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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why Am I Here?

          Have you ever looked up into the night sky and asked "Why am I here?" If you have, you're certainly not alone—most people, if not everyone, have had these thoughts at one time or another. If you had to answer that question right now, would you say "To be a good parent" or "To find a cure for a disease" or "Because I'm a good athlete" or "To make others happy" or possibly "I don't know"? Whatever your answer is, the fact that we ask "Why am I here?" reveals something very important about us. It shows that we have a sense that we have a purpose—that there is more to life than simply what we can see or touch or taste or hear.
          Think about this: have you ever seen an animal—a dog or cat, or even a chimpanzee—wondering about the meaning of life? Granted, you can't tell what an animal is thinking, but have you ever seen an animal pray, or construct a temple, or make an idol, or kneel in worship? Of course not! On the other hand, every human culture involves the worship of something. Why is this? The reason is simply that animals do not have what all people possess—a spirit. Our God-given spirit is what gives us the ability to know and worship the One who has created us and loves us.
          Our spirit is no less a part of us than are our bodies and minds. Sadly, though, we become so good at drowning out our spirit that we seldom notice it at all. We flood our senses with music and movies and food and drink; we flood our minds with work and school. Then, when our spirit reminds us "There is something you need," we often try in vain to meet the emptiness within us with the philosophy "Eat, drink, and be merry." Sometimes we think "If I only had more money, then I could be happy." But many wealthy and famous people have tried to find happiness and fulfillment through every luxury and every pleasure that money can afford, only to end up more unhappy and miserable than they had been before. This is because until we address our spiritual needs, we cannot possibly be fulfilled.
          So what do we need? Well, if your car wasn't running right, you would look in the owner's manual, or take it to the repair garage. You certainly wouldn't take it to the grocery store or beauty salon for a tune-up! The same goes for us: we need to go straight to the source and see what God's "owner's manual"—the Bible—says about His purpose in creating us. There God clearly states, "I have created [people] for My glory" (Isaiah 43:7).
          Naturally, we all live for our own glory. In order to live for the glory of God we need a newspiritual life, purpose, and nature from God. The "Manual" says the problem is that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). It also says, "The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the inner depths of his heart" (Proverbs 20:27). God uses the spirit He has put inside us to reveal the darkness of our sin and produce a sense of our need of salvation and a relationship with the One who has created us. For this to happen, our sins must be washed away.
          God loves us so much that He sent Jesus into this world to take our place—to bear the punishment for our sins, so we don't have to. The Bible says "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9).
          Trust Jesus as your Savior, and all your sins will be washed away, and you can begin a relationship with God that will result in living for His glory. Once you are saved, you can ask with the apostle Paul, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then, by following God's guidance through His Spirit and His Word, you will no longer wonder "Why am I here?" but rather live a life of meaning and purpose, with the joy and satisfaction that comes from knowing and fulfilling His plan for you. mwtb.org

Justification by Faith

by John MacArthur (gty.org)
The Reformation doctrine of justification by faith is, and has always been, the number one target of the enemy's attack. It provides the foundation of the bridge that reconciles God and man--without that key doctrine, Christianity falls. But the doctrine that the Reformers so painstakingly clarified, even spilled blood over, has become so muddled today that many Protestants barely recognize it. Sadly, there are some who react against a clear presentation of justification, calling it nothing more than useless hair-splitting.
The superficial interests of the seeker church have caused doctrinal issues to be downplayed and deemphasized--what "unchurched" person wants to come hear about theology? Under the influence of pragmatism, the seeker-sensitive movement has traded God-honoring doctrinal clarity and biblical purity for entertainment and motivational speeches.
Social and political concerns have brought evangelicals and Catholics together in recent years to unite against the forces of secularism. Under the influence of ecumenism, it's difficult for either group to remember what it was that divided them in the first place.
The pragmatists and ecumenicists are aided in their forgetfulness by new theological movements that redefine justification in more Catholic terms. Under the influence of liberalism and postmodernism, proponents of the New Perspective on Paul, the Emergent Church, and others have so confused and redefined the doctrine of justification that it has become shrouded in darkness once again.
The Christian church today is in danger of returning to the Dark Ages. The seeker movement has Christianity turning in its Bibles; the ecumenical movement urges Christians to use worldly means to accomplish temporal ends; and current theological movements look through the lens of philosophy--Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism--rather than Scripture. The departure from sola scriptura has led to the departure from sola fide--justification by faith alone.
Back to the Beginning
In the 1500s a fastidious monk, who by his own testimony "hated God," was studying Paul's epistle to the Romans. He couldn't get past the first half of Romans 1:17: "[In the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith" (KJV).
One simple, biblical truth changed that monk's life--and ignited the Protestant Reformation. It was the realization that God's righteousness could become the sinner's righteousness--and that could happen through the means of faith alone. Martin Luther found the truth in the same verse he had stumbled over, Romans 1:17: "Therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith" (KJV, emphasis added).
Luther had always seen "the righteousness of God" as an attribute of the sovereign Lord by which He judged sinners--not an attribute sinners could ever possess. He described the breakthrough that put an end to the theological dark ages:
I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that "the just shall live by his faith." Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the "justice of God" had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven.

