War on LEOs

December 23, 2014

MARK LEVIN: My blood has been boiling, I have been grinding my teeth listening to all this, watching this. Two dead police officers. Murdered. The president of the United States issues a statement, a written statement. The attorney general the United States always wants to debate race. Nowhere to be found but. Another coward, another phony. Yes, they do have blood on their hands; no, they didn’t kill the police officers but they have created an environment with their political war against the cops in this country.

Borne out of Ferguson, Missouri where a police officer there whose career is destroyed. Who has a death warrant on his own head. Was defending himself and shot a thug who first tried to take his pistol and then returned for more and out of that — out of that — the president of the United States, the attorney general the United States, that piece of crap Sharpton. Wherever he shows up, isn’t it funny, things happen, usually violence. Out of that we get riots. Stores are burning in Ferguson, Missouri. People are throwing Molotov cocktails. People are shooting their guns.

The liberal Democrat governor pulls back the National Guard and the police have the walk around their hands in their pocket afraid to do any thing to protect the citizenry. Borne out of what?. A lie, a fraud because Michael Brown didn’t have his arms up in the air. He was trying to assault again if not kill a police officer. And at that time, as I’ve pointed out, Obama and Holder and their surrogates were throwing fuel on the fire and that’s exactly what they did. Holder even went there to personally throw fuel on the fire.

And all of a sudden, it’s not just a Ferguson problem, it’s a national problem. I intend to go up, what’s going on there? It’s a war on the cops. They want to nationalize local police departments. Nationalize them to ruin them. To control them. Every miscreant and malcontent suddenly has his say so over how our police officers are supposed to conduct themselves. All of a sudden every cop is supposed to wear a video camera. Why? Because they can’t trust be trusted don’t you know?

All of a sudden all the police departments are overly-militarized. Why? Has somebody been shot with a tank? All of the sudden you can’t profile. But of course you have to profile on a legitimate basis. It’s done all the time. Obama does it endlessly.

We get a grand jury decision out of New York and all of a sudden the whole grand jury process is corrupt. It didn’t matter that there were blacks on the grand jury. Oh, no, that doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter that the sergeant in charge was a female black. That doesn’t matter, we only learned that five days after the fact.

And you know ladies and gentlemen, we even have pseudo-conservatives on TV and the radio. Remember they were wringing their hands. Weren’t sure how to take a position on Ferguson for the first month, on the grand jury in New York. Oh, yes, yes I’m shocked by what happened. Shocked. Obama driving his radical leftist ideological agenda. Of course there is a war on the cops. There’s a war on the private sector. There’s a war on the American citizenry. He’s fundamentally transforming America, and if you fundamentally transform America law and order goes out the door. (Mark Levin Show, December 22, 2014)

What Child is this?

December 21, 2014

1. What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

2. Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

3. So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

-William C. Dix
(1865)

She’s a bimbo. And she’s trying to divide just like her husband. What a terrible FL.

Was Michelle Obama the victim of subtle racism during a trip to Target? In a soon to be published interview with People magazine she appears to be claiming she was, but this is at odds with how she previously told the story.
Wednesday, People magazine published excerpts from a forthcoming interview with the Obamas in which they relate their own personal experiences experiences with racism before coming to the White House. President Obama mentions two experiences: Being handed keys at a valet station while waiting for his car and being mistaken for a waiter while at a formal dinner dressed in a tuxedo. For her part, Michelle Obama offers the following example:
I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.
In the context in which it appears, the First Lady seems to be claiming this incident is an example of racial bias. It comes right after a paragraph in which Mrs. Obama describes her husband’s difficulties getting a cab in Chicago. The very next paragraph describes the interview as touching on “the national discussion of race and racial profiling.”
Of course short people ask tall people (Michelle is 5’11”) for help in stores all the time. This author (6’2″) has experienced it many times. There’s nothing racial or condescending about it. In fact, being asked for help reaching something is really the opposite of belittling them.
As for the First Lady’s experience, it’s important to note that she was dressed down in slacks and wearing a baseball cap and dark sunglasses on her trip to Target. She even pushed her own cart. And when Mrs. Obama told this story on David Letterman’s show, there was no hint of any racial connotation. On the contrary, The First Lady emphasized that the woman who asked was short and simply didn’t recognize her:

I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me. Because a woman actually walked up to me, right –I was in the detergent aisle– and she said, I kid you not, she said ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something.’ And I thought cover’s blown. She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not. And the only thing she said–I reached up cause she was short–I reached up and pulled it down. She said ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good…She had no idea who I was. I thought as soon as she walked up I looked my–I was with my assistant–and I said this is it. It’s over. We’re going to have to leave; she just needed the detergent.
Is it likely someone could fail to recognize the First Lady? Anyone who has ever watched a segment of Jay Leno’s Jaywalking knows that most ordinary Americans are not very familiar with politicians. In this segment, a young woman does recognize a photo of Mrs. Obama but when asked for her name says it’s “Windy.” Add a hat and dark glasses to the photo and chances are a lot of Americans wouldn’t recognize the First Lady, especially if she was pushing a cart at Target. Really, what are the odds?
It’s possible People has somehow gotten its wires crossed. Perhaps they’ve taken part of the conversation out of its original context in some way that isn’t immediately obvious. But as it stands now, People is framing this as the First Lady’s example of a recent experience with racism. If accurate, this seems a very odd story to present as evidence of racial bias.

Reclaiming Christmas

December 17, 2014

It’s Christmastime again, and if you’re a parent you may be having familiar conversations about gift-giving, consumerism, and the cross. Discipling children through the Christmas season is challenging. Our lists of errands are as endless as the numbers of cookies we hope to bake. With teachers to honor, traditions to uphold, parties to attend, and all the gifts to buy and eventually wrap, the physical demands can overshadow spiritual needs.

If we want to give our children the gift of clearer gospel understanding this Christmas, we must put more thought into how we lead them than we put into buying gifts and making Pinterest crafts. How should we shepherd our kids through a season laden with greed? Should we give one present per child, tithe in their honor, or stop giving gifts completely? As you think and pray through how to answer these questions for your family, consider three Christmas pitfalls that I’ve commonly observed parents pondering.

Pitfall 1: How can I keep the world from hijacking Christmas?

The world doesn’t define our celebration; we do, in obedience to God. While the wise men navigated rocky paths, nature’s elements, and the persecution of a jealous king to worship at the feet of the true King, we must navigate around media, consumerism, and cultural Christianity. The world has never been a respecter of Jesus, so we need not be shocked and appalled when Santa trumps the babe in the manger in Target ads and everywhere else. We are called to shine as lights in the midst of our crooked generation (Phil. 2:15). So when the world publicly hijacks our holiday, peacefully take it right back within your home and community by teaching, showing love, and shining Christ’s light to everyone around.

Teaching my kids the gospel and the real message of Christmas doesn’t mean we must forsake watching Frosty the Snowman while drinking hot chocolate by the light of the Christmas tree. It means we have additional conversations about what we’re watching and emphasize which parts do and do not reflect the gospel. We explain which elements of our celebration are simply fun, which are culturally significant, and which specifically celebrate Christ. Instead of fearing the world, teach your children to engage culturally for the spread of the gospel.

Pitfall 2: Why should I give my kids gifts when they don’t need or deserve them?

While most of our children have no need for presents, we enjoy giving them, and they enjoy receiving them. Both giving and receiving reflects God’s heart for his people. While God gives his children spiritual gifts like love, power, victory, hope, peace, and deliverance, I’m not sure how to wrap those up to stick under the tree. Yet giving presents can demonstrate the same greater spiritual truths in a tangible way.

