Month: August 2013

A Matter Of Perspective

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It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that most notably stated, “all progress is precarious and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” I had never contemplated my personal success as precarious progress, or that my success to this point could bring any non-materialistic problems, but I now find myself, like many of my fellow successful, young, black men, in a moment of crisis

The exact contours of my story do not parallel every young successful black male’s life, for some their path diverged in high school or college, for others they did not feel like an anomaly until they took their first job after school, and still for some the crisis has yet to make itself apparent. By way of example, I have several black male friends who recently graduated from law school and are trying to figure out what their impact will be with their newly attained degree. At the same time, I have black male colleagues who work at major Wall Street firms and are now trying to figure out where they should be spending their time and energy. Yet, despite the differences, the common threads of educational attainment, exceptionalism, and ambition are apparent. And now many of us have realized that we are in a metaphorical no-man’s land, where no one can guide us or point the way.

 

We are now forced to make it up as we go along and for many of us this is a nerve-wracking reality. Up to this point, we simply did the next logical thing, graduated from high school, went to college, took a career-oriented job track where we would be an associate for a few years before trying to move up, or went to professional school where we would pass the requisite exams and enter our professional careers. But now that we are here, where there is no next logical step, simply a vast number of opportunities, many of us find ourselves trying to answer the larger questions of life, like what I am supposed to do while I am alive, in order to gain a sense of direction.

I am sure that everyone who continues to be ambitious and pursue ever far-fetched goals eventually comes to the place that I just described. So, what makes it a crisis for young, successful black men, but simply a part of life for some others? The short answer is that it is a crisis because there are so few examples of high levels of success from which black men can mold a path.

Over the last 200 years of American history, there has been one African-American male President, one African-American male Attorney General, one African-American male Secretary of State, and two African-American male Supreme Court Justices. There is currently one African-American male governor, there have only been four in American History. Five (0.83%) of the Fortune 500 CEOs are African-American men. Approximately 1% of all law firm partners are African-American men. There has been one African-American male Surgeon General in American history. And fewer than six percent of all high-ranking military officers are African-American.

All of these statistics are an attempt to paint the picture that these laudable successes reinforce the crisis. The rarity of these accomplishments sends the message to similarly aspiring black men that getting into these positions comes with no guidebook, nor general path. Some might suggest that for many of the positions I cited there is no general path for anyone because so few people ever rise to those levels of success. However, this critique misses the point. For each position I named, there is a more or less common route, but those routes have not applied to African-American men who attained those positions.

I want to switch the tone from my perspective to a spiritual perspective to gaze into the scriptures to see how God views using peoples perspective verses His.

Exodus 14:1-14

The Message (MSG)
The Story and Song of Salvation

14 1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon.

3-4 “Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.’ Then I’ll make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn again and he’ll chase after them. And I’ll use Pharaoh and his army to put my Glory on display. Then the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”

And that’s what happened.

5-7 When the king of Egypt was told that the people were gone, he and his servants changed their minds. They said, “What have we done, letting Israel, our slave labor, go free?” So he had his chariots harnessed up and got his army together. He took six hundred of his best chariots, with the rest of the Egyptian chariots and their drivers coming along.

8-9 God made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, determined to chase the Israelites as they walked out on him without even looking back. The Egyptians gave chase and caught up with them where they had made camp by the sea—all Pharaoh’s horse-drawn chariots and their riders, all his foot soldiers there at Pi Hahiroth opposite Baal Zephon.

10-12 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them!

They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”

13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.

14 God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!”

Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Whether that question is posed during a business meeting, a church council, or a family discussion, it often springs from a sense of exasperation in trying to comprehend why someone has acted in a certain way. More often than not, the answer is a matter of perspective.

If we had been among the Israelites leaving Egypt after four hundred years of slavery, we would likely have seen Pharaoh as part of the problem–and he was. yet God saw something more. Inexplicably, the Lord told Moses to take the people back towards Egypt and camp with their backs to the Red Sea so Pharaoh would attack them. The Israelites thought they were going to die, but God said that He would gain glory and honor for Himself through Pharaoh and all his army, “and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord”.

When we simply cannot understand why God allows circumstances that threaten to overwhelm us, it’s good to remember that He has our good and His glory in mind. If we can say, “Father, please enable me to trust and honor you in this situation”, then we will be in concert with His perspective and plan.

Your words of pure, eternal truth
Shall yet unshaken stay,
When all that man has thought or planned,
Like chaff shall pass away.

Faith helps us accept what we cannot understand……

Visualization!!!!!!

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When I watched this movie I could relate to everything Pi was experiencing because I too was raised in a home of multi cultural beliefs. I use to ponder as a child why I had to sale bean pies and pray so many times a day facing the east. I use to ask my dad why we couldn’t use Afro Sheen products as our friends. I would have to attend bible study and prayer meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and then on Thursday go to the mosque and perform neighborhood watch detail and sale the final call newspapers. I would have to pray with my mom and still maintain the strict disciplines of Islam.

I remember asking the Pastor of my mom’s church, which was the church of God and Christ why is there so much confusion associated with God and religion? He said to me that God will reveal Himself and the path in which He has planned for all of His called children. I never understood any of it. I just wanted to get out of that house and find my way on my own. Once I was excepted into the navy and had chose the University I wanted to attend I began to feel God’s presence for myself and things began to unfold. I had my own visions and they weren’t forced upon me.


What happened to me after graduation from Syracuse was not viewed by me as God being cruel, but quite the contrary. I saw it as God being intimately acquainted with the process of developing my life. I maintained my thoughts and vision for my life without any outside influences. I endured racism and hardships while at Syracuse. I experienced all sought of attacks on my ethnicity in the navy. I prayed to the only God that was calling me towards Him and that God’s name is Jesus. He used every circumstance to mold me for the tragedies that waited for me in Libya and Kuwait and Desert Storm. He knew what Iran was going to be like for me. This movie The Life of Pi spoke volumes to my inner man about survival of having faith and finding your way to God with vision and that is my opinion.

Ecclesiastes 7:25-29

The Message (MSG)

How to Interpret the Meaning of Life

23-25 I tested everything in my search for wisdom. I set out to be wise, but it was beyond me, far beyond me, and deep—oh so deep! Does anyone ever find it? I concentrated with all my might, studying and exploring and seeking wisdom—the meaning of life. I also wanted to identify evil and stupidity, foolishness and craziness.

26-29 One discovery: A woman can be a bitter pill to swallow, full of seductive scheming and grasping. The lucky escape her; the undiscerning get caught. At least this is my experience—what I, the Quester, have pieced together as I’ve tried to make sense of life. But the wisdom I’ve looked for I haven’t found. I didn’t find one man or woman in a thousand worth my while. Yet I did spot one ray of light in this murk: God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.
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Major James Nesmeth, and average weekend golfer shooting in the mid-to-low-nineties, dreamed of improving his golf game. But for seven years, he never touched a club nor set foot on a fairway. During those years, however, he developed an amazingly effective technique for improving his game. The first time he returned to a course, he shot an astonishing seventy-four! He had cut twenty strokes off his average.

What was his secret? Visualization. For seven years, Major Nesmeth was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. He was imprisoned in a cage 4 1/2 feet high and 5 feet long. Most of those years, he saw no one, talked to no one, and had no physical activity. He knew he had to find some way to occupy his mind, or he would lose his sanity, so he played eighteen holes at the imaginary country club of his dreams. He imagined every detail… every shot. And not once did he miss a shot or putt. Seven days a week, four hours a day, he played eighteen holes in his mind.

Your dreams for the future will be much more likely to come true if you visualize your goals and imagine reaching them. you will be training your mind to produce successful thoughts and ideas. On the clarity of your ideas depends the scope of your success in any endeavor. What goals do I have that would benefit from visualizing success be? I will share that with you. I have been on house arrest for 355 days and my wife and I have had to use visualization coupled with faith to get to this point of our trek. We have found our God to be incredible. We lost everything we had acquired before this debacle. We have been sustained by God all the way through this time of uncertainty. We visualized a bill for felon reformation, we visualized us being able to worship and go to church while serving our time of captivity, we visualized my wife making the Dean’s list while being allowed to continue her education, we visualized restoration of having a car to get to our appointments and to do the work of the Lord. We have visualized getting a LLC business to employ those suffering from the effects of having a felony arrest of their record.

All things begin with your thoughts. When the thoughts are distorted your future will be distorted. Leave your fears beside the road and hit your knees with brokenness and confess all you need is the Lord to speak to you about your plight and He is faithful to do what He said.

Manifested to Destroy the Works of the Devil!

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1 John 3:8 (KJV) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus did not come to break the stronghold that the devil had on the human race, but to destroy the works of the devil. Something broken can be put back together, however, when something is destroyed it can never be put back together. Jesus came to set us free from the power of the enemy, the devil. John 8:32 (KJV) And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:36 (KJV) If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

I. What did Jesus come to destroy? First, the power of sin.
A. He laid down His Life, shedding His blood to destroy the power of sin in our lives. Hebrews 9:22 (KJV) And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
B. John 8:36 (KJV) If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

II. Destroy sickness with His ministry and life. He paid the price.

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A. 1 Peter 2:24 (KJV) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
B. Sickness comes from the devil, cancer etc.
1. I believe that every evil thing comes from the devil and the curse.
2. Every good thing comes from God. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
3. Divine healing comes from God and is good with the price paid in full by the stripes of Jesus.
4. However, many times we open the door to sickness by not taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is every born again believer.
(1 Cor 6:19 KJV) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

III. Destroy poverty. (2 Cor 8:9 KJV) For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
A. God does expect you and I all to be millionaires, but He does want to meet all our needs. Philippians 4:19 (KJV) But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
B. God’s plan though is for us to put Him first. Matthew 6:33 (KJV) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
C. His Will seems to be the same for us. 3 John 1:2 (KJV) Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

IV. From all fear. Jesus came to destroy fear and through His Word give us faith
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
A. We need not fear anything from the devil.
1. We are not to fear demon power.
2. Witchcraft. Black magic and all the black arts.
a. We also should avoid these things and live and walk in the Spirit and Word.
3. Nor any of the evil crafts. Why not! 1 John 4:4 (KJV) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

V. Destroy the devil.
When Robinson Crusoe’s good man Friday asked him, “Why doesn’t God destroy the devil?” Robinson Crusoe gave him the right answer, the only answer, the great answer. He said, “God will destroy him.”
(Rev 20:10 KJV) And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
(Rev 20:14 KJV) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
(Rev 20:15 KJV) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
A. Let us open our hearts to all God has for us. Do not give any place to the enemy and be filled with he Holy Spirit.

We can rejoice and praise the Lord for all He has done through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!

FBI Agent Claims Anonymous hacking Group Is On Lockdown & Water Where Is It?

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FBI officials are claiming to have all but shut down hacker collective Anonymous, citing arrests of key players within the collective as a major deterrent.

Assistant Special Agent Austin P. Berglas works in the FBI’s cyber division and told Huffington Post on Wednesday that the arrests last year of five hackers belonging to splinter group Lulz Security had a “huge deterrent effect” on the collective.

“The movement is still there, and they’re still yacking on Twitter and posting things, but you don’t hear about these guys coming forward with those large breaches,” Berglas told the Post. “It’s just not happening, and that’s because of the dismantlement of the largest players.”

