Month: April 2014

New Innovation Is Required Within Criminal Justice System

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When people rely on surface appearances and false racial stereotypes, rather than in-depth knowledge of others at the level of the heart, mind and spirit, their ability to assess and understand people accurately is compromised.

James A. Forbes



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Incarceration Trends in America

  • From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people
  • Today, the US is 5% of the World population and has 25% of world prisoners.
  • Combining the number of people in prison and jail with those under parole or probation supervision, 1 in ever y 31 adults, or 3.2 percent of the population is under some form of correctional control.

Racial Disparities in Incarceration

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  • African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
  • African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites
  • Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population
  • According to Unlocking America, if African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%
  • One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime
  • 1 in 100 African American women are in prison
  • Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).

 

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Drug Sentencing Disparities

  • About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
  • 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
  • African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
  • African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)

 

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Contributing Factors

  • Inner city crime prompted by social and economic isolation
  • Crime/drug arrest rates: African Americans represent 12% of monthly drug users, but comprise 32% of persons arrested for drug possession
  • “Get tough on crime” and “war on drugs” policies
  • Mandatory minimum sentencing, especially disparities in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine possession
  • In 2002, blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws and served substantially more time in prison for drug offenses than did whites, despite that fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are white or Hispanic
  • “Three Strikes”/habitual offender policies
  • Zero Tolerance policies as a result of perceived problems of school violence; adverse affect on black children.
  • 35% of black children grades 7-12 have been suspended or expelled at some point in their school careers compared to 20% of Hispanics and 15% of whites

 

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Effects of Incarceration

  • Jail reduces work time of young people over the next decade by 25-30 percent when compared with arrested youths who were not incarcerated
  • Jails and prisons are recognized as settings where society’s infectious diseases are highly concentrated
  • Prison has not been proven as a rehabilitation for behavior, as two-thirds of prisoners will reoffend

Exorbitant Cost of Incarceration: Is it Worth It?

  • About $70 billion dollars are spent on corrections yearly
  • Prisons and jails consume a growing portion of the nearly $200 billion we spend annually on public safety

http://action.naacp.org/page/s/naacp-criminal-justice

America: Sports The Greatest Plantation

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The nature of individual culture within the terms of enslavement stemmed from a desire to forge a basis for self-identity beyond the control and persecution from the white slave masters. Undoubtedly, the generic sentiments of slavery throughout American history found in textbooks and classrooms throughout the country, provides a glimpse into the mindset of Americans on the issue. However, the representations of slaves contrived from these stereotypical images hinder the reality and complexity of their existence as individuals. Slavery was an evolving institution, which experienced vast changes over its numerous generations. African slavery transformed into American slavery and with this shift came new cultural foundations. Accordingly, traditions developed in exchange with the interactions and the progressions of a new cultural and social institution. It was through vital cultural developments of leisure that slaves were able to establish and experience a reprieve through activities such as sports and recreation, despite being bound by the institution’s harsh practices.

From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, African American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, their on-the-field heroics admired and stratospheric earnings envied. But for all their money, fame, and achievement, says New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built.

Provocative and controversial, Rhoden’s $40 Million Slaves weaves a compelling narrative of black athletes in the United States, from the plantation to their beginnings in nineteenth-century boxing rings to the history-making accomplishments of notable figures such as Jesse Owens, Althea Gibson, and Willie Mays. Rhoden reveals that black athletes’ “evolution” has merely been a journey from literal plantationswhere sports were introduced as diversions to quell revolutionary stirringsto today’s figurative ones, in the form of collegiate and professional sports programs. He details the “conveyor belt” that brings kids from inner cities and small towns to big-time programs, where they’re cut off from their roots and exploited by team owners, sports agents, and the media. He also sets his sights on athletes like Michael Jordan, who he says have abdicated their responsibility to the community with an apathy that borders on treason.

The power black athletes have today is as limited as when masters forced their slaves to race and fight. The primary difference is, today’s shackles are often the athletes’ own making.

The furor surrounding comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has again cast an unfavorable light on racism in American sport.

Sixty-seven years after Jackie Robinson famously broke baseball’s “color line” when he went to bat for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the specter of racism still looms large over U.S. professional sport—from outspoken billionaire franchise owners to foul-mouthed players and bigoted fans who spew xenophobic nonsense behind the anonymity of Twitter avatars.

“Racism remains a problem throughout our society as a whole, and sports merely reflects that,” said Ray Halbritter, who has been leading a campaign for the Washington Redskins to drop their racially charged name. From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, African American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, their on-the-field heroics admired and stratospheric earnings envied. But for all their money, fame, and achievement, says New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built.

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Another species being targeted with these deceptive practices is now being brandished with the new scarlet letter “F”‘ which stands for  felons, ex-offenders.

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These laws have a disproportionate impact on minorities — 1.4 million black men cannot vote. That is a rate of 13 percent — seven times the national average. A majority of the disenfranchised live in the South: Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia all bar former prisoners from voting. Some of these states adopted disenfranchisement provisions during Reconstruction in order to evade the 15th Amendment’s ban on withholding suffrage from freedmen. (Disenfranchising crimes were carefully selected to disqualify large numbers of blacks.) In Florida and Alabama, the racial effect is greatest; blacks comprise almost 50 percent of the disenfranchised.

Given the disparate targeting and treatment of blacks by the criminal justice system, felony disenfranchisement adds a second level of insult and injury to minority ex-offenders. It harms individuals and also limits group political power. I am launching a campaign to provide my community with a facility to redeem life to empower them with another mindset to exist in this life with contentment and resolve so that they may defeat these stigma’s.

Adopt A Vision: Helping Hands

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“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon    way.”

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915);
American Political Leader, Author

Exodus 17:8-13

8While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them. 9Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.” 10So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. 11As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. 

But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. 12Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. 

So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 13As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. 

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I want to solicit your helping hand in the circulation of this vision within your networks. I don’t expect a huge by in from anyone particular group or individuals. I am moving in faith that God will touch someone heart to just forward this information within their network as to aid in us getting through chapter one of this vision.  The information about this project is incorporated within the flyer click the link to be navigated to the “Why” of this vision. Thank you for forwarding this information and prayers over this vision.

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How Do You Explain The “Why” To Loving The Gospel?

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Empower A Felon

“We do not need to make the Gospel attractive by dressing it up in modern clothes. The Gospel already is attractive. It is up to us to bring out this attraction as clearly as possible, grounded in the situation of the people we talk to” (Alister McGrath).

“It is the task of theology…to discover what God has said in and through Scripture and to clothe that in a conceptuality which is native to our own age” (David Wells).

“There is non-negotiable, Biblical, intellectual content to be proclaimed. By all means insist that this content be heralded with conviction; by all means seek the unction of the Spirit; by all means try to think through how to cast this content in ways that engage the modern secularist” (D.A. Carson).

“Our business is to present the Christian faith clothed in modern terms, not to propagate modern thought clothed in Christian terms…. Confusion here is fatal” (J.I. Packer).

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How do you create ideas that stick? What differentiates successful innovations from unsuccessful ones? What is the best way to commercialise an idea? How do you ensure that it reaches the masses? Who are the thought leaders that you should be targetting when seeking to influence opinion leaders? How do you create critical mass in the adoption of an idea? These are questions that marketers, innovators and sociologists have been grappling with for a long time.

My belief is that an innovation, no matter how good it is, cannot be successfully adopted without social acceptance and behavioural change.

Let me explore this with you a little further and offer up a useful model in thinking about:

  • your future product launches
  • influencing key stakeholders and opinion leaders in social media
  • pitching the next change management project in your organisation
  • positioning educational program in communities
  • your own thought leadership

The model is “The law of Diffusion of Innovations” created by Everett Rogers back in 1962. A bit of true thought leadership, which has had new light thrown on it with the advent of new communications channels like social media.

Let us have a look at the model below to understand it better.

Law of Diffusion of Innovations Anders Sorman-Nilsson

On the x-axis you can spot the percentage size of 5 different types of groups in society.

  1. Innovators – 2.5%
  2. Early Adopters – 13.5%
  3. Early Majority – 34%
  4. Late Majority – 34%
  5. Laggards – 16%
On the Y-axis on the right you’ll note the market-share adoption of a new innovation.
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So, Diffusion of Innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures.
In an age of social media, when organisations are trying to position their brands amongst the masses, to pitch new technologies to early adopters, and leaders are trying to influence their teams to adopt change and new technologies in the way we work, this model is critical.
For anyone who has ever tried their hand at selling an idea, concept or their own thought leadership, the model is equally relevant.
Let us look more closely at the categories in this thought leadership model by Rogers.

INNOVATORS

Innovators are the first individuals to adopt an innovation. Innovators are willing to take risks, youngest in age, have the highest social class, have great financial lucidity, very social and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators. Risk tolerance has them adopting technologies which may ultimately fail. Financial resources help absorb these failures. (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 282)
What is an instance that you can identify when you, or someone close to you displayed innovative behaviours that fit this definition of innovator?

EARLY ADOPTERS

This is the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation. These individuals have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early adopters are typically younger in age, have a higher social status, have more financial lucidity, advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters. More discrete in adoption choices than innovators. Realize judicious choice of adoption will help them maintain central communication position (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283).
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What is a technology that you have adopted early on, while knowing that you weren’t first, but you had an edge on the mass adoption of that technology?

EARLY MAJORITY

Individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters. Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process, have above average social status, contact with early adopters, and seldom hold positions of opinion leadership in a system (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283)
Are there instances in your life or career when you have adopted a technology, idea or innovationat the same time as the early majority? How was the instance different from the previous twoadoptions that you experienced?

LATE MAJORITY

Individuals in this category will adopt an innovation after the average member of the society. These individuals approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism and after the majority of society has adopted the innovation. Late Majority are typically skeptical about an innovation, have below average social status, very little financial lucidity, in contact with others in late majority and early majority, very little opinion leadership.
Is there someone you know who displays behaviours consistent with this description? What specificinnovation are you thinking about here?

LAGGARDS

Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. Unlike some of the previous categories, individuals in this category show little to no opinion leadership. These individuals typically have an aversion to change-agents and tend to be advanced in age. Laggards typically tend to be focused on “traditions”, likely to have lowest social status, lowest financial fluidity, be oldest of all other adopters, in contact with only family and close friends, very little to no opinion leadership.
What are the benefits, if any, of being a laggard? Is age a factor here, when technology and social media is re-defining the traditional concept of age?

KEY TAKE-AWAYS

When selling an idea, concept or your thought leadership, consider

  • which stakeholders you need to communicate with and persuade of its merits
  • which communication channels can best influence them
  • how much time might be required to influence the influencers, and how they might in turn influence the masses
  • which social system you are selling the idea into and what cultural barriers might exist against adopting the idea

See “Yourself” Through Scripture No Matter What…..

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To be rooted is perhaps the most
important and least recognized need of
the human soul.

Simone Weil

The year was 1858 and the Illinois legislature used what might be called a dirty political trick. The legislature gave newly elected U.S. Senate seat not to the man who won the popular vote but to the man who had the most support from the Illinois legislature. The man sent to the US Senate was Stephen A Douglas and the man left behind was Abraham Lincoln. A concerned friend asked Lincoln how he felt and this is what he said: “Like the boy who stubbed his toe: I am too big to cry and too badly hurt to laugh.” 

What is rejection?
Webster defines rejection as to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use to refuse to hear, receive, or admit

Rejection is a part of life and at some point we are all going to feel the cold sting of rejection. Rejection is something that we have all dealt with. Whether it’s on a personal level or a professional level, the sting is still there. 

We have felt the familiar pain of rejection in a variety of ways. The job or promotion we were not given, the loan that your bank turned down, the position that you were not given, the family member that stopped speaking to you. Rejection happens to us all and rejection inflicts pain. It comes and drives its fangs into our heart and unleashes its poison. 

You can take heart because if you have ever felt rejection, then you are in good company. There were many that felt the sting of rejection throughout the pages of the Bible.


Adam and Eve rejected the command of God 

Jeremiah was rejected by the people of his day and was thrown into a well

Jonah rejected the people of Ninevah after they repented

Jesus was rejected by the society and religious leadership of His day

Peter rejected Jesus by denying Him three times

Stephen was rejected and executed by the Sanhedrin

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My own thinking sometimes rejects my faith thoughts and at that very moment the battle begins. My creativity is at risk and my resolve to forge ahead is stifled. In trying to partner with God on this vision of Second Chance Alliance I am really at my wits end concerning fund raising and the philanthropic aspects associated with measuring success.  The concept of rejecting yourself is more apparent than from outside entities.

Rejection Started in Joseph’s home  in Genesis 37:3

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

When we first meet Joseph he had a favored position in his household. He seems to play the role of the spoiled child. He is the one whom his father played favorites with. To further make the favoritism known, Joseph was given an expensive robe to wear. This would have been a symbol of status. We see the response of his brothers to this was not good. 

The writer makes it clear that the brothers hated Joseph because of his favored treatment. The manner of their attitude toward Joseph is seen in their envy, animosity and their jealousy. 

5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

Joseph is given a vision through a dream and makes the mistake of telling his brothers about it. The response is only more of the same. Look at the end of verse 8, they hated him all the more. The burning hatred of Joseph’s brother roared out of control and consumed them. The consuming fire of hate would soon burn Joseph.

Notice the downward spiral that Joseph’s brothers went down and each step brought them one step closer to their rejection.

Bitterness
The brothers were bitter over the special treatment that Joseph received and from the negative report that he gave about them.

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Anger
The brothers became angry over the dreams that Joseph told them about. They felt that he would never have authority over them

Jealousy
The brothers were jealous of Joseph’s special place with their father and with his obvious special abilities.

Resentment
The brothers allowed their negative feelings to linger and then they infected the way they saw Joseph. Notice that they hated Joseph. These are strong words for an even stronger emotion.

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe–the richly ornamented robe he was wearing– 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. 28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. 29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?” 31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” 33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”

images (1)Notice what happened with the brothers and Joseph:

They mocked him; The brothers saw Joseph coming and they mocked him calling him that dreamer. The fuel of hatred moved them from hard feelings to hard words and hard hearted actions. They plotted against him as the brothers saw Joseph coming, they began to plot how they would attack him. The original plan was that they would kill Joseph and tell their father that he was killed by an animal.

They attacked him: Joseph’s brothers joined together and attacked him. The brothers got the jump on Joseph and physically assaulted him. This means that they grabbed him and held or beat him. No matter what they did they were physically abusive to him.

They stripped him:

The first thing that the brothers do is to take the favored possession from Joseph. The robe that made him the father’s favorite was stripped from him. The symbol of their resentment, jealousy and rage was taken. They took the thing that was withheld from them. In a sense they were stealing their father’s blessing from Joseph.

They threw him:

Before the brothers kill Joseph Reuben stops them and convinces them to put him in a dry cistern. They throw Joseph in and this means none too gently either. A cistern could have been anywhere from 15 to 30 feet deep and could have caused significant injuries.

They sold him:

The brothers agree to not kill Joseph but to teach him a lesson. Judah sees a trade caravan and gets the idea to make some money on the deal and the brothers decide to sell Joseph. Judah makes the plea to not kill Joseph because he is their brother, let’s just sell him instead.

The saddest part of the whole situation was that when they sold Joseph, they did so for the lowest price possible. Twenty shekels was the price for an injured slave. The fact is that they just wanted to be rid of him. Let’s do the math, ten brothers and twenty shekels of silver comes to two shekels each. These brothers sold their brother for about $10 each.

They ignored him:
As Joseph was in the cistern, he cried out for help from his brothers. They ignored him. When they turned him over to slave traders, Joseph cried out to them for help and they ignored him. This may have been the cruelest of all their actions, they heard and did nothing for Joseph.

They buried him:

This is figurative and not literal. The brothers slaughter a goat and dip the robe into it. The whole time trying to make it look like Joseph was attacked by a wild animal. They in essence gave Joseph a burial. They lied and told their father that Joseph was dead.

What do we learn from Joseph in this passage? What can we take away from all this? How do we live in the face of rejection?

Be open:

We have to be willing to be open to the work of God in our lives. Joseph was given the visions of God in dreams. This is an incredible ability. The abilities that you have may not be visions from God but they are equally important to the church. If you allow your life to be open to God, He will decide where, when and how to use you.

Be humble:

One of the downfalls of Joseph was the simple truth that he didn’t keep his mouth shut. Joseph was given a great gift from God but the manner in which he displayed it was totally inappropriate. Pride comes before a fall and Joseph’s pride caused him to be humbled in tragic ways.

Be patient:

Many times we look at the short term effects of the trials we go through and doubt God is using them in a positive way. Before things would improve for Joseph, they would sadly get worse. God is not finished working in us and through us. We cannot judge the outcome by the unfinished product. Allow God to finish what he has started in you.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Never forget that God is not done with your life and making you into the person he knows you can be until you die or Jesus returns. Until then be sure that God is working his plan out in our lives even in the rough spots and the difficult days. This morning if you are dealing with some form of rejection or other form of personal pain, I invite you take a moral inventory of self and give the situation over to God.

Bring the Rain
I can count a million times People asking me how I can praise you with all that I’ve gone through The question just amazes me Can circumstances possibly change who I forever am in You Maybe since my life was changed long before these rainy days it’s never really crossed my mind To turn my back on you O lord my only shelter from the storm But instead I grow closer through these times So I pray:

Bring me joy, bring me peace bring the chance to be free bring me anything that brings You glory And I know there’ll be days when this life brings me pain but if that’s what it takes to praise you Jesus bring the rain.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

How Do You “Tell” Your Story?

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Jesus was the master storyteller. He’d say, “Hey, did you hear the one about…” and then tell a parable to teach a truth.

In fact, the Bible shows that storytelling was Jesus’ favorite technique when speaking to the crowd: “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.” (Matthew 13:34)

Somehow we forget that the Bible is essentially a book of God-inspired stories! That’s how God has chosen to communicate his Word to human beings.

There are many benefits to using stories to communicate spiritual truth:

  1. Stories hold our attention. The reason television became so popular is because it’s essentially a story-telling device, whether you’re watching comedy, drama, the news, or a talk show. Even the commercials are stories.
  2. Stories stir our emotions. They impact us in ways that precepts and propositions never do. If you want to change lives, you must craft the message for impact, not for information.
  3. Stories help us remember. Long after the outline is forgotten, people will remember the stories of the sermon.

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It’s fascinating to watch how quickly a crowd tunes in whenever a speaker begins telling a story and how quickly that attention vanishes as soon as the story is finished!

In this post I’m going to share with you how you can begin to determine how you can manage both your internal and external experiences tocreate a greater sense of fulfillment in your in life and in business.

But first I have to give you some background so you can get a firm understanding of how important this tool, called a story, can be.

Why Are The Stories We Tell Ourselves So Important?

Because the quality of the stories you tell yourself everyday determine the quality of your current and future experiences.

The stories you tell yourself determine how you internalize the events around you and the people you interact with.

When you tell yourself dis-empowering stories about yourself and what you make the world mean to you, it’s like living in a black and white world devoid of any color. The stories you tell yourself represent the meaning you assign to ways of the world and the people in it, Including yourself. So make them good stories that support you and those around you. YOU assign the meaning of what happens in your world. When you assign meaning you do it through “stories” you tell yourself.

If you’re telling yourself stories that cripple you:

  • It costs you quality relationships between family, friends and spouses
  • It costs you your quality of health
  • It keeps you living small and not taking chances (even well assessed risks)
  • It can cost you money
  • It can cost you time which you’ll never get back
  • It costs you your overall quality of life and keeps you from having meaningful experiences

When you begin to understand you talk to yourself in stories and you realize the impact of those stories you begin to see the world in full 3D color. Your behavior chances because your outlook on life changes.

Your outlook changes because you changed the stories you tell yourself about you, others and the world around you.

What Is “Story”

Look at story this way.

Beliefs are made up of emotions.

The beliefs you hold onto are propped up by the stories you tell yourself. Those stories become emotionally charged. You can see why people hold fast to their beliefs. They are highly invested because their identity is essentially attached to those beliefs.

If they give up their story, they give up their identity and that my friend can seem like some scary outcome.

Unless of course you put a plan in place to replace the broken story with a new one.

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The stories you tell yourself represent the meaning you assign to ways of the world and the people in it, Including yourself.  

You are the one who assigns the meaning of what happens in your world. 

This perspective gives you much more control over you’re own emotions and direction in life. Owning this perspective allows you to align yourself with the role of being the cause of what happens around you rather than being at the effect.

You see, you’re constantly telling yourself stories about the world and the people in it. Through these stories you reinforce what the world means to you, the experiences you have in it and what you believe.

The stories we tell ourselves determine our destiny.

When working with someone I can tell when they’re stuck in their story. They have been telling themselves a story which then is fueled by emotion and that reinforces their belief. The belief could be bogus but it’s an open loop that started years ago. They never asked themselves what the belief was costing them and what sort of benefit they were gaining by keeping it.

Imagine this for a moment. If you said you want to be happily married with a wonderful spouse and eventually two beautiful children within the next 5 years, yet the story you told yourself is that you’re too overweight for anyone to find you attractive, you’d never reach your desired outcome.

Your behavior to overeat and not exercise would be fueled by the story that you’re too overweight to be found attractive. Worse yet you settle for mediocre relationships which reinforce your sense of non-worthiness.

So an example which is near and dear to my heart would be this: Women like men to be taller than them. All women like to date tall men. I’m short, so therefore no women would really want to date me.

As you can see this is a bit of a ridiculous story to tell ones self. Yup, it’s a story I used to tell myself at one point. As ridiculous as it may sound there are little stories like these we tell ourselves everyday.

  • I’m too overweight for anyone to find me attractive, so why bother trying to date? I’ll just make myself feel better by eating (for immediate gratification)
  • I’m too broke to date right now so I’ll just wait till I have money before I do. (but to reinforce the belief you remain broke)
  • I hate my job and feeling like a prisoner of it but I don’t have what it takes (money, skills mindset) to start a business of any kind.
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I could go on and on but these are just tiny examples of the stories we tell to ourselves about ourselves.

Stories are predetermined by the questions we ask ourselves. Our brain asks a question and we tell it a story in order to answer it. Even if that story makes no real sense except to support the story.

So the question I would ask myself is: Why is it women even shorter than me seem to want to be with men twice my height?

Which I did encounter several times, (I’m 6’7″) and women even shorter than me were clear they wanted to date men over 6’ or taller.

So the conclusion I came up with was all women must always like taller men.

Um, yeah. total nonsense.

So in essence the quality of questions we ask ourselves determines the quality of our destiny. If I held onto that belief I’d never be in a relationship.

Ask yourself better questions, tell yourself better stories and begin to live a more fulfilling life.

So the bottom line is it was necessary for me to come up with a better story.

What Next?

Determine one area of your life you would like to improve upon.

Ask yourself what kinds of stories you tell yourself around it. Write them down.

Reverse engineer it and ask yourself, “If that’s the story I’m telling myself…What’s the cost of owning this specific story in my life right now? And also, what am I gaining from holding onto this story?”

The stories you tell yourself represent the meaning you assign to ways of the world and the people in it, Including yourself. So make them good stories that support you and those around you. You and you alone can assign the meaning of what happens in your world in such a way you’re supported.

If after reviewing the area’s of your life you feel you’re not doing that area justice with the story you’re holding onto, give yourself the gift of a new story. The benefits can be immense.

  • You can gain deeper more meaningful relationships with family, friends and spouses.
  • You can create more opportunity in business or career
  • And you can even go deeper into your spiritual practice once you give yourself permission.
Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

I am telling myself this story, speaking those things that appear so out of reach that they will manifest themselves. I am not focused on how well anyone accepts my story, I am focused on the faith contained in my story. My grand mother used to say; Aaron, laughing catches, so if you find yourself laughing at someones story be on guard. My wife and I will get this business open, we will help change lives, we will contribute to the fashioning of other peoples stories in Jesus name.

Writing The Vision

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In our conversations with community partners, it is apparent that there is very little data about
the needs of those with older criminal records. The formal criminal justice system follows people
only while they are incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. Post-release supervision sentences are
generally not more than 5 years, though we demonstrate below the very long-term effects of having a
criminal history, since over a third of our respondents have been out of jail for more than 5 years.
Individuals often seek supportive services from a wide range of human service agencies, and there is
usually very little communication between service providers. We offer this and future data to the
community in its efforts to conduct more effective, meaningful programs and services for those
returning from incarceration, or ideally before they ever get involved with the criminal justice system.


