Daily Archives: December 1, 2017

December 1, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


States from Oregon to Massachusetts are scrambling to help millions of poor families whose children could lose coverage if Congress fails to reinstate a health insurance program that was approved two decades ago with bipartisan support. The Children’s Health Insurance Program is on the brink of running out of money, and Congress has dragged its feet in passing a reauthorization bill since the program ended on Sept. 30.

A purge in Venezuela’s economically crucial energy establishment reached the top tiers of power as the former heads of the oil ministry and state-run producer PDVSA were accused of corruption and imprisoned.

Hungary’s intelligence services completed a report on the “network” run by George Soros, backing up the claim that the financier is trying to interfere in next year’s elections, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

Japan’s much admired Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, 2019, at age 85 in the first such departure from the Chrysanthemum Throne in about 200 years, the government said Friday.

CME Group Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. are poised to offer bitcoin futures contracts, easing the way for mainstream investors to bet big while dragging regulators into a realm skeptics call a fad and fraud.

As Americans spend more money shopping online, real estate developers are sinking record amounts of money into new warehouse space, building bigger, taller structures to meet the needs of e-commerce – and the robots that help it along.

House Republican leaders plan to seek a two-week spending bill to fund the government until Dec. 22 and avoid a shutdown next week, a GOP member and aides said Thursday. That will provide more time for negotiations with Democrats on a longer-term funding plan.

AP Top Stories

Argentina’s navy on Thursday formally ended its search for survivors from the San Juan submarine, two weeks after the vessel went missing in the South Atlantic with 44 crew members aboard.

A Japanese court on Friday convicted a U.S. military contractor of murder and rape charges in the death of an Okinawa woman and sentenced him to life in prison.

The United Nations appealed Friday for a record $22.5 billion to provide aid in 2018 to soaring numbers of people slammed by conflicts and disasters around the world.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels said Thursday they fired a ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia and hit a military target, in the second such attack this month, after threatening to retaliate over a crippling blockade.

The government of Niger has approved the use of armed American drones, a U.S. official said on Thursday, expanding the U.S. ability to target militants in the region. Reuters had already reported that Niger had sought to arm U.S drones against jihadist groups operating on its border with Mali, but it had not been previously reported that an agreement had been reached. An ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers in October has thrown a spotlight on the U.S. counterterrorism mission in the West African country.

The United States warned North Korea’s leadership it would be “utterly destroyed” if war were to break out after Pyongyang test fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Nigeria’s president said the government had started bringing stranded citizens home from Libya after a global outcry over reports that migrants there were being sold into slavery.

The world’s biggest battery was officially launched in Australia on Friday, a day after the Elon Musk-driven project was powered up early to meet demand amid a bout of hot weather.

With the Federal Communications Commission likely set to abolish net neutrality at its next meeting on December 14, a big, obvious question is just what the internet will look like after the change.

More civilians have died in US-led air and artillery strikes in Iraq and Syria, officials acknowledged Thursday amid criticism the American military is being less cautious about killing innocents. An ongoing review of civilian casualty reports showed at least 801 civilians had been unintentionally killed since operations to defeat the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria began in late 2014.

Russia has approved a draft agreement with Egypt for Russian warplanes to use Egyptian military bases, according to a document released Thursday, a deal that would allow Moscow to further increase its military footprint in the Mideast.

NATO should defend Sweden and Finland in the event of an armed aggression, although neither country is an alliance member, a senior NATO official said on Wednesday at an event that underscored growing concerns about Russia’s military buildup.


The Pentagon is putting off indefinitely a ban that was due to take effect in 2019 on older models of cluster bombs which are less safe.

Three primary schoolchildren have been hacked to death by a machete-wielding man in Nigeria. The man attacked the primary school in a remote village in Borno state during break-time. He also wounded a female teacher.

More than 400 US Marines are to leave Syria after helping to capture the city of Raqqa from so-called Islamic State.


A former member of the Nigerian government has claimed his countrymen are being “captured, mutilated and cooked like kebabs” by slave traders in Libya.

Europe’s Muslim population will multiply even if all migration stops permanently, a study has found. On the other hand, high migration sees predictions of some 76 million Muslims dwelling in Europe by 2050.

News – 12/1/2017

Russian Orthodox Church Revives Blood Libel, Claims Romanov Royals Killed in Ritual Jewish Sacrifice
In an “absurd” continuation of age-old blood libels, the Russian Orthodox Church is pushing forward a claim that Nicholas Romanov II, the last tsar of Russia, and his family were killed in 1918 as part of a Jewish ritual murder. On Monday, a conference was held in Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery presenting the initial findings of an investigation into the execution of the royal Romanov family almost one hundred years ago. According to Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov, many church leaders have no doubt the murders were part of a Jewish ritual.

‘This is wild,’ USGS says of Dover 4.1 earthquake
A 4.1 magnitude earthquake struck Kent County late Thursday afternoon. The quake struck about 7 miles northeast of Dover Air Force Base at 4:47 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was originally labeled magnitude 4.4 before the USGS lowered the scale of the temblor. The Delaware Emergency Management Agency believes the epicenter was in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. “There are no reports of damage or injuries at this time,” DEMA spokesman Gary Laing said.

Strong mag. 6.3 earthquake – Central Mid Atlantic Ridge on Thursday, 30 November 2017
Date & time: Thu, 30 Nov 06:32:50 UTC Magnitude: 6.3 Depth: 10.0 km Epicenter latitude / longitude: 1.15°S / 23.46°W [Map] Nearest volcano: Unnamed 3.5°S/24.5°W (286 km).

Strong earthquake, 6 mag has occurred near Kerman in Iran
An earthquake with magnitude 6 (ml/mb) was detected on Friday, 58 kilometers (36 miles) from Kerman in Iran. Global date and time of event UTC/GMT: 01/12/17 / 2017-12-01 02:32:46 / December 1, 2017 @ 2:32 am. A tsunami warning has not been issued (Does not indicate if a tsunami actually did or will exist). Event ids that are associated to the earthquake: us1000bjnz. Id of event: us1000bjnz. Exact location of event, depth 10 km, 57.3306° East, 30.7652° North. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 km (6 miles). The temblor was detected at 06:02:46 / 6:02 am (local time epicenter).

Strong earthquake, 6 mag strikes near Finschhafen in Papua New Guinea
An earthquake magnitude 6 (ml/mb) has occurred on Friday, 59 kilometers (37 miles) from Finschhafen in Papua New Guinea. The 6-magnitude earthquake has occurred at 12:50:00 / 12:50 pm (local time epicenter). Global date and time of event UTC/GMT: 01/12/17 / 2017-12-01 02:50:00 / December 1, 2017 @ 2:50 am. Exact location, longitude 147.6011° East, latitude -6.14° South, depth = 52.71 km. A tsunami warning has been issued near Finschhafen in Papua New Guinea

151 UN states vote to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem
The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem as part of six anti-Israel resolutions it approved on Thursday in New York. The vote was 151 in favor and six against, with nine abstentions. The resolution came as the Trump Administration was rumored to be actively considering relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.

IAF fighter jets fire on terrorist positions in central Gaza Strip
IDF tanks and aircraft fired at six targets in the Gaza Strip on Thursday after Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired a barrage of 12 mortar shells toward an army outpost. Calling the firing of the projectiles a “serious attack,” IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said the projectiles were aimed at the IDF post and a cement factory on the northeastern edge of the Gaza Strip where construction crews are working on Israel’s new underground border barrier.

Pakistan attack: Gunmen storm Peshawar training college
Gunmen have stormed a college in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least nine people and injuring 36. At least three men disguised in burkas arrived in a rickshaw and entered the Peshawar Agriculture Training Institute on Friday morning. All of the attackers were also killed, the army said. The Pakistani Taliban said they had carried out the attack.

Israeli soldier stabbed to death in ‘terror attack’
A soldier has been stabbed to death in southern Israel in what police say was a suspected terror attack. Sgt Ron Isaac Kukia, 19, was killed at a bus stop in the city of Arad on Thursday night. Security forces are searching for at least one attacker. The attack comes amid an increase in tension, after a Palestinian was shot dead by an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank earlier in the day.

Supreme Court’s cake case pits gay rights versus Christian faith
When conservative Christian baker Jack Phillips in 2012 politely but firmly told Colorado gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig he would not make them a cake to celebrate their wedding, it triggered a chain of events that will climax on Tuesday in highly anticipated U.S. Supreme Court arguments. Phillips contends the U.S. Constitution’s free speech guarantees protect him from making a cake that would violate his religious beliefs against gay marriage.

Judge Rules Military Must Start Admitting Transgender Troops on Jan. 1 in New Blow to Trump Ban
President Donald Trump’s efforts to ban openly transgender troops from serving in the U.S. military has been dealt with another blow after a federal judge ruled that such recruits must be allowed in starting Jan. 1.

“A Potential Nightmare Scenario For The GOP”: Tax Vote Delayed To Friday; May Include $350BN In New Tax Hikes
In a dramatic showdown on the Senate floor, GOP leaders agreed to effectively increase taxes by $350 billion in response to a procedural ambush by deficit hawks led by Sen. Bob Corker that nearly killed the GOP tax reform bill. Worse, a key vote has now been pushed back to Friday morning in what has been dubbed “a potential nightmare scenario for republicans.”

School District Bars Church From Distributing Flyers Because They Are Too Religious
Lawyers intervened on behalf of a local church after a Nevada school district barred them from distributing flyers because the flyers were too religious.

Chinese Researchers Are Spraying Things Up Gay People’s Noses To Turn Them Straight
Chinese researchers at Zhejiang University are in the process of conducting a study on how Oxytocin affects gay men, according to a Wednesday report.

Vaccine Maker Warns Dengue Vaccine Can Cause Severe Dengue
Vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur announced Wednesday that a dengue vaccine already distributed to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren could instead cause more severe cases of the disease in people who were not already infected.

Trump’s About to Repeat the Mistake of Bush and Obama in the Israeli-Arab Conflict
…Together with his son-in-law Jared Kushner and other key officials, Trump has been putting together a proposal for kickstarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The plan is said to put far more emphasis on normalization of ties between Israel and the broader Arab world, but apparently continues the failure of taking seriously Palestinian obstructionism.

Woman Has 50 Operations to ‘Look Just Like Angelina Jolie & Join the Illuminati’
…19-year-old Sahar Tabar says she underwent the series of reconstructive surgeries because she wants to be just like Jolie and “live in Hollywood, marry a movie star and join the Illuminati.”Tabar said that aside from the surgery, she has also lost 80 pounds, taken up acting lessons, and started “worshipping Satan.”

Democrats Go Silent on Trump Dossier as House Intelligence Republicans Seek More Answers
…FBI and Justice Department officials recently told House Intelligence Committee investigators that they could not verify any of the document’s assertions about collusion, according to a report, and not one Democrat has made a peep in response — in stark contrast with the past.

Lawyer Seeks to Block DWS Hard Drive
A court date for a former Democratic IT aide has been postponed by more than a month after the defendant’s attorney, a former Hillary Clinton aide, said he’s seeking to block prosecutors from using evidence that appears to include a government laptop tied to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Russian spymaster was in Jerusalem as emissary for Israel’s warning to Assad
Jerusalem sources report that Naryshkin was the emissary for passing to Syrian ruler Bashar Assad Israel’s ultimatum: Give Iran military bases in Syria and Israel will abandon its six-year-old policy of military non-intervention in the Syrian conflict.

