Daily Archives: December 3, 2019

December 3 Trusting God’s Plan

Scripture Reading: Genesis 12:10–20

Key Verse: Hebrews 11:8

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

The Lord’s plan for our life often involves different timing than we would choose. I picture the pathway of faith as a highway with two signs on it. The first one says, “Slow down”; the other one says, “Wait here.”

We don’t like either of those signs, do we? We want to keep moving so we can quickly arrive at our destination. But God is all-knowing; He sees when rushing would land us on our face.

He is also a God of purpose. He knows what He wants to accomplish in our lives, so He erects a sign that says, “Wait.” If we are wise, we will keep pace with Him, not lagging behind, but not taking five steps in place of the three He has sanctioned.

Abram provided an illustration of this, demonstrating what not to do. When famine threatened the land, he took matters into his own hands and journeyed to Egypt without consulting God. Though he rightly assumed that Pharaoh would want his beautiful wife in the royal harem, Abram willingly took the risk of never seeing her again. Then, to save his own life, he had Sarai say she was his sister, not his wife.

Even a person of faith (Hebrews 11:8) can resort to the “flesh” and respond from old thought patterns. It is absolutely essential that we wait for the Lord. Even if we don’t understand His purpose, that is still no excuse for coming up with our own course of action. What situation in your life is tempting you to run ahead of your heavenly Father? Have patience. God is never late.

Lord, give me patience, for I know You are never late. Keep me from acting in the flesh. Deliver me from old thought patterns.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 354). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 3 Live Free in Him

Scripture Reading: John 15:4–7

Key Verse: John 14:23

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

The young woman spent days working on her presentation, but her superiors only gave a casual nod of approval. Later in the quiet of her office, she broke down and cried. Why was there not more praise for her work? Had they failed to notice her effort?

Our world is performance crazy. Computers push the limits on technology. The one you buy today will be out of date in six months. This type of thinking leads to a lifestyle that pushes in an effort to get higher and closer to an imaginary goal. But sooner or later, it all comes crashing down.

A child’s story tells of a caterpillar longing to find out what was at the top of a huge pile of caterpillars. He pushes and shoves his way to the top, but when he reaches his goal, he finds nothing there. Immediately he returns to what he was before, and a marvelous thing occurs. The desire to become all God intends for him to be takes over, and he becomes a beautiful butterfly.

You may spend years striving and pushing to get more out of life, but all you gain is a sense of being burned out. The mind-set that adheres to the thought, I’m good, but not good enough, is the mark of performance-based living. God’s way is life lived to the fullest in the light of His grace and acceptance. Lay down your expectations and fears, and allow Him to bless you abundantly as you live free in Him.

Father, I want to live free in You. Help me lay down my expectations and fears so that You can bless me abundantly. Thank You for unconditional acceptance.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 354). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 3 The Hope of His Return

Scripture reading: Matthew 25:1–13

Key verse: Luke 21:36

Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.

Books about dying and life after death regularly make the best-seller list. Major periodicals, even media specials, examine the possibility of an afterlife and how we should handle it. Such concern, however, is not unusual. From the earliest empires to today’s high-tech world, people have pondered questions about life after death.

Outside God’s analysis, everything else is only guesswork. While many devise theories concerning future events, there is only one source of truth—the Word of God—and we turn to its authority when it comes to eschatology.

In God’s Word we find that Jesus instructs us to watch, pray, and prepare for His return (Matt. 25:1–13). No one knows the hour or the day, but we do know that it will happen just as He has said.

Paul did not want these believers to feel uninformed or to “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13–17). Rather, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, he wanted them to look forward to being with Jesus one day soon.

We have this same sure hope today. Those who know God’s Son as their Savior shall always be with the Lord. You rest in this fact: Jesus will return for you. The world cannot offer the peace that this one truth brings.

Lord, thank You for the hope of Your soon return. I look forward to the day that I will be with You forever.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 354). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Bears Would Love To See The Dow Turn Weak Here! — Kimble Charting Solutions

Is there an ideal price point that stock market bears would like to see the Dow peak? Yes and it could be at current levels!

This chart looks at the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past 100-years on a monthly basis.

Since the late 1940s, the Dow has spent the majority of the time inside of the blue shaded rising channel.

The rally over the past year has the Dow testing the top of this 70-year rising channel.

Would the bears love to see the Dow turn weak from current levels? Yes!

via Bears Would Love To See The Dow Turn Weak Here! — Kimble Charting Solutions

American Islamism Flourishes Under Trump | Islamist Watch

by Sam Westrop
Middle East Quarterly
December 3, 2019

https://www.meforum.org/islamist-watch/60021/american-islamism-flourishes-under-trump

President Trump pledged that one of his first acts as president would be “to establish a Commission on Radical Islam.” Three years later, there is still no commission.

On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke clearly and forcefully of the threat posed by radical Islam. During a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, in August 2016, the presidential candidate said that defeating Islamism would require a battle against its underlying ideas: “We must also speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow.”[1] He pledged that one of his first acts as president would be “to establish a Commission on Radical Islam—which will include reformist voices in the Muslim community.” Unequivocally, he articulated a mission to ensure that “support networks for radical Islam in this country will be stripped out and removed one by one.”[2]

Three years later, there is still no Commission on Radical Islam, despite a detailed proposal from the Middle East Forum about how it might look.[3] Nor has any other body been established to tackle the problem of domestic extremism. Is the government working to tackle Islamism quietly behind the scenes? Or has this administration failed to provide the clear and forceful response it promised?

