A Toast to You

God reminds us of our past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present. Oswald Chambers says this in “My Utmost For His Highest” at the end of his December 31 entry. Chambers says that God is the God of our yesterdays, and that he allows us the memory of our past to turn those experiences into a ministry of spiritual growth for the future. A ministry of spiritual growth . . . It literally blows my mind that God can take my past and all the things I have done and, through me, by using me, let those experiences not only serve to continually grow and mature me spiritually, but that it can and it will be a ministry of spiritual growth for others. My past the good, the bad and the ugly God uses it to spiritually grow other people. Wow!!! That, my friend, is what I call a toast-topper the toast of the evening, not just this year, but every year. December 31 New Year’s Eve. Tonight, all across the world people will kiss another and a year will fade into memory, while another will come into full view, fresh and appealing. Have you ever noticed how hope fills the air on New Year’s Eve? It’s exhilarating, hopes and dreams. Everybody apparently loves hopes and dreams. Did you know that God has hopes and dreams? That’s what the Bible tells us. God has hope and dreams. He is not as removed from us as I think most of us tend to think He is. Quite the contrary, God knows every single detail there is to know about us, every single thought we have and every single motive and intent, whether we understand it or not. God knows all these things about us and He still loves us, more than we can imagine. When you realize the truth of our position in God’s heart and yes, God has a heart and a mind, too it really isn’t that hard to grasp that God’s hopes and dreams are for you. You see, God does not sit around dreaming up mere resolutions for others like we have a tendency to do, both for others and ourselves. God does not invest His hopes and dreams in end goals. Resolutions like, “I’m gonna quit smoking” or “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” or “I’m going to be nicer to that jack-wad neighbor of mine” are harmless, I suppose. But they are really empty, if you know what I mean. Resolutions are too often end goals without any substance, without a plan. God has a plan. God’s hopes and dreams for you and I are not mere resolutions, rather God is resolved to substantially process His hopes and dreams for you through His plans. God is a worker. He is a doer and he is a communicator. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 So, God has a very specific plan for you. He wants to give you a future and a hope where you and He will have a very openly communicative life with one another, one where when you are talking with Him, He will listen. Do you have ever feel like God isn’t listening to you when you pray right now. Well, it’s pretty clear that when you are following His plan, He says He will listen. If you feel like God is not listening to you right now, you might be right. That would mean, you’re not following His plan. To start living out the plans God has for you, you are going to have to find Him so that He can share this plan for your life with you. Don’t worry about your past remember, He is going to use that past, whatever it is, to grow you spiritually and to have your past experiences, whatever they are, minister to other people’s spiritual growth. That’s how God works! Wherever you are in your walk with God this applies. Seek Him, look for Him with everything that you have in you, wholeheartedly, and He promises that you will find Him. This means you will know Him and you will begin simultaneously living His plans for you. Your captivity will end because He will have ended it and your fortunes will be restored. Did you know you have a fortune? Well, you do? You and I are rich beyond measure and beyond our imaginations. God’s plan for you, His hope and dream for you, is that you would come home to Him so that fortunes untold can be restored. These are my hopes and dreams for you, too, on this New Year’s Eve, which is also my birthday. Four years ago on New Year’s Eve, and after a period of time of honestly and wholeheartedly searching for God, He showed Himself to me during a service. With open and loving arms, He welcomed me Home. I ran to Him as fast and as hard as I could. I have never looked back. May God bless you and yours! This is my prayer. And, this will be my toast, too. Happy New Year!!! The author, Todd Horne, is a husband, a father, a writer, editor and publisher. He lives in Southern California with his wife and daughter and is a member of Crossroads Church. Todd publishes https://www.DerDiZ.com in his free time. Article Source: https://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Warming the Season with Heated Debate

