Mountain View Independent Methodist Church
Friday, November 17, 2017
God is good ALL the time... and ALL the time, God is good!!

Year 2012 - October thru December

   
 
 
+++ The Christian Banner - December 2012 +++
 
 
The Hidden Meaning of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” Song
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From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
 
The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
 
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
 
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
 
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
 
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
 
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
 
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
 
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
 
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
 
The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
 
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
 
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
 
Footnote: An interesting news item this year:
If in 2012, you bought all 364 items repeated throughout “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” you would pay $107,300. That’s 6.1 percent more than in 2011, according to the annual Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management.
 
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What are You Giving this Christmas?
New Hope Bereavement Center
 Winter 2012 Newsletter - “Stepping Stones”
Written by: Rhonda Wilson
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When I was a child I remember people asking, “What are you getting for Christmas this year?” Now I have a question for you: What are you giving this Christmas?
 
I hope you are planning to give a LOT this Christmas. No, I am not suggesting you spend a lot of money. Times are hard financially. Even if they weren’t – Christmas is not about money. It doesn’t seem that our society understands that, does it? Folks scurry around trying to find the perfect (expensive) gift for every person. They are anxious about finding the right gift, worried about spending too much money, and then they go into a panic when the bills come. Add grieving to that mix, and it’s a mess.
 
My suggestion is – change what you give. Of course there are people you want to remember with a gift, especially children. That’s great as long as you don’t get over your head financially or run your blood pressure up worrying over getting the shopping done.
 
I’m always advising those who are grieving to take care of themselves. Grief is hard on us emotionally and physically. We need to stay away from added stress that we can control as we heal.
 
What I really mean when I encourage you to change what you give is – give yourself. Give your love and your time. When Jesus was on earth, I don’t think he had a lot of money to spend on people. Instead He gave them the perfect gift – His love and His time. He continues to do that for us today. If we follow His example and reach out to our loved ones and even strangers with love, our holidays will be less stressful and greatly enriched.
 
As I get older, I realize more and more that time is a gift. I would rather spend time with the people I love than have any gift they could buy for me. I miss my loved ones who have died, but I am blessed that many of the people I love are still here with me. The perfect Christmas gift for me is the time we spend together.
 
May you be surrounded by the love of family and friends this holiday season.
 
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Memories of Christmas
Written & submitted by: Lela Trotter
 
Some of my best memories of Christmas happened when I was growing up in the 1950’s. We were taught the real meaning of Christmas. But we still enjoyed our gifts at Christmas. I remember one year that my sister Judy and I collected Cheerwine bottle caps. I don’t remember how many we collected but we had enough and each one of us got a big doll. Judy’s doll had on a blue dress and cap with blond hair. My doll had on a pink dress and cap and had dark hair. Those dolls were special.
 
One Christmas, my brother Daryl, got a tractor that you could pedal. We lived in a house with an upstairs. There were a lot of stairs. I don’t know how he got the tractor up there. I don’t know exactly what happened except we heard a loud noise and Daryl fell down all those stairs. We don’t know whether he accidentally fell or tried to ride the tractor down the stairs.
 
My youngest sister, Annie Sue, said I ruined Christmas for her because I showed her where her gifts were before Christmas. I remember on Christmas morning we would get up before the sun came up to see our gifts. Then we would run into where Daddy was in bed and show him what we got. He was always surprised to see our gifts.
 
Those were wonderful years and I’m thankful I have those memories. May God bless each of you this Christmas and I hope you make some wonderful memories too!
 
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If Only I Had Known
Written & submitted by: Pat Lewallen
 
Do you ever remember something you haven’t thought of for a long time? Recently, this happened to me. Why did I think of it again? I don’t know why, except to share it with you today. This happened many years ago. I still remember my school classroom and many of my classmates. It almost never failed that when the teacher left the room, we would be talking, acting stupid and start picking on each other. We stopped when the “lookout” would warn us that our teacher was on the way back to our classroom.
 