A False Promise

In the early months of 2017, hints of change were in the air. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program was mostly shut down, with several grants initially issued under the Obama administration cancelled or returned because Islamist groups had been deeply involved.[4]

But the effective closure of the CVE program quickly proved to have been an exception. As early as August 2017, just seven months into Trump’s presidency, presidential advisor Sebastian Gorka, who wrote the Youngstown speech, was pushed out of the administration.[5] Explaining his departure, Gorka claimed that “forces”[6] within the White House had “removed any mention of Radical Islam or radical Islamic terrorism” from the president’s first national security address and that he and others concerned with radical Islam had been “internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months.”[7]

Meanwhile, prominent Islamist groups and operatives have not been excluded but, rather, embraced by parts of the administration. On the second day of Trump’s presidency, a traditional service held at Washington National Cathedral to mark the inauguration featureda sermon from Mohamed Magid, imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) and former head of the Islamist-founded Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).[8]

But, what a difference fifteen years makes. In 2002, federal agents raided ADAMS[9]because of its involvement in a terror-financing network.[10] In 2007, federal prosecutors named ISNA an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror finance case in U.S. history,[11] leading the Justice Department to cancel events at which Magid would be present.[12] Although many observers claim the cleric has since moderated, Magid still works closely with some of America’s most extreme Islamist activists. In 2018, at the ADAMS annual dinner, he hosted and shared the stage with Siraj Wahhaj, the imam of the at-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, who has denounced homosexuals, non-Muslims, and “Satanic” America, and has advocated jihad and the killing of adulterers.[13]

Under the current administration, both ISNA and ADAMS continue to enjoy federal contact. The United States Institute of Peace continues to host Magid.[14] Sam Brownback, the administration’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom, and Mark Green, head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), have tweeted their delight upon visiting ADAMS and meeting with Magid.[15] Brownback and Department of Education officials speak at ISNA events.[16] And the Pentagon still requires that clerics applying for its chaplaincy program have secured the endorsement of ISNA[17]—a policy criticized by leading Democratic Party senators Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein as early as 2003.[18]

 

Islamic Relief has been banned in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and regions of Bangladesh. It has also been named an Islamist institution by German and Swedish officials. Yet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency list it as a partner.

But, it is not just ISNA and ADAMS. A variety of other dangerous Islamist groups continue to enjoy government approval and partnership. USAID openly urges Americans to donate to terror-linked charities such as LIFE for Relief and Development,[19] the target of multiple federal terror finance investigations, which led to several convictions of its officials.[20] USAID also encourages donations to the Zakat Foundation of America, a charity that funds groups in Gaza linked to Hamas and is closely tied to the Islamist Turkish regime[21] and to Islamic Relief, the flagship financial institution of the global Muslim Brotherhood.[22]

Islamic Relief is the largest Muslim charity in the Western world. Yet it has been banned in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and regions of Bangladesh where Rohingya refugees live because of its reported radicalization efforts.[23] It has also been named a leading Islamist institution by German and Swedish officials.[24] Yet Islamic Relief still enjoys a close relationship with various components of the U.S. government. Both the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency list it as a partner.[25] In May, USAID hosted Islamic Relief for an iftar meal.[26] And in 2018, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore agreed to be the guest of honor at an Islamic Relief reception on Capitol Hill.[27]

Other endorsements of Islamist groups announced by federal bodies include the terror-tied Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was established as part of a Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas network in the United States,[28] and the Islamic Circle of North America, which is linked to the violent South Asian Islamist movement Jamaat-e-Islami.[29] In addition, officials at one of CAIR’s most extreme branches, CAIR-Florida, have been meeting Department of Justice and DHS officials.[30]

Occasionally, the government has shown itself willing to sideline Islamists when confronted. In late August 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau announced a partnership with CAIR, only to terminate it days later when Fox News asked about the arrangement, citing the Islamist organization’s previous ties to the terror group Hamas.[31]

 

The White House hosted a “Faith-Based Community Safety and Security Symposium,” attended by Vice President Mike Pence (right) and other officials. Oussama Jamal of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, and a prominent Islamist operative, was invited.

But this rejection of Islamist influence was fleeting. On September 25, the White House hosted a “Faith-Based Community Safety and Security Symposium,” which was attended by Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials.[32] Oussama Jamal, secretary general of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), was also invited. Jamal is a prominent Islamist operative. In 2003, he raised $50,000 for the legal defense of Sami al-Arian, the North American representative of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a designated terrorist organization. Jamal claimed a “Zionist agenda” was behind Arian’s prosecution.[33] Both Jamal and the USCMO are closely tied to the Qatari and Turkish regimes.[34] In fact, just a few days before the White House symposium, Jamal and other leading Islamists met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in New York.[35]

Funding Islamists, Ignoring Moderate Muslims

The problems of mere contact between federal officials and domestic Islamists all seem rather benign alongside the enormous amounts of federal funding wending their way to Islamist organizations under Donald Trump’s presidency.

Between 2017 and 2018, tax money given to organizations influenced by Islamist activists more than tripled.

Earlier this year, the Middle East Forum reviewed millions of dollars of grants cataloged by the government’s USASpending.gov website. If the government’s own data is accurate, between 2017 and 2018, the amount of taxpayers’ money given to organizations either influenced or controlled by Islamist activists more than tripled from $4 million to $13.5 million. Under the Obama administration, the amount given to Islamist-linked organizations averaged a mere $1.7 million each year.[36]

The bulk of monies given out were handed to the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a proxy for Jamaat-e-Islami,[37] whose branch in Kashmir was recently banned by the Indian government under anti-terrorism laws.[38] ICNA received $8.7 million in 2018 from the U.S. government for “disaster assistance projects.” Months earlier, in 2017, an ICNA subsidiary named Helping Hand for Relief and Development—a registered 501c3 non-profit organization—openly partnered with the designated Pakistani terrorist organization

Reformist Muslims do not appear to have been embraced at all, despite Trump’s 2016 pledge.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was closely involved with the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attack.[39] There is no evidence of any current or past investigation into this flagrant breach of the law.

