LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network Report #530 with Daniella Whyte

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1. According to the Associated Press, Swapping crisis for compromise, the House narrowly approved $1.1 trillion in government-wide spending Thursday night after President Barack Obama and Republicans joined forces to override Democratic complaints that the bill would also ease bank regulations imposed after the economy’s near-collapse in 2008. The 219-206 vote cleared the way for a final showdown in the Senate on the bill — the last major measure of a two-year Congress far better known for gridlock than for bipartisan achievement.

2. According to Reuters, The foreign ministers of Iran, Syria and Iraq met in Tehran on Tuesday, saying that they would carry on working together to battle radical Sunni Muslim militants. Iran has thrown its weight behind Syrian President Bashar Assad during Syria’s three-year-old civil war and has also acknowledged sending military advisers to Iraq to help the Iraqi army in its battle against Islamic State fighters. The Iraqi and Syrian foreign ministers attended the conference on violence and extremism, taking advantage of the occasion to hold rare, three-way talks with their Iranian counterpart.

3. According to a release issued by the COGIC, The Assemblies of God, the nation’s largest historically white Pentecostal denomination in the country, is supporting the Church of God in Christ, the largest black Pentecostal denomination’s Black Lives Matter Sunday. The two largest Pentecostal denominations are standing united in solidarity to support Black Lives Matter Sunday, December 14, 2014. The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and the Assemblies of God (AG) are unified in the effort that asks churches around the country to set aside the day to pray for African American men, because of the recent controversial grand jury decisions in Staten Island, New York and Ferguson, Missouri not to return indictments against white police officers in the deaths of two black males, Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

4. According to USA Today, Christian radio host John Balyo operated beneath the radar as a married family man, a wedding photographer, a volunteer with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, camp counselor and an overseas mission volunteer with children. Underneath the surface, the expectant father was “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” feeding a morbid and sadistic fascination with children, collecting pedophilic materials, rehearsing a sexual kidnapping fantasy with a child-sized mannequin and meeting clandestinely in hotel rooms with young boys in bondage. The secret life of the 36-year-old Caledonia man was laid bare Thursday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids in an emotional sentencing hearing that all but assures Balyo will be an old man when he gets out of prison. He’ll serve 40 years in federal prison — on top of a lengthy sentence handed down last month in Calhoun County for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Judge Robert Holmes Bell, the father of bestselling Christian author and Pastor Rob Bell, ordered Balyo to serve 25 years for sexual exploitation of a child and 15 years for possession of child pornography, with the terms to run consecutive.

5. According to the Associated Press, A dangerous storm system blamed for two deaths in Oregon, thousands of power outages in Washington and flooded roadways in the San Francisco Bay Area pushed into Southern California on Friday, causing mudslides and evacuations. A powerful squall line led the storm’s pre-dawn charge, lashing the region with wind-driven rain. Rain fell at the rate of 1 to 2 inches an hour, triggering flash flooding, the National Weather Service said. The main front followed with rain falling at rates of a tenth to about a third of an inch per hour. The storm’s powerful winds caused power outages around Santa Barbara and other parts of the coast, and forecasters predicted the winds would pick up speed. While rains were expected to continue through Friday evening across much of California, farmers will need more storms this size to even begin to recover from a record drought.

6. According to Jerusalem Online, an Arab British newspaper is reporting that the bombs reportedly dropped by Israeli warplanes near Damascus targeted a weapons shipment that included Yakhont ground-to-sea missiles and anti-aircraft systems that Russia had guaranteed would not be supplied to Hezbollah. Russia’s surprisingly vociferous protests over the raid was said to be a result of Moscow’s embarrassment at having been caught flagrantly violating previous commitments to Israel and the US. These commitments included a clear agreement not allow Hezbollah to be supplied with the potentially game-changing weapons.

7. According to Deadline.com, Producer Scott Rudin has issued a public apology for the racially insensitive comments that surfaced last night in an exchange of hacked private e-mails between him and Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Amy Pascal. Joking references they made to black-themed films that President Barack Obama might like were not meant for public consumption, but they are hard to defend in the harsh light of a public forum, without context. Rudin made the point in this morning’s New York Times about this hacking breach was a criminal act, when he was asked about other hacked e-mails between the producer and Pascal referencing the movie on Apple’s Steve Jobs. Here, Rudin said he simply wanted to apologize.

8. According to Haaretz, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon alluded to reports of the alleged Israeli air strike on Syrian military targets in the Damascus area on Sunday. Speaking at an event honoring Israel’s wounded in war and terror, Ya’alon made an unusually direct reference to the alleged strike, saying that “whoever tries to arm our enemies should know we will reach any place at any time to thwart their plans.” He added that Israel “will not compromise on the matter and not allow the crossing of red lines that endanger the security of Israel.”

9. According to the BBC, Pope Francis is removing the commander of the Swiss Guards, with the pontiff reportedly unhappy at the officer’s strict authoritarian style. The news that Daniel Anrig would not be continuing as commander was published in the Vatican’s daily newspaper. He will leave the Vatican after Christmas at the end of an eight-year stint, and be replaced by his deputy. No official reason has been given for the dismissal by the Vatican. The 110-strong Swiss Guard are responsible for the personal security of the Pope.

10. According to Reuters, the Irish government will accept a motion proposed by lawmakers calling on parliament to recognize “Palestine” as a state, echoing similar recent symbolic decisions in other EU countries. While most developing countries recognize “Palestine” as a state, most Western European countries do not, supporting the Israeli and US position that an independent Palestinian state should emerge from negotiations with Israel. Ireland’s decision comes after Sweden became the biggest Western European country to recognize “Palestine,” and parliaments in Spain, Britain and France held votes in which they backed non-binding resolutions in favor of recognition.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.”

God loves you. He always has and He always will. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening. May God bless your day.

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