Daily Archives: December 9, 2014

December 9, 2014: Truth2Freedom Daily Headline Alerts Collection

God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. —Randy Alcorn

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Dec. 9, 2014

BLOOMBERG

Forty-five percent of Americans say they now view the Republican Party favorably, while 47 percent hold an unfavorable view. That’s the best showing the party has had since the inception of the poll in September 2009. Opinion about the Democratic Party has plunged, with a favorable rating of 41 percent and an unfavorable rating of 50 percent. This was Democrats’ worst showing in more than five years. President Barack Obama struggles with his lowest job approval rating, at 39 percent and just 24 percent say the country is on the right track, the lowest rating since September 2011.

The Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee are preparing to issue their 6,200-page report on the harsh interrogation tactics the CIA used on terrorism suspects, defying the objections of current and former U.S. officials including former President George W. Bush.

Congressional negotiators plan today to release a bipartisan U.S. government spending proposal, just days before current funding ends, after resolving disputes over Republican policy proposals.

U.S. states are taking advantage of an expanding economy to cut taxes by the most in 14 years while spending more on education and other programs, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

The world’s monetary policy makers are set to open the cash spigot by the most in four years in 2015. Major central banks will together add almost three times more liquidity next year than they did in 2014, according to Credit Suisse Group AG analysts.

Representatives from Iceland’s government, central bank and parliament discussed imposing a tax as high as 40 percent on investors exiting the island.

Gold futures rose to the highest in more than five weeks as declines in equity markets revived demand for the metal as a haven. More than $100 billion was wiped from the value of world equity markets yesterday, and global shares are falling again today. The dollar headed for the biggest loss in a month against a basket of 10 currencies.

An estimated 6.6 million malaria cases and 20,000 deaths from the disease affected Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013, the WHO said.

Home prices in Dubai are set to decline next year as buyers from Russia, Europe and Asia exit the market and fewer secondhand properties are sold

AP Top Stories

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday that his army is taking the offensive against the Islamic State group but needs more air power and heavy weaponry to prevail.

A Florida sheriff called for calm after a 28-year-old unarmed black man in a stolen car was shot and critically wounded early on Monday by a white officer, after witness reports that the man had his hands up and amid racially charged protests nationwide about police violence.

Mexican demonstrators blocked or slowed traffic near at least four busy entry points along the United States’ southern border on Monday to protest against new Mexican fees and rules on imports of used cars from the United States.

An executive jet crashed into a Maryland house on Monday, killing all three people aboard the plane and a mother and two children inside the house, a fire official said.

Islamic State fighters have lost the initiative in Iraq and are now “on defense” with far less ability to generate the kind of ground maneuvers that enabled the extremists to capture large chunks of Iraq earlier this year, a senior U.S. general said Monday.

Cruise ships dump about 1 billion gallons of sewage overboard every year, and much of it is raw or poorly treated, according to federal data.

BBC

The last French hostage held by Islamist militants, Serge Lazarevic, has been released, French President Francois Hollande announced.

Uruguay said it is granting complete freedom to six former Guantanamo Bay inmates released by the US to the South American country over the weekend.

Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels in the east suspended fighting, but new peace talks remain uncertain.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe sacked his vice-president, Joice Mujuru, after accusing her of plotting to kill him.

Global efforts over the past decade have halved the number of people dying from malaria – a tremendous achievement, said the World Health Organization.

The US Senate backed a bill which would impose travel bans and economic sanctions on Venezuelan officials found to have violated protesters’ rights.

WND

The Internet is revolutionizing news consumption, with more than seven in 10 telling Pew Research Center that they are better informed than they were five years ago because of the news websites they visit daily. In Pew’s latest survey of Internet use, 75 percent said they are “better informed” about national news, and a near equal 74 percent on international news.

An Arizona county’s board of supervisors will vote this month on whether to refuse to hire smokers and penalize current employees who smoke.

A new study finds that men who smoke lose the Y chromosome in blood cells more frequently than nonsmokers – and the heavier their cigarette use is, the fewer Y chromosomes they have.

After causing an uproar with the taking of ethnic minority Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves in Iraq, the Islamic jihadist group ISIS issued a pamphlet justifying its actions by citing the Muslim holy book, the Quran, and authoritative Islamic scholars. It states Islam permits conquering Muslim soldiers to have sexual intercourse with non-Muslim slaves, including young girls, and also allows them to be beaten and traded.


Daily Digest for Tuesday

December 9, 2014

THE FOUNDATION

“To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems upon speculations of lasting tranquillity would be to calculate on the weaker springs of human character.” –Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34, 1788

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS

Gruber Testifies

MIT professor and ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber is testifying before Congress today regarding his comments about “stupid voters” and the deception Democrats employed to cram through the “Affordable” Care Act. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) slammed Gruber, though mainly for exposing Democrats’ methods. He decided to discredit Gruber: “As far as I can tell, we are here today to beat up on Jonathan Gruber for stupid — I mean absolutely stupid — comments he made over the last few years. Let me be clear, I am extremely frustrated with Dr. Gruber’s statements. They were irresponsibly, incredibly disrespectful, and did not reflect reality. And they were indeed insulting.” Cummings then denied having anything to do with deceiving Americans: “I was in Congress when this law was debated, and Dr. Gruber does not speak for me, or the chairman of the other committees who worked tirelessly on this bill. We debated this legislation for nearly a year before it was finally passed and signed by the president! Never once did I believe or did anyone suggest that we were somehow hiding our goals from the American people!” At least he can’t say so with righteous indignation, but we all know ObamaCare is the biggest of the BIG Lies foisted on this country. “But worst of all,” Cummings concluded, “Dr. Gruber’s statements gave Republicans a public relations gift in their relentless political campaign to tear down the ACA and eliminate health care for millions of Americans!” Gruber just spoke too candidly.

Obama Thinks Racism Is Still ‘Deeply Rooted’

Barack Obama interviewed with Black Entertainment Television (BET) and addressed the furor that followed the recent decisions by two grand juries not to indict police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo. The president said America has made significant progress when it comes to racism — then alluded to continued racist behavior among some communities. “We can’t equate what is happening now to what was happening 50 years ago,” he explained. “And if you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better. Not good in some cases, but better.” Nevertheless, “When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society you’ve got to have vigilance but you have to recognize that it is going to take some time, and you just have to be steady.” If this is about racism, why did Eric Garner’s widow admit her husband’s death isn’t a “black and white thing”? According to a recent poll, if anyone is to blame for fanning the race card flame, it’s Obama. Bloomberg Politics reports, “[A] majority of Americans, 53 percent, say the interactions between the white and black communities have deteriorated since [Obama] took office.” More…

Warren Forgets Who Created Subprime Mortgages

Barbie of the Left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), told a group of Democrat donors in the Boston area that the subprime mortgage crisis unfairly “targeted” minority families looking to buy a home. She also lambasted what she saw as an unholy alliance between Wall Street and government, with people moving from — in leftist eyes — the evil corporate banks into government work, tainting the vaulted work of orchestrating plebeians’ lives. Politico reports, “She ascribed some of the problem to a worsening climate of economic opportunity for African-Americans than existed even a decade ago, according to attendees. And she said that the mortgage crisis affected black and Hispanic families more heavily, describing those groups as being ‘targeted.'” Warren neglected to mention those subprime mortgages were created by the government — Democrats, in particular — and then the government forced banks to adopt risky lending practices as a way to encourage minority homeownership. So were minorities “targeted”? Absolutely. By Democrats. More…

Minimum Wage Increases Block Economic Ladder

The National Bureau of Economic Research is out with a new paper showing once again that raising the minimum wage has a high cost for workers. In October, Hillary Clinton summed up the Left’s argument that raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer: “[D]on’t let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. They always say that.” But what University of California, San Diego, researchers Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither found is this: “[B]inding minimum wage increases had significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers. … We also present evidence of the minimum wage’s effects on low-skilled workers’ economic mobility. We find that binding minimum wage increases significantly reduced the likelihood that low-skilled workers rose to what we characterize as lower middle class earnings.” In other words, the minimum wage often has the opposite of the intended effect. No wonder the best argument liberals can come up with is “because we said so.” More…

The Iran Nuclear Talks Were Successful — For Iran

It seems like Iran has the upper hand in the negotiations with world leaders over its nuclear program. First, the talks failed to bring a deal by the Nov. 24 deadline. During the negotiations, the Iranian diplomats shouted at Secretary of State John Kerry so violently that his bodyguards thought the “negotiations” would go beyond words. But as the talks failed, the countries at the table agreed to move the deadline to June 30. And according to Kerry, a former peace protester, diplomats will be joining hands, singing Kum Ba Ya within a few months time. But that’s not what Iran has been indicating. It has shopped for materials to build a heavy-water reactor that could make weapons-grade plutonium. And while the U.S. announced Iran made concessions, Iran publicly corrected the White House. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his state-run media, “Of course we bypass sanctions. We are proud that we bypass sanctions because the sanctions are illegal.” By these indications, it seems like Kerry can add the Iranian nuclear talks as a smashing failure to his résumé.

