Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sun Dec 15th Todays News

ALP in opposition have still not worked out why they failed in government. They point to things like 'unity' but until they have a coherent policy on something that can be supported by the wider electorate and is different to Liberal Policy then they have nothing worthwhile to offer, and their bickering will devolve to personality politics. Thing is, that policy can't be merely different to Liberal policy, many of their policies are .. but they need to be good too. NBN, AGW, border security all fail by not being worthwhile, although they are different to Liberal policy. Liberal policy is too pragmatic for the ALP to attack .. it just works. 
Miranda Devine raises parenting issues. As a former student of mine, who is also a mum, has reminded me, one has, to be a parent, to be a good parent, not merely a friend. It is important to say 'no' to kids over the right issues .. so they don't stay up late before a test .. so they discover that delayed gratification can be effective while immediate gratification is low probability success. Kind of the same when describing ALP policy. Which is why the Libs taking government again is sometimes described as the adults taking charge. 

Happy birthday and many happy returns John ChanJulie Morris and Anthony Khuu. Born on the same day, across the years, along with 

Labor rewrites its recent history

Piers Akerman – Saturday, December 14, 2013 (11:33pm)

HOOKED on instant gratification like kids to an Xbox, some of the sillier talking heads are demanding the ­Abbott government take responsibility for the mess Labor left (left in more ways than one) after six years in office.
There’s certainly no shortage of Christmas clowns in Canberra this month.
From the Opposition benches to the Press Gallery, troupes of overpaid jesters are spouting lines that must have come straight from the Christmas cracker factory.
Whether it is Opposition leader Bill Shorten, the usual gaggle of ABC geese or Channel 10s dyed-in-the-wool champion of the Left, Paul Bongiorno, it would seem that activities of the failed Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments are being airbrushed from the historical record with the same alacrity demonstrated by North Korea’s skilled revisionists.
To take the treatment of but two news examples that emerged last week, the collapse of Holden and the release of the real state of the NBN disaster, it would seem Labor and its cheer squad ­believe the Coalition was secretly running things even though it lost office in 2007.
Holden was a shot duck, and was always going to be a shot duck, even before Labor introduced industry-punishing measures like former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s penalising $460 million carbon ­dioxide tax and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s brutal $1.8 billion fringe benefit tax hit to car-leasing companies.
In just the last two years, the Labor government broke $1.4 billion in promised funding commitments as it vacillated on car industry policy.
Forget the crocodile tears being shed by the assorted union bosses and recall that Gillard once promised $34 million for Ford, which she said would create 300 jobs. Within eight months 330 employees had lost their jobs and Ford subsequently announced its departure from Australia.
Rather than blame Prime Minister Tony Abbott for Holden’s demise, as Shorten ­attempted to do on the last day of the parliamentary year, he should have been reminded by the media that Gillard, whom he supported before he knifed her to bring back Rudd, whom he had earlier knifed, had boasted last March: “It gives me great pleasure to be able to say to the House that we have worked together with Holden and we have secured Holden to manufacture cars in Australia for the next decade.”
Labor MP Nick Champion, whose South Australian electorate of Wakefield is home to many Holden workers, sent out a letter before the last election in which he wrote: “I have secured guaranteed support for GM Holden, Elizabeth, ensuring production until 2022.”
But Champion is not the most egregious of Labor’s galahs, he would be thrashed in any contest by former Treasurer and serial humbug Wayne Swan, for instance, or former Finance Minister Penny Wong, or that other former Treasurer Chris Bowen.
Who could possibly forget the sight of three departmental heads branding Rudd, Bowen and Wong liars after they ­attempted to claim the public servants had rubbished the Opposition’s policy costings?
Another contender for class fool is former Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare, now the shadow Communications spokesman, who shrieked about broken promises last week as the Abbott government started to get to grips with the massive catastrophe that is Labor’s NBN.
Now that the NBN’s new chairman has looked at the books and discovered that Labor’s dysfunctional plan for the broadband network would have cost a staggering $73 billion and missed Labor’s deadline by at least three years, Clare says the plan to apply a bandage to this haemorrhage constitutes a breach of “one of the most important promises it (the Coalition) made before the election”.
Can this galoot really think the Abbott government should have pursued Labor’s extravagant rollout, which the strategic review discovered would have needed $29 billion more than Labor’s forecast $44 billion, had it continued because of expected cost blowouts and totally unachievable revenue targets?
As Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the House Thursday: “The NBN has been shrouded in a web of spin, obfuscation and exaggeration. Forecasts have been set, missed, set again, missed again, set a third time, and missed a third time. Beguiling promises have been offered but not delivered.”
Releasing the report, he said: “Critically, this report is not reverse engineered to justify or rationalise government policy, whether set out in a speech, conjured up by press release or sketched on the back of a drink coaster.
“I emphasise this point ­because the facts so methodically presented in the review make it plain that the NBN is in a worse state than Australians have been told.”

Affluenza no excuse for poor parenting

Miranda Devine – Saturday, December 14, 2013 (11:35pm)

