Daily Archives: December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014: Truth2Freedom Daily Headline Alerts Collection

The beginning of man’s rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart. —Francis Schaeffer

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Dec. 12, 2014

BLOOMBERG

The United States Department of Justice announced Thursday that Indian tribes across the country can now grow and sell marijuana on their sovereign lands as long as the adhere to the same federal guidelines in place in the four states where the drug has been legalized for recreational use.

For the first time since 1993, most Americans (52 percent) say it’s more important to protect gun rights than control gun ownership (46 percent), according to Pew.

Minority congressional staffers held a walkout in Washington on Thursday to protest the recent police shootings and grand-jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y. More than 150 people participated, according to the Daily Beast.

Russian central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina is running out of policy options for stabilizing the ruble without inflicting deeper damage to the economy.

Russia’s trade surplus widened in October for the first time in three months as imports shrank the most since 2009 after a retaliatory ban on some foreign food shipments and a weaker ruble crimped demand.

Wholesale prices in the U.S. fell 0.2 percent, more than forecast in November, led by the biggest drop in energy costs in more than a year, signaling inflation pressures remain weak even as the world’s largest economy is expanding.

The number of supertankers sailing to China jumped to a record in ship-tracking data amid signs that the oil-price crash is spurring the Asian nation to stockpile. There are 83 very large crude carriers bound for Chinese ports, according to shipping signals.

Of all the financial barometers highlighting the crisis in Venezuela, this may be the one that unnerves investors the most as oil sinks: The country’s foreign reserves only cover two years of bond payments. The government and state-run oil company owe $21 billion on overseas bonds by the end of 2016, an amount equal to about 100 percent of reserves. Those figures explain why derivatives traders aren’t only betting that a default is almost certain but that it will most likely happen within a year.

Benchmark U.S. oil prices extended losses below $60 a barrel as the International Energy Agency cut its global demand forecast for the fourth time in five months. West Texas Intermediate crude is poised for a weekly decline of 11 percent while Brent has lost 9 percent in London.

AP Top Stories

It’s now up to the Senate to pass a huge $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government running, but not before a battle between old school veterans and new breed freshmen such as tea partier Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren, a liberal with a national following.

A Palestinian man threw a chemical substance believed to be acid at an Israeli family in the occupied West Bank on Friday, injuring a man and four children.

A Brazilian man accused of stabbing a woman to death in a Rio suburb has confessed to have murdered 41 people, almost all of them women, “for the fun of it,” police said Thursday.

Family members of the passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are still seeking answers and closure nine months after the plane’s disappearance

Google is reportedly closing the doors of its engineering office in Russia after a string of changes in legislation now force tech firms to keep the data of Russian citizens in the country.

BBC

CIA Director John Brennan defended his agency’s past interrogation program but admits some techniques used against detainees were “abhorrent”.

Canadian police can search the contents of a mobile phone after arrest, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled.

Brazilian prosecutors charged 35 executives from the country’s largest engineering companies in connection with the Petrobras corruption scandal.

Kenya’s parliament backed a bill giving security agencies greater powers following recent attacks, but rights groups are strongly critical.

Australian PM Tony Abbott vowed to “sweat blood” to secure constitutional recognition for indigenous people, saying he wants a referendum in 2017.

Bangladeshi villagers used sponges, pots and pans to help clear thousands of gallons of oil, which spilled into a wildlife sanctuary on Tuesday.

A Chinese construction giant is set to buy one of Australia’s largest construction companies for $951m.

The EU may scrap plans for legislation on air pollution and waste in a drive to boost economy.

Police in India are investigating claims that a Bangalore business executive is behind an influential pro-Islamic State Twitter account.

WND

Though school officials, nutritionists, parents, and students have decried First Lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch program, the $1 trillion CRomnibus (part “continuing resolution” and part “omnibus”) does not include relief from the unpopular meals standards after all.

The U.S. State Department announced this week that the first major contingent of Syrian refugees, 9,000 of them, have been hand-selected by the United Nations for resettlement into communities across the United States.

Millions of Americans face catastrophic loss of electrical power during a future magnetic space storm that will disrupt the electric grid and cause cascading infrastructure failures, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document.

A docuseries, from Ryan Seacrest Productions, centers on a teen named Ben who learns his parents are not only getting a divorce, but also that his father is becoming a woman.


Daily Digest for Friday

December 12, 2014

THE FOUNDATION

“The instability of our laws is really an immense evil. I think it would be well to provide in our constitutions that there shall always be a twelve-month between the ingross-ing a bill & passing it: that it should then be offered to its passage without changing a word: and that if circumstances should be thought to require a speedier passage, it should take two thirds of both houses instead of a bare majority.” –Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 1787

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS

Rancorous House Passes ‘CRomnibus’

Both Republican and Democrat caucuses in the House cracked and splintered as the chamber approved the CRomnibus (part omnibus, part continuing resolution) spending package Thursday night. Republicans needed 80 Democrat votes to send the bill to the Senate, and that’s with making the bill as enticing as possible for the Left. Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) said, “In 20 years of being on the appropriations [committee], I haven’t seen a better compromise in terms of Democratic priorities,” because the bill funded ObamaCare, early childhood education and the EPA. But progressive members of the party balked at the provision rolling back the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. The White House skipped up to Capitol Hill to lobby for the legislation, but Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) created a coalition in her office of 20 fellow Democrats to oppose the president. She said, “We don’t like lobbying that is being done by the president or anybody else that would allow us to support a bill that … would give a big gift to Wall Street and the bankers. … So I’m opposed to it and we’re going to fight it.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bill “blackmail.” Still, the bill is now headed to the Senate.

Brennan Admits Mistakes but Defends CIA

CIA Director John Brennan responded to Senate Democrats’ “torture” report in a rare Langley press conference Thursday, defending the agency but also admitting serious mistakes. “In many respects the program was uncharted territory for the CIA, and we were unprepared,” Brennan said. “But the president authorized the program six days after 9/11, and it was our job to carry it out.” He acknowledged that some techniques the CIA employed were “abhorrent and should be repudiated by all” involved, adding, “None of these lapses should be excused, downplayed or denied.” Brennan also conceded it is “unknown and unknowable” if information gleaned from enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) could have been obtained otherwise, and he supports “the president’s decision to prohibit the use of EITs” (because he likes his job and wants to keep it). But he insisted, contrary to the Democrats’ report, “The detention and interrogation program produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.” That included information leading to Osama bin Laden. Furthermore, “[F]or someone to say that there was no intelligence of value … that came from those detainees once they were subjected to EITs, I think … lacks any foundation at all.” More…

Lerner Emails: DOJ and IRS Colluded on Targeting Conservatives

The Department of Justice faced a conflict of interest as it “investigated” ex-IRS official Lois Lerner and the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. Judicial Watch released a 2010 email exchange between the DOJ’s Election Crimes Division and the IRS’s Tax Exempt Division. The DOJ invited an IRS official “to meet with us concerning 501(c)(4) issues.” While the then-head of the Tax Exempt Division couldn’t make the meeting, her deputy, Lois Lerner, did. As president of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton said, “[I]t is of particular concern that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which would ordinarily investigate the IRS abuses, is now implicated in the IRS crimes. No wonder the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done no serious investigation of the Obama IRS scandal.” Now that we’ve established a corrupting relationship between the DOJ and the IRS, we need to find that connection where the White House was calling the shots, taking aim at its political enemies. More…

Obama Says His Executive Action Won’t Be Undone by Executive Action

Barack Obama’s policies on immigration are the correct policies, politically speaking, according to Obama. “It’s true a future administration might try to reverse some of our policies,” Obama told a gathering in Nashville. “But I’ll be honest with you — the American people basically have a good heart and want to treat people fairly and every survey shows that if, in fact, somebody has come out and subjected themselves to a background check, registered [and] paid their taxes, the American people support allowing them to stay. So any future administration that tried to punish people for doing the right thing, I think, would not have the support of the American people. It’s true; theoretically, a future administration could do something that I think would be very damaging. It’s not likely, politically, that they reverse everything we’ve done.” He went on to say conservatives should be thanking him, as some amnesty advocates want to all but erase the border between Mexico and the U.S., but nice-guy Obama stopped them — this time. Essentially, Obama is saying he’s a one-of-a-kind president, because only he can change the law and make it permanent, and, by definition, anyone who disagrees is doing damage. More…

Sebelius Thinks Problem With ObamaCare Is Branding

We’re not the stupid American voters Kathleen Sebelius thinks we are. The former HHS secretary declared the “Affordable” Care Act would be a smashing success if it wasn’t named after the unpopular president. “I think we may need to call it something in the future different [sic], but it is working. ObamaCare, no question, has a very bad brand that has been driven intentionally by a lot of misinformation and a lot of paid advertising,” she said, without a hint of irony. Sebelius, who recently challenged the financial literacy of her fellow Americans, may not want to admit it’s not the law’s name that makes nearly 60% of Americans support repealing it. We don’t like the law because it disrupts our lives and redistributes our wealth. And because it was sold on a pack of lies. And because it encroaches on the Constitution, the free market and Liberty. More…

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RIGHT ANALYSIS

Democrats Reload on Gun Control

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Democrats are nothing if not persistent. In the wake of their second straight midterm election shellacking, they have decided to double down on one of their pet issues: gun control. Republicans will soon have more members in Congress than they’ve had in more than 70 years, while Democrats have completely lost the South and have been routed at the state level. Yet they believe gun control is their silver bullet.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched the “Big Ideas Project” this week to gather ideas from the public in order to reenergize Democrats. If gun control is the big idea they came up with, they should keep asking questions.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) trumpeted this new initiative. “When you don’t pass background checks,” he warned, “it’s much more likely that someone will get their hands on an illegal gun and use it to kill their neighbors and classmates.”

