Daily Archives: December 18, 2014

December 18, 2014: Truth2Freedom Daily Headline Alerts Collection

Winning arguments does not create spiritual transformation. —Paul Wartman

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Dec. 18, 2014

BLOOMBERG

U.S. officials plan to announce this week that North Korea is behind the cyber-attack that crippled Sony Pictures Entertainment computers and forced the studio to pull “The Interview.”

“In 2013, the median wealth of the nation’s upper-income families ($639,400) was nearly seven times the median wealth of middle-income families ($96,500), the widest wealth gap seen in 30 years when the Federal Reserve began collecting these data,” an analysis of the Fed’s figures by the Pew Research Center concluded.

President Obama said that a high-level U.S. delegation will be heading to Cuba soon and his spokesman said that a presidential visit to the island nation is a possibility in the future.

The man, who provided intelligence to the U.S., was freed after being imprisoned in Cuba for almost 20 years. President Obama said he had furnished vital information used to break up Cuban spying operations in the U.S.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week as the economy’s continued improvement tempered dismissals. Jobless claims decreased by 6,000 to 289,000 in the week ended Dec. 13.

In a tell-tale sign that the plunge in the ruble is causing panic among Russians, the talk in a downtown Moscow nail salon this week was about stockpiling buckwheat.

Switzerland imposed its first negative deposit rate since the 1970s and threatened further action to stem a tide of money flowing from Russia’s financial crisis. Swiss National Bank President Thomas Jordan cited the Russian turmoil as a “major contributory factor” for the decision to introduce a charge of 0.25 percent on sight deposits, the cash-like holdings of commercial banks at the central bank.

Six years after Iceland’s banks brought the economy to its knees, a job in the financial industry still pays almost double what a person might make after graduating from a six-year program at medical school. The pay development has angered doctors, who are now fleeing the country in unprecedented numbers. And as the medical industry threatens a second round of strikes unless it’s paid more, Icelanders are left with the Nordic region’s lowest ratio of doctors to patients.

Consumer confidence rose last week to a seven year-high as falling gas prices and continued job growth burnish American attitudes.

AP Top Stories

The Russian economy will rebound and the ruble will stabilize, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday at his annual press conference.

Cameroon’s army killed 116 Boko Haram militants on Wednesday when they attacked a base in the Far North region of the country.

Boko Haram militants killed 32 people and kidnapped scores of others, including women and children, in a brutal attack on a village in the northeast.

Calling it the biggest disappointment of his career, Gov. Shumlin said he was abandoning plans to make Vermont the first state in the country with a universal, publicly funded health care system.

A human rights lawyer says 54 soldiers have been sentenced to death because they embarrassed Nigeria’s military by demanding weapons to fight Islamic extremists, and says they were justified in not going on what would have been a suicidal mission.

Police used pepper spray on Wednesday to disperse an unruly crowd of about 300 people lined up at a mall in Toledo, Ohio for a chance to buy new Air Jordan sneakers.

As more details emerge about the watershed normalizing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, we’re learning more about the instrumental role that Pope Francis played in helping to bring American and Cuban leaders together.

Two US military blimps flying 10,000 feet above the East Coast will act as a new missile defense system for the United States.

BBC

A judge has overturned the conviction of a 14-year-old black boy sent to the electric chair for murder more than 70 years ago. The young teenager’s prosecution for the killing of two white girls in South Carolina was a great injustice, the judge said.

World leaders welcomed an agreement between the US and Cuba to end more than 50 years of hostility and move towards restoring diplomatic ties.

The deadly cafe siege in Sydney sparked a debate about gun laws, with one senator calling for Australians to be allowed concealed weapons.

Obesity can constitute a disability if the health effects have an impact on people’s working lives, the European Court of Justice ruled.

Switzerland’s National Bank will bring in a negative interest rate cutting the value of any money left on deposit in the country.

The bodies of more than 230 people believed to have been killed by Islamic State (IS) have been found in a mass grave in eastern Syria.

WND

A 14-year-old North Carolina boy shot and killed a 18-year-old man who was trying to break into his grandmother’s home Tuesday while he was there alone with the elderly woman.

Jeb Bush has long advocated for all 50 states to adopt Common Core national standards. Now that the former Florida governor has all but confirmed his plans to run for president in 2016, the issue threatens to overshadow his likely campaign.

A Texas plumber is getting death threats after his old truck – still bearing his name – was tweeted on the front line by Islamic jihadists in Syria.

A popular seven-minute stress-reduction exercise widely used within the U.S. Armed Forces has just been released as a free iPhone and Android app for the general public, under the name “Cure Stress.”


Daily Digest

December 18, 2014

THE FOUNDATION

“Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world. Justly understood it is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in the mouths of some it means anything, which enervate a necessary government; excite a jealousy of the rulers who are our own choice, and keep society in confusion for want of a power sufficiently concentered to promote good.” –Oliver Ellsworth, A Landholder, No. III, 1787

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS

Smothering Free Speech Via ‘The Interview’

Gone are the days when Hollywood released Charlie Chapman’s “The Great Dictator,” a film lampooning Adolf Hitler. Although the film was released March 1941 — months before the attack on Pearl Harbor — it was the comedian’s most successful film. Today, we have a studio poised to release another lampoon of another infamous dictator but essentially self-censoring the film at the threat of hackers, who appear to be connected to North Korea. The hackers broke into Sony Picture’s computer network, released sensitive information, apparently because of “The Interview.” After threatening 9/11-type terror on any theater that dared air the film, which is about the assassination of Kim Jong Un, the hackers forced Sony to bow to the rule of terror — even though DHS thought the threat was not credible. “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview,” Sony said in a statement, “we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. … Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale — all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like.” The movie appeared to be a crass film dragged along by sex jokes. The product wasn’t worth defending, but the ideal of free speech is. More…

Obama Cries Racism for Being Handed the Keys

Barack Obama issued fresh race bait Wednesday in an interview he and Michelle granted to People magazine. For Barack, it’s racism when someone threw him the keys to their car. “There’s no black male my age who’s a professional who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car, and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys,” he said, because, in his eyes, only black men are valets. As Ian Tuttle of National Review points out, it’s not like that stunt wasn’t included in a James Bond film. But Obama had to elevate his story to the status of racial injustice. He continued, “It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a nice gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.” That is another very cheap shot at cops nationwide from a guy who happens to be president of the United States, not a valet guy. Next thing you know, he’ll be complaining that he lives in the White House.

Michelle Obama Cheats at Race Cards

Michelle Obama twisted her tale about a trip to Target to add her two cents to the White House’s long-running race-bait narrative. In an interview with People magazine, Michelle said, “[T]he only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf, because she didn’t see me as the first lady; she saw me as someone who could help her.” Michelle first told the story on The David Letterman Show in 2012, except in that version she said the person asked for her help reaching something “because she was short.” The customer didn’t ask for help because she confused her with a store clerk, but because Michelle was tall — and Michelle even said “I felt so good” helping her. But now she has a race narrative to spin — because she hasn’t done anything for anybody as first lady.

New Congress Will Tackle Keystone Pipeline First

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the first order of business for the 114th Congress — hopefully with the 67 votes needed to override Obama’s veto powers. “We’ll be starting next year with a job-creating bill that enjoys significant bipartisan support. The first item up in the new Senate will be the Keystone XL pipeline,” McConnell told reporters. In an effort to show the Republican-led Senate is willing to work with the minority Democrats — who let’s just say haven’t been the most gracious majority in history — McConnell added, “We’ll hope that senators on both sides will offer energy-related amendments, but there’ll be no effort to try to micromanage the amendment process.” Hearing how now-Minority Leader Harry Reid is talking about obstructing “crazy stuff,” it seems like the olive branch won’t be received well. More…

Canadian Jihadi May Have Been ‘In Direct Contact’ With ISIL

In October, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau attacked the Canadian Parliament after killing a soldier. Leftmedia reports were quick to insist it was a “lone wolf” attack. We declared that wrong at the time. We were right. Josh Rogin writes at Bloomberg, “Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay told me in an interview that not only did the Canadian government believe that Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau, a Muslim who drove over two soldiers only days earlier, were radicalized by the Islamic State, they now suspect both men may have been in direct contact with the group.” According to MacKay, “They were influenced by ISIS there is no question.” Before his attack, Zehaf-Bibeau made a video, and MacKay said his statements in it are “consistent with our belief that his motivations were very much as a result of being radicalized by the Islamic State.” Perhaps the jihadi in Australia will turn up similar connections. More…

Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column

Read The Most Important Lesson of 2014, on the things we can learn from what happened this year — particularly the election.

