Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. Mon, 20 Feb 2017 03:37:44 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb First Lady Opens Campaign Rally With Lord's Prayer

First Lady Melania Trump recited the Lord's Prayer on Saturday at a Melbourne, Florida, campaign rally.

While President Donald Trump discussed immigration and his ongoing battles with the media, the First Lady led the crowd in Matthew 6:9-13.

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name," she said. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen."

The full video from the campaign rally, including the Lord's Prayer, is available here.

Taylor Berglund Featured Caucus Sat, 18 Feb 2017 19:00:00 -0500
Norma McCorvey's First Church Experience as a Believer

Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the infamous Roe v. Wade case—Henry Wade was District Attorney in Dallas, TX at the time—that decriminalized the killing of pre-born babies (and with its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, allowed the killing to continue right through the third trimester), died Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, at age 69.

It has been often noted that this case was built on a lie. Equally well known is the fact that McCorvey felt very "used" by the radical feminists at whose urging she was thrust into the national limelight. She would later explain that she never actually had an abortion and admitted the case was the "biggest mistake of her life."

But there is more—much more—to the story. And that is McCorvey's first encounter with Christians after her conversion. 

History will remember her as "Jane Roe." But eternity will forever know her as Norma McCorvey, a child of God. Why? Because she made a commitment to Christ more than two decades ago. While that fact is fairly well known, I would like to shed some additional light on her conversion and the first few days after that.

McCorvey worked in Dallas out of a pro-abortion office. Pastor Flip Benham, leader of Operation Rescue Dallas at the time, worked nearby in a pro-life office. Through that, McCorvey met Flip. Although they were polar opposites on the abortion issue, Flip demonstrated the love of Christ to her.

Flip was then and still is one of the greatest preacher/prophets in America. He is likely one of the boldest, most courageous persons I have ever met. He is fearless. But he is tender and loving. His Bible is worn out by its constant use, and he pleads with fellow Christians to read it through a minimum of once a year. His celebrity sons—Jason and David (known for being cut from a national TV show for their stand for traditional, biblical marriage)—have followed their dad as a role model and have read the entire Bible through a minimum of once a year since they were young teens.

McCorvey was stunned at Flip's gentle, Christ-like love. She thought pro-lifers were, in accordance with pro-abortion reports, hateful and mean. What she encountered was the love of Jesus. Flip—who always carries a big Bible—began tenderly to share the Word with her. As a result, she received Jesus as Savior for her sins and became "a new creature" in the summer of 1995 and was baptized Aug. 8.

Flip had been a Free Methodist (not to be confused with the liberal United Methodist denomination) pastor, but he was not at that time pastoring a church. Since Flip and I were extremely close friends, he invited McCorvey to the church I was pastoring.

The first church she attended—just a few days after she became a believer—was Metroplex Chapel (Church of the Nazarene), located in Euless, Texas, in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

But what happened that day was almost as profound as her conversion. She was afraid to come to the church as she did not know how Christians might respond to her, given her identification with abortion. She arrived at the church building but was too fearful to come in. She drove around the parking lot several times trying to get the courage to get out of her car. She was afraid of what people might say to her or even do to her.

Finally, she saw Flip standing on the church steps looking for her. She trusted him, so she parked her car and came to Flip. He escorted her into the church. She sat with Flip during the service. I still recall exactly where they sat that Sunday, off to my left from my view from the platform, about two-thirds of the way to the back of the church.

With her and Flip's permission, I introduced her at the end of the service, telling the congregation that "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade had come to Christ and had experienced forgiveness for her sins. I explained that she was present in the auditorium. I asked her to stand. She did. The crowd erupted in an extended standing ovation. McCorvey was shocked. She did not expect that.

After the service ended, nearly the entire church congregation formed an extremely long line to give her a hug and welcome her into the family of God. It was a profoundly moving and tender moment. Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the infamous Roe v. Wade case had not only experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus. She had now experienced the love and forgiveness of the body of Christ—the church. It was an exhilarating day for us all.

McCorvey would later say in a television ad, "You read about me in history books, but now I am dedicated to spreading the truth about preserving the dignity of all human life from natural conception to natural death."

During the first half of her life, she was on the wrong side of history.  But that changed when she repented of her sins.  She joined "the right side of history." But more importantly, she now enjoys the right side of eternity. {eoa}

Dr. Jim Garlow is pastor of Skyline Church in the San Diego, California, area. His latest book is Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today's Tough Issues.

Dr. Jim Garlow/Skyline Church, San Diego Featured Opinion Sat, 18 Feb 2017 17:45:00 -0500
Bear This Truth in Mind When You Hate How You Look

Body image and weight issues are two of the most overwhelming issues a person deals with daily. We receive constant reminders on billboards, radio, TV and in the news about what our body should look like and how we are to act. One day we are to be superwoman—the next day, Suzy Homemaker.

We soon find that we are living in a tug-of-war between the world's unrealistic standard of beauty and God's reality for our body. When we buy into the world's unattainable standard of outward beauty we believe a lie of the enemy. When we believe a lie, we empower the liar.

Buying into the world's unattainable standard of outward beauty is easy to do in today's world. As we try to gain acceptance by the world's standard, we find bondage that leads us to discouragement and depression. We have been caught in the snare of the enemy that our happiness depends on our outward beauty.

Your outward condition reflects a deeper inner turmoil. Captivity does not start on your exterior frame. It began deep within and has worked its destruction from the inside out. It starts with seeds from a word, rejection or a disapproving glance. How can you overcome the bondage caused by deep wounds to your heart?

The first step is to understand who you really are. As a child of God there are multiple dimensions of you: You are a spirit, you have a soul and you live in a body (see 1 Thess. 5:23). Your physical body, which you see in a mirror, is the image reflected and projected to others. It is the outer shell that houses the real you, your spirit. Your body can be broken, scarred, wounded, healed and strengthened.

Your soul—your mind, will and emotions is the place of expression of your personality. It houses your thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears. Your will draws information from your mind in making decisions about your body.

The third dimension is your spirit, which is often described as your heart. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). This Scripture gives a divine order to our life. Our spirit (heart) should direct our soul and mind, which will guide our physical body. As we keep this divine order—spirit, soul and body—our spirit, which is instantly born again when we receive Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, will direct our soul and body.

The world is full of information—good and bad. We must discern what is good for us and what is bad. The information from the world tells us the need for change. But only the Word of God can bring transformation to our soul and body.

You are unique, created in the image of God for a purpose. When I accepted my body as He created me, quit comparing myself with others, forgave myself for abusing my body and accepted my responsibility in taking care of my body, change started deep within.

You are so much more than a body. Remember, God looks on the heart. The world judges you by body image. You are not of this world! I thank God every day for my health. I have been blessed even as an overweight person. But I was coming to a point that travel was much harder, and I grew weary in doing good. Like Martha, I had become distracted with busy work for the kingdom and lost the focus of my life, Jesus.

It is impossible to reach the world's unrealistic standard; they have planned it that way. God leads by the desire of your heart. That desire comes as you abide in His Word (John 15:7). God gave me a battle plan that worked from the inside out and took 88 pounds from my body. It did not happen overnight; it's a lifetime walk. We are learning daily to walk in the Spirit so we will not fulfill the desire of the flesh (see Gal. 5:16).

Weight loss is a byproduct of obedience. As we learn the ways of the kingdom of God, we don't have to seek success; it will follow us as we follow Him. Ask the Lord to instill desire in you that motivates you in the perspective of eternity, not just day to day. Live for eternity, die to your flesh and represent Him to the best of your ability.

My testimony and walk in this journey of freedom is in my book, Why Diets Don't Work—Food Is Not the Problem and a workbook designed for individual or group study. {eoa} 

Joyce Tilney is the founder of Women of God Ministries, teaching women today from women of yesterday. She is an author and a conference speaker. For more information visit Her books are available on For information about Women of God Ministries, visit

Joyce Tilney Featured Opinion Sun, 19 Feb 2017 17:00:00 -0500
3 Myths That Can Keep You From Your Breakthrough

Many times, we need to make small tweaks to make big changes. The adjustment is almost always in our thinking.

Our thoughts produce our beliefs and perspectives by which we view our life, struggles and future. In working with helping people for decades, I have noticed some things people believe that keep them trapped and limited in their breakthroughs.

Unfortunately, many of these beliefs are not strongly rooted for transformation, and they keep people in a false sense of peace. They are actually myths, false beliefs that hinder our breakthrough but are often widely held. We often hold onto these myths, simply because they are widely held, not because they are actually producing fruit in our lives.

I have found these common myths that hold believers back from breaking through in the healing and freedom journey:

1. Everything that happens is God's will. This one gets people all stirred up, because Christianity for so long has attributed everything that happens to either God authoring or allowing. Either way, we see Him as a God who watches destruction happen in people's lives and does nothing to help, but sadistically observes it all happening. Many people even see their disease, dysfunctional upbringing or limitations as all part of God's great plan for them.

When people tell me everything is God's will, I remind them of 2 Peter 3:9c, which says He "does not want any to perish." I ask the person, "Is it God's will for anyone to perish?" Of course not. Do people perish? All the time.

We actually don't realize how much is put in our hands to either obey or disobey the ways of God in this world. When people ask, how could God allow starving people to die, the real question is, how could man allow starving people to die. We often take away our responsibility and simply blame God.

We also have very little room in our spiritual view for warfare. Many Christians fail to see how the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy. He gets away with destruction every day. Meanwhile, people either blame God or say He watched and allowed it. We have been bewitched in our spiritual lens and we lose our fight to press in for winning.

2. I have done everything. Now God needs to do something. At some point in our journey, we fall into the exhaustion of overcoming. In our frustration, we say, "OK God, you need to do something now!" We feel we've hit our limit, when in fact, God wants to stretch us to a new level of endurance and relentlessness. We think we have come to our end, when God is actually ready to help us go to the next level.

But often our call for God to "just do something" reveals our dysfunctional relationship with Him. We want Him to rescue us, instead of believing in His power within us and rescuing ourselves out. We fail to see that His ability and power is available in us. We need to come into agreement with that and go to the next level.

Otherwise we can often take the posture of self-pity with God–waiting for Him to do something rather than continuing to overcome and grow.

3. God is all I need. We sing songs about this, but it can be taken to a place of isolation. God is the core of what you need, but you need human relationship. In my work with mental illness, one of the key components that breeds deep struggles of the mind is isolation. Relational interaction is one of God's tools to help us walk in sanity and peace. We need people around us who can encourage us into healthy thinking and healthy choices.

I find the more that people isolated themselves from authority figures and mature people, the more they can open themselves up for insanity. We are wired and designed for relationship. It's not just a convenience. Our wholeness depends on it. That is why we should never stop the pursuit of quality relationships, no matter how hard it gets.

Question: What myths do you find keep people from breaking through? {eoa}

Mark DeJesus has served as an experienced communicator since the 1990s. As a teacher, author, coach and radio host, Mark is deeply passionate about awakening hearts and equipping people towards transformational living. His message involves getting to the core hindrances that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is well-versed on struggles that originate within our thoughts. Through his own personal transformation, Mark is experienced in helping people overcome and live fruitful lives. He is the author of five books and hundreds of teachings. He hosts a weekly radio podcast show called Transformed You and blogs at His writings have been featured on sites like

For the original article, visit

Mark DeJesus Featured Opinion Sun, 19 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500
Maximizing Your Potential to Receive Divine Healing

Note: For Part One of this two-part series, click here.

When a person is told that the reason he or she is not healed is always his or her fault, and this also includes tragic accidents and death, we believe this is wrong teaching. The reason a person is not healed may be that they did not build a life of faith through the Word, but it also may not be so.

At any point a person can repent, seek God and immerse himself or herself in the Word. Of course, if the person had faith according to Mark 11:24, they have what they ask. However, a person cannot fully determine that they will have that kind of faith. It has to be granted by God. So, we would rather talk about what a person can do to maximize the potential of healing and to rest in God if the healing does not come.

1. First, we counsel people to place themselves in the hands of God and submit to him as Lord. They should confess all known sin, curses, bitterness un-forgiveness and generational curses that may not have been renounced in our early discipleship. (This is implied by James.)

2. Second, they should take the Lord's Supper. It has healing power.

3. They should call the elders to anoint with oil and pray for healing (James 5:14).

4. They should focus their mind on their destiny in eternal life and the age to come and be fully given to the hope of their ultimate destiny. Thereby they defeat the fear of death.

5. They meditate on the goodness of God and Messiah and on the biblical promises of healing to give opportunity for God to grant healing faith. So there is something that we can do, but it does not assure us of the absolute certainty of healing. However, we can maximize opportunity for building receptive faith.

6. They avail themselves of Spirit-led opportunities for conferences, healing ministries etc. This should be prayed about and led by the Spirit without a frantic pursuit of healing ministers and conferences.

7. They do well to avoid pronouncements that they are healed. In addition, we seek to preclude well-meaning people form pronouncing healing or from leading the congregation into the intensity of standing in an absolute way for such healing and then the possible crash that comes as a result.

8. Yet we do avail ourselves of proven prophets that can speak a word into the situation, and grounds that need to be broken and other possible pronouncements. The situation of my youngest son is a case in point. The first time he was taken ill at age one with a fatal heart disease, the doctors gave no hope and said he would die. Credible prophets spoke the word that he would be totally healed and recover. We saw the most amazing supernatural recovery.

Eleven years later, when he was on life support, we organized the most intensive prayer for his healing. This was confirmed by mature prophets, but not one mature prophet could get a word from God that he would be healed, raised from the dead, etc. So we knew that while we were battling, we could not rest on any clear prophetic word. Though we read Scripture promises, God did not grant us the faith to raise him up.

So let us all pray for healing. Let us build our faith for it. When sickness comes, let us first go to God and pray and seek to receive faith for healing. Let's pray for healing as long as the person is living. However, let us recognize the sovereignty of God in these matters and embrace the whole Bible and its teaching in these matters.

If anyone has the patience for a very scholarly and good book, we do recommend Michael Brown's book, Israel's Divine Healer. {eoa}

Dan Juster Featured Opinion Sun, 19 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Battling as a Prophet of Honor in a World of Sauls

This is a call to the prophetic voices of this hour who will choose obedience over sacrifice. This is for those who are battling against the Sauls, the ones who are trying to hold a position of blessing out of rebellion and presumption. If Agag is cheerfully coming into your presence because of Saul, this is for you. Weeks ago, the Lord led me to 1 Sam. 15. I spent hours looking up words from this account, jotting things down in my ministry journal and tucking the journal away. I did not understand why God wanted me to study this passage so intently until now.

In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel instructs Saul to devote to destruction the Amalekites and all of their livestock. Amalek ("violent") was the grandson of Esau, the one who sold his birthright to Jacob (Israel) for a bowl of soup. These groups were related, but you see, this is what happens when a person forfeits an inheritance: They risk the destinies of future generations to come. Amalek fought against Israel when they came from Egypt and because of that, God promised to blot out their memory from under heaven (Ex. 17:14).

Partial Obedience Is Disobedience

Saul's mission was clear. He was to fulfill the declaration of the Lord from hundreds of years earlier by devoting the Amalekites to destruction. Devote to destruction means, "to set apart as an offering to the Lord." However, instead of doing as instructed, he spared King Agag and the best of the livestock while devoting to destruction all that was worthless and despised (1 Sam. 15:9). He set apart as an offering to the Lord that which was deemed worthless and kept the best for himself. Not only that, but he set up a monument on Mount Carmel to himself after the battle.

Sauls enjoy the spoils of battle and the recognition of the people. They want the honor without demonstrating honor to the Lord and to leadership. They despise fresh oil. Status is everything to them, because their security rests in position rather than the right posture before God. What they fail to understand is that status does not exempt one from the call to obedience and accountability.

We find later that Samuel confronts Saul about his sin, only to find Saul shifting blame onto his own people. Samuel responds by saying,

Does the Lord delight in burnt offering and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, a listening ear than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.

Dishonor Cannot Reproduce Honor

Though Saul admits his dishonor and insecurity, he still wants to be honored by Samuel. His haste in desiring honor accelerated his dethronement by him inadvertently tearing Samuel's robe. The word "rebellion" means "stubbornness, the refusal to obey the precepts laid down by the Lord, open resistance to a ruler, resisting authority." The word "listen means" "to pay close attention."

Sauls operate in rebellion and resist authority in secret. We see this in 1 Samuel 28 when Saul consults a witch to communicate with Samuel after he died. It is interesting to me that Samuel prophesies to him about rebellion and divination when addressing the situation with Agag and the livestock. Sauls do not pay close attention to instruction. They hear but do not listen, and they believe that what they are doing is the will of the Lord when in fact, they are operating in witchcraft.

After confronting Saul, Samuel calls for King Agag. The Word says that Agag came cheerfully, thinking that the "bitterness of death [was] past" (1 Sam. 15:32c]. Soon after, Samuel puts Agag to death, describing it as hacking him to pieces before the Lord.

Prophets of Honor Are Advancing Forth

What does all of this have to do with us? As I meditated on this word and what God was showing me, I began to understand the importance for this account in our time. There are people right now who are trying to hold their positions out of rebellion and arrogance. They refuse to obey the voice of the Lord and their false confidence rests upon their current status and not in obedience unto God. These individuals desire man's honor over the word of the Lord while dishonoring God and others.

We need the Samuels in this day to declare the mandate of the Lord and to put to death the things of the enemy without compromise. You are called to release fresh oil and Saul hates that. You are called to dismember what Saul chooses to esteem. You are called to carry out what God has ordained over the body of Christ. Prophets of honor may weep to the Lord over the dishonor of the Sauls, but they are set in their course to fulfill the command of the Lord.

Agag came cheerfully before Samuel because he had stood in the presence of Saul without harm, but he met a violent end. Some of you have been met by a cheerful enemy operating in opposition to you because of a rebellious Saul in your life entertaining Agag. Bring it to a violent end through prayer and intercession, the Word and your worship unto God. If you are called of God as a prophet, be a prophet of honor. When we honor the Lord and fulfill His instruction, fresh oil flows to fill our horns. {eoa}

Dawn Hill is a Christ-follower and a freelance writer. She writes a blog called Lovesick Scribe. For the original article, visit

Dawn Hill Featured Opinion Sun, 19 Feb 2017 11:00:00 -0500
Use Your 'Fine Tuning Dial' to Hear God's Voice

Get "in Spirit" (Rev. 1:9-11) by relaxing and becoming calm. Put a smile on your face. Use stillness or soaking music. Breathe as deeply and slowly as you comfortably can as you love God (Deut. 28:47). Perhaps worship in tongues. Move into the present (Ex. 3:14). Being "in Spirit" "in the moment" is where miracles occur.

Connect with your divine lover (Deut. 7:9).

  • "Welcome, Jesus!" I see You, Jesus, at my right side. I smile (see Acts 2:25; Ps. 16:8).
  • "I am eager to commune with You. I want to experience You" (see Gen. 2:8, 3:8).
  • "Thank you for loving me and communing with me!" (Jn. 3:16; Jn. 17:3, 22-23).
  •  "I tune to flow" and honor God's interaction with me by recording it.

God's "fine tuning dial" is found in Hebrews 10:19-22, which says: "Therefore, brothers, we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way that He has opened for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, and since we have a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with" the following:

1. A true heart

2. In full assurance of faith

3. Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and

4. Our bodies washed with pure water (Heb. 10:19-22; Eph. 5:26 washed with rhema).

The above four elements get us into the holy of holies, where we quietly receive from God. In the chart below, you process these four requirements along with three additional ones found in other New Testament Scriptures.

Ask these questions, and for each one, record what God speaks:

1. Lord, is my heart true? Am I coming in sincerity, with no deception or hypocrisy? Am I being honest before You? Am I harboring any reservations?

2. Lord, am I coming in faith? Have I made a quality decision to believe all that You say with all of my heart? Do I believe Your river flows within me?

3. Lord, is my conscience clear? Have I confessed my sin and received Christ's cleansing blood? Is my confidence in You, that You will sanctify me and present me blameless before the Father?

4. Lord, have I obeyed the rhema I have already received? You won't advance me further revelation if I haven't acted on previous words from You.

5. Lord, am I asking You to tell me what people will do? Am I asking questions You do not want to answer? Instead I will trust You to work all out for good (Prov. 3:5-6).

6. Lord, are my motives right? Am I asking so I can consume for my pleasure (James 4:3)?

7. Lord, are You calling me to fast to release the answer (Mark 9:28-29; Dan. 10:2,12,13)? As you finish your devotional time, review what God has spoken above and let Him impress you with what He wants you to carry with you this day as a result of this time together.

8. A Scripture, insight or experience the Lord wants me to speak over myself today is:

As I wait for God's promise to manifest, the Bible tells me to (Heb. 10:23-26):

1. Hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering—no grumbling or complaining.

2. Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds—no discouragement.