His fellow Connecticut Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, made an even more outrageous claim: “Congress’s failure to act makes it, in fact, an aider and abettor to those deaths that could be prevented.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that a universal background check bill is “inevitable.” She claims the bill has 180 cosponsors. Of course, it would need 218 votes to pass, though Democrats promise they’ll try.

Democrats have relied these tired, old arguments and shame tactics for years to make their case for infringing Second Amendment rights. Facts go by the wayside, actual public sentiment is ignored and logic gives way to emotions.

Of course, we all want to prevent mass shootings, but the universal background check bill Democrats roll out after every horrific killing spree is not the answer. A review of mass shootings going back two decades shows that killers either obtain guns legally after passing a background check, or they steal them from their legal owners. Mass murderers almost never procure a gun on the black market. And any background check law that Congress could pass would not affect murderous psychopaths too young to purchase a gun legally.

Meanwhile, public opinion is against Democrats. Legal gun sales have risen dramatically since 2009, thanks to the gun salesman of the decade — Barack Obama. And a report issued earlier this week by the Pew Research Center indicates support for gun rights is now at its highest in two decades. According to the report, 52% believe it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns. This level of support has risen seven points since January 2013, just after the Newtown murders provided the crisis Democrats needed for their ensuing exploitative push for tighter gun control. Some 57% of Americans say gun ownership does more to deter crime than create it, while only 38% believe it endangers public safety. Support among blacks for gun rights has also risen, with 54% saying gun ownership deters crime — nearly double the percentage of supporters in December 2012.

Looking at partisan views on the issue, it’s easy to see where it all breaks down. Six in 10 Democrats say guns do more to put safety at risk, while eight in 10 Republicans believe guns deter crime. According to Pew, Republican support has gone up 17 points since 2012.

Democrats look at these statistics and say the study is flawed, claiming that the questions are misleading and not framed correctly. They also resort to insulting people who support gun rights. Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post called the Second Amendment the “refuge of bumpkins and yeehaws who like to think they are protecting their homes against imagined swarthy marauders desperate to steal their flea-bitten sofas from their rotting front porches.” Not exactly a statement designed to win hearts and minds to a cause.

With this attitude being so prevalent among Democrats, is it really any wonder why they are losing elections so badly?

A growing majority of the public believes legal gun ownership is a solid deterrent to crime, and facts support this view. If Democrats couldn’t pass gun control after the highly politicized Newtown shooting in 2012, in what environment do they think they could attain their goal?

As important as this public opinion is for preserving our rights, however, the most critical fact comes straight from our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” and among them is self-defense. That won’t be made untrue by any law or public opinion poll.

Are College Women Crying Wolf?

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We’ve been told repeatedly by Barack Obama and others in his truth-challenged administration that one in five college women across the nation will be the victim of sexual assault. One in five. Congress is working on legislation to address the issue. Magazine articles and books are written with the narrative as background. But is the story true?

Earlier this week we told you about all the trouble caused by a phony Rolling Stone rape exposé. Reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely interviewed a woman named Jackie, who, as it turns out, falsely accused members of a University of Virginia fraternity of gang-raping her at a party. While the magazine has backtracked on most of the account, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan did not relent on a suspension of all fraternity activities for the remainder of the semester and winter break. Sullivan still considers sexual violence among the “most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today.”

This Rolling Stone hit piece came hot on the heels of HBO celebrity Lena Dunham’s autobiographical claim that she was raped by a “mustachioed campus Republican named Barry” during her days at Oberlin College. Her book publisher later walked back the story when the alleged perpetrator cried foul and lawyered up.

So one has to ask why these stories fall into the “fake but accurate” school of journalism. We think it’s because they fit so neatly into the prevailing progressive narrative of women as sexual victims. As the tale is told, predatory males (for example, of the Duke lacrosse team) go to college to drink, party and prey upon college women. Therefore, to question (read: to seriously investigate) any allegation is to be, in the parlance of feminists, a “rape apologist.”

Sexual assault is a horrific crime, and too often women don’t report it. But the Obama administration’s now-engrained statistic is bogus, and it does damage not only to the fight against real sexual assault on campus but also to the perception we have of college men in general.

This week, the Bureau of Justice Statistics — part of Eric Holder’s Justice Department — released a new survey that scrutinized nearly two decades’ worth of crime statistics and revealed that the oft-repeated one-in-five tale grossly overstated the true statistical likelihood of such an occurrence. Instead of 20%, the actual figure came out to be 0.61%. So the narrative that college is unsafe for women simply falls apart under the light of investigation. In fact, the college campus is actually slightly safer than the “outside world” off-campus, where the figure was 0.76%.

These statistics don’t settle the debate, however. Some women never report their assault, and some guilty men get away with it. Yet to point out that the narrative is false is to become a pariah. Just ask political analyst George Will about his experience in questioning the one-in-five stat earlier this year. The ironclad narrative defense has also led to the loss of due process for male students, as federal rules are encouraging colleges to adopt a lower standard — simple “preponderance of the evidence” — to adjudicate on-campus sexual assault allegations.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes: “Because campuses provide victims with a lower standard of proof, utilize definitions of consent that effectively flip the burden of proof onto the accused, and prohibit cross examinations, complainants are predictably steered away from the criminal justice system until it is often too late to initiate an effective law enforcement response.”

Again, just because the narrative is incorrect doesn’t mean we should do less for those who are victims. But the evidence clearly shows that males on a college campus, even those in fraternities, should not automatically be looked upon with suspicion as potential rapists. Leftists hurt their own cause when they fail to remember the tale of the girl who cried wolf.

TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS

OPINION IN BRIEF

Economist Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992): “The greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good.”

Columnist Charles Krauthammer: “The report by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding CIA interrogation essentially accuses the agency under George W. Bush of war criminality. … It’s a common theme (often echoed by President Obama): Amid panic and disorientation, we lost our moral compass and made awful judgments. … So what was the Bush administration to do? Amid the smoking ruins of Ground Zero, conduct a controlled experiment in gentle interrogation and wait to see if we’d be hit again? A nation attacked is not a laboratory for exquisite moral experiments. It’s a trust to be protected, by whatever means meet and fit the threat. Accordingly, under the direction of the Bush administration and with the acquiescence of congressional leadership, the CIA conducted an uncontrolled experiment. It did everything it could, sometimes clumsily, sometimes cruelly, indeed, sometimes wrongly. But successfully. They kept us safe.”

Columnist Jonah Goldberg: “Killing is worse than torture. Life in prison might be called torture for some people, and yet we consider the death penalty a more severe punishment. Most people would prefer to be waterboarded than killed. All sane and decent people would rather go through what Khalid Sheikh Mohammad went through than see their whole family slaughtered from 10,000 feet by a drone. And yet President Obama routinely sanctions drone strikes while piously outlawing the slapping of prisoners who might have information that would make such strikes less necessary — and, more importantly, would prevent the loss of innocent American lives. It’s odd: Even though killing is a graver moral act, there’s more flexibility to it. America killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in World War II, but few would call that murder because such actions as the firebombing of Dresden were deemed necessary to win the war. In other words, we have the moral vocabulary to talk about kinds of killing — from euthanasia and abortion to capital punishment, involuntary manslaughter and, of course, murder — but we don’t have a similar lexicon when it comes to kinds of torture.”

Humorist Frank J. Fleming: “You made 24 a hit show and suddenly you’re against torture? Whatever, America.”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.

“The Patriot Post (www.patriotpost.us/subscribe/ )”


December 11, 2014
CLIFF KINCAID — Like the use of the word “chokehold” in connection with the death of Eric Garner, the term “torture” has been applied repeatedly by the media to the CIA’s treatment of suspected terrorists. These are examples of how left-wing forces in the Obama administration, the Democratic Party and the media try to control and manipulate the public debate in ways that demonize those defending our nation…. (more)

December 11, 2014
NEWSMAX — It’s “outrageous” for Republicans to rush a budget bill through the House the same way Democrats did when they held a majority, Rep. Raul Labrador told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”… (more)

December 11, 2014
WORLDNETDAILY — U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., sharply disputed an assertion by the treasurer of the AFL-CIO that President Obama’s move to provide amnesty for as many as five million illegal immigrants would help the economy and benefit American workers…. (more)

December 11, 2014
LARRY KLAYMAN — Will a federal court block President Barack Obama’s new “executive action” amnesty for illegal aliens? Readers may recall that an injunction against the National Security Agency (NSA) and other federal agencies was issued by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in my lawsuit against warrantless telephone surveillance. That injunction ordering the NSA and others to stop their mass surveillance is currently on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit…. (more)

December 11, 2014
BOB UNRUH — A judge has sided with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the first clash in what is expected to be a major court fight over the legality – – or not – – of Barack Obama’s looming amnesty program, ordering a fast track for case arguments and hearings…. (more)


December 11, 2014
NEWSMAX — Two dozen sheriffs from across the nation gathered in Washington on Wednesday “to lay down the gauntlet to say that we will not accept President Obama’s executive action” giving amnesty to what Sheriff Paul Babeu believes could be as many as 20 million illegal aliens…. (more)

December 11, 2014
INDEPENDENT MEDIA SOLIDARITY — This is the combined efforts of some of the most heroic people I have ever met. This video will be attacked and probably removed before you can finish watching it – Please Download it for yourselves while you can. If you re-Upload just credit the ones listed below…. (more)


