“‘It Was Important for Us to Suffer'”

On Sunday, two remarkable Christian women, Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, spoke at our church, describing their harrowing tale of imprisonment by the Iranian regime because of their Christian faith.

Both were raised in Muslim homes in Iran but never embraced Islam. As young adults, they became Christians and met each other while studying theology in Turkey in 2005. When they returned to Iran, they began evangelizing together for several years, covertly distributing Bibles to some 20,000 people and starting two secret house churches. In March 2009, they were arrested in Tehran for promoting Christianity, which is punishable by death.

The regime officially charged them with apostasy, anti-government activity and blasphemy, and they were sentenced to execution by hanging. Before being cleared of all charges and released in 2009 as a result of worldwide prayer and international pressure, they endured 259 days in Evin prison. Thereafter, they moved to the United States and wrote a book together describing their horrendous experiences, “Captive in Iran.”

In Evin, which is notorious “for torturing, raping and executing innocent people,” they experienced brutal and humiliating treatment, poisoning and illness. They each endured solitary confinement and were interrogated once a week for eight or nine hours at a time. All the while, whether together or separated, they prayed for each other.

The first week, they were horrified and prayed to be released. But soon, they came to see their presence in prison as an opportunity to witness to other prisoners, many of whom were prostitutes and addicts and “so hopeless and sad.” Maryam and Marziyeh prayed for them and saw God work in their lives as they cried and confessed their sins. It became “like a church for us,” said Marziyeh.

Maryam said there was only one day out of the 259 during which she couldn’t feel the presence of God. “That was the worst experience I ever had in my life,” she said. “I was so sad. I didn’t know what to do.”

She was in a cell with a Muslim woman — a political prisoner — in a building where no loud noises were allowed. But she heard a voice inside her telling her to start singing. “I wanted to sing, but I couldn’t find the words. (So) I started singing in tongues very loudly, and the woman in the cell with me was so scared she told me to quit singing, but I continued singing, and after one hour, I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit all around me and in my cell.” She said that her Muslim cellmate could also feel the presence of God and asked whether they could sing together in Farsi. “So I taught her some worship songs, and we started singing with each other, and after two hours, I could really feel the peace and joy, and God told me, ‘I am with you every day, even if you don’t feel my presence.'”

At any time, they could have secured their own release by simply renouncing their Christian faith, but they each emphatically refused, saying, “We will never renounce our faith.” Marziyeh told one Muslim prisoner who said they were “silly” for not renouncing their faith: “Our insistence on our faith is not out of stubbornness. … I have lived with God for many years. … He is my all. We are inseparable. My life has no value without him. I love God so much that denying him would be denying my own existence. How could I ever deny something that is in every cell of my body? I would rather spend the rest of my life in prison if that’s what it takes to stay close to him. I would rather be killed than kill the spirit of Christ within me.”

Maryam and Marziyeh feel they were ultimately released from prison because of God’s grace.

I find it moving that they were ambivalent about being released. Marziyeh related in their book: “Though my body was free, my soul and spirit were still with our precious friends suffering terrible injustice inside Evin Prison. This thought made it impossible for me to enjoy our new situation. I felt strangely indifferent to our liberation.” They consider it an honor to have experienced a little of Christ’s suffering by being imprisoned in his name. “It was important for us to suffer,” they said.

They closed their book with this: “We had no idea what the Lord had in mind for us. For all the heartache we have experienced on this journey, we wouldn’t have missed it for anything. It has been our honor to serve Christ in this way, to take up our cross and follow Him faithfully anywhere He leads us.”

They promised their friends in prison that they would pray for them and be a voice for them. So they’ve devoted their lives to be “a voice for the voiceless.”

What a different place this world would be if the rest of us had just half the faith of these courageous, devoted women.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, “The Great Destroyer,” reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. 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

Why Did John the Baptist Call Jesus the Lamb of God?

“John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God because Jesus is too holy and wonderful for him to even untie his shoes,” says Mitchell, 8.

Before John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God, he talked about his sandals. By saying he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals, John put himself in the position of the lowest slave. Anything to do with feet was usually reserved for the lowest slave in a household. That’s why Jesus shocked his disciples when he cleaned their feet before they ate the Passover meal on the night before his crucifixion.