3. Don't go on sinning willfully—no despondency or reverting back to previous sins.

4. Pray repeatedly, multiple times a day (James 5:17)—never pray once or twice and quit.

Consider these resources to deepen your journey in hearing God's voice:

Mark Virkler, Ph.D. has authored more than 50 books in the areas of hearing God's voice and spiritual growth. He is the founder of Communion With God Ministries (cwgministries.organd Christian Leadership University (, where the voice of God is at the center of every learning experience. Mark has taught on developing intimacy with God and spiritual healing for 30-plus years on six continents. The message has been translated into over 40 languages, and he has helped to establish more than 250 church-centered Bible schools around the world.

Mark Virkler Featured Opinion Sun, 19 Feb 2017 09:00:00 -0500
Roe v. Wade Plaintiff Norma McCorvey Dies

Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling legalizing abortion, died on Saturday at the age of 69, a journalist close to McCorvey said.

McCorvey died on Saturday morning of heart failure at an assisted living home in Katy, Texas, Joshua Prager, a journalist who is writing a book about the decision, said in an email.

Her lawsuit, filed under the pseudonym Jane Roe, resulted in the court's landmark decision that established a woman's right to an abortion. The ruling has become the focus of a divisive political, legal and moral debate that has raged in the United States for decades. {eoa}

© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Frank McGurty/Reuters Featured U.S. News Sat, 18 Feb 2017 14:38:44 -0500
7 Prophetic Principles of a John-the-Baptist Anointing

John the Baptist has always been one of the most intriguing men in all of human history. He was an outlier, living outside of conventional norms, and was cited by Jesus as the greatest man ever born (Matt. 11:11). Since Jesus gave John such an amazing endorsement, we need to learn as much as we can from his life.

The following are seven power principles of John the Baptist

1. He had godly parents who raised him.

John's walk with the Lord started from birth as he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15). In order for that to happen, his mother had to walk with God to "house" the Spirit of God. We also find that both his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, walked blamelessly before the Lord (Luke 1:6). This is not an accident, because Scripture teaches us how important the role of parents is in the formation of their children (Deut. 6:6-9; Prov. 22:6).

2. Prophecies were spoken that declared his destiny.

Zechariah had a word about John's birth given to him from an angelic visitation (Luke 1:11-23). After John was born, Zechariah had a prophecy regarding his calling and destiny that he spoke over him (Luke 1:69-79). With each of our five biological children, I had a word of the Lord that I spoke over them repeatedly while they were in my wife's womb. I believe it is essential that parents have a sense of the prophetic destiny of their children. We are called to speak their prophetic destiny over them when they are young and to remind them of it as they grow older. (Although my parents were not saved until I was a late teenager, my grandmother continually prayed for our family, which resulted in God saving us all.)

3. John had a ministry model.

John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah the prophet (Luke 1:17). This meant that he came to carry on the mantle of ministry that Elijah left on the earth, which ultimately was to break up the religious ground and turn fathers and sons back to the ways of the Lord. Every one of us needs both a biblical model and an extra- biblical historical (or contemporary) model to inspire us in our earthly calling. Through the years, several people have inspired me. In my formative (Christian) years, I was impacted by the life and ministry of Charles Finney, and later on, Abraham Kuyper became a model of inspiration to me. Among the most powerful biblical models for my life (besides the Lord Jesus Christ of course) has been Elijah in the Old Testament and Paul the apostle in the New Testament. Both these men (and some others) have been models that aid me in understanding my calling in the Kingdom.

4. John prepared 30 years for a brief public ministry.

Many people want to rush into their calling with very little preparation. I have seen many people start off with a huge following after their initial start in ministry only to have a significant collapse several years later. (It is not how you start, but how you finish that matters.) John the Baptist stayed in the wilderness preparing for his public ministry for 30 years until his appearance (Luke 1:80). He ministered only a brief period of time; Jesus said it was only for a season (John 5:35). Some scholars believe he ministered only about two and a half years. Read the following quote:

"... The divine historian tells us John's ministry began "in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (Luke 3:1). Secular historians date that around 29 A.D. John mentions four Passover feasts (John 2:23John 5:1John 6:4John 13:1). The Lord's ministry began before the first, and He was crucified on the fourth Passover. That suggests His public ministry was slightly more than three years. If we accept that the Lord's crucifixion was in 33 A.D., His public ministry began in the latter part of 29 A.D. when He "began to be about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23), perhaps as much as six months after John began to preach. Matthew places the death of John the Baptist before the feeding of the 5000 (Matt. 14:1-13, 21). John tells us the feeding of the 5000 took place shortly before the third Passover (John 6:4-13), about two and a half years into the Lord's ministry. John had been in prison for a time before that, so his ministry, before imprisonment, may have been as short as two and a half years. Such a valuable man! Yet he fulfilled his course (Acts 13:25within three years. Hence, John prepared about 30 years for a ministry that lasted less than three years. 

5. John spent time alone with God in the wilderness.

It tells us that John was in the wilderness his whole life until his appearing (Luke 1:80). Coupled with the instruction given by the angel Gabriel to his father Zechariah, it seems as though John lived with a single focus on serving God (Luke 1:14, 15). Since the wilderness is generally a solitary place, we can assume that John spent much of his time alone (about 30 years), seeking God and learning His ways. This illustrates powerfully that time alone with God is never a waste. When our lifestyle is so full of activities that it greatly diminishes our time alone with Him, it minimizes the imprint we will leave on the earth.

6. He spoke truth to power.

One of the earmarks of John the Baptist was the fact that he was not afraid to speak the truth to both political and religious leaders. John reproved King Herod for the evil things he did and was put in prison for it (Luke 3:18-20); He also called the top religious leaders of Israel the offspring of snakes and warned them to flee God's wrath (Matt. 3:7-10). Anybody who is going to be effective as God's witness has to be willing to confront both the small and the great with the truth of God's Word.

7. He prepared the way for someone greater.

Many leaders today do not understand that their greatest calling is to prepare the way for another generation of leaders that will do greater things than them. Most transitions from one leader to another fail because of various reasons. John the Baptist was successful because he understood that his greatest ministry was to prepare the way for the one who was to come after Him. His greatest calling was to prepare hearts and minds for the coming Messiah. He did not let ego or insecurity get in the way of his calling, even when goaded by his disciples (read John 3:25-30). Perhaps it was because of his prophetic self-awareness and humility that Jesus said that John was the greatest man ever born up till that time.

My prayer is that all believers will put these seven power principles of John the Baptist into practice. If we do so, we will prepare the way for the next great thing God wants to do in the earth. {eoa}

Joseph Mattera Featured The Pulse Opinion Sat, 18 Feb 2017 17:00:00 -0500
This Temporarily Painful Conversation Could Save Your Marriage

We all have secrets. Things that we did, things we've thought, and all things we hide. Show me a closet with no skeletons in it, and I'll show you the closet of a liar. No one gets out of this life with a perfect record. [Tweet This] The entire world does not need you to share your secrets. But does your wife? Yes, she most certainly does.

How do we and our marriages benefit when we confess those secrets to our wives? Here are three key benefits of not keeping secrets in marriage.

Peaceful Heart and Mind

When we present anything less than the truth to our wives it may prevent temporary pain, but it also builds internal walls in the relationship. For instance, if you're a man looking at porn and self-satisfying most nights but keep that from her, she might not know what's going on, but she surely feels your absence. Her heart becomes troubled, your mind feels guilty, and the longer it festers the bigger the issue gets. You're both trapped in these emotions with no remedy. Truth and confession are the solutions to bring peace to the heart and mind. However, seek out counsel before your confession to think through how it will affect your wife and prepare for the ramifications. Tell her what you're doing, and give grace to the consequences that will take time to heal.

Better Health

If you have secrets, you carry unnecessary burdens. That kind of thing is a major factor in physical health, particularly stress. It's like a cancer that spreads throughout your life. The act of confession serves to release that burden and promotes healing. Men tend to bury things like financial woes and job issues, thinking they are protecting their loved ones. You're not; you are isolating them. Tell your wife what's going on, and it will improve your health.

Stronger Marriage Bond

Remember this? "To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health." That's the vow. She can't help you when she doesn't know the full story. She can't fulfill her duty based on half-truths and missing information. Secrets have no place. There are plenty of my secrets that my wife wishes she didn't need to know, but she grasps that she must. That's how unbreakable marriage bonds are built.

Question: What's the hardest thing about confessing a secret to your wife? {eoa}

For the original article, visit

All Pro Dad Featured Opinion Sat, 18 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500
This Could Be Why the Fire of God Isn't Falling on You

"You shall seek Me and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13).

"I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk, or a snooze in the sunshine ... I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy three pounds of God, please" (Wilbur Reese).

In 2014, I shared that one of the most difficult challenges associated with pastoring is not sermon preparation or taxing counseling appointments, but witnessing the tragic results of spiritual dehydration—dying spiritually with living water just a step away.

Sadly, we become so busy, so self-absorbed to drink of the living water Christ often spoke of. The excuses are broad; the solution is narrow: "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst" (John 4:14a).

Very few are truly hungry and thirsty for God. Although most of us quote, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6), many have never truly experienced it. Paul said He wanted to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering (see Phil. 3:10). King David cried out, "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I will seek after—for me to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life" (Ps. 27:4).

Hungering and thirsting for God is an all-consuming passion that drives every aspect of life. One summer, I took a bike ride out into the desert with little water. As I turned around and headed back to my truck, I realized that I was out of water. Each mile brought a new level of thirst and desperation. My thoughts were consumed with water; nothing else mattered. The scenery and quiet that I enjoyed minutes earlier had lost its attraction.

Hope surged when I spotted my truck in the near-distance. Within minutes, I dropped my bike, sprung the truck door open, and devoured the remaining water. Dehydration and exhaustion quickly gave way to a refreshing sense of satisfaction. The extreme thirst I was feeling was now satisfied.

This reminded me of the thirst that God often describes in His Word—those who truly thirst (seek) Him with all of their heart will be satisfied. This is not partial obedience, it's full surrender. It's not trying to squeeze God in, it's about allowing Him to fully saturate every aspect of our lives.

Ironically, we can have the letter of the law, but not the heart of Christ. We can break down the Bible, but hearts remain as hard as stone. We rule our homes with a rod of iron, but know nothing about compassion, gentleness and humility. We come to church to judge rather than to truly seek God. Phariseeism prevents us from truly knowing God. We justify actions by saying, "I'm just passionate," but it's not passion. It's arrogance.

There are also those who have replaced conviction with compromise. If you find yourself saying, "I'm just not convicted," it may be time for self-evaluation. If one is offended by a call to holiness or humility, it may be a good indication that repentance needs to be sought.

Holiness is a mark of conviction and a surrendered life. Holiness is not an option like a choice in a buffet line. Holiness is the mark of someone who is genuinely filled with the Spirit of God. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

The lukewarm church disdains the heat of conviction; thus, it remains lukewarm. Lukewarm knows nothing of holiness, surrender and the Spirit-filled life. It may have a form of godliness, but it denies God by its lifestyle (see 2 Tim. 3:5). Charles Spurgeon rightly noted, "There will be three effects of nearness to Jesus—humility, happiness and holiness."

Why don't many truly seek God? First, it may be that some are not genuinely saved. They may have religion, but not a true relationship with the living God.

Second, many do not want to seek Him. The excuse is often, "I just don't feel like seeking Him." But we must first discipline ourselves before desire comes. We must first empty ourselves in order to be filled. We must first obey before receiving the blessing. We must first break before there is restoration. We must first pray before there is transformation. We must praise Him before there is peace. And we must first seek Him if we are to truly find Him.

The fire of God, the manifest presence of God, does not fall on an empty altar: "I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship" (Rom. 12:1). Genuine faith is reflected in sincere humility, selfless love, true repentance and a surrendered life.

Does your life reflect these characteristics? Are you truly seeking God? It's not too late. {eoa} 

Listen to sermons here: 

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, and Leona Valley, California. His sermons, books, articles and radio program have sparked change in the lives of many. For more, visit

Shane Idleman Featured Opinion Sat, 18 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
5 Real-Life Steps to Hear Holy Spirit's Voice Daily

God must often feel like shouting, "Can you hear me now?"

People ask me quite often how to hear from God. You and I sometimes wish God would write on the wall with a burning finger (as in Dan. 5:5), or speak in an audible voice from heaven (as with Jesus in Matt. 17:5).

God does not usually add His voice to a cacophony of sound—in our heads, our churches, or our lifestyle. The many messages we allow into our minds and lives from anywhere and everywhere else make it harder to differentiate God's voice from all the others. God speaks most frequently in a "still small voice." (1 Kin. 19:12).

There are many books, podcasts and other resources detailing how God speaks. He speaks through His Word, through other believers, through providence, to our hearts through the Holy Spirit and more. Instead, I'd like to talk about how to hear from God in a very practical way. What does it look like? How do you hear from God when you face a difficult decision or an overwhelming challenge?

My Biggest God-Moment

Well, it was certainly one of the biggest.

Al and I were getting to know each other. Actually, we were in love. Things were moving pretty fast, and we were thinking about spending the rest of our lives together. I expected him soon to ask me to marry him. The emotions were running high, and it felt good.

But there were reasons some people would say, looking on, that our getting married would be unwise. Among them were Al's age (13 years older than I), health and a few others. I knew if it truly was God bringing us together, He would take us through any challenges that might arise. But if it was just our feelings, and God wasn't behind it, getting married would only end in misery for both of us.

I needed to hear from God in the biggest possible way. So I got alone and put all distractions aside. And I prayed this way.

Lord, I know what I want and what my feelings say. But I need to hear from You about this possible marriage. I acknowledge my feelings before You, and now I lay both my desires and my fears aside as best as I can do as a human being. I need to know what You have to say more than anything else.

I let the tears flow until I could be quiet. I consciously put my own thoughts and feelings aside and took time to listen, really listen.

No, I didn't hear an audible voice from heaven or see writing on the wall. But I received an extremely clear peace in my spirit about the next course of action. I repeated this process several times, and each time, the answer was the same.

And my marriage to Al was the biggest earthly blessing I ever experienced, even with the suffering that came with his health challenges.

Keys to Hearing God's Voice

Hearing from God is not magic, but there are specific keys that will help you hear what He wants you to know regardless of what issue you're wrestling with. Here are five:

1. Prepare your heart and mind.

When I went before God to seek His will about getting married, I had already been studying and praying a lot. I had read books on marriage, researched theological sources on some specifics of our situation, listened to radio programs, read the Song of Solomon (and other Scriptures) repeatedly, checked Al's background and talked with a few people I trusted. I knew the facts.

Asking to hear God's voice without doing "due diligence" doesn't give Him much to work with. Of course God can—and sometimes does—intervene whenever He chooses, but He expects us to use the resources we have available. This kind of study is not in place of prayer; it provides the ingredients God can use to be clear when He does speak.

2. Enter God's presence.

Now get alone with God. Remember, He will not often add His voice to a cacophony of sound. Go into your closet, to a quiet chapel, or to a quiet place in nature. Put aside distractions of every kind. Get focused. Play some calming worship music if you wish. For this moment, it's important to consciously focus on God to the exclusion of everything else.

In silence is not the only time God speaks, but you can hear His voice so much better when you put distractions aside.

3. Acknowledge your thoughts and emotions.

Being honest about your thoughts and emotions disarms some of their power to confuse. Being honest with yourself helps you distinguish when God does speak. Being honest with God clears the way even further. It's exceptionally difficult to put your own feelings aside if you have not acknowledged them.

If you worry that this kind of honesty isn't alright with God, read some of the psalms. David and others brought their deepest fears, greatest joys and biggest problems to God. They talked about them openly—in part for the purpose of being able to lay them down. That's what you do with "stuff:" bring it into God's presence and leave it there.

4. Lay your own thoughts and emotions aside.

Verbally and consciously set aside your own thoughts and feelings. You probably won't do this perfectly, but being intentional about this helps you become aware of the difference between your own thoughts and what God is trying to say. Tell God you're doing this; He will honor your commitment.

Take time to let your emotional "junk" flow out in God's presence if you need to. Sometimes the anger or fear or anxiety or overwhelm filling your heart is too loud for you to hear anything else. Let it out, and then set it aside.

5. Be quiet and listen.

Quit talking! Quit making noise. Once you've cried or screamed enough, get still. Just be. Don't keep remonstrating with God or keep trying to tell Him what He already knows. Don't keep asking for things or begging for Him to speak. That would be like having a conversation with your best friend where you keep yelling "Tell me, tell me, tell me!" but never shut up long enough to listen.

Look for the peace. "Let the peace of God ... rule in your hearts" Paul said (Col. 3:15). God may say something very specific to you; be willing to hear it. Or He may open a new idea to your mind. When you contemplate or picture in your mind the things God is trying to say, there will be a wonderful sense of peace in your heart. What decision would you make from that place? Circumstances may not change, but you will have a knowing from the Holy Spirit that "This is the way; walk in it" (Is. 30:21b).

Finally, remember that God wants to speak to you. You can hear Him now!

I hope you'll take the time and effort to learn how to hear God's voice for yourself.

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board certified OB-Gyn physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life that Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley Featured Opinion Sat, 18 Feb 2017 11:00:00 -0500
Why Matthew 5:17 Should Define Every Day of Your Life

One of the most discussed passages in the Brit Chadasha (New Covenant) is Matthew 5:17. I have heard and read so many opinions on what Yeshua (Jesus) meant when He spoke those words over 2000 years ago. But looking at the words themselves seems like a straightforward approach. 

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill."

Clearly, the intent of the statement is to contrast the words "abolish" and "fulfill." So, any reading of the text that would conclude with the understanding that Yeshua was doing away with the Torah and Prophets (another way of saying Tanakh or Old Testament) would be doing exactly the opposite of what the intent of the verse says. So, if Yeshua is abolishing the Torah with this statement, what is He doing?

In order for us to understand this verse, we must first employ a primary rule of biblical study, and that is to keep the text in context. Anytime we remove text from its context, we will always end up with a faulty understanding of the writer's intention.

In order to understand the context of these words, one has to read what event is taking place and what was said prior to and following verse 17. Yeshua is on the mountain preaching to His disciples. He begins to give what has become known as the Beatitudes in verses 1-12 and then continues in verse 13-16 with the following:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how shall it be made salty? It is from then on good for nothing but to be thrown out and to be trampled underfoot by men.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a basket, but on a candlestick. And it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Yeshua's instructions are for His followers to become world-changers and shine their light within the world so their good works would glorify the Father. Immediately after these words are spoken, Yeshua says the words we find in verse 17. The statement that He did not come to abolish the Torah and prophets is directly linked to the instruction to shine, do good works and glorify the Father. It is clear in context that Yeshua's intent was to reaffirm the instructions of Torah to His disciples, not as a means for justification or redemption. Rather, it was as a means to glorify the Father by demonstrating good works and letting their lights shine. 

Looking forward, we find that not only does verse 17 continue the thought and instructions starting in verse 1, but the rest of the chapter continues to provide insight into what is meant by the words "but to fulfill."

Yeshua continued speaking in verse 18-20:

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one dot or one mark will pass from the law until all be fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no way enter the kingdom of heaven.

I think that we can all agree that heaven and earth have not yet passed away and also that all of the prophecies prophesied in the Torah and Tanakh have not yet come to pass. So, clearly Yeshua is still not abolishing Torah with these words. As a matter of fact, these words appear to call for an even greater adherence to Torah, exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees and Torah scholars. The answer to understanding these difficult words and statements comes into clearer focus starting in verse 21:

You have heard that it was said by the ancients, "you shall not murder," and "Whoever murders shall be in danger of the judgment." but I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, "Raca," shall be in danger of the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, "You fool," shall be in danger of hell fire.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go on your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Reconcile with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will by no means come out of there until you have paid the last penny (Matt. 5:21-26).

Notice that Yeshua speaks in verse 21 with a Torah commandment, "You shall not murder" (Ex. 20:13). He then goes on to "bring fullness" in the next few verses by explaining to His disciples that in order to let their light shine and glorify the Father, they must obey the fullness of the commandment as expressed in verses 22-26. We find this same "bringing to fullness" demonstrated in verses 27-32 speaking of divorce, verses 33-37 concerning swearing and verses 38-47 giving instruction for how to treat others.

Each of these are examples of how Yeshua brought a fullness not only to the understanding of the commandments, but instructed us on how walking out our faith in the fullness of the commandments allows us to be a light to the world. By doing so, we are able to, as it says in the closing verse of Matthew 5, "Therefore be perfect,even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect." {eoa}

Eric Tokajer is executive director of The Messianic Times and author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity and OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry.

For the original article, visit

Eric Tokajer Featured Opinion Sat, 18 Feb 2017 09:00:00 -0500
Elder in Leading Pentecostal Church Proclaims Safe Sex Is OK, Reports Say

An elder in a leading Pentecostal church told teenagers sex outside of marriage is acceptable, provided they use protection, according to reports.