Christian Cross removed from a famous child hero’s hat to “not insult other religions”
A Belgian national health insurance company removed the Cross from the hat of “Sinterklaas” in a colouring picture that was distributed.  The Christian Cross was replaced by a circle. According to the company this was done to “not exclude a single child” and because the “feast is no longer religious, but a feast for all the children, no matter of which religion they are”.

The Briefing — Friday, December 1, 2017

1) Religious liberty in Australia is sacrificed on the altar of the sexual revolution

The Australian (Simon Benson and Dennis Shanahan) –
Liberal fury as freedom laws denied in same-sex marriage bill

Australia same-sex marriage bill passes Senate hurdle

Stephen Mcalpine –
While You Were Sleeping

2) Mississippi courts asked to deny the most basic facts of biology

AP (Jeff Amy) –
Mississippi woman seeks parental rights in same-sex divorce

3) Why America is in danger of becoming one giant casino

Washington Post (Robert Barnes) –
Will Supreme Court open a ‘dam burst’ of legalized sports betting?

USA Today (Josh Peter) –
Why ban on sports betting is close to being overturned

New York Times (Joe Drape) –
Among Bettors, College Football Is Shoving the N.F.L. Aside

Exposing The Tricks Of The Professional Politicians

Have you ever sat through a very long political speech and realized at the end of it that nothing of any real substance was said the entire time?  This is what professional politicians have been trained to do.  They have been trained to sound good without every really getting very specific about anything.  I am running for Congress in Idaho’s first congressional district, and I could be just like the other professional politicians if I wanted to be, because I know all of their tricks.  But I would never do that, because I believe that we need to get rid of the corrupt career politicians that are absolutely ruining this country. (Read More…)

The Dow Peaked At 14,000 Before The Last Stock Market Crash, And Now Dow 24,000 Is Here

The absurdity that we are witnessing in the financial markets is absolutely breathtaking.  Just recently, a good friend reminded me that the Dow peaked at just above 14,000 before the last stock market crash, and stock prices were definitely over-inflated at that time.  Subsequently the Dow crashed below 7,000 before rebounding, and now thanks to this week’s rally we on the threshold of Dow 24,000.  When you look at a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, you would be tempted to think that we must be in the greatest economic boom in American history, but the truth is that our economy has only grown by an average of just 1.33 percent over the last 10 years.  Every crazy stock market bubble throughout our history has always ended badly, and this one will be no exception. (Read More…)

It Is Being Reported That Donald Trump May Recognize Jerusalem As The Capital Of Israel In December

Is President Trump about to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?   If so, this would be one of the most historic events to happen in the Middle East in a very long time.  Needless to say, the government of Israel would be absolutely thrilled by such a move, while the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors would not be pleased at all.  In fact, some Palestinians have suggested that if the Trump administration actually moves the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem that it could spark widespread violence or even war. (Read More…)

Mid-Day Snapshot

Dec. 1, 2017

Kate Steinle’s Killer Finds ‘Sanctuary’ Again

In a case that ignited the sanctuary city debate, a five-time deported illegal was acquitted.

The Foundation

“Where there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community.” —Benjamin Rush (1788)

December 1, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — The words “national reckoning” are appearing with some regularity in media reports about various sex scandal cases. It’s almost as if there is an unseen hand in the media orchestrating or coordinating in advance the presidential race in 2020, a year already being labeled “The Year of the Woman.” It’s designed to create an opportunity for California Democratic Party Senator and staunch feminist, Kamala Harris, to run as a presidential candidate. In this culmination of the “national reckoning,” she’s ready to take on the male power structure and break the glass ceiling. Where Hillary failed, Harris will succeed…. (more)

November 30, 2017

CBS-SF — Jurors Thursday afternoon acquitted the illegal immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle as she walked with her father on a crowded San Francisco pier of all charges except for felony possession of a firearm…. (more)

November 30, 2017
BOB UNRUH — An archaic rule that is such a flagrant violation of the Constitution the American Bar Association and every other state in the union have discarded it now is being challenged in federal court in Alabama by a judge…. (more)

November 30, 2017

GREG COROMBOS — The power struggle at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is an easy legal decision in favor of the Trump administration, and Sen. Mike Lee says he hopes the change at the top will also lead to the bureau getting reined in or killed entirely…. (more)

November 30, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — Russia is all over the news these days. The Democrats charge the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign to get him elected. The GOP says Hillary Clinton’s financial windfall of some $140 million donated by Russians to her foundation should be investigated. It was Russian “sources” who supplied details of the largely discredited “dossier” about then-candidate Trump…. (more)

November 30, 2017
Slave markets have sprung up in Libya following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES — A former member of the Nigerian government has claimed his countrymen are being “captured, mutilated and cooked like kebabs” by slave traders in Libya. Ex-culture minister Femi Fani-Kayode lamented the plight of sub-Saharan Africans who arrive on the Mediterranean coast dreaming of a new life in Europe only to be forced into slavery…. (more)

November 29, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — Alabama voters are increasingly skeptical of the accusations against GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore, according to new polling released this week that also shows Mr. Moore has recovered his lead in the race. In the middle of November Mr. Moore had lost his lead in the Change Research survey of voters, but is once again back on top in a survey Monday with a 49-44 advantage, the polling company said…. (more)

November 29, 2017
SUSAN FERRECHIO — The Senate voted Wednesday to open debate on a $1.4 trillion tax bill after Republican leaders worked out preliminary deals to the smooth over the concerns of several Republican lawmakers…. (more)

November 29, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — A federal court rejected efforts by anti-Trump forces to take acting control of the 1,600-employee Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, giving the Trump administration a high-profile victory Tuesday in a partisan clash with Democrats and appointees held over from the Obama administration…. (more)

November 29, 2017
NEWSMAX — Senior counsel for the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month urged Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., to pursue contempt of Congress citations against the FBI and Justice Department for failing to turn over key documents and an FBI witness in the probe over whether the Obama White House used the unsubstantiated “Trump Dossier” to surveil Trump associates, Fox News Channel reports…. (more)

November 29, 2017
BOB UNRUH — Even U.S. Supreme Court justices are wondering why members of the National Abortion Federation are being protected by a California judge’s gag order on an undercover video in which an industry insider admits it’s “a person, it’s killing.”… (more)

November 29, 2017
GREG COROMBOS — On Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to roll back Obama-era Internet regulations, a move that one commissioner tells WND and Radio America will reinvigorate broadband innovation and reduce the government’s influence over the Internet while keeping important consumer protections in place…. (more)

November 29, 2017

THE COLLEGE FIX — Brown University is implementing a change to its graduate school application that will allow applicants to “self-identify” as persons of color. Multiple efforts by The College Fix to clarify the details of this change were ignored by campus officials…. (more)

November 29, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — The Catholic church is taking Metro to court after the Washington-area transit agency rejected an ad campaign promoting a website aimed at encouraging attendance at parishes throughout the D.C. area. WTOP Radio reported that the Archdiocese of Washington filed the lawsuit Tuesday after Metro rejected an advertisement promoting the website FindthePerfectGift.org. “Find the perfect gift,” reads the ad’s tag line, set against a backdrop depicting shepherds with their flock of sheep looking up into a starry sky…. (more)

November 29, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump took a jab Tuesday at the NFL’s declining viewership after a week in which television ratings were down but the number of players refusing to stand for the national anthem was up…. (more)

November 29, 2017
NATIONAL REVIEW — Political commentator Bill Kristol opened his speech to the Sutherland Institute’s annual gala in Salt Lake City earlier this month by noting how delighted he was to have spent time that evening with two of his favorite politicians: Senator Mike Lee and, of course, “Senator” Mitt Romney…. (more)

November 29, 2017

KUTV — The Salt Lake Tribune reports President Trump will visit Utah on Monday, Dec. 4 to announce the reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Trump will be flying into Salt Lake City to make the announcement. He is reportedly not expected to spend the night in Utah…. (more)

November 27, 2017
ALAN KEYES — Because I am standing with Judge Roy Moore, I find myself within the circle of malice now focused on him by the forces of evil that are moving inexorably to procure the complete destruction of the Constitution and identity of the people of the United States. Their greatest enemy is God, of course, as He has shared Himself, in Spirit and Truth, in and through Jesus Christ…. (more)

November 27, 2017
BYRON YORK — It’s one of the enduring misconceptions of the Trump-Russia affair. During the 2016 Republican convention, the story goes, the Trump campaign weakened a critical passage in the GOP platform to go easy on Russia. The Trump team acted, according to this narrative, as part of an ongoing conspiracy with Russian President Vladimir Putin to help Donald Trump win the White House…. (more)

November 27, 2017

PAUL BEDARD — The Obama-era Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under fire by the Trump administration has been a Democratic Party donor bank, its bureaucrats writing checks to liberals at a rate of 593 to one Republican…. (more)

November 27, 2017
BOB UNRUH — The Obama administration admitted in newly obtained documentation that it used illegal propaganda to try to persuade the American people to adopt its views on environmental issues, according to the Washington watchdog Judicial Watch…. (more)

November 26, 2017
CHERIE ZASLAWSKY — It is perhaps no surprise that a coterie of NeverTrumpers has been quick to jump on the NeverMoore bandwagon. After all, Roy Moore shares the President’s agenda of restoring the rule of law to our country and making America great again…. (more)

November 26, 2017

LOS ANGELES TIMES — When he was named special counsel in May, Robert S. Mueller III was hailed as the ideal lawman – – deeply experienced, strait-laced and nonpartisan – – to investigate whether President Trump’s campaign had helped with Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election…. (more)

November 26, 2017
MAJ. GEN. PATRICK BRADY — There is a story about a three-legged pig that illustrates some of what former President Obama did to our military. A farmer was asked why his pig had only three legs. He replied: “You see that pig. One night our house caught on fire while we were asleep. Without regard for his own life, the pig raced into the house squealing away. He went from bedroom to bedroom waking us up. He dragged our baby out the door and saved all our lives.”… (more)

November 26, 2017
PAT BOONE — This quote is attributed variously to both Abraham Lincoln and to Helen Keller. Whoever said it first, it is undeniably, tragically true. As if to prove this axiom, “reporters” and “journalists” were sent by the Washington Post to Alabama to dig for dirt, for any factoid or salacious rumor they could dredge up on Judge Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate…. (more)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: December 1

  • Tillerson, Cohn Could Leave White House in Wave of Senior Departures (Read More)
  • Senate grapples with tax cut plan’s impact on deficit (Read More)
  • Here’s Where the GOP Tax Plan Stands Right Now (Read More)
  • Markets ignore best European factory data in 17 years (Read More)
  • Tax Debate Plays Out in TV Ads Targeting Key States Across U.S. (Read More)
  • Hedge Fund Tips for 2018: Oil at $80, No End to Technology Boom (Read More)
  • China’s Tech Giants Have a Second Job: Helping Beijing Spy on Its People (Read More)
  • As OPEC extends output cuts, Asia turns to North America for more oil (Read More)
  • MIT Study Suggests the U.S. Is Vastly Overstating Its Oil Output Forecasts (Read More)
  • Bitcoin pauses below record peak; gained 55 percent in November (Read More)
  • Tudor Will Shutter Discretionary Macro Fund in Restructuring (Read More)
  • Export-Import Bank on Track to Be a Drain on Taxpayers Next Year (Read More)
  • Short Sellers May Be Fueling China’s Worst Bond Rout in Four Years (Read More)
  • Uber Investor Shervin Pishevar Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Multiple Women (Read More)
  • Tezos founders push for legal bailout from Swiss foundation (Read More)
  • Warehouses Are Getting Bigger, Taller, Faster (Read More)
  • Germany removes Tesla from subsidies list as too pricey (Read More)
  • How to Make a Killing Off Those Smug Instagram Hipsters (Read More)
  • Turkey hopes gold trader Zarrab will ‘turn back from mistake’, PM says (Read More)
  • Mattis Warns He Won’t Accept Any Flawed Boeing Tankers (Read More)
  • This $15 Ticket Buys What Tesla Fans Have Waited 20 Months For (Read More)
  • British Labour leader Corbyn tells Morgan Stanley: ‘We’re a threat’ (Read More)
  • The Unlikely Strategy Behind Buffett’s Investments in Encyclopedias (Read More)

Look! A perfectly posed Christmas devotional picture!
I’m sure this happened completely by accident.

