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KNSI’s Matt Demczyk’s article is great news for people who think the State Department’s refugee resettlement program needs to be slowed to a trickle. According to the article, “Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced this week that it will shift its focus to programs that combat homelessness and help at-risk children.” The article also said that “The Trump administration increased security screening requirements and decreased the annual refugee arrival ceiling. Fewer than 950 refugees arrived in Minnesota last year, compared with more than 3,000 in 2016.”

Volunteer agencies (like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services), aka Volags, have used the resettlement program as a cash cow. The State Department pays Catholic Charities and LSS $3,300 to resettle refugees. The Volags are required to spend $2,300 on the refugees. Once the Volags have found the refugees a place to live, they get to keep $1,000 for their services.

Based on this information, Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement revenue dropped from $3,000,000 in 2016 to $950,000 in 2017. A $2,000,000 drop in revenues will require Volags to rethink their business model.

One doesn’t have to read much of this article to figure out why Heartland voters treat Democrats like aliens from another planet. The Democrat writing this article disparages Christians in a totally disrespectful way.

For instance, the article contains a paragraph that says “New York has taken to Chick-fil-A. One of the Manhattan locations estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds, and the company has announced plans to open as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city. And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company’s charitable wing to fund anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage. ‘We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation,’ he once said, ‘when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ The company has since reaffirmed its intention to ‘treat every person with honor, dignity and respect,’ but it has quietly continued to donate to anti-L.G.B.T. groups.”

It’s one thing to disagree with Chick-fil-A’s religious beliefs. That’s fair enough. It’s another to treat Chick-fil-A like they’re weird. For years, Democrats knew how to relate to devout Catholics and Jews. Those days are definitely in the Democrats’ past.

This emphasis on community, especially in the misguided nod to 9/11, suggests an ulterior motive. The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words “to glorify God,” and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch. David Farmer, Chick-fil-A’s vice-president of restaurant experience, told BuzzFeed that he strives for a “pit crew efficiency, but where you feel like you just got hugged in the process.” That contradiction, industrial but claustral, is at the heart of the new restaurant—and of Chick-fil-A’s entire brand. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Cows.

This writer might want to pay a little more attention to what he wrote. Specifically, he should pay attention to this:

One of the Manhattan locations estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds, and the company has announced plans to open as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city.

Mayor de Blasio called for a boycott of Chick-Fil-A. Here’s how New Yorkers responded:

I definitely won’t put those people in the undecided or opposition categories.

Its arrival in the city augurs worse than a load of manure on the F train. According to a report by the Center for an Urban Future, the number of chain restaurants in New York has doubled since 2008, crowding out diners and greasy spoons for whom the rent is too dear. Chick-fil-A, meanwhile, is set to become the third-largest fast-food chain in the nation, behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks. No matter how well such restaurants integrate into the “community,” they still venerate a deadening uniformity.

If I had a saying for this writer to live by, it’d be ‘Lighten up, Dude.

The indisputable fact is that Chick-fil-A identified a market, which has helped them make tons of profits while developing a loyal customer base. If that isn’t the definition of success, I don’t know what is. Perhaps it’s time for Democrats to figure it out that they’re losing voters, congressional districts and states because they’re too hard-hearted.

Happy Easter. The tomb where Christ was buried couldn’t contain Him. The Almighty, who created Heaven and Earth, sent His Son to redeem us. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, the only person who never sinned. When He rose from the dead, he appeared to His followers:

22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Luke 24:22-33

The Scriptures say that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” If you haven’t asked God for His forgiveness, there’s no better time than right now to choose forgiveness and eternal life.

Christ’s followers admitted to each other that their hearts burned with excitement when Christ opened up the Scriptures to them. If you want that joy and peace, now is the time to ask God for forgiveness. Isn’t this morning the perfect time for your Emmaus experience?

After reading Franklin Graham’s tribute to his dad, I pondered it for a moment. It didn’t take long before a thought popped into my head. Actually, it’s the Bible verse from the Gospel of John. John 15:13 says “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

