Tuesday, September 27, 2016

John Calvin Killing Servetus

John Calvin (AD 1509-1564), namesake of the Calvinists of today, is a hero to many.  His books are often recommended and referenced.  He was a leader in the Protestant Reformation.  

But Calvin had a dark side.  Part of that dark side was absolutely denying freedom of speech and religious liberty.  On October 27, 1553, John Calvin had Michael Servetus (c. 1509-1553) mercilessly burned to death.  Why?  Because Servetus disagreed with Calvin’s beliefs. 

Leonard Verduin (AD 1897-1999) speaks authoritatively on this issue.  He was a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary, and the University of Michigan.  Verduin knew Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, French, Dutch, English.  On the subject of Calvin, it is noteworthy that Verduin is of the Reformed tradition. 
In his highly praised book, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,” Leonard Verduin says about John Calvin: 

“The burning of Servetus – let it be said with utmost clarity – was a deed for which Calvin must be held largely responsible.  It was not done in spite of Calvin, as some over-ardent admirers of his are wont to say.  He planned it beforehand and maneuvered it from start to finish.  It occurred because of him and not in spite of him.  After it had taken place Calvin defended it, with every possible and impossible argument.  There is every reason to believe that if it had not been for the fact that public opinion was beginning to run against this kind of thing there would have been many more such burnings.  The event was the direct result of the sacralism to which Calvin remained committed, a sacralism which he never discarded.” 

“Here was a man (Servetus) who posed no threat to civil serenity in Geneva – unless of course it be granted that anyone who deviates from the orthodoxy expoused by the State is ipso facto a threat to that civil serenity.  [Footnote in the book: In the sacral pattern heresy is automatically sedition.]  Servetus started no parades, made no speeches, carried no placards, had no political ambitions.  He did have some erratic ideas touching the doctrine of the Trinity; and he entertained some deviating notions concerning baptism, especially infant baptism.  No doubt there was something of the spiritual iconoclast in him, as there is in all men of genius (Servetus was something of a scientific genius in that he anticipated the idea of the circulatory course of the blood).  But he was not a revolutionary in the political sense.  He was indeed ‘off the beam’ in matters of religious doctrine, but he did not deserve to be arrested or executed – a judgment in which the man of sacralist convictions cannot of course concur.  Only in a sacralist climate would men deal in such a way with such a man.” 

Footnote from book, p. 55:  “In the sentences whereby heretics were sent to the stake it was usually specified that the execution was to be by ‘small fire.’  It seems that in the case of Servetus green wood was used, so that it took three hours before he was pronounced dead.”

“When the news was out that Servetus had died in the fire, a cry of outrage resounded over most of Europe.  It is true that many of the leaders of the Reform applauded the burning (Melanchthon, for example, wrote that ‘the Church owes and always will owe a debt of gratitude to you for having put the heretic to death’); although it is also true that some, even in Geneva itself, refused to put their names to a document supporting the execution.  But there was a chorus of protest that issued at once from those circles that had been deeply influenced by the humanizing tendencies of the times.  Contrary to the legend that is kept alive by over-ardent admirers of Calvin, the spirit of the age was already relegating such inhumanity to the limbo of the past.  The Renaissance had not been without its fruitage of toleration.” 
-Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, Eerdmans; 1964.  Reprinted by The Baptist Standard Bearer,Inc., Paris, Arkansas. 

 Verduin goes on to point out how after the burning of Servetus, John Calvin and Beza continued to vigorously defend their brutal, torturous murder of Servetus. 

Thank God for the ideal, largely promoted by Anabaptists and Baptists, of Religious Liberty for all.  Thank God for Religious Liberty in America, although that liberty is being threatened. 

The book, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, should be read by anyone interested in Anabaptists, Baptists, the Radical Reformers, and Religious Liberty.  The book is marred in places by Latin and other languages with no English translation.  I’m a big believer in writing in easy to understand language.  It would also be helpful to explain the geographical sites with modern day language and countries, maybe a map or two.  In spite of this, it is well worth reading and studying. 

“It is difficult for me to speak in restrained terms about this most excellent study. Verduin has done a thorough job of research. He writes obviously out of a background rich in historical information and understanding. This book is all the more significant since it comes from the pen of one of the Reformers' family and not from among the offspring of the ‘stepchildren.’”  
- W. R. Estep Jr., SWBTS
The Reformers and Their Stepchildren has also been highly recommended by Paige Patterson. 