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RIGHT ANALYSIS

Obama’s Bay of Pigs

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Obama wearing Che wearing Obama

Nothing like making friends with commies to bring on the holiday spirit — peace on earth and good will and all that. Taking a break from complaining about being mistaken for a valet driver, Barack Obama announced Wednesday the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the communist dictatorship of Cuba.

“Today,” Obama’s statement read, “the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.” Well, for starters, the U.S. has never had a problem with the people of Cuba; it’s the communist government with which our Liberty-loving nation has taken issue. But casting principle — not to mention law — aside, Obama extended to Cuba the hand of America’s friendship and tossed in an embassy to boot. It’s a metaphorical Bay of Pigs betrayal all over again.

As Red State’s Erick Erickson writes, Obama’s “mentor, communist activist Frank Marshall Davis, would be proud of him.”

The announcement came after 18 months of secret talks between the U.S. and Cuba and on the heels of Cuba’s releasing U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned there since 2009. Cuba also released a U.S. intelligence agent who had been imprisoned for 20 years, while the U.S. let loose three convicted Cuban spies.

Yet Obama’s vain attempt to write a foreign policy success story accomplished nothing for Cubans, which is even more remarkable at a time when low oil prices have weakened Cuban sponsors Venezuela and Russia. In other words, the U.S. was in prime position to negotiate for human rights improvements in Cuba. Instead, Obama just offered Cuba a huge influx of dollars for nothing in return.

In heralding this Christmas gift to Fidel and Raul Castro, a senior administration official said, “We are charting a new course toward Cuba. The president understood the time was right to attempt a new approach, both because of the beginnings of changes in Cuba and because of the impediment this was causing for our regional policy.” Translation: Not to worry, Castro brothers, we forgive you. Care for some U.S. economic investment?

Lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba will require congressional action, but that’s never stopped Obama before. As the Guardian reports, “The White House hopes that by using a series of executive actions to minimize its enforcement [of the embargo], it can provide a breakthrough that will encourage political reform in Cuba and soften political opposition in the US.” Congress and the Constitution be damned. Full speed ahead.

Of course, this is hardly surprising, seeing how well Obama was able to get away with amnesty, along with the fact that Congress has gone home for the holidays. And he’s never cared much for the Constitution or Rule of Law anyway.

The truth remains, though, that there is a reason the U.S. closed our embassy in Cuba in 1961 and imposed a trade embargo that same year. That reason was Castro’s oppressive regime. And that regime — and reason — still stand.

Cuban-Americans on both sides of the political aisle aren’t pleased with Obama’s actions. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), soon-to-be former chair of the powerful U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and whose parents came to America from Cuba just before his birth, said, “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and whose parents, like Menendez’s, were Cuban immigrants, also slammed the president’s actions. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Rubio wrote, “The announcement by President Obama on Wednesday giving the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars isn’t just bad for the oppressed Cuban people, or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama’s new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people.”

He also noted, “The opportunity for Cuba to normalize relations with the U.S. has always been there, but the Castro regime has never been interested in changing its ways. Now, thanks to President Obama’s concessions, the regime in Cuba won’t have to change.”

Other nations like Iran are taking note.

It remains to be seen whether Congress will at last take a stand against the president’s recklessness and uphold our constitutional government. In the meantime, somewhere, Comrades Castro are smiling.

Pouring Cold Water on ‘Hottest Year Ever’

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The Lima Climate Change Conference hosted by the power-hungry United Nations came to a close Sunday, but not before burning through a whopping 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the organization’s dirtiest carbon footprint to date. The dismissal capped a two-week ordeal that laid the groundwork for a pivotal meeting in Paris late next year, where delegates from across the globe will attempt to hash out a universal blockbuster deal targeting fossil fuels. That event, dubbed COP21, will mark the 21st anniversary of the Conference of the Parties — ironically a few short years older than the global warming hiatus that alarmists have swept under the rug.

The UN assembly preceded what is expected to be a major announcement next month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Should current trends continue, that announcement will effectively crank up the alarm dial right when ecofascists need it most. What is this big news, you ask? Pending the outcome of December’s temperature anomaly, alarmists are drooling over the likelihood of 2014 going down as the world’s “hottest” year yet, providing a nice garnish to policymakers’ narrative going into next year’s symposium.

According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, “The first 11 months of 2014 was the warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature of 1.22°F (0.68°C) above the 20th century average of 57.0°F (13.9°C), surpassing the previous record set in 2010 by 0.02°F (0.01°C). The margin of error is ±0.18°F (0.10°C). 2014 is currently on track to be the warmest year on record if the December global temperature is at least 0.76°F (0.42°C) above its 20th century average.”

Aside from the obvious disclaimer — the sample size is puny given our relatively brief history of record keeping — there are two important questions that arise. First, is NOAA’s assertion correct? Second, if so, doesn’t that stand in stark contrast to some of the other claims floating around the conservative world?

To answer the first question, we must first determine what methods NOAA uses to compile data. The agency uses two tools: The Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN-Monthly), defined as a “data base [that] contains historical temperature, precipitation, and pressure data for thousands of land stations worldwide,” and The Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature (ERSST), “a global monthly sea surface temperature analysis derived from the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Dataset with missing data filled in by statistical methods.”

Simply stated, the government’s standard heavily relies on land-based instruments that are vulnerable to discrepancies, the most axiomatic of which is the heat island effect among metroplexes. Consequently, those measurements are skewed. And even if they weren’t, NOAA’s report cannot be considered complete. Case in point: The year-to-date temperature departure graph included in the research depicts globs of red ink (heat) intermingled with considerably less blue (cold), but there’s another color that takes up a lot of real estate — gray — which represents the areas that did not have data and were therefore excluded. That would include all of Antarctica and a large portion of the North Pole.

Apparently, publishing a report that omits data from the coldest places on earth — and, importantly, areas where ice is rapidly expanding and rebounding — doesn’t warrant a giant asterisk.

Back to the original question, determining if NOAA is right depends on how you construe data — or, in this case, refuse to consider it. And obfuscating your findings is generally not a good way to build trust. Moreover, this malfeasance extends to the manipulation of pre-satellite records to fit the narrative. WeatherBell Analytics meteorologist Joe Bastardi wrote in an email to The Patriot Post, “The current methods [used by NOAA] involve ‘normalizing’ temperatures in the pre-satellite era, in many cases cooling previous warm periods, making today look warmer.”

And here we thought science was “settled.”

The government does not use one method considered superior by many, and it tells a different story. Remote System Satellite (RSS) measurements reveal that this year doesn’t even rank among the top five warmest. The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch says, “2014 is nowhere near the warmest year on record, so far only ranking as the seventh warmest on record.”

That’s important because WeatherBell’s Bastardi considers satellite measurements the most objective way to accurately record global temperatures. Added Bastardi: “[W]hat we can know is what we see today — and that is the leveling off and eventual downturn in global temperatures as measured objectively. This eliminates any of the ‘fox guarding the henhouse’ arguments, as many people on my side of the argument believe is going on here.”

As for the global warming pause, that was also discovered via RSS. No wonder policymakers discard it too — objectivity has no place among ideologically driven political leaders. Is it really any wonder what the United Nations would have to say about RSS measurements if its findings happened to fit the narrative?

During the Lima Climate Change Conference, Bolivian President Evo Morales delivered an accurate description of the UN’s core motivating philosophy. “The deep causes of global warming,” he complained, “are not being dealt with here. The origin of global warming lies in capitalism. If we could end capitalism then we would have a solution.” His honesty is somewhat refreshing, if disconcerting all the same.

This war that’s being orchestrated by alarmists is not against fossil-fuel-emitting power plants, the greenhouse gas effect or rising sea levels; it’s against the free-market enterprise that springs from the foundation of Liberty. The ones who declare the debate over because Science™ says so are the same ones trashing other reputable scientific findings for their own political gain. Remember that in January when they claim, falsely, that 2014 was “the hottest year ever.”

TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS

OPINION IN BRIEF

Economist Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992): “When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.”

Historian Victor Davis Hanson: “Drones blow up everybody nearby. Waterboarding does not affect other nearby prisoners who are not being interrogated. If the wrong suspect is waterboarded, he can be exempt from further such interrogation. If the wrong target is blown up, he has no second chance. Did saving American lives distinguish between the two practices? We do not know. But the suspects incinerated by drones never had any opportunity to be interrogated. Their knowledge of terrorist networks went up in smoke with them. However, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the waterboarded mastermind of 9/11, may have offered information about several supposed copy-cat operations to follow. Was President George W. Bush more nonchalant about enhanced interrogation techniques than was President Obama about drone killings? Not really. The charge against Bush is one of laxity. Supposedly, CIA interrogators freelanced without proper executive-branch supervision. In contrast, Obama is said to go over the drone hit list himself.”

Columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell: “Will Rogers, the late American humorist and corn-pone philosopher, once said, ‘All I know is what I read in the papers.’ That statement earned him a place in Bartletts’s Familiar Quotations. Were he alive today it would most likely be inviting widespread derision. Today’s newspapers abound with bogus stories. … The story that originated in Italy’s Corriere della Sera and quickly traveled around the world claimed that Pope Francis, while attempting to console a grieving young boy who had lost his pet, asserted that heaven is open to pets. … Pope Francis never made the idiotic statement and there was no grief-stricken boy. The news story was based on a misreading of the pope’s general audience at the Vatican Nov. 26. Yet the Reverend Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, did have a helpful bit of information for journalists. He said, ‘There is a fundamental rule in journalism. That is double-checking, and in this case it was not done.’ Nor was it done at New York magazine or at Rolling Stone, and, apparently, it will not be done at the University of Virginia’s campus newspaper. Thus we can anticipate more amusements from American journalists in the years to come.”

Comedian Jimmy Fallon: “Obama recently said that his day is all about politics, so in the mornings he likes to watch ESPN. So if you get the feeling he’s repeating himself every half hour, that’s where he learned it from.”

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A UN Timetable For Israel’s Destruction

The Obama administration is shamelessly outsourcing the United States’ historic leadership in facilitating negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel of a workable, secure two-state solution to the United Nations and European governments …………. Click here for full story


Death Penalty For Smuggling Bibles?

Unconfirmed reports of a new decree imposing the death penalty on anyone caught smuggling Bibles into Saudi Arabia has many Christian ministries and support groups on edge ……… Click here for full story


Hanukkah’s Winning Strategy For End-Time Believers

The story of Hanukkah is a story of defiance. Defiance by a people refusing to conform under immense pressure from a popular culture that had become hostile to the God of the Bible………. Click here for full story


Bank Of Montreal Now Requiring Business Partners To Conform To Its Pro-Gay ‘Diversity’ Standards

The Bank of Montreal, Canada’s fourth largest bank, has begun a process of requiring the businesses with which it works to conform to its pro-homosexual “diversity” standards………. Click here for full story


Why Muslims Are Converting To Christ In The Face Of ISIS Atrocities

Atrocities by the Islamic State (ISIS) are softening the hearts of Muslims to Christianity, and evangelistic techniques and technologies are proving effective, but locally-based missionaries say the main reason for the spike in conversions in the Middle East is simply that former Muslims are finding God is real ……… Click here for full story


Financial Market Manipulation Is The New Trend: Can It Continue?

A dangerous new trend is the successful manipulation of the financial markets by the Federal Reserve, other central banks, private banks, and the US Treasury. The Federal Reserve reduced real interest rates on US government debt obligations first to zero and then pushed real interest rates into negative territory. Today the government charges you for the privilege of purchasing its bonds. People pay to park their money in Treasury debt obligations, because they do not trust the banks and they know that the government can print the money to pay off the bonds. Today Treasury bond investors pay a fee in order to guarantee that they will receive the nominal face value (minus the fee) of their investment in government debt instruments. The fee is paid in a premium, which raises the cost of the debt instrument above its face value and is paid again in accepting a negative rate of return, as the interest rate is less than the inflation rate.

Read more


Alphabetical list of all active volcanoes in the world

Abu (Honshu, Japan) shield volcano, 641 m / 2,103 ft Acamarachi (Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, South America) stratovolcano, 6046 m / 19,836 ft Acatenango (Guatemala) Stratovolcano, 3976 m / 13,044 ft Continued:

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America under dictatorship

Just as Fidel Castro became Cuba’s dictator when he and his guerrillas triumphantly entered Havana on January 7, 1959, President Barack Obama became America’s dictator on Dec. 17, 2014. Swaggering into Havana dressed in army fatigues with his signature cigar, Castro claimed the island as his own. Like a thief making off with a nation in the middle of the night, Obama waiting until Congress was out of town, opened America to a Communist totalitarian state.

Read more


Could This Become Our Nightmare?

No more excuses! Everyone in this country should be fully awake now. The horrendous massacre of innocent students in Peshawar, Pakistan is to be condemned by every human being on the planet. But lest we think that this is a nightmare in some far-off land, we need to quit fooling ourselves and pretending that we are somehow exempt from such atrocities.

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Jeb Bush in 2016: The good, the bad and the ugly

It’s finally official.

Jeb Bush announced Tuesday morning that he has set up an exploratory committee to pursue running for president. Virtually every person who takes this step ultimately throws his or her hat in the ring. It’s only a matter of time.

How should we assess Jeb Bush’s candidacy?

View Article & Short Video


Franklin Graham: America Is Lifting Up Sin; ‘It’s Like Little Children Shaking Their Fist at Almighty God’

The Rev. Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritans Purse, says the government’s attacks against Christianity and bans on traditional Christmas themes while society glorifies sin is “like little children shaking their fist at Almighty God.”

“What’s happening is we’re glorifying sin, we’re lifting up sin. And it’s like little children shaking their fist at Almighty God,” Graham told Fox News host Megyn Kelly during a Wednesday segment of “The Kelly File.”

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Ken Ham: ‘Every Religious Organization Should Be Worried’

Ken Ham, the founder and president of the Kentucky-based ministry Answers in Genesis (AIG), is expressing concern over new demands that the state is requiring of its proposed Ark Encounter, namely its requirement that the ministry not engage in “religious preference” in its hiring—meaning that it can’t refuse applicants simply because they are non-Christians.

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World set to end year in brittle economic state

The global economy is ending the year in a fragile state with factory activity shrinking in China, euro zone business growth remaining weak, and emerging market giant Russia in a spiraling currency crisis.

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Obama’s Bailout for Communist Dictators

Why Americans will suffer for Obama’s dirty deal with Castro.

The Castro regime is on its last legs. Its sponsors in Moscow and Caracas are going bankrupt due to failing energy prices. The last hope of the Butcher of Havana was a bailout from Washington D.C.

And that’s exactly what Obama gave him.

Obama has protected the Castros from regime change as if Communist dictators are an endangered species.

View Article


GOP legend quits Congress with message for America

“I’m not done. I’m just going to change arenas now. Instead of holding elective office, now I’ll be fighting from the outside,” a jubilant Bachmann recently told WND in a wide-ranging interview looking back on her storied career and eight years in Congress, where she left an impression like few others before her.

Bachmann plans to continue her mission to make America a better place from outside the beltway by writing, speaking across the country at different venues, appearing on media and associating with various groups.

