Struggling?

March 31, 2015

Are you struggling?
You may be struggling with any number of difficulties today, sickness, relational issues, financial stress, sin, loss, or persecution. Christians aren’t immune to the trials of living in a world that has been cursed by sin. Anyone who would say differently hasn’t properly understood the story of Job, Joseph, or Jesus. The Bible teaches us that God doesn’t protect His people from difficulty, but He does make some promises to them in the midst of their difficulty. That’s a good thing because trials present a unique danger — the danger of losing faith. Suffering tempts us to think that God is distant from us, against us, or not willing to help us. This seems to be the concern that James felt for his Christian brothers who were experiencing all kinds of difficulties. He exhorts them to be steadfast in their faith through trials. And what’s most helpful is that he gives them a perspective that actually fuels joy and gives hope in the midst of difficulties.

Six perspectives that bring joy in the midst of your trials:
1. Trials produce spiritual maturity. (1:2-4)
2. Trials drive us to God in prayer. (1:5-8)
3. Trials humble us before God. (1:9-11)
4. Trials offer us the blessing of true riches. (1:12) 
5. Trials are not temptations from God to sin. (1:13-15)
6. Trials are good gifts from God to finish what He started. (1:16-18)

To say it another way, difficulties are vivid displays of the nature of God:
1. Trials display the SOVEREIGNTY of God over all things, even the bad things that happen to His people. (1:2-4)
2. Trials display the WISDOM of God who delights to illuminate the path of those who believe His wisdom is best. (1:2-8) 
3. Trials display the JUSTICE of God who exalts the humble and humbles the exalted so that both see that He is the true treasure of life. (1:9-12)
4. Trials display the HOLINESS of God who is utterly set apart from sin, so that He cannot even be tempted by it. (1:13-15)
5. Trials display the GOODNESS of God who delights to give good gifts to His people. (1:16-18)
6. Trials display the GRACE of God that conceived the process of redemption and will bring it to full completion by making the most rebellious of all of His creatures, the best-­fruits of His creatures through the Lord Jesus Christ. (1:16-18)

Do you mind one more perspective, the perspective of the cross?
Our trials point us to the gospel, because Jesus Christ suffered on the cross to accomplish our redemption:

1. Jesus counted his suffering on the cross as JOY because He knew that God was accomplishing His will through it. Our steadfast faith and attitude of joy comes as a result of “looking at Jesus.”
Hebrews 12:2–3 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 

2. Jesus cried out for the WISDOM of God in the midst of His suffering. His cross opened the way for us to come to the throne of grace to find help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14–16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession… 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

3. Jesus HUMBLED himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on the cross and as a result, God has highly exalted him so that we would humble ourselves before Him and confess that He is Lord. 
Philippians 2:8–9 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…

4. Jesus was STEADFAST through his suffering and was raised to life so that He could give the Crown of Life to all who love him.
John 5:25–26 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 

5. Jesus became flesh and was TEMPTED in every way that we are, yet he did not sin, and through his cross, he defeated the power of sin and set us free to live in righteousness.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 

6. Jesus is God’s good and perfect GIFT, sacrificed on the cross, and raised as the first-­‐fruits of the dead so that all those in Christ shall be raised to life. 

1 Corinthians 15:20–23 Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

-Tim White

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Palm Sunday

March 29, 2015

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:13

Brink of WW3

March 27, 2015

As bloodshed and nuclear menace mount in the Middle East, China and North Korea flex their military and nuclear muscles in Asia, and America retreats almost everywhere, how will history judge Barack Obama? 

Is he the wise Dwight D. Eisenhower who understood the limits of American power and used military might as an instrument of peace? 

Or the appeaser Neville Chamberlain, whose naivete accelerated Hitler’s rise and led to World War II?  

Neither analogy rings true. But there are others whose choices more closely mirror Obama — and they do not inspire optimism about where we are going.

Winston Churchill was said to have made a harsh comparison between Neville Chamberlain and his predecessor as British prime minister, Stanley Baldwin.  

Both were appeasers — in Baldwin’s case he had allowed Hitler to march unopposed into the Rhineland in 1936, giving the dictator a huge boost in political and moral authority. But Baldwin, Churchill believed, had placated Hitler for purely cynical reasons: because he sought political benefits from a war weary England.  

Chamberlain, assigned the role of dupe in popular history, genuinely believed he had bought the “peace in our time” so acclaimed by the world in 1938 as he endorsed Hitler’s dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. 

Using Churchill’s criteria, the far more apt analogy is Obama to Baldwin, a midget of history, whose cynical pursuit of political advantage was also key to ushering in an era of war and mass extermination.

Consider Obama’s red lines for Syrian dictator Bashir al Assad, a man the president demanded step down two years ago. Those red lines laid out by our president suggested that the use of chemical weapons would prompt military action by the United States. 

But after 14 chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian regime, including one monstrous attack that killed 1,400 (including more than 400 children), Obama has done nothing more than reduce the number of chemical weapons available to Assad. 

As to the other tens of thousands dead at the Syrian dictator’s hands – including thousands of children deliberately tortured, according to Human Rights Watch – well, that’s just too bad. 