Other recipients of government funding under the current administration include a grant of $800,000 to Islamic Relief; $780,000 to the Islamic Institute of Knowledge, which is linkedto Hezbollah and the Iranian regime;[40] and $160,000 to branches of the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Brotherhood’s leading activist organization in the United States, whose Philadelphia branch recently broadcast footage of children at one of its centers happily singing about plans to “chop off [the] heads” of Jews.[41]

Again, reformist and moderate Muslim groups have been largely marginalized. Since 2017, the Middle East Forum found that only 15 percent of federal grants to domestic Muslim organizations has been given to Muslim groups free of Islamist influence.[42]

Could this habit of working with Islamists be the result of politicians and civil servants just not knowing any better? It is certainly possible that some, or even all, of the monies distributed under Trump were initially approved under Obama. But it is already known that the current administration cancelled Obama-era grants issued through the disastrous Countering Violent Extremism program. Why were similar reviews not conducted in other federal departments and agencies?

While Islamists remain the beneficiaries of federal largesse, reformist Muslims do not appear to have been embraced at all despite Trump’s 2016 pledge. Speaking to the Middle East Forum, leading reformist writer and activist Shireen Qudosi said America needs

a powerful counter message against Islamists from within the Muslim world. That counter message is Muslim reform, and many of us are already in North America on the frontlines in the ideological war. … Since Trump’s presidency, American Islamists have been ascending to political power and winning the cultural narrative tied to a larger effort to undermine American sovereignty. It’s not enough to simply beat Islamists; the ideology needs to be annihilated, and we do that by empowering Muslim free thinkers in our generation.[43]

Some Muslim activists are, nevertheless, optimistic. Oz Sultan, who served as an advisor on cybersecurity and Middle Eastern affairs for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, argues that,

the State Department and the administration are now beginning to talk to people in the Muslim community. And Pompeo is beginning to work with the Muslim community to forge relationships that have been needed for a very long period of time.[44]

In Obama’s Footsteps?

In October 2018, the Trump administration published its “National Strategy for Counterterrorism.”[45] Although lightly peppered with the pugnacious language expected of President Trump, critics noted that much of the document could have been written by any centrist government.[46]

This document, along with other pronouncements by Trump and federal officials, does mark a significant change from the Obama administration in one key way: It names radical Islam as a threat. This is a far cry from the Obama administration’s clear policy to avoid mentioning Islam most of the time when discussing terrorism[47]—an approach that made it impossible for federal agencies to tackle Islamist ideology or support Muslim reformers.

Despite this welcome change in messaging, the administration’s counterterrorism strategy did not actually expand on Trump’s 2016 commitment to tackle Islamist ideology and work with reformers. The few references to domestic extremism only blame the Internet for radicalization (an oft-cited but never truly justified claim) and express a vague intention to form “partnerships” with American Muslims, whom it never defines—a necessity given the enormous diversity of American Islam and Islamism. In this regard, the Trump counterterror doctrine appears little different from the counterterror strategies it succeeded.

In addition, rhetoric from Trump’s advisors has been mixed. While serving as the president’s national security advisor, H.R. McMaster did offer strong words on the role of Qatar and Turkey, stating that the two countries had become the chief sponsors of international Islamism and conceding that the United States “didn’t pay enough attention” to how radical Islamist ideology uses “charities, madrassas and other social organizations.”[48]Conversely, however, McMaster also reportedly told staff not to use the label “radical Islam” and has echoed the disingenuous, un-helpful claim that ISIS is “un-Islamic.”[49]

 

While some Islamist-influenced domestic initiatives to counter extremism were shut down, other State Department programs have continued, such as a 2018 department grant to tackle radicalization by studying “gender identities” and toxic masculinity in Kenya.

Trump specifically promised an ideological effort. Domestically, nothing appears to have been done. Internationally, his administration mostly continued questionable Obama-era CVE programs. While Islamist-influenced domestic CVE initiatives were shut down, nonsensical State Department CVE programs endured, such as a 2018 State Department grant aimed at tackling radicalization by studying “gender identities” and toxic masculinity in Kenya.[50]

Given the much-discussed audacity of the current administration, many Americans hope there exists the possibility of change in policy areas from which other administrations would surely shy away. And yet the question of domestic extremism seems to be the one area in which the current administration has been markedly cautious despite it being subject to some of Trump’s most fervent rhetoric.

This might be because of ideological splits in the White House; John Bolton’s recent departure is a particularly vivid example of that.[51] Or perhaps, the media furor around the purported “surge” of “white supremacist” attacks caused the administration to buckle and avoid focusing too closely on radical Islam. Few sensible observers can look at the recent horrors of far-right violence—which has not significantly increased in the last thirty years[52]—and claim that white supremacists threaten anything like the potential casualty count or society-changing effects of international and domestic Islamism.

What’s Needed Now

In Youngstown, Trump promised change. He dared state the name of a threat whose very existence the Obama administration preferred to deny. But beyond the welcome change in rhetoric, there has been a consistent lack of action from the administration. There is no Commission on Radical Islam; reformist Muslims have not been appointed to advisory positions or promoted in other ways; support networks for radical Islam remain intact, and leading Islamist organizations continue to enjoy government endorsement and patronage.

Islamism in America is flourishing. Not only have Islamist groups carefully placed themselves at the forefront of the progressivist legal and political fight against the Trump administration’s policies, these same Islamist groups continue to enjoy federal support. If we can’t turn the tide in the battle against Islamism under a Trump administration, when can we?

