25 scripture verses to pray during advent

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

This is Advent. We celebrate a coming. We celebrate an arrival. The arrival of a baby boy born in a stable. A baby, yet a king. The arrival of new life to a young, bewildered couple. The arrival of new life for you and me. The arrival of a new kingdom.

The Arrival of Grace

Grace is here. Grace came down, in the form of a baby, not only to Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, but to you and me. Today.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Luke 2:40 “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.”

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Romans 1:4-6 “and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 2:9 “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

1 Peter 1:2 “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”

The Arrival of Love

Not just any love… I “love” ice cream or I “love” the beach. But, the arrival of True Love. The truest and greatest ever known. The unconditional, never-gives-up kind of love.

Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”

Mark 10:21 “Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

John 15:13 ”Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Arrival of Peace

Peace in a Person… peace that can’t be explained… peace that comes in the middle of the storm and passes all understanding. Peace that envelops our hearts when we need it most. When we need Him most.

Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Isaiah 26:12 “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.”

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Ephesians 2:14 “For He himself is our peace…”

The Arrival of Life

Life more full and abundant than we ever could have known on our own. Life forgiven and free. A new life… a new heart… a new beginning.

Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 20:28 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

John 1:4 “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

John 3:14 “so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

With the Advent season upon us, we eagerly await the arrival of the Newborn King. We can eagerly await, with hope and assurance, the promise of a Savior who will one day return for us yet again!

When we look to Jesus and celebrate His advent, we remember WHY He was sent to earth to begin with. We realize that with His coming, we’ve been given so very much. Isaiah 61 is a prophecy telling us exactly what He came for…

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Advent… the arrival of a baby. A baby who means so very many things to us. A baby who is the gift of grace. The gift of love. The gift of peace. The gift of life. And so much more…

He was. He is. He will be. Forevermore.

– cross walk

You may dislike him, but Trump is the best pro-life chance we’ve got

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

U.S., November 29, 2016: The pro-life movement finds itself in a unique – and arguably enviable – position as both houses of Congress and the presidency are controlled by self-proclaimed pro-lifers.

Thankfully the 2016 presidential election cycle is over and while the candidates left countless things to be desired, the nation is left grappling with a president who essentially insulted his way to the nation’s highest elected office.

But it’s over, at last. While pro-lifers, including myself, never had Donald Trump as their first choice, he’s now the president, for better or worse.

Many pro-lifers have questioned his creds as a true believer in the protection of innocent life. But does it matter now?

No. It matters that he is the first president elected that made specific pro-life promises on the campaign trail: to defund Planned Parenthood, appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices, pass a ban on abortion at 20 weeks, and permanently ban taxpayer funding of abortion. No candidate has ever before made those promises.

It doesn’t matter if pro-lifers like President Trump or not. He represents the best opportunity the pro-life movement has had to pass life-saving legislation at the national level in at least a decade.

He has already affirmed his promise to appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices and has placed a committed pro-lifer, Reince Priebus, as his Chief of Staff.

His campaign manager was Kellyanne Conway, who is well-known among pro-life organizations as an ardent supporter of the protection of life. And he chose Governor Mike Pence as his Vice President, who was trying to defund Planned Parenthood when he was a Congressman way before it was cool to do so.

Of course, like any elected official, Trump’s promises must be taken with a giant grain of salt, especially because he only recently became pro-life and his convictions remain questionable at best.

Implicitly trusting the Trump-Pence Administration on pro-life matters would be foolish. He has a lot to prove. It’s unclear what he is going to give up in search of the best deal on innumerable issues but we hope it isn’t the lives of the preborn.

In any case, the pro-life movement is not claiming Donald Trump to be their leader. His presidency is a tool to be used to save lives and get closer to abolishing abortion.

He’s not a crusader for the cause nor is he the face of the pro-life movement. He doesn’t influence pro-life leaders, yet pro-life leaders and their organizations need to take every opportunity to influence him and hold him to the promises he made during the campaign.

