Sermon Sunday – Charles Spurgeon – The First Christmas Carol

December 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Posted in Sermon Sunday | Leave a comment
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The First Christmas Carol

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Luke 2:14

IT is superstitious to worship angels—it is but proper to love them. Although it would be a high sin and an act of misdemeanor against the Sovereign Court of Heaven to pay the slightest adoration to the mightiest angel, yet it would be unkind and unseemly if we did not give to holy angels a place in our heart’s warmest love. In fact, he that contemplates the character of angels and marks their many deeds of sympathy with men and kindness towards them, cannot resist the impulse of his nature—the impulse of love towards them.

The one incident in angelic history to which our text refers is enough to weld our hearts to them forever. How free from envy the angels were! Christ did not come from Heaven to save their compeers when they fell. When Satan, the mighty angel, dragged with him a third part of the stars of Heaven, Christ did not stoop from His throne to die for them. But He left them to be reserved in chains and darkness until the last great day. Yet angels did not envy men. Though they remembered that He took not up angels, yet they did not murmur when He took up the seed of Abraham. And though the blessed Master had never condescended to take the angel’s form, they did not think it beneath them to express their joy when they found Him arrayed in the body of an infant.

How free, too, they were from pride! They were not ashamed to come and tell the news to humble shepherds. Methinks they had as much joy in pouring out their songs that night before the shepherds, who were watching with their flocks, as they would have had if they had been commanded by their Master to sing their hymn in the halls of Caesar. Mere men—men possessed with pride, think it a fine thing to preach before kings and princes. They think it great condescension now and then to have to minister to the humble crowd. Not so the angels. They stretched their willing wings and gladly sped from their bright seats above to tell the shepherds on the plain by night the marvelous story of an Incarnate God. Mark how well they told the story and surely you will love them!

Not with the stammering tongue of him that tells a tale in which he has no interest. Nor even with the feigned interest of a man that would move the passions of others, when he feels no emotion himself. But with joy and gladness, such as angels only can know. They sang the story out, for they could not stay to tell it in heavy prose. They sang, “Glory to God on high and on earth peace, good will towards men.” Methinks they sang it with gladness in their eyes—with their hearts burning with love and with breasts as full of joy as if the good news to man had been good news to themselves. And, verily, it was good news to them, for the heart of sympathy makes good news to others good news to itself.

Do you not love the angels? You will not bow before them and there you are right. But will you not love them? Does it not make one part of your anticipation of Heaven, that in Heaven you shall dwell with the holy angels, as well as with the spirits of the just made perfect? Oh, how sweet to think that these holy and lovely beings are our guardians every hour! They keep watch and ward about us, both in the burning noontide and in the darkness of the night. They keep us in all our ways. They bear us up in their hands, lest at any time we dash our feet against stones. They unceasingly minister unto us who are the heirs of salvation. Both by day and night they are our watchers and our guardians, for know you not, that “the angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear Him”?

Let us turn aside, having just thought of angels for a moment, to think of this song, rather than of the angels themselves. Their song was brief, but as Kitto excellently remarks, it was “ well worthy of angels expressing the greatest and most blessed truths, in words so few, that they become to an acute apprehension almost oppressive by the pregnant fullness of their meaning.”—“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” We shall, hoping to be assisted by the Holy Spirit, look at these words of the angels in a fourfold manner. I shall just suggest some instructive thoughts arising from these words, then some emotional thoughts; Then a few prophetic thoughts; and afterwards, one or two perceptive thoughts.

I. First then, in the words of our text. There are many INSTRUCTIVE THOUGHTS. The angels sang something which men could understand—something which men ought to understand—something which will make men much better if they will understand it. The angels were singing about Jesus who was born in the manger. We must look upon their song as being built upon this foundation. They sang of Christ and the salvation which He came into this world to work out. And what they said of this salvation was this—they said first, that it gave glory to God. Secondly that it gave peace to man. And thirdly, that it was a token of God’s good will towards the human race.

First, they said that this salvation gave glory to God. They had been present on many august occasions and they had joined in many a solemn chorus to the praise of their Almighty Creator. They were present at the creation: “The morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” They had seen many a planet fashioned between the palms of Jehovah and wheeled by His eternal hands through the infinitude of space. They had sung solemn songs over many a world which the Great One had created. We doubt not, they had often chanted, “Blessing and honor and glory and majesty and power and dominion and might be unto Him that sits on the Throne,” manifesting Himself in the work of creation. I doubt not, too, that their songs had gathered force through ages. As when first created, their first breath was song, so when they saw God create new worlds then their song received another note. They rose a little higher in the gamut of adoration.

But this time, when they saw God stoop from His throne and become a Babe, hanging upon a woman’s breast, they lifted their notes higher still—and reaching to the uttermost stretch of angelic music—they gained the highest notes of the Divine scale of praise and they sung, “Glory to God in the highest,” for higher in goodness they felt God could not go. Thus their highest praise they gave to Him in the highest act of His godhead. If it is true that there is a hierarchy of angels, rising tier upon tier in magnificence and dignity—if the Apostle teaches us that there are “angels and principalities and powers and thrones and dominions,” among these blessed inhabitants of the upper world—I can suppose that when the intelligence was first communicated to those angels that are to be found upon the outskirts of the heavenly world, when they looked down from Heaven and saw the newborn Babe, they sent the news backward to the place from where the miracle first proceeded, singing—

“Angels, from the realms of glory,
Wing your downward flight to earth,
You who sing creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.”

And as the message ran from rank to rank, at last the presence angels, those four cherubim that perpetually watch around the throne of God—those wheels with eyes—took up the strain and gathering up the song of all the inferior grades of angels, surmounted the Divine pinnacle of harmony with their own solemn chant of adoration upon which the entire host shouted, “The highest angels praise You”— “Glory to God in the highest.” Yes, there is no mortal that can ever dream how magnificent was that song. Then, note, if angels shouted before and when the world was made, their hallelujahs were more full, more strong, more magnificent—if not more hearty—when they saw Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary to be man’s redeemer—“Glory to God in the highest.”

What is the instructive lesson to be learned from this first syllable of the angels’ song? Why this—that salvation is God’s highest glory. He is glorified in every dew drop that twinkles in the morning sun. He is magnified in every wood flower that blossoms in the copse, although it lives to blush unseen and wave its sweetness in the forest air. God is glorified in every bird that warbles on the spray—in every lamb that skips the mead. Do not the fishes in the sea praise Him? From the tiny minnow to the huge leviathan, do not all creatures that swim the waters bless and praise His name? Do not all created things extol Him? Is there anything beneath the sky—save man—that does not glorify God?

Do not the stars exalt Him when they write His name upon the azure of Heaven in their golden letters? Does not the lightning adore Him when it flashes its brightness in arrows of light piercing the midnight darkness? Do not thunders extol Him when they roll like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not all things exalt Him, from the least even song of Incarnation. Though creation may be a majestic organ of praise it cannot reach the compass of the golden canticle—Incarnation! There is more in that than in creation, more melody in Jesus in the manger than there is in worlds on worlds rolling their grandeur round the Throne of the Most High.