No child deserves presents. While Santa Claus may make a “naughty or nice” list, Jesus doesn’t. He gave his life for those already deep in sin. He didn’t dangle his redemption over our heads as a behavior modification tactic. God gave us the gift of Christ—his birth, his death, and his resurrection—by grace. All gifts we place under the tree should be given in the same manner we’ve received Christ: freely.

The anticipation of opening gifts on Christmas day serves as a shadow of believers’ anticipation as they wait for Christ’s promised return. Our children need to understand Israel’s anticipation to fully appreciate the baby’s birth. Give gifts in an effort to cultivate worshipful longing for Christ’s return.

Pitfall 3: How do I teach my kids to love Jesus more than Christmas presents?

When my kids verbalize their love of presents over their love for Jesus, I’m tempted to guilt or shame them into loving Jesus more. But this isn’t the message of the gospel. Because God gave us the greatest gift of love through Jesus, we can love our children by teaching them though gifts are fun, the joy they provide is temporary. Salvation is the only gift that will eternally satisfy our longings. Don’t shame your children when you sense their greed; teach them. When we receive gifts, we receive love. We feel known and provided for. God is honored by both the giving and receiving of love.

If you are tempted to make wild changes to your Christmas giving (scrapping all presents), pause. Realize you can’t shock children into godliness. If you’re looking to make a change in your children’s hearts this year, start by examining and humbling your own. Though they learn by watching us, they may not begin to long for holiness and Christ-centered celebration for years. Don’t give up on demonstrating and calling them to worship.

Ultimately, we don’t want to teach our children they are responsible for drumming up or faking feelings of love and affection for the Savior just because it’s December. We faithfully teach our children God’s truth and the good news of great joy we’ve received in hope that one day they’ll receive and celebrate too. We cannot expect our children to fully understand and rejoice when they are still learning to understand Christ. Don’t shame your children for loving presents more than Jesus; help them to understand what the baby in the manger means and why we anticipate his return.

Don’t put your own burning questions on the back-burner. Take them to the throne room and ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom in serving your children this season. The gospel is a gift worth prioritizing far and above your shopping and baking. Christian parenting is plagued with pitfalls, but by the power of the Holy Spirit we can walk by faith and parent by his grace. Bring the full picture of Christ’s redemption into as many conversations as you possibly can this Christmas. Repeat, repeat, repeat again and pray for the Holy Spirit to open their eyes, ears, and hearts to celebrate the Savior’s birth and the advent of his return.

Lindsay Carlson

Cowards

December 16, 2014

Back in 2012, Barack Obama is quoted as saying “the Taliban are not our enemies and we don’t want to fight them.” Two years later, he would release five of the most notorious Taliban leaders, despite being warned of the dangers by his advisers, in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is believed to have renounced his American citizenship, deserted his troop in search of the Taliban. Questions still remain whether Bergdahl was a prisoner of war or whether he was friendly with the Taliban. This morning, the world has come to know once again just how brutally dangerous the Taliban terrorists truly are.

Early in the morning, hours after Barack Obama spoke about the end of U.S. missions in Afghanistan, Taliban terrorists launched a terror attack at a military school in the city of Peshawar in neighboring Pakistan. Witnesses say at least six Taliban terrorists stormed the school and began shooting people at random. More than 120 people were killed, at least 84 of them children in the 1st through 10th grade. The attack was bloody and brutal. Officials fear that up to 500 additional teachers and students are being held as prisoners by the Taliban in the school.

Fox News is reporting that the school was specifically picked because it where the children of Pakistani Army staff attend. In addition to the death count, which is growing by the minute, more than 250 were injured and hospitals are overflowing trying to care for them.

One news organization is reporting that the Pakistani Army exchanged gunfire with the terrorists killing five, but more are believed to be inside holding hundreds more teachers and children hostage.

BET???

December 15, 2014

“Let me say this. I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind,” Cosby told the publication’s Stacy Brown, who noted that he frequently writes for African-American publications.

–you lost all creds with me Coz.