Sam Westrop is director of the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch Project.


[1] The Hill (Washington, D.C.), Aug. 15, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Daniel Pipes and Christopher C. Hull, “Defeating Radical Islam,” The Washington Times, Feb. 19, 2017.

[4] Sam Westrop, “Countering Islamist Extremism the Right Way,” The National Review(New York), Feb. 22, 2017.

[5] The Hill, Aug. 25, 2017.

[6] Politico (Arlington, Va.), Aug. 25, 2017.

[7] The Hill, Aug. 27, 2017.

[8] CNN, Jan. 21, 2017.

[9] M. Zuhdi Jasser, President, American Islamic Forum For Democracy, “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism,” testimony before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, D.C., June 28, 2016.

[10] Oren Litwin, “Terrorism Financing: It’s Time to Take Care of Unfinished Business,” The National Review, Oct. 6, 2017.

[11] Attachment A: List of Unindicted Co-conspirators, United States of America vs. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, CR No. 3:04-CR-240-G.

[12] Newsweek, Aug. 7, 2007.

[13] See, for example, “Siraj Wahhaj Lectures,” Halal Tube.

[14] Iftar post, United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C., Facebook, May 23, 2019.

[15] Sam Brownback, @IRF_Ambassador, Twitter, Oct. 12, 2018; Mark Green, @rizwanjaka, Twitter, June 14, 2018.

[16] Dean Obeidallah, “Why Are So Many 2020 Dems Ignoring Muslims?The Daily Beast (New York), Aug. 29, 2019; Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Facebook, Jan. 19, 2019.

[17]Muslim (IMAM) Re-compete,” beta.SAM.com, U.S. General Services Administration, Washington, D.C., Feb. 27, 2019.

[18] “Terrorism: Radical Islamic Influence of Chaplaincy of the U.S. Military and Prisons,” Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, S. Hrg. 108-443, Oct. 14, 2003.

[19]Crisis in Syria,” USAID, Aug. 12, 2019.

[20] Benjamin Baird, “Life Goes on for Embattled Islamist Charity,” The Daily Caller(Washington, D.C.), Jan. 23, 2018.

[21] Sam Westrop, “How American Charities Fund Terrorism,” The National Review, Jan. 12, 2017; “ZF Executive Director Meets President Erdogan,” Zakat Foundation of America, Worth, Ill., n.d.

[22] Islamic Relief: Charity, Extremism & Terror, Middle East Forum, Phila. Pa, June 20, 2018.

[23] The National (Abu Dhabi), Apr. 17, 2019; BDNews24 (Dhaka), Aug. 31, 2019.

[24] The National, Apr. 17, 2019; Magnus Norell, Muslimska Brödraskapet i Sverige, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, Stockholm, Nov. 2016.

[25]Partnerships,” Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., Mar. 25, 2019; “Volunteers Play an Integral Role in Disaster Relief and Recovery Efforts,” FEMA, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 2017.

[26] Max Finberg, @maxfinberg, Twitter, May 31, 2019.

[27] John Gore, acting assistant attorney general, U.S. Dept. of Justice, remarks, Capitol Hill Ramadan, Washington, D.C., May 15, 2018.

[28] “Council on American-Islamic Relations: What is CAIR?” Islamist Watch, Middle East Forum, Phila. Pa, n.d.

[29] “Beyond Malcolm: Muslim Leadership for the 21st Century,” Message International (New York), Oct., 1996; “An IPT Investigative Report on Jamaat-e-Islami Network’s Support for Jihad and Islamism,” Investigative Project on Terrorism, June 2019.

[30] Rebecca Witonsky, “South Florida Islamists Undermine National Security by Partnering with U.S. Government Officials,” PJ Media (Camarillo, Calif.), June 6, 2019.

[31] Fox News, Aug. 30, 2019.

[32] “CISA Participates in Faith-Based Community Safety and Security Symposium,” Security Magazine (Troy, Mich.), Sept. 26, 2019.

[33] The Chicago Tribune, Feb. 8, 2004.

[34] Cynthia Farahat, “Islamists with Direct Ties to Terrorists Lobby Congress,” Middle East Forum, Phila. Pa, n.d.

[35]Islamic Movement Leadership Penetrates the Trump White House,” Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2019.

[36]SQL Database Downloads,” USASpending.gov.

[37] Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), The Investigative Project on Terrorism, June 2019.

[38] India Today (New Delhi), Mar. 2, 2019.

[39] Steven Tankel, “Ten Years after Mumbai, the Group Responsible Is Deadlier Than Ever,” War on the Rocks (Washington, D.C.), Nov. 26, 2018.

[40] SQL Database Downloads,” USASpending.gov; Sam Westrop, “New Research Uncovers $41 Million of U.S. Taxpayer-Subsidized Islamism,” The Daily Wire (Sherman Oaks, Calif.), May 1, 2019.

[41] Philly Voice (Philadelphia), May 6, 2019.

[42]SQL Database Downloads,” USASpending.gov.

[43] Author e-mail correspondence with Shireen Qudosi, Aug. 16, 2019.

[44] Author e-mail correspondence with Oz Sultan, Aug. 30, 2019.

[45]National Strategy for Counterterrorism of the United States of America,” The White House, Washington, D.C., Oct. 2018.

[46] James Stavridis, “Trump’s National Security Strategy Is Shockingly Normal,” ‎Bloomberg Opinion (New York), Dec. ‎18‎, ‎2017‎.

[47] CNN, Sept. 29, 2016.

[48] The National, Dec. 14, 2017.

[49] The Washington Post, Mar. 1, 2017.

[50] Fox News, Jan. 22, 2018.

[51] The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 21, 2019.