And we have that opportunity. Now that the election is over, the real work begins. Our grassroots efforts must be greater than ever.

We are fighting every day for the lives of thousands of babies, for families, for women, and for our communities.

Abortion is going to be front and center in the national conversation over the next four years. This is a chance to show Americans – both pro-life and pro-choice – what it means to be part of a vast, diverse movement of people who see abortion as the biggest human rights crisis of our time.

The pro-life movement is the courageous prayer warriors spending countless hours praying outside abortion facilities, counseling women and men considering abortion.

It is the student standing up for the preborn and bringing resources for pregnant and parenting students to campus. It is the family who opens their home to a woman in need. It is the couple who steps out in faith to adopt a child. It is the activists who give freely of themselves to end the greatest human rights injustice our world has ever known.

That is the face, and the heart and soul, of the pro-life movement. We are a grassroots movement with a huge opportunity. Let’s not squander it by waiting for the perfect president..

– crux now

Christians in India: Are believers safer under Modi’s gov’t or facing increased persecution?

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

India, November 30, 2016: As the number of Christians in India continues to rise, there have been diverging opinions on whether the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is standing by as radical Hindus attack believers, or whether it is listening to their concerns and working alongside Christians to help the poor and the deprived.

Several reports in the past few years have highlighted the stories of Christians in villages across India who are being attacked by Hindu radicals for their faith, especially those who have recently converted to Christianity.

One such attack occurred in August in the village of Katholi where 29 Christians were tortured and beaten for refusing to deny their faith in Jesus Christ, which was reported by a number of persecution watchdog groups, including Open Doors.

Some organizations, such as Christian Aid Mission, a foreign mission board that assists native missionaries in carrying out their work helping believers who live in poverty or face persecution, argue that Modi’s government coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which came to power in May 2014, has facilitated a Hindu nationalist atmosphere that encourages violence against Christians and fails to adequately punish those responsible.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission said there were at least 134 reported attacks against followers of Christ in the first half of 2016 alone, compared with 147 in all of 2014 and 177 in 2015.

The Christian Post interviewed a ministry leader in India working with CAM who has accused Modi’s government not only of failing to punish attackers, but also of opposing Christian missionaries and imposing tight restrictions when it comes to preaching.

The ministry leader, who chose to remain anonymous, told CP that such restrictions apply to all foreign Christian missionaries, though there are some exceptions for Nepali Christians who live or move around through the Tarai regions, because they have families and relatives on both sides.

He said Christians are “not perceived as favorable as others,” by most Indian citizens.

“They only prefer the pure social works of the Christians. If the Gospel is attached or made part of it, they object and do anything to stop it,” he added.

The ministry leader said the Christian population, which makes up an estimated 62.3 million people in the country, continues to grow despite ongoing persecution, due to the power of prayer.

“One prays, and supports a Gospel worker, who is sent out and God uses him or her and causes the growth,” he said.

“Also we have witnessed more zeal and passion of the Gospel workers whom the Lord has been using. These workers are natives, to whom or through whom God’s does His miracles.”

Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors has listed India at No. 17 on its World Watch List of countries where Christians are targeted for their faith, and noted that radical Hinduism has “increased steadily” under the government of Modi.

Open Doors explains: “While intolerance has risen, and minorities are constantly attacked, the central government has refused to speak out against the atrocities — thus further encouraging the radical Hindus to step up their actions.”

Some prominent Christian leaders in India, such as Bishop Joseph D’souza, a human rights activist and the president of the All India Christian Council, who has been working to cultivate understanding between Christians and Hindus to fight poverty and injustice, has offered a different point of view, noting that he and other advocates have had opportunities to speak with the government and make the case for a path forward together.

D’souza told CP in a separate interview that he and over 700 national Christian leaders were present at an Oct. 14 meeting with Rajnath Singh, the home minister of India in New Delhi, where he made the point that Christians and Hindus have been friends for 2000 years, ever since Thomas the Apostle came to the country.

D’souza also said that “Indian Christians support and will work with the Modi government on the development of India and his many initiatives aimed at the poor, the deprived and women.”