Overview of Results
• 80 respondents sufficiently completed the survey
• Demographics:
o Age: average 42, range 18 to 64
o 73% male, 27% female
o 68% African-American, 22% Caucasian
• 75% most-recently incarcerated for a non-violent, non-sexual offense
• 33% of respondents have been out of jail or prison for more than 5 years
• Most pressing needs when last released from incarceration:

Employment: a top-3 need for 74% of respondents
o Housing: 68%
o Health care: 36%
o Identification: 30%
o Obtaining food: 24%
• Re-entry services respondents were most satisfied with: social support from friends, family,
and community; identification services; and addiction treatment
• Re-entry services respondents were least satisfied with: probation/parole, housing, and
employment
• 59% of respondents were unemployed, able to work, and looking for work at the time they
took the survey. Only 7% were employed full-time and 3% were employed part-time
• Only 25% have been employed full-time at some point since their release
• 8.5% were enrolled in school at the time they took the survey
• What respondents felt they needed most to gain or secure employment: driver’s license, better
resume, computer skills
• 80% were homeless (18% in shelters, 62% in temporary arrangements with friends or family)
upon release from their most recent incarceration
• 56% needed assistance getting identification after they were last released
• Almost all respondents have received the public assistance they need, but many have needed
assistance ever since their release due to lack of employment opportunities
• 46% were incarcerated, in their opinion, as a direct result of a chemical dependency issue
• One third have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, while only 11% received
mental health counseling during their incarceration.
Details about specific barriers faced by our respondents and other results are discussed below.
These results provide a glimpse into the hidden long-term effects of certain policies and their impact
on ex-offenders and our community. Public education and awareness about re-entry issues will
ultimately benefit those in re-entry, their families, and our society as a whole. We invite you to
continue reading for more detailed analysis of the issues faced by the thousands of individuals
returning to our community each year from incarceration.

What Does it Mean to be in Re-Entry?

No matter how long a person’s jail or prison sentence was, readjusting to the community presents many obstacles and anxieties. Even if someone served just one month in jail, he or she has spent time away from family, friends, children, and work. With limited and expensive communication, many inmates struggle to keep in touch with loved ones. Families struggle if a person they rely upon is absent from their lives. Inmates often incur large debts through court costs, restitution, and civil fines. Some inmates have family who can help, but most struggle with debt long after they have been released. Some prisons offer paid work to some inmates but typically pay less than 40 cents an hour.
After incarceration, individuals must find a place to live and obtain food and personal care products, usable identification, and, ultimately, a source of income, all the while being socially stigmatized, readjusting emotionally, managing debt, and being required and expected to disclose conviction information to everyone It is difficult to plan such logistics during incarceration since
contact with the outside world is so limited and costly. Many ex-offenders have mental health, chemical dependency, or medical issues as well. Then, the challenge of re-establishing one’s outside life is often made difficult by a number of societal, systematic, legal, economic, and emotional factors. Barriers within one institution are often compounded with barriers in another.

Thus, ex-offenders are often trapped in frustrating self-perpetuating cycles. Our societal systems should set one another up
for success, not for failure, frustration, hopelessness, and bitterness—sentiments that do nothing to build our community. It is imperative that we begin to look at the barriers in our society that ex-offenders must navigate and try to increase their ability to secure–with a reasonable amount of effort basic needs and avoid recidivism.

Many people believe it is the responsibility of individuals and their families to provide such assistance with these struggles. Surely these personal social supports are irreplaceable and invaluable; very few of us would be able to succeed with just the assistance of strangers. Unfortunately, though, many people do not have such support. When dealing with legal struggles, there are many burdens put upon the convicted person’s loved ones: identifying available resources, forgiving what the person may have done, understanding the legal jargon, and navigating the often-incomprehensible social and justice systems at work. Friends and family may be uninformed or misinformed. They may have already helped their loved ones through drug addiction, mental illness, multiple incarcerations, or financial struggles and are simply exhausted. Whatever the reason, many people leave jail having
burnt bridges or lost touch with loved ones, no matter how much they may have changed. In these times, people turn to their community. We need data-informed, just, efficient community systems to successfully reintegrate ex-offenders and offer a real chance to do right after they serve their sentence.

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I Hope You will not Fail to ‘En-quire Within.'”

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In that moment, my view of success and creativity changed. I realized that success is a moment, but what we’re always celebrating is creativity and mastery. But this is the thing: What gets us to convert success into mastery? This is a question I’ve long asked myself. I think it comes when we start to value the gift of a near win.

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“Whether You Wish to Model a Flower in Wax; 

to Study the Rules of Etiquette;
to Serve a Relish for Breakfast or Supper;
to Plan a Dinner for a Large Party or a Small One;
to Cure a Headache;
to Make a Will;
to Get Married;
to Bury a Relative;
Whatever You May Wish to Do, Make, or to Enjoy,
Provided Your Desire has Relation to the Necessities of Domestic Life,
I Hope You will not Fail to ‘Enquire Within.'”

I am very grateful for the struggles I’ve overcome by way of a loving God. I remember crying out to God from a pit in a far a way country and in seven months and 32 men killed that were held captive with me I received deliverance. I remember the trials that assailed my life as a youth coming up decisions of what religion was true and maintaining a 4.0 grade average so I could still breath another day under my fathers rules. The pressures of obtaining position in life by acquiring a degree in engineering and the completion of BUD’s training to become a Navy Seal.

Progress, development, growth and achievement — these are all things for which we strive. We seek short-term gains in the hope that they will continue to move us onward and upward. The successes we experience assure us that we are moving in the right direction and that we are on track.

Failure, on the other hand, is precisely what we avoid. Nobody wants to fail. When we fail, it is an indication that we are not on track, that we have missed something and that we are not yet good enough. Failing is miserable and we would never contemplate celebrating it. But, maybe we should.

Reflect on some of your most memorable learning experiences and you will probably find that they came from situations of great challenge. It is through the obstacles, suffering and failures in our lives that we learn and develop most. In fact, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the potential gain to be had.

We actually learn very little from succeeding, other than the realization that we can probably repeat this success in a similar future scenario. When we fail, however distressing and painful it might be, the opportunity to learn from it is far greater than any success could conceivably be. It is this learning that inspires growth and development.

Failures are, of course, widely reported in the cases of celebrities. Everyone enjoys a great underdog story of someone who rises against the odds and achieves greatness in spite of shortcomings and unfortunate circumstances. Bill Gates’ first company, Traf-O-Data, failed abysmally, while Albert Einstein was regarded as unintelligent during his childhood.

Thomas Edison famously failed more than 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb, whileOprah Winfrey was fired from her first reporting job after being deemed “unfit for TV.” Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime and Steven Spielberg was rejected from the USC School of Cinematic Arts — twice!

I would bet that every person has had not only to overcome obstacles and failures to achieve greatness, but that the very obstacles and failures inspired the greatness. So, why is it that we live in a culture that suppresses the idea of failure so deeply?

We place a large emphasis on winning, being right and not making mistakes. We treat failure like an unfortunate disease. We take measures to avoid its occurrence and when we do fail, we deny it, make excuses or counsel ourselves through it. We put ourselves under so much stress to avoid failure, yet paradoxically, failure could very well be the greatest developmental tool that we possess in the pursuit of greatness.

This requires a shift in mindset. Rather than viewing a stressful situation or new unknown with negativity due to the potential of slipping us up, we must recognize it as an opportunity for growth. Those periods of being overloaded with assignments, having to work with difficult individuals, embarking on a new and overwhelming projects or taking on a task that requires skills you lack are times when we grow.

But, rather than approach these situations with caution, anxiety and guards held high, identify the potential for growth and enjoy the challenge to come. If the struggle itself is not enough of an opportunity to spark development, the future mistakes and failures that will come certainly will be.

Our goal is to succeed in the short term. The bigger the challenges and obstacles we face, the less likely we are to succeed and the more likely we are to grow if we fail. This is not to suggest that we should not strive for success, but rather, success should be our end goal in the bigger picture. We should view the failures we encounter along the way as meaningful contributions to this end goal.

If we want to enjoy greatness, let’s begin by counting our blessings. Each and every opportunity we have allows us to fail and then to grow as a result.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

His Peace, Power, and Purpose: Its Friday and Sunday Is Coming

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John 20:19–23

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 cOn the evening dof that day, the first day of the week, ethe doors being locked where the disciples were ffor fear of the Jews,3 Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,g“Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, hhe showed them his hands and his side. Then ithe disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As jthe Father has sent me, keven so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he lbreathed on them and said to them, m“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 nIf you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

The Bible has two parts: Old Testament and New Testament. The New Testament has 27 books: four gospels to tell the life of Jesus, 21 letters to explain the meaning of Jesus for our lives, one history about the early church, and one prophecy. All 27 of those books deal with Jesus as alive, risen from the dead and the central, living reality in the universe today, he himself being very God and very man.

And what I want to do in this message is look with you at Jesus’ first appearance to all his frightened disciples after the resurrection. And what I want us to see is:How did the risen Jesus act? and What did the risen Jesus say? That first appearance to the disciples as a group happens in John 20:19–23.

Let’s look at the first part of John 20:19 to see how Jesus acts.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them. . .

Three Facts and How Jesus Deals With Us

So this is the evening of the Sunday that he rose from the dead. That morning Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:1–18). But now he appears to all the disciples (the eleven apostles) at once. Notice three things: the doors are locked; the disciples are frightened; and Jesus comes to them and stands in their midst. Those three facts tell us three things we can know about how the risen Christ deals with us today.

1. The doors were locked.

Jesus did not have to knock. He did not even have to open the door. He simply was there. And he wasn’t a ghost. Look at verse 20: “He showed them his hands and his side.” In another place he said, “Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). So he has a physical body. But not exactly like ours: the same, yet different. He was simply there, in spite of the closed doors.

Which means that today in your life, Jesus can go where no one else can go. He can go where no counselor can go. He can go where no doctor can go. He can go where no lover can go. He can reach you, and reach into you, anywhere and any time. There is no place where you are, and no depths of personhood that you are which Jesus can’t penetrate. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead fits him to do what no one else can do. There is no one else like him in all the universe. He is alive, and he is the one and only God-Man. What he is capable of you cannot imagine. And it is a healing wonder to contemplate that all the complex layers of your life, which neither you nor anyone else can understand, are familiar territory to him.

2. They were afraid.

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Verse 19: “The doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews . . .” Their leader had just been crucified as threat to Caesar. Their fear is totally understandable. And into that fear Jesus comes.

I suppose I want to draw your attention to this because this is the way I feel the need of risen, living Jesus most often. Fear. Fear that I won’t be prepared for what I’m expected to do. Fear that the church won’t prosper, or the conference won’t be attended, or the class won’t be helped. Fear that my children will make shipwreck of their faith. Fear that I won’t have the faith to die well. Fear that I might drift into worldliness and uselessness.

And what Jesus is saying in this action is: I come to my own when they are afraid. I don’t wait for them to get their act together. I don’t wait for them to have enough faith to overcome fear. I come to help them have enough faith to overcome fear. And I testify after fifty years of being a Christian, this is still true. The risen, living Jesus is still doing this. He comes when we cry out to him in our fear. He helps us. I have called to him a thousand times: “Jesus please help me.” And he has come near with the promise: “Fear not I am with, be not dismayed, I am your God, I will help you” (Isaiah 41:10). He will do this for you too, if you receive him into your life for who he really is.

3. Jesus comes to them and stands in their midst.

Verse 19: “. . . the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them.” The point here is that he came right into the middle of their meeting. He did not come to the edge and call out through the wall and deal with them as a distant deity. He wasn’t playing games with them. He wasn’t toying with their faith. He wanted them to see him and know him and believe in him and love him.

That’s what he wants for you today. And that’s what I want for you today. I want you to experience the living Jesus. To know him. To have him draw near into your life where no one else can go. To have him help you in your fear the way no one else can help you. And to have him come to you — close to you, not calling to you from a distance, but coming right into your midst. That’s what I pray happens after you read this post.

Three Gifts in What Jesus Says

So that’s the way he acts as the risen, living Christ. Now what does he say? And what we see is that in this first appearance to the disciples he says three things (or four, depending on how you count them). And these three things turn out to be three gifts to you: the gift of peace, the gift of power, and the gift of purpose. The opposite of peace is conflict. The opposite of power is weakness. The opposite of purpose is aimlessness.

Many, many lives are ruined by conflict, weakness, and aimlessness. Jesus did not come into the world and die and rise again to ruin your life. But to save it. And what we will see is that he saves us from ruining our lives by becoming himself our peace and our power and our purpose. I am praying that God will do this for you: Make Jesus your peace. And Jesus your power. And Jesus your purpose.

“Peace Be With You”

So what did he say?

Two times he said, “Peace be with you.”

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.”

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Before Jesus says anything about power or purpose he wants to establish peace. The order here is really important. The peace that Jesus gives is before and underneath any of our empowered actions or any of our purposeful deeds. We don’t initiate peace with Jesus by our actions. He initiates peace with us.

The apostle Paul — who wrote 13 of those 21 New Testament letters — explains it like this: “He [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both one [Jew and Gentile] . . . and reconciled us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (Ephesians 2:14–18).

A Peace Accomplished

The peace that Jesus offers the disciples is peace that he accomplished when he died for them on the cross. That’s why in verse 20 he says, “When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” I am the one who died. I am the one you abandoned. And I am the one who was “pierced for your transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). And the reason I can offer you peace is because by my blood I have covered all your sins.

If you trust me they won’t be held against you. The wrath of God is turned away.That’s what Paul meant when he said, “Christ reconciled us both to God through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” All the hostility between God and us was absorbed on the cross. Here, look at my side and my hands. I made peace with these. Justice was satisfied with these. Peace between you and God (and me) was established with these.

Where Peace Comes in Your Life

So there are five relationships where the crucified and risen Christ brings peace into your life:

  1. Peace between us and him. That’s the first and most obvious meaning: he is standing there among them offering them himself as a friend and helper, not a judge.
  2. Peace between us and God. That’s why God sent him — so that God’s justice and wrath could be satisfied another way besides eternal punishment. God makes peace with us by substituting his Son’s suffering for our penalty. Now he comes to us as a loving Father.
  3. Peace between us and others who are in Christ. To be reconciled to God is to be reconciled to all who are reconciled to God. No hostility vertically or horizontally. No racism. No ethnocentrism or classism or sexism. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
  4. Peace between us and our own souls. The New Testament letter to the Hebrews says, “The blood of Christ . . . will purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). O the precious peace of a clear conscience. How many people labor under the misery of a defiled, guilty conscience. I read on Thursday the testimony of a woman who had an abortion 8 years ago and who said, “I cannot forgive myself.” I wrote, “That’s what Good Friday is for!”Peace with yourself doesn’t mean that you start seeing past sins as desirable. Peace doesn’t mean that past sins cease to be painful. It means they cease to be paralyzing. The pain may not be taken away immediately, but the penalty is taken away immediately through Christ. And that makes it possible to heal. And to move on with hope-filled life while you do.
  5. Peace with the world. Yes, when Jesus died he did what needed to be done (Colossians 1:19–20) so that someday, in God’s time, all evil will be cast into outer darkness and the entire new creation will be full of peace and righteousness. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end . . . with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore” (Isaiah 9:7).

Peace with Jesus. Peace with God the Father. Peace with others in Christ. Peace with ourselves. And peace with the world. It was an amazing achievement.

How Do You Receive This Peace?

And how do you receive this? Everybody doesn’t have it. It’s a gift of God. Wereceive it. Or we walk away from it. Or better to say: we receive him. Or walk away from him. He is our peace. If you have the risen, living Christ as your Savior, and Lord, and Treasure, and Friend, you have the peace that he gives — the peace that he is. “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Jesus offers you that. I offer that on his behalf. It is free. I hope you receive it.

I’ve spent most of our time on the gift of peace because it is foundational. If we don’t have peace with God we will take all his other gifts and use them to try to make peace. And it never works. Peace is first. And it is free. Everything else is the effect of peace, not the cause. It is fruit. Peace is the root.

So let me just point in closing to the power and the purpose Jesus gives. Both are mentioned in verses 21–22,

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” [the purpose] 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” [the power]

Power by the Spirit

Jesus was going to pour out the Holy Spirit when he ascended into heaven (Acts 2:33). That happens about seven weeks after his resurrection. We read about it in the first chapter of Acts. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). The work of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives is that he makes us able to do what we are simply not able to do on our own. He gives us power.

So here in John 20: 22 Jesus performs a kind of acted out parable. “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” He didn’t say, Receive him at this very moment. He said in effect: realize that my breath, my life, my word will be in the Holy Spirit. We’ve seen this before in John 14. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). The risen, living Jesus has come to us. He has sent us the Holy Spirit. His Spirit. He has breathed on us.

This person — this power — is our only hope for accomplishing the purpose he has for us. And he gives that purpose in verse 21b: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” I want you to live in the world as my representatives. My ambassadors. I want you to take my peace and take my power, and glorify my Father the way I have (John 12 :27-28).

Our Central Purpose for Existence

Jesus comes to us and gives us his peace with God. Then he gives us power to do the kinds of things that mere humans can’t do — like defeating our own selfishness, and loving other people, and treasuring Christ above all. And then with that peace and that power he gives us our central purpose for existence: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

I’m sending you to extend my peace and my light and my truth and my life in the world. I am going to my Father. But I give you my Spirit. I am the power in you. So go and glorify me in this world. That’s our great purpose — in the peace of God, by the power of God, to do the will of God for the glory of God, and for the good of others.

And if you are puzzled by verse 23, here’s what I think it means. It’s a good way to end. Jesus says to the disciples: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

What he means is this: When you tell people about what I have done, speaking my word, about my work, in the power of my Spirit, I am the one speaking through you, so that if anyone believes your word, I forgive their sins. And if any does not believe your words, I don’t’ forgive them. And since you are my voice and my truth, I speak of you forgiving them, and you withholding forgiveness.

Which simply means that right now: what you make of this message from this fallible, sinful, human messenger will decide whether you are forgiven or not. As an ambassador of Christ, I urge you be reconciled to God: receive as a free gift his peace, his power, his purpose. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

Jeremiah 4:22: Can We As Individuals Find The Act Right?

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This description of “my people” has a curious resemblance to the exhortation of our Lord when he told his friends to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. These people, according to Jeremiah’s observation, had all the wisdom of the serpent, but it was for serpentine purposes. And the worst of it was that they hurt themselves the most. 

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Even in his headlong, infatuated descent to ruin, the great powers are manifest. It is the very perversion and ruin of what is so noble in its original constitution that helps to give one an insight, deep even though melancholy, into all that makes up the nobility. A temple in ruins fills one with thoughts which could never be excited by looking at a dilapidated shed. Jeremiah looks upon Jerusalem and the men who are leaders there (ver. 9), and their great human faculties cannot he concealed from him. When man sinks into sin, this does not destroy the great human powers; it simply distorts their operation. We look at men as they are, and whatever the sad reflections coming into our minds, we still see the supremacy in terrestrial creation, the power to adapt means to ends, and all that strength and suppleness of intellect which are so much more than the greatest strength of a brute. 

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The human intellect cannot be left to lie like a dead sword in the scabbard. In one sense the intellect is but an instrument. having in itself no character either for good or evil, any more than a piece of machinery. Everything depends on the disposition and intents of the man using it. But then the intellect, instrumental as it is, is not a mere instrument, but has a living connection with the rest of human nature. It must act, with more or less energy, according to the individuality of its possessor. These faculties must be used, if not for good, then for evil. History abounds in instances of wicked and selfish men who have achieved their mischievous ends by that very intellectual force which was given for something very different. Hence the importance of early training and direction, so far as one will can alter the course of another. Every individual whose faculties are diverted from good purposes is so much gain to the powers of evil. There is no neutral ground to which to retire. To go out of the one path is to go into the other. This was the sad thought that, even while Jerusalem was going down, lower, lower, towards the hour of its capture and desolation, there were yet in it many men who had the power, if only their hearts had been fight, to do much towards saving and blessing their country. But all their thoughts, their utmost acuteness of mind, were given to build and enrich self. – Y. 

Jeremiah 4:22

King James Version (KJV)

22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

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The Lord cried passionately, ‘my people are wise to do evil!’ The level of manipulations we see now in methods of trickery is astounding!

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• Consultants offer numerous manipulative methods to students and to aspiring candidates who desire to study abroad. The huge deposit amount that has to be made by the candidate is furnished by the consultants on a commission basis; to put it in plain words, the candidate cheats the foreign university by showing false availability of money in the bank, once the admission is acquired the money is withdrawn by the consultants. All this COOL shady deal is not down in a dark corner, it is done openly and Bible-reading, church-going Christians send their children through such ‘bogus ways’ and then weep when curses come on the lives of their children. Are you listening?

• There are plethora of agents to get you bogus certificates of academic / technical qualifications, experience certificates, caste certificates and what not! It would be crazy on my part to even try to spell out all of them because they are just ENORMOUS! Spreading like mushroom. Whatever has happened to integrity?

• Dad and moms are ever ready to give ‘huge money’ as donations – please call it BRIBE – in order to get admission in ‘good and reputed’schools. What does ‘good and reputed’ actually mean can you tell me??? Did you know friends, Christian schools run by reputed denominational Christian organizations take bribe and refuse to give receipts to parents? Let the Lord judge them.

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Which reputed and good college did the Hebrew slave Daniel study in order to get a plum position in the Government of king Nebuchadnezzar ? Where did Daniel get such phenomenal wisdom? Can anyone answer me? This handsome Hebrew slave got the attention of not the principal ofa college, but of the king and became his pet because of the grace of God on him. His name is Daniel. Read the book of Daniel in the Bible to know more. I wish more Christians do a lot of spade work, hunting and searching for a ‘good church’ and put their kids in the Sunday School / Youth fellowship and make them grow in the knowledge of God than knowledge of computers. I am screaming out to someone out there! Your kids need J-E-S-U-S ! There would be less of divorces, and more of responsible children if we have given them the Bibles at an early age.

Many Christians are into: adulterous relationships, pornography, pre-marital sex, software piracy, embezzlement of funds, misuse of office property, smoking and drinking, obscene words spill off their mouth when triggered and much more. I am not being unkind, I am just bluntly opening the cupboard!

We need J-E-S-U-S!

Prayers of Intercession and Spiritual Warfare For Israel

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  Why is the history of Israel so important to our world today? 

The history of Israel, from Abraham to present time, is most important to the world today. To the secular world this may be a confusing statement, however, to those who understand biblical truths, this statement is fully understandable. 

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 History of Israel – The Israel Controversy

To look at the state of Israel today one cannot avoid the issues that constantly arise around the nation and its people. Israel does not look to make itself a controversy to the world. In fact, Israel desires peace. However, its history will never allow peace. Israel is an historically rich nation. It is the home to the most controversial individual of all time, Jesus Christ. It is also the home of the world’s largest religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Abraham, an Ancient Israel patriarch is said to be the father of all three religions. These three religions have differing beliefs that bring very different opinions as to who is right and to which God Abraham actually served. The debate has been the source of wars and disputes throughout history including World War II, the deadliest and bloodiest war of all time. 

Today, the Middle East and many other nations around the world continue to struggle over the issue of Israel. Traditionally, Israel is a Jewish nation, yet as the root of Christianity and the homeland of a major holy site for Islam (the Dome of the Rock which sits on the site of the biblical Jewish temple of God), Israel remains a major topic of controversy. 

Where the Religions Stand
True Christians around the world look to protect Israel. According to the Old Testament (by which Judaism derives its beliefs) Israel is the beginning of Christian understanding. It is the beginning of Christianity; a time of preparation leading to Jesus Christ. To Christians, Israel is the homeland of their religion and the people of Israel are the chosen of God. To Christians, the Jewish people are their brothers and sisters who are missing the truth of Christ as their Messiah and Savior. Christians pray for Israel and support it in many ways, in the hope of bringing the nation of Israel and the Jewish people to see Jesus Christ as their Messiah. 

Islam is another story. Years of violence has led to bitterness between Jews and Muslims. Much of the Islamic world would love to see the people of Israel destroyed and the land it occupies given back to the Islamic people, namely the Palestinians. Israel protects itself through a series of allied nations around the world, in addition to their own military strength. Israel is a Jewish nation, though largely secular in comparison to its early history, surrounded by traditionally Islamic nations; some of which are radical in their ways and highly aggressive in their actions toward Israel. 

It is safe to say that without the existence of Israel today, there would be much less controversy in the world. However, as it stands, Israel remains important to the make up of our world and the overall history of its existence. 