And yet on Thursday, Anonymous suggested—they just don’t claim responsibility like they used to—that they attempted to disrupt British government websites to protest treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The British say the group didn’t get far in its attempt, Reuters reported. Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and British officials vow to arrest him if he emerges.

Experts say there’s no doubt the arrests had an effect, but Anonymous is still very active.

“They could easily emerge again as a force to contend with,” McGill University professor Gabriella Coleman told the Huffington Post.

LulzSec, as the group is known, made headlines when they claimed responsibility for hacking the web sites for PBS News Hour, the Fox reality show The X Factor, Sony Pictures and others.

The group posted a phony news story on the venerable Public Broadcasting Station’s news show’s site about famously dead rapper Tupac Shakur still being alive and living in New Zealand.

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God is not to be mocked nor is He playing with the Stewarts of all this creation. Take a good look at what is taking place all around us with this groaning atmosphere and world.

From its source high in the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River channels water south nearly 1,500 miles, over falls, through deserts and canyons, to the lush wetlands of a vast delta in Mexico and into the Gulf of California.

That is, it did so for six million years.

Then, beginning in the 1920s, Western states began divvying up the Colorado’s water, building dams and diverting the flow hundreds of miles, to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and other fast-growing cities. The river now serves 30 million people in seven U.S. states and Mexico, with 70 percent or more of its water siphoned off to irrigate 3.5 million acres of cropland.

The damming and diverting of the Colorado, the nation’s seventh-longest river, may be seen by some as a triumph of engineering and by others as a crime against nature, but there are ominous new twists. The river has been running especially low for the past decade, as drought has gripped the Southwest. It still tumbles through the Grand Canyon, much to the delight of rafters and other visitors. And boaters still roar across Nevada and Arizona’s Lake Mead, 110 miles long and formed by the Hoover Dam. But at the lake’s edge they can see lines in the rock walls, distinct as bathtub rings, showing the water level far lower than it once was—some 130 feet lower, as it happens, since 2000. Water resource officials say some of the reservoirs fed by the river will never be full again.

Climate change will likely decrease the river’s flow by 5 to 20 percent in the next 40 years, says geoscientist Brad Udall, director of the University of Colorado Western Water Assessment. Less precipitation in the Rocky Mountains will yield less water to begin with. Droughts will last longer. Higher overall air temperatures will mean more water lost to evaporation. “You’re going to see earlier runoff and lower flows later in the year,” so water will be more scarce during the growing season, says Udall.

Other regions—the Mediterranean, southern Africa, parts of South America and Asia—also face fresh-water shortages, perhaps outright crises. In the Andes Mountains of South America, glaciers are melting so quickly that millions of people in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador are expected to lose a major source of fresh water by 2020. In southwestern Australia, which is in the midst of its worst drought in 750 years, fresh water is so scarce the city of Perth is building plants to remove the salt from seawater. More than one billion people around the world now live in water-stressed regions, according to the World Health Organization, a number that is expected to double by 2050, when an estimated nine billion people will inhabit the planet.

“There’s not enough fresh water to handle nine billion people at current consumption levels,” says Patricia Mulroy, a board member of the Colorado-based Water Research Foundation, which promotes the development of safe, affordable drinking water worldwide. People need a “fundamental, cultural attitude change about water supply in the Southwest,” she adds. “It’s not abundant, it’s not reliable, it’s not going to always be there.”

Mulroy is also general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which serves two million people in greater Las Vegas. The city is one of the largest in the Colorado River basin, but its share of the river is relatively small; when officials allocated the Colorado’s water to different states in 1922, no one expected so many people to be living in the Nevada desert. So Nevadans have gotten used to coping with limitations. They can’t water their yards or wash their cars whenever they like; communities follow strict watering schedules. The water authority pays homeowners to replace water-gulping lawns with rocks and drought-tolerant plants. Golf courses adhere to water restrictions. Almost all wastewater is reused or returned to the Colorado River.

In 1922, conservationist Aldo Leopold paddled a canoe through the great delta at the mouth of the Colorado River. He wrote about a “wealth of fowl and fish” and “still waters…of a deep emerald hue.” In Leopold’s time, the delta stretched over nearly 3,000 square miles; today, it covers fewer than 250, and the only water flowing through it, except after heavy rains, is the runoff from alfalfa, lettuce and melon fields and pecan orchards.

The river has become a perfect symbol of what happens when we ask too much of a limited resource: it disappears. In fact, the Colorado no longer regularly reaches the sea.

Invasive plants, such as salt cedar and cattails, now dominate the delta, a landscape of seemingly endless mud flats where forests used to stand. And in the Gulf of California itself, shellfish, shrimp and waterfowl have declined dramatically as fresh water has dried up.

Peter McBride has spent two years photographing the great river, paddling a kayak through its headwaters, flying in small planes over cities and fields, rafting through the Grand Canyon and using his own two feet to traverse the delta. In his career, McBride, who lives near Basalt, Colorado, has taken pictures in 50 nations on six continents for magazines, books and films, but he relished the chance to turn his camera on the river that fed his childhood home, a Colorado cattle ranch. “I never knew much about where the river went and where it ended,” he says. In his work, McBride depicts not only the extraordinary scale of the human impact on the river but also the considerable beauty that remains.

McBride knew the delta was suffering, but he was surprised when he visited it for the first time. “I spent two weeks walking the most parched, barren earth you can imagine,” he recalls. “It’s sad to see the mighty Colorado River come to a dribble and end some 50 miles north of the sea.”

A Collage Of Events 50 Years later!!!

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Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) returned to the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday to issue a new call for civil rights legislation, 50 years after spoke as a 23-year-old at the March on Washington.

“Fifty years ago, I stood right here in this spot,” Lewis told the thousands who gathered on the Mall to commemorate the March. “Twenty-three years old, had all of my hair and a few pounds lighter.”

“Those days, for the most part, are gone, but we have another fight,” Lewis said. “There are forces who want to take us back. But we can’t go back.”

The veteran House Democrat called out the Supreme Court decision in June to invalidate a key part of the Voting Rights Act.

“I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us,” Lewis said. He urged the crowd to “make some noise” and “get in the way” to protect universal access to the polls.

“The vote is precious,” he said. “It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in our democracy, and we have to use it.”

Lewis was 23 when he spoke at the March in 1963. A year-and-a-half later, he was beaten by police in Alabama as he led civil rights demonstrators across the bridge in Selma.

He spoke on Saturday alongside other senior Democrats, black leaders, union officials and others at one of several commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.


A group of African-American activists, community leaders and college professors are calling for the boycott of Koch Industries as a way to honor slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin, pushing for continued dialogue on race relations nationwide.

While speaking at an event titled “From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin: A Town Hall Meeting on Black Bodies and American Racism” at Washington, D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theater, a panel of prominent African-Americans gathered to examine ways to combat the racism that they say led to George Zimmerman’s acquittal last month. When asked about the failed boycotts of places like Disney World in Orlando, Fla., one panelist revealed her efforts to combat the proponents of “Stand Your Ground” laws.

“We’re asking people not to buy from that company that created those ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws,” said the Rev. Carolyn Boyd, an adjunct pastor at Plymouth Congregation United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. ”Y’all know that company with those people, the Kochs. Paper towels and all those products that we buy — Walmart — all the time, that make those people rich and make us poor.”

The pastor directed the audience to stop purchasing things like Angel Soft toilet paper, Brawny paper towels and Vanity Fair napkins — all subsidiaries of Koch Industries — in an initiative called “No-Buy Fridays.”

“…We begin to elevate our power to say, ‘No, I’m not buying your products because you’re harming the black community,’” Boyd said.

The town hall, sponsored by Rock the Vote, among other organizations, addressed concerns from members of the African-American community and featured a panel of six speakers: Boyd, Louisa Davis, Jessica Frances Dukes, Dr. Dennis Rogers, Dawn Ursula and Gabriel Rojo. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) was also in attendance for a brief period of time.

The group acted to facilitate a dialogue on the actions of Zimmerman — the 29-year-old Hispanic man who shot and killed Martin, an African-American — and called Martin’s death the catalyst for a “renewed civil rights movement.”

“To me, it’s a continuation of a tough conversation … that puts more to our argument that there can never be justice on stolen land,” said Rogers, an assistant professor of political science at Bowie State University.

While many on the panel believed Zimmerman killed Martin because of his race, others saw it as a failure of the justice system, faulting the jury’s inability to see past Martin’s black skin and Zimmerman’s white complexion. The six-person jury consisted of five white women and one Hispanic woman.

“Emmett Till was a young prince who broke our hearts years ago, but now, I guess what I want to say is I don’t want to blame George Zimmerman,” said Davis, an adjunct professor at Montgomery College. “I want us to look at the system that let him free and not make it personal … It’s the propagation of fear and we have to take our legal system back from fear.”

Following Zimmerman’s acquittal, many African-Americans took to the streets of major metro political cities nationwide in protest. The Rev. Al Sharpton called on the Department of Justice to bring up civil rights charges against Zimmerman. And even President Obama spoke about his disappointment surrounding the not guilty verdict, saying Martin could have been him.

Still, many remain standing in solidarity with Martin. Earlier this month, Ebony magazine unveiled four tribute covers to the Florida teen, one featuring Martin’s family and three featuring well known African-American men and their sons and the words “We Are Trayvon.” Additionally, Oprah Winfrey spoke openly about the case with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon, saying Martin paralleled Till.
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First Lady Michelle Obama has invited Common who called for the burning of George Bush to perform at the White House.

Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr, who uses the stage name ‘Common’, will be welcomed at an event celebrating American poetry on Wednesday.

He is expected to take part in rap workshops with schoolchildren in the afternoon before performing in the evening.

In footage on YouTube he is seen calling for the burning of the former president.

‘Burn a Bush cos for peace he no push no button,’ the hip-hop artist raps in one video, which has more than 800,000 views. Other song lyrics reportedly include threats to shoot the police.

The controversial rapper hails from President Obama’s hometown Chicago and has also rapped about the former Illinois senator.

The 39-year-old featured in a video called ‘Yes We Can’, which was made in support of Mr Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign.

‘Common’, who is a vegan, has won two Grammy awards for his music and has worked with artists including Kanye West.

President Obama and his wife Michelle will host the gathering of poets, musicians and artists at the White House on Wednesday night.

Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann and Jill Scott will also perform.

The White House said the readings and performances will highlight poetry’s influence on American culture.

In 2009, Mrs. Obama inaugurated a White House music series that has celebrated jazz, country, classical, Motown and Latin music.

I wish it was God’s will for me and my wife to have been in attendance for this march and to celebrate with some good old Go! Go! music and Bar B.Q. woo!!! I miss home. I still have fun with Jesus by my side without drugs and alcohol.

My Thorns Have Become My Praise!!!

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I have received full payment and even more. (Philippians 4:18)

It is now T-15 days and counting until my wife and I are able to hit the ground running for Jesus. We have suffered greatly in our inner persons while serving our house arrest time, but we have also been blessed tremendously by God in study and increase of knowledge.

In one of my wife’s gardening books there is a chapter with a very interesting title: “Flowers That Grow in the Shade.” It deals with those areas of a garden that never catch direct sunlight, and it list the kinds of flowers that not only grow in the dark corners but actually seem to like them and to flourish in them.