Don’t Miss Patriot Humor

Check out Obama and Santa.

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RIGHT ANALYSIS

Democrats Trash America With ‘Torture’ Report

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This is why interrogation is necessary

The Senate Intelligence Committee will release a report today detailing the CIA’s use of what those on the Left call torture — otherwise known as enhanced interrogation techniques used against several members of al-Qaida during the Bush administration. The 6,000-page report (with a 500-page executive summary) took more than five years and $40 million to produce, and it’s sure to spark much debate for weeks to come.

Did we mention the release is conveniently timed to obscure today’s congressional testimony from ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber? As Democrats might say, “Gee, was that today?”

In 2009, Barack Obama deliberately undermined the CIA and ordered a stop to the techniques used to gather intelligence from three key members of al-Qaida. As Mark Alexander noted at the time, “Intelligence gathered from these detainees, particularly KSM Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, saved American lives and property — especially information that thwarted planned attacks on Los Angeles and New York, as well as actionable intelligence that led to the arrest of an al-Qa’ida cell in the U.S. and the capture or death of a succession of al-Qa’ida principals in the Middle East and Africa.”

By the way, Osama bin Laden is dead thanks to information obtained through enhanced interrogation. Obama likes to spike the football on that one, while repudiating the techniques that made it possible.

The president and his fellow NeoComs say that even though waterboarding and other enhanced techniques worked, they are just too inhumane, too evil. The president said in August, “We tortured some folks.” He further lectured, “When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line. And that needs to be understood and accepted.”

So let’s get this straight: Obama simply kills terrorists with drones rather than try to gather intelligence by interrogating them. His Iraq policy failure was driven by 2012 electoral politics and gave rise to the Islamic State. And yet he now wants us to believe he has credibility regarding what intelligence operations are good or bad for America.

CIA operatives did what was asked of them and what was necessary to gather actionable intelligence. Rather than give praise to these and other Patriots who have helped keep America safe, however, this president, with his rhetoric and policies, is choosing once again to knock America down a few pegs.

Secretary of State John Kerry anticipated outrage from terrorist organizations that could lead to an increase in atrocities overseas, and he personally phoned the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Diane Feinstein, asking that she “delay the imminent release of her committee’s report.” To be sure, Kerry “still supports releasing the report, just not right now.”

Intelligence officials and Republicans in Congress are concerned for the safety of U.S. personnel and facilities overseas. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden warned of the report’s questionable content and its betrayal of our overseas intelligence partners: “This report will lead to a … CIA that is timid and friendless, and that is a very dangerous situation.”

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said releasing the report “is a terrible idea.” He added, “Foreign leaders have approached the government and said, ‘You do this, this will cause violence and deaths.’ Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”

Feinstein is undeterred. She praised the “societal and constitutional values that we are very proud of,” while contesting, “Anybody who reads this is going to never let this happen again.”

Far from such high-minded concerns, she knows it wouldn’t see the light of day once she’s demoted from being chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And, not uncommon with leftists, she would rather see her years of political work in the headlines than be concerned about the lives of U.S. personnel overseas.

Although many of the specifics of the soon-to-be released report are unknown, they are controversial enough to bring former President George W. Bush out of his deliberately chosen quiet retirement. During an interview on Sunday, he made it clear he was fully behind the actions of the CIA: “These are patriots. Whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.”

Retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had some choice words regarding the release of the report as well. He stated, “I’m not sure how much in the way of so-called new material might be forthcoming, but what the report does say … is that there was no actionable intelligence gathered through the process of interrogation of these terrorists. That’s wrong. It’s simply just not true.”

According to Jose Rodriguez, former CIA national clandestine service director, “We got a lot of information from the detainees that eventually led us to bin Laden. And that is a fact. … There was someone we captured in 2004, who told us about bin Laden’s courier, and gave us his pseudonym.”

Recall if you will that it was Rodriguez who destroyed interrogation tapes in order to protect CIA case officers, methods and sources — and that’s what got Feinstein on a roll.

To cap off the idiocy that comes out of this administration, Press Secretary Josh Earnest declared during a press briefing Monday, “Even if enhanced interrogations did help find bin Laden, it wasn’t worth the damage that it did to the U.S.” Excuse us Mr. Earnest, but what would the damage to the U.S. had been if we had not used enhanced interrogations to help find bin Laden and other terrorists?

This report was written by Democrats for the sole purpose of damaging the Bush administration and America. The release will embolden our enemies. And it’s shameful.

Time Is Short for Race-Baiting Leftmedia

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America is being roiled by racial huckstering. Huckstering that would be all but impossible absent the avalanche of mainstream media malfeasance that aids and abets it.

Such malfeasance is nothing new. In 1991, when Los Angeles TV station KTLA received what is arguably the nation’s first viral video of police beating Rodney King, they edited out the first few seconds showing King charging the officers. KTLA shared the video with CNN, which distributed it to networks that played it over and over. Virtually everyone used the same edit. Thus when the four officers involved were acquitted of assault — based in large part on King’s actions — people were infuriated. So infuriated they engendered three days of utter mayhem that killed 55 people, injured almost 2,000, and led to 7,000 arrests. In addition there was nearly $1 billion in property damage that included nearly 4,000 buildings being set ablaze.

It didn’t matter that in a subsequent federal trial for violating King’s civil rights, two of the four officers were found guilty and served prison time. The damage was done — and the media never accepted an iota of culpability for it.

The treatment the media afforded George Zimmerman proves they’ve sunk even lower. It began when one of their own, MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, a tax-evading, hoax perpetrating, Harlem riot instigating, racial arsonist of the first order turned Zimmerman’s shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin into yet another utterly misguided and erroneous national referendum on black/white race relations. Erroneous because Zimmerman was of Hispanic descent. That “problem” was “solved” by both CNN and The New York Times, which referred to Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic.” At least they got it half right. The AP, CBS News and the Martin family lawyer — appearing on Sharpton’s show — referred to Zimmerman as white.

Soon after, the media malfeasance reached gargantuan heights. NBC edited Zimmerman’s phone exchange with a 911 operator to make him sound racist. CNN suggested Zimmerman said “f–king coon” before it became apparent it was “f–king cold,” and the network was forced to walk back their “expert” audio analysis. ABC News showed video of Zimmerman’s head, but covered his lacerations with a chyron, even as they claimed he appeared uninjured.

None of it mattered. Zimmerman was acquitted. But that still wasn’t enough for much of the media that insisted the acquittal was due to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, even though it was never presented as part of Zimmerman’s defense. Nor did it matter that the media’s despicable framing of the story led to a plethora of black-on-white violence by thugs using “payback for Trayvon” as their rationale.

One would think such media-engendered violence would cause those who report the “news” to be more diligent and careful. As Ferguson proves, the media were not only unrepentant but willing to double down on creating and collaborating with a racially charged narrative completely at odds with reality. As was the set-up with regard to Trayvon Martin, and the widely disseminated picture of him used to create the impression of innocence — despite the fact that it was three or four years old — “gentle giant” became the media catchphrase immediately associated with Michael Brown. In fact, the phrase was so ingrained that many people, including U.S. Attorney General and Sharpton-admirer Eric Holder, became indignant when Ferguson police released the video showing Brown participating in a strong-arm robbery just prior to his fatal encounter with Police Officer Darren Wilson.

That particular bit of reality became even more problematic when the media’s “star witness,” Dorian Johnson, not only confessed to being Brown’s accomplice in the robbery, but was subsequently revealed by irrefutable physical and eyewitness evidence to be lying when he insisted Brown was shot in the back with his hands up. CNN tried to debunk the video, which was bad enough. But the media’s lionization of Johnson perpetrated the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” meme that was an utter lie, and yet made it to the NFL field and the very floor of Congress.

With regard to Eric Garner, the media are once again attempting to keep the racialist angle front and center. And like the Rodney King case, the omission of critical information drives the agenda. One can have legitimately differing opinions about the grand jury’s decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Garner, along with the proper or improper training of the police, Garner’s own culpability in resisting arrest, and even the absurdity of a cigarette tax so high that selling “loosies” becomes a viable, if illegal, enterprise.

What there is no question about is the reality that race was not part of the equation here. The reason we know that is because black business owners called the police to report Garner’s disturbance, while a black NYPD Police Sergeant named Kizzy Adoni oversaw Garner’s arrest and apparently did nothing to stop the officers participating in his takedown.

