Saturday, June 29, 2013

Happy Saturday

There Is Power In The Blood

While perusing through a Christian Hymnal, I came to a realization that there is a wealth of "Gospel" in the hymns that we Christians sing.  From The Old Rugged Cross to Power in the Blood ... we sing about Jesus and His love for us.... what incredible LOVE!
Most of the hymns we sing are truly "All About Jesus"... I don't know what YOUR favorite hymn is, but, as I went from hymn to hymn, it occurred to me that I have many favorites.

Basically, I prefer hymns and songs that tell of the saving Grace of God and the POWER of the blood of Jesus to cleanse us of our sin.   Hymns that tell of SALVATION by the shed blood of Jesus.... of LIFE after death ... eternal LIFE with Jesus!

Hymns that LIFT UP the name of Jesus and Glorify our Lord and Savior.  I feel led to begin a series about the time-honored hymns and spirituals, which I believe have been given to the various song writers by Almighty God Himself, to help us to WORSHIP God for WHO HE IS.

God lives in our PRAYERS and WORSHIP ... HE demands that we sing PRAISES to Him!  Scripture tells us that if we do not WORSHIP GOD, the hills and mountains will clap their hands in PRAISE to Almighty God!

Truly, all creation is admonished to WORSHIP GOD in some form or fashion.  One of the FIRST HYMNS that I learned to love after becoming a child of the Living God more than fifty years ago, was introduced to me by a dear Methodist friend.   It tells of the wonderful cleansing power of the Blood Of Christ... YES, There is truly POWER IN THE BLOOD!

"Would you be free from your burden of sin?  There's POWER in the BLOOD, POWER in the Blood.
Would you over evil a victory to win?  There's wonderful POWER in The BLOOD.

There is POWER, POWER, wonder working POWER in the BLOOD of the LAMB, There is POWER, POWER wonder working POWER in the precious blood of the LAMB!

Friend, if that don't light your fire, your wood is wet!

Many songs have been given to us about the POWER of the BLOOD of Jesus to CLEANSE us from SIN.  I am at a loss to name my FAVORITE... they are all so marvelous!  Perhaps YOU will tell me what YOUR favorite hymn is... I would appreciate that very much.

Scripture tells us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no cleansing from sin ... In the old testament, we had the shed blood of animals ... and burnt offerings.  The NEW TESTAMENT brings salvation and cleansing from sin by the shed blood on that Old Rugged Cross by none other than the Son of God, Jesus, our Redeemer.

Jesus shed His blood that you and I might LIVE!  Jesus became sin in our place!  Such incredible LOVE... AGAPE LOVE!

Oh, what a Savior!  Because Jesus shed His blood on that cross at Calvary, you and I can claim VICTORY over death!  We call it SALVATION through the shed blood of Christ, plus NOTHING we can do to deserve or earn salvation!

It is a free gift, bought and paid for by God... WHY?  because God desires that NONE should perish, but that all might be SAVED!  GOD IS LOVE!

"Thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving even me ... so much that you would have died on that cross if I was the only sinner in this world!  Lord Jesus, I love you and want to serve you.  I want to be in Your perfect will at all times.  Help me, Jesus, to be your vessel here on earth, filled with Your Holy Spirit ... ready to say, Here am I, Oh Lord... send ME.  May I ever proclaim to "whosoever" that JESUS SAVES."

YES, there is POWER in the BLOOD OF CHRIST!  Now, GO and TELL somebody where they, too, can find LIFE ... EVERLASTING LIFE IN JESUS!
Daily Smile:
Little Johnny is in art class. The art teacher asks, “what are you drawing?" 
Johnny answers, “a cow eating grass," 
"where's the grass?" 
"The cow ate it!" 
"Oh... what about the cow?" 
"She ran away!" 

Editor's Note: This one brought back memories of long ago as I child my imagination was light years ahead of the others and not only did I impress my Mom with unique drawings, but also the tallest tales that I swore were true...
In The News:
National Cathedral Rings Bells to Cheer Gay Marriage
The National Cathedral is ringing its church bells, along with some other Washington churches, to celebrate the Supreme Court's decisions on gay marriage, CBS DC reports. Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg said the bells rang at noon Wednesday for 45 minutes to an hour. Bells also rang at other Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Unitarian churches. The cathedral scheduled a prayer service for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families Wednesday at 7 p.m. to celebrate the ruling. In a statement, the cathedral's dean, the Rev. Gary Hall, said the church was ringing its bells "to celebrate the extension of federal marriage equality to all the same-sex couples modeling God’s love in lifelong covenants." Hall said the ruling should serve as a call for Christians to embrace religious marriage equality.

Muslim Officials Attempt to Charge Ethiopian Evangelist With Terrorism, Treason

International Christian Concern has learned that Ethiopian officials have arbitrarily detained and arrested a Christian evangelist under charges of terrorism and treason in response to his Christian faith and activities. Alemayehu Legese was initially arrested in late March in Dodola, 180 miles south of Addis Ababa, by local police after having admitted to owning literature that "discussed the history of Islam from a Christian perspective." Legese, a student at Dodola Mekane Yesus Bible School, had dropped the literature off at a copy shop. A Muslim employee subsequently contacted authorities to demand Legese face consequences for violating the widespread cultural belief that Christians, being inferior citizens, are morally insufficient to learn the history of Islam. Legese was known for his outwardly evangelistic nature, and it is believed that because of that, as well as the fact that he coordinated faith-based activities for youth at his local church, he was made a target for arrest and ultimately arbitrarily detained. In court, Legese's lawyer objected to the charges of both terrorism and treason, and as a result, the court ordered public prosecutors to modify their charges against Legese. The prosecution has yet to do so. Until the prosecution submits new charges against Legese, he will continue to sit in jail, awaiting charges that may take years to be submitted. "I think the evangelist is arrested to discourage other Christians from teaching [the gospel] in the area," said a Christian legal expert who asked to remain anonymous. "All the government officials in the area are Muslims and this has created a big problem [for the Christians]."