Pause, Christian, and consider this a minute. See how every attribute is here magnified. Lo, what wisdom is here. God becomes man that God may be Just and the Justifier of the ungodly. Lo, what power, for where is power so great as when it conceals power? What power, that Godhead should unrobe itself and become Man! Behold, what love is thus revealed to us when Jesus becomes a Man. Behold, what faithfulness! How many promises are this day kept? How many solemn obligations are this hour discharged? Tell me one attribute of God that is not manifest in Jesus and your ignorance shall be the reason why you have not seen it so. The whole of God is glorified in Christ. And though some part of the name of God is written in the universe, it is here best read—in Him who was the Son of Man and, yet, the Son of God.

But let me say one word here before I go away from this point. We must learn from this, that if salvation glorifies God, glorifies Him in the highest degree and makes the highest creatures praise Him, this one reflection may be added—that doctrine which glorifies man in salvation cannot be the Gospel. For salvation glorifies God. The angels were no Arminians—they sang, “Glory to God in the highest.” They believe in no doctrine which uncrowns Christ and puts the crown upon the head of mortals. They believe in no system of faith which makes salvation dependent upon the creature and which really gives the creature the praise. For what is it less than for a man to save himself, if the whole dependence of salvation rests upon his own free will? No, my Brethren. There may be some preachers that delight to preach a doctrine that magnifies man. But in their Gospel angels have no delight. The only glad tidings that made the angels sing are those that put God first, God last, God midst and God without end—in the salvation of His creatures—and put the crown wholly and alone upon the head of Him that saves without a helper. “Glory to God in the highest,” is the angels’ song.

When they had sung this, they sang what they had never sung before. “Glory to God in the highest,” was an old, old song. They had sung that from before the foundations of the world. But, now, they sang as it were a new song before the Throne of God—for they added this stanza—“on earth, peace.” They did not sing that in the garden. There was peace there, it seemed a thing of course and scarce worth singing of. There was more than peace there. For there was glory to God there. But now man had fallen—and since the day when cherubim with fiery swords drove out the man there had been no peace on earth, save in the breast of some believers, who had obtained peace from the living fountain of this incarnation of Christ. Wars had raged from the ends of the world. Men had slaughtered one another, heaps on heaps. There had been wars within as well as wars without. Conscience had fought with man—Satan had tormented man with thoughts of sin.

There had been no peace on earth since Adam fell. But, now, when the newborn King made His appearance, the swaddling band with which He was wrapped up was the white flag of peace. That manger was the place where the treaty was signed, whereby warfare should be stopped between man’s conscience and himself, man’s conscience and his God. It was then, that day, the trumpet blew—“Sheathe the sword, oh man, sheathe the sword, oh conscience, for God is now at peace with man and man at peace with God.” Do you not feel, my Brethren, that the Gospel of God is peace to man? Where else can peace be found but in the message of Jesus? Go legalist, work for peace with toil and pain and you shall never find it. Go, you that trust in the Law—go to Sinai.

Look to the flames that Moses saw and shrink and tremble and despair—for peace is nowhere to be found, but in Him, of whom it is said, “This man shall be Peace.” And what a Peace it is, Beloved! It is peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea. It is the peace of God that passes all understanding, which keeps our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. This sacred peace between the pardoned soul and God the Pardoner. This marvelous connection between the sinner and His Judge—this was it that the angels sung when they said, “peace on earth.”

And then they wisely ended their song with a third note. They said, “Good will to man.” Philosophers have said that God has a good will toward man. But I never knew any man who derived much comfort from their philosophical assertion. Wise men have thought from what we have seen in creation that God had much good will toward man—or else His works would never have been so constructed for their comfort. But I never heard of any man who could risk his soul’s peace upon such a faint hope as that. But I have not only heard of thousands, but I know them who are quite sure that God has a good will towards men. And if you ask their reason, they will give a full and perfect answer. They say, He has good will toward man for He gave His Son. No greater proof of kindness between the Creator and His subjects possibly can be afforded than when the Creator gives His only begotten and well beloved Son to die.

Though the first note is God-like and though the second note is peaceful, this third note melts my heart the most. Some think of God as if He were a morose Being who hated all mankind. Some picture Him as if He were some abstract subsistence taking no interest in our affairs. Hark, God has “good will toward men.” You know what good will means? Well all that it means and more, God has to you, you sons and daughters of Adam. Swearer, you have cursed God. He has not fulfilled His curse on you. He has good will towards you, though you have no good will towards Him. Infidel, you have sinned high and hard against the Most High. He has said no hard things against you, for He has good will towards men. Poor sinner, you have broken His Laws. You are half afraid to come to the throne of His mercy lest He should spurn you—hear this and be comforted—God has good will towards men, so good a will that He has said and said it with an oath, too, “As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, but had rather that he should turn unto Me and live.”

So good a will moreover that He has even condescended to say, “Come, now, let us reason together, though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as wool. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be whiter than snow.” And if you say, “Lord, how shall I know that You have this good will towards me,” He points to yonder manger and says, “Sinner, if I had not a good will towards you, would I have parted with My Son? If I had not good will towards the human race, would I have given up My Son to become one of that race that He might by so doing redeem them from death?” You that doubt the Master’s love, look to that circle of angels. See their blaze of glory—hear their song and let your doubts die away in that sweet music and be buried in a shroud of harmony.

He has good will to men. He is willing to pardon. He passes by iniquity, transgression and sin. And mark you, if Satan shall then add, “But though God has good will, yet He cannot violate His justice, therefore His mercy may be ineffective and you may die”—then listen to that first note of the song, “Glory to God in the highest,” and reply to Satan and all his temptations, that when God shows good will to a penitent sinner, there is not only peace in the sinner’s heart, but it brings glory to every attribute of God and so He can be just and yet justify the sinner and glorify Himself!

I do not pretend to say that I have opened all the instructions contained in these three sentences, but I may perhaps direct you into a train of thought that may serve you for the week. I hope that all through the week you will have a truly merry Christmas by feeling the power of these words and knowing the unction of them. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

II. Next, I have to present to you some EMOTIONAL THOUGHTS. Friends, does not this verse, this song of angels, stir your heart with happiness? When I read that and found the angels singing it, I thought to myself, “Then if the angels ushered in the Gospel’s great Head with singing, ought I not to preach with singing? And ought not my Hearers to live with singing? Ought not their hearts to be glad and their spirits to rejoice?” Well, I thought, there are some somber religionists who were born in a dark night in December that think a smile upon the face is wicked and believe that for a Christian to be glad and rejoice is to be inconsistent. Ah, I wish these gentlemen had seen the angels when they sang about Christ! For if angels sang about His birth, though it was no concern of theirs, certainly men ought to sing about it as long as they live—sing about it when they die and sing about it when they live in Heaven forever! I do long to see in the midst of the Church more of a singing Christianity. The last few years have been breeding in our midst a groaning and unbelieving Christianity. Now, I doubt not its sincerity, but I do doubt its healthy character. I say it may be true and real enough. God forbid I should say a word against the sincerity of those who practice it but it is a sickly religion.

Watts hit the mark when he said—

“Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less.”

It is designed to do away with some of our pleasures—but it gives us many more—to make up for what it takes away. It does not make them less. O you that see in Christ nothing but a subject to stimulate your doubts and make the tears run down your cheeks—O you that always say—

“Lord, what a wretched land is this,

come here and see the angels! Do they tell their story with groans and sobs and sighs? Ah, no. They shout aloud, “Glory to God in the highest.” Now, imitate them my dear Brethren. If you are professors of religion, try always to have a cheerful carriage. Let others mourn. But—

“Why should the children of a king
Go mourning all their days?”

