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Sunday, January 20, 2013

The US and Russia may be plunging into a new Cold War

by Jimmy DeYoung 
Listen to Today's Program Play

        A report from a Russian expert reveals that the US and Russia are plunging into a Cold War as Washington's policies towards Moscow are the blame for the growing tensions between these two global superpowers, but Russian President Vladimir Putin's pent up anti-American sentiment may be coming to the surface as well as these tensions increase.

        The so-called reset between the two nations is dead as the Obama administration has never truly cooperated with Moscow, but instead they keep pushing the same policies imposed on the Russians for the last twenty years.

        This US policy of advancing NATO towards Russia's borders, building missile defense systems on Russia's borders, and interfering in Russia's internal politics have brought about these tensions that have plunged the two nations into another Cold War. 

Jimmy's Prophetic Prospective on the News

        As the US and Russia move into another Cold War, the end of times scenario found in God's prophetic Word also comes much better into focus.

        The battle between the US and Russia over adoption of Russian babies by American families is only the tip of the iceberg and evidence that these two superpowers are not getting along, this surfaced recently in the media. The supposed reset of relationship between the US and Russia did not work for whatever reason and now every issue gets bigger and bigger. The tensions between these two have intensified also because of the concerns that Russia is trying to regain its superpower status by making decisions that fly in the face of what is best for America. This said, any student of Bible prophecy has known for years that Russia plays a significant role in the last days.

        Ezekiel 38:2 is where you find the name Magog which will be the nation mentioned as the leader of an alignment of nations that will move to destroy the Jewish state of Israel. Magog dates back 4500 years ago to right after the Flood when God gave Noah and his sons the responsibility of re-peopling the earth, Genesis 9:1. In Genesis 10:1-2, Japheth has a son named Magog who raised his family, taught them a new language, and moved to a geographical location just North of the Caspian and Black Sea, a place called Russia today, Genesis 10:3-5. Ezekiel 38:12 foretells that Russia will be the leader of many nations who will attack Israel to annihilate the Jewish state.

        Russia is indeed that nation and Bible prophecy will indeed be fulfilled. prophecytoday.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hagel’s Controversial Foreign Connections and Backers

Hagel’s Controversial Foreign Connections and Backers  Two seemingly unrelated events—Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief and the sale of Al Gore’s Current TV to Al Jazeera—are coming together in  a way that illustrates the role that the foreign propaganda channel can and will play if Congress lets the television deal go through......

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Truth Is Rational

by John MacArthur - gty.org
The Truth Is RationalAs Christians we oppose rationalism (the idea that human reason alone — apart from any supernatural revelation– can discover truth). But Christianity is by no means hostile to rationality. We believe the truth is logical; it is coherent; it is intelligible. Not only can truth be known rationally; it cannot be known at all if we abandon rationality.
Irrationality is an assault on the Scripture and the intent of God. When God gave the Bible, He meant for it to be understood. But it can be understood only by those who apply their minds to it rationally. Contrary to what many assume, the meaning of Scripture is not something that comes to us through mystical means. It is not a spiritual secret that must be uncovered by some arcane or arbitrary method. Its true meaning may be understood only by those who approach it rationally and sensibly.
It’s not as if we can make the words mean anything we want them to mean, so that whatever connotation we impose on the words becomes the Word of God. Only the true interpretation of the text is the authentic Word of God, and any other interpretation is simply not what God is saying. Remember, God’s Word is objective truth revealed, and therefore it has a rational meaning. That meaning, and that meaning alone, is the truth. Getting it right is of supreme importance.
That is why it is so critical that we interpret Scripture carefully in order to understand it correctly. It is a rational process, not a mystical or whimsical one.
Is it a spiritual process? Absolutely. It starts with the understanding that Scripture is internally self-consistent. Therefore as we compare Scripture with Scripture, the clear parts explain the more difficult parts. The more we study, the more light is shed on our understanding. It is hard mental work, but it is spiritual work nonetheless.
In fact, we are utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit to teach us truth, because “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). But the way the Holy Spirit gives us understanding is through our minds– employing our rational faculties (v. 16; Ephesians 1:184:232 Timothy 1:7) so that we can comprehend the truth.