[52] Ibid., Apr. 5, 2019.

December 3, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

President Donald Trump lashed out at European allies before a NATO anniversary summit in London on Tuesday, singling out France’s Emmanuel Macron for “very nasty” comments on the alliance and Germany for spending too little on defense.

President Trump rejected the possibility of U.S. lawmakers censuring him instead of impeaching him over accusations he improperly pressured Ukraine to probe a political rival, as Democrats prepared to lay out their case for impeachment.

President Trump said a trade agreement with China might have to wait until after the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, denting hopes of a resolution soon to a dispute that has weighed on the world economy.

France and the European Union said on Tuesday they are ready to retaliate if U.S. President Donald Trump acts on a threat to impose duties of up to 100% on imports of champagne, handbags and other French products worth $2.4 billion.

Argentina’s incoming cabinet has already been chosen and will be revealed on Friday, President-elect Alberto Fernandez said in a social media post on Tuesday, as the country and markets watch closely for the make-up of the Peronist’s core leadership team.

People are failing to grasp the anger of the younger generation in the face of a changing climate, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said on Tuesday.

The Trump administration intends to propose a regulation next year that would require all travelers – including U.S. citizens – to be photographed when entering or leaving the United States, according to the administration’s regulatory agenda.

AP Top Stories

The execution of a blind man in Tennessee this week would mark only the second time in recent decades that a person without vision has been put to death in the U.S., the death row inmate’s lawyers say.

Two of the men who helped take down the London Bridge terrorist were convicted felons, one of whom was a murderer serving the final stage of his sentence.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met Monday with relatives of nine Mormon women and children who were massacred in northern Mexico last month to discuss progress in the investigation. “They presented the progress they’re making in the investigation and the cooperation between Mexico and the United States on the case,” one relative who attended the closed-door meeting, Lenzo Widmar, told AFP. “It made us feel reassured that an in-depth investigation is being carried out.”

Huawei Technologies plans to shift its research center to Canada from the United States.

China has already bought 24 Su-35s – an upgraded version of the Cold War Su-27 Flanker – in a 2015 sale worth $2.5 billion, according to Russian news agency TASS. “We are expecting a response from China on our offer to purchase modern weapons and military equipment manufactured in Russia, including additional batches of Su-35 fighter jets.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of a major gun rights case could end in a misfire, with the justices on Monday debating whether to dismiss a challenge backed by the powerful National Rifle Association to a New York City handgun ordinance.

A U.S. Marine caught smuggling guns into Haiti told investigators he wanted to help the country’s military learn marksmanship and defeat “thugs” causing instability in the country, according to a criminal complaint.

North Korea has celebrated the completion of leader Kim Jong Un’s signature construction project, a new city near the sacred mountain where his family claims its roots, with state media on Tuesday calling it the “epitome of modern civilization”.

Typhoon Kammuri barreled across the Philippines with fierce winds and rain Tuesday, leaving at least four people dead, forcing hundreds of thousands of villagers to abandon high-risk communities and prompting officials to shut Manila’s international airport.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday took aim at President Emmanuel Macron over the French leader’s criticism of NATO, and criticized the other members of the military alliance for being too slow to beef up their defense budgets.

A draft consumer privacy bill written by Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker’s staff would set nationwide rules for handling of personal information online and elsewhere and override state laws, including one in California set to take effect next year.

BBC

Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe died with $10m cash in the bank, but he appears not to have left a will.

A second person has been found alive two weeks after becoming stranded in Australia’s outback. Phu Tran, 40, was discovered on Tuesday on a remote farm in the Northern Territory (NT). Mr. Tran was part of a trio who became stranded when their car got stuck in a riverbed on 19 November. They later split up to find help.

Less than five years ago, animal charities heralded the end of animal sacrifice at a religious festival dubbed “the world’s bloodiest”. But on Tuesday, the Gadhimai festival began with the killing of a goat, rat, chicken, pig and pigeon. According to animal activists who travelled to a remote corner of Nepal for the festival, it was followed by the deaths of thousands of buffalo. Some 200,000 animals were killed during the last festival, in 2014.

WND

Drug makers and Canadian officials are pushing back against a proposal from President Donald Trump that would allow Americans to buy cheaper medications from Canada, but there are no signs Trump is giving in.

Walmart is facing a backlash because it no longer offers holiday pay to employees who work on Thanksgiving Day. They have a discount you have to work certain days to receive and one discount only lasts two days.


Mid-Day Snapshot · Dec. 3, 2019

The Foundation

“Industry is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and manufacturers flourish: and herein consists the true wealth and prosperity of a state.” —Alexander Hamilton (1790)

Pelosi Sends Climate Alarmist Virtue Signal

Pelosi dubiously claims that the U.S. is “still in” the Paris climate agreement.


‘Schiff Show’ Roundup: Republican Rebuttal

It’s all “to fulfill their years-old obsession with removing President Trump from office.”


Historians Rebuke ‘1619 Project’

But the New York Times’s revisionist history is being used in American classrooms.


Trump’s Military Pardons Did Not Create Dishonor

Mat Golsteyn, Eddie Gallagher, and Clint Lorance benefited from the president’s efforts.


‘Forever Dad’ Has Fostered More Than 50 Young Men

“He’s the closest thing to a father figure in my life,” says one of his current foster kids.


Video: Coping With Climate Anxiety

Whittle and Ott discuss the overwhelming mental impact of global climate change.


Video: The Myth of Voter Suppression

Do Republicans win elections by preventing minorities from voting? The Left says yes.