Tis the season when we’re supposed to be jolly, our lives brightened by lights on the Christmas tree, candles on the menorah, gift giving and gift receiving, warming us however frightful the weather outside. Nearly everyone can find something to like in the season. But there’s lots that must be liked with trepidation. We join with family and friends to celebrate and ventilate, sometimes amicably, sometimes not. We’re quick to argue, often merely about different perceptions. Disputes break out not only about what we see, but how we see it, whether in print or on screen, big or small, on cable or network. Arguments give the mildest-mannered among us indigestion, and it’s not the fruitcake or latkes. Like Proust, who dipped a madeleine in his tea and opened the floodgate on memory, most of us can remember other holidays that erupted with heated discussions, lots of raised voices and shouts barely short of insult over political candidates, foreign wars, movies, television and books. We recall the white-hot words even when we can’t remember what they were about. There’s a lesson there for the present moment. Teenagers with nose rings or tattoos don’t have to say anything to provoke ire (which is sometimes the point of the nose rings and tattoos). Eccentric uncles, sentimental aunts, arrogant older brothers and haughty sisters embarrass the youngest among us with the pretentious questions and self-righteous certainties. Thus has it always been. One of my aunts furiously berated the long hair and feminine fashion of 1960s hippies, only to turn red in the face when someone pointed out the shoulder-length coif and a feminine puffed sleeve on a man in a cherished 17th-century portrait above her mantelpiece. Nothing will be more contentious this year than different opinions over what the CIA did (and overdid) to keep the country safe after 9/11, newly fueled by the partisan Senate Intelligence Report on enhanced interrogation techniques (or torture, if you like). Different opinions on what happened in Ferguson and Staten Island will ignite angry words. Immigration and the president’s executive orders have sharpened the points on the slings and arrows. The best thing a democracy offers is the teaching of tolerance for other viewpoints, which is easier said than done. Patriarchs and matriarchs will try to hush the most heated conversations, but if these discussions could focus on issues rather than the ad hominem, we might all learn something. We might even begin to appreciate a point of view we’ve ignored, or begin to reconsider something we once held as an indisputable truth. In a provocative article on “The Argumentative Jew” in The Jewish Review of Books, Leon Wieseltier makes a case for that stereotypical figure of ancient heritage, who is always arguing over something — an idea, a political belief or a point of theological doctrine, an ethical principle or the concept of reason itself. “In the Jewish tradition, disagreement is not only real, it is also ideal,” he writes, “at least in the unredeemed world, which is the only world we know. In the millennia of disputations, even mistaken opinions are not without legitimacy. Minority opinions are not obsolete opinions: They are preserved alongside majority opinions because their reasoning may one day be useful again.” As long as argument rages, we accept different perspectives and become more thoughtful. In our constitutional government, appeals about the law go all the way to the Supreme Court, righting wrongs, inspiring the rethinking of cherished positions. As we sip an eggnog or quaff a grog, we might remember that alcohol was once prohibited, to loud applause, and later repealed to louder applause. High school debate teams offer young people one of the most rigorous ways to test their reasoning when they learn to defend both sides of a question, even if they have a firm belief in only one side. They learn how to see the flaws in their own arguments. John Milton, the English Puritan essayist and poet, wrote his classic “Areopagitica” against government censorship, emphasizing the importance of understanding the other side of an argument before it can be dismissed. It was so important to him, he gives Satan powerful points of argument against God in “Paradise Lost.” Readers decide for themselves who wins. (The smart money goes on God.) Quarrels over ideas are rooted in a pluralistic society. One of the most curious friendships in Washington is one between two Supreme Court justices, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Anthony Scalia, who best represent the ideological polarities on the court. Yet they are known to enjoy each other’s company over dinner and at the opera, mixing intellect and a sense of humor in conversation. It’s an example for us all. Happy Holidays. Write to Suzanne Fields at: suzannefields2000@gmail.com. Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” To find out more about Suzanne Fields and read her past columns, visit the Creators webpage atwww.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