Obama: Supreme Court Rights a Wrong, Country Better Off
President Barack Obama hailed the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday, declaring the court "has righted a wrong, and our country is better off for it," AP reports. Obama decided in 2011 to stop defending the 1996 law, concluding that it was legally indefensible. In a statement issued while he was flying on Air Force One to Africa Wednesday, Obama said he had directed Attorney General Eric Holder to work with others in his administration to make sure federal law reflects the court's decision. "This was discrimination enshrined in law," he said. "We are a people who declared that we are all created equal -- and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." The court invalidated a part of the law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Acknowledging that many Americans object to gay marriage on religious grounds, he stressed that nothing in the decision changes how religious institutions define and consecrate marriage. His statement came moments after he telephoned his congratulations to gay rights advocate Chad Griffin and plaintiffs in a California gay marriage case. "Through your courage, you're helping out a whole lot of people," Obama told them. Obama put Griffin and the plaintiffs' legal team on speaker phone told and told them that "today's ruling is a victory," even if the high court did not directly address the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Part of DOMA, Dismisses Prop 8 Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Wednesday a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits. The 5-4 ruling comes largely due to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s agreement with his liberal colleagues, forming a majority opinion. "DOMA divests married same-sex couples of the duties and responsibilities that are an essential part of married life and that they in most cases would be honored to accept were DOMA not in force," Kennedy wrote, saying that the law "places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage." The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by then-president Bill Clinton in 1996 after clearing the House and Senate with overwhelming support. In addition to providing a federal definition of marriage, the law barred homosexual relationships from being recognized by the IRS or the Social Security Administration, and also excluded homosexuals that served as government workers from being recognized as a couple in order to obtain insurance benefits. The Supreme Court on Wednesday also dismissed an appeal regarding California's Proposition 8, ruling that private parties did not have "standing" to defend the voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbian couples from marrying. The 5-4 ruling permits same-sex couples in California to legally marry, but avoids for now a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected "equal protection" right that would apply to all states.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy Friday

God's Care For His Children!

"And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus..."  Philippians 4:19

When the Israelites' supplies ran out, they accused Moses and Aaron of leading them out in the wilderness to kill them.  Their complaint was really against God, for He was the one who had brought them forth out of the land of Egypt. Now, you'd think they would quickly learn the lesson of the bountiful provision of God!  But here they are, putting on a repeat performance and forgetting the long chain of miracles whereby God had delivered them, served them, and fed them.  God didn't forget His people, and once again He met their needs.

In addition to God's provision of food and water, He sent them a management consultant in the person of Jethro, Moses' father-in-law.  Jethro watched Moses in action and saw that he was overworked and needed to delegate some responsibilities.  He gave Moses some sound advice: "You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him" (Exodus 18:19).  Then he said,  "Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform."  He had to teach them the Word of God and then lead by example. So in these three chapters, we see the God who provided food to eat, water to drink, and leadership to help meet their spiritual needs.

What is the greatest need in your life today?  Maybe you need more money to meet the obligations of life.  Or maybe you need a companion, friend, or advisor to help you through a time of aching loneliness or critical decision making.  Whatever your need, let me encourage you to depend on God to meet it.


"Lord, I trust You to meet all my needs.  Amen. "

God doesn't deal with us as we deserve . God is love!

Daily Smile:
A dog thinks: Hey, these people I live with feed me, love me, provide me with a nice warm, dry house, pet me, and take good care of me ... They must be Gods!

A cat thinks: Hey, these people I live with feed me, love me, provide me with a nice warm, dry house, pet me, and take good care of me ... I must be a God!

In The News:
Syrian Christians Caught in the Crossfire

Syrian Christians are the victims of disproportionate violence and abuse as sectarian violence continues to engulf Syria, Open Doors USA reports. Christian women are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse, while Christian men are facing pressure from both sides to join the battle, according to a new report, Vulnerability Assessment of Syria's Christians, coordinated by the World Watch List's Dennis Pastoor with analysis from political commentator Nicholas Heras. The result, the report claims, is that Christians are scared to engage in public displays of worship, while proportionally more Christian refugees are leaving Syria than any other religious or ethnic group. Vulnerability Assessment of Syria’s Christians acknowledges that many of the struggles facing Christians in Syria are shared by the entire population, but says Christians are "soft targets" and "particularly vulnerable" to some things, including hostility in refugee camps, targeting by Islamist groups and criminals and confiscation of land. Christians are "caught in the crossfire of the strife between government and opposition forces and suffer violence from both parties," writes Pastoor. Christians are not always targeted deliberately, he says, but this "does not mean they are not a vulnerable group…and implies they are in varying degrees liable to suffer specific threats." More than two years have passed since the beginning of the civil war between President Bashar al-Assad's government forces and the Free Syrian Army and the fight is increasingly taking the shape of a "jihad" against the Syrian government, writes Heras, as opposition forces are ever more "Islamized." Meanwhile Syria’s Christians are called victims of "systematic militarization," which Heras predicts will become a "significant trend" in the near future.

Christians Don't Feel Safe in Egypt, Fleeing to U.S. and Europe to Seek Asylum

Many Coptic Christians are fleeing to the United States and Europe because they no longer feel safe in Egypt, the Christian Post reports. They feel the Islamist government is not doing enough to protect them against discrimination and hate crimes, so they are resorting to fleeing the country. Many Copts are electing to go the United States, a country in which Egyptians now rank as the second highest nationality receiving asylum. In 2010, only 531 Egyptians received asylum in the U.S.; however, 2,882 Egyptians received asylum in 2012, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Copts are also fleeing to Georgia and the Netherlands because both countries have decreased restrictions on those seeking asylum. This comes at a time when escalating sectarian violence appears to be going unchecked by the government. In April, eight people were killed in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims, and Cairo's St. Mark's Cathedral was attacked, prompting Coptic Pope Tawadros II to criticize President Mohammed Morsi for not protecting the church. Other examples of sectarian incidents include the Muslim Brotherhood's leading cleric's decision to advise Muslims to refrain from wishing Christians a Happy Easter. His justification was that the Christian holiday is un-Islamic. Copts face further discrimination when trying to build new churches, as the Egyptian president must issue a presidential decree in order to build any new churches. After one year in office, Morsi has only sanctioned one new church to be built. Copts are Egypt's largest minority, making up nearly 10 percent of its 85 million people.