Jesus wasn’t joking when he said the way up in his kingdom is the way down. After his disciples debated among themselves about who would be the greatest in God’s kingdom, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

God’s ways are usually contrary to the way we’re trained to think. Leaders usually come from prominent families and go to the best schools. Who would think that the Messiah would be born into a poor family supported by a father who did manual labor in a backwater place like Nazareth? The whole scenario is so contrary to the way we think about power.

“In Bible times when a person sinned, they would take a lamb to the temple to sacrifice,” says Sandra, 9. “To be called a Lamb of God means that God gave Jesus to be killed like a lamb for our sins so we could live forever.”

The majority of Old Testament passages that mention “lamb” refer to a sacrifice (85 out of 96). As a nation, Israel began its history by putting lamb’s blood on the doorposts and lintels of each house. The death angel took the lives of all Egypt’s firstborns, but passed over the houses that had lamb’s blood on the door. To this day, Jews all over the world celebrate Passover.

The entire Old Testament can be summed up with one question, “Where is the lamb?” A pivotal point in Jewish history came when father Abraham took Isaac up the mountain to offer a sacrifice. Abraham knew God had promised to make him the father of many nations, yet God had commanded him to sacrifice his only son by Sarah. When Isaac asked about the lamb, Abraham assured him that God would provide the lamb (Genesis 22:6-8).

The priests in the temple at Jerusalem sacrificed a lamb in the morning and evening every day (Exodus 29:38). For hundreds of years, Jews brought lambs to the temple as sacrifices for their sins. They kept coming back year after year because no lamb could take away all their sin.

For Christians, the Passover points to a greater reality. In the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, God brought the perfect sacrifice that John proclaimed: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

The prophet Isaiah foresaw the Messiah’s sacrifice when he wrote: “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

Think about this: All the sacrificial lambs offered in the Old Testament point to Jesus Christ.

Memorize this truth: John 1:29 quoted above.

Ask this question: Have you beheld and believed in the Lamb of God as the one who took away your sin?

Listen to a talking book, download the “Kids Color Me Bible” for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and travel around the world by viewing the “Mission Explorers Streaming Video” at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted. To find out more about Carey Kinsolving and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CAREY KINSOLVING

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Brothers Forever: ‘If Not Me, Then Who … ‘

Brothers Forever: ‘If Not Me, Then Who … ‘

Every week, I write a column about America’s heroes and their families. I am eternally grateful for the support of readers like you, who are eager to read the personal stories of our nation’s brave men and women in uniform.

On Feb. 6, 2011, my first column — “Closer to You” — marked the beginning of this series, which was aimed at increasing awareness about the sacrifices still being made by our military community. It told the story of U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion, 26, who was killed in Iraq on Apr. 29, 2007, and U.S. Navy LT (SEAL) Brendan Looney, 29, who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan on Sept. 21, 2010. These close friends and U.S. Naval Academy roommates are buried side-by-side at Arlington National Cemetery.

Nine months later, I started writing a book with 1st Lt. Manion’s father, U.S. Marine Col. Tom Manion (Ret.). “Brothers Forever,” which will be published by Da Capo Press in May, chronicles not only the enduring bond of Travis and Brendan, who met just before 9/11, but salutes their courageous families and all the heroes who have stepped forward since our country was attacked.

The following excerpt is adapted from the fourth chapter of “Brothers Forever.” In December 2006, Travis was attending a Monday Night Football game with his brother-in-law while preparing for his second deployment to Fallujah, Iraq. The five words Travis uttered that night — “if not me, then who … ” — deeply inspired his friend and former roommate, Brendan, as he subsequently trained to become a U.S. Navy SEAL. It also sparked a national movement and motivated people outside the military community, like me, to help tell this powerful story.

“Even so close to going back to Iraq, Travis’s demeanor was calm. He was doing exactly what he wanted with his life, and instead of complaining about spending the next 12 months in a war-ravaged city that could justifiably be labeled a hell hole, he felt fortunate for the chance to put all the hard work of the last eight years to good use.

As [Travis and his brother-in-law, Dave] listened to one of Travis’s favorite iPod playlists, which consisted of everything from Johnny Cash and Elton John to Ben Harper and The Roots, Dave took a sip of his beer and leaned against his car in silence as his visible breath blended with smoke from a small grill to fill the chilly air near the two-man tailgate. Dave knew young Americans were dying in Iraq almost every day, including a soldier named Pfc. Ross McGinnis, who had died the previous weekend in Baghdad. The 19-year-old Knox, Pa., native, who dove on top of a grenade to save the lives of fellow Army soldiers, would later become the fourth U.S. service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism displayed in Iraq.