Justification by faith was the great truth that dawned on Luther and dramatically altered the church. Because Christians are justified by faith alone, their standing before God is not in any way related to personal merit. Good works and practical holiness do not provide the grounds for acceptance with God. God receives as righteous those who believe, not because of any good thing He sees in them--not even because of His own sanctifying work in their lives--but solely on the basis of Christ's righteousness, which is reckoned to their account. "To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness" (Romans 4:5). That is justification.
Declared Righteous: What Actually Changes?
In its theological sense, justification is a forensic, or purely legal, term. It describes what God declares about the believer, not what He does to change the believer. In fact, justification effects no actual change whatsoever in the sinner's nature or character. Justification is a divine judicial edict. It changes our status only, but it carries ramifications that guarantee other changes will follow. Forensic decrees like this are fairly common in everyday life.
When I was married, for example, Patricia and I stood before the minister (my father) and recited our vows. Near the end of the ceremony, my father declared, "By the authority vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you man and wife." Instantly we were legally husband and wife. Whereas seconds before we had been an engaged couple, now we were married. Nothing inside us actually changed when those words were spoken. But our status changed before God, the law, and our family and friends. The implications of that simple declaration have been lifelong and life-changing (for which I am grateful). But when my father spoke those words, it was a legal declaration only.
Similarly, when a jury foreman reads the verdict, the defendant is no longer "the accused." Legally and officially he instantly becomes either guilty or innocent--depending on the verdict. Nothing in his actual nature changes, but if he is found not guilty he will walk out of court a free person in the eyes of the law, fully justified.
In biblical terms, justification is a divine verdict of "not guilty--fully righteous." It is the reversal of God's attitude toward the sinner. Whereas He formerly condemned, He now vindicates. Although the sinner once lived under God's wrath, as a believer he or she is now under God's blessing.
Justification is more than simple pardon; pardon alone would still leave the sinner without merit before God. So when God justifies He imputes divine righteousness to the sinner (Romans 4:22-25). Christ's own infinite merit thus becomes the ground on which the believer stands before God (Romans 5:191 Corinthians 1:30Philippians 3:9). So justification elevates the believer to a realm of full acceptance and divine privilege in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, because of justification, believers not only are perfectly free from any charge of guilt (Romans 8:33) but also have the full merit of Christ reckoned to their personal account (Romans 5:17). Here are the forensic realities that flow out of justification:

How Justification and Sanctification Differ
Justification is distinct from sanctification because in justification God does not make the sinner righteous; Hedeclares that person righteous (Romans 3:28Galatians 2:16). Notice how justification and sanctification are distinct from one another:
  • Justification imputes Christ's righteousness to the sinner's account (Romans 4:11b); sanctificationimparts righteousness to the sinner personally and practically (Romans 6:1-78:11-14).
  • Justification takes place outside sinners and changes their standing (Romans 5:1-2, sanctification is internal and changes the believer's state (Romans 6:19).
  • Justification is an event, sanctification a process.