View Article & short video


Heavy snow kills 5, disrupts travel in Japan

At least five people have died in heavy snow that has blanketed swathes of Japan, reports said on Thursday, with more than two metres (6ft 7ins) lying in some places and more forecast. Two elderly women were killed on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Kyodo News reported, with one hit by a snow-plough and another buried when a warehouse collapsed under the weight of fallen snow. Two men, meanwhile, died in traffic accidents on snow-bound roads, one in Hokkaido and the other in Hiroshima further south, police said. More


Top US Diplomat Warns Russia: Don’t Put Nukes in Crimea

A senior State Department official warned Russia on Wednesday against deploying nuclear weapons in Crimea, and said the United States and its allies would respond if Moscow opted to do so. Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said such a move by Russia would be “extremely dangerous,” the Washington Free Beacon reported. Nuland, speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, did not explain what form the U.S. response might take. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that “Russia has every reason to dispose of its nuclear arsenal” on the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in March. In late February and early March, heavily armed pro-Moscow separatists occupied Crimea, which had been part of Ukraine since the 1950s. In mid-March, the separatists staged a referendum in which almost 97 percent of Crimea’s residents purportedly voted to become part of Russia. Many international observers have condemned the vote as illegitimate. More


Russia Reviving it’s Nuclear Arsenal in the midst of Recession and Sanctions

The Russian economy may come to “a sudden stop” and a bank run “could be in the cards,” according to an analyst at Moscow brokerage UralSib Capital. “A full-blown currency and financial-crisis scenario seems to be unfolding in Russia in what was supposed to a quiet week as we head into the holiday season,” Slava Smolyaninov, deputy head of research, wrote in an e-mailed report today. “There is a risk that the economy will come to a sudden stop, along with the banks and the overall financial system. Hence, we may have underestimated the level of financial risk in the event of a full-fledged panic. A bank run could be in the cards.” More

As Rouble Collapses Russia Touts War-Readiness with Secret Weapons – Nuclear Missile Trains & Sub-Launched Robots, Drones- As if unmindful of its financial woes that pile up by the day – the falling rouble, the plunging oil prices and the economic sanctions from the West – Russia has decided to uncloak a number of the secret weapons that likely will see action in case of a nuclear showdown with the United States. Economists are wondering what Russian President Vladimir Putin will prioritise amidst the crises that he has to deal with: Guns or butter? It is unclear if any of the two occupies the top spot on Putin’s to-do list but projecting muscle is definitely not taking the back seat as far as the Kremlin top honcho is concerned. More

Russia is reviving its nuclear missile trains from the Soviet Era, receiving the latest developments in the missile industry. Enhancement will make the nuclear trains faster and its missile capabilities far ranging as compared to its predecessor during the Cold War. With its modernisation, the nuclear railway system will be serving Russia up until 2040 at the very least, Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force Colonel-General Sergey Karakayev announce on Dec 17. More


Is 2015 Going to Be the Year of the Robot?

The advent of robotic technology in Asia further showcases how programmatic may be taking over the digital marketing ecosystem. Will 2015 be the year of the robot? This month Nestlé will deploy its newly developed humanoid robot, named Pepper, across 20 home appliance stores in Japan in an effort to enhance brand engagement with customers and to help sell its signature coffee machines in a continually saturated market. More


Church ministers to sign covenant against gay ordination

Evangelicals opposed to gay ordination are forming a protest movement against greater acceptance of homosexual and lesbian ministers in the Church of Scotland. The group, to be launched in Glasgow today and to be called the Covenant Fellowship, will push for a traditionalist stance from within the Kirk, rather than leaving the main body of the Church. It comes as the Kirk’s presbyteries this week returned a majority backing in the penultimate stage of acceptance of gay ordination, with local churches expected to be able to opt to appoint a gay minister in a same sex relationship. More


Senior Russian Diplomat Accuses US of Efforts to Cripple Russian Economy

Moscow has no doubts about Washington’s involvement in deliberate and targeted efforts to create a difficult situation in the Russian economy, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday. “We have pointed out on numerous occasions that US officials have commented with poorly hidden satisfaction on negative trends in various segments of the Russian market lately, including the currency market,” Ryabkov told reporters in Geneva. More


Jordan presents draft of resolution on Palestinian state to UN

Jordan formally submitted to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday a draft resolution calling for peace between Israel and the Palestinians within one year and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank by the end of 2017. The Palestinian-drafted resolution was formally submitted to the 15-member council, which means it could be put to a vote as soon as 24 hours later, but it does not guarantee it will happen. Some drafts formally submitted have never been voted. More


Radar ‘blimps’ to monitor Washington-area skies

The first of two radar-detecting blimps is slated to rise up over Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland on Friday as part of a three-year exercise testing the integration of an Army air surveillance system with the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The 80-yard long, radar-fitted surveillance balloons, floated to an altitude of up to 10,000 feet, are intended to pinpoint beyond-the-horizon targets such as incoming enemy missiles, aircraft or drones. A second balloon, technically aerostats because they’re tethered and do not float or maneuver independently in the sky, is expected to go up by the end of January. More


Active sunspot AR2242 erupted on Dec. 17th, producing an M9-class solar flare.

Active sunspot AR2242 erupted on Dec. 17th, producing an M9-class solar flare. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash: The explosion caused a brief HF radio blackout on the daylitt side of Earth. The event was minor, however, and would have been noticed by only a small number of mariners and ham radio operators. Of greater interest is the CME. SOHO coronagraphs have detected a bright and massive cloud of plasma emerging from the blast site: More


Obama Signs Ukraine Freedom Support Act, Imposes More Sanctions

US President Barack Obama signed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, the State Department’s spokesperson said. “He signed it yesterday,” Jen Psaki, the State Department’s spokesperson said Wednesday at a press briefing, when asked about the sanctions bill that president Obama is about the sign. A December 17 update to the White House website shows the legislation is still pending Obama’s signature. Despite his opposition to the bill, Obama said he intended to sign the Ukraine Freedom and Support Act after the measure easily passed the US House of Representatives and Senate. More


Muslims Must Save Islam from Islamists :: Fatah in Toronto Sun

by Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun
December 16, 2014
http://www.meforum.org/4931/muslims-must-save-islam-from-islamists


Video – Real Discernment Glory Clouds at IHOP


Responding to the LGBT Movement’s Southern Strategy

If the Human Rights Campaign can make it there, they can make it anywhere — but it’s not New York.
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Headlines of Interest

10 Marks Of True Conversion

Through the Eyes of Spurgeon – This new documentary looks at the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon.

How to Spot a Religious Sociopath

Church Of England Names Its First Female Bishop

Muslim Teens Join Adventists in Refusing Sabbath Exams

Survey: Most U.S. Doctors Now Support Assisted Suicide

Michelle Obama To High-School Grads: Monitor Your Parents For Thoughtcrime


Exodus: According to Ridley Scott

by Nate Sala

The late Roger Ebert once described Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ as a movie that “depends upon theological considerations.” In other words, the movie stands or falls on theological grounds. His astute observation is one I believe holds for all biblical stories interpreted for the silver screen.

I think the importance of weighing these theological considerations can be shown by considering Gibson’s Passion as well as Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. In both instances the directors (as do many) reinterpreted or embellished parts of the story to represent their take on biblical events; but one did so carefully and the other did not.

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Sola Sisters: God Came Near

Posted by Christine Pack (originally published 12/10/10)

Christmas was always my guilty pleasure every year as a New Ager. My wiccan-pagan-hindu friends would give me a hard time for putting up a tree and decorating, and not having the “strength of my convictions.” But I just always loved the gaiety of the season: the parties, the food, the sparkle, the fun, the decorating. And it seemed so hopeful at heart, this idea that God could have actually come into the world. Impossible, of course, but hopeful.

Once I was born again, of course, Christmas became the most wondrous time of year to me because it was TRUE……God did step into humanity, piercing the veil between the natural and the supernatural, but even more than that, He did it so that wretched men and women could be reconciled to a high and holy God.  Amazing!

Soli Deo Gloria.

photo credit: HikingArtist.com via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

To Christmas or Not To Christmas…..That Is the Question (Sola Sisters)

Christmas and Christian Liberty (Sola Sisters)

Christmas is Just A Christianized Pagan Celebration? Not So Fast….. (Sola Sisters)

The Glory of Jesus (Sola Sisters)

Christmas Prophecies Fulfilled (Grace To You)

How Christmas Solves The Prophetic Puzzle (Grace To You)

Is There Anything Inherently Sinful or Dangerous in Delebrating Christmas? (Grace To You)

Should Christians Have Christmas Trees? (Grace To You)

The Attack on Christmas (Answers in Genesis)

 4 Part Series by Dr. Richard P. Bucher 

Christmas Is Not Pagan, Part 1 , Overview

Christmas Is Not Pagan, Part 2, Answering the Argument: “Christmas is obviously pagan because there is neither Biblical command nor precedent for celebrating Christ’s birth.”

Christmas Is Not Pagan, Part 3, Answering the Argument: “The first Christians never observed the celebration of Christ’s birth until emperor Constantine in 313 AD officially tolerated Christians.”