Anoint your head and wash your face—appear not unto men to fast. Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say unto you rejoice. Specially this week be not ashamed to be glad. You need not think it a wicked thing to be happy. Penance and whipping and misery are no such very virtuous things, after all. The damned are miserable. Let the saved be happy. Why should you hold fellowship with the lost by feelings of perpetual mourning? Why not rather anticipate the joys of Heaven and begin to sing on earth that song which you will never need to end? The first emotion, then, that we ought to cherish in our hearts is the emotion of joy and gladness.

Well, what next? Another emotion is that of confidence. I am not sure that I am right in calling that an emotion, but still in me it is so much akin to it that I will venture to be wrong if I am so. Now, if when Christ came on this earth God had sent some black creature down from Heaven, (if there are such creatures there), to tell us, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” And if with a frowning brow and a stammering tongue he delivered his message—if I had been there and heard it—I should have hesitated to believe him. I should have said, “You don’t look like the messenger that God would send—stammering fellow as you are—with such glad news as this.”

But when the angels came there was no doubting the truth of what they said, because it was quite certain that the angels believed it. They told it as if they did, for they told it with singing, with joy and gladness. If some friend, having heard that a legacy was left you and should come to you with a solemn countenance and a tongue like a funeral bell, saying, “Do you know So-and-So has left you £10,000?” Why, you would say, “Ah, I dare say,” and laugh in his face. But if your brother should suddenly burst into your room and exclaim, “I say, what do you think? You are a rich man, So-and-So has left you £10,000!” Why you would say, “I think it is very likely to be true, for he looks so happy over it.”

Well, when these angels came from Heaven they told the news just as if they believed it. And though I have often wickedly doubted my Lord’s good will, I think I never could have doubted it while I heard those angels singing. No, I should say, “The messengers themselves are proof of the truth, for it seems they have heard it from God’s lips. They have no doubt about it, for see how joyously they tell the news?” Now, poor Soul, you that are afraid lest God should destroy you and you think that God will never have mercy upon you—look at the singing angels and doubt if you dare. Do not go to the synagogue of long-faced hypocrites to hear the minister who preaches with a nasal twang, with misery in his face, while he tells you that God has good will towards men.

I know you won’t believe what he says, for he does not preach with joy in his countenance. He is telling you good news with a grunt and you are not likely to receive it. But go straightway to the plain where Bethlehem shepherds sat by night and when you hear the angels singing out the Gospel, by the grace of God upon you, you cannot help believing that they manifestly feel the preciousness of telling. Blessed Christmas that brings such creatures as angels to confirm our faith in God’s good will to men!

III. I must now bring before you the third point. There are some PROPHETIC UTTERANCES contained in these words. The angels sang “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” But I look around and what do I see in the whole wide world? I do not see God honored. I see the heathen bowing down before their idols. I mark the Romanist casting himself before the rotten rags of his relics and the ugly figures of his images. I look about me and I see tyranny lording it over the bodies and souls of men. I see God forgotten. I see a worldly race pursuing mammon. I see a bloody race pursuing Moloch. I see ambition riding like Nimrod over the land, God forgotten, His name dishonored. And was this what the angels sang about? Is this what made them sing “Glory to God in the highest?” Ah, no. There are brighter days approaching. They sang “Peace on earth.”

But I hear still the clarion of war. And the cannon’s horrid roar—not yet have they turned the sword into a plowshare and the spear into a pruning hook! War still reigns. Is this all that the angels sang about? And while I see wars to the ends of the earth, am I to believe that this was all the angels expected? Ah, no, Brethren. The angels’ song is big with prophecy—it travails in birth with glories. A few more years and he that lives them out shall see why angels sang. A few more years and He that will come shall come and will not tarry. Christ the Lord will come again and when He comes He shall cast the idols from their thrones. He shall dash down every fashion of heresy and every shape of idolatry. He shall reign from pole to pole with illimitable sway. He shall reign, when like a scroll, yonder blue heavens have passed away.

No strife shall vex Messiah’s reign, no blood shall then be shed. They’ll hang the useless helmet high and study war no more. The hour is approaching when the temple of Janus shall be shut forever and when cruel Mars shall be hooted from the earth. The day is coming when the lion shall eat straw like the ox, when the leopard shall lie down with the kid—when the weaned child shall put his hand upon the cockatrice den and play with the asp. The hour approaches. The first streaks of the sunlight have made glad the age in which we live. Lo, He comes with trumpets and with clouds of glory! He shall come for whom we look with joyous expectation, whose coming shall be glory to His redeemed and confusion to His enemies. Ah, Brethren, when the angels sang this there was an echo through the long aisles of a glorious future. That echo was—

“Hallelujah! Christ the Lord
God Omnipotent shall reign.”

Yes, and doubtless the angels heard by faith the fullness of the song—

“Hark! the song of jubilee
Loud as mighty thunders’ roar,
Or the fullness of the sea,
When it breaks upon the shore.”

“Christ the Lord Omnipotent reigns.”

IV. Now I have one more lesson for you and I have done. That lesson is PRECEPTIVE. I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year would keep it as the angels kept it. There are many persons who, when they talk about keeping Christmas, mean by that the cutting of the bands of their religion for one day in the year, as if Christ were the Lord of misrule, as if the birth of Christ should be celebrated like the orgies of Bacchus. There are some very religious people that on Christmas would never forget to go to Church in the morning. They believe Christmas to be nearly as holy as Sunday, for they reverence the tradition of the elders. Yet their way of spending the rest of the day is very remarkable—for if they see their way straight up stairs to their bed at night, it must be by accident! They would not consider they had kept Christmas in a proper manner if they did not verge on gluttony and drunkenness.

They are many who think Christmas cannot possibly be kept except there be a great shout of merriment and mirth in the house and added to that the boisterousness of sin. Now, my Brethren, although we, as successors of the Puritans, will not keep the day in any religious sense whatever, attaching nothing more to it than to any other day—believing that every day may be a Christmas for all we know and wishing to make every day Christmas if we can—yet we must try to set an example to others how to behave on that day. And especially since the angels gave glory to God. Let us do the same.

Once more the angels said, “Peace to men.” Let us labor if we can to make peace next Christmas day. Now, old gentleman, you won’t take your son in—he has offended you. Fetch him at Christmas. “Peace on earth.” You know that is a Christmas carol. Make peace in your family. Now, Brother, you have made a vow that you will never speak to your brother again. Go after him and say, “Oh, my dear fellow, let not this day’s sun go down upon our wrath.” Fetch him in and give him your hand.

Now, Mr. Tradesman, you have an opponent in trade and you have said some very hard words about him lately. If you do not make the matter up today, or tomorrow, or as soon as you can, yet do it on that day. That is the way to keep Christmas—peace on earth and glory to God. And oh, if you have anything on your conscience, anything that prevents your having peace of mind—keep your Christmas in your chamber, praying to God to give you peace. For it is peace on earth, mind you, peace in yourself, peace with yourself, peace with your fellow men, peace with your God. And do not think you have well celebrated that day till you can say, “O God—

With the world, myself and You
Wherever I sleep at peace will be. ”

And when the Lord Jesus has become your Peace, remember, there is another thing, good will towards men. Do not try to keep Christmas without keeping good will towards men. You are a gentleman and have servants. Well, try and set their chimneys on fire with a large piece of good, substantial beef for them. If you are men of wealth, you have poor in your neighborhood. Find something wherewith to clothe the naked and feed the hungry and make glad the mourner. Remember, it is good will towards men. Try, if you can, to show them good will at this special season. And if you will do that, the poor will say with me—indeed, they wish there were six Christmases in the year.