Dave was an avid reader, particularly of military-themed books and magazines, and was following the war closely. He knew Travis faced severe risks in Fallujah, particularly in a unit that guided Iraqi soldiers around the city’s hostile streets. Though he never mentioned the full scope of his fears to [Travis’s sister] Ryan, or for that matter Travis, he was worried about whether he would see his brother-in-law again. In fact, part of him wished he could talk Travis out of leaving, even though he knew it would be an exercise in futility.

‘Hey, Trav, if I tripped you right now and you fell and broke your ankle, do you think they’d let you sit this deployment out?’ he asked.

Travis chuckled at Dave’s joke, but didn’t say much in response. A brief moment of slightly awkward silence followed. Suddenly Travis spoke up.

‘You know what though, Dave?’ Travis said with an unmistakably serious look on his face. ‘If I don’t go, they’re going to send another Marine in my place who doesn’t have my training.’

‘If not me, then who … you know what I mean?’ he continued. ‘It’s either me or that other guy who isn’t ready, so I’m the one who has to get the job done.'”

“Brothers Forever” will be released on May 13 and is available now for pre-order at brothersforeverbook.com.

Pictured: U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion, 26, was killed in Fallujah, Iraq on Apr. 29, 2007. U.S. Navy LT (SEAL) Brendan Looney, 29, died in Afghanistan’s Zabul province on Sept. 21, 2010. The close friends and U.S. Naval Academy roommates are buried side by side at Arlington National Cemetery — “brothers forever.” Photo courtesy of the Travis Manion Foundation.

Tom Sileo is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of “BROTHERS FOREVER: The Enduring Bond Between a Marine and a Navy SEAL that Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice.” Written with Col. Tom Manion (Ret.) and published by Da Capo Press, “BROTHERS FOREVER” will be released in spring 2014. To find out more about Tom Sileo or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

From Homeless to Home Provider

Lynn Carr was at one time a homeless woman. Today, she’s the owner and operator of Twainland Cheesecake Company and Cafe. In 1994, she opened her business, and today, she has 14 employees who make dozens of different kinds of cheesecakes.

Her desserts are fast becoming a tourist attraction in Hannibal, Mo., Mark Twain’s boyhood home. Today, Lynn Carr has even more ambitious plans and is working to take Twainland Cheesecakes into stores around the country and open a chain of cheesecake cafes.

Most of Carr’s employees are high school dropouts and welfare moms who often come from impoverished areas on the “wrong side of the tracks.” Her workers are highly motivated and truly grateful for the opportunities that Lynn Carr gives them when most “regular” businesses would not give them a chance.

Carr keeps her employees motivated by providing a small television set, complete with a VCR, sitting on a refrigerator in the tiny kitchen among the ovens, sinks, pots and pans. The employees work and listen as they create cheesecakes and lunch sandwiches. Motivational speakers on videotape deliver words of encouragement with a strong emphasis on self-esteem, work ethic and religion. She’s planning to open a new “total program” factory with a learning center and a day-care center on-site.

Lynn Carr’s approach to business enables her to create opportunities while teaching her people how to get more of the things money will buy and most of the things that money won’t buy. It’s true: Opportunity lies in the person, not the job or the location. Needed: Lynn Carrs everywhere who will extend a hand up and not a hand out to the homeless. See you at the top.

To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. Subscribe to Zig Ziglar’s free email newsletter through info@zigziglar.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM.

