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from Lighthouse Trails Research:

On January 21st, about 30 of contemporary Christian music’s most well-known singers from the last four decades will be joining New Age sympathizer and devout Roman Catholic Roma Downey for a special live online concert called “We Will Stand.” The concert is being presented by CCM United and has a motto of “One Message, Many Voices.’” According to an article titled “We Are United: The Story Behind ‘The Greatest Night In Contemporary Christian Music,’” there could be over a million viewers with a potential reach globally of 40 million.

A CCM United personnel told a Lighthouse Trails researcher in an e-mail that Downey will be opening the concert and will “make other stage appearances.”  Sponsors of the event include the Southern Baptist resource arm, LifeWay Christian Resources, Voice of the Martyrs, and Compassion International. Artists include: Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, Don Moen, Mark Schultz, Sandi Patti, Travis Cotrell (Beth Moore’s worship leader), Love Song, Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Green, Dallas Holm, The Imperials,  Nicole Mullen and many others.

It is a sad state of affairs when a concert, billed as “the greatest night in the history of contemporary Christian music,” uses a highly New Age- and Catholic-influenced celebrity to help open and close the event, which is basically making a statement to viewers as well as the church at large that Christianity is compatible with all beliefs. But after all, the cry of today’s “new” Christian is unity, unity, unity, with all faiths and at any cost. This concert illustrates the terrible breach in discernment that is happening in Christianity today.

Lighthouse Trails may be writing a follow up report after the concert, which takes place online on January 21st. In the meantime, these 10 points below are 10 reasons why musicians who call themselves Christians should not be sharing a platform with Roma Downey.

10 Important Things to Consider About Roma Downey’s Spiritual Affinities:

1. Roma is a devout Roman Catholic who, among other Catholic rituals, prays to Mary, as she describes in this video. Roman Catholicism teaches that Mary is a co-redeemer with Jesus.

2. Roma Downey endorsed a 2010 New Age book titled Loyalty to Your Soul by Ron and Mary Hulnick (published by the New Age publisher, Hay House), Downey endorses the book saying:

As a USM [ University of Santa Monica – a New Age metaphysical school] graduate, I know firsthand the value I received from participating with Ron and Mary  in the Master’s degree Program in Spiritual Psychology. I am so grateful to have Loyalty to Your Soul to sweetly remind me of all I have learned. Let’s just say that I went from playing an angel on TV to living more of an angelic life every day. The teachings in this beautiful book have sent me on a journey to the very center of my own being where, wrapped in the safe wings of Love, I feel as though I have come home.

Downey’s endorsement in the Hulnick’s book is nestled in with full-blown New Agers like Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joan Borysenko, and Gay Hendricks (The Corporate Mystic). (By the way, Neale Donald Walsch, the New Ager who said that Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them, wrote the foreword to Loyalty to Your Soul.)  Clearly, Downey read this book and resonates deeply with it to say what she did about it. To get an idea of this “journey” that Downey is on, listen to a few quotes from Loyalty to Your Soul:

Center your awareness in your heart and consciously look for the Loving Essence in the person in your presence. By doing so, you’re signifying your respect for the Soul before you . . .  Maintain awareness that you’re in conversation with another Divine Being who is engaged in having a human experience. (p. 209)

We ask for the presence, protection, guidance, and Love of the Divine Beings [spirit guides]  who work with each of us. (from the “Invocation” – emphasis added)

When people speak of spirituality, they simply mean awareness of the sacred reality of the Divine Essence within and beyond all creation. (p. 8, quoting favorably a New Age “spiritual teacher”)

You begin to recognize others as Divine Beings, and the situations and circumstances of your life as learning devices. (p. 31)

Those familiar with New Age teachings will recognize such statements as being the core essence of the occult (that man is divine) and that there are spirit guides who help us through life. Loyalty to Your Soul is a contemporary version of A Course in Miracles (the New Age book Warren B. Smithtalks about in his biography, The Light That Was Dark).

