How Losing Grandma’s House This Easter Proclaims The Resurrection

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A guide to Easter in Russia

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What Are Unalienable Rights?


by Russell D. Longcore
Owner and Editor,

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an expansive article about unalienable rights. We all seem to just refer to the Declaration of Independence and what Jefferson wrote, and then defer to it. But natural law and unalienable rights are where it all starts.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain Unalienable Rights… Self-Evident. Obvious. Perhaps it was self-evident to the 18th Century common man, but I submit to you that the common 21st Century mind is not equally equipped. Much of the wisdom of the ages has been withheld from the modern man by the government schools. And why not? If you were a government, both tasked by The People to educate them and controlled by the same People, why teach generation after generation how…

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The Culture of Offendedness?

The Culture of Offendedness?
MONDAY • July 27, 2009

A new and unprecedented right is now the central focus of legal, procedural, and cultural concern in many corridors–a supposed right not to be offended. The cultural momentum behind this purported “right” is growing fast, and the logic of this movement has taken hold in many universities, legal circles, and interest groups.
The larger world received a rude introduction to the logic of offendedness when riots broke out in many European cities, prompted by a Dutch newspaper’s publishing of cartoons that reportedly mocked the Prophet Muhammad. The logic of the riots was that Muslims deserved never to be offended by any insult, real or perceived, directed to their belief system. Unthinking Christians may fall into the same pattern of claiming offendedness whenever we face opposition to our faith or criticism of our beliefs. The risk of being offended is simply part of what it means to live in a diverse culture that honors and celebrates free speech. A right to free speech means a right to offend, otherwise the right would need no protection.
These days, it is the secularists who seem to be most intent on pushing a proposed right never to be offended by confrontation with the Christian Gospel, Christian witness, or Christian speech and symbolism. This motivation lies behind the incessant effort to remove all symbols, representations, references, and images related to Christianity from the public square. The very existence of a large cross, placed on government property as a memorial, outside San Diego, California, has become a major issue in the courts, and now in Congress. Those pressing for the removal of the cross claim that they are offended by the fact that they are forced to see this Christian symbol from time to time.
We should note carefully that this notion of offendedness is highly emotive in character. In other words, those who now claim to be offended are generally speaking of an emotional state that has resulted from some real or perceived insult to their belief system or from contact with someone else’s belief system. In this sense, being offended does not necessarily involve any real harm but points instead to the fact that the mere presence of such an argument, image, or symbol evokes an emotional response of offendedness.
The distinguished Christian philosopher Paul Helm addresses this issue in an article published in the Summer 2006 edition of The Salisbury Review, published in Great Britain. As Professor Helm argues, “Historically, being offended has been a very serious matter. To be offended is to be caused to stumble so as to fall, to fail, to apostasize, to be brought down, to be crushed.” As evidence for this claim, Professor Helm points to the language of the King James Bible in which Jesus says to his disciples: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast in to hell” [Matthew 5:29].
Likewise, Jesus also speaks a warning against those who would “offend” the “little ones.” As Professor Helm summarizes, “So to ‘offend’ in this robust sense is to be an agent of destruction. And to be offended is to be placed in desperate straits.”
The desperate straits are no longer required in order for an individual or group to claim the emotional status of offendedness. This shift in the meaning of the word and in its cultural usage is subtle but extremely significant.
Offering a rather robust definition of this new usage, Professor Helm describes this new notion of offendedness as “that one is offended when the words and actions of another produce a feeling of hurt, or shame, or humiliation on account of what is said of oneself about one’s deepest attachments.”
Professor Helm’s definition is rather generous, offering more substantial content to this modern notion than may be present in the claims of many persons. Many persons who claim to be offended are speaking merely of the vaguest notion of emotional distaste at what another has said, done, proposed, or presented. This leads to inevitable conflict.
“People have always been upset by insensitivity and negligence, but the profile of offendedness, understood in this modern sense, is being immeasurably heightened,” suggests Professor Helm. “The right never to be offended, never to suffer feelings of hurt or shame, is being touted and promoted both by the media and by the government and interest in it is being continually excited.” Thus, “Claims to be hurt or shamed are noticed. They are likely to be rewarded.”
The very idea of civil society assumes the very real possibility that individuals may at any time be offended by another member of the community. Civilization thrives when individuals and groups seek to minimize unnecessary offendedness, while recognizing that some degree of real or perceived offendedness is the cost the society must pay for the right to enjoy the free exchange of ideas and the freedom to speak one’s mind.
Professor Helm is surely right when he argues that the “social value” of offendedness is now increasing. All that is necessary for a claim to be taken seriously is for the claim to be offered. After all, if the essence of the offendedness is an emotional state or response, how can any individual deny that a claimant has been genuinely offended? Professor Helm is right to worry that this will lead to the fracturing of society. “We all hear things we don’t like said about people and causes that we are fond of but in the changed social atmosphere we are being encouraged to give public notice if such language offends us. I am now being repeatedly told that I am entitled not to be offended. So–from now on–not offended is what I intend to be. Does this heightening of sensitivity make for social cohesion? Does not such cohesion depend rather on enduring what we don’t like, and doing so in an adult way? Does not the glue of civic peace rest on such intangibles as the ability to laugh at oneself, to take a joke about even the deepest things? And is it not a measure of the strength of a person’s religion that they tolerate the unpleasant conversation of others? Isn’t playing the offendedness card going to result in an enfeebling of the culture, the development of oversensitive and precious members of the ‘caring society’? Whatever happened to toleration?”
Given our mandate to share the Gospel and to speak openly and publicly about Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, Christians must understand a particular responsibility to protect free speech and to resist this culture of offendedness that threatens to shut down all public discourse.
Of course, the right for Christians to speak publicly about Jesus Christ necessarily means that adherents of other belief systems will be equally free to present their truth claims in an equally public manner. This is simply the cost of religious liberty.
An interesting witness to this point is Salman Rushdie, the novelist who was once put under a Muslim sentence of death because he had insulted Muslim sensibilities in his novel The Satanic Verses. Mr. Rushdie presents an argument that Christians must take seriously.
“The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted is absurd. So too is the notion that people should have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted. A fundamental decision needs to be made: do we want to live in a free society or not? Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation. In democracies people get extremely upset with each other. They argue vehemently against each other’s positions,” Rushdie insists.
As the novelist continues: “People have the fundamental right to take an argument to the point where somebody is offended by what they say. It is no trick to support the free speech of somebody you agree with or to whose opinion you are indifferent. The defense of free speech begins at the point where people say something you can’t stand. If you can’t defend their right to say it, then you don’t believe in free speech. You only believe in free speech as long as it doesn’t get up your nose.”
As the Apostle Paul made clear in writing to the Corinthians, the preaching of the Gospel has always been considered offensive by those who reject it. When Paul spoke of the cross as “foolishness” and a “stumbling block” [1 Corinthians 1:23] he was pointing to this very reality–a reality that would lead to his own stoning, flogging, imprisonment, and execution.
At the same time, Paul did not want to offend persons on the basis of anything other than the cross of Christ and the essence of the Christian Gospel. For this reason, he would write to the Corinthians about becoming “all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” [1 Corinthians 9:22].
Without doubt, many Christians manage to be offensive for reasons other than the offense of the Gospel. This is to our shame and to the injury of our Gospel witness. Nevertheless, there is no way for a faithful Christian to avoid offending those who are offended by Jesus Christ and His cross. The truth claims of Christianity, by their very particularity and exclusivity, are inherently offensive to those who would demand some other gospel.
Christians must not only contend for the preservation and protection of free speech–essential for the cause of the Gospel–we must also make certain that we do not fall into the trap of claiming offendedness for ourselves. We must not claim a right not to be offended, even as we must insist that there is no such right and that the social construction of such a right will mean the death of individual liberty, free speech, and the free exchange of ideas.
Once we begin playing the game of offendedness, there is no end to the matter. There simply is no right not to be offended, and we should be offended by the very notion that such a right could exist.
This article was first published August 4, 2006. During the month of July, I will be posting new articles and also featuring some articles from the archives I hope you will find helpful. This month requires a different schedule as I spend time with family and do groundwork on upcoming articles, messages, books, and projects. My normal schedule for new articles will resume as August begins.