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And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

 

Father God, I know that the greatest spiritual battle is taking place right now over the Holy Land. Satan is once again trying to annihilate Your Chosen People and to discredit Your Word and Prophetic Promises to Israel. I come against this illegal warfare against Israel and Her People in Jesus’ Name. I come against every deception and lie that is being propagated against them. I command the demonic powers of Satan be bound from this hideous action, in Jesus’ Name.”

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

I come against the lie that has many Christians deceived into believing that God is finished with Israel and has no further plans for Her. This “Replacement Theology” is from the pit of hell! The Body of Christ has not replaced Your Position, purpose and plans for Israel (Romans 11:1-2). Open the blind eyes of those who have accepted this deception and reveal to them Your everlasting purposes for Israel, in Jesus’ Name.

 

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)

I come against the propaganda and the lies that are designed to make Israel appear as the terrorist’s aggressor and the Palestinians as the victims! Lord God, let the world see the lie the media is perpetuating and reveal the truth of the promises You gave to Israel as her land of inheritance.”

Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous. (Psalms 31:18)

“I come against the satanic anti-Semitic hatred that is being instilled into the minds of people in order to convince nation after nation not to stand with and come to the aid of Israel in this, her greatest time of need! I decree the favor and love of God to be demonstrated to her so the world may see and comprehend the mercy, love and power of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in Jesus’ Name!”

 It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me. 

 And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. (II Samuel 22: 48-49)

Black Female Judge Who Will Decide Oscar Pistorius’ Fate

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Thokozile Matilda Masipa is a former social worker turned journalist turned lawyer turned superior court judge. She’s “eloquent” and highly respected by her peers, but perpetrators should tread lightly.

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South Africa’s biggest murder trial is under way, and there’s a black woman at its helm.

Oscar Pistorius—one of that nation’s most renowned paralympics professional athletes and a former Olympian—stands accused of murdering his 29-year-old model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

With the world watching, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa—and only Masipa—will decide if Pistorius intentionally killed his girlfriend or if he sincerely thought she was an intruder and thereby killed her by accident, as Pistorius claims. Unlike murder trials in the United States and most modern judicial systems, South Africa does not have trials decided by jurors because it was nearly impossible to find jurors not influenced by the racial effects of apartheid.

Masipa has had an impressive career. Her tough background, which The Root culled from global news reports, lends credence to court watchers’ speculation that she will not be influenced by the defendant’s emotional breakdowns or the crying and vomiting in court. Here are seven things to know about the judge:

1. Judge Masipa was born in Soweto—the Johannesburg township famous for the anti-apartheid youth uprisings in the 1980s—in 1947, just one year before apartheid became an official ideology that was supported by a leading political party in the country’s 1948 political elections.

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Participants in a march to commemorate Youth Day in the Soweto Township on June 16, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

2. Masipa received a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a specialization in social work, in 1974 and a law degree in 1990 from the University of South Africa. In fact, she passed South Africa’s version of the bar exam (pdf) in 1990—the same year Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

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                                                                      The University of South Africa (UNISA) at night.

3. Masipa put all that schooling directly to use, quickly exhibiting a knack for public service. Before her judgeship, she worked as a social worker and then as a crime reporter covering racial-discrimination cases. Some reports say that her time as a journalist influenced her decision to practice law.

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4. Masipa maintained her respect and fondness for the field of journalism after becoming a judge. In an 2003 interview, she described how she wants judges to be more transparent and use the media to communicate their court decisions and judicial processes to the public.

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5. She’s no pushover. Masipa once handed down a 252-year prison sentence to a guy who raped three women during a series of house robberies, and a life sentence to a police officer who killed his wife during an argument about their divorce settlement.

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6. In 1998 Masipa became the second black woman to be appointed a judge in the High Court of South Africa.

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7. Masipa’s selection for the Pistorius murder trial was all luck and a routine allocation of court cases—not a “special selection,” a representative from the country’s Department of Justice explained.

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                                                                                    Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa (center)

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As Oscar Pistorius faces trial for murder, a large group of South African women have become like a shadow that the runner seems unable to shake.

In this notoriously violent country, a vocal group of women, most of them black, say they believe Pistorius’ girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was a victim of an all-too-common crime, one that crosses all social and racial boundaries: domestic violence.

Violence against women is stunningly common in South Africa, where a woman is killed every eight hours by her intimate partner, according to a recent study by the well-respected Medical Research Council.

No one doubts that Pistorius killed his girlfriend of three months—the sprinter admitted to the shooting in a sworn affidavit just days after the incident on Feb. 14, 2013. He claims he mistook her for an intruder and did not mean to shoot her four times through a locked bathroom door. The prosecution argues that he knew she was behind the door, and that he meant to kill her.

The suggestion that Pistorius, the famous double amputee whose carbon-fiber blades on the track earned him the moniker “Blade Runner,” may have abused his girlfriend has forged an unlikely kinship in a society still fractured around racial lines. Black women have marched regularly outside the Pretoria courthouse where Pistorius’ bail hearing was held in February 2013.

 

Lunar Eclipse Bible End of Times :Four Blood Moons

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A series of rare lunar eclipses occur between 2014 and 2014, with the first, with the first ‘blood moon‘ eclipse, which took place early Tuesday morning, April 15, 2014.

Stargazers were mesmerizd as they looked up to see the moon blushing, as the eclipse began at about 2 a.m. ET on the early hours of Tuesday and lasted about 3.5 hours. The eclipse was full by 3 a.m. ET

The next three lunar eclipses are expected to appear on Oct. 8, 2014, Apr. 8, 2015 and Sept. 28, 2015.

A lunar eclipse happens when Earth, the sun and the moon align in a way that makes Earth’s shadow falls on the moon, giving the moon a dark color. The moon will appear to look blood-red, which happens when earth deflects the sun’s light.

A small group of Christians see the lunar eclipse series as a sign of End Times and the second coming ofJesus Christ, an event described in biblical prophecy.

This belief is based on biblical prophecy. In Joel 2:31, the Bible says, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD comes.”

Megachurch pastor, televangelist and author John Hagee is warning his congregation and the rest of mankind that there’s a “world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.”

Hagee, who is founder of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, TX, believes the “four blood moons,” (four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses) also known as a lunar tetrad, is a significant event.

The televangelist and author had garnered vast amounts of attention as the date of the first blood moon drew near. Hagee believes the event will change world history, which he discusses in his book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change. He will be airing a TV special on GETV regarding this topic on Tuesday, April 15, the first night of the tetrad.

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The ‘blood moons’ will also coincide with Jewish holidays. This year’s lunar eclipses on Apr. 15 and Oct. 8 concur with the Jewish Passover and feast of the Tabernacle. Lunar eclipses falling on Apr. 4 and Sept. 28, 2015 also concur with the same Jewish holidays.

NASA also believes the lunar tetrad – four successive blood moons – is also very unusual and that it will be a unique sight to behold,

This series of rare astronomical events only happened a handful of times in the last 2000 years.

The last three times have coincided with globally significant religious events.

The tetrad that took place in 1493, saw the Catholic Spanish Inquisition expel Jews. It was an event that changed western Europe dramatically.

The second tetrad took place at the same time the State of Israel was finally established in 1949, after years of struggle.

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The last tetrad, which occurred in 1967 happened at the exact same time of the Six-Day Arab–Israeli War.

“Every time this has happened in the last 500 years, it has coincided with tragedy for the Jewish people followed by triumph. And once again, for Israel, the timing of this Tetrad is remarkable,” Pastor Hagee told Express News.

According to Earthsky.org, three out of four of the blood moons cannot be viewed from Israel.

Although Pastor Hagee believes that the upcoming tetrads are significant, Rev. Mark Hitchcock, a preacher and biblical prophecy expert in Edmond, Oklahoma says he doesn’t believe the eclipses are related to Bible prophecy.

Hitchcock pointed out that while rare astronomical occurrences can often be read about in the Bible, the upcoming lunar eclipses is not one of them.

In his recently released book, “Blood Moons Rising: Bible Prophecy, Israel and the Four Blood Moons,” Hitchcock, who serves as senior pastor of Faith Bible Church, explains his stance on the universe’s upcoming event.

The Oklahomian reports that Hitchcock began writing his book because many people were asking him whether the blood moons were linked to prophecy. His colleagues were also overwhelmed with questions about the ‘blood moon’ eclipses. Hitchcock shared that the growing interest resembled the fascination people placed in the Mayan calendar’s end of world prophecy on December 21, 2012.

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“The difference in the Mayan calendar idea in 2012 was that it really was kind of outside the Christian world.” However, Hithcock stated, “This is a prediction being made by Christian pastors and Christian teachers.” The Oklahoma-based pastor explained that after examining historical and scriptural information, he believes that “the conclusions they draw on this blood moon prophecy of 2014 and 2015 are not valid.”

The eclipse on April 15 was observed from all around the world, from the central Atlantic westward to eastern Australia.

The significance of lunar eclipses is noted in “the Babylonian Talmud, written almost two thousand years ago, and it records in Jewish thinking that whenever the sun is in total eclipse, it is a bad omen for the nations” (p. 31).

However, if only looking at the world through the prism of a Western or Gregorian calendar, one misses the boat entirely: “If we are not on the biblical calendar, we lose all the significance of the totally incredible signs God is revealing to us” (p. 147).  In Pastor Mark book Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, Pastor Mark explained things quite clearly. He alluded to our paying attention to this phenomenon as the “Super Bowl of human history.” While refreshingly making it clear that he doesn’t know what the sign means other than something big is coming, based on previous occurrences, he did cite the possibility of a prophetic war. He also observed, “In the context of the prophet Joel, it mentions twice the moon turning to blood in the context of God’s warning against the nations who divide His land. I believe these could be prophetic warnings not to divide the land of Israel.”

In his book, he asks, “Wouldn’t you want to know in advance of a major catastrophe that would impact your life? Wouldn’t you like to be told when a tornado was about to strike your house or when the stock market was about to tank? … God always warns before He brings judgment. In His mercy, He is sending big time warnings from his heavenly billboards. You can ignore them at your own peril, pooh-pooh them and try to ride out the storm, or you can come to the dress rehearsals and be prepared for what is coming” (p. 63).

Wielding The Word In Perilous Times: “FAITH”

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Sometimes, as we struggle along through and endure these perilous last days, it can seem like the Devil is winning on every front. Oftentimes it truly does seem that every single hallmark of morality and righteousness in the world is not only under demonic attack but is in fact being relegated to the dustbins of society. Sometimes it may seem as though God has totally withdrawn, and that we are left to fend for ourselves. Truly, the chalepos snares of the forces of darkness abound today like no other time in history. The result of these perilous days will ultimately soon culminate in full-scale apostasy during the Tribulation of course. (as the Laodicean Church evolves into the Apostate church) But we members of the terminal generation era (alive at time for rapture) of the bride of Christ need always to ponder and reflect upon the fact that all these ominous signs of the times need not cause us to fear. Rather the prevalent perilous times present today should give us renewed hope and spiritual vigor as we labor onward in this ever darkening world.

Many people fail to understand or to grasp the unique spiritual blessing that is inferred by the phrase, “blessed hope.” The Greek term “makarios elpis,” is the rendered phrase that we as Christians know uniquely as the wondrous “blessed hope.” It is a term that is intended to convey to every Christian alive during the last days, a quiet but assuring message about an imminent gathering with the Lord before the climactic Day of Trouble.

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(Day of the Lord)  The term means that the last days Christian is “supremely fortunate and able to confidently anticipate” the Lord’s coming even as we witness the signs of the Last Days taking place all around us. And what a blessing it is too! Christians should never allow the Devil to rob them of this wonderfulmakarios elpis! The blessed hope and the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ (epiphaneia) are majestically and supernaturally interlocked in the providential plan of God. Otherwise, the Christian of today could not look out across today’s world landscape, and see a view that is overflowing with the ever-advancing forces of darkness, and still yet be filled with absolute confidence and an anticipatory sense of excitement. These perilous times indicate that the time for Jesus return is on the radar screen for Christians and that we, his ambassadors in this world will soon be recalled home. The great tribulation era is simply not on the radar screen for Christians!

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;

 

Some reasons to be encouraged even during the perilous times of the Last Days are the following:

 

  • Jesus has promised his children that he will never leave us nor forsake us. Even in the most perilous of times, the Lord is our constant refuge and strength.

 

Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

 

Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalms 62:7-8; Psalms 118:4; II Corinthians 12:9)

 

  • The providential plan of God does not call for his children to be subjected to the “Day of the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16) when Jesus returns to this world as a Lion! (Revelation 5:5) Yes, God’s plan calls for our withdrawal and rescue!

 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-9 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  • This world is not our home. Heaven holds our citizenship, and as citizens of Heaven, we are presently serving as the Lord’s ambassadors to this present world. We are literally spiritual aliens in this world, and this evil infested world hates us just as it hated Jesus. Our rewards, our crowns, our substance, and our inheritance are all in Heaven. There is an old song that says it plainly: (This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me to heavens open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore!) (Romans 8:17-21; Titus 2:12; Galations 1:4; Ephesians 2:12)

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Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

 

  • Accountability to God is the great motivator for righteous living, and persisting in the faith even under the most trying of circumstances. In the end analysis, we will all  (Christian or non-Christian) discover that real accountability rests solely with God. Accountability should always be a powerful reminder for us to live righteously and soberly in this present world. Every action, word, deed, and thought for every individual will be scrutinized and evaluated by God. No one shall escape God’s strong right arm of justice. Vengeance, mercy and justice belong to him alone, and all earthly kings, presidents, dictators, and all men, rich or poor, whether evil or good will one day be required to give an accounting to God. Anticipating the Lord’s words, “well done good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord,” are wonderful words that should encourage every Christian to endure to the end.

Romans 14:11-12 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Matthew12:36; Matthew 18:23; I Peter 4:4-5; Revelation 20:12-13)

 

  • Jesus is absolutely 100% victorious and he is coming soon to claim his kingdom! Regardless of the perils that we are subjected to while we are in this world, we must never forget the fact that Jesus Christ has already won our salvation and we must also never forget the fact that he will soon return to this earth avenge his/our adversaries.

 

    Jeremiah 46:10 For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries:

Luke 18:7-8 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.

Deuteronomy 32:43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

 

  • The Church is and always will be triumphant! Although the Church will experience the onslaught of Hell, the forces of Hell will never prevail over Christ’s bride. It is true that the Church of these perilous last days will be enamored with the gods of this world and become amalgamated into the Apostate church of the Tribulation. But for us as Christians during these perilous last days, we can labor on for Christ with full confidence that the power that resides in us is more powerful than the anti-Christian powers that are presently peaking in this evil world.

 

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 

Romans 8:33-39 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.        Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Even the great falling away (II Thessalonians 2:3) that is taking place within the church today is cause for spiritual exuberance and encouragement! Even as the modern church is undergoing a phenomenon of a deplorable luke-warmness that is coupled with an abandonment of sound doctrine, we can take comfort in the fact that the Lord foretold that this anemic spiritual condition would reach its climax within the church in the days just prior to his glorious return. The Bible has a name for this kind of enemy inside of the church. It is called apostasy, and involves the workings of the mystery of iniquity. (there is an ecclesiastical enemy inside the church today operating with amazing power) The Greek word from which we derive the word apostasy simply means “a falling away, or a rebellion or revolt.” To apostatize in biblical times meant to desert one’s station or post. (abandon the doctrinal faith) The Greek biographer Plutarch used the word to describe a political revolution. In apostasy, those who profess to be Christians actually pollute and compromise the clear teachings of the Scriptures, turning God’s word into a popular age of fables. The Scriptures also show that apostasy has existed from the church’s infancy and will continue with its highs and lows right up until the Lord returns. The grand apostate will be the Antichrist. The Church has experienced an ebb and flow throughout history, but the falling away will reach such an intensity that it will be allowed by God to result in the coming of the Antichrist and the establishment of a one-world apostate religion. Then and only then will Christ return and establish His kingdom.  For this reason, even as I continue to observe the modern decay of the church and alhough it is a sad scene, I am also greatly encouraged. I am encouraged because I understand that God is preparing to separate the true believers from the pretending believers. The activated blessed hope of every Christian conveys to his spiritual instincts the fact that our stubborn resistance to the spiritual wiles of the antichrist movement is still obstructing his rise to power in this world. The mere fact of the present apostasy should awaken genuine believers to vigilance and readiness for the Second Coming of Christ. For those of us who are on the spiritual front lines of Christian fundamentalism and activism, there is every reason to be confident. Because whatever the finale, whether revival or rapture, the rise of apostasy indicates there is a very happy ending in the near future of all us who truly have faith in the Lord!

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To the many, though dwindling stalwart Christian faithful out there still manning the Lighthouses around our world, let me encourage all of you with these resounding words; Press Onward Christian Soldiers, because Christ the royal master leads against the foe! Be encouraged, even in these perilous days!

 

    1 Peter 1:3-8 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

1 Peter 1:18-20 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

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1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

 

    II Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

 

It’s our duty to save democracy from the authoritarianism emerging from the Executive Branch.

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Every single day, the U.S. government gathers and stores more than a billion phone calls, emails, text messages, photographs and Internet searches.  Just about every form of electronic communication that you can possibly imagine is being harvested.  In fact, it has been reported that NSA personnel gather 2.1 million gigabytes of data every hour.  This is being done even though it is a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution.  Sadly, most Americans do not even know what the Fourth Amendment actually says.  For those that do not know, the Fourth Amendment says the following: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”  Unfortunately, our leaders have totally abandoned the Constitution.  They seem to believe that they have the right to look through our electronic communications any time they want and that we should not complain about it.  As you will see below, workers at the NSA have even eavesdropped on very intimate conversations between soldiers serving in Iraq and their female loved ones back home.  What kind of sick person would do such a thing?  Sadly, the truth is that we have allowed ourselves to become a “Big Brother society”, and we are an utter disgrace to the millions of brave men and women who have died to defend our freedoms.

There was an explosion of outrage on Thursday when the Guardian reported on a leaked document that shows that the Obama administration is collecting thephone records of millions of Verizon customers every single day…

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

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The White House responded by calling this program “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats”, and White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters the following

“The intelligence community is conducting court-authorized intelligence activities pursuant to public statute with the knowledge and oversight of Congress”

So obviously the Obama administration sees nothing wrong with this at all.

Will some of our other “leaders” step forward and condemn this blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution?

Sadly, so far most of our politicians are rigorously defending the program.  Just check out how some prominent members of Congress responded to this story…

Senator Dianne Feinstein: “There is nothing new in this program. The fact of the matter is, that this was a routine three-month approval under seal that was leaked”

Senator Lindsey Graham: “If we didn’t do it, we’d be crazy”

Senator Saxby Chambliss: “This is nothing particularly new. This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) authority and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “Everyone should just calm down and understand this isn’t anything that is brand new. It’s been going on for some seven years. And we’ve tried often to try to make it better, and we’ll continue to do that”

But the collection of phone call metadata is just the tip of the iceberg.

The truth is that government surveillance of Americans citizens goes far beyond what you are being told.

In fact, the Washington Post has just come out with an article about a highly classified program known as PRISM that involves the federal government “tapping directly into the central servers” of nine top Internet companies…

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.

The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who knew about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

So what Internet companies are involved?  Most of the names will be extremely familiar to you…

The technology companies, which participate knowingly in PRISM operations, include most of the dominant global players of Silicon Valley. They are listed on a roster that bears their logos in order of entry into the program: “Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” PalTalk, although much smaller, has hosted significant traffic during the Arab Spring and in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Dropbox , the cloud storage and synchronization service, is described as “coming soon.”

The capabilities of this system are apparently awesome.  Fortunately, one “career intelligence officer” was so disgusted with how our privacy rights were being violated that he decided to leak information about PRISM to the Washington Post

Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

Another whistleblower, former NSA code breaker William Binney, has come forward with some astounding details about what is actually happening over at the NSA.  The following is from a recent Business Insider article

Binney — one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in NSA history — worked for the Defense Department’s foreign signals intelligence agency for 32 years before resigning in late 2001 because he “could not stay after the NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution.”

He’s detailed how, ever since 9/11, the NSA has run a top-secret surveillance program that amasses electronic data — phone calls, GPS information, emails, social media, banking and travel records, entire government databases — and analyzes the information “to be able to monitor what people are doing” and who they are doing it with.

So exactly how much information are we talking about?

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Overall, Binney claims that the NSA has gathered approximately “20 trillion transactions” involving U.S. citizens.

And other NSA whistleblowers claim that the agency “has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email.”

But this is not supposed to be happening.  The NSA is not supposed to be spying on U.S. citizens and it is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution.

But they are doing it.  In fact, they are gathering so much information on all of us that they needed to build a brand new data storage center out in Utah.  According to Fox News, it will have the capability of storing 5 zettabytes of data…

The NSA says the Utah Data Center is a facility for the intelligence community that will have a major focus on cyber security. The agency will neither confirm nor deny specifics. Some published reports suggest it could hold 5 zettabytes of data. (Just one zettabyte is the equivalent of about 62 billion stacked iPhones 5′s– that stretches past the moon.

Why do they need so much storage space?

Well, after you start putting the pieces together, it becomes very clear.

They are illegally spying on all of us, and the American people need to be told the truth.

But of course there are always numbskulls out there that say things like this…

“I don’t have anything to hide so I don’t care if they watch everything that I do.”

Really?

If you think that way, perhaps you will change your mind after you read what some NSA employees have been doing.  The following is from an article postedon theatlanticwire.com

And the NSA would never abuse its awesome surveillance power, right? Wrong. In 2008, NSA workers told ABC Newsthat they routinely eavesdropped on phone sex between troops serving overseas and their loved ones in America. They listened in on both satellite phone calls and calls from the phone banks in Iraq’s Green Zone where soldiers call home. Former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk described how a coworker would say, “Hey, check this out… there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out.” Faulk explained they would gossip about the best calls during breaks. “It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, ‘Wow, this was crazy.’”

We live during a time when government agencies are massively abusing their powers.  We have seen this recently with the IRS, the Justice Department and now with the NSA.

But so far, most Americans don’t seem too upset by all of this abuse of power.  Most Americans are so apathetic that they seem content to let the government get away with almost anything.

In the end, America will get the government that it deserves.  If Americans do not stand up now and speak out, it will be a signal to the government that this kind of behavior is okay and we will see even more of it.

So what do you think about all of the government corruption that has been exposed lately?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Inside the Private Prison Industry’s Alarming Spread Across America

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I recently saw a program of Front-line showing undercover video of poor and abused men, women and children in North Korea. They to have an elite class. They reported on their huge prison system and torture as well and then I realized we have the biggest prison system in the world and have one that is for profit that uses people as currency. This is even more horrific. We also have tens of millions of homeless men, women and children and many children go to bed hungry every day in the richest nation in the history of the world which makes what we are doing all the more egregious. North Korea is a horror show but our nation has become a nightmare for tens of millions both in and out of prison. The whole notion of for profit prisons that makes money by destroying people’s lives is an outrage and an immoral crime against humanity. We can no longer call ourselves a “developed” nation when our judicial polices are so barbaric, lack all sense of justice, principles or ethics, Our prison system is a predatory entity that was invented by sadists and is waging genocide on over a million people just for profit! How twisted and sick we have become as a country.

Nothing new here folks. At first we had slaves and they worked for room and board and little of either. They produced not only the next generation of labor but also provided income since their children were sold off. When the slaves were set free by law for the next 80 years or so Black males were arrested and RENTED OUT as labor, just another form of slavery. Now we are seeing a return to slavery and not just within our prison system.

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Years ago the bankers in England wrote a letter that went something like this. If you own slaves you must feed, clothe and house them but if you control the wages you actually cut the cost but retain the cheap labor. We hear a lot about how Privatizing is better for a free nation which is a lie. OUR nation’s resources have been placed into the hands of a handful of people and those not willing to work for slave wages or can’t find a job will fill the for profit prison system. We moved forward for a few years and most every American prospered but now they are turning back the clock and once again we have become a nation of slaves.

 

On a recent Friday afternoon, with budget negotiations winding down, Arizona state representative John Kavanagh was racing against the clock. His position as House Appropriations Chairman afforded him the opportunity to stuff whatever minor extra provisions he wanted into the budget before it went to a vote the following Monday, and he only had a few hours left to do it.

What was Kavanagh frantically trying to accomplish for his constituents at the last minute? Extra funding for education, since Arizona spends less on educating its children than all but three states? No, Rep. John Kavanagh was trying to secure an extra $900,000 gift for the GEO Group, the billion-dollar private prison corporation whose state lobbyists came to him at the last second begging with upturned hats. The $45 million already earmarked for the maintenance of low- and medium-security facilities wasn’t enough, they said.