Let each one of us go from this place determined that if we are angry all the year round, this next week shall be an exception. That if we have snarled at everybody last year, this Christmas time we will strive to be kindly affectionate to others. And if we have lived all this year at enmity with God, I pray that by His Spirit He may this week give us peace with Him. And then, indeed, my Brothers and Sisters, it will be the merriest Christmas we ever had in all our lives. You are going home to your father and mother, young men—many of you are going from your shops to your homes.

You remember what I preached on last Christmas time. Go home to your friends and tell them what the Lord has done for your soul and that will make a blessed round of stories at the Christmas fire. If you will each of you tell your parents how the Lord met with you in the house of prayer—how, when you left home, you were a happy, wild blade—but have now come back to love your mother’s God and read your father’s Bible—oh, what a happy Christmas that will make! What more shall I say? May God give you peace with yourselves. May He give you good will towards all your friends, your enemies and your neighbors. And may He give you grace to give glory to God in the highest.

I will say no more, except at the close of this sermon to wish everyone of you, when the day shall come, the happiest Christmas you ever had in your lives—

“Now with angels round the throne,
Cherubim and seraphim,
And the Church, which still is one,
Let us swell the solemn hymn.
Glory to the great I AM!
Glory to the Victim Lamb.
Blessing, honor, glory, might,
And dominion infinite,
To the Father of our Lord,
To the Spirit and the Word;
As it was all worlds before,
Is and shall be evermore.”

Persecution Fridays: Iran

February 4, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Iran: Government Cracks Down

Since Christmas, more than 70 Christians have been arrested in Iran in a large, well-coordinated strike. Most of those arrested belong to the house church movement. Many were released from custody, but a dozen or more remain in detention. Those charged with trying to convert Muslims face the possibility of a death sentence. Officials say that more detentions are possible, and Tehran’s governor said in a recent speech that evangelicals are “corrupt and deviant.”

According to a Washington Times report, Saman Kamvar of the Iranian Christian News Agency attributes the increased persecution of evangelicals to remarks made last year by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Khamenei denounced the house church movement during a speech on Oct. 19, warning Iranians against the “network of house churches” that “threaten Islamic faith and deceive young Muslims.”

Christians, including traditional groups such as Armenians, Assyrians and Chaldeans, make up less than 1 percent of the population. About 0.2 percent are evangelical Christians, and many of those are part of the house church movement. Because the Iranian government cannot monitor them, house churches present a greater threat than historically established churches.

VOM works closely with house churches in Iran, supporting them with literature, Bibles and other ministry tools. Contacts tell us that Iranians are very open to the gospel right now, after a generation of living under the heavy hand of Islam. House churches are growing daily as Iranians trust Christ with their lives. Pray that these recent arrests will only strengthen the commitment of new Christians. Pray that house church leaders who are under surveillance will find creative ways to continue sharing the gospel.

Persecution Fridays: Laos

January 28, 2011 at 10:08 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Laos: Pastor Continues Meetings

On Jan. 4, 2011, at 7 p.m., district police arrested Pastor Wanna at his home in Nakoon Village, Laos. They also arrested 10 other believers as they ate a meal together in Pastor Wanna’s home, which also serves as a house church. The Christians asked that they be allowed to finish their meal, but their request was denied. The believers were taken away at gunpoint.

The next day, two of the men were released. The other believers, including two children ages 4 and 8, were taken to Khammaouan Provincial Prison. Authorities charged them with conducting a secret meeting without approval. Continue Reading Persecution Fridays: Laos…

Peace on Earth

January 8, 2011 at 2:11 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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The Christmas season is winding down (for me it really isn’t over til after the new year) and, in an effort to keep from completely ruining your Christmas joy, I’ve held onto this until after the holiday was over. I also wanted to see what everyone said during the week leading up to Christmas. I have been thinking more (wait! don’t go yet…) and there have been a few loose threads that I’ve been following. Oddly enough, when I began to think about the threads, they all seem to be interconnected. I’m going to go through them and would love to hear your thoughts on these different topics.

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about comes from the songs that I’ve heard played over the Christmas holiday season. Things that talk about goodwill, peace on earth, and kindness. One that I heard very often throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas was the song Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All. In case you haven’t heard it (although there are a number of remakes on Youtube), here is the original:

Continue Reading Peace on Earth…

Newslinks 12/12/10

December 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

2 More Christians Killed in Baghdad
Iraq’s Christian minority took another hit Sunday evening when gunmen shot and killed an elderly Christian couple in their home.

Prop. 8 Appeal Goes Before Federal Court

Pakistan Minister Condemns Reward for Killing Christian Woman

Colson: Prison Rate Up Due to Moral Breakdown

WCC Head, Pope Benedict Discuss Church Unity

Somali Teenage Girl Shot to Death for Embracing Christ Continue Reading Newslinks 12/12/10…

Newslinks 12/05/10

December 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Global Church Leader Urges Koreas to Refrain from Use of Force
The United States and South Korea began naval exercises off the west coast of the peninsula Sunday to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive actions must stop.

Pakistan Gov’t Barred from Pardoning Christian on Death Row

2 Healthy Churches Merge for Bigger Impact in Ariz.

Religion Debate Pits Blair Against Hitchens

Don’t Do Christmas on Credit, Debt Charity Warns

Iraq Arrests 12 Suspected in Deadly Church Siege

Leak of State Dept Cables Could Impact Friends and Allies Around the World, White House Says
(CNSNews.com)
– Sunday’s release by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. State Department cables provides a glimpse into the world where views are delivered directly and sometimes bluntly, far removed from bland diplomatic statements reserved for the cameras. The cables reveal frank evaluations of a range of issues and political leaders, offered not just by American officials but also by their foreign interlocutors speaking on the assumption of confidentiality.

Raising the Social Security Retirement Age Might Shift Older Workers Onto Disability Rolls, Report Says
(CNSNews.com)
– Improvements in life expectancy have led to proposals to raise the earliest eligibility age for Social Security retirement benefits above 62, the full retirement age above 67, or both. But a recent government report found a downside to raising the retirement ages.

South Korea Warns North Korea of Retaliation As Naval Exercises Begin
(CNSNews.com)
– South Korean President Lee Myun-bak on Monday vowed strong retaliation against the Stalinist state in the event of any further provocation. He spoke a day after the United States and South Korea launched a four-day joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea. , the body of water located between China and the west coast of the Korean peninsula. China has complained about the U.S. Navy movements in its “exclusive economic zone.”

Alleged Christmas Tree Bomber Said He Wanted to Kill Americans While ‘They Were With Their Families Celebrating the Holidays,’ Says Affidavit
(CNSNews.com)
– Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-born naturalized U.S. citizen, allegedly made the statement in a video- and audio-taped conversation he had with two undercover FBI agents on Aug. 19 of this year in a Portland, Ore., hotel room.