I remember the day I had a conversation with a classmate that I’d talked to only a few times that year. I still remember my classmate telling me, “I’ve got a one way ticket to hell.” This statement caught me completely off guard. No one before or since that day has ever made that statement to me. I remember telling my classmate not to talk that way. A short while later we were out for school break. The morning I returned back to school, the teacher came in and announced that this classmate had died and would not be returning to school.
 
This news really shocked me and brought me to tears. If only I had known the Lord as my Savior at that time in my life. I could have witnessed to my classmate. I could have talked about the great love that Jesus has for each one of us. I could have shared the good news that God sent Jesus into this world to die for our sins. The reply I offered to my classmate that day could have been so different. I truly hope my classmate was just acting stupid and picking with me that day. 
 
I didn’t accept Jesus into my heart until a few years later. The Lord was faithful and dealt with me many times before I accepted His great love for me. I’m so glad I allowed Jesus to come into my heart. I still know Him as my Lord and Savior today. I regret that I didn’t accept Jesus into my heart much earlier in my life.   
 
If God has been dealing with your heart, please don’t turn Him away. Accept His great plan of salvation for you and ask Him to come into your heart. You’ll find the greatest gift that life has to offer. It’s such a precious gift that you’ll want to share it with others too.
 
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A Worshiper God Wants
Written by: Ann Graham Lotz
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God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. John 4:24 (NIV)
 
God wants us to worship Him in spirit. What does that mean? It means we must be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We must be born again. It also means we must worship Him sincerely, earnestly, with a right spirit, with a sweet spirit. We are to worship from the depths of our beings as we are continually occupied with God. Worship is not just the act of going to church because we always have or because it's the thing to do. It is not just putting your body in a pew while your mind is elsewhere. It is not just smiling serenely on the outside while on the inside you are filled with unconfessed sin.
 
God also wants us to worship Him in truth. What does that mean? It means there is no way to God, no way at all, without coming through Jesus Christ Who is the Truth. It also means that we must base our relationship with Him on His Word, which is the truth. And to worship Him in truth means to worship Him honestly, without hypocrisy, standing open and transparent before Him.
 
Are you the kind of worshiper God wants?
 
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An Ordinary Christmas
Written & submitted by: Irene Wright
 
It was an ordinary Christmas, so it seemed to be
But actually no one cared, it was all about me
Sheep grazing on the hillside, just below the river bed rock
As shepherds kept a watchful eye on their flock
Just an “ordinary” Christmas they thought
Until they heard the good news that the angel of the Lord brought
 
Was there anyone expecting a special child to be born
On that “ordinary” Christmas morn
For the world had been taxed by an evil man
And soon hardships spread through out the land
 
Joseph traveling with Mary, being great with child, knew it would be difficult for them
Yet they must go and register in the little town of Bethlehem
As night drew near
Mary and Joseph were perhaps somewhat overcome by fear
For Mary needed a place to lay
But no room at the inn, was the cry, poor Mary had no place to stay!
 
Why did no one see or believe
This was not just an “ordinary” Christmas Eve!
Although they seemed to be all alone
They somehow managed to continue on
 
But suddenly an old worn down stable was in sight
God was truly their guiding light
And Mary brought forth her first born son, who someday would be our King
But who would believe such a thing
For in such a lowly place, our Savior and King was born
On that “ordinary” Christmas morn
 
And there in the East stood a bright and shining star
Guiding the three wisemen from afar
As it came to rest where Jesus lay
And presenting Him with gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense, you could hear them say
This is not an “ordinary” Christmas at all, but a very special Christmas day!
 
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For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (KJV)
 
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May the spirit of Christmas
bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas
give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas
grant you love.
 
author unknown
 
 
 
+++ The Christian Banner - November 2012 +++
 
 
Trust and Obey
Written & submitted by: Richard Lewallen
 
How many times do we say, “Well, I’m just not going to worry about it!” and then we worry about it? I believe worry hits every one of us right between the eyes! Worry can be a good thing if it puts us on our knees. We’re all familiar with the song that goes:
 
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry and He will answer by and by
 
If you think about it, even Jesus’ disciples were sometimes worry warts. As Jesus slept in the ship, a storm came up and brought great worry to the disciples. After waking up Jesus, they asked, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Jesus replied to them, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
 
The more we worry, the less we trust! It is natural for us to be concerned about things, but this concern should be turned into prayer time! We must keep in mind that we serve a God that loves us and is aware of our every need. Jesus uses nature as a measure of His great concern for us. Two sparrows in biblical times sold for a penny, yet not one of them would fall from their nest without His knowledge of it.
 