3. Roma Downey also endorsed a 2008/2011 book called Angels in My Hair: the true story of a modern day Irish mystic by Lorna Bryne. The book is about spirit guides in people’s lives.

4. Roma Downey graduated in 2010 from the University of Santa Monica’s Spiritual Psychology Program. The school was founded by the late New Age spiritualist guruJohn-Roger Hinkins in 1971 (who also founded the Movement of Spiritual Awareness). Hinkins claimed to have had a spirit guide named Mystic Traveler.  Today, University of Santa Monica  is considered a New Age/metaphysical university. Some teaching points from USM’s Spiritual Psychology program (the program is one of just three degree programs offered at the school):

a. ” If you are interested in really growing as a person and awakening more fully to your Divinity—take this course” (emphasis added).

b. “Soul-centered co-creation [a term used in New Age to signify our equality with God].”

c. “Spiritual Awakening. Designed to provide a practical working knowledge of, and appreciation for, the “giants” in the field of psychology, including Rogers, Perls, Ellis, and [Roberto] Assagioli [a world-famous occultist].”

d. “The Buddhas and the Christs are born complete.

5.  In 2010, Roma Downey did a “meditation” CD for psychic medium John Edward’s 2010 book Practical Praying: Using the Rosary to Enhance Your Life (see video of John Edwards). As of Jan. 17, 2015, John Edward’s is still selling the Practical Praying book advertising Roma Downey’s CD meditation contribution. John Edward is best known for his psychic TV show in which he talked to the dead. Downey has been on his show and allowed him to channel her mother.

6. New Age actress and ordained minister  of a New Thought church, Della Reese, plays a significant role in Downey’s life. In addition to Reese teaming with Downey for 9 years in the popular TV series Touched by an Angel, Reese is Downey’s daughter’s godmother and also officiated at the weddingof Downey and Mark Burnett.

7. Downey has been on the Oprah Show to promote her and her husband’s production Son of God. Oprah is the most influential New Ager today.

8. Downey and Burnett are proponents of Tony Robbins, a prolific New Ager. “For 25 years, Hollywood power producer Mark Burnett has applied Tony’s strategies to his life. This past year, he decided it was time to invite his wife, Roma Downey, and their 3 children to share in an experience they won’t forget.”(4)

9. Downey resonates with Eckhart Tolle, another very prolific New Age author and teacher. Warren B. Smith has written about Tolle and his New Age/New Spirituality views. One article about Downey quotes her as saying: “My kids go to school about a 40-minute  drive away. I’m open to the group’s opinion about what we listen to on the  way there. On the way back, I get my own selections—books on tape by  Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins . . . My husband says I’m so self-realized I’m practically levitating’” (First for Women magazine, 03/31/14, pp. 44-45). To get an idea of what Eckhart Tolle believes, listen to a quote by him:

Don’t get attached to any one word. You can substitute ‘Christ’ for presence, if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your God-essence or the Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence. – (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, p. 104)

10. Former New Age followers Caryl Matrisciana, Johanna Michaelsen, and Warren B. Smith have renounced and repudiated their former New Age beliefs and have even written books warning others about the New Age. On the contrary, Roma Downey has never renounced her New Age involvement and continues to promote it in one form or another. Interestingly (and significantly), Lighthouse Trails author Greg Reid personally handed Roma Downey a copy of Warren B. Smith’s book, The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace at the 2014 National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention right after she finished premiering The Son of Godmovie. Roma Downey is in a perfect position to warn the church about the New Age, but rather she is bringing the New Age into the church. Greg Reid capsulates this situation well:

Roma and Mark’s open door credentials to the evangelical church is that they are committed Catholics. That, and the movies themselves, were apparently proof enough to the higher leadership of the evangelical churches to give them carte blanche. They have been, 100%, embraced as one of us.