Consider the new agreement with Iran, which allows the Islamist extremist regime to continue enriching uranium despite violating the selfsame treaty that permitted it to build a nuclear capacity. 

Obama and his team have worked to argue for Tehran against the American Congress for several months, insisting that the representatives of the American people should accept the promises of an Iranian government which has spent the last 20 years lying about its weapons programs. Not to speak of Iranian support for terrorism, murder of Americans, and domestic abuses.

Consider Iraq, Afghanistan and the war against Al Qaeda that has raged since 9/11. Almost 8,000 civilians died in Iraq in 2013, a return to the violence of 2007-8. 

In Afghanistan, the Taliban the administration has been wooing has been on a murderous rampage. 

And, of course, there is Al Qaeda, supposedly “on its heels,” but now flourishing from Sinai to Syria to Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Mali, Somalia, Algeria and beyond. 

We have heard on numerous occasions from the big-hearted members of Team Obama how the deaths across the Middle East afflict their souls. 

Susan Rice, who watched the genocide in Rwanda but ignored it to benefit Bill Clinton, and could never, she insisted, see that happen again; Samantha Power, who condemned Rice’s indifference to Rwanda’s war, but watches Syria and ignores it to benefit Barack Obama; John Kerry, who was appalled by Vietnam but is apparently cool with Syria, Iraq, and Iran and the attendant human misery. 

Who are these people, and how do we place them in the context of history? 

We go back and look at those who ignored crimes against humanity, who cared more for their own power and less for principles of freedom, and we ask ourselves where those people led us. 

And the answer is straightforward: They led us into peril, into war and into death. 

Worse still, unlike foolish Chamberlains, they were the selfish Baldwins, who served their own domestic political aims at the expense of mankind.

Danielle Pletka is Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at AEI, the American Enterprise Institute.


Discontentment 

March 27, 2015

Article

03.01.2010

Everyone struggles with discontentment at one time or another, and it’s particularly difficult when we are discontent with the church. Don Whitney writes that no one can hurt a believer as deeply as a group of other believers.

Can you recall the last time you were deeply disappointed by another church member? What about the last time you felt like a church let you down? Maybe you felt like an outsider months after you joined. Or maybe the congregation was unconcerned about a priority that mattered to you. Difficulties like these easily lead to feelings of resentment.

Discontentment will always be with us. At least in this life, we won’t rid ourselves of it entirely. So this class isn’t about how to avoid discontentment. It’s about how to deal with discontentment when it comes.

Above all, we can take comfort in knowing that God gives us grace to work through discontentment, and he will use it to serve his glory and our good. How we respond to discontentment, therefore, can be either a great source of evil for the church or a great source of good. How then should we handle discontentment so that it spurs us onward to unity? That’s what we’ll consider today.

I. THE BITTER FRUIT OF DISCONTENTMENT

What is discontentment? It’s a desire for something better than the present situation. Now, on the one hand, it’s inevitable that people in a sinful world will be discontent.
This world is broken by sin and should be better. On the other hand, it’s also inevitable that sinful people like us will often put our hope in circumstances rather than in God. That’s why discontentment with the church can bear such bitter fruit.

Let’s look at three ways in which discontentment, if not properly handled, can harm the church’s witness:

1. Discontentment Can Lead to Complaining and Grumbling

Paul warns us in the book of Philippians to “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation” (2:14-15).

One thing that will make our witness compelling to the world around us is this: we do not complain or grumble. (See also James 5:9).When we allow discontentment to result in complaining and grumbling, we damage our reputation as Christians and harm the witness of the church.

2. Discontentment Can Lead to Discord

When we are unhappy with something we are tempted to talk about it. We criticize. We rally support to get people to see things our way. Behavior like that, no matter the virtue of the original concern, quickly causes factions and dissension within the church, something Paul lists alongside idolatry, witchcraft, and fits of rage (Gal. 5:20). We must address discontentment carefully because it so often bears the fruit of discord.

3. Discontentment Distracts from What Really Matters

As individuals and as a church, our charge is to “make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). When our passions and energy are focused on what makes us unhappy, it becomes difficult to work together for the expansion of God’s kingdom. Discontentment consumes our own time and attention; it saps our energy; and it consumes the time and energy of our brothers and sisters, our elders and staff.

III. HOW TO HANDLE DISCONTENTMENT

Discontentment can bear bitter fruit in the life of the church. However, if it is handled well, discontentment can actually lead to a strengthening of the body. When we respond to discontentment in a godly way; when we submit to each other for the sake of Christ and do the hard work of love, we bring great glory to God. We show that our unity as a church doesn’t stem from perfect agreement, or compatible personalities, but that it flows from shared hope and satisfaction in Christ.

How do we do that? As with any other area of the Christian life, the key isn’t to memorize a list of things we can do to respond to discontentment. It’s to understand how the message of the gospel transforms our response to discontentment. Here are four general guidelines for addressing discontentment.