December 11, 2014
NEWSMAX — President Barack Obama’s support of the findings in the CIA interrogation report has put him at odds with CIA Director John Brennan, one of his closest advisers, who disputes a number of the findings in the report…. (more)


December 11, 2014
WASHINGTON TIMES — A State Department official told Congress on Wednesday he agreed with the high-level decision to deny machine guns requested by U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the deadly terrorist attack, in testimony that led toward the office of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton…. (more)


December 11, 2014
NEWSMAX — The pending defense authorization bill would require the Obama administration to report fully on Moscow’s violations of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the Washington Free Beacon reports…. (more)

December 11, 2014
NEWSMAX — Rep. Cynthia Lummis told “Fox & Friends” that Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber sounded “insincere” in his testimony Tuesday on Capitol Hill, which is why she told him to get over his “damned glibness.”… (more)


December 11, 2014
WASHINGTON TIMES — Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to abide by Obamacare by requiring all their staffers to sign up for insurance on the health care exchanges, a move designed to take the moral high ground when the GOP takes control of the chamber next year and moves to repeal the health care law altogether…. (more)

December 11, 2014
PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY — Feminists are distraught now that Rolling Stone has retracted the sensational University of Virginia rape story published last month. Many are continuing to defend “Jackie,” the UVA student whose tale of a horrific gang rape was found to contain numerous holes…. (more)


December 10, 2014
CHARLES HURT — Barely one month ago, the party sailed to victory in one of the biggest rout election waves of the past century. They ran the board and took control of the U.S. Senate. They grew to historic levels in the U.S. House. The Democratic Party was left in tatters in state, local and governor races across the country…. (more)

December 10, 2014
MICHELLE MALKIN — The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, just like the endless cycles of big, bad government programs to federalize preschool and day care. On Wednesday, the White House Summit on Early Education will unveil nearly $1 billion in new “investments” to “expand access to high-quality early childhood education to every child in America” from “birth and continuing to age 5.”… (more)

December 10, 2014
DAILY SIGNAL — Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has drafted legislation to prohibit the federal government from “mandating, incentivizing or coercing” states to adopt the national education standards known as Common Core, The Daily Signal has learned…. (more)

December 10, 2014
WASHINGTON TIMES — A professor at South Texas College in Weslaco was captured on video explaining to his students some of the perceived similarities between modern day tea party members and 1930’s-era Nazis in Germany – – and then imploring them to not tell anyone outside the classroom of his comparison…. (more)


December 10, 2014
WORLDNETDAILY — The government watchdog group Judicial Watch has struck again, discovering Lois Lerner, former IRS tax-exempt division chief, had discussed possible criminal prosecution of conservative groups with Justice Department officials two years before what the agency had conceded…. (more)

December 9, 2014
BOB UNRUH — Jeanine Pirro, host of the Fox News show “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” is charging President Obama with pursuing an agenda based on race. WND reported earlier when she said Americans are beset with a president who won’t tell them the truth, when she accused Obama of failing to prepare America for imminent jihadist attacks and when she said his handling of various crises constitutes impeachable offenses…. (more)

December 9, 2014
PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY — Obama received a thundering rejection to his attempt to make the November congressional election a referendum on his policies. And the biggest Republican majority elected in more than 60 years promised to bring new life to Congress…. (more)

December 9, 2014
PAUL BEDARD — 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…. (more)

December 9, 2014
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Rep. Darrell Issa is one of the most polarizing members of Congress. As chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the California Republican has pursued several high-profile investigations of the Obama administration, including its handling of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, IRS targeting of conservative groups, and the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious gun-running scandal. Issa’s aggressive, often combative nature has infuriated the White House and Democrats and even ruffled feathers within his own party…. (more)

December 8, 2014
ALAN KEYES — Recently, I read this headline at WND: “Source: Senate GOP ‘refuses to strategize’ against Obama.” It linked to a story about the approach being taken by the GOP’s quisling leadership in the aftermath of Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders on immigration, an open (and pretty plainly declared) attack on the U.S. Constitution… (more)

December 8, 2014
CLIFF KINCAID — The grand jury in the Eric Garner case heard nine weeks of evidence before declining to indict the police officer. Many in the media didn’t wait nine minutes before finding the officer guilty of a crime. This rush to judgment was evident across the political spectrum, in the liberal and conservative media… (more)


December 8, 2014
LAURIE ROTH — Many of you may have read some of my articles and perhaps listened to one of my radio shows over the years. I have been a commentator and national radio talk show host since 2001 and have seen our nation go through a tidal wave of ups and downs, as you have…. (more)


 Disney-Owned ABC Family Orders Transgender Docuseries Produced By Ryan Seacrest

The Disney-owned cable network has handed out a straight-to-series pickup for My Transparent LifeThe Hollywood Reporter has learned

The docuseries, from Ryan Seacrest Productions, centers on a teen named Ben who learns his parents are not only getting a divorce, but also that his father is becoming a woman.

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The series will intimately follow Ben, his family and friends as they support each other through the unexpected journey and watch Charlie slowly become Carly, as she experiences the many stages of her transition from male to female. The show is described as a generational story of a loving family and circle of friends, supporting each other through the unfamiliar and unexpected situation.

ABC Family is best known for its complex, loving and relatable family programming, and we are so proud to partner with Ryan Seacrest Productions to share Ben’s incredible real-life story,” said ABC Family president Tom Ascheim. “While Ben’s family situation is unusual, the themes and coming-of-age issues are universal, and we think our viewers will find a real connection to them.”

Read the rest of the story on The Hollywood Reporter…

 

The post Disney-Owned ABC Family Orders Transgender Docuseries Produced By Ryan Seacrest appeared first on Now The End Begins.


Exodus: Gods and Kings

Ten reasons to not be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic.

With an atheist as its director and a lead actor who regrettably suggested Moses could be seen as “schizophrenic” and “barbaric,” the film more than invites skepticism from biblically faithful filmgoers. (McCracken, Christianity Today)

Read more


Oil price slump to trigger new US debt default crisis as Opec waits

Senator: Obama’s Amnesty Gives Illegals A Fast-Track To Voting Booth

Obama Justice Department Was Involved In IRS Targeting, Lerner Emails Reveal

Pornography use affects ‘real’ relationships


Presenting The $303 Trillion In Derivatives That US Taxpayers Are Now On The Hook For

That constellation of trillions of dollars of credit derivatives which floats around the globe? The one generated by the big banks? Looks like we’re now the ones responsible for them when they come crashing through the atmosphere.

Great.

Read More


British Christianity: Churches Decline While Islam Grows; Is America Next?


Black Pro-Lifers: If “Black Lives Matter,” Why Don’t They Protest Abortion?
Each and every life matters – but, as the media cry “black lives matter,” they conveniently forget the millions of black babies destroyed in abortion. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” surfaced in the news and on social media after a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown last month. The mantra continued after a viral video showed Eric Garner’s death after a confrontation with New York police. From the beginning, the media pushed the phrase – while, at the same time, ignored a Nov. 27 CDC report revealing 78 percent of the babies aborted in New York City in 2011 were black and Hispanic. Read more


Kentucky does ‘ACLU’ on Noah’s Ark

‘This issue is of huge importance, not only to us, but to every religious organization’

A Christian organization building a replica of Noah’s Ark has announced possible legal action against Kentucky after state officials demanded it give up certain religious rights in order to participate in a tax-incentive program for organizations that attract tourists to the state.

Answers in Genesis, which is building the life-size version of Noah’s Ark – 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and three stories high – announced Thursday it was informed by the state that it could participate in the tourism program on two conditions.

View Article


Here Are the 67 Republicans Who Voted Against the Massive ‘CRomnibus’ Spending Bill

May their numbers increase . . .

The massive $1 trillion “CRomnibus” spending bill squeaked through the U.S. House of Representatives with a 219-206 vote on Thursday night.

Among those voting against the unpopular spending bill were 67 Republicans, including conservative favorites like Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Dave Brat (R-Va.)

View List


Be a Berean!

Seeker Churches

Come as your are: We’ll make you feel so comfortable. Are you fed up with the churches in which you grew up? Do you feel that church is not keeping up with the times – not relevant? Well, we are glad that you have joined us.

Those are a few of the statements made to lure people into the Seeker churches. They want their people to be comfortable just the way they are. I mean, who wants the pastor to preach about sin and repentance? That’s no fun.

The Emergent Churches

The devil is so crafty. These churches welcome New Age practices like meditation and mantras. And they teach that hell is not a literal place.

