Daily Bible Reading – English Standard Version – April 13, 2013

High_Priest_and_Lampstand
Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John Before the Council

 1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. 5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

Deuteronomy 19:1-21
Laws Concerning Cities of Refuge

 1 “When the LORD your God cuts off the nations whose land the LORD your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, 2 you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess. 3 You shall measure the distances and divide into three parts the area of the land that the LORD your God gives you as a possession, so that any manslayer can flee to them. 4 “This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past– 5 as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies–he may flee to one of these cities and live, 6 lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past. 7 Therefore I command you, You shall set apart three cities. 8 And if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land that he promised to give to your fathers– 9 provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you today, by loving the LORD your God and by walking ever in his ways–then you shall add three other cities to these three, 10 lest innocent blood be shed in your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you. 11 “But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.

Property Boundaries

 14 “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.

Laws Concerning Witnesses

 15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. 16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, 17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. 18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Deuteronomy 20:1-20
Laws Concerning Warfare

 1 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 2 And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people 3 and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, 4 for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’ 5 Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Is there any man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. 6 And is there any man who has planted a vineyard and has not enjoyed its fruit? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man enjoy its fruit. 7 And is there any man who has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.’ 8 And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.’ 9 And when the officers have finished speaking to the people, then commanders shall be appointed at the head of the people. 10 “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. 11 And if it responds to you peaceably and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. 12 But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 And when the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword, 14 but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here. 16 But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God. 19 “When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? 20 Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.

Job 13:1-28
Job Continues: Still I Will Hope in God

 1 “Behold, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it.  2 What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you.  3 But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.  4 As for you, you whitewash with lies; worthless physicians are you all.  5 Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!  6 Hear now my argument and listen to the pleadings of my lips.  7 Will you speak falsely for God and speak deceitfully for him?  8 Will you show partiality toward him? Will you plead the case for God?  9 Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one deceives a man?  10 He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality.  11 Will not his majesty terrify you, and the dread of him fall upon you?  12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay. 13 “Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may.  14 Why should I take my flesh in my teeth and put my life in my hand?  15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.  16 This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him.  17 Keep listening to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears.  18 Behold, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be in the right.  19 Who is there who will contend with me? For then I would be silent and die.  20 Only grant me two things, then I will not hide myself from your face:  21 withdraw your hand far from me, and let not dread of you terrify me.  22 Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me.  23 How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin.  24 Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?  25 Will you frighten a driven leaf and pursue dry chaff?  26 For you write bitter things against me and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.  27 You put my feet in the stocks and watch all my paths; you set a limit for the soles of my feet.  28 Man wastes away like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten.

 

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Bible Reading For Today – English Standard Version (ESV) – April 13,2013

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Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so  that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For  the word of God is living and  active, sharper than any  two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and  discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And  no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are  naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Jesus the Great High Priest

Since then we have  a great high priest  who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God,  let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest  who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been  tempted as we are,  yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:11-16 –  English Standard Version (ESV)

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Four more dogs found dead in Idaho as dog disappearances, killings mount

end-times

Four dogs have been found beaten in the head and shot to death in rural southern Idaho, authorities said on Thursday, adding to the mysterious disappearance and killing of dozens of dogs that has left residents in that area on edge.

Examinations showed that the German Shepherd mixes, whose carcasses had been dumped in a pile off a highway south of Twin Falls, had been bludgeoned and shot in the head, said Gary Trostel, deputy with the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

“We didn’t know until today how they had died: poisoned or shot or what. We knew it was some type of head trauma the way the eyes bulged out and with all the bleeding,” Trostel said.

Animal control officers reported last month that roughly 30 dogs had gone missing since November in Twin Falls and nearby communities in a farming region known as the Magic Valley.

A German shepherd discovered by hikers last month in an area known as the Devil’s Corral in neighboring Jerome County appeared to have suffered what animal control officers called a “ritualistic execution” in which its head was crushed with rock and its carcass covered with a purple cloth.

Trostel said an examination of that dog showed it had been beaten and shot in the head.

The Humane Society of the United States is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the dog’s death. It was unclear if that dog’s death was related to the other disappearances and killings.

Trostel said pet owners in the area are in a state of “constant concern”. He said residents were being urged to report any stalking or disappearance of pets and to prevent their dogs from roaming.

“We’re staying on it and working with what leads we have. We know something is going on but we don’t know what it all means. We’re trying to find out,” said Trostel.

No one has claimed the dead dogs. The carcasses show no signs that the animals had been used for dog fighting, which is illegal in Idaho, Trostel said.

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Nuclear bombshell: North Korea has nukes capable of striking neighboring nations, says Pentagon

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A classified Defense Intelligence Agency report described in testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday reveals that “North Korea now has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles.”

The U.S. has jointly declared “Watchcon 2” status with South Korea, the highest level of military alert, as North Korean missiles have been spotted in the “launch” position.

This story was broken by the Christian Science Monitor and publicized by DrudgeReport.com.

According to the report, Rep. Doug Lamborn ® of Colorado quotes an unclassified edition of the DIA report which reads, “DIA assess with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles. However, the reliability will be low.”

What this means is that the missile failure rate is believed to be high, but that North Korea possesses ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

Why is this such a big deal? Because North Korea recently promised to nuke several major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. The threat was dismissed by most observers as hot air, based on the belief that North Korea did not possess missiles capable of carrying and delivering nuclear warheads. Now that belief must be called into question.

North Korea capable of striking Japan, South Korea, Taiwan

If the report is true, it would mean North Korea is capable of launching nuclear missiles at nearby targets such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other nations. Thousands of U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, making military zones there obvious targets for the North’s nuclear crusade.

But North Korea may also be capable of launching ballistics missiles with longer range — allowing them to strike targets such as Australia, Hawaii or even the West Coast of the United States. Most experts doubt North Korea has the technical expertise to achieve such long-range performance, but no one denies the country is working on developing such technologies.

If North Korea has nuclear missiles as described in the intelligence report — and if it is willing to use them — it means North Korea possesses the means to overrun South Korea with military might. Kim Jong-Un can simply launch a preemptive nuclear strike at the closest military base then unleash a human wave of North Korean soldiers to march into Seoul and occupy South Korea.

This could pull the United States into a dangerous global war with China, a communist regime that considers North Korea to be its political ally and strategic partner.

Predictions: The U.S. may strike North Korea

I predict that if this escalation does not rapidly cool down, the U.S. will be forced to unleash a military strike on North Korea’s missile assets. I am not the only one concerned about this possibility.

This YouTube video claims to show a stream of vehicles fleeing the North and crossing the DMZ into South Korea, escorted by a military vehicle. Their rationale? Possibly to escape an imminent U.S. military strike on North Korea.

Interestingly, this is one of the few times when I actually agree with the Pentagon that a pre-emptive strike is morally justified against North Korea. If the U.S. attacks North Korea’s military leadership (but not civilians), it will be an act of national self-defense against an irrational aggressor who had directly and persistently threatened to nuke U.S. cities.

Pentagon Finds Nuclear Strides by North Korea

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A new assessment by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm has concluded for the first time, with “moderate confidence,” that North Korea has learned how to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be delivered by a ballistic missile.

The assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has been distributed to senior administration officials and members of Congress, cautions that the weapon’s “reliability will be low,” apparently a reference to the North’s difficulty in developing accurate missiles or, perhaps, to the huge technical challenges of designing a warhead that can survive the rigors of flight and detonate on a specific target.

The assessment’s existence was disclosed Thursday by Representative Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado, three hours into a budget hearing of the House Armed Services Committee with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. General Dempsey declined to comment on the assessment because of classification issues.

But late Thursday, the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., released a statement saying that the assessment did not represent a consensus of the nation’s intelligence community and that “North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile.”

In another sign of the administration’s deep concern over the release of the assessment, the Pentagon press secretary, George Little, issued a statement that sought to qualify the conclusion from the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has primary responsibility for monitoring the missile capabilities of adversary nations but which a decade ago was among those that argued most vociferously — and incorrectly — that Iraq had nuclear weapons.

“It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage,” Mr. Little said.

A spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, Kim Min-seok, said early Friday that despite various assessments. “we have doubt that North Korea has reached the stage of miniaturization.”

Nonetheless, outside experts said that the report’s conclusions could explain why Mr. Hagel has announced in recent weeks that the Pentagon was bolstering long-range antimissile defenses in Alaska and California, intended to protect the West Coast, and rushing another antimissile system, originally not set for deployment until 2015, to Guam.

Also Thursday, Mr. Clapper sought to tamp down fears that North Korean rhetoric could lead to an armed clash with the United States, South Korea and regional allies, and a high South Korean official called for dialogue with North Korea.

Mr. Clapper told a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee that in his experience, two other confrontations with the North — the seizure of the Navy spy ship Pueblo in 1968 and the death of two military officers in a tree-cutting episode in the demilitarized zone in 1976 — stoked much greater tensions between the two countries. The statement by the South Korean official, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, was televised nationally, and it represented a considerable softening in tone by President Park Geun-hye’s government.

Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, was scheduled to arrive in Seoul on Friday and to travel to China and Japan after that. He has two principal goals on the last leg of a six-nation trip: to encourage China to use its influence to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program while reassuring South Korea and Japan that the United States remains committed to their defense.

The report issued by the Defense Intelligence Agency last month was titled “Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099: North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program.” Its executive summary reads: “D.I.A. assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles; however the reliability will be low.”

A spokesman for Mr. Lamborn, Catherine Mortensen, said the material he quoted during the hearing was unclassified. Pentagon officials said later that while the report remained classified, the one-paragraph finding had been declassified but not released. Republicans in Congress have led efforts to increase money for missile defense, and Mr. Lamborn has been critical of the Obama administration for failing to finance it adequately.

North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, including one this year, and shot a ballistic missile as far as the Philippines in December. American and South Korean intelligence agencies believe that another test — perhaps of a midrange missile called the Musudan that can reach Japan, South Korea and almost as far as Guam — may be conducted in the coming days, to celebrate the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder. At the Pentagon, there is particular concern about another missile, yet untested, called the KN-08, which may have significantly longer range.

“North Korea has already demonstrated capabilities that threaten the United States and the security environment in East Asia,” Mr. Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee.

He added that “we believe Pyongyang has already taken initial steps” toward fielding what he called a “road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.” He appeared to be referring to the KN-08, provided to North Korea by a Russian company and based on the design of a Russian submarine-launched nuclear missile.

Mr. Clapper referred to “extremely belligerent, aggressive public rhetoric towards the United States and South Korea” by the North’s young president, Kim Jong-un. And he made it clear that getting inside Mr. Kim’s head, and understanding his goals, had been particularly frustrating.

He suggested that while Mr. Kim’s grandfather and father had clear motives — to periodically threaten the world with nuclear crises, then wait to get paid in cash, food or equipment to lower the rhetoric — the younger Mr. Kim apparently intended to demonstrate both to North Koreans and to the international community that North Korea deserves respect as a nuclear power.

“His primary objective is to consolidate, affirm his power,” Mr. Clapper told the House committee, adding that “the belligerent rhetoric of late, I think, is designed for both an internal and an external audience.”

Asked if the North Korean leader had an “endgame,” Mr. Clapper said, “I don’t think, really, he has much of an endgame other than to somehow elicit recognition from the world and specifically, most importantly, the United States, of North Korea as a rival on an international scene, as a nuclear power, and that that entitles him to negotiation and to accommodation, and presumably for aid.”

Other officials have said, in background interviews, that Mr. Kim is trying to get North Korea into the same position as Pakistan: an acknowledged nuclear power that the West has given up hopes of disarming.

Mr. Clapper appeared with the heads of several other intelligence agencies, including Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn of the Defense Intelligence Agency; the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III; and the C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, to present their annual assessment of the threats facing the nation. The same officials briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee last month.

Even as they sought to explain the North Korean leader’s recent bellicose threats, which have prompted American and South Korean troops to increase alert levels, Mr. Clapper and other top intelligence officials acknowledged that United States spy agencies do not know much about Mr. Kim.

“Kim Jong-un has not been in power all that long, so we don’t have an extended track record for him like we did with his father and grandfather,” Mr. Brennan said. “That’s why we are watching this very closely and to see whether or not what he is doing is consistent with past patterns of North Korean behavior.”

Mr. Clapper added that with such little information on Mr. Kim, “there’s no telling how he’s going to behave.”

“He impresses me as impetuous, not as inhibited as his father became about taking aggressive action,” he added. “The pattern with his father was to be provocative and then to sort of back off. We haven’t seen that yet with Kim Jong-un.”

As for what might change the North’s posture, Mr. Clapper pointed to China’s new leadership. “I think probably if anyone has real leverage over the North Koreans, it is China,” he said.

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Bible Verse of the Day – April 12,2013 English Standard Version (ESV)

matthew-5-17

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely  on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for  so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

 “You are the salt of the earth,  but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so  that they may see your good works and  give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

“Do not think that I have come to abolish  the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but  to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you,  until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore whoever relaxes  one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least  in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great  in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds  that of the scribes and Pharisees, you  will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10-20

 

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Honor System – Our Daily Bread – April 12,2013

cross-forgiveness-colossians-3-vs-13

Many homes near ours offer produce and perennials for sale by the road. Sometimes we’ll drive up to an unattended stand that operates on the “honor system.” As we make our selection, we put our money into a cash box or an old coffee can. Then we go home to enjoy the freshly picked fruits and vegetables.

But the honor system doesn’t always work. My friend Jackie has a flower stand in front of her house. One day, as she glanced out her window she saw a well-dressed woman with a big hat loading pots of perennials into the trunk of her car. Jackie smiled as she mentally calculated a $50 profit from her labors in the garden. But when she checked the cash box later, it was empty! The honor system revealed that this woman was not honorable.

Perhaps to her, taking the flowers seemed like a small thing. But being honest in little things indicates how we will respond in the big things (Luke 16:10). Honesty in all areas of our lives is one way we can bring honor to Jesus Christ, our Savior.

The best “honor system” for a follower of Christ is Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service,
Consecrate every part. —Grose
Honesty means never having to look over your shoulder.

BEARING FRUIT – David Wilkerson Today – A Ministry of World Challenge

BEARING FRUIT
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
fruitSliderSm
There is a portion of Scripture that convicts me deeply. Jesus said, “I am the
true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not
fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that
it may bring forth more fruit. . . If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth
as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire,
and they are burned” (John 15:2, 6).

I have read and re-read these powerful words of Christ, and I cannot escape
their convicting power. The Holy Spirit has impressed upon me the importance of
understanding these words, “My Father is the husbandman . . . every branch in me
that beareth not fruit he taketh away.”

This matter of Christians bearing fruit is not optional with God. He watches
over His vine and all the engrafted branches with great jealousy and concern,
patiently waiting for the branches to bring forth fruit. He stands beside it
with pruning knife in hand, lovingly watching for the slightest evidence of
corruption, blight or disease which could hinder growth. God expects fruit from
every branch. Without fruit, it is impossible to honor and glorify Him or be a
true disciple of Christ. Jesus said: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye
bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8).

Bearing fruit has everything to do with pleasing God—fulfilling our mission
in Christ— and with having our prayers and petitions answered. Jesus said,
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should
go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye
shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (verse 16).

Actually, bearing fruit concerns what we are becoming, rather than simply what
we are doing. I am bearing fruit when there is nothing hindering the flow of
the life of Christ into me. That is what Jesus meant when He said, “Now ye are
clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). He is saying,
“Because you believed My word—trembling over it, letting it reveal every
hidden secret, bringing to light every dark thing, allowing the Word of God to
purge you—the hindrances are all gone!”

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Proposed California Law Could Take Away Tax Exemption

boyscouts

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee of California voted 5 to 2 in favor of moving forward a new law that will certainly force churches and many other Christian organizations that minister to youth to lose their tax-exempt status.  The law is titled The Youth Equality Act.  Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, sponsors it.

In essence, the law denies tax-exempt status to organizations that have youth groups.  If in the state’s determination the group discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation, the state will revoke its tax-exempt status.

More than just youth

It is said that the law will only go after Little League, Bobby Sox, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire, Inc., Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, 4-H Clubs, Distributive Education Clubs of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, Collegiate Young Farmers, Boys’ Clubs, Girls’ Clubs, Special Olympics, Inc., American Youth Soccer Organization, California Youth Soccer Association, North, California Youth Soccer Association, South, and Pop Warner football.  But the language of the new law leaves plenty of room to go after churches that have private schools, active youth groups, church little leagues, and other sports such as soccer and football.  To further leave the door open, the law ends by stating that the organizations that are subject to this new law shall include but not be limited to those mentioned in the law.

It is clear that the intent of the law is to go much further than what is listed in the law.

What if a church loses tax exemption in California?

If a church in California has a youth group and in the process of hiring their youth pastor they discriminate to only hire Christian heterosexuals that live a lifestyle according to the church’s doctrine, that church’s tax-exempt status in California would be revoked.   The church would have to pay annual corporate and franchise taxes on their tithes and offerings and other donations including moneys made from fundraisers.

How to prepare

At StartCHURCH we have been teaching pastors and leaders to prepare for the hostile legislative culture we are living in today.  It is not just California.  A growing number of states are considering laws that would put the church at odds with the state, simply by the church’s practice of its disciplines of faith.  We are teaching pastors strategies that give their churches solid foundations upon which to stand if a new law attempts to force them to engage in or allow an activity to take place that violates their disciplines of faith.

 

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Survival Food for Uncertain Times

Oops! New York State Police Admit to Major Mistake in Gun Confiscation Case

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In a surprising turnaround, New York State Police have admitted that they made a mistake when they confiscated the guns and suspended the permit of an Erie County resident on the grounds of mental health.

Late Wednesday, Erie County, NY, released a statement (posted below) blaming the New York State Police for giving them bad information regarding the suspension of a pistol permit and demand to surrender firearms sent to Amherst resident David Lewis.

(Mr. Lewis was not identified in our original story, his name has since been released in conjunction with court documents filed by his attorney, Jim Tresmond.)

“Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs said that late today he received a call from the New York State Police informing him that they had provided information on the wrong person when they notified his office of someone whose permit should be suspended because of the new mental health provisions in New York’s SAFE Act,” the release begins.

“When the State Police called to tell us they made a mistake and had the wrong person … it become clear that the state did not do their job here and now we all look foolish,” the release went on to say in a quote from Clerk Jacobs.

Jacobs appeared on WBEN radio in Buffalo on Thursday morning and explained the details of this administrative debacle. Mr. Jacobs also delivered some pointed comments about how the law was written so badly that mistakes like this were bound to happen. He closed with some fairly damning statements and also asked the state to consider scrapping the bill and re-writing it.

“When you write a piece of legislation in a vacuum, without having hearings, without talking to people about how it’s going to implemented in the real world — without jeopardizing people’s rights, and putting an individual like this through a nightmarish experience, and infringe on their rights, you have to go back to the drawing board,” he said. “And I encourage the legislative leadership here and mostly our governor to take a step back and say ‘we didn’t get it right’ and let’s change this.”

Read WBEN’s full story on Jacobs here.

After the press release was issued by the state, TheBlaze spoke with one of Mr. Lewis’ attorney, Max Tresmond.

“We won round one,” he said,  “round two will be a suit against the state for what they did to our client and his reputation.”

Here is the press release admitting to the error in this gun confiscation:

New York State Police Admits It Got Wrong Man in Gun Confiscation Case

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