The Cross Was Preceded by the Cradle

God became a man to save us from our sins, which he did finally and completely on the Cross. We commemorate his death and resurrection on Easter, but his suffering on our behalf began much earlier than that. We would do well to remember that at Christmastime, when we celebrate our savior’s birth. Seminary professor Bob Tuttle, in his 2006 book, “Shortening the Leap,” puts that in perspective poignantly: “The Jesus of glory still bears the marks of the Incarnation, and not just in his hands, his side and his feet, but in his navel, because the suffering began in the manger, not on the Cross.” Tuttle continues: “All of the Incarnation was a passion narrative — cradle to grave. Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion doesn’t know the half of it. It hurts God to be squeezed into sperm and implanted in a mama.” Bishop Fulton Sheen, in his “Life of Christ,” made this very point as he put Christ’s incarnation in terms of a gripping metaphor. “It is hard for a human being to understand the humility that was involved in the Word becoming flesh,” wrote Sheen. “Imagine, if it were possible, a human person divesting himself of his body, and then sending his soul into the body of a serpent. A double humiliation would follow: first, accepting the limitations of a serpentine organism, knowing all the while his mind was superior, and that fangs could not adequately articulate thoughts no serpent ever possessed. The second humiliation would be to be forced as a result of this ’emptying of self’ to live in the companionship of serpents. But all this is nothing compared to the emptying of God, by which He took on the form of man and accepted the limitations of humanity, such as hunger and persecution; not trivial either was it for the Wisdom of God to condemn Himself to association with poor fishermen who knew so little. But this humiliation which began … when He was conceived in the Virgin Mary was only the first of many to counteract the pride of man, until the final humiliation of death on the Cross.” These great theological thinkers don’t make this stuff up. They’re not fashioning their theology out of whole cloth. God’s revealed Word tells the story. The writer of Hebrews explains: “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, describes it this way: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” I think we sometimes forget to emphasize sufficiently that Christ’s selfless, substitutionary death on the Cross so that we could live was preceded by his 30-plus years on this planet as a human being, suffering all the indignities of humanity so that he could fully experience, literally in the flesh, what we created mortals experience — and far worse. (His separation from the Father and his acceptance of God’s wrath for all of our past, present and future sins were greater suffering than we could imagine, well beyond anything any of us will ever experience.) Our God is personal and relational. He created us in his image to enjoy fellowship with him and with one another. Our omniscient Creator doesn’t merely understand our suffering intellectually. He doesn’t just comprehend our human relationships by way of analogy in the sense that he has always enjoyed fellowship within the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ became and remains not just the Deity but a human being who has related to us and continues to relate to us not just as our God but also as a person. Among the unspeakable marvels of God is that though he is utterly beyond our comprehension — his perfection, his infinity and his wisdom are unfathomable to us — he is also wholly accessible to us. He not only is available but invites us to have a personal relationship with him. Because he loves us, he died on the Cross for us. But never forget that years before he completed his work on the Cross, he was born for us — as a little, dependent baby in his earthly mother’s arms — in Bethlehem. It is the event of his birth that we celebrate at Christmas, without which there would have been no Cross, without which there would be no life everlasting for us. Merry Christmas to all.   David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is “Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.” Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

Millennials

Time is money. And the Millennial generation, which is now making headlines for its low savings rate, seems to have missed that lesson completely. Astoundingly, a new study by Moody’s Analytics says most adults under age 35 have a savings rate of negative 2 percent! In fact, Millennials are taking on so much debt, and saving so little, that their net worth is actually declining as a group. It’s become a lifestyle habit to spend all you earn — and more. Just look around the fancy restaurants, the chic hotel bars, the designer clothing stores — and you will see these spots populated by the generation that was born between 1982 and 2004. Millennials’ negative savings rate compares with a positive savings rate of around 3 percent for those age 35 to 44, and 6 percent for those 45 to 54. Those over age 55 have gotten the message; they have a savings rate of 13 percent, according to the Moody’s report. There are plenty of excuses Millennials can make for not saving — and some of them make a good point: — I’m just getting started, and working at a low-wage job. — I’m overwhelmed with student loans, and have no money to save. — This is the time to buy stuff — just setting up my first apartment or home. — Babies cost a lot of money! — The stock market is just a “rigged game,” and your money goes down the drain. But whatever your excuse for not saving, the impact of this decision will be magnified over the years. If you had just started saving a hundred dollars a month in 2008, and invested it in a diversified stock market fund inside an Individual Retirement Account or your 401(k) at work, you would have doubled those initial contributions, and had huge gains on your additional small, regular investments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has more than doubled from its lows of around 6700. And history shows there has never been a 20-year period, going back to 1926, when you would have lost money in a diversified stock market portfolio with dividends reinvested — even adjusted for inflation. Even a small amount of regular savings, magnified by time and exposed to growth opportunities, can set you on course to financial freedom. The amount of time you save and the regularity of your investments actually matters more than the amount of money or the investment decisions. The Savings Secret There’s a simple truth to finding money to save: If you don’t see it, you won’t spend it! Money that is taken out of your paycheck automatically and diverted toward savings and investment is money you aren’t tempted to spend. After all, FICA (Social Security) and income taxes are taken out of your paycheck before it hits your bank account. And you can’t complain that you “can’t afford” those deductions! It’s more difficult to start saving than it is to keep saving. As the money piles up — even a small pile — out of your immediate reach, it becomes an incentive to keep saving more. Then one day your money starts growing on its own though your investments. That creates a whole new motivation to add to your savings. Some Savings Tips It’s difficult to cut back on your current lifestyle, so the best way to start the savings process might be to figure out how you can earn just a little bit more every month. That doesn’t mean asking the boss for a raise. It might mean getting a weekend job, not necessarily in line with your career. But you could become a restaurant server or a babysitter for your neighbors on weekend evenings. Use that newfound cash to both pay down expensive debt — and to build a savings reserve. Sell something! You may own a lot of stuff that you don’t need anymore. Selling, even at a low price, will do two things. First, it will serve as a reminder of how you wasted your money in the past. And second, it will jump-start your savings program. Put the new money somewhere separate from your everyday checking account. Open an account at another bank. When you’re just getting started, convert the cash you have into hundred dollar bills, saved in a secure place. It’s much harder to spend a $100 bill than to slide a $20 out of your savings stash! And even saving your pocket change can add up in the long run. Want proof that even a little bit of saving may make a big difference in your financial future? Consider this: If you saved just $40 a week and invested it in a stock market mutual fund (an S&P 500 index fund) inside an IRA, and reinvested all the dividends — and if the market performs, on average, as well as it has done for the past 60 years (a 9.9 percent average annual return) — then in 50 years you could have an account worth $2.5 million! Of course, no one is making any promises about the future. And there will surely be lots of ups and downs for the market in the coming decades. But isn’t it worth making an investment of about $6 a day and taking the odds that you’ll come out way ahead, by millions of dollars? Time is money — and it’s your choice how you spend it. That’s The Savage Truth. Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser and is on the board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. She appears weekly on WMAQ-Channel 5’s 4:30 p.m. newscast and can be reached at www.terrysavage.com. She is the author of the new book “The New Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Really Need to Retire?” Terry answers readers’ personal finance questions on her blog at www.TerrySavage.com. To find out more about Terry Savage and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 TERRY SAVAGE PRODUCTIONS DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