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100,000 Residents Without Power and 200 Flights cancelled in CA

A storm pummeling Northern California, one of its biggest in years, left about 100,000 San Francisco homes and businesses without power at one point on Thursday, closed roads and parks and caused the cancellation of more than 200 flights. Power has been restored to some, but more than 66,000 San Francisco customers of PG&E remained in the dark Thursday afternoon as crews worked to repair outages. More


University Bans Christmas On Campus To “Respect Diversity,”

They call this respect? The University of Maine has banned Christmas and Hanukkah decorations from the campus, according to Campus Reform. Here’s the insulting email, from the university’s Auxiliary Services Department: “Just wanted to remind everyone that Aux Services is not to decorate any public areas with Christmas or any other religious themed decorations. Winter holiday decorations are fine but we need to not display any decoration that could be perceived as religious. This includes xmas trees, wreaths, xmas presents, menorahs, candy canes, etc. What is allowed [are] winter themes, snowmen, plain trees without presents underneath, decorative lights, but not on trees, snow flakes, etc.” The university defended its position in a statement saying that the rules are in place to “respect diversity,” which is hard to believe as the directive bans diverse religious symbols. The decision has drawn the ire of students. “We sit here and we talk about how we’re a university that’s about welcoming all different types of people, all walks of life, we have all these different groups like the LGBT, we have up the flag for that,” graduate student Meghan Blackford told WABI. “Why can’t we support every religion and hang up decorations for every religion?” More


Global nuclear war is increasingly probable, experts warn

With the end of the Cold War, you would think that the risk of global nuclear conflagration would have been dramatically reduced — and, for a time, it was. With the U.S. as the only remaining superpower and a collapsing Soviet Union, most experts saw the risk of atomic war as minimal. But times change, and so do geopolitical scenarios. Today, in fact, more and more experts see greater risk of nuclear war, not less, due to a proliferation of the technology and because existing nuclear stockpiles are often less secure than they need to be. More


10 horrifying technologies that threaten humanity’s existence

Technology is the archetypal golden calf of the modern age. Everything that naturally exists in a purely analog and resonant state is being artificially mechanized, computerized, digitized and hybridized (think half-human, half-robot on this one). And with this gradual suffocation of the living, breathing fabric of our world comes the ominous threat of eventual human extinction, as the very essence of humanity is systematically uprooted in favor of a wholly synthetic and programmed existence. Much of what is considered technological advancement these days is inherently evil and has the potential to be used as a collective weapon of mass destruction against life itself. Synthetic biology, for instance, which involves re-engineering genes to manufacture fake organisms, is one such example that threatens to set off an unpredictable chain reaction of devastation and death within the larger ecosystem of life itself. More


Gay Rights Activists Outraged Over Billboard’s Message About Homosexuality and Genetics

A controversial billboard proclaiming that “nobody is born gay” has sparked a great deal of controversy in Richmond, Virginia, where it was recently put on display. Paid for by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays — an organization aimed at helping so-called “ex-gays” gain acceptance — the ad features a picture of male twins and reads, “Identical twins. One gay. One not. We believe twins research studies show nobody is born gay.” While the billboard is offending local gay and lesbian advocates, Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, believes that critics aren’t looking at the facts, specifically when it comes to analyzing how same-sex attraction pertains to twins. More


Minnesota schools take steps to reduce GMO foods served to students

Public school educators in the Land of 10,000 Lakes have taken a bold first step towards improving the quality of cafeteria food served to children in five Minnesota school districts. Schools in Hopkins, Orono, Shakopee, Westonka, and Minneapolis have announced that they will gradually phase out GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) from their meal offerings as part of a long-term effort to teach students about proper nutrition and the dangers of biotechnology. On November 5, schools in these five locales kicked off the initiative by celebrating “GMO Awareness Day,” providing educational materials to students and their parents that explain how GMOs have never been properly safety tested, and how they’ve been linked to causing allergies, infertility, and cancer, among other health conditions. More


28 Russian Planes Intercepted Over Baltic Sea by NATO Jets in One Day

Twenty-eight Russian military planes were intercepted by NATO jets over the Baltic Sea earlier this week, the Latvian government said. Officials on Thursday said the recent upturn in Russian activity over the region is not a sign the Kremlin is “preparing to attack” but is testing NATO defense and reaction times. NATO confronted 28 planes on Monday–including Tu-95 and Tu-22 strategic bombers–over neutral waters near Latvia’s maritime border, reported Bloomberg News. On Sunday, 13 Russian planes were intercepted in the same area. As Bloomberg notes, the increase in Russian plane activity poses a threat to commercial airliners because they fly sometimes with transponders turned off. More


Mysterious Geminid meteor shower peaks this weekend

Not only is the Geminid meteor shower one of the most spectacular and reliable meteor showers of the year, with up to 120 meteors per hour — including the occasional fireball — it’s also a bit of a mystery. Peaking between 9 p.m. Saturday and the early morning hours Sunday, the Geminids are named for the constellation Gemini, the point from which the meteors seem to radiate. The mystery about the Geminids is their origin. All other meteor showers come from comet stuff: When the Earth passes through the debris trail left by a comet, tiny particles burn up in the atmosphere and become meteors, often called “shooting stars”; the Eta Aquarids, which peak in May, for example, and the Orionids, which peak in October, are formed by debris from Comet Halley. More


New Study Reveals Pornography destroys Relationships and Breaks Down Society

Men who regularly watch pornography are more likely to depend on it to stay aroused but are less likely to enjoy sex with a real-life partner, a new study says. The “media scripts” that men absorb when they view pornography can play a role in their sexual activities, said Arkansas psychologist Ana Bridges and other academics in New York and Virginia. More


Drought-stricken CA hit by flash floods, rockslides.

The biggest storm in several years slammed into Southern California early Friday with a vengence, producing heavy downpours, howlng winds and rockslides that damaged homes in Ventura County, prompting rescues. A flash-food warning was issued for Los Angeles County as bands of intense rain moved east from the coast into Orange County and the Inland Empire. Heavy rain was reported around the Colby burn area in Glendora, where officials had been preparing for possible mudslides. The storm caused major traffic problems, and the 710 Freeway was closed in both directions at Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach due to flooding. More


What Happens in Your Body During a “Cleanse” or “Detox”

What Happens in Your Body During a “Cleanse” or “Detox”

Juice cleanses, colon cleanses, fruit detoxes, sugar detoxes—we’ve all seen these things, but do they actually work? What are they supposed to do? Let’s take a look at the science behind the fad.

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What Is Liberal Theology? – Justin Taylor provides a quick definition of liberal theology.


Top 10 Myths about Christian Evangelism around the World

Alex Crain

You’ve probably heard your fair share of criticism about Christian missionaries over the years. A couple of common myths that still linger are: “missionaries destroy native cultures” and “Christianity is a Western religion.” Today at The Gospel Coalition, Brian Stanley debunks 10 such myths in short order. Here are a few:

· Missionaries destroyed indigenous cultures. Indigenous cultures were not static entities: to suggest that they were is characteristic of Western modernity. Missionaries often displayed what we would term cultural blindness, but their message, once translated into the vernacular, acquired indigenous cultural overtones. Missionary contributions to the inscription and study of indigenous languages have helped to preserve or enrich such cultures.

· Christianity is a Western religion. The period in which Christianity appeared to be indissolubly linked to Western European identity was a relatively short one, lasting from the early 16th to the mid-20th centuries. The church in China, India, Ethiopia, and Iraq is older than the church in much of Northern Europe.

· ‘Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization’ was an imperial creed. It was essentially an anti-slavery humanitarian creed, associated especially with David Livingstone (though he didn’t invent it). For those reasons it often led to advocacy of imperial solutions. Fighting slavery actually led imperial expansion as humanitarians called for deeper commitment from Britain to root out the slave trade at its sources in the African interior.

Check out all 10 myths here and arm yourself with the truth when your faith comes under attack. For further reading on defending your faith, check out all of our apologetics resources here and be always ready to graciously share the gospel of Christ.


3 Reasons for God’s Moral Law

by Founders Ministries Blog

Recently, after our family had completed its daily devotional time together, my oldest son asked me a very insightful question: How do the Ten Commandments apply to us today if they were given so long ago in the Old Testament?

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5 Church Leadership Lessons from IKEA

by Philip Nation

Recently, I purchased a new desk from IKEA which is really not a desk. It is two units of drawers, a long table top, and support leg for the center. I think there are several lessons on leadership that we can learn from IKEA and the way they sell their products.

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Jesus is for People who Hate Christmas

by Stephen Altrogge

My propensity toward Christmas gloom is one of the reasons I am so grateful for Jesus. Not in a “Jesus is the reason for the season,” kind of way, but in a, “Jesus is a holy warrior,” kind of way.

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Unlocking Your Lament

by Association of Biblical Counselors

How does the Christ Follower deal with downturns? How do we handle troubles that are not a direct result of our own poor choices? By unlocking our lament.

READ FULL ARTICLE


What is a Pastor’s True Calling?

by Brian Croft

The only way for a pastor to avoid the many distractions of life and to remain steadfast throughout his life and ministry is to know what God has truly called the pastor to do.

READ FULL ARTICLE


Featured Video Ministry from
LightSource.com

The Forgotten Promises of Christmas
Dr. David R. Reagan
Christ in Prophecy

More ministry video at LightSource.com


Week in Review from Paul David Tripp

Glory and Tragedy [Video] – The worst thing that ever happened was the best thing that could ever happen. In this video, I explain how Christmas is all about the collision of glory and tragedy: Watch the Video

Advent: The Promise [Wednesday’s Word] – I’m deeply persuaded that many “theologically sound” Christians actually doubt the presence and love of God. Why do I think that? Because God says we do! Here’s where: Read the Devotional

Advent: The Promise [Sermon] – Hope is never found in a situation, relationship, or location. Hope is only found in a Person, and his name is Jesus: Listen to the Sermon


The Only Intelligible Explanation for the Incarnation: A. T. Robertson on the Virgin Birth of Christ

If Jesus was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, then he had a human father. Without the virgin birth, there is no explanation for the incarnation. If Jesus had a merely human father, there is no authentic connection to the incarnational theology of Paul and John in the New Testament. All that remains is some attempt to claim that Jesus was a mere human being who had a unique divine mission, or who was uniquely God conscious, or who was somehow adopted by the Father into a form of deity. All of these are heretical Christs, and none of these can save.

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Rick Warren And Catholics Together

Were Warren better educated in church history, were he to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other more recent declarations, in light of the history of the church he would know how idiosyncratic, how novel, and utterly Tridentine Rome really is. The truth for all those who are tempted to swim the Tiber (covert to Rome) is that there is no “Rome Sweet Home.” There are as many “Romes” as there are converts.