The bishop said that he told the home minister that Christians will continue to practice their faith, and directly requested the government to protect churches that are attacked by extremist groups.

At the same time, however, he conceded that there could be some instances of Christians exploiting or manipulating poor people and engaging in “forced and fraudulent conversions,” and said the problem with a number of evangelical groups is “their language in evangelism which is derogatory of other faiths.”

D’souza accused such groups of “serious non compliance of regulatory requirements on finance” and of making “triumphalist statements about the whole of India turning to Christ,” none of which help their visa renewal applications.

He revealed that the home minister assured the Christian leaders publicly that the government “will protect us from any attacks by fringe groups.” What is more, there was recognition that some radical groups feel like they can take the law in their own hands due to Modi’s government coming to power.

“To the home minister’s credit, every time I have reached him on behalf of the Christian Council he has responded to our request. He assured us that religious freedom will continue in India,” D’Souza said.

The All India Christian Council president insisted that “if and when” Christian leaders do see the government launch a frontal attack on religious freedom, they will speak out.

“Right now, like the early Church, we must be in conversation with those who do not understand what God is doing in India and why Jesus and the Church is good for the nation,” he explained.

D’souza concluded by expressing his optimism that there is a “genuine God breathed revival going on in India across all castes and groups.”

“There are signs and wonders and miracles and visions. This is God blessing India and reaching out to the poor and needy,” he said.

– christian post

New Katchatheevu church: Tamil fishers feel left out

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Madurai, November 30, 2016: A group of fishermen from Ramanathapuram met the district collector today seeking permission to attend the consecration of the newly constructed St. Antony’s Catholic church in Katchatheevu, an uninhabited island administered by Sri Lanka.

They have not received an invite to the ceremony, which would be conducted on December 7, the fishermen said.

“We have not received any official invite from the Jaffna diocese. But our fishermen want to attend the ceremony as they feel attached to the shrine,” Verkodu parish priest Fr L Sagayaraj told TOI.

They are the descendants of Tamil fishermen, who built the old church on the island about 100 years ago.

Though ceded to Sri Lanka, the old shrine was built by their ancestors and they have right of worship there, said R Sahayam, a fishermen leader at Rameswaram.

“We have repeatedly represented to Indian government that Sri Lanka is building the church. We expressed our wish to be a part of the new church but our demand was ignored. Though the new church is ready to be consecrated, we have not been invited. It is not fair,” he said.

Demanding that they should be allowed to be a part of celebrations on December 7, fishermen leaders had submitted petitions to the state fisheries minister and officials. They also had faxed their demand to the Sri Lankan high commission in India.

“Even if we don’t get permission, we will make a point to attend the consecration ceremony,” Sahayam added.

The old church at Katchatheevu – an uninhibited island of 285 acres – is dedicated to St Antony, the patron-saint of seafarers. Around 4,000 pilgrims and fishermen from India used to visit the island for the annual festival after the civil war.

With their number increasing over the years, both Indian and Sri Lankan church authorities felt the need to have a bigger church. During the annual festival this year, Jaffna diocese represented the demand to the Sri Lankan navy seeking their assistance.

The Lankan navy came forward to help in construction and the foundation stone for the new church was laid by Rear Admiral Piyal De Silva in the presence of Jaffna vicar general, Fr Joseph Das Jebarathnam on May 9.

– times of india

Bhopal Archdiocese fights crimes against women

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Bhopal, November 30, 2016: Young people in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are looking to church personnel to help them fight violence against women.

“Violence against women, especially domestic violence, is common. Most women are victims and the only difference is the degree to which they suffer,” said Teenager Chirag Tiwari, the 18-year-old studying at the church-run Queen Mary Senior Secondary School in Bhopal, the Madhya Pradesh state capital.

He was participating in a Nov. 25 workshop that Bhopal Archdiocese organized with the school to create awareness and mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Tiwari said India has several laws and regulations to protect women “but laws alone cannot eliminate violence against women, especially when it takes place within homes.”

