Mike Neelley: Saved for Work

TN Executive Director Mike Neelley further expands the study on grace from Ephesians 2 that Kevin Riley started last week. From faith in Jesus, we receive grace—not from being religious, showing up at church, breaking our addictions, paying our debts, or anything we do. From faith, to grace, to new life, we enter into the work prepared for us.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)

By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

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Kevin Riley: Grace

Kevin Riley, TN Pastoral Advocate, brings us the message on grace: we were dead in our sins, indulgences, trespasses, and greed and God lifted us out from it. Kevin witnesses and practices the outrageous gift of grace in his work as a father, husband, pastor at Mount Baker Presbyterian in Concrete, and as a Pastoral Advocate with Tierra Nueva.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)

By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Luke 23:39-43 (ESV)

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

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Mike Neelley: Jesus and...

Pastor and TN Executive Director Mike Neelley delivers the message on how we are shaped, and how we then shape our lives, by the identity of Jesus. 

Galatians 1:1-10 (ESV)

Greeting

1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

No Other Gospel

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Matthew 17:1-13 (ESV)

The Transfiguration

1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

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Mike Neelley & Danielle Riley: God's Discipline-Correction or Punishment?

Pastor Mike Neelley (Executive Director) and Danielle Riley (Women's Lead Pastoral Advocate) share an exploration on the many ways we understand, receive, and practice discipline. 

Hebrews 12:5-11 (ESV)

5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

1 John 4:18 (ESV)

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

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Gracie Ekblad with Midge Peltonen: The Feet of Those Who Bring Good News

Pastor Gracie Ekblad and Midge Peltonen bring us the message from Romans 10 exploring the role of the church to the world: the oppressed, the powerful, and everywhere in between. 

Romans 10:12-15 (ESV)

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

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Salvio Hernandez: The Valley of Dry Bones

Pastor Salvio Hernandez (Director of Family Support Center and Migrant Family Advocate) shares the word from Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones. 

Ezekiel 37:1-14 (ESV)

The Valley of Dry Bones

37 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

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Warfare Prayer

Pastor Mike Neelley (TN Executive Director) shares the Warfare Prayer with the Tierra Nueva worshiping community. It is a short prayer for God's people, ordained heirs, in a divisive and embattled world. 

Father, in the name of Jesus, I break off every curse that’s been spoken against me—including curses I have spoken over myself. And I send them to the cross where Jesus became a curse for me. And I ask you, Holy Spirit, to come with the blood of Jesus and wash me clean in every place where those curses landed on me and took hold. Cleanse me of all defilement. Father, also in the name of Jesus, I cancel every demonic assignment sent against me. I decommission them and I command them to go under the feet of Jesus; not to return to me and not to send others in their place.
Holy Spirit, I ask that you fill me afresh today with your love, your power, and your life.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

2 Corinthians 3:11 (ESV)

For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

Psalm 42:9-10 (ESV)

I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

Deliverance from Evil Spirits: A Practical Manual by Francis MacNutt

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Mike Neelley: Don't Be Unaware of the Devil's Schemes

Pastor Mike Neelley, TN Executive Director, shares the gospel, the power of Jesus, and the attempts of the enemy to deceive and distract the church.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

2 Corinthians 3:11 (ESV)

11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Warfare Prayer:

Father, in the name of Jesus, I break off every curse that’s been spoken against me—including curses I have spoken over myself. And I send them to the cross where Jesus became a curse for me. And I ask you, Holy Spirit, to come with the blood of Jesus and wash me clean in every place where those curses landed on me and took hold. Cleanse me of all defilement. Father, also in the name of Jesus, I cancel every demonic assignment sent against me. I decommission them and I command them to go under the feet of Jesus; not to return to me and not to send others in their place.
Holy Spirit, I ask that you fill me afresh today with your love, your power, and your life.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Stories of Transformation: Raquel

Raquel shares her story of redemption from poverty, violence, trauma, and gang life in El Salvador.

This series is an exploration of God’s work through his church—despite systemic oppression and hopelessness. Raquel spoke at The People’s Seminary CTMM course last year in Burlington. She continues to work closely with asylum seekers and refugees.