Those two must be distinguished but can never be separated. God does not justify whom He does not sanctify, and He does not sanctify whom He does not justify. Both are essential elements of salvation.
Why differentiate between them at all? If justification and sanctification are so closely related that you can't have one without the other, why bother to define them differently? That question was the central issue between Rome and the Reformers in the sixteenth century, and it remains the main front in renewed attacks against justification.
Justification in Roman Catholic Doctrine
Roman Catholicism blends its doctrines of sanctification and justification. Catholic theology views justification as an infusion of grace that makes the sinner righteous. In Catholic theology, then, the ground of justification is something made good within the sinner--not the imputed righteousness of Christ.
The Council of Trent, Rome's response to the Reformation, pronounced anathema on anyone who says "that the [sinner] is justified by faith alone--if this means that nothing else is required by way of cooperation in the acquisition of the grace of justification." The Catholic council ruled "Justification ... is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just." So Catholic theology confuses the concepts of justification and sanctification and substitutes the righteousness of the believer for the righteousness of Christ.
What's the Big Deal?
The difference between Rome and the Reformers is no example of theological hair-splitting. The corruption of the doctrine of justification results in several other grievous theological errors.
If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete. Our standing before God is then based on subjective experience, not secured by an objective declaration. Justification can therefore be experienced and then lost. Assurance of salvation in this life becomes practically impossible because security can't be guaranteed. The ground of justification ultimately is the sinner's own continuing present virtue, not Christ's perfect righteousness and His atoning work.
What's so important about the doctrine of justification by faith alone? It is the doctrine upon which the confessing church stands or falls. Without it there is no salvation, no sanctification, no glorification--nothing. You wouldn't know it to look at the state of Christianity today, but it really is that important. gty.org