Don’t Preach Moralism

December 12, 2014

Six Ways to Give Your People False Assurance

McKinley, Mike
By Mike McKinley
Article
02.29.2012
As a pastor, I interact with a lot of people who struggle to have confidence in the authenticity of their conversion. To their mind, their sin clings closely and their failings are always at hand. Most of the time, I find that these are faithful brothers and sisters who need comfort and reassurance.

But there’s another group of people in many of our churches that are much more worrisome: those with a firm but unfounded belief that they are genuinely converted. Perhaps you know they type. They know the right words. They stay free from scandalous public sin. And they are moral people. But they have no true fruit, no evidence that God’s converting Spirit is at work within them. And oftentimes there is an untreated area of secret sin.

159H
SIX WAYS PASTORS FOSTER FALSE ASSURANCE

These people are hard to reach—it’s like they’ve been inoculated to the gospel. They think they already have what they most need, and so they aren’t looking for anything more! And if there is an area of hidden sin, they’ve long made peace with it.

Sadly, our churches are at least partly to blame for their presence in our midst. Allow me to suggest six ways that we pastors may inadvertently help to foster false assurance in people like this.

1. Assume the Gospel

It’s easy to assume that the people in our churches understand and believe the gospel. After all, they are in church on a Sunday morning. But the fact is, many of our churches have taken the message and the congregation’s understanding of it for granted. As a result, our churches are full of people who may understand some of the implications of the gospel (e.g., how to be a better husband; how to manage your anger) and live moral lives without appropriating the gospel for themselves.

This is spiritually deadly because moral lives might be the evidence of someone’s faith in the gospel, but they also might be the evidence of self-righteousness and Phariseeism. It’s surely right to emphasize that the faith which justifies is never alone, that works always accompany true faith. But we must first emphasize that we are justified by faith alone, and emphasize this over and over again, else the works which you see will not be the works of a saving justification. When the gospel is not made clear, when the Way to heaven and the highway to hell are not clearly pointed out by the preacher, then people will assume that their morality or their church attendance gives them grounds for assurance.

In short, don’t preach moralism. Ever. Preach the gospel every week. And then, with the indicatives of the gospel firmly in place, preach the imperatives that necessarily follow.

2. Give Them a Superficial View of Sin

The Bible teaches us that sin is not just something that we do, it’s who we are in our fallen state. The Scriptures teach us that we are all spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-2), slaves to sin (John 8:34), guilty of breaking the entirety of the law of God (Jas. 2:10), and condemned to experience God’s righteous wrath (Rom. 1:18). We are sinners through and through.

People with unfounded assurance often misunderstand sin. If sin is merely a matter of external and observable behaviors, then with some effort and discipline they can solve their own problems. But if we can compel them to wrestle regularly with the biblical teaching about their sin, then they will be forced to see their need for the new birth and a salvation that comes from outside of their own person.

3. Treat Church Membership and Discipline Casually

Membership in a local congregation is meant to give believers assurance of their salvation. It’s a corporate seal of approval on someone’s claim to be a Christian. When a congregation examines someone’s profession of faith and way of living and then baptizes that person and admits them to the Lord’s Table, the church is saying, “As far as we can tell, and with the power and wisdom given to us by Christ, you are one of us.” On the flip side of the coin, when a church excommunicates someone, they are taking away that seal of approval. The congregation is telling the individual that his or her actions have undermined the credibility of their profession of faith and the basis of their assurance.

But when a church is promiscuous with its membership, when it allows people who do not attend the church to maintain their membership, it fosters false assurance. How many people are going to hell because their lazily-overseen church membership gave them false confidence?

4. Teach Them to Base their Assurance on a Past External Action

As we’ve already noted, the gospel demands a response from us. And churches and evangelistic programs have sometimes found it helpful to present some method for people to express their newfound commitment to Christ. Some offer people with the chance to say a “Sinner’s Prayer.” Others offer them with the chance to walk the aisle on Sunday or fill out a response card. And those external actions may indeed be a genuine response to the converting work of the Spirit.