IT is terrifying being the parent of a generation Z teenager. Never have there been so many toxic forces conspiring against your efforts to raise happy, responsible citizens.
But that is precisely why today’s laissez-faire parents have to lasso their offspring and teach them right from wrong.
The latest teen scandal involves three 14-year old boys from Year 8, at the elite Cranbrook school in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs who have “agreed to leave” after a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl.
One of the boys allegedly had sex with the girl at a “gathering”.
The other two boys were involved in unspecified other sexual acts with the same girl, according to newspaper reports.
Stories of similar incidents with children as young as 12 at other schools are being told by worried parents. Some involve consensual sexual encounters filmed on smartphones, others involve pornography displayed on smartphones as a prelude to sexual advances. In a number of cases, police have been called.
“It’s a perfect storm of risk factors,” says adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg.
“Hyper-sexualised early adolescence, coupled with poor impulse control and poor parenting.”
Carr-Gregg says that at the exact time that they are experiencing an “800 per cent increase in testosterone in early adolescence,” boys are being “whipped up into a sexual frenzy … by the pornified culture they’re growing up in.”
The shadow of omnipresent pornography is distorting children’s emerging sexuality. I have heard of girls, aged 12 and 13, being propositioned on the school bus by boys the same age for “spit roasts”. That is slang for sex involving two men and one woman, commonplace in pornography, and horrifying to hear on a school bus.
Parents are either in denial or don’t know how to speak to their children about the explicit and aberrant sexual imagery they are inevitably viewing. But Carr-Gregg says it is crucial to have that conversation, to talk about intimacy and love and explain that porn is the exploitation and degradation of women.
What Carr-Gregg sees with modern parents is a “tendency not to use moral language or set boundaries”.
He sees parents who make excuses for their children and resist attempts by other agencies - schools and the police - to discipline them.
There is no better example than the “affluenza” defence bought by a judge in Texas last week when failing to jail a teenager who killed four people while driving drunk.
Ethan Couch, 16, was sentenced to 10 years probation after a psychologist testified at his trial that he suffered from affluenza or “spoiled brat” syndrome - a belief that his parents’ wealth meant his actions had no consequences.
A psychologist told the court that Ethan’s indulgent parents had never taught him right from wrong and gave him “freedoms no young person should have”.
The Independent reported that Ethan’s parents didn’t even punish him after he was “found by police in a parked car with an unconscious, undressed 14-year-old girl a year before the fatal accident.”
The boy had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 when he ploughed a ute into a crowd in June, killing four people and injuring nine, including a friend who suffered a brain injury so catastrophic he cannot speak or walk.
Someone should go to jail, probably the parents.
Meanwhile, school principals are doing their best to fill a vacuum left by disengaged parents. They bring in experts to teach students how to behave, but too often the arguments are legal, not moral.
For instance, Year 9 boys at one Sydney school were warned that if a girl texts them a naked photo of herself - sexting - the boy can be charged with possessing child pornography, even if he did not ask for the photo.
One 14-year-old boy understood the imperative to delete the photo immediately but thought the context was unfair. “Why doesn’t the girl get into trouble?”
Good question. Distorted feminism is part of the problem. When “consent” is the only standard that can be applied, and when all responsibility for sexual behaviour is dumped on boys, the double standards are impossibly confusing.
As always, it’s up to parents to fill in the gaps.
But whether they are time poor, or simply too self-involved to make the effort to communicate with their offspring, too many parents are failing their responsibilities.
Maybe they want to ensure the limited time they spend with their teens is conflict-free. But conflict is inevitable when parents set boundaries.
Parents are supposed to make the rules, adolescents are supposed to push back. In the process, children learn to self-regulate and to hone their negotiating skills. More than one parent has rewarded a child for an inspired argument with a minor relaxation of the rules.
The teenage wrangle is a tricky art, and I know even parents of nine who haven’t entirely mastered it.
But to give in to teenage demands is to mistake why they make them. Often it’s to see if parents care enough to stop them. You may detect secret relief amid the fury from teenagers told they can’t go to a party or a sleepover.
“My horrible parents” can be a handy excuse. But parents have to be prepared to wear that “horrible” reputation. 

ABC bias plan laughable

Miranda Devine – Saturday, December 14, 2013 (10:38pm)

The ABC’s attempts to address its ideological bias are hardly reassuring.
The idea of bias “audits” conducted by an ex-BBC staffer is laughable. It’s a sop to irate conservatives, like the audience makeup figures at the start of Q&A. An inside joke.
Far better is the Ray Evans solution, to decentralise the ABC by splitting it into competing state organisations.
That would disempower Left-Green inner-city elites who control the culture and help the ABC fulfill its charter to “reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community”.
Happy end to the tale of the pup
Congratulations to Michael Clarke, named ICC cricketer of the year. Never a big-noter, he professed surprise at the news.
With deeds, not words, the Australian captain keeps proving the naysayers wrong. 

What is it with Labor feminists and the C-word?

Miranda Devine – Saturday, December 14, 2013 (5:27am)

What is it with Labor feminists and the “c” word?
Now we know that the great Australian misogyny-fighter, prime minister Julia Gillard, had as her hand-picked adviser, imported all the way from Britain, a man who peppered the word so liberally in his emails that he used it as both verb and noun in the same sentence.
John McTernan’s private missives, leaked to the ABC last week, show his cynical pitch for the feminist vote was matched by his cynical abuse of the “c**ts” who crossed him.
Earlier, another member of Emily’s List, ACT Education Minister Joy Burch, thought nothing of retweeting a description of her federal counterpart Christopher Pyne as a “c**t’’.
It is curious that Labor’s handbag hit squad is so unruffled by the casual way their fellow travelers use a word describing an intimate part of the female anatomy as a term of abuse.
But, then, they are nothing if not morally flexible.
As Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer pointed out last week, Labor is quite happy to attack the female Speaker Brownyn Bishop and liken her to Harry Potter witch Dolores Umbridge, but when it was one of their own, Anna Burke, in the chair, every criticism was denounced as sexist.
They can’t have it both ways. 

US sends President to stand next to self-confessed violent schizophrenic

Andrew Bolt December 15 2013 (11:19am)

Mark Steyn on Barack Obama’s meeting with the star of Nelson Mandela’s funeral service:
But the star of the show was undoubtedly Thamsanqa Jantjie, the sign-language interpreter who stood alongside the world’s leaders and translated their eulogies for the deaf. Unfortunately, he translated them into total gibberish, reduced by the time of President Obama’s appearance to making random hand gestures, as who has not felt the urge to do during the great man’s speeches. Mr. Jantjie has now pleaded in mitigation that he was having a sudden hallucination because he is a violent schizophrenic. It has not been established whether he is, in fact, a violent schizophrenic, or, as with his claim to be a sign-language interpreter, merely purporting to be one. Asked how often he has been violent, he replied, somewhat cryptically, “A lot."…
That would never happen in Washington, of course. But how heartening, as one watches the viral video of Obama droning on while a mere foot and a half away Mr. Jantjie rubs his belly and tickles his ear, to think that the White House’s usual money-no-object security operation went to the trouble of flying in Air Force One, plus the “decoy” Air Force One, plus support aircraft, plus the 120-vehicle motorcade or whatever it’s up to by now, plus a bazillion Secret Service agents with reflector shades and telephone wire dangling from their ears, to shepherd POTUS into the secured venue and then stand him onstage next to an $85-a-day violent schizophrenic. 