There are similarities here to the spiritual world. There are Christians who seem to blossom when their material circumstances become the most harsh and severe. My wife and I lost everything fighting this case we have now served 350 days out of 365. We have faced sheer destitution and couldn’t rely on our own strength to provide. Like these flowers we have grown in the darkness of uncertainty and shade. If this were not true, how could we otherwise explain some of the experiences of the apostle Paul?

When he wrote the above verse, he was a prisoner in Rome. The primary mission of his life appeared to have been broken. But it was in this persistent darkness that flowers began to show their faces in bright and fascinating glory. Paul may have seen them before, growing along the open road, but certainly never in the incomparable strength and beauty in which they now appeared. And words of promise opened their treasures to him in ways he had never before experienced.

Among those treasures were such wonderful things as Christ’s grace, love, joy, and peace, and it seemed as though they had needed the circumstance of darkness to draw out their secret and inner glory. The dark and dingy prison had become the home of the revealed truth of God, and Paul began to realize as never before the width and the wealth of his spiritual inheritance.

Haven’t we all known men and women who begin to wear strength and hopefulness like a regal robe as soon as they must endure a season of darkness and solitude? People like that may be put in prison by the world, but their treasure will be locked away with them, for true treasure cannot be locked out of their lives. Their material condition may look like a desert, but “the desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom”(Isaiah 35:1)

Every flower, even the most beautiful, has its own shadow beneath it as it bask in the sunlight. Where there is much light, I’ve learned there is also much shade.

An Obstacle Inventory

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2 Corinthians 6:3-10

The Message (MSG)

Staying at Our Post

6 1-10 Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

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Romans 14:13

The Message (MSG)

13-14 Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

Faultfinding is a popular pastime, and unfortunately a lot of us find it’s easy to join the fun. Concentrating on the warts of others is a great way to feel better about ourselves. And that’s just the problem. Avoiding the faults that need to be fixed in our own lives not only stunts our spiritual growth but also obstructs God’s work through us.

God’s effectiveness through our lives is enhanced or hindered by the way we live. It’s no wonder, then, that Paul made a concerted effort to ” put no obstacle in anyone’s way”. For him there was nothing more important than his usefulness for Christ in the lives of others. Anything that got in the way of that was dispensable.

If you want to be authentic and useful for God, take an obstacle inventory. Sometimes obstacles are things that in and of themselves may be legitimate, yet in certain contexts maybe inappropriate. But sin is clearly obstructive to others. Gossip, slander, boasting, bitterness, greed, abuse, anger, selfishness, and revenge all close the hearts of those around us to the message of God through us.

So, replace your faults with the winsome ways of Jesus. That will enable others to see your “no fault” Savior more clearly. Wherever I am, whatever I do, O God, please help me to live In a way that makes me credible as your representative.

Followers of Jesus are most effective when attitudes and actions are aligned with His….

Voter’s Rights, Disenfranchisement, Racism, Disguised Hatred, Legal Hatred!!!

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Now comes the far-flung fallout from a Supreme Court decision in June blowing up a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday against a Texas voter identification law seems certain to be followed by a similar suit against one in North Carolina. Other states, too, could face federal legal challenges over their actions in the wake of the high court’s decision.

Congress, if it’s up to the task, could also get messy trying to partially restore the guts of the landmark 1965 law.

The fights to come will span many fronts, including several of the 33 states that have passed voter identification laws. The separate conflicts, moreover, will inevitably cross-pollinate. One key lawmaker, tellingly, believes the federal action in Texas will “make it much more difficult” to get Voting Rights Act revisions through an already divided Congress.

And, as in any global conflict, strategic thinking could pay dividends.

“I’m sure the Department of Justice will pick its spots carefully,” election law expert Daniel P. Tokaji, a professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, said in an interview Friday. “These aren’t easy cases.”

Beyond the legal debate, however, the controversy has political ramifications, as well.

In the Justice Department’s 15-page lawsuit targeting the Texas voter ID law, signed by Houston-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel D. Hu, the department deployed arguments potentially applicable against other states, as well. The Texas law, Hu wrote, would “deny equal opportunities for Hispanic and African-American voters to participate in the political process, resulting in a denial of the right to vote.”

The Texas law requires voters to present a government-issued photo identification; student IDs, for instance, no longer count. Critics say this effectively shuts out many, particularly the poor and minorities, who may have to travel a great distance to the Texas state offices that issue the identification cards.

Responding in turn, Texas officials, likewise, foreshadow a common state defense.

“Voter IDs have nothing to do with race,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott stated. “The Obama administration continues to ignore the 10th Amendment and repeated Supreme Court decisions upholding states’ authority to enforce voter identification and redistricting laws.”

The 10th Amendment declares that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution . . . are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” These state powers include “the power to regulate elections,” the Supreme Court has concluded.

Thirty-three states have passed various kinds of voter identification laws, and state legislators keep tinkering. Most recently, on Aug. 12, North Carolina’s governor signed an elections package that includes strict new voter ID requirements, as well as other changes that could make it harder to vote.

“While some will try to make this seem to be controversial, the simple reality is that requiring voters to provide a photo ID when they vote is a commonsense idea,” Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said on signing the North Carolina measure.

Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas, among other states recently freed from strict Justice Department control, have their own strict voter ID measures that could raise federal hackles, as well.

The coming conflicts reflect, in part, the decades-old tension between state and federal powers. Texas Gov. Rick Perry hit this nail on the head when he complained that the Justice Department seeks to “obstruct the will of the people of Texas.” The coming conflicts reflect, as well, political motives that are cast in dramatically different lights.

The stricter laws described by Republicans as a way to protect voting integrity are described by skeptics as an attempt to suppress minority voters who are predominantly Democrats. In turn, the Justice Department legal actions described by Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday as an effort to “prevent voter disenfranchisement” were recast by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn as a blatant attempt to “turn our state blue.”

The Supreme Court set everything in motion June 25, in a case called Shelby County v. Holder, in which the Alabama county south of Birmingham sued Holder over the constitutionality of parts of the Voting Rights Act.

The court’s 5-4 decision struck down the “coverage formula” section that determines which states and local jurisdictions require prior Justice Department approval before making electoral changes, from redrawing political boundaries to setting voting requirements. This is called preclearance.

Nine states had to submit to preclearance under the coverage formula struck down by the court: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Selected jurisdictions in seven states were also covered by the old formula, including parts of California, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and South Dakota.

“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote.

Until Congress rewrites the law, the court’s decision effectively frees states from needing prior approvals. One result, Tokaji predicted, is “there will be a great effort on the part of some states to impose new barriers to voting.”

That could change. As Roberts noted, “Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions.” The key word is “may.”

Some want Congress to wade in. The California state Senate on Thursday passed a resolution urging Congress to replace the missing preclearance coverage formula; the absence of which, Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco said, “has already made voting more burdensome and less accessible throughout the country.”

The legislative task, though, was tough enough even before the Justice Department acted. Now, some caution it could be impossible.

Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a key author of the last Voting Rights Act revisions, warned Holder this week that his lawsuits would exacerbate partisan tensions and undermine coalition-building in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

“The lawsuit would make it much more difficult to pass a bipartisan fix to restore the heart of the (Voting Rights Act),” he predicted in a statement.

An alternative view is that Republicans and Democrats alike already have figured out that Congress is unlikely to move voting rights legislation anytime soon. Democrats, then, have nothing to lose and potentially some symbolic and substantive victories to gain in court, while Republicans now have their own reasons to rally.

How Culturally Sound Is America On This Issue?

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Although Gosnell was charged with eight counts of murder, witnesses have testified he murdered over 100 babies over three decades. If true, this would rank Gosnell as one of the top five known serial killers worldwide of the 20th and 21st Centuries by victim count.

But if you only tune in to broadcast t.v. news, you will have never even heard the name “Gosnell.” According to an April 4 open letter demanding coverage of the Gosnell trial from 20 conservative leaders:

Since the Gosnell trial began three weeks ago, ABC, CBS, and NBC have given the story ZERO seconds of coverage on either their morning or evening news shows. They have not covered Gosnell once since his arrest in January 2011, and even then, only CBS did so.

Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified “It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” Here is the headline the Associated Press put on a story about his testimony that he saw 100 babies born and then snipped: “Staffer describes chaos at PA abortion clinic.”

The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial and The New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial’s first day. They’ve been silent ever since, despite headline-worthy testimony.

And about that AP story Newsbusters’ Tom Blumer noted something peculiar:

AP has not applied the “abortion” tag to any of its 19 “Big Stories” about Kermit Gosnell.

Thus, anyone who attempts to do a tag search on the AP’s web site looking for uses of “abortion” won’t see anything about Gosnell – but they’ll see all kinds of reports about how mean social conservatives, supposedly backward states, and GOP presidential candidates are trying to curb “reproductive rights.”

If there’s an explanation for this practice other than to deliberately minimize readers’ potential exposure to the horrific practitioners, practices, and procedures in the abortion industry as it really operates, I can’t imagine what it would be.


The verdict is in: the jury found Dr. Kermit Gosnell guilty of first-degree murder – murder of three babies born alive while under his care in a so-called clinic he ran in Philadelphia. Abortionists like Gosnell – and the hypocrites at Planned Parenthood who turned a blind eye to his heinous crimes – are united against the sanctity of life.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday to block a new Alabama law that would force three of the state’s five abortion clinics to shut down. The law, like measures passed in Mississippi and North Dakota that are under challenge, would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Proponents say it will protect patients in emergencies, but the clinics and prominent medical groups call it medically unnecessary and an unconstitutional effort to force the closing of the clinics in Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery, which rely on visiting doctors.

GAO opens investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer money

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office confirmed Thursday it is launching an investigation into how the country’s largest abortion provider spent millions of taxpayer dollars.

Planned Parenthood received more than a half billion dollars in federal funding last year. The GAO’s investigation is in response to a request made by more than 50 members of Congress in February who asked for a detailed report on how money is being used by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers across the country.

Specifically, lawmakers want to know what procedures and services they provided and the number of people who were served and how much it cost.

The GAO’s investigation comes on the heels of a settlement involving a Texas affiliate of the organization, which paid $4.3 million in July to settle allegations of fraud in billing to a health program for the poor. The settlement was $3 million more than what had been announced earlier by the Texas Attorney General.

The charges were they falsified patient records, fabricated records and billed for services not even provided.

$4.3 million is a drop in the bucket. The reason they settled is they knew they’d be found guilty and didn’t want the negative publicity.

But even if none of this happened, this is NOT something that tax-payers should have to foot the bill for. The government should not be using tax-payer dollars to subsidize baby murder.
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Jesus on Current Events

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Luke 13

Repent or Perish

1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?

3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.

7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.

9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

Romans 2

God’s Righteous Judgment

1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a]

Did you hear about the Marine who declared he is a conscientious objector to the war in Iraq and went AWOL? He went to a press conference and said he did not believe in “peace through violence” and went on to blame his recruiter because his recruiter knew about his pacifist beliefs but failed to warn him of the violent nature of his training.

I don’t really want to talk with you about that Marine. I do want to talk about the nature of what I’ve just told you.