Obama’s Inept Gamesmanship In A Dangerous World

In the months following the October 1, 2013 unveiling of Obamacare, Americans across the political spectrum have been appalled at how the whole operation was thoroughly bungled from beginning to end. Admittedly, few on the political right ever anticipated anything else, since the historical track record of socialism has always been disastrous. In contrast, those on the left waited in rapt anticipation of the utopia that was to ensue, only to be sorely disappointed at the pathetic reality of non-functioning websites, curtailed medical care, and exorbitantly higher premiums. Five months into the program, a wide-ranging consensus has been reached that the American people will never collect on any of the rosy promises on which the Obamacare mirage was built. Sadly, the Obamacare debacle has proven to be only one facet of a much more extensive problem. Any honest assessment of the past five years reveals an unbroken pattern of abject failure by the Obama Administration on every front, from the economy to the management of government, to assurances of “transparency” by which Barack Obama sanctimoniously declared that his regime would rise far above any before him. Most ominous of all, in recent weeks, it has again been affirmed that the general ineptitude of this administration also includes its arrogant and ham-fisted approach to foreign affairs. Americans were willing to stand with Obama in the days immediately following the May 2, 2011 elimination of Osama bin Laden. However, it was not long before Obama and his minions were again flaunting their self-absorption in a thoroughly ugly manner. Commentators soon began to parody the number of times per speech that Obama “casually” mentioned that he had gotten rid of the al Qaeda terrorist. Unfortunately, a dangerous undercurrent heralded eventual catastrophe as Obama went into full campaign mode, and in the process essentially declared that with bin Laden gone, the “War on Terror” had been won. It was that storyline which prompted Obama and his equally ineffectual and egotistical Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ignore the growing threats facing U.S. Embassy staff in Benghazi Libya, refusing to provide increased security as requested by Ambassador Chris Stevens. Even after the expected attack ensued on September 11, 2012, the focus of the Obama Administration was solely directed at how to play down the event and spin any fallout in such a manner that it did not pose a political liability to the presidential election which was only weeks away. Rather than rush available military assets and personnel to the scene to save Stevens and his staff, the cold-blooded decision was made to leave them to their fate while concocting a bogus cover-story to deflect criticism. Though the transparent ruse was quickly recognized, in the short term it proved quite successful at ensuring that the Benghazi disaster remained a non-issue through Obama’s reelection. Nevertheless, the nation has paid an enormous price for both the treachery and short-sightedness of this administration as well as its ongoing liberal myopia and the arrogance that ensures the liberal governing philosophy will remain entrenched, despite enormous evidence proving its inevitable failure. The recent debacle involving the piecemeal Russian takeover of Ukraine, and the comically impotent (were the consequences not so dire) response of the Obama White House represents ample proof that a foreign policy based on the inanities of liberalism can not only be expected to fail, but will do so on a dangerous scale. Our nation is indeed entering into a perilous time, in which all of the gains and triumphs won by America’s successful prosecution of the “Cold War” against the nightmare of Soviet imperialism could conceivably be forfeited in a matter of months. Stretching from the end of World War II in 1945 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1988, America capably thwarted a political movement that Ronald Reagan properly characterized as the “Evil Empire” by recognizing its long-term goals, and steadfastly refusing to allow it to achieve them by any means, including the use of force when necessary. During the more than four decades of this simmering conflict, America enjoyed great successes such as the technological triumph of its moon program and the quick 1983 ouster of Hudson Austin, the communist and pro-Soviet leader in Grenada. However, it also suffered profound failures in Cuba and the protracted war in Vietnam. Throughout those years and varied fortunes, a seemingly simplistic strategy emerged. The Soviets would wait patiently or even back down in the face of a superior opposing force, and then rapidly seize on any occasion of weakness as an opportunity to advance. And the consistency with which their actions were dictated by these factors can be interpreted as a grim harbinger of what Americans can expect, given the current status of the U.S. relationship to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Few Americans responded with appropriate alarm and horror to Barack Obama’s March 2012 message to Vladimir Putin (via Russian president Dmitri Medvedev), in which he beseeched Putin to hold off on dealing with any potentially contentious issues since “After my election I will have more flexibility.” What Putin clearly assessed from this plea was both an ideological alliance with Russia, as well as an intent to eventually betray the American people the moment Obama felt he was out of reach of any accountability for his treachery. Unfortunately, in the 2012 election, the majority of Americans were more concerned with Obama’s empty promises of unending government “benefits,” than the dire repercussions of reelecting someone with such profoundly divided loyalties. Consequently, at a time when a strong and resolved America is needed to avert the latest threat of an ascendant Russian bear, the U.S. military is on the verge of being gutted, while its ranks are daily undercut and demoralized by the poison of “political correctness.” Official U.S. response to an increasingly emboldened Russians is pathetic and embarrassing, with Obama’s dissembling, the meandering whining of Secretary of State John Kerry and the predictably buffoonish pronouncements from Vice-president Joe Biden hardly any match for the strident nationalism and threatened militarism of Putin. “We the People” are indeed showing signs of awakening to the dangers of the all-powerful “nanny state,” hopefully in time to express these sentiments during this fall’s congressional mid-term elections. Nevertheless, the prospects for America’s future are at least as contingent upon its standing on the international stage as they are on a healthy domestic policy. If America is to play any role in world affairs other than acquiescing to those who would exert raw power, it must be able to match them, both in the strength of its armed forces and in its determination to stand against their aggression. The world is, and will always be, far too dangerous a place for any nation to survive if it fails to recognize the critical importance of these principles. Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, and has written for regional and national magazines. He is currently the Chief Editorial Writer for The Proud Americans, a membership advocacy group for America’s seniors, and for all Americans. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.