China rising, now to the moon

Andrew Bolt December 15 2013 (11:13am)

China has the cultural confidence many in the West have lost - and it is increasingly gaining an economy that can express that confidence not just on this planet:

China on Saturday successfully carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

Abbott needs this holiday. It will, I think, make him the new man he must be to fix what Labor broke

Andrew Bolt December 15 2013 (10:37am)

Tony Abbott sums up the lessons learned in his first 100 days as Prime Minister:
Citing the ferocious voter response to Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s attempt to abandon the Gonski school-funding model, Mr Abbott in effect admitted the government would have been wrong to wriggle out of a promise to match Labor’s school-funding package on a technicality.
‘’The lesson that I have well and truly learnt from that is that we do have to precisely honour our commitments - and that’s the spirit of the commitments, not just the letter of the commitments,’’ he said.
Two responses. First: that lesson should never have needed learning. I believe Abbott’s office needs a communications strategist with highly tuned antennae to match the role James Carville played for Bill Clinton, Roger Ailes for Richard Nixon, Grahame Morris for John Howard, Peter Barron for Bob Hawke, Bernard Ingham for Margaret Thatcher and Alistair Campbell for Tony Blair.
Second, Abbott - humble, self-deprecating and new to his job - seems to have reverted to the confessional mode that he had in his first year as Opposition Leader. I find it a very human and in many ways attractive trait, but it led Abbott into serious trouble in his media performances on the ABC in 2010 until he overcame it, and it is crippling his leadership again. A leader does not confess to doubt and failure as his troops go into battle.
I am confident Abbott can and will overcome this after his break - a real holiday this time. He strikes me as naturally tired after a punishing campaign to become Prime Minister and an even more punishing effort to get on top of the disasters left by Labor. A rest should pep him up, clear his mind and help him prioritise his challenges and rethink his strategy. Some tips: he needs to be seen more, to talk more and to add more rest and fun to his job, which must not become a martyrdom. That may also demand more delegation of authority.
The great educative task for his media strategists: to argue the case for change this year. To show how business cannot go on at it is, and that only chance can make the future bright. Next May’s Budget - certain to be tough and needing to be even tougher - should be sold almost every day from today. First the case for change, then the prospect of gain and then Budget as the means to go from strife to security.
Too often - not least with the aborted Gonski backtrack - the crisis and the change were sold together, which made the exercise seem nothing more than excuse making and ad hoc trickery.
A big story needs to be told about big changes to come. Master story-telling is needed to tell it.  Such a story does not begin like this: “Yes, I have made mistakes ...”
As I say, I am confident Abbott can change, and we must hope he does. For Labor, unrepentant and unreformed, to return in three years would mean only a completion of the destruction Labor wrought over the past six. 

AFL cancels Christmas for James Hird

Andrew Bolt December 15 2013 (10:22am)

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou is a man of the hard Left - a fervent global warming preacher and “reconciliation” proselytiser whose board has long been heavily staffed by people with deep connections to Labor.
Under Demetriou in particular the AFL has become a metaphor for a modern socialist state. No club may succeed too well without being punished. Clubs have strict salary caps. The failing are given extra help. And, of course, the leaders of this football land run propaganda campaigns to encourage right-thinking.
But, of course, the danger is that the inevitable one - that leaders of such a state become so convinced of their right to power that they are overbearing. Dictatorial. Almost vindictive when their power and their judgement has been questioned:
THE AFL has banned Essendon coach James Hird and suspended footy boss Danny Corcoran from attending the club’s staff Christmas party.
The league told Essendon the two men were not permitted to join the end-of-year gathering at an inner-city hotel on Friday afternoon.
Hird and Corcoran are banned from serving the club in any official capacity as part of the club’s supplement scandal punishment.

Isn’t marriage - of gays as well - about union, not division?

Andrew Bolt December 15 2013 (10:16am)

What a great idea! Let’s turn a profound moral and social question into a political ploy to attack Tony Abbott!

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek will seek to enlist the Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in Federal Parliament as a co-sponsor to legalise gay marriage.
In a move designed to put pressure on the Coalition government over the issue, Ms Plibersek says she will introduce a private member’s bill to legislate for same-sex marriage… But crucially, Ms Plibersek says she will introduce the bill only if Prime Minister Tony Abbott allows his MPs a conscience vote.

Plibersek’s nature seems at odds with her face. 

Shock finding: most Leftists like the ABC

Andrew Bolt December 14 2013 (10:11pm)