Again, one would think this information, which might go a long way toward defusing Sharpton and his equally contemptible race-baiting colleagues, would be widely disseminated. And again, one would be wrong. New York’s PIX11 mentioned Adoni back in July, but only in regard to a police report on Garner’s arrest. Her race was never revealed. Only Denis Hamill of the Daily News revealed that reality, even as he admitted the Garner arrest “can’t be called a racial incident” as a result. Several different Google searches reveal other third tier news outlets disseminating the info, but all of them source Hamill.

Hence we have an effective blackout.

And the bet here is most Americans know why. The same media with a decades-long investment in a race-bating, progressive worldview isn’t about to let go. And if Americans must endure everything from misguided protests based on lies, to widespread mayhem and murder precipitated by the withholding of critical information, so be it. The racialist narrative must be served — without reservation or remorse.

It won’t last. A Gallup report released Sept. 17, 2014, reveals public trust in the media has tied its all-time low of 40%. Coupled with the advance of streaming technology and alternative media sources, it won’t be long before our dinosaur establishment media faces the ultimate choice: become accurate, or irrelevant. Decent Americans of every ethnicity, who yearn for genuine truth and justice, won’t have it any other way.

TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS

OPINION IN BRIEF

Economist Ludwig Von Mises (1881-1973): “The essential characteristic of Western civilization that distinguishes it from the arrested and petrified civilizations of the East was and is its concern for freedom from the state. The history of the West, from the age of the Greek polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders.”

Columnist Thomas Sowell: “Every society has orders and rules, but not every society has the rule of law — ‘a government of laws and not of men.’ Nor was it easy to achieve even an approximation of the rule of law. It took centuries of struggle — and lives risked and sacrificed — to achieve it in those countries which have some approximation of it today. To just throw all of that overboard because of mobs, the media or racial demagoguery is staggering. A generation that jumps to conclusions on the basis of its own emotions, or succumbs to the passions or rhetoric of others, deserves to lose the freedom that depends on the rule of law. Unfortunately, what they say and what they do can lose everyone’s freedom, including the freedom of generations yet unborn. If grand juries are supposed to vote on the basis of what mobs want, instead of on the basis of the evidence that they see — and which the mob doesn’t even want to see — then we forfeit the rule of law and our freedom that depends on it.”

Columnist Arnold Ahlert: “From the racialized mayhem in Ferguson and beyond, to the sexualized mayhem ostensibly rampant on our college campuses, the nation is witness to a common theme: the truth is ‘not important’ if it creates a ‘conflict of interest’ with the progressive agenda. Fortunately, it is an agenda increasingly defined by its desperation, and the plethora of lies and unfounded allegations it needs to sustain the all-important narrative necessary for its survival. The racial component of that narrative was dealt yet another blow Sunday when Eric Garner’s widow, Esaw Snipes, insisted the death of her husband wasn’t ‘a black-and-white thing,’ seriously undercutting the efforts of racial arsonists like Al Sharpton, Eric Holder and President Barack Obama who insists racism and bias remain ‘deeply rooted’ in American society. Baloney. It remains deeply rooted in a progressive agenda on the verge of complete collapse.”

Comedian Argus Hamilton: “House Republicans threatened to shut down the U.S. government over Obama’s executive order Friday. That’d be catastrophic. Roads won’t be repaired, home loans won’t get approved, and bureaucrats won’t be reachable by phone, and that’s if we can get the government up and running again.”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

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Anyone That Believes That Collapsing Oil Prices Are Good For The Economy Is Crazy

Are much lower oil prices good news for the U.S. economy? Only if you like collapsing capital expenditures, rising unemployment and a potential financial implosion on Wall Street. Yes, lower gasoline prices are good news for the middle class. I certainly would rather pay two dollars for a gallon of gas than four dollars. But in order to have money to fill up your vehicle you have got to have an income first. And since the last recession, the energy sector has been the number one creator of good jobs in the U.S. economy by far. Barack Obama loves to stand up and take credit for the fact that the employment picture in this country has been improving slightly, but without the energy industry boom, unemployment would be through the roof. And now that the “energy boom” is rapidly becoming an “energy bust”, what will happen to the struggling U.S. economy as we head into 2015? (Read More….)


ShadowStats Recent Headlines

http://www.shadowstats.com/

December 6, 2014

No. 679: Labor Numbers, Trade Deficit, Household Income and Construction Spending

• Widening Fourth-Quarter Trade Deficit Should Hit GDP Growth Hard
• October Median Household Income in Continued Low-Level Stagnation
• Full-Time Employment Is 2.4 Million Shy of Pre-Recession Peak
• Headline Unemployment Really Increased by 0.1%, But Gain Was Hidden in Rounding Details
• November Payroll and Unemployment Data Heavily Skewed Again By Volatile and Inconsistent Seasonal Adjustments
• November Unemployment Rates: 5.8% (U.3), 11.4% (U.6), 23.0% (ShadowStats)
• Downtrend in Inflation-Adjusted Construction;Annual Growth Turned Negative in September and October
• November Money Supply M3 Annual Growth Surged to Five-Year High
November 26, 2014

No. 678: October Durable Goods Orders, New-Home Sales, November Consumer Conditions

• No Economic Boom in Durable Goods Orders or Housing Activity
• Real Durable Orders Goods Set Early Pace of Flat-to-Down Activity for Fourth-Quarter 2014
• New-Home Sales Revised Lower in Third-Quarter; October Broad Sales Activity Remained Stagnant
• Consumer Confidence and Sentiment Remain at Levels Consistent with Historical Recessions
November 25, 2014

No. 677: Third-Quarter 2014 GDP, First Revision

• Gross Domestic Product Upside Revision Was Nonsense
• Initial Gross Domestic Income Reporting Suggested Major Revision Shenanigans that Boosted Headline GDP
• Underlying Reality Remains Down-Trending Stagnation in Broad Economic Activity
November 20, 2014

No. 676: October CPI, Real Retail Sales and Earnings, Existing-Home Sales

• October Annual Inflation: 1.7% (CPI-U), 1.5% (CPI-W), 9.4% (ShadowStats)
• Inflation Held at 1.7% for Third Month, Despite Tumbling Oil Prices That Reduced CPI-U by 0.5%
• Annual Real Retail Sales Growth Fell Back to Recession Level, Amidst Suggestions of Much-Slower Fourth-Quarter Activity
• Third-Quarter GDP Headline Growth of 3.5% Should Revise to Below 2.5%; Fourth-Quarter GDP Activity Fair Bet for Outright Contraction
• Existing-Home Sales Gained 1.5% for the Month, 2.5% Year-to-Year, But Fell 3.7% in the Trailing 12 Months of Activity
November 19, 2014

No. 675: October Housing Starts, PPI

• October Housing Starts Indicated Fourth-Quarter Contraction
• PPI Headline Inflation of 0.2% Reflected Peculiarities of New Reporting Approach
• October PPI Will Dampen Real Growth in New Orders for Durable Goods and Construction Spending


Lava flows toward Hawaii village, threatens major intersection

Slow-moving lava from an erupting volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island continued to flow toward a small village, advancing about 250 yards on Monday, and threatened to reach a major traffic intersection before year’s end. While the main flow from Kilauea’s June 27th eruption has stalled yards from the main road through Pahoa Village and just feet from a recycling transfer station, the breakout upslope is active and lava is crawling toward the area, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The flow front is 2.3 miles upslope and does not pose an immediate threat to the community, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said. Last month, the river of lava incinerated a house, the only home devoured by the stream of molten rock. More


China Conducts Third Test Of Game-Changing Missile

China conducts its third test in a year of a hypersonic glide vehicle designed to evade our missile and other defense systems, including the Aegis defense system guarding our carrier battle groups. As we downsize our military, scale back weapons procurement and development, China proceeds at top speed towards weapons designed to counter our once-huge technical advantage and qualitative superiority. Case in point is the third flight test of a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), dubbed the WU-14 by the Pentagon, following earlier tests on Jan. 9 and Aug. 7 of this year. The U.S. Navy is particularly concerned, as an HGV would be a potent weapon against U.S. carrier battle groups in the western Pacific. More


Study finds early warning signals of global ocean conveyor belt collapse

We could see early warning signs of the collapse of a key component of the global climate up to 250 years in advance, a new study has shown – ample time to either prevent or prepare for the consequences of abrupt climate change. The University of Exeter study analyzed the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), sometimes referred to as the global ocean conveyor belt, in a highly-complex and realistic simulation model, and identified the likely mechanisms that would drive such a collapse. The AMOC is crucial to Earth’s climate. It transports heat from the tropics to the cooler North Atlantic and then up into the atmosphere, driven by differences in density in ocean layers that are caused by salinity and temperature variations. Without it, the surface air temperature of the North Atlantic region would cool by around 1-3 degrees Celsius, with isolated pockets cooling by up to 8°C. More


Iris ID Announces ESI Biometric Voter Registration Integration

During last week’s iCPS Symposium, Iris ID and Electoral Services International (ESI) announced that the former’s iCAM T10 and Iris Accelerator solutions are now integrated with the latter’s Biometric Voter Registration (BVR). Iris ID, formerly the Iris Technology Division of LG Electronics, will be providing its biometric platform to allow for enrollment in the voter registration process. ESI provides mission critical voter services and technology for over 66 countries. Those clients can now benefit from the assurance of iris biometrics when registering voters. ESI’s president, Dwight Casson, stated in a press release that a large part of the decision to choose iris recognition had to do with its very low failure to enroll rate. More


Could Seattle And Portland Soon See A Gigantic Earthquake?