Elder Nii Armah Hammond, of the Church of Pentecost in Ghana, reportedly told parents to encourage their teens with "uncontrollable" libidos to have sex as long as they use some form of contraception.

The elder reportedly told parents doing this would prevent teenage pregnancy, the stigma associated with it and the collateral damage to the family and the country. 

But the Church of Pentecost, the leading charismatic congregation in the country, spoke firmly against the elder's advice.

The church statement reads: 

Sexuality has been abused over the years by man due to the fall. God in His own wisdom has restricted sex to married couples. Sex outside marriage is regarded as sin in the sight of God (1 Cor. 6:13-20; 1 Thess. 4:2-8), whether it is engaged in with condoms on or not. For Christians therefore, using condoms for sex outside marriage to prevent pregnancy or diseases is not a biblical option. It is not accepted by the Lord and the church.
The church will always encourage and advocate bringing up our children and youth to live according to biblical principles of abstinence and fidelity and would not teach on what ways could be found to avoid the harmful consequences of engaging in things that God forbids us to do in His Word. The church believes that the biblical principle of absitnence [sic] if obeyed helps singles. {eoa}
Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:00:00 -0500
Naghmeh Abedini Says 'Fifty Shades' Flaunts 'Dark, Evil' Culture

First she was a tireless advocate for her then-husband, Saeed Abedini, as guards tortured him in an Iranian prison. 

Weeks before his release, she backed out of the spotlight, claiming Saeed had a devastating pornography habit and abused her.

This week, Naghmeh is fighting domestic violence, calling attention to the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign meant to highlight just how culturally devastating the popular franchise is.

"Recently I was made aware of a social media movement with the hashtag #50dollarsnot50shades. I have thought this is a wonderful way to counter the devastating affects [sic] of these kinds of movies and the porn industry by donating to woman's shelters," Naghmeh posted to Facebook

"I will be donating $50 to the local woman's shelter. I encourage you all to do the same as you feel led. These kinds of movies and the porn industry promote a culture of abuse that is so dark and evil and it feeds into serious social issues such as domestic violence, child pornography (and child abuse) as well as human trafficking and slavery," she continued.

Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, hit theaters earlier this month.

Over Valentine's Day weekend, the erotic story earned a whopping $11 million, bringing the box-office total thus far to more than $60 million.

In addition to #50DollarsNot50Shades, other campaigns are fighting the series they allege is filled with abuse and domestic violence.

"Hundreds of people are here and they're here to celebrate a film that glamorizes and normalizes abusive behavior," Christian activist and abuse prevention expert Natalie Collins says. "As the recent women's marches demonstrate, gender equality continues to be an unachievable goal, whilst powerful, abusive men gain greater power. Fifty Shades Darker is further normalizing abuse, and we are seeking to peacefully protest its messages and educate people about abusive behavior." {eoa}

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:00:00 -0500
After Telling the 'Story of God,' Morgan Freeman Wants to Take on Satan

Fresh off his role exploring the Story of God for National Geographic, Morgan Freeman says he wants to play Satan. 

"I always want to do something else—always," the lauded actor said. Freeman played God multiple times in movie roles, including Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty.

He told the New York Post the move from God to Satan is logical because "They're both sides of the same coin." 

The speech at the Movie Awards for Adults isn't the first time Freeman's made such comments.

Just check out this interview with the Daily Beast in 2014:

Is there a character you're really dying to play?
There is, and has been for maybe six years now. After God, I think I should play Satan. Remember when Al Pacino played Satan in The Devil's Advocate? Like that. I think that God and the devil are one. They're not one in the same, but they're in the same body, and it depends on which one of them surfaces.
So you're saying we all have God and Satan inside us.
Having played God, do you believe in God—or a higher power?
The highest power is the human mind. That's where God came from, and my belief in God is my belief in myself. {eoa}
Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500
No 'Doubt:' New CBS Drama Pushes Dangerous Transgender Agenda

The new CBS legal drama Doubt premiered on Wednesday night, and while it stars Katherine Heigl, Laverne Cox is getting all the attention for being the first transgender to be cast as a series regular on a network TV show—i.e. liberals are forcing the radical LGBQT agenda on American TV viewers again

Cox plays Cameron, a lawyer whose client, Lester, is a paranoid schizophrenic on trial for murder. In order to get her client a verdict of not-guilty by reason of insanity, Cameron wants Lester to stop taking his medication so his symptoms are more visible to the jury. In this scene, Lester asks if Cameron is a man because "I didn't know if it was real or in my mind." 

Cameron: Just like yesterday, not taking your meds is your choice. 
Lester: You're a man, right? 
Dad: Lester ...
Cameron: It's okay. I'm a woman, but I used to be a man. 
Lester: That's right. I remember you told me. 
Cameron: Are you still comfortable with me representing you? 
Lester: Yeah. I-I just didn't know if it was real or in my mind. 
Cameron: It's real. 
Lester: I'm not taking these. 

Cameron says, "I'm a woman, but I used to be a man."

Sorry, but there is no "used to be." As much as you change your outside appearance, you can't change your chromosomes. As Dr. Joseph Berger, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, says, "Cosmetic surgery will not make a man become a woman, capable of menstruating, ovulating and having children. Cosmetic surgery will not make a woman into a man, capable of generating sperm that can unite with an egg or ovum from a woman and fertilize that egg to produce a human child."

Similarly, Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry has said, "'Sex change' is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women."

It's very interesting that the show has Cox's character—of all people—talking about mental illness because, after all, gender identity disorder, or gender dysphoria, is a mental illness listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Dr. McHugh says, "This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes."

This really struck me in one scene where Cameron tells the jury how sick and tormented Lester is because she could very well be describing herself.

Dr. McHugh says, "Policy-makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. ... Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder."

I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that Laverne Cox's character and casting were entirely political. According to the Star TribuneDoubt creators Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, who are married and have a transgender son, wanted to have a transgender character so they could "normalize" them to the American people, just as they did with a lesbian couple on Grey's Anatomy: "By putting those characters in people's living rooms week after week, they got to know them and like them. That went a long way in, for lack of a better word, normalizing them, letting people see that their relationship was not this threatening, terrible thing." 

To further force this down our throats, they are also planning some transgender sex scenes between Cox and a man. Cox said, "In the script it says, before our first steamy moment, that it's 'the hottest hotness that has ever existed.'" The creators further explained:

"Laverne's story through the season is the great love story of the show. She falls in love with a cis guy who is a prosecutor," said Phelan.

"Laverne is so charming and the guy, Ben Lawson, who we cast as the love interest—they have amazing chemistry. It was fun to watch their love story emerge. We get to play a lot of themes and conversations that I have not seen on TV," Rater added.

"A little more of the nitty gritty with a trans woman and a cis guy coming together—as well as the fun, and the excitement and sexiness."

Sorry, but I am in no way interested in the "nitty gritty" of what goes on between a man and a transgender woman!

All this is coupled with the revelation that Heigl's character's mother is a "left-wing radical" in jail for killing a police officer in the 1980s—but "she's amazing!" There is no doubt that this show will be a liberal social justice warrior's dream—and a nightmare for the rest of us. {eoa}

This article originally appeared on

Alexa Moutevelis Coombs/Newsbusters Featured Opinion Fri, 17 Feb 2017 14:00:00 -0500
2 Evangelical Cabinet Nominees Face Votes in the Senate Next Week

Democrats are back to their slow-walking ways as they force every Cabinet nominee to go through the maximum amount of "debate" allowed by the Rules of the Senate.

The latest to be confirmed was EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. He was confirmed by a 52-46 vote. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) broke with their party to vote in favor of the nomination, while Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted against it.

Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general, is an evangelical. Two others are expected to receive confirmation votes next week: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, nominee to lead the Department of Energy; and Dr. Ben Carson, nominee to lead the Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is urging Christians to get on the phone with their senators and tell them to support each of those nominees. He shared a little bit about why each should be confirmed by the Senate.

Here's what he had to say.

On Perry: Appointee Rick Perry is the longtime Texas governor and a two-time Republican presidential candidate. An Air Force captain and a graduate of Texas A&M University, Perry has served in the Texas House of Representatives, as Texas' Agriculture Commissioner and as Texas' lieutenant governor prior to his election to the post of governor in 2000. Perry has also been a featured speaker at our annual Values Voter Summit. With a long and impressive history in public service, Perry is a nominee who will chart a course toward smarter energy policies designed to strengthen national security and rebuild our economy. This is particularly good news for hard-working families and for business owners who have been hobbled by federal regulations under President Obama.

On Carson: Ben Carson is a neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate. After his youth in impoverished inner-city Detroit, Carson rose to prominence as a pioneer in the field of pediatric neurosurgery, eventually taking over the department for Johns Hopkins University Hospital. Carson is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and founder of the Carson Scholars Fund. Like Perry, Carson has been a featured speaker at our Values Voter Summit. He is a man committed to the sanctity of all life and believes that we the people have an obligation to help lift others out of a welfare environment. From his highly-publicized speech at the National Prayer Breakfast to his recent run for president, Carson has championed polices that will strengthen faith, family and freedom. He is the perfect nominee to oversee fair-housing laws and direct HUD so that it truly serves the American people.

"From IRS' targeting of conservative organizations, to HHS' attempt to force private businesses to violate deeply-held religious beliefs or face crippling fines, the last eight years have shown us just important it is to have good leadership in each area of government," Perkins added. "Now is our opportunity to support good nominees for influential positions that will impact all of us. Make sure your voice is heard!"

The phone number to the Senate office's switchboard is (202) 224-3121. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500
Prophecy: 'I Am Releasing Reformation and Awakening in America'

Prophetic author and speaker Cindy Jacobs shared a new word from the Lord with Elijah List readers on Friday about a period of reformation and awakening that is coming for America.

She wrote:

For the Lord would say, "We are entering into a new season, and do not let the tumult of the season deter you from the path I have called you." The Lord says, "Don't let fear get in your heart, for I am truly releasing a reformation into the United States of America," says the Lord. The Lord says, "I truly am releasing an awakening.

"What you see on the news is simply Satan very discouraged and very angry because of the things that he knows he's going to have to let go of; but know this, check your heart, for it is not a place to be triumphal and to get into triumphalism or say, 'We are this or we are that.'"

The Lord says, "Do not add fuel to the pain of a people." The Lord says, "I would cause you to be a bridge-builder, not a bridge-destroyer."

The Lord says, "It's a time to check our hearts as Americans. Do not let the political spirit come in and begin to cause you to be one that brings division rather than unity." The Lord says, "This is time to throw water rather than gasoline on fires. This is the time to come in the opposite spirit."

God Is Bringing Unity

The Lord will speak even to families and family members that: "It is a time for civil discourse not civil disobedience within families, for Satan wants to tear apart families. Satan wants to tear apart churches." The Lord would say, "This is a John 17 moment."

In fact, I want to just speak into that a moment. The prophets [met] last November, and one of the major words we got was "John 17"—that God was going to bring unity. Can God bring unity to a whole nation? Of course He can. We're commanded to ask the nations for our inheritance. We are commanded to make disciples of nations.

The Lord would say, "I'm going to give an escalation of My reformational principles," says the Lord. God says, "I'm doing this new thing. You've never been this way before." The Lord says, "I can bring peace. I will be the bridge over troubled waters for your family, for those you work with, your coworkers, and those who believe we are one nation, indivisible—one nation under God, indivisible." {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 14:00:00 -0500
Twisted Priests Charged With Murder in Anti-Voodoo Cult War

Four Christian priests from a Benin anti-voodoo cult were arrested and charged on Thursday for their suspected role in five deaths during prayers held last month in anticipation of the end of the world.

The followers of the "Very Holy Church of Jesus Christ of Baname" died after they were instructed to seal off their prayer rooms, burn incense and charcoal and wait for the world to end, residents and a survivor told Reuters. Others were treated in hospital for severe breathing problems.

The four priests were charged with manslaughter in the capital Porto Novo and were sent to prison pending trial.

The group's young woman leader, Vicentia Chanvoukini, known as "Lady Perfect" and considered a god by her followers, was not charged.

"Those who died are not really members of the church; they are people who came to test us," she told local radio.

The cult, which denounces Benin's local voodoo culture, has thousands of followers in the small West African country. There have been several violent clashes between the Baname followers, who often wear red scarves to identify themselves, and members of other faiths since 2009.

About 40 percent of Beninois follow voodoo, which includes worship of royal pythons at the country's pink Temple of the Python. Voodoo also enjoys its own national holiday.

Voodoo traditions endure despite efforts by Christian missionaries to stamp them out in centuries past. Today, many Christians and Muslims in Benin incorporate traditional African beliefs into their faith. {eoa}

© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Allegresse Sasse/Reuters Featured World News Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Israel's Enemies Offer the Typical Reactions to the Trump-Netanyahu Meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington, D.C., earlier this week has prompted the same, worn-out responses from the Jewish state's enemies.

Here's a little recap:

  • Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah declared President Donald Trump's Middle East policy "confused" and said "the two-state basis for peace is now over." The Lebanese militant leader, who has waged war against Israel twice in the past two decades, said the comments made by Trump and Netanyahu at their joint press conference signaled the end of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and threatened a terrorist attack against the nuclear facilities at Dimona.
  • The Palestinian Liberation Organization, which is supposedly the "moderate" government front of the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank, said Trump's refusal to back the so-called two-state solution would lead to "painful bloodshed." PLO spokesman Nasser al-Kidwa held a press conference in Ramallah and said: "This will not lead to the disappearance of a Palestinian state and will not lead to the crushing of the prospect of a Palestinian state."
  • Hamas, the other "legitimate" governing body in the PA, which controls the Gaza Strip, accused the Trump administration of disregarding Palestinians, and called for "struggle" against the "challenges facing them." Those are usually code words for launching terrorist attacks against Israelis.
  • Iran is once again warning that Israel is the "biggest threat to world peace" because of its alleged nuclear weapons stockpile. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency as saying, "The bitter truth is that these unjust claims are being repeated by the Zionist regime that doesn't abide by any international laws and has hundreds of warheads in its atomic arsenal."

New reports out of Lebanon state Iran has used the funds it received as part of the nuclear deal with the Obama administration to provide "game-changing weapons" to Hezbollah. According to the pro-terrorist Al-Akhbar newspaper, the group is planning "harsh retaliatory measures, up to and including readiness to enter an all-out confrontation."

Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian Civil War has led to the receipt of "a vast supply of advanced, state-of-the art weapons of various kinds, including weapons provided by Iran, to flow into Hezbollah's depots," the report states. It adds: "Moreover, the enemy [Israel] sees that Hezbollah, whose activity was once confined to the front along the Lebanese border, is now present along the [entire] northern front of occupied Palestine [i.e., also along the Syrian border], and has more room to maneuver than it had before."

If that's the reaction to a simple press conference, it's not hard to imagine how Israel's enemies will react to new reports about the deal-making that was held behind closed doors. Reuters is reporting that Netanyahu asked Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, an area it has occupied since 1981 and which was seized during the Six Day War in 1967.

The report states:

During a briefing with Israeli and foreign media after meeting Trump at the White House, Netanyahu was asked whether he had raised the Golan issue. "Yes," he replied.

Asked how the U.S. president had responded, he said: "I wouldn't say that he was surprised by my request." Netanyahu did not elaborate.

A similar request was made of President Barack Obama in 2015, but it was rejected. It is very likely that approving such a request would severely damage any plans Trump may have to work with Russia in ending the war in Syria and taking out ISIS once and for all. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Troubling New Videos Show Urgent Need to Defund Planned Parenthood

LiveAction, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending abortion and protecting the right to life, has released videos and findings that demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to defund America's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

According to a report released in January, a LiveAction investigation revealed that "Planned Parenthood lied to the media about retraining thousands of staff" with regard to reporting sex trafficking.

Back in 2011, the organization caught Planned Parenthood on film advising an undercover investigator posing as a pimp on how to get birth control and abortions for underage prostitutes.

Planned Parenthood vowed to retrain staff and fire any employees who potentially violated abuse reporting laws. One survey found that over a quarter (29.6 percent) of survivors of trafficking visited a Planned Parenthood during their abuse.

Yet instead of training its employees to spot and report trafficking, according to Live Action's report, Planned Parenthood trained employees how to identify undercover journalists and discern whether or not they were being recorded.

LiveAction also recently exposed Planned Parenthood's misleading statements about the organization providing prenatal care. Specifically, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards claimed, "Prenatal care—these are the kinds of services that folks depend on Planned Parenthood for."

LiveAction put this claim to the test by calling 97 Planned Parenthood facilities. It turns out that 92 of them provided no prenatal services.

As calls to defund the abortion giant have escalated in recent years, Planned Parenthood has repeatedly cited prenatal care as a vital service that women will lose access to if federal dollars are diverted to other health centers not entangled with the abortion industry.

After being exposed by LiveAction, Planned Parenthoods across the country removed references to prenatal care from their websites.

Then, at the end of January, LiveAction revealed that Planned Parenthood uses ultrasounds to determine the unborn child's age and position in the womb for purposes of aborting the child but refuses to provide ultrasounds to women who want to keep their babies and would like to check on their health and that of their baby.

As one Planned Parenthood staffer said bluntly on one of LiveAction's recordings, "We only do ultrasounds if you are terminating."

Peddling Abortion for Profit

In February, LiveAction released testimony from former Planned Parenthood employees who claimed that its facilities must hit monthly sale quotas for abortion. Planned Parenthood gave its employees incentives to meet those quotas, such as throwing pizza parties and giving paid time off.

One former employee spoke of how staff was trained "to really encourage women to choose abortion; to have it at Planned Parenthood, because it counts towards our goal."

It's not news that abortion is quite profitable for Planned Parenthood, and if the allegations in the testimony are true, it is grotesque that Planned Parenthood uses parties and vacation time to incentivize employees to push women toward abortion over life-affirming options.

Earlier this week, LiveAction released additional testimonials from former Planned Parenthood employees who spoke about the abortion giant's abortion-centric business model that cut doctor-patient visit times in half and led to women being herded in the facility "like cattle."

Managers also highlighted that despite the often-repeated myth, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms and offers little support to pregnant women who are going forward with a pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood reported almost $59 million in excess revenue for fiscal year 2015 and more than $1.4 billion in net assets. It also receives over half a billion dollars from taxpayers each year, as shown in its 2014-2015 annual report. (Curiously, Planned Parenthood has still not released its annual report for 2015-2016).

Time to Act

Congress should disqualify Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers from receiving taxpayer funds. Repealing Obamacare using language from the 2015 reconciliation measure is the best place to start.

If the reconciliation bill is crafted as it was in 2015, it would make Planned Parenthood affiliates ineligible from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for one year after the enactment of the bill. Such federal reimbursements constitute a significant portion of the roughly $500 million in government funds sent to the nation's largest abortion provider each year and should be cut.

The ultimate solution is for Congress to pass, and the president to sign, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith, R N.J., explains that the legislation makes the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions permanent and government-wide while ensuring that Obamacare (until it is repealed) conforms with the Hyde Amendment.

It also requires health insurance plans on Obamacare exchanges to provide full disclosure, transparency, and the prominent display of the extent to which they cover abortion so as to empower people to opt out.

Trump has committed to signing the bill into law if it reaches his desk. The bill passed in the House of Representatives the week of the 2017 March for Life, and the Senate should follow suit to finally and completely separate American taxpayers from the grisly abortion business. 

This article originally appeared on The Daily Signal.


Melanie Israel/The Daily Signal Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:30:00 -0500
Finnish Parliament Latest to Fall to LGBT Marriage Agenda

 Finland's Parliament voted down on Friday a citizens' petition demanding the repeal of a law that will allow same-sex marriages, securing the future of the law that will come into force next month.

In the vote, 120 members of Parliament were opposed to the petition, while 48 supported it.

"That's it! The parliament confirms same-sex marriage to be 100 percent certain from here to eternity. Happy weddings," Green Party leader Ville Niinisto wrote on Twitter after the vote.

The law, passed in 2014 by the previous Parliament, will end the distinction between same-sex unions and heterosexual marriages, giving same-sex couples equal rights to adopt children and share a surname.

Finland has been the only country in the Nordic region not yet to recognize same-sex marriage, although gay couples have been able to enter into registered partnerships since 2002.

Organizers of the "Genuine Marriage" petition collected more than 100,000 signatures demanding a repeal by arguing that a child was entitled to have both a mother and a father. In a surprise move, a parliamentary committee scheduled a vote.

Many lawmakers were opposed in principle to revising recent decisions, and only majority of MPs in the co-ruling Finns party, as well as in the opposition party Christian Democrats, voted in favor of the petition.