An ABC presenter is impressed that 72 per cent of readers of a Left-wing newspaper think the ABC is excellent and deserves more money.
Let’s see if he is equally impressed by what most readers of a conservative publication think
ONLY $150 million a year will save Holden? Rubbish. The Holden Enterprise Agreement is the document that has utterly sunk Holden's prospects. It defies belief that someone in the company isn't being held to account for it. Holden's management masks a union culture beyond most people's comprehension. Employment costs spiralled way beyond community standards long ago. Neither "pay freezes" nor more money will save Holden, but getting the Fair Work Commission to dissolve the agreement and put all workers on the award wage might be a start. In 1991, the pre-enterprise bargaining award wage of a Holden entry level process worker was $462.80 a week. In 1992, Holden began enterprise bargaining and now a worker at that same classification level has a base rate of $1194.50 a week, a 158 per cent increase, or a compound increase of 4.4 per cent year on year for 22 years. Right now, base wage rates for process workers in the Holden enterprise agreement are in the $60,000 to $80,000 per year range and in recent times, "hardship payments" of $3750 were given to each worker.The modern award for such workers mandates base rates in the $37,000 to $42,000 range. This means that before we add any of the shift penalties, loadings, 26 allowances and the added cost of productivity restrictions, Holden begins each working day paying its workforce almost double what it should. After you add in the other employment costs, I estimate Holden's workforce costs it somewhere close to triple the amount it should.Many people who work at Holden don't actually work for Holden; they work for the union. Occupational health and safety people are given 10 days' paid time off a year to be trained by the union. Most companies do not allow unions to train their OH&S people because the knowledge is used to control the workplace to the benefit of the union.Union delegates are also allowed up to 10 paid days a year for union training in how to be effective union delegates and two of these delegates are entitled to an extra Holden sponsorship of one paid month off to "further their industrial and/or leadership development". Holden's rules on hiring casuals are shocking and unheard of in today's market. The agreement forbids Holden from hiring casuals except when a "short-term increase in workload, or other unusual circumstances occurs". If this situation arises Holden has to "consult and reach agreement" with the union. Further, "Engagement of the agreed number of casual personnel will be for the agreed specified tasks and the agreed specified periods." If any of this changes, Holden must get union agreement again. After three months of continuous full-time work a casual must be made permanent. It is impossible to run a business like this.An ex-employee from Adelaide, on condition of anonymity, consented to an interview yesterday. He described the workforce as "over-managed", with one team leader for every six workers on the production line, when one for every 25 workers would suffice.He said "some of us workers felt it wasn't necessary to get paid what we were getting paid to do the jobs we were doing", adding that their work is probably worth about "20 bucks an hour". A few years back, his mates took redundancy packages in the order of "$280k plus". Workers are "like sheep" that blindly follow the union leadership. At induction, new workers are ushered into one-on-one meetings with the union rep who heavies them into joining. "It is made clear that if you don't join the union you will be sacked," he said. Union representatives "don't actually do any work for Holden", but rather make themselves full-time enforcers of union control.He says workers are drug tested before hiring, but "only have to stay off it for a few weeks, get in the door and then you'll be right". Workers caught taking drugs or being drug-affected at work are allegedly put on a fully paid rehabilitation program, with special paid time off of about four weeks duration, before being let back into the workforce. Australian workplaces have a zero tolerance for drug use, with instant dismissal the remedy, but at Holden "the union won't let the company sack" any workers caught dealing, taking or being on drugs. "If they did a random drug test tomorrow they'd probably have to sack 40 per cent of the workforce," he adds. If the Holden scenario were playing out in a privately owned business, proper cost-cutting strategies would be used. If you have the will and can hire the skill, there are many ways to cut labour costs. The workers can be given a couple of years notice of significant wage drops and can receive lump sum payouts of entitlements to help bring down family debt. Of course, these strategies are only ever used by business people who have no one else to bail them out. It seems Holden would rather leave the country than dissolve its enterprise agreement. The union thinks members are better off jobless than on award wages. Holden's fate seems sealed.If Holden does leave, workers will receive the most generous redundancy benefits around. Holden says leaving will cost $600m. Most of this will go to staff payouts. The fellow interviewed agrees with my calculation: the average production-line worker will walk away with a redundancy package of between $300k-500k.
Andy Trieu

Ninja's in training #babysitting @er1cal1m #lol

13-12-13 JERUSALEM


" DAMN ZIONISTS!! Where the heck is BDS, schocken, and the "New Israel Fund" when you need them to halt the "Zionist aggression" " - Arie Israeli

" Yes, this Israeli apartheid is really awful, isn't it? And now that Egypt has cut their power supply to Gaza, guess who is the sole remaining supplier of electric power to Gaza? " - Esther Lerch 

" Israel, the only country that will give terrorists aid but leave their own people to fend for themselves."- Itamar Gnatt


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Tomorrow marks 100 days since the election.
I want to update you on the progress that the Coalition Government has made in implementing our Plan to build a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.
We are purposefully, carefully and methodically putting in place policies to help families by reducing their cost-of-living pressures, improving job security, encouraging small business and delivering better services.
You can read The First 100 Days of Government report here.

You can watch the video message here.

As you will see, the Government is keeping its commitments and implementing the plan we took to the election. 
We are the Government that will scrap the Carbon Tax, end the waste, get the Budget back under control, stop the boats and build the infrastructure of the 21st century. 
These are the practical measures that will help our country get ahead – as well as help you and your family plan your future with confidence.
My pledge is that we will not let up in 2014: every day we will keep building the stronger country that all Australians want and deserve.

Tony Abbott
Prime Minister
Authorised by Brian Loughnane, Cnr Blackall and Macquarie Streets, Barton  ACT 2604.
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A rare 7-second video uploaded to Youtube on December 11 shows the intensity of Arab terror attacks in eastern Jerusalem. The footage shows two masked Arabs standing ready to ambush an Israeli security officer. One of them is seen lighting a molotov cocktail and throwing it at the guard from close range, apparently setting his clothes on fire. The video is embedded above.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) does not punish terror attacks against Israel, and indeed PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently granted a posthumous "Star of Honor" to arch-terrorist Abu Jihad, responsible for the murder of at least 125 Israelis in numerous terror attacks. There is an ongoing discussion as to whether a "third intifada," or full-scale Arab uprising, is beginning. US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened a third intifada in November should peace talks fail, a threat some consider a self-fulfilling prophecy as it was quickly followed by a wave of attacks. Last Sunday Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat acknowledged an upswing in attacks by Arabs in Israel's capital. His comments came after a 2 year old girl, Avigail Ben-Tzion, was injured in a rock throwing attack in Jerusalem. Charges have been filed against 7 Arab youths for their involvement in the brutal attack. On Thursday, Arabs used the snow in Jerusalem to conceal rocks and throw them at cars as well as hareidi-religious Jews. Meanwhile Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, passed a bill recently stating that attacks against Israel will not be considered terrorism by the country.
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Hi everyone! Here's the newsletter for December 13th. Enjoy!

From the Blog

Culture of corruption: The Dems’ dangerous DHS pick

The “S” in President Obama’s DHS doesn’t stand for “security.” It stands for “sleaze.” In the wake of Dirty Harry Reid’s sabotage of the filibuster, Democrats have rammed through the Senate nomination of a shady Chicago crony associated with dangerous Clinton corruption and at least two visas-for-sale schemes...

CBS News’ Bill Plante: Obama may have avoided ‘diplomatic incident’ by taking part in selfie at Mandela memorial

There’s been lots of speculation and spin about the “selfie” President Obama took part in at the memorial for Nelson Mandela, but CBS News’ White House correspondent Bill Plante had the funniest...