NO ONE has asked the crucial questions: Is Jesus the only way to God? Do we all have the “Christ spirit?” Are we all Divine? Is the Bible the infallible Word of God? Knowing that the Bible forbids necromancy, are you sorry you worked with John Edward? Is what you learned from John-Roger’s University compatible with your Christian faith? Unless Roma and Mark have gone through a massive conversion since last year, then they are still the same people who listen to audio books by New Age Gurus Ekhart Tolle and Tony Robbins, and who follow a brand of spirituality that is so strong that, as Mark said of Roma, “You’re so self-realized you’re practically levitating.”

Why are none of these questions being asked? If we didn’t know, now we do. If leaders DID know and chose to ignore it, or considered these things “little differences,” then God forgive us for our spiritual blindness and willingness to let crucial spiritual darkness enter in for the sake of a movie they think will lead the masses to Christ. (from Reid’s article Son of God—Trojan Horse)

“I always felt uncomfortable with the strict rules imposed by Christianity. All I wanted to do was create and play rock and roll…”

This is a recurring theme in “Christian” music, musicians and singers who want to hit the “Big Time” and see the “Christian” music scene an easier route than through the secular music scene.

The part about us “testing the spirits” is not just accepting what people say, play, or sing about, its being with them and seeing what they do on a daily basis, what they say, and what they personally believe!

from Stand Up For The Truth:

Newsboys is a group loved by millions around the globe. A guest post by George Perdikis over at the Patheos website (via “The Friendly Atheist” column), proudly proclaims he has lost his faith, and tells the story:

I Co-Founded One of the Most Popular Christian Rock Bands Ever… and I’m Now An Atheist

In 1985, I co-founded Newsboys, one of the most successful Christian rock bands in history. You may have heard the band’s music in the film God’s Not Dead. The band’s album of the same name hit No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart.

And I’m now an atheist.

How did that happen? Well, let me go back to the band’s founding.

After being kicked out of Seaton High School in 1981, my parents sent me to Bethesda Christian School. I only lasted six months there, but in that time, I met two drummers. One of them, Peter Furler, had a bigger drum kit than the other guy, so I jammed with Peter. We played together in the garage as a duo for a few years and became good mates.

Peter’s family moved to Nambour, Queensland in 1983. We were reunited in 1985 when I was posted from Adelaide to Amberley Airforce Base near Brisbane. I would drive up the coast every weekend to jam with Peter.

Sean Taylor was part of a different group of guys I played with. We both had a lot in common — we both enjoyed Rush. I invited Sean to join Peter and me, and our duo became a trio.

John James became the fourth member of the group soon after. He went to our local church and sang in the choir. We shared a similar sense of humor. It seemed logical for him to pick up the microphone.

Peter, Sean, John, and I started out as a cover band playing parties, pubs, churches, youth groups, parks — anywhere someone would have us. As we grew in confidence, we began to add some original songs to our repertoire. The band evolved quickly. Within a few months I had given up my career in the Air Force and moved in with the Furler family to concentrate on music full time.

The choice to become a “Christian Rock Band” was heavily influenced by Peter’s parents, Bill and Rosalie Furler. As fundamentalist Christians, the only acceptable form of music was the kind that worshipped God. Bill and Rosalie were like second parents to me and, for that reason, I never questioned their advice.

When John needed a place to stay, he moved in with the Furlers as well. For the next few years, John, Peter, and I shared a bedroom and spent all our free time writing songs and rehearsing our asses off. We might have been classified as Christian Rock, but, musically, I felt we were as good as any secular band. With forty solid songs under our belts, we became the Newsboys.

Our big break came in 1987 when the Christian band Whiteheart invited us to support them at Festival Hall, Brisbane. They liked our music and, within a few months, we found ourselves in New Jersey recording our first album, Read All About It. I co-wrote the first two Newsboys albums and toured with them until 1990.

I always felt uncomfortable with the strict rules imposed by Christianity. All I wanted to do was create and play rock and roll… and yet most of the attention I received was focused on how well I maintained the impossible standards of religion. I wanted my life to be measured by my music, not by my ability to resist temptation.

I left the band in 1990 and went back to Adelaide. There, I got married, taught guitar, played pubs and clubs, built homes, and had two beautiful daughters.