Bills on same-sex marriage had been blocked three times since 2006 until a petition brought about the 2014 bill, which passed by 101 votes to 90. {eoa}

© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell/Reuters Featured World News Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:45:00 -0500
President Trump's First Press Conference Was Epic

According to post-election poll conducted by Suffolk University and USA Today, the top four things voters wanted President Donald Trump to do after he was sworn in were: create and preserve jobs, fight terrorism and ISIS, build a wall and deport illegal immigrants, and change Washington. 

When the pundits and talking heads assess President Trump's first 100 days they are likely to concentrate on how he did on the first three and completely ignore #4, which actually ranked above "build the wall" in the poll (17 percent vs. 15 percent). 

However, in ways large and small, President Trump is slowly, inch by inch, changing Washington, and one of the most profound changes is the relationship between the establishment media and the American people. 

That change was on full display yesterday at the President's press conference, and it was epic.

Said the president:

Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what's going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control. 

One of the best parts of the news conference was when President Trump said he wanted to take his message "straight to the people," and then did so as the opposition party on the cable news programs ran his entire hour and 17-minute press conference live:

I'm making this presentation directly to the American people, with the media present, which is an honor to have you. This morning, because many of our nation's reporters and folks will not tell you the truth, and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve. And I hope going forward we can be a little bit—a little bit different, and maybe get along a little bit better, if that's possible. Maybe it's not, and that's OK, too. 

What could be better than getting your enemies in the media to provide you with a live broadcast documenting your beatdown of them? 

Another one of our favorite parts of the presser was toward the start of the president's introductory remarks when he said, "I'm here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration. We have made incredible progress. I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done." 

This is classic Donald Trump, and it drives the media nuts. 

All of the dorks at CNN, NBC, ABC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc. grabbed their slide rules and their encyclopedia and immediately began to try to figure out if that was true. 

Was there any other president elected who, in this short of a time has done what Donald Trump has done? 

Real America to wedgie-deserving reporters: No one cares if President Chester Arthur or Grover Cleveland signed more executive orders in his first month in office than has President Trump. 

What folks out in flyover country want to know is, is President Trump doing what he said he would? The answer to that is yes, as the president explained in great detail what he has done in his first month in office. 

But the best part of the show was his exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta

Acosta, as is typical, started with an editorial comment criticizing the president for in essence being a hypocrite on leaks:

"If I may ask you, sir, it sounds as though you do not have much credibility here when it comes to leaking if that is something that you encouraged during the campaign." 

President Trump's response, over the course of a lengthy exchange, included telling Acosta his ratings were no good, that other reporters with better ratings were waiting, telling him to ask his boss Jeff Zucker how he got his job, to trash Hillary Clinton and John Podesta ... and to give a coherent and understandable explanation of the difference between the WikiLeaks exposure of the Podesta and DNC emails and the illegal disclosure and publication of U.S. government classified information. 

But President Trump saved the best for last:

I won with news conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn't win by people listening to you people. That's for sure. But I'm having a good time. 

Tomorrow, they will say, "Donald Trump rants and raves at the press." I'm not ranting and raving. I'm just telling you. You know, you're dishonest people. But—but I'm not ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good time doing it. 

Why does President Trump's adversarial relationship with the establishment media seem to help him sell himself and his agenda? 

Rush Limbaugh summed it up better than we can on his show not long after the President closed his news conference:

This was one of the most effective press conferences I have ever seen. The press is going to hate him even more after this. Don't misunderstand. When I say effective, I'm talking about rallying people who voted for him to stay with him ... he was reassuring the people he's on top of everything. Nothing has changed. Everything he campaigned on, he is doing. All he is doing is fulfilling campaign promises. And of course, the Democrats don't like him. Of course, the media don't like him. It isn't going to stop him. 

It isn't going to stop him. That's why Real America, despite the attacks of the media elite, is sticking with President Trump. {eoa}

This article was originally published at Used with permission.

ConservativeHQ Featured Opinions Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500
Is the Democrats' Stall Game Now Affecting National Security?

Like it or not, Americans need to come to grips with reality: Donald Trump is the president of the United States.

As a result, his constitutional duties include serving as commander in chief of the armed forces. But, liberals, Democrats, and deeply entrenched establishment holdouts are now seriously impeding his ability to do that job.

The "Deep State revolt" underway in the intelligence community has already been well reported by their cheerleaders in the liberal mainstream media, but a new report suggests it goes much deeper than that. According to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Secretary of Defense James Mattis is being prevented from implementing key changes meant to foster the Trump Administration's plan to rebuild the military.

"To fix these problems, this is going to take a lot more money," he said during a Thursday press gaggle. "Yet a lot of the folks who are coming up with the budget to fix them are the same people who have been fighting every step of the way against our efforts to fix these problems."

National security is now at stake. Earlier this month, the military services' vice chiefs of staff testified before Thornberry's committee that readiness levels across all the branches was dangerously low. Here's a brief summary of their concerns:

  • Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel Allyn said his branch was "outranged, outgunned, and outdated" and that due to budget constraints, it will have to further downsize, putting the lives and safety of its soldiers at risk. He said: "The most important actions you can take—steps that will have both positive and lasting impact—will be to immediately repeal the 2011 Budget Control Act," which includes sequestration for the military.
  • Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran said less than half of his branch's aircraft can fly because they're awaiting maintenance or lack needed spare parts. He said the situation is even more dire for its front-line F-18A fighters. He said the naval fleet is the smallest and least ready it's been in years due to high demand, funding cuts and consistent uncertainty about when Congress would provide more funding—the Navy currently is capable of supplying just 40 percent of the support combat commanders request.
  • Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Seve Wilson noted that the average age of his branch's aircraft is 27 years. He said more than half of its fleet could "qualify for antique vehicle license plates in Virginia." He said the air fleet has shrunk from 8,600 aircraft in 134 squadrons in 1991 to 5,500 in 55 today and less than half are "sufficiently ready for a highly contested fight against peer adversaries—creating unacceptable risk for our airmen, our joint partners and our nation."
  • Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Glenn Walters said that without supplemental funding from Congress, his branch will discontinue flying altogether in July. That includes all training flights for Marine pilots, a requirement to maintain combat flight status.

Wilson added that the Air Force is flying fewer sorties than in the 1970s, while Allyn said if war broke out immediately, only three of the Army's 58 brigade combat teams would be ready to fight.

"We will be too late to need, our soldiers will arrive too late, our soldiers will require too much time to close the manning, training and equipping gap," Allyn added. "The end result is excessive casualties to civilians and to our forces who are already forward stationed." {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:00:00 -0500
Wash. Florist Barronelle Stutzman's Case Stems From Intolerance—But Not Hers

Barronelle Stutzman may be a small-town florist, but she's planting plenty of national doubts about religious liberty. While liberal designers are celebrated for refusing to dress the First Lady, Christians continue to be hauled to court for asking for those same rights.

Recently, that hypocrisy was on full display in the Washington State Supreme Court, which ruled that the state should be able to rob you of your home, life savings, and anything else of value just because you hold a different political view than the people in power. In a unanimous decision, the justices found the grandmother and 40-year veteran of the floral industry guilty of discrimination for daring to do what the First Amendment protects: living out her faith at work.

Washington state didn't care that, as the owner of Arlene's Flowers, Barronelle had served homosexuals—or even employed them. The court and state attorney general believe Stutzman should be forced to celebrate their values, even if doing so offends her religious beliefs. When long-time customer Robert Ingersoll stopped by the shop to make arrangements for his upcoming same-sex wedding, Barronelle had politely declined. Although she'd happily sold arrangements to the man for a decade, she explained that she objected to participating in a ceremony that violates her faith.

Since I never hid my faith, I always figured Rob understood that my beliefs shape not only how I look at the world, but how I envision and create my art—the art he appreciated for so long. So it wasn't that I wouldn't create something to celebrate his same-sex wedding—I couldn't. This wasn't about selling him flowers, or celebrating a birthday. This involved what, to me, is an event of unique spiritual significance—a sacred covenant. Art, like faith, comes from the heart, from who I am. I couldn't deny my faith—even for so dear a friend—without damaging the very creativity he was asking for.

Robert said he respected her opinion; the two hugged and parted ways. To Stutzman's surprise, they were reunited by an interesting source: the Washington State Attorney General, who filed a rare, private-citizen lawsuit against Barronelle. "I was never offered a settlement," Stutzman explained. "I was offered an ultimatum: 'Either you will do as I tell you to do; you will think the way I think; you will perform the way I think you should perform and create. And if you don't, I'm going to destroy you.'"

After this morning's decision, the fixture of the Richland community was stunned. "I'm not asking for anything that our Constitution hasn't promised me and every other American: the right to create freely, and to live out my faith without fear of government punishment or interference." Americans like Barronelle were told repeatedly that redefining marriage wouldn't impact their lives. Now, two years into this social experiment forced on the country by the courts, families are being driven from their businesses—and today, their homes—for wanting the same tolerance the left preaches. Barronelle's attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom's (ADF) Kristen Waggoner, was blown away by the injustice.

"In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist," she said. "Our nation has a long history of protecting the right to dissent, but simply because Barronelle disagrees with the state about marriage, the government and ACLU have put at risk everything she owns... It's no wonder that so many people are rightly calling on President Trump to sign an executive order to protect our religious freedom to prevent the federal government from persecuting Christians the way rogue state actors in states like Washington are doing. Because that freedom is clearly at risk for Barronelle and so many other Americans, and because no executive order can fix all of the threats to that freedom, we will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and reverse this grave injustice."

ADF hopes, as we do, that the U.S. Supreme Court will see what its Washington counterpart did not: that the real victims of discrimination are Christians with sincerely-held beliefs. Americans of all backgrounds have suffered the loss of their religious liberties because of Obama-era policies. The time to protect our First Freedom is now. {eoa}

Family Research Council Featured Opinion Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500
How a Few College Kids Ignited a Worldwide Charismatic Movement

Fifty years ago, Catholic charismatics as a group didn't exist. Today, there are around 120 million of them. Their emergence began when the Holy Spirit came to a dozen or so college-age Catholics in a Pennsylvania forest in February 1967.

They were from Pittsburgh's Duquesne University, out to enjoy a spiritual weekend retreat at a place called The Ark & The Dove.

That February 1967, Patti Mansfield (then Gallagher) had no way of knowing she was about to become one of the very first Catholics in the modern era baptized by the Holy Spirit and changed forever.

50 Years Ago This Weekend
"Feb. 17th through 19th, 1967, was the annual retreat," Mansfield told CBN News. "And the theme of the retreat was the person and the work of the Holy Spirit."

That became a richly ironic point over the next couple of days. Little did those present realize that what was going to happen to them at The Ark & The Dove retreat center was just the start of a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit that would bless hundreds of millions of Catholics over the next five decades.
Retreat leaders had assigned each of the students coming to first read David Wilkerson's The Cross and the Switchblade—the miracle-filled story of the young Pentecostal pastor, Wilkerson, leading violent New York City gang members to the Lord.

As she read it, Mansfield found herself asking, "Why isn't the Holy Spirit doing these dramatic things in my life?"

That led her to pray, "Lord, as a Catholic, I believe I've already received Your Spirit in baptism and confirmation. But if it's possible for Your Spirit to do more in my life than He's done till now, I want it."

Wanted: Tongues and Dynamite

It first hit David Mangan, though, after he listened to retreat leaders that weekend teaching that the Holy Spirit could still bring tongues and power like dynamite. Mangan wanted both—the tongues and the dynamite—and asked the Lord for both because his Christianity felt powerless and pedestrian.

"My spiritual life could not be described as dynamite," he said. "It was limping along. The way I describe it, it was like I was pushing a car uphill."

As for what he was hearing about the gift of tongues, he was so intrigued, "I wrote in my notebook, 'I want to hear someone speak in tongues—me.' I realized I did that because I don't know how much I would've believed it if it was someone else."
Mangan received a powerful answer as he sought the Lord alone that weekend in a chapel located on the upper floor of The Ark & The Dove, a location that's become known now as the Upper Room. That's the same name used for the place where the Holy Spirit fell in the Book of Acts on the disciples after Jesus had ascended to heaven.
Presence of God 'So Thick, So Powerful'

"The presence of God was so thick, so powerful, you could cut it with a knife," Mangan said of the atmosphere in that room. "I mean, experientially, it's the most intense experience I've ever had in my life. Time meant nothing to me. I had no idea if it was two minutes or two hours; made no difference. I was lost in Christ, and happy to be so."
And he got his dynamite. Mangan explained, "There were all these explosions going on in my body. It just felt like electrical explosions just kept happening. And I had forgotten all about that I had said I wanted dynamite."
As he began to speak in tongues in that chapel 50 years ago, the overwhelming feeling caused him to run and ask the retreat leaders if it was really possible.
"They said, 'Ya know, it is a valid experience. It's happened through history to a lot of saints and people like that,'" Mangan recalled. "And I thought, 'Well, I'm not a saint.' But, of course, it's for anybody."

This experience did infuse him with a new dynamism and power in his spiritual life—or as he puts it, "It was like somebody told me that the car I'd been pushing uphill had a motor, and now I had the key."
'Immersed in the Love of God'

Shortly thereafter, Patty Mansfield had her own Holy Spirit encounter as she was in the same chapel and His presence came upon her.

"As I knelt in that chapel, I actually began to tremble with this sense of, 'My gosh, this is God and He's holy!'" she said.

Mansfield soon found herself prostrate, flat on her face. "And as I was lying there, I felt immersed in the love of God," she said.

Mansfield recalled, "What I felt that night was that if I could experience the love, the goodness, the sweetness, the mercy of God like that, anyone could."

'Your Face is Glowing'

His presence had such an immediate impact on Mansfield that she heard from two young ladies she encountered immediately afterward: "They told me my face was glowing. They said, 'What happened to you? You look different. Your face is glowing.'"

Later, she'd remember what Saint Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18 about how Christians "seeing the glory of the Lord ... are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord." 

She was so excited by what was happening that she dragged the young ladies right up to the Upper Room so they, too, could experience what she just had. She wanted all the students to get hit with it, and about a dozen ended up with David Mangan and her in the chapel.

As Mansfield describes it in her book As By a New Pentecost, as before, a heavenly presence filled the Upper Room.

'Felt Like Our Bodies Were on Fire'
"As we were kneeling, some were weeping," Mansfield said. "Some were just laughing for joy. Others, like myself, felt like our bodies were on fire. I felt like my hands and my arms were tingling. Others, like David, knew that they wanted to praise God, but it wasn't going to come out in English."

Mansfield didn't herself receive the gift of tongues at the retreat, and wasn't even sure those getting it were speaking real languages. But then this student of French was sitting next to Mangan at a prayer meeting soon after.
"David starts praying in perfect French, the only foreign language I could have recognized," she explained. "So I said to him afterwards, 'David, I didn't know you spoke French.' He said, 'Oh, I don't speak French. I studied Latin and German.' Well, that really got my attention."

Mangan asked her what he was saying. She told him, "You were praising God for streams of living water. You were thanking the Lord for the divine child who had come."

Now she really wanted this gift. One day in prayer, she told the Lord, "I am not getting off my knees until I pray in tongues."

Awhile later, some guttural-sounding words, like a caveman might babble, came out of her mouth.

"And I thought, 'Oh no, here I majored in French for the beauty of the language, and I've got this ugly-sounding one.' But when I actually yielded, my hands went up and I was singing this lilting melody. And in my heart I knew exactly what I was singing: 'My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior.' I was praying the words of Luke 1, which we call the Magnificat."
Speaking a Language No Longer Spoken on Earth

But meanwhile, Mangan still needed even more convincing the tongues he was praying were real. Then he met a linguist who studied languages so obscure, Mangan hadn't even heard of them all.

This man desperately wanted to know if tongues were real and had heard about Mangan. The linguist asked the young man to pray over him and after a few minutes, jumped up with a look of shock on his face.
Mangan recalled, "He said that I was speaking an ancient form of French that was no longer spoken on Earth. Like we have Old English, Middle English, Modern English—he said I was speaking like the equivalent of Middle French in the development of the French language. I don't know any French at all, let alone Middle French."

Mangan was a mathematician by training and began to add up the odds of what just happened.

He said, "The guy in front of me was one of the few people in the world who could have recognized what that language was. It's phenomenal. It just goes way off the charts. It was God answering my prayer and answering the linguist's question at the same time as He brought us together."
Switched from Ancient French to Arabic

The linguist asked Mangan to pray for him some more.
"Then we finished, he turned around and he said, 'Now you're praying in Arabic.' And I was astounded. I had no idea," Mangan said. "I know less Arabic than I would know French. None at all for both, actually."
In the months and years that followed, by word of mouth, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal roared out of The Ark & The Dove and Duquesne University and went worldwide, even jumping denominational lines.
That Holy Spirit anointing spread to millions and then tens of millions. Holy Spirit-baptized Catholics and non-Catholics gathered in interdenominational gatherings where their differences and conflicts melted away, and all that mattered was that they were one in the Spirit.
Mark Nehrbas and Deacon Darrell Wentworth are both Catholic Charismatics who worship frequently with non-Catholics.
"I've Seen Many Walls Come Down"

Wentworth, a member of the Charismatic Leaders Fellowship, said to this Protestant reporter, "Even though we worship differently on Sunday, I can recognize that Christ is working in you the same as Christ is working within me. We'll leave it to the theologians to work out all the mess."
Nehrbas, a Charismatic leader at Franciscan University, stated, "What's significant to me is the opening up of doors to more loving relationships with my brothers and sisters who aren't in the Catholic Church — Protestants, Pentecostals and evangelicals. Now we share this new alive faith in the Spirit, a personal relationship with Christ, and I've seen many walls come down."
Wentworth pointed out how Jesus preached in John 17 that such unity is essential for the world to believe.
"The more divisions that we have within Christianity, the less the world believes that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God," he said. "We need to love one another so that the world can see that the Father loves everybody."
"Who Needs It? Everyone in the World"

Wentworth believes that baptism in the Holy Spirit can give all Christians who experience it not only unity but the power to be a bold witness for God.

Or as he put it, "We are called to be bold witnesses to the gospel, doing the things that Jesus did, sharing the love of God the Father with everyone in the world who needs it. And who needs it? Everyone in the world."
This charismatic renewal is by no means some strange, disrespected offshoot of the main Catholic Church. Pope Francis has encouraged it and urged the charismatics to bless the entire church with what they have.
Charismatic Renewal "A Current of Grace"

Mansfield has talked to Pope Francis about it, telling CBN News, "In fact, he calls the charismatic renewal 'a current of grace.'"'

And as a pope is promoting the work of the Holy Spirit in this century, there was one praying for it at the start of the last century.

Wentworth explained, "Pope Leo the Thirteenth prayed on Dec. 31, 1900, for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the 20th century. A number of hours later, less than a day, the Holy Spirit fell in Topeka, Kansas, on Agnes Ozman, and she began singing and praying in tongues."

Through a long series of twists and turns, that ignited the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, which launched a worldwide missionary effort to spread the baptism of the Holy Spirit across the globe.

By mid-century, it was hitting one Protestant denomination after another. And then finally in 1967 at The Ark & The Dove, the charismatic renewal came to the Catholics, too.

Spreading the Chocolate Through the Whole Glass of Milk

It's a grace that Nehrbas believes has been nothing but a positive blessing, saying, "For many Catholics, myself included, the power of the Holy Spirit lay kind of dormant within us. We needed to do something to stir it up."

He added with a smile, "It's kind of like this analogy: I think if you have a glass of milk and you pour some chocolate syrup in there because you want some chocolate milk, and the syrup just goes in and sits, which is how we experience the Holy Spirit at baptism and confirmation. But this release and the grace and the knowledge of how to be baptized in the Holy Spirit by Jesus Christ stirs up that chocolate throughout the whole glass of milk. And now we're alive in the Spirit." {eoa}

Copyright The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., All rights reserved.

Paul Strand/CBN News Featured World News Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:30:00 -0500
Outraged Christians Storm the Streets to Protest Asia Bibi's Longtime Imprisonment

Petitioners believe the Christian mother of five who has been jailed in Multan for over seven years should be set free. During a meeting with the First Minister at the Pakistani High Commission in London, Chairman of the BPCA, Wilson Chowdhry was informed that a date for Asia Bibi's trial would be fixed by the end of March. Mr. Chowdhry said: 

"Asia is near the end of her sanity she has suffered immense brutality for seven years simply for adhering to the Christian faith, in a nation where only Islam is acceptable. 

"Life for Christians has reached a nadir in Pakistan, but most innocent Christians cannot speak up for themselves for fear of being targeted. 

"This is why we are calling on Christians of all diversities and people of good conscience from all faiths to join us at the Pakistani Consulate on Saturday to call for justice for Asia." 

The British Pakistani Christian Association is calling for people to sign its petition for Asia Bibi (click here). The petition has already attained 18,304 signatures and is the largest Pakistani Christian-led petition—which gives it the strongest mandate. 