Christmas Is Not Pagan, Part 4, Answering the Argument:  “The date of Christmas (December 25), and its many customs all come from pagan sources. Therefore Christmas is pagan.”

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It Must Be Good

Rick Warren and his kind have built their churches audiences on a pragmatic philosophy that says whatever draws the biggest crowd is a good and godly method. This pragmatism goes back farther than the modern megachurch movement.

 

The role model for contemporary pastors is not the prophet or the shepherd—it is the corporate executive, the politician, or worst of all, the talk-show host. The contemporary church is preoccupied with audience ratings, popularity polls, corporate image, statistical growth, financial profit, opinion surveys, demographic charts, census figures, fashion trends, celebrity status, top-ten lists, and other pragmatic issues. Gone is the church’s passion for purity and truth. No one seems to care, as long as the response is enthusiastic.

Tozer noticed that pragmatism had crept into the church of his day, too. He wrote, “I say without hesitation that a part, a very large part, of the activities carried on today in evangelical circles are not only influenced by pragmatism but almost completely controlled by it.” Tozer described the danger posed to the church by even so-called “consecrated” pragmatism:

The pragmatic philosophy . . . asks no embarrassing questions about the wisdom of what we are doing or even about the morality of it. It accepts our chosen ends as right and good and casts about for efficient means and ways to get them accomplished. When it discovers some­thing that works it soon finds a text to justify it, “consecrates” it to the Lord and plunges ahead. Next a magazine article is written about it, then a book, and finally the inventor is granted an honorary degree. After that any question about the scripturalness of things or even the moral validity of them is completely swept away. You cannot argue with success. The method works; ergo, it must be good.

—John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel (Crossway, 2010), 91.

Source


‘Twas the Night Before the Last Christmas!


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New Video: Through the Eyes of Spurgeon

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

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There is a new free video out about the life of the man, Charles Spurgeon, who loved the Lord Jesus Christ and loved to preach and proclaim the gospel.
Here is a trailer but go here for the free full feature.

Through the Eyes of Spurgeon – Official Teaser Trailer from Stephen McCaskell on Vimeo.

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Does foreign policy matter? Obama’s appeasement policy comes with a cost

WINTERY KNIGHT

Obama shakes hands with communist dictator Castro Obama shakes hands with communist dictator Castro

Just a quick rundown of the foreign policy news that just ruined my day.

Investors Business Daily:

Just as its patron Venezuela hit the rocks, Cuba got a last-minute rescue from none other than President Obama, who announced a Santa Claus-like package of wish-list goodies for the Castro brothers. Why?

In many ways, President Obama’s announced plan to normalize relations with Cuba, lift the embargo, extend trade credits and remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list is about on par with the rest of his foreign policy.

It was done by executive order without consulting Congress, just like last month’s decision to temporarily legalize 5 million illegal immigrants.

It was justified by a claim the U.S. embargo was “not working,” comparable to Obama’s claim the U.S. immigration system is “broken.” In reality, the problem in both cases is that of…

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The Cripplegate: Sorrow, Depression, and the Holidays

 

depressionDepression and discouragement are not respecters of the holidays. For many reasons, the normal sorrow of life can reach a highpoint this time of year for some.

It may be a reminder that we are without a loved one. It may be financial stress, or loss, in a time where the pressure is to purchase. It might be emotional pressure of getting together with broken family. We just may not have a clue why we are discouraged, which can be discouraging itself. We can, even unintentionally, place big demands on this time of year to deliver and fulfill us in impossible ways, apart from God.

And Christmas time or not, many of us experience the normal, heavy weight of discouragement and depression as a regular thing; dejection, confusion, frustration, sadness, hopelessness, anxiousness, anger, darkness, despair.

But God has answers and real hope from his word for the battle.

Here are 11 truths for strength in sorrow:

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Storing up Wrath

Why would a man lack any fear of God? I believe it’s because we insist on telling a sinful world that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives. This is the “gospel” according to the contemporary Church. We give the world a choice: Do they choose God’s wonderful plan, or is their own life’s plan more wonderful? Please go to, http://www.FreeWonderfulBook.com  Listen or read freely on line. 

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Southern Seminary: Worldview and the importance of first impressions

**Editors Note: Dan DeWitt recently wrote a worldview novella for young readers called The Owlings. You can read and excerpt of the book here. You can also purchase a copy of his book here

. . . Every person has a worldview and every worldview is a story. The secular worldview is based on a belief that the cosmos is all there is, or ever was, or ever will be. It’s a story that started by chance, is governed by nothing, and is heading nowhere.

On the other hand, the Christian narrative begins with the belief summarized in John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word became flesh.” The Christian story is simply better, and to borrow a pet phrase from Henry Kissinger, “it has the added advantage of being true.”

Like Dawkins, I think explaining fundamental concepts about the nature of reality to children is a must. But I have a very different worldview than Dawkins. I think that reality is best explained by a God who is there and who is not silent: a Creator who has revealed himself in human history.

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The Cripplegate: Christmas and Controversy

Mention “Christmas” and “controversy” together in the same sentence, and most evangelicals will assume you’re talking about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, or the secularization of the winter holiday season.

But, from a historical perspective, a much more significant controversy surrounded Christmas for the first five centuries of church history; and its effects still linger in some circles today. It centered on the very essence of Jesus’ birth – the doctrine of His incarnation.

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GTY Blog: The Fullness of God in Helpless Babe

Colossians 1:15-20

Code: B141217

by John MacArthur

The world’s Christmas celebration is bound up in a disturbing incongruity. On the one hand, people go to great lengths to support and sustain the legend of Santa Claus, using his mystical benevolence to leverage good behavior from their children. On the other hand, they systematically minimize the Person and work of Christ—the holiday’s rightful celebrity—to the point that the Lord is nothing more than a plastic infant, frozen for all time in the familiar nativity scene. They exchange the singular Christ for a cheap hoax.

The Uniqueness of Christ

There has never been another person like Jesus Christ. All the New Testament underscores that, repeatedly stressing Jesus’ deity. But let me point to one passage in particular, written by the apostle Paul, which captures the essence of Jesus’ divine nature. These are the truths that make Christmas truly wonderful:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:15-20)

The Image of God

Ironically, some of the cults that deny Jesus’ deity try to use Colossians 1:15-20 as support for their view. They suggest, for example, that the phrase “the image of the invisible God” hints that Jesus was merely a created being who bore the image of God. But Genesis 1:27 says that is true of all humanity. We were created in God’s likeness. We bear His mark. We only resemble Him. Jesus, on the other hand, is God’s exact image.

The Greek word translated “image” here is eikon. It means a perfect replica, a precise copy, a duplicate—something even more like the original than a photograph. Paul is saying that God Himself is fully manifest in the Person of His Son, who is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the exact image of God. As He said Himself, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Hebrews 1 parallels Colossians 1 at a number of key points. Both passages explicitly teach that Jesus is God. Regarding the statement that Christ is the image of God (Colossians 1:15), for example, Hebrews 1:3 makes an identical affirmation: “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” Christ is to God as the warm brilliance of light is to the sun. He brings God from a cosmic location to the very hearts of men and women. He gives light and life. He reveals God’s very essence. Just as the sun was never without its brightness, so it is with Christ and God. They cannot be divided, and neither has ever existed without the other. They are one (John 10:30).

Scripture repeatedly says God is invisible. “No man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). God told Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Exodus 33:20). Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). And, “You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form” (John 5:37). Paul, writing to Timothy, called God invisible (1 Timothy 1:17). And here in Colossians 1:15, Paul also describes God as invisible.

But through Christ the invisible God has been made visible. God’s full likeness is revealed in Jesus. Colossians 1:19 takes that truth a step further: “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.” He is not just an outline of God; He is fully God. Colossians 2:9 is even more explicit: “In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” Nothing is lacking. No attribute is absent. He is God in the fullest possible sense, the perfect image.

The Lamb of God

Who was this child? God. We see that clearly now. But why would God become a man and be born in such a lowly manner and let men treat Him the way they did? Why would Jesus, though “He is before all things” (Colossians 1:17), and though He takes “first place in everything” (v. 18), decide to come to earth as a baby, suffer the abuse He suffered, and die such a painful death?

The apostle Paul tells us clearly: “It was the Father’s good pleasure . . . through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (vv. 19-20).