Sacralism – Leonard Verduin’s term for the belief and practice that the church and state are one.  The government should have a state religion and enforce those beliefs against any dissenters.  Religious Liberty is rejected.  This also means the church is filled with unsaved people, since everyone is automatically enrolled in the state church.  Anabaptists, Baptists, baptistic Christians, and others obviously dissented. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 27, AD 2016. 


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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Evangelist T. T. Martin: The Banker and the Preacher

Evangelist T. T. Martin (AD 1862-1939) was a professor, pastor, evangelist.  Born in Mississippi, he was a graduate of Mississippi College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He entered full-time evangelism in 1900 and was known for his effectiveness in bringing conviction and pointing men to the Savior.  He often used large tents for his revival meetings.  He was also known for his opposition to evolution. Thomas Theodore Martin was buried in Gloster, Mississippi and his grave has references to the three texts he viewed as the core of his ministry: John 3:16; Acts 16:31; John 5:24. 

In his 1912 sermon, Rewards – Degrees in Heaven, Evangelist Martin told the story: 

A rich banker in the West a few weeks before Christmas sent a check for three hundred and fifty dollars to his brother in the East, a poor country preacher, telling him to come and bring all of his family and spend Christmas with him.  They had not seen each other since boyhood. 
The preacher and family arrived Christmas eve morning.  That afternoon in carriages the two families drove over the banker’s beautiful farm of a thousand acres of rich land.  Coming in late in the afternoon, they came by the pasture and saw the beautiful herd of blooded cattle.  After a sumptuous supper the banker’s daughters gave them some splendid music and the two families went upstairs to sleep. 
The two white-haired brothers, the banker and the poor country preacher remained downstairs, and for hours talked of boyhood days in the old country home in the East.  At last the conversation, like the fire in the fireplace, had about died out. 
Finally the banker turned and said, “Brother John, may I say something to you and you not get angry?”  Said the preacher, “Why, brother James, you can say anything you wish to me and I will not get angry.” 
Said the banker, “Brother John, you and I were poor boys back in the old country home in the East and we agreed to be partners for life.  One day you came to me and told me that you were called to preach.  I told you then that you were a fool.  What a fool you have been!  Do you remember that rich farm of a thousand acres you saw this afternoon?  Paid for with honest money, John.  This comfortable home for my old age, paid for with honest money, John.  The fifty thousand dollars I have in the bank in the city where I am president of the bank, every dollar of it honest money, John. 
“John, you could have had as much as I have.  What a fool you have been!  Why, I had to send you the three hundred and fifty dollars to bring you and your family that I might see them before I die.  And look at your daughters; they are dressed in such a shabby way that I am ashamed for my neighbors to see my children’s cousins.  And look at you with your old seedy, worn suit and your patched shoes; I am ashamed to take you to town day after tomorrow and introduce you to my business associates. 
What a fool you have been!  Now, John, I am not saying this to wound your feelings; for I love you, John.  But I don’t want you to let any of your boys be such fools as you have been.  You know you have been a fool, John.”   
Then there was silence for some time.  The tears were trickling down the cheeks of the old country preacher. 
At last he broke the silence, “Brother James, may I say something to you and you not get angry?”  “Why, certainly, John, I did not say what I did you make you angry, but to keep you from letting any of your boys be such fools as you have been, for you know you have been a fool, John.” 
“I know,” replied the old preacher, “that it looks like I have been a fool from this end of the line, brother James.  But, brother James, we are both old men and we must soon go.  Don’t be angry with me, brother James, but what have you got up yonder?” 
Again there was silence, which was suddenly broken by the banker sobbing, “Oh, John, I am a pauper at the judgment bar of God.” 
“So is he that layeth up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God.”  They are dying all over the world, men who are redeemed, going to Heaven, but paupers. 

-Evangelist T. T. Martin, God’s Plan With Men; 1912.  Reprinted by Loizeaux Brothers, New York; c. 1950 (no date given). 

This Loizeaux Brothers book is from my dad’s, Joe E. Brumbelow’s, library.  As a boy, I remember him using this illustration in his preaching.  And, I believe my dad’s life was another example of a preacher of the gospel laying up treasure in Heaven. 

There is nothing wrong with being rich, if you can do so while honoring God.  But, whether rich or poor, have you been laying up treasure in Heaven? 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 14, AD 2016. 

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Can A Christian "Save" Others? Yes

Being saved refers to a person placing their faith, their trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and being made right with God.  Jesus bled and died for our sins, and rose again, that we might have salvation by believing in Him.  So, Jesus is the One who saves.  He paid the price for our salvation. 