1. Pray for God’s Mercy

First and foremost, Scripture tells us that we are unable to do anything of value in our own strength—and that includes responding to discontentment. Remember Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

When we find ourselves discontent, start by praying and crying out for God’s mercy. It’s foolish to think that we are mature enough or strong enough to handle discontent by our own power. We are fallen human beings, and our minds can easily be deceived.

When something difficult happens to you at church and someone asks you about it, is your first reaction to say, “Thanks—but I’m okay. Really, I am.” Oh really? Are you okay because you’ve relied on the strength of God to forgive and to love beyond your own ability? Or are you okay because you think you have what it takes to shoulder everything by yourself?

When you encounter discontentment, pray. You are entering into a struggle that you cannot win on your own. Pray that God would give you discernment and wisdom. Pray that he would show you if your discontentment is rooted in your own sinful desires, and then pray that God would change those desires. We as a church would honor God far more if we tried to fix things ourselves less often, and spent more time in desperate pleading for God to heal us.

2. Examine Your Desires 

Second, we need to carefully examine our hearts and try to understand the desires at the root of our discontentment. Is there sin that you need to confess? Are there desires that should be satisfied in Christ, but that you are wrongly seeking to have satisfied in others?

James writes in chapter 4 of his letter,

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. (James 4:1-2)

James gets right to the connection between discontentment and circumstances. We feel discontent because we have put our hope in our circumstances rather than in God.

But circumstances change. God does not. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore we must examine our hearts’ desires in light of God’s word. Are you fighting or quarreling with other Christians? Then there’s a good chance you have some ungodly desires that you need to address.

For example, perhaps you’re unhappy because someone is better friends with a particular person than you are. What’s at the root of that discontentment? Do you want that friendship because it would convey a special status that you covet? Are you jealous of a friendship that seems so close? Ask God to identify sin in your life, and then confess it as sin. Think hard about the root problem: What desires lay behind your feeling of discontentment? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you putting your hope in the approval of men rather than in Christ’s provision for you? The gospel will counter that desire.
  • Are you impatient with the inefficiency of others? The gospel will remind you that you can only do things in Christ’s strength, in his time, and for his ends.
  • Do you feel you deserve better treatment than you’ve received? Think instead of what you truly deserve from God. Remember the gospel’s call to lay down your life—and your rights—for the sake of Christ.

A good part of the discontentment we feel can be put to rest simply by examining our desires and repenting of sin.

3. Fill Your Heart With a Passion for God’s Glory

Not only must we repent of sinful attitudes, we must replace them with godly ones. Here, again, the gospel transforms the situation. God has lavished his riches on us by forgiving us of our sins. In light of that, the reasons for our discontentment can suddenly seem quite small. When we’re filled with a passion to see God’s glory proclaimed, discontentment rooted in selfishness melts away.

So how do we cultivate that kind of passion, especially on those days when we’re feeling discontent?

First, do good, even when you don’t feel like it.

When you are unhappy with someone in the church, pray for that person. Pray that God would prosper them, and that he would help you to understand that person’s worth as one of his children. Thank God for saving them.

Even more, express that thankfulness in concrete ways. Send the person an encouraging e-mail, or meet some need in his or her life. Choosing to love someone at an extremely practical level can be one of the best ways to soften your heart in the midst of discontent.

Now, you might be thinking: But if I am feeling negative things while I say encouraging things outside, isn’t that hypocrisy? No, it’s not. Disciplining yourself to work for the good of another, even when you don’t feel like it, is not hypocrisy. It’s war against sin. It is part of what it means to persevere in love.

Don’t wait until your heart is perfectly right to do the right thing. When we fight against our ungodly affections with godly actions, the Holy Spirit can use that to convict and change our hearts.

Martin Luther is famous for having said, “If you’re going to sin, sin boldly.” He’s often misunderstood there. What he meant was that Christians should not refrain from doing good works just because evil motives are mixed with good ones. Our motives are never going to be perfectly righteous, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing what is right. Do the good work in spite of your sinful motives—”Sin boldly!” Luther said—and trust God to use even your imperfect good work to convict and transform your heart.

Second, count others more significant than yourself.

Consider what Paul says in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” We recite this verse pretty often, but do we really live it?

Why should you consider other Christians “more significant” than yourself? Because they are more capable or more godly? No. It’s because they are Christ’s possession. He has bought them with his blood, and they are precious in God’s sight.

Much of our selfish discontentment begins because we have imagined that we are more important than the people around us. Considering others more significant than yourself is not only humbling, it’s a great way to remind yourself of the unmerited grace God has shown you.

4. Be Careful with Your Words

How you choose to talk about your discontentment with others will determine whether that discontentment spreads or subsides. So what should you talk about and how should you talk about it?

First, do the things we’ve talked about here—pray, examine your desires, and fill your mind with thoughts of God’s glory—before you speak with anyone. Any conversation you have should have as its goal either to confess sin or to constructively plan how you might engage the situation and encourage the church. If your conversation does not fall into one of those two categories, then it may well be complaining and grumbling.

Second, don’t talk to another member simply to “vent” your frustrations. Talking about frustrations can be helpful, but only if the purpose is to confess sin, seek counsel, or plan a constructive response. Using a conversation merely to let off steam or seek affirmation in your discontentment only worsens the problem. The temptation to sin in anger can be incredibly strong, and it is something against which we must guard ourselves.