He did it to make peace between God and humanity. All of us have sinned, and we sin repeatedly: “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 2:23). God hates sin and must respond with His wrath. He is a righteous judge who “is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11 KJV). Humanity reacts with more hatred, rebellion, or indifference toward God: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). The only possible response of a holy God to our sin is more than we can bear, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready” (Psalm 7:12).

Only Jesus, because He alone is both God and man, could ever resolve the conflict. He lived as a man, but without sin, suffering every temptation common to man, so He could be our sympathetic high priest: “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). And though He was without sin, He died as a sacrifice, the spotless Lamb of God (John 1:29), an offering bearing our sin: “Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews 9:28). Thus “having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9).

In other words, He takes the hand of a repentant, yielding sinner and the outstretched hand of a holy yet loving God, and He joins the two. He can forgive our sins, reconcile us to God, and thus make “peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20). And God is not reluctant for that to occur; rather it is the very reason He sent Christ into the world.

God is justifiably angry with humanity’s sin. Yet He loves us enough that He gave His own Son to live on earth, die on a cross, and bear our sins in His own body, suffering the full weight of God’s wrath, which should have been our lot. He paid our penalty and restored peace between us and God. It could not have been done any other way.

Next time we’ll look at God’s divine plan for redemption, and consider how we can’t truly celebrate Christ’s miraculous birth apart from His death.

(Adapted from The Miracle of Christmas.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B141217
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

Lies Young Women Believe: In Case of Christmas Break, Break Glass

by Erin Davis | 12/18/14

In my neck of the woods, schools will soon be closed for more than two weeks to allow families to celebrate Christmas and ring in the new year. If you’re in that same boat, that means you will soon have 336 hours of free time. Sure, opening gifts, decorating (and eating) Christmas cookies, and taking long naps in the new jammies Aunt Hilda sent will eat up some of that time. But what about the rest of it? Here are six do’s and don’ts for surviving Christmas break.

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Commentary: There Is Hope In Understanding That A Great Economic Collapse Is Coming

If you were about to take a final exam, would you have more hope or more fear if you didn’t understand any of the questions and you had not prepared for the test at all? I think that virtually all of us have had dreams where we show up for an exam that we have not studied for. Those dreams can be pretty terrifying. And of course if you were ever in such a situation in real life, you probably did very, very poorly on that test. The reason I have brought up this hypothetical is to make a point. My point is that there is hope in understanding what is ahead of us, and there is hope in getting prepared. Since I started The Economic Collapse Blog back in 2009, there have always been a few people that have accused me of spreading fear. That frustrates me, because what I am actually doing is the exact opposite of that. When a hurricane is approaching, is it “spreading fear” to tell people to board up their windows? Of course not. In fact, you just might save someone’s life. Or if you were walking down the street one day and you saw someone that wasn’t looking and was about to step out into the road in front of a bus, what would the rational thing to do be? Anyone that has any sense of compassion would yell out and warn that other person to stay back. Yes, that other individual may be startled for a moment, but in the end you will be thanked warmly for saving that person from major injury or worse. Well, as a nation we are about to be slammed by the hardest times that any of us have ever experienced. If we care about those around us, we should be sounding the alarm. (Read More….)

WVW-TV: Why America is Decreasing, Who is Bringing Her Down & How the Financial, Religious, & Political Power is Shifting to a Euro-centric Empire | Worldview Weekend

Georgetown Professor and Mentor of Bill Clinton, Carroll Quigley, explained how Cecil Rhodes would use his vast fortune to begin organizations and the Rhodes scholarship program, of which Clinton was a recipient, for the purpose of grooming world leaders that would work toward a world government out of Europe. But who influenced Cecil Rhodes? In the book of Daniel 2 & 7 the Bible predicts a one-world government that is Euro-centric. If you want to understand why America is decreasing, who is bringing her down, and how the financial, religious, and political power is shifting to a Euro-centric empire that is rising then don’t miss this program with the research, analysis, and Biblical insight from Brannon Howse. Watch this program now before it rolls into the Situation Room for members only. Click here to watch now: http://www.worldviewweekend.com/tv/video/why-america-decreasing-who-brin…

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Ministry: The Death of Evangelical Missions…

Over the course of the past ten years or so, we’ve worked closely with our church’s missionaries to find out who among them is working directly to fulfill the Great Commission, or is willing to turn in that direction? What we’ve found is that Evangelical missions today has changed from preaching the Gospel to dispensing vitamins to pregnant women, digging wells for villages, and handing out nets to keep malaria at bay.

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Righteous Parents: God in the Manger (Part 9)

Many local television stations across the United States entitle their newscasts Eyewitness News. Obviously, the impression station managers and news directors want to convey is that their newscasts are accurate and that viewers can count on the broadcasts as bona fide sources of daily community information. Such telecasts do not always achieve their goals of accuracy and balanced reporting, but use of the term eyewitness by the producers implies a desire to attain those ideals. That’s because eyewitness, in some sense, still connotes the idea of a credible, reliable report—a trustworthy individual actually witnessed certain events and can provide a truthful account of them.

The principle of the honest eyewitness also derives from the traditions and standards of Western jurisprudence. Courts accept a story as true when two or three witnesses can corroborate and verify its major elements. But the principle goes back much further to the biblical affirmation that testimony had to be confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses (Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; Matt. 18:16; 1 Tim. 5:19).

Luke, ever the careful historian and theologian, used the testimony of reliable witnesses to great effect in confirming the truth of his narrative of the birth of Christ. His efforts were all the more effective because he could cite the most credible witnesses any writer ever had. And he did all that so we would know beyond a doubt that Jesus Christ was the greatest and most special child ever born.

The Righteousness of Joseph and Mary

First of all, Luke removed any uncertainty about the character and honesty of his witnesses by relying on the testimony of Jesus’ parents. Because of the righteous character of Joseph and Mary’s lives, Luke knew his readers could trust their testimony.

Matthew 1:19 identifies Joseph this way: “Joseph … being a just man.” That means he was right with God—a righteous man. And that was notable because in those days Israel had quite an array of theological and political viewpoints that were out of step with God’s righteous plan. There were those influenced by the Sadducees, who were essentially the religious liberals (they denied the supernatural and a bodily resurrection from the dead). Many Jews followed the system of the religious legalists, the Pharisees, who believed in tradition, ceremonies, and good works as a means to salvation. Then there were the adherents of nationalism, who politicized Judaism and were fanatically intent on overthrowing Roman control and regaining independence for the nation of Israel. The Zealots most clearly represented that outlook. And there was even a segment of Jewish society that lived out in the desert as separatists. The Essenes, with their asceticism and contemplative piety, epitomized that sectarian element.

Those crosscurrents of unscriptural emphases had led the nation of Israel far from God. But He was still working among a small remnant of His people, reassuring them that Messiah was coming and that His plan of redemption was still intact. The Lord was faithfully carrying out His program through righteous people, those who believed His promises, repented of their sins, and cast themselves on His mercy for the forgiveness of sins. Joseph was a prime example of this righteous remnant, as was his young wife, Mary, whom Luke earlier quoted as saying, “‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior’” (1:46–47). It’s clear that Jesus’ parents knew and loved the Lord.

The Testimony of Joseph and Mary

Joseph and Mary’s devotion to follow the will of God in everything pertaining to their new son was also clear. Luke 2:21–24 features that faithful, joyful spirit of obedience:

And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

The Circumcising and Naming of Jesus

The first way in which Jesus’ parents testified to His identity as Messiah and Savior was by bringing Him to be circumcised and formally named.

The Law of Moses prescribed that the parents of male babies, when the boys were eight days old, were to have their sons circumcised (Lev. 12:3). However, God first introduced the rite of circumcision (Gen. 17:9–14) to Abraham when he underwent the formal procedure as an adult and the Lord identified him as the father of the Israelite nation. From then on, as a sign of the covenant, every male child in Israel was to be circumcised on the eighth day.

Although circumcision was physical and done for health reasons (by having the man’s foreskin cut away, God was protecting the Jewish wife from receiving harmful infections and bacteria from her husband), it primarily symbolized the need for spiritual cleansing. Every time Jewish parents brought a son to be circumcised, it was a reminder of original sin—they were sinners; they had borne a sinner—and their need for a cleansing at the deepest level of their souls. That’s why Scripture commands us to circumcise our hearts (Rom. 2:28–29; Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11).