The fault zone where the next big Pacific Northwest earthquake is expected to occur lies 40 to 80 miles off of the Pacific Northwest coast. The area is called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Accordingly, earthquake scientists have put listening posts along the coast from Vancouver Island to Northern California. Now, the seismometers have gone eerily silent. Typically, there is noise from the plates coming in contact with each other. University of Oregon geophysics professor Doug Toomey labels it a “a puzzle” and says: ” What is extraordinary is that all of Cascadia is quiet. It’s extraordinarily quiet when you compare it to other subduction zones globally.” More


Six triggers that could renew a eurozone crisis in 2015

The latest instalment of the eurozone crisis could be back on the table as early as next year, as political tensions threaten to boil over. Several potential breaking points in the euro area have been identified by the Nordic bank Nordea, each of which could create new rifts in an already fractured monetary union. Jan von Gerich, chief strategist for developed markets at the bank, said that “even though many of the risks may seem remote, there are plenty of them”. More


Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar benefits are plentiful. Its wide-ranging uses (rivaling the number of uses of tea tree oil and other nifty natural helpers) include everything from curing hiccups to alleviating cold symptoms, and some people have turned to apple cider vinegar to help fight diabetes, cancer, heart problems, high cholesterol, and weight issues. Read on for more reasons to keep apple cider vinegar handy in your pantry. More


Tumbling euro not enough to save Germany’s factories

Germany’s factories posted a meagre rise in output this November, as the slumping euro failed to lift exports. As the value of the currency has depreciated, Germany’s exports have become relatively cheaper, yet hopes of a corresponding jump in manufacturing have yet to be realised. Industrial production grew by just 0.2pc in October on a month earlier according to official data, falling short of the 0.3pc growth expected by economists. The rise in production from euro weakness was “modest”, said Jennifer McKeown, senior European Economist at Capital Economics. October’s monthly increase marked a second month of growth, taking annual growth to just 0.8pc. More


Banks urge clients to take cash elsewhere

Banks are urging some of their largest customers in the U.S. to take their cash elsewhere or be slapped with fees, citing new regulations that make it onerous for them to hold certain deposits. The banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., HSBC Holdings PLC, Deutsche Bank AG and Bank of America Corp., have spoken privately with clients in recent months to tell them that the new regulations are making some deposits less profitable, according to people familiar with the conversations. More


Islamic State Claims ‘Radioactive Device’ Now in Europe

An alleged weapons maker for the Islamic State (IS) claimed that a “radioactive device” has been smuggled into an undisclosed location in Europe, according to an intelligence brief released Monday by the SITE Intelligence Group. “A Radioactive Device has entered somewhere in Europe,” according Twitter user Muslim-Al-Britani, who claims to be a freelance jihadist weapons maker now working alongside IS (also known as ISIL or ISIS), according to tweets captured and disseminated by SITE. More


OF MESSIAHS FALSE AND TRUE

From Jesus to Obama, why we gravitate toward real – or fake – saviors. “We thought that he was going to be – I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime – but the next messiah,” veteran broadcast journalist Barbara Walters told CNN. Newsweek editor Evan Thomas told MSNBC.

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Germans take to the streets to protest against ‘Islamisation’

A new type of anti-immigration protest is sweeping across Germany, as thousands take to the streets against what they say is the growing “Islamisation” of the country.

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Obama renews NSA snooping for 90 more days

President Obama has renewed the NSA’s phone-snooping program for another three months, with the administration saying Monday that it’s too important to let it expire right now, defying members of Congress who said it was time to ax the controversial program. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper said Monday they’ve won a 90-day extension of the snooping authority from the secret court that oversees intelligence activities.

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Sharyl Attkisson: Obama Officials’ Profanity Is Nothing New

Emmy Award-winning journalist and former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson says she’s been the victim of profanity-laced tirades by Obama administration officials. Attkisson was asked about the revelation by recently-retired ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton that President Barack went on a profane, off-the-record outburst over scandals he believed the press was overblowing.

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If thine eye offend thee…

In the book of Matthew (18:9), it states, “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hellfire.” It seems to me that many Americans have plucked out both their eyes and cast them away, given that many seem unable to see the precipitous cliff for which we are heading.

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Obamacare’s Destruction of Primary Care Doctors Continues

Before Obamacare was pushed through Congress in 2010 by Democrats unwilling to consider opposition voices to the legislation, conservatives and doctors repeatedly warned the bill would destroy the ability for physicians to properly function inside a government controlled system. Those warnings went unheeded and now patients and those in need of medical care are experiencing even less access to primary care doctors specifically assigned to them under new healthcare regulations. From AP:

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Christian Affection for Islamic Terrorism

PCUSA ties to Hezbollah were exposed a few days ago by the Israeli legal organization Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Center). Contrary to the vague allegations raised by Cruz, on December 5 Shurat Hadin filed a detailed IRS complaint against PCUSA for conducting prohibited activities under US tax law that included meetings between PCUSA members and Hezbollah terrorists.

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How Did They Miss His Coming?

A question that always used to cause me problems is this one: How did the religious leaders of Jesus’ time miss His coming?

These were highly educated men. Men who spent entire lives from early youth memorizing and learning Scripture, especially the Torah—the first five books of the Bible. Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious and legal experts of the day. They were very intelligent men.

How then did they miss the importance of Jesus of Nazareth?

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We Have Been Warned

By Jan Markell

Learn some of these facts and have these and other questions answered:

* What was behind Franklin Roosevelt’s abandonment of the Jews during WWII? Why wouldn’t he bomb the railroad tracks into the camps to slow down the carnage?

* What happened when 900 Jews fleeing the Holocaust in 1939 on the St. Louis appealed to enter the U.S?

* What prompted Harry Truman to be such a champion on behalf of Israel unlike Franklin Roosevelt? How did he literally save tens of thousands of Jews?

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What’s Really Going on with Holder’s Civil-Rights Crusade against Police Departments

By Andrew McCarthy

Holder and his constitutional-scholar boss are not banging the civil-rights drum because they believe these are prosecutable cases. It is just a pretext for unleashing Justice Department community organizers on state and municipal police departments.

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Headlines of Interest

Social Media Exchange in Church Molestation Case Shows the Absurd Trust Some Church People Have in Pastors

The Five Most Disturbing Things About a Benny Hinn Miracle Service

Former Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church May Face RICO Lawsuit

Hundreds of millions found tucked away in the Vatican

Ancient bibles, smuggled from Syria to Israel in spy mission, at center of ownership dispute

Beloit Wi. Police Ask Residents To Volunteer To Have Their Homes Searched For Guns


The Eight Themes of Liberation Theology

What is liberation theology? It is fair to follow that up with What kind of liberation theology? It is also fair to ask When was liberation theology? Let’s begin with this: modernity created an all-encompassing narrative rooted in social and economic realities that buttressed those in power with structures and ideologies that kept power in [Read More…]

Letter to the Editor From Missionary Couple: Young Missionary Women From AIM (Adventures in Missions) Being Taught Contemplative Prayer

LTRP Note: We have removed a couple identifying elements in this letter to protect the identity of a group of young missionary women who responded favorably to warnings about contemplative prayer practices that they have been taught by their missionary sending organization.

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Allah “The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful” Praised on US House Floor (Video)

The United States House of Representatives allowed a Muslim imam to give the opening prayer on Thursday morning, in which he praised Allah, the demonic god of Islam, who is the enemy of Christ and America. Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli of the Islamic Society of New Jersey was invited by Democrat Rep. Rush Holt (NJ). Chebli praised Allah as, “The most gracious, the most merciful” and then declared “Praise be to Allah, the cherisher, the sustainer of the world; the most gracious, the most merciful master of the day of judgment.” He then went on to declare, “Thee do we worship and thine do we seek. Guide us to the safe path.”