As I carved out a life for myself away from the church, I began my own voyage of inquiry into what I believed. My perceptions started to transform when I became interested in cosmology in 1992. I soon found myself fascinated by the works of Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Brian Cox, and Richard Dawkins. I learned so much and was blown away by all the amazing scientific discoveries and facts. When my marriage dissolved in 2003, I turned my attention to human psychology.

By 2007, I renounced Christianity once and for all and declared myself an atheist.

The Christian music scene is populated by many people who act as though they have a direct hotline to a God who supplies them with the answers to the Universe. There seems to be more ego and narcissism amongst Christian musicians than their secular counterparts.

Recently, the Newsboys were featured in the movie God’s Not Dead. The movie demonstrated the pervasive attitude of Christians. They demonized everyone while giving a pass to their own particular brand of Christianity, making themselves look like fluffy white angels with perfect, synchronized lives.

The truth is — from someone who knows what went on then and what goes on now — the Newsboys aren’t as holy as they profess. Instead of wearing a mask of “righteousness,” they should acknowledge that they are struggling as much as everyone else.

Now that’s a movie I’d like to see.

from Got Questions:

We should read and study the Bible because it is God’s Word to us. The Bible is literally “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). In other words, it is God’s very words to us. There are so many questions that philosophers have asked that God answers for us in Scripture. What is the purpose to life? Where did I come from? Is there life after death? How do I get to heaven? Why is the world full of evil? Why do I struggle to do good? In addition to these “big” questions, the Bible gives much practical advice in areas such as: What do I look for in a mate? How can I have a successful marriage? How can I be a good friend? How can I be a good parent? What is success and how do I achieve it? How can I change? What really matters in life? How can I live so that I do not look back with regret? How can I handle the unfair circumstances and bad events of life victoriously?

We should read and study the Bible because it is totally reliable and without error. The Bible is unique among so-called “holy” books in that it does not merely give moral teaching and say, “Trust me.” Rather, we have the ability to test it by checking the hundreds of detailed prophecies that it makes, by checking the historical accounts it records, and by checking the scientific facts it relates. Those who say the Bible has errors have their ears closed to the truth. Jesus once asked which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” Then He proved He had the ability to forgive sins (something we cannot see with our eyes) by healing the paralytic (something those around Him could test with their eyes). Similarly, we are given assurance that God’s Word is true when it discusses spiritual areas that we cannot test with our senses by showing itself true in those areas that we can test, such as historical accuracy, scientific accuracy, and prophetic accuracy.

We should read and study the Bible because God does not change and because mankind’s nature does not change; it is as relevant for us as it was when it was written. While technology changes, mankind’s nature and desires do not change. We find, as we read the pages of biblical history, that whether we are talking about one-on-one relationships or societies, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And while mankind as a whole continues to seek love and satisfaction in all of the wrong places, God—our good and gracious Creator—tells us what will bring us lasting joy. His revealed Word, the Bible, is so important that Jesus said of it, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In other words, if we want to live life to the fullest, as God intended, we must listen to and heed God’s written Word.

We should read and study the Bible because there is so much false teaching. The Bible gives us the measuring stick by which we can distinguish truth from error. It tells us what God is like. To have a wrong impression of God is to worship an idol or false god. We are worshiping something that He is not. The Bible tells us how one truly gets to heaven, and it is not by being good or by being baptized or by anything else we do (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:1-10; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10-18, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-13). Along this line, God’s Word shows us just how much God loves us (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16). And it is in learning this that we are drawn to love Him in return (1 John 4:19).

The Bible equips us to serve God (2 Timothy 3:17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). It helps us know how to be saved from our sin and its ultimate consequence (2 Timothy 3:15). Meditating on God’s Word and obeying its teachings will bring success in life (Joshua 1:8; James 1:25). God’s Word helps us see sin in our lives and helps us get rid of it (Psalm 119:9, 11). It gives us guidance in life, making us wiser than our teachers (Psalm 32:8, 119:99; Proverbs 1:6). The Bible keeps us from wasting years of our lives on that which does not matter and will not last (Matthew 7:24-27).