Florida Professor in 'Jesus Stomping' Case Reinstated

Florida Atlantic University has reinstated an instructor who had students stomp on a piece of paper with the name "Jesus" written on it, CBN News reports. The school exercise provoked a strong reaction, including a request from Florida Gov. Rick Scott that university officials investigate the matter. "This incident gave me great concern over the lessons we are teaching our students," Scott wrote in the letter to chancellor Frank Brogan. "The professor's lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom." Instructor Deandre Poole said the point of the lesson was to show the power of words, not denigrate Christianity. Meanwhile, Heather Coltman, interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters, defended the university's decision to retain Poole. "We thought it was in the university's best interest," Coltman said. "We need experienced, qualified faculty members, and all things considered, we decided he would be a valuable asset to the college. I understand this decision may not be popular with all members of the community. But it was based on months of thorough research and consideration." Poole will only teach online because of security concerns.

Rick Santorum: Faith-Based Movies Will 'Rival Hollywood'

ST. LOUIS (RNS) -- It’s not the message you might expect to hear from Rick Santorum, the Christian-conservative former presidential candidate: Faith-based films tend to be lousy, and Christians should quit trying to lock modern popular culture out of their lives.

Instead, Santorum says, Christian conservatives should acknowledge that modern popular culture is here to stay, and use that platform to produce Christian-themed films that will also have quality and popular appeal. It’s a strategy he says he intends to pursue in his new role as CEO of a ground-breaking faith-based film studio.

In an interview here, Santorum also stood by his strong views against same-sex marriage, citing the necessity to adhere to religious teachings — but then disputed his own religion’s leaders on the issue of immigration.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and darling of the religious right in the crowded GOP field for the 2012 presidential nomination, was in St. Louis Monday (June 24) to promote his own foray into popular culture. He has been named CEO of EchoLight Studios, which bills itself as “the first movie company to produce, finance, market and distribute faith-based, family films across all releasing platforms.”

“For a long time, Christians have decided that the best way to fight the popular culture is to keep it at bay, to lock it out of their home. … That’s a losing battle,” Santorum said in an interview at America’s Center Convention Complex, where he was attending the International Christian Retail Show.

With “the pervasiveness of [media] right now, the content just seeps through. The only option is to go out into that arena and try to shape the culture, too.”

Santorum said one problem with Christian-themed films was that they’ve traditionally been aimed at just Christian audiences, rather than attempting to appeal to audiences that don’t necessarily share the movie’s messaging going in.

He blamed that limited appeal on what he said were often the “hokey” and “cheesy” feel of such films, with all the filmmakers’ attention focused on the message and not enough on artistic quality.

“Quality. Quality acting, quality directing, quality scriptwriting. That is going to be a watchword for me,” Santorum said at a news conference talking about the studio’s pending projects. He said the goal was to produce movies “that rival any good Hollywood film.”

Dallas-based EchoLight’s first theatrical release, “The Redemption of Henry Myers,” is slated for release in the fall. Promotional material describes it as a Western about a bank robber who finds redemption from a widow and her children who take him in after he’s wounded.

Santorum’s St. Louis visit came as the nation awaits a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal marital benefits to same-sex couples. It also comes as the national immigration debate heats up in Congress.

Santorum dismissed the suggestion from some Republicans that the GOP should soften its official opposition to gay marriage rights to widen its appeal to young people. Among his reasoning is that a federal stamp of approval on gay marriage would be a direct affront to religious teachings and would hurt religious institutions.

“The destruction of the institution of marriage and a redefinition of it will not only harm the family but will do incredible damage to the church” by labeling church teachings as outside the mainstream, said Santorum, who is Roman Catholic. “It’s going to do great damage to the church and its ministries, and I think, therefore, the country.”

But on the issue of immigration, Santorum himself voiced opposition to his own church’s position. He stood by his hard-line view against federal legislation that some conservatives claim provides amnesty for unauthorized immigrants, even as Catholic leaders embrace it as a humanitarian approach.

“Certainly, the Catholic bishops have a very different point of view than I do” on the immigration bill, Santorum said. “I think it’s wrong, I think it’s short-sighted. Every country has a right to protect its border. [The bishops] don’t see that right as legitimate.”

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy Thursday

Worthless or Priceless
I was driving my son to the sheltered workshop for the handicapped where he works a few days each week. My seventeen year old car was cruising along while the Spring sun shined down. The trees were budding and flowers were popping up along the side of the road. I looked over at my son who was humming along to a song on the radio. He turned his head, smiled and said, " I love you Daddy." I smiled back and said, "I love you too son."
The green light ahead turned yellow and I slowed to a stop. Suddenly, a gold Mercedes Benz screeched to a halt next to me. The owner was yelling into a cell phone and slammed his hand on the steering wheel as he glared at the now red light. After a minute the light changed and he sped away with a scowl as big as his face. I drove on shaking my head and said a little prayer that the owner of that expensive car would one day realize the true treasures in life.
That miserable man in the Mercedes reminded me again of the worthlessness of wealth and the pricelessness of love in the eyes of eternity. All of his money hadn't put a smile on his face. All of his things hadn't given him peace. All of his wealth hadn't filled his heart with happiness or brought meaning to his life. He seemed lost, separated from love, and separated from God. He was trapped in a golden cage and didn't even know it. Please don't spend your life in the pursuit of the worthless "fool's gold" that our society holds dear. Don't try to gain the whole world and in the process lose your soul. Instead spend your days here building "the Treasures of Heaven" in your heart. If you do then your days will be blessed with sunshine, smiles, and sweet laughter. If you do then you will not only fill your soul with love but you will also scatter joy to the world around you. If you do then you will be able to give God the most priceless gift of all: your life lived with love.


Shackled by a heavy burden
'Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
Now I am no longer the same.
He touched me, oh He touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole.
Since I met the blessed Saviour
Since He cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise Him
I'll shout it while eternity rolls.
He touched me, oh He touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole...
Daily Smile:
A police recruit was asked during the exam, "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?"  