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Rick Warren at the Vatican Humanum Conference: “We All Love Jesus Christ”

Rick Warren spoke on the “Biblical Meaning of Marriage” Tuesday at the Vatican, where he is among 30 global religious leaders examining the changing roles of marriage and family in the world. Warren joined leaders from 23 countries and 14 religions invited by Pope Francis on at the kickoff Monday to The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium. “It’s great to be with leaders from different streams of Christianity from all over the world,” Warren said from the Vatican on Monday. “Although we have some differences, we all love Jesus Christ and we all want marriages and families to be healthy and strong.” Upon meeting Pope Francis, Warren said: “Up close, you can feel the humility and compassion that others see from afar.”

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Rob Bell and Oprah Wrap Up New Age Tour-EQUALLY YOKED

This past weekend, former evangelical pastor Rob Bell and former television icon Oprah wrapped up their national 8-city “Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend” New Age tour. Joining Bell and Oprah on the tour were other two New Age sympathizers – Deepak Chopra and Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). There was a time, not too many years ago, when Bell’s best-selling book Velvet Elvis was being read by millions of young evangelicals, and the book was touted by Christian leaders and college professors. It was a disaster in discernment in the church as even back then Bell was promoting the New Age. In a 2007 article, a Lighthouse Trails stated, “Velvet Elvis and Bell’s Noomas are a trojan horse that will deliver to young unsuspecting kids from Christian homes a hearty helping of the New Age (i.e., mysticism and panentheism). And if they are introduced to the New Age under the guise of Christian literature, many of them will be seduced by ‘doctrines of devils.'” Bell, who stepped down from the evangelical pastorate in 2011, has finally openly shown his true New Age colors by yoking himself with Oprah Winfrey, the most influential New Ager in the world today.

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Religious Affections: Living to God-Worship

by David de Bruyn

“Let me seek Thee in longing, let me long for Thee in seeking; let me find Thee in love, and love Thee in finding.” – Anselm

Once humbled and repentant, the human soul finds, as Tozer put it, that God is easy to live with. God’s presence is more than humbling, it is also compelling. After humbling comes hunger, and after lowliness, longing. Men whose posture was yielding to the supremacy and centrality of God found themselves seeking God’s beauty.

One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. (Psalm 63:1-2)

If the cross-like attitudes of humility and repentance acknowledge and respond to God’s supremacy and holy goodness, then the corresponding resurrection-like attitudes acknowledge and respond to God’s beauty. The life of faith not only prostrates itself in sincere, dependent reverence and repentance, it pursues God vigorously. From the ashes of humility and repentance rises the joyful life of seeking and submission.

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The Painful Lessons of Mars Hill – This will certainly not be the last word on Mars Hill, but it’s still a very interesting account of the church’s downfall, along with some important lessons.

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‘Twas the Night Before the Last Christmas!


Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer: The blog post headline links in this blog post are given so as to keep people informed about current events and discussions taking place within our church and culture. A headline link on this blog post doesn’t necessarily mean that there is agreement or approval with all the views and opinions expressed within the headline linked article. Caution is also warranted with regards to the advertisements and links that are embedded within the headline linked article.

Bible Translation Comparison Chart

Theologue

I have seen a number of Bible translation comparison charts but the one below is one of the most accurate in my opinion.  I was a little surprised at the Amplified Bible (AMP) placed in the most literal category.  The AMP is an ‘expanded’ translation with translation notes throughout in brackets and parens.  If the parens and bracketed notes are removed then the AMP would certainly be classified as a very literal translation. (chart by Brent MacDonald at: www.notjustanotherbook.com).

bibletranslationcomparisonsm

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Ligonier Ministries Blog – The State of Theology: The Good Book

“4.7”

This represents the current number of Bibles per American household, according to a survey by the American Bible Society. Of course, many households have more; some have less. But that same survey reports that nearly 9 in 10 of every American household has at least one Bible.

I remember seeing a list of books that every well-stocked and well-respected home library should have. Next to the writings of Shakespeare, comes the standard list of classics. Then follows the biographies and autobiographies. Next, poetry, and don’t forget philosophy. You also need a few good reference books, especially a good dictionary. Large folio art and architecture books are sure to impress. And, of course, no self-respecting home library would be without a Bible, or two. Or, as the case may be, 4.7.

A crucial question, though, remains: Are these Bibles being read?

In his rather short second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln had rather somber words. This was not a time of celebration, as most inaugurations are. The nation was divided and at war. The speech is full of biblical citations and biblical allusions. Lincoln can barely go three or four sentences before he pulls from Scripture. I’m not at all implying or even trying to imply that Lincoln was a Christian.

To paraphrase Keith Green, quoting Scripture doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.

What I am saying is that Lincoln had a Bible, as did most American households in 1865, and as do most American households today. But Lincoln also read his Bible. And what’s more, his audience read it. In his address Lincoln comments on how both sides, North and South, pray to the same God. Then he adds, “Both read the same Bible.” And read it they did.

Therein lies the difference. We have Bibles. We have lots of Bibles. But we aren’t reading them anymore.

A second crucial question, however, remains even still: What is the attitude toward the Bible? To answer this question, Ligonier partnered with Lifeway research to survey American attitudes toward theology. You can find the full survey results at TheStateOfTheology.com. A handful of questions were asked about the Bible in particular.

Here’s what Americans think. Less than half, only 47%, think that God is the author of Scripture. About the same amount think Scripture is true. And the same amount, 48%, agree with the statement, “The Bible alone is the written word of God.”

If we press even further we find that only 43% agree that the Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches. More disagree with that statement than agree. To be exact, 46% disagree.

The Bible has had and continues to have a place, quite literally, in American homes. But the Bible does not have the place it deserves.

C. S. Lewis made the memorable observation that Jesus is either Lord, liar, or lunatic. One thing He can’t be, though, is a good man or a good a teacher. He’s either delusional or deceptive; or, He is exactly who He claims to be.

The same is true of Scripture. It’s either God’s authoritative and true Word, or it is a dangerously deceptive book, or it is a book of tales by deluded madmen. It cannot be one thing, however. It cannot be a good book.

To a certain extent, it is good that the Bible has a place in American culture. The Bible provides a solid ethical base for a civil society. The Bible is the means by which God’s grand plan of redemption is revealed. The Bible is powerful and life-changing. Its presence in homes should be encouraged and applauded.

It was said of Calvin’s Geneva that as domestic issues reached the ruling body of the City, known as the Consistory, one of the first questions asked was if there was a Bible in the home. If not, the first thing the Consistory did was to order that a Bible be secured. For those without means, the Consistory readily provided one.

Exposure to God’s Word is a good thing. But good things can become problematic things. So it is with the Bible in America.

The State of Theology survey shows that Americans prefer a tamed and domesticated God. The State of Theology survey also shows they prefer a tamed and domesticated Word of God. Just as a tamed God is really not God at all, so, too, a tamed Bible is really not the Bible at all.

There is a long distance between the Bible as a good book and the Bible as God’s book.

The results from these questions in The State of Theology survey reveal that American culture has reached a tipping point. Less than half consider the Bible to be the Word of God and, therefore true. This is a harbinger of things to come. This is a loss of a moral compass. This is a continuation of a slide towards a post-Christian culture. This is sobering.

American Christians

The American church needs to pay attention to these findings. There is something else we also need to pay attention to. It is rather easy for American Christians to be impacted by American culture. What do we as American Christians think of the Bible?

American Christians have Bibles. We tend to have even more than 4.7. Do we read them? Do we cling to our Bibles as the authoritative and true Word of God to us? Do we obey and follow what we read? The answers to these questions make all the difference in the world.

See also:

Dr. Stephen J. Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries.

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Eight Ways to Bridge Generation Gaps in Churches – Chuck Lawless

I’ve heard phrases like these dozens of times as I do church consulting: “Those newer folks just don’t understand the way we do church” or “The older people are in the way of our growth.” In many churches, the generation gaps – between young and old members or between longer-term and newer members – are still wide.

I’ve learned, though, that the generations often resist one another without knowing one another. You see, it’s easy to blame others when you don’t know their names or their stories. Here are some practical ways to close those gaps by guiding the generations to get to know each other.

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Lifeway Exec Says Pastors Not Taking Annual Raises Hurt Church, While He Peddles Poison

Polemics Report

Thom Rainer, president of SBC-owned LifewayChristian Resources, is full of advice. In recent weeks, Rainer has posted advice on ten things pastor’s shouldn’t say, why churches should ditch stand-and-greet time, nine ways to pray for church leaders, and top reasons first time guests don’t return to church. Rainer is really, really good at giving advice. And frankly, people love taking his advice. After all, he’s transformed his position at Lifeway into a professional advice-giver and leadership guru.

And as you can see in the above tweet, Rainer recently gave advice on pastors’ salaries. And in that advice, Rainer asserts that a pastor not taking a raise is hurting their church.

