FEDS SPENT $100 BILLION ON FOOD ASSISTANCE
The federal government spent $100 billion providing food assistance to Americans last year, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The lion’s share of spending comes from the food stamp program, which gave benefits to an average 46 million Americans in 2014, at a cost of $74.6 billion, according to a testimony from the GAO’s Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Kay E. Brown before the House Subcommittee on Nutrition Wednesday.
The national school lunch program was second, costing $11.3 billion, followed by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at $7.1 billion.
Other spending included $1.9 billion for nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico, and $10.7 million for the “Special Milk Program.”
Brown said there is a potential for overlap and “inefficient use of federal funds” due to the government’s “complex network of 18 food assistance programs, administered by three federal agencies,” which are unsure how effective the programs are.
“In 2010, research GAO reviewed suggested that participation in seven of these programs was associated with positive outcomes, such as improving nutrition among low-income households,” Brown said. “Little was known about the effectiveness of the remaining 11.”
The GAO provided a list of the 18 federal programs, which together served a total 109.9 million Americans in 2014. The list only provides the total number of participants for each program, and does not take into account the potential for individuals to participate in more than one program.
Brown said the GAO urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) address potential overlaps in their programs. The USDA commissioned a study on redundant programs in 2013, and then “decided to study the impact of participation in multiple food assistance programs on the nutritional status of participants.”
“While such a study will provide important information, it does not address GAO’s recommendation,” Brown said. “GAO continues to believe that further action is needed.” (Contributor: By Elizabeth Harrington for The Washington Free Beacon - Elizabeth Harrington is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Elizabeth graduated from Temple University in 2010. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she worked as a staff writer for CNSNews.com.)
For prayer: It is no secret that the ever-expanding U.S. federal government has led, inevitably, to unavoidable waste, mismanagement, overlapping and competing authorities, non-accountability, “disappearance” of funds, and outright fraud. From “The Great society” onward, poverty issues and class struggles in America have not been solved but have continually increased. Until concerned, conservative citizens are willing to bring “Caesar” under control and into accountability through the ballot box, there will be no turning back. Please pray as conscience directs.
[Jesus said,] “‘Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Matt. 25:19-21)
MARINE VET’S BIBLICAL SIGNS LEAD TO COURT BATTLE
A court case working its way through the military justice system raises a basic question: Should a member of the military be allowed to post a religious passage in her place of work?
The case involves Monifa J. Sterling, a Marine veteran who was convicted in a court-martial at Camp Lejeune, N.C., of failing to go to an appointed place of duty, disrespecting a superior commissioned officer and four specifications of disobeying a lawful order. She was sentenced last year to a reduction in rank from lance corporal to private and given a bad-conduct discharge, a status that will stay on her military record and prohibits her from receiving benefits as a veteran.
It is a specific portion of Sterling’s past that is still in dispute, however. Sterling was found guilty of disobeying a lawful order in part because she refused to take down three signs in her workspace with the message: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” It’s a derivation of the biblical passage Isaiah 54:17, a motivational message that says that “no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.”
Sterling, a Christian, had the message posted in three places around her computer – one for each part of the Holy Trinity, she said, according to court documents. Her boss, a staff sergeant, told her to take the signs down repeatedly, and did so herself when Sterling refused to do so. The senior Marine found their tone combative.
The case has been taken up by the Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group, and Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general of the United States and current law professor at Georgetown University. Sterling should have been allowed to keep the religious signs in her Marine Corps office under provisions in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law that granted broad freedom of religious expression, they argue.
A brief filed Tuesday by Sterling’s legal team requests that the case be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which is considered one level below the U.S. Supreme Court. It comes after a lower court, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Appeals, denied another appeal with some similarities.
The new appeal says the lower court was wrong to say that there was no evidence that Sterling’s posting of the signs was an exercise of religion because it was never demonstrated to be “part of a system of religious belief.” The Navy-Marine Corps appeals court noted that Sterling had never told her staff sergeant that the signs had a religious connotation, and it was reasonable for her to assume that Sterling had simply posted reminders for herself that adversaries could not harm her.
The Navy-Marine Corp appeals court also ruled that the judge in Sterling’s original case was right to rule on whether removing the sign had a valid military purpose, something Sterling contested.
“Military orders are presumed to be lawful and are disobeyed at the subordinate’s peril,” the appeals court found.
Sterling’s lawyers argue that it was unreasonable for the Navy-Marine Corps appeals court to ignore the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“There can be little doubt that the [appeals court’s] improperly narrow construction of ‘exercise of religion’ was materially prejudicial to LCPl Sterling’s substantial rights, for under a correct interpretation of that term, her conduct plainly constituted an ‘exercise of religion’ ” subject to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, said the new request for a review by the higher court.
An attorney at the Liberty Institute, Michael Berry, said that if Sterling wins her appeal and the case is ultimately re-tried, legal protections exist so that Sterling could not be sentenced to a stiffer punishment. It’s also possible the Marine Corps could simply decide to let the case go, especially since she already has left the service.
“A lot of times, they end up just saying ‘You know what? I feel like they got their pound of flesh, and they’re ready to move on,’ ” said Berry, a former Marine lawyer who is now senior counsel of military affairs for the Liberty Institute.
Expunging the bad-conduct discharge from Sterling’s record would have life-long implications for her, Berry added. Any time she applies for a job now and lists her military service, the punishment is listed.
The Marine Corps did not respond to a request Wednesday for comment. It’s unclear whether the higher court will take up the case, but a decision is likely later this summer, Berry said.
At least one other religious liberty advocate thinks the lower court’s findings should be left in place. Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the Marines appear to have handled Sterling’s case right the first time. His organization regularly advocates for keeping religion out of the military.
“We are a secular nation, and particularly so in the U.S. military,” he said.
Weinstein cited the 1974 Supreme Court case “Parker vs. Levy,” which held that the military is a “specialized society from civilian society” where stricter guidelines on free speech are permitted. They are necessary to maintain unit cohesion, Weinstein said.
But Berry said that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and new instructions issued by the Pentagon last year, members of the military should be afforded the same religious freedoms as civilians.
“The standard applies inside the military as outside the military,” Berry said. “The same standard that applies to federal employees applies to military employees as well.” (Contributor: By Dan Lamothe for The Washington Post)
For prayer: It appears Marine veteran Monifa J. Sterling’s religious rights have been violated and she herself treated harshly for displaying a Bible verse in her work station. Please pray for her and that her case will be reviewed in a fair and non-prejudicial way at the Appeals Court level. In such legal matters, we keep hearing of Mikey Weinstein, a self-professed atheist who actively campaigns against any mention of faith in military circles. Intercessors could serve this man by praying for his salvation. In doing so, Christians would seek to “bless” one who, at present, is an enemy of the Gospel.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Pet. 3:12)
“’But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.’” (Luke 6:27-31)
CATASTROPHIC FLOODING HITS TEXAS AND OKLAHOMA
Days of flash flooding, tornadoes and historic rainfall across central Texas and Oklahoma swept away hundreds of homes and left at least five people dead and a dozen missing, emergency officials said Monday.
Rescuers in helicopters and pontoon boats rushed to save stranded residents across the southern Plains states over the Memorial Day weekend, as severe storms led fast-rising waters to overflow rivers and roads during flooding that the National Weather Service called “catastrophic.”
More than 1,000 people were evacuated and at least five were killed during hours of vicious winds and drenching storms, including a 14-year-old Texan whose body was found Monday in a deluged storm drain, officials said.
A longtime Oklahoma firefighter was swept away and killed Saturday night in Claremore, a small town outside of Tulsa, while helping save trapped families gathered for a girl’s fifth birthday party, TV affiliate FOX 23 reported.
A high school senior in Devine, Tex., died amid violently surging floodwaters while driving home from her prom Saturday night, police said.
An unidentified man’s body was recovered in San Marcos, Tex., along a flooded bank of the Blanco River. A 33-year-old Tulsa woman was also killed in a traffic accident Saturday evening after the car she was driving was rammed by a hydroplaning truck, police said.
In Mexico, a tornado that tore through the border city of Ciudad Acuña on Monday decimated a seven-block swath and killed at least 13 people, including three infants, authorities said. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, and more than 200 people were rushed to hospitals.
Twelve people, including three children younger than 10, were said to be missing Monday after two families took shelter at a house that was destroyed in the small town of Wimberley, Tex., where officials said more than 350 homes have been washed away.
The town, on the bank of the Blanco River between Austin and San Antonio, was one of the hardest hit in the weekend floods. The river swelled more than 30 feet there within three hours Sunday, scattering wet wreckage and overrunning nearby Interstate 35.
Torrential rainfall hurt search efforts, washing away police cars and flooding a fire station in San Marcos. The Oklahoma City Fire Department said it had rescued more than 70 people amid pummeling storms.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday added 24 counties — including Hays — to the 13 that were declared states of disaster this month, allowing them to tap extra resources to aid with the crisis.
Officials instituted a curfew Monday for the second night in a row, warning residents to stay away from rubble-strewn areas.
Tornadoes and heavy winds Sunday battered buildings in Texas and along the Mexico border, including at a ravaged Houston apartment complex at which two people were hurt. Emergency officials in Texas estimated the area had suffered millions of dollars in damage.
Dallas faced severe floods from the Trinity River, which joined the Red and Wichita rivers in rising far above its normal level. The city saw more than three inches of rain Sunday, making it the wettest May 24 in more than a century.
The rain has added to the wettest May on record for cities in several southern Plains states. Oklahoma City, which received four inches of rain last year, has recorded more than 27 inches this year.
The rain brought an end to Texas’s extreme droughts, and officials said Monday they were bracing for another round of battering storms and several inches of rain.
“It’s not over,” Hays County Judge Bert Cobb told a news conference Monday. “The rain is still here.” (Contributor: By Drew Harwell for The Washington Post)
For prayer: From earthquakes and tornadoes to drought, followed by unprecedented flash flooding with numerous fatalities, the forces of nature appear to be pummeling planet Earth with deadly force. We have asked in these alerts before — and we do so without supposing we have knowledge of God’s intentions — but the question must be considered: Is God, who controls the weather and all these natural phenomena, working to get the attention of our nation’s leadership? And, with that, does He want an awakened Church to call out in unity, with repentance for His mercy? Is this a divine testing, as in the days of Job?
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things. Rain down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it.” (Isa. 45:6-9)
US-CHINA WAR 'INEVITABLE' UNLESS WASHINGTON DROPS DEMANDS OVER SOUTH CHINA SEA
China has vowed to step up its presence in the South China Sea in a provocative new military white paper, amid warnings that a US-China war is "inevitable" unless Washington drops its objections to Beijing's activities.
In the new policy document published on Tuesday, China outlined its plans to shift from a defensive military posture to placing emphasis on offensive capabilities.
Claiming that it faces a "grave and complex array of security threats", including challenges to its sovereignty over the South China Sea, the policy document released by the State Council says the military will step up its "open seas protection"
China's forces will no longer be limited to defence of the nation's territory but will project its military power further beyond its borders at sea and more assertively in the air in order to safeguard its maritime possessions, the white paper states.
While the air force will shift focus from "territorial air defence" to both offence and defence, the Chinese army will increase its global mobility and its artillery will improve its "medium and long-range precision strikes", it said.
In an editorial in The Global Times, a tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party through another newspaper, the paper described the construction of runways, harbour facilities and buildings on the disputed Spratly Islands as the nation's "most important bottom line".
The article – which appeared just days after a US aircraft ignored repeated warnings from the Chinese military to fly a reconnaissance mission over the islands – said Beijing does not want a conflict with the US, "but if it were to come, we have to accept it. (Contributor: By Julian Ryall for Telegraph)
For prayer: Last week we suggested in this space that China’s aggressive military stance in the South China Sea (often called “saber-rattling) was a signal to pray for the more dangerous implications of a possible U.S.-China confrontation on a broader level. Students of biblical prophecy have taught for years that a possible end-times configuration of nations might include a China-Russia confederation with focused hostility toward Israel. (See Ezek. 38.) Is this shaping up as a future scenario? Please intercede as led. In the end, no nation will “win.” Indeed, only God wins, and His purposes will triumph!
“Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing…. To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? … He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless.” (Isa. 40:15, 18, 23)
11 CHRISTIANS ARE KILLED EVERY HOUR
Bishop John McAreavey, chair of the council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishop's Conference, told the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade that Christian persecution is at an "unprecedented" high, pointing to statistics that show 11 Christians are killed every hour of the day.
Citing a Pew Research survery, McAreavey told the committee that Christian persecution is being gravely underestimated, as "Christianity is now the world's most oppressed religious group, with persecution against them reported in 110 countries."
He continued: "Many of these countries have significant trade links with Ireland. Persecution is increasing in China. In North Korea a quarter of the country's Christians live in forced labour camps. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Maldives all feature in the 10 worst places to be Christian.
"According to the International Society for Human Rights, a non-religious organization, 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians."
At least 100,000 Christians are killed every year because of their faith in Jesus Christ, McAreavey said, adding that an even greater number of believers are "being tortured, imprisoned, exiled, threatened, excluded, attacked and discriminated against on a widespread scale."
The bishop also shared statements from the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, who recently said that the suffering of Christians in the Middle East is "one of the crimes against humanity of our time," comparing it to Jewish pogroms in Europe and asserted that he's "appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked."
The killing and torturing of Christians in the Middle East is "a threat to our common humanity and to the religious and cultural patrimony of the world" and places "peace and stability of the entire planet" at risk, the bishop continued.
McAreavey also addressed leaders of Western nations who've so far refuse to commit to helping Christians in the Middle East.
"Perhaps because of a fear of being seen as less than aggressively secular in their own country," he said, many governments of majority Christian countries in the West seem reluctant to give direct aid to churches and religious minorities."
He went on to argue that the West risks losing its own understanding of the importance of religion by ignoring the conflict in the Middle East and urged his fellow Catholics to appeal "to all governments and societies to affirm the vital importance of respecting the right to religious freedom and conscience as a fundamental principle of genuine pluralism in a tolerant society."
Some Christian leaders in the West have spoken out about the lack of aid persecuted Christians are receiving in the Middle East, including Rev. William Devlin of Infinity Bible Church in Bronx, New York.
Devlin has traveled to over 11 different countries including Kurdish Iraq where the persecution of Christians is rampant. He's urged other leaders to help by traveling to these nations with him, but told The Christian Post in an interview last week that he's disappointed in some of the excuses he's heard, with the number one reason being that the pastors cannot afford it.
As an answer to their excuses, Devlin said he will pay for pastors' airfare to travel to persecuted nations.
"My efforts are bearing fruit, and just hope that we can continue to get the call out there because I think it is a total embarrassment, it's a black eye in the face of Jesus that we are not going over there," said Devlin told CP.
Devlin plans to return to Iraq in July and hopes other pastors will go along with him.
Christian leaders from the East, such as Sister Diana Momeka, an Iraqi Catholic nun who was driven out of her home by ISIS in August of 2014, are also speaking out.
Momeka recently traveled to the U.S. to address Congress on the militant Islamic group's persecution of Christians in the region, and said the killing of believers could lead to the destruction of commonality between the Eastern and Western cultures if it continues.
"This is cultural and human genocide," she said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, adding that the eradication of the Christian community has "placed the whole region on the edge of a terrible catastrophe."
"Christians have for centuries been the bridge that connects Eastern and Western cultures. Destroying this bridge will leave an isolated, inculturated conflict zone emptied of cultural and religious diversity." (Contributor: By Vincent Funaro for The Christian Post)
For Prayer: There is no biblical basis for Christians to “fight back” physically against persecution and martyrdom. Instead, we are instructed to identify with persecuted believers and to “battle” in faith through persevering prayer. Our major hindrance in spiritual warfare is often apathy and the larger Church’s disunity. Now, however, more Church leaders are raising unified voices to pray for and bring aid to “the suffering Church” around the world. We pray for those who kill Christians to repent and be saved. But we must not ignore Scripture that predicts the certainty of God’s vengeance and judgment on those who persecute and kill His people, and do not repent. The Thessalonians passage below is harsh, but it is the Word of God that cannot be ignored.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Ps. 116:15)
‘We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren … we ourselves boast of … your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, … manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer … [And] it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…” (2 Thess. 1:3-10)
SURVEY FAIL - CHRISTIANITY ISN'T DYING
A new Pew Research Center survey found the Christian share of the American population declined almost 8 percentage points from 2007 to 2014. Drawing from this point, many continued their breathless claims that the Christian sky is falling.
Rather than predict the impending doom of the church in America, this latest study affirms what many researchers have said before. Christianity isn't collapsing; it's being clarified. Churches aren't emptying; rather, those who were Christian in name only are now categorically identifying their lack of Christian conviction and engagement.
Gallup recently found that weekly religious attendance as a percentage of the U.S. population is about where it was in the 1940s — hardly a statistical collapse.
Simply put, the strains of a funeral dirge aren't being played at the graveside of American Christianity because there is no body for burial.
Evangelicalism is growing
Yes, you read that correctly. Evangelical Christianity is growing in America. From 2007 to 2014 the number of evangelicals in America rose from 59.8 million to 62.2 million, according to Pew. (Contributor: By Ed Stetzer for USA Today)
For prayer and praise: Give thanks for greater headway of the Gospel worldwide, and pray for additional conversions as well as the “clarification” of which this article speaks, where true believers and those who only claim nominal church affiliation are being sifted and separated. Pray for an emergence of true followers of Jesus and for repentance and faith among church members, but who do not believe the Gospel and so are not saved.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:10-13)
7 SIGNS THAT YOU MAY BE MISSING GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE
With more ways to be led astray today than ever, many Christians are finding it harder and harder to keep aligned with God’s will for their lives.
A Closer LookNoting the difficulties and trials believers experience on a daily basis, Joseph Mattera, who serves as overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition, calls the slipping away from God’s course “mission drift.”
To help Christians steer back into God’s chartered waters, the renowned Christian author sets up seven buoys as warning signs that they are being tossed by waves in their lives that their Savior did not intend.
Seven signs of missing the mark …
Here are the seven signs Mattera lays out in Charisma News to sound the alarm for believers — so that they can reroute their lives and return to God’s primary purpose and mission for which they were created.
- Continual frustration ─ The first indicator sounding the alarm that you’re out of God’s will is continual frustration — a clear sign that you are not walking in your calling.
“Continual frustration is one of the most obvious signs you are not walking toward what God has internally wired you to pursue,” Mattera explains. “Frustration may be a God-given sign to awaken you to the real passion and purpose He has assigned for you.”
The acclaimed author of Ruling in the Gates: Preparing the Church to Transform Cities asserts that those who are rarely experiencing the peace and joy of using their God-given talents for His glory are wandering in the desert, drifting away from the Promised Land of being in His will.
“A person suffering from mission drift will be going against the internal impulses from God that give them delight while being engaged in them,” Mattera notes. “Going against these internal impulses means that you are also doing things that do not match your gifts, passion and grace, which will also give you much frustration.”
Mattera urges Christians to be diligent and assess whether they are headed on a wrong way road, while trying to determine what it was that threw them off course.
“Those in continual frustration need to take much time reflecting to detect the source of their frustration,” Mattera informed. “Merely continuing in life in frustration is foolish, because you may look back at the end of your years and realize you wasted your whole life working in the wrong vocation.”
- Burnout ─ A clear sign that you are not walking in God’s grace is burnout — spinning your wheels and going nowhere.
“Another telltale sign you are suffering from mission drift is that you have to work hard at accomplishing things with very little fruit to show for it,” Mattera contends. “Jesus has called us to enter His rest (Matthew 11:28-30) and cease from our own labors (Hebrews 4:9-11).”
Living your life in burnout is similar to expecting a bottle of water with zero calories to provide adequate fuel to nourish your body. It may temporarily quench your thirst, but it will not provide sustenance and the needed strength.
“When in mission drift, we are not walking in obedience to the Lord … Hence, we are not being sustained by His grace and are working merely with fleshly strength,” Mattera argues. “This can soon lead to emotional or spiritual burnout if we don't readjust.”
- Lack of fruit ─ When all of your daily toils produce little to nothing for God’s kingdom, you are likely wandering off of God’s chosen path for your life. But if you’re aligned in God’s groove, you are floating in His power and producing the results to prove it.
“When you are hitting your sweet-spot regarding your calling, you are doing things that few can match,” Mattera points out. “Every person is unique and has a calling unlike any other.”
The difference between living a life directed by God and one mapped out by ourselves is similar to the contrast between day and night.
“When you are hitting the mark in your purpose, you will bear a lot of fruit just the way Jesus called us to (John 15:8),” Mattera continued. “When you are in mission drift, you do not maximize your effectiveness, which results in a lack of fruit.”
- Straying from your original vocational purpose ─ If you are not following your original career path and calling in your life, you are descending down the road of unfulfillment, as other motivations leading us away from using our God-given talents will prove fruitless and meaningless.
“When in mission drift, you have strayed away from the original calling God has given to you,” Mattera says.
God’s will for our lives doesn’t change, but our goals and intentions do. Mattera warns us to be aware of following our own GPS — instead of God’s.
“Every once in a while, I review my prophetic journal to make sure I am still pursuing the original calling God gave me when I first started serving Him more than 30 years ago,” Mattera shared. “The methods may change as I mature, but the mission remains the same since He chose us before the foundation of the world and gave us a purpose before we were even born (2 Timothy 1:9).
- Not focused, too spread out ─ Those who cannot concentrate their gifting in one area and find themselves scattered with too many objectives and activities have already taken a step or two in the wrong direction — away from God’s will.
“Activity does not necessarily result in productivity,” Mattera contends. “Many people are very busy running around focusing on minor things and neglecting the primary things God has called them to.”
He says that Christians must always remember to put first things first … or the lesser things will dominate our lives and lead us away from God’s purpose.
“I am not saying we should neglect the mundane and ordinary routines of life, but that we make sure within those routines we prioritize and manage our time in such a way that the most important things are taken care of first,” Mattera stressed. “When we don't prioritize our time, our activities will not match our purpose.”
- No time for key relationships ─ If you have no time to invest in the most important relationships in your life, you’re in a place where God doesn’t want you.
“The kingdom of God is built upon relationships, not ministry or work,” Mattera informs. “Everyone is called to invest in key relationships, whether it be our immediate family, spiritual children, mentors or key people we are called to ‘do life’ with.”
In a world that seems to be built upon the success of programs and actions steps needed to become victorious, people are often pushed to the wayside as simply a means of reaching a goal.
“The enemy would love for all of us to put programs before people, because at the end of the day the only thing we will take with us into eternity are people — not programs, real estate, money or the material things in life,” Mattera insists. “When you have no quality time for those key relationships, then most likely, you are suffering from mission drift. We need to proactively pursue those people who are the most important to us in life.”
- Doing good, but not doing what you do best ─ Getting complacent doing something that you do well, but that doesn’t tap into the God-given talent that He’s bestowed upon you keeps you at bay from accomplishing the greater things for which God intended you to achieve for His glory — not yours.
“The enemy of best is usually something good,” Mattera attests. “The enemy does not come in a red suit with a pitchfork; he comes as an angel of light. Hence, one of his greatest strategies is to get you so focused on doing something good for God or your family that it blinds you to what is best.”
Mattera emphasizes that to get into God’s will and stay there, believers must not get caught up in the diversions the enemy puts before us … and justify staying there out of convenience or to please man.
“To avoid mission drift, we always have to keep first things first and keep the main thing the main thing,” Mattera concludes. (Contributor: By Michael F. Haverluck for One News Now)
For prayer: We are thankful for this article and others like it. It provides a wise and non-judgmental “self-test” for Christians to take a measure of what our lives are accomplishing. To deal with these various challenges is to invite the Holy Spirit’s conviction and prepare one’s heart for spiritual growth. New steps toward God’s will and purpose for one’s life can only bring increased peace and joy. Intercessors may be helped by considering these various criteria personally and prayerfully and adjusting perspectives as God leads.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
COURT STOPS ABORTIONS AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD CLINIC IN FLORIDA
Planned Parenthood suffered a stunning loss this morning when the Fifth District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida upheld a trial court ruling that prohibited the abortion giant from running a "termination" mill at its office in Kissimmee. Life Legal Defense Foundation was supporting the enforcement of a valid deed restriction at the site. The case is listed as Planned Parenthood v. MMB Properties.
"Planned Parenthood followed its usual pattern when slipping into the Oak Commons Medical Court," said Mary Riley, Communications Director for Life Legal. "It decided that it didn’t have to abide by the agreement that governed properties at Oak Commons. It has no one except itself to blame for the frustration of its child-murder plans."
As the appellate court noted, "Planned Parenthood was aware of the restrictions and proceeded forward at its own peril."
Planned Parenthood purchased and occupied the property in Kissimmee, practically across the street from Disney World, in April of last year. When it became clear that the office was going to become an abortion mill, a cardiologist who also had an office at Oak Commons sued to enforce the restrictive covenant that forbade "outpatient surgical centers" at the site.
The trial court found for the cardiologist and his medical office and issued a temporary injunction against surgical procedures. But Planned Parenthood, intent as always on its primary purpose of killing babies, sued to challenge that decision. Incredibly, considering the facts, the appeals court issued a stay on September 24, permitting Planned Parenthood to go ahead with its abortion plans.
Today's decision by the Fifth District Court restores the temporary injunction. For now, Planned Parenthood won't be running one of its abortion mills at Oak Commons.
Planned Parenthood's activities at Oak Commons reflect a strategy operating nationwide. Aware that child-killing remains controversial, and that abortion facilities are undesirable neighbors, Planned Parenthood establishes its businesses by stealth:
In Aurora, Illinois, Planned Parenthood began construction of a giant abortion mill under the fictitious name "Gemini Office Development" – or "GOD" – so locals would think the new building housed clerical offices.
In Denver, Colorado, Planned Parenthood's contractor falsely listed United Airlines as property owner where he was building another abortion "clinic."
And, in South San Francisco, Planned Parenthood did a secret end-run around zoning laws with the help of a local politician who profited by renting his property to the Planned Parenthood.
"This morning's victory in the Oak Commons case is a solid rebuke to Planned Parenthood's deceptive strategy," said Riley. "Nevertheless, we expect them to continue to follow this pattern. They really don't have any choice. We intend to fight them wherever they sneak in. Keeping Planned Parenthood out saves children's lives." (Contributor: By Catherine Short for Christian Newswire and Life Legal Defense Foundation)
For thanksgiving and praise: Morally upright Americans can only give God great thanks and praise for every U.S. court level that sees through Planned Parenthood’s murderous ways and acts to curtail or strike down its implacable evil in relentlessly seeking to kill preborn, viable babies in the womb through any and all deceptive means possible. We are overjoyed at this ruling and pray for many more just like it. In the passage below, God is speaking as the voice of Wisdom.
“Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. ‘Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds [Me] finds life, and favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.’” (Prov. 8:33-38)
TX LAWMAKERS APPROVE PROTECTION FOR PASTORS
The pastor protection bill that passed the House and Senate, and will become law with the governor's signature, comes after pastors in Houston were targeted last year during a lawsuit filed against the city and its lesbian mayor.
The pastors, known as the "Houston Five" by supporters, drew attention to a petition drive denied by the City of Houston and the lawsuit that followed. The petition's backers sued Houston but the city, responding to the suit, subpoenaed local pastors for copies of sermons that supported the petition or simply criticized homosexuality.
Mayor Annise Parker withdrew the subpoeanas last fall amid nationwide outcy that the pastors were victims of homosexual activism.
Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values Action says other Texas pastors are facing similar harassment, including being asked to perform same-sex marriages.
Saenz, Jonathan (Texas Values)"And so that has put pastors in a very difficult position," says Saenz. "And also it causes distraction from the work that they do best, which is providing for the members of their church and being a blessing to the community."
Some texas lawmakers, anticipating that homosexual activists would make further attempts to pressure pastors, got to work.
In a press release, Saenz credits state Rep. Scott Sanford and state Sen. Craig Estes for urging the bill's passage.
Saenz says Texas legislators passed a bill that declares "government, at any level, should not and cannot be allowed to punish our clergy and churches for following their faith on marriage." (Contributor: By Charlie Butts for One News Now)
For prayer and praise: It was obvious from the start of this ill-fated confrontation started by Houston’s lesbian mayor who inexplicably thought she had the authority to censor the city’s pastors in their preaching and teaching of biblical truth, including the shame and sinfulness of homosexual unions. Give thanks for the courageous opposition of these pastors, and intercede that this pastoral solidarity with spread. Also, because intercessors are merciful and concerned for the lost, pray for Mayor Parker’s conversion and that she become a dedicated follower of Christ.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:20-21)