Reading and studying the Bible helps us see beyond the attractive “bait” to the painful “hook” in sinful temptations, so that we can learn from others’ mistakes rather than making them ourselves. Experience is a great teacher, but when it comes to learning from sin, it is a terribly hard teacher. It is so much better to learn from others’ mistakes. There are so many Bible characters to learn from, some of whom can serve as both positive and negative role models at different times in their lives. For example, David, in his defeat of Goliath, teaches us that God is greater than anything He asks us to face (1 Samuel 17), while his giving in to the temptation to commit adultery with Bathsheba reveals just how long-lasting and terrible the consequences of a moment’s sinful pleasure can be (2 Samuel 11).

The Bible is a book that is not merely for reading. It is a book for studying so that it can be applied. Otherwise, it is like swallowing food without chewing and then spitting it back out again—no nutritional value is gained by it. The Bible is God’s Word. As such, it is as binding as the laws of nature. We can ignore it, but we do so to our own detriment, just as we would if we ignored the law of gravity. It cannot be emphasized strongly enough just how important the Bible is to our lives. Studying the Bible can be compared to mining for gold. If we make little effort and merely “sift through the pebbles in a stream,” we will only find a little gold dust. But the more we make an effort to really dig into it, the more reward we will gain for our effort.

from Fox News:

Kelvin Cochran was five-years-old when he realized that he wanted to be a firefighter.

“My family was very, very poor,” Cochran told me. “We were living in a shotgun house in an alley – three big brothers, two little sisters.”

One Sunday afternoon the Cochran children heard a fire truck stop across from their neighbor’s home. Miss Maddie’s house was one fire.

“That’s the day that God convicted me in my heart that I wanted to be a firefighter when I grew up,” Cochran said. “All I thought about growing up in Shreveport was not being poor and being a firefighter.”

And God granted Kelvin Cochran the desires of his heart. The little boy in the shotgun shack grew up to become the fire chief of Shreveport. He was named the Atlanta fire chief in 2008 – a position he served until 2009 when was called to serve in the Obama Administration as a fire administrator. In 2010 he returned to Atlanta where he was unanimously confirmed to once again be the city’s fire chief.

But now Chief Cochran’s storied career is up in smoke – all because of a book he wrote for a men’s Bible study group at his Baptist church.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday that Cochran had been fired. The announcement came on the same day Cochran was supposed to return to work following a 30-day suspension.

“The LGBT members of our community have a right to be able to express their views and convictions about sexuality and deserve to be respected for their position without hate or discrimination,” Cochran told me in an exclusive interview. “But Christians also have a right to express our belief regarding our faith and be respected for our position without hate and without discrimination. In the United States, no one should be vilified, hated or discriminated against for expressing their beliefs.”

Cochran had been suspended in November because of a passage he wrote about homosexuality in a book titled, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” The book’s theme is about biblical morality.

“This is about judgment,” Mayor Reed said during a Tuesday press conference. “This is not about religious freedom. This is not about free speech. Judgment is the basis of the problem.”

Last November the mayor posted a public condemnation of the fire chief on his official Facebook page.

“I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community,” the mayor wrote. “I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.”

The mayor went on to inform the public that Cochran had been suspended without pay and was ordered to complete a sensitivity training class.

“I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran’s book is not representative of my personal beliefs, and is inconsistent with the Administration’s work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all of her citizens — regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race and religious beliefs,” Mayor Reed wrote.

So what in the world did Cochran write that was so offensive to the mayor and the LGBT community?

According to the GA Voice, a publication that covers the LGBT community, there were two items that caused concern:

“Uncleanness – whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”

“Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex, and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body – temple and dishonor God.”

Cochran said he referenced homosexuality on less than a half a page in the 160-page book.

“I did not single out homosexuality,” he said. ‘I simply spoke to sex being created by God for pro-creation and He intended it to be between a man and a woman in holy matrimony – and that any other sex outside of that is sin.”