45 Signs That China Is Colonizing America

source: http://endoftheamericandream.com/
Article Link at Worldview Weekend

          Just because you were once the most powerful nation on earth does not mean that you will always be the most powerful nation on earth. Every single year, hundreds of billions of dollars leaves the United States and goes to China. This enormous transfer of wealth has had a dramatic effect on both countries. In case you haven't noticed, many of our formerly great manufacturing cities such as Detroit are rotting away while shining new factories and skyscrapers are going up all over China. If you go into any major retail store today and start turning over products, you will find that hundreds of them have been made in China and that very few of them have been made in America. As a nation, we buy far, far more from China than they buy from us. As a result, China is absolutely swimming in cash and they have been looking for things to do with all that money. One thing that China has done is loan the U.S. government over a trillion dollars and this has given the Chinese a tremendous amount of leverage over us. China has also started to buy up businesses, real estate and natural resources all over America. This kind of "economic colonization" is similar to what China has already been doing in Africa, South America and Australia. The formula is actually very simple. We send them our money and then they use it to buy us. With each passing day China's ownership over America grows, and it is frightening to think about where all of this could end.
          The following are 45 signs that China is colonizing America....
#1 It was recently announced that China's Dalian Wanda Group has bought U.S. movie theater chain AMC Entertainment for a whopping 2.6 billion dollars. This deal represents China's biggest corporate takeover of a U.S. firm ever.
#2 Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve announced that it has given approval for banks owned by the Chinese government to buy stakes in U.S.-owned banks.
#3 A few days ago Reuters reported that China is now able to completely bypass Wall Street and purchase U.S. debt directly from the U.S. Treasury Department.
#4 A recent investigation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services found more than one million counterfeit Chinese parts in the Department of Defense supply chain. How in the world could we be so stupid?
#5 After being bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, General Motors is currently involved in 11 joint ventures with companies owned by the Chinese government. The price for entering into many of these "joint ventures" was a transfer of "state of the art technology" from General Motors to the communist Chinese.
#6 A Chinese company known as "Sino-Michigan Properties LLC" has purchased 200 acres of land near the town of Milan, Michigan. The goal is to build a "China City" with artificial lakes, a Chinese cultural center and hundreds of housing units for Chinese citizens.
#7 As I reported on recently, corporations controlled by the Chinese government have been rapidly buying up U.S. oil and gas deposits worth billions of dollars.
#8 Chinese investors have been gobbling up real estate all over New York City. The following is from a recent Forbes article....
According to a recent report in the New York Times, investors from China are "snapping up luxury apartments" and are planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial and residential projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Chinese companies also have signed major leases at the Empire State Building and at 1 World Trade Center, the report said.
#9 The Chinese are also doing huge real estate deals in cities in the middle part of the country. The following example is from an article in the Toledo Blade....
Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., which has already purchased the nearby Docks restaurant complex for $2.15 million, put its $3.8 million offer to buy the southern 69 acres at the Marina District in East Toledo back on the table for approval by Toledo City Council. Additionally, Dashing Pacific Chairman Yuan Xiaohong, in a letter signed in Hangzhou, said the firm wants a two-year option to buy the decommissioned Toledo Edison power plant property on the site.
#10 According to ABC News, major road and bridge projects all over the United States are being built by Chinese companies. Meanwhile, there are millions upon millions of blue collar American workers that cannot find jobs. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent ABC News article....
In New York there is a $400 million renovation project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.
In California, there is a $7.2 billion project to rebuild the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.
In Alaska, there is a proposal for a $190 million bridge project.
These projects sound like steps in the right direction, but much of the work is going to Chinese government-owned firms.
"When we subsidize jobs in China, we're not creating any wealth in the United States," said Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
#11 The new World Trade Center tower is going to include glass that has been imported from China.
#12 The new Martin Luther King memorial on the National Mall was made in China.
#13 Check out this incredible photo which contrasts the decline of Detroit over the years with the amazing rise of Shanghai, China.
#14 A couple of years ago, a large Chinese company was considering building "a 10,000- to 30,000-acre technology zone for industry, retail centers and homes" just south of Boise, Idaho.
#15 Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion. That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.
#16 In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990 and more than 49,000 times larger than it was back in 1985.
#17 Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world's high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China's high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.
#18 America has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.
#19 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
#20 The U.S. spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States. Does that sound like "fair trade" to you?
#21 While we allow Chinese goods to freely flood our shores, China just keeps slapping new tariffs on American-made goods. According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China thanks to all the tariffs.
#22 According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day closed down in the United States during 2010.
#23 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month and more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
#24 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
#25 Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.
#26 In 2010, China produced more than twice as many automobiles as the United States did.
#27 In 2010, China produced 627 million metric tons of steel. The United States only produced 80 million metric tons of steel.
#28 In 2010, China produced 7.3 million metric tons of cotton. The United States only produced 3.4 million metric tons of cotton.
#29 Today, China produces nearly twice as much beer as the United States does.
#30 85 percent of all artificial Christmas trees are made in China.
#31 China is now the number one producer of wind and solar power on the entire globe.
#32 Chinese solar panel production was about 50 times larger in 2010 than it was in 2005.
#33 Right now, China is producing more than three times as much coal as the United States does.
#34 China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.
#35 According to author Clyde Prestowitz, China's number one export to the U.S. is computer equipment. According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, during 2010 the number one U.S. export to China was "scrap and trash".
#36 According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades.
#37 The United States had been the leading consumer of energy on the globe for about 100 years, but during the summer of 2010 China took over the number one spot.
#38 15 years ago, China was 14th in the world in published scientific research articles. But now, China is expected to pass the United States and become number one very shortly.
#39 China now awards more doctoral degrees in engineering each year than the United States does.
#40 China now possesses the fastest supercomputer on the entire planet.
#41 China now has the world's fastest train and the world's most extensive high-speed rail network.
#42 The Chinese economy has grown 7 times faster than the U.S. economy has over the past decade.
#43 The Chinese economy is projected to be larger than the U.S. economy by 2016.
#44 One economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.
#45 China now holds approximately 1.17 trillion dollars of U.S. government debt. If you were alive back when Jesus was born and you had spent a million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent that much money by now.
          In compiling the statistics above, I relied heavily on two articles that I previously authored. You can find them here and here. Please share this list with as many people as you can. It is imperative that the American people get educated about why our economy is falling apart and about why there are so few jobs. Thanks to the foolishness of our politicians, today American workers have to compete directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the globe where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
          Do you want your standard of living to continue to descend toward the level of a communist worker making about a dollar an hour? Do you want tens of millions of American workers to be unemployed indefinitely as millions of good jobs continue to leave this country? If not, you better stand up and say something while you still can. The greatest economy the world has ever seen is falling to pieces right in front of our eyes and most Americans are dead asleep.
Is there any hope for us?
Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com 
Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button. 