Gun Confiscation By Presidential Decree?

Gun Confiscation By Presidential Decree? 
        President Obama may soon act unilaterally to curtail Americans’ right to keep and bear arms and impose a new national firearms policy without congressional approval.
        Spurred on by the Newtown, Connecticut schoolhouse massacre last month that took 26 lives, Obama could restrict, perhaps even abolish, private gun ownership with the stroke of his auto-pen.......

Congress Must hold Hearings into the Al Jazeera Deal

If Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) lets the Al Jazeera-Al Gore deal go through without scrutiny, then every broadcast entity or communications facility in America is ripe for the plucking by any of our nation’s enemies and adversaries.
For those who haven’t been paying attention lately, the government of Qatar has announced a deal through Al Jazeera with former Democratic Vice President Al Gore for his Current TV cable channel, in order to transform it into an arm of its Jihadist or “Terror TV” network, once known as a mouthpiece for mass murderer Osama bin Laden. They are planning to call it “Al Jazeera America,” when the oil money for the transaction is coming from abroad. This is part and parcel of the deception, which is designed to make it appear as though Al Jazeera is as American as apple pie and simply has a foreign-sounding name.
To be sure, the deal was not technically announced by Qatar, a Middle Eastern dictatorship where freedom of the press is not permitted. Instead, Al Jazeera made the announcement. But that is part of the deception. Al Jazeera is an arm of the Qatar regime and is not in any sense of the term an “independent” news organization. It is government-funded with “advertising” from such entities as Qatar Airways, the national airline partly owned by the regime. Qatar and Al Jazeera are one and the same.
The purpose of this transaction is to soften the American people up for more Middle East revolution, including within the borders of the U.S. Dr. Judea Pearl, the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, supports an investigation of the deal [1] and says, “Al Jazeera weaves the ideological structure and combustible angers from which Jihadi recruits eventually emerge.”
Qatar postures as a friend of the United States and hosts a U.S military base. But Qatar also served as the base for anti-American and anti-Semitic “cleric” Yusef al-Qaradawi before he returned to Egypt to help consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood revolution there. Al-Qaradawi is a leading television personality on Al Jazeera.
You may have missed the news that Qatar just extended another $2.5 billion in economic aid [2]for Egypt, following a gift of $400 million that the emir of Qatar made to the terrorist group Hamas.
Al Gore and his partners, including Joel Hyatt, got more than that—$500 million, according to reports. Whether or not that is an accurate figure, any amount is a drop in the bucket to the emir, who is worth billions of dollars and lives in opulence.
By the way, Muslim Brotherhood leader and president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, just told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer [3] that he wants the release of the Blind Sheikh, sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. This first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center killed six people and injured over 1,000 others.
Dr. Pearl calls Al Jazeera “the main propaganda machine” of the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. It is no surprise, therefore, that Qatar would underwrite the Egyptian regime and Hamas, and that the Obama Administration would voice no public objection to the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera.
However, there is no reason to believe this sale is legal. The circumstances surrounding the sale clearly require Congressional hearings and this is where the Republican House of Representatives and its new chairman of Homeland Security, Rep. Michael McCaul, come in.
If ever there was a time for Congress to take action, this is it. This is not a time to let the Obama Administration take the lead, since it has already approved the questionable deal, which fattens the coffers of two prominent Democrats.
There are many things about this deal that stink and which require an investigation by McCaul’s committee.
First, there are unresolved complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) about Al Jazeera’s operations in the U.S. Jerry Kenney of Kenney Broadcasting has asked that the DOJ enforce the law by requiring that foreign propaganda pumped into American homes by Al Jazeera be labeled as such. He says, “Why is it that if I buy a pair of tennis shoes made in China, it has to be labeled made in China? But foreign propaganda which is being aired in the U.S. is not being labeled as foreign propaganda, with its country of origin, in violation of the law? I want to know what I am getting. If you know who has produced something, you look at it differently.”
Secondly, it appears that Al Jazeera has evaded the law requiring federal approval for foreign investments in America that have national security implications.
Al Jazeera has issued a 26-page document [4] in which it claims that the deal “does not involve any federal communications licenses or other assets subject to FCC approval.” Again, this is deceptive, since broadcaster Jerry Kenney has filed an FCC complaint about Al Jazeera programming being illegally aired on taxpayer-supported public TV stations. Al Jazeera also claims that “None of the statutory factors that trigger a CFIUS review—e.g., production of important technology, production of military goods, operation of critical infrastructure—are implicated in this transaction.”
CFIUS is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and is under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department. It is described [5] as “an inter-agency committee authorized to review transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person (‘covered transactions’), in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.”
What “covered transactions” come under the review of CFIUS? We have learned through press reports that CFIUS approved China-based Dalian Wanda Group Corporation’s purchase of AMC Entertainment, one of the nation’s largest movie theater chains.
The CFIUS process is secretive but we learned about this approval from the Chinese entity, whichannounced [6] it in a press release in July of 2012.
The writer Zach Coleman notes, “News broadcasting is more politically sensitive than cinema operation and Al Jazeera is a much more controversial acquirer than Dalian Wanda, which was previously unknown in the US.”
This is precisely the case. Yet, Al Jazeera claims it had no obligation to obey the law in this case.
I asked the Treasury Department whether Al Jazeera was required to apply for approval of the purchase and all I got was a run-around. A spokesman said, “I will decline to comment. By law, information filed with CFIUS may not be disclosed by CFIUS to the public. Accordingly, the Department does not comment on information relating to specific CFIUS cases, including whether or not certain parties have filed notices for review.”
How’s that for transparent government? Mark Jaskowiak, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Investment Security at Treasury, should be called before Congress to explain the double standard.
If the Chinese buying a movie theater chain comes under the auspices of CFIUS, then a takeover of a cable channel reaching 40-50 million homes has to qualify as well.
Jerry Kenney, president of Kenney Broadcasting, says, “It’s even more insidious in the case of Al Jazeera because cable companies bundle these packages of channels and deliver them to your home, whether you watch them or not. You end up subsidizing the channels you don’t want. Current TV was actually getting a fee from the cable operators to run the channel. So subscribers who pay for that package will end up paying money to Al Jazeera for its new channel.”
In the case of a movie theater, Kenney points out, “you have to make an effort to get out of your home to drive to a theater to watch a movie. With Al Jazeera, you will be forced to pay for it coming into your own home, whether you want it or not.”
It is time for Rep. McCaul to do his duty and announce hearings into this curious transaction. The Committee on Homeland Security can be reached at 202-226-8417.