In the mean time, these are the books that Rainer sells to local churches, their pastors and church members:

From non-Trinitarian, Oneness Pentecostal, Prosperity Gospel and Word-of-Faith teacher, TD Jakes:

  • Instinct
  • So You Call…

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Why The Globalist Wanted Obama & How He Will Cause the American People to Openly Embrace What They Would Have Rejected Without His Policies? | Worldview Weekend

Topic: Why did the globalist want someone like President Obama to spend 8 Years as the Chief Executive Officer of America? What has Obama, a Neo-Marxist, accomplished that will cause the American people to openly embrace what they would have rejected without the eight years of Obama and his policies? How is the Hegelian Dialectic process being used as the Neo-Marxists, communitarians, Fabians and Republicans and Democrats work together?

Topic: Today Brannon provides commentary and analysis that you likely will not hear from any other talk show host because most talk show host have not spent the years Brannon has studying the plans of the communitarians and Fabians socialists.

Topic: John Ruskin and Cecil Rhodes discipled many key leaders for many generations with the goal of a world government based out of Europe. Does the Bible speak of a revived Roman Empire? The answer is yes as described in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. Today Brannon explains these passages. listen now before this program rolls into the Situation Room for members only: http://worldviewweekend.com/radio/audio/brannon-howse-aired-december-8-2014

Albert Mohler Blog: “The Only Intelligible Explanation for the Incarnation: A. T. Robertson on the Virgin Birth of Christ”

In his recent Blog Essay, “The Only Intelligible Explanation for the Incarnation” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. defends the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ and rehearses the argument A.T. Robertson mounted in defense of an orthodox understanding of this doctrine in 1925. Mohler writes,

“Robertson, who was among the most famous scholars of his day, taught at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1888 until 1934. He understood exactly what was at stake. The modernists, as theological liberals liked to be known, accepted a distinction between the ‘Jesus of history’ and the ‘Christ of faith.’ They wanted to present a Jesus worthy of moral emulation, but not a supernatural Christ who was God in human flesh. In between, theological ‘moderates’ attempted a compromise between orthodoxy and heresy, offering a Jesus who was supernatural, but not too supernatural. They were eager to reject the virgin birth but tried to hold to other facts of the incarnation. Robertson saw through both the modernists and the moderates. Neither presented a Jesus who was truly God in human flesh.”

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‘The Narrow & Wide Gates’ & New Podcast: The Holy Spirit vs Abusive Cult and Occult Thought Reform

Reminder – ‘The Narrow and Wide Gates’

A small one page article from one of my previous personal updates.

THE NARROW AND WIDE GATES: The decisions humans make

Podcast: The Holy Spirit vs Abusive Cult and Occult Thought Reform.mp3

Description: The Holy Spirit vs Abusive Cult and Occult Thought Reform.mp3

Cold Case Christianity: Why Christian Discipleship Is Critical to Christian Survival

Just before leaving the disciples, Jesus gathered them together and commissioned them with an important task. He told them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus understood the importance of discipleship (the process of making disciples). In fact, it was so important, He made sure it was His last directive to those who followed Him. What precisely is discipleship and why is it so important? Is it simply a matter of making converts? No, it’s much more. The process of making disciples is often misunderstood and neglected in the Church today, and as a result, we are in danger of losing our identity as Christians. Christian discipleship is critical to Christian survival.

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A Look at Jesus’ Family Tree: God in the Manger (Part 2)

Have you given much thought to your ancestry or the roots of your family tree lately? Probably not during the past few days or weeks. But chances are, if you’re typical of most people, you or someone in your family has done some genealogical research during the past ten or fifteen years.

Many books, articles, and Internet sites are available to help us delve into our genealogical records and identify the famous, the infamous, and the merely obscure people of our ancestries. For a small but dedicated number of people, this activity has become an all-consuming obsession that helps them fill a psychological void in their lives or build up their self-esteem. But for most of us, it is little more than a nice curiosity or at best simply a recreation. And it can be an expensive activity if you travel back to your hometown to look up records and obituaries concerning your family members.

The Importance of Genealogies to the Jews

To the Jews of Bible times, however, genealogies were extremely important. Interest in such matters went beyond the realm of curiosity, recreation, meeting psychological needs, or even consideration of family identity and religious solidarity (which we see with present-day groups such as the Mormons). There were four major reasons that accurate and complete genealogies were so critical to the ancient Jews. And as you’ll see in this chapter, two such genealogies were important to the story of Jesus’ birth.

First, ancestry determined one’s claim on land, based on the original tribal allocation of the land of Palestine. When the Israelites first settled in the Promised Land, God divided it into parcels for each tribe (Num. 26:52–56).

Second, ancestry determined claims to the right of inheritance. If a person claimed he had a right to property, servants, an estate, crops, or other material possessions, the validity of such claims was determined by the genealogies of those involved. For example, in Ruth 3–4, ancestry allowed for the transfer of property.

Third, ancestry in Israel established the basis of taxation. When Mary and Joseph went to be taxed in Luke 2, they traveled to Bethlehem because that was the hometown of David, and they were of the house and line of David. They were aware of their lineage because certainly their parents and other older relatives would have described how their family heritage went all the way back to King David. And though they were young, Mary and Joseph loved God and Scripture and surely knew what the prophets wrote concerning Messiah’s relationship to the line of David. Based on that knowledge of Scripture and their family’s genealogical records, which were kept in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph made the journey to receive their tax assessment.

Last, and most important, any claim to the priesthood or royalty had to be verified by genealogy. In Ezra 2:61–63, for example, a number of men were excluded from the priesthood when the records did not verify their claims. Likewise, any claim to be king (and ultimately, Messiah) would be rejected if the one making the assertion could not prove he had direct lineage from the great king David himself.

Therefore, in the theocracy of Israel—a kingdom ruled by God, with its legal statutes outlined in Scripture and led by God-ordained priests and kings—genealogies were very critical. That’s why the Jews kept careful, accurate, and fastidious genealogical records. The genealogies of Jesus Christ in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke reflect those characteristics. The writers’ use of such records demonstrates not only that the Holy Spirit guided them, but also that they had access to actual, verifiable public records that proved the true and accurate genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ genealogy makes a crucial contribution to His credentials as Messiah. If He is to be verified as the King, David’s greater Son who will rule, He must have Davidic lineage.

The Two Genealogies of Jesus

The New Testament contains two lists that outline for us the genealogy of Christ. Matthew records his in Matthew 1:1–17, and Luke presents his in Luke 3:23–38. The apostle Matthew included his genealogy as the first part of his chronological account of the life of Jesus. By contrast, Luke waited until the end of the third chapter of his Gospel to include a genealogy of Jesus. He placed it between the accounts of Jesus’ baptism and His Temptation as a key element of establishing the Messiah’s credentials. There are also other differences between the two genealogies that are worth examining briefly.

The Differences in the Lists

First of all, the two genealogies take different chronological views of Jesus’ family tree. Luke goes from the present to the past, beginning with Jesus’ grandfather and going all the way back to Adam and God. Matthew, however, approaches matters in the opposite fashion. He goes from the past to the present, starting with Abraham and ending with Jesus.

Here are the two separate, but equally inspired and valid, versions of the genealogy of our Lord. Notice some of the differences as you read the two lists consecutively:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. (Matthew 1:1–17)

Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:23–38; italics inserted by nkjv translators)

I believe Luke’s method gives his genealogy more of a dramatic element than Matthew’s. By starting at the present and working back to the past, the beloved physician turned historian and theologian offers us a sense of wonder and excitement as we try to anticipate how far back his genealogy of Jesus will take us.

Matthew’s list, on the other hand, is much more predictable as it starts with Abraham and traces the Messiah’s line forward to Jesus. Matthew’s goal in his list was to satisfy the Jews’ concern about Messiah’s legality. Judaism began with Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. Therefore, it was only necessary to prove Messiah’s credentials to the Jews by tracing His line from Abraham, through David, right down to Jesus. That’s more specific than Luke’s universal approach, which shows how Christ the Son of Man and Son of God links with all humanity clear back to Adam and finally to God Himself.

Between the two records there are also some differences in the names. First, Luke traces Jesus’ line back to David through Nathan (3:31), David’s third son born to Bathsheba. But Matthew traces Jesus’ line back to David through Solomon (1:6), David’s first son born to Bathsheba. Second, Luke identifies Jesus’ grandfather as Heli (3:23), whereas Matthew says that His grandfather was a man named Jacob (1:16). Finally, there are major differences in the genealogies going from David to Christ. Whereas the lists of names are identical from David to Abraham, the two are completely different when you work your way from David to the Lord Jesus.