We like to have discussions like these. We like to talk about the things people do that don’t click with us. When I asked you if you heard about this “conscientious objector,” what was the real meaning of my question? Was I asking you to an open discussion about the validity of this guy’s actions? No. I’ve made up my mind. When you’re standing around the water cooler at work or out in the yard in the neighborhood and someone asks you if you heard about this thing or that on the news, they are most likely expressing their condemnation or bewilderment over what they’ve heard. Most often, it’s not that we’re looking for some honest dialogue to assess the situation. There is another meaning to our questions.

Most of the time, we bring up the outrageous or strange or fascinating or stupid things people do to shed light on them and take the spotlight off of us. We know the foolish things we do. Even more, we know the foolish things we think. So there is a sense, whether it be consciously or subconsciously, in which we are justifying ourselves by keeping before us and others the more outlandish things that other people do.

Why do people like Rush Limbaugh? Because he tends to say things they agree with. Why are Hollywood gossip columns and magazines so popular? Because the stars have everything in the world but still can’t make a relationship work. Doesn’t that make you feel better? The popularity of talk radio and sports radio and shows like Jerry Springer all point to the fact that we like to keep our eyes and divert everyone else’s attention to the people we think are a little more strange or a little more immoral than we are. It is a poor but popular means of self-justification.

I like the fact that the Holy Spirit saw fit to ensure that Luke was inspired to include the account in chapter 13. Someone in the crowd asked him about events that were happening in the world around him. It allows us to hear from Jesus about current events, tragedies, and evil dictators today.

Think about what questions we would ask him today? Is Operation Iraqi Freedom God’s way of judging Saddam Hussein for his tyranny? A militant Muslim would ask God the same about judgment on the United States. Was September 11 a warning of judgment against the United States, the city of New York, or capitalism? Can we look into the eyes of a camera with any kind of confidence and say, as Jerry Falwell did, “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen?” Can we say that? Is AIDS a plague from God to punish those who practice homosexuality? If so, what’s up with SARS, the new Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome? Does God want to punish the Asian people now?

Let’s make it more personal: “God, who’s right, me or my wife? Did you hear what she said to me? Did you see what he did to me?” Have you ever had that discussion?

When we ask these questions, are we really trying to submit to God’s will and sovereignty, or are we just trying to justify ourselves? Aren’t we just asking God to take sides or at least to condemn the actions of those whose behavior does not meet with our approval?

This all makes me think of all those times that the kids would come anxious to tell me what their brother or sister has done. “Dad, do you know what so-and-so did?” “Dad, you wouldn’t believe what she said to me!” You parents have any experience with this? Sometimes it happens when you’re a pastor too. “Pastor Jim, have you heard what brother so-and-so has been doing?”

I like to just look at my kids and say, “Really! How ‘bout if I beat ‘em? Would that make you feel better? You wanna watch?”

Sometimes I wonder if people would feel better if we bring back the stocks and put ‘em right up here in front of the church. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is cell leader Bob, and he failed to turn in his cell group report this week.” Then everyone else can sit in the church and feel better about themselves, thinking, “Whooooo, I’ve done some bad things but I’d never do that!”

It seems that someone in the crowd was looking for some self-justification when they caught Jesus’ attention in Luke 13:1. “Did you hear about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices?” Jesus saw right through their question. It may have sounded like they wanted to know if he knew about it and what he thought about it. His answer tells me he knew that they were looking for some condemnation—a little something that would divert his attention from their wickedness and on to the wickedness of others. They figured if Jesus would take a side, he would be on theirs.

But Jesus didn’t take a side. Instead, he answered the real meaning of their question. Notice what Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t condemn one side over another. He also didn’t comment on whether or not the tragedies were part of God’s judgment. Instead, he went straight to the heart of their question.

Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them– do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Lk 13:2-5, NIV)

Jesus was saying, “I know what you are trying to get me to say. You want me to condemn those Galileans as though the ones that died were picked out for judgment. You want me to tell you that those people crushed by the tower in Siloam were deserving of their fate. I’m not going to comment on them. Let’s talk about you. Unless you repent, all of you will also perish.”

That was not what they wanted to hear. He turned it around and addressed the real meaning of their question. He may very well have said, “whatever they’ve done will not justify you.”

What does Jesus’ answer say about you? First of all, it says that you are likewise sinful and guilty. You and I can point to all the Saddam Husseins in the world, but it would not make the stain of our sin any smaller. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” So, the truth is, we’re all lawbreakers in the eyes of God. Saddam is a lawbreaker. And likewise, so am I a lawbreaker. In that regard, we are no different. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

Jesus’ answer also points out that we will likewise perish. The original language Luke used here to describe what Jesus said is “you will similarly perish.” Jesus makes a link between death and unrepentance. But does Jesus mean all death is punishment for not repenting? Is all violent deaths like those Galileans and the victims of the tower tragedy the result of punishment? What does Jesus mean when he says we will likewise perish?

Death sometimes comes slowly. Sometimes it sneaks up on us. Death can be cruel, as it was for the Galileans at the hands of Pilate, or it can be tragic, as in the deaths of those who were crushed under the weight of the tower. When Jesus said we will all similarly perish, he was not talking about the manner of death but the finality of it. It is destined for man to die once, and after that to face judgment.

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 2:

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” (Rom 2:1-6, NIV)

Unless we repent, the finality of death will surprise us.

There is also a lesson for triumphant living in Jesus’ answer and in what Paul has written. His answer warns us not to compare ourselves to other people. We can never justify ourselves by comparing. We can only condemn ourselves. If I condemn sin in you, then the sin in me is likewise condemned. Worse yet, when we make ourselves out to be better than others, we show contempt for God’s kindness and love, which was poured out so generously on us in his Son Jesus.

Jesus’ answer seemed to bring condemnation. But like a doctor’s diagnosis opens the door for healing, Jesus turned the question back on them to open the door to his magnificent grace. That is why he immediately told them the parable of the fig tree.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ’For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “’Sir,’ the man replied, ’leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9, NIV)

I want to quickly summarize for you the lessons of grace we learn from the fig tree.

First of all, you were planted in God’s world to bear fruit for him. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8, NIV) We are here to live purposeful lives, showing ourselves to be followers of Christ.

Second, God has endured our barrenness for quite a while. “For three years now,” said the man who planted the tree, “I have not found any fruit.” We can be thankful that God is slow to anger and abounding in love.

Third, we learn that we deserve to be cut down. If we are not bearing the fruit we were created to bear, why should we use up the soil?

It’s at this point that Jesus wanted all who could hear him understand that he has come to offer another chance. “One more year” says the caregiver. “One more chance” says Jesus. We deserve to be cut off, but Jesus pleads before the Father to give us another chance at life. Jesus shed his blood to serve as a plea before the Father for you to be restored. He gives us another chance. Do we deserve that chance? No, we deserve to be cut off. But in his mercy he spares us and by his grace he secures for us another chance.

Which leads me to the fifth lesson from the fig tree. We must bear fruit or die. “Repent or perish.” Jesus said. Bear fruit or die.

But Jesus also teaches us that he will do what it takes to make us fruitful. There are two conditions on this incredible grace, and Jesus takes responsibility for them both. We cooperate with him by our repentance.

The first condition requires that Jesus dig around the roots of our belief. We cannot let Jesus dig around those roots until we lay them down and give him lordship over them all. Whatever beliefs, whatever prejudices, whatever biases we come to him with must become fair game for him to dig up and pull out so he can replace them with a better root system.

The second condition is that we have to allow Jesus to fertilize our soil. Do you understand what that means? Are you ready for this? First of all, it means that we have to be willing for Jesus to surround us with all sorts of poop. It is often in the fires of adversity that God is able to refine us into fruit-bearing followers. If we are anything other than open to God to work through the ugly circumstances surrounding our life, we will never bear fruit.

But the main purpose of fertilizer is to pass on nutrients. If we do not let God feed us through his word, we will never become fruitful for him.

Repentance means turning to Jesus to lay a new foundation of belief by weeding out the old attitudes and allowing his word to shape his worldview in us.

It is very tempting for us to say that the United States is acting as God’s agent for bringing punishment on Iraq. It may be true. But when we put our trust in Jesus Christ, we gave up our right to be American citizens before being citizens of God’s kingdom. Viewing the conflict in Iraq as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven gives us a different perspective than if we view it as an American. How can we apply what Jesus taught in these times?

1. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are no more sinners than any of us.
2. If this war is God’s judgment, then we too are under God’s wrath. Likewise, if September 11 is part of God’s judgment on America, then so are all men subject to God’s wrath.
3. If God uses us to exact punishment or discipline, it does not justify us. God often used kingdoms like Assyria or Babylon to topple the nation of Israel, and then later brought justice on those nations through Israel.
4. If justice is good for Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden (and don’t we all want to see justice done?), then it is good for us too.
5. Our only hope is repentance.
6. God’s response to repentance is grace.

Can you believe after all we’ve seen—after coming to the unfortunate conclusion that you and I are no better than Saddam Hussein—Jesus still pleads with the Father for another chance? Another chance to become one of his followers. Another chance to show ourselves faithful. Another chance to be reconciled to the One who created us and planted us in this world with a purpose. Another chance to do and be everything God created us to do and be.

Jesus has pleaded for another year. Jesus wants permission to dig up your roots and fertilize the soil of your heart. Are you willing? Unless you repent, you too will perish. If you repent, you too will live!

World’s first lab-grown burger is eaten in London

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You may have to skimp on the shrimp this summer.

Shrimp prices are skyrocketing to all-time highs, amid a disease that’s plaguing the three largest prawn producers: Thailand, China and Vietnam. White shrimp prices are nearing $6 a pound, up 56% from a year ago, according to an Urner Barry index.

Interestingly though, the Cadillac of crustaceans is cheaper than it’s been in a long time. Lobster prices, while still a lot higher than shrimp, have fallen recently. But more about that later.

The world is facing an “acute shrimp shortage,” the worst of its kind since industrial shrimp farming emerged, say Rabobank analysts in a report aptly named “Shrimp in a crimp.”

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A devastating global food crisis unlike anything we have ever seen in modern times is coming. Crippling drought and bizarre weather patterns have damaged food production all over the world this summer, and the UN and the World Bank have both issued ominous warnings about the food inflation that is coming. To those of us in the western world, a rise in the price of food can be a major inconvenience, but in the developing world it can mean the difference between life and death. Just remember what happened back in 2008. When food prices hit record highs it led to food riots in 28 different countries. Today, there are approximately 2 billion people that are malnourished around the globe. Even rumors of food shortages are enough to spark mass chaos in many areas of the planet. When people fear that they are not going to be able to feed their families they tend to get very desperate. That is why a recent CNN article declared that “2013 will be a year of serious global crisis“. The truth is that we are not just facing rumors of a global food crisis – one is actually starting to unfold right in front of our eyes. The United States experienced the worst drought in more than 50 years this summer, and some experts are already declaring that the weather has been so dry for so long that tremendous damage has already been done to next year’s crops.
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Mr Schonwald said he missed the fat, but that the “general bite” was authentic

The world’s population is continuing to increase and an ever greater proportion want to eat meat. To meet that demand farmers will need to use more energy, water and land – and the consequent increase in greenhouse gas emission will be substantial.

The plan for lab-grown burgers has won support from some animal welfare and vegetarian groups, who feel it addresses their concerns about animal suffering.