Today’s Opinion

Cal Thomas
Chickening Out
Dennis Prager
The Left Hates the Salvation Army. That’s All You Need to Know About the Left.
Stephen Moore
Congress Bans Short-Term Lending; the Poor Pay a High Price
Tony Perkins
OSU’s Dobbins: Running Back for Life
Cornwall Alliance
Historic Cold in U.S., Record Snow Across Northern Hemisphere: Winter Arrives Early

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.


Tuesday Top News Executive Summary

William Barr leery, digital-tax fallout, ethical lapses at Chicago PD, and more.


Tuesday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Eddie Scarry, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and more.



Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

Headlines – 12/3/2019

Netanyahu to Trump: We must seize ‘historic opportunity’ to annex Jordan Valley

Gantz opposes mutual defense pact with US, warns it could ‘tie hands’ of IDF

Hong Kong billionaire: Only US can be Israel’s friend in trade war

Israeli occupation costs Palestinian economy $2.5 bln a year: UN

Committee sets February 25 as earliest date for possible 3rd election

Netanyahu Indictment Served to Knesset, Setting Off 30 Days to Ask Lawmakers for Immunity

Case against Netanyahu includes billionaire witnesses

Adelsons, Milchan, Ellison, MKs among 333 witnesses in case against Netanyahu

Amazon removes Christmas ornaments with images of Auschwitz from its website

Swastikas, anti-Semitic slurs carved in door of Washington’s Sixth & I synagogue

Italian minister says professor to be disciplined for tweeting Hitler praise

Suicide over mounting debt strikes a chord in crisis-hit Lebanon

Trump administration lifts hold on Lebanon security aid

Kurds In Syria Make A Deal With Russia

Pompeo says Iran the common villain in Mideast protests

For first time, Iran acknowledges killing ‘rioters’ during fuel price protests

Iran unrest killed ‘at least 208,’ families forced to pay for bodies

Turkey to Oppose NATO Plan if It Fails to Recognize Terrorism Threats, Says Erdogan

US senators want Turkey sanctioned over Russia missile system

Putin Approves Law Labeling Journalists ‘Foreign Agents’ In Russia

The FBI says the photo-editing app that went viral this summer is a ‘significant counterintelligence threat’ because of its ties to Russia

Russia to Launch Alternative to Wikipedia, Which Putin Calls ‘Unreliable’

North Korea warns US will choose its ‘Christmas gift’ if Trump fails to meet looming nuclear deadline

Keeping up with China: US Navy orders $22 billion worth of submarines

Malta Parliament surrounded by protesters demanding PM’s removal

House GOP report says no evidence for Trump impeachment, warns of ‘dangerous precedent’

300+ Trump ads taken down by Google, YouTube

US vows 100% tariffs on French Champagne, cheese, handbags over digital tax

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Arica, Chile

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Iquique, Chile

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Arawa, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mohean, India

Mount Rainier caps swarm of weekend seismicity with 3.6 magnitude quake

15 earthquakes in just two days shake a small Tennessee town, USGS reports

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 15,000ft

Nevados De Chillan volcano in Chile erupts to 13,000ft

Typhoon Kammuri: Philippine homes battered by fierce wind and rain

Heavy rain batters southern France, causing new wave of deadly floods

Natural disasters claim over 1,200 lives across East and Southern Africa

America Braces for Possible French Fry Shortage After Poor Potato Harvest

Chronicle exclusive: Bay Area death toll from drug overdoses passes 10,000

Hundreds of Anglicans Sign Letter Opposing Decriminalization of Abortion

ACLU Tweets for International Men’s Day: Transgenders ‘Who Get Pregnant and Give Birth Are Men’

Utah school fires substitute teacher who told 5th-graders ‘homosexuality is wrong’

Dan Cathy’s Real Victims: Christian Franchise Owners

Prince Andrew’s accuser describes her alleged trafficking to have sex with him

Prince Andrew’s Epstein scandal will result in ‘heated showdown’ with ‘furious’ Prince Charles: report

Legal reckoning: New abuse suits could cost church over $4B

Gunmen storm Sunday church service in Burkina Faso, kill at least 14 including pastor, children


Apostasy Watch

Why Are so Many Christians Paralyzed by Fear and Compromise

The Biblical Evidence for Hell

Alabama evangelist Acton Bowen pleads guilty to 28 sex crimes

World Leader of Salvation Army Meets With Pope Francis/Vatican to Discuss Ecumenical Plans

Amid False “Racism” Scandal, Executive Pastor of FBC Naples Resigns

Christians disappointed piece of wood allegedly from Jesus’ manger is so small

Pro-Abortion Sodomite Pete Buttigieg Quotes Jesus Christ in First Campaign Commercial

Christian evangelist murdered in Turkey, sparking fear among Christian community

Fear of Hindu Extremist Violence Ends Christianity in Village in Northern India

Gadhimai Hindu festival: World’s ‘largest animal sacrifice’ under way in defiance of ban


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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther

December 3, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

9 Paul first reaffirms that he and Apollos are both “fellow workers” of God. Then he switches his imagery from that of agriculture to that of architecture when he calls the Corinthians “God’s field” and then “God’s building.” Such dual images have their root in the OT’s description of the task to which God called his servant and prophet Jeremiah: “to uproot” and to “tear down,” and later “to build” and “to plant” (Jer 1:10; cf. 24:6; Sir 49:7).