But, can a believer save a soul?  Many vehemently deny this possibility.  Many Calvinists (Reformed) insist salvation is only God’s decision, even to the point that God has to save or regenerate a person first, before he can believe.  Therefore, a human being can do nothing for their salvation.  The Bible, however, is not nearly that strict on salvation. 

We sometimes get too picky with our terminology.  Sometimes we insist others abide by our personal preferences, or we are ready to consign them to perdition, or at least proclaim them ignorant believers. 

Do I believe Jesus saves?  Of course I do.  Do I believe salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone?  Yes (Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 4:12; John 14:6). 

When it comes to salvation, Jesus paid it all, but others participate in God’s salvation.  Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again.  But the individual must repent and believe in Jesus (John 1:12, 3:16, 36; 5:24; Romans 10:9-10, 13).  And those who point others to Jesus also have a part in that salvation. 

Could it be proper to say, “I saved a soul from an eternity without Christ”?  Regardless of what some might say, this is sound theology and it is biblical theology.  It is just looking at salvation from a different angle.  It also brings out the truth of God being in charge, yet God giving man a free will to participate in His salvation. 

Do I have biblical evidence for men and women saving others?  Yes, I do.

If by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.  -Romans 11:14 

Notice the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, referred to his saving some of his countrymen. 

For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?  -1 Corinthians 7:16 

Many a husband has been saved by his wife.  Many a wife has been saved by her husband.  How?  The wife prayed for him, lived a godly life in front of him, witnessed to him, pointed him to Jesus.  Our “saving” others is biblical terminology, plain and simple. 

To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  -1 Corinthians 9:22

Paul was willing to become all things that he might “save some.”  Paul was willing to sacrifice to “save” others. 

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.  -1 Timothy 4:16

In one sense, you can “save” yourself and others by taking heed to God’s Word.

Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.  -James 5:20

A soul-winner in in the business of “saving” souls.  When you win someone to the Lord, you are “saving” a soul from death. 

But others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.  -Jude 1:23

We are actually told to “save” people.  To save them with fear, knowing that Hell is a reality. 

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  -James 1:21

In another sense, the Word of God is able to “save” your souls. 

Does this mean instead of Jesus, a man can pay for and forgive sins and assure others a place in Heaven?  No, in that sense only Jesus can save (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  But this does mean that the Bible itself refers to Paul, the Word of God, others, and you, saving a soul from death when you have a part in bringing someone to Jesus. 

Salvation is not nearly as one-sided as some would have you believe.  God the Son is the One who bled and died for the salvation of the world.  The Holy Spirit moves and convicts.  But God calls on man, possessed of a free will, to repent and believe.  Further, God even recognizes the saving work of man in pointing others to Jesus. 

So, don’t get too demanding in your personal preferences and shibboleths. 

Jesus saves.  But, according the Bible, man saves as he sows the gospel seed to those lost and in need of a Savior. 

Note: Fancy words and defintions.
Monergism – God brings about salvation regardless of an individual’s cooperation.  The only way a man can believe is for God to first regenerate or save him; only then can he believe in Jesus. 
Synergism – God and the individual cooperate in bringing about salvation.  Jesus made the supreme sacrifice for all, but man must exercise his God-given free-will in receiving salvation.  This is the view that best fits with the biblical evidence. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 6, AD 2016. 

Other Articles:

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wealthy Contributors; Neglected Ministries

Every year worthy, and unworthy, organizations receive large gifts from wealthy donors. God bless those donors to the worthy ministries. Many give to great organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, International Mission Board, SBC, and other good ministries.

I was speaking with a friend the other day, and found he and I independently were thinking the same thing. He told of a two million gift to a good cause. But then we thought of other good solid causes that were struggling, and did not receive as much publicity.

Have you got a few million to spare? Looking for a worthy ministry? Looking to endow a ministry?  Want to lay up treasure in Heaven?  Let me tell you of some ministries that could do much good with those kinds of gifts.

The Biblical Evangelist
An old fashioned independent Baptist fundamentalist paper that presents the fundamental or basic Christian doctrines in sermons, illustrations, and Bible studies. They are Premillennial, Pre-Tribulational, and evangelistic. Led by Evangelist R. L. Sumner, former Associate Editor with John R. Rice at the Sword of the Lord. While independent, the Biblical Evangelist has no problem working with conservative Southern Baptists and features their sermons as well. They are a good balance among all the influences swirling in our Christian world today. Many leading conservative preachers have subscribed to this paper for years. They also publish a number of books.