My Family’s Misadventures with Obamacare, Continued

Back in September, our family received an Obamacare-induced health insurance death notice. We joined millions of other Americans whose individual market health plans died after Democrats lied about our ability to keep the plans and doctors we liked. President Obama tried to “fix” the mess he created. But as usual, the federal government’s solutions have made things even worse.

Confusion and chaos reign not just in our household, but across the country.

As I reported last fall, our letter from Anthem BlueCross BlueShield of Colorado informed us that we could no longer keep our high-deductible PPO plan with a wide doctor network because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA).” The Obamacare engineers determined that the affordable plan we liked was “substandard,” forcing us to enter the Obamacare health insurance exchange, purchase a severely limited HMO plan or seek some other alternative in the shrinking private marketplace.

We reluctantly took steps to sign up with the exchange, spending hours on Colorado’s busted website, hours on the phone with shady reps and weeks waiting for some proof that we were in fact “enrolled.”

Then, a few months later, we received another letter from Anthem informing us that we could keep our current plan until November 2014. We signed a form stating that we wanted to do so and took steps to cancel our pending Obamacare enrollment. Next, we got another letter stating that our current Anthem plan would be canceled on May 1, 2014.

Then, last week, Obama announced by administrative fiat that we could keep our plan for another two years.

Simple question: Will our plan be canceled on May 1, or will we have it for another two years? Or what?

We called the number on our Anthem health insurance card last week. Nobody picked up the phone after waiting on hold for nearly an hour.

Second try: Twenty minutes on hold. Then, we were transferred to another number. Another 20-minute wait. Finally, a human being came on the line. After explaining our situation and posing our simple question, the rep put us on hold again. The eventual answer: He didn’t know.

After taking special note of our lengthy correspondence file, the rep then proceeded to give us the same number we had initially contacted in the first place. In response to our question about the contradictory information from his company and from the government, he informed us that Anthem has received “millions of calls” that it couldn’t process and apologized. He repeated the old phone number for us to call so we could fatten our lengthy correspondence file even more. And then: Click.

The left will blame the insurance companies, as always. But at the center of the current mess are Obama’s desperate and now almost weekly Democratic face-saving decrees to “fix” a fundamentally broken government racket. Half of the nation’s state insurance commissioners rejected the original “fix” for noncompliant plans last fall. Several still haven’t made decisions on that first “fix,” let alone the new ones for 2015 or 2016. Nobody can count on any state that went along with the original “fix” to sign on to the subsequent ones. And only a few have weighed in on the very latest one.

While the White House and Hollywood propagandists push aggressively for Americans to “Get Covered” and get enrolled in government-sponsored care before the March 31 open enrollment deadline, millions of us are in bureaucratic limbo trying to Get Answers about the changes, the changes to the changes, and the changes to the changes to the changes to the private plans we liked and didn’t want to leave in the first place.

A former Obamacare policy adviser sheepishly concluded to The Washington Post this week: “I broadly view the administrative delays as a pragmatic realization that it is actually harder to do some of these things in reality than we thought when we put it down on paper.”

No kidding, genius. Thanks for nothing, Obamacare!

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malknblog@gmail.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

The Profligate Path to Servitude

As a teenager, I began a new lifelong routine of starting and ending each day reading from the book of Proverbs, which, of course, was written by Solomon, a very wise man. Interestingly, my parents gave me the middle name of Solomon — not that I claim even a modicum of his wisdom.

After Solomon became the king of Israel, he gained great renown when two women came before him claiming to be the mother of the same infant. Solomon decreed that the baby should be divided and half given to each woman, at which time the real mother immediately relinquished her claim.

This made the judgment quite simple. I believe God has a sense of humor, not only because of my middle name and my affinity for Solomonic proverbs, but because I, too, gained great renown by dividing babies. In my case, it was complexly joined craniopagus twins.

One of the verses that seems pertinent to America today is Proverbs 22:7, which says, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Most of us grew up hearing that debt is a bad thing. The advent and wide dissemination of credit cards diminished such teachings, and those in charge of our nation’s finances over the past few decades seem to revel in debt.