But they can also be deceptive. It is possible to pray a prayer, walk an aisle, and sign a card and still be completely lost in your sins. So if we encourage people to have assurance based on some sort of external activity that can be performed quite apart from the new birth, we put them in grave spiritual danger. How many people are walking around completely lost, but sure they are going to heaven because they prayed a prayer once as a child?

5. Don’t Connect Justification and Sanctification for your People.

In a well-motivated effort to magnify the free grace of God, it is possible to teach the truth of justification by faith alone through Christ alone without connecting all of the dots for our hearers. But the teaching of Scripture is that the justifying work of Christ will always produce the fruit of righteousness in the lives of believers, as I said earlier (for just one example, see the logic of Romans 6:1-14).

A disconnect between justification and sanctification is very dangerous for believers. It undermines their understanding of the need for personal holiness and their motivation for loving God with their obedience. But it is doubly dangerous for those who have false assurance, because it encourages them to think that it is possible to live in open rebellion against God and still be righteous in his sight.

6. Teach Them to Ignore the Bible’s Warnings.

The Scriptures are full of dire warnings to those who would embrace sin and/or leave the faith (e.g., Matt. 5:27-30, Heb. 6:1-6). In our efforts to clearly teach God’s sovereign care for his people, it is possible to undermine the force of these warnings by giving the impression that they don’t apply to believers.

But those warnings are in the Scriptures for a purpose. They are true and they are one of God’s ways of keeping his people from wandering away. A wise pastor will press home the gravity of sin and apostasy and call all of his hearers to endure in the faith.

Elf on the Shelf

December 12, 2014

The Elf on the Shelf is the greatest fraud ever pulled on children

Christmas caters to small children. The endless mythology around Santa and the endless fights over popular toys all revolve around bringing Christmas cheer to another generation of tiny humans who have yet to realize that everything is a lie.

One of the most popular lies to tell your children in recent years has been the myth of the Elf on the Shelf. Here’s everything you need to know:

1) What is the Elf on the Shelf?

It is an elf who lives on your shelf.

OK, it started as a book. The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a children’s book, written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. Self-published in 2005, the book tells the story of a group of Santa’s elves who hide out in houses around the country to watch children and decide if they are naughty or nice. Quickly, the Elf became an extension of the Santa Claus Christmas fable. In 2008, it also won the Book of the Year award from Creative Child Awards.

2008 started the rise of the elf. The Elf on the Shelf joined Facebook, and Aebersold and Bell, the authors, went on a book tour. The Elf character picked up enough momentum that year that by 2012, he was a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Last year, The Elf on the Shelf was a bestseller.

The book says that at night, the elf flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa on the behavior of children before returning to homes to hide for the day. Thus, the elf is playing a game of hide-and-seek with children, who look for the different spot the tiny being moves to each day.

The book only sets up one rule that children must follow, so that the elf can do its job: “Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.”

After Christmas is over, the elf flies back to the North Pole, presumably to spend time with Santa, until Thanksgiving the next year. Nobody ever asks why the most efficient delivery system for this Santa surveillance racket is in major department stores, or why the elves just started showing up in 2005, but there you go.

The elf in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (Brad Barket/Getty)

2) Wait. I thought this was a toy?

It is kind of! When parents purchase the book for their children, it comes with a small plush elf that they are invited to use to reenact the book. It’s an opportunity for parents to put their lying skills to the test, to see if they can convince their kids this elf is real, communicates with Santa, and lives in their home.The toy became incredibly popular after it was picked as the Best Toy of the Year by an educational toy store calledLearning Express.

You can buy the elf with two different skin tones, and as a boy or girl. Those are the only variations of elf available at this time.

3) What is the Elf’s name?

You can name your elf whatever you want. As the book explains, being named is what allows elves to become powered by Christmas magic and fly back and forth to the North Pole. The book encourages families to create a tiny birth certificate for the elf with its name and the date of its adoption.