This ‘n’ That

Well, December is finally here! I know some of you are celebrating by busting out your Christmas sweaters. Others of you are moaning because the days are passing by quickly and there’s simply too much that still needs to be done. Others of us are too busy with non-season specific duties (i.e., work) to even think about the holidays, even though we’d love nothing more than to (for once) actually enjoy the season.

One thing I that I find helpful during the month of December is to find some sort of advent study that will keep me focused on Christ and His incarnation. I know—some people hear “Advent” and assume a legalistic, ritualistic motive, but that is hardly the case. Unless, of course, you consider study of the person and work of Jesus Christ to be empty and merely ceremonial, but I doubt that is true of any of my wonderful readers!

Your Advent study does not have to be anything formal. You might simply determine to read and study through specific, relevant texts from the Old and New Testament. Or perhaps you might study through a book or two on the topic of Christ and Christmas. John MacArthur’s small book, God’s Gift of Christmas, is a good resource and a great gift idea. I recently downloaded The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation, and am looking forward to reading that. James Boice’s The Christ of Christmas and The King Has Come are also accessible resources. The ministry of Naomi’s Table also offers an Advent project idea that parents may enjoy walking through with their children.

Whatever December has in store for you, I pray that you will, above all, keep your eyes, heart, and mind fixed firmly on the person of our great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know I say that often, but we live in a world that seeks to keep us too busy to meditate on the Word our Lord has given us and on our Savior who is revealed therein, and, without daily time in the Word and prayer, we will easily be swept away by those many distractions.

I hope that this post isn’t a distraction for you. If it isn’t, then I hope you enjoy the few minutes you’ll spend enjoying your week in review (kind of):

  • I’m not opposed to small groups at all, but I like some of the reasoning behind this decision to switch from small groups to Sunday school.
  • What a sweet and Christ-focused examination of our longing for heaven.
  • It’s really a sobering thought to consider how many professing Christians don’t actually understand the gospel.
  • Something to think about next time you bring home a library book.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Wait, what? Women were integral to the Reformation? They did things in addition to cooking for their husbands and caring for their children? Misogynistic “Christian” men everywhere are having heart palpitations right now and don’t know why.
  • I’m looking forward to reading this.
  • I can’t believe the White House copied my Christmas decorations.
  • Church members watch their leaders for many reasons.
The incarnate God! My eyes swim with tears to think
that He who might have crushed me into hell forever,
becomes a young child for my sake!
Look at Him, all of you, and looking—then worship.

Headlines – 12/1/2017

US officials: Trump mulls declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital – may delay embassy move another six months

US embassies told Trump to declare Jerusalem capital

In rare public remarks, Kushner to discuss peace push at DC confab

Jerusalem ignores the UN’s forgotten partition plan of 2012 at its peril

Mortar barrage fired at IDF on Gaza border, in retaliation for destroyed tunnel

IDF carries out fresh Gaza airstrikes, but says not looking for escalation

Man stabbed to death in apparent terror attack was IDF soldier

Security forces attacked during terrorist’s home demolition

IDF: Settlers attacked during West Bank hike, shoot Palestinian dead

Renewed clashes between settlers, Palestinians following fatal shooting

Abbas calls killing of Palestinian a ‘cowardly move’

Abbas demands international protection for Palestinians after West Bank shooting

Britain PM: Palestinian incitement, Israeli settlement construction must stop

Netanyahu to tell EU next month: Tell your people what Israel provides

The greatest Jewish crisis: Growing estrangement from Israel

Jordan says replacing Israeli envoy not enough to mend ties

Argentina sets annual memorial day for Israeli embassy bombing

Israeli Billionaire’s $10b Dollar Lawsuit Against Soros Frozen by Judge

Israel, NATO sign agreement to share classified information

Myanmar says Israel signed new military contract, then quickly denies it

In Snub to U.S., Russia and Egypt Move Toward Deal on Air Bases

Russia: Egypt Will Allow Us to Deploy Military Planes on Its Soil

Russia already preparing military withdrawal from Syria

US-led coalition says its strikes have killed 800 Iraqi and Syrian civilians

Turkish plane makes Sudan emergency landing after bomb scare

Turkey Rejects “Moderate Islam”

Erdogan knew of alleged Iranian scheme to evade sanctions via Turkey, court told

Citing mounting public discontent, Ahmadinejad lashes out at Khamenei

New international report reveals Qatar ties with terrorism still deep

Hezbollah emerges a winner from Mideast turmoil, alarming foes

Lebanese PM decries Hezbollah’s involvement in region’s wars

Hariri: Lebanon no longer tolerates Hezbollah’s intervention in the Gulf

The Political Crisis in Lebanon: An Opportunity to Strengthen Israeli-Saudi Cooperation Against Iran

Houthi militias attack southern Saudi border

Iran Designed and Built Missiles Fired at Saudi Arabia From Yemen

What the recent political shakeup in Saudi Arabia means for global terrorism funding

Why are the Ritz detainees being released after settlement

Mideast funds positive on Saudi Arabia after corruption crackdown

Oil Producers, Led by Saudi Arabia and OPEC, Extend Cuts

OPEC Leader Cites ‘New Optimism’ With Oil Prices on the Rise

Taliban, disguised in burqas, attack agriculture college in Pakistan

Theresa May to outline post-Brexit vision for UK role in Middle East

Trump trip to UK reportedly pushed off after anti-Muslim tweet dust-up

Britain furious, Trump unapologetic as fallout swells from anti-Muslim videos

State Dept. Warned That Trump’s Anti-Muslim Tweets Could Endanger Embassies: Report

U.S.-Russia Relations Are in ‘Disgusting’ Condition, Medvedev Says

Russia opposes further isolation of North Korea

Mattis: Diplomacy with North Korea hasn’t failed

Satellite photos show North Korea apparently prepping to reuse launch site

Could North Korea’s nuclear-tipped missile actually reach entire US?

North Korea Ships Chemical Weapons to Syria: Nukes Next?

Tillerson enjoys job, has work to do: State Dept, after rumors of firing

US officials confirm Trump planning to oust Tillerson

Trump to replace Tillerson with Pompeo: Report

State Deparment says rumors of Tillerson firing ‘not true’

White House releases ‘explosive’ tally of green cards issued in ‘chain migration’

Immigrant deported multiple times found not guilty in slaying of Kathryn Steinle

Trump calls Kate Steinle verdict ‘disgraceful,’ says ‘no wonder’ people are ‘angry with illegal immigration’

Hannity: ‘It Was San Francisco’s Sanctuary City Policies That Killed Kate Steinle’

Colorado girl, 10, hanged herself after suspected bullying incident caught on camera, family says

Liberal CNN publishes column asking to ban the term ‘fake news’

Global press freedom plunges to worst level this century

Google, Facebook and Drudge: What the new titans of media mean for America

Dow scores biggest gain since March to pass 24,000 on tax-cut hopes

Forty years of Meteosat – ESA’s first Earth observation satellite

China launches remote sensing satellites in multiple launches

Japan may join U.S. space project in quest to achieve manned moon landing

Closest supermoon since 1948!

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Finschhafen, Papua New Guinea

Shallow 6.0 earthquake strikes eastern Iran, causing damage

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Pangai, Tonga

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits the Southeast Indian Ridge

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Kerman, Iran

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kerman, Iran

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Tadine, New Caledonia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Saumlaki, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Ohonua, Tonga

4.1-magnitude earthquake hits Delaware, rattling windows as far as D.C.

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 23,000ft

Agung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 18,000ft

Fiery Mount Agung is just one of 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 11,000ft

Melbourne weather: Lives at risk as Victoria braces for worst floods in decades

Study: Satellites Show No Acceleration In Global Warming For 23 Years

Spain, Portugal struggle with extreme drought

Trump donates third quarter paycheck to battling opioid epidemic

Health worker firings spark debate on mandating flu vaccine

Man claims he contracted eye-eating parasite from amusement park water ride

Abortion issue powerful enough to swing Senate race in Alabama

HIV denial movement fuels Russian epidemic

Trump leaves out LGBT community in World AIDS Day speech

Russia signals rainbow flags tolerated at World Cup

Matt Lauer’s out at NBC. Here’s what would make this a true watershed moment, America

Charges against Quincy pastor, former Marine colonel involve three children

Canadian Teachers Attend ‘LGGBDTTTIQQAAP’ Sensitivity Training

Australian state legalizes assisted dying in national first

South Korea Prepares Six Minutes to Counterattack North’s Missiles

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 10:42 AM PST

South Korea Prepares Six Minutes to Counterattack North’s MissilesIn the dead of night, at 3:17 a.m. on Wednesday, a South Korean air force Boeing 737 early warning aircraft detected the first missile launch from North Korea in more than two months.  Six minutes later, the army’s ground-based launchers, navy Aegis destroyers and air force F-16 jets began firing missiles into the waters off eastern Korea, in what was meant as a demonstration of Seoul’s readiness for conflict and its ability to hit back.

The display appeared largely successful, but security analysts said South Korea may not be able to respond as swiftly or accurately in a real wartime scenario.North Korea launched its latest intercontinental ballistic missile—a new type of device that experts say is capable of hitting Washington—from Pyongsong, about 20 miles north of the capital Pyongyang, a site the regime hadn’t previously used for weapons tests.  READ MORE

University demands people be warned about seeing a cross

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 10:12 AM PST

University demands people be warned about seeing a crossWorld War II servicemen barely out of high school were buried under crosses as were troops who served in Korea and Vietnam.  But now, one American university says that just seeing crosses can cause “emotional trauma.”  That’s the subject of a new lawsuit by the Alliance Defending Freedom over a demand from Miami University of Ohio that pro-life students post warnings about their display of small crosses in the ground.