Turn Out The Lights - The Largest U.S. Cities Are Becoming Cesspools Of Filth, Decay And Wretchedness

source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/
Article Link at Worldview Weekend
Turn Out The Lights - The Largest US Cities Are Becoming Cesspools Of Filth, Decay And Wretchedness Photo By Angelique DuLong

          Once upon a time, the largest U.S. cities were the envy of the entire world. Sadly, that is no longer the case. Sure, there are areas of New York City, Boston, Washington and Los Angeles that are still absolutely beautiful but for the most part our major cities are rapidly rotting and decaying. Cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis and Oakland were all once places where middle class American workers thrived and raised their families. Today, all of those cities are rapidly being transformed into cesspools of filth, decay and wretchedness. Millions of good jobs have left our major cities in recent decades and poverty has absolutely exploded. Basically, you can turn out the lights because the party is over. In fact, some major U.S. cities are literally turning out the lights. In Detroit, about 40 percent of the streetlights are already broken and the city cannot afford to repair them. So Mayor Bing has come up with a plan to cut the number of operating streetlights almost in half and leave vast sections of the city totally in the dark at night. I wonder what that will do to the crime rate in the city. But don't look down on Detroit too much, because what is happening in Detroit will be happening where you live soon enough.
          A recent Bloomberg article described Mayor Bing's plan to eliminate nearly half of Detroit's streetlights....
Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.
As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can�ft afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing�fs plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.
          What this means is that there are going to be a lot of neighborhoods that will have the lights turned off permanently.
So which neighborhoods will those be?
          According to one top Detroit official, "distressed areas" are going to be on the low end of the totem pole....
�gYou have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,�h said Chris Brown, Detroit�fs chief operating officer. �gWe�fre not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas.�h
          City officials know that they cannot force people to move from "distressed areas", so they are going to encourage them to leave by cutting off services. But turning off the lights is not the only way that Detroit is trying to save money. Recently, officials in Detroit announced that all police stations in the city will be closed to the public for 16 hours a day.
          It is so sad to see what is happening to what was once such a great city. Back in the old days, Detroit had a teeming middle class population.
          Today, 53.6% of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
          Back in the old days, Detroit was a shining example of what America was doing right.
          Today, 47 percent of all people living in the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.
          Back in the old days, middle class neighborhoods sprouted like mushrooms all over Detroit. Today, the median price of a home in Detroit is just $6000Needless to say, crime is exploding in Detroit and many families live in constant fear.
          Many have taken justice into their own hands. Justifiable homicide in Detroit rose by a staggering 79 percent during 2011.
But Detroit is only one example of a national trend.
          For example, a recent article by Jim Quinn entitled "More Than 30 Blocks Of Grey And Decay" described the filth, decay and wretchedness in West Philadelphia. Quinn refers to the drive through this area as "the 30 Blocks of Squalor"....
The real unemployment rate exceeds 50%, murder is the number one industry, with drugs a close second.
As you drive down the 30 Blocks of Squalor you meet the ghost of Squalor future for West Chester Pike. The population along this corridor is ignorant, dependent, and represents the dregs of our society.
          But this area was once home to middle class families. There were once many beautiful homes in West Philly, but most of them are now either gone or are crumbling badly. According to Quinn, the physical decay is matched by the social decay....
The once proud homes are in shambles. Bags of garbage dot the landscape. Most of the people who live here are parasites on society. Personal responsibility, work ethic, education and marriage are unknown concepts in this community. Even though more than 50% of the students in West Philly drop out of high school and the SAT scores of West Philly High students are lower than whale ****, the bankrupt school district spent $70 million to build a new high school/prison to babysit derelicts and future prison inmates. The windows do not have steel bars yet, as the architect was smart to put all windows at least eight feet above street level.
          One of the great things about the article is that Quinn pointed out how the retail stores in the area reflect the things that the population of the community truly values....
The Chestnut Plaza truly represents what is important to this community. This Squalor Center, as opposed to Power Center, includes a video porn store, cash checking/payday loan outlet, smoke shop, donut shop, Laundromat, and liquor store. No need for a wedding ring store or resume writing service.
          Sadly, there are communities like this all over the country. As I wrote about recently, the entire state of California is slowly being transformed into one gigantic cesspool. Yes, there are still a few areas where the wealthy play that are absolutely beautiful. If you stay in the wealthy enclaves you might never even know that the rest of the state is badly decaying.
          There are really good reasons why millions of people are moving out of California. For example, a reader named Peter left the following comment on one of my recent articles....
I am a native Californian ( Im 61) and have lived here all but two years of my life. I can tell you absolutely that this state is not what it was 30 years ago. Cities like San Francisco have gone from being world-class tourist attractions to national disgraces. Los Angeles is a third-world city. San Diego is bankrupt. Even Silicon Valley, despite the recent improvements, is no way what it was in the 90��s. The retail trade is all but dead in this state. Even high-end malls like Rodeo Drive and Ocean Ave in Carmel are full of vacancies.
          Throughout the state, good businesses are shutting down and hard working families are selling their homes. The void that is being created is being filled by crime and gangs. The following is a comment that a reader named Roberta left on that same article....
Yep we lived in Oroville CA back in 2007 and it was just starting to get bad then. Montgomery Wards closed, then McMahan�fs furniture closed and NOW McDonalds is closing this July along with a grand slam of well known businesses are all folding and pulling out of Oroville or folding lock-stock-n-barrell. It�fs turning into a gang town with wide spread rampant drug use. I feel sorry for family and friends that are still their clinging onto the hope that thnigs �gwill�h get better. But I don�ft think so.
          Perhaps things are still quite good where you live.
          Perhaps you think that you will be immune from all this.
          Sadly, the truth is that this is just the beginning.
          The U.S. economy is actually performing much better than it should be thanks to the trillions of borrowed dollars that Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress have been spending into the economy. When our debt-fueled prosperity ends, a lot more cities are going to end up looking just like Detroit.
          America cannot prosper without middle class jobs, and those kinds of jobs are rapidly disappearing. Just this week HP announced that it is going to lay off 27,000 workersWe are losing middle class jobs at a time when we desperately need more of them. Last year, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor's degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed. Yet our politicians continue to pursue the same foolish policies over and over. So things are going to continue to get worse and America is going to continue to descend into squalor.
          You better get ready.
Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com 

Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.

Lloyd's of London preparing for euro collapse

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph he also revealed that Lloyd's could have to take writedowns on its £58.9bn investment portfolio if the eurozone collapses.
Europe accounts for 18pc of Lloyd's £23.5bn of gross written premiums, mostly in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The market also has a fledgling operation in Poland.
Lloyd's move comes as a major Franco-German provider of credit insurance for eurozone trade, Euler Hermes, said it was considering reducing cover for trade with Greece because of the risk the country might leave the eurozone.
When a company goes bust, it is often sparked by withdrawal of credit insurance for suppliers wanting to trade with it.
A spokesman for Euler Hermes, Bettina Sattler, told Bloomberg: "The outcome of the new elections in June remains highly uncertain. Consequently, the situation is further deteriorating. The risk of Greece exiting the eurozone has been revived.
"In light of the recent developments, Euler Hermes will most probably have to switch to a more prudent approach. [We have] maintained a high level of cover for [our] customers until today. But now we are confronted with a changing situation."
Lloyd's fears are likely to be shared by a number of European businesses, which are watching developments in Greece.
On Saturday, Juergen Fitschen, co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank, described Greece as a "failed state" run by corrupt politicians.
"I'm quite worried about Europe," Mr Ward said in one of the first admissions by a major UK business leader of the scale of the crisis that would be prompted by a eurozone collapse.
"With all the concerns around the eurozone at the moment, we've got to be careful doing business in Europe and there are a lot of question marks over writing business in the future in euros.
"I don't think that if Greece exited the euro it would lead to the collapse of the eurozone, but what we need to do is prepare for that eventuality."
Mr Ward says Lloyd's had been working hard on contingency planning and had the capability to switch settlement of European underwriting from euros to other currencies.
"We've got multi-currency functionality and we would switch to multi-currency settlement if the Greeks abandoned the euro and started using the drachma again," he said.
Lloyd's has de-risked its asset portfolio in recent years, with investments split equally into cash, corporate bonds and government bonds, mostly in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. "We have de-risked the asset portfolio as much as possible," he said.
The contingency planning comes as German politicians piled the pressure on Greece ahead of elections on June 17.
A conservative member of German chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet said today Germany would not "pour money into a bottomless pit".
On Sunday, Swiss central bank chief Thomas Jordan admitted his country is drawing up an action plan in the event of the euro's collapse. Article Link