This Christmas, Defy the Atheists—Worship the Truth

In years past, atheists have put up billboards in places like New York City to discourage people from attending church at Christmas time (or any time, for that matter). Now they’re bringing their campaign to the Bible belt. A report from their own source (news.atheists.org, 12/1, 2014 years after the reported birth of Jesus) notes: “The billboards feature a young girl writing a letter to Santa; her letter reads, ‘Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.’ The billboards are located in Memphis; Nashville, St. Louis; and Ft. Smith, Arkansas.” Of course, the premise of this whole campaign is that Christianity is supposedly a “fairy tale.” But, in fact, Jesus is “the Truth.” Here I’ll focus only on prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. Only God knows the future. Only God could have written the Bible. I teach an adult Sunday school class of about 60 or so in a Presbyterian church in South Florida. Months before the beginning of the new year (2014), I asked my class to take a moment and write down one prediction for the new year. I also wrote down my own “prophecy.” These were not to be fortune cookie type statements, such as “You will soon meet somebody interesting.” Instead, these were to be some sort of specific prediction of the future. In our class, how many of us made a correct prediction? There was none—no, not one. (You try it sometime.) Yet in the Scriptures, we can see some 350 prophecies foretelling the coming of Jesus—including His ancestors, His place of birth, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. One could argue that He self-consciously fulfilled some of His prophecies on His own. (This is the essence of the skeptical book, The Passover Plot). But try choosing your own parents or place of birth. As to His horrible death, David wrote 1000 BC, “they have pierced my hands and my feet.” That was a few hundred years before the Syro-Phonecians invented crucifixion. The Romans later perfected it. Christ is not the last name of Jesus, but His title. It comes from the Greek word, “Christos,” from the Hebrew word, “Meshiach,” (Messiah). The English translation is: “Anointed One.” Jesus is the Anointed One described in Psalm 2, where it says that the kings of this world declare war against the Lord and against His Anointed One. (Even the war on Christmas was foretold.) The Old Testament was written between c.1400-c.400BC, and it gives us a picture of Jesus from the Hebrew prophets. Consider just a few facts—of Christ in the Old Testament: *“…in you [Abraham] all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, c. 1400 BC). “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs” (Genesis 49:10, c. 1400 BC). The Messiah will come from the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah. *“I [i.e., God] will raise up your offspring after you [David], who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13, c.1000 BC). *“The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:7, c. 1000 BC). *“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]” (Isaiah 7:14, c. 750 BC). *“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2, c. 720 BC). *“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, c. 750 BC). *He will have a forerunner (John the Baptist): “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isaiah 40:3-4, c. 750 BC). *“Behold, your God…will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy” (Isaiah 35:4-6, c. 750 BC). *“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?…. All who see me mock me…they wag their heads; ‘He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’ my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones–they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:1, 7-8, 15-18, c. 1000 BC). Two chapters of the Old Testament are worth mentioning. Psalm 22 (written 1000 BC) has more facts about the crucifixion of Jesus than any one single Gospel. (Of course, if you combine the facts of the crucifixion found in the four Gospels, that exceeds the number of facts of Psalm 22.) Isaiah 53 (c. 750 BC) clearly talks about the crucifixion (for our sins) and resurrection of Jesus. So, this Christmas, defy the atheist—by going to church to celebrate the Truth. Better yet, invite the atheist, so he too might learn of Him whose coming was foretold long before His birth.