Cochran told me that someone within the department obtained a copy of the book and took it to openly-gay city council member Alex Wan.

Wan released a statement supporting Cochran’s termination and said it “sends a strong message to employees about how much we value diversity and how we adhere to a non-discriminatory environment.”

The book caused a firestorm within Atlanta’s LGBT community and there were many calls for him to be fired – a decision the mayor finally agreed to.

“I guess they got what they asked for,” Cochran said.

Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham told GA Voice Cochran’s “anti-gay” views could result in a hostile work environment.

“This is not about his religious views but his about his ability to lead a diverse work force,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that this had to happen. I feel the mayor has done the right thing to ensure all employees are treated fairly.”

The allegations against Cochran amount to a he-said, he-said between the fire chief and the mayor.

Reed said that he had no knowledge that Cochran was writing a book. However, Cochran said the director of Atlanta’s ethics office had not only given him permission to write the book, but to also mention in his biography that he was the city’s fire chief.

Cochran said he gave a copy of the book to Mayor Reed in January, 2014 and the mayor told him he planned on reading it during an upcoming trip.

Cochran also admitted that he gave copies of the book to several members of the fire department – individuals with whom he had personal relationships.

The mayor also took issue with Cochran speaking publicly about his suspension. However, Cochran said he honored the mayor’s guidance and did not speak to the media. He did, however, share his testimony in several churches.

“I did not dishonor him in the process,” Cochran told me.

Cochran wants to make clear that he does not hate anyone.

“The essence of the Christian faith is a love without condition, sir,” he told me. “I have demonstrated that love in the fire service for 34 years. There’s not any person of any people group that has interacted with me for any measure of time that can say I have hate or disregard or discrimination in my heart for any people group.”

Cochran’s plight has drawn condemnation from a number of religious groups across Georgia including the influential Georgia Baptist Convention.

“This is appalling,” said Robert White, president of the Georgia Baptist Convention. “This has everything to do with his religious beliefs.”

White told me he believes the mayor succumbed to pressure from the city’s LGBT community.

“It’s a frightening day in the United States when a person cannot express their faith without fears of persecution following,” he told me. “It’s persecution when a godly fire chief loses his job over expressing his Christian faith.”

And the fire chief’s firing could spark public protests and demonstrations from the state’s Christian community.

“We’re past the point of taking a public stand,”  White told me. “Christians must stand up for their rights.”

Cochran told me he is considering his legal options – but one thing is certain. He has no desire to get his old job back.

“I believe God has greater things for me,” the father and grandfather said. “I love the fire services. It’s a childhood dream come true.”

And don’t go feeling sorry for Chief Cochran.

“I’m not discouraged and I’m not downtrodden,” he said. “This is a God thing and He’s going to do great things and He will vindicate me publicly.”

from Got Questions:

The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?

Common New Year’s resolutions are commitments to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money more wisely, and to spend more time with family. By far, the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, in conjunction with exercising more and eating more healthily. These are all good goals to set. However, 1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things. This should not be.

Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Year’s resolution. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity. For example, why do you want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have just heard that it is a good thing to do? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it for vanity, to honor yourself?

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.

So, what sort of New Year’s resolution should a Christian make? Here are some suggestions: (1) pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; (2) pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; (3) rely on God’s strength to help you; (4) find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; (5) don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; (6) don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

The Real Reason for Christmas

It’s not the shopping, it’s not the gift giving, it’s not the feasting, it’s not Santa Clause, it’s about Jesus’ birth:

Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world. John 3:14-15

All men are sinners, and exposed to the wrath of God.

All men were in a hopeless condition lost in sin.

God gave his Son. Man had no claim on him; it was a gift–an undeserved gift.

He gave him up to extreme sufferings, even the bitter pains of death on the cross.

It was for all the world. He tasted “death for every man,” Heb 2:9. He “died for all,” 2 Cor 5:15. “He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2.