The Arizona Department of Corrections didn’t ask for the extra money, nor did anybody push for the prison funds to be included in the Senate budget.

“This came out of nowhere — I mean that,” Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell told the Arizona Republic. “No one said a word about it. It wasn’t in the Senate budget, it didn’t come as a request from DOC. There’s something really shady here.”

For Kavanagh, there was nothing shady about sweetening the deal with nearly a million extra dollars. On the contrary, he says, it was a moral imperative.

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“If somebody cuts you a smoking deal and helps you when you’re down, and you get more money back, I think you morally have a responsibility to increase the payments,” Kavanagh told the Arizona Republic in a taped interview the following Monday.

Kavanagh is referring to the lowered rate-per-bed the GEO Group offered Arizona as the national economy cratered in 2008. The rate applied to emergency “temporary” beds  at two of its facilities to house an overflow of prisoners. In exchange for the discount, the state agreed to meet a 100% occupancy rate for all non-emergency beds at both prisons.

And thank goodness. If it weren’t for the flexibility of the GEO Group, how else could Arizona’s correction officials reach their forecasted benchmark of 43,000 prisoners—a 9.3 percent increase from current levels—by 2016?

In the end, however, the state legislature may nullify Kavanagh’s act of kindness to the private prison industry. Even though the House approved a version of the budget with the extra prison dollars, the Senate Appropriations Committee nixed them, and the two chambers are in the midst of reconciling their different spending plans.

Kavanagh later told the Arizona Republic he would try to retain his gift to the GEO Group unless others found it to be “a deal breaker.”

Baffling, abhorrent, hopelessly out of touch: All criticisms that have been lobbed in the representative’s direction since his frenzied fourth quarter Hail Mary for the GEO Group. But his gaffe makes a lot more sense in consideration of how much influence the prison industry has in his state.

Arizona is one of four states (along with Virginia, Oklahoma and Louisiana) in which state governments are bound to contracts guaranteeing a 95%-100% occupancy in facilities leased by private prisons. Of the four, Arizona’s quotas are the most extreme: as part of the aforementioned “deal” in 2008, prison officials must keep a 100% occupancy rate in the two GEO Group facilities and another facility leased to the state by Management and Training Corporation, according to a 2013 report by In the Public Interest. Paradoxically, this may be costing the state more money: An August 2013 analysis from the Tucson Citizen shows that the “per-prisoner, per-day rates” for those particular facilities have increased by an average of 14% since 2008.

The $45 million allocated for the GEO Group in the state’s new budget not only suggests that lawmakers expect an increase in their prison population, but it also indicates that they have little intention of abandoning policies that casually criminalize its citizens. Since these are low- and medium-security facilities, they will likely be places to house petty drug offenders, who make up20.5% of the state’s entire inmate population.

There are also close linkages between the prison industry and Arizona’s elected officials. The largest and richest prison firm, Corrections Corporation of America, has 22 lobbyists registered in Arizona; the GEO Group, the second largest, has seven. Both companies have given $35,000 and $39,000, respectively, to a number of high-ranking state officials, including Governor Jan Brewer and Representative Kavanagh. And a number of former high-ranking employees in both companies are now positioned in the upper echelons of state political power.

It’s easy to pick on Arizona, and it may be tempting to dismiss its deep ties to the punishment industry as yet another unflattering feature of a backwards political culture. But Arizona is just one card up the industry’s 50-state deck.

While the total prison population in the country grew 16% between 2000 and 2011, the state private prison population grew 106%. Yet despite this astronomical growth, not a single independent study has ever corroborated the incarceration industry’s claim that its services save taxpayers’ money. So why has it grown so powerful?

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Christopher Petrella, a researcher at UC Berkeley who works on issues of race and incarceration, told AlterNet that there are two reasons for this astronomical growth: Official lobbying and revolving door politics.

Nationally, CCA has spent $13,990,000 in lobbying over the last eight years, and fanned 178 lobbyists out across 32 states. Similarly, the GEO Group spent $3,110,000 in national lobbying efforts and has dispatched 68 lobbyists to 16 states in the same period.

Petrella says those figures only tell part of the story. “Official lobbying—the type that requires documentation, oversight and transparency—almost becomes unnecessary with a revolving door between public and private corrections sectors.”

Among some of the bigger players he cites are three former directors of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Harley Lappin, Michael Quinlan and Norman Carlson), all of who went on to chair senior level positions in either CCA or the GEO Group.

With no inherent financial benefit and a pernicious public profile, the industry’s only strength is its buying power.

Sourdough Bread

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Luke 12:1-7

The Message (MSG)

Can’t Hide Behind a Religious Mask

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12 1-3 By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.

4-5 “I’m speaking to you as dear friends. Don’t be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies. True, they can kill you, but then what can they do? There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.

6-7 “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.

Sourdough bread became popular during the California Gold rush of the mid-1800s. In the 1890s, it was a favorite during the great Gold Rush in Alaska. Prospectors would carry with them a small portion of sourdough mix that contained a natural yeast. It could then be used as a starter to make more of their favorite sourdough bread.

In the Bible, though, yeast or leaven can have a negative connotation. For example, In the New Testament “leaven” is often referred to as a corrupting influence, which is hypocrisy”. May I expose myself to a living church tonight and not get devoured? I am not altogether holy nor am I without sin, are you? We need to cultivate a culture within our churches that allow for unsaved or sinners to be completely free to expose their struggles. Transparency equals liberty in Christ. Hypocrites put on a show of righteousness while hiding sinful thoughts and behavior. Christ warned His disciples and us that secret sins will someday be exposed to full disclosure. He said, “There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known” (v.2).

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Be cause of this, we are to reverentially fear God, to ask for His grace to forsake any sin, and to grow as authentic believers. Yeast may be a blessing in the bakery, but it can also remind us to guard against the permeating influence of sin in our hearts. The holiness of God demands a heart that’s within, Yet grace unites with holiness to purge the heart from sin.

THE Jewish or Pharisaic party violently opposed the Gospel from without. Wherever the Apostles went, the Jews who believed not, being moved with envy, stirred up the people against them. They could not endure to hear of the salvation of the Gentiles by Grace through faith! It grated on their ears, for they thought that this doctrine was contrary to the Law of Moses in which they boasted.

They were children of the bondwoman under the old Covenant of Works and they could not endure that the children of the promise should come to the inheritance. They struggled and rebelled against the Gospel of salvation by Grace, for it went against their natural pride and their national exclusiveness.

Yes, and even when any of them, as blessed be the Grace of God was the case, became converted, the old man was still within them and the spirit of bondage was still apt to assert itself. Those who had been of the sect of the Pharisees brought a good share of Pharisaic tendencies with them into the Church—and these were dangerous to the young kingdom of Christ. I scarcely know whether legal principles were not able to do more mischief inside the Church by perverting pure doctrine than they could do outside the Church by exciting persecution.

One can hardly imagine how the Gospel could have escaped being overlaid and smothered by Judaism, like a baby by
its mother, had it not been for the preserving Grace of God and the indwelling Spirit within the Church of God. You
know, Brothers and Sisters, how we mourn, today, that certain who claim to be Christians are laboring most zealously
to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. They invent pompous
ceremonies, observe days and months and are bound by rubrics and regulations—all of which are an idle and needless
servitude to outward forms.

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Certain others would bind us with creeds and ordinances not plainly taught in the Word of God, nor agreeable thereto—of which Peter and John knew nothing whatever—having no force but that which comes of human authority.
The old Pharisaic spirit is a great forger of bonds and builder of prisons! It would subject us to ordinances of, “Touch not, taste not, handle not,” and fetter us with rules of many sorts—for it cannot understand the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. It teaches this and it teaches that, whereof the Apostles would have said, “We gave no such commandment.”

We must contend against this spirit as much now as ever! We must refuse to be entangled, again, with the yoke of
bondage. Christ is all! We are complete in Him and we will not permit a single letter to be added to His perfect Law of
Liberty. Peter, at the great Jerusalem council was enabled, through his experience to answer those who said that unless a
man was circumcised he could not be saved. Depend upon it, Brothers and Sisters, there is nothing like practical work for
Christ to teach us Christ’s Truth!

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For the most part, the heretics of the present day are a clique of literary men, adept at the pen, but quite unable to speak. It may be that their failure in this direction sours them and sets them upon opposing the Gospel ministry. At any
rate, they are a set of theorizers who know nothing of practical service for the Lord! And so they make up all manner of nonsense according to their own fancies.

They sit in their studies and do nothing—and then criticize those who are doing hard service and are successful in it. They are so busy with nibbling their quills and polishing their periods that they care nothing about saving souls! And they are so intent upon making discoveries which shall manifest their own gigantic
intellects that they cannot soil their hands with practical work among the poor and ignorant.
Having nothing upon their hearts, their whole nature runs to their head and the head being unbalanced by a busy
heart takes to spinning cobweb theories and novelties of heresy. Fiercely liberal, the spirit which they manifest against
the orthodox is grandly bigoted—in this they are earnest—but in little else except in engendering grievous errors which are ravaging the Churches and ruining souls. Among the do-nothings all mischief begins! Give a man practical work for
Jesus and keep him at it, and he will, like Peter, learn as he goes and, like a river, filter as he flows. Peter could not continue to believe in restricting the Gospel to the Jews after the Lord had bid Cornelius send for him from Joppa, that he might teach him the Gospel—his actual service refined his theory!

 

Stillness and Uncertainty Is Sometimes God’s Voice Too!!!!

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Ezekiel 3:22

The Message (MSG)

22 God grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “Get up. Go out on the plain. I want to talk with you.”

Have you ever heard of anyone being greatly used by Christ who did not experience a special time of waiting, or a complete upset of his plans at first? From the apostle Paul’s being sent into the Arabian wilderness for three years-during which time he must have been overflowing with the Good News–down to the present day, it seems those who will be used have a time of waiting.  Have you been looking forward to  telling about trusting Jesus, but instead He is asking you to show what trust is by waiting?

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My own experience is far less severe than Paul’s but reveals the same principle. Once when I thought the door was being thrown open for me to enter the literary field with a great opportunity, it was just as quickly shut. There have been recent accounts of periods of waiting for God’s direction that have left me baffled and anxious to move even though I hadn’t heard from God to do so. I was put on pew status, taken from the pulpit and left to sit and wonder what is taking place? There was another time when I couldn’t afford to live, but God met my immediate needs and nothing extra, not going to church on a regular bases due to gasoline and finances, not getting to engage with other believers as I felt I should be doing at all the men’s group functions and church ministry functions. I was put into a serious period of isolation with high aspirations of getting my first book written and Second Chance Alliance “Felon” business opened, but God had me still. I can see tonight the distinct wisdom of having to wait for His shade to manifest itself in my life.

God’s love is unchangeable, and He is just as loving even when we do not see or feel it. And His love and His sovereignty are equal and universal. Therefore He often withholds our enjoyment and awareness of our progress, because He knows best what will actually ripen and further His work in us.

Patience

I laid it down in silence,

This work of mine,

And took what had been sent me–

A resting time.

The Master’s voice had called me

To rest apart;

“Apart with Jesus only,”

Echoed my heart.

I took the rest and stillness

From His own hand,

And felt this present illness

Was what He planned.

How often we choose labor,

When he says “Rest”–

Our ways are blind and crooked;

His way is best.

Work He Himself has given,

He will complete.

There may be other errands

For tired feet;

There may be other duties

For tired hands,

The present, is obedience

To His commands.

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There is a blessed resting

In lying still,

In letting His hand mold us,

Just as He will.

His work must be completed.

His lesson set;

He is the Master Workman:

Do not forget!

                                                                                 It is not only “working.”

We must be trained;

And Jesus “learned” obedience,

Through suffering gained.

For us, His yoke is easy,

His burden light.

His discipline most needful,

And all is right.

We are to be His servants;

We never choose

If this tool or if that one

Our hands will use.

In working or in waiting

May we fulfill

Not ours at all, but only

The master’s will!

I have found in my quest to be a serious committed and surrendered vessel that God provides resting places as well as working places, So rest and be thankful when He brings you, tired and weary, to streams along the way. When God gives me no special guidance, I stay where I am.

 

 

 

 

Education Under Arrest

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FOLKS ain’t got no right to censuah othah folks about dey habits;
Him dat giv’ de squir’ls de bushtails made de bobtails fu’ de rabbits.
Him dat built de gread big mountains hollered out de little valleys,
Him dat made de streets an’ driveways wasn’t shamed to make de alleys.

We is all constructed diff’ent, d’ain’t no two of us de same;
We cain’t he’p ouah likes an’ dislikes, ef we’se bad we ain’t to blame.
Ef we’se good, we need n’t show off, case you bet it ain’t ouah doin’
We gits into su’ttain channels dat we jes’ cain’t he’p pu’suin’.

But we all fits into places dat no othah ones could fill,
An’ we does the things we has to, big er little, good er ill.
John cain’t tek de place o’ Henry, Su an’ Sally ain’t alike;
Bass ain’t nuthin’ like a suckah, chub ain’t nuthin’ like a pike.

When you come to think about it, how it’s all planned out it’s splendid.
Nuthin’s done er evah happens, ‘dout hit’s somefin’ dat’s intended;
Don’t keer whut you does, you has to, an’ hit sholy beats de dickens,–
Viney, go put on de kittle, I got one o’ mastah’s chickens.

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“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunities of an education.  Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right that must be made available on equal terms.”

–  Chief Justice Earl Warren, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

 

The school-to-prison pipeline: an epidemic that is plaguing schools across the nation. Far too often, students are suspended, expelled or even arrested for minor offenses that leave visits to the principal’s office a thing of the past. Statistics reflect that these policies disproportionately target students of color and those with a history of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities.

Students who are forced out of school for disruptive behavior are usually sent back to the origin of their angst and unhappiness—their home environments or their neighborhoods, which are filled with negative influence. Those who are forced out for smaller offenses become hardened, confused, embittered. Those who are unnecessarily forced out of school become stigmatized and fall behind in their studies; many eventually decide to drop out of school altogether, and many others commit crimes in their communities.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the school-to-prison pipeline. Many attribute it to the zero tolerance policies that took form after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Others blame educators, accusing them of pushing out students who score lower on standardized tests in order to improve the school’s overall test scores. And some blame overzealous policing efforts. The reasons are many, but the solutions are not as plentiful.

So how bad is the school-to-prison pipeline? See the stats for yourself, leave suggestions, find programs in your local community, take a stance.

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Facts and Statistics:

–  A 2007 study by the Advancement Project and the Power U Center for Social Change says that for every 100 students who were suspended, 15 were Black, 7.9 were American Indian, 6.8 were Latino and 4.8 were white.

–  The same study reports that the U.S. spends almost $70 billion annually on incarceration, probation and parole. This number lends itself to a 127% funding increase for incarceration between 1987-2007. Compare that to a 21% increase in funding for higher education in the same 20-year span.

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–  Based on statistics from the Civil Rights Data Collection (see sources below), in 2009, the Los Angeles Unified School District reported the following numbers for out-of-school suspensions: 62% Hispanic students, 33% Black students, 3% white and 2% Asian. LAUSD also reported that of their expulsions, 67% of Hispanic students and 5% of Black students were not offered educational services. Lastly, 77% Hispanics and 8% of Asian, Black and white students were expelled under zero tolerance policies.

–  The CRDC also shows that in 2009, the West Valley School District in Spokane, WA expelled 20% Black students and 60% white students and offered no educational services. Of those who were expelled, 10% Black students and 60% white students were done so under zero tolerance policies. Those who were referred to law enforcement included 10% Black students and 80% white students. However, Spokane school districts reported a higher number of enrolled white students. West Valley School district consisted of 86% white students and 4% Black students.

 

–  In St. Louis, MO schools, the Normandy School District’s 98% Black student population drew in the following: 100% of all students who received more than one out-of-school suspension, 100% of those who were expelled without educational services and 100% of those who were referred to law enforcement. In Missouri’s Ritenour School District, 67% of Black students vs. 33% white students were referred to law enforcement.

–  New Orleans, LA has numbers equally as staggering. The Orleans Parish School Board’s expulsions under zero tolerance policies were 100% Black, with 67% of their school-related arrests being Black students. The RSD-Algiers Charter School Association had 75% of their expelled students without educational services black. Furthermore, 100% of their expulsions under zero tolerance policies and 100% of their school-related arrests were all Black students.

 

Below are expanded statistics pulled from the Civil Rights Data Collection, with latest results from 2009.

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Among the key findings:

  • Access to preschool. About 40% of public school districts do not offer preschool, and where it is available, it is mostly part-day only. Of the school districts that operate public preschool programs, barely half are available to all students within the district.
  • Suspension of preschool children. Black students represent 18% of preschool enrollment but 42% of students suspended once, and 48% of the students suspended more than once.
  • Access to advanced courses. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Asian-American high school students and 71% of white high school students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics). However, less than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses in their high school. Black students (57%), Latino students (67%), students with disabilities (63%), and English language learner students (65%) also have less access to the full range of courses.
  • Access to college counselors. Nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor; in Florida and Minnesota, more than two in five students lack access to a school counselor.
  • Retention of English learners in high school. English learners make up 5% of high school enrollment but 11% of high school students held back each year.

As CRDC data indicates the opportunity gap among Americans hurts life-transforming opportunities for children that strengthen and build a thriving middle class. To address these issues, as part of his budget request, President Obama proposed a new initiative called Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity (RTT-Opportunity), which would create incentives for states and school districts to drive comprehensive change in how states and districts identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps. Grantees would enhance data systems to sharpen the focus on the greatest disparities and invest in strong teachers and leaders in high-need schools.

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State-, district- and school-level data may be viewed at the CRDC website at crdc.ed.gov. For more information on the work of the Office for Civil Rights, click here.

Remember: While it’s easy to think the school-to-prison pipeline only impacts particular students and their respective families, we must remember that our whole society will feel the consequences. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. And we must remember that we cannot teach a student who is not in school.

 

 

Felony Conviction-Mind Control-Our Youths Are Targeted and So Are “You”

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Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

We Wear the Mask

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

 

 

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On Feb 2, Joquan Wallace, a student at Paris High School in Paris Texas, asked and got permission from his teacher to use the restroom. Joquan was profiled and followed by the school police officer Joey McCarthy. McCarthy peeped at Joquan under the bathroom stall and when Joquan was returning to class, McCarthy interrogated him as to why he wasn’t using the bathroom closer to his classroom. Joquan told him because he had to do number 2. Joquan had permission to go to the restroom. He was not breaking any school rule, nor was he committing a criminal act. The incident ended in Joquan being assaulted and injured by both McCarthy and Paris High Principal Gary Preston. Both said they told Joquan to go to the office and he didn’t do what he was told. Both Preston and McCarthy claim they were hit when they were placing Joquan under arrest. Numerous witnesses say Joquan never hit anyone. Joquan ended up with two felony charges and a trip to the emergency room with visable injuries. Neither Preston nor McCarthy had any visable injuries according to Joquans parents. Joquan was a good student with no discipline problems. He had no prior arrests. He excelled in sports and had won sports awards for the school. He was up for scholarships from numerous colleges. He was suspended from school. He will not be allowed to walk the stage to graduate with his class. He may not receive any college scholarships. People should support Joquan because its time to end the School to Prison Pipeline. A students future should not be destroyed over an incident that school officials instigated. Hold School officials accountable for bad behavior. It can help prevent this from happening to other students.

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Last May, Jahbriel Morris and seven other students were arrested for events relating to a water balloon fight at Enloe HighSchool in Raleigh, N.C.images (4)

 

Enloe High School is known for its racial and socioeconomic diversity. As a magnet program, it attracts kids from all over Wake County, N.C. But the school also has enough of a crime problem that a Raleigh police officer is permanently assigned to campus.

Last May 16, a massive water balloon fight broke out at Enloe. After a 911 call about the senior-day prank, the Raleigh Police Department dispatched 24 officers to restore order. The heightened security stemmed, in part, from the rumors that the balloons would be filled with urine and bleach. (Police and school officials would later say that there was no evidence of the balloons being filled with any substance other than water.)

In the end, eight Enloe students, all 16 to 17 years old, along with a parent, were arrested following events related to the water balloon fight.

In North Carolina, being arrested as a teenager has enormous consequences. It’s one of two states in the country that consider 16- and 17-year-olds to be adults when they are charged with a criminal offense and then deny them the chance to appeal for return to the juvenile system. The law means that misdemeanor charges stick on your permanent record.

Following the Enloe incident, however, there has been pushback from child advocates over how the state handles teen discipline. This week, Legal Aid of North Carolina is filing a complaint with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, alleging “over-reliance on unregulated school policing practices, often in response to minor infractions of school rules.” The complaint charges that those policies routinely violate “students’ educational and constitutional rights, as well as protections for students with disabilities and for African-American students against unlawful discrimination.”

The issues in Wake County have also resonated nationally. Earlier this month, the federal Education and Justice departments issued new guidance on school discipline, designed to disrupt what’s increasingly called the “school-to-prison pipeline” that critics say lands far too many black and Hispanic students in the courthouse — or jail.

The new guidance, which is voluntary, urges school officials to remember that they, not police officers, are responsible for routine student discipline. It also urges schools to improve faculty training to resolve conflicts without calling the cops.

But in Wake County, the guidance comes a little too late.

The water balloon fight

America Tonight spoke with Kevin Hines, Robert Brown and Jahbriel Morris about the events at Enloe High School last May.
America Tonight spoke with Kevin Hines, Robert Brown and Jahbriel Morris about the events at Enloe High School last May. 
America Tonight

On the day of the arrests, Jahbriel Morris was waiting at the bus with friends. When the water balloon fight began, Morris said he was running away from the ones being thrown in his direction. Soon, a police officer ran up behind him — a “really big guy,” Morris recalled.

“He grabs me,” Morris said. “I snatch away from him. And he turns me around and grabs me by my neck and slams me on my back.”

Morris, then a 15-year-old sophomore, was having a hard time processing exactly what was going on.

“Honestly, when it first happened, the first thing that went in my head was, ‘I can’t believe I’m about to get arrested. I gotta walk my sister home,’ because we ride the same bus,” said Morris, who was ultimately not arrested.

Kevin Hines was in Enloe’s carpool lane waiting to pick up his twin daughters when he saw Morris get slammed to the ground by a Raleigh police officer. “Very, very disturbing,” he said.

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After witnessing what happened to Morris, Hines entered the school to alert the principal. But as he tried entering the principal’s office, Hines was met by the same officer who had body-slammed Morris moments earlier. The police officer, Hines said, radioed in to two more officers who swarmed the parent and slammed him against a wall.

“(The police officer) says, ‘Tase him, tase him,’” Hines said. “And at that point, I said, ‘For what?’ ‘Oh, for trespassing.’” Police did not use a Taser on Hines, but he was charged with trespassing.

Robert Brown, one of the seven students arrested, was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

Walking out of the bathroom, Brown, then a 16-year-old sophomore, said he saw a water balloon being thrown. The water balloon, he said, was coming “from a completely different direction than from where I’m standing.” Then an administrator came from behind him and grabbed his arm and shoulder.

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“He’s like, ‘I saw you throw the water balloon,’” Brown said. “And I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t.’ So they take me to a conference room and they tell me, ‘You’ll probably be arrested.’”

Walking out of the bathroom, Brown, then a 16-year-old sophomore, said he saw a water balloon being thrown. The water balloon, he said, was coming “from a completely different direction than from where I’m standing.” Then an administrator came from behind him and grabbed his arm and shoulder.

“He’s like, ‘I saw you throw the water balloon,’” Brown said. “And I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t.’ So they take me to a conference room and they tell me, ‘You’ll probably be arrested.’”

To what extent does this race gap in school punishments exist across the country? America Tonight broke down the numbers to see how the school-to-prison pipeline actually works, it’s scope and what’s fuelling the racial divide. We trace how suspensions of children can lead to more high school drop outs, and how police involvement in school discipline can end up producing more hardened criminals.


Jason Langberg's data shows a racial divide
Langberg’s data discovered just the racial disparity in punishment among students in Wake County, N.C.
 America Tonight

Langberg said there’s no evidence to support that the black students are acting up more or are acting more severely, but that they are being suspended more often and more harshly. For example, Langberg found that 40 percent of black students in Wake County schools caught with cellphones were suspended last year, while only 17 percent of white students were suspended for the same offense.

“We see differences in disability, race, class,” he said. “Students doing the exact same things are often treated differently.”