It isn’t that the verse fits Franklin Graham’s article perfectly. It simply doesn’t. It’s that Franklin’s tribute to the man he called “Daddy” described Billy Graham’s life message. Specifically, Franklin spoke of a troubled time in his life. In Franklin’s words, “After graduating from college in 1974, I headed for Lausanne, Switzerland, to work at a conference the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was sponsoring for 2,500 evangelical leaders from around the world. My life was a mess; I was empty and lonely. During that conference, my mother and father wanted to take me to lunch to celebrate my 22nd birthday. After lunch at a little Italian restaurant on Lake Geneva, Daddy and I walked along a pathway beside the lake when he turned to me and said, ‘Franklin, your mother and I sense there’s a struggle going on in your life.’ Somewhat stunned, I wondered, ‘How does he know this?’ He continued, ‘You’re going to have to make a choice either to accept Christ or reject Him. You can’t continue to play the middle ground.’ With my mind racing, wondering what he was going to say next, I heard these words: “I want you to know we’re proud of you, Franklin. We love you no matter what you do in life and no matter where you go. But you’re going to have to make a choice.” He had pricked my conscience to the point I was actually angry. I couldn’t figure out how he knew about the struggle that had been going on inside me — but he did, and he was right. My father’s words haunted me for several weeks until I finally gave up running from God and made that choice to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and turn my life over to Him. I’ve never looked back or regretted my decision.”

The man that preached redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ didn’t have condemnation towards his son. Christ repeatedly told His followers that His love was unconditional. Billy Graham’s love for his son was unconditional, too, and he told him that during the conversation that turned Franklin’s life around, albeit not immediately.

By 1974, Billy Graham was a household name. He had a reputation to uphold. People would’ve understood if he’d given Franklin the tongue-lashing of his life. Based on what I’ve often read about Billy Graham, that simply wasn’t who he was. Staying true to his character, Billy Graham reminded his son that his love for Franklin was unwavering and unconditional.

It wasn’t just that Franklin Graham wasn’t a typical Christian. It’s that Franklin was a hell-raiser:

Graham’s boyhood mischief grew into young adult rebellion. He rode motorcycles, learned how to pilot planes and lived life in the fast lane. “I just wanted to have fun,” Graham said, describing wild times of “drinking the beer, and going out to the parties, and running around with different girlfriends.” Even though he’s shed his rebellious image, Graham still loves the rush of riding his motorcycle.

He smoked, drank, got in fights and admitted trying marijuana. “He loves to live on that adrenaline rush,” Lotz said. “You know whether it’s an airplane or a fast motorcycle or doing something on the edge.” His family sent him to Stony Brook, an elite Christian boarding school on Long Island, New York. He dropped out and was later expelled from another school, LeTourneau College in Longview, Texas, for keeping a female classmate out all night past curfew.

That’s when his life changed:

Things would soon change. During a trip to Switzerland in 1974, Billy Graham talked to his 22-year-old son about the direction in his life. Franklin Graham remembers his father looking him straight in the eye and saying, “I want you to know that your mother and I sense there is a struggle for the soul of your life, and you’re going to have to make a choice.”

These words troubled Graham as he continued on his tour of Europe. Driving across the countryside with a bottle of scotch in his hand, he began to think about the conversation with his father. One night in a hotel room in Jerusalem, Franklin’s life changed. He describes his epiphany in a passage from his 1995 autobiography, “Rebel With a Cause: Finally Comfortable Being Graham.” “That night instead of going to the bar for a couple of beers, I found myself alone in my room reading through the gospel of John. “When I came to the third chapter, I read not just that Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again, but I also grasped that Franklin Graham had to be born again as well.”

Franklin Graham is now living a changed life because his father didn’t condemn him. He’s living that life because his father reminded him that his love was unconditional.

Franklin is living that changed life because Billy Graham stayed true to the Gospel message that he preached in public. In this setting, it wasn’t just his public persona. It’s who Billy Graham was in private life, too. I find that consistency inspiring.

Greater love hath no man.

This morning, America lost a person of utter humility and Godliness. Billy Graham, America’s Pastor, died this morning at the age of 99. There will never be another man like him. Billy Graham’s life should be a model for us all.

Rev. Graham was personable, gracious, humble and, most importantly, God-fearing. Because he worried more about living a Godly life, he was able to reach everyone. His message was simple: Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.

During his life, he counseled 12 different presidents. It isn’t a stretch to think that he positively impacted each of those men. Whether he spoke with politicians, pastors or regular people, Rev. Graham’s habit was to treat everyone as though they were the most important person in the world. In doing so, he lived the Gospel message.

There’s an old Christian saying that goes like this: Preach the Gospel wherever you go and, when necessary, use words. Thankfully, Billy Graham lived his life in such a way that, whether you knew him personally or whether you saw him from a distance, you knew that he was a Godly man. A staple of every Billy Graham Crusade was the hymn Trust and Obey. It was the perfect message for those great events. The hymn opened with this verse:

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued this statement. This paragraph is especially well-received:

His kindly manner and unpretentious nature made him a trusted confidant to twelve U.S. presidents, reassuring generations of Americans that their leaders could count on this humble man of God for counsel and support. By standing right in the middle, Billy Graham could reach everyone.