Explaining the Differences in the Lists

It’s amazing that people often struggle to explain the differences in the two genealogies. But it’s not really that difficult, and there is certainly no problem with having two genealogies for Jesus. In Matthew, the genealogy is paternal, going through Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph; and Joseph’s father, Jacob; back to David. In Luke, the genealogy is maternal, going through Jesus’ mother, Mary; and Mary’s father, Heli; back to David.

When you look at the genealogies this way, the reason for the differences is clear. Everyone has two genealogies—one paternal and one maternal. And Jesus, like everyone, had a paternal and maternal grandfather. So essentially Jesus’ family tree, in exhibiting certain basic differences, follows the pattern of every human genealogy. That is the simplest way to account for the discrepancies in the names.

The necessity to establish His legal right to the throne of David is another very important reason the two Gospel writers gave us two different forms of Jesus’ family tree. And that legal right came through the father; therefore, Matthew’s paternal genealogy proved that Jesus came from a line that proceeded from David through Solomon. That proof is true even though Jesus was not the human son of Joseph. Because Joseph married Mary, the mother of Jesus, he became the legal father of Jesus. As a result, Jesus received from Joseph the full legal right to the throne of David.

Luke’s maternal genealogy further solidifies Jesus’ claim to the throne of David by proving that He has the blood of David in His veins because of His mother, Mary. So, either way, Jesus is a genuine, legitimate descendant of King David.

The Messiah is king legally through Joseph and naturally through Mary. His scriptural credentials are thorough, clear, and irrefutable. From every perspective, we can crown Jesus King of kings and Lord of lords.

Critical Reactions to the Lists

The two genealogical lists have certainly been the unfair targets of doubt, questioning, and disbelief during the past two centuries by so-called scholarly critics of the Gospels. And that has been true for all portions of Scripture. But any in-depth discussion of such matters is outside the scope and purpose of this book. However, I do find it interesting how Jesus’ contemporary critics and opponents among the Jewish leaders responded to what His genealogies concluded.

The Pharisees, Sadducees, high priests—and all the enemies of Christ—sought to discredit Him as their Messiah. The thought that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of plain folks like Joseph and Mary, was their Messiah was offensive to them, and that’s why they ultimately had Him killed.

That’s why Jesus’ foes did everything possible to dishonor Him and disqualify Him from His Messianic claim. And it’s certainly reasonable to assume that, soon after the Lord made that claim, the Jewish leaders scrambled to find the official scroll containing His genealogical information. They would have had to make just a short trip south of Jerusalem to the town of Bethlehem, where the lineages and tax records for the line of David were kept. Once they got hold of those records, they could have determined rather quickly if Joseph and Mary’s ancestry really was Davidic. And discovering that Jesus didn’t actually belong to the line of David would have been all His opponents needed to discredit Him as Messiah. Even though Jesus did numerous miracles, preached and taught persuasively, and claimed to be sent from the Father, discovering that He was not an ancestor of David would have been enough to disprove His Messianic claim.

However, it’s striking that a study of the entire New Testament does not once report anyone claiming that Jesus didn’t come from David. As much as Jesus’ enemies may have wanted to make His ancestry an issue, they never did. That’s because the records supported His claim to be the Son of David. So there was never an official denial that Jesus was from the Davidic line. In fact, here is what the crowds exclaimed during the Passover season just before Jesus’ death, when He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (the day we commonly call Palm Sunday): “‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna in the highest!’” (Matt. 21:9). There was simply no denying our Lord’s rightful ancestry and position of highest honor.

Highlights of Luke’s Genealogy

Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ family tree, using the names of His maternal line, contains several fascinating details and highlights. First of all, the opening verse of the genealogy includes the significant expression, “being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph” (3:23). That is a way of saying that Jesus was not actually the son of Joseph and therefore by implication that He was the son of Mary. Luke used “(as was supposed) the son of Joseph” to conform to the classic genealogical style of referring solely to male relatives. He wanted to maintain that format for his readers, and yet, by this implicit reference to Mary, he emphasized that his genealogy would follow the maternal line. All of that counters any erroneous notion that Jesus’ genealogy could only be paternal to be valid. But just as important, by indicating that Jesus was not the physical son of Joseph, Luke is once again affirming the Savior’s virgin conception and birth.

Another distinctive of Luke’s genealogical format is worthy of mention. If you look at Luke 3:23–38 in a copy of the New King James Version of the Bible (or the nkjv quotation of that passage earlier in our chapter), you’ll notice that in front of all the names but one, “the son” is italicized. That means the Greek text omitted all those occurrences. Only before Joseph’s name does “son” appear in the original. But why did Luke structure his genealogy that way?

The answer is not that complicated. Luke wanted to separate Joseph’s name from the rest of the genealogy. Actually verse 23 should more literally read like this: “Jesus Himself, the son of Joseph (as was supposed), began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being of Heli.” This rendering allowed the original readers to jump directly from Jesus to His earthly grandfather, Heli, the father of Mary. Thus Luke maintained, as he preferred, the classic male-names-only format to the genealogy and still underscored that the genealogy was truly Mary’s.

Luke’s version of Jesus’ family tree contains another interesting feature: Many of the names are unfamiliar to us. From Heli back to Nathan, the only names we recognize or know anything about from elsewhere in Scripture are Zerubbabel and Shealtiel, two leaders of the Jews who returned from the Exile in Babylon. The other names were common Hebrew names in ancient times, and we can trust that they belong in the genealogy as the actual names of Jesus and Mary’s forebears. However, the Holy Spirit did not deem it necessary for us to know anything about the individuals. Only in the section from David to Adam do we find predominantly familiar names that we can also find recorded in the Old Testament.

The final question you may be inclined to ask in view of Luke’s detailed genealogy is, “So why all of this?” The answer is simple. A general awareness of the details of Christ’s genealogy helps us appreciate the God-ordained credentials for the person of our Lord and Savior. Four basic elements of Luke’s genealogy summarize those credentials.

First and most important, Luke asserts that Jesus is the Son of God (3:38). Adam was the original son of God by creation, and he fully bore the divine image unmarred, unspoiled, unpolluted, and uncorrupted until he fell into sin. When that happened, the initial image of God in humanity was shattered, and every one of Adam’s descendants has been stained by his original sin and born with a corrupted image of God. But Jesus came into the world fully pleasing to God, as the kind of man Adam once was—sinless, bearing an absolutely perfect image of the Father, and obeying His will in every respect. As God said in Luke 3:22, “‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’”

Second, Luke’s genealogy makes it clear that Jesus is a Son of Adam. While on earth, He was fully human. And just like His followers, He was tempted, troubled, persecuted, hated, reviled, and subjected to all the normal difficulties of life (Heb. 4:15). Like Adam, Christ descended from a higher plane to a lower plane; but unlike Adam, He descended into obedience, not disobedience (Phil. 2:5–8). Nevertheless, He was every bit of what Adam was—fully human, fully attached to the earth as the Son of Man. And Jesus was also firmly connected to heaven as the Son of God. Thus, Luke affirms that Jesus in His incarnation was at the same time fully God and fully man—the Son of God as to His deity and the Son of Adam as to His humanity.

Last, Luke’s genealogy attests to a third and fourth truth about the person of Jesus. Ethnically, He was the Son of Abraham. That is, He was and is the promised Seed. When God made a promise to Abraham, it was to a Seed: “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). Christ is the promised Seed who will bring about all the Abrahamic blessings. And, as we have already discussed, concerning royalty Christ is the Son of David. He is the promised King who will usher in the glory of all the Davidic promise.

The family tree of Jesus Christ consists of far more than two lists of ancient Hebrew names. It is also much more than boring paternal and maternal lists of Jesus’ earthly ancestors. It is a wonderful testimony to God’s grace and to His Son’s earthly ministry. Jesus was born the friend of sinners, as He stated in his admonishment to the Jewish leaders: “‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance’” (Luke 5:32). The Messiah presented in the genealogies is truly the Lord of grace.[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). God in the manger: the miraculous birth of Christ (pp. 15–24). Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.

The Silence of Christmas: Christmas Study Guide (Part 2)

In this lesson we contemplate the significance of the isolation, humility, and solitary silence of the Messiah’s birth.

Outline

In our world today there is never a time of total silence. Never does the world come to a complete stop—with one exception: Christmas Day. Nobody goes anywhere on Christmas Day. Everybody stays at home. Nobody is on the highways. Nobody is out and about. The whole day is a quiet day, unlike any other day we celebrate throughout the year.

  1. A Silent Night at the Inn of Bethlehem
  2. A Silent Night on the Hillsides Outside of Bethlehem

Overview

Frederick Buechner has written a book entitled A Room Called Remember. In this book he tells the story of a snowstorm that took place in New York City in 1947. He said it was an incredible thing. Flakes just kept coming down, and before long, all of the streets were covered. There was no wind, so the snow didn’t blow. It just stayed. Pretty soon, all the traffic in the city was stopped. The subways shut down. Nobody could go anywhere. Everything came to a complete, total stop. Buechner said the thing that overwhelmed him was the silence of it all. He said there was nothing going on in the city. When people stopped to listen to the noise of the city to which they had become so accustomed, there wasn’t any. It was total silence.