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Cold Case Christianity: Are the New Testament Eyewitness Accounts Reliable (Part 1)? (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast #18)

Are the New Testament Eyewitness Accounts Reliable (Part 1)? (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast #18)

In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner reviews the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament eyewitness accounts. What are the criteria we use to determine if eyewitnesses are reliable? Do the authors of the New Testament Gospels measure up? J. Warner examines the early dating and reliable transmission of the Gospels in this episode of Cold-Case Christianity. (For more information, visit http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)


Fight the spiritual forces of wickedness – and win!

by Marsha West

CRN correspondent Marsha West reminds us that there’s a spiritual battle raging in the invisible realm between the forces of good and evil. In his letter to the Ephesian church, the Apostle Paul explains what Christians must do to protect themselves against the “fiery darts” of the evil one. But many Christians are unfamiliar with the armor of God, and are going about their daily lives unprotected. As a result, they’re getting pummeled by Satan and his demons. Marsha describes each piece of armor, explains its importance, and makes the case as to why believers must “put on the whole armor of God” everyday.

http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/12/fight-spiritual-forces-wickedness-win/


No Compromise Radio: Women Preachers? Over My Dead Body


‘Twas the Night Before the Last Christmas!


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GTY Blog: Why the Virgin Birth Is Essential

Selected Scriptures

Code: B141212

by John MacArthur

You may be wondering why the virgin birth—of all the miracles in Scripture—is so frequently attacked. After all, if one can believe, say, that Moses parted the Red Sea, what’s the big deal about a virgin birth? It certainly isn’t as spectacular a miracle. And Scripture devotes relatively little space to describing it. Can it really be that important?

Yes. The virgin birth is an underlying assumption in everything the Bible says about Jesus. To throw out the virgin birth is to reject Christ’s deity, the accuracy and authority of Scripture, and a host of other related doctrines central to the Christian faith. No issue is more important than the virgin birth to our understanding of who Jesus is.

If we deny that Jesus is God, we have denied the very essence of Christianity. Everything else the Bible teaches about Christ hinges on the truth we celebrate at Christmas—that Jesus is God in human flesh. If the story of His birth is merely a fabricated or trumped-up legend, then so is the rest of what Scripture tells us about Him. The virgin birth is as crucial as the resurrection in substantiating His deity. It is not an optional truth. Anyone who rejects Christ’s deity rejects Christ absolutely—even if he pretends otherwise (1 John 4:1-3).

Jesus Himself viewed the question of His parentage as a watershed issue. Matthew records one of the last confrontations He had with the Pharisees.

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. (Matthew 22:41-46)

His sonship was the source of controversy on other occasions. John 8 records another run-in with some leading Pharisees. They told Jesus, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God” (John 8:41). “We were not born of fornication” is a not-so-subtle jab at Jesus. They implied that He was born illegitimately. They twisted the whole point of His miraculous birth to make Him an illegitimate child. They even said later in verse 48, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The fact is, there is a direct parallel between those Pharisees and modern religious leaders who hint that the virgin birth is unimportant or a fable. Their challenges grow out of unbelief in Jesus Christ. They are the expression of sinful, unregenerate hearts.

Contrast their response with that of Peter. Matthew 16:13-17 records this exchange between Jesus and His disciples. Again, His sonship is the issue.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Notice that the answers proposed by the populace were human ones. They had concluded Jesus was either John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. They had not yet grasped the truth of His deity. They assumed He was just a man.

Simon Peter’s response was different. He understood that Jesus was more than a human Messiah, more than an anointed prophet, more than a son of David. He was the Son of the living God. Peter knew because God had revealed it to him (Matthew 16:17). Flesh and blood cannot reach that conclusion. Science, philosophy, and human religion cannot explain who Jesus is. Their adherents will inevitably conclude that He is a great teacher, a good moral example, or even a great prophet of God. But they all miss the fact that He is the Son of the living God.

That’s why the virgin birth is so important. For Jesus to be God, He must be born of God. Joseph, a man, and Mary, a woman, cannot produce God. God cannot be born into this world by natural human processes. There’s no way He could be God apart from being conceived by God.

At this time of year, believers shouldn’t merely celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate every aspect of Christ’s life—His humble incarnation, His transformative ministry, His righteous example, and, ultimately, His sacrificial death. But none of that matters if we don’t believe God’s Word is accurate about His Son’s parentage. When it comes to the truth of the virgin birth, compromise is not an option.

(Adapted from The Miracle of Christmas.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B141212
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

The Cripplegate – Christmas: God’s Glory Returns

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory
– John 1:14 –

Last Friday, we looked at the significance of John’s use of the word “dwelt” in John 1:14. I argued that by using the peculiar word for to pitch a tent, John was calling our attention to the Tabernacle of Israel, where God condescended to reveal Himself to Israel for worship and communion. The climax of the story of the Tabernacle comes in Exodus 40:34–38, where Yahweh’s glory fills the Tabernacle, signifying that He will dwell—that He will take up residence—with His people.

That scene sheds light on the relationship between the two phrases in John 1:14: “and [He] dwelt among us,” fits perfectly with “and we saw His glory.” There is an inseparable connection between the (a) dwelling place of God, and (b) His glory that fills that place. The dwelling of God is inseparable from the glory of God.

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NTEB News: School Parents Outraged After Planned Parenthood Caught Indoctrinating Kids With The Genderbread Person

Acalanes Union School District officials told the institute the class was not taught by teachers but rather the staff from a local Planned Parenthood in nearby Walnut Creek

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” Romans 1:26,27

Time was, all a parent had to be afraid of was answering their kids questions after they had watched the creepy, old health class slideshow on how sperm traveled. Ahh, the sweet. awkward memories of growing up. Those days are long gone, and in it’s place is rising what can only be described as the indoctrination and recruitment of high school children into the  ranks of the LGBTQ Movement.

genderbread-person-lgbt-mafia-movement-queering-sexual-gender-confusion

Gender Identity is the main topic these days, and Planned Parenthood and the public school system want to make your kids as confused as possible in the hopes of getting them to question and reconsider their own sexual orientation. Since gay people can not reproduce, they are forced to recruiting to expand their ranks. Failing that, they want all the heterosexual children to start having as much sex as possible because abortion operations is what pays the bills.

Public school life in 2014 is a spiritual battleground, with the opposition forces gaining ground at an alarming rate. Impressionable, young children are being hounded to reconsider their gender, reconsider their sexual orientation, and to begin experimenting with all manner of sexual perversion.

Parent of students at Acalanes High School in Northern California got a rude awakening when they learned that Planned Parenthood was conducting these indoctrination classes, without their knowledge, in their kids Sex Ed classes.

Fox News reported that included in the materials provided to students were documents and worksheets that included a checklist entitled, “Sex Check! Are You Ready For Sex?” in which the 13 and 14-year-old students are asked questions such as if they have water–based lubricants and condoms and if they could handle a possible infection or pregnancy. Another worksheet reads like a how-to on obtaining consent from a possible sexual partner and offers possible statements like “Do you want to go back to my place?” and “Is it OK if I take my pants off?”

They were also taught about gender identity with the “Genderbread Person,” a play on the name of the holiday cookie, to teach them on how to identify themselves as either, “agender,” “bigender,” and “two spirit” to name a few.

Parents, it’s time to wake up and take steps to stop this rampant assault on the hearts, minds and souls of our children. Contact your child’s teachers and principal, and ask if this is being taught in their schools.

The post School Parents Outraged After Planned Parenthood Caught Indoctrinating Kids With The Genderbread Person appeared first on Now The End Begins.

The Five Most Disturbing Things About a Benny Hinn Miracle Service | OnFaith

There are a lot of things you should try at least once in your life — skydiving, eating some exotic delicacy, traveling alone. Let me give you one thing not to add to that list: attending a Benny Hinn Holy Spirit Miracle Service.

I recently went to one in New York. Before going, I knew little about Hinn — a man who’s worth some $42 million — other than that he’s a big-deal televangelist among countless charismatic Christians. As someone who’s fairly unfamiliar with that sphere of Christianity, I was mostly just wary of being in a crowd of people speaking in tongues and being slain in the Spirit.

But that turned out to be the least uncomfortable thing about the service. What did happen was so much more upsetting, difficult, and unnerving. If you ever go, here are five unsettling things you’ll experience:

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Albert Mohler Blog: “To Give Knowledge of Salvation to His People: A Christmas Mandate for Christian Ministry”

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.’s most recent blog essay is a manuscript of this semester’s commencement address for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In this post, “To Give Knowledge of Salvation to His People: A Christmas Mandate for Christian Ministry,” Mohler writes,

“The celebration of the nativity of Christ comes with triumphant declarations, prophesies, songs of praise, the great good news of the Gospel, and a spectacular opportunity for maximum theological clarity. I am speaking about the kind of clarity that the shepherds heard from the angelic host who declared that a child has been born in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. The clarity of Simeon, who announced when he held the infant Christ, “my eyes have seen your salvation that you prepared in the presence of all peoples.” [Luke 2:30-31] The clarity of Mary, who declared, “he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” [Luke 1:49] The clarity of Isaiah the prophet, who foretold: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” [Isaiah 9:6-7]”

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Opinion: Kirk Cameron, former evangelical pastor-turned-Catholic take to TBN to make case for Santa Claus

by Marsha West

According to Christian News Network:

Actor and filmmaker Kirk Cameron recently invited a former evangelical pastor who converted to Roman Catholicism to TBN to make the case for Santa Claus as Cameron promotes his new film “Saving Christmas,” which seeks to convince Christians who choose not to celebrate the holiday.