He said: "Call for backup."
In The News:
Supreme Court Grants Case on Abortion Center Buffer Zones

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case in its next term on the constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that designates a 35-foot-radius "buffer zone" around abortion centers, WORLD reports. According to the law, no one is allowed in the buffer zone but employees of the abortion facility, those coming and going from the facility, those on their way somewhere else, and law enforcement and emergency responders. Pro-life protesters had challenged the law, saying it violated their First Amendment rights. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the buffer zone law, saying it was a "narrowly tailored time-place-manner regulation that protects the rights of prospective patients and clinic employees without offending the First Amendment rights of others." In 2000, the last time the Supreme Court heard an abortion center buffer zone case, it upheld the law, but the composition of the court has changed since then.

Colorado Transgender First-Grader Allowed to Use Girls' Bathroom

Colorado officials have ruled that a 6-year-old boy can use the girls' bathroom at his school, CBN News reports. Coy Mathis, who identifies himself as a girl, will now be treated as a girl at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, Colo. The Denver Post reported that Coy's parents and other transgender activists are celebrating the state's decision. The Transgender Legal Defense and Education fund had filed a complaint on the family's behalf, claiming Coy was being discriminated against because he was not being allowed to use the girls' bathroom.

Tanzania: Two Pastors Attacked by Muslim Extremists

Voice of the Martyrs reports that on June 2, Pastor Robert Ngai in Geita, northeastern Tanzania, was attacked by a large group of radical Muslims. The attackers broke into his home and attacked him with machetes, and Ngai received serious cuts on his hands and arms when he raised his arms to protect his head from the blows. The injuries were beyond local doctors' ability to treat, so he was rushed to a hospital in a nearby, larger city for treatment. Ngai is the pastor of the Evangelical Assemblies of God Church. At last word from VOM contacts, he was still in ICU. Two nights before the attack on Pastor Ngai, the home of Pastor Daudi Nzumbi in Geita also came under attack. Pastor Nzumbi leads the Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania in Geita. Thankfully, the attackers fled after they were confronted by Pastor Nzumbi's large, barking dogs. When Pastor Nzumbi called the police, the officer in charge told him, "I cannot protect every pastor!"

China Still Persecuting Christians, Just Better at Hiding It

China (ICC) -- Two weeks ago, the New York Times published details of a fascinating interview with Mr. Zhang, the claimed author of a note written in English and allegedly smuggled out of the Masanjia labor camp while he was imprisoned there. The letter was discovered by a woman in Oregon who found it stashed in a box of Halloween decorations that were packaged at the labor camp. The letter revealed that conditions in the camp were "a living hell" and that about half the camp's occupants were either Falun Gong practitioners or members of underground house churches.

In late 2012, China Aid, a human rights organization dedicated to assisting Chinese Christians who face abuses of religious freedom, published a report citing an increase of 131.8 percent in the number of Christians imprisoned by the Chinese government over the course of 2012. The report was alarming and controversial, but recent research conducted on the ground by International Christian Concern (ICC) has confirmed that Christians still face arrest and imprisonment in large numbers despite the overall impression that China has curtailed repression of religious minorities in recent years.

One eyewitness sentenced to a re-education through labor camp in Shangqui, Henan Province, told ICC late last month that she estimates at least 50 to 60 Christians spent time in her camp over the course of her two-year sentence. She said many were arrested repeatedly for refusing to stop attending house churches which remain technically illegal in China. The only legal option for Protestants is to attend an officially registered "Three-Self church." However, millions of Chinese Christians refuse to join these churches due to the high level of control exerted by the Communist Party over everything -- from what is preached to who is allowed to preach it.

Also alarming is the length to which Chinese officials are willing to go in order to keep the repression of religious groups confidential. Many Chinese religious leaders told ICC that the number of violent incidents, such as beatings or torture while under arrest, have decreased dramatically in recent years while at the same time the level of control exerted over these groups has increased exponentially. One pastor relayed how officials in his hometown "knew everything about him" and were constantly tracking meeting locations, times, and number of people in attendance. They would often invite him to "have tea" and apply subtle pressure for his congregation to join with the local Three-Self church.

This heightened level of observation should not be surprising. Starting in 2010, China began spending a greater share of its gross domestic product on internal security to police its own population than on its substantial military. One source cautioned an ICC representative that they should assume that all communications -- cell phone, e-mail, and even web addresses visited -- would be monitored and recorded while visiting China. If at any time the work of a foreigner becomes too prominent or threatened, they would be "deported without delay." The requirement for users of hotel internet to input their passport number before being able to browse was the first indication to this author that China's internal security apparatus remains alive and well.

The bright side to all of this is that it appears that international pressure has in some ways had a great effect on China's overall treatment of religious minorities. Incidents that would spark an international outcry, such as handing down a long prison sentence to a major house church leader, are frowned upon by Beijing, even if publicly the country's leaders deny any wrongdoing to the rest of the world. For the millions of Christians living in Beijing, Shanghai, and other major cities, this is good news.

Unfortunately for the millions more living in more rural or suburban areas of China, there is little hope of assistance. Stifling restrictions placed on both the Chinese press and foreign journalists make it extremely difficult to collect first-hand reports of recent arrests on the basis of religious belief. The information we do have, though, suggests that it is far too soon to announce the dawn of anything like true religious freedom in the People's Republic of China. For hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, that day remains hidden in an uncertain and, if the Communist Party has its way, highly controlled future.

International Christian Concern is a Washington, D.C.-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides awareness, advocacy and assistance to the worldwide persecuted church.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy Wednesday


"But the Lord said to [Ananias], "Go, for (Saul) is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;" - Acts 9:15.


A word that evokes fear, confusion, anger, and even hatred in the hearts of people-
- especially those whose lives have been forever changed by one or more terrorists.

It seems that not a day goes by when there isn't news of terrorism somewhere in the world.

Unfortunately, terrorism isn't new.
In fact, one of our most beloved authors of the Bible, Paul, was a terrorist.
And he was the worst kind of terrorist--a religious terrorist--plotting to kill and hurt people who didn't believe in God the way he did.

He was brilliant, highly educated, and ambitious.
The mention of his name would strike fear in people who didn't believe as he did.

One day on his way to fulfill another terrorist plot-
- he was stopped by a power he didn't know existed.

It terrified him.
This person was so powerful that the young terrorist was literally stopped in his tracks.

The terrorist was named Saul.
The powerful person was Jesus.

