A Deportation Order for a Parent like Jung Courville is a Crime!

Jung Courville’s case is another example of the immoral policy of attempting to deport a parent who has been in the country for years as a law abiding citizen. Of course, she and her husband and her neglectful lawyer should have resolved her immigration situation many years ago. Of course, the laws should be changed like the lawyer expected. But given the current situation, deportation is a just plain immoral choice. The right answer is to resolve such cases quickly, either by further extension or preferably by some more permanent fix. Where is the wisdom and the legal structure to do so? Does the administration think this kind of debacle is good publicity? It probably makes good press for Senator Bumenthal to fight the administration on this case. And I am glad he is for the sake of the conscience of us all. Yet how about him joining a coalition to actually get the Democrats and Republicans to agree to a compromise “fix-the-system” legislation. Now there’s a thought! It seems like both parties would much rather make hay with their bases by bashing the other side. Meanwhile people like Jung Courville and Marco Reyes and their families suffer. This situation is unacceptable. It is clear that people like Jung and Marco need a way to fix what has unwisely been allowed to happen over the past twenty years. We need politicians that will get that job done!


If you object to me saying that deportation of parents like Jung and Marco is an immoral choice, I defer to Christ’s Parable of the Good Samaritan and to the repeated direct words of the OT. When the Bible is this clear we have little excuse for obfuscating.

You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien. Ex 22:21 NRSV

There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you. Ex 12:49 NRSV

Reflection on Super Bowl Advertising

Is everyone a preacher?

I was going to write a typical article rating Super Bowl advertising again this year. I watched the game especially for that purpose. But as I watched the different advertisements, I was surprised by the number of advertisers who all but forsook the direct advertising of their product in favor of generalized moral admonition. It struck me that nowadays it seems everyone’s a preacher!

I was glad for those who spoke up favoring immigrants

Now since I am a preacher by profession (for almost 38 years now), you would think that I would be glad for this turn of events. And, in one sense, I am for it reveals that the high leadership in many of our top companies realize that some of the major issues of today are moral issues and they are courageous enough to speak out. I’m also glad to have allies in speaking up for some key topics of today. I noticed the issue that was most frequently spoken about in Super Bowl ads was the matter of welcoming immigrants, a subject dear to my own heart. All of us with the exception of Native Americans, are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Having worked directly with Burmese Karen immigrants as a teacher during my last pastorate, and heard the stories about refugee camps, it is very easy for me to be in their corner. I also feel the Bible is very clear that we need to be welcoming to those who are strangers and immigrants among us. (For a complete Biblical statement on immigration see https://www.wesleyan.org/237/a-wesleyan-view-of-immigration)

But I’m uncomfortable when everyone is a preacher

But, in another sense, I found myself being surprisingly uncomfortable with the concept that everyone is a preacher. Is it that I am jealous for my position or my profession? Not directly. The more voices take the side of justice and righteousness, the more powerful the cause. To be jealous because someone else speaks up for good would be foolish. Why my concern then? My discomfort arises from the questions of motive and authority for moral exhortation. That’s a mouthful. But let me explain like this.

The preacher’s motivation must have integrity

Would companies like Budweiser and 84 Lumber have advertised as pro-immigration as they did if they had thought that it would be unpopular, detrimental to their bottom line, and cause the company’s leadership difficulty? I doubt it. They advertised as they did because they knew that those positions are very popular and would result in a good feeling about their company in most circles. But true preachers are called to speak the truth even if it hurts their own position and popularity. Most American preachers today cannot do so very often because in many American churches, we would either be voted out or people would stop attending and supporting the church. But in a true church, one where growing in discipleship is prized, people expect that sometimes the preacher will tread upon their toes, so to speak. To put it another way, sometimes the truth will cut across the grain and that is a good thing. How can we grow if that does not happen? Now you can see the motivational issue for my concern. Not just any preacher will be faithful to say what is not popular yet needs to be said.

The preacher’s authority must come from God’s Word

The second half of my concern has to do with sources of authority. When everyone is a preacher, everyone is entitled to use whatever source of authority they feel is right. Most of the time popular figures are drawing from some kind of perceived cultural consensus that supports what is being advocated. There is a strong relationship between the laws of society and cultural consensus. But for both Jews and Christians, the only true source of moral authority is the revelation that comes from God in Holy Scripture. When everyone’s a preacher, it is anybody’s guess what the relationship or lack of relationship will be between what is advocated and what the law of God says. That is another key source of my concern. The Christian preacher’s first job is to see that what he or she teaches is congruent with, indeed arises out of the Words and teachings of Scripture.

So not everyone is a preacher!

So there you have my concerns. When politicians, beer advertisers, movie stars, sports figures, businessmen and TV personalities all become preachers, there will be an increasing need for people to discern who the true prophets are. The genuine purveyors of godly ethics will be distinguished as those whose authority is not their own, it is derived from God’s Word; and the preachers to be listened to will be those whose motivation over time shows love for God and for others above oneself. Anyone can address an issue and oft times they should as a part of their own moral responsibility, but not everyone is a preacher!

Expository Preaching Course Concludes

Teaching Preaching100_1222

Once again this winer I took my turn in serving as teacher for the Burmese Bible School, Syracuse location.    My assignment was a new one—to teach a course in expository preaching.    I accepted since preaching is a favorite discipline of mine and I felt well prepared both by my years of formal training and by my own practice of study and preaching.  I also felt that I might be able to build on the foundation I had made last year when teaching Introduction to Homiletics.   There is a huge amount of preparation and the course delivery is concentrated—three weekends, Friday evening and all day Saturday.  So it is draining but also exhilarating.   For most of the sessions I prepared PowerPoint outlines and handed out printed notes.   This helps the interpreter to follow me too.   In addition, in this course Pastor Than and myself each preached exa100_1221mple sermons for the class.   I also shared many example sermon outlines.