Security Situation Seen as ‘Bad’ by One in Five Afghans; 80 Percent Say Corruption Affects Daily Life
(CNSNews.com)
– “The number of Afghans rating their security situation as ‘bad’ is the highest since the nationwide survey began in September 2008,” the report stated. “This downward trend in security perception is likely due to the steady increase in total violence over the past nine months.”

Tea Party May Target Major Companies That Back Obama Agenda, Poll Shows
(CNSNews.com)
– The results of the survey led the pollster to conclude that Tea Partiers could “realistically” lead a boycott of such companies.

Obama’s Agriculture Dept. Has Hired Consulting Firm to Advise It on ‘Diversity
(CNSNews.com)
– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has “taken a number of actions to make his department more sensitive to civil rights issues,” The Hill newspaper reported on Monday.

Bush, Warren: It’s Not About You
Former President George W. Bush revealed on Monday that during his eight-year term, he had in tow the same words of wisdom that Pastor Rick Warren may be famous for: It’s not about you.

Catholic Bishops Back House Resolution to Protect Iraq’s Christians

Survey: Evangelicals Go Against the Tide on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Family Group Blasts Holiday Gift Certificates for Abortion

Man Without Limbs: Live Without Limits

Survey: 1 in 20 Christians Cite Accountability in Church

Mother of 13 Urges Adoption of HIV-Positive Children
Carolyn Twietmeyer, a suburban mother of 13 children – including six from Africa – has a message she wants to say on World AIDS Day: adopt HIV-positive kids.

Faith Leaders Back DREAM Act for Undocumented Youth

Christian Charity in India Educates Public on HIV and AIDS

Televangelist Admits Affair on TV

Christian Columnist: We’ve Won the War on Christmas

Pro-Family Groups Fight Against ‘Hate Group’ Label

Prison Ministry: Spiritual Revival Happening in Women’s Facilities
For unexplainable reasons, other than the Holy Spirit, women inmates are attending Bible meetings and coming to Christ like never before, a prison ministry reported.

Conservatives Warn: DADT Repeal Likely to Hurt Morale, Recruitment

Apple Urged to Restore Manhattan Declaration App

Kay Warren on HIV/AIDS: God Broke My Heart, Wiped Me Out

Poll: ‘Very Religious’ Americans Have Better Emotional Health

Wash. Football Player Flagged for Pointing to God

Drug Cartel-Related Murders Exceed 10,000 for Year So Far, According to a Mexican Newspaper Tally
(CNSNews.com)
– Cartel-related murders in Mexico’s drug war have surpassed 10,000 so far this year, according to a tally kept by the Mexican newspaper Reforma. That figure is about twice the overall number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

November 2010 Was Deadliest November for U.S. Forces in 9-Year Afghan War
(CNSNews.com)
– At least 45 U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan last month — up from the 17 killed in November 2009. That makes November 2010 the deadliest November since the war began more than nine years ago, according to CNSNews.com’s database. So far this year, 452 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan, more than was killed in any previous year of the war.

Hoyer Supports ‘Disciplinary Action’ Against USDA Employees Who ‘Consciously’ Discriminated Against Black Farmers
(CNSNews.com)
– House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) voted in favor of the huge settlement for black farmers who were discriminated against by the Agriculture Department from 1981-1996, but when asked whether “disciplinary action” should be taken against any USDA employees, Hoyer said he didn’t know enough about the case to endorse any specific action. “It’s pretty amazing to me that you can have 94,000 people likely discriminated against and you can’t find one single individual responsible for $2.3 billion worth of discrimination,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told CNSNews.com Monday.

‘Misleading’ Andy Griffith Ads Cost Taxpayers $3 Million, Gov’t Documents Show
(CNSNews.com)
– The federal government spent $3.1 million on TV ads in which actor Andy Griffith touts the new health care law, but a non-partisan watchdog group says those ads are misleading.

White House Deficit Commission Won’t Say If Federal Salaries Should Be Cut
(CNSNews.com)
– The co-chairs of the White House deficit commission said they support “at least” a freeze of federal employees’ salaries but declined to say whether they support a cut in federal salaries. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis for the year 2009 show that federal worker compensation including benefits averaged $123,049, which was more than double the private sector average (with benefits) of $61,051.

Now That Obama Administration Is Taking Terrorism ‘More Seriously,’ Airport Security ‘Significantly Improved’ This Christmas, Lawmaker Says
Washington (CNSNews.com)
– Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said airport security has “significantly improved” since last year’s attempted Christmas bombing. “The federal government, Homeland Security and TSA have, I think, significantly improved since last Christmas, there’s more cohesion.”

Obama Administration Linking Arms Control Treaty With Russian Cooperation on Iran
(CNSNews.com)
– Pushing to get the New START arms reduction treaty through the lame-duck Senate, the Obama administration and Democrats are looking to pro-Israel organizations, arguing that delaying ratification will jeopardize Russian support for international pressure on Iran. Many conservatives, including some Jewish groups, have deep reservations about the negotiated treaty, including concerns that it will constrain U.S. missile defense options.

EPA Shifting Its Emphasis to ‘Sustainability’
(CNSNews.com)
– The Environmental Protection Agency, marking its 40th anniversary this week, has commissioned a National Research Council study that will help the agency “incorporate sustainability into the way the agency approaches environmental protection.” What does that mean? The EPA reaches all the way to Africa to provide an example.

‘Our Government Has a Role to Play’ in Reducing the Stigma of HIV/AIDS, Obama Says
(CNSNews.com)
– In a message marking World AIDS Day on Wednesday, President Obama urged the American people to “join in appropriate activities to remember the men, women, and children who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.” He reminded infected people that his new health care law will help them get “adequate health insurance coverage and quality care.”

Energy Secretary Bemoans ‘Downward’ Trend in Energy Budget
(CNSNews.com)
– Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the “downward” budget trend for research and development at the Department of Energy is “alarming.”

Full-Scale Replica of Noah’s Ark Coming to Ky. Theme Park
Noah may have taken 400 years to build the ark but investors of a new biblical theme park in northern Kentucky plan to replicate a full-scale model in under 36 months.

Former Daystar Employee Sues Evangelist Over Affair

Late-Term Abortionist Moves to Maryland

Obama to Receive Christmas Cards Urging Mideast Peace

Americans Prefer ‘Merry Christmas’ to ‘Happy Holidays’

53rd Grammy Nominees for Gospel Music Announced

FCC Commissioner Wants to Test the ‘Public Value’ of Every Broadcast Station
(CNSNews.com)
– American journalism is in “grave peril,” FCC Commissioner Michael Copps says, and to bolster “traditional media,” he said the Federal Communications Commission should conduct a “public value test” of every broadcast station at relicensing time. In a speech at the Columbia University School of Journalism on Thursday, Copps also said station relicensing should happen every four years instead of the current eight.

British Christian Group Raises Concerns About Shari’a-Compliant Food
(CNSNews.com)
– A Christian organization in Britain has launched a petition campaign aimed at defending the right of those who do not want to eat meat slaughtered according to Islamic law (shari’a). Operation Nehemiah argues that the mainstreaming of halal across the world constitutes part of a global Islamization drive. While Muslims should be free to follow their own religious practices, the group objects to non-Muslims having little or no choice in the matter.