Jesus was God’s manifestation of love. “For God so loved the world.” (John 3:16) We often say to people that God loves you….and this is the proof. It does not say God loved a few special people, or just those who believe in Him, but He loved the whole world. That includes everyone here, in this nation and around the world. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was to pay the sin debt of all men who ever lived. If that is not true then He could not offer salvation to all men and we could not preach the Gospel.

The verse says that “He gave His only begotten Son.” The phrase only begotten has great meaning.

It says that God gave. Salvation is a free and unmerited gift. It cannot be earned. Only Christ was perfect and only He could satisfy the sin debt you and I owed.

“Only-begotten.” This term is never applied by John to any but to Jesus Christ. It is applied by him five times to the Saviour, John 1:14; 3:16,18; 1 John 4:9. It means literally an only child. Then, as an only child is peculiarly dear to a parent, it means one that is especially beloved

Only-begotten. This term is never applied by John to any but Jesus Christ. It is applied by him five times to the Saviour, John 1:14; 3:16,18; 1 John 4:9. It means literally an only child. Then, as an only child is peculiarly dear to a parent, it means one that is especially beloved. Comp. Gen. 22:2; 12:1-20; 16:1-16; Jer 6:26; Zech 12:10. On both these accounts it is bestowed on the Savior.

He was eminently the Son of God, sustaining a peculiar relation to him in his divine nature, exalted above all men and angels, and thus worthy to be called, by way of eminence, his only Son. Saints are called his sons or children, because they are born of his Spirit, or are like him; but the Lord Jesus is exalted far above all, and deserves eminently to be called his only-begotten Son. Believers are the adopted sons of God. God has only one Son and that is Jesus Christ.

The term specifies Jesus as being like the Father and refers to His deity. The phrase is (ton huion ton monogenê). Literally = “The Son the only begotten.” “the only son.” “Monogenes” Begotten, describes the absolutely unique relation of the Son to the Father in His divine nature. This verse plainly states…God has only one Son. We are adopted sons, not like THE SON. It notes that He was eminently the Son of God, sustaining a peculiar relation to Him in his divine nature, exalted above all men and angels, and thus worthy to be called, by way of eminence, his only Son. Believers are called his sons or children, because they are born of his Spirit, but the Lord Jesus is exalted far above all, and deserves eminently to be called his only-begotten Son.

D. “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

This statement divides religion from biblical Christianity. It states plainly the means of salvation as being by belief or faith. It leaves no room for error to add or subtract from God’s clear statement.

If one believes in Jesus Christ, he will not perish, but have everlasting life.

It cannot be stated clear than in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

“Shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” There are many attacks on the Word of God and the two main ones are to say that salvation can be earned or merited and the other is to say that salvation that is received in belief can be lost.

Nothing is further from the truth. 1 Peter 1:5 proclaims, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”If you cannot earn your salvation by good works how can one keep it by good works. If you have truly believed with your heart as Romans 10:9-10 states….you are on your way to heaven and it is God who promises to get you there. You may fall and you will sin, but God’s provision for the believer….is to never leave or forsake you….and as sure as you are here….you will be in heaven with Him…if you have believed.

God did not send the Lord Jesus to condemn the world. John 3:17

Jesus in His first coming did not come to judge or condemn the world.

He came to save the world.

Revelation 20:11-15 refers to last judgment which is the judgment of those who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the judgment of those who trusted in false religions, idols, and false churches for their salvation who all teach that a man came be good enough to be saved and can add his works to God’s grace and be saved. Nothing is further from the truth. Here in this passage in Revelation God tells us what will happen to all who reject God’s free gift of grace and present their works for their salvation.

The passage says they all will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire. What a sad thing to be offered salvation freely, but reject it.

Yet, Christ came not to condemn….mankind was already condemned, but to redeem and offer salvation to all who would by faith receive it.

III. He that believes is not commended. John 3:18

This verse explains what should be clear to us all. We are sinners and being sinners we are under the condemnation of sin. Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death….but the gift of God is eternal life.” That is what this verse says also….