Third, don’t talk about the sin of other Christians. In Matthew 18, Jesus lays out very clear steps for dealing with sin in the church, and the first one is to confront the person who has sinned. Unless you have confronted the person and he has refused to listen, talking with anyone else about that person’s sin is gossip.

Fourth, don’t lobby support for your position. The Bible refers to a person who does that as “divisive”—one who seeks to create factions in the church.

When you become discontent with the church, or with other Christians, you have a choice: You can either stoke anger in your heart, gossip, and contribute to strife and disunity in the church. Or you can pray, examine your desires, fill your heart with a passion for God’s glory, guard your words, and participate in building a unified, God-glorifying church, even in the middle of a fallen world.

IV. SPECIFIC AREAS OF DISCONTENT

Discontentment can arise because of just about anything, but it seems to especially arise in several areas. What are the areas, and how do we respond?

1. The Church Isn’t Meeting My Needs

One common reason for discontentment is a feeling that the church is not meeting one’s felt needs.

Perhaps you’ve been a member of the church for several months, and yet you’re still finding it difficult to make close friends. Maybe you feel dissatisfied because your particular gifts are not being recognized and used in the church.

Whatever the issue, we must remember that joy in the Christian life doesn’t come by finding a careful balance between serving others and being served. No, that’s not the picture that the Scriptures give us of the joyful Christian life. Christian joy comes as we give ourselves completely in service to Christ and his people. After all, the command is to “Love one another,” not to “Be lovedby one another.” The language is active, not passive!

So what should you do if discontentment takes root because you feel like you’re not being cared for? Pray, and then search your heart. Are these feelings flowing from selfish and ungodly desires? Are you more concerned about whether people are reaching out to you than you are about whether you’re reaching out to others? Your desire to use your gifts—does that come from a desire to be personally satisfied, or from a genuine desire to benefit the church?

Then seek God’s glory even in the midst of your discontentment. Remember that God’s priority is for you to glorify him by loving others. Meet someone else’s need, and you may find that your deepest need all along was not so much to be loved as to love.

2. I Don’t Like That Person

Perhaps it’s an issue of envy or rivalry: you resent the blessings God has lavished on a particular brother or sister. Or maybe it’s just a basic feeling of discomfort: someone behaves in a way that’s radically different from what you’re accustomed to. How do you work through discontentedness in areas like this?

Again, it’s a matter of thinking of those people in light of God’s grace and glory. Learn to pray for people whom you dislike, and ask God to bless and mature them. Remember that those people, though broken and imperfect today, are being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory. Loving those whom we find uncomfortable is not easy, but it is hugely important, for it’s through those kinds of relationships that God is most glorified.

3. I Disagree with the Leadership

A third category of situations in which we may struggle with discontentment is when we disagree with decisions of church leaders. We will devote the next class to understanding how we should express and resolve those disagreements biblically. The one comment I’ll make now is that everything we’ve talked about today also applies to discontentment caused by disagreement with church leaders.

When you encounter this kind of disagreement, remember to pray for God’s mercy, to examine your heart’s desires, to fill your heart with a passion for God, and to be careful in how you speak to others about the disagreement.

V. Conclusion

In his first letter, Peter said, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). There are few areas where Christians are more susceptible to stumble than in the area of discontentment. What begins as a mild critique or a moment of insecurity can wreak havoc in a church, as members pursue selfish agendas and sink more and more into unhappiness and discord.

In the end, we must remember to put our hope in God and not in our circumstances. At the root of discontentment is the idea that things would be better if some person or situation would simply change. Compared to the one who is Lord of those circumstances, and who has promised us surpassing joy in himself, those circumstances are a poor ground for our hope. Let’s pray that, as a body, we would pursue the joy that is found in him alone.

War on Cash

March 24, 2015

The Justice Department is ordering bank employees to consider calling the cops on customers who withdraw $5,000 dollars or more, a chilling example of how the war on cash is intensifying.

Banks are already required to file ‘suspicious activity reports’ on their customers, with threats of fines and even jail time for directors if financial institutions don’t meet quotas.

But as investor and financial blogger Simon Black points out, last week, “A senior official from the Justice Department spoke to a group of bankers about the need for them to rat out their customers to the police.”

Assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell gave a speech in which he urged banks to “alert law enforcement authorities about the problem” so that police can “seize the funds” or at least “initiate an investigation”.

As Black highlights, according to the handbook for the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council, such suspicious activity includes, “Transactions conducted or attempted by, at, or through the bank (or an affiliate) and aggregating $5,000 or more…”

Black provides a chilling scenario under which an attempt to withdraw your own money from your bank account could end with a home visit from the cops.

“As you pull into your driveway later there’s an unexpected surprise waiting for you: two police officers would like to have a word with you about your intended withdrawal earlier,” writes Black, who accuses banks of already operating as “unpaid government spies”.

“Do you need to withdraw cash to purchase a used car from a private seller? Or perhaps you are pulling out some emergency cash for a loved one,” writes Mac Slavo.