With this perspective, Paul undercuts once and for all the statements that were making the rounds in Corinth, cited both in 1:12 and 3:4: “I follow Paul,” and, “I follow Apollos.” Literally these slogans translate, “I am of Paul,” and, “I am of Apollos,” meaning something like, “I belong to Paul,” or, “I belong to Apollos.” As far as the apostle is concerned, believers do not belong to any particular individual, no matter how influential that person may be in someone’s life. We belong to God! We are his field; we are his building. This is a strong warning to any of us who are pastors to make sure that the people under our care do not develop such an attachment to us that we feel as though they belong to us. (Attachment to a human leader, in fact, is one of the chief characteristics of a cult.) If anything, the reverse is true: Paul and Apollos and any other human leaders belong to the people as servants (see 3:21–23 and comments).[1]


9 With an explanatory “for,” Paul picks up the main points of the analogy (that Paul and Apollos are workers together in a common cause and belong to God, and that the Corinthians, therefore, do not belong to Paul and Apollos because they, too, belong to God) and drives them home with terse, but pointed, epigrams: “We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field.” At the same time he shifts images, “You are God’s building,”19 and thus sets in motion a new argument, that will be spelled out in vv. 10–15 and 16–17.

In speaking of himself and Apollos as “fellow workers,” Paul uses another of his favorite terms to describe those who labor with him in ministry. Usually it refers to someone who has worked as Paul’s companion; here he extends the term to refer to another who in a more distant way joins him in the ministry of the gospel. In the Greek text the emphasis is altogether on God: “God’s we are, being fellow workers; God’s field, God’s building, you are.” Some have suggested that Paul here intends, as the KJV has it, “we are laborers together with God.” But everything in the context speaks against it: The emphatic position of the genitive (“God’s”) suggests possession,22 as do the following, equally emphatic, genitives, which are unambiguously possessive; the argument of the whole paragraph emphasizes their unity in fellow labor under God, an argument that would be undercut considerably if he were now emphasizing that they worked with God in Corinth; and finally, these new “slogans” serve as the climax of the whole paragraph, in which the emphasis is decidedly on God’s ownership, not on Paul’s and Apollos’s working with him in Corinth.

Thus the whole paragraph is tersely summarized with these emphatic words. Everything is God’s—the church, its ministry, Paul, Apollos—everything. Therefore, it is absolutely not permissible to say “I belong to Paul,” since the only legitimate “slogan” is “we all belong to God.”

Because the imagery of ministry presented here is so common in Paul, and because it so clearly reflects the teaching of Jesus as well, one may be certain that Paul would intend these words to go beyond their particular historical circumstances to apply to the church at all times in all settings. Whatever form ministry finally takes, and on that we have been divided for centuries, there can be no mistake as to its nature—servanthood, of the kind exhibited by the Lord himself and his apostle. There simply is no other paradigm.

Paul’s points need regularly to be underscored, both for clergy and laity alike. The church belongs to its Lord, and to him alone; and its ministers must function in his church in the posture of servants. Paul’s intent here of course is to correct a misguided perception of ministry on the part of a church that was making too much of its ministers. Our need to hear it probably reflects the same realities, although most would think of themselves as above the Corinthian attitude.

All too often those “in charge,” be they clergy, boards, vestry, sessions, or what have you, tend to think of the church as “theirs.” They pay lip-service to its being “Christ’s church, after all,” then proceed to operate on the basis of very pagan, secular structures, and regularly speak of “my” or “our” church. Nor does the church belong to the people, especially those who have “attended all their lives,” or who have “supported it with great sums of money,” as though that gave them special privileges. The church belongs to Christ, and all other things—structures, attitudes, decisions, nature of ministry, everything—should flow out of that singular realization.

Moreover, those “in charge” must be ever mindful of who is really in charge. To be a servant does not mean the abdication of leadership, nor, on the other hand, does it mean to become everyone’s “errand boy or girl.” It has to do with attitude, perspective, not with one’s place on the organizational chart. And as Paul will make clear in 4:8–17, it must be “like priest, like people.” Servant leadership is required precisely because servanthood is the basic stance of all truly Christian behavior.[2]


3:9 / Paul’s interest in explaining his concerns is evident as once again he begins with the word For. The niv translation of this verse is unfortunate, however. That we [Paul, Apollos, the Corinthians?] are God’s fellow workers may be the farthest idea from Paul’s mind. Literally this verse says, “For God’s we are, fellow workers; God’s field, God’s building you are.” There is a shift in or mixture of metaphors, but Paul’s thinking is clear. He recognizes that he and Apollos are fellow workers, and he recognizes that as fellow workers they both belong to God. They do not labor with God; they are God’s servants, and they labor with each other. Paul’s syntax emphasizes God and God’s priority in the tasks and the doing of ministry. The church is God’s field, God’s building, so that to claim allegiance to or status from one or another of God’s servants is nonsense. With the alteration of images—from field to building—Paul sets up the lines that follow.[3]


3:9 we are co-workers in God’s service. Paul’s use of the genitive construction, literally “co-workers of God,” could give the impression that Paul intended to suggest that he and Apollos were co-workers with God. However, it is far more likely that he considered them co-workers with one another, both serving God. “Co-workers of God” is a possessive genitive highlighting their relationship to God as his servants. They are employed not by any Corinthian patron but by God. They are working “God’s field” in Corinth, and the Corinthian church is “God’s building.” The string of possessive genitives is designed to underscore, once again, that none other than God can demand their allegiance and loyalty. The Corinthian believers are not many buildings but one. Although they meet in the homes of different patrons and have listened to different teachers, they are one community, one house belonging to God.[4]


9. For we are fellow workers for God; you are God’s field, God’s building.

  • “For we are fellow workers for God.” Does the term fellow workers denote the relationship between Paul and Apollos or the relationship between these two workers and God? The first interpretation would be translated “fellow workers for God” and the second “fellow workers with God.”

