at once but small steps like the Federal Government under Obama going after The Little Sisters of the Poor. I look at California where there are severe restrictions about going to church under the guise of concern over the pandemic. What makes that claim dubious to me is the fact that looters and rioters are allowed on the streets in mass gatherings there and are called peaceful protestors.

We will lose freedom of religion here only if we passively let it happen.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.