On that day-
- the terrorist named Saul was changed inwardly and outwardly by the love of Christ.

Christ changed Saul's name to Paul.
And God used Paul to be the greatest theologian and missionary in the history of the church.

Christ can change anyone who is hostile to Him and His church-
- even religious terrorists.

He can even change people who are sinners like you and me.

Daily Smile: 
For weeks, a six-year old lad kept telling his first-grade teacher about the baby brother or sister that was expected at his house. One day the Mother allowed the boy to feel the movements of the unborn child.
The six-year old was obviously impressed, but he made no comment. Furthermore, he stopped telling his teacher about the impending event. The teacher finally sat the boy on her lap and said, "Tommy, whatever
has become of that baby brother or sister you were expecting at home?"

Tommy burst into tears and confessed, "I think Mommy ate it!"

In The News:
Pastor Saeed Abedini in Good Spirits as Threats Increase
The family of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini visited him in Iran's Evin Prison this week and said he was in good spirits, CBN News reports. Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence in Evin, reputedly one of worst anywhere in the world, for his Christian faith. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, the 33-year-old pastor told his family his health appears to have improved. However, the ACLJ also said that since Iran's presidential election last week, prison guards had threatened to move Abedini to a more remote prison. Such a move would make it nearly impossible for his family to visit him.

Two Christians Slain by Islamists in Nigeria
Ethnic Fulani Muslims killed a Christian in Nigeria's Plateau state, less than a week after the Islamic extremist Boko Haram sect killed a pastor in Nigeria's Borno state, Morning Star News reports. In the latest of a series of attacks this year in the Wase area, 134 miles southeast of Jos in Plateau state, Fulani Muslims killed Toma Vongjen, 40, and left church buildings in four villages in ruins, said the Rev. Dinfa Lamda of the Church of Christ in Nations in Jos. In Borno state on June 13, Boko Haram Islamic extremists killed the Rev. Jacob Kwiza in the Mandara Hills area, church leaders said. Lamda, a native of Langtang, near Wase, said social and economic activities had been paralyzed in the Wase area, and "Christian fellowship activities and evangelism outreaches are no longer possible." Most churches in Wase have closed due to the violence, and surviving pastors have been relocated, he said. "There are Christian villages that have been completely wiped out by these Muslim terrorists," Lamda said. "Just last week Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked some Christian farmers in Wase and destroyed all the crops they planted on their farms." Lamda said Fulani Muslims had attacked Christian communities in the local government areas of Wase, Langtang and Shendam, all in Plateau state. "For a number of years, the attacks on Christians in these [areas] have caused the displacement of thousands of Christians there," he said. "There is a very lamentable problem, as we are no longer able to worship God as Christians in this part of Nigeria."

Russia, China Among Worst Countries for Human Trafficking
(WNS) -- China and Russia failed to meet minimum standards for fighting human trafficking, according to the U.S. State Department, which dropped the countries to the lowest possible ranking in its 2013 report, released yesterday.

The annual “Trafficking in Persons” report ranks 188 countries on performance in fighting various forms of human trafficking. Promises to improve kept China and Russia on the Tier 2 Watchlist for nine consecutive years. Now, the State Department has dropped the two countries, along with Uzbekistan, to Tier 3, on par with countries such as Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe.
The report accused China of state-sponsored forced labor under the name “re-education through labor,” as well as widespread sex trafficking. China’s one-child policy — and the skewed sex ratio of 118 boys to 100 girls it caused — has created a huge demand for the “trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced prostitution.”
The report cited the Migration Research Center, which estimates that one million people experience “exploitative” labor conditions in Russia. The report accuses Russia of using forced labor for projects related to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and forcing North Koreans to work in logging camps, under an agreement with the North Korean government.

While the report acknowledged some action on the part of both governments, it determined that the plans were either not implemented properly or were ineffective. Neither country is eligible for the waiver that has kept them off Tier 3 for the past two years.

President Barack Obama has 90 days to determine whether to apply sanctions against the 21 countries currently on the Tier 3 list. Sanctions could range from restricting aid to removing U.S. backing for loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Both countries have expressed frustration at the new ranking. Chinese news agency Xinhua said Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian ministry’s human rights envoy, called the decision a “politicization of the trafficking issue” and “arbitrary.” News agency Al Jazeera reported Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokeswoman for China, asking the United States to “stop making unilateral or arbitrary judgments of China.”

Activists commended Secretary of State John Kerry for being willing to downgrade powerful nations.

“Frankly, we expected a number of these countries to be upgraded for geopolitical reasons,” said David Abramowitz, director of the U.S.-based Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking. “The Trafficking in Persons report is only effective when it’s honest.”

John Sifton of Human Rights Watch said it remains to be seen whether the White House will implement sanctions. He urged the administration to do so unless the governments in question commit to fight trafficking.

The Trafficking in Persons report is one of several annual assessments issued by the State Department on human rights-related topics. Its rankings often ruffle diplomatic feathers. It is based on the actions governments take, rather than the scale of the problem in their country. There are 25 countries that could find themselves in the same position as Russia and China come next year’s report if governments fail to demonstrate they have a plan and the resources to address human trafficking.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy Tuesday


    George Washington Truett was a preacher in Dallas for 47 years. He once visited a wealthy West Texas rancher and had dinner in his huge ranch home.  After dinner, the rancher took Dr. Truett up to a veranda on top of his house, and lit up a big cigar. The sun was setting, and if you've ever been to West Texas , you know you can see a long way out there. The man pointed to the south toward some oil rigs and said, "I own everything in that direction as far as you can see." He pointed east toward some cotton fields and said, "And I own everything in that direction, too." He pointed north toward a huge herd of cattle and bragged, "And, preacher, I own everything as far as you can see in that direction." He turned to the west, and said, "And I own everything you can see in that direction, except the sun, of course."

    Dr. Truett turned to the man and pointed straight up the sky and said, "And how much do you own in that direction?"

    It's a sobering question for all of us.  We are surrounded constantly by the "things" of this world, and it is so easy to think that these "things" are the things that matter most -- a nice car, a nice home, nice clothes (and don't forget all the necessary electronic gadgets!).  And so, if we're not careful, we may seek to accumulate more and more, without regard to our relationship with God.  As the rich fool discovered in Luke 12, we will all one day be forced to recognize that the material things we have accumulated have no eternal value.

    Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

    How much do you own in that direction?

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Daily Smile: 
There was a man driving a pickup truck down a country road, when suddenly he was broad sided by a trailer truck. Some time went by, and the case got to court. The defense attorney said to the plaintiff, "How can you be suing my client now when you told a trooper after the accident that you felt fine?" 

The man replied, "Well sir, it was like this. We was drivin' down the road, mindin' our own business, when a big trailer truck came out of nowhere and creamed us. When I came to, I was in the ditch, and a trooper was pullin' up with his car. He looked at the hogs, and they was 'most dead, so he shot 'em. Then he looked at my dog, and he was hurt real bad, so he shot him. Then he came over to me and he said, 'How you feeling?'" "I said, I never felt better in my life."

In The News:
Britain's Girl Guides Drop Oath to God
For more than 100 years, Britain's Girl Guides -- the equivalent of American Girl Scouts -- took an oath to "love God and serve the King/Queen." But on Wednesday the movement announced it would scrap its oath to God in an attempt to broaden its appeal and attract children from secular, nonbelieving families, the Religion News Service reports. The controversial shake-up is seen by some as the biggest in the Girl Guides' history. Beginning in September, all new members who make the promise to be good and useful citizens will pledge an oath to "be true to myself and develop my beliefs" and "to serve my Queen (Elizabeth II) and my country." Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, says the decision to remove God from the oath of loyalty is wrong. "These values have their roots in a Christian outlook," she said. "Taking 'God' out of the promise denies the history and foundations of the movement without offering anything in its place, with the result that the organization will lose its distinctive ethos and end up meaning nothing." But Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said the new promise was decided after a consultation involving nearly 44,000 people. She said the reference to God sometimes "discouraged some girls and volunteers from joining," adding that the new wording would help the organization "reach out to girls and women who might not have considered guiding before, so that even more girls can benefit from everything guiding can offer." The Girl Guides in Australia dropped their allegiance to God and the Queen last year, agreeing to be true to themselves and their communities instead. Girl Scouts in the United States promise to "to serve God and my country," as do the Boy Scouts of America.

Egyptian Christian Leader Calls for Prayer Before Protests, Rallies
An Egyptian Christian leader has issued an urgent call for worldwide prayers concerning potential explosive rallies both for and against the presidency of Mohammed Morsi, Open Doors USA reports. "We Christians of Egypt who love our country and seek God's redemption for every soul are urging our dear brothers and sisters in the extended body of Christ all over the world to lift up our country before the throne and to create together a shield of prayers to stand against the great evil that is threatening to fall on Egypt in the coming days," writes "Michael," a Christian leader. In response to the call for nationwide protests against President Morsi, planned to take place June 30, multitudes of Egyptians rejecting Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood regime are planning to go to the streets in every city, town and village in rebellion one year after Morsi was sworn into office. The "Rebel" opposition movement -- through an army of volunteers -- has reportedly collected 15 million forms signed by Egyptians who have proclaimed their rejection of Morsi and his regime. In return, the Muslim Brotherhood has claimed to have collected millions of signatures to support Morsi as the legally elected president, and has called its followers to fill all major squares of Egypt on June 28, two days before the Rebel protest day. There are also reports that large demonstrations from other Islamic groups are planned for Friday, June 21.

Exodus International to Shut Down; Ministry President Apologizes to Gay Community
Exodus International, the 37-year-old ministry devoted to helping people deal with unwanted same-sex attraction, plans to shut down, the Christian Post reports. According to a press release, the Exodus board of directors unanimously voted to shut down the ministry after a year of prayer and dialogue. Local groups that were affiliated with the ministry will continue, though they will no longer be under the umbrella of Exodus. "We're not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change -- and they want to be heard," Exodus board member Tony Moore said. "Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we've ceased to be a living, breathing organism," said Alan Chambers, the ministry's president. "For quite some time we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical. ... From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we're all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal's older brother, trying to impose its will on God's promises, and make judgments on who's worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father -- to welcome everyone, to love unhindered." The announcement was made just one day after Chambers issued an apology to the gay community for the "trauma" he and the organization might have caused them. Exodus formerly promoted the idea that same-sex attraction could be reduced or eliminated through reparative therapy, a type of therapy that involves prayer and counseling. For years, many have decried reparative therapy as harmful, and last year Exodus disassociated itself with the practice in order to focus on a discipleship model of ministry.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Monday

The Truth

"Jesus answered ...'Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.'" John 18:37.

In order to understand absolute or universal truth-
- we must begin by defining truth.

Truth, according to the dictionary is-
- a conformity to fact or actuality;
- a statement proven to be or accepted as true.

Some people would say that there is no true reality-
- only perceptions and opinions.

Others would argue that there must be some absolute reality or truth.

In the spring of 2001, the collision of an American spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet caused both governments to blame each other.

The Americans felt certain that their version of the incident was true and, of course, the Chinese felt their version was correct.

Yet, by the very definition of truth, both could not be right.

So, if there can only be "truth" and not versions of truth-
- how is it that people from every religious persuasion have embraced universalism:
- the idea that every religion is equally valid and all men can get to God and heaven their own way?

Consider what Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father but through me."

If all religions are a valid way to God-
- then Jesus was not telling the truth.

And if Jesus was not telling the truth-
- He is not the only way.

Truth, by definition, means that one statement is true and a contradicting statement is false.

Either Jesus is truth or universalism is truth.
I believe Jesus!

Daily Smile: 
A man goes to the doctor and says, "Doc., everytime I drink coffee, I get terrible pains in my eye."

The doctor says, "Try taking the spoon out first."