Links:

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Bob Ekblad: Trusting Jesus

Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV)

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Gracie Ekblad: The Reckless Love of Jesus

Mark 5:1-20 (ESV)

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Keep Your Love from Growing Cold

Tierra Nueva co-founder and general director Bob Ekblad recently submitted a piece on lawlessness in the face of immigration and the Gospel. 

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Jesus’ words to his disciples regarding signs of his second coming and the end of the age are highly relevant today. Jesus tells his followers to expect wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, killing, betrayal, hatred, false prophets, and lawlessness.

“Lawlessness” (anomia), translated “wickedness” or “iniquity,” refers specifically to disregarding God’s word and ways—which Jesus says will increase over time.

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Mat 24:12-14).

I’ve been noticing signs of people’s love growing cold, visible quite recently in a hardening of attitudes towards immigrants and refugees in Europe—and notably in the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. Arresting and sending back immigrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America and Mexico, and separating children from parents are disturbing signs of hardness of heart.

Continue reading here. 

Another look at "Submission as Resistance: Romans 13 in the light of Psalm 2"

This article was written by Bob Ekblad in August 2017 on his website.

The prophetic witness of Christians before the State has too often been muted by a surface reading of the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 13:1-7, with its infamous “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rom. 13:1).

Added to this are Peter’s words: ”Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right” (1 Pet. 2:13-14).

It is critical that we read these verses about submission in their larger contexts and in the light of Jesus’ and the Apostles’ missionary activity and teaching. When you also deliberately engage with other Scriptures about governing authorities, like Psalm 2 and Revelation 13, a uniquely revolutionary form of resistance emerges that can inform our action in these challenging times.

What is often missed is that Paul and Peter called followers of Jesus to submit to the pagan and brutal Roman Empire. That submission included respecting the rule of law as long as it didn’t counter the higher allegiance to Christ, honoring those in authority, and humbly accepting the consequences if disobedience was required. Jesus, Peter and Paul were all arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for their missional activities, and Paul wrote at least four of his Epistles from prison.

Yet Paul still viewed all categories of rulers and authorities governing the world as part of the originally good creation, made by Christ:

“For by him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16).

These non-human entities were viewed as subsequently fallen and rebellious, as the beast which Revelation 13 graphically portrays– but still in operational until the end.

So Paul and Peter are calling for Christians to be in a kind of subjection to whatever government or political party is in power in these times towards the end of history—whether that be a democracy, a caliphate, a fascist dictatorship, a monarchy or maybe even a mafia or gang network that rules a failed state.

Paul and Peter were recommending a course of action so that fragile new faith communities could survive and advance in hostile terrain, while simultaneously bearing witness to Jesus. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people” (Rom. 12:18). Their counsel is in part like advice given to prisoners serving a prison sentence, or to people on probation or engaged in drug court who must obey the rules to avoid further trouble.

Their call must not be read as a religious leaders’ endorsement, a statement suggesting State actions reflect God’s will or as suggesting a cozy alliance between religious and secular leaders.

Jesus, Paul, and Peter called for allegiance to God as highest power: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27).

Nor do these texts mean that Christians must obey laws that go against conscience, be silent about injustice or hold back from their highest callings as Jesus’ disciples.

Jesus resisted authorities when he healed on the Sabbath, cleansed the Temple, and strongly critiqued religious leaders. Peter and Paul went right on preaching when told not to, and willingly suffered the consequences. The first Christians refused military service and worship of Caesar as Lord and suffered torture, imprisonment, and execution.

Paul appears to have often considered governing authorities his enemies, writing strong words regarding enemy love right before Romans 13: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” and end with “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:14, 21).

Jesus’ revolutionary submission

Jesus models a quiet authority and confidence before the Roman governor of Judea Pontius Pilate, after he informed him he had authority to release him or crucify him with: “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above” (Jn. 19:11)—ultimately from himself!

The Apostles saw Jesus’ subjecting himself in self-giving love on the cross as the deathblow to the ruler of this world– the beginning of the end of the reign of the rulers and authorities, which will be judged and finally destroyed (1 Cor. 15:24-27).

Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 must be read in the light of Psalm 2, which begins by asking a question that Christians in America and in many other nations should be asking:  “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples imaging a vain thing?”

“Why do we as Christians get so caught up in endorsing political candidates and parties, mirroring the hate-filled political divisions around us?”