But critics say technological fixes, whether it is lab-grown meat or GM crops address the symptoms rather than the causes of world hunger. What is needed, they say, are policies that enable more farmers to produce more food more efficiently and to distribute it more equitably.

And then of course there is the taste. Even those behind the stem cell project agree that the meat grown will never taste as good as that from an animal. But as prices rise, environmental pressures grow and concerns over animal welfare increase, they argue their approach is the only ethical and pragmatic way forward.

Scientists took cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle that they combined to make a patty.

One food expert said it was “close to meat, but not that juicy” and another said it tasted like a real burger.

Researchers say the technology could be a sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand for meat.

The burger was cooked by chef Richard McGeown, from Cornwall, and tasted by food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald.
Upon tasting the burger, Austrian food researcher Ms. Ruetzler said: “I was expecting the texture to be more soft… there is quite some intense taste; it’s close to meat, but it’s not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper.

“This is meat to me. It’s not falling apart.”

Food writer Mr. Schonwald said: “The mouth feel is like meat. I miss the fat, there’s a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger.

“What was consistently different was flavor.”

Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University, the scientist behind the burger, remarked: “It’s a very good start.”

The professor said the meat was made up of tens of billions of lab-grown cells. Asked when lab-grown burgers would reach the market, he said: “I think it will take a while. This is just to show we can do it.”

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, has been revealed as the project’s mystery backer. He funded the £215,000 ($330,000) research.

Prof Tara Garnett, head of the Food Policy Research Network at Oxford University, said decision-makers needed to look beyond technological solutions.

“We have a situation where 1.4 billion people in the world are overweight and obese, and at the same time one billion people worldwide go to bed hungry,” she said.

Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University, explains how he and his colleagues made the world’s first lab-grown burger

“That’s just weird and unacceptable. The solutions don’t just lie with producing more food but changing the systems of supply and access and affordability, so not just more food but better food gets to the people who need it.”

Stem cells are the body’s “master cells”, the templates from which specialized tissue such as nerve or skin cells develop.

Most institutes working in this area are trying to grow human tissue for transplantation to replace worn-out or diseased muscle, nerve cells or cartilage.

Prof Post is using similar techniques to grow muscle and fat for food.

He starts with stem cells extracted from cow muscle tissue. In the laboratory, these are cultured with nutrients and growth-promoting chemicals to help them develop and multiply. Three weeks later, there are more than a million stem cells, which are put into smaller dishes where they coalesce into small strips of muscle about a centimeter long and a few millimeters thick.

These strips are collected into small pellets, which are frozen. When there are enough, they are defrosted and compacted into a patty just before being cooked.

Because the meat is initially white in color, Helen Breewood – who works with Prof Post – is trying to make the lab-grown muscle look red by adding the naturally-occurring compound myoglobin.

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An independent study found that lab-grown beef uses 45% less energy than the average global representative figure for farming cattle. It also produces 96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires 99% less land.
“If it doesn’t look like normal meat, if it doesn’t taste like normal meat, it’s not… going to be a viable replacement,” she said.

She added: “A lot of people consider lab-grown meat repulsive at first. But if they consider what goes into producing normal meat in a slaughterhouse, I think they would also find that repulsive.”

Currently, this is a work in progress. The burger revealed on Monday was coloured red with beetroot juice. The researchers have also added breadcrumbs, caramel and saffron, which were intended to add to the taste, although Ms Ruetzler said she could not taste these.

At the moment, scientists can only make small pieces of meat; larger ones would require artificial circulatory systems to distribute nutrients and oxygen.

In a statement, animal welfare campaigners People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said: “[Lab-grown meat] will spell the end of lorries full of cows and chickens, abattoirs and factory farming. It will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and make the food supply safer.”

Critics of the technology say that eating less meat would be an easier way to tackle predicted food shortages.

The latest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report on the future of agriculture indicates that most of the predicted growth in demand for meat from China and Brazil has already happened and many Indians are wedded to their largely vegetarian diets for cultural and culinary reasons.
worm burger
The most impressive pictures from the last seven days, including worm burgers.

Does The Background Check Cover Up The Absence Of Moral Turpitude and Corruption?

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Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced today to 30 months behind bars and his wife, Sandi, got a year in prison for separate felonies involving the misspending of about $750,000 in campaign funds.

The Jacksons will be allowed to serve their sentences one at a time, with Jackson Jr. going first, based on the wishes of the family as expressed by Dan Webb, an attorney for Sandi Jackson.

Jackson Jr. will report to prison on or after Nov. 1, the judge said.

In addition to the 2.5 years in prison, Jackson Jr. was sentenced to three years of supervised release. Sandi Jackson was ordered to serve 12 months of supervised release following her prison term.

The judge emphasized that Sandi Jackson was sentenced to exactly 12 months, not the year-and-a-day sentence that some criminals get. Defendants sentenced to a year or less cannot qualify for time off for good behavior in prison. But those sentenced to a year and a day can qualify, which means they may end up serving only about 10 months. Under this rule, Sandi Jackson must serve the full year.

If Jackson Jr. earns time off for good behavior in prison, he would serve about 25.5 months.
Cleaning up government:
Has something happened to the concept of public officials serving the public’s good?

In Argentina, the vice president has been caught up in allegations of using his influence to secure a friend’s control over a printing company that has multi-million dollar contracts with the government.
In Germany, the president of the country, Christian Wulff, opted to resign ahead of an official probe into allegations that – while governor of the German state of Lower Saxony – he used his position to secure a low-interest mortgage and free perks like full-paid holidays.

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In the United Kingdom, the expanding probe of alleged corruption committed by the British newspaper The News of the World has come to include public officials in the country’s defence ministry and police force.
In South Africa, a parliamentarian from the governing party was found guilty by the legislature’s ethics committee for failing to disclose her interests with a private leasing company that employed members of her family and renovated her own home.
According to people around the world, political parties and parliaments are among the top institutions that are the most prone to corruption. The results, compiled by Transparency International, show that 63 per cent of the more than 100,000 people surveyed consider political parties to be the most corrupt institution in their country. The national legislature follows a close second, as signaled by 57 per cent of those interviewed in 100 countries – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Yet these trends are not new.

 

Perceptions of corruption in political parties and parliaments have been consistent across time and countries, signaling a systemic mistrust on the part of citizens in the bodies that are supposed to represent them.

New findings from our recent study of 25 European countries show that these two institutions are also the weakest forces in promoting integrity. Parliaments have been blamed for not establishing and implementing anti-corruption safeguards, including codes of conduct. Of the 25 countries in the study, only eight have codes of conduct for parliamentarians.

Codes of conduct: Bringing ethics back into government
Whether for parliamentarians or public officials, codes of conduct help to build an atmosphere of ethics. For government officials, they offer a clear, concise frame of reference for an institution’s ethical principles in a single document. Member states of the European Union need to push to get these codes adopted and enforced. But these countries are not alone in lacking codes of conduct to help get the integrity of government back on track.

Within a government, codes of conduct strive to decrease corruption and increase accountability among public officials – whether elected or appointed. The aim of these codes, which may be voluntary norms or legally enforced, is to make sure that the public’s interest is protected. The recent passage of code of conduct for public officials in Delhi has been used as a recourse to rein in political campaigning by standing members. Similar codes have been used to look into potential conflict-of-interest violations by heads of state, from Canada to Israel.

When designed well, codes of conduct offer clear ethical standards and a reference point which citizens and governments can use to assess the behavior of public officials. Codes of conduct typically are combined with sets of penalties and other punishments for public officials found to be in violation of them.

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But what exactly is a code of conduct? Is it a set of rules? Or it is more like an ethical Ten Commandments for public officials?

According to one handbook on the topic, codes of conduct are generally value-based guides on how public officials should behave, and outline what they should – and should not – do on the job.

Codes are written documents and generally are divided into three key parts: a statement of principles, rules, and a regulatory framework.

Statement of principle: The section sets out a benchmark for what is expected in terms of public officials’ conduct and ethical behavior.
Rules: Here, concrete issues and expectations for public officials are clearly presented. Topics typically include conflicts of interest, gifts and hospitality, abuse of authority and impartiality.
Regulatory framework: This part outlines the institutional structures available to the state to promote ethical behavior among its employees. It may also demand and establish an independent body to oversee the receipt, investigation and sanctioning of infractions of the code.

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Moreno Valley Councilman Marcelo Co has been arrested on suspicion of fraudulently collecting almost $15,000 in government assistance money to care for his mother, including during times she was not living in the United States, Riverside County district attorney’s officials said Monday, Aug. 12.

The eight felony charges, including fraud and grand theft, are unrelated to an ongoing political corruption probe that the FBI and district attorney’s office are conducting in Moreno Valley, District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said Monday night.

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It’s been two weeks since the FBI descended on the city and raided the mayor’s house, the homes of four other city council members and a huge warehouse. And since that time, the FBI hasn’t anything about why they searched those locations or what they were hoping to find in the first place.

On April 30, FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents served search warrants at the homes of Mayor Tom Owings along with the homes of council members Victoria Baca, Marcelo Co, Jesse Molina and Richard Stewart. Agents also raided the corporate offices of Highland Fairview Developers and Realtor Jerry Stephens.

What were the agents looking for? Who do they have in their crosshairs? The answer to those questions lie at the terminus of a very open-ended ellipsis, as the warrants (both federal and state) are sealed.

“There are no updates, obviously,” said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. “Our investigation is pending. We’re seeking evidence based on accusations of wrongdoing.”

Is God Obligated?

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Jeremiah 7:1-11 (The Message)

1 The Message from God to Jeremiah: 2 “Stand in the gate of God’s Temple and preach this Message. 3 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, has this to say to you: 4 Don’t for a minute believe the lies being spoken here – “This is God’s Temple, God’s Temple, God’s Temple!” 5 Total nonsense! Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, 6 only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods – 7 only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple. 8 “‘Get smart! Your leaders are handing you a pack of lies, and you’re swallowing them! 9 Use your heads! Do you think you can rob and murder, have sex with the neighborhood wives, tell lies nonstop, worship the local gods, and buy every novel religious commodity on the market 10 – and then march into this Temple, set apart for my worship, and say, “We’re safe!” thinking that the place itself gives you a license to go on with all this outrageous sacrilege? 11 A cave full of criminals! Do you think you can turn this Temple, set apart for my worship, into something like that? Well, think again. I’ve got eyes in my head. I can see what’s going on.'” God’s Decree!

A friend sent me photographs of twenty beautiful churches through-out the world. Located as far apart as Iceland and India, each of them is architecturally unique. The most beautiful place of worship in Jeremiah’s day was the temple in Jerusalem, which King Josiah had recently repaired and restored (2 Chronicles 34-35). The people were fixated on the magnificent building (Jeremiah 7:4), and they foolishly thought that having the temple there meant that God would protect them from their enemies. Instead, Jeremiah pointed out the sin in their lives (vv.3, 9-10).

God is not impressed by beautiful buildings constructed in His name if there is no inward beauty in the hearts of those who go there. He is not interested in an outward legalistic worship that is not matched by inward holiness. And it is wrong to think that God protects people just because of the religious things they do.

Just because we’re reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers doesn’t mean that God is somehow then obligated to do something for us. He cannot be manipulated. The purpose of those external activities is to develop our relationship with the Lord and to help us live differently than those in the world around us.