Bachmann: ‘There Needs To Be an Insurrection’ Against GOP Leaders If They Don’t Hold Straight Vote to Repeal Obamacare
(CNSNews.com)
– Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), founder and chairman of the House Tea Party Caucus, told CNSNews.com that there will be an “insurrection” against the House Republican leadership if it does not hold an independent, straight up-or-down vote on repealing the entire Obamacare law that does not tie this repeal to other policy initiatives including any effort to “replace” elements of Obamacare with new federal health-care reforms.

Q&A With Michele Bachmann: Zero Out Funding For Obama’s Czars and Obamacare
(CNSNews.com)
– Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), founder and chair of the House Tea Party Caucus, told CNSNews.com this week that when Republicans take control of the House in January they should kill Obamacare by zeroing-out funding for it. They should also remove funding for the non-Senate-confirmed “czars” President Barack Obama has named to his administration. “That’s the beauty of conservatives winning in this election, because the House has the power of the purse and we can zero that out in our budget,” she said.

Pence, DeMint Push for Permanent Extension of Bush Tax Rates
(CNSNews.com)
– Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) renewed their call on Wednesday for making the current tax rates permanent before they automatically reset to 1990’s-era levels at year’s end. “Higher taxes aren’t going to get anybody hired,” Pence said. “Raising taxes on job creators won’t create any jobs. Raising taxes during the worst economy in 25 years is just a phenomenally bad idea.”
“Uncertainty is the enemy of our prosperity,” Pence said.

Napolitano Says Granting Legal Status to Some Illegal Aliens Improves Immigration Law Enforcement
(CNSNews.com)
– Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said granting legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college or join the military will help the country target criminal illegal immigrants. She said the U.S. should “prioritize our enforcement resources on removing dangerous criminal aliens” rather than wasting time and effort prosecuting young people “brought here through no fault of their own.”

Congressman: Close Tax-Funded Smithsonian Exhibit Despite Removal of Ant-Covered Jesus
(CNSNews.com)
– Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said that removing a video with images of ants swarming over Jesus Christ on a crucifix is a “positive” step, but he said there are other elements of the show that make it inappropriate for display in a federal institution where families come to see iconic works of arts such as the portraits of U.S. presidents.

Combat Troops’ Opposition Not an ‘Insurmountable Barrier’ to Letting Gays Serve in Military, Defense Secretary Says
(CNSNews.com)
– Although up to 60 percent of U.S. combat troops oppose the idea of homosexuals serving in the military, those concerns do not pose a ‘insurmountable barrier’ to repealing the statute, Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a Senate panel on Dec. 2. Gates indicated that the combat troops’ negative response to repealing the law stems from their lack of experience in serving with homosexuals. “I couldn’t disagree more,” responded Sen. John McCain.

Congress Should Look At Reducing Federal Workforce ‘Across the Board,’ Republican Says
(CNSNews.com)
– Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Thursday declined to say whether salaries of federal employees should be cut, but he did say that Congress needs to look at “a reduction of federal employees across the board.”

Leaked Cable May Prompt Iran to Demand Resignation of Nuclear Watchdog Chief
(CNSNews.com)
– Amid rumors that Iran will demand his resignation, the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency denied any wrongdoing Thursday, following reports that leaked U.S. diplomatic cables indicated he sided with the U.S. on the Iranian nuclear standoff. Tehran has long accused International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano of lacking impartiality.

Church Planter Tackles Men Who Won’t Grow Up
A St. Louis pastor and respected church planter raised the alarm about a societal problem he calls “ban,” which are males that are not quite boys nor men in their maturity level.

Military Chiefs Ask Lawmakers to Delay DADT Repeal

Petition Asking Apple to Reinstate Christian App Gains Steam

Groups to Press Obama to Defend Iraqi Christians

Calif. Judge Refuses to Bow Out of Prop. 8 Appeals Panel

Wrong to Exclude God from Classroom, Says U.K. Think Tank

Influence

May 24, 2010 at 5:26 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Whether we realize it or not, we are influenced by many things. We see an advertisement for the newest car, the latest way to lose weight, or the fastest way to make money and we have the opportunity to be influenced. The more we see the ad, the more likely we are to be influenced to purchase the product. It happens for cars, houses, grocery items, toys (think about all the ads you see at Christmas), and movies.  We see people happy with the new product or service and we can’t help but think that it may be the same way for us. We see the newest TV shows with the hottest stars and our interest is piqued. We see the latest summer blockbuster with the most amazing special effects and we have to see it. The chart topping hits play on our favorite radio station, we can’t get the song out of our head, and the next thing we know, we’re buying the CD or iTunes download.

The influence of music, movies, advertising, and other media forms has become so pervasive that we hardly even notice it anymore. We have become desensitized to it. We hardly realize that we are not making the choices anymore. Add to this the “herd mentality” where friends and family are acting on this influence and it becomes even stronger. We seem to be in full control of our decisions, and fail to recognize the influence that the environment around us – the things we see, hear, smell, taste and feel – has such a profound influence on what we say and do. Continue Reading Influence…

Newslinks 01/10/09

January 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

 

DHS Plans to Catch Only One in Four Travelers Committing ‘Major’ Criminal Violations While Entering U.S. on International Fights in 2010
(CNSNews.com)
– Documents produced by the Department of Homeland Security indicate that in fiscal 2010, the department is planning to catch only 26 percent of travelers committing major criminal violations while seeking to enter the United States through international airports. DHS documents also indicate that the department will fail to screen against law enforcement databases 15 percent of travelers entering the United States in 2010 through all official ports of entry.

Pro-Abortion Advocates Praise Abortionist, Blast Pro-Life Efforts
(CNSNews.com)
— The pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America is asking visitors to its Web site to cast votes for the person who has done the most for their movement. Nominations include abortionist LeRoy Carhart, who is one of the few to perform late-term abortions in his Nebraska clinic.

Combat-Related U.S. Military Deaths in Afghanistan Double Over Last Year, IEDs Major Cause
(CNSNews.com)
– There were 272 combat-related deaths of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan in 2009, as this story went to press on Dec. 31. That number is more than double the 135 combat-related deaths in 2008. The majority of the combat-related deaths in 2009 were caused by roadside bombs, also known as improvised explosive devices.

More question legality of Senate healthcare bill
Constitutional historian David Barton says American courts would have to overturn their last 80 years of jurisprudence to uphold the constitutionality of the healthcare bill in Congress.

Senate abortion support may lead to legal battles
Healthcare reform could lead to court battles if the Senate bill becomes law.
Treasury lifts bailout cap
A regulatory policy expert says the Obama administration is pursuing an odd strategy designed to prop up the housing market – make even more bad mortgage loans.
Church votes to split from ELCA over homosexual clergy
The congregation of the First Lutheran Church of Harvey, ND, has cast the first of two votes to split from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

 Prospects rosy for adult stem-cell treatments
The past decade spelled success in research with adult stem cells.

Pray for America Campaigns Kick Off 2010

Rick Warren’s End-of-Year Plea Raises $2.4M for Church

Malaysian Gov’t to Appeal Christian ‘Allah’ Ruling

Obama Returns from Church-Less Christmas Vacation

Montana Becomes 3rd State to OK Doctor-Assisted Suicide

Report Finds Over 1,200 Crimes Against Churches in 2009

U.S. Pastors Encouraged to Join Nat’l Marriage Week Effort

Pastor Chuck Smith to Be Released from Hospital

Ministry Launches Effort to Plant Prayer Rooms Across All U.S. Colleges

Muslim Mob in Pakistan Wounds Christian Family

Obama’s 2010 budget includes ‘poverty traps’
Remember when candidate Barack Obama said he wanted to “spread the wealth around”? One researcher suggests he’s been successful in doing that.