Article printed from Accuracy In Media: http://www.aim.org
URLs in this post:
[1] supports an investigation of the deal:http://www.usasurvival.org/ck01.09.2013.html#axzz2HPmOuMXF

The Tempter Is Real

by John MacArthur - gty.org
And the tempter came and said to Him . . . - Matthew 4:3
It is not popular today to believe in a literal, personal devil, even among professing Christians. The devil is increasingly seen as being somewhere between a figment of our imagination and a useful device to coerce obedience.
Yet in addition to the name used here (“tempter”), the New Testament gives Satan many other names: “ruler of this world” (John 12:3114:3016:11); “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2); “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4); “Abaddon” and “Apollyon,” both of which mean “destroyer” (Rev. 9:11); and “the serpent of old” (Rev. 12:9).
With these and many other references to the devil in God’s infallible Scripture—all of which assume a real, supernatural person—it’s clear that Satan does exist. And he never made himself more personally manifest than when he confronted Jesus in the wilderness. The Lord’s opponent was an actual, personal foe in every sense of that expression.
Since the Fall, Satan has directed his full attention and fury against God and His kingdom work. While Christ was on earth, that opposition was particularly intense against the Son and His redemptive mission, beginning at the very outset of His ministry. Yet all the forces of hell continue to present us with real challenges as we endeavor to advance God’s kingdom. Thus all believers must remain ever vigilant and prayerful against a genuine spiritual foe.
Ask Yourself
Have you grown lax in guarding yourself from the “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8) who actively seeks to devour you? He is not to be feared, for your God is triumphant, but he is definitely in need of accounting for. Ask the Lord to make you wise and wary of the enemy’s presence.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

