Obama Defends His Record on Addressing Decline in Marriage as Cause of Poverty in Black Community BY NAPP NAZWORTH, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER

When asked about the problem of children born to single mothers in the black community, President Barack Obama defended his record, saying it is an issue he and first lady Michelle Obama address “explicitly all the time.”

“Poverty is driven by the dissolution of the American family,” Fox News host Bill O’Reilly noted in part two of his “Super Bowl Sunday” interview with Obama that aired Monday evening. “… But seventy-two percent of babies in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. Why isn’t there a campaign by you and the First Lady to address that problem very explicitly?”

Obama answered that he has addressed it by delivering speeches.

“Actually, Bill, we address it explicitly all the time. I’ll send you at least 10 speeches I’ve made since I’ve been president talking about the importance of men taking responsibility for their children, talking about the importance of young people delaying gratification, talking about the importance of, when it comes to child rearing, paying child support, spending time with your kids, reading with them.

“So whether it’s getting publicity or not is a whole different question. This is something that we focus on all the time.”

O’Reilly argued that the issue has not been a “hallmark” of his administration and little has been done about the issue beyond delivering speeches.

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Obama responded that his administration will he holding city-level meetings with “philanthropists and business leaders” to address “these kinds of problems at the local level.” He then argued that the decline in marriage is partly due to high unemployment and the lack of good jobs.

“You’re starting to see in a lot of white working class homes, similar problems – when men can’t find good work, when the economy is shutting ladders of opportunity off from people, whether they’re black, white, Hispanic, it doesn’t matter. Then that puts pressure as well on the home. So you’ve got an interaction between the economy that isn’t generating enough good jobs for folks who traditionally could get blue-collar jobs even if they didn’t have a higher education, and some legitimate social concerns. That compounds the problem and so we want to hit both.

“We want to make sure that we’re putting folks back to work and making sure that they’re well-paid. We also want to make sure that we’re dealing with some of the social issues that you’re addressing.”

The Christian Post covered one of the speeches Obama was referring to last May. At his commencement address to Morehouse College, an all-black male college in Atlanta, Obama encouraged the graduates to break the cycle of fatherlessness in the black community.

“I want to break that cycle where a father is not at home, where a father is not helping to raise that son or daughter. I want to be a better father, a better husband, a better man. … Everything else is unfulfilled if we fail at family, if we fail at that responsibility,” he said.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/obama-defends-his-record-on-addressing-decline-in-marriage-as-cause-of-poverty-in-black-community-113965/

Charter School Teacher Suspended After Assigning Offensive Lil Wayne Rap Lyrics to Students BY TYLER O’NEIL , CP REPORTER

An unidentified South Florida English teacher has been suspended after assigning rap lyrics as homework. Family experts condemn the teacher’s decision as an endorsement of obscenities and cultural misogyny.

“Rappers don’t use English, so that would be crazy to have rap music as part of an English class,” quipped Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday. He criticized the use of profanities in a school assignment. “It’s irresponsible, it’s inappropriate, and I don’t think it fits the course that he’s teaching at all – I would object if I were a parent,” Wildmon declared.

“As a consequence, we’ve got watered down quality and ramped up sexuality and crudity,” Crouse quipped. With teachers using comic books and contemporary literature as curriculum material, students have no concept of great literature.”

Teachers constantly search for “relevant” material to keep students interested, and subsequently have lost good judgment, Crouse explained. While community standards once kept teachers accountable, loose supervision and lack of consensus on what is appropriate have allowed episodes like this to mislead students. While teachers discover “something titillating to grasp this generation’s interest,” they merely end up reaffirming the most negative parts of the culture.

Wayne Owens, principal of the Charter School of Boynton Beach, explained the teacher’s reasoning to local NBC affiliate WPTV. “Students were having trouble grasping the concepts of literary devices such as: pun, simile, metaphor,” he said.

The song’s second stanza includes both profanity and arguable misogyny: “So misunderstood but what’s a world without enigma?/Two b****es at the same time, synchronized swimmers/Got the girl twisted ’cause she open when you twist her/Never met the b**** but I f*** her like I missed her.”

Crouse called it “ironic” that “with the supposed success of feminism, we have more misogynist popular music and cultural influence than ever before.” Even while more women earn advanced degrees than ever before, popular culture objectifies them more and more.

The problem traces back to a major shift for the worse in the feminist movement, Crouse argued. “They forgot about quality – they forgot about helping women achieve dignity and success, and instead got bogged down in special interest agendas like abortion, lesbianism and quotas,” she said.