American Council on Addiction and Alcohol Problems (ACAP)
The is the former Anti-Saloon League. They continue to educate and speak out against alcohol and other drug abuse. They work to pass laws to reduce drug abuse. ACAP stands for abstinence from beverage alcohol. We desperately need this kind of ministry in a world awash with drugs, abuse, addiction, and a tendency to legalize even more illicit drugs.

Mission Dignity
This ministry is fulfilling a great need in our day. Many Southern Baptist pastors have faithfully served small churches through their careers, and never made a large salary. They are now retired with very limited finances. Mission Dignity supplements the limited income of retired pastors and their widows. Your gifts can increase their ability to assist these retired soldiers of the cross. This is a ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources.

Connect 316
A Southern Baptist group speaking in favor of Traditionalism in the midst of a rise of Calvinism in the evangelical world. When I was growing up, this view (Traditionalism) was often called either non-Calvinism or Moderate Calvinism. If you believe Jesus Christ died for all of humanity, rather than died only for the elect, you should check out this organization. Connect316 believes Jesus died for all, therefore, whosoever will may come. They also have some great resources.

So, if you have a few million and need a place to give, consider these ministries. They might even accept your gifts of under a million!

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 17, AD 2016.

Ancient Wine and the Bible - the Book; update
Wit And Wisdom Of My Dad
Up Fool Hill, by J. B. Gambrell

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Saving for Retirement

Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 
-Matthew 25:16
There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it. 
-Proverbs 21:20

Frankie Martin was the treasurer at the first church I pastored. Friendship Baptist Church, Beeville, Texas paid me $600 a month. I also did ranch work on the side. As I recall, Frankie did not ask me or the church, she just started a retirement account for me at GuideStone (then the Annuity Board). $60 a month. She explained a church was supposed to send 10% of the pastor’s salary to his GuideStone Retirement. This did not come out of my salary, but was in addition to it. Frankie is in Heaven today. May God bless her and Friendship for what they did for a young preacher. Since then, I’ve had the next two churches I’ve pastored increase that amount sent to GuideStone.

Assuming God blesses you with a long, happy life, you will one day get old and retire. Serve the Lord and stay busy when you retire. Contrary to a few, there is nothing wrong with retirement. And there is nothing wrong with saving for retirement.

Whatever you think of Social Security, it was never meant to be a full retirement, but a supplement during retirement. You need your own separate retirement fund.

If you are a young preacher, this article is especially important for you. Read every word. Do what I say, and one day you will rise up and call me blessed.

If your job has a 401(k), or whatever kind of retirement plan, give to it. If they match your contributions up to a certain amount, you are foolish not to contribute at least that amount. After all, that is free money; or another way to look at it, you are immediately doubling your money.

Do not take money out of your retirement account, until you retire. Even then, use it very conservatively and wisely.

Usually retirement advisers say if you use 5% of your retirement annually, you will never run out. Start investing now, because that means you will need about 20 times your annual salary. But, if you can’t make that much, still invest as much as you can.

If you are pastor or on staff at a Southern Baptist Church, make sure you have a retirement account with GuideStone Financial Resources, SBC. Some churches, and God bless the ones who do, contribute themselves, apart from the pastor’s salary, to the pastor’s retirement account at GuideStone. If you pastor one of the many churches that do not contribute to their pastor’s retirement, have the church take out 10% of your salary, or more, and send it to your GuideStone Retirement. When you get a raise, put all or some of that raise into your retirement.

One big advantage to having your church send your retirement to GuideStone, is that if you don’t see it, you don’t miss it. This is easier than getting your paycheck, and then having to take 5% or 10% out of it to send to your retirement.

Put your GuideStone Retirement into a good stock market fund that has the potential to significantly grow over time. Something like the Equity Index Fund that generally follows the S&P 500. And remember, some years it will make 10%, some years 1% or worse. But, it will grow over time. Put it in a “safe fund,” and you risk not making significant interest rates; so there is “risk” either way.

This will not make you rich over night, but it will slowly make you financially secure. And think what you can do for the Lord and for others when you are financially secure.

A good rule of thumb is to live on 80% of your income. Give 10% (the tithe) to your church. Put 10% in your retirement. The sooner you start the better. You will be surprised how your retirement will grow over the years.

A good place to start educating yourself about money management is with “The Money Answer Book” by Dave Ransey. I don’t agree with him on every point, but he has some very good basic information. This is also a good birthday or Christmas gift for teenagers and young adults.

GuideStone can give you some great information. Their number is 800/262-0511. Their website is guidestone.org. They even have personal investment accounts, kind of like a bank savings account, where you can invest money in the stock market with them. Of course, it is not federally insured. And, of course, there are other investment companies. I’m just more familiar with GuideStone.