“No university official has the authority to censor student speech simply because of how someone might respond to it,” said ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham. “Like all government officials, public university administrators have an obligation to respect students’ free speech rights. “The First Amendment secures the freedom of all students to participate in the marketplace of ideas, and it prohibits university officials from imposing trigger warnings that restrict what some students can say to spare the feelings of others.”  READ MORE


Joaquin Phoenix is About to Portray Jesus in Coming ‘Mary Magdalene’ Film

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 10:04 AM PST

Joaquin Phoenix is About to Portray Jesus in Coming ‘Mary Magdalene’ FilmUniversal Pictures on Wednesday released the first trailer for “Mary Magdalene,” a film about the popular biblical figure that will dive deep into some scriptural scenarios and, based on the trailer, will fold in some of the events surrounding Jesus’ life and ministry.  Magdalene is played by Rooney Mara, with actor Joaquin Phoenix portraying Christ.

As Faithwire previously reported, the film will reportedly also depict Jesus’ burial and resurrection. According to the Daily Mail, the focus will be on offering viewers “an authentic portrait of Mary,” and the bond she had with Christ. Back in February, Deadline reported that the goal was to create a “humanistic portrait” of Mary, with the outlet describing her as “one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history.”  READ MORE

School Board Member Says Spiritual Battle in Public Schools Worse Than When He Was a Marine

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:57 AM PST

School Board Member Says Spiritual Battle in Public Schools Worse Than When He Was a MarinePastor Alvin Dupree who serves on the Appleton, Wisconsin school board, says he’s facing a tougher fight now than during the twenty years he served as a Marine.  Dupree vows he will not back down from speaking about Jesus despite pressure to do so. “This is who I am,” he told CBN News, “I will not be silenced.”

Dupree spoke at the Appleton North High School graduation last spring, at which time he spoke about the value of leaning on God through tough times, among other things. The school superintendent received a number of complaints saying Dupree’s expression of his devotion to God was offensive. One woman felt it was inappropriate that Dupree mentioned God, Lord or Jesus no less than five times in a public high school graduation ceremony. READ MORE

North Korea’s New Missile Is Bigger and More Powerful

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:48 AM PST

North Korea’s New Missile Is Bigger and More Powerful

The intercontinental ballistic missile North Korea launched this week was a new type of missile bigger and more powerful than any the country had tested before, South Korean officials said on Thursday. Photos from the North’s official Korean Central News Agency are providing valuable clues about the capabilities of the missile, named the Hwasong-15. North Korea said it carried a “super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the whole mainland of the U.S.”

North Korea’s Hwasong series represents the most successful and formidable part of its ballistic missile arsenal, and photographs of the test suggested improvements over the Hwasong-14, a missile first tested over the summer that showed the country’s capacity to strike the continental United States.“We believe  this is a new type of missile,” said Roh Jae-cheon, a spokesman for the South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It looks clearly different from the Hwasong-14 in the external looks of its nose cone, the linkage between its first and second stages, and its overall size.”  READ MORE

How to Find Your Prophetic Dream’s Core Meaning

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 06:19 AM PST

How to Find Your Prophetic Dream’s Core Meaning(By John E. Thomas) So you’ve had a dream, and you’re trying to figure out what it means. You’ve already taken the beginning steps:

  1. You asked God for revelation. (Click here to read more.)
  2. You found the dream’s focus. (Click here to read more.)

Now what?  The next step in interpreting your dream is to take a look at the other elements in the dream. Look at the sub-focuses first, followed by the details.

How to Find the Dream’s Sub-Focuses

The best way to find the sub-focuses is to reduce the dream to its simplest form. How would you tell someone the dream using as few words as possible? Let’s say you dream you’re out on a walk, and you run into a stranger who is wearing all white and seems almost to glow. He hands you a scroll and tells you it is for you to read and keep. As soon as you take it from his hand, you find yourself on a stage in the middle of a stadium, and there’s a crowd of people all around you. How would you reduce this dream to its simplest form? You could say something like this: CONTINUE

German Supermarket Launches Gay Chocolate Santa Claus in Rainbow Colors

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 06:11 AM PST

German Supermarket Launches Gay Chocolate Santa Claus in Rainbow ColorsThe German supermarket chain Penny has introduced a new LGBT Santa Claus chocolate figure in rainbow colors just in time for the Christmas holidays. Near the checkout lines at Penny supermarkets, customers now find special gay Christmas chocolate men, along with the traditional German Christmas treats of Spekulatius and gingerbread (Lebkuchen). Earlier this month, the supermarket chain informed

its 285,000 Facebook friends that this Christmas season customers could expect to find in their stores a special rainbow-colored “Zipfelmann” (“Tip-Man”) in a show of solidarity with the LGBT movement. Instead of the classical Santa Claus, or Weihnachtsmann, several years ago Penny supermarkets introduced their alternative Zipfelmann, which already had customers wondering whether this was the store’s way of undercutting Christmas. READ MORE

Facebook now asking users to upload face photos to prove they’re not Russian bots

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 06:02 AM PST

Facebook now asking users to upload face photos to prove they’re not Russian botsSoon, you may be forced to upload a clear photograph of your face onto Facebook to prove you aren’t a Russian bot. The tech giant is using a new kind of captcha (a system designed to distinguish human from machine) to prove that its users aren’t bots. According to a screenshot of the identity test that was posted online, verified by Facebook and reported in Wired, the prompt says: “Please upload a photo of yourself

that clearly shows your face. We’ll check it and then permanently delete it from our servers.” The new photo test, which apparently was launched earlier this year but has only shown up in screenshots on Twitter recently, is meant to help the social media company “catch suspicious activity at various points of interaction on the site, including creating an account, sending Friend requests, setting up ads payments, and creating or editing ads,” a Facebook representative told Wired. READ MORE

Britain’s Muslim population to triple by 2050

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 05:54 AM PST

Britain’s Muslim population to triple by 2050The Muslim population in the UK could triple in 20 years, according to projections from the Pew Research Centre. That means the number of Muslims in Britain would rise from 4.1 million in 2016 to 13 million in 2050. In its report ‘Europe’s Growing Muslim Population,’ the US-based research center says the UK has been the major destination for economic migrants coming to Europe, while Germany has been the top destination for refugees. The number of Muslim migrants arriving in Europe surged after

2014 to almost half a million annually, largely due to people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, it said. The proportion of Muslims among the total population of Britain could rise from 9.7 to 17.2 percent, it said. It attributed the rise to the levels of migration, as well as the fact that Muslims statistically tend to have a higher birth rate and lower average age compared to other Europeans. READ MORE

Jordanian King says Embassy move must come with “Palestinian State”

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 05:47 AM PST

Jordanian King says Embassy move must come with “Palestinian State”Jordan’s King Abdullah warned on Wednesday against moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, asserting that doing so at this stage “would have implications on the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim scene, and would threaten the two-state solution.”  According to The Jordan Times, Abdullah, speaking on Wednesday during a meeting in Washington with US lawmakers including House Speaker Paul Ryan, claimed that “there is no alternative to the two-state solution.”  He said that the peace process between

Israel and the PA must be given a chance to succeed, such that “moving the embassy must come within a comprehensive solution that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem [sic] as its capital, living side by side with Israel.” He also claimed that an immediate move “could be potentially exploited by terrorists to stoke anger, frustration, and desperation in order to spread their ideologies.” READ MORE

NH City’s 10 Commandments Display to Feature Atheist Flag, ‘Peace Flag’ by Faith Groups

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 05:30 AM PST

NH City’s 10 Commandments Display to Feature Atheist Flag, ‘Peace Flag’ by Faith GroupsA New Hampshire city’s Ten Commandments monument will be the site of two flag raisings, each meant to represent the religious diversity of the community.  The City of Somersworth will have two flag-raising ceremonies next Monday at the Decalogue located near City Hall; one featuring an atheist flag while another to include a “peace flag” sponsored by Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders.

Somersworth City Manager Robert Belmore emailed a statement by Mayor Dana Hilliard to The Christian Post on Wednesday afternoon regarding the two events. “Separated by the historic 10 Commandments Monument, representatives of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths will raise the Peace flag symbolizing the fact that despite the differences among their beliefs, all of us share a common bond with humanity,” stated Mayor Hilliard. READ MORE

More Than Half of children obese by age 35…

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 05:20 AM PST

More Than Half of children obese by age 35…More than 57 percent of children in the United States will be obese by age 35 if current trends in weight gain and poor eating habits continue, researchers warned Wednesday.  The risk of obesity is high even among children whose present weight is normal, said the report in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Only those children with a current healthy weight have less than a 50 percent chance of

becoming obese by the age of 35 years,” said the study, led by researchers at Harvard University. Some 36.5 percent of the US adult population is now considered obese, a condition federal health officials define as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. The annual medical costs of obesity in the United States are more than $147 billion per year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. READ MORE

Smartphone Addiction Creates Imbalance in Brain…

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 05:17 AM PST

Smartphone Addiction Creates Imbalance in Brain…Researchers have found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).  According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 46 percent of Americans say they could not live without their smartphones. While this sentiment is clearly hyperbole, more and

more people are becoming increasingly dependent on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, and even the occasional phone call. Along with a growing concern that young people, in particular, may be spending too much time staring into their phones instead of interacting with others, come questions as to the immediate effects on the brain and the possible long-term consequences of such habits. READ MORE

Embracing your vision during the testing!

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 07:32 PM PST

Embracing your vision during the testing!(By Ricky Scaparo) In this message, we will show you how the prophet Habakkuk was observing the conditions of his environment and the moral decline of his Nation, leaving him to question God in how he could allow this to carry on? What he didn’t know was that God was working behind the scene! Watch the video below for the entire message:

Brown University to allow students to ‘self-identify’ as persons of color

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:51 PM PST

Brown University to allow students to ‘self-identify’ as persons of colorBrown University is implementing a change to its graduate school application that will allow applicants to “self-identify” as persons of color. Multiple efforts by The College Fix to clarify the details of this change were ignored by campus officials.  The policy comes as a result of complaints made by graduate students on the Graduate School advisory board that international and Asian American students are not

treated as members of historically underrepresented groups by the university, according to The Brown Daily Herald.  One graduate student, Lydia Kelow-Bennett, told The Herald that this decision has led to “institutional invisibility” for these students. Brown defines historically underrepresented groups as “American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, Hispanic or Latinx and Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander.”  READ MORE

Parts of Siberia Experiencing -60 Degrees Fahrenheit, and It’s Only November

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:42 PM PST

Parts of Siberia Experiencing -60 Degrees Fahrenheit, and It’s Only NovemberAs mild temperatures encompass a large swath of the contiguous United States this week, parts of Siberia are experiencing temperatures colder than minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit – and it’s only November.   A low temperature of minus 69 degrees was recorded early Tuesday in Delyankir, Russia. This is colder than the all-time record lows in every U.S. state except Utah (-69 degrees), Montana (-70

degrees) and Alaska (-80 degrees).  If that wasn’t incredible enough, the daytime high in Delyankir Tuesday failed to rise above -60 degrees.  Oymyakon, Russia, plummeted to minus 66 degrees. This region is generally regarded as the coldest inhabited place on the Earth. The mercury has dipped into the minus 50s or colder eight days in a row in Oymyakon through Wednesday. READ MORE

Scientists Expand Genetic Code of Life…

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:35 PM PST

Scientists Expand Genetic Code of Life…Scientists are expanding the genetic code of life, using man-made DNA to create a semi-synthetic strain of bacteria — and new research shows those altered microbes actually worked to produce proteins unlike those found in nature. It’s a step toward designer drug development. One of the first lessons in high school biology: All life is made up of four DNA building blocks known by the letters A, T, C and G. Paired

together, they form DNA’s ladder-like rungs. Now there’s a new rung on that ladder. A team at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, expanded the genetic alphabet, creating two artificial DNA “letters” called X and Y. A few years ago, the researchers brewed up a type of E. coli bacteria commonly used for lab research that contained both natural DNA and this new artificial base pair — storing extra genetic information inside cells.  READ MORE

WAR DRUMS: Nikki Haley Warns Latest NK Missile Launch Brings Us Closer To War

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:30 PM PST

WAR DRUMS: Nikki Haley Warns Latest NK Missile Launch Brings Us Closer To WarU.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley says North Korea’s ballistic missile launch “brings us closer to war” that the U.S. doesn’t seek. She told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that if war comes as a result of further acts of “aggression” like the latest launch “make no mistake the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”

Haley says the Trump administration warned North Korea that its future is in the hands of its leaders and the choice was theirs. With Tuesday’s launch, she said, Kim Jong Un’s regime made a choice — “and with this choice comes a critical choice for the rest of the world.” She called on all countries to cut all ties to North Korea. READ MORE

Did Alexa Really Call The Lord Jesus Christ A “Fictional Character”?