Lord, with all the funny business associated with faulty doctrines and church leadership, help us to remember that you are most interested in an obedient heart. Change us when we think you’re obligated to us because of our religious acts of worship or service. Give us a pure heart Father in Jesus name Amen….

God cannot and will not be manipulated!!!!!!

Entrance Exam

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Ephesians 6:6-8

The Message (MSG)
5-8 Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free.

I ponder often what will I sacrifice to give God my best efforts. In trying to elevate my obedience to Christ and become a steward of my gifts, I took a look at Booker T. Washington and the book of Ephesians. The order from the head teacher was abrupt: “The classroom needs sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it.”

Young Booker T. Washington knew this was his chance> He swept the room three times and then dusted the furniture four times. When the head teacher came back to evaluate his work, she inspected the floor closely and then used her handkerchief to rub the woodwork around the walls, the table, and the students benches. When she could not find one speck of dust anywhere in the room, she said quietly, “I guess you will do to enter this institution.”

Cleaning a classroom was booker T. Washington’s entrance examination to Hampton Institute in Virginia. In later years, he would recall this as the turning point in his life. He wrote in his autobiography, Up from Slavery, “I have passed several examinations since then, but I have always felt that this was the best one I ever passed.”

Slacking off, goofing off, and dozing off rarely open doors of opportunity. Those doors are best opened and entered into by consistent, excellent effort. Give your family, your job, your community, and your God your best effort today! Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work.

Celebrate your Faith Even Though You Don”t See It Physically

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John 11:41

The Message (MSG)
41-42 Then, to the others, “Go ahead, take away the stone.”

They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father, I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me.”

The sequence of events in this passage seems strange and unusual. Lazarus was still in his tomb, yet Jesus’ thanksgiving preceded the miracle of raising him from the dead. It seems that thanks would only have been lifted up once the great miracle had been accomplished and Lazarus had been restored to life. But Jesus gave thanks for what He was about to receive. His gratitude sprang forth before the blessing had arrived, in an expression of assurance that it was certainly on its way.

The song of victory was sung before the battle had been fought. It was the Sower singing the song of harvest-it was thanksgiving before the miracle! Who ever thinks of announcing a victory song as the army is just heading out to the battlefield? And where do we ever hear a song of gratitude and thanksgiving for an answer that has not yet been received?

Yet in this Scripture passage, there is nothing strange, forced or unreasonable to the master’s sequence of praise before the miracle. Praise is actually the most vital preparation to the working of miracles. Miracles are performed through spiritual power, and our spiritual power is always in proportion to our faith. Praise has changed a lot of circumstances in my life. Nothing pleases God more than praise as part of our prayer life, and nothing blesses someone who prays as much as the praise that is offered. I once received a great blessing from this while in China. I had recently received bad news from home, and deep shadows of darkness seemed to cover my soul. I prayed but the darkness remained. I forced myself to endure but the shadows only deepened. Then suddenly one day, as I entered a missionary’s home at an inland station, I saw these words on the wall: “Try giving thanks.” Si I did, and in a moment every shadow was gone, never to return. Yes, the psalmist was right: “It is good to praise the Lord”(Ps. 92:1).

Morning Star, Elohim, Immanuel, El Rio, Wonderful, I praise your name because you are the precious lamb of God, my deliverer and strong tower. I thank you for the breakthrough of depression and fear. I thank you for the rising of my body after the deposit of another 1,440 minutes of life that was not promised. I thank you for the abiding presence of Your Spirit upon my life. I thank You for the promises contained in your word and that even though trouble may assail me I have the victory in “You.”

Fishing Where They Ain’t

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Luke 7:36-50
The Message (MSG)

Anointing His Feet

36-39 One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”

40 Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Oh? Tell me.”

41-42 “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

43-47 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

48 Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

49 That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

50 He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
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I have a good friend I fish with now and then. He’s a very thoughtful man. After climbing into his waders and boots and gathering up his gear, he sits on the tailgate of his truck and scans the river for fifteen minutes or more, looking for rising fish. “No use fishing where they ain’t,” he says.

This makes me think of another question: “Do I fish for souls where they ain’t?” It was said of Jesus that He was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners”(Luke 7:34). As Christians, we are to be unlike the world in our behavior, but squarely in it as He was. So we have to ask ourselves: Do I, Like Jesus, have friends who are sinners? If I have only Christian friends, I may be fishing for souls “where they ain’t.”

Being with nonbelievers is the first step in “fishing.” Then comes love-a heart-kindness that sees beneath the surface of their offhand remarks and listens for the deeper cry of the soul. It asks, “Can you tell me more about that?” and follow up with compassion. “There is much preaching in this friendliness,” George Herbert (1593-1633), pastor and poet, said.

Such love is not a natural instinct. It comes solely from God. And so we pray: “Lord, when I am with nonbelievers today, may I become aware of the cheerless voice, the weary countenance, or the downcast eyes that I, in my natural self-preoccupation, could easily overlook. May I have a love that springs from and is rooted in your love. May I listen to others, show your compassion, and speak your truth today.”

We are to be channels of God’s truth-not reservoirs…..

HANDLING ANXIETY IN A TIME OF ECONOMIC CRISIS

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This past week’s release of China’s second quarter GDP growth number – at 7.6% – was viewed as an ominous sign of the future direction of the global economy by some pundits, while others see the Chinese government’s stimulus measures as a hopeful sign that its economic growth will be higher in the second half of the year. It is important to understand that the root cause of the decline in China’s economic growth this year is not the trouble in Europe or funk of the global economy, but rather the unsustainable economic bubbles that have been created by the government, and the collapsing demand that has accompanied it. The central bank’s latest tap dance won’t fix that.

Central banking maneuvering can at best serve to sustain the over-leveraged economy and avoid a systematic short-circuit of debt financing for now. There won’t be much liquidity invested in lending capacity or job creating projects, since there is insufficient demand, so the economic return on credit will deteriorate. If these structural deficiencies aren’t properly addressed by the central government – and soon – the longer term deterioration of the Chinese economy can only continue. The inevitable chain reaction will accelerate, and China will face its economic end game.

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To gauge just how far the health of China’s economy has deteriorated, look no further than how aggressive China’s central bank – the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) – has been acting of late. On 5th July, the Bank cut benchmark interest rates for the second time in less than a month. In December 2011, the PBOC cut the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by 50 basis points (bp), to 21%, followed by a further 50 bp cut in February and another 50 bp cut in May – to the current 20%. Apart from all the rate cuts, the PBOC also made its biggest injection of funds into the money markets in nearly six months, injecting a net 225 billion yuan (US$34.5 billion) through the reverse-repurchase operations (repo) last week, which followed a combined injection of 291 billion yuan in the previous four weeks.
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Matthew 6:19-34
How many of you still buy and read a daily newspaper?
Most of us keep up with the news one way or the other – either by listening to the radio or watching television news and in-depth reports. Also, increasing numbers of people access the news through the Internet.
It is a pity that it appears that it is bad news that sells newspapers. I wonder if anyone has ever measured the psychological impact of being bombarded with bad news stories from day to day at the expense of the good. How does it affect us and form our world view?

QUESTION How do you handle bad news?
Growing world population will cause a “perfect storm” of food, energy and water shortages by 2030, the UK government chief scientist is warning.
By 2030 the demand for resources will create a crisis with dire consequences, Prof John Beddington predicts.
Demand for food and energy will jump 50% by 2030 and for fresh water by 30%, as the population tops 8.3 billion, he is due to tell a conference in London.
Climate change will exacerbate matters in unpredictable ways, he will add.
“It’s a perfect storm,” Prof Beddington will tell the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference.
This ’Perfect storm’ poses a global threat, says Professor Beddington
“There’s not going to be a complete collapse, but things will start getting really worrying if we don’t tackle these problems.
POINT
This is something our resident scientist Paul Farrant was warning us about in an evening service a few months ago – but with a different timescale.
QUESTION
How do you respond to news like this?
• Some of us will be concerned for the welfare of our sons or daughters or grandchildren.
• Some of us will be concerned about ourselves and the security of our future.
• All of us will to some degree be concerned for the poor who will be effected most by the coming storm and respond appropriately.
• At some time in the future a crisis of one form or another will certainly take place. What kind of a crisis and when and how it will take place remains to be seen.

QUESTION
How would God have us respond to news like this?
READING Matthew 6:19-34
Don’t worry. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. All these things will be yours as well.

THESIS God’s word to us is this:
FOCUS YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE KINGDOM RATHER THAN THE CALAMITY

POINT
It’s amazing counsel. Philosophers, personal trainers, therapists and gurus could not come with anything better.
Nor could they offer anything better. Because all they could offer is a coping strategy – Jesus reveals to us a right way of living that has the backing and substance of truth and spiritual reality behind it.
POINT
Thanks be to God – The Bible offers us a story with a happy ending. The drama of Scripture moves towards an ending in which all things are made new and sin and evil is finally defeated. What is more, the good news is that none need perish in the process – all who put their trust in Jesus as Saviour and Lord will be saved.
QUESTION
What does it mean to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness?
It is simply WHAT WE FOCUS OUR LIVES UPON
ILLUSTR
Liz has a digital camera that focuses automatically on the object she want to photograph. But one day it went faulty and the automatic focus mechanism began to drift every time, leaving everything in a blur.

POINT
Our Christian lives can be like this. GOD DIRECTS US TO FOCUS ON THE KINGDOM. But we all too easily drift from focusing on God’s kingdom in our lives, and when we do so everything turns into a blur.
We will always have the tendency to drift. But we CAN ALWAYS REFOCUS and fix the direction of our lives on the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

HOW DO WE DO THIS?

1. THE KINGDOM
John Stott in his commentary on Matthew states that to seek is first to desire = to desire more than anything else to see in everything the Kingdom rule of Christ.

The Kingdom of God is a description of the God’s rule – partially in this present, earthly life, and fully in the future.

Examples
• It is to desire justice for the poor – whether the nations or the poor, powerless and marginalized in society.
• It is to seek to make Jesus Christ known to those who might receive him as Saviour and Lord in a personal response of faith.
• It is to seek each day to ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ’
• It is desire, and to make our goal, the fulfillment of what we pray for: ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.
APPLIC/CHALLENGE
• What is the focus of your life this morning?
• Is your concern for your personal well-being greater than our concern for the Kingdom?
• What is first in our list of priorities? The Kingdom or our personal need?

MOTIVE
The better we know ourselves the more aware we may be that our concerns for our wellbeing are often greater than our concerns for the Kingdom.

We may even decide to seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness because our main concern is for our own personal security, well-being and freedom from worry!

APPLICATION
• Are we more concerned with what the Lord might do for us? Or with what we might do for the Lord?
Seeking first the kingdom means to do so with pure motive.

2. HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
Again, John Stott says:
To seek his righteousness refers to our social responsibilities because God hates injustice.

SHARING
Let’s not forget the plural; that there is a community dimension to what Jesus is saying.
POINT
Jesus addressed the people as a community = a group of disciples.
They were expected to share not only with one another but also with the poor. The early church put this into practice.