Eight months after the Enloe incident, the young men who spoke to America Tonight maintained that they weren’t even involved in the water balloon fight. For them, the day has had a life-altering impact.

“I just want people to know that we aren’t bad kids,” Brown said. “We’re not criminals, you know? We’re not thieves, murderers, anything like that. We (are) just students that go to school who got put in the wrong situation.”

The push for mediation

Wake County schools spend $6 million on policing every year, but crime remains a problem in its schools. In 2011, there were 29 acts of crime and violence at Enloe, including 10 assaults on school personnel and seven charges of weapons possession, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The incidents happen regularly. For example, Tori Davis, a Broughton High School senior, brawled with another girl last year over a boy. Like the kids at Enloe High across town, Davis, 17 at the time, was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. She also got kicked out of school for seven days, which, she said caused her grades to tank.

“I ended up at the end of the year failing English and geometry,” she said.

Last year, Tori Davis failed her English and geometry classes after being suspended for seven days.
Last year, Tori Davis failed her English and geometry classes after being suspended for seven days.
 America Tonight

Jon Powell, a professor at Campbell University Law School in Raleigh, said that what’s happening in Wake County at schools like Enloe and Broughton has both an immediate and long-term effect on students applying for college or trying to get a job.

“To me, the most severe consequence is having a criminal record,” Powell told America Tonight. “Even if they’re never convicted, a charge in the adult system stays on a person’s record.” He added: “Those records are private as I think they should be. And if we could raise the age in North Carolina, part of those protections would be put in place.”

Powell has lobbied the state’s General Assembly to increase the age, an effort that has been unsuccessful so far. But he’s had better luck as the director of the Juvenile Justice Project, which promoted an alternative: mediation instead of a criminal charge.

“We need to keep kids in school,” Powell said. “The answer to success is not in having kids leave school. We need to keep kids in school.”

Luckily for Davis, Broughton is one of a handful of Wake County schools that has signed on with Powell’s approach. More importantly, Powell brokered a deal that allowed her criminal charges to be dismissed. Now, Davis plans to graduate in May and attend Winston-Salem State with a clean record.

Davis knows her story could have had a similar outcome to what happened across town at Enloe.

“That could have been me,” she said.

 

One Equals=One Thousand: Two = Ten Thousand- Build Together A Church

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If Christians are to be the church God wants them to be, they must get over a basic misunderstanding of how the church is to function. It is the idea that the work of the church is to be done by the clergy and that role of laymen and laywomen is to do nothing or, at best, merely to follow where the ordained persons lead.

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Actually, nothing could be farther from the biblical pattern in the New Testament; it is clear that the work of ministry is to be done by all Christians and that the job of the clergy is merely to equip other Christians for that task. This is the meaning of Ephesians 4:11-13. “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

 

False and True Models

In recent years, there has been a new readiness in many evangelical circles to see and welcome this truth, but this has not always been the case. Earlier ages of the church have often been characterized by false patterns of ministry rather than by biblical ones, though, of course, there have always been proper functioning churches and ministries.

In his excellent study of the church entitled One People, John Stott points out that three false answers to the question of the relationship of clergy to other Christians have been given. The first he calls clericalism, the idea that the work of the church is to be done by those paid to do it and that the role of the lay member is at best to support these endeavors financially. How did this false picture arise? Historically, it resulted from the development of the idea of the priesthood in the early Roman Catholic Church. In those days, the professional ministry of the church was patterned after the Old Testament priestly system with the mass taking the place of the Old Testament blood sacrifices. Only “priests” were authorized to perform the mass, and this meant that a false and debilitating distinction between clergy and laity was drawn. Those who favor this view of the church would say that it goes back to the days of the apostles. But his is demonstrably false. As reflected in the New Testament, the early church often used the word “minister” or “ministry” as referring to what all Christians are and must do. It never used the world hierus (“priest”) of the clergy.

There are historical reasons for the development of clericalism then. But these in themselves are not the whole or even the most significant thing. We see this when we ask: Why did such developments take place historically? Was it simply a matter of biblical interpretation? Or did other factors also enter in and perhaps even distort the interpretation?

The real causes of clericalism are found in the human constitution. On the one hand, there is a problem where the clergy themselves are concerned. It is their tendency to want to run the show, to dominate the normal people who attend church. Sometimes this leads to outright abuse or tyranny. If we need an example, we can find one in the New Testament in the person of Diotrephes who loved “to be first,” according to the apostle John who writes about him (3 John 9,10). A warning against such a pattern is found in 1 Peter in a passage conveying instruction to church elders: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (5:2,3).

On the other hand, there is a problem with lay members. Their tendency is to sit back and “let the pastor do it.” Stott quotes a remark of Sir John Lawrence to this effect: “What does the layman really want? He wants a building which looks like a church, a clergy dressed in the way he approves, services of the kind he’s been used to, and to be left alone.” The second false answer to the relationship of clergy to lay members is, understandably enough, anticlericalism. For if the clergy despise the laity or think them dispensable, it is no surprise that the laity sometime return the compliment by wanting to get rid of the clergy.

This is not always bad. We can imagine situations in which the church has become so dominated by a corrupt or priestly clergy that a general housecleaning is called for and is, in fact, necessary in order to right the matter. Times like this have occurred historically. Again, we can think of areas of the church’s work that are best done by lay members, for which the clergy are not at all necessary. But these are not grounds for anticlericalism as the normal stance of Christian people. On the contrary, where the church wishes to be biblical, it must recognize not only that gifts of teaching and leadership are given to some within the church for the church’s well-being but also that there is ample biblical teaching about the need for such leadership. Judging from Acts and the various Pauline epistles, the apostle Paul’s regular practice was to appoint elders in every church he founded and entrust to them the responsibility for the training of the flock for ministry (Acts 14:2320:17). In the pastoral epistles, the appointment of such leaders is specifically commanded (Tit. 1:5) and the qualifications for such leadership are given (1 Tim. 3:1-3Tit. 1:5-9).

The final false model of the relationship between the professional clergy and lay members in what Stott calls dualism. Dualism says that clergy and lay members are each to be given their sphere, and neither is to trespass on the territory of the other. This describes the traditional Roman Catholic system in which a “lay status” and a “clerical status” are very carefully delineated, but it is also true of certain forms of Protestantism. In such a system, the sense of all being part of one body and serving together in one work evaporates, the church is partitioned and rivalry enters in instead.

What is the proper pattern? Ephesians 4:11-13 describes it well, for in pointing out the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are to prepare God’s people for Christian work, it is saying that the proper relationship of clergy to lay persons is service. The clergy are to direct their energy to preparing Christians to be what they should be and to do the work entrusted to them. The laity are to serve the world and others within the church.

Service

Pastors are to serve the Christian community so that the saints might be prepared for service—first, service in and to the world and, second, service within the Christian community. Stressing the first of these is important because the church is so often in danger of forgetting it. As is often the case with families, the church sometimes becomes entirely wrapped up in itself and forgets that it is in the world (and not translated immediately to heaven) for one reason only, that it might be of service to the world. It is to minister in and to the world as Christ did.

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In his excellent discussion of this point in Body Life, Ray Stedman wisely turns to Christ’s own description of his ministry in the world on the occasion of his reading of the Scripture in the synagogue of Nazareth, early in his ministry. He read from Isaiah where it is written, “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 prisoner and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:1819; cf. Isa. 61:1,2).

Some of these prophesied actions involve natural activities, some supernatural ones—in the case of Christ healing the blind, for example—but, as Stedman points out, there is a sense in which those who are Christ’s are nevertheless to do each one. There is a work of evangelism, described as preaching good news to the poor. There is a service ministry in which captives are freed and the blind healed. This may be literal; our equivalent would be work with prisoners and various forms of medical service. It may also be spiritual in the sense that those who are captive to sin are set free by the truth of God
(John 8:32) and those who are spiritually blind are made to see (cf. John 9). Third, there is a ministry of mercy to those who are oppressed, a ministry of liberation. Finally, there is the proclamation of hope to a world that has almost lost sight of hope. It is the assurance that this is the age of God’s grace, the age in which he is accepting those who turn from sin to the Savior.

Each of these forms of ministry involves the gospel and may be viewed spiritually. But we must not lose sight of the fact that they also involve true physical service in the world. We should not forget Jesus’ story of the sheep and the goats and the basis of their judgment. Christ’s point was that his disciples, the sheep, must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and encourage those in prison. We must all someday meet the Lord for an accounting.

There are many spheres in which the Christian can perform these forms of ministry—in the home, on the job, through voluntary welfare agencies, even through church-directed public service projects. The important point is that Christians must perform them as one part of their calling.

Building Up the Body

The second end for which the saints are to be equipped is building up the body of Christ. The many verses that use the words “one another” or “each other” tell us what this responsibility implies.

1. We are to love one another. This demand is first on the list, for it is emphasized most and in a sense includes everything else that can be mentioned. We find it in John 13, where Jesus gives us his new commandment: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (vv. 34, 35). It is repeated again twice just two chapters later. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (15:12). “This is my command: Love each other” (15:17). Paul picks it up in Romans saying, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). He tells of his prayer on behalf of the Thessalonians: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you” (1 Thess. 3:12). He writes, “Ydownload (3)ou yourselves have been taught by God to love each other” (1 Thess. 4:09). In 1 John, the command to “love one another” occurs five times (3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12), and it appears again in the second letter (v.5).

This love is not to be mere sentiment, still less a profession in words only. It is to be “with actions and in truth,” as John says in his description of it (1 John 3:18). It is to be seen in such practical matters as giving money and other material goods to those of our fellowship who lack these necessities (v.17).

2. We are to serve one another. Paul speaks of this in Galatians showing that service is an outgrowth of love: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Gal. 5:13). Our example is Jesus himself, who, in the very chapter in which he instructs us to love one another, demonstrated the servant character of love by removing his robes, dressing himself in the garb of a servant and stooping before each of his disciples to wash his dusty feet. He then observed, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have
done for you” (John 13:15).

Does this mean that fellowship is to be expressed in feet-washing? In some cases, it could. But the obvious meaning of the Lord’s act was that we are to be servants generally, that is, in all ways. It is the specific task of deacons to lead us in such service. As small groups we may serve together in supporting a Christian work in the area of the city in which we meet, helping in special projects needed by the church, visiting the sick, taking a turn caring for the elderly, helping members of the church to move from one dwelling to another and scores of other such things. Without some such common concern
and service, Christian fellowship is maimed.

3. We are to carry one another’s burdens. This is Paul’s instruction inGalatians 6:2. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” It is an obvious outgrowth of the command to love one another, for this is what Paul is specifically referring to as the law of Christ. We love by helping shoulder the cares that are wearing down our fellow Christian.

Small groups are particularly important if we are to do this effectively. For how are we to carry another’s burdens unless we know what they are? And how are we to learn about them unless we have a context in which Christians can share with one another honestly? There are many problems at this point, one of which is our natural reluctance to let our hair down and confess what is really bothering us. If we have problems with our school work or at home with our children, we hesitate to say so because admitting to what may be a failure leaves us vulnerable. We worry about what others may think. Again, if we are having marital difficulties, we are afraid to admit that this is the case. We keep it in, and the problems build to the point where they sometimes prove unsolvable. How are Christians to learn to share their burdens in such areas? The easiest way is through a natural building of acceptance and confidence in the small group setting.

4. We are to forgive one another. Quite a few texts talk about the necessary element. The obvious reason is that we frequently wrong one another or are wronged and so need to forgive and be forgiven. Here are three texts on this matter from the apostle Paul. Ephesians 4:3132—”Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Colossians 3:1213—”Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Ephesians 4:1-3—”As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

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We learn from these verses that, although the early church had a high degree of true fellowship, at times it also had troubling moments in which bitterness and wrath erupted and the peace of the church was threatened. If peace was not destroyed, it was because Christians learned to be patient with one another and forgive the slights, whether real or imagined.

5. We are to confess our sins to one another. James says, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (5:16).

In opposition to the Catholic doctrine of confession, in which confession is made to a priest and absolution or remission of sins is received from him, Protestants have stressed that the proper biblical pattern is mutual confession in which one Christian may confess to another and be assured by him that God has pardoned the sin and has forgiven him through Christ. This is the Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, and it is a very important concept. We who are Protestants must admit, however, that confession of this type, while biblical, is nevertheless more common among us in
theory than in practice. And it is probably the case that many, perhaps most Protestants go through life without ever confessing anything to anybody. To judge from our speech, one would think that we do not sin and never have problems.

How destructive this is of true fellowship! How wonderfully helpful it would be if Christians would honestly admit their difficulties and draw upon the much needed prayers and counsel of others for their struggle. James obviously intends this result; in encouraging us to confess our sins to each other, he links the matter of confession to prayer and promises that such will be helpful: “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (v.16).

6. We are to instruct one another. If we do not know the Word of God and do not walk closely with him, we cannot do this. We have no right to teach another. On the contrary, if we do know the Scriptures and are close to God, it should be true of us as Paul said it was of the Christians at Rome; “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another” (Rom. 15:14).

7. Finally, we are to encourage one another. Paul speaks of this in writing to the Thessalonians, who had recently lost some of their number through death. In their case, this was accompanied by confusion about the doctrine of Christ’s second coming, and Paul wrote to them to explain what this would mean in regard both to themselves and to all those who would die while waiting for it. He explained that Christ would return and that those who had died in Christ would be the first to be raised in their new, Christ-like bodies. Moreover, there would be a reunion as the spirits of these, now clothed in their
resurrection bodies, would be united again with those other believers who would then still be living. After reviewing this theology, he concludes, “Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18).

Mutual edification contributes to the health of the church, and this relates to the important first area of service in that an unhealthy church can hardly minister to the world properly. What is it that keeps the church from being the kind of godly influence Christ obviously intended it to be? Disunity is one thing. A church expending all its energies fighting within itself can hardly be of much use elsewhere. Ignorance is another cause of failure. If the church does not understand the issues of the day or the solutions provided by the gospel, it cannot help the world even though it is not divided internally and is
anxious to help. The church can also be hindered by immaturity. It can be weakened by sin. Each of these faults can ruin the church’s effectiveness, and that is why Paul speaks of “unity in the faith . . . knowledge of the Son of God . . .maturity [manhood] . . . the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

How are we to get to that point? The answer is that each Christian is to help others. Each! It is not the job of the minister alone. His job is to equip the saints to do the work of building up the body of the church and minister to the world.

Feed My Sheep

How are evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints for this work? How long must the work of equipping be done? The answer to the second question is “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,” that is, throughout the entire church age until Christ returns for us. The answer to the first question is clearly: by teaching, preaching and living the Word of God.

In biblical languages this is often described as “feeding the sheep,” for the work of pastor-teacher is similar to the work of a shepherd in caring for and especially feeding his sheep. The idea is present in the Old Testament (cf. Ps. 77:20), but it is far more important in New Testament usage, probably because it is based on Christ’s special words of instruction to Peter after the latter had denied Jesus three times just before his crucifixion. Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

We notice even before we look at the nature of the responsibility that the sheep are called Christ’s sheep. They are his in two ways. First, by creation; he made them. Second and even more importantly, by redemption. On an earlier occasion the Lord has said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). In speaking to the Ephesian elders just before his final departure to Jerusalem, Paul said, “Guard yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). If the flock were ours—whether as ministers, elders, or even as parents (thinking now of our children of whom we are overseers)—we could do with it as we wished or as we thought best. But if it is Christ’s, as it is, then we must do as he wishes, recognizing our responsibility to him.

The specifics of that responsibility are that those with the gift of being a pastor-teacher (clergymen, elders, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders) are to “feed” those sheep entrusted to their spiritual care. They are to do that by teaching, sharing and in any other way communicating the Word of God.

There is a sense in which this all applies quite broadly, for there are very few who do not have some degree of responsibility for someone. We are all usually undershepherds in some way. But it is a special word for preachers, because the task of teaching the Word of God is particularly their own. The normal preacher has many functions. He must administer, counsel, visit and do scores of other things. But just as the primary responsibility of a carpenter is to build and a painter to paint, so the primary responsibility of a pastor is to teach the Word of God. Indeed, if he does not, how can he expect the other
undershepherds of his flocks to fulfill their own share of this responsibility?

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There is a decline in this area today, first in regard to teaching and then generally in preaching. There are several reasons for it. First, attention has been shifted from preaching to other needed aspects of the pastoral ministry, things like counseling, liturgies, small group dynamics and similar concerns. These things are important. They are part of a minister’s work. But they should not, indeed they must not, shift attention away from his primary responsibility, which is to teach the Word of God. Moreover, the two are not in opposition. For it is when the Word of God is best preached that these other concerns are best cared for. An example is the age of the Puritans. Preachers in this period were noted for their mature expository sermons. Their material was so weighty in some instances that few today are even up to reading it. Yet, this does not mean that other aspects of the ministry were neglected. On the contrary, worship services were characterized by a powerful sense of God’s presence, and those who did such preaching and led such services were intensely concerned with the problems, temptations and growth of those whom God had placed under their care.

A second possible reason for the decline in preaching is the contemporary distrust of oratory. People in our day are sensitive to being manipulated and dislike it. Since preaching is clearly directed to moving people (and not merely instructing them), this seems to be manipulation, and some turn from it. The trouble with these explanations is that, although they have an element of truth about them, they are both based on external matters or external situations and so miss the internal or fundamental cause of preaching’s decline. What is the answer in this area? The answer is that the current decline in the preaching and teaching of the Word of God is due to a prior decline in a belief in the Bible as the authoritative and inerrant Word of God on the part of the church’s theologians, seminary professors and those ministers who are trained by them. Quite simply, it is a loss of confidence in the existence of a sure word from God. Here the matters of inerrancy and authority go together. For it is not that those who abandon inerrancy as a premise on which to approach the Scriptures necessarily abandon a belief in their authority. On the contrary, they most often speak of the authority of the Bible most loudly precisely when they are abandoning the inerrancy position. It is rather that, lacking the conviction that the Bible is without error in the whole and in its parts, these scholars and preachers inevitably approach the Bible differently from inerrantists, whatever may be said verbally. In their work, the Bible is searched (to the degree that it is searched) for whatever light it may shed on the world and life as the minister sees them and not as that binding and overpowering revelation that tells us what to think about the world and life and even formulates the questions we should be asking of them.

Yet the work of equipping is to be done not only by speaking the Word of God but also by living it, as we have indicated. This is what Jesus was referring to when he used the image of shepherding of himself. For in describing his work he said, “When he [that is, himself] has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him” (John 10:4). He means that he does everything first. He sets the pattern which others are to follow. So should all those whose task it is to equip other Christians.

 

The Person of Becoming “A Church”

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“I am a church” is my declaration. Mortar and clay isn’t the church I am, I see myself as the fingers and hands being used by God to proclaim the gospel. I hope we all become what God sees us as “His bridegroom” the living church.

When I was a kid growing up I would spend the summer with my grand parents in North Carolina on their farm, one of the annual jobs I always looked forward to was the “chicken harvest.” I guess I should apologize in advance for the somewhat graphic nature of this illustration; however, it best illustrates my point. Nonetheless, I looked forward to the chicken harvest. No, I wasn’t some deranged youngster, there was something I considered out of the ordinary that would always happen and it amazed me. Now, for those who have never experienced this, well, let me say it’s not for anyone with a weak stomach. You see, on our farm, the chicken harvest was woman’s work, but being a young boy, I was allowed to participate. The chickens would be caught early in the morning and brought to my grandmother. She would then methodically remove their heads. Here’s where the amazing part happened. With their heads gone, these chickens would run around the yard like crazy. I just couldn’t believe it. It just amazed me. Once, I asked why the chickens did this? The answer – “they don’t know they are dead yet!”

Laodicea was a very, very wealthy city, founded by Antiochus II and named after his wife Laodice. The city was strategically located where three highways converged, thus it was highly commercial. It was well known for its banking industry, its manufacture of black wool and a medical school that produced eye ointment. The wealth in the city had been used to build theaters, a huge stadium, lavish public baths and fabulous shopping centers. Sound familiar? Sounds like any typical American city. So wealthy was this city that when an earthquake almost entirely destroyed it in 60 AD, its wealthy citizens refused help from Rome in rebuilding the city. If you were a real estate agent at the time it wouldn’t be hard to sell Laodicea. It was a great place to live. The land of opportunity. Sound familiar? The only real negative about the place was its lack of an adequate water supply (we will deal with the details regarding this shortly).
The church here in Laodicea was most likely founded by Paul. He actually wrote a letter to them that was lost (cf. Col. 4:16). It will be quite apparent when we “get into” the text that the Christians here had become victims of their environment. Indeed, a valuable lesson for us all today! Vs. 14 To the angel of the church in Laodicea write…

For those of you who were not in our class, there is no commendation here! In writing to the other six churches, Jesus found something good to say, he recognized something positive about the congregation. Not here!
The Amen… says this – In the Greek, this phrase means firm, stable, sure, established and trustworthy. What point is Jesus trying to get across? He’s saying, “Don’t kid yourselves, what I’m about to say may shock you, but you can take it to the bank!”
The faithful and true Witness… says this – Who is on trial? This church! Who is the key witness? Jesus Christ. Thus, there can be no excuses, it’s time for an honest examination followed by honest repentance and a genuine desire for a change of life.
The Beginning of the creation of God, says this – Jesus is the origin, the cause, the Creator of all things (cf. Col 1:16-17). He is the Creator of this earth and the things in it. Unfortunately, the Christians at Laodicea had grown to love and put their faith in the “things” of world, not their creator!
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Vs. 15: I know your deeds…

What a powerful and sobering truth! Jesus knows our deeds, both individually and as a church. Jesus knew all about the church at Laodicea, the details of which we will get to momentarily. What about us? Does Jesus know our deeds? This is not one of the key issues I want to focus upon in this lesson; however, when I ponder this truth… well, it stands as a sobering reminder for us all to examine ourselves from time-to-time. A couple of passages come to mind here: Mark 4:22: For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it should come to light. Col. 3:17: And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…

Jesus, the true and faithful Witness, indeed, He knows our deeds! Now, back to the text before us. What were the deeds of the church at Laodicea? Look again at verse 15. Jesus says they are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. What is Jesus saying here? We all know the answer, He’s saying they are lukewarm!
This is perhaps the most familiar passage in the book of Revelation. Many, many lessons and sermons have been given from this text. Lukewarmness is a characteristic which is most despised among Christ’s churches, even today! So popular is this verse, we often fail to recognize that the Laodiceans were guilty of another serious sin which is often overshadowed by their lukewarmness. We will deal with that momentarily. But first, what is lukewarness? According to the dictionary, it means lacking warmth of feeling or enthusiasm. To a Christian, it describes a state of indifference, complacency, or apathy. Perhaps because they are self-satisfied, or feel self-sufficient. In reality, they are like a chicken with its head cut off – dead, but don’t know it yet!
How would you describe a lukewarm church today? If I were to take your definitions, what would be included? How about a church that just goes through the motions. They gather to worship and mindlessly go through the motions. There is no heart, no zeal, no focus in their worship. When they sing, it’s just blah! When they pray, study, and remember our Savior at the Lord’s Table, their minds simply wander. They don’t worry about spreading the gospel, visiting the sick, carrying for the those in need – they don’t do anything for Christ! Would that be a lukewarm church?

Wait a minute, let’s look at verse 15 again, Jesus knew their deeds, in particular they were lukewarm. But what about Jesus’ desire for them? He said, I would (I wish) that you were cold or hot. Now I understand His desire for them to be hot. Have you ever wondered why He would prefer them to be cold?
He is using a local, well known problem relating to their water supply to allegorize a spiritual meaning. I told you we would eventually get to this. This is a sort of parable, if you will!
Laodicea, as rich as it was, had a serious water problem. The city’s water was “piped in” from six miles out. It came to them along an aqueduct. By the time it arrived it was lukewarm. The city of Hierapolis, just seven miles north of Laodicea, was famous for its hot springs. Colosee, less than ten miles away, was known for its cool water. What was Jesus saying to them in His desire that they be cold or hot? He’s saying their spiritual condition is of no benefit. He would rather they be spiritually beneficial like a refreshing drink of cold water or like the soothing warmth of the hot springs! What’s the message? If we are simply going through the motions, if our heart is not in it, if we are not living and working for Christ everyday of our lives, we are of no benefit to Him! I don’t know about you, but that thought scares me!
How does this condition of lukewarmness really make Jesus feel? Let’s look at the next verse in our text. Vs. 16: … I will spit you out of My mouth.
Again, did my chicken harvest illustration make you sick at your stomach? If so, it accomplished the desired effect for a church’s lukewarmness makes Jesus sick at His stomach! Jesus says that because of their lukewarmness, because they are of no spiritual benefit, He will spit them out. The Greek word here means “to vomit.” John could have used another Greek phrase that means simply “to spit.” If a church of our Lord has become so passionless, so indifferent… if a church of Christ has become of no spiritual benefit, if we as individuals have become of no spiritual benefit, it makes Jesus so sick, that He wants to vomit! Folks, this should make us all examine our walk with Him. Jesus knows our deeds. There are no secrets. Where do we stand with Him today?