But why did Jesus, the holy and sinless Son of God (Isa. 53:9; 2 Cor. 5:21), need to be circumcised? Because that’s what God’s Law required. Whatever His Law mandated at that time in redemptive history, Jesus, through His earthly parents, wanted to comply with those commands. As the apostle Paul wrote, “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4).

Christ came to fulfill every aspect of the Law (Matt. 5:17), whether He did so passively as an infant at His circumcision or actively as an adult at His baptism. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him” (Matt. 3:13–15).

Jesus entered this world and lived obediently as a child, young person, and adult under the Law—an entire life of perfection—so that at the Cross the Father could credit the Son’s perfect life to sinners’ accounts. Without the death of One who lived a perfect life, there could be no substitutionary atonement. At Calvary, God treated Jesus as if He had lived your life so He could treat you as if you had lived Jesus’ life. That is a simple summary of the doctrine of justification.

According to Jewish custom, the parents named the son at the same time they had him circumcised. So on that occasion Christ’s parents formally named Him Jesus—and the choice of that name was an easy one. The angel had told both Joseph and Mary that they were to name their Son Jesus (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31).

Jesus is the New Testament equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua and means “Yahweh saves.” Joshua, Moses’ successor, was a great deliverer (Deut. 31:1–8; Josh. 1:1–7) who led the people of Israel into the Promised Land. But the Child whom Mary and Joseph named Jesus was a far greater Deliverer than Joshua. He was God the Savior, come in human flesh to willingly and compassionately save all those who believe.

God is by nature a saving God (Ezek. 18:23, 32), and Jesus demonstrated those sympathies when He wept over the lost condition of Jerusalem: “‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!’” (Matt. 23:37; Matt. 11:28; Luke 15:11–32).

Christianity, as the world’s only true religion, is the only one that provides a genuine savior, and that Savior is Jesus. He affirmed that when He declared, “‘For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’” (Luke 19:10). And Joseph and Mary testified to that truth when they named Him at His circumcision.

Jesus Presented to God After Mary’s Purification

The second aspect of Joseph and Mary’s testimony to Jesus was twofold: Mary observed a prescribed time of purification for herself, and she and Joseph formally presented Jesus to God. “Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons’” (Luke 2:22–24).

As Luke tells us, Mary observed a set time for personal purification, in keeping with the Mosaic Law. In Leviticus 12:2–4, the Lord commanded Moses, “‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: “If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled.”’”

The seven-day uncleanness was a ceremonial uncleanness that meant the woman could not enter the tabernacle (later the temple) or touch anything holy during that time. The week was symbolically parallel to the woman’s monthly menstrual period, during which God also considered her unclean. Both types of uncleanness were regular reminders to the woman and to her family that they were still sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.

Beginning on the eighth day, the new mother of a male child had to face another period of uncleanness, the thirty-three days of her purification. As in the previous seven days, she was not to touch any consecrated item or enter the worship sanctuary. So for Mary and all other obedient Jewish women who bore sons, there was a somewhat bittersweet forty-day period. On the one hand, they experienced the great joy of having a new son, which meant the family name would continue. But on the other hand, they had to endure a mandatory disassociation from holy things as a reminder that they were sinners, that they had borne sinful sons, and therefore that as human mothers, they needed purification.

Once Mary had carefully observed and completed the forty-day period of uncleanness, she could joyfully and with a clear conscience present Jesus to the Lord. She was accompanied by Joseph, which meant the entire little family was present at the temple for the special observance of the completion of Mary’s purification.

As with the circumcision and purification, Joseph and Mary obeyed the Old Testament when they presented their Son to God: “The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me” (Exod. 22:29; 13:2, 12, 15; Num. 8:17). It was not mandatory for them to go to the Temple to present Jesus. But in the spirit of how Hannah brought Samuel to the Lord (1 Sam. 1:24–28), they went above and beyond the normal duty and brought God’s Son to God’s house. They knew the Child was very special and that He, of all children, belonged to the Lord already. By their action Jesus’ parents in effect said, “We are devoting this Child to You, God. He is already Yours, so do whatever You will in His life so He serves, honors, and glorifies You.”

That special presentation did not mean, however, that Joseph and Mary dedicated Jesus to the Levitical priesthood. They were of the tribe of Judah and therefore, like all non-Levite families, they needed to redeem their Son from that priestly responsibility by paying five shekels of silver (Num. 18:15–16). That would have been equivalent to many days’ wages, a difficult amount for a working-class couple like Joseph and Mary to pay. But God made sure they had the necessary coins.

That Jesus the Redeemer was ceremonially redeemed is an interesting irony, but it is nevertheless an important scriptural reality. Just as with His earlier circumcision and later baptism, Jesus did not need to go through any picture of redemption. He was the sinless Son of God; He did not need to be cleansed from sin or redeemed from condemnation. But He was circumcised, He was baptized, and He was “redeemed” as part of His presentation to God—all because He had to obey the letter of the Law to fulfill all righteousness on our behalf.

The Sacrifice for Mary’s Purification

Jesus’ ceremonial dedication to the Lord by His parents, as significant as it was, did not officially end Mary’s time of uncleanness. That end would come only by her offering a sacrifice for purification. And once again Mary, as a righteous woman, followed God’s original pattern for offering such a sacrifice:

When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then he shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female.

And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean. (Lev. 12:6–8)

Notice that Mary had several options in offering her sacrifice. If she and Joseph had had the resources, they could have brought a lamb and a bird. But since they couldn’t afford to do that, they utilized the second option and brought a pair of birds (Luke 2:24). That indicates again that Mary and Joseph were not wealthy. However, the Lord enabled them, with their middle-class resources, to purchase the two birds in the temple, even at inflated prices.

After the priest made atonement for Mary by sacrificing the birds—one for a burnt offering, the other for a sin offering—she was clean. That didn’t mean the blood of the sacrifices washed her sins away; it simply meant Mary’s heart was then right with the Lord because she had confessed her sin and impurity and asked Him for forgiveness.

The sacrifice for Mary’s purification was a wonderful picture that looked ahead to her Son’s final sacrifice, which alone can actually remove people’s sin. When Christ was sacrificed on the cross, God revealed the only answer for sinful alienation from Him. Remember what happened right after Jesus’ death? The thick temple veil that separated mankind from God was ripped in two from top to bottom. That momentous event signified there was now access to God because the final atoning sacrifice was complete. Never again would repentant sinners, such as Mary, need to deal with ceremonial uncleanness.

So Joseph and Mary gave the first confirming testimony to Jesus’ birth, identity, and true purpose. They named Him Jesus because they knew He would save His people from their sins. They came to the temple (which they didn’t have to do) and offered Him to God because they understood that, in a special way, He belonged to the Lord. They had that understanding, of course, because they knew their newborn was the Christ, the Son of the Father.

Because of Joseph and Mary’s faithful testimony, we also can know that the Babe born in Bethlehem was and is the Son of God, the Redeemer of all who trust in Him.[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). God in the manger: the miraculous birth of Christ (pp. 111–118). Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.

If God Has Not Forgotten Us, Why Have We Forgotten Him?: Christmas Study Guide (Part 9)

In this lesson we hypothesize what the world would be like if there had been no first Christmas.

Outline

It is hard to comprehend a world without Christ. That is because most of us have grown up in a Christian environment. But perhaps one of the best ways we could comprehend it is to look for just a moment to a period of time after Christ had gone to the cross, then to the grave, then out of the grave in resurrection. And Paul, trying to explain the importance of that to those who would read his letter to the Corinthians, posed a similar question in 1 Corinthians 15. He said in effect, “Let me tell you what life would be like if Christ had not come, if He had not died, if He had not been resurrected from the grave.”

  1. A World Without Christ?
  2. A Life Without Christ?

III.  Christmas Without Christ?

Overview

A World Without Christ?

In 1 Corinthians 15:14 Paul tells us that if Christ had not come, our preaching would be useless.

In that same verse, he says that if Christ had not come, our faith would be empty.

In verse 15 he said that if Christ had not come, those of us who are Christians would be false witnesses. We would be telling lies because we would be saying something was true when indeed it was not.

In 15:17 he said that if Christ had not come, our faith would be futile, worthless.

He said if Christ had not come we would all still be in our sins. We would be unforgiven.

