NC Judge Denies Pro-Life License Plates, Calls for Pro-Choice Alternative By Katherine Weber , Christian Post Reporter

In a decision issued last week, a North Carolina judge ruled that  the state may only issue pro-life themed license plates if it also provides  pro-choice license plates as an alternative.

“This court concludes … that the state’s offering of a Choose Life license  plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination  in violation of the First Amendment,” U.S. District Court Judge James Fox said  in his Dec. 7 ruling, as reported by The Associated Press.

Additionally, Chris Brook, legal director of the American Civil Liberties  Union, which filed the 2011 lawsuit regarding the plates, called Friday’s ruling  “a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless  of their point of view on reproductive freedom,” according to Fox News 8.

A spokesperson for the North Carolina Attorney General‘s Office said Dec. 10  that she was unsure if the state planned to appeal the ruling.

The plates were initially approved during the state’s 2011 legislative  session under the title Bill 289, with Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell)  sponsoring the bill.

The legislature reportedly blocked six separate amendments that offered an  alternative license plate option for those who are pro-choice, which included  “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” and “Respect Choice,” according to WGHP-TV.

The American Civil Liberties Union then filed a lawsuit to block the plates  in Sept. 2011, arguing that the license plates were a viewpoint-discrimination  violation because they did not offer a sponsored alternative to the pro-life  plates.

At the time of the lawsuit’s filing, Judge Fox ordered a temporary block on  the production of the plates until legal action was determined.

The 376 North Carolina residents who applied for the plates, which cost $25  each, received refunds.

Rep. Gillespie told CNN affiliate WRAL-TV that he would strongly push for the attorney  general to appeal Judge Fox’s decision.

“Every case is different. They could rule differently,” Gillespie told  WRAL-TV regarding the outcome of an appeal.

“There’s a very good debate over whether it’s viewpoint discrimination,” he  added.

Gillespie went on to say that he strongly opposes the pro-choice alternative  to the license plate.

“I’d be willing to sacrifice this before I’d be willing to vote for that.  Personally, I couldn’t do it,” he said, adding, “My personal convictions on this  are strong.”

The “Choose Life” license plate is currently available in 29 states,  according to the Choose Life America website, the organization that  created the license plates and forwards proceeds from each plate sale to  pregnancy counseling centers.

http://global.christianpost.com/news/nc-judge-denies-pro-life-license-plates-calls-for-pro-choice-alternative-86482/#JwCgYgxUQZ5pmXAI.99

American Atheists’ NYC Billboard Calls for Christmas Minus ‘Myth’ of Christ

Times Square Billboard With Santa and Jesus Christ Reads: ‘Keep the Merry! Dump  the Myth!

NEW YORK – American Atheists, the leading secular organization in  the U.S., has launched its Christmas billboard campaign in New York City, urging  people to abandon the Jesus Christ “myth.”

“Keep the merry! Dump the myth!” the billboard reads, which features a jolly  image of Santa Clause above a solemn wooden figure of the crucified Christ. A  press release shared with The Christian Post by Teresa MacBain, Public Relations  Director at American Atheists, notes that the billboard is strategically placed  at the popular Times Square tourist location.

“We know that a large population of ‘Christians’ are actually atheists who  feel trapped in their family’s religion. If you know god is a myth, you do not  have to lie and call yourself ‘Christian’ in order to have a festive holiday  season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should,” said David  Silverman, President of American Atheists.

MacBain, a former  Methodist worship and teaching pastor who served in ministry for 20  years before becoming an atheist, said that Christmas might actually be more  enjoyable without the religious connotations attached to it.

“The true beauty of the season – family, friends, and love – have nothing to  do with the gods of yesteryear. Indeed, the season is far more enjoyable without  the religious baggage of guilt and judgmentalism,” the Communications Director  said.

American Atheists puts out a number of billboard campaigns every year,  seeking to spread the message that non-believers are not alone and that people  do not need religion.

During last year’s Christmas campaign, the secular organization released a billboard in New Jersey that compared Jesus  to Satan, Santa Clause, and the Greek god Poseidon.

A New Jersey mainline congregation pastor who chose to remain anonymous told  CP that the ad was “ignorant and vulgar” and lacked knowledge about the  conventions of world literature, among other things.

“Jesus is different. Only the most dense and simple-minded person would put  him in the same category as the other three. Clearly, even those who lack a  personal commitment to Jesus recognize that there was in fact some historical  figure by this name – religious leader and teacher – around 2,000 years ago,”  the pastor said.