My sense it that many Christians are not adequately informed about the final destiny of the powers and our own unique prophetic vocation.

The Psalmist reminds us of the macro divine perspective: “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed” (Ps 2:2).

Jesus experienced hostility from rulers and authorities, and prophesied his followers would experience the same (Mk. 13:9; Lk. 12:11)– which they did (Acts 4:5). Martyrdom was normative then and is on the rise now.

Christians are called to be subject to governing authorities not because they are good or represent God’s agenda. Our citizenship is in heaven. Peter urged believers to see themselves as “aliens and foreigners” right before his words about being subject to authorities, who he sought to evangelize:

“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:11-12).

Christian submission to rulers and authorities must be done from a perspective of open-eyed realism about both the rebellious, hostile orientation of the powers against the reign of God and Jesus’ greater sovereignty and victory.

“He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then he will speak to them in his anger and terrify them in his fury, saying, “But as for me, I have installed my King upon Zion, my holy mountain” (Ps. 2:4-6).

Jesus is that King, the Son of the Father, come to open the way for us to receive our authority and receive our inheritance as daughters and sons.

“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you. ‘Ask of me, and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as your possession” (Ps. 2:4-8).

Jesus was installed “King of the Jews” there on the cross. Jesus’ submission to rulers and authorities to the point of death on the cross was God’s secret weapon against Satan and the rebellious powers. God “disarmed the rulers and authorities, he made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through him [Jesus]” (Col 2:15).

The Psalmist’s prophetic warning is still in force, putting all Christian submission and resistance into the larger context of Christ’s victory and destruction of the non-human powers.

‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’” Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that he not become angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Psalm 2 brings hope to Christians subjecting themselves to unjust rulers as we know Jesus’ submission wins as all authorities will themselves finally submit to Jesus Christ as King. May we learn from the suffering Christ to step into longsuffering prophetic witness now.

Bob Ekblad: Hearts Growing Warmer in the Face of Injustice

Matthew 24:12-14 (ESV)

12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

 

An excerpt from Tierra Nueva's statement regarding the families being separated at the US border: 

The Trump Administration’s recent enforcement and defense of separating children from their parents at the border is only biblical in keeping with the likes of Pharaoh and Herod – both rulers known for their cruelty and oppression in order to keep their seats of power.

The Kingdom of Jesus has no borders or boundaries. It covers the whole earth as the waters cover the seas. If we are to call Jesus, Lord, and mean it, we must be Kingdom of God people first.

Read the full statement here. 

A statement from Tierra Nueva regarding separating families at the US border

 

It is unsettling how often it is necessary to add our voice to the prophetic voices of the Church in response to decisions and practices of the present administration…

While President Trump has today signed an executive order promising to “keep families together,” and this is good, the order does not address families already separated by the policy. In fact, the administration has no plan at present on how to reunite 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents.

We recognize that issues with immigration and deportation are not unique to this administration. Over 3 million people were deported under the Obama administration. Our system needs a complete overhaul. What is being done, however, is taking the worst of past administrations, holding it up as unchangeable law, and then enforcing it with unbending cruelty and using it as a bargaining chip for legislation.

The Trump Administration’s recent enforcement and defense of separating children from their parents at the border is only biblical in keeping with the likes of Pharaoh and Herod – both rulers known for their cruelty and oppression in order to keep their seats of power.

The Kingdom of Jesus has no borders or boundaries. It covers the whole earth as the waters cover the seas. If we are to call Jesus, Lord, and mean it, we must be Kingdom of God people first. This is where we pledge our allegiance. To pledge it anywhere else is idolatry. We are followers of Jesus before we are members of any party, or follow any party line or organization, and the call to follow Jesus will, at some point, put us at odds with all parties and organizations, sometimes including the Church.

The call to followers of Jesus is to welcome the stranger (and their children). Jesus saves some of his harshest words for those who bring such trauma upon children. “Woe to the one who causes one of these little ones to stumble. It would be better if a millstone was hung around their necks and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Mike Neelley
Executive Director, Tierra Nueva
June 20, 2018

Gracie Ekblad: The Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Mike Neelley: Hearing God's Voice

John 10:1-5 (ESV)

I Am the Good Shepherd

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

 

Alan Muia: Spirit of Adoption

Romans 8:12-18 (ESV)

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.