Pastor Than Aung Assisted

It was my privilege once again to have Pastor Than Aung as my interpreter.   Since he is a Princeton grad himself, he is a very capable assistant as well as interpreter.   This is what is needed as much of the grading responsibility falls to him due to the need for him to read the students’ homework and test answers in Burmese.   I very much enjoy teaching prospective pastors and teachers and am energized by it.   I was also extremely gratified by the beautiful encouraging words I received from the students at the close of the last session.    

The pictures are my class this year. 

I Cheer for Immigrants

Recently my wife was reading the book Imagine, How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012).   One evening she read to me from it some startling statistics concerning the contributions of immigrants to our American economy.

Immigrants contribute profoundly!

“According to the latest figures from the U. S. Patent office, immigrants invent patents at double the rate of non- immigrants, which is why a 1 percent increase in immigrants with college degrees leads to a 15% rise in patent production.  In recent years, immigrant inventors have contributed to more than a quarter of all U. S. global patent applications.   These new citizens also start companies at an accelerated pace, cofounding 52% of Silicon Valley firms since 1995.  We all benefit when those with good ideas are allowed to freely move about (p. 240).” 

Why are so few green cards available?

These facts heightened my passion as an advocate for immigrants.   Yet, even though we know these things, the wait for green cards is years.  Why?  Meanwhile cities like Detroit bulldoze housing for lack of citizens; while cities like Buffalo, Utica, and Syracuse struggle to rebuild their centers slowly with a trickle of immigrants.    We are depriving ourselves by our restrictive immigration policies.  

A Proverb

A Biblical Proverb reads, “A king’s glory lies in having many subjects; if the prince’s people are few, it is his ruin” (Proverbs 14:28 CJB).   The lesson is common sense.  A nation of ghost towns (or gray-haired towns) like many Northeast cities and small towns are slowly becoming cannot be strong and prosperous.   I call on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand of New York to introduce legislation to greatly increase, maybe even double the green card quotas of our country over the next few years.   Such an action would immediately bolster our declining Northeastern population.    Besides, only when legal immigration is more easily accessible will illegal immigration cease to be an issue.



Applause for President Obama’s decision not to deport young illegal immigrants

A symbol of our welcome to immigrants

I commend President Obama for his decision not to allow our government to deport the children of illegal immigrants.  It is a decision long overdue.    I have long held that such deportations are gravely unjust, and violations of the golden rule.  They are also opposed to the principle of the Scripture that teaches us to treat aliens among us the same as the native born.   Thirdly, such deportations are an insult to the spirit of our country represented by the Statue of Liberty.    President Obama’s decision is a courageous strike on behalf of justice, compassion and liberty.    Never mind that the timing of it was certainly politically motivated.   Let’s rise above partisan politics and address the issue.  It was still the right decision, finally being made, and should be strongly supported both by all Bible-reading Christians and also by all Americans who are in touch with our great American history which shows the U.S. to be a place where immigrants are welcome.



New evidence of a need for new legislation about immigration


This is a perfect example of the ridiculous situations arising from present immmigration legislation.   To deport this girl would be completely unjust, inhumane and just plain stupid, not to mention sinful.    When are we going to agree that punishing children who have been here since childhood for the sins of their parents is not right.   Such action also flies in the face of the spirit of our country that the Statue of Liberty represents.


The DREAM ACT should have passed

I’m very sad that the DREAM Act was turned back.  Our nation has been known for hospitality to immigrants.  The least we can do is give hospitality to children of immigrants.  It is Biblical to treat strangers living among us as native-born (Lev. 19:34).  
In the case of children of immigrants it cannot be a question of amnesty.  For it to be a question of amnesty, they have to have done something wrong, which they have not. 
I am one conservative Republican who will be putting pressure on the new Congress to fix the current travesty of justice which the DREAM act would have started to address.

Lame Duck Senate Strategy

The Capitol


I am a registered Republican who often votes Conservative.  And I agree with Harry Reid!  The Republicans didn’t learn anything from the last election.   I bet I’m not the only Republican the Senate leadership is disappointing by this latest shenanigan.

  1. It is debt the voters were worried about even more than taxes.  Every thinking person realizes that sooner or later somebody is going to have to pay more taxes to get our nation out of debt.  Nobody wants to do it.  Nobody wants to pay the dentist either, but we do.  I agree with the Democrats.   Restore a larger share of contributions from the wealthier people.  It’s what every businessperson knows. The largest share of business comes from the largest contracts.
  2. The Republicans will lose face with the voters by obstructing things that need to pass.  They are shooting themselves in the foot; they are their own worst PR nightmare. The arms treaty is needed.  By seeming to hold it up, the Republicans will appear to be endangering our national security and edging the doomsday clock closer to midnight.  They will earn the label “obstructionist” for no good reason.
  3. If the Republicans were really smart, their first act, instead of a political bullying attempt, would have been to seek common ground with Democrats by coming together to pass the DREAM act as a bipartisan signal.  Americans would have been shocked but very pleased at a new tactic in Washington.   Both parties want the political hay that is to be made among Hispanic voters.   Unfortunately neither seems to really care about the real life people they should have helped long ago.  The welfare of the children of immigrants is just another political football.

The long and short of it is that we need new leadership in the House and Senate!  We need men and women that seek a centrist way rather than dwelling at the extremes as we have seen; that take a coalescing road rather than the rank partisan one we have watched them travel, that find a way of building upon the past and creating something greater rather repeating the childish “tear-down-their-castle-so-we-can-build-ours” game.