American Atheists said that its new Christmas billboard will remain at Times  Square until Jan. 10, 2013.

http://global.christianpost.com/news/american-atheists-nyc-billboard-calls-for-christmas-minus-myth-of-christ-86449/#gGcjmkvpW3JDrqEX.99

In Your Head

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” Galatians 1:6

I love the prayer that begins, “God be in my head.” When I first heard it, admittedly I thought it sounded a little weird. But then I got to thinking how unfortunate it is if in our efforts to get closer to Jesus we focus on our emotional experience of Him and check our brains at the door. Without His truth ringing in our heads, we’re bound to get off track.

Just look at the early Christians. False teachers filled their heads with misinformation, saying that salvation and spiritual growth could be attained only through keeping the requirements of the law. When Paul heard of it, he was astonished at how quickly they had gotten off track: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ” (Gal. 1:6).

It’s not just false teachers who lead us astray. Our world is full of twisted thinking like, “If it feels good, do it,” or “The one with the most toys wins.” Let’s face it, you and I can’t afford to check our brains at the door. In fact, intimacy with Jesus begins with getting to know Him, and it’s the facts about Him that make us want to get close to Him.

So, strange as it may sound, if you want to stay on track with Jesus, start each day by asking Him to be in your head!

God be in my head, and in my understanding; God be in my eyes, and in my looking; God be in my mouth, and in my speaking; God be in my heart, and in my thinking. —Sarum Primer

To stay on track, let God guide your thinking.

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/in-your-head/

Personality

. . . that they may be one just as We are one . . . —John 17:22

Personality is the unique, limitless part of our life that makes us distinct from everyone else. It is too vast for us even to comprehend. An island in the sea may be just the top of a large mountain, and our personality is like that island. We don’t know the great depths of our being, therefore we cannot measure ourselves. We start out thinking we can, but soon realize that there is really only one Being who fully understands us, and that is our Creator.

Personality is the characteristic mark of the inner, spiritual man, just as individuality is the characteristic of the outer, natural man. Our Lord can never be described in terms of individuality and independence, but only in terms of His total Person— “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). Personality merges, and you only reach your true identity once you are merged with another person. When love or the Spirit of God come upon a person, he is transformed. He will then no longer insist on maintaining his individuality. Our Lord never referred to a person’s individuality or his isolated position, but spoke in terms of the total person— “. . . that they may be one just as We are one . . . .” Once your rights to yourself are surrendered to God, your true personal nature begins responding to God immediately. Jesus Christ brings freedom to your total person, and even your individuality is transformed. The transformation is brought about by love— personal devotion to Jesus. Love is the overflowing result of one person in true fellowship with another.

http://utmost.org/personality/

Good Investment

“Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.”—Genesis 41:29–30

This Torah portion for this week, Mikeitz, is from Genesis 41:1–44:17 and 1 Kings 3:1–4:1.

Joseph got it exactly right when he correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s two dreams. In the first dream, seven fat and beautiful cows were swallowed up by seven ugly and thin ones. In the second dream, seven full and healthy grains were consumed by seven withered ones. Joseph explained that both dreams had the same meaning: Egypt was to experience seven years of abundance and surplus, but then seven years of famine would follow.

Joseph added the following: “Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten.” Like the thin cows that swallowed the fat ones and the withered grains that consumed the full ones, the years of famine would totally erase all the prosperity that had been before — to the point where no one would even remember it!

How is that possible? We all fall on hard times, but does that mean we forget the good parts of our lives? Hardly! But the Sages explain that there is a difference between physical goodness and non-physical pleasures. The non-physical peaks in our lives stay with us forever, but material satisfaction is easily forgotten. No matter how amazing our material situation may be, it can be gone in one moment, both in reality and in memory.

When Superstorm Sandy was about to hit the Northeast, there were lots of dire predictions and solemn warnings. But one warning in particular sent shivers down my spine. It was from Ray Leonard, someone who had ridden out a similar storm on a fishing boat a decade earlier. His story was later made into a movie called “The Perfect Storm.” Having lived through a violent and relentless storm like the one the New York metropolitan area was expecting, reporters sought his advice.

This is what he said: “If this does hit, you’re going to lose all those little things you’ve spent the last twenty years feeling good about.” And indeed, many people did. People who had been materially successful for decades found themselves with only the clothing on their back, losing their homes, cars, and “all those little things.”

Sandy left behind a lot of damage, but also a few gifts. One of those gifts is the same message that Joseph gave to Egypt when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. Materialism is so temporary, so fleeting, so breakable. On the other hand, non-material items like love, kindness, and faith – those prove invincible, stormproof, and life-giving.

So when given the choice, what is the better investment of our time and energy? Do we focus on material possessions, or those intangible gifts whose value will never depreciate or disappear?

http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/good-investment

Albert Mohler – The Family Crisis as a Theological Crisis

John Adams wisely and famously said, paraphrasing, that our system of government was designed for moral people and that it wouldn’t work for a degenerate citizenry.