“Either one of these activities are now considered suspicious and if your cash withdrawal amounts to even a few thousand dollars your bank teller is under a legal requirement to alert officials about your suspected criminal activity. And before you argue that you can’t possibly be a suspect because you have done nothing wrong, consider that even being suspected of being a suspect is now enough to land you on a terrorist watchlist in America.”

The war on cash is intensifying as authorities attempt to crack down on one of the few remaining modes of anonymity.

Over in France, Finance Minister Michel Sapin hailed the introduction of measures set to come into force in September which will restrict French citizens from making cash payments over 1,000 euros.

The new regulations, introduced in the name of fighting terrorism, will also see cash deposits of over 10,000 euros during a single month reported to anti-fraud authorities.

Meanwhile, in the UK, HSBC is now interrogating its account holders on how they earn and spend their money as well as restricting large cash withdrawals for customers from £5000 upwards.

Back in America, purchasing Amtrak train tickets with cash is being treated as a suspicious activity as part of a number of behaviors that are “indicative of criminal activity”.

Banks are also making it harder for customers to withdraw and deposit cash, with Chase imposing new capital controls that mandate identification for cash deposits and ban cash being deposited into another person’s account.

In October 2013, we also reported on how Chase instituted policy changes which banned international wire transfers while restricting cash activity for business customers (both deposits and withdrawals) to a $50,000 limit per statement cycle.


Paul Watson

Sick

March 22, 2015

It is MURDER. 

The shocking story of a baby cut from the womb of a Colorado woman started after the pregnant mother saw a Craigslist ad supposedly selling used baby clothing.

After reading the ad for the baby clothing, authorities say that a 26-year-old woman from Longmont, Colorado–identified as “D” publicly–contacted Dynel Lane, 34, a former certified nurses aide.

“D”, who was seven months pregnant at the time, visited Lane (pictured) at her home to inquire about the sale. But instead of a transaction, authorities allege that Lane attacked her.

Prosecutors say that “D” was viciously stabbed by Lane, and when she was down, Lane set upon the prone woman, sliced open her belly, and removed the fetus.

It appears that Lane’s husband, David Ridley, soon discovered his wife covered in blood. According to police, Lane told her husband that she had a spontaneous abortion in the bathroom of the couple’s home.

Mr. Ridley told authorities he found the fetus in a bathtub and noted that it was still gasping for breath when he entered the bathroom. He then rushed his wife and the baby to a local hospital, where the infant soon died. Doctors noted that if properly treated, the baby was viable and could have survived.

Ridley says he never even knew that “D” was lying stabbed and bleeding in his home when he left for the hospital that night.

“D” then called police and told a 911 operator that she was stabbed and that she was pregnant.

When police arrived, they found “D” lying on a bed and barely conscious. A bloody three-inch knife was discovered in the room.

After arriving at the emergency room, ER personnel noted that the incision on “D’s” stomach “appeared to be well performed.”

Meanwhile, at the same hospital that “D” was taken to, Lane reportedly refused to allow doctors to treat her for what she claimed was a miscarriage.

Ultimately, police say she admitted to the attack on the pregnant woman.

“Dynel admitted to Detective Stacey Graham that she cut abdomen open to remove [the victim’s] baby,” the police report says.

Prosecutors are now weighing the idea of charging Lane with the murder of the baby, but state law on the matter is far from clear.

“The issue of whether or not murder charges are appropriate involving a case involving the death of a fetus or a late-term pregnancy is always a difficult issue,” Boulder County District Attorney Stanley L. Garnett said.

“Under Colorado law, essentially, there’s no way murder charges can be brought if it’s not established that the fetus lived as a child outside the body of the mother for some period of time. I don’t know the answer yet as to whether that can be established, what our facts are here,” Garnett added.

It is unknown how authorities will determine if the period of time that the child existed outside the womb was long enough for it to qualify as a human being under state law.

Oh, brother

March 16, 2015

Or should I say, oh sister?

Some Muslim students at the University of Missouri protested an upcoming campus screening of “American Sniper” and clamored to have the film’s debut there canceled.

At the heart of the controversy is a Muslim student activist who declared showing the film on campus would make her feel “unsafe” and demanded an “apology and explanation” as to how and why the movie was even selected for Mizzou audiences.

The uproar was taken quite seriously, and prompted the student government to conduct a meeting to determine whether the flick should be shown.

“This film is blatant racist, colonialist propaganda that should not be shown under any circumstances and especially not endorsed by a branch of student government that purports to represent me and have my best interests in mind,” student Farah El-Jayyousi had stated.

She made the comments in a letter to the editor to the campus newspaper earlier this month, denouncing the decision to show the blockbuster – the highest grossing film of 2014. El-Jayyousi accused the movie of dehumanizing Muslims and glorifying the murder of Iraqis, and referred to Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL featured in the film, as “a killer with no regard for human life.”

El-Jayyousi, described by the University of Missouri’s website as a psychology and women’s and gender studies double-major and social justice advocate, went on to declare in her letter:

I do not feel safe on this campus and for good reason. The fact that this film is being shown, the fact that I have to explain why this film is not only problematic but harmful makes me feel even more unsafe. Showing this film will create an even more hostile environment for me and other Arab, Muslim, South Asian and people of color on this campus.