Women should have the courage to speak out about violence at home, he told the gathering that included girl students. “They also should raise their voice against any atrocities committed by their husbands or relatives. Otherwise they will continue to suffer,” he said.

Smita Kaithal, another grade 12 student, said the trafficking of women was a grave concern as it not only lowered the dignity of women but also made the world a dangerous place for them.

Dowry (demands on brides to bring cash and jewellery as a pre-condition for marriage) is another scourge of Indian society, said student Ankita Tigga. Despite claims of advancement in science and technology even the educated shamelessly demand dowries, he said.

“Women have been killed for not bringing enough money to the husband’s home. It is very necessary to educate the younger generation against this evil tradition,” she told the workshop.

Sexual assaults increased 2.5 percent in 2015 but incidents of crimes like rape have come down, albeit marginally. The abduction of women increased in 2015, from 57,311 in 2014 to 59,277. At least half of the cases were to force victims into marriage, according to federal government data.

Madhya Pradesh has the worst record in the country with 4,391 cases of gender-based violence reported during 2015. Government data shows that at least 13 women are raped in India’s Madhya Pradesh state each day.

The National Crime Records Bureau showed the central Indian state accounted for 5,076 rapes in 2014, nearly 40 percent higher than the next highest state. Madhya Pradesh is home to some 75 million people and is second largest in terms of area and sixth largest in population,

Sister Quiteline, the school’s principal, wanted female students to “keep their eyes and ears open” so that they may not become victims. The Order of Servants of Mary nun reminded them of the old saying, “prevention is better than cure.”

Father Maria Stephen, public relations officer for the archdiocese, said that the violence women face “is a matter of serious concern” for the Catholic Church. Programs such as these will help create “a generation of people aware of this social evil and fill them with energy to stand against it.”

The city police’s Sub-Inspector Neetu Kansariya, who heads a special cell to tackle crimes against women, addressed the gathering asking girls to be “more courageous and not to be frightened” to speak out about the violence they face.

– ucan

Pakistan province bans forced conversions of Christian girls to Islam

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pakistan, November 29, 2016: Lawmakers in Pakistan’s Sindh Province have passed a law criminalizing forced conversions, acting on complaints by religious minorities, including Christians, that some Muslims have long been forcibly converting people of their communities, especially girls, to Islam.

The Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill of 2015 punishes anyone who forcibly converts a person of a religious minority with a prison sentence of up to five years, and up to three years for those who facilitate such conversion.

“Unequivocally, it is a great step taken by the Sindh government to protect the religious minorities,” Nasir Saeed, the director of a U.K.-based group, the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, said in a statement. “Though it will not stop the ongoing trend in society, it will help to reduce such crimes and it will also build confidence and a sense of security among the religious minorities.”

The new measure seeks to prevent forced conversion of the underage as well as puts newly converted adults under observation for a period of 21 days “to ensure they are converting for religious purposes and by their own free will, not out of fashion or under force.”

“Forced conversion is an abhorrent and violent offence and an issue that has become prevalent across Sindh [that] must be eliminated by recognizing the importance of tolerance, peace and respect for all religions and persons, irrespective of their religion,” the bill reads.

Forced marriages and conversion to Islam of girls and women belonging to religious minorities are prevalent in Pakistan, according to the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, which said earlier that around 700 Christian women are forced to embrace Islam every year.

“The police do not normally take action in such cases, fearing the reaction and pressure from the Muslim community, but now they will have to take action,” Saeed said.

Some Muslims seek to forcibly convert through pressure, force, duress or threats — physical, emotional or psychological, said CLAAS, which works for the persecuted Christians and other minorities in Pakistan.

CLAAS is calling on other states in Pakistan to follow suit, based on the recommendations of the country’s Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs, which declared forced conversion to Islam “un-Islamic” in June.

The committee has urged the federal government to adopt a comprehensive mechanism for the protection of women of minority communities, and directed the federal and provincial governments to draft legislation which would curb the practice.