The reason is that in a moral society, people govern themselves. The government doesn’t have to tell people not to cheat or steal from each other, because the vast majority already subscribe to those principles and would not violate their own conscience. That is a simple example, but the same goes for defining marriage, protecting life, faithfulness to our spouses, etc.

Well, clearly, a degenerate citizenry is what we have in today’s United States. We wonder why we see our nation going downhill so fast, but it’s exactly what many of the founders predicted would happen if America lost her moral footing.

As Tocqueville observed, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

America has largely ceased to be good because of the rapid degradation of her families which, until the last generation or two, had successfully passed on the same widely accepted system of morality found in the Bible. And, while it is easy to find fault in government programs or entertainment choices for degrading strong families in our country, these and other excuses can be seen as both causes and effects, but not as the root of the problem.

In the following article, Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, describes how the root of the problem with our families begins with the church – or, as he puts it, “the family crisis is a theological crisis.”

Our churches not only can do a better job of strengthening our families, but they MUST do a better job.

How Did This Happen? The Family Crisis as a Theological Crisis by Albert Mohler

Writing a generation ago, sociologist Christopher Lasch pointed to the weakening of the family as the most significant and dangerous development of our times. In his book, Haven in a Heartless World, Lasch described the breakdown of the natural family as a calamity for the society at large, as well as for the individuals whose lives are so directly affected.

Tellingly, he also wrote this: “The first thing to understand about the present crisis of the family is that it did not materialize overnight.” Indeed, it did not. The current crisis of the family must be traced to economic, political, social, and ideological causes. But there is another cause as well. The family crisis is a theological crisis, and this must be the church’s first concern.

The first theological fact about the family is the truth that the natural family (the family consisting of married parents of the opposite sex and their biological and adopted offspring) is not a product of human social evolution. The Bible reveals that God created human beings to live and to thrive within the context of the family, constituted on the foundation of marriage.

Genesis reveals God’s act of creating human beings as male and female, uniting them in the covenant of marriage, and assigning to them the responsibility to multiply and to exercise both dominion and stewardship. The perfection of marriage was made clear by the fact that the man and the woman were naked in the Garden, and they were unashamed.

Christians affirm that the family is one of God’s most essential gifts to his human children, and that honoring the Creator’s design for marriage and the family is the pathway to glorifying God and to human flourishing. God gave marriage and the family in creation to all peoples everywhere, and as a testimony to this fact, every thriving society has found its way to marriage and the importance of the family. The family is the most basic unit of society, and if it is not honored and protected, a society cannot long survive.

But the second theological fact about the family is our even greater need for marriage and family as protections in a world marked by sin. In a fallen world, marriage and family become even more important, and not less. In such a world we need the protections and comforts offered by the covenant of marriage. The mutual obligations of husband and wife, the promise of fidelity, and the joys of life together take on a whole new importance in a world of dangers, toils, and snares. The gift of children and the commitment to raise them within the committed boundaries and protections of the family point to the importance of both father and mother to the safe and healthy development of both boys and girls. The Law includes detailed instructions on the protection of the family and how it is to be ordered.

The third theological fact about the family is the continued affirmation of the family within the redeemed people of God – the church. As the Gospels make clear, loyalty to Christ exceeds that of any family commitment, even as the church becomes the family of faith, embracing within its life all who come to faith in Christ and into the life of the church. And yet, Christians are explicitly instructed to honor marriage, to raise their children in the faith, and to order their family according to the Scriptures.

The fourth theological fact about the family is that this life has implications for the eternal life to come. There will be no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven, but our faithfulness in marriage and family in this life has eternal implications and consequences. The family that is ordered by the Gospel of Christ will be based on a marriage that pictures Christ’s own love for the Church and will extend to children who are raised in the admonition of the Lord and are confronted with the Gospel and its promises.

The family is indeed in crisis. A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that fully 40 percent of all babies born in the United States in 2011 were born to unmarried mothers. Divorce rates are catastrophic and unprecedented numbers of American adults are never marrying, creating a new non-marital underclass that passes on disastrous consequences that will harm generations to come. In some American neighborhoods, children and teenagers have never even been to a wedding, since marriage has simply ceased to exist as an expectation. Even when parents are married and live in the same house with their children, many of those children are actually raised by the mass media, with older children and teenagers often living in a digital world that is quite disconnected from their parents.