An Imam (Islamic religious leader) in Pakistan accused Asia Bibi of a blasphemy in 2009 for drinking water from a well that was exclusive for Muslims. He determined that her Christianity made her ritually impure therefore contaminating the water. He also accused her for blasphemy for saying "My Christ died for me; what did Muhammed do for you?" a response she uttered while being beaten and ridiculed for her faith after she had offered water from the well to Muslim co-workers. 

Asia Bibi has been incarcerated in the most brutal conditions, living in isolation and forced to cook her food for fear of poisoning after several failed attempts. She sees the light of day once every three months for about an hour, and her sanity is reaching the breaking point. Some say only her devout faith has kept her sane so far. 

After Asia's initial Supreme Court appeal was adjourned due to Judge Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman declaring a conflict of interest on the day of the hearing, faith in Pakistan's creaking legal system waned even more. The same judge retired from the legal profession within a month. 

About 150 top Muslim clerics (muftis) from the radical Islamist group Sunni Tehreek issued a statement which demanded that the government hang Asia Bibi and all other prisoners of blasphemy laws and demanded a speedy trial of all cases still pending. They also issued a verbal decree that all those who might rescue those accused of blasphemy or who assist in trying to rescue them should be killed. 

At least 150 Christians, 564 Muslims, 459 Ahmadis and 21 Hindus have been jailed under blasphemy charges since 1986. The cumulative total of blasphemy cases therefore illustrates a huge disparity in the number of minorities prosecuted as they make up 5 percent of the total population but just over 50 percent of all blasphemy cases. {eoa}

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:45:00 -0500
President Trump's Pick to Replace Mike Flynn Doesn't Want the Job

According to several reports, President Donald Trump offered the job of national security adviser to Vice Adm. Robert Harward (ret.), but he turned it down.

Although some reports suggested the former Navy SEAL and the president couldn't agree to personnel and staffing issues, the official reason given for Harward's refusal was personal. The defense industry executive said Trump was "very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally" but cited family commitments in his response to the media.

"I'm in a unique position finally after being the in military for 40 years to enjoy some personal time," he said.

Harward, who served as second-in-command at U.S. Central Command under now-Secretary of Defense James Mattis, also served as Deputy Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and led the task force assigned to train the Afghan National Army during the Obama Administration.

Dysfunction in the U.S. intelligence community also likely played a role in Harward's decision to turn down the president's job offer. Whomever eventually takes the job has a huge mess to clean up between disaffected Obama loyalists and establishment types who oppose Trump's efforts to "drain the swamp."

So, the search continues with what appears to be four contenders, although only Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg and Gen. David Petraeus are among those being widely discussed in the media. Friday morning, the president tweeted:

General Keith Kellogg, who I have known for a long time, is very much in play for NSA - as are three others. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:00:00 -0500
Mike Huckabee Receives Friend of Zion Award for His Support for Israel

Governor Mike Huckabee, 2016 presidential candidate, received the Friend of Zion award at gala event in Jerusalem. Dr. Mike D. Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, presented him with the award for his support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Huckabee said: "Anybody who is going to Israel should go to see the Friends of Zion Museum. It is just remarkable and is getting so much buzz in Israel and abroad."

Huckabee also visited the interactive FOZ museum tour in order to learn firsthand about the long history of friendship and cooperation on non-Jewish people of all religions helping the Jewish nation in the last 200 years, including the holocaust as well as through the reformation of the state of Israel.

Mike Huckabee joins many prominent political, religious, business, entertainment and sports figures who champion the museum's value and impact. During the museum's first year, the museum hosted tens of thousands of people from around the world, from school students to a Nobel Laureate, and from senior statesmen and women to NBA basketball stars. (To see a video of many such visitors, go here.)

The Friends of Zion (FOZ) Museum was established with the vision of serving as a bridge, enabling people from around the world to join the scores of people throughout history who have supported the people, the promise and the State of Israel. {eoa}

Mike Evans Featured World News Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:15:00 -0500
11 Deeply Alarming Facts About America's Crumbling Infrastructure

No matter what your particular political perspective is, if there is one thing that virtually everyone in the United States can agree on, it is the fact that America's infrastructure is crumbling.

Previous generations of Americans conquered an entire continent and erected the greatest system of infrastructure that the world had ever seen, but now thousands upon thousands of those extremely impressive infrastructure projects are decades old and in desperate need of repair or upgrading. The near catastrophic failure of the Oroville Dam is a perfect example of what I am talking about. We should be constructing the next generation of infrastructure projects for our children and our grandchildren, but instead, we are in such sorry shape that we can't even keep up with the maintenance and upkeep on the great infrastructure projects that have been handed down to us.

Once upon a time, nobody on the entire planet could even come close to matching our infrastructure, but now our crumbling infrastructure has become a joke to much of the rest of the industrialized world. Sadly, this is just another symptom of our long-term economic collapse. We simply are not able to put as much of our money toward infrastructure as previous generations of Americans did, and as a result, we have a giant mess on our hands. The following are 11 deeply alarming facts about America's crumbling infrastructure:

1. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, nearly 56,000 bridges in the United States are currently "structurally deficient." What makes that number even more chilling is the fact that vehicles cross those bridges a total of 185 million times a day.

2. More than one out of every four bridges in the United States are more than 50 years old and "have never had major reconstruction work".

3. America does not have a single airport that is considered to be in the top 25 in the world.

4. The average age of America's dams is now 52 years.

5. Not too long ago, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the condition of America's dams a "D" grade.

6. Overall, the American Society of Civil Engineers said that the condition of America's infrastructure as a whole only gets a "D+" grade.

7. Congestion on our highways costs Americans approximately 101 billion dollars a year in wasted fuel and time.

8. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, over two-thirds of our roads are "in dire need of repair or upgrades."

9. In order to completely fix all of our roads and bridges, it would take approximately $808 billion.

10. Federal spending on infrastructure has decreased by 9 percent over the past decade.

11. According to Bloomberg, it is being projected "that by 2025, shortfalls in infrastructure investment will subtract as much as $3.9 trillion from U.S. gross domestic product."

The quality of our infrastructure affects all of our lives every single day. For instance, we all simply take it for granted that safe, clean drinking water will come out of our taps, but recent events have shown that is not necessarily always going to be the case.

Just ask the residents of Flint, Michigan.

Water pipes, sewer systems and water treatment facilities all over the nation are aging and are in desperate need of repair. Of course, the exact same thing could be said about our power grid. It was never intended to handle so many people, and on the hottest days of the summer, the strain on the grid is very evident.

And of course the power grid is exceedingly vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse event, and this is something that I covered in my book on getting prepared. It has been projected that it would only cost a couple billion dollars to harden the grid against an EMP event, but our politicians refuse to spend the money.

Meanwhile, President Trump is completely correct when he says that our airports look like something you would see in a third-world country. Most of our airports are at least several decades old, and they are definitely showing their age.

But things are even worse when you look at other systems of mass transit around the country. While other nations such as Japan and China are investing huge amounts of money into high speed rail, we are doing next to nothing, even though what we currently have is absolutely pathetic.

I could go on and talk about our ports, schools, waterways, parks and so on, but I think you get the point.

President Trump's instincts are right on the money when he says that he wants to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure. Without a doubt, we desperately need it.

The problem is that we are flat broke.

We are $20 trillion in debt, and we are adding more than a trillion dollars to that total every year.

So where are we going to get the money?

It is easy for liberals to say we should raise taxes, but how much more are you going to squeeze out of U.S. consumers? Two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, and we just learned that U.S. household debt has risen to a grand total of $12.58 trillion.

Once upon a time, America was the wealthiest nation on the entire planet and we could afford to construct bold, new infrastructure projects from sea to shining sea.

But today, we have the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and we can't even afford to repair what we already have.

When I speak of our long-term economic collapse, this is precisely the sort of thing that I am talking about. We have clearly been in decline for a very long time, and anyone who would suggest otherwise is simply not being honest. {eoa}

Michael Snyder Featured Marketplace Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:00:00 -0500
The 'Arch of Baal' Was on Display for the Third Time In Honor of the 'World Government Summit'

Did you know that 4,000 world leaders from 130 different countries gathered in Dubai this week for the World Government Summit?

It was held from Feb. 12th to Feb. 14th, and it featured more than 100 internationally-known speakers including U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Christine Lagarde and Elon Musk. If you would like to know more about this shadowy group, you can visit the official website right here. The first World Government Summit was held back in 2013, and that one was actually attended by Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the mainstream media in the United States was almost entirely silent about this summit, so most of us in the Western world didn't even hear about it.

To honor the spirit of this summit, a reconstructed version of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph (also known as the Monumental Arch) was erected in Dubai. Previously it had been put up in London and New York City for brief periods of time, and so this marked only the third time that it has been displayed. The following comes from Breaking Israel News:

A replica of a Roman arch that once stood in front of the pagan Temple of Ba'al was erected for the World Government Summit in Dubai this week, creating a scene that one rabbi claims symbolizes the dangerous fusion of Ishmael and Edom against Israel.

The original Roman Victory Arch stood for 1,800 years in Palmyra, Syria, until it was destroyed by ISIS in October 2015. A full-size 28-meter tall replica of the arch was created last year by the Institute for Digital Archeology, a joint project of Oxford and Harvard universities, and has been displayed twice before.

The replica was erected for the opening of the World Government Summit that opened on Sunday in Dubai.

In ancient Palmyra, the Arch of Triumph connected the main street of the Colonnade with the Temple of Bel. If ordinary people of the time wanted to visit the Temple of Bel, they would pass through this arch. And once they were done, the would pass through this arch again on their way out.

And of course "Bel" and "Baal" are synonymous, and both titles can be traced all the way back to ancient Babylon and a very evil ruler named Nimrod. The following is an extended excerpt from one of my previous articles:


In a previous article, I included a quote from Wikipedia that discusses how "Bel" is an ancient Babylonian term for "Lord" or "Master," and that "Baal" comes from that original root word:

Bel (/ˈbeɪl/; from Akkadian bēlu), signifying "lord" or "master", is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in the Mesopotamian religion of AkkadAssyria and Babylonia. The feminine form is Belit 'Lady, Mistress'. Bel is represented in Greek as Belos and in Latin as Belus. Linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Baal with the same meaning.

The title of "Bel" or "Baal" seems to have originally been used primarily for the Babylonian god Marduk. Here is more from Wikipedia:

Bel became especially used of the Babylonian god Marduk and when found in Assyrian and neo-Babylonian personal names or mentioned in inscriptions in a Mesopotamian context it can usually be taken as referring to Marduk and no other god. Similarly, Belit without some disambiguation mostly refers to Bel Marduk's spouse Sarpanit. However Marduk's mother, the Sumerian goddess called NinhursagDamkina, Ninmah and other names in Sumerian, was often known as Belit-ili 'Lady of the Gods' in Akkadian.

So where did "Marduk" come from?

Well, many scholars have traced the worship of Marduk all the way back to the historical figure of Nimrod:

Traditionally the Tower of Babel event has been associated with Nimrod, and Jewish commentaries as well as the Jewish historian Josephus both seem very emphatic on this point. Regarding the Sumerian name "Enmer-kar," the suffix "kar" means "hunter," and so "Enmer-kar" is in fact "Enmer the Hunter," just as Nimrod is referred to as the "Mighty Hunter" in Gen. 10. Furthermore, Enmerkar is named on the Sumerian King List as "the one who built Uruk," just as Nimrod is described in Gen. 10:10 as having a kingdom that began in "Babel (Eridu) and Erech (Uruk) ... in the land of Shinar." After Enmerkar's death he became honored in Sumerian myth as the semi-divine hero Ninurta, and eventually this cult evolved into the great cult of Marduk, which became the state religion of Babylon after the conquests and religious innovations of Hammurabi.

Are you starting to see how everything fits together?


And Nimrod was the great king of the very first "world government" in the post-flood world. The following is what Genesis 10:8-12 says:

Cush was the father of Nimrod. He became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, "Even like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord." The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Uruk, Akkad, and Kalneh in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, the city Rehoboth Ir, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).

So it seems more than a little bit strange that an arch with links to Nimrod has been erected to honor a summit devoted to the promotion of "world government" in our day.

It has been said that if we do not understand history we are doomed to repeat it. Nimrod's world government in ancient times attempted to push God out of the picture, and the same thing is true with the globalists of today.

The globalists dream of a utopia where humanity has been united under a one world government, a one-world economy and a one-world religion. Donald Trump stands opposed to this twisted dream, and that is why the globalists hate him so much.

And the globalists understand the power of symbols very well. The erecting of this arch in Dubai at the exact same time the "World Government Summit" was being held sends a very powerful message.

Even though Donald Trump is now the president of the United States, the globalists are far from defeated, and if they have their way all of humanity will soon be within their ruthless grip. {eoa}

Michael Snyder Featured Opinion Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:30:00 -0500
Shame on the Silent Christian Leaders Who Refuse to Stand Against Government Tyranny

There is only one thing more appalling than the Washington Supreme Court's 9-0 ruling against religious liberty today. It is the silence of Christian leaders across America, leaders who choose convenience over confrontation, leaders who would rather be popular than prophetic, leaders who prefer the favor of people over the favor of the God. Shame on these silent leaders. Today is a day to stand.

There are, of course, the handful of expected Christian voices protesting the court's outrageous decision, as these justices ruled unanimously against florist Barronelle Stutzman, claiming that she discriminated against a longtime gay customer named Robert Ingersoll when she told him she couldn't make the floral arrangement for his upcoming gay "wedding," despite the fact that she had served him for years and despite her recommending three other florists who could do the wedding arrangements.

Instead, the court ruled that this 72-year-old grandmother, who had employed gay workers and served gay customers for years, was required by law to participate in a gay wedding, even though this constituted a direct violation of her religious beliefs—beliefs which have been consistent and almost universally held among Christians for the last 2,000 years.

Not only so, but the court upheld the attack on her personal assets as well—her house, her savings, her retirement funds—by requiring her "to pay the attorneys' fees that the ACLU racked up in suing her," fees which could reach as high as one million dollars.

Previously, when Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, an aggressive liberal who brought the suit against Barronnelle, "announced he would accept $2,000 in penalties, $1 in fees and costs, plus an agreement not to discriminate in the future and to end further litigation," Barronnelle rejected the proposed settlement.

She explained, "Your offer reveals that you don't really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It's about freedom, not money. I certainly don't relish the idea of losing my business, my home and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington's Constitution guarantees us 'freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.' I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do."

She continued, "I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I've also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process."

Today, on my radio show, shortly after the ruling was announced and with the full weight of the state's ruling hanging over her head, she told me would do the same thing again (stating that when God changes His Word, she will change her mind), also stating without the slightest trace of bitterness that she would gladly serve Robert Ingersoll should he come into her store today.

Friends, what are we witnessing today is a breathtaking abuse of power, an extreme overreach by the government, a shocking example of LGBT activism out of control, yet over the next 7 days, church services will come and go without a word being spoken, and over the next 48 hours, the Christian blogosphere will remain relatively quiet. How can this be?

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, courageous Christian leader Basilea Schlink rebuked the silence of Christians immediately after Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass (Nov. 9, 1938), when the Nazis set synagogues on fire and vandalized Jewish places of business, also killing and beating some Jewish victims as well. And while I am not comparing gay activists and their allies to Nazis, and I am not comparing the Washington court's ruling to Kristallnacht, I am comparing the silence of Christians then and now.

Please stop and read these words carefully.

Schlink wrote in her book Israel, My Chosen People: A German Confession Before God and the Jews:

 We are personally to blame. We all have to admit that if we, the entire Christian community, had stood up as one man and if, after the burning of the synagogues, we had gone out on the streets and voiced our disapproval, rung the church bells and somehow boycotted the actions of the S.S., the Devil's vassals would probably not have been at such liberty to pursue their evil schemes. But we lacked the ardor of love—love that is never passive, love that cannot bear it when its fellowmen are in misery, particularly when they are subjected to such appalling treatment and tortured to death. Indeed, if we had loved God, we would not have endured seeing those houses of God set ablaze; and holy, divine wrath would have filled our souls. ... Oh, that we as Germans and as Christians would stand aghast and cry out ever anew, "What have we done!" At every further evidence of our guilt may we repeat the cry.

What adds to the tragic irony of the moment is that in recent weeks, designers have said they will no longer work with Melania Trump and stores have dropped Ivanka Trump product lines, not because of deeply held religious beliefs, which are explicitly protected by the First Amendment, but because of political differences. And these companies and individuals are being praised by liberal Americans for standing on their convictions. But when a Christian florist politely declines a gay couple's request to design the floral arrangements for their "wedding" ceremony, she is taken to court and threatened with the loss of her business and all her personal assets.

Where is the righteous Christian indignation? And where are the bleeding-heart liberals who claim to care about the persecuted underdog? (Remember: The ACLU with its massive resources is leading the charge against Barronnelle.)

I can respect Christian leaders who try to stay out of the culture wars because they don't want to drive their LGBT neighbors and friends away from the gospel—as long as they speak up at times like this, when our fundamental liberties are being trashed and when a gracious Christian grandmother is being savaged by the state. But should they remain silent at a time like this, the next time they raise their voices on behalf of the LGBT community (and against the conservative evangelicals they so frequently attack) they will be shouting one message to the world: "I am a hypocritical coward!"

Let me urge you, then, to do four things: 1. Share this article with others to help spread the word; 2. Make a statement about this gross injustice however you can (on social media, to your family, from your pulpit—I'm urging every pastor reading this column to say something to your flock the next opportunity you have), 3. Go to this website to stand with Barronnelle and her team and 4. Pray for God to awaken the church of America.

Will you take a stand today? {eoa}

Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:00:00 -0500
The 'Palestine First' Approach to Middle East Peacemaking Has Been Shattered

The morning after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first official meeting with President Donald Trump, multiple headlines proclaimed Feb. 16 that the two-state solution—whereby an independent, sovereign Palestinian state would be created alongside the state of Israel within agreed and final borders—was, if not quite dead, fast approaching death's door. 

I want to suggest that those who interpret the outcome of the Trump-Bibi meeting in that manner should dig a little deeper. There is something of a revolution in thinking and approach going on, and what's being overturned is what you might call the "Palestine First" strategy of regional peacemaking. But that doesn't have to mean that a solution involving Palestinian sovereignty has been extinguished.

The idea of "Palestine First" was rooted in the mid-1960s, just before the Six-Day War, when Yasser Arafat and his comrades in the Fatah movement took over the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—until that point, the PLO had been an instrument of the Arab League. By asserting Palestinian independence from Arab collective decision-making, Arafat set the stage for a violent struggle against Israel in the name of Palestinian "return" and full sovereignty from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

It took thousands of deaths and several bitter wars for Arafat to realize his armed struggle was doomed to failure. In 1990, the "Palestine First" strategy took a heavy blow when Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime in Iraq invaded Kuwait; an intra-Arab dispute suddenly toppled the Palestinian issue in the hierarchy of Arab priorities. Following the First Gulf War, Israel's representatives met face-to-face with the Arab states and the PLO in Madrid, launching a lengthy, inconclusive peace process.

In parallel, however, the "Palestine First" strategy was resurrected when the Norwegian government opened a secret channel between the Israelis and the PLO, resulting in the 1994 Gaza–Jericho Agreement—a follow-up treaty to the 1993 Oslo Accords—which created the Palestinian Authority (PA) and was designed to set the Palestinians on the road to full statehood. More than 20 years and one brutal civil war later, the Palestinians are still ruled by a divided leadership and not a unified state.

That period includes, of course, the eight years in which President Barack Obama was in office. In marked contrast to his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama elevated the Palestinian issue to the center of Middle East politics, further antagonizing Israel by rehabilitating Iran, which explicitly seeks the elimination of the Jewish state, as an international actor through the 2015 nuclear deal. But neither Obama nor Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry could deliver on Palestinian statehood, and the Palestinian leadership embarked on an international campaign to seek unilateral recognition of their independence in various United Nations and international agencies.

That embittered and failed strategy, which saw Palestinian representatives verbally assaulting the historical and religious connections of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the land of Israel, is the principal memory of the Obama years when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian dimension of the region's multiple conflicts. It didn't deliver for anybody and served only to deepen Israeli fears of Palestinian eliminationism, as evidenced on a minute-by-minute basis in Palestinian school textbooks, on Palestinian TV and across the internet.

This is the environment Trump walked into when he became president. Were Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or Hillary Clinton, in the White House, I'd wager that they would all conclude—as Trump has, in the language that makes the most sense to him—that the current version of the "Palestine First" playbook should be tossed aside. "I'm looking at two states and one state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one," Trump said Feb. 15.

"Palestine First" never meant simply that the Palestinians should rank at the top of the Middle East's myriad national and religious struggles. In addition, it meant acknowledging that the absence of full Palestinian sovereignty, and the unfulfilled demand for the "return" of all the Arab refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants, lay at the heart of the region's ills. It is that assumption that was so dramatically exploded by the meeting between Trump and Netanyahu.