A Silent Night at the Inn of Bethlehem

That must have been the way it was on the first Christmas. Luke 2:1–7 tells us it happened like this:

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

This story—so familiar to us—is nevertheless amazing. Hundreds of years before this event, Micah the prophet told everybody it was going to happen. And not only did he reveal that it was going to happen, but he told where it was going to happen! Not only did he single out the town of Bethlehem, but because there were two Bethlehems, he told which of the two it would be. We read in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” It is incredible that this prophecy was fulfilled as it was in the Christmas story. Think for a moment how—if the Roman census edict had gone out in a different way at a different time, everything would have been changed.

If the conception of the Virgin Mary had taken place six months earlier, Jesus would have been born in Nazareth of Galilee and carried to Bethlehem in Mary’s arms. If the conception had taken place six months later Mary would have already returned to Nazareth, and the Babe would have been born in Nazareth of Galilee. But the edict went out, the conception took place, at exactly the right moment Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem Ephrathah, and in that moment of time—as Micah the Prophet foretold—Jesus Christ was born and became one of us.

I don’t understand all of this, but Luke 2:7 tells us that Mary brought forth her own child. She delivered her own baby. Where were the midwives? Where was the innkeeper and his wife? Where was anyone to help? No one was there. Mary, alone in a quiet place, in a moment of silence, brought forth her child. And into that silent night burst a tiny baby’s cry.

It was that cry that gave hope to a lost world. Someone had come to fix things. Many misunderstood it at the time. Many thought He was going to take away Roman bondage. Little did they know that He had in mind a bondage greater and more eternal than Roman bondage. When that little One cried, it meant that the Messiah had come to earth. In that quiet moment, God had become human, so that as the God-man He could wrap His arms around a lost humanity, and bring that lost humanity to the Father.

A Silent Night on the Hillsides Outside Bethlehem

On the hillside outside of Bethlehem, it was in the cooler season of the year. Shepherds were out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. Nothing special was supposed to happen that night. It was like all the other winter nights when they cared for their sheep and watched over their flocks.

All of a sudden, in that quiet night on the hillside outside Bethlehem there was an interruption. Just as the Baby had broken the silence at His birth, the heavenly choirs came to break the silence of that hillside. In Luke 2:8–14 we read:

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

If we had orchestrated this, if we had written the script, if we were the ones doing this pageant, would we have introduced the Lord Jesus Christ for the very first time to a group of shepherds? We’ve seen so many Christmas programs that most of us are conditioned to think, “Who else?” But in that day it would have been the last thought in your mind, because shepherds were considered ceremonially unclean. They were not allowed to worship in the temple. They were not allowed to go to court and bear witness, because they were the least of all. So God, who chose Bethlehem, the least of all the cities, also chose shepherds, who were the least of all men.

And in the quietness of a silent night, He broke in upon the countryside with an angelic host, praising God, and giving the first gospel message ever preached about the coming of Jesus Christ. What an incredible event!

What was that message? It was the message we need to listen to today: “Fear not.” The circumstances into which Jesus was born are very much the circumstances in which we find our Christmas being celebrated today.

A lot of people “celebrate” Christmas with fear. Yet that first Christmas message was, “Don’t be afraid.” The answer to our fears comes in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Word of God says the ultimate fear is our fear of death. What do we do with death? We need someone who has overcome it, and that’s who Jesus was. He came to overcome death and take away fear.

The angels also proclaimed peace and good will toward men. In fact, in that first gospel message, the angels proclaimed to the shepherds every message we need for our lives today. But don’t get caught up in the song, for the real message was in the Son. It was in the person of Jesus Christ himself.

It was a silent night near the inn at Bethlehem. A Baby cried, and nothing has been the same since. It was a silent night outside of Bethlehem where the shepherds watched their flocks, and the angels came and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and nothing has been the same since. And for many of us, it was a silent night, a quiet moment, when, in the deepest recesses of our hearts, we knew something was wrong, something was missing. Someone had told us that Jesus Christ came to fix all of that. And in that quiet moment, in that silent night, we invited the Savior of the world to be the Savior of our life. We accepted the one who came to be our Savior and Lord.

Many years ago, my wife and I visited Bethlehem, where there is a church called the Church of the Nativity. Though it is 100 feet by 70 feet in size, you can get into the church only one way. The door into the church is not much higher than a child, and it is only a couple of feet wide. To go into the church, people must—one at a time bend down, stoop, and walk through the door.

I remember thinking, “What an interesting reminder to all of us that entering the kingdom of God is not something that happens in a group. It is an individual experience. Knowing Jesus Christ is like getting into that church. You have to stoop down.”

Too often, that’s the last thing we are willing to do. We are too caught up in ourselves. We are going it alone, thinking we’ve got it all together.

Then, suddenly or gradually, the load of life’s problems on our shoulders finally makes us stoop down. Sometimes it is a moment of reality when we realize that the Word of God says, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but that way ends in death.” The world would have us believe that we can come to Christ and embrace the Savior through our own efforts, but the Word of God says we must come to Him bowed down in humility, one at a time.

Would it not be a good thing for all of us in the midst of all the frenzied activity of Christmas, to get away for a short time and mediate on what this story really means and how it touches our lives?

Sometimes the most important voices we ever hear are the voices that interrupt the quietness. If you are not sure where you are with that One who came, you need to let Him speak to your heart.

Application

  1. Read Luke 2:4.
  2. Why did Joseph and Mary have to be in Bethlehem?
  3. Why was that significant, in light of:

Micah 5:2?

2 Samuel 7:16–17?

  1. If you were watching for Messiah at the time of His birth, what would you have expected?

How does that differ from what actually happened?

  1. Read 1 Chronicles 11:2; 17:6; and Psalm 78:70–72.
  2. What groups of people were the “shepherds” of Israel in the Old Testament?
  3. What group of people would have been the designated “shepherds” of Israel at the time of Christ?
  4. To whom did that group of people probably expect God to announce the arrival of Messiah?
  5. To whom did the angels announce Messiah’s arrival?
  6. Why do you think He did it this way? (See Jeremiah 10:21; 23:1; 25:34.)
  7. Read Ezekiel 34:2–16.
  8. What parallels can you see between the bad shepherds in Ezekiel and the religious leaders at the time of Christ’s birth?
  9. What parallels can you see between God as the Shepherd of His people, and statements Christ made during His earthly ministry?
  10. What events spoken of in this passage apparently took place at the birth of Christ?
  11. What events spoken of in this passage have not yet taken place?
  12. How might the angelic announcement to real shepherds have reminded Jews of this passage?
  13. Read Psalm 78:49; 2 Kings 6:7; 19:35; Zechariah 10:3.
  14. Why might the shepherds have been frightened at the appearance of an angelic being (Luke 2:9)?
  15. What might they have been expecting to follow such an appearance?
  16. What, instead, is proclaimed to them?
  17. What, then, is the theme of the angelic proclamation in Luke 2:14?
  18. What is the shepherds’ response?

Did You Know?

Although most “nativity scenes” picture the Baby Jesus lying in a manger constructed of wood, nearly all mangers found in the archeological digs of Israel were quite different. Used for water or for fodder, they consisted of a rectangular trough carved out of a single piece of limestone or basalt—making them look something like a miniature stone tomb. What this means, of course, is that when at His birth Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger, it was a picture of precisely what would be done with His body following His crucifixion.

Light Up Your World

Watch for candles on sale tables throughout the year and gather an assortment of sizes and colors that fit your color scheme. All sizes and shapes can be combined to create a unique centerpiece or focal point. Decorate pillar candles by gluing leaves, glitter, stars, or anything you find interesting. Tie candles together with raffia for a unified grouping.

Clay pots make attractive candleholders and the children can personalize them with paint. For the table, try hollowed-out oranges, apples, lemons, or grapefruits as votive candle holders.

Turn the lights off and sit by candlelight and sing or talk as a family. You may be surprised how the quiet calm of candlelight can bring sweet sanity to a very busy season.[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (1999). Celebrate his love: Study guide (pp. 28–39). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

What is the work of the Holy Spirit?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27 NASB) 

We live in a time of biblical ignorance. Much of the ignorance is intentional. Not long ago I was involved in some discussions with a group whose main goal appeared to be to separate Jesus from Holy Scripture. Those who are immersed in the Word of God as they walk before the face of God in their sanctification see this movement with a great deal of incredulity. How can anyone learn about Jesus and what is expected of His disciples if all understanding of Him comes extra-biblically? 

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