Cameron shared a segment of the interview on his Facebook page on Tuesday, in which he spoke with historian William Federer, a former evangelical minister who now identifies as Roman Catholic. Sporting the Liberty University logo embroidered on his shirt, Cameron invited Federer to outline the history of Saint Nicholas and other items found in his book “There Really Is a Santa Claus: The History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions.”

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News: Pope affirms RC doctrine of Immaculate Conception that Mary was conceived ‘without original sin’

by Marsha West

Christian News Network writes:

In one of the feasts and celebrations marked on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar leading up to Christmas, Catholics around the world observed the Feast of Immaculate Conception on Monday, a day in which those who follow the religion commemorate their belief that Mary was born without sin.

The pontiff known as Pope Francis led Catholics in the annual observance of the holiday, delivering an Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square.

“Oh Mary, our mother, today the people of God in celebration venerates you, the immaculate, preserved from the contagion of sin from the beginning,” he prayed. “Accept the gift I offer on behalf of the church in Rome and throughout the whole world.”

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A Humble Birth in Bethlehem: God in the Manger (Part 5)

The historical setting for the world’s greatest birth appears in one of the most familiar and best-loved passages in the entire Bible. As Luke raises the curtain on the actual story of the birth of Christ in Luke 2:1–7, he reveals a narrative that is refreshingly simple, clear, and uncluttered:

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.

As straightforward and unembellished as Luke’s language is, he is dealing with profound and far-reaching issues related to the coming of Jesus Christ.

All scripturally informed Jews knew certain facts about the Messiah who would one day come to earth. They knew He would come from the royal line of David and reign from the throne in Jerusalem over Israel’s glorious kingdom. And one thing about Messiah that faithful Jews were certain of was set forth by the prophet Micah, “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” (Mic. 5:2).

So it’s clear that Jesus, the Messiah, had to be born in Bethlehem, even though Luke 2:1–7 does not quote or even refer to Micah. But the passage does demonstrate how God providentially arranged Christ’s birth in Bethlehem in explicit fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy.

If events at the dawn of the first century had progressed just ordinarily, Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. But God worked in amazing and powerful ways to make the Lord’s birth occur precisely at the right time and place, thus verifying His own prophetic Word. God orchestrated Joseph and Mary’s visit to Bethlehem—and the circumstances related to it—in such a way that His Son was born exactly according to plan.

The World Setting for Christ’s Birth

Caesar Augustus, a prominent emperor during the time Rome occupied Israel, was oblivious to his role in the events leading up to Christ’s birth. Yet God providentially directed the emperor’s actions precisely in accord with His prophetic timetable. The Lord of course knew when Mary and Joseph had to be in Bethlehem, and He planned for their visit to occur under the authority of a pagan emperor who was utterly ignorant of Scripture.

In keeping with his literary style, Luke used the concise, general expression “in those days” to identify the times prior to Jesus’ imminent birth. Implicit in that short phrase is the Jews’ general attitude toward conditions then.

They hated the occupation of their land by the Romans—unclean Gentiles who were outside the covenant. The Jews had no love for Gentiles, and particularly not for the polytheistic Romans. God’s people had disdained that brand of idolatry ever since the Babylonian captivity, and now the Romans brought images of their idols (including a deified Caesar) into Israel on patriotic banners and military armor and shields. Particularly distasteful was to see Caesar’s idolatrous image on all Roman coinage, which the Jews had to use all the time. But the emperor, simply by virtue of his powerful position, exerted his influence in many other ways.

Augustus was born Gaius Octavius (often called Octavian) in 63 b.c. He was the grandnephew of Julius Caesar, who adopted him as a son and officially declared him the heir to the throne of the Roman Empire.

Octavian didn’t immediately ascend to the throne after the assassination of Julius Caesar, but the young man eventually prevailed in a power struggle with Mark Antony and ruled the Empire from 27 b.c. to a.d. 14. During that period, the versatile and able Octavian demonstrated great military, political, and social skills in ending all civil wars and extending Rome’s boundaries to the edges of the known world.

Those leadership skills also brought an incredible peace (the so-called Pax Romana, or “peace of Rome”) to that vast empire. Such previously unheard-of tranquility allowed for construction of a massive road system that facilitated transportation in every direction and solidified Rome’s control. That meant there were no rigid borders between provinces—no border checkpoints, but instead an ease of movement all around the Empire. That reality led to the easy, rapid spread of the gospel and was implicit in Paul’s statement to the Galatians, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal. 4:4). Everything on the world scene was perfectly arranged and timed for the arrival of Jesus Christ.

Octavian (who acquired the title Augustus, “majestic one, highly honored one,” three years before he began his rule) was quite deferential in dealing with his subjects. He granted them limited freedom and autonomy and respected their customs and religions. He even encouraged writers to make literature nobler and passed a measure outlawing adultery; thus, he did have some moral sense.

All in all, Augustus was a fascinating figure who fit amazingly well into God’s redemptive plan. He was an unwitting instrument of divine providence and a world leader who helped prepare the way for the first coming of Christ.

Luke refers to one of the most important of those instruments: “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (2:1). A decree was a common governmental action in those days (Acts 17:7), and it was simply an imperial edict, law, or mandate.

This particular decree said that officials in all parts of the Empire must conduct a registration, or census. (“All the world” was just another way of identifying the Roman Empire.) Rome required such registrations for two reasons. One was to determine which young men were eligible for military service. The other was to assess taxes, which was the case in Luke 2. We know Luke was referring to taxation because Mary and Joseph were involved. They would not have been included in the first type of census because Jews were exempt from Roman military service. In a taxation census, the people registered their names, occupations, property holdings, and family members to the Roman equivalent of the American IRS.

The Jews despised Roman taxation. If they thought the Romans had no right to occupy Israel, the Jews certainly thought the foreigners had no right to exact taxes from them. Their hatred of the Roman tax system manifested itself most intensely in the attitude Jews had toward countrymen who collected taxes for Rome. It’s no wonder average Jews like Joseph and Mary likely were not very happy with the decree for a census.

The Jews hated such pagan intrusion into their private lives. But God used the census in Luke 2 to implement His eternal purpose to send His Son. Just as centuries earlier He had used Cyrus’s decree to liberate the Jews and return them to reestablish their nation (Ezra 1:1–6; Isa. 44:28–45:4), and just as He had used Nebuchadnezzar for His own purposes (Dan. 3:24–30; 4:28–37), God used Caesar Augustus and his census decree to bring Jesus’ parents to Bethlehem at the right time.

History tells us that, due to various delays and difficulties, Caesar’s census was not carried out in Palestine until two to four years after it was first announced. But finally, Augustus imposed a strict deadline for compliance, and therefore average Jewish citizens like Joseph and Mary had to hasten their obedience to the edict.

The Romans normally registered people in their current place of residence rather than making them return to their homeland or hometown. But in accord with Jewish custom, Mary and Joseph had to go back to Bethlehem “because he [Joseph] was of the house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:4). From their earliest days as a people, the Jews considered their ancestry important. They divided the Promised Land into tribal areas, and within those areas were towns and villages that belonged to certain families who owned land there. Every fifty years the various lands would revert to the original owners, so genealogies were very important. As we saw in chapter 2 of our study, the Jews kept careful, detailed records of their family histories. That way each man could identify his father’s home area and go back there for official obligations such as Caesar Augustus’ census. Therefore Jesus’ parents were providentially directed to be in Bethlehem at precisely the right time to fulfill Micah 5:2.

The National Setting for Christ’s Birth

Whenever we think of a national setting in relation to the birth of Christ, the nation of Israel immediately comes to mind. The connection is obvious when you consider Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. On that arduous trip, they passed through many places that were significant in Old Testament history.

Shiloh, the town where Hannah asked the Lord for a child (1 Sam. 1:9–11), would have greeted them. Then they would have gone through Gilgal, where Hannah’s son, Samuel, sat to judge Israel. Jesus’ parents also may have passed through the Valley of Baca, of which the psalmist had sung (Ps. 84:6). Their path perhaps wound past Bethel, with all its patriarchal memories, and Ramah, where Jeremiah pictured Rachel weeping for her children (Jer. 31:15). Next, they would have climbed to Gibeon, where Solomon worshiped, and past Mizpah, where Samuel raised his memorial stone called Ebenezer (1 Sam. 7:12). Then they would have gone through the great capital city of Jerusalem, past Mt. Moriah, and across the plateau of Zion on which Jerusalem rests. Finally, in another six miles, Mary and Joseph would have arrived at the town of Bethlehem, the home of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4:9–11), the place where Rachel was buried, and, most notable, the town where King David was born.

Luke succinctly summarized that momentous journey this way: “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem” (2:4). That placed the town of Bethlehem and one specific region of Israel, Judea, right at the center of the Nativity story.

To the casual observer, Luke’s name for Bethlehem may seem inconsistent with Old Testament designations. That’s because in 2 Samuel 5:7 and elsewhere, the hill of Zion in Jerusalem is called the city of David. There is, however, no discrepancy between the Old and New Testament names. Zion was the place where David ruled as king—in essence, the city of David within the city of Jerusalem. Luke was simply using the same expression, of David,” in a different way. Bethlehem is also a city of David; it’s not the city where he reigned, but it is the city where he was born.

In fact, the Old Testament clearly affirmed Bethlehem as a city of David long before the birth of Christ. In 1 Samuel 16:1, the Lord commanded Samuel to choose a new king for Israel from among the sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite, and the prophet chose his youngest son, David (vv. 11–13). First Samuel 17:12; 2 Samuel 23:14–16, and Psalm 78:70–72 all directly or indirectly connect David with Bethlehem because that’s where he was born; that’s where his father’s house was.