As a nation, we currently are carrying a national debt of $17.5 trillion. If we repaid it at a rate of $10 million per day, seven days a week, 365 days per year, it would take 4,700 years to repay. The only reason that we can sustain such a level of debt is our status as the international reserve currency for the world.

This is a position usually reserved for the most reliable and strongest economic nation, and this status allows us to print money. If Greece could print money, it would not be bankrupt, although it probably would continue to drive up its debt.

Additionally, we have unfunded liabilities of at least $100 trillion.

Why am I concerned about this? I have been talking about this issue since long before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent threat to abandon the U.S. dollar as Russia’s reserve currency. Unless he could attract many other nations to do the same, he likely would inflict more short-term damage on his own country than on the United States.

Nevertheless, the very mention of such an action should send shivers down our spine. He recognizes our vulnerable position, which is exacerbated by our insistence on incurring unsustainable levels of debt. I have no doubt that at a strategic moment, he will exploit our weakness.

A United Nations committee in 2010 recommended a change in world reserve currency policies, and others such as China have made similar suggestions. They are beginning to doubt the stability of America’s financial infrastructure.

Our continued fiscal irresponsibility not only threatens the financial well-being of the next generation of Americans, but it also increasingly jeopardizes U.S. security. Our international influence is weakened, as our borrower status makes us vulnerable to threats from Putin and others. Perhaps worst of all, if our status as the world’s reserve currency issuer changes, there could be a dramatic decline in our standard of living.

If this occurs, the Occupy Wall Street movement will seem like a walk in the park compared with the civil unrest that will result. It does not require a great imagination to envision some of the freedom-limiting responses that might then occur. Many say this is simply paranoia and fear-mongering, which is what the so-called elites traditionally say before a catastrophic collapse.

The good news is we can do better. However, we the people must first do our homework and make sure we know who our congressional representatives are and how they vote, not how they say they vote. If they are in favor of continued fiscal lunacy, as evidenced by their votes that keep raising our national debt, they need to be replaced by responsible candidates from any party who understand the implications of their actions.

We need people who understand that in order for businesses to grow and prosper the government must remove the heavy boot of regulation and interference from their necks. We need those who realize that taxation is supposed to provide the necessary revenues to operate a government that provides for the safety, infrastructure and freedom of the people.

The purpose of taxation is not to control behavior and certainly not to justify a government takeover of health care that initiated the most massive shift of power from the people to the government in our history. By declaring pertinent parts of the Affordable Care Act a tax, the Supreme Court facilitated the demise of freedom in America.

These should not be partisan issues, but rather the concerns of every freedom-loving American citizen who wishes to see prosperity return to our shores.

Fiscal responsibility, fair taxation, intelligent environmental and energy policies, strong international leadership, evidence-based educational policies, cost-effective health care that is readily available to everyone, and honesty can prevail, but some feathers of those who are currently comfortable may need to be ruffled.

We need to discuss all of these things openly, rather than giving ear to the constant demagoguery that now exists. We must then vote responsibly with full knowledge of records and remain vigilant to preserve freedom and justice for all. We still have the power to craft a better future, but urgency grows.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. To find out more about Ben Carson and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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Eating for Success

Larry Bleiberg, who writes about education and the Dallas Independent School District for The Dallas Morning News, says that a survey shows that teenagers who regularly share meals with their families are three times more likely to say their home life is happy and close most of the time than teens who do not have meals with their families.

He also says that the frequent diners are more satisfied with their prospects for the future than classmates who rarely eat with their families. They are twice as likely to devote long hours to homework and much less likely to have premarital sex or consider suicide.

The survey of high-school students was conducted by Who’s Who Among American High School Students. “When a family has dinner together, they’re doing a lot more than eating,” said Paul Krouse, founder and publisher of the publication that honors high-achieving teens. “They’re really sharing their lives. They’re demonstrating an interest in each other.” The survey, taken in the spring of 1995, is based on responses from 3,351 teen-agers who had A or B averages and were considered high-achievers. Other surveys have had similar results.

Actually, it’s not that involved. Two, three or four times a week of eating together can make a difference, whether it’s Sunday brunch, Saturday lunch or Friday night dinner. This is a routine that is very, very good to put in place.