The Middle East has gone through several extraordinary transformations in the last 20 years, the cumulative effect of which has been to question whether the current state system in the region can even survive. Nobody can seriously make the argument that creating a Palestinian state in this context would be a boon for peace, neither with Israel nor more broadly. Nobody—save, perhaps, for a racist—could argue that the Palestinian birth rate poses a greater threat to Israel's existence than does Iran and its Hezbollah ally in Syria and Lebanon. Nobody can make the moral or strategic case that resolving the question of Palestinian independence is of greater import than, say, that of Kurdish independence, the profound lack of religious freedom or the crying need to generate economic and educational opportunities for the youth of the Arab world.

The regional approach to peacemaking outlined by Trump and Netanyahu, grounded in a partnership between Israel and the Sunni Arab states, is foremost a recognition that there are grave problems that run across the borders created in the aftermath of World War I. If Israel is to achieve peace with the Palestinians, and if the Palestinians are to finally turn their authority into something resembling a functional, accountable state, then those Arab states yet to make their own peace with Israel have to lead the way. Doing so will finally unravel the illusion that, simply by existing, Israel is the source of the region's crisis. Should that moment arrive, I hope that everyone—Arabs and Jews alike—will find it liberating. {eoa}

Ben Cohen, senior editor of and The Tower Magazine, is the author of Some of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism (Edition Critic, 2014).

This article was originally published at Used with permission.

Ben Cohen/The Tower Magazine Featured Opinions Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:00:00 -0500
Neil Gorsuch Has a Proven Record of Protecting Religious Liberty

President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is a solid originalist and textualist when it comes to interpreting the Constitution and statutory authority.

This alone is reason to believe he will be a good Supreme Court justice, but his strong rulings on religious liberty only bolster his qualifications. On this issue, he has a strong judicial track record both in his votes and written opinions.

The record clearly shows that Gorsuch understands and has properly applied the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, most prominently in the context of the Department of Health and Human Services mandate cases.

Gorsuch voted with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in its en banc decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, which sided with the religious challengers and articulated a strong view of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In that same case, he wrote a concurring opinion explaining how the Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby) themselves are also entitled to protection under the same statute.

In addition, when the en banc 10th Circuit rejected the Little Sisters' claims in Little Sisters v. Burwell, Gorsuch joined the dissent, clearly stating that their religious beliefs had been substantially burdened under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Yet he won't allow the religious liberty law to be used as an excuse for all behavior. In United States v. Quaintance, he rejected drug smugglers' claims that their marijuana distribution was motivated by religious belief as insincere and thus not protected by the statute.

In these rulings, Gorsuch closely adhered to the textual requirements of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which bar courts from being able to second-guess religious claims once the claimant has shown a sincere religious belief that has been substantially burdened. Judges shouldn't dismiss claims under this statute just because the religious belief seems odd, or they personally don't understand how it has been substantially burdened.

If religious claimants make the above showing, their religious exercise can only be burdened if the government shows a compelling interest that is accomplished through the least restrictive means. Gorsuch has closely followed these requirements, and clearly has a good grasp of how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act operates and how it should be applied.

Similarly, he has shown careful attention to prisoner religious freedom claims, granting those that meet the statutorily-prescribed standard under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act—such as in Yellowbear v. Lampert, where he wrote the opinion, and Abdulhaseeb v. Calbone, where he voted with the court in granting relief and wrote his own concurring opinion explaining the importance of the land use law in protecting claimants against conscience violations.

At the same time, he has rejected claims that do not meet the statutory standard, as in Ali v. Wingert, where he wrote an opinion upholding the dismissal of a claim on appeal pertaining to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. His rulings show a judge who is careful to follow the text of the law, whether he personally agrees with the claim or not.

Gorsuch also exhibits a neutrality and evenhandedness in his rulings, as opposed to unduly deferring to government authorities.

In Establishment Clause cases, Gorsuch has shown he will not go along with activists who want to use that First Amendment protection to scrub the public square of all religious references.

In three different cases—Green v. Haskell County Board of Commissioners (Ten Commandments display on courthouse lawn), American Atheists v. Duncan (public memorial cross on side of highway) and Summum v. Pleasant Grove City (Ten Commandments monument on public property)—he authored and/or joined dissents from denial of en banc review after the 10th Circuit ruled against the relevant public religious display.

Notably, in its subsequent ruling in Summum, the Supreme Court agreed with and relied on the dissent joined by Gorsuch.

In his rulings touching upon religious freedom issues, Gorsuch has shown an acute desire to closely follow the relevant statutes and constitutional provisions, without regard to preference for either party.

This is what is needed in the face of the anti-religious freedom fervor stirring in America today and what is fitting in a Supreme Court nominee who will take the late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat. {eoa}

Travis Weber is the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, where he focuses on all manner of legal and policy issues pertaining to religious freedom.

This article was originally published at Used with permission.

Travis Weber/Family Research Council Featured Opinions Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:00:00 -0500
Benjamin Netanyahu Scores Commitments From Both President Trump and Vice President Pence

What a difference eight years can make.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was caught smiling numerous times during his visits around Washington, D.C., this week. But perhaps no more widely than after he met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, respectively, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The White House released "readouts" of those meetings that provide some insight into the topics that were discussed and where the U.S. and Israel stand on the various issues.

From the meeting between Netanyahu and the president:

President Donald J. Trump welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Oval Office and reaffirmed the special relationship and unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel. The tremendous strength of the United States-Israel relationship is reflected in the close partnership between our governments, and also in the ties that connect the peoples of Israel and the United States. Our deep-rooted political, military, economic and social ties reflect our shared values, strategic interests, and dynamic economic and trade relationship.

In today's meeting, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed that there will be no daylight between the United States and Israel. The president underscored the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel's security, and that his administration will safeguard and strengthen the overall security relationship. The president and prime minister agreed on the need to counter the threats posed by Iran and its proxies, in addition to countering the so-called "Islamic State" and other radical Islamic terrorist groups, so as to create a more secure Middle East to the benefit of all countries. The two leaders agreed that the Iran nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the United States, Israel and the world. The president assured the prime minister that Iran must not, and will not, obtain nuclear weapons capability. The two leaders also discussed the crisis in Syria and other regional issues. The United States and Israel stand together facing a range of challenges, and the two leaders pledged to deepen cooperation to bring greater peace and stability to the Middle East and to protect the United States, Israel and other nations from the global threat of terrorism.

President Trump reiterated his desire for peace throughout the Middle East and for reaching a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The president and prime minister agreed that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will work closely with Israel and the Palestinians to make progress toward that goal. The two leaders discussed the issue of Israeli settlement construction and agreed to continue those discussions and to work out an approach that is consistent with the goal of advancing peace and security.

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed on their mutual goal of making the United States-Israel relationship even closer as both countries pursue shared interests in the region. The two leaders have directed their respective teams to form joint working groups in the months ahead to dramatically improve bilateral relations in a number of areas, including cyber, intelligence, security, trade, technology, countering the threats posed by Iran and other actors and promoting Arab-Israeli cooperation, including economic cooperation. A working group will also focus on enabling the growth of the Palestinian economy.

It is a new day for the United States-Israel relationship, defined by a responsible approach to the challenges and opportunities our two countries face in the Middle East.

From the meeting between the prime minister and vice president:

Vice President Mike Pence hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for breakfast at the Vice President's Residence at the Naval Observatory. The two leaders reaffirmed the special relationship between the United States and Israel and underscored the unbreakable bond between our two countries. The Vice President reiterated the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel's security and pledged to work with Prime Minister Netanyahu to address the shared challenges we face throughout the Middle East, including the threats posed by Iran and its proxies as well as ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist organizations. The two leaders discussed ways that the United States and Israel can work more closely together on critical issues such as cyber security, intelligence cooperation and energy. They also agreed to work together against one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations and other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel. The Vice President and the Prime Minister agreed that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will work closely with Israel and the Palestinians to make progress towards that goal. 

It's clear from both meetings that both the Trump administration and the Israeli government are both eager to restore the bilateral relationship between their countries. That's good news for both the U.S. and Israel. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500
House Votes to End Obama's Planned Parenthood Funding Requirement

In the final days of his presidency, Barack Obama's administration enacted a new regulation through the Department of Health & Human Services to require states to provide funding to abortion providers through the Title X family planning services block grant program.

In essence, it was a "backdoor funding" mechanism for Planned Parenthood, meant to counter the many states that were following through with their citizens' demands to defund the abortion giant. But that means of providing taxpayer support for abortionists could soon come to an end.

The House of Representatives voted 230-188 to repeal the regulation. Two Republicans and two Democrats crossed party lines. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) drafted the House version of the legislation, while Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) authored the Senate companion, which will likely take up the measure soon.

Black and Ernst co-authored an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner to explain the bill. They wrote, in part:

Rarely do the American people benefit when the federal government attempts to subvert the will of the people's elected representatives and substitute its judgment for that of state or local governments. State legislatures around the country have spoken out about their preference for prioritizing more comprehensive primary and preventative care providers for the receipt of Title X funding, and their voice should be respected by bureaucrats in the federal government.

The legislation has more than 130 co-sponsors, all Republicans, between the two chambers. For states that have voted to "defund" Planned Parenthood, this would be the final means by which they can remove all taxpayer funding to the abortion giant. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 06:00:00 -0500
Beware: This Line of Thinking Will Move You Quickly Into Universalism

Have you taken a close look at your theology lately?

Have you caught yourself thinking maybe everyone will be saved in the end? Maybe you've started to accept some of the hallmarks of our culture that the Bible defines as sin—some without even noticing, such as greed and materialism, and some out of fear since Christians are vilified for opposing them, such as homosexuality and abortion. Or you may be thinking, "If God is loving, surely He wouldn't send people to hell for their lifestyle choices. Right?"

Perhaps you see people who do not follow God, yet they work tirelessly to serve the marginalized, and you question whether the Bible really tells us the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. Why would God punish people who are doing such good?

With this line of thinking, we very quickly descend into universalism and humanism. Universalism is the belief that all people will be saved eventually through Jesus, whether or not they repent and believe in Him in this lifetime. Humanism is the belief in the inherent goodness of people and man's ability to improve himself through reason and good works. In both ideologies, man is swayed by sentimental love and a fear of rejection from the world. 

The Bible is clear that eternal life comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ the Savior, not through our good works or intentions. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

The Bible promises salvation to those who believe in the name of Jesus, but condemnation for those who refuse and rather choose darkness instead of the light of Christ (see John 3:16-21). The true gospel offends those who do not want to be told there is a higher authority over them. They say, "Where's that compassion you're preaching? What is this narrow-mindedness and bigotry? I want nothing to do with a God who hates sin." That's the prevailing attitude of the average American.

Has our culture's spiritual attitude worn on you? Has it made you doubt the Word of God or tempted you to compromise scriptural truth? As you assess the beliefs occupying your heart and mind, ask yourself:

  • Does this belief line up with Scripture?
  • Does this belief acknowledge the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
  • Is Christ or man the center of this theology?

We are all prone to wander. God knows this, and His Word provides a sure antidote to this spiritual waywardness: "your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (Ps. 119:11). Immerse yourself in God's Word. Hide it in your heart. The Bible is not just another religious book. In fact, it is proven in its credibility, with thousands of prophecies fulfilled with exact precision and detailed accounts aligning with historical records.

Trusting God's Word doesn't take blind faith. What it takes is humility. In order to walk in the truth, we must be willing to surrender our own false beliefs about God. We must be willing to abandon theologies that seek to make His gospel more palatable to a culture worshiping the god of self. And we must be willing to give up the idol of comfort for the sake of following Christ.

Take heart! We serve a God who understands. Our God became a man, experiencing the temptations of this world to worship self and reject the Lord, and yet He did not sin. It is precisely His understanding, love, and compassion that led Jesus to die a bloody, lonely, accursed death on the cross—the death we should have died—to save us and free us from our sin. So run to His strong, faithful love. Confess, repent, and remember the righteousness that Christ has imparted to you. He will receive you if you have strayed. Then go out and love boldly, remembering that love "rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6).

There is only one way to have inexpressible joy and the great gift of eternal life: Jesus Christ. May we never forget the glory and gravity of this good news. {eoa}

Leading the Way Featured Opinion Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:00:00 -0500
Why We Don't See Revival Today

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. Our nation lost 2,403 Americans in that devastating blow to our Pacific fleet. The following day, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation, calling the assault "a day which will live in infamy." That attack would thrust America into a global conflict that would last four long years and cost our nation over 400,000 lives.

America was at war. Draft notices began arriving in mailboxes of homes across America. You can only imagine that gut-sinking feeling a mother must have felt when she found the notice addressed to her son in her mail. Yes, she knew the cause to be just, but this was her boy. No matter how honorable the fight, it could not remove that crushing anxiety that precedes a request for such a sacrifice.

This was the reality thousands of families were facing. This was especially true in Seneca, South Carolina on what was known as the Utica Cotton Mill Hill. The hill was a tight-knit community that found its bond in the cotton mill they all worked in and the church they all attended. Together, these families were sending their boys off to war. And these mothers and fathers turned to the only place they could during this difficult season: God.

They sought out a place of solitude where they could go and bare their souls before the Lord as they lifted their boys up in prayer. Right outside the village, past a cemetery and down in a ravine next to a creek, they would erect an altar to the Lord where anyone could come and lay their burdens down.

It became a daily occurrence for these God-fearing men to rise early in the morning with heavy hearts for their far-away sons. After work, they would make their way into the woods to go pray. Along the way, they would pick up a rock that represented the size of their burden. They would then carry that rock, lay it on the altar and cry out to the Lord for hours into the night. As their sons warred on a foreign field, these fathers were warring in prayer.

There is no denying the power of prayer. In the four years of America's involvement in the war, no lives were lost on that mill hill. All their boys returned home.

When the war ended in 1945, the tradition of the rock altar continued. They would come praying daily for healing and for breakthrough. Sometimes the burden these men carried was so great that the rock itself was too large for one man to lift. Others would have to come and assist them. They would literally carry one another's burdens.

The most prominent prayer at that altar was for the souls of friends and family. They came daily to pray for revival. In the 1950s, God answered a decade's worth of prayer around the altar, sending wave after wave of revival through their church on East Main Street.

The church began to see explosive growth. There was a fervency to see neighbors and loved ones saved. Men and women were coming to the church and finding freedom from addictions. During this move of God, it was common for those working on the different shifts in the mill to witness to their co-workers. They would share the gospel with them, then carry them straight to the altar as soon as work was over. This spirit of revival spread throughout the county touching and igniting something fresh within every spirit filled church.

It wasn't long before an evangelist by the name of A.S. Worley, partnered with J.W. Whitlow, the pastor of East Main Street Church of God, to start a revival center in the neighboring town of Walhalla. They rented an old barn in the center of the town that was once used to dry out tobacco. They cleaned up the space and set it up for services. Crowds came from the upstate of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia as signs, wonders and miracles became a daily occurrence.

When you entered the old tobacco barn, you'd immediately notice dozens of abandoned crutches, canes, slings, wheelchairs and stretchers hanging from the ceiling. These were "trophies of grace" that were no longer needed by their former owners. They stood as powerful silent testimonies of God's healing power.

There was one evening when a gentleman was brought to the revival by ambulance and carried in on a stretcher. Suffering from an aggressive cancer, he had been told he had days to live. The doctors had given him up for dead. That night, Pastor Whitlow was ministering. He seemed unfazed as the gentleman was brought in. Being a small town, most of the people there that night knew the man and the seriousness of his condition. They wondered if tonight would be the night that their friend received a much- needed miracle.

As brother Whitlow brought the service to a close, he walked straight over to the man and said, "'Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, I give to thee.' In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" At that word, the man was instantly healed. He sprung up from the stretcher and began rejoicing before the Lord. That man lived a long healthy life afterwards.

This amazing revival, as well as the explosion of the spirit-filled churches in and around Seneca, can all be traced back to the prayers offered up at that old rock altar. In many ways, those stones became the foundation for the revival that shook this community.

It is unfortunate that over time that old rock altar was abandoned. As the years passed, fewer and fewer people ventured out there to pray. Soon it was lost to the woods and forgotten. Likewise, the fires that once burned through the churches in the upstate died down. What a shame.

Those men of God who gathered around that altar showed us how to seek revival. Night after night, they would come and intercede. They knew how to tarry long in prayer, and as a result, the Lord answered with signs, wonders and miracles.

My friend, if revival tarries today, it is because we have failed to tarry before the Lord. Revival comes as a response. It is heaven's answer to our effectual fervent prayers offered from a broken and contrite heart. Truly, if we desire to see a move of God, we need not look far. Revival can always be found at an altar.

Just a few weeks ago, I was honored to gather around the old rock altar with four pastors and members of six separate congregations. All of these churches were connected through their history to this pile of stones. We had made it a priority to search it out and meet in the woods to pray. We came to rebuild the altar and lay up some new stones of our own.

The presence of the Lord was so powerful that afternoon. We repented for division and divisiveness. We asked God to send revival once again to the upstate of South Carolina. The prayers offered at that altar 80 years ago brought a response. I have no doubt there are still prayers waiting to be answered today.

I wonder might there be an old abandoned altar near you? No, it doesn't have to be a pile of rocks out in the woods. Perhaps it is waiting for you in your church, at your bedside or near the spot you are currently reading this.

My friend, it is time that we return to and rebuild the altar. Time to revisit the sacred sites where God visited powerfully in the past and remember the wonders of the Lord. It is time to build some new altars as well. To set aside a meeting place between God and man. A place to come lay down our lives as living sacrifices and invite the Lord to come fill us with power from on high.

I am certain, that just as we found that pile of stones had been patiently waiting on us, there is an altar waiting on you. So go ahead: Lay up another stone, pray one more prayer and expect God to move once again. {eoa}

Daniel K. Norris Featured From the Frontlines Opinion Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:00:00 -0500
For Those Now Questioning Donald Trump's Prophetic Destiny, Read This

Consultant Lance Wallnau says Donald Trump's recent administrative duties prove he's even more like the biblical Cyrus than initially thought.

The divisive Trump administration immediately issued some executive orders that ruffled liberal feathers. Later, some of his moves to be more LGBT-inclusive stalled some conservative Christian support.

Wallnau, author of God's Chaos Candidate, now offers new analysis on how Trump is indeed fulfilling his prophetic Cyrus destiny.

Wallnau writes: 

Cyrus is a secular reformer—not a social reformer. The spiritual and social awakening is going to be our task.
I have been and will be continuing to build media support for President Trump by rallying believers to his side as he is under attack from media and the "deep state—Obama holdovers" and saboteurs in his administration.
But that doesn't mean I'm blind to his weakness. Contrary to his enemies' analysis, Trump's weakness is that he does not know entirely who his friends and enemies are. He is finding out.
The president is learning that being open and inclusive to the LGBTQ Progressives does not give him anything. The movement is so embedded in the left that it even turns on its own gay community when it shows up with a conservative worldview.

Wallnau says American Renewal Project's David Lane also offers incredible insight into what's going on with the new administration.  

Lane shares in a recent newsletter: "It was a little disconcerting that the Trump administration announced last week that it would honor Obama's executive order for LGBTQ workplace protections. Homosexuals are covered by the same constitutional rights and nondiscrimination laws as every other American. Why is this 'extra right' needed, since all Americans are protected under these laws?" 

Lane continued: 

Homosexual behavior is a conduct—an activity, not an identity. Over the past half-century, homosexuals have been adept at redefining terms like behavior and conduct as identity, and homosexual marriage as marriage equality.
So let's be clear. No one, not a 5-4 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court (or even a unanimous decision!), can change the definition of marriage. Only God can do that.
Solomon offered a rationale for answering folly put forth in public policy, "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit." Jewish biblical scholar Michael V. Fox writes: "The wise person must expose the fool's distortions to serve his own interests at the expense of the community and must not silently accept it and thereby contribute to establishing his topsy-turvy world against the rule of God."
President Obama's flirtation with syncretism and "social engineering" on a nation established on Judeo-Christian bedrock was a disaster.
"And such is the nature of sin, the spiritual poison of the soul; enter where it will, it creeps from one member of the body to another, and from the body to the soul, till it has infected the whole man; and from man to man, till the whole family; and stays not there, but runs like a wildfire , from family to family, till it has poisoned a whole town, and so a whole country, and a whole kingdom." —William Crashaw, The Parable of Poyson (1618).
President Trump announced last May, "I think that local communities and states should make the decision. And I feel very strongly about that. The federal government should not be involved." He was referring to the sweeping decree by Emperor Obama that all public schools, from kindergarten up, allow children to use the bathroom and changing room in which they feel most comfortable. President Trump should make good on his promise and leave such decisions in the hands of local communities.
Spiritually, we are made for eternity. This present life is only the introductory piece of our eternal existence. God established that the cross is the basis of all blessing, individuals or nations, that violate His established order do so at their own peril. Sin must be a hideous thing to God if such a sacrifice was required for its atonement.
The hard part in discussing homosexuality in the public square, is setting the standard in the macro—i.e., "establishing order in the public square by following and obeying God's design for life"—while at the same time loving people in the micro, "establishing personal relationships with broken people, by loving and investing in them regardless if they follow God's design for their lives.
The church, individually and corporately, faces its greatest challenge when called upon to do the best of things in the worst of times and to respond in love to those who treat us in the worst of ways. {eoa}
Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinions Caucus Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500
Lost Tribe of Israel Comes Home, Fulfilling Isaiah 49:22 Prophecy

A touching video shows the arrival of 72 Bnei Menashe in Israel, where they were led in prayers of thanksgiving to the Almighty—and to the State of Israel—for making their dream a reality.