So Joseph, as a descendant of David, had to go to Bethlehem for the census. And, as we saw from the genealogies, Mary was also a descendant of David. Therefore it was fitting that they both went down to Bethlehem to register—it was for both of Jesus’ parents the house of their ancestors.

But historians and Bible students have wondered whether Mary really had to accompany Joseph to the registration. We don’t know if she had to go along to sign an official document, to declare some properties, or to verify her ancestry. Scripture does not tell us. But we can infer that it must have been very difficult for Mary to explain to her parents that she was pregnant and at the same time insist to them she had not had sexual relations with a man. And others in the community likely would have accused her of lying about her situation.

The resulting shame and embarrassment Mary had to bear would have been troubling. Even after receiving words of encouragement during her visit with Elizabeth, Mary probably would still have endured much scorn and misunderstanding from family and friends in Nazareth.

Therefore, given those difficult conditions, there’s no way Joseph would have made the trip to Bethlehem without taking the nine-months’-pregnant Mary with him. Humanly speaking, the trip allowed him to remove her from a difficult social environment and to ensure his presence with her when the baby was born. But, more important, Joseph had God’s insight into the real significance of events. He knew Mary was pregnant with the Son of God. He knew the baby would be Jesus, the Messiah, who would save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:20–25).

World and national conditions certainly compelled Jesus’ parents to go to Bethlehem. But more crucial than those factors, they had to travel there to fulfill the clear statement of the prophet Micah. Mary and Joseph had to be in Bethlehem so that it indeed would be the birthplace of a special ruler: “yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel” (Mic. 5:2). This was a clear reference to the Messiah. It couldn’t have referred to David, because he was born three hundred years prior to this prophecy. Furthermore, the prophet’s words “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” could refer only to deity. Messiah is an eternal being, a ruler to be born in Bethlehem, yet One who has been alive forever. Every believing Jew who looked forward to the coming of the true Messiah knew that Micah’s prophecy pointed unmistakably to Him.

Thus Luke, without actually mentioning Micah 5:2, relates the story of Jesus’ birth to the nation of Israel and its people, the Jews. He knew God had given the Old Testament Scripture to the Jews; and that Scripture, through the words of Micah 5:2, was explicit about the location of Christ’s birth—Bethlehem.

The Personal Setting for Christ’s Birth

The world and national settings attendant to the birth of Christ are both crucial to helping us understand how God providentially brought about that glorious event within the context of human history. But the much-loved charm of the Incarnation story derives from a third setting—the personal one.

Luke continues his simple account with this general phrase, “So it was, that while they were there” (2:6). We know that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, but it’s not initially clear where in the village they were or exactly how long they had been there. They had probably been there at least three days, perhaps even a week, because the writer then says, “the days were completed for her to be delivered.”

But we don’t have to wonder for long where the young couple was when Jesus was born: “there was no room for them in the inn” (v. 7). These simple words have always excited profound imagination in the minds of readers. Practically speaking, during their stay in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were among the homeless.

That does not mean they were completely outside in the cold, but simply that they had no comfortable accommodations. Mary and Joseph were not staying in some sort of three-story hotel, or even a low-budget annex to such a facility. The Greek word for “inn” in verse 7 is not the usual term for inn. Instead, Luke used a word that denoted a shelter or place of lodging for guests. It was not an actual inn operated for the feeding and housing of guests. Instead, it was more like the sleeping section of a public shelter or campground.

Typically, such shelters had four sides and two levels, with the top part being like the loft in a barn. One section of the shelter may have had crude doors to close it off if desired. The entire structure would have been quite primitive, the kind of place where travelers could spend one or more nights in the loft area and keep their animals down in the center area, safe from theft. Their goods could be stored in the center as well.

Because of the Roman decree, Bethlehem would have been a crowded town with all the best rooms already taken. Therefore Mary and Joseph wound up staying with the animals in one of the public shelters. For an undetermined number of days, the young couple likely would have huddled on the shelter’s ground floor—among the camels, donkeys, and their feed troughs—because the other part of the shelter (“the inn”) was already filled. During that time they would have used their own robes and maybe an extra blanket to shield themselves from the cold winds. We don’t know the details of how long they stayed in the shelter, whether they registered before the birth of the baby, or whether they were waiting for the birth before they registered. But we do know they made sure they stayed in Bethlehem until after Mary gave birth to Jesus.

With all the circumstances perfectly arranged, the most important of all births in human history finally occurred. But Luke reports the birth of our Lord and Savior with amazingly few details and merely says, “she brought forth her firstborn Son” (2:7). Because the Gospel text gives us no descriptive details, I think it’s safe to engage in a little sanctified imagination concerning what happened that night.

Imagine Joseph being anxious with curiosity, wondering what his Son, who would be the God-Man, might actually be like. He no doubt held Mary’s hand throughout her labor, perhaps soothing her forehead with a cool cloth. Like any good husband, Joseph surely would have spoken many words of sweet comfort to his young wife while she endured labor pains. After all, the couple was in a dark, drab place that offered no birthing amenities such as the help of doctors and nurses or even the presence of her mother. Any normal young mother in those days would want her mother present, but Mary had the assistance and reassurance of only a teenaged husband.

We can also imagine that after a certain period of labor, Mary would have pushed one final time to bring forth her child. In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, born of a woman. At that very moment, the God of eternity stepped into earthbound time and space. As the apostle John wrote later, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The omnipotent, omnipresent Lord of the universe appeared as a baby, crying the cry of life, probably weighing less than ten pounds and measuring fewer than twenty-four inches in length. The little life would have rested immediately in the arms of young Joseph, who, along with Mary, probably did not comprehend right away the magnitude of what was going on—even though an angel had earlier informed both of them about this extraordinary birth.

Luke, however, is careful to tell us something of the significance of the baby Jesus when he identifies Him as Mary’s “firstborn Son.” Jesus was not the only son Mary ever had—He was not her monogenes, “only begotten,” as He was the Father’s. But He was the prototokon, “firstborn.” That’s important because it’s consistent with Mary’s virginity, and it means Jesus had the primary right to the family inheritance. It was a privilege the Old Testament called the all-important right of primogenitor. Neither Joseph nor Mary, as working-class people, had wealthy estates. But as two descendants of King David, they passed on to Jesus the right to rule from David’s throne, the throne of Christ’s people, Israel.

Luke 2:7 contains other details that are simple and familiar, yet nonetheless fascinating. For instance, have you ever wondered why it says Mary “wrapped Him in swaddling cloths”? Swaddling is an Old English word that describes wrapping with cloth. The ancient custom was to wrap the arms, legs, and body of the baby with long strips of cloth to provide warmth and security. Parents in those days also believed that wrapping the child helped his or her bones to grow straight.

Luke’s point in mentioning the wrapping cloths, however, is that Mary treated Jesus the way any mother would treat a normal newborn. Physically, He looked like any other child, and his parents treated Him as such. God did not provide Him with royal robes or other fancy clothing, but simply directed Mary and Joseph to welcome Him as they would any other beloved child.

Then there’s the familiar phrase “and laid Him in a manger.” A more literal translation of the Greek word for “manger” is “feeding trough.” From that we can further deduce that Joseph and Mary were staying in the section of the shelter that accommodated travelers’ animals. In the ancient Near East, a traveling salesman had a beast of burden to carry his merchandise. Similarly, a traveling family used a pack animal to carry the women and children. As we described earlier, Jesus’ parents were huddled in a section of the shelter next to the animals, and they conveniently made His first bed a feeding trough.

When Christ entered the world, He came to a place that had some of the smelliest, filthiest, and most uncomfortable conditions. But that is part of the wonder of divine grace, isn’t it? When the Son of God came down from heaven, He came all the way down. He did not hang on to His equality with God; rather, He set it aside for a time and completely humbled Himself (Phil. 2:5–8).

Jesus did not merely humble Himself and agree to be born in a smelly stable, but He humbled Himself as a substitute for wretched sinners and bore the stench of their guilt in His own body on the Cross. He came down to the common people to bring them His glorious salvation. The picture of the infant Son of God tolerating a stable’s dirt and foul odors is a fitting metaphor for the later scene of the Savior bearing the stench of sin as He died at Calvary. What an amazing picture!

And, to a certain extent, the site of Christ’s birth was also a lonely picture, because of the obscurity of it all. But that situation didn’t last long. As we’ll see in the next chapter, a group of angels appeared to some nearby shepherds and in glorious fashion announced to them the Son of God’s first advent.[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). God in the manger: the miraculous birth of Christ (pp. 55–65). Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.

Immanuel: Christmas Study Guide (Part 5)

In this lesson we consider the miraculous nature of “Immanuel”—the very presence of God in human form, incarnated as a Baby in Bethlehem.

Outline

The real story of Christmas is God becoming a man so that He could reveal Himself and reveal His love to all mankind. It is the very essence of the Gospel. It is the glad tidings of great joy which the angels spoke about on the hillside outside of Bethlehem.

  1. The Mystery of Immanuel
  2. The Meaning of Immanuel
  3. We Have the Confidence to Face the Challenges of Life
  4. We Are Certain that Our Prayers Are Heard and Understood
  5. We Have the Courage to Serve Him in Difficult Places

Overview

Seldom is this truth ever discussed at Christmastime. Yet it is one of the central doctrines of the Word of God. John the Apostle wrote in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

In what some consider to be a hymn from the early church, we read of this great mystery in the Book of Philippians: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5–8).

