Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Friday

Salt Block Christians!
     "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:16
     In the final paragraph of Revelation, John records these words of Jesus Christ:  "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!'  And let him who hears say, 'Come!'  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life" (22:17).  Here is a threefold invitation given by the Holy Spirit speaking through the Word of God;  by the bride of Christ, His church; and by those who have already responded to Christ.  To whom is this invitation given?  To all who are thirsty.

     Dairy Farmers scatter large blocks of salt in the pasture where the milk cows graze.  Apparently, these cows need salt that was not in their grain and hay.  Shortly after the cow goes to the salt lick, she will head for the water tank. And that is exactly what Jesus Christ wants for His people.  If we are salt in the world, the way we live and the words we say should make the non-Christians around us thirsty for God.

     I recall a family who wanted to lead one of their friends to Christ.  They did all the usual things, even taking him to hear the gospel preached.  One week they invited the guy over for dinner.  The family did nothing special, just went about as they normally did.  The kids were friendly and talkative at the meal, the father led in a prayer of thanksgiving for the food, the kids helped with the dishes, did their homework, and scurried off to bed.

     Later that week, the man called and said he had become a Christian.  The way the family lived had convinced him of his need for Christ.

"Lord, help me to be salt in the world, creating thirst for the Living Water. Amen."

     My home, my lifestyle, and my responses to the difficulties of life affect how non-Christians perceive their need for Christ."

Away In A Manger
Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed,
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the heavens
Looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing,
The poor Baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
No crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus;
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
Till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus;
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray!
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven
To live with Thee there.

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed,
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the heavens
Looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

Daily Smile:
Holidays around the precinct are always lively, especially in the 911 areas.
One particular night, a drunk calls in, and the following communication began:
"911, what is your emergency?"
"Osifer, I've been robbed!"
"Can you be more specific sir?"
"Osifer, someone stole my steering wheel, my gas pedal and my brake pedal."
"Could you please repeat that sir?" By now there's a crowd gathering around the dispatcher's chair.
"Yes, shur. Someone stole my gas pedal, my brake pedal and my steering wheel."
"Sir, what is your location?"
"I'm in my car."
"Sir, could you explain to me exactly where your car is located?"
"Yes, shur. I'm on Baker Street. Uh, 488 Baker!"
"Alright, sir, we'll send officers out to investigate it. Try to stay calm."
The phone call ends at this point but not five minutes later another call comes in.
"911, what is your emergency?"
"Yes, what is your emergency please?"
"Osifer, this is me again. I just found my steering wheel, my gas pedal and my brake pedal."
"Okay, sir. Are you still needing assistance?"
"No, shur, I was just in the back seat."

In The News:

Poll: More Than One-Third of Americans See Signs of End Times in Extreme Weather
More than a third of Americans -- 36 percent -- believe the severity of recent natural disasters is evidence that we are the "end times" described in the New Testament, the Religion News Service reports. "There is a significant proportion of Americans who see these phenomena through a theological lens," said Daniel Cox of the Public Religion Research Institute. "It's hardly a fringe belief. It's nearly four in 10 Americans who are embracing this." The conviction is particularly strong among white evangelical Protestants (65 percent), and less common among Catholics (21 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (15 percent). But a majority of Americans connect recent extreme weather to climate change: 63 percent say the severity of recent weather is evidence of global warming, compared to 33 percent who disagree. Cox noted religious divisions among Americans on recent destructive storms, floods, snowstorms and heat waves. Sixty-nine percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans link dramatic weather to global warming, compared to 60 percent of Catholics and 50 percent of white evangelicals. "They're experiencing the same weather, but how they perceive it is very different," Cox said. The differences among Democrats and Republicans are even starker, with 70 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of independents saying unusual weather patterns are evidence of global warming, compared to 43 percent of Republicans. The survey also found that 29 percent of Americans believe God sometimes punishes nations for the political decisions of their leaders, though 65 percent reject this idea.

Iranian Pastor Shares Joy Despite Imprisonment in Letter to Christians
Jailed Iranian pastor Behnam Irani, who last month was denied hospitalization despite his critical condition, wrote a letter from his prison cell before Christmas, ministering to Christians in his country and thanking God for letting him share "very little of" Jesus' suffering on the cross, the Christian Post reports. "Despite the pressure and difficulties in prison, I am pleased to share, what is like a fountain, my Christian joy with you in the new Christmas days to come," wrote Irani, who is currently serving a six-year sentence. "My brothers and sisters, I love you all. Christ has given you to me on Calvary. Even if I were sentenced to many years behind bars for the salvation of one of you, there would never be any complaint." Before his arrest in 2011 for "acting against the interests of national security," Irani was leading the Church of Iran in the city of Karaj. He has been tortured in prison and was denied hospitalization for a bleeding ulcer. Several times he was found unconscious in his prison cell, raising fears for his well-being. His wife and two children have said they are afraid that unless the beatings stop and he is offered proper medical care, he could die in prison soon. Yet suffering has not robbed Irani of the joy Jesus gives. "I congratulate all the saints at Christmas and the coming new year," he wrote.

Out-of-Wedlock Births Society's 'New Norm'
The number of children being born outside of marriage has increased sharply, according to a new study by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, CBN News reports. The report focuses on what it calls "middle America," the nearly 60 percent of Americans who complete high school but not college. Among that group, 44 percent of children are now born outside of marriage -- up from 13 percent in the 1980s. "Marriage in middle America is at a tipping point, with unwed childbearing threatening to become a new norm," said study co-author Brad Wilcox. Research shows children born or raised outside of marriage are more likely to suffer from a range of social and emotional problems, including drug use, depression, attempted suicide and dropping out of high school.

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