Billy Graham should be a reminder to us all that humility, gentleness and a spirit of forgiving can turn ordinary people into great ambassadors for Christ. Mike Huckabee spoke to those things in this interview:

I was fortunate to attend a Billy Graham Crusade in the old Metrodome in 1997. That Saturday night, he held a crusade for youth groups. Not only did he fill the Metrodome, which held approximately 75,000 people for those types of events, he had an overflow crowd outside in a series of parking lots, complete with Jumbotron monitors. The estimated crowd that Saturday night was just short of 100,000 people. I attended the Sunday night event. That night, the crowd easily exceeded 100,000 people. And what a night that was.

In Stephanie Dickrell’s article, an organization called Cultural Bridges will ask the St. Joseph City Council to consider a resolution. The resolution would “declare the city a welcoming place for all.”

According to the article, the “move comes after posters declaring white-nationalist views were hung around St. Joseph in mid-January.” The posters carried messages that said “unapologetically white,” that “hate speech is free speech” and “there are two genders.”

The citizens of the city of St. Joseph definitely aren’t interested in political correctness but they know their Constitution. Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment as long as the speech doesn’t advocate specific acts of violence. Speech that everyone agrees with doesn’t need protection.

What we don’t know from this article is whether the posters represent the thoughts of the people living in St. Joe. What’s certain, however, is that the people sponsoring the resolution definitely have a pro-refugee resettlement agenda:

This poster was found stapled to a power line pole:

The article seems less than professional. Early in the article, Stephanie Dickrell wrote “We are trying to speak up in a united effort to let people who are not of our culture who live in our community know that we support them and that we welcome them,” said Dianne DeVargas, a member of the group. Cultural Bridges started in response to the arrival of Somali families to the area a few years ago, and has been helping them settle and integrate into the community, said Dianne’s husband Vincent DeVargas, another member of Cultural Bridges.”

Later, Dickrell wrote “They all felt very strongly that if we did not say anything, that that was as much as admitting that the signs were correct,” Dianne said. “So without giving them any more press time, which we didn’t want to happen, we want to spin this into a positive event.” Still later, Dickrell wrote “There’s a number of single mothers who have chosen the area because they feel it’s a safe, quiet place to raise their children, Dianne said.”

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Ms. Dickrell had a distinct pro-resettlement bias. Mrs. DeVargas certainly isn’t unbiased. She’s staunchly pro-resettlement. This is worthy of closer inspection:

Dianne credited the idea for the welcoming resolution to the people in St. Cloud who stood up against the refugee moratorium.

The ostriches that voted for the ‘welcoming’ resolution voted against knowing how much refugee resettlement was costing taxpayers. Notice that I didn’t ask how much it cost the city or the county or the school district. How much money was spent at the hospitals or in schools on translators? How much money was spent on taxpayer-funded health care or taxpayer-funded EBT cards?

These are hidden costs that aren’t line items in the city budget or the school district operating budget. Let’s be clear about this. The people who voted for the welcoming resolution aren’t fiscally responsible.

I don’t know how Monday night’s vote will turn out. I wouldn’t bet against it passing.

Royalty in a manger:

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The Lord of lords and the King of kings was born in a manger. He wasn’t born in a palace befitting His stature. He chose to live among us. That’s why He’s called Emmanuel, aka God with us. (Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.) He stepped out of Heaven and lived amongst those who had betrayed His teachings. (We’re known as sinners and everyone’s a member of that ‘fellowship’.)

Among the many commands He gave us is to pray for our leaders. That’s why I was left speechless after seeing this picture:

Merry Christmas, everyone, and may God bless you with the very best of new years.

When I wrote this post, I hadn’t heard of Hannah Scherlacher. When I finish writing this post, Sen. Franken will wish he’d never heard of Hannah. In my post, I wrote about Sen. Franken’s reliance on ratings from the Southern Poverty Law Center, aka the SPLC, during Amy Coney-Barrett’s confirmation hearing. To hear Sen. Franken tell it, SPLC is a neutral arbiter of who is qualified to be a federal judge. The truth is that SPLC is a bunch of bottom-feeding low-lifes who have stockpiled tons of cash in accounts in the Caribbean.

Sen. Franken, what part of that sounds legitimate? But I digress.

Hannah’s op-ed questions SPLC’s integrity from a personal standpoint. In her op-ed, Hannah wrote “It’s an understatement to say that I was dumbfounded as to how I ended up on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) LGBTQ hate-list — I have never said or done anything to indicate hate for the LGBTQ community. When I called to inquire, SPLC informed me that I am guilty because I did a radio interview with Family Research Council Radio (FRC). I am a program coordinator for The Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform. org. The segment was about socialism, but because FRC holds traditional family values, I was labeled an LGBT-hater just for being a guest on the show. No LGBT topics even came-up.”