A law regulating religious conversions is also in place in some states in neighboring India. However, those laws are intended to prevent minorities from converting members of the majority Hindu community. Christians in India have protested the legislation, saying it seeks to stop evangelism and also make it difficult for people to convert to another religion even if it they are doing so voluntarily.

– christian post

Afghan Muslims threatening to kill Christian converts in European refugee camps: Report

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Europe, November 29, 2016: Christian refugees in migrant camps across Europe are speaking out against the persecution they face at the hands of Muslims who are targeting converts from Islam.

BosNewsLife featured several stories of Christians who are speaking about their treatment in camps across Europe, with one group of believers stating in a letter that they “fled from the Islamic Republic of Iran because we have been accused of being Christians and, therefore, have repeatedly been threatened by torture, imprisonment and the death penalty.”

They added: “Here, where we have been accommodated presently, we are exposed to the same kinds of threats as before, this time at the hand of Afghan Muslims, and we fear for our lives.”

“The Afghan refugees … call us Iranian Christians ‘apostates’ and ‘infidels’ because of our decision to leave Islam and consider the shedding of our blood as legitimate (or even necessary).”

Kurdish church leaders are also being threatened, with one pastor from the Iraqi Kurdistan region revealing that he has been threatened with losing his life unless he leaves the refugee camp he is staying in.

The Kurdish pastor said he left Kurdistan because he was being threatened by Muslims and the local police.

“In the mosque the imams talked about me, and my father, and my little brother, who became a Christian too. … The imam talked about us — ‘they are kafir [unbelievers], they have to die,’ from the stage, into the mosque microphone. My father [a Muslim] was filled with shame,” the man said.

“They were taught bad things about us in the mosque: ‘The Christians are kafir.’ Of course, they [also] say you are slaves to Israel, to the American people.”

Persecution watchdog groups, such as Open Doors, have published large reports on the treatment of Christians in refugee camps across Europe, and in October found that at least 743 Christians had been attacked by Muslims in camps in Germany in 2016.

The study read: “The documented cases confirm that the situation of Christian refugees in German refugee shelters is still unbearable. As a minority they are discriminated against, beaten up by and receive death threats from Muslim refugees and partly by the Muslim staff (securities, interpreters, volunteers) on grounds of their religion.”

The report added that the known persecution cases are only the “tip of the iceberg,” noting that there are many unreported cases as well.

“We believe that the trivialization, concealment or misuse of this injustice, be it for political or other motives, will give encouragement to the perpetrators and increase the suffering of the victims,” the report said, calling on authorities at refugee camps to do a better job in protecting Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities that are being targeted.

Christian leaders, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, have warned in the past that governments need to understand the special dangers that Christian refugees face at such camps.

International Christian Concern told The Christian Post back in 2015: “As countries like the U.K. debate how to deal with the refugee crisis, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said that their policy will discriminate against Christians. The policy takes those who are in camps, but many Christians fearing discriminant, violence, and intimidation have not been willing to enter formal camps that are largely populated by Sunni Muslims.”

– christian post

The gospel – needed everyday

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

I had failed once again, despite trying so hard to get it right. Discouragement and condemnation banged on the doors and windows of my heart. You’re a failure, they whispered. You’re hopeless.

True…but that doesn’t need to end in discouragement or condemnation. Unlike in other religions, in which man has to make himself worthy of God, the Bible teaches us that all of us are indeed hopeless apart from Him. Jesus didn’t come because we were 90% of the way there and just needed the little difference made up—He came because we had no hope.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” Ephesians 2:12

And, if we have come to God through Jesus, then on the cross Jesus claimed all our unrighteousness as His own (was made sin for us) and declared all His righteousness ours.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” 1 Corinthians 1:30

Wow. The gift of Christ’s righteousness is a truth we can’t hear often enough.

I once heard someone say something along the lines that Satan reminds us of our sin to beat us up, but God reminds us of it so we can run to Christ. We need the gospel everyday. Everyday we can live the same way we were saved—by turning from ourselves and to Jesus, admitting we have nothing and clinging to His righteousness.