I am requesting that this film not be shown and that it either be replaced with a film that does not glorify violence or support existing systems of domination and oppression, or an event addressing “American Sniper” and similar films and media texts using a critical lens. This film is blatant racist, colonialist propaganda that should not be shown under any circumstances and especially not endorsed by a branch of student government that purports to represent me and have my best interests in mind.

Lastly, I would like to clarify that this is not an attempt at censorship but an affirmation of my right to feel safe in my body and identity wherever I may be, including this campus. Freedom of speech should not come at the expense of anyone’s humanity and right to be viewed, talked about and treated with basic respect and dignity.

I am asking that this film not be shown and that an official, public apology and explanation be issued by all parties involved in approving the screening of American Sniper on Mizzou’s campus.

After its publication, the student government stated it received “numerous letters from students asking for the film to be cancelled.”

But the Missourian reports “many took offense to the article … [and] a common thread in the debate is the tension between free speech and a student’s right to feel safe on campus.”

The controversy prompted the student government to meet last week to discuss whether the screening should continue.

“At this moment we have not made a decision as to whether we are going to cancel the film or not,” Missouri Students Association President Payton Head had said at the time.

On Friday, the students association finally weighed in, saying the movie will be shown as originally planned on April 17 and 18 – but promised to have some sort of event to help “cultivate an inclusive campus climate.”

“Throughout our discussion, many opinions were expressed both for and against showing this film on campus,” the student government stated. “MSA and other student organizations will utilize the screening to create new conversations about the issues presented in the film. We will use these conversations to help cultivate an inclusive campus climate.”

“Additional programming to educate the campus on these issues will be announced as plans come together.”


Selma

March 12, 2015

As prepared for delivery:

It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.

Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning fifty years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind. A day like this was not on his mind. Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about. Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked. A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones. The air was thick with doubt, anticipation, and fear. They comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:

“No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;”

“Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.”

Then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, a book on government – all you need for a night behind bars – John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.

President Bush and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Members of Congress, Mayor Evans, Reverend Strong, friends and fellow Americans:

There are places, and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war – Concord and Lexington, Appomattox and Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character – Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.

Selma is such a place.

In one afternoon fifty years ago, so much of our turbulent history – the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher – met on this bridge.

It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America.

And because of men and women like John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. King, and so many more, the idea of a just America, a fair America, an inclusive America, a generous America – that idea ultimately triumphed.

As is true across the landscape of American history, we cannot examine this moment in isolation. The march on Selma was part of a broader campaign that spanned generations; the leaders that day part of a long line of heroes.

We gather here to celebrate them. We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching toward justice.

They did as Scripture instructed: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” And in the days to come, they went back again and again. When the trumpet call sounded for more to join, the people came – black and white, young and old, Christian and Jew, waving the American flag and singing the same anthems full of faith and hope. A white newsman, Bill Plante, who covered the marches then and who is with us here today, quipped that the growing number of white people lowered the quality of the singing. To those who marched, though, those old gospel songs must have never sounded so sweet.

In time, their chorus would reach President Johnson. And he would send them protection, echoing their call for the nation and the world to hear:

“We shall overcome.”

What enormous faith these men and women had. Faith in God – but also faith in America.

The Americans who crossed this bridge were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, and countless daily indignities – but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.

What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible; that love and hope can conquer hate.

As we commemorate their achievement, we are well-served to remember that at the time of the marches, many in power condemned rather than praised them. Back then, they were called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse – everything but the name their parents gave them. Their faith was questioned. Their lives were threatened. Their patriotism was challenged.

And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place?

What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people – the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many – coming together to shape their country’s course?

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?

That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience. That’s why it’s not a museum or static monument to behold from a distance. It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents:

“We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

These are not just words. They are a living thing, a call to action, a roadmap for citizenship and an insistence in the capacity of free men and women to shape our own destiny. For founders like Franklin and Jefferson, for leaders like Lincoln and FDR, the success of our experiment in self-government rested on engaging all our citizens in this work. That’s what we celebrate here in Selma. That’s what this movement was all about, one leg in our long journey toward freedom.

The American instinct that led these young men and women to pick up the torch and cross this bridge is the same instinct that moved patriots to choose revolution over tyranny. It’s the same instinct that drew immigrants from across oceans and the Rio Grande; the same instinct that led women to reach for the ballot and workers to organize against an unjust status quo; the same instinct that led us to plant a flag at Iwo Jima and on the surface of the Moon.

It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what’s right and shake up the status quo.

That’s what makes us unique, and cements our reputation as a beacon of opportunity. Young people behind the Iron Curtain would see Selma and eventually tear down a wall. Young people in Soweto would hear Bobby Kennedy talk about ripples of hope and eventually banish the scourge of apartheid. Young people in Burma went to prison rather than submit to military rule. From the streets of Tunis to the Maidan in Ukraine, this generation of young people can draw strength from this place, where the powerless could change the world’s greatest superpower, and push their leaders to expand the boundaries of freedom.