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Jerry Newcombe is cohost/senior TV producer of Kennedy Classics. He has written/co-written 25 books, including The Book That Made America, Doubting Thomas (w/ Mark Beliles on Jefferson), and (w/ D. James Kennedy) What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? & (w/ Peter Lillback), George Washington’s Sacred Fire. tiam.org jerrynewcombe.com @newcombejerry

11 Law Enforcement Officers Killed

While many in the nation, from Oakland to New York, rally in protest over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, I keep wondering: What about the good cops? As with our military personnel, we are often quick to hang the allegedly corrupt but slow to honor those who serve honestly to protect. According to the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there are more than 900,000 of them who are serving in the United States; about 12 percent are women. The FBI reported that there were 404 incidents of “justifiable homicide” by American police in 2011. That is a high number, especially when compared with other countries. As Business Insider reported, “by comparison, just six people were killed by police in Australia over the same period. Police in England and Wales killed only two people, and German police killed six.” What BI doesn’t explain, however, is that 150 U.S. law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty every year. Did you know that one cop is killed in the line of duty roughly every two days? First, it’s important to note what our uniformed guardians of good are really up against. According to the NLEOMF, in the U.S.: —”According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, an estimated 1.2 million violent crimes occurred nationwide in 2011.” —”On average, over the last decade, there have been 58,261 assaults against law enforcement each year, resulting in 15,658 injuries.” —”Since the first recorded police death in 1791, there have been over 20,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.” —”A total of 1,501 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years, an average of one death every 58 hours or 150 per year.” —”There were 100 law enforcement officers killed in 2013.” —”The deadliest day in law enforcement history was September 11, 2001, when 72 officers were killed while responding to the terrorist attacks on America.” —”New York City has lost more officers in the line of duty than any other department, with 697 deaths. Texas has lost 1,675 officers, more than any other state.” In fact, while citizens have been rallying in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, in just the past month, a dozen cops have been killed across our country by murderous thugs or unfortunate accidents in the line of duty. Let me put some flesh to these statistics. Here are the recently fallen in just the month of November, according to the NLEOMF: —Officer Ernest Montoya, Navajo Division of Public Safety. Montoya suffered a fatal heart attack while transporting a prisoner, whom he had just arrested. Montoya was the fourth law enforcement fatality in Arizona in 2014. He is survived by his wife and five children. —Agent Edwin Roman-Acevedo, San Juan (Puerto Rico) Police Department. Roman-Acevedo was shot and killed while attempting to stop an armed robbery while off duty. He is survived by his wife and one child. —Deputy Sheriff Bart Hart, Elmore County (Alabama) Sheriff’s Office. Hart was on duty and had just left the scene of an accident involving a deer, when he was struck by another car and killed. He is survived by his wife and daughter. —Deputy Sheriff Christopher Smith, Leon County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office. Smith was shot and killed in an ambush while responding to a house fire. He leaves behind his wife and two children. —Sgt. Alex Martinez, Willacy County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office. Martinez was killed in a single-vehicle crash. He was the 11th law enforcement fatality in Texas this year. —Sgt. Jeffrey Greene, Union County (North Carolina) Sheriff’s Office. Greene’s patrol car was stopped in a turn lane, when a tractor-trailer rolled over onto it. Green is survived by his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren. —Officer Justin Winebrenner, Akron (Ohio) Police Department. Winebrenner was shot and killed while confronting an armed suspect, who was causing a disturbance in a crowded tavern near closing time. He is survived by his 4-year-old daughter. —Investigator Holmes Smith, Clarendon County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Office. Smith, a 19-year law enforcement veteran, ran off the road and died after a meeting about a car theft case. He leaves behind a wife and five children. —Deputy Sheriff Darrell Perritt, Maury County (Tennessee) Sheriff’s Department. Perritt was killed in a single-vehicle crash while responding to help another deputy involved in a pursuit of a DUI suspect. He leaves behind his wife and three kids. —Deputy Sheriff Matthew Chism, Cedar County (Missouri) Sheriff’s Office. Chism was shot and killed after a vehicle chase and foot pursuit. He leaves behind his wife and small child. —Constable Robert White, El Paso County (Texas) Constable’s Office, Precinct 1. White was fatally injured while struggling with a suspect during a security detail. He is survived by his wife and four children. I’m not telling anyone not to protest. That’s your constitutional right and freedom of speech at work. What I am saying is that if you’re going to speak up against one cop whom you believe to be corrupt, then at least extend a hand of gratitude to another who’s doing his or her job well. This hits a little close to home because I am very pro-law enforcement and have many friends who are amazing officers. I am even an honorary Texas Ranger. I also married a cop! My wife, Gena, is a former correctional corporal and reserve deputy sheriff in her hometown in Northern California. The truth is that most of the time across the country, injuries occur between cops and civilians not because cops have a power problem but because civilians are breaking the law. If they obeyed the laws of the land or paused to respect the badge a little bit more, the injuries to both civilians and law enforcement would be minuscule. Apropos are the words of our savior — whose birth we celebrate this month — reminding us of the sacrifice he and many of our law enforcement officers have made: “Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for another.” Gena and I wish everyone in law enforcement a very merry and safe Christmas as we salute the red, white and true blue! Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at https://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CHUCK NORRIS DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Giving as Thanks