And writing in more formal tones in the Book of Galatians, Paul put it this way: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

The Prophet Isaiah predicted that the day would come when God would visit His people just like this; that the Son of God would come and confine Himself to a human body; and that His sacrificial love in doing that would forever remind them of His great compassion for their lost estate. Isaiah prophesied, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

And Matthew, in his gospel narrative of the birth of Christ, picked up what Isaiah had prophesied, and used it in application to the Lord Jesus. Listen to his words: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us’ ” (Matthew 1:23).

There is an old poet who has presented the Son of God as having the stars for His crown, and the sky for His mantle, and the clouds for His bow, and the fire for His spear. And he rode forth in His majestic robes of glory, but one day He resolved in conference with His Father that He would come to earth, and He shed all of His clothes on the way. The stars were gone, the sky was gone, the clouds were divested. When He was asked what He would wear when He got to the earth, He replied with a smile that He had new clothes in the making down below, and those clothes were the clothes of humanity, the robes of flesh and blood. And with this new wardrobe He was given a new name, and that name was Immanuel.

The Mystery of Immanuel

Of all the names of the Lord Jesus that were given to Him for His time on this earth, this one is my favorite. His name is Immanuel, which being translated is “God with us.”

As Christians, we sometimes feel that in order to really appreciate our faith, we need to understand everything about it. But the more I study the Gospel, the more I become aware of the vastness of truth that I do not comprehend. The one thing I will never comprehend is God becoming a man. But I must not put myself in a corner and say that in order for me to appreciate and believe it, I must completely comprehend it. There always must be something mysterious about the God who created the heavens and the earth. Paul seemed almost overcome by the thought of it when writing to his young friend Timothy. In 1 Timothy 3:16 he wrote, “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh.” Paul was saying to young Timothy, “I can’t explain this. But let me just tell you this. There is no controversy at all about it. Without controversy, great is the mystery.”

Isn’t it wonderful to be able to pause for a moment and reflect on the mystery and the wonder of our God? Wondering at the Christ Child. Wondering at Immanuel. Wondering at God manifested in the flesh. God became a man—like your neighbor, like you, like me.

Writer after writer has tried to help us understand the majestic mystery of God manifested in the flesh. For instance, C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, wrote these words: “The second person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language, weighing so many pounds. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a woman’s body.”

  1. W. Tozer, the great Alliance preacher, was also overwhelmed by this thought. He wrote: “The coming of Jesus Christ into this world represents a truth more profound than any philosophy. All of the great thinkers of the world together could never have produced anything even remotely approaching the wonder and profundity disclosed in the message of these words … He came … The words are wiser than all learning. Understood in their high spiritual context, they are more eloquent than all oratory, more lyric and moving than all music. They tell us that all of mankind, sitting in darkness, has been visited by the Light of the World!”

Finally, Frederick Buechner adds, “The claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place God came to be with us Himself. When Quirinius was governor of Syria, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One who inhabits eternity comes to dwell in time. The One whom none can look upon and live—is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts Himself at our mercy.”

If one of us were God, is that the way we would have done it? Would we have made that plan to rescue lost mankind? Would we have sent the Redeemer in a manger, wrapped in strips of swaddling cloth? Would we have had Him born in a stable built for animals? Would we have had His first visitors be the hated shepherds of the hillside? It is a mystery beyond mysteries, a story written by the finger of God, and one that we will never comprehend. But it is also one that we should always appreciate.

The Meaning of Immanuel

The reason why Immanuel is such a precious name to all of us who know Him is that we understand the meaning of it. We may never comprehend the mystery of it, but we understand the meaning of it. God with us.

God is not distant. He is here, with us. He is not unapproachable, unreachable. He has reached down to us through His Son, the Lord Jesus. He has revealed Himself to us in the only kind of persons we know—human persons. He became one of us so that we could know Him, so that we could know how much He loves us.

What Christmas reveals to us is that we have a God who has condescended in the midst of our suffering, and He has come to help us and share with us and enable us to face it and conquer it. The Christmas name of our Lord reminds us of this wonderful truth: His name shall be called Immanuel. God with us.

We Have the Confidence to Face the Challenges of Life

We all face challenges in life, and we are so wonderfully blessed to be able to open the Bible and read there of a Savior who has come to be one of us. And because He is with us, He is able to encourage us in every manner of test and challenge we may ever face. Consider:

  • Hebrews 13:5–6: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ”
  • Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”
  • Psalm 118:6: “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear; What can man do to me?”
  • Isaiah 43:2–3: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.”

God with us. Because God is with us, we have the confidence to face the challenges of life.

We Are Certain that Our Prayers are Heard and Understood

Sometimes, if we do not know what the Bible says, we wonder if God really even comprehends what we are praying. Aren’t you glad that when you pray you have someone who hears and understands you and knows what you feel? Why does Christ know that? Because the One to whom you address your prayers is Immanuel, the One who is God with us.

Listen to what the Book of Hebrews says concerning Immanuel: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15–16).

When you go to the Lord God in prayer through Jesus Christ, and you tell Him your need, He is Immanuel who has been in every place you have been. He knows every need you have. He knows every burden you bear. He knows every sorrow you have felt. And He has borne those burdens and those sorrows to their ultimate. And you can pray with confidence because He is Immanuel.

We Have the Courage to Serve Him in Difficult Places

How do you continue to serve God? Of course, some might say, “What do you mean? I’m not in the ministry.” But the truth is that every Christian is in the ministry. You may not be formally ordained, but if you are a Christian, you are serving God. (And if you are not serving God, why aren’t you?)

Every believer serves God. And some serve God in some very difficult places. The place God has called us to serve is 90 percent pagan. The place where God has called us to serve puts us in an extreme minority. No one else gives any credence to our faith, yet we have been called of God to serve there.

Christianity is not about religion. It is about a relationship. If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and you are serving Him in a tough place, my friend, you better know Immanuel. Because you can’t do that by yourself. You have to have God with you. It has always been that way.

When God spoke to Moses and told him that he was being commissioned to lead the people out of Egypt, Moses had all kinds of excuses. Remember all of that list of excuses he gave to God. But listen to what God said to him in Exodus 4:12: “Go, and I will be with your mouth, and teach you what you shall say.”

Moses got them out of Egypt, then it was time for Joshua to get them into Canaan. They were going to have to face the giants of the land of Canaan, the most pagan people of that time. Obviously Joshua was frightened. But he got his commission from God in Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

He is the Immanuel who goes with you when you have been called to serve in a tough place.

And then there was Jeremiah, commissioned to go to a stubborn people with a message of judgment. Every time I read that book of the Bible, I am encouraged about everything God has ever asked me to do. God told Jeremiah to preach judgment to people who would not only not listen, but would not do one single thing he ever told them to do. God said, “Go preach to them. Tell them what I’ve told you to tell them. But know up front that they are not going to listen, they are not going to do anything about it, and they are going to scoff at you while you preach.”

Jeremiah went into that scenario with that commission—but then God said to him in Jeremiah 1:8, “ ‘Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord.”

All of us have been commissioned as disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel. And what is it that the Lord says to all of us who do that? In Matthew 28:20 He says, “… lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Because God is with us, we have confidence to face the challenges of life; we don’t go alone. We have certainty that our prayers are heard and understood because God has been where we are. And we have the courage to serve Him no matter how difficult the task may be.

Application

  1. List any famous people (sports stars, media celebrities, politicians, etc.) you have met during your life. How did you act around them?

How would you respond if they dropped by your house?

How many other people did you inform about your meeting or acquaintance?

  1. Compare your answers to the previous question to your actions, response, and words as someone who has met the God of the universe. Is it a good comparison, or something less?

Is there room for change in light of knowing the “God with us,” Jesus Christ?

  1. In Exodus 40:34, what was the purpose of the tabernacle (tent) of the Lord, which was set up in the middle of all the tents of Israel?

How does this connect with John 1:14, which says literally that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us?

  1. If Jesus was the “Seed of woman” promised in Genesis 3:15, who did He come to ultimately defeat?

Why couldn’t this be done by a mortal human being?

When will this conquest be completed?

  1. What does 1 John 5:19 reveal about the present condition of the world?

Was this true when Christ was born?

Then why couldn’t Satan defeat Him?

What does I John 4:4 reveal about the present condition of each believer, and the similarities to Christ’s entrance into the world?

  1. Read Daniel 7:9–10, 13–14. What is the eventual position of the Son?

Compare this to Isaiah 9:6–7. Why do you think He was not revealed in this way when He came as a Baby to Bethlehem?

When will He be?

Did You Know?

Christianity is unique among the world’s religions in proposing that there is no way that man can, through anything he does, ever reach God; but that God, in His infinite love and mercy, became man in order to rescue any who would be rescued.

This concept not only is foreign to the world’s religions, but in Islam is considered to be blasphemy. Nowhere is this more vividly displayed than in the Arabic statement emblazoned on the outside of the Dome of the Rock, which stands over the location of the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

It reads: “Allah is God, Allah is One. He was not born, nor did He beget.”

Hence the hopelessness of those who do not recognize Immanuel, “God With Us.”

The Hanging of the Greens

The evergreen nature of conifers and hollies has long made them symbols of eternal life through Christ Jesus. Red berries are used as a symbol of Christ’s blood, which was shed for us.

Early in December each year, our congregation participates in readying our sanctuary for a season of celebration.

We usually use pine branch “roping” to make swags, and evergreen wreaths as our focal points.[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (1999). Celebrate his love: Study guide (pp. 62–75). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Judgment is coming

Possessing the Treasure

By Mike Ratliff

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)

12 So He said, “ A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. 13 And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back. ’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us. ’ 15 When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. (Luke 19:12-15 NASB)

26 I…

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