The social pathologies pile up in shocking statistics, but the greater tragedy is the injury in individual lives. Christians know that the family cannot save us. Only Christ can save. But we also know that God loves us and that he has given us marriage and the family for our protection and flourishing. The church must face the truth that the family crisis is, first of all, a theological crisis. Christians must recover a biblical understanding of the family and live before the world, celebrating and sharing the joys and satisfactions that the Creator gives us in this precious gift. We must live honestly before the world, knowing that our honest acknowledgement of our own need for God’s grace in our marriages and families is a testimony to our need for the grace of God shown us in Jesus Christ.

Christians are rightly concerned about the family crisis in the society, and we must work to protect and defend the family against its enemies. We must be heartbroken witnesses to the dangers the family crisis has brought, even as we are joyful witnesses to the reality of marriages and families restored.

But, long before the society at large will care about our perspective on the family crisis, the church must humbly and faithfully show the world what God intended from the beginning, for his glory and for our good.

Before anything else, the family crisis is a theological crisis. And a theological crisis is the church’s responsibility. In other words, the first responsibility in addressing the family crisis is ours, and ours alone.

Albert Mohler concludes:  I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/albertmohler

This article was originally written for a special edition of The Baptist Messenger[Oklahoma].

I also did a podcast on this article with Brian Hobbs, editor of The Baptist Messenger. You can LISTEN HERE.

The Baptist Messenger also published a full range of articles on “The New Normal: Exploring Family Values in Society Today. The articles can be foundHERE.

http://www.americandecency.org/full_article.php?article_no=1637

Joseph Forgives His Brothers

When Judah and his brothers came back to Joseph’s house, Joseph was still there; and they threw themselves before him on the ground. Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can always tell where things are?” Judah replied, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants. See, both we and he also with whom the cup was found are my lord’s slaves.” But Joseph said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! The man with whom the cup was found shall be my slave; but you yourselves go up in peace to your father.”

Then Judah came close to him and said, “Oh, my lord, let your servant, I beg of you, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger be aroused against your servant, for you are even as Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one. As his brother is dead, he is the only son of his mother who is left; and his father loves him.’ You said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may see him.’ But we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see me again.’

“When we went up to your servant, my father, we told him the words of my lord; and our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food.’ But we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go; for we cannot see the man again unless our youngest brother is with us.’ Your servant, my father, said to us, ‘You know that my wife had two sons; and one went from me,’ and I said, ‘Surely he is torn in pieces; and I have not seen him since. If you take this one also from me, and harm come to him, you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.’ Now if I return to your servant, my father, and Benjamin with whose life his heart is bound up is not with us, and he sees that there is no boy, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave. For your servant became responsible for the boy to my father, when I said, ‘If I do not bring him to you, then I will bear the blame before my father forever.’ Now, therefore, let me, instead of the boy, remain as a slave to my lord, I beg of you; but let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father, if the boy is not with me, lest I should see the sorrow that would come upon my father?”

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who were standing by him; so he cried out, “Let every man leave me.” So no Egyptian was present while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. But he wept so loudly that the Egyptians and Pharaoh’s court heard.

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were too ashamed to look him in the face. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, I beg of you.” So they came near. He said, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Do not be troubled nor angry with yourselves that you sold me here, for God sent me before you to save your lives. For the famine has already been two years in the land, and there are still five years in which there shall be neither ploughing nor harvest. God sent me before you to save your lives through a great deliverance and thus give you children on the earth. So now it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me like a father to Pharaoh and master of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

“Go up quickly to my father and say to him, ‘Your son Joseph says: God has made me master of all Egypt. Come down to me without delay. You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me with your children and your grandchildren, with your flocks and your herds and all that you have, so that you, with your household and all that you have, may never want. There I will provide for you, for there will be five more years of famine.’ Now you and my brother Benjamin see that it is I who am speaking to you. Tell my father all about my honor in Egypt and what you have seen; and you must quickly bring him down here.”

Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. He also kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.

http://kids.ochristian.com/Childrens-Bible/Joseph-Forgives-His-Brothers.shtml

“To abide in the ‘flesh is more needful for you, and having this confidence, I know that I shall abide” (Phil. i. 24, 25).

One of the most blessed things about divine healing is that the strength it brings is holy strength, and finds its natural and congenial outflow in holy acts and exercises.

Mere natural strength seeks its gratification in natural pleasures and activities, but the strength of Christ leads us to do as Christ would do, and to seek our congenial employment in His holy service.

The life of Christ in a human body saves it from a thousand temptations to self-indulgence and sin, and not only gives us strength for higher service, but also a desire for it, and puts into it a zest and spring which gives it double power.

Lord, help us to-day to claim Thy life and then give it for the help of others.

Have you found the branch of healing?
Pass it on.
Have you felt the Spirit‘s sealing,
Pass it on.
‘Twas for this His mercy sought you,
And to all His fulness brought you,
By the precious blood that bought you,
Pass it on.

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/a-b-simpson-devotional.shtml