If anything in nature has a right to worry, it is the little birds. They don’t have homes to live in. They don’t store up food for the winter, and yet, they don’t sit in the trees and worry about it all day. Actually, they sit in the trees and sing all day! No wonder God takes care of them so well. The little birds are living life the way God wants you and me to live! I think of a song that says it so well, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way.”
 
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In 2010, Gallup surveyed people living in 124 different countries to find the Top 10 happiest countries in the world. The United States came in number 12. Here are the results of Gallup’s most recent survey:
 
01.
Denmark
02.
Sweden
03.
Canada
04.
Australia
05.
Finland
06.
Venezuela
07.
Israel
08.
New Zealand
09.
Netherlands
10.
Ireland
 
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Be Thankful
Written by: Mark Bullock
Copied & submitted by: Lela Trotter
 
When you ask God in the morning
For His guidance through the day
Thank Him for the many blessings
He in love has sent your way
 
When you’re asking aid from Heaven
Mingle with your morning prayer
A word of praise and gratitude
For all His kindly care
 
When you send up your petition
To the throne of grace on high
Thank Him for the many favors
That His mercy does supply
 
Be more mindful of the blessings
That His kindness does impart
And the Lord will doubly bless you
For the joy you brought His heart
 
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After the November 2012 Election
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The election is over and I can predict (and guarantee) the following results:

01. God will still be on His throne.
02. Jesus will still be King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
03. The Bible will still have all the answers to every problem.
04. The tomb will still be empty.
05. Jesus will still be the only way to heaven.
06. Prayer will still work - it will still make a difference and God will still answer prayer.
07. The cross, not the government, will still be our salvation
08. There will still be room at the cross. 
09. Jesus will still save anyone who places their faith and trust in Him.
10. God will still be with us always - He will never leave us or forsake us.
 
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I love you Jesus, I love you Lord,
I thank You for your Holy Word
To guide and keep me along the way;
And strength and comfort give, from day to day.
 
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The best safeguard of the younger generation
is a good example by the older generation.
 
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The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
 
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O Happy Day, the Song and the Story
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When Monica Doddridge gave birth to her son Philip in 1702 in England, she had been through the pain of labor no less than 20 times, 18 of her children had died in infancy. Phillip Doddridge was delivered as though stillborn, and so the midwife set him aside to attend to his mother. And then the baby cried out. At that moment Monica determined that young Philip's life had been saved for a purpose. She spent the next few years doing her best to teach her frail son the Scriptures.

Philip’s mother died when he was eight years old. Four years later Philip’s father died. With no family and no money for formal training, friends encouraged him to give up his dream of entering the ministry. Doddridge took the matter to prayer and God miraculously provided funds. Doddridge found his place among the clergy of the English Dissenters. Doddridge wrote more than 50 hymns, including the very popular O Happy Day. It is a timeless song that brings inspiration and joy to the hearts of both doubters and believers. Philip Doddridge was 49 years old when he died in 1751 from tuberculosis.

O Happy Day

O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.
 
Happy day, happy day, when
Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray,
and live rejoicing every day
Happy day, happy day, when
Jesus washed my sins away.
 
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The Lost Keys
Written & submitted by: Pat Lewallen
November 10, 2012
 
The past two years have been tough on Momma and our family. We’ve made several trips to different doctors’ offices. I remember one day taking Momma home from one of her appointments. We had visited the same doctor that she and Daddy had gone to for years before Daddy’s death at 80 years old on November 26, 2005. Momma told me on our trip home she liked this doctor. I reminded her that Daddy really liked him too. Momma started laughing. I asked her what she was laughing about.
 
She reminded me of the time Daddy lost his big key chain with all his keys on it. He had acquired lots of keys over the years. I still remember how he worried over his lost keys. He walked all around the yard many times trying to find them. He borrowed a Geiger counter from my first cousin and searched but never found them. Daddy probably really only knew what a very few of his large collection of keys went to anyway. But they were his keys and he wanted them back. He would still mention them from time to time in our conversations but the walks around the property looking for them had stopped.
 
Then one day, Momma was looking for something in the bottom of one of the drawers at the house. I don’t know if she found what she started looking for but she found Daddy’s big key chain. This brought such joy to Daddy that all he could do was laugh. Momma and Daddy had to share the good news with their doctor at their next office visit. All three of them broke out in laughter that day. Even to this day, the doctor will sometimes mention Daddy’s lost key chain to Momma and me. All three of us will still have a good laugh.
 
Have you lost Jesus somewhere along life’s journey? You don’t remember exactly where you left Him? Did you know you can still find Him? He longs for you to renew your love and friendship with Him. Ask Him now to forgive you and start walking and talking with Him again. Stay close to Jesus. Please don’t lose Him again. I know you will be much happier in your life. You’ll be happy throughout all eternity too!
 
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Too Soon Old
Author unknown
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What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking, when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, not very wise
Uncertain of habit with faraway eyes
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, I do wish you'd try

Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing sock or shoe
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding the long day to fill
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse you're not looking at me

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still
As I do at your bidding as I eat at your will
I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother
Brothers and sisters who love one another
A young boy of sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover he'll meet

A groom soon at twenty my heart gives a leap
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep
At twenty-five now I have young of my own
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home
A man of thirty my young now grown fast
Bound to each other with ties that should last

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone
But my woman is beside me to see I don't mourn
At fifty, once more, babies play 'round my knee
Again, we know children my loved one and me
Dark days are upon me, my wife is now dead
I look at the future, I shudder with dread

For my young are all rearing young of their own
And I think of the years and the love that I've known
I'm now an old man and nature is cruel
It's jest to make old age look like a fool
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart
There is now a stone where I once had a heart

But inside this old carcass a young man still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys I remember the pain
And I'm loving and living life over again
I think of the years, all too few gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last

So open your eyes people, open and see
Not a cranky old man, look closer, see me
 
 
  
+++ The Christian Banner - October 2012 +++
  
When Unexpected Things Happen
Written & submitted by: Lela Trotter
 
It is a blessing when unexpected things happen to us, to know that God has gone before us. He will make a way for us if we trust Him. Virgil and I went grocery shopping a few weeks ago. We had been several places and we were at the last stop before heading home. I sat in the car because I was tired and it was hard for me to walk. Virgil was in the store for a short time. He came back to the car and tried to start it but it just wouldn’t start. He kept trying to start the car but nothing happened. I prayed for the Lord’s help. I told Virgil we would have to call for a tow truck. We have never been towed before and we didn’t know anyone that owned a towing service. Virgil called our insurance company and the lady gave us phone numbers to call. We didn’t know any of them.
 
Virgil decided to go back in the store to see if he could find something to check out the car. When he came out, a deputy sheriff that worked as a security guard at the store came out with him. She pulled her SUV close to our car, got out her jumper cables and attached them from her battery to ours. The car still would not start. Virgil told her that he had called to ask about tow trucks. She said she has two friends, a husband and wife that have a separate business. He has a tow truck and she has a wrecker. We needed a tow truck. The deputy sheriff called them and set it up for us.
 
The store manager came up after she had locked up the store. It was late. The tow truck driver came. I couldn’t get up in the tow truck so the store manager said, “I’ll take you home.” Before we left I told them, “You ladies are our angels tonight.” The deputy laughed and said, “Its part of my job.”
 
The next day Virgil found out what was wrong with the car. I will always believe that God was with us that night as He always has been. And I thank Him and praise His name. I pray His blessings on those two ladies. I often hear of the terrible things people do now. I’m glad I can know there are still kind and caring people in this world.
 
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Uncle Oscar was apprehensive about his first airplane ride. His friends, eager to hear how it went, asked if he enjoyed the flight.
 
“Well,” commented Uncle Oscar, “it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, but I’ll tell you this. I never did put all my weight down!”
 
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A little girl became restless as the preacher's sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?"
 
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Proclaim Your Freedom from Addiction
Written by: Pastor John Hagee
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Romans 6:18—And having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness.
 
God broke the power of ___________in my life when I surrendered completely to His will and direction.  Because I once rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High, I sat in darkness and bondage.  I stumbled and fell, and no one was there to help.  But when I cried out to the Lord in my trouble, He heard me and saved me from my distress.  In His goodness and loving-kindness, He brought me out of darkness and shattered the bonds that held me.  By His Word, I am healed.
 
I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.  My old person was nailed to the cross with Christ in order that my body, the instrument of sin, might be made ineffective and inactive for evil. I am no longer a slave to sin, having been delivered from its power when I was crucified with Christ. The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave His life for me.
 
He who lives in me is mightier than he who is in the world.  When I come close to God, He comes close to me.  Christ empowers me with strength to do all things.  With faith in God’s promises, I vow to never again yield my body to its cravings, subject to its lusts or evil desires.  I walk confidently as a servant of righteousness—conforming my life to God’s divine will in thought, purpose and action.  I am victorious because my faith is in Christ. I believe He is the Son of God, and I place my hope and trust in Him alone.
 
In obedience to the Word of God, I abstain from the sensual urges, evil desires and passions of the flesh that wage war with my soul, my mind, and my body.  I strip myself of my former nature, corrupted through lusts and evil desires.  I no longer set my mind on things that gratify the flesh, and am no longer controlled by the unholy desires of my flesh.  I renounce the lust of my flesh, the lust of my eyes, and the pride in my life, for these do not come from God but are from the world itself.
 
Instead, I put on the new nature, created in God’s image, in true righteousness and holiness.  My new spiritual self is ever in the process of being renewed after the image and likeness of God, I am constantly renewed in the spirit of my mind by concentrating on and seeking those things that gratify the Holy Spirit.
  
Christ came that I might have and enjoy abundant life.  Whereas, Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.  I steep myself in the Word of God that I might know the divine power that is mine in Christ’s name.  I meditate on His commands day and night to keep myself from sin, and I remain cautious at all times—on the lookout for Satan’s attempts to lead me astray.  Jesus was made to be like me in every way, in order that He might become a sympathetic and faithful High Priest.  He, Himself, suffered by being tempted in all things—tested and tried.  Because of this, He therefore, immediately runs to the sound of my cry when I am tempted, tested or tried.  He knows how to rescue the godly, no matter the situation, out of temptations and trials. 
 
I walk in faith, not fear, for God is with me.  He will never forsake me.  He strengthens and helps me and makes the darkness into light before me.  I ask, and God places a hedge of protection around me.  He is my refuge and dwelling place.  He drives the enemy out before me.  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, He revives me—through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with me.  He stretches out His hand against the wrath of my enemies and His right hand saves me.
 
I test all things until I recognize that which is good; then I grasp it tightly in my hand.  I will not be overcome by evil, but will overcome evil with good.  I no longer try to fit into this world, but am transformed by the renewal of my mind. Christ has set me free form the grips of addiction and sin.  I determine in my heart, by the grace of God, to stand fast.  I will never again be ensnared by the yoke of slavery to sin.
 
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Persecution of Christians on rise – in U.S.
September 18, 2012
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WND.com reports: “A report by two U.S.-based religious freedom groups says anti-Christian persecution is on the rise in America.
 
The joint report by Texas-based Liberty Institute and Washington-based Family Research Council says groups like the American Civil Liberties Union aren’t the only culprits. The report says government agencies around the U.S. are trying to push Christian expression out the door.
 
‘It is dramatic,’ says Liberty Institute Founder Kelly Shackleford, of the recent hike in reported incidents of persecution. ‘I have been doing these types of cases for almost 25 years now. I have never seen the levels of attacks like these and how quickly they are now proliferating.’ He says government, from schools to social programs, is the ringleader.
 
‘There are children being prohibited from writing Merry Christmas to the soldiers, senior citizens being banned from praying over their meals in the Senior Center, the VA banning the mention of God in military funerals, numerous attempts to have veterans memorials torn down if they have any religious symbols such as a cross, and I could go on and on,’ Shackleford said…”
 
Shackleford also adds that some key court cases may have accelerated the trend.
 
“The seeds for these attacks were dropped in a Supreme Court opinions in the ’40s, and it really began to take off in the 1960s. The thing that is shocking now, and different, is that the attacks have dramatically picked up speed,” Shackleford says. “There can be as many as 100 new attacks in a month. While Liberty Institute has the highest win rate of any group in the country at over 99 percent, we just can’t currently cover all these with our current resources.”
 
Among the violations listed in the joint report:
 
A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.
 
Following U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ policies, a federal government official sought to censor a pastor’s prayer, eliminating references to Jesus, during a Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans at a national cemetery.
 
Public school officials prohibited students from handing out gifts because they contained religious messages.
 
The U.S. Department of Justice argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government can tell churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis it can hire and fire.
 
The State of Texas sought to approve and regulate what religious seminaries can teach.
 
Through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the federal government is forcing religious organizations to provide insurance for birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in direct violation of their religious beliefs.
 
A federal judge held that prayers before a state House of Representatives could be to Allah but not to Jesus.
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“I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8 - King James Version
 
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Gutters and Windows
Written by: Jennifer Benson Schuldt
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While we were out for a family drive, a spotless white sign with perfect red lettering caught my attention: “Gutters and Windows—Quality Work Guaranteed.” The sign was pristine, but I feared the house and barn directly behind it might collapse at any moment. The paint was peeling, the windows were cracked, and the gutters were nonexistent!
 
Many of us “advertise” for Jesus, but our spiritual houses are in disrepair. We may attend church, speak in “Christianese,” and mingle nicely with others. But when our conduct does not align with our hearts, our first-class behavior is just a performance of piety. When Jesus confronted the Pharisees, He said, “You . . . outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:28).
 
Jesus had a different but equally direct message for His followers: “Do not be like the hypocrites” (6:16). The Bible encourages us to “love from a pure heart . . . and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). These inner attitudes should pour out through our words and actions (Luke 6:45).
 
Today, consider the state of your spiritual house. If people look beyond the beautiful outward display, will they discover an authentic heart?
 
Hypocrisy is a common sin
That grieves the Lord above;
He longs for those who’ll worship Him
In faith and truth and love. —Bosch
 
God desires that our actions be a reflection of a pure heart.
 
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Longing for Home
Written by: Bill Crowder
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When our son Stephen was a youngster, he went away for a week at a Christian summer camp. Later that week, we got a letter from him that was addressed to “Mom and Dad Crowder” and simply said, “Please come and take me home today.” What his child’s mind couldn’t comprehend, of course, was that it would be days before we got his letter and more time before we could come for him. All his young heart knew was that he longed for home and for Mom and Dad—and that can be tough for a child.
 
Sometimes we can be like Stephen as we think about this world. It’s easy to think longingly about being with Jesus and begin to wish we could go to our “eternal home” (Eccl. 12:5) where we will “be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23). As God’s children (John 1:12), we know that this world will never truly be home to us. Like the apostle Paul, we especially feel that way when the struggles of life are hard. While in Rome awaiting trial, Paul wrote, “I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). He loved serving Christ, but a part of him longed to be with the Savior.
 
It’s comforting to know that we can think ahead to being with Jesus—in a home that is far better.
To see His face, this is my goal;
The deepest longing of my soul;
Through storm and stress my path I’ll trace
Till, satisfied, I see His face! —Chisholm
 
There is no place like home—especially when home is heaven.