I love the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as much as anyone. It’s great to have family visit and take some time to talk and visit and just be together. There’s the added bonus that comes from a warm glow of nostalgia lingering from long-ago Thanksgiving dinners at Nana and Grampa’s. Hopefully, Laura and I are creating similar memories for our boys and their families. I sense we might be each time I hear our sons expand the legend of my wife’s amazing sweet potato pie. But while I enjoy the turkey and all that goes with it, I can’t shake a nagging sense that we’re missing something in our national celebration. In earlier times, a feast was a true celebration in and of itself, simply because food was not always plentiful. Today, for many of us, it’s a day we overindulge a bit — beyond the amount we overeat the rest of the year. For the overwhelming majority of Americans today, our battles are with expanding waistlines rather than empty stomachs. And that brings me to my core discomfort with Thanksgiving. Despite the unprecedented affluence enjoyed by 21st-century America, there are still people in our country who go to bed hungry at night. It happens on Thanksgiving and 364 other days every year. The numbers of hungry Americans are not huge, considering that we are a nation of more than 300 million people, but the fact that anybody is forced to go hungry in this way should give us pause while we’re reaching for our second helpings. It seems to me that the best way we could truly give thanks for an overabundance of food is to do all we can to feed those who are less fortunate. That’s why my heroes on Thanksgiving are people like Marilyn Schlossbach, a restaurant owner in Asbury Park, N.J. Marilyn celebrates Thanksgiving by opening her restaurant and providing a bountiful meal to “anyone in need of a free hot meal or the company of the community.” She’s been doing it for nine years and feeds hundreds of people every year. She also opens her Langosta Lounge to those in need on Christmas and Easter. My local church provides a similar meal, staffed by volunteers and funded by the congregation. This year, we had so many people willing to pitch in that volunteers were turned away. With so much interest in serving others, there is talk of expanding the holiday meal event to a more regular occurrence. There are countless such efforts across the nation during the holiday season — this year and every year. As wonderful as it is to spend time with family, there is something special about actually serving a meal to those in need. Those who are served appreciate the feast and the conversation in ways that most of us cannot even imagine. Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition in our nation. It’s great to spend quality time with family and friends. We should enjoy the meals and the football and the long weekend. But we can make it even better by making it more than the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. It’s fine to buy gifts for those who will also buy gifts for us. But to truly give thanks, give to those who have nothing to offer in return. To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 SCOTT RASMUSSEN DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