Lukewarmness, being of no spiritual benefit is a serious issue; however, as stated earlier, because we have given this topic so much attention, another serious sin at Laodicea is often overlooked. Let’s continue reading our text. Vs. 17: Because you say, “I am rich,

Here we find the second spiritual problem with the church at Laodicea. They had become infected with the love of material things. Perhaps the most dangerous point made here is the fact that they are so “caught-up” in their wealth, they were unaware of their sinful state – they were dead and didn’t know it!

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We could approach this from many different angles. We as American’s are so blessed. Compared to most of the world, we are a modern day Laodicea. There is a very, very important lesson here for us today! Our time is running short and there are so many points one could make here. When I read and contemplate the message here as it relates to me, here’s what I consider:

Giving – I’ve often listed things that my family spend money on during any given week – we eat out, costing a family of four anywhere from $20 to $50; we go to the movies, another $20; we buy toys, toys, and more toys for the kids; we take vacations, we collect things… well, you get the point. I find myself comparing our discretionary spending (spending on things that I could do with out) to what we give the Lord each week.

Self-dependence – Can we get to the point in our lives that we have so much and are doing so well that we think we don’t need God?

Thanksgiving – Can we get to the point where we have so much and are doing so well that we fail to realize and be thankful for the source of all our blessings?

Priorities – Can we get to the point where we have so much and are doing so well that we become slaves to our things? Can our priorities change such that we put having things, doing things, more and more things in front of God?

Jesus knew the condition of the church at Laodicea. Not only were they wretched and miserable (dead and didn’t know it), notice again what Jesus says about their condition in the later part of verse 17: they are poor blind and naked.
Jesus, in pointing out their areas of misery, contrasts all the riches of the city.

Poor – there was plenty of money here, but they were spiritually poor.

Blind – known for it’s eye salve, yet all of the salve in the world wouldn’t cure their spiritual blindness.

Naked – known for the finest wool in the world, all of which couldn’t cloth their spiritual nakedness.

Is there a cure? Let’s continue to read our text.

Vs. 18: I advise you…

If Jesus were to give us advise today, do you think it prudent to follow it? The truth is, He is giving us advise today, we are all reading it together. What was His advise to them and any today who are “dead and don’t know it?” To buy from Him! Jesus provides the only true cure for spiritual sickness. It can’t be found in banks, goods, medicine or in any worldly treasure. A true cure can only be found in Christ! How do we do that? Let’s continue with our text.

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Vs. 19-20: Those whom I love… repent.

Though blinded by their wealth, love of material things and lukewarmness, Jesus still loved them and provided an opportunity for repentance. The same is true for us today. He stands at the door and knocks. We have to make the next move, it’s our responsibility to open it!

 

Psychology, Gospel, Theology: What Is The Parallel?

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The church today is anemic spiritually for many reasons, but one of the major reasons has to be the loss of biblical content in so much of contemporary preaching. Pop psychology substitutes for the Word of God. Feel-good messages on “Five Ways to Be Happy” and “Three Ways to Love Your Mother” have become the steady cotton candy diet fed to the average church. Today’s sermonic focus therefore is on application. But application, without textual warrant for such, does not “stick;” it needs the glue of textual meaning. Biblical content accordingly must precede application; how else can we possibly know what to apply? Thus, in the headlong rush to be relevant, People magazine and popular television shows have replaced Scripture as sermonic resources. There are other signs of this anemia: In some churches, the music portion of the worship service has lengthened while the sermon time has diminished. No wonder so many spiritual teeth are decaying in our churches.

Biblical preaching, especially when it is done in a creative way, will always meet the needs of people, felt or otherwise.

Eloquent nonsense abounds in many pulpits today; sometimes it is not even eloquent. The conjuring adroitness of many preachers who keep producing fat rabbit after fat rabbit out of an obviously empty hat is the marvel of much contemporary preaching. There is mounting evidence that people are beginning to grow weary of these trite pop-psychology sermons. Biblical preaching, especially when it is done in a creative way, will always meet the needs of people, felt or otherwise. Only biblical preaching can meet the ultimate spiritual needs of people.

Preach the Word … in a text-driven way!

As I prepare to look into the medicine cabinet of my bible I have this question, how is psychology and the gospel  relevant?  Many people are now interested in the relationship between religion and science, but links between Christian belief and psychology have been relatively neglected.

Psychology is sometimes rejected altogether by evangelical Christians on the basis that it is a flawed discipline. Evangelicals are threatened by what they might call spirituality hiding behind the veil of science. But psychology must be viewed properly, as must theology, in order to interpret and apply its claims correctly. The Bible may be considered revealed truth, but it is not the only truth God has revealed to humans. The Bible is God’s revelation to man in written form, and is reliable as long as it is interpreted and applied properly. God has also given man truth
which is outside of, and consistent with, His written revelation. This truth is discoverable through observing creation and through scientific experimentation. It is through this general revelation that the social sciences have discovered truths about man which have enabled man to better understand himself and his relationships with others

The nature of integration in science is to work together two fields. Both theology and psychology are sciences, and therefore must be treated as such. Just as hermeneutics is not God’s Word itself, neither is theology. They both fall under the scientific heading of the study of God’s Word. The sciences of theology and psychology can be integrated just as any other sciences can. The difference is that special consideration must be given to theology due to the subject it is treating. Any discussion of the integration of Biblical principles and the principles of psychology also necessitates a proper understanding of what is at stake. The issue is not just theology and just psychology. It comes down to philosophy and world view. The struggle of integration was already taking place in early church days, mostly through the work of Greek philosophers. The debate about where to draw the line is a long-standing one.

 

                                                                                                     Classical Greek Dualism

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In classical Greek dualism there is a physical realm and a spiritual realm, a separation of the body and the soul . Philosophers created only two categories for people to use in approaching humanity. This poses many problems. If this is the case, then in physical matters such as medicine, one does not have to bother himself with morality: “One of the attractions of the dualist view appeared to be the notion of the soul as a detachable spiritual entity, associated with the body but not identified with it” . The spiritual dimension was reserved for things other than the material and the mental. Social sciences such as psychology would be classified in the spiritual dimension.

This separation has crept imperceptibly into modem thought, and since psychology is made out to somehow be a part of the spiritual dimension, it is often critiqued by Christians as if it were. Psychology could never pass a test of doctrine, it could never hold up if it were passed off as inerrant and true. Christians, then, are apt to reject psychology altogether in favor of the higher thing in the spiritual dimension, the Bible itself. But psychology is not in the spiritual dimension. The two overlap, but are not the same.

Psychology is a separate discipline, not a subset of theology. If a man went into a church and claimed to know a great deal about group dynamics, he would not automatically be considered a theologian.

His findings might supplement the theologian, whose primary job it is to remind people that what God has said is right and what God has said is wrong. When religion adopts a dichotomous reasoning, polarizing itself from other disciplines in the same way Greek philosophy would polarize spirit and matter, it also breaks down relationships between God and the world. “Such a view of the sacred as completely separate from the mite world parallels the compartmentalized epistemology that sees religion as completely separate from science” . Certainly the divine has a special nature, but it is not cut off from the rest of life.

On the contrary, it should permeate the rest of life. Although psychology is not synonymous with theology, it also cannot be separated from it.

                                                                             

                                                                                 Written and Spoken Revelation
The Bible is primarily about two issues: one’s relationship with God and one’s relationship with people. But the Bible never claims to have all the truth of God when it comes to relationships with people. For example, there is no group theory there. Dr. Lawson in the counseling department at Liberty University called this the two book theory. He said God has a written revelation and a spoken revelation, the world. These two should never conflict, and if they do it is only in human understanding. “All truth is God’s truth,”  whether found in the Bible or in nature. Whether a Christian discovered 2+2=4 or not, it is still true. Paul wrote on this subject to the church at Rome two thousand years ago. The King James translation of Romans 1 :20 says, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” God has revealed Himself to us, therefore making men accountable to Him for truth, whether they had a copy of the Bible or not. Everything that is true is from God, and gives glory to God.

 

 

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                                                                                       Types of Spoken Revelation
In addition to the Bible, God also allows His truth to be revealed through science, and even psychology. The Bible does not claim to contain everything that we need to know about plumbing or about schizophrenia. Technical things about the brain and the hypothalamus are not in the Bible. In fact, Wallace Clift asserts that for religion to be able to “meet the needs of its day it must be in accord with, and understandable in the language of, the scientific knowledge of the time” .

We cannot assist the people living in our culture if we are not keeping up to date with their needs and how best to meet them. We have no excuse when the Lord has put psychology at our disposal. It is laziness to avoid it altogether simply because it takes work to evaluate what aspects of psychology are useful and what are not.

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Bible never intended to contain all truth. The Bible does have a lot to say about counseling and how to speak with people. Psychology expounds on those things to develop how we can apply them to people in a counseling setting. Many of the foundational aspects of psychology are in the Bible. However, it does not, and God never intended it to, contain all the truth there is in the world. John 21 :25 even says that Jesus did more while He was on earth that was not recorded because books could not contain all of the information!

It is dangerous ground to walk upon when one is speaking of the Bible. It is true that ”the Bible stands alone as God’s only perfect guide to life and growth” . The Bible is absolutely complete and dependable. The fact that psychology can be helpful in counseling does not mean that the Bible is lacking in some way. It only means that psychological theories should not be thrown out altogether. They do hold value in the specific application of principles that are found in the Word of God.
We have established that truth can be found outside the Bible itself, and also that psychology provides years of experience and research that can be filtered through Scripture and applied in practice. What truth is found there at the end can and should be used. Theologians Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart (1982) say, “Wisdom is the discipline of applying truth to one’s life in the light of experience” . Applying psychological truth to the foundation of Biblical truth wisely meets the needs of man.

God’s Word is always accurate, but unfortunately, man’s interpretation of it can be inaccurate. For example, in our country’s early history pastors were saying that God condoned slavery. On the other hand, psychology can also be incorrect in its scientific interpretation of a matter. So when theology and psychology conflict, we must look at
everything, remembering of course that the answer could be that it is so complex we do not even have an answer.

Human error is not limited to interpretation, but also extends to application. In Romans 1: 18 Paul says that there are men that “hold the truth in unrighteousness.” He is talking to the Romans, who were highly intelligent people. He is saying that there is truth but people are suppressing it from them by explaining it incorrectly. These Romans are people that have only thus far had natural revelation, and Paul tells them they can know the truth and are without excuse. God judges people and He does it on the basis of natural revelation because that genuinely and sufficiently reveals Him.

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They should have honored God because they looked to nature and gave Him credit for what He created.

On any given Sunday in today’s preaching pantheon, one can observe a diverse group of devotees, some paying homage to the chapel of “creativity,” others sitting at the feet of the “culturally relevant.” Some are transfixed at the nave marked “narrative,” while others have their hearts strangely warmed at the chasse of “pop-psychology.” There is never a shortage of worshipers at the “new homiletic” altar, and the “topical” shrine always receives its share of Sunday patrons. Fearful that some as of yet undiscovered homiletical “method” might be missed, the gatekeepers of the pantheon have installed an altar inscribed “to the unknown preaching method.” It is that method which I declare unto you. Actually, the method itself is not “unknown” at all, and like the true church on earth, it has always had its practitioners in every era of church history.In fact, it is the oldest method in the preaching pantheon, having been used by the earliest preachers as far back as the apostolic era of the church. It is called “expository preaching.

”Fearful that some as of yet undiscovered homiletical “method” might be missed, the gatekeepers of the pantheon have installed an altar inscribed “to the unknown preaching method.”

 

 

 

I Wish You Understood Our Struggle- Fort-Hood Shooting Once Again

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At least one person is dead and 14 others were injured after a shooting erupted in Fort Hood, Texas, which may have involved more than one suspect, according to numerous news outlets.

The entire base is currently under lockdown and multiple victims were reported near the Battle Simulation Center on 65th and Warehouse Ave.

CNN reported that a suspected shooter died during the incident.

The FBI and the ATF were on the scene along with military police and local law enforcement.

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On Monday, Fox News reported that the FBI sent a tip to multiple law enforcement agencies entitled “Planned Ft. Hood-inspired Jihad against US Soldiers by Army Recruit,” which told them to be on the lookout for a recent Army recruit known as “Booker, also known as Mohammad Abdullah Hassan” who was allegedly planning an “imminent jihad.”

But the news outlet updated the story yesterday stating that he was no longer considered an immediate threat by the FBI.

FLASHBACK: FBI, military hunt ex-Army recruit suspected of plotting ‘Ft. Hood-inspired jihad’

Ft. Hood was also the scene of a mass shooting on Nov. 5, 2009 where Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, killed 13 people and injured more than 30 others.

As this day began I arose with anxiety and uncertainty of where I was exactly. After a few hours of reflection I was able to funnel the emotions I was encountering. I was in Kuwait and Desert Shield reliving the trauma associated with each of those encounters. The weather being dark and gloomy coupled with showers didn’t make my emotional state any better.

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The dissociation I experienced before hearing this horrific news of another soldier really made me feel like I just don’t want to be here anymore because I am afraid of acting out like this myself. While all of us would like to believe that we are going to escape the occurrence of terrible events in our lives, the chances are that any one individual will experience at least one major trauma in their life.

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Emotionally overwhelming events can send shock waves through every aspect of our lives. They can damage our psychological stability and take away our sense of well being. Uncontrollable, devastating experiences usually generate feelings of being unsafe, powerless, and vulnerable.

They can cause a group of symptoms called Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is as powerful and difficult to cope with as any other psychological disorder. A traumatic event may be a one time occurrence, such as a serious car accident, witnessing a
murder, or being raped. Or it can be a series of repetitive events such as ongoing incest or combat. Trauma may be physical, psychological, or a combination of both.

 

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Some people react more strongly to such events than others. Or two people may develop different types of psychological symptoms in reaction to trauma. This is because the impact of negative events is heavily influenced by the way in which it is perceived. For example, suppose that two different persons are involved in a car accident. Afterwards, one is frightened and has
difficulty riding in automobiles because they are convinced that they are going to die. They have difficulty driving and are bothered by images of another car running into them head on. They may blame themselves for reacting slowly and not getting out of the way in the original accident.  Another person may react differently. They may totally blame the other driver who hit them. Their reaction may be one of anger and retaliation through lawsuits. For them, the accident may prove that life is unfair and that others cannot be trusted. While they continue to be preoccupied by the wreck, they may have less anxiety and depression. They may instead feel primarily angry.

 

Did You Know?
–In North America, 17,000,000 people experience traumatic events each year, and of
those, 25% go on to develop PTSD.

–Forty percent of Americans have been exposed to a traumatic event before the age of
30, and of these one in four will develop PTSD.

–Current estimates are that 45% of women will be raped at some point in their lifetime.
The lifetime rate of occurrence of PTSD in rape victims is 35%.

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–The trauma of rape produces the highest rate of long term PTSD symptoms of any
single traumatic event. Survivors are more depressed a year after victimization than
they are immediately following the assault. And many have not recovered as much as
four to six years after the rape.

–Three percent of women develop PTSD after an aggravated assault.

–Ten to 30% of car accident victims will develop PTSD.

–Only 4 out of every 1000 soldiers in World War I probably had PTSD, but 31% of Viet
Nam vets had the symptoms of this disorder.

–Between 16% and 34% of women are physically abused by their partner at some point
in their lives. Some estimates are as high as one out of every two women experiencing
such abuse.

–34% of boys and 48% of girls reported attempted or completed sexual victimization.
Fifty to 70% of psychiatric patients report being abused as children.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

People are generally very relieved when a traumatic event finally passes, feeling that now they can put the situation behind them and that everything will be alright. But emotional distress can sometimes occur to a degree that it leaves an enduring imprint upon a person’s life. Sometimes, people have difficulty coming to terms with frightening memories, and they may be strongly affected by them for years to come. They can become frozen in time so to speak. Images related to trauma can linger or resurface years later, and along with them can come feelings of terror or depression. Sometimes, the aftermath symptoms begin immediately following a stress. Other times, they being only years later, such as after a policeman has retired, or after a physically traumatized wife leaves an abusive marriage. Early repetitive childhood abuse can be so devastating that it actually interferes with the development of a sense of self and adversely affects the very foundation of the personality. When symptoms interfere to a significant degree with a person’s life, it may be an indication that they have developed a condition termed “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD).

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PTSD can occur in crime victims (such as in rape, assault, or bombings); witnesses to violent crimes; civilians and soldiers in war zones; victims of natural catastrophes (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods); victims of animal assaults; traumatic accident victims; victims of child abuse; and medical personnel and volunteers who assist in accident and disaster situations. PTSD can affect every area of a person’s life. Emotionally it can create feelings of anxiety, anger, guilt, loss of self-esteem, helplessness, loss of trust, and irritability. In terms of a person’s thinking, it can lead to confusion, difficulty concentrating and remembering, difficulty planning for the future, negative thoughts about the future, and intrusive memories. Following a trauma some people feel like they
are going crazy. Some may be filled with nervous energy while others feel exhausted and unable to perform even minimal daily tasks. Some react by withdrawing while others want to be surrounded by people 24 hours a day. Some feel solely responsible for what happened while others are enraged at the people or events whom they blame for the experience. Although PTSD is categorized as an anxiety disorder, it can also include additional emotions such as depression, shame, guilt, anger, and grief. Trauma victims may also have difficulty imagining that there is a future for them. This experience is referred to as having a “foreshortened future.”Trauma victims generally feel that they are now different from others. Their experience seems so removed from normal human events that they feel set apart. They believe that others cannot really appreciate what they are experiencing and what they have been through.

 

 

 

Beware of What You Eat: Eat Your favorite Celebrity

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There are many reasons why you’re better off choosing natural whole foods in lieu of processed alternatives, but one of the primary ones is that junk foods contain additives that increase your toxic load, which in turn may increase your tendency to develop cancer. As of yet, there is NO medical research to back up the assertion that manipulating your taste buds in the way Senomyx’ products do is safe and healthy in the long term. As an example, I would point to the evidence now available showing that one of the reasons why artificial sweeteners do not work as advertised is because the taste of sweet itself is tied into your metabolic functioning in a way that we still do not fully understand… As a result, artificially sweetened products, oftentimes boasting zero calories, actually result in greater weight gain than sweetened products when used “in the real world.”

It’s easy to forget that the processed, pre-packaged foods and fast food restaurants of today are actually a radical change in terms of the history of food production. Much of what we eat today bears very little resemblance of real food. Many products are loaded with non-nutritive fillers — purposely designed to just “take up space” to make you think you’re getting more than you really are — along with any number of additives. Many additives have been shown to have harmful effects on mood, behavior, metabolic functioning and biochemistry.

Now, with the introduction of untested engineered flavor enhancers, you’re left wondering whether processed foods with “cleaner” labels really are safer and healthier or not… Remember, because Senomyx’ flavor enhancers are used in such low concentrations they are not required to undergo the FDA’s usual safety approval process for food additives.

The disease trends we’re now seeing are only going to get worse as much of the processed foods consumed today are not even food-based. Who knows what kind of genetic mutations and malfunctions we’re creating for ourselves and future generations when a MAJORITY of our diet consists of highly processed and artificial foods that contain substances never before consumed by humans in all of history.

When you eat real foods as opposed to “food products” like the ones being “enhanced” by Senomyx’ technology, you don’t need artificial, lab-created flavors or flavor enhancers, because real foods taste delicious. The fact that processed foods taste good is the culmination of a profitable science of artificial flavors, enhancers and additives, without which most processed food would taste and look like shredded cardboard.

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Real food naturally has vibrant colors, rich textures, and is authentically flavorful. For times when you want to add even more oomph to your meals, nature has provided herbs and spices, which are not only incredibly tasty but also will make your real food even healthier.

 

 

A company is aiming to take advantage of the mindless celebrity worship culture by planning to feed fanatics their favorite celebrities.

celebmeatHundreds of people are petitioning celebrities to donate tissue samples toBiteLabs.org, a company that says it will produce “artisanal salami” from celebrity tissue samples for human consumption.

“How do you connect with celebrities?” a video promo for BiteLabs asks. “TV? Over the Internet? At Concerts? BiteLabs gets you so much closer. We take celebrity cells, grow them into muscles, making robust, flavorful, healthy, eco-friendly artisanal salami. We bring you celebrity meat.”

 

 

 

“Here’s how it will work,” explains the Los Angeles Times. “A sample of tissue containing myosatellite cells (the type of cells that help repair and regrow damaged muscle) will be taken from a person during a biopsy. Those cells are multiplied in a lab using a medium that acts as an artificial blood to grow muscle.”

The company already has a few celebrities in mind, such as James Franco, Jennifer Lawrence, Kanye West and Ellen DeGeneres, and even recipes they believe complement their personalities.

The end result, BiteLabs testifies, is a “high-quality, luxury protein, in a sustainable manner that eliminates the environmental and ethical concerns associated with traditional livestock production.”

Hungry yet? Maybe their promo vid will entice you..

While eating human muscle tissue may sound cannibalistic, BiteLabs claims its meat will be free of “animal cruelty, waste and from the environmental impacts of industrial farming,” and that it is simply fulfilling the next step in food evolution.

“In 1931, Winston Churchill predicted a future in which all the world’s meat would be grown in labs; what, he asked, was the sense in raising a whole chicken merely for the sake of its wings or breast meat?.. Today, In-Vitro meat production is close to becoming a reality..”

While BiteLabs’ idea is indeed disgusting, and possibly a well-coordinated hoax, increasingly more horrific ingredients are really being used to produce foods.

Last month, scientists in Spain found “The trick to making sausage healthier may be baby poop.”

“Bacteria from baby poop can help make delicious sausages, which could transform savory meats into health foods much like probiotic yogurts, according to new research,” reported Live Science.

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And in 2011, Japanese scientists announced their success in turning human excrement into an edible meat-like texture.

“According to the latest reports, some people who actually ate the ‘turd burger’ have said it tastes like beef,” the International Business Times reported.

Or if none of the above strikes your fancy, how about a tasty cricket protein bar?

It’s evident a Brave New World of food is here, but there will always be detractors who will resist eating people and poop.

For instance, when asked whether he’d prefer celebrity salami, baby-poop sausages or a sh*t burger, Infowars editor Kurt Nimmo stoically replied, “I’ll have the carrots.”

Pepsi Using Aborted Fetal Cells is Ordinary Business Myth or Truth

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PepsiCo has come under fire from pro-life advocates because it has been contracting with a research firm that uses fetal cells from babies victimized by abortions to test and produce artificial flavor enhancers.

Now, the Obama administration is set to face more criticism because an agency has declared that Pepsi’s use of the company and its controversial flavor testing process constitutes “ordinary business.”download

 

 

 

 

 

In a decision delivered February 28, the Security and Exchange Commission ruled that PepsiCo’s use of aborted fetal remains in their research and development agreement with Senomyx to produce  flavor enhancers falls under “ordinary business operations.”

 

 

 

 

Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director of Children of God for Life, the organization that exposed the PepsiCo- Senomyx collaboration last year, informed LifeNews today that a letter signed by Attorney Brian Pitko of the SEC Office of Chief Counsel was sent in response to a 36-page document submitted by PepsiCoattorneys in January 2012. In that filing, PepsiCo pleaded with the SEC to reject a Shareholder’s Resolution filed in October 2011 that the company “adopt a corporate policy that recognizes human rights and employs ethical standards which do not involve using the remains of aborted human beings in both private and collaborative research and development agreements.”

PepsiCo lead attorney George A. Schieren noted that the resolution should be excluded because it “deals with matters related to the company’s ordinary business operations” and that “certain tasks are so fundamental to run a company on a day-to-day basis that they could not be subject to stockholder oversight.”

 

Vinnedge said she is appalled by the apathy and insensitivity of both PepsiCo executives and the Obama administration.

“We’re not talking about what kind of pencils PepsiCo wants to use – we are talking about exploiting the remains of an aborted child for profit,” she said. “Using human embryonic kidney (HEK-293) to produce flavor enhancers for their beverages is a far cry from routine operations

Vinnedge said PepsiCo also requested the resolution be excluded because it “probed too deeply into matters of a complex nature upon which shareholders cannot make an informed judgment.”