The Death of Reason, the Burial of Faith

A More Perfect Union:
          Radical New Testament critic John Dominic Crossan, touted by his publisher as being “widely regarded as the foremost historical Jesus scholar of our time,” has written a new book called The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus. The title is an apt description of his stilted premise, and I found the book both disturbing and astonishing.
          For more than 30 years I’ve spent my time in courtrooms as a trial lawyer, a profession that involves evaluating evidence. Such an enterprise always involves an attempt to recreate a recent historical set of facts: the murder of an unfortunate victim, the circumstances of an automobile collision, a business deal gone sour. Getting to the truth is important, and therefore the way lawyers tell the “story” of those events in court both requires and deserves codified rules of evidence.
          Let’s examine the most important story about the most important events in world history: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One would assume any scholar’s treatment of that subject should be held to the most exacting historical standard possible.
          Crossan’s book is astonishing because he concludes all four Gospels are actually a collection of parables about Jesus—make-believe metaphors rather than facts. So, why should we believe them? Because, he says, Jesus was a historical figure even if we cannot know much about Him.
         What we do know, he says, is that Jesus lived a remarkable life, having “cooperated fully with God.” Thus he concludes, “And if one, why not others?” Therefore, Jesus’ life—a mere vapor of uncertainty, according to the author—has only the power of some vague moral example for us today. And apparently, Crossan thinks we should be content with that.
          But Christians are not, nor should they be. Crossan’s book focuses on the literary form of the parable, which our Savior indeed used as a teaching tool. But Crossan uses it to explain everything the New Testament says about the life of Christ, reducing the Gospels and Epistles to mere religious fiction about an unknown, but intriguing, historical figure.
          As a novelist, when I devise a plot-line and fill it in with characters and dialogue, I know I am writing fiction, even if some elements were inspired by actual events. Any sane writer knows the difference. And so did the New Testament writers.
          What Crossan describes Image as a collection of mere religious parables resulted in the authors being beheaded, burned alive, and crucified upside down—clearly a price no writer is willing to pay for works of mere fiction.
          I am constantly amazed brilliant men like John Dominic Crossan are willing to go to the most extraordinary lengths to deny the plain words of Scripture. The New Testament writers emphasized that their descriptions of Christ’s life were based on eyewitness evidence, not moral metaphors. Luke explained his Gospel was based on facts “handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses” and that it was the result of his “having investigated everything carefully from the beginning,” so the reader could “know the exact truth” about Jesus (Lk. 1:2–4, NASB).
          The apostle Peter stressed he and the other disciples were “eyewitnesses” and boldly declared their accounts were not “cunningly devised fables” (2 Pet. 1:16). The apostle Paul urged early Christians to avoid following myths and fables (1 Tim. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:4; Ti. 1:14).
Pc0100100          It could not be clearer: These men, moved by the Holy Spirit and transformed by their encounters with Jesus Christ, were not creating some first-century version ofThe Da Vinci Code. Their testimonies are corroborated both by their high regard for the standards of evidence and the risk to their own lives.
          Sadly, Crossan is like many other smart scholars who insist on seeking natural explanations for the miraculous life of Christ. As a result, he used the obtuse, complex formulas of reason within his own discipline to, in effect, put reason to death.
          Another intellectual committed the same error. Jesus told Nicodemus only through faith in Him and by the spiritual new birth that results can anyone see the Kingdom of God. “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” Jesus asked (Jn. 3:10). Nicodemus, no doubt a brilliant teacher, later had a turnaround of faith. He risked his reputation by protesting the unfairness of Jesus’ trial and then risked his life by participating in His anointed burial. We can only pray for a similar change of mind and heart for all the modern-day Nicodemuses out there. foi.org
Craig L. Parshall is senior vice president and general counsel for the National Religious Broadcasters.