The President and CEO of GuideStone, Dr. O. S. Hawkins, is an outstanding pastor and preacher. Hawkins has published a number of books. Every preacher should get them. His most recent, "The Daniel Code."  It is available wherever books are sold.

Do what I say about investing, and if you end up with too much money in retirement, give me a call.

“Jesus is coming soon and I will not need a retirement.”
I believe in the Rapture. I believe in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I also believe the old saying, Live like Jesus is going to return tomorrow; plan and prepare like He will not return for a hundred years.

“There are ministries that need my retirement money now.”
There will also be ministries that need your giving when you retire. If you don’t save, you will have nothing to give. Also, you may want to include good Christian ministries in your Last Will and Testament. Speaking of a Will, make absolutely sure you have the original Will. A copy may not be accepted by a judge. Make sure your heirs know where the original is.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial adviser; I’m just trying to share a little of what I’ve learned. I’m especially trying to help the young preachers. But, don’t sue me if you are unhappy with your investment! Get sound advice from the professionals. Get documentation of your financial dealing, and beware of con men.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 10, AD 2016.

The Christian Work Ethic
Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Baptists on Tithing

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Pokemon Go" and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. -Matthew 13:44

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) has long been known for evangelism and missions. Now it may become known for combining Pokemon and evangelism.

From a Baptist Press Article:

Southwestern set off 80 Pokémon "lures" over a two-hour period, drawing roughly 200 people from the community, reflecting Jesus' declaration in Matthew 4:19 that His followers be "fishers of men." Southwesterners engaged the lost with the Gospel and, as a result, six Pokémon players professed faith in Christ.

"Unlike any other time that we have done outreach in either the community or any type of mission trip, this was the rare opportunity where we didn't have to go find people, but they were coming to us," said Joshua Clayton, a master of divinity student who organized the event "to seize the moment and strategically utilize the game for evangelism."

A Gospel tract produced specifically for the event by Southwestern stated, "Hello, Pokémon trainers! You think hunting for Pokémon is exciting? What if you were to find out that you may have just stumbled upon the greatest treasure ever known?"

[SWBTS student Mark] Becker told them about the parable of the treasure in the field from Matthew 13:44 in which a man sold all he had in order to buy a field containing buried treasure, "because what he was getting was so much better."

Becker compared it to trading an entire Pokémon deck for a Magikarp -- a rare Pokémon -- to show that what is lost is nothing compared to what is gained, [Heather] Mentz said. "He told them that [the apostle] Paul said everything was rubbish compared to knowing Christ, and I think they could tell by our excitement and expressions when talking that we meant everything we were saying."

Evangelism instructor Brandon Kiesling, who coordinated Southwestern's evangelism teams, noted, "When there are so many people involved with something like [Pokémon], you can't miss the opportunity to use it for good in some way especially when the people come to us. Why wouldn't you [seize that opportunity]?"

Read the entire story:


-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 2, AD 2016.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Before Rosa Parks There Was Ida B. Wells

Rosa Parks is a famous Civil Rights leader. In 1955 when the white section of the bus was filled, Rosa refused to give up her seat in the colored section for a white person. But 71 years before Rosa Parks, there was Ida B. Wells.

Ida B. Wells (AD 1862-1931) was an African-American born into slavery. She was outspoken in defending the rights of black folks and spoke strongly against lynching. Active in the Republican Party, she lived in Memphis, Tennessee and later in Chicago, Illinois.

On May 4, 1884 Ida Wells had a first-class train ticket. The train conductor ordered her to give up her first-class seat and move to an already crowded smoking car. Wells refused the order. Finally the conductor and two others dragged her out of the car.
Wells hired a lawyer and sued the railroad. She wrote a news article giving wide publicity to her ordeal. Her lawyer was paid off by the railroad, so she hired another. She won her case and was granted $500. Later, however, her win was reversed by the Tennessee Supreme Court and she was ordered to pay court costs. Ida lamented, “Is there no justice in this land for us?”

Ida B. Wells continued her activism. She was a firm believer in the Second Amendment and offered the following advice to oppressed blacks.

“The lesson this teaches and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great a risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged and lynched.” -Ida B. Wells, Southern Lynch Law in All Its Phases; 1892.

A Winchester rifle may be a good idea for anyone of any race who desires to protect his family.

So, the next time you hear of Rosa Parks, remember 71 years before her, was the Civil Rights leader, Ida B. Wells.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, July 26, AD 2016.

Black Lives Matter; All Lives Matter
Gun Control

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