Friday, January 11, 2013

America Is Being Systematically Transformed Into A Totalitarian Society

America Is Being Systematically Transformed Into A Totalitarian Society 
by Michael Synder - January 8, 2013

Atheists do not claim that nothing created everything

by Ray Comfort - livingwaters.com
          Many atheists refuse to admit they believe the entire universe came into being from nothing, because it is a scientific impossibility and they recognize how silly it sounds. If everything didn’t come from nothing, their alternative is to say that creation (nature) created itself. However, a thing cannot make itself. To do so would mean that it had to pre-exist before it existed, and therefore it didn’t create itself because it was already in existence. (For where the universe came from, see Isa. 34:4  and Isa. 45:18 comments.) Here is a list of some who have admitted to believing that nothing created everything: 
1.      "It is now becoming clear that everything can—and probably did—come from nothing." —Robert A. J. Matthews, physicist, Ashton University, England 
2.      "Space and time both started at the Big Bang and therefore there was nothing before it." —Cornell University’s "Ask an Astronomer" 
3.      "Some physicists believe our universe was created by colliding with another, but Kaku [a theoretical physicist at City University of New York] says it also may have sprung from nothing..." —Scienceline.org 
4.      "Even if we don't have a precise idea of exactly what took place at the beginning, we can at least see that the origin of the universe from nothing need not be unlawful or unnatural or unscientific." —Paul Davies, physicist, Arizona State University 
5.      "Assuming the universe came from nothing, it is empty to begin with...Only by the constant action of an agent outside the universe, such as God, could a state of nothingness be maintained. The fact that we have something is just what we would expect if there is no God." —Victor J. Stenger, Prof. Physics, University of Hawaii; author of God: The Failed Hypothesis 
6.      "Few people are aware of the fact that many modern physicists claim that things—perhaps even the entire universe—can indeed arise from nothing via natural processes.” —Mark I. Vuletic, Creation Ex Nihilo—Without God 
7.      "To understand these facts we have to turn to science. Where did they all come from, and how did they get so darned outrageous? Well, it all started with nothing." —"Fifty Outrageous Animal Facts,” Animal Planet 
8.      “To the average person it might seem obvious that nothing can happen in nothing. But to a quantum physicist, nothing is, in fact, something." —Discover Magazine “Physics & Math/Cosmology”
9.      "It is rather fantastic to realize that the laws of physics can describe how everything was created in a random quantum fluctuation out of nothing, and how over the course of 15 billion years, matter could organize in such complex ways that we have human beings sitting here, talking, doing things intentionally." —Alan Harvey Guth, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Discover Magazine 
10.            "The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved out of literally nothing is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice." —Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor’s Tale
 Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. livingwaters.com

Iran's supreme Islamic leader says Moslems must kill Jews and annihilate Israel and they can do that in just nine minutes

by Jimmy DeYoung
Listen to Today's Program Play

Two websites in Iran are calling for Moslems to kill Jews and annihilate Israel and that they will do this in less than nine minutes, a plan that has legal and religious justification for the attack on the Jewish state which also includes Jewish people worldwide.

In fact, Iran already has a strategy in place for an offensive attack that would target key Israeli sites using land-to-land missiles or their nuclear weapon of mass destruction mounted as a warhead on their long range Shahab 3 missile that can hit any target in Israel.