Christian Zionism—The Real Story

EDITORIAL from The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry Inc. - May/June issue of Israel My Glory (foi.org)
          The heat is up on the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma. The current offensive touts a single state that eliminates Israel in favor of a Palestinian fiefdom allowing a smattering of Jews to remain as a disenfranchised minority.
          Adli Sadeq, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to India, has been quoted as saying both the terrorist Hamas organization and Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, utterly reject Israel’s right to exist:
          They [Israelis] have a common mistake, or misconception by which they fool themselves, assuming that Fatah accepts them and recognizes the right of their state to exist, and that it is Hamas alone that loathes them and does not recognize the right of this state to exist. They ignore the fact that this state, based on a fabricated [Zionist] enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist.
          Strange though it may seem, facsimiles of Sadeq’s declaration are showing up across the United States. At the “One State Conference” held in March at Harvard, anti-Israel academic elites and their acolytes declared Israel’s right to life null and void. Professor Susan M. Akram of Boston University’s School of Law articulated the essence of the hatefest:
          Israel’s claim of a state on the basis of exclusive and discriminatory rights to Jews, has never been juridically recognized. In other words, the concept of the Jewish people as a national entity with extraterritorial claims has never been recognized under international law.
          Closer to home for Zionist Christians were remarks made at the 2012 National Penn Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Conference held at the University of Pennsylvania. Among the bevy of radical speakers was the Reverend Grayland Hagler, a Protestant minister and firebrand activist known for rallying anti-Israel elements to “stand up together until we dismantle the State of Israel.” With such a predisposition to Israel’s destruction, it is not surprising he told a questioner, “One of the things I am constantly doing is trying to disengage Christians from Hebrew Scriptures.”
Facts About Zionist Christians
          Technically, anyone who believes God’s promises to the Jewish people are irrevocable is a biblical Zionist. Furthermore, you cannot disengage the Hebrew Scriptures from the rest of the Bible. The Old and New Testaments compose a unit with unbreakable continuity—which is why Christian Zionists believe the following regarding Jewish rights:
          Biblically. It is beyond dispute that, if you accept the integrity of biblical revelation, you cannot deny Israel’s central role in the scheme of thingsWhen, for instance, God calls His promise of a land for the children of Abraham through Isaac “everlasting” (Gen. 17:7–8), He means everlasting. When He promises to bless those who bless Israel (12:1–3), He means precisely that. When He promises Israel will survive even under the most adverse circumstances (Ezek. 11:16–17; Rom. 11:2), there is no rational alternative for thinking otherwise.
          The Bible says the Jewish people would return to their ancient land and experience a national resurrection (Jer. 32:37–41); and, against all odds, that promise is now a reality. What God says, He means. And if these promises are reduced to allegories, myths, and old wives’ tales, faith collapses—and we are without hope.
Historically. To argue, as revisionists do, that there has never been an appreciable Jewish presence in the Middle East, that there were no Jewish Temples on Mount Moriah, or that the Holocaust was a Jewish contrivance is hardly worthy of serious comment. The stones cry out, and their message certifies the facts of both Jewish and world history.
Morally. In view of centuries of dispersions and persecutions, deprivation, and slaughter, it is incomprehensible to argue the Jewish people do not have a right to their homeland. With at least 50 Muslim majority countries in the world, to rant against one Jewish country is beyond reprehensible; it is morally criminal.
Legally. Those who love to hate Israel and congratulate themselves on motivating crusaders to dismantle the Jewish state’s so-called apartheid occupation forces have inoculated themselves with a heaping dose of willful ignorance. Israel is a legal member of the international community. Witness the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the San Remo Conference of 1920, the UN Partition Plan of 1947. Astonishingly, accusations that the Jewish people stole “Palestine,” a never-has-been national entity, carry more weight than the certified credentials of the Jewish state.
          Behind such twisted politics is a debilitating malignancy: anti-Semitism. Call Christian Zionists what you will, but they will never be associated with hatred of the Jewish people or denial of the Jewish right to the land of Israel. foi.org