Jesus was explicit. He gave a list of do’s and don’ts.
19-21 DON’T store up treasure on earth,
DO store up treasure in heaven
22-23 DON’T focus on the things that worry you;
DO focus on God’s priorities instead
24 DON’T be controlled by a drive to be wealthy
DO focus your life on pleasing God first
25-34 DON’T focus on your fears, doubts and issues of
financial security
DO seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness

APPLICATION: Faith states that God will take care of his own interests, and if we make God’s interests our interests then God will take care of us too. But only as we seek to take care of others.
QUESTION
Some committed Christians might today be asking the question, ‘Why is it that we still have material needs that are not being met when we have made it our priority to seek first the Kingdom of God?’
Sometimes it is an issue of faith
ILLUSTRATION
George Muller, by the end of his life, built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans. The entire
time, he depended on God’s response to his prayer of faith to supply the needs of the orphans in his care. Through faith he raised thousands of pounds to meet their needs.

He described faith in these terms: Faith is the assurance that the thing which God has said in His Word is true, and that God will act according to what He has said in His Word. This assurance, this reliance on God’s Word, this confidence is FAITH.

ii. There is a place for sharing our resources.
ILLUSTRATION
In the early church there were widows in need. Their needs were provided by the church. Also, churches that could assisted other churches in times of famine.
POINT
God promises to meet our NEED as God sees it and we understand it.
The statement ‘My God shall supply all your need’ Phil 4:19 is in the context of Paul telling his readers of how he had learned to be content, whatever his financial circumstances – much of which depended on generous or otherwise his fellow-Christians were to him.
There were times when he had suffered financial hardship and gone hungry. But his needs had always been met.

Application:It can be the most difficult of learning curves to be content with less that we are used to and less than we had hoped for. And at some time in the future it is a learning curve many will go through. But ‘godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN’, and as we focus first on the Kingdom of God, not only shall we enjoy greater contentment but be satisfied with the way God meets our needs.

3. SEEK FIRST
i. It is PERSONAL – Repent and Believe
To seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness involves personal repentance and faith in Christ.
John the Baptist announced ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’.
Seeking first the kingdom means first of all surrendering our lives to the King – to Jesus as Saviour and Lord

Application:To seek first the kingdom means to get right with God
[GOSPEL]

ii. It is GLOBAL – Remember the Poor
When we pray ‘ Your kingdom come’ we follow up with the parallel statement ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.
To seek first God’s kingdom is to embrace our Lord’s mandate found in Luke 4
Luke 4:18-19
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
[19] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Application:To seek first the kingdom means to remember the poor.
It DOES include the implications of climate change and growing world population and the strains on the earth’s resources and its impact on the poor both now and on into the future.

iii. It is EVANGELISTIC – Be Witnesses
Reading Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15-16 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. [16] Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Application:There is a mandate on us to preach the gospel to others. Seeking first the kingdom means that we are not going to be complacent about this, but that we will make it our priority to be witnesses for Jesus.

iv. It is FUTURISTIC – Be Prepared
It is astonishing to read the bold statements of Jesus and of Scripture spoken over 2000 years ago in which we find predicted wars, earthquakes, famines, the increase of knowledge, the increase of wickedness, the rise of antichrists, false prophets and imposters claiming to be Christ and the statement:
Matthew 24:14
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

POINT
Jesus followed up by saying:
Matthew 24:44
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

APPLICATION
To seek first the Kingdom means to be ready for his coming.
CONCL/APPLICATION
In a world where it pays newspaper companies to focus on the bad news;
In a world where, even as Christians, our focus will always tend to drift to the issues that cause us anxiety;
We have God’s word today directing us to focus our thoughts elsewhere and to keep them there:

Do not be anxious. Seek first his kingdom.

Immorality Is Trending

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Gay activists love to point to the changes in public opinion regarding same-sex “marriage,” announcing triumphantly that this is a sign of moral and even spiritual advancement. In reality, it is part of a larger trend toward immorality, a sign of moral bankruptcy and spiritual apostasy.

According to a May 13 Gallup report, “Just three years ago, support for gay marriage was 44 percent. The current 53 percent level of support is essentially double the 27 percent in Gallup’s initial measurement on gay marriage, in 1996.”

But let’s put that data into a larger, cultural perspective. A May 20 Gallup report is headlined, “In U.S., Record-High Say Gay, Lesbian Relations Morally OK,” with the subtitle reading, “Americans’ tolerance of a number of moral issues up since 2001.”

What exactly is meant by “tolerance”?

The report states, “Americans’ views toward a number of moral issues have shifted significantly since 2001. Their acceptance of gay and lesbian relations has increased the most, up 19 percentage points in the past 12 years—to a record high of 59 percent today. Americans’ tolerance toward having a baby outside of marriage is also now much greater, up 15 points since 2001 [actually, 2002], to the current 60 percent.”

Oh yes, “tolerance” is alive and well!

So, the America that increasingly deems homosexual relationships to be morally acceptable is the same America that increasingly deems having children out of wedlock (once called “illegitimacy”) to be morally acceptable. And this is supposed to be a sign of progress?

According to the poll, American approval of fornication—or, as the poll put it, “sex between an unmarried man and woman”—was up 10 percent (from 53 percent to 63 percent), while support for polygamy actually doubled, from 7 percent to 14 percent (keep your eye on that stat in the coming years). This is something to celebrate?

In 2001, Gallup didn’t even ask the question of the moral acceptability of teenagers having sexual relationships, but in the current poll, only 63 percent found it morally wrong, while 32 percent expressed their moral approval. How enlightening!

The pollsters used the following script: “I’m going to read you a list of issues. Regardless of whether or not you should think it should be legal, for each one, please tell me whether you personally believe that in general it is morally acceptable or morally wrong.”

Interestingly, while the word sex was used with reference to “sex between an unmarried man and woman” and “sex between teenagers,” and while the word affair was used with reference to “married men and women having an affair,” no such explicit or derogatory term was used with regard to homosexual practice. Rather, that was referred to as “gay or lesbian relations.”

I wonder if the response would have been different if the pollsters had asked about “two men or two women having sex”—unless, of course, “gay and lesbian relations” are all merely platonic. (Please forgive my sarcasm.)

But I digress. What is clear is that American sexual morals are in steady decline, and there is very little that shames us these days. After all, this is the nation in which a young woman’s quickest ticket to fame is a best-selling, graphic sex tape. Sometimes the girl’s parents even gush with pride at their daughter’s achievements, and at the risk of sounding trite, we can honestly say that what used to shame us now makes us famous.

It is against this backdrop that public approval for same-sex relationships continues to increase.

And let’s not forget that the same media that incessantly pushes the cause of gay activism also promotes shows like Teen Mom, glamorizing young women who have children out of wedlock, along with shows like Big Love and Sister Wives, normalizing and even celebrating polygamy. And this has no effect on the public’s perceptions?

Leading the way in these changing views toward gay and lesbian relations is the younger generation, aged 18-29. According to Gallup, in 1996, 41 percent of them supported same-sex “marriage”; today, that number is up to 70 percent. But this is the same age group that believes that roughly 30 percent of the population is gay or lesbian—an error of 1,000 percent! (The best studies put the number at roughly 3 percent.) Does the media have nothing to do with these skewed perspectives?

We should also remember that Barna polls conducted over the last 15 years indicate that only 0.5 percent of Americans aged 18-23 held to what Barna defined as a biblical worldview, in contrast with about 10 percent of the population as a whole. Is it any surprise, then, that they are so strongly supportive of same-sex relationships?

As for our country’s increasing “tolerance,” it is not happening quickly enough for 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt and her family. She has been arrested for having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, one which her father says was consensual.

The Daily Kos reports, “Florida teen Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, is seeing her young life turned upside down and her future jeopardized simply because she fell in love. Unfortunately for her, she fell in love with a younger girl who has vindictive bigots for parents.”

Her father, Steven Hunt, wants prosecutors “to drop the two charges filed against his daughter in February. A rainbow-colored ‘Stop the hate, free Kate’ page on the online petition site Change.org had more than 56,500 supporters calling for prosecutors to drop the charges Monday afternoon, and a similar ‘Free Kate’ Facebook group page had more than 30,000 members.”

Well, just give it a little more time. Soon enough, these things will be accepted too. Immorality is trending.

A Most American Way to Die

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Happy African American family. Father with three teenage daughters together having a good time. Stock Photo - 5947172

 

If you’re an unarmed black teen in Florida, someone can gun you down – and they might get away with it

This was some battle going on in that car, a cage match of warring colognes. Tevin Thompson, tall and soft-cheeked, had basted himself in Curve, swiped from the back of his parents’ dresser, where the old man kept his more expensive smell-goods. Leland Brunson, small and snarky, the runt of the four-kid crew, was bumping Chanel and a couple of clashing lotions and smelled like mixed inserts from three men’s mags. Jordan Davis, the prince – he of the red-hot girlfriend and every fly snapback sold online – was drenched in Armani and looking right. And Tommie Stornes, at the wheel of his Durango – well, who ever knew what Tommie was wearing? He kept the whole scent counter at Macy’s in his car. True, he’d taken hours to get coifed and dressed to go girl-hunting at the mall, but as these boys liked to say, you can’t rush greatness.

They hit the Town Center mall around 5 p.m. and found it hip-to-hip with Christmas shoppers. On this, the first evening after Thanksgiving, all of Jacksonville was out and about, walking of the torpor of candied yams at the fanciest galleria in northern Florida. The boys did their best impression of premium shoppers, four well-raised black teens from middle-class homes trying hard to stand out by blending in. They talked to – but whiffed with – a few of the upscale “honeys,” browsed the stores for high-priced sneakers that they mostly owned already (Tevin bought a new pair every payday; Jordan, who’d just landed his first after-school job, was breaking his father’s wallet with his shoe game) and began to make their way toward the exits. Then Jordan spotted Aliyah, his beautiful, on-off girlfriend, who was finishing up her shift at Urban Outfitters. They’d been on the rocks for weeks over the silliest teenage nonsense – he’d bought roses on her birthday but wouldn’t bring them to school, convinced his friends would clown him till graduation. Now, though, she smiled at him, and Jordan’s heart went clattering around his rib cage. “They needed to get back together so he’d stop talking about her,” says Tevin. “Every . . . …single . . . …day, it was Aliyah this, Aliyah that. We’re all like, ‘Damn it, dude: Just call her already.'”

Gun Control: 45 Percent of the Senate Foils 90 Percent of America

And so now it was 7:00, and they were driving back to Jordan’s to play Xbox on his father’s big TV. A couple of miles away, they stopped at a Gate gas station so Tommie could run in for a pack of Newports. They were blasting Chief Keef through the half-down windows and busting on Jordan about Aliyah when a black Jetta pulled into the spot beside them. A woman got out and ducked into the store; the driver, a crew-cut moose of a white man named Michael David Dunn, cracked his window and told them to turn the noise down. “I hate that thug music,” he had griped to his girlfriend before he sent her in to buy some wine and chips; Rhonda Rouer would tell detectives the next day that that was a “common” complaint of Dunn’s. They had just come from the wedding of Dunn’s only son and had left the reception early to get back to the hotel so he could walk their newly bought puppy.