“In other words, PepsiCo thinks its stockholders are too stupid to understand what they are doing with the remains of aborted children,” she said. “Well they are about to find out just how smart the public really is when they turn up the heat on the world-wide boycott.”

Vinnedge is warning consumers to be on guard for the roll-out of PepsiCo’s newest beverage that claims to cut sugar and calories by 50%.  The product is called Pepsi Next and is anticipated to hit the market in the coming weeks. Since PepsiCo stated that their goal with Senomyx is to produce new beverages with reduced sugars and calories, she wonders if Pepsi Next is the new Senomyx-PepsiCo creation?

“While fetal components are currently not in the final product, there is growing concern among consumers that it could happen in the near future.  With the explosion of health foods on the market, there is nothing to stop companies from using fetal remains as protein ingredients,” she told LifeNews. “Impossible, you say?  Actually because of GRAS rules (Generally Accepted as Safe) it might not even trigger FDA oversight. And that has consumers plenty worried about just what might be “next” from the industry.”

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She says the latest development makes Oklahoma Senator Ralph Shortey’s SB1418 banning the sale of products that are developed with or contain aborted fetal remains critically important for consumer protection.

“We commend the Senator for his courageous move,” noted Vinnedge. “The public is already saying no thanks to all Pepsi beverages and Pepsi Next is just that – the “next” product to avoid.”

As recently as May, Pepsi ignored concerns and criticism from dozens of pro-life groups and tens of thousands of pro-life people who voiced their opposition to PepsiCo contracting with biotech company Senomyx even after it was found to be testing their food additives using fetal cells from abortions.

“The company’s key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products,” the Senomyx web site says. “Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”

Vinnedge explained, “What they don’t tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors. They could have easily chosen animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors.”

 

 

More Control- New Laws In The UK

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The social and economic costs of child abuse and neglect are difficult to calculate. Some costs are straightforward and directly related to maltreatment, such as hospital costs for medical treatment of injuries sustained as a result of physical abuse and foster care costs resulting from the removal of children when they cannot remain safely with their families. Other costs, less directly tied to the incidence of abuse, include lower academic achievement, adult criminality, and lifelong mental health problems. Both direct and indirect costs impact our society and economy.

 

 

 

A new law in the UK which will criminalize the “emotional abuse” of children could target parents who drink alcohol in front of their children as child abusers, giving the state an opportunity to snatch kids on the flimsiest of pretexts, with parents being punished with up to ten years in jail.

 

Under the new “Cinderella Law,” denying love to children could be characterized as a crime in the same league as physical or sexual abuse. The definition of such “abuse,” being solely in the hands of the state, opens up a pandora’s box of potential behaviors that could warrant government interference in family life.

Writing for the Independent, Frank Furedi, a professor of sociology at the University of Kent, warns that virtually any behavior that could be perceived as harmful to children could be ensnared by the new law.

“Once the emotional behaviour of parents becomes a target for policing, every mother and father is at risk of being labeled an abuser,” writes Furedi, adding, “These days, parents who smoke or drink alcohol in front of children risk being characterised as child-abusers….Health activists denounce parents of overweight children for the same offence. Mothers and fathers who educate their children to embrace the family’s religion have been characterized as child abusers by anti-faith campaigners.”

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The professor also draws attention to the ambiguous list of examples of child abuse defined by The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which include “making fun of” what a child says, which is an integral part of virtually every family’s life where parents and children trade jokes at each other’s expense.

The Cinderella Law is merely the latest example of the state extending its tentacles into family life in the UK, following the passage of the Children and Young People Bill in Scotland, which assigns every child in the country a “state minder” from birth.

Christian groups have complained that the law, which was passed in February, represents a contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights and are demanding a judicial review before the legislation is enacted.

Fat and obese children are routinely removed from families by social services in the United Kingdom, but not before they are placed under “Big Brother” surveillance with social workers moving in to homes to strictly police eating habits, impose curfews and monitor lifestyles.

Free Compliments

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Complimenting is attractive for many people. Most people prefer to and view it as more constructive to say something positive than to say something negative. After all, who does not want to be appreciated for what he does? Although everybody makes mistakes now and then, most people mean well, don’t they? This way of reasoning is surely plausible which may explain why I frequently hear people saying that is good and important to compliment frequently. They claim that this is the best way to motivate people. It is correct that complimenting can be useful. An adequate compliment provides us with the type of feedback that can help us become aware of which of our behaviors are effective. Furthermore, a compliment can make you realize that there is someone who is paying attention to you and who feels involved with what you do. This is why complimenting effectively can be useful in different contexts like parenting, education, management and co-operation.

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But is complimenting really always so pleasant and motivating? There are also people who are skeptical about the use and value of complimenting. Some say that they often see compliments as insincere and exaggerated as if it were some kind of trick. Others say they often get suspicious when they are complimented (“What does he want from me?”). Still others say they don’t like to be complimented because it gives them the impression that the other person looks down on them (“Who does he think he is to judge me?).

What’s the deal with compliments? Are the advocates right or the skeptics? My answer is that both the advocates and the skeptics are right. Complimenting can be valuable but only in certain circumstances and when done skillfully. In those cases the advantages can be achieved while negative side effects can be prevented.

Read:Proverbs 16:20-30
The Message (MSG)

Proverbs 16:24-Gracious speech is like clover honey—
good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.
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During a time of economic crisis and depressing news, Me and a cohort at Syracuse University decided to lift the spirits of people on campus with some encouraging words. For two hours every Wednesday afternoon, we stood along a busy walkway holding large “Free Compliments” sign and saying nice things to everyone who passed by. “I like your red coat.” “Cool snow boots.” “Very nice smile.” Some students said they deliberately walked past “the compliment guys” every Wednesday just to hear a kind word.

I was struck by the increase of traffic that had began to flow by us as well as the people expectancy of the people with the soul goal of commending us, rather than finding fault or being critical. Is that how I, as a follower of Christ, view others each day?

Instead of being like the person who is focused on evil and whose speech is “like a burning fire” (Proverbs 16:27), we can take a different approach, knowing that what we say begins deep inside us. “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones”(vv.23-24).

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Kind words may be free, but they give a priceless lift of spirit. Why not encourage someone today?

The power in words can build up or tear down–
Create a big smile or produce a sad frown;
So in all your contacts with people each day,
Be sure to encourage in all that you say.

A gentle word of compliment falls lightly but it carries great weight. n whatever situation you are in, you can show your respect, support and love by consciously choosing your words and speaking them with a kind and loving attitude. Yes, it takes diligence and restraint, but if you choose to be careful about what you say and how you say it, you can succeed, even in the toughest situation.

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Kind communication is other-centered and honest. Using “І” statements instead of the accusatory “You” statements is a simple way to communicate well.

Instead of saying, “You never clean the counter,” you can say, “I feel unappreciated when I have to always clean the kitchen counter.” It’s a simple twist with a big reward. The listener feels empathy for you, instead of feeling accused by you. These little examples are choice nuggets for anyone that is in the positions that deal with the public or who have suffered with abusive behavior.

Salvation Is Not Cheap: σωτηρία, ας, ἡ … Cognate: 4991 sōtēría (from 4982 /sṓzō, “to save, rescue”) – salvation, i.e. God’s

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We are all by nature, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, unclean and defiled in God’s sight. For before Him all our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). Any and every man in his own name, and on the grounds of his own merits has no approach to God and no standing in the presence of God. He must find his cleansing and his moral fitness outside of himself if he desires “to ascend to the hill of the Lord and stand in His Holy place!”

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First there must be a stripping of self (Phil. 3:7-9). A repentance from following the sinful way of man and then after this confession of his guilt and repentance, as with Adam and Eve, we must also be clothed by a garment which came by the blood sacrifice of another (Gen. 3:21). Then we will be cleansed and covered in the robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:1-4 – (10) 11 Revelation 7:9-13-17

ZECHARIAH 3:1-5
SATAN REBUKED & MAN CLEANSED
[Isaiah 43:1-7]

The fourth vision deals with the problem of sin. Before the promised blessing of inhabiting God’s holy habitation can come about, there must be a spiritual transformation in Israel. God’s people, both then and now, have fallen into the mire of sin. Spiritual restoration must occur before God’s called out ones can fulfill their priestly ministry to the world. Both Israel then and God’s people by His new covenant have rebelled and experienced the ensuing filth and marring of sin because they have refused to heed the Word of the Lord.

Here Satan takes these sins of disobedience and prosecutes them before the Lord, making his case that they-we are neither worthy of salvation nor able to be servants to God. But here we have the glorious picture of the Angel of the LORD rebuking Satan and giving the representative of the people, and thus the people, full and final acceptance before God.

God’s people have been called to glory but because of their grievous sins and moral defilement, they must be cleansed or be excluded forever from the holy habitation of the Lord God. (Our text reveals the fact that the exceedingly great and precious promise has been given to the representative of His people, the great High Priest, when He returned from His redemptive mission for fallen man.) Let man understand that their salvation and restoration cannot rest on their own merits of worthiness but only upon the grace which cleanses and gives righteousness to His chosen people who let their great High Priest represent them.

This vision, using very graphic symbolism, is about the restoration of God’s people who having found inner deliverance from sin and its moral defilement will inherit salvation’s outward manifestation and all its attending blessings partially set forth in the first three visions.

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THE LORD REBUKES SATAN, 1-2.
Verse one introduces the three main characters featured in the new vision. Then he showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

Joshua was the high priest who returned with the governor Zerubbabel at the head of the first colony of 49,697 exiles from captivity some sixteen years before. The name means YHWH is salvation. Jesus is the Greek translation.
The Angel of the LORD’s divine character, which shines out in a most striking manner in this vision, can be none other than the pre-incarnate Christ, the second person of the holy trinity. (See Josh. 5:13-15; Judg. 6:20-22; 13:19-22).

The high priest Joshua is standing before the Angel of the LORD expressing that he is in attendance upon or ministering to the Lord before whom he stands. The high priest is the mediator of his people. He stands before the Lord representing the nation. This was understood in Israel where the high priest represented the entire nation before God on the Day of Atonement each year.

The scene may be imagined as the high priest engaged in his high priestly duty of interceding for mercy on behalf of the people he represents. The Angel of the LORD comes down to answer his plea. But Satan, the sworn enemy of the church of God, with jealous eyes, looks on preparing to interrupt by his accusations in this dramatic court room trial. The prosecuting attorney is Satan, the defense attorney is the Angel of the LORD, the judge is the LORD, and the accused is the high priest. The decision; what to do with the sinful people whom the high priest represents.
Satan’ means ‘an adversary’ or ‘accuser’. Here he is specifically identified as ‘the adversary.’ Why God allows Satan to stand before Him as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10) is not answered in Scripture. But we do perceive a part of Satan’s character here. First, he lies and lures mankind into sin(s) and then when the seduction is accomplished, he turns around and becomes man’s accuser.

That is a solemn truth which should never be forgotten. A Christian’s sins do accuse him before the bar of God. They are all made visible there. But it is not mere malice against Israel or us which brings the deceiver there as our accuser, it is Satan’s hatred of God and his desire to frustrate God’s plans to show His love toward us.

In verse 2 the Angel of the LORD steps in and defends His people against their accuser. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebukes you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”

Blessed be the Sovereign LORD! Our adversary may accuse us but it is not in his power to condemn us. Only the Judge has the power to condemn and also to acquit.

Read 1 John 2:1-2. Even though guilty we need not fear the accusations or the fury of Satan. For we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is our representative. Satan may roar but we, who can and do appeal to our High Priest who is also our judge, will never be devoured. All we must do is submit our wills to Christ and stand in the strength of Christ against Satan and God will send him fleeing (Romans 8:33-39).

The LORD rebuke you Satan! When God rebukes it involves a withering of power and suppression in the rebuke. When the LORD rebuked the Red Sea, it dried up (Ps. 106:9; Mk. 4:39). Notice that we don’t rebuke Satan, God does. Jude 8-11

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The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem–What continually keeps us attached to God is not our strength to hold on to Him but His choice of us. If our position as God’s redeemed people depended on our faithfulness, then we would have all lost our salvation long ago; but our hope rests safely on the unchangeable character of God who has a hold of us. God acquits not because Satan’s accusations are false but because of God’s love for His people.

Here the choice of Jerusalem is used to signify the final working out of God’s purpose on earth which culminates with Jerusalem becoming the reigning earthly city despite all the enemies roaring and devouring.

Satan was seeking to thwart God’s purpose, or to suggest that in some way the divine choice of Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 11:13, 32; Ps. 132:13-16) was wrong. The LORD’S rebuke is not merely an expression of displeasure or disapproval at the sentiments expressed by Satan. It is accompanied by divine power to give effect to the rebuke.

Is this not a brand plucked from the fire? The Angel of YHWH bases His answer to Satan’s unrecorded accusations on the grounds that what His people had already suffered was punishment enough for their sins. Fire, of course, is a symbol of punishment.

And in a terrible sense, sin lights its own punishment fires. Israel had just been plucked from captivity, the Land of Babylon, where they were paying the penalty for their disobedience. God removed them from the utter destruction of the flame.

[PICKED FROM THE FIRE] John Wesley never forgot a terrible night of his childhood. He was only six years old at the time, and he had awakened in the family’s old rectory to find it ablaze from top to bottom. Everyone else had been dragged from the building, but by some extraordinary oversight he had been forgotten. At the very last moment, just before the roof fell in with a crash, a neighbor climbed on another’s shoulders and pulled the terrified child from a window. Later that scene was drawn for Wesley, and he kept the picture until the day of his death. He wrote under it this verse in the third chapter of Zechariah: “Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?”

Wesley’s experience in being literally saved from fire was unusual, but all of God’s people experience it in a far more important sense. Jesus Christ has rescued us from the fires of hell. We too are encouraged to do so for others. Jude 23 reads, “save others snatching them out of the fire.”
[Christians too are in a testing fire. And the time we spend on this earth is the only hell we will ever know.]

CLEANSING AND CLOTHING, 3-5.

A further description of Joshua’s condition is given in verse 3 to help clarify the situation. Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel.

The reason for Satan’s accusations is Israel’s impurity. The word for filth here Tsoyim is the strongest expression in the Hebrew language for filth of the most loathsome kind. Excrement would be a mild translation for it. And so the garments of the peoples’ representative are sickly defiled. This loathsome, smelly filth are the sins of the people as viewed by the Holy One. Only a forgiving God can love a people so deeply who are so defiled.

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[LUTHER’S INK STAIN] Some of you may know someone who has visited the WARTBURG CASTLE in Eisenach, German. The tour guide regularly points out to the black spot on one of the walls of the room which Luther occupied during his benevolently intended imprisonment. Let me share the legend connected with it is this spot. One night during this mournful solitude, when suffering from great depression, because, as he himself expresses it in a letter to Melanchthon, dated May 24, 1521, “I do see myself insensible and hardened, a slave to sloth, rarely, alas! praying–unable even to utter a groan for the Church, while my untamed flesh burns with devouring flame”–the great Reformer dreamed that Satan appeared to him with a long scroll, in which were carefully written the many sins and transgressions of which he was guilty from his birth, and which the evil one proceeded to read, mocking all the time that such a sinner as he should ever think of being called to do service for God, or even of escaping himself from hell. As the long list was being read, Luther’s terrors grew, and his agonies of soul increased. At last, however, rousing himself, he jumped up and exclaimed: “It is all true, Satan, and many more sins which I have committed in my life which are known to God only; but write at the bottom of your list, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.'” Then grasping the inkstand on his table he threw it at the devil, who fled. The memorial of the event being left in the ink-splash on the wall.

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No picture can be painted too black of God’s peoples’ disobedience, backslidings, and apostasies. No human lips can sufficiently describe the heinousness of God’s peoples’ sins and transgressions. But when all the long and lengthy indictments have been read, write at the bottom of the list, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (Jer. 31:37; Lev. 26:44).

In verse 4 the Angel takes action that neither Joshua nor mankind can take for themselves. “And He spoke and said to those who were standing before Him saying, “remove the filthy garments from him.” And again He said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”

In the first three visions reveal God’s grace toward His people in the judgment of her enemies and in the restoration of them and their land. How can an infinitely holy God have such plans with a sinful people? How can the wondrous manifestation of divine mercy to them be consistent with God’s righteousness (Ezek. 36:16-32)?

God has given us the answer prophesied long before the actual event occurred. When the great High Priest took our defiling filth upon Himself and gave Himself as sacrifice for it and us. If by faith we have united our self with the High Priest, Jesus Christ, then He represents us before the Judge. Therefore, there ensues a wondrous transference of character. Our sins become His and His righteousness becomes ours. He takes our sin away and imputes to the sinner who receives His offered grace is His own righteousness. Praise the name of Jesus!
The act envisioned here is performed by the attendants in strict adherence to the Lord’s command and is symbolic of what happens to the individual sinner be he Jew or Gentile who trusts Christ. God never alters the Robe of Righteousness to fit the man, but He alters the man to fit the robe.

Two elements occur in this transaction: First, the taking off–the removal of the filthy garments from him is emblematic of the taking away of sin (Romans 3:25, Eph. 1:7). This action is the result of forgiveness for sin.
Second, the putting on–the clothing in festive robes portraying the imputation, clothing of the righteousness of God through Christ accounted to the believing sinner (Romans 1:16-17). The symbolic transaction of the old character being removed and the new character of purity, joy and glory being given as its replacement.

Note the striking contrast from the filthy, smelly excretement stained garment to the splendid, costly, pure robe (Romans 3:22-26). God not only forgives, He clothes us in the costly robe of Christ’s righteousness.

First He cleansed, then He clothed and now He crowns in verse 5. Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the Angel of the LORD was standing by.

A glistening turban completes the attire. This is not such as might be worn by anybody but is the type of headdress worn by princes and kings. The high priest wore a turban that had written upon it (Ex. 39:30-31) godesh layahawah; Holy to the Lord. Every person who received the Christ in this life will one day be made completely holy to the Lord.
Here we see the LORD standing by approving and directing Joshua’s cleansing, clothing, and crowning because of the fact that God’s mercy and righteousness were bestowed on the basis of the messianic servant’s substitutionary atonement.

Naked Church Congregation Bares it All for Christ

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And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.Genesis 2:25 KJV

When God created the world Adam and Eve had no clothing, they worshiped God and went through their day without clothing or shame of being naked because they didn’t know that they were naked until the serpent came and tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit therefore awakening them to the knowledge of good and evil. In today’s world everyone and everything has been perverted so much so that they have come to believe that as long as they worship and believe in God and that Jesus died and rose in three days for the remission of their sins that they can worship the way they see fit.

Today when people go to church to worship God, some deck themselves out in hats, flashy suits etc. and some of us wear jeans and t-shirts. We all who love God believe that in order to worship God that it doesn’t matter what we wear or don’t wear. Today there are so many different beliefs in doctrines and dogmas, yet we still all believe in One God.

Worship and customs of Rastafarians;
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The meetings are referred to as Reasoning sessions. They provide a time for chants, prayers and singing, and for communal issues to be discussed. Marijuana may be smoked to produce heightened spiritual states.

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The first great Supreme Court freedom of religion case was decided in the middle of World War II in West Virginia v. Barnette. In one of the Court’s most frequently quoted passages it said:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

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In the Barnette decision, the Jehovah’s Witnesses asserted that it was against their religious beliefs to pledge allegiance to a flag; they believed that their allegiance should be pledged solely to God. Because of their deeply held religious beliefs, Jehovah’s Witnesses children who declined to recite the pledge in unison with others were expelled from schools. Their parents were thrown in jail and attacked and beaten on the streets in America. In the Barnette case, the Supreme Court finally sided with the ACLU and came down squarely in support of religious freedom and the freedom of conscience of religious believers.[6]

Whether we think of Madison’s Memorial, or the Supreme Court’s Barnette decision, we should constantly remind ourselves that religion is a fundamental right that needs to be protected for individuals, families, and religious communities. The government has no business telling any American what to believe in religious matters or deciding which side to support – symbolically or financially – in religious questions.

A little church in Virginia is making a name for itself by not caring about holy clothes or clothes with holes.

The church’s congregants, in fact, do not care about clothes at all. Not when worshipping, anyway.

While Virginia prepares for another round of snow and cold, NBC12 brings the story of White Tail Chapel in Southampton, where people find warmth in worshipping just the way they were brought into the world: naked.

Pastor Allen Parker told the station it’s not about the clothes but rather about baring his soul to Christ and leading his flock down that path of righteousness, no matter what they’re wearing.

The appropriately named Katie and Robert Church married at White Tail Chapel and say the church has given them a sense of Christian community with none of the pretense of a traditional church.

“Once we were married, and we were here, this whole place became our family,” Katie Church told the station. “I feel like I can turn to anyone in this church, or even in this park, and they will be there to help me.”

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“People are more open as far as hearing the word of God, and speaking the word of God,” agreed Robert Church.

Religious freedom is a fundamental human right that is guaranteed by the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment clauses.[1] It encompasses not only the right to believe (or not to believe), but also the right to express and to manifest religious beliefs. These rights are fundamental and should not be subject to political process and majority votes. Thus the ACLU, along with almost every religious and civil rights group in America that has taken a position on the subject, rejects the Supreme Court’s notorious decision of Employment Division v. Smith. In Smith, Justice Scalia wrote that the accommodation of religion should be left “to the political process” where government officials and political majorities may abridge the rights of free exercise of religion.

Empower A Felon

Angel Made for Music In Heaven- Satan god of the World Deceiving the World Thru Music

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I am guilty of participating in this deception across the board. In finding a quite place to reflect tonight I found it necessary to study this scripture to be fully enlightened. I always knew that the enemy used music as he does but I just couldn’t fight the good fight to make myself obey until I got the conviction to put a real focus on strengthening my armor.


Dan. 3:1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. 4Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: 5As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” 7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 8At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. 9They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace.

Isa. 5:1 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. . . . 11Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. 12They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands. 13Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst.

Isa. 24:1 See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants– . . . 8The gaiety of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the revelers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent. 9No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers. 10The ruined city lies desolate; the entrance to every house is barred. 11In the streets they cry out for wine; all joy turns to gloom, all gaiety is banished from the earth. 12The city is left in ruins, its gate is battered to pieces. 13So will it be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest. 14They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the LORD’s majesty. 15Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; exalt the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. 16From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One.” But I said, “I waste away, I waste away! Woe to me! The treacherous betray! With treachery the treacherous betray!”

Micah 2:3 Therefore, the LORD says: “I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity. 4In that day men will ridicule you; they will taunt you with this mournful song: `We are utterly ruined; my people’s possession is divided up. He takes it from me! He assigns our fields to traitors.’” Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

Jonah 2:9: 9But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.” 10And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Hab. 3:17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

Isa. 14:5 The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, 6which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression. 7All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. 8Even the pine trees and the cedars of Lebanon exult over you and say, “Now that you have been laid low, no woodsman comes to cut us down.” . . . 11All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.

Isa. 38:18 For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.

Amos 5:22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Amos 6:4 You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. 5You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. 6You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

Amos 8:1 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. 2″What do you see, Amos?” he asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the LORD said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. 3″In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “the songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies –flung everywhere! Silence!” . . . 9″In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10I will turn your religious feasts into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.

1Cor. 14:6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church. 13For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. 18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

1Cor. 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

The Illuminati Also Owns The Mainstream Music Industry. In Fact, It Is The Illuminati That Is Responsible For Creating It Just Like With The Illuminati’s Hollywood Movie Industry. The Illuminati Music Industry Has Been Corrupted To The Core By Satan, And Satan Is Now Using It As A Weapon In His Arsenal Against God And God’s Children. Here Is A Video That Proves Beyond The Shadow Of A Doubt At Least For Us That The Illuminati Controlled Music Industry Is Now Fully Under The Control Of Lucifer The Devil Himself! There are more informative videos within the one above that can illustrate the tools and devices being used to deceive us all.

If You Watch All Of Them, You Should Be Able To Understand How They Clearly Show That The Devil Is Now In Charge Of The Illuminati’s Music Industry And How He Is Using It To Attempt To Corrupt The Souls Of Every Man, Woman, And Child Who Listens To The Music That The Illuminati Produces. It Also Exposes The Illuminati Music Industry For What It Really Is, A Tool In Satan’s Army To Suck People Into A Spider Web Of Deceit, And One Of His Weapons To Turn people Away From God And From Christ And From The Holy Spirit And Towards Lust, Greed, Envy, And Just About Every Other Form Of Sin There Is. We Hope You Enjoy These Videos As Much As We Did, And We Hope That Afterwards You Will Seriously Consider What Kinds Of Music You Let Your Family Listen To From This Day Forward.