Crouse, who is critical of the “third wave” feminism evident in “The Vagina Monologues” and other plays about women’s so-called empowerment, noted the crass ways in which women are talked about in mainstream culture. “All the vagina talk – the feminists pride themselves on their crudity, their crude language referring to women’s body parts,” she argued. In this way, they “teach the public to treat sexual topics in a very crass way.”

Wildmon of AFA also homed in on the profanity-laced Lil Wayne lyrics, and questioned the teacher’s reasoning behind the selection. “To take lyrics that include obscenities – from what I’ve heard it’s hard to find rap music that doesn’t have obscenities in it – that should not be appropriate for a Junior High School,” the AFA president declared. “Why didn’t he pick Gospel or Country music, and why that song from that particular artist?”

http://www.christianpost.com/news/charter-school-teacher-suspended-after-assigning-offensive-lil-wayne-rap-lyrics-to-students-113984/

Joseph

Genesis 39:1-6

Serving with excellence

The Lord was with Joseph and made him successful in Potiphar’s house where he served as a slave. Potiphar noticed that the Lord was with Joseph.

Joseph’s new master was so pleased with him that he put him in charge of the whole house and everything he owned.

Potiphar had never had it so easy: Joseph took care of everything and God blessed Potiphar’s household and his fields.

Why should I do my best if I get nothing extra for it?

Have you ever wondered what motivates a person to work hard for someone else? Some people work hard because they want to make a lot of money. Some work hard to be known as an expert, and some do their best to get to the top in their career. But why would someone do their best when doing a job well doesn’t bring in extra money or lead to some reward?

In one of Paul’s letters, he gives us the best reason to have a good attitude towards working and serving: Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does (Ephesians 6:6-8).

God created us with a need to work. One of the first things He told Adam was that he should look after the garden and work in it. Hard work honors the Lord; and that means, whatever task you do, when you do it to the best of your ability, you are pleasing the Lord. And when the task is completed you will also feel good about a job well done.

Verse for today

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” Colossians 3:23.

http://www.truthforkids.com/february-5/

The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah

The Story of Sodom & Gomorrah

(Genesis 18.16-19.29)

What a wonderful, wonderful world!

God loves us so much. And he has filled the world with wonderful things so we can know how good he is.

But wait a minute. Sometimes things aren’t so wonderful. People are mean to each other, and they hurt each other. Bad things happen.

But that’s not how God wants things to be.

That’s what sin does.

Sin is when we do what we want, instead of what God wants. And when we do, bad things happen. Sin ruins things. Someone always gets hurt. Maybe not right away, but someone always gets hurt sometime. And it only gets worse and worse.

But it’s not God’s fault, it’s ours.

But bad things happen, and people think it’s God’s fault. They think God can’t be good if bad things happen. And then they can’t believe God loves us.

That’s the terrible thing about sin. It keeps people away from God.

That’s why God hates sin so much.

Now, back in the days of Abraham, there were two cities named Sodom and Gomorrah. The people who lived there had turned away from God. They didn’t care about God. They didn’t care about doing what was good and right. In fact, they did just the opposite. They thought it was great fun to do what is wrong.

Abraham had a nephew named Lot. Lot and his family lived in the city of Sodom. They cared about God, and tried to do what pleased him.

Now, the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah was so bad that it was like a terrible, rotten smell that reached all the way up to heaven. And so God decided to put an end to it.

Remember the three men who had visited Abraham and told him he was going to have a son? After they had gone on their way they came to a hill, and from that hill they could see the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember, one of those men was God himself, and when he looked down on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from that hill, he knew it was time to get rid of the evil there. But he also decided he wouldn’t keep anything from Abraham. And so God went back and told Abraham what he was about to do.

Abraham took a deep breath. He was about to argue with God!

“What if there are some good people living there,” Abraham said. “If you destroy the city, they will die too. That wouldn’t be right.”

So God said, “If you can find fifty good people there, I won’t destroy the city. I will save the whole city for the sake of the fifty good people.”

Abraham took another deep breath, “You are God, and I am just a man,” he said, “And you don’t have to listen to me at all. But,” he said, “what if there aren’t quite fifty good people living there? What if there are five less than fifty good people living there. Will you destroy the whole city just because of five people?”

“If I find forty-five good people there,” God said, “I will not destroy the city.”