The Sin of Ingratitude

By Jerry Newcombe — Joey Adams told a joke that goes like this: Did you ever hear about the ungrateful lady at the beach who had a little child with her? She was too close to the water, and a big wave came in. By the time the water went back into the sea, she realized her son was missing. She looked all around for her little boy and cried out: “Melvin…Melvin…where are you, Melvin?” She realized he had been swept out to sea. So she prayed, “Oh, dear and merciful Father, please…please…take pity on me and return my beautiful child. I will promise eternal gratitude to you…I’ll never cheat on my income tax again. I’ll be kind to my mother-in-law. I’ll give up smoking…Anything…Anything… only please grant me this one favor and return my son.” Just then the next wave washed in, and there he was, safe and sound. Then she looks up to God and says, “But he had a hat!” Ingratitude runs deep in the human heart. Dostoyevsky once called man “the ungrateful biped.” What a nice thing to have a national holiday dedicated to the giving of thanks to God. In addition to praise and Bible-reading, I have begun to start my Thanksgiving days by participating in a 5k or 10k run. I “ran” (I’m pretty slow) a 10k the other year, and there was a man with half a body using a skateboard and with hands covered with thick gloves. He pushed himself through the whole thing—6.2 miles. I found out after the race that he had been born that way, and he has even participated in the New York City Marathon. Life dealt him a heavy blow, but he took it in stride and with gratitude nonetheless. I marvel at his attitude. Ingratitude comes easily to most of us. My mom used to always say: “As a rule, a man’s a fool; / When it’s hot, he wants it cool. / When it’s cool, he wants it hot— / Always wanting what is not.” “Give a man everything he wants,” declared Immanuel Kant, “and at that moment, everything will not be everything.” This morning I was struggling to read the very opening of John’s Gospel in the Greek New Testament. One of the things he says there of Jesus is that “Without Him nothing was made that has been made.” That means you, me, everybody, and everything. Yet how many give Him thanks? Nonetheless, every beat of every human heart is by His grace. I think in many ways our nation is rife with ingratitude. We have been blessed in innumerable ways, yet through it all, we have forgotten the source of that blessing. America’s history is summed up well in 1702 by the great Puritan minister Cotton Mather. He said, “Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter hath consumed the mother.” America became prosperous because of our Christian roots. But in our prosperity, we have forgotten God. As Pastor Paul Jehle of Plymouth, Massachusetts says, “We like the fruit, but not the root.” Look at America—a nation that historically has been so blessed by God. George Washington said in his First Inaugural Address (4/30/1789), “No people have more reason to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.” He said in another context, “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.” Washington said America should be grateful. He was the first to declare (10/3/1789) a National Day of Thanksgiving to God. (These days you have to clarify that last point.) The same Congress that gave us the First Amendment (which is today being used to try to keep God out of the public arena) suggested to Washington that he make this declaration, in thanks for the Constitution. Lincoln was the president who made Thanksgiving (to God) an annual event. He said America should be grateful. Even during the calamity of our nation’s greatest crisis, the Civil War, he said, Let us give thanks. In a different proclamation (3/30/1863), he said America has amnesia—toward God, the source of our blessings. He noted, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God.” This Thanksgiving, may I suggest a simple exercise? Carve out a few minutes with a sheet of paper and list a hundred things that you’re grateful for. I have done that a few times, and I’m struck by how much I’m grateful for. I must admit it reminds me of how ungrateful I often am. “Who is rich?” asked Ben Franklin: “He that rejoices in his Portion.” He also said, “Content[ment] makes poor men rich; Discontent[ment] makes rich Men poor.” Warren Weirsbe wrote: “Yesterday God helped me, / Today He’ll do the same. How long will this continue? / Forever—praise His Name.” I hope for more Americans that this Thanksgiving may be a meaningful time of genuine thanks to the Lord. To paraphrase a great Puritan prayer: “God, you’ve given me so many things. Give me one more thing—a grateful heart.” ### Jerry Newcombe is cohost/TV producer of Kennedy Classics. He has written/co-written 25 books, including The Book That Made America, Doubting Thomas (w/ Mark Beliles on Jefferson), and (w/ D. James Kennedy) What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? & (w/ Peter Lillback), George Washington’s Sacred Fire. tiam.org  jerrynewcombe.com  @newcombejerry