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 02:03 PM PST

Did Alexa Really Call The Lord Jesus Christ A “Fictional Character”?Comedian Steven Crowder went viral over Thanksgiving weekend when he recorded an impromptu video in which he and his producer peppered an Alexa device with questions. They asked Alexa a series of questions designed to find out whether or not Alexa was a social justice warrior, and they appeared

shocked after hearing Alexa’s answer to a question about Jesus. “Who is the Lord Jesus Christ?” Crowder asked, to which Alexa replied, “a fictional character.” We here at Faithwire were as shocked as Crowder was – but could it possibly be true? Our own Billy Hallowell has an Alexa, and got a more standard Wikipedia esque type answer when asking his device the very same question.  CONTINUE

Does the latest Barbie doll promote LGBT?

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:46 PM PST

Does the latest Barbie doll promote LGBT?The Barbie children’s doll is being used to further LGBT issues.  “Proud to wear this “Love Wins” shirt,” states a Barbie-associated Instagram account, along with a photo of two dolls wearing the LGBT-themed t-shirt.  The “Love Wins” slogan is associated with support for legalization of gay marriage. An iconic blond Barbie doll representing the @BarbieStyle Instagram account is pictured in the post along

with a brunette Asian doll representing fashion blogger Aimee Song. Song confirmed via her Instagram account that the brunette doll was created for her and sales of the t-shirt benefit an LGBT suicide prevention group. She thanked Mattel and Barbie, saying it was important to have the doll represent who she is and what she believes. LifeSiteNews did not hear back from Mattel on an inquiry to confirm the dolls were licensed Mattel products and specifics of what the company sought to convey with them. READ MORE

19 killed, thousands of homes affected as floods and landslides hit Java, Indonesia

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:36 PM PST

19 killed, thousands of homes affected as floods and landslides hit Java, IndonesiaAt least 11 people have been killed after heavy rain produced by Tropical Cyclone “Cempaka” triggered severe floods and landslides in East Java, Indonesia on November 28, 2017. Cempaka is the first named storm of the 2017/18 Australian region cyclone season. In addition to heavy rain, strong winds caused by Cempaka brought volcanic ash from erupting Mount Agung to Bali’s Gusti Ngurah Rai International

Airport, canceling flights for the third day in a row.  On November 22, 2017, TCWC Perth and TCWC Jakarta started to monitor a weak tropical low that had developed about 332 km (206 miles) south of the city of Surabaya, the capital of Jawa Timur (East Java) province of Indonesia.  By 06:00 UTC of November 26, the system was classified as a tropical depression and TCWC Jakarta began issuing advisories.  READ MORE

Another fireball streaks over England, UK

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:32 PM PST

Another fireball streaks over England, UKA bright fireball was seen streaking through the twilight sky over England, UK around 17:19 UTC on November 29, 2017. The event lasted about 3 seconds. The International Meteor Organization (IMO) collected 24 reports within the first 3 hours. The fireball was seen from England and Wales, UK and

Bretagne, France. There are no reports of a sound associated with the event. NEMETODE’s all-sky camera at Ravensmoor detected the fireball at 17:06 UTC. Their initial analysis suggests a magnitude -6.9 December Alpha Draconid. “We are awaiting additional network data to confirm shower and absolute magnitude.” READ MORE

Israel expects Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital within days

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:06 PM PST

Israel expects Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital within daysThe Israeli government considers it extremely likely that US President Donald Trump will declare in the next few days that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that he is instructing his officials to prepare to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, an Israeli TV report claimed Wednesday. The Hadashot news report came a day after US Vice President Mike Pence said Trump was”actively

considering” moving the US embassy.  “In Jerusalem, there is a very high expectation” that Trump will declare that he “formally recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and instructing his team to actively prepare to move the embassy,” the Hadashot news report claimed. It said this declaration was expected within days, and possibly as soon as Sunday. There was no official confirmation of the claim from Israel or the US.  READ MORE

What is The Gospel?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him:


While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!


God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”


Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).


Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.


Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.


All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”


Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

— Augustine

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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “The Greatest Child Ever Born”

Luke 1:26-35

Code: B171201

The Christmas season is upon us, and with it, the vast library of Christmas carols and hymns. Some of us have just taken the annual plunge into our Christmas music—others got a head start several weeks ago.

But as the holiday season stretches on, those treasured hymns and carols fade into the background, serving as little more than a soundtrack to our shopping, eating, and other holiday routines. The familiarity of those songs breeds a kind of indifference, as we mindlessly hum our way through verses and choruses about the incarnation of Christ and the salvation He alone delivers.

In his sermon “The Greatest Child Ever Born,” John MacArthur draws our attention back where it belongs during this frequently overwrought season. Extolling the uniqueness of Christ in His incarnation, John looks at the detailed description the angel Gabriel delivered to Mary regarding the character and nature of the Child she would bear (Luke 1:26-35).

John’s point in the sermon is clear: We must see Christ for who He is if we are going to truly celebrate His birth. He was not just a baby in a manger—He was and is the Lord of all creation, and the only hope for the redemption of sinners.

I can stand back and admire God in human flesh. I can stand back and admire the perfect man Jesus. I can stand back and admire the sinless, Holy One. I can admire Him for His sovereign kingship. But the only way I can ever know Him is if He will forgive my sins. And He came to do just that.

“The Greatest Child Ever Born” was delivered during the week of Christmas in 1998, and it seems that John MacArthur understood some in the congregation that day were likely not believers. His frequent references to well-known Christmas hymns and carols help to drive home the familiar but vital truths about the Person and work of Christ.

Christ came to the world, 1 Timothy 1:15, to save sinners. Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “I’m come to seek and to save that which is lost.” He is the Savior and that meant He had to go to the cross and provide a ransom for sin. He had to be our substitute and die on a cross in our place so that God, having been satisfied that our sins were paid for, could then give us forgiveness. It never would have been enough if He had just come as the God-Man, the sinless sovereign, if He didn’t die and rise again. And that’s why the Christmas carols make so much of that, “Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born,” they say. Every year we sing to you, “In David’s town this day is born of David’s line the Savior who is Christ the Lord.” We sing, “Joy to the world, the Savior reigns,” “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled,” “Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth,” “Then let us all with one accord sing praises to the heavenly Lord who hath made heaven and earth of naught and with His blood mankind hath bought.” Another carol says, “The King of kings salvation brings.” We remember these words, “Good Christian men rejoice with heart and soul and voice, now ye need not fear the grave, Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save.” “Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.” . . .

There’s a reason these songs last.  There’s a reason they’ve been around generation after generation after generation, and that is because they accurately reflect the truth of the Christmas story. This is not something new. This isn’t something modern. This isn’t something we recently invented. This is the age-old truth that flows so clearly out of the Scripture.

We all need to work to keep our focus on Christ, especially at this time of year that is ostensibly devoted to the birth of the Lord. “The Greatest Child Ever Born” will help you fix your eyes on Christ and help guard you from distraction in the days ahead.

It’s also a tremendous resource to put in the hands of unbelieving friends and family, to acquaint them with the Child they hear so much about at this time of year.

Click here to listen to “The Greatest Child Ever Born.”


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B171201
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What Happens When Christianity Doesn’t Work

Christianity is not true because it works, says Dr. Michael Horton. “That is to say, it does not solve all of the problems that we think it should solve. Those who become Christians because they were told it would fix their marriages, only to find themselves in divorce court, might well give up on Christianity. Those who expected to be free of sinful habits and desires after a conversion in which ‘sudden victory’ was promised may find themselves disillusioned with God altogether soon thereafter, when they realize that they are still sinners saved by grace.”

Dr. Horton, J. Gresham Machen professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary and host of the White Horse Inn, offers hope in the midst of suffering. His must read piece is posted over at CCC Discover:

So often, when people come to Christ, they are promised “victory in Jesus.” Smiling, happy people tell about how they once were unhappy, and now they are filled with buoyant exultation. Broken marriages are fixed, wayward children are returned to the straight and narrow, and depression is banished to the old life, but what happens when Christianity doesn’t work?

View article →

Source: What Happens When Christianity Doesn’t Work

10 False Versions of Jesus People Are Falling For

When I found out I wasn’t following the real Jesus, I was totally undone. The hard work of making Jesus fit my brain, answer when I called, and label me righteous was a full-time job that robbed me of peace. When I finally fell into the loving arms of the real Jesus, I began a genuine relationship with the Savior of the world—the One who died for me.

He is everything He promised and so much more. Our culture presents us with so many versions of Jesus, letting us make Him in our own image. Maybe you’ve come to depend on a false Jesus and didn’t even realize it. If you are struggling to find peace, read about these false Jesuses with an open mind. Consider what Jesus said about Himself and test your beliefs against the truth from Scripture.

Here are 10 false Jesuses you keep falling for:

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Making the Most of Christmas with Your Children or Grandchildren

This weekend I could have bought all my Christmas cards, and a good number of Christmas presents, yet as I write it is only the second week of September, and schools have only just started their autumn terms. Now that ‘back to school’ deals have come and gone the eyes of the major retailers are already on the next big commercial opportunities.

As believers, do we just jump on the festive bandwagon or do we try to put Christ back into Christmas? It’s certainly true that the season brings lots of opportunities and research by one major Christian organisation shows that attendance at Christmas services is higher than at other times of the year. What can we do in our families to make sure that Christ is at the centre? Here are a few ideas to kick off a conversation about what you could do this year.


Not every church will follow the church calendar, but most households have Advent Calendars for the kids. Do we choose Paw Patrol, Star Wars or Batman or are there other alternatives? Think about buying The Real Advent Calendar, which is based on the nativity story (as well as having chocolate!), and this year a free Christmas Story Activity Book. The website www.realadvent.co.uk gives details of stockists and also discounts offered to churches and schools and School Assembly resources for Key Stages 1-4.