In The News:
Upsurge in Attacks Signals Growing Islamist Threat in Niger
Four attacks within the last three weeks in Niger have raised the specter of a growing Islamist threat in the country, World Watch Monitor reports. In the latest attack on June 11, unidentified armed men attacked a paramilitary barracks on the outskirts of Niamey, the capital. Niger authorities have not made any announcement, but local media say there were no casualties and the attackers managed to flee. On May 23, two suicide attacks in the North of the country targeted a military base in Agadez and a French-run uranium mine in Arlit, respectively. Two Islamist groups active in Mali, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) and the Signed-in-Blood Battalion, claimed responsibility for the attacks, which left 36 dead – most of them soldiers -- and threatened further violence. Niger president Mahamadou Issoufou said the insurgents came from neighboring southern Libya. On June 1, more than 20 prisoners escaped from the main detention center in Niamey, the capital, following an attack which Niger authorities attributed to members of Boko Haram, an Islamist sect operating in neighboring Nigeria.

Philippines: Christians Forced to Flee Homes
One hundred sixty Christians were recently forced to flee their village after it was attacked by Muslim extremists, according to Voice of the Martyrs. The villages of Malipayon, Saban of Barnagay, Maybula and New Bunawan were attacked at about 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 1. An estimated 300 armed men fired more than five mortars into the village. The Christians who fled the attack are currently unable to return to the village because they fear that the Muslims will kill them and burn their homes, and are in need of food, mosquito nets, bed sheets, sleeping mats and medicine. Many have become ill because they were not able to take their bedding or medicines when they left their homes. VOM has provided the Christians with basic necessities such as food, mosquito nets, blankets and medicine.

Christians in Iran Don't Expect Positive Changes After Rouhani Election
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Hassan Rouhani won Iran’s presidential election over the weekend. President Rouhani often is portrayed as being a “moderate” Iranian cleric, but because of his loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Open Doors contacts from the region don’t expect positive changes.

“The Christians I recently spoke with seemed rather apathetic about the elections,” says an Open Doors field worker in response to the election of the new president. “They don’t seem to expect significant changes in Iran’s policies against Christians.”

This is corroborated by an Iranian believer who told Open Doors last week, “In your Western media, the candidates are divided into conservatives and reformers, as if there is a choice, but let me tell you this: there is no choice. All of the candidates are from Ayatollah Khamenei’s team.”
Christians, as well as minorities such as Baha’i and Dervishes, have seen an intensification of religious persecution in Iran since 2005, when former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected for the first time. Ethnic Persians are by definition Muslim, and therefore, ethnic Persian Christians are by seen as apostates. But even officially registered churches of the Armenian and Assyrian groups in Iran face harsh treatment when conducting activities in Farsi, the country’s national tongue.
In pre-election meetings, Rouhani seemed intent to transform the damaged relations between Iran and the West and called for the release of political prisoners. In the theocratic country of Iran it is yet to be seen how much latitude the new president will have under the rule of Ayatollah Khamenei.

The field worker comments: “The question is can Rouhani make a change? At least he is an intellectual, who graduated in the United Kingdom and has called for less confrontational relations with the West. I guess we just have to see in order to know, according to Iranian standards, how moderate he is.”

It is too early for Iranian Christians to know if they should be encouraged by the election of Rouhani.

"I really don’t know what will be next,” the Iranian believer said after the elections. “I pray for a lasting joy for all Iranians, freedom for prisoners of conscience, comfort for the victims of political violence, justice, liberty, equality and prosperity for the future of our land.”

Iran is ranked No. 8 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians around the world.

U.N. Seeks Host Countries for Syrian Refugees
The United Nations is asking the United States and Europe to take in thousands of Syrian refugees, CBN News reports. Since the beginning of Syria's civil war, more than 1.5 million Syrians have fled the country to seek refuge, and U.N. officials think that number could reach 3.5 million by the end of the year. According to spokesman Adrian Edwards, the U.N. is seeking to relocate 10,000 refugees. Edwards told the Associated Press last week that "resettlement is only one of the tools we use and tends to apply to a very small number of highly vulnerable individuals of any refugee population." Germany has already agreed to take in half; Edwards says the United States and Germany usually offer the most help. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happy Sunday

"What is a Child?"

A child is someone with the energy of an atom, the subtlety of a bulldozer, and an imagination that would challenge the creative effort of the most able science-fiction writer. 

A child, unless he is asleep, is in constant motion. He is a noisy, restless, squirming bundle of energy. But, for all his exuberance, a child is the most sensitive of God's creations. 

A child thrives when time is taken to answer his many questions, when he is encouraged to develop his many talents, and, most important, when an untiring effort is made to help him broaden his own reasoning powers. But each time that he is brushed aside, or ignored, as if consideration and justice were reserved solely for grown-ups, he wilts a little.

A child is notorious for being inattentive, forgetful, and - that most grievous fault - a daydreamer. If allowed to use his imagination, he will explore and travel a universe of concepts, which will enrich and become a part of his life. If squelched and repeatedly reminded to be "practical," he will eventually retire to his own little world.

A child can consume much of your time. He can try your patience. He can exhaust your energy. But what greater reward for all your effort than to see his face radiant with a sense of accomplishment: the discovery that he has it in his power to manipulate a whole new world of knowledge and ideas.
- Mathew

Daily Smile:
Q. Who takes care of the farm when the farmer is sick?

A. The pharmacist

In The News:
Iran Convicts Six Christian Converts

Six Iranian converts to Christianity were convicted of crimes related to their membership in a house church, according to World Watch Monitor. Mohabat News, which reports on news of Christians inside Iran, published a report on June 16 claiming that four men, a woman and her teenaged son were convicted by a Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, in southwestern Iran. The four men were found guilty of attending a house church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the Iranian regime and disrupting national security, Mohabat reported. The news service identified the men as Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Homayoun Shokouhi, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Koorosh) and Vahid Hakkani. Each was sentenced to 44 months in prison. Hossein and Shokouhi each received an additional eight months. Also convicted was Fariba Nazemina, who is the wife of Shokouhi, and her son, Nima Shokouhi. Mohabat did not specify the crimes for which the mother and son were found guilty, but reported that each received a suspended two-year prison sentence.