Shavei Israel was founded in 2002 by Michael Freund. According to its stated mission, the organization "opens the door to all who have decided that Judaism and a return to the Jewish people are central to their fate and their identity."

While serving as deputy communications director under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997, Freund came upon a letter from a group in northeastern India called the Bnei Menashe—the Children of Menashe—saying they were descendants of the tribe of Menashe, one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, and were pleading to return to the promised land. Their letter sent Freund on a mission to learn all he could about the lost tribes of Israel. In the process, he discovered that all across the world there are "lost Jews" dreaming of returning to their Jewish roots.

On Thursday, Freund welcomed 72 Bnei Menashe arrivals at Ben-Gurion Airport.

To watch the video, click here. {eoa}

This article originally appeared on

United With Israel Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Fri, 17 Feb 2017 06:00:00 -0500
Church Too Occupied With Growing From Outside In Than Inside Out

The nature of the kingdom of God is that it grows from within, from the inside out and not from the outside in. It grows from the new nature we receive when we're born again by the Spirit of God. The Old Testament temple mentality was set up to control you externally through rules and regulations in contrast to being ruled from within through love and the Spirit of truth in the New Testament. Many of Jesus' parables expounded on the nature and operations of the kingdom of God, emphasizing its organic nature.

For example, He taught in the parable of the sower, noting that without understanding that parable, you cannot understand other parables (Mark 4:13). In other words, within that parable lay the key to understanding other parables. The key is not only in the incorruptible seed of the Word of God being sown, but in the soil's ability to receive that seed. The soil represents the heart of man. The true spiritual condition of any local church body or ministry depends on the health of the hearts of the people.

From 1987-1996, my wife and I were part of a team of missionaries that established interdenominational Bible training centers in West Africa. Since then, as the ministry has passed through different hands in that region, there has been a diminishing of the spiritual life and fire that were strong birthmarks early on. The real spiritual barometer that gauges the life of the work is in the hearts of the leaders and what they are imparting to the students. Currently there are efforts being put forth to restore the ministry there to its former glory. Our caution, though, must be to avoid the temptation of financing outward structures—whether they are buildings, better office space, vehicles or equipment—without taking care of the diminishing spiritual life that caused the decline in the first place.

Again, there is a mentality out there in ministry and church life that says if we make the outward more attractive, the inward will take care of itself. If we have a nicer building, more money, better equipment and more, then God will send the fruit of revival. But the New Testament as well as history show that revivals have usually started with humble beginnings and from people whose hearts were simply hungry and thirsty for more of God. God is not pleased when we glory in the flesh and in external things and place our dependency on those things to produce fruit.

Think of how Jesus began His earthly ministry. He chose 12 men and called them to spend time with Him. Look what happened! Revival spread everywhere. Without buildings, without equipment, without fancy promotional techniques or gimmicks, without devising new programs and methods to reach people, without a lot of structure, and rules and regulations to govern them externally, they experienced constant revival.

"But that was Jesus!" you say. But aren't we called to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6), and do the works and greater works than He did (John 14:12)? Isn't He the pattern? Isn't that what the early church did after Jesus left the earth? Isn't that why the Holy Spirit was sent to us?

The Lord wants us to understand that the nature of the church and of the kingdom of God is organic. The new nature and the life of God in the spirit of man is what make the church a living organism and not so much an organization. You cannot manufacture an organism or breathe life into it, whether it is a tree, a plant or the human body. Fruit cannot be manufactured. It is a by-product of being alive. Life begins and continues to grow from the inside, not the outside. That's why we must constantly watch over our hearts, feeding and nurturing the new nature within us, and follow the flow of the life-giving Spirit, not a dead program.

In Acts 2:47 the Lord "added to the church daily" because the early church was functioning as a living organism, drawing its life from within. The work seems to have grown and multiplied almost effortlessly without the strength of the arm of flesh or the wisdom of man. Here is a powerful truth:

Organic principles utilize a minimum amount of energy, yet produce maximum results (fruit).

"For the earth bears fruit by itself" (Mark 4:28a). By itself—I repeat—all by itself, a living organism produces fruit from the soil, which in this case represents the heart of man.

How different this is from so much of church life today. How many times have you heard pastors and church leaders try to get people to pray, witness, read their Bible, get involved in some church program or outreach, all to no avail. Or a new program is started, and there is spiritual life and fire in it for a while, but soon, it becomes burdened with layers of rules, regulations and top-heavy structure until the life that was in it dies or moves on.

Jesus did not go out among sinners because of some structured program, policy or law that told Him He had to do it. He did not spend time with sinners to earn wages from the Father. He did not pray so He could please the Father and make it to heaven. He did all these things because it was His nature. The spiritual life within Him produced these actions and their fruit.

Let's return to the simplicity of living our Christianity from the inside out. {eoa}


Bert Farias Featured The Flaming Herald Opinion Fri, 17 Feb 2017 06:00:00 -0500
After Church Members Surround This Celebrity In Prayer, 'God's Grace' Allows the Incredible to Happen

Actress Alexa PenaVega says she's witnessed a miracle brought forth with the power of prayer.

"I would like to take a moment to talk about God's amazing grace," PenaVega began a recent Instagram post.

The actress then began the most beautiful testimony:

This past week has been a struggle for my family as our beautiful abuelita (grandma) was on life support. It has been a bitter sweet experience. Here is this woman who has had such a full and beautiful life... 93 years old...12 kids... more than 50 grand kids...10 great grand children... just the most incredible little Colombian woman inside and out. This week her lungs collapsed. Her heart started failing. Her stomach stopped working and she fell into a coma. As we all prepared ourselves to say goodbye my family's local church members came to her side and prayed over her for over five hours. When I say the power of prayer can bring forth the most amazing miracles THIS WILL FLOOR YOU. Our abuelita Yeya woke up completely healed. The Dr.'s cannot find anything wrong with her. They can't explain it. They keep running tests to try to make sense of it all. But we know... God's grace is what healed her. It is miracles like this that remind me of how great our God is. Thankful for every extra day we get to live. #miracles#blessings

The Spy Kids alumna met and married her spouse, actor and musician Carlos PenaVega, at a church small group.

The couple has been very open about their faith and even named their child Ocean King PenaVega.

"God called the dry ground 'land' and the water the 'seas.' And God saw that it was good," the actress explained in the caption of her son's moniker. "That is why we went with Ocean. And he is a son of the one true 'King.' For us it has a beautiful biblical meaning," the couple shared before their son's birth. {eoa}

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:00:00 -0500
Kansas Abortion Law Goes to State Supreme Court

With the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act being challenged in the state Supreme Court, Liberty Counsel has filed an amicus brief on behalf of three pro-life groups in support of the law.

The act, which bans all "dismemberment" abortions, is supported by the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians and the Catholic Medical Association. Liberty Counsel is representing all three groups, arguing that the common type of procedure for second-trimester abortions should be banned.

In the brief, Liberty Counsel argued that since medical research has determined unborn babies feel pain by the second trimester, prohibiting this harsh and painful procedure furthers the state's interest in protecting life and in preventing cruel and unusual punishment. The law also furthers the state's interest in protecting the health and safety of women who face particular and substantial physical and mental health risks from dismemberment abortions.

It also argued the law furthers the state's interest in protecting the integrity of the medical profession, including the health and safety of medical providers who face particularly adverse consequences from performing these types of procedures.

"This law banning dismemberment abortion should have widespread support, but the abortion advocates are blinded by their culture of death," Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said. "Abortion in any form is genocide and cruel, but dismemberment abortion is even more barbaric.

"How can anyone support ripping and tearing apart an innocent child in the womb? To support dismemberment is subhuman.

"Liberty Counsel stands with the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians and the Catholic Medical Association in support of this ban against the horrific procedure of 'dismemberment' abortion. If every legislator really understood what happens in an abortion, there would be no debate." {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:00:00 -0500
Mark of the Beast May Be Here: Elon Musk's Brain Computers to Prevent 'Summoning Demons'

Tesla and SpaceX tech mogul Elon Musk has strong opinions about artificial intelligence (AI), suggesting that AI may "summon the demon" that will put humanity at risk or turn us all into the house pets of machines.

He believes AI may be even more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

To fight the perceived dangers, Musk is planning to unveil new computers that can be placed directly in human brains, what some call "neural lace." The phrase was first conceived by science fiction writer Iain M. Banks and refers to a way of interfacing computers directly with human thoughts.

In a Jan. 25th tweet, Musk confirmed his firm is working on neural lace and promised to reveal details of their research in February.

Neural lace is essentially a wireless mesh that can serve as an interface between a computing device implanted into the brain and the brain's biological circuitry. The neural lace could potentially be programmed to control chemicals released by the brain's neurons, enhancing intelligence, memory and other functionality.

"Musk says that, since neurons depend on constant blood flow to function well, a neural lace could be injected into the jugular and then carried, via blood, to the cortical neurons," noted Joe Carmichael in "Such a procedure, though frightening in theory, would be far less invasive than brain surgery. Scientists already figured out how to do so in mice, and hope to do so for humans, too."

Some Christians worry such technologies may be exploited by a coming world ruler to cement his lock on power and nefarious control over the population.

According to reports in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, experiments with neural lace conducted on lab mice show promising results.

Scientists injected slender "syringe-injectable electronics" directly into mice brains, where it fused with their brain's natural circuitry.

Amazingly, mice that received the neural lace survived the procedure and were sending brain signals enhanced by the miniature computer.

Neural lace would allow people to connect to the internet via their thoughts rather than using their hands and eyes for access through a computer.

Last year, Musk tweeted: "Creating a neural lace is the thing that really matters for humanity to achieve symbiosis with machines."

"I don't love the idea of being a house cat, but what's the solution? I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer," Musk said last June. "A third, digital layer that could work well and symbiotically."

Some tout the technology's use for people with paralysis or degenerative diseases because it would allow them to control bionic limbs.

"The technology would allow governments and corporations to exert a level of control which most people would consider terrifying," noted Jasper Hamill in The Sun. "If we get computers wired into our real brains, it will force us to ask whether we are controlling it—or whether it is controlling us."

At Vox's Media's Code conference last June, Musk gave voice to his drive for such a technological breakthrough. "The fundamental limitation is input/output. We're already a cyborg, I mean you have a digital or partial version of yourself in the form of your emails and your social media and all the things that you do and you have basically superpowers with your computer and your phone and the applications that are there.

"You have more power than the president of the United States had 20 years ago," he noted. "You can answer any question, you can videoconference with anyone anywhere, you can send a message to anyone instantly, you can just do incredible things. But the constraint is input/output. We're I/O bound—particularly output bound."

Musk bemoaned the speed with which humans can respond to stimuli:

Your output level is so low, particularly on a phone, your two thumbs sort of tapping away. This is ridiculously slow. Our input is much better because we have a high-bandwidth visual interface to the brain; our eyes take in a lot of data. So there's many orders of magnitude difference between input and output. Effectively merging in a symbiotic way with digital intelligence revolves around eliminating the I/O constraint, which would be some sort of direct cortical interface [...] a neural lace.

He said the neural lace would involve a minimally invasive procedures, since "veins and arteries [...] provide a complete roadway to all of your neurons, since they're high blood flow."

Musk is not the only one working on neural lace, according to

"Braintree founder Bryan Johnson is investing $100 million to make a neuroprosthesis to unlock the power of the human brain and, ultimately, make our neural code programmable," Futurism noted.

His neuroprosthesis will be designed to also repair cognitive abilities, allowing it to tackle neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's, ALS and Parkinson's disease.

"This is just the beginning. Such advancements could allow us to literally program our neural code, which would allow us to transform ourselves in ways that we can't even imagine. We could literally program ourselves into the people that we want to be," according to Futurism. {eoa}

This article originally appeared on ASSIST News Service.

Mark Ellis/Assist News Featured World News Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:00:00 -0500
From Sydney to Tel Aviv: Hillsong's Planting a Church in Israel

Australian megachurch Hillsong is planting a church in Tel Aviv, Israel, according to an Instagram post from senior pastor Brian Houston. 

"Let me to be the first to tell you this is happening. Hillsong church is going to add a room to our church family in ISRAEL. From Jerusalem to the ends of the earth and from the ends of the earth back to Israel. #prayforhillsongisrael #TelAviv," Houston said.

His post garnered reactions from people across the world, most of them thrilled for the addition to the Hillsong family.

"That's so fantastic you're on to it Hillsong!" One person wrote.

Another said: "Yay bring it on, sure is exiting [sic] times... Jesus is coming and the show down is going to happen." 

And another: "we're in such exciting times!!"

"So wonderful. Thank you Hillsong Church for blessing Israel," wrote another.

Hillsong also announced plans to open campuses in San Francisco, Portugal, Bali and Perth. {eoa}

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Thu, 16 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500
Judge Neil Gorsuch's Confirmation Hearing Date Has Been Set

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced Thursday that confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump's nominee to succeed the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, will begin March 20.

The senator issued the following statement regarding the hearings, which are expected to last three or four days:

After consulting with the ranking member, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said today that the hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court will begin on March 20. 

Grassley expects the hearing to last 3-4 days. Opening statements by Judiciary Committee members and the nominee will be held on Monday, March 20. The questioning of Gorsuch will begin on Tuesday, March 21. Testimony by outside legal experts, as well as the American Bar Association, is expected to follow.

"Judge Gorsuch has met every demand placed on him by the minority. He's a mainstream judge. He's displayed independence. He's met with dozens of senators who have nothing but positive things to say. He is well-qualified and respected. He worked diligently to return the bipartisan questionnaire. It's time for him to have the opportunity to speak for himself before the Judiciary Committee," Grassley said.

The hearing date follows a similar timeline put together for Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan by former chairman Patrick Leahy. Sotomayor's hearing was held 48 days after her nomination was announced. Kagan's hearing was held 49 days after her nomination was announced. Gorsuch's hearing will begin 48 days following the announcement of his nomination.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the committee, has not commented on the scheduled hearings. Grassley also released the bipartisan questionnaire with Gorsuch's responses, as well as the accompanying documentation. Click here to browse those documents. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Thu, 16 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500
Pastor: New Boy Doll From American Girl Is a 'Trick' to Emasculate Men

Days after one toy maker announced its doll modeled after a transgender teen, another toy maker announced a new doll, enraging one pastor.  

"The devil wants to kill, steal and destroy the minds of our children and grandchildren by perverting, distorting and twisting [the] truth of who God created them to be," The Rev. Keith Ogden of Hill Street Baptist Church in North Carolina said of the American Girl's new doll, a boy named Logan.  

Until now, all the American Girl dolls have been just that—girls. 

Logan Everett comes from Tenney Grant's story. Grant is a Nashville-based musician who wants to make it in the music business.  

According to the American Girl site, the first boy doll doesn't differ that much from the girls: 18" tall, with eyes that open and close. He arrives in a plaid button-down shirt, a T-shirt, jeans, underwear and shoes. 

But Ogden is livid over the addition. 

"This is nothing more than a trick of the enemy to emasculate little boys and confuse their role to become men," he said. "It's not natural for a boy to act like a girl. It's not natural for a girl to want to be a boy. ...You've got the government and people who placate this mess instead of telling little boys they can't change their biology." {eoa}

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:00:00 -0500
Abuse Survivor: Gender Identity Is Synonymous With 'Anything Goes'

Wednesday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins hosted a special program with Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest to discuss what states are doing to protect the safety and privacy of women and children.

Forest responded to critics of his state's bathroom bill, noting that Forbes had just named the Tar Heel State the No. 2 state to do business in the country, while CEO Magazine named North Carolina No. 1. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created there in the past couple of years, he added.

"Businesses are still moving here; people are still moving here in record numbers," he said. "The latest numbers that the governor just threw out yesterday, related to the NCAA and all of these sporting events, they said that could cost the state of North Carolina $250 million dollars [but] that is less than one-quarter of one percent of our annual GDP in our state."

Forest said North Carolina won't "put a price tag" on the safety, security and privacy of its women and children, especially for a sporting event.

Patrick also debunked the "negative economic impact" argument of liberals and LGBT activists. He noted that those states that protect privacy and public safety are thriving, while those that insist upon "bathroom equality" are suffering economically.

"That's the real data. And then again in Houston there's been no economic downturn at all that we can find. Not a business. Not a dollar," he said. "Here is the real data point on economics. Houston had the Super Bowl. I don't know of one business that hasn't come to Houston since the voters stood up and said we don't want men in ladies' rooms.

"With our bill, we're really focused on the women as we see them as being vulnerable, not on the transgender issue as much as all the sexual predators who will exploit these rules to go into the ladies' room."

The lieutenant governors were joined by Kaeley Triller Haver, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse survivor who also is a former employee of the YMCA, which published new guidelines in 2016 that allow restroom and changing room access on the basis of "gender identity." During her portion of the discussion, she explained how much of the abuse she endured happened in showers.

She also shared why she refused to go along with the YMCA's bathroom policy. And, she talked about the great lengths she went to try to protect those who were visiting the Y facility where she worked and to ensure employees and patrons weren't preying upon women and children.

"I would find people in our database who were convicted sex offenders who had gotten through somehow," she said. "I've sat there and I've watched the video surveillance footage trying to catch them after it's been too late.

Haver said there is a real risk in opening up all locker rooms and showers merely on the basis of "gender identity." She said the phrase, constructed by liberal activists, is "synonymous with 'anything goes'."

See the video above for the entire discussion. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:00:00 -0500
How God Answered Britney Spears' Plea For a 'Miracle'

Britney Spears' niece suffered what could have been a fatal accident when her ATV plummeted into a pond.

"So grateful Maddie was able to go home today," Britney posted to her Facebook account. "It's truly a miracle. Our prayers were heard, and they were answered." 

Maddie Aldridge, daughter of Britney's sister Jamie Lynn, drove her ATV into a pond at the beginning of the month.

"Within seconds the child's mother, stepfather and other family members reached the pond, dove in and attempted to rescue the child to no avail. The child was trapped and secured by the seatbelt and the ATV's safety netting. Within two minutes, Acadian Ambulance Services arrived and assisted in freeing the child from the cold waters," according to the police report.

Maddie was in critical condition for two days before she regained consciousness.

A friend tells People magazine the family was unsure Maddie would recover without any lingering damage.

"Everyone knows this was a God thing," adds the friend. "It could have gone either way; they almost lost her. But God wasn't ready to take her back ... She's getting stronger, and they have their Maddie back—and that's all that matters," the friend said. {eoa}

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Does Beyoncé's Grammy Performance Harken Back to Pagan Babylon, Other Occult Symbolism?

They call her the queen.

As Beyoncé Knowles shimmied around in a crown and beads reminiscent of multiple pagan goddesses, the world took note.

"But what those unfamiliar with her Grammy-nominated album Lemonade may have missed was that the gold and glitz on display were serving a greater purpose. Beyoncé was teaching," The Washington Post reports. "As in Lemonade and her pregnancy announcement photos released earlier this month, the singer's Grammy performance was packed with artistic nods to African, Hindu and Roman goddesses who signify the womanhood Beyoncé has been reflecting in her most recent work."

Religion News Service pointed out her deity worship and even praised her mimicking Mary, the mother of Jesus:

During the performance, special effects made it appear she had many arms, mimicking Kali, a Hindu goddess who has been worshipped as the Divine Mother and Mother of the Universe.
Observers on social media noted references to the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus, and Mami Wata, or Yemoja, the Yoruba patron deity of women, especially pregnant women. The golden, halolike crown, ornamented with roses, and the veil Beyoncé wore also evoked icons of the Virgin Mary, including depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in Catholicism.
And the Rev. Wil Gafney, associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School, said her visibly pregnant appearance was a rejection of the church's historically uneasy relationship with sex and the body, and particularly black female bodies. The singer also evoked Mary in the Protestant tradition, who, after giving birth to Jesus, "continues to live as a human woman with hurts and hopes, fully sexually active, alive to her body, other pregnancies."

But Christian commentators like Michael Snyder saw a different symbolism in the pop star's performance: pagan Babylon.