In favor of the first interpretation is the conjunction for that links the preceding verse (v. 8) to the first part of this verse. Paul is saying that Apollos and he are not working for themselves but work for God. They are workers in the service of God, and “are God’s paid servants, rather than his colleagues.”19 From another perspective, the expression fellow worker is linked in other passages to nouns that convey the objective idea. For instance, Paul writes, “but we are fellow workers for your joy” (2 Cor. 1:24) and “Titus is my partner and a fellow worker for you” (2 Cor. 8:23; and see 1 Thess. 3:2).

The second interpretation is, “We also work together with God.” This translation is acceptable as long as the concept of equal partnership is ruled out. God and man are never equals in the proclamation of the gospel, for man is merely an instrument in God’s hand and works not next to him but for him (Acts 9:15).

Many translators present the genitive case in the possessive form (we are God’s fellow workers) and leave unanswered the question of interpretation. Gordon D. Fee observes that the emphatic position of the form God’s, which occurs three times in this verse, suggests the possessive idea. He concludes that “the argument of the whole paragraph emphasizes their unity in fellow labor under God.” Nonetheless, the threefold repetition of the word God in verse 9 does not exclude the possibility that the first use is the objective (“for God”). This possibility is buttressed by two factors: the shift from the first person plural we to the second person plural you makes it probable; the preceding verses (vv. 7 and 8) make it plausible because God is the agent.

  • “You are God’s field, God’s building.” Paul switches from the ministers to the people, from the we to the you. In the Greek, he places the pronoun you at the end of the sentence for emphasis. Also, he continues to use the imagery of a field. Is this field to be considered active in the sense that it produces a crop? Or is it considered passive as, for instance, when it is being cultivated? The second interpretation seems to fit the context better than the first. That is, by preaching the gospel Paul and Apollos cultivated the Corinthians, whom Paul calls God’s field. The Corinthians have to understand that ministers labor in the church not for themselves but for the Lord. “From this it follows that the Corinthians were wrong in yielding themselves to men, when, by right, they belong to God alone.”23

From agricultural imagery, Paul turns to an architectural metaphor. “[You are] God’s building.” Just as a field is being cultivated, so a building is in the process of being erected. The builders do their work for the Lord (see Eph. 2:19–22; 1 Peter 2:5).[5]


3:9. To support his claims, Paul stated that he and Apollos were God’s fellow workers. The preceding context suggests that Paul meant that he and Apollos were fellow workers for God. They formed a team, working together in God’s service. Each one needed the other in order to fulfill the goal, and the goal was of divine design. The Corinthian church, therefore, was God’s field, not theirs. God was the church’s ultimate leader, and its allegiance belonged to him alone.

Paul closed this verse by calling the Corinthians God’s building, speaking of the church as God’s possession under God’s leadership. Both metaphors illustrated the fact that God was building a unified church—one building, one field—not a fragmented, divided church. By quarreling and dividing, the Corinthians struggled to destroy what God was building.[6]


[1] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 284). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Fee, G. D. (1987). The First Epistle to the Corinthians (pp. 133–135). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (pp. 70–71). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Vang, P. (2014). 1 Corinthians. (M. L. Strauss, Ed.) (p. 42). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, pp. 107–108). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 48–49). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

December 3 Finish the Course

scripture reading: 2 Timothy 4:8–18
key verse: 2 Timothy 4:6

I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.

If anyone had occasion to quit the course God had planned for him, it was Paul. Persecutions, trials, misunderstanding, and emotional and physical distress plagued the apostle for most of his adult life. How did he arrive at the terminus of his life with such a winning spirit? How can you?

Paul didn’t focus on the past. His actions before he was saved were atrocious. They would have been an albatross had he fixated on them. Christ forgives your foolish acts of the past. Don’t carry around a mental ballast of guilt that will only weigh you down and steal your joy. Receive God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself.

Paul didn’t nurse grudges. Perhaps you have an emotional greenhouse to nourish past hurts. It’s pain you can live without. Paul was betrayed and reviled at almost every stop, but his spirit remained free of bitterness or self–pity.

Paul majored on grace and embraced weakness. He was the apostle of grace, ever cognizant that his sense of worth and value was entwined in his relationship with Christ, not his performance or behavior.

Don’t give up when your spirit is faint. Count on the sufficiency of God’s grace, the adequacy of His help.

Father, help me finish. Keep my focus on You instead of the past. Keep me from holding grudges. Let me embrace my weakness and not give up when my spirit seems faint.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

3 december (preached 2 december 1860) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Consolation in Christ

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies.” Philippians 2:1

suggested further reading: John 16:7–15

The Holy Spirit, during the present dispensation, is revealed to us as the Comforter. It is the Spirit’s business to console and cheer the hearts of God’s people. He does convince of sin; he does illuminate and instruct; but still the main part of his business lies in making glad the hearts of the renewed, in confirming the weak, and lifting up all those that be bowed down. Whatever the Holy Spirit may not be, he is evermore the Comforter to the church; and this age is peculiarly the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in which Christ cheers us not by his personal presence, as he shall do by-and-by, but by the indwelling and constant abiding of the Holy Spirit the Comforter. Now, mark you, as the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, Christ is the comfort. The Holy Spirit consoles, but Christ is the consolation. If I may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician, but Christ is the medicine. He heals the wound, but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ’s name and grace. He takes not of his own things, but of the things of Christ. We are not consoled today by new revelations, but by the old revelation explained, enforced, and lit up with new splendour by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit the Comforter. If we give to the Holy Spirit the Greek name of Paraclete, as we sometimes do, then our heart confers on our blessed Lord Jesus the title of the Paraclesis. If the one be the Comforter, the other is the comfort.

for meditation: Many of the errors taught about God the Holy Spirit would come to nothing if God’s people understood the Scriptural teaching on the relationships between the three persons of the Trinity. May the Holy Spirit help us to grow in the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (John 17:3).

sermon no. 348[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 344). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.