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What is “Grace”

Shared via Bible Study with Accordance

Holman Bible Dictionary “So pervasive was Paul’s sense of grace that he refers to it at the beginning and end of every one of his letters. For him the Christian life is summed up in the grace of God. Salvation from beginning to the end is all of grace. There can be no mixture of grace and works, or else it would not be grace (Rom. 11:6-7). Grace is synonymous with the gospel of Christ and to depart from it is to turn to a false gospel (Gal. 1:6). It was the grace of God that planned salvation for sinners in eternity past before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9). It was grace that provided salvation in the historical death of Christ (Rom. 3:24). It is grace that enables one to appropriate salvation, for it calls one to salvation, reveals Christ, and even gives the faith which is the condition of salvation (Gal. 1:6,15; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29). It is the grace of God that calls and equips one for service in the Christian life (Rom. 15:15-16; 1 Cor. 3:10). Very much like Luke in Acts, Paul speaks of the grace of God as a power, almost as a person. The grace of God was something that was with him, produced labor, humility, godliness, and sustained him in times of difficulty (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 1:12; 12:7-10). Everything, therefore, from first to last is of grace. In the General Epistles and Revelation charis appears 24 times, most of these being found in Hebrews and 1 Peter. It has all the range of meanings found in Paul, the Gospels, and Acts. In Hebrews, grace is related to the atoning death of Christ (2:9). It is grace that allows us to come to God boldly for “help in time of need” (4:16). It is grace that strengthens the heart of the believer by which he is equipped with everything good to do the will of God (13:5). It is used in the secular sense of “thanksgiving” or “gratitude” in Heb. 12:28. In James, grace is used to refer to a power given to the humble to resist the devil and avoid spiritual adultery (4:6-7). In the Petrine letters grace has its source in God (1 Pet. 5:10) and has a manifold nature (1 Pet. 4:10). Peter equates grace with salvation and, like Paul, sees salvation as grace from first to last. It was prophesied by the prophets, accomplished by the sufferings of Christ, applied to people by a sovereign calling (1 Pet. 1:10-11; 5:10), and equips believers to serve (1 Pet. 4:10-11). All believers stand in a grace relationship with God, both men and women (1 Pet. 5:12; 3:7). The way to avoid being led astray by Satan into unfaithfulness is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). Charis is absent in 1 and 2 John and is found only in the closing verses of Revelation. However, the NT very appropriately closes with a benediction of grace (Rev. 22:21).