Bleiberg points out that at mealtime parents can find out about their children’s problems or worries. Likewise, children get a better understanding of their parents when everyone shares their daily lives. Krause concluded, “We don’t have any statistics that tell us that single-parent families are going to perform worse. A single mom or a single dad can accomplish an awful lot.” See you at the top!

To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. Subscribe to Zig Ziglar’s free email newsletter through info@zigziglar.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM.

What Does the Bible Mean When It Says Jesus Was Full of Grace And Truth?

“If you had a bad day and had a timeout, God would forgive you,” says Hayes, 6.

Hayes, you’re thinking like me. You need a lot of grace for life’s truth timeouts. In Jesus, we see the perfect balance of grace and truth.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The word “dwelt” as in the Word or Jesus dwelling among us has a history in the Old Testament. The word can be translated “tabernacled.” Moses constructed the Ark of the Covenant and placed it in a tent so God dwelt among his people as they wandered in the desert.

Pastor Emile Wolfaardt puts it this way: “A little more than 2,000 years ago, God stepped onto our earth, pitched His tent and set up camp right in the middle of us all. That is what the word ‘dwelled’ can mean — to set a tent. In other words, the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us. And when He did that,well men it was the most profound revelation of God man would ever know on this earth.”

Theologian J.C. Ryle eloquently writes of the grace and truth that came together in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ: “This constant undivided union of two perfect natures in Christ’s Person is exactly that which gives infinite value to His mediation and qualifies Him to be the very Mediator that sinners need. Our Mediator is One who can sympathize with us, because He is very MAN. And yet, at the same time, He is One who can deal with the Father for us on equal terms, because He is very GOD.”

Ryle gives one of the best explanations ever placed in print of how grace and truth came together in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may want to read it again.

When I think of grace, the words of the Lord Jesus on the cross come to mind: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Truth demands justice, but forgiveness is grace in action.

The truth behind the unjust trial and crucifixion of Jesus is that he could have snapped his fingers and annihilated his accusers. Jesus allowed himself to be falsely accused, unjustly whipped and brutally crucified as a common criminal. Why didn’t he resist? Grace.

The truth is that our sins drove him to the cross. He took our sins on himself and bore the punishment that we deserve. Why? Truth demands justice, and justice demands punishment for wrongdoing.

What kind of world would this be if people were permitted to kill each other when they got angry? God is righteous in that he punishes sin, but he also loves us because he sent his son to take the punishment we deserve.

“It means that God was full of grace,” says Katie, 10. “When people sinned, he gave grace.”

Think about this: Jesus Christ left the glories of his dwelling place in heaven to suffer the humility of crucifixion so that he could prepare a heavenly dwelling place for us.

Memorize this truth: John 1:14 quoted above.

Ask this question: Have you received the truth about your need for a savior and God’s gracious provision in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Listen to a talking book, download the “Kids Color Me Bible” for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and travel around the world by viewing the “Mission Explorers Streaming Video” at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted. To find out more about Carey Kinsolving and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CAREY KINSOLVING

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Wyoming Governor Emulates Lawlessness of Obama Administration

Like a rapidly advancing malignancy, the pattern of lawlessness and corruption exhibited by Barack Obama and his appointed minions is predictably spreading to other levels of government. It is unfortunate and dangerous that Obama now routinely flouts the law, either by openly asserting that he will not enforce duly enacted statutes he does not like, or by invoking the fearsome power of government as a “legal” bludgeon against individuals and organizations that might incur his wrath by thwarting his leftist agenda. Members of the Obama cabinet who openly aid and abet this effort, such as IRS chief Lois Lerner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or National Security Advisor Susan Rice, all of whom have blatantly abused their positions and then attempted to cloak their actions by giving false testimony (it used to be called perjury). Yet they remain immune to any real interest or inquiry from the Department of Justice, since it is headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, whose ability to stonewall, evade, and delay any investigation prove him to be the worst by far among Obama’s law-breaking cabinet. In the wake of a February 24, 2014 meeting with Obama, Texas Governor Rick Perry expressed his deep concerns over the fact that he and several other governors were informed by Obama that he did not trust them to make decisions about “education, transportation, or infrastructure.” Perry went on to say that Obama made a thinly veiled threat of repercussions against any of them who “pushed back” against his agenda. Perry clearly recognizes the need for all government, whether federal, state, or local, to operate within its constitutionally prescribed boundaries, and that such overreaching action at any level threatens the freedoms and rights of all. Unfortunately for the people of Wyoming, Governor Matt Mead exhibits a governing philosophy that increasingly reflects the same excesses and contempt for constitutional boundaries as Obama and his cabal. And while this abuse of power has been evident for more than a year, his actions of the past few months indicate an intention to maintain and expand his control of Wyoming government, regardless of how his actions flagrantly violate the letter and spirit of the Wyoming Constitution, and even the words of his own oath of office. On Monday, March 10, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill attempted to go to work at her office in Cheyenne to carry out the job she was elected to perform, which is the general supervision of education in Wyoming. However, she was prevented from entering her office by Richard Crandall, the governor’s appointed “Director of Education” who has been usurping Hill’s authority and most of her duties, since she was stripped of those powers by the Wyoming legislature in 2013 with its passage of Senate File 104. Unwilling to passively accept this situation, she challenged the measure in court and on January 28 received vindication as the law was declared unconstitutional by the Wyoming Supreme Court. Nevertheless, Governor Mead responded to the court’s decision by seeking spurious avenues to delay compliance with the ruling. In an absurdly transparent affront to the court, he sought a rehearing, which the court sternly rebuffed on February 28. According to the law, the constitution of Wyoming, and all recognition of the proper function of civil government, Hill had not only the right, but the duty to return to her official capacity. Unfortunately, it is evident that such trite concepts mean little to the political power monger who holds the state’s highest office, along with his dutiful minions. Governor Mead can even claim the assistance and support of an Eric Holder clone, in Wyoming State Attorney General Peter Michael, who advised Crandall to remain in Hill’s office, despite the Supreme Court ruling. Rather than simply insisting that the law and the Wyoming Constitution prevail, Michael is collaborating in yet another of the governor’s delaying actions by deferring to the lower level District Court before seeking to restore the elected responsibilities of the Education Superintendent. It is noteworthy that from the moment SF 104 was signed by Governor Mead, less than two days passed before Superintendent Hill was evicted from her office, and the Mead political machine had taken total control of the education department. In stark contrast forty five days have elapsed (and counting) since the Supreme Court nullified SF 104, yet Hill remains unable to continue doing the job for which the people of Wyoming elected her to office. In her words, “Right now an unconstitutionally appointed ‘director of education’ is still signing contracts and making decisions on behalf of the people of Wyoming.” In essence, the good people of the CowboyState have no legitimate representation in government regarding the schooling of their children. Rather, a self-serving and unaccountable bureaucracy is abusing its power, in blatant defiance of the law and the Wyoming Constitution, to appropriate and disperse the enormous funds ostensibly devoted to academics, channeling them to lucky recipients as it sees fit. Ever since the day of the first Supreme Court decision, Governor Mead has transitioned from merely failing to vigorously uphold the law and the Wyoming constitution to actively impeding and obstructing them. And as the chief law-enforcement official in the state, Attorney General Michael should be diligently ensuring that state statutes and court decisions are respected not only by the common citizen on Main Street but also by those in high office. It is those in government who hold the greatest potential to do serious harm to society through abridgment or violation of the law. Nevertheless, the Attorney General’s lapses fall back onto the feet of the individual who appointed him. Some have presumed Mead’s actions to be a good thing, since they take his side on Wyoming’s adoption of Barack Obama’s “common core” educational agenda (which Hill steadfastly opposes). When the dust settles, “common core” has been among the chief points of contention between Hill, who remains unshakably focused on remaining independent of federal entanglements and improving academics for Wyoming children, as opposed to the remainder of the bureaucracy which is more concerned with the massive federal funding that is the bait used to lure states into the “common core” morass. In any case, it is dangerously naive to align with Mead on this basis. His willingness to engage in such abuses of power may benefit his allies in the short term, but in due course, a government which operates in this manner is a threat to all, since its primary goal is only to serve itself. If a healthy and legally just society is to be maintained and preserved in Wyoming, it is incumbent upon Governor Mead to faithfully uphold the law and strive to ensure its continuing integrity, and not to grudgingly concede its premises only after all possibilities of circumventing it have been exhausted. For by choosing to operate on that basis, he proves to the public that they can no longer trust him to honorably fulfill the responsibilities of his office, or depend on him to carry out his sworn duty as chief executive of the state. Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, and has written for regional and national magazines. He is currently the Chief Editorial Writer for The Proud Americans, a membership advocacy group for America’s seniors, and for all Americans. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.