Christmas tree

Last year I saw that many households in my street had put up at least one Christmas tree by 1st December. Where my grandsons live in London, trees seemed to go up a lot later. Whenever you put up your tree, it is an opportunity to talk about the origins of the tradition. Did you know that trees were first brought into homes in Germany and were adorned with candles (today it is lights) to symbolise Jesus as the light of the world? Then think about the decorations — cheap ones from the local pound shop can be augmented by your own home-made ones. Following the old tradition of ‘The Jesse Tree’, I have made decorations in a star shape (cut out of old Christmas cards), and on the back there is a picture of something that teaches us more about Jesus. The pictures are: a world (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5), a snake (Genesis 3:1-10; Romans 5:8), a rainbow (Genesis 6-7; Romans 6:23), stars (Genesis 12:3), a lamb (Genesis 22:1-13; John 1:29), a shepherd’s crook (Psalm 23:1; John 10:11), a tree stump (Isaiah 11:1-5, John 1:14), the cross (Isaiah 53; John 10:15), Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7), an angel (Luke 2:14) and a single star (Matthew 2:10; Revelation 22:16). I’m sure you can think of others to include. This could be linked with family Bible time where you put one or two of these decorations on your tree each day in the run-up to Christmas and base your Bible time around those verses.

Nativity scenes

Some people dislike these as being biblically inaccurate, but you can work around that. Buying a wooden nativity set is a good way of introducing the story of the birth of Jesus to the toddler age group. Perhaps donating one to your local toddler group or nursery school is a good way of extending these ideas as outreach. There is even an unofficial lego-type nativity set from Cobi available to purchase (at great expense – think about it as an investment!) over the internet. Making nativity characters from cardboard rolls can interest little ones, and they will be happy to display their handiwork in the home.

In some areas, there may be a ‘real nativity’ put on by a church or an animal charity — look out for these. The first nativity scene is supposed to have been the brainchild of Francis of Assisi who wanted to use it to teach his parishioners about the incarnation.

Christmas decorations

Some people ‘go to town’ on this one, having theme colours or themed ornaments on their trees, but for the rest of us we probably bring the same ones out year after year, and for many children, this holds special memories. There is plenty to talk about here, as many of the decorations are based on the Christianisation of pagan symbols from pre-Christian Britain. For example, the greenery that used to be brought into homes to ward off evil became symbols of new life won by Christ. The holly is a symbol of the crown of thorns (the spikes) and the red berries of Jesus’ shed blood.


These are very popular, and the lovely thick ‘church candles’ are easy to buy around Christmastime. It is simple to put a band of wrapping paper or lace around the middle of the candle and then to put a thinner band over that one with names of Jesus, perhaps using the ‘I am’ sayings on each candle.

Christmas cards

Perhaps because of e-cards, we may not receive so many in the post as we used to, but each one gives us something to talk about. Maybe a quiz can be made of looking at the cards – who can spot something on the card that is about Jesus? If there is a nativity scene – is it accurate? Even with the more secular cards, there is the story to tell of St. Nicholas when we see Santa on a card. Even a deer reminds us of God’s world (and the RSPCA was set up by a group of evangelical Christians all those years ago). Each card reminds us to pray for the sender.

Thinking of others

Perhaps your family has been involved in the Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box appeal. This gives an open door to share something of the lives of children in other parts of the world, and perhaps to pray for them.


Well, this age group has to be more of a challenge! Think of the internet. Some evangelists will put a Christmas video on YouTube (perhaps Glen Scrivener or Roger Carswell) and some churches might too. Carey Baptist Church in Reading often does a ‘take’ on the most popular Christmas TV ad from the big retailers like John Lewis. Websites of some of the Christian publishers, such as The Good Book Company and 10ofthose.com will almost certainly have prepared a Christmas message. Something to look at and something to talk about.

Well, I’ve run out of space, but I’m sure that there are ideas that you have too. Let’s keep Christ in Christmas in our families this year.

Lewis Roderick

Source: Making the Most of Christmas with Your Children or Grandchildren

Weekly Watchman for 12/01/2017

Mike’s Commentary: History, Morality, and America’s Downfall

If we refuse to sound the alarm and let people continue to drown in the depth of their sin and defiance of God, will their blood be on our hands?  Will we find more Christian leaders with the courage to stand up and speak out boldly against the evils so rampant in our nation?  Or will they continue to cave in to political correctness and the opinions of men?

Our nation is consuming a poisonous concoction of their own brewing:  Arrogance against God; sexual immorality that overshadows the sins of Sodom; and murder of innocent children that is not only ignored, but celebrated.  As Christians we can point them to the cure — God and His Word.  If we cower from doing so we are guilty of spiritual malpractice and will answer to God for our cowardice.

It is not simply America that God is patiently watching and assessing, it is each of us who claims to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and particularly those whom God has elevated to positions of leadership.  Will we be found as faithful?  Or will we be proven to be frauds who honor Him with our lips while our hearts are far from Him?

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Christians’ Diverse Views on Morality, Friday Q&A

Absolutely no subject is off limits! On today’s show we answer your questions and read your comments from the week on any topic you want to discuss.

But first we take a look at the mounting chaos and confusion in our nation and ask if our nation is on the verge of a total meltdown of morality and common sense. Our self-proclaimed “One Nation Under God” has become anything but that as radical liberal forces continue to sew seeds of confusion and discontent, and our public schools continue to indoctrinate our children into godless humanism.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Behind the Curtain of the LGBTQ+ Movement

It is difficult to pick up a newspaper or open the internet without seeing another example of how media, schools and businesses are falling all over each other to comply with the demands of the LGBTQ in order to be “gender inclusive.”  And with the sudden exposure of sexual harassment charges against men in high positions, it is a safe bet that the LGBTQ will ride this wave to push its agenda of gender “fluidity” even further until we become so confused and dysfunctional as a society that not much will make sense anymore.

At the De Pere, Wisconsin City Council meeting last week, we shared our concerns about the non-discrimination (transgender rights) bill ultimately passed by the City, and it was sad to see young student after young student state their name and their “gender identity” such as “she/her”, or “him/his,”  “fluid,” etc.   The LGBTQ community, aided by their friends in the government and National Education Association, have so confused the minds of children that many of them are headed down the road of life believing the lies of man.  Yet the beat goes on and gender dysphoria grows in the minds and hearts of our young people – tomorrow’s leaders in our nation, and that includes our churches.

Why are today’s young people so quick to embrace moral relativism?  Joining us today is Alex Nitzberg who has studied the thought process of millennials and the radical LGBTQ movement in America.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Consensus Thinking and its Devastation on America and the Church

There has been a slow and subtle shift over the past few decades on how Americans think and discern truth from deception. Supported by public education and a media bent on telling us what they think we need to know, more and more Americans act like lemmings perfectly willing to follow the “Pied Piper” right over the cliff to self-destruction.

Our nation has become one lacking in biblical morals and principles, caving in to political correctness at every turn. Homosexuality and transgenderism is now acceptable to a majority of Americans along with an increasing number of professing Christians as the Bible is increasingly presented as the antiquated writings of man instead of the inspired Word of God.

How can we identify the dangers of consensus or group thinking and continue to use rational thought? John Loeffler of Steel on Steel Radio joins us to look at how consensus thought has infiltrated our society and how we can combat it, standing strong on the eternal truth of God’s Word.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Seduced by Scientology: Deceptions of One Man’s Fiction

Scientology is a religious system of beliefs and practices based on the seeking of self-knowledge and spiritual fulfillment through graded courses of study and training. A variation of religious humanism, the Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard (LRH). He initially developed a program of ideas called Dianetics and wrote a book about it in 1950.

Scientology claims it alone “brings man to total freedom and truth,” which we know is a lie.

…Any false teaching in conflict with the Bible is an attempt to redefine the truth of God and Jesus Himself.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Gender Confusion, Technology, Nationalism, & Politics

Today’s guest is author, Gary Kah, of Hope for the World. We discuss many critical issues starting with the growth of “child services” agencies interceding to protect transgender children from their parents! We also talk about the impact of past elections on our nation’s laws and policies, as well as the will of the people vs. the power of those in government. Will Christians mobilize since there are now so many moral issues in play?

“One question we need to ask is this: are the activists and atheists more committed to their immoral agenda or are Christians more committed to the truth of the gospel?” Gary Kah

Gary also gives some insight on technology, control of the Internet, and how dangerous it is when a handful of companies (Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) seem to control social media and public information.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Losing Our Children to the World

Over the past several decades, the trends and statistics have not been encouraging. Studies show a strong majority of children agree with the deceptions of the world including atheism and evolution as well as the feelings-based ideology of the LGBTQ community, and up to 80% of young people walk away from their Christian faith as they enter college. Sadly, many of them never return. This is causing a lot of family problems and stress as Christian parents who deeply love their children wonder what can be done to prevent them from being swallowed up by a world under the spell of Satan.

Since our children are being influenced at younger and younger ages by agendas, ideas, and things of this world, how can we better equip our children to develop a firm foundation in God and His Word? And what can we do when we see signs thay may be drifting away from God and embracing the lies of the world?

Jay Seegert of The Starting Point Project joins us to discuss the tremendous battle Christian parents are facing in raising their children in the ways of the Lord.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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December 1, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

8:9. The psalm closes with the same expression of praise for God’s majestic … name with which it began (cf. v. 1). God’s majesty has been displayed in His care and design for finite man.[1]

8:9O Lord, our Lord: The first word is the divine name Yahweh. The second Hebrew word translated our Lord speaks of the One in control: “our Sovereign.”[2]

8:9Yahweh, our Lord The psalm ends with the same praise as it began. See note on Ps 8:1.[3]

8:9 God’s Majestic Name. Serving as an envelope, the closing lines repeat v. 1 and link it with 7:17 and 9:2.[4]

8:9 Then God’s redeemed people will join to sing with new appreciation, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth[5]

[1] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 798). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 653). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 8:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 949). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 558). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

December 1, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

19 And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the LORD. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great blow. 20 Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the LORD. Come down and take it up to you.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Sa 6:19–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

6:19–21 But the men of Beth Shemesh did not treat the ark of the Lord as holy; they had looked into the ark. As a result, God struck fifty thousand and seventy of them. Fearful of having the ark remain in their midst, the people sent messengers to the men of Kirjath Jearim, and asked them to take the ark. (It is doubtful that there were 50,070 men at Beth Shemesh. Josephus, Keil and Delitzsch,7 and many other authorities say that the text should simply read seventy men, since the 50,000 is lacking in many Hebrew manuscripts.)[1]

6:19 looked into the ark. This action on the part of the men of Beth-shemesh constituted the sin of presumption. This is first addressed in Nu 4:20 and is mentioned again in 2Sa 6:6, 7. fifty thousand and seventy men. Some debate whether this figure is too large. However, retaining the larger number is more consistent with the context of “a great slaughter,” and the reference to 30,000 in 4:10 (cf. 11:8). However, a scribal error could have occurred, in which case the number would omit the 50,000 and likely be “seventy,” as in Josephus.

6:20 Who is able to stand before … God? This question climaxes the narrative of the ark. No one is able to stand against God’s judgment. This applied to the people outside the covenant as well as those under the covenant. Presumption before God is unacceptable. to whom shall He go. The expression was used to denote the desire to take the ark away from them.