When you see a fresh glimpse into the depth of your sin, don’t let it lead to looking at yourself more. Instead, let it make you run back to Jesus and rejoice again in His gift of forgiveness and righteousness. Repent of your sin, but don’t be surprised by it. God isn’t.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

– christian perspective

Billy Graham: Don’t celebrate christmas like it’s a secular holiday

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

U.S., November 28, 2016; The Christmas season is a time for believers to be grateful for God’s goodness, and shouldn’t be celebrated as a mere secular observance, says the Rev. Billy Graham.

In a question-and-answer column published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on Thanksgiving Day, a recent immigrant asked the distinguished evangelist his opinion on which of the two holidays, Thanksgiving or Christmas, is more siginificant.

“I am a newcomer to your country, and I am still trying to understand your holidays. Which one is more important, Thanksgiving or Christmas?” inquired the person.

Graham responded that in the United States most people would probably say that Christmas is more important than Thanksgiving.

“Which holiday is more important to Americans? Most people probably would say Christmas, since it occupies more of their time and attention,” wrote Graham.

“But in reality both should be of great importance, because both should remind us of God’s goodness to us— first by providing for our daily needs, and then by sending His Son into the world for our salvation.”

Graham went on to express dismay over how many Americans choose to celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving as secular holidays.

“Unfortunately, for many people both Thanksgiving and Christmas are merely secular holidays. But take time today to thank God for His goodness to you, and to commit your life anew to Him,” continued Graham.

“And as Christmas approaches, take time also to remember God’s greatest gift to us — the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Make Him the center of your life — not just today, but every day.”

Graham’s sense that most Americans would pick Christmas over Thanksgiving has been found to be true in assorted polls taken about Americans’ favorite holidays.

For example, last December the political polling site FiveThirtyEight conducted an online survey of about 1,000 respondents and found that 78 percent of them listed Christmas in their top five favorite holidays.

This made Christmas No. 1 on the list, with Thanksgiving coming in second with 74 percent, Independence Day at third with 47 percent, and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day fourth at 41 percent.

“The Christmas juggernaut dominates — so much so that enough people said ‘Christmas Eve’ that it was worth breaking out on its own rather than combining it with the official holiday as we did with New Year’s,” noted FiveThirtyEight.

“If we used the same criteria as the Baseball Hall of Fame, only Christmas would show up on enough ballots to make the Hall.”

– christian post

Asylum seeker’s ‘Hindu extremism’ claim rejected, to be deported to India

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

India, November 29, 2016: An Indian Christian preacher who claimed there was a threat to his life and security due to the “rising tide of Hindu extremism” will be deported to India after having his plea for refugee status rejected by the High Court at Auckland.

Arrested in 2012 for overstaying in New Zealand after his visa expired, the man in his 40s sought to remain in the country on humanitarian grounds. He had told the court Hindu extremists from the Vishv Hindu Parishad were threatening to kill him.

His initial claim for asylum in New Zealand had been rejected by the Immigration and Protection tribunal last year.

Revising his earlier plea, the man identified only as BD, told the court that his time in jail had strengthened his Christian faith and that he will feel compelled to preach Christianity if were to go back to India, which could endanger his life.

His lawyer said a “rising tide of Hindu extremism” under India’s current government, and his client’s intention of converting people to Christianity meant that the High Court to reconsider his case because of the changed circumstances.

Rejecting the plea, Justice peters of the High Court agreed the situation for Christians in India had worsened  since the Modi government came to power in 2014. But he said the man had initially claimed refuge long before that.

Justice Peters also said the applicant had already worked as an evangelist for many years in India, so strengthening of his Christian faith did not increase the risk to his life. BD’s claims that his brother in India had received many  phone calls threatening his life.  Similar claims of threatening phone calls were earlier rejected by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

A representative of a Hindu organisation in New Zealand told Fairfax Media that people belonging to all faiths were welcome in India.

– sbs

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