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Be On Guard Against Being Reprogrammed From The Globalist

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Mind Control ‘Programmed’ Individuals

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The lone gunman that we hear about in assassinations, assassination attempts, school shootings, etc. are mind controlled individuals who had been ‘programmed’ to carry out those missions. Ted Bundy, the ‘Son of Sam’ serial killer David Berkowitz, Oswald, Timothy McVeigh, the Columbine shooters, Chapman, Sirhan Sirhan, etc. were mind controlled individuals who were programmed to perform these killings. Tens of thousands of young teenage boys were kidnapped and forced into the mind control training program called The Montauk Project starting around 1976. Al Bielek, under mind control, was involved in many areas of the secret Montauk Project. After slowly recovering his memories beginning in the late 1980’s, he came to realize that there were at least 250,000 mind controlled “Montauk Boys’ produced at 25 different facilities similar to the underground base at Montauk, Long Island. Many of these boys were to become ‘sleepers’ who are individuals who were programmed to go into action at a later date when properly “triggered” to engage in some sort of destructive or disruptive conduct. Other Montauk Boys were woven into the fabric of mainstream American life as journalists, radio & TV personalities, businessmen, lawyers, medical professionals, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, military men, etc.

The topic of mind control is elaborate, multifaceted, and multi layered. For the casual reader, it can quickly become numbing, overwhelming the senses and creating a desire to exit the topic, but avoiding this subject is the most foolish thing you could possibly do since your only chance of surviving this hideous and insidious enslavement agenda, which today threatens virtually all of humanity, isto understand how it functions and take steps to reduce your vulnerability.

The plans to create a mind controlled workers society have been in place for a long time. The current technology grew out of experiments that the Nazis started before World War II and intensified during the time of the Nazi concentration camps when an unlimited supply of children and adults were available for experimentation. We’ve heard about the inhumane medical experiments performed on concentration camp prisoners, but no word was ever mentioned by the media and the TV documentaries of the mind control experiments. That was not to be divulged to the American public. Mind control technologies can be broadly divided into two subsets: trauma-based or electronic-based.

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The first phase of government mind control development grew out of the old occult techniques which required the victim to be exposed to massive psychological and physical trauma, usually beginning in infancy, in order to cause the psyche to shatter into a thousand alter personalities which can then be separately programmed to perform any function (or job) that the programmer wishes to”install”. Each alter personality created is separate and distinct from the front personality. The ‘front personality’ is unaware of the existence or activities of the alter personalities. Alter personalities can be brought to the surface by programmers or handlers using special codes, usually stored in a laptop computer. The victim of mind control can also be affected by specific sounds, words, or actions known as triggers.

The second phase of mind control development was refined at an underground base below Fort Hero on Montauk , Long Island (New York) and is referred to as the Montauk Project. The earliest adolescent victims of Montauk style programming, so called Montauk Boys, were programmed using trauma-based techniques, but that method was eventually abandoned in favor of an all-electronic induction process which could be “installed” in a matter of days (or even hours) instead of the many years that it took to complete trauma-based methods.

Dr. Joseph Mengele of Auschwitz notoriety was the principle developer of the trauma-basedMonarch Project and the CIA’sMK Ultra mind control programs. Mengele and approximately 5, 000 other high ranking Nazis were secretly moved into the United States and South America in the aftermath of World War II in an Operation designated Paperclip. The Nazis continued their work in developing mind control and rocketry technologies in secret underground military bases. The only thing we were told about was the rocketry work with former Nazi star celebrities like Warner Von Braun. The killers, torturers, and mutilators of innocent human beings were kept discretely out of sight, but busy in U.S. underground military facilities which gradually became home to thousands upon thousands of kidnapped American children snatched off the streets (about one million per year) and placed into iron bar cages stacked from floor to ceiling as part of the ‘training’. These children would be used to further refine and perfect Mengele’s mind control technologies. Certain selected children (at least the ones who survived the ‘training’) would become future mind controlled slaves who could be used for thousands of different jobs ranging anywhere from sexual slavery to assassinations. A substantial portion of these children, who were considered expendable, were intentionally slaughtered in front of (and by) the other children in order to traumatize the selected trainee into total compliance and submission.

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Worldwide Electronic Mind Control via ‘Cell Phone’ Towers
OCC elf tower The day is now approaching in which government mind control technologies will be directed at you, your neighbors, and your loved ones. Every single day, equipment is being erected and installed in this country with the hidden purpose of exerting mind control over the entire population. Everywhere in this country (and overseas), ELF/microwave transmission towers are being erected. The antennae usually look like four slightly curved vertical plates about 2 feet in length and located in either 3 or 4 quadrants around the tower, two thirds up from the ground. Just look around, you’ll see them. And you’ll also notice more of them going up once you begin to pay attention. No one is saying anything, but you’re expected to presume that they’re for cell phones. (Do you really think that we need that much ‘cell phone’ transmission capability, every few blocks? Do you realize how very little energy is used by genuine cell phone usage? Yet these towers are capable of putting out levels of power that exceed cell phone requirements by a wide margin) These mind control technologies have been in place for a long time. It’s not an accident that the frequency band chosen for cell phone use just happens to match the second order waves that Wilhelm Reich discovered in the late1940’s to effect thought transmission and allow the mind to be manipulated without the victim realizing it. Reich worked on this project secretly for the CIA for over 5 years, from 1947-1952, until he realized who the CIA was planning to use the mind control on -the American people. He was outraged that he was deceived and used for such a treasonous motive and swore never to cooperate with the CIA, FDA, etc. again. Reich was covertly murdered in Federal prison in 1957, just a few weeks before he was due to be released, having been in prison for 2 years on a trumped up charge leading to a contempt of court citation. He was reported to have had a ‘heart attack’. He was strong as an ox. He was murdered two weeks before his parole board hearing. His last book, written in prison, was found to be ‘missing’ after his death and never returned to his family.

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A method was discovered to disable these ELF towers from exerting their mind control functions by placing a simple device known as an orgone generator within a radius of 1,300 feet of these towers. These microwave towers are used in conjunction with HAARP based technology to not only affect subliminal mind control influences, but also to control the weather (currently {2007}, the creation of artificially induced drought conditions are also greatly influenced by the population-reduction chemtrail spraying operations which take place daily over the skies in America and in many other countries) .

Patrick Flannagan also recorded an interview with talk show host Jeff Rense on June 30, 2003 and offered important insights on how to counter electronic mind control being beamed to us from the electric wiring within our homes and from microwave towers (promising information that should be studied).

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Brice Taylor is the pseudonym for Susan Ford, one of the highest level MK Ultra mind controlled victims to ever come forward and reveal her story. It took her nearly 13 years to recover the memories of the events that she reveals in her book, Thanks for The Memories (published in May 1999). Her memories began to return in sporadic fragments in1985, following a car accident that threw her through the windshield of her car after hitting a tree. It wasn’t really an accident as much as a result of mind control programming which compelled her to commit suicide if she began to recover critical memories about her role as a top level NASA/CIA mind controlled ‘asset’ who was used as a sex slave and message (or drug) courier for every president from Kennedy to Clinton and was Henry Kissinger’s personal secretary/human computer (file storage and retrieval) for over 19 years. Her ‘owner/handler’ was comedian Bob Hope and she was ‘loaned out’ to many famous and well known entertainment personalities in order to oblige them to be beholding to and manipulated by Hope and his Illuminati pals so they could be used as “worker bees’ to help usher in the Luciferian, New World Order. Her book is probably the most revealing account to date of well known, national personalities in both politics and the entertainment industry who are involved in the handling, programming, control, manipulation, and abuse of Illuminati/government created human robots like Brice or other, well known celebrity/mind control victims such as Barbara Striesand and Barbara Mandrel. The book’s Table of Contents alone will give you an idea of the incredible number of nationally known names that Brice had been involved with from childhood into adulthood as a mind controlled slave. In my opinion, Thanks for The Memories and the two co-authored Illuminati Formula books of Cisco Wheeler and Fritz Springmeir (see below) are the three most important and revealing books in print on the subject of Illuminati mind control and should be read by every concerned and thinking human being on this planet, for they reveal how the Illuminati mind control programs are accomplished and how they can be broken, allowing the victim to escape from its control.

I encourage you to examine the remarkable book review of Thanks for The Memories written by Uri Dowbenko at this link: http://educate-yourself.org/mc/nwomcbturireview.shtml ). It’s truly ironic and a perfect example of karmic justice when the total recall of a mind control victim whose brain stem was scarred in order to produce a photographic memory, is now turned back on her abusers to reveal in the most exquisite and precise detail their despicable and monstrous conduct. Thanks for The Memories is a well written book that gives you a front row seat into the real world activities of the Secret Government- the ‘government’ that’s really in charge behind the scenes (those scenes being created by the mainstream Media Propaganda Ministry whose job is to deceive you into thinking that the headline news, ‘cover story’ government is the real deal; believe me, it isn’t. It’s an illusion from top to bottom.

It’s a dog and pony show. All show, and no substance. The presidential election snafu, the interminable talk show debates, propaganda hacks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc., etc., all designed to keep you preoccupied and bewildered from the steady enslavement and erosion of constitutionally guaranteed liberties that is taking place daily. The Sept. 11 “attack” was planned and launched to provide an excuse for passing fascist, totalitarian ‘laws’ designed to enslave us and strip the populace of the few remaining freedoms that we still enjoy. National ID ‘smart’ cards that will contain your entire medical, financial history, DNA information, etc. will be required to engage in any sort of normal consumer activity like getting on a plane or even going from state to state after military border guards become a common scene in this once freedom loving land. Spend your cash now while you still have cash, because soon all financial transactions will be conducted using plastic cards. And just like Nazi Germany, our people will be encouraged to report any ‘suspicious’ activity of their neighbors. In fact, life in the United States will soon become a carbon copy of Nazi Germany of the late 1930’s, just a lot more high tech and much more lethal.

dunamis: (miraculous) power, might, strength Original Word: δύναμις, εως, ἡ: Disarm America and Repeat History

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2 Corinthians 4

1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

King James Bible
The Light of the Gospel

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The result of all of this is that the United States has become what Plato originally spelled out in The Republic and Michael Parenti made famous today – a plutocracy. That is, a nation which is ruled by the rich, where money is valued over “goodness.” Like the Cambodian generals who sold arms to their enemies our political system has been corrupted by those who steer some of the most powerful companies on the planet. Indeed, with their massive funding of political office-holders the rich have made it impossible for the United States government to have a “moral compass.” These wealthy individuals have created a type of Wall-Street Republic where office-holders have become a commodity (or security) to be bought and sold like any other commodity. To be sure, those that are supposed to represent the people have instead become an investment that the wealthiest amongst us use to perpetuate their own affluence.

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Wars are fought for the dual-purpose of creating a market for the investment of surplus capital as well as for gathering that which is needed to fuel (at times, literally) the commanding heights of the economy, i.e., land, labor and resources. Solvable politico-economic problems, from global warming to expensive private health care, persist because putting an end to them would also put an end to the profits of those who benefit from their continuance. This great gathering of wealth translates into unmatched political power within US society which in turn has made it possible for the wealthy to pursue their own interests without regard to how it may impact the rest of the world. Their pursuit of evermore riches is sowing the seeds of not only their own destruction but possibly the great mass of humanity as well.

Alas, we must ask, then, what can be done? The answer is the same as it has always been throughout history – we, the people, must fully grasp the enormous power the few have over the productive forces of society which has created a situation where wealth is so entrenched in the political system that the current political-economic arrangement is beyond reform. In so doing, we will see that there are only two choices in front of us – continue down the existing path which will inevitably end with an ethically and fiscally bankrupt republic or bring into existence a political and economic order founded on justice and equality. Unfortunately, the economic elites of our day have left us with no other choice.

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Today, it seems that the United States government has lost its “moral direction.” Indeed, as a single but deadly example, in the last ten years US policy-makers have been responsible for the deaths of at least one million people during the course of the US war on Iraq.

In a country of just 32 million people this would be equivalent to the United States suffering the deaths of some 30 million men and women (instead of 5,000) during the same war. In addition to Iraq, our political leaders have been responsible for the deaths of many more people across the globe as a result of non-stop war on an ever-growing list of nations over the last decade. Sometimes referred to as a state of “permanent war,” since 2000 the US government has waged war upon or began “military operations” within the nations of: Sierra Leone (2000); Nigeria (2000); Yemen (2000; 2001; 2004-present); East Timor (2001); China – the Hainan Incident (2001); Afghanistan (2001-present); Somalia (2001-present); the Philippines (2002); Cote d’Lvoire (2002); Sahara (2001-present); Iraq (2003-present); Liberia (2003); Georgia (2003; 2008); Haiti (2004); Pakistan (2004-present); Kenya (2004); Ethiopia (2004); Eritrea (2004); Lebanon (2006); Uganda (2011); Libya (2011); Sudan (2011-present); Jordan (2012); Turkey (2012); Chad (2012); Mali (2013); and South Sudan (2013). Recognizing that some of these “interventions” were to “protect US citizens” from social unrest within a given country, the great majority of them were not. Notably, not one of these “wars” (limited or otherwise), has been formally declared by the United States Congress as required by the Constitution.[4] Today with US military personnel deployed to more than 150 countries (out of a possible 195), before its global war is over the deaths in Cambodia caused by the Khmer Rouge may pale in comparison with what the United States government is prepared to inflict on the rest of the world.

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Throughout this time-period, government decision-making by each branch of government has shown a disregard (or lack of understanding) for the Constitution. With out a doubt, we now have a sitting president that has recently made news for choosing to “consult” Congress before deploying the United States military to the sovereign nation of Syria as part of a “humanitarian invasion.” The president has maintained that even if Congress does not grant him some kind of formal approval that he has the “authority” to send troops to the Middle East nation anyway. Throughout the government-media discussion of the possible invasion of Syria there has been barely more than a whisper, that by Constitutional design, Congress is the only branch of government that has the power to move the nation from a state of peace to a state of war. To be certain, the rather conservative (but non-slaveholding) Alexander Hamilton who is probably the most talented political figure in the history of the United States wrote in Federalist #69:

“The president is to be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it [italics added]. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first general and admiral of the confederacy: while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war, and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies; all which, by the constitution under consideration [which was adopted], would appertain to the legislature [italics added to legislature only].

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In other words, congress was given the power to raise, fund and regulate the military while the president of the United States, by Constitutional configuration (Article II, Section II, Clause I), is only to be the “commander-in-chief” of the military “when called into the actual service” of the country. The political body which “calls” the president into the “actual service” of the nation is the United States Congress through a declaration of war. Thus, the president’s war powers (including President Obama’s) are latent and not active until Congress – the most democratic political entity of our three branches of government – makes them so.

Some say that we live in the “Age of Irony” where the actual or manifest meaning of something is the exact opposite of the intended meaning of that thing. How ironic is it then that the United States has elected a president who is supposedly a Constitutional scholar yet believes that whether Congress gives him the “authority” to wage war or not (note: not “declare”) that he still has the power to do so on his own accord?

LOSING OUR “MORAL DIRECTION”

Whatever President Obama believes his war powers to be, what do we mean by “losing our moral direction?” We don’t mean the same thing as what the Westboro Baptist Church means when they say the country has lost its “moral direction” through the legalization of gay marriage, abortion and other such things. Instead, what is meant by saying that government leaders have lost their “moral direction” is that government decision-making, and particularly recent government decision-making, has rarely considered the impact of those decisions on the overwhelming majority of the American people, and at times, people throughout the world. Too often, when we examine recent government policy we find that consideration is only given to how decisions made by the state will serve a narrow group of economic interests, i.e., the rich. Who are “the rich?” They are, according to Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, the richest ¼ of 1% of the US population that has more wealth than the other 99% combined. These incredibly wealthy individuals control the commanding heights (or means of production) of the US economy. Wealth provided to them from their control over some of the most powerful corporations in the world translates into near uncontested control over national policy through their allocation of massive campaign contributions and extensive lobbying dollars to congress and the president.

This is not to say that past political leaders have regularly behaved with the utmost legality and the strongest of ethics in mind. The fact of the matter is that they have not. Even a brief review of American political-history demonstrates that the United States government has made decisions that might be considered morally questionable. Whether it was the perpetuation of slavery, the overthrowing of foreign governments or the denial of voting rights at home, the federal government has on more than one occasion been out of step with justice and equality. Yet, in recent years, our political leaders’ transgressions seem to be so outrageous that we would not be wrong to add their recent misconduct to this list of shocking historical examples of government illegality and a failure of ethics. St. Augustine once said, “An unjust law is no law at all.” However, as we shall see below, in the United States today, law and justice have less and less to do with each other on issues of national importance and more and more to do with protecting private wealth at the expense of the people. The result of this corrupting of the American political system has made the strengthening of the American empire not only possible but the downfall (or at least the downward descent) of the American republic inevitable.

IRAQ: A PLACE FOR CAPITAL INVESTMENT

More than ten years after Congress “authorized” President George W. Bush to invade Iraq and almost two years since President Obama declared the war to be over, neither the American people nor the Iraqi people have gained anything from the war. In fact, even though President Obama declared the war over in December of 2011, at the beginning of 2014 there are still some 2,000-5,000 US military troops, 4,000-5,000 State Department employees and 16,000 private military contractors stationed in Iraq. In addition, an estimated 15,000 US soldiers are posted on the Iraqi border in neighboring Kuwait. These numbers and the US’s establishment of the largest embassy in the world in Iraq indicate that minimally the occupation of Iraq continues.

In spite of the Bush administration’s claims that the United States’ primary goal in Iraq was to “spread democracy” (after the weapons of mass destruction rationale proved false), former chairman of the Federal Reserve and loyal Republican Party member Alan Greenspan has since noted that the war was actually “largely about oil.”[6] Echoing Greenspan, then Senator and current Obama-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel agreed, stating that “people say we are not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What…do you think they’re talking about?”[7] In an attempt to make the United States’ national interest clear, long time advisor to Western nations regarding Middle Eastern oil, Dr. Abdulhay Yahya Zalloum, says that the US interest in the Middle East (including Iraq) “is not about democracy – it is about oil.

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Even if the United States was interested in democracy, out of 176 countries that were evaluated in 2012 by Transparency International, Iraq was ranked as the 169th most corrupt country in the world – certainly not a primary feature of any understanding of democratic government.[9] Some think that the argument that the United States invaded Iraq because it has the second largest known oil-reserves in the world is “conspiracy.” We should not think of one country trying to get at the resources (natural or otherwise) of another country as conspiracy. It only becomes so when the political and military leaders of a nation lie about the real reasons why they want to do so. Thus, the political and military leaders of the country create the conspiracy, namely, the conspiracy to hide the truth from the people so some unseemly political, economic, or military end can be met. Nonetheless, on the whole, these types of government practices, such as the US war on Iraq, primarily serve an economic end. Perhaps Jules Ferry, the Premier of the Chamber of Deputies of France, said it best in 1885 when explaining the purpose behind the “Scramble for Africa” which had begun four years earlier in 1881. Paying no mind to the “White Man’s Burden” (see: “spreading democracy,” circa 2003), Ferry argued that two of the main reasons why European powers “desire[d] colonies” is so that “they may have access to the raw materials of the colonies” and “as a field for the investment of surplus capital.”[10] In other words, colonies were created as a source for capital extraction and accumulation. In examining Iraq, we see Ferry’s words to be no less true today than when they were first spoken during the last part of the 19th century.

Indeed, after invading the country, setting up hundreds of military bases, securing Iraqi oil fields,[11] arresting the president and overseeing his execution it was time for US political leaders and American scholars to set in place the instruments needed to begin the process of capital extraction and accumulation. How did they do this? – By spreading a little democracy. To be certain, immediately after the invasion of Iraq, the so-called Coalition Provision Authority (CPA) was set up by the US government as a type of colonial government to oversee the country during the first year of the war. L. Paul Bremer was put in-charge and given absolute authority to make executive, legislative and judicial decisions for the whole of Iraq on behalf of the United States government. Early on and making clear what would be the new (or should we say, neoliberal) design of the Iraqi economy, Bremer signed CPA Order 39 which stated that all economic sectors within Iraq, including water, electricity and sewage would be made open, without delay, to privatization by foreign investors.[12] In short order, a number of US firms were awarded contracts to “rebuild” or manage many of these publicly controlled industries for the Iraqi people. The only industries that foreign investors were excluded from by the CPA were oil and gas. However, the writing of the Iraqi Constitution would resolve that.

Without a doubt, once the CPA had set down roots the United States oversaw the drafting of the Iraqi constitution. Setting aside the fact that a sovereign nation cannot have another nation “oversee” the writing of its new constitution (imagine if the British government did this after the American Revolutionary War) US political leaders and American academics, nevertheless, put together a new constitution for Iraq. Whatever virtues it might have had politically (it looks a lot like the United States Constitution), as an economic document it cleared the way for global capital to “invest” in Iraq’s most important source of national wealth. Indeed, Article 25, 26 and the second part of Article 109 of the Iraqi Constitution removed any doubt about the role of foreign capital and privatization in the reconfiguring of the Iraqi economy. The Articles stated that while oil and gas were to be developed “in a way that achieves the highest benefit to the Iraqi people,” it was somehow suppose to be done so by “using the most advanced techniques of the market… and [through the] encourage [ment of] investment.” The average Iraqi citizen is poor, with the median Iraqi income not exceeding $6000 per year.[13] So, how can the overwhelming majority of citizens of Iraq invest in their nation’s most important source of wealth? The fact of the matter is they cannot. Who then, can “invest” in the oil wealth of the country that was already nationalized for the benefit of the people, at least to some degree, under Saddam Hussein? The answer is clear, those who own the commanding heights of the US and global economy.

A Call to Persevere
(Hebrews 10:19-39)

But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 20But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

The Dollar Being Replaced By Precious Metals; Consumption Tax Raise-Why?

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A landmark increase in Japan’s sales tax has led to a rush for small gold bars as retail investors pile into the precious metal to avoid next week’s rate rise.
Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry, a precious metals specialist, reported that sales of gold ingots across seven of its shops are up more than 500 per cent this month, as customers rush to take advantage of the current 5 per cent rate of consumption tax before it rises to 8 per cent on 1 April.

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At the company’s flagship store in Ginza on Thursday, people queued for up to three hours to buy 500g bars worth about Y2.3m ($22,500). March has been the busiest month in Tanaka’s 120-year history.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has embarked on a series of radical reforms dubbed Abenomics in an attempt to weaken the yen and boost the ailing Japanese economy, prompting investors to buy gold as a hedge against the spectre of higher inflation.

Investors are being drawn to the metal not just because of higher taxes, said Itsuo Toshima, an adviser to pension funds.“Slowly and steadily, people are preparing for the worst, which is the failure of Abenomics.”
“To protect the value of wealth, gold comes into play as an inflation hedge, and if the economy goes back to deflationary circumstances then, again, money seeking safe havens would flow into gold.”
Economists are divided on whether Abenomics can survive a rise in the deeply unpopular sales tax, which is being increased to help stabilise Japan’s huge public debt. Last time a Japanese government tried to hike the levy in 1997, a deep recession followed.

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Japan’s hunger for gold bars is at odds with general sentiment towards the precious metal, the price of which fell 28 per cent last year, bring an end to a 12 year bull run. Yet Yuichi “Bruce” Ikemizu, head of commodities trading at Standard Bank in Tokyo, said retail buyers had been tempted into purchases by lower prices.
The Fruit of Gold ETF managed by Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking, the country’s most popular bullion-backed investment vehicle, saw its assets rise from 5.6 tonnes, when Mr Abe assumed power in December 2012, to 6.9 tonnes now – even as the US dollar price of gold fell by more than a fifth over that period.
Individual investors in the fund numbered 15,243 in mid-January, a sharp increase from 9,849 a year earlier, said general manager Osamu Hoshi.

At Tanaka’s third-floor store in Ginza, one 33-year trader at a foreign-owned brokerage, who did not want to be named, said the tax increase represented a “good opportunity” to buy more gold as he was worried about holding too many yen-denominated assets.
“I plan to hold it for a long time until there is a good time to sell when the yen collapses or something,” he said.
Even a strong rise in Japanese gold purchases is unlikely to affect the global bullion market. Last year consumer demand in Japan was 21.3 tonnes, according to the World Gold Council, compared to 1,066 tonnes in China and 975 tonnes in India.