6:21 Kiriath-jearim. A city located approximately 10 mi. NE of Beth-shemesh. It would remain the resting place of the ark until David brought it to Jerusalem (2Sa 6:1–19). This location had long been associated with Baal worship (cf. Jos 15:9, 60; 18:14).[2]

6:19 The Hebrew expression looked upon indicates staring, and perhaps gloating; this irreverence explains why God struck some of the men. The puzzling Hebrew text “seventy men, fifty thousand men” (ESV footnote) may possibly mean “seventy men, i.e., five people out of every thousand” (or “every clan”). If this is the correct meaning, then the population of the city would have been 14,000 people (or 14 clans).

6:20 The people of Beth-shemesh sound like the people of Ashdod (5:7–8).

6:21 Kiriath-jearim was about 10 miles (16 km) farther up the Sorek Valley toward Jerusalem. It was a strategic location, situated on a hill at the juncture of the boundaries of Judah, Dan, and Benjamin.[3]

6:19 they looked into the ark of A violation of the law, which calls for the ark to be shielded from view (Num 4:5–6).

seventy men Most English translations put the number killed at 70, following the cue of a small number of Hebrew manuscripts. This emendation goes against both the traditional Hebrew text and the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the ot), which awkwardly indicate a much higher number (literally “70 men, 50,000 men”). The population of the small town of Beth-shemesh would have been considerably under 50,000.

6:20 to whom shall it go up from us? The people of Beth-shemesh wish to be rid of the ark, just like the Philistines.

6:21 Kiriath Jearim A nearby city located northeast of Beth-shemesh.[4]

6:19 looked upon the ark. See Num. 4:5, 20. Presumptuous handling of the ark led to its capture, and a similar offense must now be purged on the occasion of its return. The problem of handling the ark improperly will arise again in 2 Sam. 6.

6:20 Who is able to stand. Cf. Ex. 9:11.

6:21 Kiriath-jearim. Located nine miles northeast of Beth-shemesh, Kiriath-jearim is also called Kiriath-baal (Josh. 15:60; 18:14), Baalah (Josh. 15:9), and Baale-judah (2 Sam. 6:2).[5]

6:19 The Lord brought judgment upon certain men of Beth Shemesh who were guilty of the presumptuous sin of gazing into the ark. They had shown a lack of reverence for the holy things of God and had directly violated Mosaic law (Num. 4:20).

6:20 Who is able to stand: Since God is holy, He requires those who minister or serve Him to be separated from all that is contrary to His holy character. The people responded in terror and frustration. They knew of the troubles that the ark had brought to the Philistines; now, they believed, they were next.

6:21 The people of Beth Shemesh were so disturbed by the tragedy that they requested the inhabitants of Kirjath Jearim to remove the ark from their city. Kirjath Jearim was about ten miles west of Jerusalem.[6]

[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 301). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Sa 6:19–21). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 502). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Sa 6:19–21). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 387). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 355). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

November 30, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

The Verdict

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. (3:19–20)

Here Paul declares God’s verdict on fallen, unrepentant mankind.

Oida (know) refers to knowledge that is certain and complete. We know with absolute certainty, Paul was saying, that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God. That declaration allows no exceptions. Every unredeemed human being, Jew or Gentile, is under the Law of God and accountable to God.

As Paul has already declared, the Jew is under God’s written law, delivered through Moses, and the Gentile is under the equally God-given law written in his heart (Rom. 2:11–15). God is the Creator, Sustainer, and Lord of the entire universe, and it is therefore impossible for anyone or anything to be outside His control or authority.

The final verdict, then, is that unredeemed mankind has no defense whatever and is guilty of all charges. The defense must rest, as it were, before it has opportunity to say anything, because the omniscient and all-wise God has infallibly demonstrated the impossibility of any grounds for acquittal.

Absolute silence is the only possible response, just as there will be utter silence in heaven when the Lord Jesus Christ will one day break the seventh seal and release the seven trumpet judgments upon the condemned earth (see Rev. 8:1–6).

In anticipation of the argument that perhaps a few exceptionally zealous people might live up to the perfect standard of God’s law, the apostle adds: by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight. There is no salvation through the keeping of God’s law, because sinful man is utterly incapable of doing so. He has neither the ability nor the inclination within himself to obey God perfectly.

As Paul goes on to say, apart from the law, through the grace of God acting through the sacrifice of His Son, salvation and eternal life are made possible (Rom. 3:21–22). But under the law there can be no sentence but death.[1]

None Justified by Good Works

Romans 3:20

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

In the New International Version of Romans, the word therefore has already occurred two times: once in Romans 1:24, where Paul speaks of God’s having given mankind up to its wickedness (“Therefore God gave them over …”), and once in Romans 2:1, where he speaks to the morally sensitive but unbelieving person (“You, therefore, have no excuse …”). However, in the Greek manuscripts, the proper and strongest word for “therefore” (dioti) occurs for the first time in Romans 3:20, which is our text. Dioti literally means “on account of which thing” (dia ho ti). So it is appropriate that it is found here, where it marks a conclusion based on all that has been said in the first major section of Paul’s letter.

From Romans 1:18, where the argument began, and up to this point, Paul has been proving that the entire race lies under the just condemnation of God for its wickedness. His argument is an all-embracing negative, which precedes the even greater positive statements of Romans 3:21 and what is to follow. How is this great argument summarized? Quite simply. Paul says that no one will be saved by good works: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in [God’s] sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

But why? Why is it that no one will be saved by good works? If not the utterly immoral person, why not at least the virtuous pagan or the religious Jew? Why not you? Why not me? Paul’s answer takes us back over the chief points of the preceding chapters.

Wrath: The Rejection of God

The first plank in Paul’s argument is one we have already looked at several times in various forms. It is that, far from pursuing God and trying to please him (which is what most of us mistakenly think we are doing), the entire race is actually trying to get away from God and is resisting him as intensely and thoroughly as possible. You remember from our previous studies how Paul says that we “suppress” the truth about God, much of which is revealed even in nature, not to mention the written revelation of God, which is the Bible. But because we do not want to serve a deity who is like the One we know is there—the God who is sovereign over his creation, altogether holy, omniscient, and immutable—we suppress the truth about this true God and try to construct substitute gods to take his place. And, says Paul, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all [this] godlessness and wickedness” of mankind (Rom. 1:18).

“But what about the good things human beings do?” asks someone. “You can’t deny that people are often kind and helpful to one another or go out of their way for others. Don’t these things count for anything?”

Let me answer this question by an illustration from a book by Robert M. Horn, a staff member of British InterVarsity (the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship). It is entitled Go Free! The Meaning of Justification, and the illustration is borrowed in turn from a book by Loraine Boettner (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination), who borrowed it from W. D. Smith (What Is Calvinism?). These writers imagine a sailing ship manned by a crew of pirates. The pirates are on good terms with one another. They work hard at their jobs, are honest among themselves (according to a certain “pirate code”), help one another, and even defend one another. Their hard work really is hard work. Their kindness to each other really is kindness. But all these “good” actions are also and at the same time “bad” or wrong behavior, because they are aimed at maintaining themselves in violation of international maritime law. Their good deeds are highly selective; they do not help everyone, only themselves or those like themselves. They actually rob, maim, and murder many other people. And even their kindnesses to each other grow out of their rebellion, expressing and actually reinforcing it.

Here is a more modern example. Some years ago Mario Puzo wrote a book called The Godfather, which later became a movie, and a sequel to the movie. The book was a study of the so-called Mafia, the powerful crime families who control much of the illegal gambling, prostitution, drug dealing, and other criminal activity in America and other parts of the world. This book and the films based on it showed the tremendous violence exerted by these crime families to achieve their goals. But what made the violence particularly shocking is that it seemed to exist alongside tender and otherwise noble feelings and actions of these figures. Mafia dons are often quite kindly family men. They love their wives and children. They are loyal to each other. They defend each other. In fact, they are ruthless in righting a wrong done to a member of their own crime family. Ah, but they are still crime-oriented, and the structure and ethical code of the family is created only to enhance their own well-being in violation of the law and at the expense of other people.

That parallels our situation in respect to mankind’s universal rebellion against God. We may do good things (at least “good” as they appear to us), but our good is actually bad, because it is designed to maintain our rebellion against the only sovereign God and his laws.

No Excuse: God’s Law Broken

The second reason why no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law is that no one actually does observe it. This is the explanation of the apparent contradiction between Romans 2:13, which says that “it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous,” and Romans 3:20, which says that “no one will be declared righteous in [God’s] sight by observing the law.” Both are true because, although anyone who perfectly obeys the law would be declared righteous—the righteousness of God requires it—in point of fact no one actually does this; rather, all disobey God’s law.

At this point Paul speaks in almost identical terms to both the Jew, who actually possessed the revealed law of God, and to the Gentile, who did not possess it. To the Jew he says, “You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’ ” (Rom. 2:21b–24). The point of these statements is that the laws these religious people broke are in their Scriptures. In fact, they are from the very heart of the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is the Ten Commandments that say, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3), “You shall not commit adultery” (v. 14), and “You shall not steal” (v. 15). These were laws of which the Jews were most proud. But they had broken them, as indeed all human beings have.

It is exactly the same idea in the case of the Gentile. The Gentile of Paul’s day, the Greek or Roman of the first century, did not have the Old Testament law for the most part (though some did). But Gentiles had a code of ethics of their own. They knew that they should do good. They knew that they should seek the prosperity of other human beings. They knew that stealing and all other harmful practices were wrong. But they did bad things all the same, just as we do! Paul tells the Gentile, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Rom. 2:1).

This means that whenever we are offended at another person’s actions, as we frequently are, we condemn ourselves before God. For what we find blameworthy in another, we also do. Is a person rude to you and are you offended? If so, your reaction condemns you, since you are often rude to other people. Are you angry when someone takes unfair advantage of you? You are right to be angry; a violation of fairness is wrong. But you still condemn yourself, because you are also unfair to others. You may not always admit it, but it is true. Whatever standard you raise by which you approve one set of actions and disapprove another set of actions in others—that very standard condemns you, because you cannot and do not live up to it.

So the second reason why no one will be declared righteous by observing the law is that no one actually does observe it. We fail to observe even the tiniest part, and we certainly do not observe the whole!

The Actual Case: Great Wickedness

The third reason why no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law is that, far from observing the law (or even trying to observe the law), we are all actually violating the law in every conceivable way and on every possible occasion and are therefore actively, consistently, thoroughly, and intentionally wicked.

This is the meaning of the two long lists of descriptive vices found in Romans 1:29–31 and Romans 3:10–18. Apart from these lists, a person might reluctantly admit that at least at times he or she breaks even the lowest possible standard for decent behavior and might say, “I do not pretend to be able to do even a single right thing all the time or in every possible situation.” But that is a far cry from admitting that one is thoroughly wicked in God’s sight. And as long as a person is unwilling to admit that, there is always the feeling that somehow (regardless of the person’s admitted shortcomings) the good that a person does will be acknowledged by God, and justification by good works will at least become possible.

But look at how God sees human beings: “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Rom. 1:29–31). It is from this viewpoint that Paul declares:

As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands,

no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

“Their throats are open graves;

their tongues practice deceit.”

“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

ruin and misery mark their ways,

and the way of peace they do not know.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:10–18

These verses do not mean that every human being has done every bad thing possible, but they do mean that the human race is like this. We are members of that human race, and, if the truth be told, the potential for every possible human vice is in everyone. We may not get a chance to murder someone. We may not even be tempted to do so. But given due provocation, right circumstances, and the removal of the societal restraints provided to limit murderous acts, we are all capable of murder and will murder, just as others have. So also with God’s other commandments.