The Goal of Our Political Process is Not to Create a Government That Works

The New York Times recently ran an op-ed column calling for the end of midterm elections. Since the column was posted on the eve of a midterm election leading to record Republican gains, many readers presumably just rolled their eyes and chalked it up to the Times being opposed to anything that helps Republicans. There is probably some truth to that. If the Republicans win the White House in 2016, the Times will likely find substantial merit in the 2018 midterms. But there is more to the story than just partisan cheerleading. The Times column, written by David Schanzer, a Duke University professor, and Jay Sullivan, a Duke student, contains a dark undercurrent of desire to free those in power from accountability to voters. “In the modern age,” they write, “we do not need an election every two years to communicate voters’ desires to their elected officials.” That is technically true. Elected officials can find out the desires of voters, but that doesn’t mean they act upon them. Getting politicians to respond to voters requires elections. Even in an age where incumbents routinely get re-elected, the fear of being rejected by voters can have a powerful impact on the legislative process. In fairness to Schanzer and Sullivan, they frame their objective as a desire to make government work better. They worry about the fact that midterms tend to “weaken” presidents and “cripple” their agendas. To fix this perceived problem, they advocate having all federal officials on the ballot at the same time. Let the people elect Senators and Representatives only when there is a presidential election. With such a system, those elected would have four years to develop their theories and projects without interference from the voters. That’s a reasonable approach if your goal is to have a more energetic and efficient government. However, it misses the larger point. The purpose of our political process is not to create a government that works. It is to create a society that works. Those are two very different objectives. A government that works well can be dangerous to society if it’s run by ambitious men and women seeking to use it for their own purposes. That’s why our government was established with a careful system of checks and balances. Today, many are frustrated when the House and Senate can’t agree on what some see as common sense legislation. While frustrating, that’s the way the process is supposed to work. As James Madison put it, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” The fact that Representatives are elected for two-year terms, presidents for four years and senators for six is a wonderful feature of our electoral process, rather than something to be fixed. It limits the amount of change that can be brought about by the passing passions of the moment in any individual election. It makes it harder for ambitious and ideological politicians to overwhelm the common sense wisdom of the American people. Our system of checks and balances is not perfect. But the problem is not that it places too many limits on politicians. It’s that presidents and other politicians have found too many loopholes to escape the appropriate limits on their power. To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 SCOTT RASMUSSEN DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Immigration and Christian Charity

With the midterm elections over, President Obama now apparently feels himself freed to do via executive order what Congress has been unable or unwilling to do: declare millions of people here in the United States unlawfully to be legally present. That prospect has divided the nation. I keep thinking back to the protests in Murrieta, California, over the summer that received so much attention. The spectacle was ugly — Americans blocking buses filled largely with women and children from Central America, holding up signs that said things like, “Go home!” and “Return to sender!” Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan from the Archdiocese of New York was appalled, and said so on his blog. The scene was, he said, “un-American. It was unbiblical. It was inhumane.” Dolan, like many others, invoked Christ’s exhortations to welcome the alien, the widowed, the orphaned and to treat “the least” among us as we would Christ Himself. The idea of deporting millions of people already here is absurd and appalling. The magnitude of the suffering it would create is almost unfathomable. This past week, actress Diane Guerrero tearfully described her own experience having her family taken away, leaving her alone to fend for herself at 14. (Born in New Jersey, Guerrero is a U.S. citizen). She returned home from school one day to find everyone gone — they had been taken by immigration authorities and were subsequently returned to Colombia. She has been separated from them since. Multiply that story hundreds of thousands of times. Why would we want any child, any family to go through this? But there are at least two critical issues: first, the responsibility for reforming immigration law — which desperately needs reforming — lies with Congress, not the president. We cannot allow the Executive Branch to wholesale usurp the legislative role. (Progressives who disagree need only consider the prospect of a conservative president attempting the same thing.) Second, assuming that such a law was legitimately passed by Congress, then what? This is the part of the story one never hears discussed. Even if we manage to reform our immigration laws, will we enforce them? President Obama insists that he will veto any legislation that isn’t “comprehensive immigration reform.” But “comprehensive immigration reform” always means, “amnesty now, border enforcement later.” And later never comes. In 1986, amnesty was given to nearly three million people living in the United States illegally. The border was supposed to be secured thereafter. It wasn’t. 30 years later, four times that number are now here. Where are the proposals that state clearly how our immigration laws will be reformed so that families like the Guerreros can apply for and obtain lawful residency within a reasonable period of time? Where are the regulations that will keep out drug and gun runners, and other criminals? Where are the bills that demonstrate how our borders will be enforced thereafter, so that 12 million does not become 20 million? The world is filled with suffering people; we cannot take all of them. And none of this even mentions the risks of terrorists exploiting porous borders. When the citizens of Murrieta blocked those buses, their anger seemed directed not as much at the immigrants as it was at their own government, which thumbs its nose at their concerns. Americans in Southern California and other border states live with the realities of unenforced borders every day. The government’s response is to announce that tens of thousands more will arrive and the Border Patrol will be told to do nothing. Cardinal Dolan and others call for Christian charity. But it isn’t charity when people pour across the border to take fraudulent advantage of welfare programs that Americans are taxed to provide. It isn’t charity when lax enforcement permits the release of felons into our cities. Furthermore, people pouring across the border unaccounted for doesn’t permit any kind of systematic assistance from Americans who are eager to help; a regulated and monitored system of admitting people into the United States would make it easier for churches and other groups who want to provide assistance to immigrant families. Christian charity and a rational immigration system go hand in hand. To find out more about Laura Hollis and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM