‘Simpsons’ Episode Targeted by Turkish Watchdog for Mocking God By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

A Turkish TV watchdog has said it will fine a local television  station for airing an episode of the popular U.S. series “The Simpsons,” which  it says mocks God because it depicts Him taking orders from the devil.

The episode on question, “Treehouse of Horror XXII,” typically airs around  Halloween and features horror-themed “Simpsons” skits, shows copies of the Bible  being burned and encourages young people to consume alcohol, The Supreme Board  of Radio and Television (RTUK) said. The devil orders God to bring him coffee in  the before-mentioned scene.

The watchdog group has said that it will fine CNBC-e, the network that aired  the episode, close to $30,000, The Washington Post reported.

The episode is accused of “making fun of God, encouraging the young people to  exercise violence by showing the murders as God’s orders and encouraging them to  start drinking alcohol on New Year’s Eve night,” the RTUK report said, according  to The Hurriyet Daily News.

“One of the characters is abusing another one’s religious belief to make him  commit murders. The Bible is publicly burned in one scene and God and the Devil  are shown in human bodies,” RTUK add.

Turkey, a largely Muslim nation of 75 million people, prohibits television  programming that is deemed to be offensive to God and believers.

“I wonder what the makers of ‘The Simpsons’ would say when they hear their  jokes are taken literally in a country called Turkey,” wrote Hurriyet columnist  Mehmet Yilmaz, criticizing the decision to target the American animation.

“Perhaps Homer will get a Muslim neighbor,” he added of a possible response  by the show.

Conservative values in Turkey also do not take kindly to programs insulting  historical figures or family values. Last week, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan  targeted a popular soap opera show about the Ottoman Empire’s longest-reigning  Sultan, which RTUK has also warned against crossing the line.

CNBC-e has said it will comment on the case only after the fine for airing  “The Simpsons” episode has been made official.

http://global.christianpost.com/news/simpsons-episode-targeted-by-turkish-watchdog-for-mocking-god-86078/#VGbfsskYpOTPSAHE.99

God’s Law Wasn’t Given to Sanctify Unbelievers By Dan Delzell , Special to CP

“If only people would start obeying the 10 Commandments, this  world would be a much better place.” That’s true….but it’s not as easy to pull  off as it might appear at first blush.

God gave the 10 Commandments to His people about 3500 years ago. These  commands were given specifically to Israel….and not to the other nations in  the Old Testament. When we move into New Testament times, “Israel” takes on a  new flavor. All of a sudden we are told that “not all who are descended from  Israel are Israel.” (Romans 9:6)  What? Really?

That’s right. God makes all things new. There is a new covenant for the  people of God beginning with Jesus Christ. God redefines what it means to be a  “Jew.” Starting in New Testament times 2000 years ago, “A man is not a Jew if he  is only one outwardly.” (Romans 2:28) Just let that sink in for a moment. It’s  no small transition from the way it had been for the first 4000 years of human  history. Beginning in the New Testament era, there has to be an “internal  adoption,” and not just a biological pedigree. There has to be “new birth.” (1  Peter 1:3) And there has to be sanctification. A person literally becomes a new  creation the moment the living God comes to dwell inside his body when he is  converted through faith in Christ. (see 2 Cor. 5:17 & 1 Cor. 6:19)

OK. So….how does all this “new creation” stuff come to pass? Through the 10  Commandments? Not exactly. That is to say, it’s not as simple as man launching  out with moralistic fervor in an attempt to obey God’s commands. Whenever and  wherever man does that, he falls far short of God’s perfection….and God’s  perfect Law….and he remains unconverted.

So do the 10 Commandments have a unique and special purpose for the  unbeliever? Yes….namely, “the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ.”  (Gal. 3:24) In the Old Testament, the Law was given to those who were already in  relationship with God as His chosen people. In the New Testament, you can’t just  embrace the commands of God as your own until you first enter a relationship  with God. You have to become a “New Testament Jew” so to speak. You have to  belong to the family of God….and that only happens by birth….spiritual birth  that is.

The Law leads a person to Christ by showing him that he is a lawbreaker. It’s  similar to when a doctor shows a patient test results which point to a terminal  illness. The Law brings us face to face with our sin….and the awful sickness  in our soul….and we see just how far we fall short of God’s requirements.  Without that insight from the Law, man is left feeling pretty good about where  he stands with God. Man generally feels fairly satisfied about himself and his  level of morality. Why shouldn’t he? It is in man’s nature to assume that he is  righteous enough to gain God’s approval.

The truth is that we are all guilty, and exceedingly so. “All have sinned and  fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The Law proves it. Before the Law  leads a man to Christ, he tends to be deceived about his true spiritual  condition. The Law cannot save his soul….it can only reveal his soul’s  condition without Christ.

So what is the solution to man’s problem? Jesus said, “You must be born  again.” (John 3:7) There it is….the path to relationship….the way to get in  the family. In your own family, you were either born into it….or adopted into  it. A Christian has been “born” in, and “adopted” into God’s family through  faith in Jesus Christ. (see Ephesians 1:5) Then and only then do you get to  claim the rules for yourself. Then you can honestly say with the Psalmist, “Oh  how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97) No one truly  loves God’s Law unless he is already in relationship with God. Rules without  relationships lead to rebellion….and they do not produce a love for God.

If you want to see how this plays out in everyday life, try giving only rules  to your kids….but no love. See how they respond. It will get ugly in a hurry.  The loving relationship must be in place for the rules to be properly accepted,  understood, and followed. That is the way we were designed by our Creator.

Once you are in a loving relationship with your Creator, the rules become a  way that you are able to demonstrate your love for Him. Jesus said, “If you love  me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) Prior to your new birth, you  never pleased God….because you were always imperfect. No matter how hard you  tried, you fell far short of His standards. But now through faith….you are in  the family….and you are under grace….and God sees you as perfect in His  sight through the lens of His Son, Jesus. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us  and makes us as white as snow in God’s eyes. (see 1 John 1:7) That motivates us  to want to obey His commands….because He first loved us, and we now love Him  too.

The Holy Spirit inside the believer is the Person who creates within us a  genuine love for God. It is a very tender thing, and man is unable to generate  this love. It must be placed inside of him by the Lord. God is the author of  this love. Imagine that….God gives us the very love that we need to have in  order to truly love the Lord. He enables us to love Him in sincerity and truth.  Without the Holy Spirit living inside a person through faith in Jesus Christ, a  man might claim to love God….but it is usually just a “selfish” kind of  “love.” Only God can give us the real thing….the kind of love that flows out  of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You know….the kind of personal  relationship that the original disciples had with Jesus both before and after  his death and resurrection.

So you see….God’s Law wasn’t given to sanctify unbelievers. God gave it to  those in His family. For those outside His family, the Law will lead you to  Christ by showing you that you are a sinner and in desperate need of what Jesus  did on the cross to pay for your sins. That is where the Law leads you….or at  least where the Holy Spirit desires to lead you. Are you open to His leading?  Are you open to having God to show you how your sin separates you from Him? If  so, you may be close to getting adopted into His family….and born into  it….by repenting of your sin and trusting in Jesus as your Savior. From then  on, you will follow the One who saved you.

The next time you attempt to share God’s Law with someone who does not yet  know the Lord, just remember this: “The law was put in charge to lead us to  Christ.” (Gal. 3:24) It was not given to sanctify unbelievers. The Law is very  good. In fact, it is perfect….and it has a purpose for both the believer and  the unbeliever. If we don’t understand the proper distinction between God’s Law,  and His Gospel, then we get the whole thing jumbled up and confused in our  thinking.

There is an order to God’s work. There is an order to being in God’s family.  It isn’t automatic. Being born in this world does not guarantee the new birth.  We need God’s Law to show us our sin….and the Holy Spirit to convict us of our  sin. (see John 16:8) And we need the good news of the Gospel to bring us  forgiveness and a relationship with the Lord through faith. Once that is in  place, we get to spend the rest of our life living for Him as we seek daily to  “find out what pleases the Lord.” (Eph. 5:10) The Holy Spirit produces that  process of sanctification and those holy desires in the life of every Christian  who is grateful to be in the family of God.

How about you? Have you allowed God’s Law to lead you to Christ? And if so,  are you thrilled beyond measure to belong to God’s family….or is it all just  rather boring to you? It would be a shame for you or I to to miss out on what  God can do in the life of someone who gets adopted into His eternal family.

Nothing this world has to offer….and I mean nothing….can touch that  reality and the benefits that come from belonging to your Creator….as compared  to living as though He didn’t create you, and He didn’t die on the cross for  your sins. Those two different ways to live are at opposite ends of the  spectrum….and they provide completely opposite results which extend throughout  eternity.

If you are an unbeliever, it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can get in on  this thing. God would love to adopt you into His family….but the question is  this: Do you want to be in it?

http://www.christianpost.com/news/gods-law-wasnt-given-to-sanctify-unbelievers-85635/#AD5s271etetzJ8Zx.99

‘Merry Christmas Charlie Brown’ Performance Canceled Following Atheist Complaints By Jeff Schapiro , Christian Post Reporter

A church in Little Rock, Ark., canceled one performance of “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown”  after an atheist organization complained and said students should not be exposed  to a show with Christian themes as part of a school field trip.

Happy Caldwell, pastor of Agape Church, issued a statement on the church’s  website on Wednesday, stating that while he believes the school was within its  constitutional rights to bring students to the production, the church has  nevertheless decided to cancel a Friday showing for students.

“It is not our desire to put hard working, sacrificial teachers and cast  members in harm’s way,” wrote Caldwell. “What we want said is that we love our  city, our schools, parents and families. People are at the heart of the matter  to us.”

He also said Principal Sandra Register of Terry Elementary School took a  “courageous stand” when she decided not to cancel the trip after learning that  someone had complained about it.

The controversy began when a parent became upset at the school’s offer to  take students to the church to watch the play, which is based on the “A Charlie  Brown Christmas” cartoon and contains some Christian themes. Although the field  trip was optional, the woman planned to allow her daughter to attend the  production out of fear she would be singled-out by her classmates. The upset  mother also contacted the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers (ASF), the  organization that complained to the Little Rock School District on her  behalf.

LeeWood Thomas, a board member and spokesperson for ASF, told The Christian  Post it was never his organization’s goal to stop the play’s production, though  they did not think the school should have made it into a class field trip.

“The church has every right to hold a Christmas play for the community and  invite everybody there. It’s just that invite through the public school system  is where we saw the violation of the separation of church and state,” said  Thomas.

Thomas also hopes the school has changed its mind about taking similar trips  in the future.

“One of the things that I’m hoping comes out of this is that the school, in  knowing that the Friday field trip play is being canceled, I still hope that  they recognize that what they were doing would have been illegal,” he said.

Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, previously told CP that it would  have been constitutional for the school to take its students to the production,  “especially” when parents were given the opportunity to keep their children from  attending. A spokesperson for the school district also told Fox News that the  district’s legal team had determined the trip was acceptable.

Though students will not be able to attend as part of a class trip, Caldwell  and his church have invited parents and children to attend public performances  on Dec. 15 and 16.

“To quote Bible verses and song lyrics that apply, they reflect our heart  toward the Little Rock School District and everyone involved – Peace on Earth, Good will toward  men,” wrote Caldwell (emphasis his).

http://www.christianpost.com/news/merry-christmas-charlie-brown-performance-canceled-following-atheist-complaints-86149/#4xc3SWRVseUTsxME.99

Father and Friend

“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14

A short clip on the evening news recently featured a suburban high school’s attempt to address the spiraling epidemic of teenage drinking. The reporter attended a parents’ forum at the school and then spotlighted reactions from the parents after the session. One mother had it right when she said, “I was reminded that I cannot be my child’s friend right now. I have to be my child’s parent. One day we will be friends, but for now, I’ve got to be the parent.”

Ever since I heard that, her comment has been Velcroed to my brain. Not just in terms of parenting, but in terms of our relationship with God. Quite frankly, most of us would rather think of God as our friend rather than our parent. Thinking of Him as our buddy, or as the one who “has our back,” has a nice ring to it. And there’s nothing wrong with that perspective. He actually welcomes us to a friendship with Him. In John 15:14, He says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” But it’s more than just friendship; it’s the obedience part as well.

In fact, it’s not until we understand and appreciate the parental authority of God the Father in our lives by heeding His instruction and seeking to align our ways with His, that we will ever understand the true joy of being His friend.

But we need to be careful here. Even our thoughts about God as Father can be a little out of whack. We like the idea of a benevolent Father who supplies our needs, who protects us, and who loves to give us good gifts. And while all those things are true, let’s not forget that it’s the parenting of God that puts protective boundaries in place through His law. It’s the gracious parenthood of God that provides warnings along the way when we choose to turn away from God’s commands. Then, when necessary, it’s His loving discipline that reproves and corrects us—even painfully, if necessary—to draw us back to Him and to His good and perfect will.

Let’s face it, no one really likes discipline. We don’t want to be corrected. It’s not pleasant. But where would we be without it? Most of us, when we look back across the landscape of our lives can see numerous times when discipline was necessary to get us back on the right track. As the writer of Hebrews advised: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves . . . . Endure hardship as discipline” (Hebrews 12:5-7). But here’s the good news: “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

Just as parents look forward to the day when the reproof, correction, and discipline of parenting give way to companionship and friendship with their kids, it’s no different with our heavenly Father. Our humble response to His correction and discipline will allow us to enjoy more and more of His friendship. So the question is: When God thinks of you, does He say, “I look forward to the day when I can be her friend, but for now I have to be her parent”—or, have you matured to the point where you are enjoying God as your friend? If I hear Jesus correctly, glad and grateful obedience is the key!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Do you really understand and order your life around the truth that God is your Father, or are you more enamored with the idea of being His friend?
  • According to John 15:14, what would it take for you to be His friend?
  • What are we commanded to do in Hebrews 12:7? Is there a “hardship” in your life right now that just might be a measure of divine discipline? Of course, not all hardships fall into this category, but don’t be too quick to rule it out!
  • In what ways have you experienced discipline and correction from your heavenly Father? How has it produced a “harvest of righteousness and peace” in your life?

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/father-and-friend/

“My Rainbow in the Cloud”

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth —Genesis 9:13

It is the will of God that human beings should get into a right-standing relationship with Him, and His covenants are designed for this purpose. Why doesn’t God save me? He has accomplished and provided for my salvation, but I have not yet entered into a relationship with Him. Why doesn’t God do everything we ask? He has done it. The point is— will I step into that covenant relationship? All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into a relationship with Him on the basis of His covenant.

Waiting for God to act is fleshly unbelief. It means that I have no faith in Him. I wait for Him to do something in me so I may trust in that. But God won’t do it, because that is not the basis of the God-and-man relationship. Man must go beyond the physical body and feelings in his covenant with God, just as God goes beyond Himself in reaching out with His covenant to man. It is a question of faith in God–a very rare thing. We only have faith in our feelings. I don’t believe God until He puts something tangible in my hand, so that I know I have it. Then I say, “Now I believe.” There is no faith exhibited in that. God says, “Look to Me, and be saved . . .” (Isaiah 45:22).

When I have really transacted business with God on the basis of His covenant, letting everything else go, there is no sense of personal achievement— no human ingredient in it at all. Instead, there is a complete overwhelming sense of being brought into union with God, and my life is transformed and radiates peace and joy.

http://utmost.org/my-rainbow-in-the-cloud/

Most Righteous

Judah recognized them and said, ‘She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.’ And he did not sleep with her again.”—Genesis 38:26

The Torah portion for this week, Vayeshev, is from Genesis 37:1—40:23 and Amos 2:6–3:8.

What makes a great leader? Is it brilliant brains? The ability to give an inspiring speech or excellent people skills? Maybe it’s the ability to make the right decisions almost every time. The Bible tells us that it is none of these things. The greatest attribute of any leader is not his or her ability to succeed – it is their willingness to admit when they have failed.

In this week’s Torah portion, we read about a most unusual relationship between two individuals who would eventually become the ancestors of King David. Judah was one of Jacob’s sons and a leader of Israel’s tribes. Tamar was his daughter-in-law, twice over. After Judah’s first son died, his second son married Tamar. That son died, too, and Judah had just one more son. Understandably, Judah hesitated to give his last son to Tamar, even though that was the right thing to do according to Israelite custom.

Tradition teaches that Tamar knew prophetically that she was destined to be the mother of the Davidic dynasty through the family of Judah. And so she resorted to drastic measures. She veiled herself and seduced Judah, posing as a harlot. Tamar asked Judah to leave his staff and signet ring in her possession until he could bring her payment. As time passed, Judah heard that his unmarried daughter-in-law had become pregnant and ordered her to be burned. As she was being taken away, Tamar held up Judah’s belongings and said, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these” (Genesis 38:25). Only the father of the child understood the message, and that person was Judah.

That was the defining moment. Judah had many options. He could own up to the belongings and make excuses for his behavior – he was seduced, he was confused. He could say nothing at all, and his secret would have been destroyed with Tamar. Instead, Judah uttered these amazing words: “She is more righteous than I.” Judah admitted his guilt and accepted full responsibility for his actions.

That was the moment, say the Sages, that it was determined in heaven that Judah would be the father of kingship. The leadership of the Jewish people – the greatest honor – was given to Judah, who had dishonored himself more than any other person ever did.

What a powerful lesson! We tend to avoid admitting that we are wrong because we are afraid to lose face in front of others. But Judah teaches us that the opposite is true. The one worthy of respect is the one who is most humble.

Be courageous like Judah. Admit when you are wrong. It won’t expose your weaknesses as much as testify to your great and admirable inner strength.

http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/most-righteous