Perspective: The faith of Tebow, the ire of the left
The media’s secular left already dislikes Tim Tebow’s public faith. Think about their reaction if he shows up in a pro-life Super Bowl ad…

A fine line – sex offenders in church
A North Carolina judge has struck down part of a state law restricting activities of registered sex offenders.

NARAL recognition a badge of honor
A national pro-life group views its recent recognition as a distinct honor.

Is Napolitano on the ropes?
Immigration reform proponent William Gheen is calling for the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in the wake of the attempted hijacking of a U.S. airliner Christmas Day. Time to replace Napolitano (commentary by Star Parker)

Car Bomb Explodes Near Iraqi Church; Dozen People Injured

Malaysian Gov’t Appeals Ruling on Christian ‘Allah’ Use

U.K. Teacher Suspended after Offering to Pray for Student

Stephen Baldwin Takes His Faith to the Celebrity Big Brother House

Moody Bible Institute, Michigan Theological Seminary Complete Merger

Homeland Security’s National Operations Center ‘Unable’ to Do Its Job, Inspector General Finds
(CNSNews.com)
– The Homeland Security Department’s National Operations Center (NOC) is “unable” to do its job of ensuring coordination among the 22 federal agencies that make up the Department of Homeland Security and focuses too much on disaster management rather than terrorism prevention, according to its own inspector general. After Hurricane Katrina, “the NOC began to dedicate most of its resources to emergency management rather than terrorism prevention. Many NOC staff contend that this shift in focus is detrimental to NOC intelligence and law enforcement functions,” the report says.

Pro-Life Advocates Plan to Protest Opening of Largest Abortion Clinic in U.S.
(CNSNews.com)
– A coalition of pro-life advocates and religious leaders plans to gather in Houston on Jan. 18 to oppose what is expected to be the largest abortion clinic in the country. Planned Parenthood is renovating a former bank into a 78,000 square foot facility, which will include a surgical wing equipped to provide late-term abortions. “It’s an abortion super center,” one pro-life activist said.

White House to State AGs: No ‘Legitimate Constitutional Concerns’ in Senate Health Care Bill
(CNSNews.com)
– The White House on Tuesday dismissed the concerns of 13 state attorneys general about the constitutionality of a clause in the Senate health care bill that singles out Nebraska for special treatment when it comes to covering the cost of expanding Medicaid coverage. “I have not seen the letter from the attorneys general” but “I do not believe that anybody has legitimate constitutional concerns about the legislation,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Pelosi Pledged to Give Public ‘Ample Amount of Time’ to Read Final Health Bill
(CNSNews.com)
– While Nancy Pelosi is now dodging a request from C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb to open up House-Senate negotiations over the final version of the health-care bill so C-SPAN’s cameras can show them to the public, back in July she pledged she would give the public an “ample amount of time” to read the final bill before brining it to a vote. Listen to her say it.

Democrats and Republicans Oppose Obama Move Giving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Unlimited Funding
(CNSNews.com)
– Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike are blasting the Treasury Department’s Christmas Eve announcement that it will send unlimited tax money to failed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thereby eliminating the current $400 billion cap on emergency aid that Treasury can give without having to come back to Congress for authorization. This means Treasury can continue to manage the companies, which were seized last year, until the end of President Obama’s current term.

State Department Using ‘Diversity Visas’ to Encourage Immigration to U.S. from Terror-Ridden Yemen
(CNSNews.com)
–The State Department has awarded 1,011 special “diversity visas” allowing Yemeni nationals to immigrate to the United States since 2000, the year of the terror attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden. The “diversity visas” are designed to encourage immigration from countries that do not otherwise send significant numbers of people to the United States.

Control-conscious Dems seek unorthodox route
Congressional Democrats will apparently bypass a conference committee in order to get healthcare reform passed more quickly.

Perspective: Obama and the Vampire Congress
Instead of a promised ethical and transparent administration, Democrats have delivered a creepy legislative environment that could double as a Twilight movie set.

Sour notes – ‘homophobia’ and music ed
The Illinois Family Institute is weighing in on an intriguing article that appeared in the December issue of the Music Educators Journal.

Restrictive home school legislation up for vote
New Hampshire lawmakers are set to vote on a bill that one attorney has described as “the most anti-home school legislation ever conceived” in that state.

Schools agree to end Bible distribution
Public school officials in Wilson County, Tennessee, have agreed to stop distributing Bibles to students during the school day on school grounds.

Persecution List: N. Korea, Iran Top Oppressors of Christians

Churches Called to ‘Do Something’

Southern Baptist Pastor Counters 2012 Doomsday ‘Prophecies’

Orthodox Christmas Marked Amid Protests in Bethlehem

Best Christian Workplaces Announced for 2010

U.S. Embassy in Nigeria Had ‘Major Problems,’ State Department Inspection Found
(CNSNews.com)
– The most recent State Department inspection, conducted in 2002, found that the U.S. consulate in Lagos was “in serious trouble” due to chronic staff shortages, while the U.S. embassy in Abuja relied primarily on junior staff, contract employees, and State Department retirees on temporary assignment to fill “key positions.” The report found that the lack of key staff hampered any and all “substantial progress” at the embassy, preventing it from making improvements in any of its functions.

U.S. Paid for Full-Body Scanners at Nigeria’s Four International Airports in 2007
(CNSNews.com)
– The four international airports in Nigeria are equipped with full-body scanners — the same technology that the United States and other countries are now scrambling to put into place following the attempted bombing of an American airliner on Christmas Day by a Nigerian terrorist. The scanners in Nigeria were paid for by the United States and installed in 2007, according to the State Department’s 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism.

One in Five Gitmo Suspects Returns to Terror, Pentagon Finds
(CNSNews.com)
– A Defense Department spokesman told reporters on Wednesday that Pentagon officials are working to declassify a report showing that almost 20 percent of the prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are either confirmed or suspected to have engaged in terrorism again. That’s almost double the recidivism rate reported in December 2008.

Less Than One Percent of ‘Known or Suspected Terrorists’ Were Put on ‘No Fly’ List
(CNSNews.com)
– As of one month ago, less than one percent of the people designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by the U.S. government had been put on the “No Fly” list that the Department of Homeland Security uses to screen air travelers, according to data provided to the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Dec. 9.

Man in Charge of Analyzing Terror-Threat Info Did Not Interrupt Ski Vacation After Attempted Airplane Bombing, Report Says
(CNSNews.com)
– President Barack Obama did not interrupt his Hawaiian vacation when a Nigerian man tried to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner over Michigan on Christmas Day, and neither did Michael Leiter, the director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center. Leiter — appointed by President George W. Bush — was mentioned Thursday on cable TV outlets as someone who eventually may be fired as a result of the major security breach.

Ray Stevens’ Song ‘We the People’ Becoming Anthem of Tea Party Movement
(CNSNews.com)
– Grammy Award-winning music artist Ray Stevens has recorded a song that is fast becoming the anthem of the Tea Party Movement.
“We the People” is about Obamacare and the health-care reform bills that have passed both houses of Congress.