Jimmy's Prophetic Prospective on the News

A call by the supreme Islamic leader of Iran for Moslems to rise up and kill Jews and annihilate the Jewish state of Israel and be able to do that, as they say, in nine minutes is a page right out of Bible prophecy for the last days.

Several years ago, Iranian President Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth and he has continued this radical rhetoric up until today. It is amazing to me as I watch world leaders not doing anything serious to stop this call for the planned destruction of an entire nation, the Jewish people. I mentioned that this scenario actually is a page out of Bible prophecy for the end of times. The ancient Jewish prophet Ezekiel wrote 2500 years ago that Iran, mentioned as Persia in Ezekiel 38:5, would rise up to try to slaughter the Jewish people in the last days.

In the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, Ezekiel 34 and 37, the Jews have returned to the land of their forefathers and now consider the Iranians as the number one threat to their existence. Daniel 11, Ezekiel 38, and Psalm 83 all mention an alignment of nations that will join Iran in an effort to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. In fact, Psalm 83:4 says this coalition of nations will rise up to cut Israel off from being a nation in this world and work so that the name of the Jewish state, Israel will be forgotten forever. Ezekiel 38:18-39:6 reveals that the Lord will intercede from Heaven and actually destroy Iran and all the nations in their coalition.

Politically, Iran wants to wipe Israel off the earth. Prophetically, Iran will be the nation destroyed by the Lord. prophecytoday.com

Large Cities All Over America Are Degenerating Into Gang-Infested War Zones

Large Cities All Over America Are Degenerating Into Gang-Infested War Zones by Michael Synder - January 10, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

So…is Mormonism a cult or what?

Always good news
A few months ago Franklin Graham found himself in all sort of evangelical hot water when he removed a page from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s website that had labeled Mormonism as a cult. The timing of the removal—a few weeks before the presidential election and a few minutes after Billy Graham gave his presidential imprimatur to Romney—made any nuanced reasoning behind the Graham’s move impossible.
They compounded their problems when their defense of the action was “God has not called us to call other people names”—a defense which is about as thoughtful and persuasive as saying “Mormons really are nice people after all.” As Dan Phillips  over at Pyromanics pointed out, how can you possibly argue with someone when they say that God has not called them to do what you think they should be doing? Doesn’t that mean you are arguing with God? Who, exactly, do you think you are?
But there remains an obvious question that bears exploring: Is Mormonism a cult? I want to put forward a nuanced answer: it depends on what you mean by Mormons, and it depends on what you mean by cult.  

First the cult part:

I read dozens of blogs skewering the Grahams for their defrocking Mormonism of its cult status, but I don’t remember seeing anyone lay out what exactly it means to be a cult. Certainly there are several definitions of cult. What are they, and how does one qualify?
In Walter Martin’s classic The Kingdom of the Cults, he borrows a definition form a book published in 1955 which defines cult as “any religious group which differs significantly in one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious groups which are regarded as the normative expressions of religion in our total culture.”
mormons converting arabsBut that definition is obviously inadequate. First, it hinges on the word significantly. Second, it is way too broad. It basically defines any group which has as a different “practice” than the “normative expressions of religion in the total culture.” What does “total culture” mean in an era of immigration and satellite TV? I’m sure that was a suitable concept in the 1950’s, but I don’t see how it works today. By that definition, Hinduism could be a cult in Florida, but not in Michigan, and certainly not in India. Meanwhile, Christianity itself would be considered a cult Nepal or Rome.
Martin was aware of that weakness of the definition, and so he added his own criteria: “A group of people gathered about a specific person’s misinterpretation of the Bible.” So for Martin a cult is a religious group that:
  • has significant differences in practices from normative expressions of religion in “total culture”
  • is built around a specific misinterpretation of the Bible
But that definition also fails on some pretty basic levels. Do two Baptist churches that disagree on dispensationalism get to label each other as cults? It also fails because it definescult specifically in relation to Christianity. What about Islam? Certainly there are cults in Islam—most Muslims consider The Nation of Islam a cult, for example. Yet that is not possible with Martin’s definition.  [Note: Martin does not seem to follow his own definition very carefully. He considers both the Baha’i movement an d Buddhism cults, even though they don’t seem built around a specific misinterpretation of the Bible.]
So are there any better definitions of cult?
The dictionary defines cult as “any particular system of religious worship” (Webster’s Dictionary). This is why when reading OT commentaries (or NT Wright…) there are constant references to the OT temple worship as “cultic.” It doesn’t mean that it was a false religion, but simply means that it was “religious.” Obviously the dictionary definition of the word is so broad that it is not really helpful. After all, by that definition every religion is a cult.
There is a better definition of cult. Many sociology books describe a cult as being a religious group that has the following distinctions:
  • Built around a charismatic leader (or his successor) who is generally infallible
  • A break off of another religion, and claims that it is correct while the group they left is apostate.
  • Considered on the fringe of society, and outside of social norms (often aided by a sense of secrecy to the inner workings of the religion).
This definition is repeated in many sociology text books, and is quite helpful. For example, you can see how Catholicism would fit the first two, but not the third, and thus is rightly not considered a cult. Meanwhile, it is narrow enough that it does not include all false religions, while being broad enough that it can also include groups like the Nation of Islam or Baha’i.
So that moves to the category of Mormonism. Does Mormonism fit these distinctives? They are built around a charismatic leader and their prophet is considered infallible (he has direct revelation from God, of course). It is obviously an apostate form of Christianity, so check there as well.
But are they considered on the fringe of society? That leads to the second question:

BryceWhat do you mean by Mormon?:

Mormons essentially fall into two categories. Latter-day Saints (LDS), and Fundamentalist LDS. For the LDS, their temples are tourist attractions, Bryce Harper is a baseball phenom, Romney ran for President without his Mormonism being as big of a deal as Kennedy’s Catholicism, and Senate Majority Leader  is a LDS (to say nothing about the fact that college students idolize American Idol David Archuleta). Every year, it is becoming tougher and tougher to argue that the church of LDS  is on the fringe of society.
But the FLDS is another story all together. They are the fringe groups of Mormons in Texas, the Utah Arizona boarder, and parts of Canada. They practice polygamy, have their own prophets, are break-offs from the the church of LDS , and have been anathematized by the LDS. This group seems to fit every definition of cult, and even the LDS regard them as a cult.
So when people ask me “is Mormonism a cult?” I answer with two questions: “It depends on what you mean by Mormons. If by Mormons you mean the polygamists in the hills living in isolation, then yes. If by Mormons you mean LDS, then it depends on what you mean bycult.”
The dictionary definition calls Mormonism a cult, right along with every other religion in the world. Sociological definitions, along with Martin’s own definition, all hinge on if Mormonism is considered outside the norm of our culture. It is certainly a grey area. After all, it ,would be very difficult to say in Salt Lake City or Provo that Mormonism differs from the “normative expression of religion” (Martin’s definition) in that community. When you add the concept that Martin uses of “total culture” then certainly you have to consider politics (Mitt Romney, Henry Reid), music (David Archuleta), and sports (Bryce Harper). When you consider those categories, it becomes harder and harder to be dogmatic on the word cult. Even if it is one today, how many more years does that label stick? How many stars do there need to be before something is no longer on the fringe of the culture?
What is clear is that Mormonism, whether LDS or FLDS, is a false religion. It teaches a false way to God, and leads to eternal judgment. It is built on lies, and spreads through propaganda. And the only way for Mormons to be saved is to repent from their false religion, and find refuge in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what God has called the Grahams to preach, and who knows? Maybe that is exactly what they said to Romney before they took their webpage down.
Regardless, it is essential for Christians if they understand the uniqueness of the gospel and how to invite those who don’t know it to believe it—whether or not they are part of a cult. The real battle is over the gospel, not over a sociological category about whose religion is more influential in the culture.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Seeker-Friendly Churches