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Sheesh! At least it's Friday.
December 15Kingdom Day in Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten (1954); Zamenhof Day inEsperanto culture
Film poster for "Gone with the Wind"




Holidays and observances[edit]

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.””Luke 1:26-28 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"They go from strength to strength."
Psalm 84:7
They go from strength to strength. There are various renderings of these words, but all of them contain the idea of progress.
Our own good translation of the authorized version is enough for us this morning. "They go from strength to strength." That is, they grow stronger and stronger. Usually, if we are walking, we go from strength to weakness; we start fresh and in good order for our journey, but by-and-by the road is rough, and the sun is hot, we sit down by the wayside, and then again painfully pursue our weary way. But the Christian pilgrim having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of toilsome travel and struggle as when he first set out. He may not be quite so elate and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was, but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power, and travels, if more slowly, far more surely. Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth, and as zealous in diffusing it, as they were in their younger days; but, alas, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many waxes cold and iniquity abounds, but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise which still holds good: "The youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future. "Alas!" say they, "we go from affliction to affliction." Very true, O thou of little faith, but then thou goest from strength to strength also. Thou shalt never find a bundle of affliction which has not bound up in the midst of it sufficient grace. God will give the strength of ripe manhood with the burden allotted to full-grown shoulders.


"I am crucified with Christ."
Galatians 2:20
The Lord Jesus Christ acted in what he did as a great public representative person, and his dying upon the cross was the virtual dying of all his people. Then all his saints rendered unto justice what was due, and made an expiation to divine vengeance for all their sins. The apostle of the Gentiles delighted to think that as one of Christ's chosen people, he died upon the cross in Christ. He did more than believe this doctrinally, he accepted it confidently, resting his hope upon it. He believed that by virtue of Christ's death, he had satisfied divine justice, and found reconciliation with God. Beloved, what a blessed thing it is when the soul can, as it were, stretch itself upon the cross of Christ, and feel, "I am dead; the law has slain me, and I am therefore free from its power, because in my Surety I have borne the curse, and in the person of my Substitute the whole that the law could do, by way of condemnation, has been executed upon me, for I am crucified with Christ."
But Paul meant even more than this. He not only believed in Christ's death, and trusted in it, but he actually felt its power in himself in causing the crucifixion of his old corrupt nature. When he saw the pleasures of sin, he said, "I cannot enjoy these: I am dead to them." Such is the experience of every true Christian. Having received Christ, he is to this world as one who is utterly dead. Yet, while conscious of death to the world, he can, at the same time, exclaim with the apostle, "Nevertheless I live." He is fully alive unto God. The Christian's life is a matchless riddle. No worldling can comprehend it; even the believer himself cannot understand it. Dead, yet alive! crucified with Christ, and yet at the same time risen with Christ in newness of life! Union with the suffering, bleeding Saviour, and death to the world and sin, are soul-cheering things. O for more enjoyment of them!

Today's reading: Joel 1-3, Revelation 5 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Joel 1-3

1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel.
An Invasion of Locusts
2 Hear this, you elders;
listen, all who live in the land.
Has anything like this ever happened in your days
or in the days of your ancestors?
3 Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation.
What the locust swarm has left
the great locusts have eaten;
what the great locusts have left
the young locusts have eaten;
what the young locusts have left
other locusts have eaten.
5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep!
Wail, all you drinkers of wine;
wail because of the new wine,
for it has been snatched from your lips.
6 A nation has invaded my land,
a mighty army without number;
it has the teeth of a lion,
the fangs of a lioness.
7 It has laid waste my vines
and ruined my fig trees.
It has stripped off their bark
and thrown it away,
leaving their branches white....

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 5

The Scroll and the Lamb
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals...."
Elias, Elijah [Ĕlī'as,Ĕlī'jah]—god is jehovah or god himself.
1. Elias is the Greek form of Elijah(Matt. 11:14). Elijah the Tishbite is the grandest and most romantic character Israel ever produced (1 Kings 171819).

The Man Who Had No Fear of Man

No career in the Old Testament is more vividly portrayed, or has as much fascination as that of the unique character of Elijah. The New Testament attests to his greatness and reveals what an indelible impression he made upon the mind of his nation. All we know of him before his dramatic appearance can be summed up in the words: “Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead” ( 1 Kings 17:1). Scripture is silent about his past history. Suddenly and with abrupt impetuosity the figure of the prophet bursts upon the scene to rebuke the godless and to reawaken and restore the nation of which he was a part. This man of iron is presented in many ways:
As a fearless, bold and dauntless reformer (1 Kings 18:17-46).
As a rebuker of kings ( 1 Kings 21:202 Kings 1:16).
As a mighty intercessor, praying with faith and intensity (1 Kings 17:202218:36-38Jas. 5:17).
As a man prone to discouragement (1 Kings 19:4).
As one capable of fallible judgment ( 1 Kings 19:418).
As a prophet divinely honored (2 Kings 2:11Matt. 17:3).
As a performer of miracles ( 1 Kings 19:8).
As a God-inspired prophet ready to obey and trust God (1 Kings 17:121:9-242 Kings 1:2-17).
As a saint whose end was glorious (2 Kings 2:1).
Both mystery and majesty are associated with Elijah, the mightiest of the prophets. His history in 1 Kings can be appropriately studied under five prepositions:
Before Ahab (1 Kings 17:1). When God commands us to speak, no thought of peril need make us dumb.
By Cherith (1 Kings 17:2-7 ). Faith moves on, trusting that when the first step is taken the next will be revealed.
At Zarephath (1 Kings 17:1024). Elijah was miraculously fed on three occasions—by ravens (1 Kings 17:6); by a widow ( 1 Kings 17:9); by an angel (1 Kings 19:5-8).
On Carmel (1 Kings 18). Here we see the power of a fully surrendered man.
In the wilderness (1 Kings 19 ). The overwrought prophet suffered a lapse of confidence, but was quickly restored.
Elijah, the rugged prophet, suggests John the Baptist, who came in the same spirit and power of the prophet.
Note these points of correspondence:
Their familiarity with the deserts and solitude.
Their austere manner and dress.
Their strong reproof of prevailing evils.
Their intrepid fidelity in calling all classes to repentance.
Their exposure of the wrath of a wicked king.
Their continued influence after death through disciples.
Their fruitful labors. “Many of the children of Israel did they turn to the Lord their God.”
2. A son of Harim who married a foreign wife during the exile (Ezra 10:21).
3. A Benjamite and son of Jeroham, resident at Jerusalem (1 Chron. 8:27 RV).
4. An Israelite induced to put away his foreign wife. (Ezra 10:26).
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December 14, 2011
I Want a Daddy

Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18 emphasis added, NIV).
Friend to Friend

Several years ago, my friend Gayle learned a wonderful lesson from her pint-size granddaughter. Carlie was sitting in the back seat of Gayle's car with her little best friend. Carlie and this little friend were born on the same day, and their moms were in hospital rooms right beside each other. Not only that, the two girls lived in the same apartment complex. One difference was that Carlie's friend never knew her father. Her mom had boyfriends that came and went through the years, but never a real dad.
When Gayle kept Carlie on the weekends, sometimes her best friend came along. That meant that on Sunday's when Gayle and her granddaughter went to church, Carlie's little friend went along, too.
One day, Gayle had both girls in the back seat when she was running an errand. They were about five-years-old at the time. And out of the blue, Carlie's little friend said, "I wish I had a daddy like you have a daddy."
And Carlie replied, "Oh you do have a daddy."
"No I don't. I want a daddy like you have a daddy. I wish I had a daddy."
"But you do have a daddy," Carlie answered back. "We all have a daddy. God is our daddy. He's everybody's daddy."
Gayle looked in her rearview mirror and saw Carlie's friend hold up her hands in exasperation. "Why has nobody ever told me this?"
How precious! Listen. I have a daddy. You have a daddy. God is your Father and He loves you more than you could ever know. Today, my prayer is that you'll know just how much your Heavenly Father loves you! He's crazy about you and excited to spend this time with you. Trust God! He's got so much to share with you.
Let's Pray
Dear Abba Father, I am trusting You today! I am so thankful that You are my heavenly Father who loves me unconditionally, cares for me unceasingly, and provides for me unreservedly.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
Make a list of everything you want in a father.
Then go back to that list and put a check beside every one of those qualities that you see in God.
Let's chat. Visit my Facebook page and tell me one quality of God as you father that means the most to you.
More from the Girlfriends
It's finally here! Sharon, Gwen and Mary's new 12-week devotion book, Trusting God, is now available. This is the perfect book for individual study or for gathering a group of friends in what we call GiG Groups. With impactful devotions, study questions, journal pages, free on-line video intros, and an index of trust-building Scriptures...this book is a resource you'll refer to time-and-time again.
Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106


An Object of Derision

Matthew 27:35-44 "When they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there" ( vv. 35-36).
Like the other three evangelists, Matthew does not describe the process of crucifixion in detail, probably because the practice is well-known to his first-century audience. No Roman punishment is more painful or degrading than to be crucified; therefore, Rome normally reserves the cross for non-citizens, crucifying those with full citizenship only when the caesar himself prescribes it. The Jews under Rome's rule regard the cross as particularly abhorrent, and the rabbis later forbid its use in self-governing Jewish communities.
In Jesus' case, however, the religious leaders are elated to see Him disgraced on the cross. He is crucified outside Jerusalem in deference to Jewish sensibilities (Heb. 13:12 ), on a major thoroughfare so as to warn others not to commit acts that merit crucifixion. People are usually hung on a cross naked, but Jesus might be allowed a loincloth due to the shame His people associate with nakedness. Either way, His clothing now belongs to the soldiers guarding Him, a custom observed with every crucified victim. Yet this time prophecy is also fulfilled as lots are cast for Christ's clothing (Matt. 27:35; see Ps. 22:18 ). John Calvin appropriately comments, "God determined that His own Son should be stripped of his raiment, that we, clothed with his righteousness and with abundance of all good things, may appear with boldness in company with the angels."
As Isaiah 53:9 predicts, our Lord is also crucified alongside the wicked, two robbers who are probably on their crosses for insurrection (Matt. 27:38). Although Luke 23:39-43 tells us one of these criminals later trusts in Jesus, both of them initially join the passersby and the religious authorities to mock and curse our Savior (Matt. 27:39-44). They claim that they will believe if He uses His power to come down from the cross (v. 42 ), but we know the Jewish leaders would only charge Jesus with sorcery or other devilish deeds (12:24).
Behind these taunts is the false assumption that the Messiah and Son of God must conquer Rome, not be killed by the Gentiles. They do not see that Jesus stays on the cross precisely because He is God's Son. Love keeps Him there so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Many of Jesus' contemporaries refused to accept the Messiah's shame and curse on the cross, and many in the history of the church have done the same, denying the substitutionary nature of the atonement and the fact that God cursed our sin in Jesus. To show His great mercy and satisfy His justice, the Father condemned the sins of His people in His Son. Any attempt to make the cross merely a good example or an accident of history destroys the gospel of salvation.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 
Renee Swope
December 14, 2011
The Manger of My Heart
Renee Swope
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)
As the days get shorter in December, it seems the time I spend with God does too. I long for His presence. I know I need His perspective and peace. But as I prepare for the holidays, my heart can get so focused on planning and buying gifts that I forget to unwrap the most important gift—the gift of Immanuel—God with us.
In all the hustle and bustle, it's easy to fill our heart with everything but Him, and miss the calm hush His presence brings. I felt an unusual void around the holidays several years ago, and wrote this Christmas prayer to help me keep my heart where it needs to be. I display it where I'll see it often - to remind me of what matters most.
The Manger of My Heart
This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.
Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus' birth,
when He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
And angels announced, "Into your darkness, God brings His Light."
"Do not be afraid," they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Lord. It's in Your wonderful Name I pray.
Thousands of years ago God gave us the gift of His one and only Son, born in a humble manger. Making room in our hearts for Jesus through prayer during this busy season is a gift we give to Him, and ourselves. Right now, let's quiet our racing thoughts and take a moment to enjoy the hush of Immanuel—God with us. His presence in our lives is a gift we can open every day of the year.
Dear Lord, I'm so thankful for the gift of Jesus, Immanuel, my God with me. Help me be still when I feel frazzled and remember You are God. I want to make room for You in the manger of my heart this Christmas and unwrap Your presence each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do you long to draw closer to God over the holidays and in the New Year? If so, A Confident Heart by Renee Swope is just the book for you! Chapter by chapter, Renee show you how to live in the power of God's promises as she draws you into the security of God's heart and love for you!
Visit Renee's website/blog where she's giving A GIFT every woman needs! She's also sharing how you can receive a PDF printable of her Christmas prayer and three ways to experience God's calming hush in the hustle of the holidays!
Join us for Renee's FREE online study of her book A Confident Heart beginning January 16th. Click here for more info and to sign up!
Application Steps:
When you feel anxious, empty or stressed, pause and pray each word of today's Christmas prayer. Why not print it and carry it with you? To find out how you can receive a printable version to frame, click here.
Which part of this prayer resonates most with the desires and needs of my heart?
Power Verses:
Psalm 91:1-2, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'"(NIV)
Psalm 55:22, "Turn your burdens over to the LORD, and he will take care of you." (GW)
© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105


Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Hymn Story:
"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" is derived from the "Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn" from the Litany of St. James, written during the 4th century. The Cherubic Hymn is to be used at the presentation of the bread and wine at the Offertory. It was incorporated into the Holy Week celebration of the Constantineopolitan Church at some point after the 8th century. It is used on St. James Day, October 23. Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem recite it on the Sunday after Christmas, or as part of the Christmas Eve service. The Greek original is also found in the Liturgy of St. Basil as the Troparion for Holy Saturday morning.
Although the hymn can be used as a communion hymn any time of the year, it is a beautiful advent hymn, pointing us to stand in awe as the King of kings and Lord of lords descends to earth to vanquish the powers of hell.
"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" first appeared in Lyra Eucharistica and The English Hymnal in 1906, with the tune PICARDY, arranged by Ralph Vaughn Williams.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:8
Speaking of Jesus' arrival, St. John wrote: The true light that enlightens every man was coming in to the world. John 1:9
After His arrival, Jesus boldly announced: I am the light of the world. John 8:12
And our ancient hymn writer embraces the same theme: The Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day that the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.
We are fascinated with light: astronomers study it; poets sing of it; inventors find new ways to capture and share it; children love to play with it. And light became one of the earliest and most common metaphors for God.
Light illumines: no person can see anything in total darkness. So Jesus Christ illumines our minds about the person of God, about what we are, about how we can be reconciled to Him and how we are to live in His light.
Light also brings life: no plant will grow, no flower will bloom and no fruit will ripen if there is no light. So, Jesus came to bring the light which produces abundant and eternal life.
Light cheers. We often hear in Church that real joy does not depend on the weather. That's true, but sunlight does bring joy to a dark day. And so Christ came to bring us joy, even when life is anything but joyful. After five terrible beatings and two horrific stonings, this most jubilant Apostle got up and dusted off the opposition with the shout:
Rejoice in the Lord always. St. Paul speaking in Philippians 4 And light purifies. Mildew exposed to light is destroyed. A stain on my shirt can be bleached away when it hangs in the sun. So Christ came to destroy the evil deeds the devil continually entices us to commit.
A singer in New York City once lamented, "It's been a long time since I liked myself." Perhaps you feel the same way today. But there is good news for him and for you: Jesus the Light of the world, forgives - He washes you totally clean of your sin. And Jesus the Light, will destroy the devil's work.
Jesus tells us that one day there will be a "new heaven and a new earth." God's new creation will be filled only with righteousness - only that which is pure and perfect. But, He can fill you with righteousness right now, if you let Him. For if a scientist can make penicillin out of mold, God can make something good of the singer - and you!
To learn more about how to find the "Light of life", just follow the link: Knowing Christ.
Lyricist: Liturgy of St. James Lyrics Date: 4th Century Adapted by: Gerard Moultrie Date: 1864 Key: C Theme: Jesus Christ His Advent Composer: French Carol Melody Music Date: 17th Century Harmonization: Ralph Vaughan Williams Harmonization Date: 1906 Tune Name: PICARDY Meter: Scripture: Habakkuk 2:20
Copyright © 2011 Center for Church Music


Thanks to the Center for Church Music'sSongsandHymns.orgfor providing the content of this newsletter! Please considerdonating to their ministry.


An Object of Derision

Many of Jesus' contemporaries refused to accept the Messiah's shame and curse on the cross, and many in the history of the church have done the same, denying the substitutionary nature of the atonement and the fact that God cursed our sin in Jesus. To show His great mercy and satisfy His justice, the Father condemned the sins of His people in His Son. Any attempt to make the cross merely a good example or an accident of history destroys the gospel of salvation.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 
Each Wednesday in Advent, we read a passage from the Gospels and consider what early church writers had to say about it.

Opening prayer

Through him he has called us out of darkness into the light, out of ignorance into the knowledge of his glory, so that we might hope, Lord, in your name, for it is the foundation of all creation.--Clement of Rome

Scripture reading: Isaiah 35:1-10
(read on Bible Gateway)

1 The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the LORD has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Reflections from the church fathers

The Soul That Is Parched (Gregory of Nyssa): For it is clear that it is not without soul or sense that he proclaims the good tidings of joy, but he speaks, by the figure of the desert, of the soul that is parched and unadorned. On the Baptism of Christ.

The Lord (Cyril of Alexandria): Observe how he names him Lord and calls him God, seeing that he speaks in the Spirit; note that he knew the Emmanuel would not be simply a man bearing God nor, of a truth, as one assumed as an agent. But he knew that he was truly God and incarnate. Letter 1.31.

An Extreme Humility (Augustine): Christ, you see, was going to come in the flesh, not anyone at all, not an angel, not an ambassador, but "he himself will come and save you."Sermon 293.8.