Having trouble thinking of a name? Want to teach your children about peer pressure, social media, and conformity? These are some popular names for girl elves, according to Pinterest:

A list of girl elf names (Pinterest)

4) So this whole craze is just about a fun myth?

No not really. The Elf on the Shelf is also about parents who have ruined something innocuous by taking it to a totally unnecessary (albeit fun!) level.

5) Can I see some examples?

Sure. There are whole Pinterest boards of ideas for how to strategically place your elf in your house and make your children the coolest kids in school (or at least on Instagram). Here are a few elf ideas:

.elf in silverware drawer
The Elf in the Silverware Drawer (Pinterest)

.elf grocery list
The Elf makes a grocery list

6) Is it controversial?

Of course it is. It involves parenting.

There are two main controversies around the elf:

The story basically requires that parents move the elf into a new position every day. This can be an added holiday stress on a parent with young children, who is already trying to juggle too many balls at once. On top of the actual work, there can be pressure in certain social circles to make your elf do the most interesting, creative, and performative things, so that you can shame and humiliate the elves of your children’s friends. “Is it any wonder that this kind of holiday madness, which dovetails with every strain of guilt mothers feel over their domestic imperfections, coupled with the catch-22 that if you do your job right, your children will never thank you for it (because all these goodies come from the Elf!), sometimes leads to a backlash?,” Kate Tuttle wrote for The Atlantic in 2012.
The second controversy revolves around how parents choose to discipline their children. The story makes clear that Santa is busy at the North Pole and unable to watch every child in the whole world, so the elf has been sent to do his dirty work for him. The elf serves as a tangible reminder that children are supposed to be “nice,” not “naughty.” Some parents, obviously, use the elf as a way to discipline their children by reminding them that the “elf is always watching.” Needless to say, other parents aren’t keen on that, because it makes it more difficult to discipline your children (presumably) in January when the elf isn’t there to watch them. Theoretically, this might not teach your child right from wrong, instead teaching them to perform based on the promise of rewards. (One supposes parents could just keep the elf game going year-round, but that a.) sounds exhausting and b.) seems like it has the potential to backfire once your children realize their moral center was founded upon a toy.)
7) What can the elf teach us about surveillance culture?

“I watch and report on all that you do!” the elf warns in the book, adding that “the word will get out if you broke a rule.” This sounds pretty familiar!

“Having been molded by this age of NSA overreach, Snowden, Wikileaks and Anonymous, what bothers me most is that inviting Elf on the Shelf into the home unnecessarily extends surveillance culture into a place that should be free of it,” Alex Steed wrote in a column for the Bangor Daily News. “Santa Claus is a myth that at best represents generosity at its finest. But with the elf, we choose to emphasize his surveillance. That is really weird.”

Remember the NSA? Remember Edward Snowden? Remember @InfoSecTaylorSwift?

If you’ve been waiting for just the right moment to tell your kids about the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping, the elf might just do the trick.

Though this critique of the elf is, on its face, a little strange — Santa has been spying on children since his invention — it does make an interesting point: what does it teach children when you allow them to believe that they are being watched at all times and that this ultimately is for their benefit? That’s a question many adults wrestle with as well — though our concerns usually don’t involve elves.

But if you’ve been waiting for just the right moment to tell your kids about the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping, the elf could actually help you teach your children about privacy. Then again, the elf also brings questions about security within private homesthat can even scare some children. “Why inject a note of fear and suspicion into a season and a holiday that are meant to be about love, togetherness, and forgiveness?” Tuttle wrote.

8) Fine. What if I still want to play this game, but don’t celebrate Christmas?

As always, he marketing geniuses of the world are way, way ahead of you. There are two different Jewish alternatives to the Elf on the Shelf, if your family celebrates Hanukkah instead. The Mensch on the Bench and the Maccabee on the Mantel both come with a book that tells the story of Hanukkah and the miraculous oil that kept the lamp lit for eight days.