Brit Hume: Media Backlash Over His Remarks to Tiger Woods About Christianity Reflects ‘A Double Standard’
(CNSNews.com)
– Fox News analyst Brit Hume said he was “not surprised” by the media backlash over his remark that Tiger Woods look to Christianity for help in redeeming his personal life. Hume says there is a “double-standard” when it comes to speaking publicly about Christianity versus other religions.

Obama appoints transgendered LGBT activist
President Obama has named Amanda Simpson to a post in the Commerce Department, making Simpson perhaps the first-ever transgender appointment in a U.S. presidential administration.

Jesus Christ – ‘two most explosive words,’ says Hume
Fox News analyst Brit Hume says he doesn’t regret urging Tiger Woods to become a Christian so the golfer can find forgiveness for marital infidelity.

Perspective: Sarah Palin – Wrong prescription for America?
The former GOP VP candidate isn’t smart enough to be president, you say? Not articulate enough? Has poor judgment? Don’t get me started…

‘Wrecking ball’ wrong approach to reform
The president of a non-partisan seniors’ advocacy group says two U.S. senators who decided not to seek re-election are the first victims of a senior citizen tsunami.

War on terror primarily a ‘war against young Muslim men’
Terrorism expert Robert Spencer disagrees with the premise of a newly released U.S. government study on homegrown terrorism that contends extremism is contrary to the true teachings of Islam.

Obama Administration Underestimated the Immediate Threat Posed by ‘Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’
(CNSNews.com)
– President Obama and his White House counterterrorism adviser on Thursday accepted responsibility for attempted terror attack on Christmas Day that could have knocked an airliner out of the sky over Michigan. “We didn’t know [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] had progressed to the point of actually launching individuals here,” John Brennan said Thursday. “We knew that they sought to strike the United States and that they were recruiting operatives to do so,” Obama said.

Obama Declares America ‘At War’ with Al Qaeda, Offers New Security Initiatives
(CNSNews.com)
– President Barack Obama is directing all intelligence to be “distributed more rapidly and more widely” among federal agencies; he wants greater integration of intelligence analysis; and he’s order security agencies to immediately add more people to the terrorism watch list, specifically the “no fly” list.

More Independents Choosing ‘Conservative’ in Obama’s First Year, Survey Says
(CNSNews.com)
– According to a compilation of all Gallup political identification surveys from 2009, 40 percent of Americans identified themselves as conservatives, more than the 36 percent who answered moderate and far more than the 21 percent who answered liberal. The percentage of American Independents who identified as conservatives – 35 percent – increased at the fastest rate in 10 years between 2008 and 2009.

Catholic Bishops Launch New Push for Immigration Reform, Pathway to Citizenship
(CNSNews.com)
– The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is launching a new push to get immigration-reform legislation enacted in 2010. The group backs a Democrat-sponsored bill that grants a pathway to citizenship for people who came to this country illegally.

Pelosi ‘crazy,’ ‘very confused’ on church teachings
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent interview with Newsweek Magazine is creating a stir in the pro-life community.

Children best served by mom’s lesbian relationship?
An official with the Illinois Family Institute says it’s outrageous that a judge has permitted a mother to take her children from their dad in order to move in with her lesbian partner.

‘Obama Doctrine’ detrimental to U.S.
National defense analyst Frank Gaffney agrees with the assessment of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that Americans are less safe than they were a year ago when Barack Obama took office.

Perspective: To profile or not to profile
Observing strange behavior is a legitimate and needed part of law enforcement and airline security. It is not “profiling.”

U.S. missionary’s NK incursion: Publicity stunt?
An advocate for persecuted Christians calls U.S. missionary Robert Park’s incursion into North Korea on Christmas Eve a “publicity stunt” that’s likely to do more harm than good.

N.J. Senate Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Bill

World Vision: Anti-Gay Bill Could Undermine HIV/AIDS Work

Egyptian Police Arrest Suspects in Drive-By Church Shooting

Tetrapod Footprint Discovery Busts Evolutionary Paradigm, Says Biochemist

Christian Retailers Target Mega-Retailers in Federal Probe

California gay marriage opponent fears for his life
An outspoken gay marriage opponent serving as an official litigant defending the state’s ban on same-sex weddings on Friday asked a judge to remove him from the lawsuit because he feared the trial would generate publicity that could endanger him and his family.

Pro-life group scrutinizing Catholic charity
American Life League is challenging the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Churches attacked amid ‘Allah’ dispute
Malaysian officials say attackers have fire-bombed one church and tried to set another ablaze amid a growing conflict over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.

Fellowship trains to fight slavery
The Polaris Project is bringing the next generation into the anti-slavery and anti-trafficking movement.

U.S. missionary’s NK incursion: Publicity stunt?
An advocate for persecuted Christians calls U.S. missionary Robert Park’s incursion into North Korea on Christmas Eve a “publicity stunt” that’s likely to do more harm than good.

 

This is the year!

January 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Well, it’s about that time. The Christmas season is over and the ball has dropped to signify another year has begun. Aside from the annual commercials selling every type of weight loss machine, drink, and diet plan imaginable, there is one more thing that should be happening right about now. This time of year should also bring the beginning of all of the “prophetic words” from the numerous “pastors” and “preachers” that talk about how this is the year for ________ (insert the new, popular word/term for financial prosperity here…). This is the year of blessing, wealth, prosperity, health, overflow, abundance, and/or fullness. This is the year when that peace/love/hope/power/healing/miracle/joy you’ve been waiting for is going to happen! If you will send these men and women your seed/offering/gift in faith and believe that what they are telling you is true, oops sorry, I mean believe in faith, then you will know greater power/glory/honor/fame/money/prestige/happiness/joy/love/peace/prosperity/your best life now. All that for your best “faith seed”! Seems like a pretty good deal doesn’t it?

If it wasn’t so heretical, it would actually be kind of fun. Like biblical Mad Libs… Continue Reading This is the year!…

Looking ahead?

December 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Ok…Christmas is over and things are starting to settle down. It’ll be another week or so before the credit card bills become a priority and you’ve still got a couple of days before the big New Year’s celebration. What do most people do during this time? They begin to look ahead. For the next month or so, you’ll see ad after ad telling you that they have the very thing that you’re looking for to make the new year go your way. Wanna lose weight? There will be a dozen different new weight loss machines on the market before you can say “couch potato”. Want to better your finances? There are programs and companies that want to help you get you money woes under control (including the huge debt you just built up). Want to see your marriage change? There are books, CDs, and counselors waiting for you to pick them up, pop them in, or give them a call so that they can spend the next 30 days getting your relationship in the best shape its ever been. And, once you choose which of the myriad new eye dazzlers will garner your attention, you can spend a little time plotting your course with fervor and determination because you know that this is your year.

I can’t help but wonder if all of this is really necessary? What are the real motives behind much of this New Year’s barrage? Seems like it’s just one more way for someone to try and make money. Do the methods work? I’m sure for some people they do, but is it “sure-fire” for everyone like the ad copy says? I doubt it. I also can’t help but wonder if ahead is the direction that we need to pour all of this effort (even though it’s really only a few days). Looking over scripture, I see something different and I hope that it helps balance all of the new fad hype. Continue Reading Looking ahead?…

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