In verse 18 of that text, he said if Christ had not come, we would never see our dead loved ones again, for those who have died have perished. And then in verse 19 he summarizes it by saying if Christ had not come, we would be the most miserable of all people.

Sometimes the only way we can appreciate what we have as Christians is to realize that everything that’s good, and everything that’s wholesome, and everything that’s positive, and everything that’s clean, and everything that’s true, has its roots in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came as the gift of God the Father to be our Savior. It is a wonderful thought to remember that God has not forgotten us.

A Life Without Christ?

But the question, then, must be: If God has not forgotten us, then why do we seem to have forgotten Him?

Every Christmas is the coming together of a magnificent occasion and a wonderful opportunity. It is not different from that first Christmas Day recorded for us in Luke 2:1–7:

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.

I like to think of that night in terms of the kind of silence that is observed in the eastern U.S. when snow falls on Christmas Day, and everything is absolutely still.

On this magnificent night recorded by Luke, we are told that Mary brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger. It was a magnificent occasion that escaped observation by almost everyone who was there.

We read in John 1 that “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” At that moment in that silent night when Mary birthed her baby, Deity invaded humanity. In that moment, when Mary birthed her baby, eternity invaded time. And no one really understood that.

Micah the prophet said it this way in his prophecy of Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

How could one be born whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting? In that moment of time when Mary birthed her baby, Royalty invaded poverty. The One who had all wealth at His disposal, who was the King of glory, who created the world that we love and live in, that same One was birthed to Mary.

What a magnificent occasion! A silent night interrupted by a tiny cry in Bethlehem. This magnificent occasion was set up from eternity past. And it wonderfully met every criterion that was laid out for it.

But, on this night of all nights, it happened in a place where no one even recognized what was going on. The God who had refused to forget us, was forgotten by those to whom He first came. The Bible tells us “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). The King of glory had come down, and He was not recognized or received.

The innkeeper should not have missed it because he was so close to it. Isn’t it interesting how we can go through life, and often be so close to the magnificent, and never let it dawn upon our conscious awareness? He was so close. The mother of our Lord was at his door. She was seeking a place to birth the Son of God, and he would not let her in because there was no room.

Christmas Without Christ?

Am I pressing the point too much when I say that today the world is filled with innkeepers who miss the meaning of Christmas?

If that is not the case, why, as we go through the shopping centers during this season, are there so many grim faces in our stores, so many exhausted, sleepy people in our churches the Sunday before Christmas? The innkeeper missed Christmas not because he was angry or because he was belligerent. He missed Christmas because of ignorant preoccupation. He got so busy with everything that was going on in his life, taking care of the inn, taking care of the census, taking care of all of the pressure, he couldn’t stop to reflect upon the moment that was at hand.

Many people today are like that. The chambers of their souls are filled with needless things, stuff that doesn’t really matter. They miss the Messiah of God. Oh, how hard it is for us to clear out the chambers of our heart and mind, and make room for the Messiah!

One of the great tragedies of our time is not that God has forgotten us, but that we have forgotten Him. On the same day that Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian-born Nobel prize winner, was presented with the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion by Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace, he addressed many of Britain’s leading political and religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. “Over half a century ago,” stated Solzhenitsyn, “while I was still a child, I remember hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation of the great disasters that have befallen Russia. Men have forgotten God. That’s why it has all happened. And if I were called upon to identify the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, I would be unable to find anything more precise and more worthy than to repeat, men have forgotten God.”

In our world today, doesn’t it seem to you that men have forgotten God? And we who have been given this holiday occasion to embrace the Christ because God has not forgotten us, we must ask ourselves in our hearts, “Have I forgotten God?” That is not a question just for those who do not know God through Christ. That is a question for all of us. It is possible for us to live as practical atheists and still be Christians in the sense that we go through our lives without giving any time whatsoever to the One who came to make life meaningful for us. Let us not, at this time of the year, forget the One who has not forgotten us.

Some have heard the gospel message throughout life from a mother’s teaching, in Sunday school, or growing up in church. Periodically, you have been reminded that it was for you that this Christ came. But like the innkeeper, you are so busy with everything else you keep pushing Him away. But there is a day coming when He will knock no more. If He knocks at your heart today, you must not forget Him. That is the message of Christmas. You must not forget the One who refused to forget you. Receive Him as your Savior.

Application

  1. If you know Christ today, make a list of as many good things as possible that would not exist in your life if not for your relationship with Him.
  2. Which of those events or circumstances were bad things that the Lord Jesus Christ transformed into something good?
  3. What, then, is the connection between Christ’s resurrection from the dead and His ability to redeem our lives into something good? (See Romans 8:11, 28–31.)
  4. In 1 Corinthians 15:12–22, what eventual circumstance is Paul connecting to Christ’s resurrection?

Why is that an essential part of every Christian’s perspective on the future?

If the resurrection of Christ is not a historical fact, where does that leave every Christian?

  1. What has been the historical pattern of great nations that have denied or left their faith in Christ?

In our culture today, what is replacing a belief in the Jesus of the Bible?

What effect is that producing?

  1. Do you believe it is possible for a genuine Christian to “forget God” in a practical, day-to-day sense?

Why or why not?

What would you forecast as some of the symptoms of that problem?

  1. What would you propose as good “preventative medicine” for not forgetting God?

What would you propose as good solutions for those Christians who have?

  1. In what way(s) might the Christmas holiday season afford an opportunity for us to “remember” Him? To encourage others to do the same?

To make Him known to those who don’t know Him?

Did You Know?

Although the story line for the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” is purely fanciful and fictitious, it has for decades connected with those who feel forgotten and forsaken during the holidays, even pointing many to the God of the Bible and genuine faith in Christ.

For actor James Stewart, the barroom scene in which he cries out to God was so profoundly moving, the tears were real and the experience entirely unique. When he was asked to do another take for the benefit of facial closeups, he flatly refused, admitting that at that precise moment, he felt something of the desperation and hopelessness of those who have nowhere else to turn but the true God. The film editors worked with the one take they had, closeups were engineered by enlarging one frame at a time, and a truly vicarious moment of a desperate man’s plea to God made it to the screen.

Stained Glass

Use the final remains of various colors of crayons. Shave each color and create stacks of shavings by color. Let each child create their design by placing the colors in the pattern they create on a piece of waxed paper. Place another piece of paper on top of the crayon shavings and gently but firmly set a hot iron on the paper. To make sure you have the work surface protected, place a large piece of foil under the entire project. I also place a piece of waxed paper over the top before I set the iron down.

After the paper has cooled, gently peel the top sheet of paper off and enjoy the beauty of an original stained glass window. You may be surprised at the artistic expression in your family.[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (1999). Celebrate his love: Study guide (pp. 112–123). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Do Not Be Surprised…: Walk in the Word? On James MacDonald and TBN

On 3 August 2012, the blog of James MacDonald, who pastors Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) in the Chicagoland area, posted this excerpt from MacDonald’s book, Vertical Church:

Nothing cheapens the message of eternal salvation in Christ more than telling people it comes with a new car. We should be deeply offended by anyone who claims to be a minister of the gospel promising people things God doesn’t promise them. Even where “health wealth” has not invaded the church, we can slip into a more subtle version of this error. Jesus Christ promises us a cross to carry, a sword in place of peace, and an exacting accountability for those who claim Him as Lord. Any assuring people of benefits Jesus doesn’t promise or hiding the cost of following Him is a total break with the kind of gospel work revealed in the Gospels themselves.

(Source)

Interestingly, this post appeared nearly one year after it was announced that prosperity-preaching Oneness Pentecostal T.D. Jakes would be appearing at the Elephant Room 2 event, hosted by James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll. When MacDonald received pushback from his peers regarding this invitation, the blog post entitled, “Association vs. Discernment and Is James MacDonald Changing?” appeared on MacDonald’s blog in defense of his decision. It has since been removed from that website, but has been archived for continued reference. In that blog post, MacDonald stated, almost in passing,

I am also excited to hear him [T.D. Jakes] state his views on money, which may be closer to Scripture than the monasticism currently touring reformed world.

(Source)

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Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He replied to them, “ When it is evening, you say, ‘ It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. ’ 3 And in the morning, ‘ There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening. ’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. 5 And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of…

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