Then Abraham said, “What if there are only forty good people there?”

God said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

Then Abraham said, “Please don’t be angry with me, Lord. But what if there are only thirty good people there?”

God said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham took a deep breath again. “What if there are only twenty good people there?”

And God said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

Then Abraham said, “Let me speak just one more time. Please don’t be angry with me. But what if there are only ten good people there?”

God answered, “For the sake of even just ten good people, I will not destroy the city.”

So God sent two angels to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, to see if there were just ten good people there.

Abraham’s nephew Lot met the two angels at the gate of the city. (The angels looked like ordinary men).

Lot bowed to the ground. “Please come to my house and have dinner with us and stay the night.”

The angels said, “No. We will spend the night in the city square.”

Lot said, “No, please, come and stay with us.” Lot knew how evil the people in Sodom were, and that they would try to hurt the angels if the angels spent the night in the square.

So the angels went to Lot’s house and Lot made dinner for them.

Later that evening, in the dark of the night, the people of Sodom began to surround Lot’s house.

“Lot! We want to meet your guests,” they shouted from outside the door. “Send them out so we can say hello.” But they were lying. They really wanted to have fun doing terrible things to Lot’s guests.

Lot stepped outside the door to plead with his neighbors. “Please go away and leave us alone,” he said.

But these evil people crowded all the more around Lot’s house. They were laughing and shouting horrible things. They pressed so hard against the house; they were about to break down the door.

The angels reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door with blindness so that they couldn’t find the door.

Then the angels said to Lot, “You and your family must leave this place. God is about to destroy it!”

So Lot went out to speak to the two young men who were going to marry his two daughters. He said to them, “We have to get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But the young men thought he was joking.

It was a long night.

Early the next morning, in the pale light before the sun had risen, the angels said to Lot, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters and leave this place, or you will die with everyone else!”

But Lot was so afraid he couldn’t move. So the angels grabbed him by the hand, and they grabbed the hands of his wife and of his two daughters, and they led them out of the city. As soon as they were safely out of the city, one of the angels said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

And then God rained fire onto the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Thick, black smoke filled the air like smoke from a fiery furnace.

But Lot’s wife looked back – even though the angels warned her not to – and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

And so God wiped out the sin of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sin is a terrible, terrible thing.

But God saved Lot and his two daughters.

http://www.essex1.com/pages/paul/bible19.html

A Wise Heart

Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest.—Exodus 28:3

The Torah portion for this week is Tetzaveh, which means “command” or “connect,” from Exodus 27:20–30:10, and theHaftorah is from Ezekiel 43:10–27.

As a society, we have become conditioned to associate knowledge with the mind, making our heads the seat of our wisdom. However, the Bible doesn’t attribute wisdom to our heads. Instead, in numerous places, the Bible teaches us that wisdom comes from the heart.

In this week’s Torah portion, God commanded Moses, “Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom . . . that they are to make garments for Aaron.”  A careful look at the original Hebrew verse reveals that the term skilled comes from two Hebrew words which literally mean “wise of heart.” God called these workers “wise of heart” because it was into their hearts, not their heads, that He placed such knowledge and understanding to make them fit for such a holy task.

Why, then, do we tend to think of our brains as the source of knowledge?

It’s because our brains do contain a lot of knowledge. Somewhat like computers, our brains are able to store facts and information. Our minds are incredible tools that God gave us to be able to remember important things like how to do math, spell tough words, or remember the date of a special anniversary. But none of that information, as important as it might be, is wisdom. Wisdom is something deeper and broader. It doesn’t just pull up useful bits of knowledge; it tells us what to do and how to live.

It has been said that “the heart has reasons that reason does not understand.” The wisdom of the heart comes from a place to which the mind cannot always relate. Some call it intuition; others call it God. The heart accesses a whole body of wisdom that is inaccessible to the mind.

Whenever we have an important decision to make, it is so important that we go to the seat of wisdom for our answers. While our minds can provide us with important and indispensable knowledge and facts, we must always remember that the real source of wisdom comes from our heart. Later on in this week’s reading, we learn that the High Priest wore a special garment called the breastpiece over his heart. Whenever the nation needed guidance from God, the letters on the breastpiece would form the answer, “Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD” (Exodus 28:30).

While we don’t have the breastpiece today, we can still receive God’s guidance through our hearts. Remember to pray to God for answers whenever we seek guidance – and then listen with our hearts to the wisdom which He sends to us.