House Approves Bill Banning Most Abortions After 20 Weeks

The Republican-led House on Tuesday passed a far-reaching anti-abortion bill that conservatives saw as a milestone in their 40-year campaign against legalized abortion, Fox News reports. The legislation, sparked by the murder conviction of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, would restrict almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, defying laws in most states that allow abortions up to when the fetus is considered viable, usually considered to be around 24 weeks. It mirrors 20-week abortion ban laws passed some states and lays further groundwork for the ongoing legal battle that abortion foes hope will eventually result in forcing the Supreme Court to reconsider the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal. The bill passed 228-196, with six Democrats voting for it and six Republicans voting against it. In the short term, however, the bill will go nowhere; the Democrat-led Senate plans to ignore the bill and the White House has already issued a veto threat.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Happy Saturday

Continue in Prayer
"And there was Anna, a prophetess . . . which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day" (Luke 2:36, 37).

No doubt by praying we learn to pray, and the more we pray the oftener we can pray, and the better we can pray. He who prays in fits and starts is never likely to attain to that effectual, fervent prayer which availeth much.

Great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must go to work to obtain it. Let us never imagine that Abraham could have interceded so successfully for Sodom if he had not been all his lifetime in the practice of communion with God.
Jacob's all-night at Peniel was not the first occasion upon which he had met his God. We may even look upon our Lord's most choice and wonderful prayer with his disciples before His Passion as the flower and fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His often rising up a great while before day to pray.

If a man dreams that he can become mighty in prayer just as he pleases, he labors under a great mistake. The prayer of Elias which shut up heaven and afterwards opened its floodgates, was one of long series of mighty prevailings with God. Oh, that Christian men would remember this! Perseverance in prayer is necessary to prevalence in prayer.
Those great intercessors, who are not so often mentioned as they ought to be in connection with confessors and martyrs, were nevertheless the grandest benefactors of the Church; but it was only by abiding at the mercy-seat that they attained to be such channels of mercy to men. We must pray to pray, and continue in prayer that our prayers may continue. --G. H.. Spurgeon

Daily Smile: 
A husband and wife were at a party chatting with some friends when the subject of marriage counseling came up. "Oh! We’ll never need that. My husband and I have a great relationship," the wife explained. "He was a communications major in college, and I majored in theater arts.

He communicates really well, and I just act like I'm listening."

In The News:
Military to Begin Women Combat Training by 2015

The U.S. military is making plans to integrate women into combat roles, including special operations, CBN News reports. Under the new rules, women could start training as Army Rangers by mid-2015 and Navy SEALs a year later. Women and men would be required to meet the same physical and mental standards to qualify for certain infantry, armor, commando and other front-line positions. The Navy intends to open up its Riverine force and begin training women in July. Women make up about 14 percent of the 1.4 million active U.S. military personnel; more than 280,000 women have been sent to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or neighboring nations.

Syria: Conditions for Christians in Aleppo Continue to Deteriorate

After the opposition fighters in Syria in the beginning of June lost their stronghold in the city of Al Qusayr, many in Aleppo fear that this biggest city of Syria will be the next battlefield, World Watch Monitor reports. "Aleppo is under siege by gangs and fanatic rebels," an Open Doors USA contact says. Churches partnering with Open Doors continue to help the neediest people in the city, but face challenges in supplying the internally displaced people and the needy families of their congregations with food. Samir, a volunteer in a church in Aleppo, explains: "There are times that the opposition fighters are not allowing food or vegetables to enter the parts of the city where the government forces are ruling. They only let food pass when taxes are paid. This means an extreme rise of the prices of food and the daily needs of the people." Open Doors contact Samuel adds: "The situation doesn’t improve. People talk a lot about the war and expect more war is coming." He says that Christians "are not in a good mood. We pray for a solution, but it seems it is going to be very bad. People are afraid. Especially now the head of church isn’t here; there is still no news about our kidnapped bishop. People want to leave, but there is no way out. People are afraid of being kidnapped when they think of leaving the city by car or bus."

Pew Report: U.S. Media Heavily Support Gay Marriage View

A new report by the Pew Research Center found that U.S. media largely focused on publishing stories with more supportive views of same-sex marriage than the opposing position between the period of March 18 to May 12, according to the Christian Post. "The findings show how same-sex marriage supporters have had a clear message and succeeded in getting that message across all sectors of mainstream media," Pew summarized. As many as 47 percent of the 500 stories examined from March -- which was a week prior to the Supreme Court hearings on the issue -- had more supportive statements on same-sex marriage than opposing views by at least a 2-to-1 margin. Another 44 percent had roughly an equal mix of both viewpoints, while only 9 percent focused more on statements supporting traditional marriage. In total, news stories with more statements in support of gay marriage exceeded those supporting traditional marriage by a margin close to 5-to-1. Pew identified that most arguments in favor of same-sex marriage tried to paint it as a civil rights issue, while those opposing a change in the definition of marriage noted that it could lead to negative consequences for society. The Huffington Post was identified as one of the news sites that featured a large number of gay-marriage-supporting stories, with 62 percent of its 365 stories filled with statements of support for same-sex marriage, which Pew says is close to the level of support reported on LGBT sites. Social networking outlets like Twitter, on the other hand, displayed a more fair public debate on the issue. Twitter postings on gay marriage were almost evenly split between support and opposition, which Pew says is more closely reflective of public opinion than what the news media suggests.

Marriage Keeps Kids Out of Poverty
In 1965, the U.S. Department of Labor produced a report arguing that "the decline of the black nuclear family would significantly impede blacks' progress toward economic and social equality." The document, known as the Moynihan Report, stirred heated controversy. This year, The Urban Institute revisited the subject, WORLD reports. The new study again focused on the African-American community and its disproportionately high poverty rate, and once again, it found that increasing single-parent households lead to poverty -- but now the percentage of black children born to unmarried mothers is three times higher than it was in the 1960s. The share of white children living without fathers has also increased, but rates remain significantly higher among blacks. In 2009, nearly three-quarters of African-American children were born outside of marriage, resulting in 40 percent of black children living below the poverty line. Regardless of race, single-parent families are far more likely to live in poverty, with four of every 10 single-mother families in poverty, and only one of 12 two-parent homes in poverty. Another study by the Heritage Foundation found that most poor children are from single-parent families. The new Urban Institute study gives a sobering perspective: "Over the past five decades, the statistics that so alarmed Moynihan in the 1960s have only grown worse, not only for blacks, but for whites and Hispanics as well." Things are bad, but they don’t have to stay that way: marriage, which is available to everyone, drops the probability of child poverty by 82 percent.