This verse states the reason for condemnation. “but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Many teach that there are many ways to go to heaven and that one does not have to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, in Acts 4:12 God tells us that, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Only Jesus Christ was God incarnate in the flesh the Only Begotten Son of God. There is no other savior. It was God our Creator who made the way and there is no other way. All the supposed that man has devised are the same….they have man being his on savior. Yet, other gods do not exist…there is only one God and He is our Creator and John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 tell us that He is Jesus Christ. He is our God and Creator.

IV. This is the Condemnation. John 3:19

Both verse 18 and 19 state the reasons that some men will not go to heaven.

First they do not believe in the name of Jesus Christ. These folks put their faith in something else.

The verse says that Light….that is the Gospel, the truth of who Jesus Christ is has come into the world

In John 8:12, 9:5 Jesus said that He was the light. In John 12:46 He says, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”

Sadly, men love darkness….where the Light of God’s truth does not shine….rather than light.

What thing did Jesus do that warranted Him to be so hated that they beat Him mercilessly and then crucified Him in that terrible death? Why did they hate the Apostle Paul so much that he had to flee for his life from city after city? What made 40, of the most religious and devout Jews, Pharisees, make a vow that they would neither eat nor sleep till they had murdered him? Why was Paul beheaded, what was his crime. And Steven, Philip, and all the apostle except John?

There crime was they were doing was proclaiming God’s truth, telling people that sin destroys and ends in eternal death. Trying to turn men to Jesus Christ our God and Creator, our Savior who loves us and wants us to spend eternity in heaven with Him.

They love their sins more than heaven, and more that accomplishing their purpose for being on this earth. Sin blinds them to a false pleasure and their addition to sin….like a additive drug destroys them and they lose heaven.

Conclusion:

Why was Jesus born? What is the meaning of Christmas….? The answer is simple….you and I needed a Savior. We are lost in our sins and trespasses against God. We cannot save ourselves, because our sins have condemned us.

Jesus was born that we might be able to have life after death. He conquered death and sin for us so we could have eternal life.

from Breitbart:

Embattled MIT professor Jonathan Gruber has not only gotten in trouble for bragging about helping President Obama put one over on the American people with Obamacare, he’s also been uncovered as an abortion advocate—but not a run-of-the-mill advocate of “women’s rights.”

No, Gruber’s abortion advocacy is of a particularly pungent eugenics variety. He’s on record repeatedly making the case from social science that abortion is a “social good” because it reduces the number of “marginal children,” by which he means urban poor—those he says can be counted on to commit crimes if they were ever born.

Gruber co-authored a paper during the Clinton years which argued that legal abortion had saved the U.S. taxpayer upwards of $14 billion in welfare benefits and that it also lowered crime.

Gruber’s work heavily influenced other researchers, including a paper called The Impact of Legalized Abortion by Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago, whose later bookFreakonomics and whose ongoing work makes the strongest case that abortion legalizations in the 1970s caused a dramatic drop in crime twenty years later.

Pro-lifers have always wondered why the black community has not responded more aggressively to the fact that so many abortion clinics are located in poor neighborhoods and why the black abortion rate is so much higher than whites.

A documentary called Maafa 21 argues that abortion is a part of what they called a “black genocide.”

African-American marketing expert Ryan Scott Bomberger founded an organization calledThe Radiance Foundation that makes commercials for the unborn child with a special emphasis on the high incidence of black abortion. Emmy-wining Bomberger’stoomanyaborted.com campaign looks specifically at black abortion. One meme calls abortion a “civil wrong” and that blacks are “still not free at last” because of abortion. Bomberger is being sued by the NAACP for calling the group “pro-abortion.”

A group called 41 Percent tracks all abortions in New York City, which has an abortion rate at twice the national average, points out that the abortion rate in the largely black borough of The Bronx is an astounding 47%.

These are the types of communities Gruber meant when he referred the “marginal children” who were the most likely to end up on welfare and committing crimes if they were allowed to be born.

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