They saw that idea made real in Selma, Alabama. They saw it made real in America.

Because of campaigns like this, a Voting Rights Act was passed. Political, economic, and social barriers came down, and the change these men and women wrought is visible here today in the presence of African-Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus to the Oval Office.

Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for African-Americans, but for every American. Women marched through those doors. Latinos marched through those doors. Asian-Americans, gay Americans, and Americans with disabilities came through those doors. Their endeavors gave the entire South the chance to rise again, not by reasserting the past, but by transcending the past.

What a glorious thing, Dr. King might say.

What a solemn debt we owe.

Which leads us to ask, just how might we repay that debt?

First and foremost, we have to recognize that one day’s commemoration, no matter how special, is not enough. If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done – the American experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each generation.

Selma teaches us, too, that action requires that we shed our cynicism. For when it comes to the pursuit of justice, we can afford neither complacency nor despair.

Just this week, I was asked whether I thought the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report shows that, with respect to race, little has changed in this country. I understand the question, for the report’s narrative was woefully familiar. It evoked the kind of abuse and disregard for citizens that spawned the Civil Rights Movement. But I rejected the notion that nothing’s changed. What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic, or sanctioned by law and custom; and before the Civil Rights Movement, it most surely was.

We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, or that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing’s changed in the past fifty years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or L.A. of the Fifties. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed. Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago. To deny this progress – our progress – would be to rob us of our own agency; our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.

Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that racism is banished, that the work that drew men and women to Selma is complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes. We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true. We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character – requires admitting as much.

“We are capable of bearing a great burden,” James Baldwin wrote, “once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is.”

This is work for all Americans, and not just some. Not just whites. Not just blacks. If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination. All of us will need to feel, as they did, the fierce urgency of now. All of us need to recognize, as they did, that change depends on our actions, our attitudes, the things we teach our children. And if we make such effort, no matter how hard it may seem, laws can be passed, and consciences can be stirred, and consensus can be built.

With such effort, we can make sure our criminal justice system serves all and not just some. Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on – the idea that police officers are members of the communities they risk their lives to protect, and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland just want the same thing young people here marched for – the protection of the law. Together, we can address unfair sentencing, and overcrowded prisons, and the stunted circumstances that rob too many boys of the chance to become men, and rob the nation of too many men who could be good dads, and workers, and neighbors.

With effort, we can roll back poverty and the roadblocks to opportunity. Americans don’t accept a free ride for anyone, nor do we believe in equality of outcomes. But we do expect equal opportunity, and if we really mean it, if we’re willing to sacrifice for it, then we can make sure every child gets an education suitable to this new century, one that expands imaginations and lifts their sights and gives them skills. We can make sure every person willing to work has the dignity of a job, and a fair wage, and a real voice, and sturdier rungs on that ladder into the middle class.

And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge – and that is the right to vote. Right now, in 2015, fifty years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood and sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, stands weakened, its future subject to partisan rancor.

How can that be? The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic effort. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President Bush signed its renewal when he was in office. One hundred Members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right it protects. If we want to honor this day, let these hundred go back to Washington, and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore the law this year.

Of course, our democracy is not the task of Congress alone, or the courts alone, or the President alone. If every new voter suppression law was struck down today, we’d still have one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples. Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap. It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life. What is our excuse today for not voting? How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future?

Fellow marchers, so much has changed in fifty years. We’ve endured war, and fashioned peace. We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives, and take for granted convenience our parents might scarcely imagine. But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship, that willingness of a 26 year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five, to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.

That’s what it means to love America. That’s what it means to believe in America. That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.

For we were born of change. We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people. That’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction, because we know our efforts matter. We know America is what we make of it.

We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea – pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, entrepreneurs and hucksters. That’s our spirit.

We are Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man and then some; and we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth. That’s our character.

We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free – Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan. We are the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because they want their kids to know a better life. That’s how we came to be.

We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.

We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent, and we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, Navajo code-talkers, and Japanese-Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied. We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, and the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are the gay Americans whose blood ran on the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge.

We are storytellers, writers, poets, and artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.

We are the inventors of gospel and jazz and the blues, bluegrass and country, hip-hop and rock and roll, our very own sounds with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.

We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head, and stealing home in the World Series anyway.

We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of, who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.”

We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American as others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for it. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing; we are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day. You are America. Unconstrained by habits and convention. Unencumbered by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be. For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, and new ground to cover, and bridges to be crossed. And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.

Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person.

Because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can. It is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished. But we are getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect. But we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge. When it feels the road’s too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example, and hold firmly the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”

We honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar. And we will not grow weary. For we believe in the power of an awesome God, and we believe in this country’s sacred promise.

May He bless those warriors of justice no longer with us, and bless the United States of America.