by John MacArthur - gty.org - Article Link
Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want.  Hundreds of churches have followed precisely that theory, actually surveying unbelievers to learn what it would take to get them to attend.
Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life.  Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world.  After all, those things actually drive most people away.  Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges?  As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive. 
That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church.  The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto.  Evangelism does not require salesmen, but prophets.  It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23).  We gain nothing but God's displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross.
My complaint is with a philosophy that relegates God and His Word to a subordinate role in the church.  I believe it is unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical preaching and worship in the church service.  And I stand in opposition to those who believe salesmanship can bring people into the kingdom more effectively than a sovereign God.  That philosophy has opened the door to worldliness in the church. gty.org
Adapted from Ashamed of the Gospel, © by John MacArthur. All rights reserved.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly From The Fiscal Cliff Deal

The fiscal cliff deal contains more bad news than it does good news. Yes, the tax increases on the middle class could have been much worse, and we should be thankful that Congress at least did something for the middle class. Unfortunately, they didn't do enough. Every American worker is going to pay higher taxes next year as a result of this deal. The fiscal cliff deal represents the biggest tax increase in 20 years, and it is also projected to increase the U.S. national debt by an additional 4 trillion dollars over the next decade. In the final analysis, U.S. government finances are still wildly out of control and we are all going to be paying higher taxes. Not a whole lot to be excited about, and nothing has really been fixed for the long-term. Our politicians have kicked the can down the road once again, but someday they will run out of road and all of this debt will absolutely crush us. And of course a lot of our politicians didn't even really know what they were voting for. The fiscal cliff bill was more than 150 pages long, and our Senators got the bill into their hands just 3 minutes before they voted on it. So none of them actually read the bill. But that is the way things work in America today. The blind are leading the blind and everyone is mindlessly hoping that everything will turn out okay somehow.
For a few moments, let's take a closer look at the fiscal cliff deal. There are some good things in there, there are some bad things in there, and there are some things about the deal that are downright ugly.
The Good
-One of the best things about the fiscal cliff deal is that income tax rates did not rise on the poor and the middle class. This is great news for millions of families that are struggling to make ends meet each month. A significant rise in income tax rates would have been crippling.
-The Alternative Minimum Tax will now be permanently adjusted for inflation. This is something that I had screamed about in previous articles. If an AMT fix had not been passed, approximately 28 million households would have been hammered with the Alternative Minimum Tax on their 2012 earnings.
-Millions of unemployed workers will continue to receive extended federal unemployment benefits. We probably cannot really afford to keep doing this, but at least now there won't be millions of unemployed workers that suddenly have their only source of income shut off. The next trick will be to find jobs for all of those workers. Unfortunately, millions of our jobs continue to be shipped to the other side of the world.
The Bad
-Payroll taxes are going up for every American worker. The fiscal cliff deal allows the 2 percent payroll tax cut to expire, and so now the average U.S. household bringing in about $50,000 a year will pay approximately $1,000 more per year in payroll taxes. As a result, it is being projected that U.S. consumers will have $115 billion less in disposable income to spend in 2013. Happy New Year American workers!
-The fiscal cliff deal did nothing about the new Obamacare taxes that went into effect on January 1st. Many of these taxes will hurt the middle class. To see an example of a receipt where a consumer was charged the new "medical excise tax" in Obamacare, just check out this article.
-The carried-interest deduction loophole remains intact, so incredibly wealthy hedge fund managers will continue to get away with paying very little in taxes. If the rest of us are being taxed into oblivion, then they should share in the pain with the rest of us. Of course I personally believe that the income tax should be abolished entirely, but none of our politicians seem interested in that idea at all.
-Income tax rates will increase for high earners. This will hurt a lot of small businesses. Many small businesses that earn more than $400,000 a year will now be faced with making some really tough choices. Some may have to lay off workers. The top rate will now be 39.6 percent, but when other federal and state taxes are factored in, many small businesses will now be paying a top marginal rate of well over 50 percent. That is absolutely obscene.