There is not, to our knowledge, a Kwanzaa version of the story at this time.

9) Where can I buy an Elf for the lights of my life?

Almost anywhere. If you must have one, Amazon has every variation of the elves.

Not Even Close

December 10, 2014

I don’t totally blame him, but I do a lot since he does pick the the people who write for him.

President Barack Obama thinks that Christians should use the Christmas season and “the good book” to understand the importance of immigration reform.

“If we’re serious about the Christmas season, now is the time to reflect on those who are strangers in our midst and remember what it was like to be a stranger,” Obama said during an immigration town hall in Nashville.
Obama reminded them that the Christmas season was about a “soon to be mother” and “a husband of modest means” who were looking for a place to stay, but there was no room at the inn.
“As I said the day that I announced these executive actions that we were once strangers too, and part of what my faith teaches me is to look upon the stranger as part of myself,” he said. “And during this Christmas season that’s a good place to start.”
Obama also mistakenly attributed the slogan of throwing stones in glass houses to the Bible.
“I think the good book says, you know, ‘Don’t throw stones in glass houses,’ or make sure that we’re lookin’ at the log in our eye, before we’re pulling out the mote in other folk’s eyes,” he said. “I think that’s as true in politics as it is in life.”

Can’t Breathe?

December 8, 2014

If you can’t breathe, let me suggest nasal strips.

LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant and nearly all of his Los Angeles Lakers teammates wore black T-shirts reading “I Can’t Breathe” before pulling out a 98-95 win against Sacramento on Tuesday night.

The Lakers each had the T-shirts on their chairs in their dressing room before the game. Every player except backup center Robert Sacre wore the shirts.

“I think it’s us supporting that movement and supporting each other as well as athletes,” Bryant said after the game. “I think the beauty of our country lies in its democracy. I think if we ever lose the courage to be able to speak up for the things that we believe in, I think we really lose the value that our country stands for.

Kobe Bryant
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
The Lakers took the floor wearing “I Can’t Breathe” prior to Tuesday’s tipoff against the Kings.
“It’s important that we have our opinions. It’s important that we stand up for what we believe in and we all don’t have to agree with it, and it’s completely fine. That’s what makes this a beautiful country.”

Bryant and the Lakers followed the lead of LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Garnett and other athletes across American sports by wearing the shirts to support the family of Eric Garner, who died July 17 after a police officer in New York placed him in a chokehold while he was being arrested. A recording of Garner’s arrest showed him gasping “I can’t breathe” during the fatal encounter, and thousands have protested a grand jury decision not to indict the officer.

Players are required to wear attire of Adidas, the league’s official apparel provider, but a league source told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap earlier in the week that the NBA will not fine players who wore the shirts in warmups.

“I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules,” commissioner Adam Silver said Monday.

Coach Byron Scott said he would support his players.

“Freedom of choice and freedom of speech,” coach Byron Scott said. “That’s their choice and whatever they choose, from my standpoint as a coach, I’m going to support them, but that’s their choice.”

Bryant insisted the growing unrest is not limited to issues of race.

“I think it would be a serious disservice to limit this to a race issue. It’s a justice issue,” he said. “You’re kind of seeing a tipping point right now, in terms of social issues. It’s become now at the forefront right now as opposed to being a local issue. It’s really been something that has carried over and spilled into the mainstream, so when you turn on the TV and you watch the news or you follow things on social media, you don’t just see African-Americans out there protesting.

“It’s become a thing where people are really standing up for their rights and really questioning the justice system and questioning the process of the legal system and those who have authority — and whether or not they’re abusing authority and what’s the threshold to use deadly force and so forth and so on. But that’s what our nation is founded on, man. We have the ability to question these things in a peaceful fashion. That’s what makes us a great country. We have the ability to voice up, we have the platform to speak up and we have the platform to affect change.”