Sen. Franken, have you no shame?

What US senator would rely on sloppily-gathered information from a bunch of bottom-feeders like the SPLC? Ms. Scherlacher’s sin was to do an interview with the Family Research Council, an organization whose mission statement states that their “mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview” and whose vision “is a culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives.”

The FRC’s vision and mission earned it a spot on SPLC’s hate map. That’s significant because that map has helped cause physical pain:

Reckless and irresponsible hate-labeling not only stifles free speech and expression, it empowers and emboldens vicious groups and individuals to violently attack people. Consider the 2012 Family Research Council shooting, when a man walked into the organization’s office in Washington, D.C., with 100 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. He planned to kill as many staff members as possible and smear the sandwiches in their faces. He said he chose his target based on SPLC’s Hate Map.

This is more than ironic:

Nowhere is the danger more real than on our college campuses where Antifa, By Any Means Necessary, and other domestic terror groups (which are not found on any SPLC hate list) now feel emboldened to attack conservative students and shut down events under the guise of, ironically, fighting fascism, hate and white supremacism.

Some of the organizations found on the SPLC’s Hate Map are legitimate hate groups. It’s indisputable that the KKK, Holocaust deniers and the Skinheads deserve to be on that map. Being a traditional values Christian shouldn’t land a person on SPLC’s hate map, though.

I’ll close this post with Hannah’s closing argument:

Groups like the SPLC threaten our constitutional rights and the very fabric that makes this nation great. We need to start pushing back. If this trend of bullying and ostracizing anyone with a different opinion continues, we can only expect a chilling, mob-rule effect and the suppression of speech and ideas in this country.

I am calling on SPLC to remove me from this list and stop engaging in the game of identity fear politics. I urge all Americans who have been bullied, silenced, and pushed into a corner by radical groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center to push back too.

Amen, Hannah.

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It feels good to finally be home again. Posting has been essentially been nonexistent on LFR because I had a heart attack last Monday. As in Monday, August 1, 2016. The cardiologists say I got lucky because the heart attack was caused by a major blockage of the left descending artery. The cardiologists that I spoke with said that that particular type of blockage is often nick-named widow-maker because it often results in the person suffering the heart attack dying.

There but for the grace of God go I.

The good news is that my heart is better than ever thanks to the fact that the fix was relatively simple. First, they did an angioplasty to remove the blockage, then they placed a stent at the point of the attack. The entire procedure took less than 45 minutes. The angioplasty was done Monday morning. This afternoon, I’m home pecking at my keyboard.

There are some people to thank. First among them is the Lady Logician. She sent out an email to my blogging colleagues, then started praying for me. The Bible says that the “prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” I’m proof of that.

If the Lady Logician needs to be thanked, as she deserves it, my pastor, Art Cotant, deserves that thanks, too. Art visited me twice, praying with me both times, all while empathizing with my situation. In fact, my church family deserves many thanks, including my friend Andrea from the singles group when I first joined First B.

The list of people that deserve my thanks is lengthy. Suffice it to say that I appreciate everyone that prayed for me or called me while I was in the hospital.

We’re told constantly that #BlackLivesMatter wants justice for the young black men who’ve been shot by police officers. If only that were true. Unfortunately, it isn’t true. When Diamond Reynolds said “Today is not only about justice and getting justice, but it’s about all of the families that have lost people”, what she hinted at was that she wanted revenge as if killing police officers would even the score.

It won’t. And even if it ‘evened the score’, it wouldn’t bring healing at a time when healing is badly needed. Evening the score is counterproductive. Unfortunately, it’s exceptionally tempting, too.

Then Ms. Reynolds said “This thing that has happened in Dallas was not because of something that transpired in Minnesota. This is bigger than Philando. This is bigger than Trayvon Martin. This is bigger than Sandra Bland. This is bigger than all of us.”

That sounds like she’s keeping score. I’m not trying to paint Ms. Reynolds as a hater. I’m trying to highlight the difference between justice and revenge. What’s needed is for both sides to take a deep breath. If it’s appropriate, it’s time to forgive. Most importantly, it’s time to stop seeing people as part of a group.

Whether we’re talking about minority communities or police officers, we’re dealing with communities that feel under siege. It’s like we’re living our lives on a powder keg. That’s no way to live. The only thing that’s likely to happen is for someone to light a match.

This past week, we’ve seen protests led by pastors. Far too often, these pastors spoke words of bitterness, which is a very human reaction. What’s needed is for those pastors to set aside the instinct to be angry. It’s time for them to lead their congregation away from that anger.