The Gun Industry’s Nine Most Outrageous Marketing Ploys

Tevin, in the front passenger seat, dialed the music down, but Jordan, sitting behind him, wouldn’t have it. Unbelting himself, he reached across the console to crank the volume up. He and Dunn went at it, peppering f-bombs at each other. “You’re not gonna talk to me like that!” yelled Dunn, reaching across the dash to his glove compartment. Tommie had come back and was strapping himself in when he saw a gun through the window of Dunn’s car. “Duck!” he yelled and grabbed for the shifter when the first three shots hit his car. Several more rounds whacked the car as Tommie floored it backward and peeled out. He broke left, past the gas pumps, while bullets winged by. Dunn, half out of his Jetta and firing two-fisted, kept shooting at the fleeing Durango; one bullet pierced the liftgate and another clipped the visor, missing Tommie’s skull by an inch.

He drove a hundred yards into the adjacent shopping plaza, stopped in front of a sandwich shop and jumped out to check on his friends. Tevin was somehow fine – his door had stopped the slugs. Leland, sitting behind Tommie, was OK too, though his hands and sleeves were wet with fresh blood. Jordan, however, was slumped in his lap. The first three shots had gone through his door; two of them lodged in his chest and groin. His eyes rolling back, he gasped for air as the three friends shrieked for help. “Jordan was making that rattle people make when they’re dying,” says Tevin. “That’s when Leland started to cry. I hugged him and tried to tell him it’d be OK.”

Tevin dialed 911, but someone had beaten him to it: The strip mall was packed with stunned bystanders. Two of them jotted down the Jetta’s plate number as Dunn tore of, speeding up Southside Boulevard. Soon, the Gate gas station bristled with sirens: cops securing the crime scene and taking statements, collecting a dozen firsthand accounts; medics working feverishly to keep Jordan breathing as they loaded him into the ambulance; and detectives comforting his stricken friends, particularly Leland, who couldn’t stop sobbing. Jordan was his best friend; they all but lived at each other’s houses. “Jordan was my third son – I loved that boy,” says Tanya Booth-Brunson, Leland’s mother. “He had this shine on him that lit up the room. He was a star, and everyone knew it.”

Shortly before noon the following day, deputies knocked on a door in Satellite Beach, three hours south down 95. Dunn, a computer programmer and gun enthusiast who’d fired his first rifle at three, stepped out onto the stoop of his beachfront condo. Fully six four and 280 pounds, he greeted the cops with the convivial air of a long-lost beer-league pal. In the interview box at the downtown precinct, he sloughed off the reading of his Miranda rights. According to Jordan’s father, Dunn said he didn’t need a lawyer, telling the detectives: They defied my orders. What was I supposed to do if they wouldn’t listen? Appalled, the cops booked him on the spot, and he was eventually charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

But several days after the shooting, Dunn told the world through his hastily hired lawyer, Robin Lemonidis, that he fired 10 shots in a crowded shopping plaza because he felt threatened by the boys. They were gang members calling their gang buddies, said Lemonidis; Dunn had to act fast, before they did. Also, they were men piling out of the car, not high school boys cringing in terror. And third, there was this, thrown in for good measure: Dunn was sure he saw a shotgun aimed at him through the right rear window of the boys’ car. (Damningly, though, he didn’t tell his girlfriend about a gun before his arrest.) And with that, nine months after the killing of Trayvon Martin, the Gunshine State of Florida had spawned a second grotesque fraud: the killing of a defenseless black kid by an armed, angry white man invoking the worst law in America – the Stand Your Ground statute of self-defense.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.’s forward motion for a world that works for all

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The Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus, was tackled by six Capitol police officers after he tried to enter the Petraeus hearing on Monday. Rev. Yearwood was injured in the incident taken to hospital. He was later charged him with felony assault of a police officer.
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In what was billed as “the largest climate rally in history,” thousands of people rallied to gather on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Feb. 17 to call for a definitive shift in the nation’s energy policy. The “Forward on Climate Rally” will urge President Obama to once and for all reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and take steps to reduce carbon pollution. The historic gathering will call on the president to translate the strong comments he made about tackling the climate crisis in his recent inaugural address-“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations” — into a far-ranging set of policies and executive orders for global sustainability in his second term.

The demonstration’s three major sponsors — 350.org, the Sierra Club and Hip Hop Caucus — are betting that integrating grassroots momentum, historic longevity and a commitment to move beyond traditional, predominantly white environmentalism is key to making the breakthrough that will be crucial to dealing full-on with this accelerating crisis.

The demonstration’s three major sponsors — 350.org, the Sierra Club and Hip Hop Caucus — are betting that integrating grassroots momentum, historic longevity and a commitment to move beyond traditional, predominantly white environmentalism is key to making the breakthrough that will be crucial to dealing full-on with this accelerating crisis.

350.org has played a dramatic role in building the movement for climate safety through grassroots organizing, online networking, social media and a series of coordinated national and international action campaigns. It launched the Keystone XL pipeline campaign, which took off after more than 1,200 people were arrested engaging in nonviolent civil resistance at the White House in 2011, and recently organized a 22-city “Do the Math” bus tour where it spread the message of rising carbon emissions — and what we can do about them — to sold-out halls across the U.S.

The Sierra Club, founded by pioneering environmentalist John Muir 120 years ago, is the oldest and largest environmental organization in the U.S., with 1.3 million members. Its board recently broke with its long-standing prohibition against nonviolent civil disobedience by authorizing the organization’s participation in a “Forward on Climate” civil disobedience action to be held separately from the rally.

Hip Hop Caucus is a national civil and human rights organization that mobilizes, educates and engages young people on “the social issues that directly impact their lives and communities.” It has tenaciously set out to bridge racial, class and political divides by tackling police brutality, the disastrous federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. war in Iraq, youth violence and widespread, systematic attempts to prevent people of color from voting. It has been working on eco-justice and the climate crisis for years, including helping to organize the Green the Block campaign and the Green the City Summit.

Hip Hop Caucus’ president, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., has been a tireless advocate for connecting the dots between poverty, racism, violence and environmental destruction — and for taking nonviolent action to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. For him, there are no silos separating social issues.

Will America Contribute to Positive Fossil Fuel Resistance?

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It got so hot in Australia in January that the weather service had to add two new colors to its charts. A few weeks later, at the other end of the planet, new data from the CryoSat-2 satellite showed 80 percent of Arctic sea ice has disappeared. We’re not breaking records anymore; we’re breaking the planet. In 50 years, no one will care about the fiscal cliff or the Euro crisis. They’ll just ask, “So the Arctic melted, and then what did you do?”

Here’s the good news: We’ll at least be able to say we fought.

After decades of scant organized response to climate change, a powerful movement is quickly emerging around the country and around the world, building on the work of scattered front-line organizers who’ve been fighting the fossil-fuel industry for decades. It has no great charismatic leader and no central organization; it battles on a thousand fronts. But taken together, it’s now big enough to matter, and it’s growing fast.

The Fossil Fuel Resistance: Meet the New Green Heroes

Americans got to see some of this movement spread out across the Mall in Washington, D.C., on a bitter-cold day in February. Press accounts put the crowd upward of 40,000 – by far the largest climate rally in the country’s history. They were there to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run down from Canada’s tar sands, south to the Gulf of Mexico, a fight that Time magazine recently referred to as the Selma and the Stonewall of the environmental movement. But there were thousands in the crowd also working to block fracking wells across the Appalachians and proposed Pacific coast deep-water ports that would send coal to China. Students from most of the 323 campuses where the fight for fossil-fuel divestment is under way mingled with veterans of the battles to shut down mountaintop-removal coal mining in West Virginia and Kentucky, and with earnest members of the Citizens Climate Lobby there to demand that Congress enact a serious price on carbon. A few days earlier, 48 leaders had been arrested outside the White House – they included ranchers from Nebraska who didn’t want a giant pipeline across their land and leaders from Texas refinery towns who didn’t want more crude spilling into their communities. Legendary investor Jeremy Grantham was on hand, urging scientists to accompany their research with civil disobedience, as were solar entrepreneurs quickly figuring out how to deploy panels on rooftops across the country. The original Americans were well-represented; indigenous groups are core leaders of the fight, since their communities have been devastated by mines and cheated by oil companies. The Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. of the Hip Hop Caucus was handcuffed next to Julian Bond, former head of the NAACP, who recounted stories of being arrested for integrating Atlanta lunch counters in the Sixties.

It’s a sprawling, diverse and remarkably united movement, marked by its active opposition to the richest and most powerful industry on Earth. The Fossil Fuel Resistance has already won some serious victories, blocking dozens of new coal plants and closing down existing ones – ask the folks at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization who helped shutter a pair of coal plants in Chicago, or the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, which fought to stop Chevron from expanding its refinery in Richmond, California. “Up to this point, grassroots organizing has kept more industrial carbon out of the atmosphere than state or federal policy,” says Gopal Dayaneni of the Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project. It’s an economic resistance movement, too, one that’s well aware renewable energy creates three times as many jobs as coal and gas and oil. Good jobs that can’t be outsourced because the sun and the wind are close to home. It creates a future, in other words.

These are serious people: You’re not a member of the Resistance just because you drive a Prius. You don’t need to go to jail, but you do need to do more than change your light bulbs. You need to try to change the system that is raising the temperature, the sea level, the extinction rate – even raising the question of how well civilization will survive this century.

Soon after the big D.C. rally, the state department issued a report downplaying Keystone XL’s environmental impact, thus advancing the pipeline proposal another step. Since then, at the urging of the remarkable cellphone-company-cum-activist-group Credo, nearly 60,000 people have signed a pledge promising to resist, peacefully but firmly, if the pipeline is ever approved. By early March, even establishment commentators like Thomas Friedman had noticed – he used his New York Times column to ask activists to “go crazy” with civil disobedience; 48 hours later, 25 students and clergy were locked down inside a pipeline-company office outside Boston. It’s not a one-sided fight anymore.

No movement this diverse is going to agree on a manifesto, but any reckoning begins with the idea that fossil fuel is dirty at every stage, and we need to put it behind us as fast as we can. For those of us in affluent countries, small shifts in lifestyle won’t be enough; we’ll also need to alter the policies that keep this industry fat and happy. For the poor world, the much harder goal is to leapfrog the fossil-fuel age and go straight to renewables – a task that those of us who prospered by filling the atmosphere with carbon must help with, for reasons both moral and practical. And for all of us, it means standing with communities from the coal fields of Appalachia to the oil-soaked Niger Delta as they fight for their homes. They’ve fought longest and hardest and too often by themselves. Now that global warming is starting to pour seawater into subways, the front lines are expanding and the reinforcements are finally beginning to arrive.

Climate Change and the End of Australia

Right now, the fossil-fuel industry is mostly winning. In the past few years, they’ve proved “peak-oil” theorists wrong – as the price rose for hydrocarbons, companies found lots of new sources, though mostly by scraping the bottom of the barrel, spending even more money to get even-cruddier energy. They’ve learned to frack (in essence, explode a pipe bomb a few thousand feet beneath the surface, fracturing the surrounding rock). They’ve figured out how to take the sludgy tar sands and heat them with natural gas till the oil flows. They’ve managed to drill miles beneath the ocean’s surface. And the hyperbolic enthusiasm has gushed even higher than the oil. The Wall Street Journal has declared North Dakota a new Saudi Arabia. The New York Times described a new shale-oil find in California as more than four times as large as North Dakota’s. “We could make OPEC ‘NOPEC’ if we really put our minds to it,” said Charles Drevna of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. “We’re talking decades, if not into the hundreds of years, of supply in North America.”