A Wise Heart

What Parts of Myself Should I Put Off as a Christian? by Mark D. Roberts

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

In yesterday’s reflection, we wondered if, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we must change everythingabout our lives. The context of Ephesians 4:22 suggests that this is not the case. Rather, we are to put off everything in our lives that is inconsistent with Jesus Christ: his life, his teachings, and the gospel centered in his death and resurrection.

Ephesians 4:22 offers another way of thinking about what in our lives we must put away as we seek to follow Jesus. The verse reads, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” Notice that the old self, more literally, the “old man,” is “being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” This description helps us to know what parts of our pre-Christian life should be put away.

But, of course, this raises another question. What parts of our lives are being corrupted by deceitful desires? What does this mean?

Paul’s reference to “deceitful desires” implies that some desires are good. Some of these may well have been ours prior to Christ. A desire to know God, for example, that motivates many to come to Christ in the first place is surely to be nurtured in the life of the believer. Moreover, the word translated here as “desires” (epithumia in Greek) is used in the New Testament in positive ways: Jesus desired to eat the Passover with his disciples (Luke 22:15); Paul had the desire to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23). So, that which corrupts us isn’t desire itself, but rather “deceitful desires.”

What are these? A deceitful desire involves some kind of deception or trickery. For example, a deceitful desire might promise some happy result, but fail to deliver. I might believe that if I only achieve a certain level of professional success, I will be fully happy. But when I meet my goal, I still feel unfulfilled. My desire for success deceived me. Beneath the deceit that motivated me was falsehood. I believed that success at work was the ultimate source of happiness, but this was wrong. I expect you can think of all sorts of desires that are deceitful in this way, such as: I long for sexual intimacy outside of marriage because then I will be truly loved; I desire to be famous because then I will feel truly good about myself; etc. (Tomorrow, I’ll share a story from my own life about a deceitful desire that once governed me.)

Where does this leave us? The “old man” we are to strip off as Christians is governed and corrupted by deceitful desires, that is, by desires that are dirty tricks because they are based on falsehood, rather than “the truth that is in Jesus” (4:21). Ephesians 4:22 invites us to examine our lives, our motivations, our desires. I encourage you to consider the following questions.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of desires you have had in the past that were deceitful, that were based on falsehood? How were you able to “put off” those desires? How much of what you do now is driven by deceitful desires? How many of your motivations are based on lies, perhaps even on claims you know to be false? Which desires might the Lord help you to strip off now?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for helping me to set aside my deceitful desires. Crafty cravings that once consumed me no longer have power over my life. Thank you, Lord, for the freedom that comes from your grace and truth.

Yet, as you know, I’m not through with deceitful desires. I continue to be motivated by longings that will not fulfill me because they are not based on the truth that is in Jesus. Help me, Lord, to see through the deception. Help me to see and yearn for the truth. By your grace, may I put off all of my “old man,” so that I might live fully in the new life you offer to me. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/what-parts-myself-should-i-put-christian#.UvIhWPldWFs

The Kings that reigned in Edom before there reigned any King over Israel. Genesis 36:31

Apparently Esau had the best and happiest lot.

What he escaped. – For him there were no few and evil days of pilgrimage; nor the pressure of famine; nor the going down into Egypt; nor the forty years of wanderings in the desert; nor the vicissitudes of the Judges. All these he escaped and must have congratulated himself merrily. But he had no vision of God; no communion with Jehovah; no contact with the messengers of heaven.

What he enjoyed. – A line of dukes; a royal dynasty, which was old when Israel’s first king ascended the throne; a rich and fertile territory; peace and comfort. He reminds us of the Psalmist’s picture of the man of this world, whose portion is in this life, and who is filled with hid treasure. But Esau never awoke satisfied with God’s likeness; nor ever enjoyed the blessedness of the man who is “a prince with God.”

How he bore himself. – His heart was generous, full of good nature, jovial, and free-handed. When the land could not bear both Jacob and himself, he went off into another, and settled down in Mount Seir. It was no hardship with him to leave the land of promise. Most would, doubtless, have preferred his society to Jacob’s; but God did not (Mal 1:2-3).

What made the lot of these brothers so different. – The one lived for the world; the other was a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, a pilgrim to the City of God. The one was an ordinary man of the world; the other had been selected of God as the channel of blessing to mankind. The flower and fruit which are to be propagated require the special attention of the gardener’s knife. What solemn words! (Amo 3:2).

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/f-b-meyer-devotional.shtml