It is because of this inward potential that Scripture says, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5).

Circumcision: No Substitutes

The fourth reason why no one will be declared righteous before God by observing the law is that God is concerned with true or actual observance—that is, with the attitudes and actions of the heart—and not with any outward acts that appear pious but actually mean nothing.

The chief example of this wrongheaded attempt at justification is the faith that certain people have placed in circumcision. This was not a case of simple pagan superstition or of the mere traditions of the elders, because the rite of circumcision was prescribed for Israel by God in the Old Testament. It was a rite given to Abraham, who was to circumcise all the males in his household and pass on this rite to those who were their descendants (Gen. 17:9–14). Circumcision was to be a mark of membership in the special chosen family of God’s people. This was such an important requirement that later in Jewish history we find a scene in which God was displeased with Moses and was about to kill him, evidently because he had neglected to circumcise his own son. He was saved only when Zipporah, his wife, performed the rite for him (Exod. 4:24–26).

Circumcision is neither extra-biblical nor unimportant. It was an important rite, just as baptism, the observance of the Lord’s Supper, church membership, and similar religious practices are important today. But the error of the Jew (and the error of many contemporary Christians) is in thinking that a person can be declared righteous before God by these things. That is not possible. Sacraments do have value once one is justified; that is, they are valuable signs of something that has occurred internally (if it has occurred internally), and they are meant to remind us of that experience and strengthen it. But no one can be saved by circumcision or by any other external religious act.

Paul writes, “Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised.… A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” (Rom. 2:25, 28–29a).

“But circumcision is commanded in the law!” says the Jew.

True, but not as a means by which a man or a woman can be justified.

“But aren’t we commanded to be baptized?” asks the Christian.

Yes, but as an outward sign of a prior, inward faith. It is not baptism that saves us, but God who works in us inwardly.

“But aren’t we told to observe the Lord’s Supper?” the believer wonders.

Yes, if we have been justified by faith in him whose death the communion service signifies. But to eat the bread, which signifies the Lord’s broken body, and drink the wine, which signifies the Lord’s shed blood, without faith in him is to eat and drink condemnation to oneself (1 Cor. 11:29).

God is not taken in by mere externals. There are no substitutes for faith.

The Law’s Good Function

I come back to our text, which says that “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” We have been looking at the first part of this sentence, the negative, and we have gone back over the opening section of Romans to see why this great negative is true.

Yet this is only one part of the sentence. The first part of the sentence makes this definite negative statement, declaring that no one will be declared righteous by observing God’s law. It tells us what the law cannot do. By contrast, the second half of the sentence contains a great positive statement, telling us that, although the law is unable to justify anybody, all of us being sinners, it is nevertheless able to show where we fall short of God’s standards and thus point us to the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom alone God provides salvation.

J. B. Phillips is an Englishman who has written a very lively paraphrase of the New Testament, called The New Testament in Modern English. Because he is an Englishman and not an American, Phillips has occasionally used British terms for concepts that would be described in an entirely different way by Americans. Therefore, for Americans at least, Phillips throws new light on key passages. This is true of Romans 3:20. In England what we call a ruler or yardstick is called a straightedge. So when Phillips came to this verse and wanted to show what the law does for us (even though the law is not a means by which we can be justified), he paraphrased the text by writing, “ ‘No man can justify himself before God’ by a perfect performance of the Law’s demands—indeed it is the straightedge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.”

Apart from God’s law we may consider ourselves to be quite upright, model citizens who are fit candidates for heaven. But when we look into the law closely we soon see that we are not fit candidates at all. We are not upright. We are morally crooked. And we discover that if we are to become acceptable to the only upright, holy God, we must be changed by him.

One commentator has compared the law of God to a mirror. What happens when you look into a mirror? You see yourself, don’t you? And what happens if your face is dirty and you look into a mirror? The answer is that you see that you should wash your dirty face. Does the mirror clean your face? No. The mirror’s function is to drive you to the soap and water that will clean you up.

With that analogy in mind, let me give you a verse written by Robert Herrick, an English poet who lived about the time of William Shakespeare. It uses an image drawn from classical mythology in which the great Greek hero Hercules was sent to perform what was thought to be an impossible task: to clean up the immense, filthy stables of King Augeas. Comparing his heart to those stables, Herrick wrote:

Lord, I confess that thou alone art able

To purify this Augean stable.

Be the seas water and the lands all soap,

Yet if thy blood not wash me, there’s no hope.

That is it exactly. If you are placing your hope in your supposed ability to keep God’s law or even just in your ability to do certain good things, your case is most hopeless. Your heart needs cleansing, and no effort of your own can ever cleanse it.

Where will you find cleansing? You will find it only in Christ, to whom the law drives you. William Cowper, an eighteenth-century poet, found cleansing there and wrote:

There is a fountain filled with blood,

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see

That fountain in his day;

And there have I, as vile as he,

Washed all my sins away.

I trust you also have found cleansing where Robert Herrick, William Cowper, and so many others have found it. The apostle Peter declared, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).[2]

20 The final word to the Jews is designed to rob them of any fancied support in the Mosaic law, the word “law” being used as in the second occurrence in v. 19. Justification before God cannot be attained by attempted observance of the law, no matter how hard a person may work at it. The fact is that no one has succeeded in keeping the law (cf. Jn 7:19).

For the first time in Romans we encounter the expression ex ergōn nomou (lit. “by works of law”; NIV, “by observing the law” (cf. v. 28), which has such prominence in Galatians (2:16; 3:2, 5, 10). The meaning of this phrase has been much discussed in recent years owing to the influence of the “new perspective” on Paul (see Introduction, p. 29). An increasing number of scholars conclude that “works of law” refers not to a general obedience to the law but specifically to those issues that marked out the Jews from the Gentiles, namely, circumcision, Sabbath, and dietary laws. Thus, the issue in v. 20, as articulated by Dunn, 1:159, is not “works of the law as a means to achieving righteousness and acquittal,” as it has traditionally been understood, but “the function of the law as an identity factor, the social function of the law as marking out the people of the law.” What Paul wants to oppose, according to this view, is the restricting of salvation to the Jews and the consequent exclusion of the Gentiles. It is clear, of course, that Paul would have been opposed to the law as constituting a boundary marker that would exclude the Gentiles from God’s grace. But Paul’s argument here is a more basic one. It gives a negative verdict on any and every claim of righteousness via the law, and it is applied not merely to the Jews (as would be the case, according to Dunn’s view) but to all flesh, so that “every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God” (v. 19).

Part of v. 20—“no one [lit., no flesh] will be declared righteous in his sight”—is a quotation from Psalm 143:2, in which a change in the Greek text is made from “no one living” to “no flesh” (NIV, “no one”), an alteration designed to bring out the frailty and inability of human beings with respect to meeting God’s requirements (cf. 8:3). The practical result of the study of the law is to “become conscious of sin” (cf. 5:20; 7:7–11). How startling it is to contemplate the fact that the best revelation one has apart from Christ only deepens the awareness of failure. While the Jews thought of the law as the means by which righteousness could be achieved, Paul takes a decidedly more pessimistic view—indeed, a contrary view: the law simply brings a heightened awareness of sin. And thus the law loudly proclaims the need for the gospel.[3]

3:19–20 / Paul follows the devastating testimony of Holy Scripture with his own conclusion: Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God (v. 19). We know, says Paul. There can be no doubt, no one can feign ignorance. If arguments from reason and experience fail (1:18–2:29), then Paul adds the witness of the law, “the very words of God” (3:2). Humanly speaking, all avenues of escape from God’s wrath are sealed off. That Paul refers to the list of quotations as law is somewhat interesting, since none of the quotations actually comes from the Law or Pentateuch. He clearly understands law to mean Scripture in its entirety, law as the sum of the Old Testament (so also John 10:34). The commandments (i.e., vv. 10–18) naturally govern those who are under the law (i.e., Jews). As we argued earlier, if the boast of Jews is silenced, then all mouths are silenced, for no one can claim greater righteousness than they. Thus, the whole world (= Jew and Gentile, v. 9) is held accountable to God and stands under God’s wrath (1:18). This is the final speech for the prosecution. Those who were initially satisfied with their moral code and behavior now find the evidence amassed conclusively and irrevocably against them. Their defense, whether glib or sincere, withers in their throats as the verdict is pronounced.

The conclusion of the discussion of the guilt of humanity in verse 20 introduces themes which will demand further development. No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law. This thought results from Psalm 143:2, “for no one living is righteous before you.” The Greek of verse 20 literally reads, “no flesh will be saved.” “Flesh” (Gk. sarx) is a crucial term in Paul. It usually means humanity in weakness and corruptibility, the mortal nature which is the willing instrument of sin, i.e., humanity apart from grace. The expression observing the law is unique to Paul and finds no counterpart in rabbinic literature. The rabbis normally spoke of the “study of Torah,” or simply “commandment,” but Paul emphasizes the doing of Torah, fulfilling its moral requirements.

Heretofore a reader might have concluded that if one fulfilled the law one could be saved. But, in a new slant, verse 20 excludes even this possibility, assuming one could keep the law. Total fulfillment of the law cannot produce salvation. Observing the law cannot remove a person from the cloud of condemnation which results from being “under sin” (v. 9). That is not the way to a restored relationship with the creator, because the law, even if adhered to, is not sufficient to resist the power of sin.

What then is the function of the law? One purpose of the law is to produce a consciousness of sin (v. 20). This too is an insight unique to Paul and unknown to rabbinic Judaism. The justice demanded by the law’s demands cannot be provided by the law. The law provides the knowledge of sin, but no rescue from it. It is diagnosis, not cure.

The statement that through the law we become conscious of sin is not a moralism, i.e., that we should learn from our mistakes. Paul means that in the law we hear our own condemnation! Only when the defendant gives up all hope of defense, all thought of parading his or her own case (= “boasting,” 2:17, 23), only then can that person hear the verdict of the judge. And a surprising verdict it is! The sentence is not justice—getting what one deserves; it is grace—getting what one does not deserve. That is the wholly unexpected news of the gospel to which Paul will now turn.

It is important to understand Paul’s perspective and purpose in Romans 1:18–3:20. It has not been the intent of this frightening diagnosis to force the patient to accept a radical cure. There is no thought in the Christian faith of coercing one into the kingdom of God out of fear of punishment. Rather, the condemnation of human unrighteousness presupposes grace; it is not a prelude to it. The non-believer seldom sees the hollowness of his or her righteousness apart from the light of God’s love and grace. This was true in Paul’s case. Far from being disappointed in himself, prior to his conversion Paul considered himself a moral and righteous individual. It was only after his encounter with the forgiving Lord near Damascus that he looked again into his chest of moral treasures, there to discover fakes and colored glass. “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:7). Thus Paul begins Romans with the word of grace (1:16–17), and only then turns to the revelation of God’s wrath (1:18–3:20). One does not realize how close one came to freezing until one begins to thaw out by the fire![4]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 194–195). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: Justification by Faith (Vol. 1, pp. 328–336). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 67–68). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Edwards, J. R. (2011). Romans (pp. 92–94). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.