See Justification; Love; Mercy. Jimmy A. Millikin”


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The new mayor of Caledonia, the city’s youngest ever, is 21-year-old UW-La Crosse student Josh Gran.

An article about one of Leann’s nephews, 21, elected Mayor of his small hometown. (He wanted to run when he was 19 and was told he was too young.) He has a strong faith in Christ and loves to share the gospel, so comfortable with it that it was his topic of choice for a 1-hr presentation & questions at a recent working job interview with a large company. Anyway, just wanted to share and thought you might like it

Caledonia’s youngest-ever mayor poised to make history

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Josh Gran

Erik Daily, Lee Newspapers
The new mayor of Caledonia, the city’s youngest ever, is 21-year-old UW-La Crosse student Josh Gran.
March 04, 2015 5:00 pm • Ryan Stotts For the Houston County News(0) Comments
When most young adults come out of college, they feel lucky to have a job.

For 21-year-old Josh Gran, a Caledonia native and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse senior, it’s the same, but he’s the only one leaving school to become the youngest mayor ever in his hometown.

The age thing isn’t a big deal for Gran, but that’s thanks in large part to his mindset.

“If you’re willing to put in the time, do the work, be good at your job, I don’t think it matters if you’re 18 or 80,” Gran said.

A lot of what got Gran elected, apart from running virtually unopposed (a last-minute write-in candidate couldn’t best him), is a two-fold mixture of passion he feels for politics and for Caledonia itself.

“I love Caledonia,” he said. “I’m proud to say I’m from here. I want to see the city do great.”

As for politics, his passion is tempered by what he sees happening at a local and national level.

“Just the direction the whole country is going hasn’t been great for me,” Gran said.

Now that he’s assumed office, he said, he’d like to see some basic principles restored to politics, things like common sense and “spending what you have.”

Over the past decade, in particular the last five years, Gran’s interest in politics has grown. He’s been more keenly aware of what’s been going on around him, and he parlayed that interest and knowledge into a bid for the mayor’s seat.

The way he saw it, his small hometown of nearly 3,000 people presented a better shot to enter into the political fray than a bigger city.

“Growing up in a small town, everyone kind of knows who you are,” Gran said.

There’s a caution there, he admitted. While you’re more likely to get the opportunity to serve in a small town, it comes down to a matter of trust with the voters. After all, he’ll be learning on a very public curve, and if anything goes wrong?

“The whole town’s gonna know,” he said.

The decision to run wasn’t done without consulting his parents. They’ve been supportive, Gran said, because they’ve raised him to stand by his beliefs and be independent.

“We really didn’t encourage him or discourage him,” said Gran’s father, Mike. “It’s kind of been how we’ve raised our kids. We just taught him right from wrong growing up.”

That included having books such as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” on hand around the house while Gran was growing up, as well as the Bible.

“Josh is humble,” he said, “and willing to ask questions and ask for help because he’s young.”

Even though Mike and his youngest of three kids have had a lot of spirited discussions about politics, it’s hard for him to be too sanguine about his newest mayor.

“I’m a little worried,” Mike said. “Politics in general are not my thing.”

Still, long-time Caledonia residents, those who are “influential,” have told Mike they have high regard for his son, considering Josh to be an upstanding young man.

“That’s been kind of comforting to me,” he said.

One of those on hand to help is Robert Burns, who served as Caledonia’s mayor for 17 years prior to Gran, and who is now on a four-year term on the city’s five-person city council (the mayor votes, as well as the four councilors).

“I think he’s a fine young man, very capable,” Burns said. “There’s a learning curve, of course. But he’s intelligent, and he’ll learn.”

Gran will be facing the same thing most mayors do, Burns said — the fiscal management of the city, keeping taxes low while still providing the services residents need.

There’s also the issue of the city’s swimming pool, which is almost 60-years-old, and how best to keep it operational. A recent $1.9 million bond referendum failed, but voters still seem keen on figuring out how to keep the pool.

Since the council and city staff work as a team, Burns said, Gran won’t be without support. He also has something else.

“Josh definitely has a fresh perspective, that’s for sure,” Burns said.

For Gran’s part, he said the city is in great financial shape, and as for anything else that comes up, he’ll stand on his principles. He brings with him a strong desire to use common sense, but also a faith rooted in his Christian upbringing.

“I think that’s the most important thing in the world,” Gran said. “It all goes back to the Bible.”

He encourages people to engage with him about his beliefs, and he said he’s eager for as much dialogue as possible.

“I think it’s important that people get involved who have strong beliefs,” Gran said.

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Benjamin Netanyahu Speech to Congress 2015 [FULL] | Today on 3/3/15

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