-A compromise was reached on the estate tax. The exemption was scheduled to fall to just $1 million and the rate was scheduled to go up to 55 percent, and fortunately Congress decided to do something about that. As I have written about previously, that would have been a disaster for many small businesses and family farms. As a result of the fiscal cliff deal, the estate tax will only rise from 35 percent to 40 percent. The exemption for individuals will be about 5 million dollars and for couples it will be about 10 million dollars, and those figures will now be indexed for inflation. A tax increase is never a good thing, but if Congress had done nothing things would have been far worse.
-The fiscal cliff deal contains a lot of pork. In particular, it contains provisions that extend specific tax breaksrelated to Puerto Rican rum, electric motorcycles, biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel, the film and television business, and motorsports entertainment complexes.
The Ugly
According to the Congressional Budget Office, as a result of this deal the U.S. national debt will be about $4 trillion higher a decade from now than it would have been if Congress had done nothing.
The deficit for fiscal year 2013 alone will be about $330 billion higher than it would have been if Congress had done nothing.
So this deal has made our debt problems even worse.
Right now, the U.S. has a debt to GDP ratio of about 103 percent. We are already well into the "danger zone", yet most Americans still don't seem very concerned about all of this debt.
The fiscal cliff deal contained hardly any spending cuts at all. In fact, there was a 41 to 1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts in the deal. The Democrats definitely won this round. But of course they had most of the leverage. If Congress had done nothing, the middle class would have been absolutely devastated by all of the tax increases, and the Republicans were desperate to prevent that.
But now that the battle over taxes is done, the leverage is going to shift over to the Republicans for the next big fight.
The battle over the debt ceiling is next. If Congress does not act, the U.S. government will soon not be able to borrow any additional money. This battle will be one of the stories that dominates the headlines over the next few months.
If the Republicans want to do something serious about spending, now is their chance. The battle over tax rates is already over, and there is no election in November. The Republicans could conceivably say "NO" to a debt ceiling increase if they want to. If that happened, the federal government would only be able to spend the money that it already has. It would not be able to borrow more. That would mean that we would have to start living within our means.
What a novel concept.
Of course there is no reason to believe that the Republicans in the House will suddenly grow a spine. They have folded every other time that the debt ceiling has come up. It will probably be the same again in 2013.
And Barack Obama is already saying that there will be "no negotiations" over the debt ceiling this time. He expects the Republicans to raise the debt ceiling for him without getting anything in return...
"I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether they will pay the bills they’ve already racked up."
But the U.S. government cannot spend a single penny or borrow a single penny without the approval of the U.S. House of Representatives.
If the Republicans in the House want to ever get serious about government spending, the upcoming battle over the debt ceiling is a golden opportunity.
They could stop the Obama administration from piling up crazy amounts of debt if they want to. All they need is the courage to take a stand.
During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated about as much debt as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.
The Republicans have had control of the House for about half of that time. That means that they have been willing accomplices.
So will they take a stand?
That is very doubtful. Over the past few years they have exhibited the intestinal fortitude of a frightened chicken. They will probably huff and puff a little bit, but in the end they will probably give in to Obama once again.
But what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is so immoral that it is hard to describe. We are stealing more than 100 million dollars from them every single hour of every single day, and we plan on leaving them with the biggest pile of debt the world has ever seen. We should be absolutely ashamed of ourselves.
Why can't we just spend the money that we have?
What would be so wrong with that?
Unfortunately, that would mean such a painful downward adjustment in our standard of living that most Americans would freak out. We are addicted to debt-fueled prosperity, and so we can't stop stealing from future generations. We need their money to feed our addiction.
In the end, this gigantic mountain of debt is absolutely going to destroy everything that our forefathers built for us. There have been some people that have been warning about this for decades, but the American people did not listen.
Soon enough, we will all pay the price for this foolishness.