"Beyoncé's outfit reminded me more of the Egyptian goddess Isis, but it really doesn't matter too much because ultimately, all of these pagan goddesses were derived from a religious tradition that began back in ancient Babylon," Snyder writes. "I just don't know why anyone would want to watch this stuff. It is truly astounding that millions of Americans would willingly sit there and watch an almost-naked woman dressed like a pagan goddess prance around the stage in a sexually suggestive way."

During and after her performance, Twitter blew up with the symbolism.

"Didn't watch the performance, but I love that Beyoncé' paid homage to the Gods/Goddesses of our ancestors. #Oshun," one person tweeted.

Another wrote: "Beyoncé just trying to expose y'all to your roots. #OSHUN, the AFRICAN GODDESS OF BEAUTY, LOVE,PROSPERITY, ORDER & FERTILITY #GRAMMYs."

Another wrote: "#Beyonce #Kali #Illuminati #Pizzagate #Grammys She is reincarnating the dark mother Hindu Goddess Kali. She also did in video 7-11."

These aren't the first indications Beyoncé's performances and music are rich with occult symbolism.

Last year, one social media user said

Is the #BeyHive still letting Beyonce slide and not realizing that she worships the devil? Or do Yall know but just don't care?! THIS VIDEO IS SATANIC! #Beyonce has established herself as KALI (the Hindu Goddess of DEATH)- she told you that in her video 7/11 - with her shirt in the beginning and she has been emulating Kali's dances in all of her recent music videos. STOP BEING FOOLISH AND BLIND!!! Stop following people who allow themselves to be controlled by satan! She's TELLING YOU who her allegiance is to!!!!! Now it's up to you if you will consider being blinded by the "limelight". {eoa}

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500
President Trump Set to Name New Labor Secretary Nominee

Well, that didn't take long.

Less than 48 hours after President Donald Trump's nominee for labor secretary, Andy Puzder, withdrew from consideration, we now know the identity of his replacement candidate. This pick just might give Senate Democrats even more heartburn than the former fast food CEO did.

If confirmed—and that's highly likely given his credentials—Florida International University College of Law Dean Alexander Acosta will become the first Hispanic named to a top-level position in the Trump Administration. Here are the highlights of his resume:

  • bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard College, law degree from Harvard Law School;
  • clerked for Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito when he was a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals;
  • specialized in employment and labor issues for the Washington, D.C., firm Kirkland & Ellis;
  • taught employment law, disability-based discrimination law and civil rights law at the George Mason University School of Law;
  • senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center;
  • former chairman of U.S. Century Bank, the largest domestically-owned Hispanic community bank in Florida;
  • served on the National Labor Relations Board, which requires Senate confirmation;
  • first Hispanic assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, which requires Senate confirmation; and
  • served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, which requires Senate confirmation.

As you can see, Acosta has a very impressive record and has already been approved by the Senate three times to serve in government. Democrats will have to tie themselves up in knots to find a way to shoot down his nomination—which will be yet another signal that their real motivation is merely to stall out the new administration for as long as possible. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Why Is It Atheists Can Be Much Nicer Than Church Folk?

Many people have noticed the worst they've ever been treated is by people who claim to love the Lord. These same people notice that those who profess to be atheists appear to be much kinder than Christians.

The Bible says the world shall know us by our fruit, but what happens when that fruit isn't blooming? 

One reader had a similar question for evangelist Billy Graham.

The reader asks: "The kindest person I know is my atheist friend who has no use for God. On the other hand, some of the most difficult and unpleasant people I know say they are Christians. How do you explain this?" 

Wise as always, Graham answered: 

Not every Christian is like this, of course—but admittedly some are, although they shouldn't be. And not every atheist is like this either, of course—but some are, and in a world that's often cruel and thoughtless, we ought to be thankful for every act of kindness.
Why is your atheist friend like this? By God's grace, some people simply have been blessed with a sunny and kind personality, or they had parents who taught them to be kind. Perhaps this was her situation. But I do know this: Your friend isn't this way because of her atheism, but in spite of it. A person who doesn't believe in God has little reason to behave sacrificially toward others (although it may make them feel good inside if they are kind).
I also know this: If your friend ever opens her heart and life to Jesus Christ, she'll become an even kinder and more loving person than she is right now. God will come to live within her by His Holy Spirit, and her life will begin to change. The Bible says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faith, meekness, and self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23).
Don't let the bad example of a few weak Christians keep you from Christ. Instead, by faith commit your life to Jesus Christ and ask Him to change you into the person He wants you to be. Then pray for your friend, and ask God to make you an example to her of Christ's life-changing power and love. {eoa}
Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:30:00 -0500
5 Reasons the US Will Not Fall Like Rome?

From the one-day-late news department: scientists have used 3-D mapping to reveal the actual face of St. Valentine. They took photos of his skull, which is kept in Rome's Basilica of Santa Maria of Cosmedin, then reconstructed his facial features. The linked image shows what the patron saint of Hallmark cards apparently looked like.

From one facial extreme to the other: a 25-year-old Hitler lookalike has been arrested in Austria. The man, who calls himself Harald Hitler, is charged with glorifying the Nazi era, which is a crime in that country.

I wish this were the only troubling news in today's news. But it's not.

The New York Times is reporting today that a science panel has approved editing human embryos to prevent disease or disability. Is this the start of eugenics? Since 2011, the number of violent incidents at churches has doubled. Louisville, Kentucky recently dealt with 151 calls about drug overdoses in a four-day period.

You could be forgiven for wondering if our country is following the fate of so many fallen empires before us. However, writer and filmmaker Paul Ratner disagrees. He has given us "5 Reasons Why America Will Not Collapse Like the Roman Empire." Here's his list:

1.  Political instability is here, but the U.S. is still a republic.
2.  The economy needs work but is in no danger of a collapse.
3.  The military situation is vastly different.
4.  The U.S. is not in a cultural and social decline.
5.  Technology, not politics, will transform the U.S. (and the world).

Ratner admits that his fourth assertion is "certainly debatable, as some would argue the U.S. is undergoing a weakening of its values." "Some" is a very large understatement—according to Gallup, 72 percent of Americans say the state of morality in our country is "getting worse."

A nation's security is not based on its political stability, economy, military or technology. Job said of God: "He increases the nations and destroys them; He enlarges the nations and guides them" (Job 12:23). On what basis? "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov. 14:34).

Few of us are as immoral as a Hitler look-alike or as saintly as St. Valentine. But one sin is enough to make us sinners separated from a holy God. One sin is enough to require repentance and contrition before our Father.

It is therefore vital that, as the Puritans said, we "keep short accounts with God." Here's the standard He requires: "'Be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Pet. 1:16, citing Lev. 11:44). Of course, none of us can achieve this standard with any consistency. That's why we need to ask the Spirit to control and empower us daily (Eph. 5:18), repent when we fail (Matt. 4:17) and trust God's forgiving and restoring grace (1 John 1:9).

My point is not that we must try harder to do better. It is that we must accept nothing less than holiness as God's will for us. In this connection, C. S. Lewis' wisdom in The Weight of Glory is relevant: "Failures will be forgiven; it is acquiescence that is fatal, the permitted, regularized presence of an area in ourselves which we still claim for our own."

Would Jesus say he is Lord of all of you today? {eoa}

Jim Denison Featured Opinion Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:00:00 -0500
Has the FBI Joined the War Against President Trump?

Wednesday afternoon, the FBI's "Records Vault" account on Twitter announced the release of 400 pages of documents related to a 45-year-old investigation of President Donald Trump's father's business.

The documents, part of an investigation into allegations Trump Management Company (owned by Fred Trump) was engaging in racial discrimination, are dated from the period of 1972-74. The company later settled the case without any admission of wrongdoing, but the documents released Wednesday suggest discrimination did occur.

Although the "Records Vault" has been releasing documents related to high-profile cases from the past over the last 12 months, this particular case only became a matter of national interest after Democrats tried to use it to paint the president as racist during the 2016 campaign. The timing of the release, particularly with members of the NSA and CIA openly going to war against Trump, has many suggesting the president now has a third front to worry about.

John Schindler, a former NSA analyst who is now a columnist for the New York Observer—an online newspaper formerly owned by Trump's son-in-law turned senior adviser, Jared Kushner—has been a staunch critic of the president for some time. Wednesday, he announced the intelligence community is about to "go nuclear" against Trump.

In a tweet, he wrote that an anonymous "senior intelligence official" had told him the president will "die in jail." He added the intelligence community will be "going to new levels" to ensure the Trump administration is a failure.

The time to pray is now. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500
Report: How the Intelligence Community 'Killed' Mike Flynn

If you aren't praying for President Donald Trump every day, you should be—and perhaps you'll start doing so after this.

The president is under attack from all sides by entrenched government establishment officials, "bitter clingers" of the Obama administration and members of the so-called national security apparatus. According to a new report from The Daily Caller, the leaks that led to the resignation of his national security adviser, Mike Flynn, were part of a "deep state" attack coordinated by members of the U.S. intelligence community.

The report states:

The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn's sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated "disinformation campaign" to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high-profile, hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.

"This was a hit job," charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.

Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday's resignation, "Stage Two of 'Kill Mike Flynn."

Click here to read the rest of the report.

But Flynn isn't the ultimate target of the attacks. Trump is. The Wall Street Journal reports the intelligence community is already withholding information from the president. Shortly after the report was published, #NeverTrump presidential candidate Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer, said they were right to do so because the president is a "security threat."

The time to pray is now. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:00:00 -0500
What Anglican Church Vote on Gay Marriage and Archbishop's Call for 'Radical New Christian Inclusion' Really Means

Editor's Note: The Church of England's vote on gay marriage is making news around the world. To understand the British view, we invited London businessman Martin Clarke, a member of Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church in London, to opine with his usual wit and insight.

The rapidly-approaching 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his theses to the doors of All Saints Church calls to mind the way LGBTI nailed the House of Bishops' report to the Church of England Synod doors last night. It seems that with the support of Archbishop Justin Welby, they are also pushing at open doors, especially when Welby calls for "radical new Christian inclusion."

The bishops' report essentially sought consent to welcome and love everyone into the church community, but not to sanction gay marriage in line with the U.K. Parliament that legalized it in 2014. It was the clergy of the General Synod that thwarted the adoption of the report, voting 100 to 93 against. The U.K. clergy are those men and women ordained to run the churches on a daily basis and include people from the LGBTI communities.

For certain liberal members of the clergy, the report did not go the whole way by dropping its opposition to gay marriage. This decision was welcomed by the LGBTI as a "victory for love and equality." The bishops were largely (43 to 1) happy to show love to the LGBTI community, but marriage equality was still a bridge too far for them. It is ironic that six of the bishops failed to turn up to vote in Parliament when gay marriage was legalized in 2014, which leaves one wondering where they all were when it mattered.

The Church of England that was founded 483 years ago was birthed out of divorce, led by the heterosexual pangs of King Henry. Those doors were flung open wide by divorce, still held as sin by the church, and today, other sexual issues seek to fling open the doors again into a new era.

As a divorced person, I was barred from being allowed to remarry in the Church of England and accepted their blessing instead. The gay community will not accept any blessing but wants equality. The simplest solution to the issue could lead to the church refusing to marry anyone and simply giving everyone the blessing. In the absence of that, there will be division and angst within the church, but it does prompt me to think of this Solomon-type wisdom solution.

The church is full of sinners seeking repentance from anything and everything, and if it opens its doors more widely to show real love and not fake platitudes, then, and only then, might we see truth and honesty. We need leadership now, not more fence-sitting and kicking the can down the road. The issue is not going away anytime soon.

Meantime, the gates of heaven, I understand, have not been widened, and the access path remains narrow. After all, Martin Luther ended up marrying a nun, though 500 years later, he could, of course, have chosen a priest. {eoa}

Martin Clarke Featured Opinion Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:30:00 -0500
David Friedman Is About to Testify at His Senate Confirmation Hearing

President Donald Trump's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, will have his Senate confirmation hearing beginning at 10:30 a.m. EST.

The hearing will be broadcast live at C-SPAN 3. Click here to watch a livestream.

Democrats are once again likely to hammer the Trump nominee because of his lack of diplomatic experience, particularly with the mixed signals the president sent Wednesday during his joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Shortly after the election, when he nominated Friedman, Trump suggested moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was a sure bet, and his administration was ready to walk away from the so-called "Two-State Solution."

Wednesday, however, he said he could live with "whatever solution both sides like." Netanyahu added, though, that a two-state solution still comes with the prerequisite of recognition of Israel as a sovereign state and ending the teaching of radical Islamic violence against Jews.

Although Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, is a supporter of both moving the embassy and walking away from the two-state plan, he has longstanding ties with Trump and is likely to remain steadfastly loyal to the president's agenda. But without the lengthy diplomatic experience most high-level ambassadors in his position would have, it's likely Democrats will attempt to exploit that inexperience during today's hearing.

Like their other efforts at delegitimizing the administration, however, that kind of gambit could come with some electoral pitfalls. Liberals may love it, but the overwhelming majority of Americans want stronger ties with Israel. A new poll released Thursday morning showed 71 percent of Americans have a positive view of the Jewish state. {eoa}

Bob Eschliman Featured Events Caucus Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:00:00 -0500
This Is One of the Big Reasons So Many Families Are Feeling Extreme Financial Stress

When the cost of living rises faster than paychecks do year after year, that eventually becomes a very big problem.

For quite some time, I have been writing about the shrinking middle class, and one of the biggest culprits is inflation. Every month, tens of millions of American families struggle to pay the bills, and most of them don't even understand the economic forces that are putting so much pressure on them. The United States never had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation until the debt-based Federal Reserve system was introduced in 1913. Since that time, we have had non-stop inflation, and the U.S. dollar has lost more than 98 percent of its value. If our paychecks were increasing faster than inflation, this wouldn't be a problem, but in recent years this has definitely not been the case for most Americans.

And unfortunately, inflation is starting to accelerate once again. In fact, it is being reported that inflation rose at the fastest pace in four years in January:

The prices Americans pay for goods and services surged in January by the largest amount in four years, mostly reflecting a rebound in the cost of gasoline that's taking a bigger chunk out of household incomes.

The consumer price index, or cost of living, rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in January, the government said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, our incomes have been incredibly stagnant. In fact, we just learned that median household income did not go up at all during 2016.

This is one of the reasons we consistently see families fall out of the middle class month after month. Even if you keep the same job year after year, your standard of living will go steadily down unless your pay goes up.

The things we all spend money on month after month just keep going up in price. I am talking about food, housing, medical care and other essentials. If there is one thing we can always count on, it's the fact that things are going to cost more tomorrow than they do today.

Let's talk about food for a moment. Whenever I go to the grocery store, I am almost always shocked. I still remember a time when I could get everything I needed for an entire week for about 20 bucks, but these days you can't even fill up one cart for $100.

That is because food prices have been rising aggressively for many years. The following is a list posted on The Economic Policy Journal that shows how much some food and grocery items have increased over the past decade:

1. Tobacco and smoking products

Price increase: 90.4 percent

2. Margarine

Price increase: 63.6 percent

3. Uncooked ground beef

Price increase: 46.3 percent

4. Shelf stable fish and seafood

Price increase: 45.0 percent

5. Prescription drugs

Price increase: 43.5 percent

6. Rice, pasta, cornmeal

Price increase: 40.3percent

7. Bread

Price increase: 38.9 percent

8. Snacks

Price increase: 38.4 percent

9. Miscellaneous poultry, including turkey

Price increase: 37.0 percent

10. Apples

Price increase: 36.6 percent

11. Frankfurters

Price increase: 35.8 percent

12. Canned vegetables

Price increase: 35.3 percent

13. Salt and other seasonings and spices

Price increase: 34.0 percent

14. Miscellaneous fats and oils, including peanut butter

Price increase: 34.0 percent

15. Miscellaneous processed fruits and vegetables, including dried

Price increase: 33.7 percent

16. Bacon and related products

Price increase: 33.2 percent

17. Fresh whole chicken

Price increase: 32.5 percent

18. Cakes, cupcakes and cookies

Price increase: 32.1 percent

19. Flour and prepared flour mixes

Price increase: 32.1 percent

20. Canned fruits

Price increase: 32.0 percent

And thanks to out-of-control government spending and reckless manipulation by the Federal Reserve, we have come to a time when inflation is starting to accelerate once again.

According to John Williams of, if honest numbers were being used the government would be telling us that inflation is rising at a 6 percent annual rate for the first time since 2011.

At the same time, evidence is mounting that U.S. consumers are simply tapped out. Previously, I have explained that interest rates are going up, consumer bankruptcies are rising and lending standards for consumers are really tightening up.

All of those are things we would expect to see if a new recession was starting.

And today we learned that the number of Americans refinancing their homes has fallen to the lowest level that we have seen since 2009:

A slowdown in refinancing pulled down the total mortgage application volume last week as changes to certain government-loan programs made refinances less lucrative. Refinance volume now stands at its lowest level since June 2009.

If you will remember, we also saw a slowdown in mortgage refinancing just before the great financial crisis of 2008.

For mortgage applications overall, they are now down almost 31 percent from where they were a year ago...

Total mortgage application volume fell 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week from the previous week, and are nearly 31 percent lower than the same week a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

A 31 percent decline in a single year is catastrophic.

If this continues, it won't be too long before everyone is talking about a new housing crash.

And we also learned this week that FHA mortgage delinquencies increased during the fourth quarter "for the first time since 2006″:

Federal Housing Administration mortgage delinquencies jumped in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2006, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The FHA insures low down-payment loans and is a favorite among first-time home buyers.

The seasonally adjusted FHA delinquency rate increased to 9.02 percent in the fourth quarter from 8.3 percent in the third quarter, MBA data show.

So many things are happening right now that we have not seen happen in many years, but most people are choosing not to see the red flags that are popping up all around us.

None of our long-term economic problems has been fixed. And even though Donald Trump won the election, the truth is that our economy is in the worst shape it has been since the last financial crisis. I continue to encourage all of my readers to get prepared for very hard times, but just like back in 2007 we are experiencing a wave of tremendous optimism right now and most people think that the party can somehow continue indefinitely.

Whether Donald Trump won the election or not, the truth is that a major economic downturn was going to come anyway. You see, Donald Trump is not some magician who can just wave a wand and somehow make the consequences of decades of very foolish decisions instantly disappear.

We have been on the biggest debt binge in human history, and there is going to be a great price to pay when this immense debt bubble finally bursts.

Unfortunately, most people are not going to acknowledge the truth until it is too late. {eoa}

Michael Snyder Featured Marketplace Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:00:00 -0500
US Federal Prosecutors Go After Pastor for 'Lies and Corruption'

A Florida software engineer and a New Jersey pastor engaged in lies and corruption to facilitate an illegal bitcoin exchange business whose operators wanted to take over a small credit union to evade scrutiny, a federal prosecutor said on Wednesday.

At the start of a trial in Manhattan federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Won Shin told jurors that programmer Yuri Lebedev schemed with others to bribe Trevor Gross, the pastor and head of a Jackson, New Jersey-based credit union housed in his church.

Shin said Gross accepted bribes including a $150,000 church donation in exchange for helping unlicensed bitcoin exchange's operator take over Helping Other People Excel Federal Credit Union., which employed Lebedev while running through a front called "Collectables Club," could use the credit union in exchange to evade scrutiny of banks wary of processing payments by individuals buying the virtual currency.

"The bribes and lies had a simple, shared purpose: For the defendants Lebedev and Gross and their co-conspirators to make money," Shin said.

But lawyers for Lebedev, 39, and Gross, 52, said they did nothing wrong and were being blamed due to actions by Anthony Murgio, who ran and who, they said, manipulated people while trying to illegally grow the business.

"Yuri was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people," said Eric Creizman, Lebedev's lawyer.

Kristen Santillo, Gross' lawyer, said he was tricked into believing was a memorabilia club, and thought there was nothing wrong about a donation to the church, and which did not benefit him personally.

"He didn't know anything about what they were up to," she said.

The trial followed an investigation rooted in a data breach that JPMorgan Chase & Co. disclosed in 2014 that exposed over 83 million accounts, leading to charges against nine individuals.

Gross, Lebedev and Murgio were not accused of hacking. But prosecutors said was owned by an Israeli behind the breach, Gery Shalon.

Prosecutors say Shalon, together with Maryland-born Joshua Samuel Aaron, orchestrated cyber attacks that resulted in the theft of over 100 million peoples' information.

Prosecutors said they carried out the hackings to further other schemes with another Israeli, Ziv Orenstein, including pumping up stock prices with promotional emails. Shalon, Aaron and Orenstein have pleaded not guilty.

Regulators took the credit union into conservatorship in 2015. Murgio pleaded guilty to charges related to in January. {eoa}

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Nate Raymond/Reuters Featured U.S. News Thu, 16 Feb 2017 09:30:00 -0500