The Strides of the Interior Life (Chromatius of Aquileia):Whoever has gone astray from the way of righteousness or from the way of truth is altogether lame, even if his feet and legs are healthy, since he limps with his mind and soul. For the journey of faith and truth is traveled not with bodily steps but with strides of the interior life. Sermon 1.3-4.

Toil and Groaning (Augustine): Certainly hope is very necessary for us in our exile. It is what consoles us on the journey. When the traveler, after all, finds it wearisome walking along, he puts up with the fatique precisely because he hopes to arrive. Rob him of any hope of arriving, and immediately his strength for walking is broken. So the hope also which we have here is part and parcel of the justice of our exile and our journey. Sermon 158.8.

Closing prayer

We ask you, almighty God, let our souls enjoy this their desire, to be enkindled by your Spirit, that being filled as lamps by your divine gift, we may shine like burning lights before the presence of your Son Christ at his coming; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. --The Gelasian Sacramentary

Today's Advent reading is from 
Ancient Christian Devotional, edited by Oden and Crosby.

Today's Advent reading is taken from:Ancient Christian Devotional
Edited by Oden, Crosby

Bite-sized bits of profound wisdom from the patristic era that coincide with the Scripture readings in cycle A of the Revised Common Lectionary.

FRB-Christmas-Story-BookCover-SmallReading 9: An Angel Announces Jesus' Birth

When Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth was six months pregnant, her young cousin Mary had a very special visitor. An angel told Mary that she had been chosen to give birth to a special child, the Son of the Most High. Mary was betrothed (engaged) to a man named Joseph, who was from the family line of David.

Luke 1:26-56 
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
Mary’s Song
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me--
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Further Study
  1. What was the name of the angel who visited Mary? (v. 26)
  2. What was the name Mary was to give her child? (v. 31)
  3. What was Mary’s final answer to the angel? (v. 38)
  1. Why did Mary believe this very unusual announcement? Why did Mary visit Elizabeth?
  2. What was Mary like? Why do you think God chose her to be Jesus’ mother?

God showed that he can do the impossible--a virgin became pregnant by his Holy Spirit, and God’s Son came into the world. Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1:46 - 55 tells how wonderful this news is.


1:39 – 40 Mary’s home in Nazareth was about 65 miles away from Jerusalem, where her cousin Elizabeth lived. In Bible times, that distance would have taken several days to travel. It was common for relatives to visit and stay for months at a time, like Mary did.


Family Reading BibleToday's reading is from:The Family Reading Bible 

Additional resources:


At Issue - God’s Power

Whose side is God on? When you're in a conflict with someone-is God on your side? When you're competing for a promotion-is God on your side? When you're fighting wrongful charges on your cell phone bill-is God on your side? Actually, when Joshua asked the commander of the army of the Lord whose side he was on, he got a cryptic reply: "Neither." The question isn't whether God's on our side, but whether we're on God's side. God was ready to do something great through Joshua, but Joshua's first battle action was to bow and acknowledge that God was the one in authority. After he did, the walls of Jericho fell without a single blow.

True Identity: The Bible for Women
by Zondervan

The Bible that helps you see yourself as God sees you! Find your true identity in Christ through your relationship with him.
A Christmas Devotional


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6
"What is the baby's name?" The people in Bethlehem who had heard of a baby born in a stable must have stopped by to talk to Mary or Joseph. Mary and Joseph voiced the name they themselves had not chosen: Jesus. But hundreds of years earlier, other names had already been announced for the Anointed One. Among them, Isaiah spoke of one who would be called Wonderful Counselor.
What was a "counselor" in biblical times? It was one of the roles of a king or other highly placed official, the task of being wise and judicious in the most difficult questions, the most complicated negotiations, and the most intractable problems. The counsel of the king was supreme. But it was not infallible. We know there is good counsel and there is poor counsel.
The one born of a virgin would be called Wonderful Counselor. Now that is something different. The Hebrew word for "wonderful" means something out of the ordinary, clearly different, beyond human explanation. It is the knowledge described in Psalm 139:1-6: O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
When we contemplate the nativity of Jesus, we cannot help but be full of wonder. This is how God came to us, and it is wonderful because Jesus gives us an unclouded vision of what our lives are supposed to be-good counsel. He instructed us with words of wisdom. He exemplified, for us, what it looks like to lead a life devoted to the Father. Yet, how often do we really heed this treasured council? How might we live more consciously in light of the example he set forth?
Prayer for Today:
Lord I need your counsel in every area of my life. As I think about my family, friends, work, and decisions-I know I need to be smart beyond what is humanly possible to be smart. So please help me listen to you this Christmas as the only one who is the Wonderful Counselor.


About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.

Unexpected Passage: Lynch mobs, assassins and Roman justice

Today's reading: Acts 26
Acts 26:22 "But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike."
The last few chapters of Acts show Paul at his most fearless. He confronts a lynch mob with such boldness that Roman soldiers have to drag him into their barracks for his own protection. The next day he takes on the Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin, causing such a ruckus that the Roman commander fears they will tear Paul in pieces. Then 40 religious fanatics take a vow to kill him.
In the midst of all this turmoil, Paul gets a comforting vision from the Lord, who says, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome" (Acts 23:11). That is all the encouragement Paul needs.
The Prisoner Speaks
After being smuggled out of town under heavy guard and the cover of darkness, Paul arrives at last in the palace of the Roman governor. His troubles are far from over. After hearing Paul's defense, Felix sends him to prison for two years as a political favor to the religious authorities. Even that does not quiet the furor. The moment a new governor, Festus, arrives, Jewish leaders hatch yet another death plot against Paul.
Acts records 18 speeches, the last three of which were delivered to a very select audience. Roman officials, intrigued by the most talked-about prisoner in their corner of the empire, bring Paul to perform, like a trained bear. This chapter records Paul's riveting performance before the most distinguished judge, King Herod Agrippa.
The result? Paul finally realizes his dream of visiting Rome-not via a missionary journey, but in a Roman ship as a prisoner of the empire.

Life Question

Have you ever faced opposition because of your faith? What can you learn from Paul's response?
Today's reading is from theNIV Student Bible
by Zondervan

A proven, common sense approach to studying the Scriptures appeals to high school and college readers (and students of all ages).

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