-O

A Muslim Govt

March 4, 2015

We now have a muslm government.————–When you read this you will understand why President Obama refuses to say the words “radical Islam.”.. This checked out with Google and even, Snopes… Did you know that we now have a Muslim government? John Brennan, current head of CIA converted to Islam while stationed in Saudi Arabia. Obama’s top advisor, Valerie Jarrett, is a Muslim who was born in Iran where her parents still live. Hillary Clinton’s top advisor, Huma Abedin is a Muslim, whose mother and brother are involved in the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Assistant Secretary for Policy Development for Homeland Security, Arif Aikhan, is a Muslim. Homeland Security Advisor, Mohammed Elibiary, is a Muslim. Obama advisor and founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Salam al-Marayati, is a Muslim. Obama’s Sharia Czar, Imam Mohamed Magid, of the Islamic Society of North America is a Muslim. Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, Eboo Patel, is a Muslim. And last but not least, our closet Muslim himself, Barack Hussein Obama. It’s questionable if Obama ever officially took the oath of office when he was sworn in. He didn’t repeat the oath properly to defend our nation and our Constitution. Later the Democrats claimed he was given the oath again in private? CIA director John Brennan took his oath on a copy of the Constitution, not a Bible. Congressman, Keith Ellison took his oath on a copy of the Qur’an. Congresswoman Michele Bachman was vilified and almost tarred and feathered by Democrats when she voiced her concern about Muslims taking over our government.

Survivalist Websites

March 3, 2015

We decided it would be a great idea to put together a top 20 list of the best websites for Survivalists. This is what we’ve come up with from our research and we wanted to provide you with the best information possible.

So here you are!

 

1. Graywolf Survival – http://graywolfsurvival.com/ 

– One of the most popular survivalist sites, Graywolfsurvival is informative and easy to navigate.

2. American Preppers Network – http://americanpreppersnetwork.com 

– This website caters to a wide range of preppers. From novices to seasoned survivalists, this site contains information for everybody, as well as a blog to help you pick up tips from other preppers.

3. The Prepper Journal – http://www.theprepperjournal.com/ 

– This site is very thorough and has a wealth of information, particularly for those who don’t know where to begin. The attractive layout is an added bonus.

4. Sovereign Survival – http://tipsforsurvivalists.com/ 

– This site is particularly helpful for preppers with families, and is chock full of links to other resources across the web. Great for people at any experience level, particularly those with small children.

5. The Survival Mom – http://thesurvivalmom.com/ 

– While this site appears to cater to women, don’t let the name fool you! This site is great for beginners of all genders who want tips on organization, prepping food, and keeping your kids entertained in the event of a crisis.

6. Doom and Bloom – http://www.doomandbloom.net/ 

– Doom and Bloom is both fun and informational –containing helpful articles as well as a radio channel where you can tune in and get helpful survivalist tips.

7. Off Grid Survival – http://offgridsurvival.com

– While this site is not super heavy on tips for beginners, it is a wealth of knowledge in terms of related news stories and information on practical gear.

8. Survival Spot – http://www.survival-spot.com 

– This site is attractive and well laid out, but is recommended for those who already have base-level knowledge; otherwise the high-tech advice could bury a beginner.

9. Prepping To Survive – http://preppingtosurvive.com/ 

– Where most prepping websites focus on disaster related preparedness, this one targets wilderness survival in general, and is great for the adventurer who wants to be ready in case of emergency.

10. Prepper Resources – http://www.prepper-resources.com/ 

– This resource is not only provides information on prepping basics and gun safety, it will also link you to other sites on the web that can expand your knowledge.

11. Survival Cache – http://survivalcache.com/ 

– While it does contains articles on storing food and water, this site’s main focus is weaponry. While it may seem extreme to some, it is an often overlooked aspect of being prepared.

12. SGT Report – http://sgtreport.com/ 

– This website is less about active survival tips and more about the danger we are facing on a daily basis – however, it can be helpful to train yourself to know the warning signs of crisis.

13. The Prepared Ninja – http://www.thepreparedninja.com/ 

– A short, simple, and well-organized blog for those who understand the fundamentals, but need help with practical execution.

14. Survival Magazine – http://www.survivalmagazine.org/ 

– This site is for the advance learner who wants tips on homesteading, wildnerness survival, and more.

15. The Organic Prepper – http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/ 

– This website is very beginner friendly, but also focuses more on an eco-friendly approach to survivalism. The blogger has several other sites that are related to prepping.

16. Backdoor Survival – http://www.backdoorsurvival.com 

– While this site is slightly more difficult to navigate, it has a wealth of in-depth preparation tips, particularly for those with large families and those who want tips on training their mind as well as their bug-out bags.

17. Survival Blog – http://survivalblog.com/ 

– Where some sites are a little skimpy, this site has almost an overload of information; however, it is very organized, and has information that appeals to all level of prepper.

18. Survival MD – http://survivalmd.org

– This website has the only complete medical field survival guide for the laymen…showing you how to treat yourself and loved ones in an emergency when doctors, pharmacies and hospitals are shut down.

19. Suburban Prepper – http://www.suburbanprepper.com/blog/

– Suburban prepper has a few tips for those who are a little more outdoors-y.

20. Blackout USA – http://blackoutusa.org

– This site is all about educating you about a threat so powerful it will wipe out 281 million Americans in the first year. And while NASA, the CIA and the Pentagon are warning us like crazy…no mainstream T.V. or radio outlet is talking about it.