LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network Weekend Report #90

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1. According to Kainos Ministries, eleven Christian leaders will gather at the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination for a discussion on race and the church on Tuesday, December 16, 2014. Streaming live from the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, LifeWay and Fellowship Memphis Church are sponsoring the “A Time to Speak” event. The discussion comes at a particularly poignant time as the spotlight has been put on race relations in America due to the unrest surrounding grand jury decisions not to indict police officers involved in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, amid other cases of young black men being shot and killed by police. Speakers for the two-hour discussion (4-6 pm CST) include: Bryan Loritts, Trillia Newbell, Matt Chandler, Darrin Patrick, Eric Mason, John Piper, Thabiti Anyabwile, Voddie Baucham, Albert Tate, and Derwin Gray, The event will be moderated by the president of LifeWay Research, Ed Stetzer.

2. According to the Associated Press, a $1.1 trillion spending bill is on its way to President Barack Obama for his signature. The Senate voted 56-40 on Saturday for the long-term funding bill, the main item left on Congress’ year-end agenda. The measure provides money for nearly the entire government through the Sept. 30 end of the current budget year. The sole exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only until Feb. 27. Republicans intend to try then to force the president to roll back a new immigration policy that removes the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

3. According to the Associated Press, thousands of protesters marched across the country Saturday — past the White House in the nation’s capital, along iconic Fifth Avenue in New York and in the middle of Nashville’s honky-tonk district — to call attention to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police and urge lawmakers to take action. Chanting “I can’t breathe!” ”Hands up, don’t shoot!” and waving signs reading “Black lives matter!” the demonstrators also staged “die-ins” as they lay down across intersections, and in one city briefly blocked an onramp to an Interstate. Organizers had predicted 5,000 people at the Washington march, but the crowd appeared to far outnumber that. They later said they believed as many as 25,000 had shown up.

4. According to the Christian Post, the number of deaths related to violence caused by Nigeria’s Islamist terror group Boko Haram has been revealed to be comparable to the number of civilians killed by the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq. Data compiled by the Council for Foreign Relations shows that between November 2013 and November 2014, at least 10,340 violent deaths from Boko Haram-related violence were reported. And United Nations figures show that 10,733 civilians were violently killed by ISIS in Iraq in the same period. While international media has focused its coverage on the ongoing fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram terrorists have caused immense suffering in Nigeria.

5. According to the Associated Press, about 400 mourners packed a chapel in Mississippi on Saturday to say goodbye to a Jessica Chambers, 19-year-old woman who was burned alive, among them classmates who used permanent markers to write heartfelt messages on her white metal coffin. Chambers graduated from South Panola High last year and worked in sales at a Batesville clothing and gift shop. Rev. Larry Kilgore of Crowder Baptist Church said Chambers talked with him about personal problems, but had a relationship with Christ. Police are reconstructing the last few hours of Chambers’ life and are asking the public to come forward with information. She was still alive when a passing motorist saw her lying near her burning Kia Rio sedan about 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 7.

6. According to the New York Daily News, amid national protests decrying police brutality, three effigies of black people were discovered hanging by a noose on the Berkeley campus at the University of California. Police and students took the cardboard cutouts depicting lynching victims down Saturday afternoon from two locations on campus as demonstrations broke out to the theme of “#blacklivesmatter.” The disturbing figures hanging from iconic landmarks on the Berkeley campus were reported to police just after 9 a.m., but a third effigy before police got to it.

7. According to BBC News, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said that hundreds of British troops will be sent to Iraq in the New Year. The deployment — to help train local forces — will be in the “very low hundreds” but could also include a small protection force of combat-ready soldiers. About 50 UK troops are already training Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq.

8. According to the Associated Press, Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied Swedish claims that for the second time this year a Russian military aircraft nearly collided with a passenger jet over Sweden. Swedish officials said the Russian aircraft had turned off its transponders to avoid commercial radar and came dangerously close to colliding with a passenger jet that had taken off from Copenhagen on Friday. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Sunday that the military plane was flying at a safe distance from routes used by civilian flights and was more than 42 miles from the passenger jet.

9. According to USA Today, the latest round of United Nations climate talks ended in the early hours of Sunday morning — nearly 33 hours later than scheduled — with a deal that barely kept hopes for a meaningful global agreement next year. The conference, which started on Dec. 1., had two main goals: to agree to a series of measures aimed at reducing the greenhouse gases scientists say cause climate change in the near term, and to pave the way for an agreement that will include action from all countries by the end of the next edition of the talks, a year from now in Paris The Lima agreement was adopted hours after a previous draft was rejected by developing countries who accused rich nations of shirking their responsibilities to fight global warming and pay for its impacts.

10. According to Variety, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is ruler of the box office despite its less-than-inspirational ticket sales. Ridley Scott’s biblical epic launched to $8.6 million on Friday at the U.S. box office as it marches toward an estimated $25 million weekend debut. The Fox action-drama, starring Christian Bale as Moses, has taken over the No. 1 spot from reigning champ “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.” The movie is far behind the film that topped the box office this time last year; “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” opened to $73.6 million in 2013. It also trails fellow biblical epic “Noah,” which kicked off with $43.7 million earlier this year.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind. Luke 1:26-28 says, “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”

As always, we want you to know that God loves you. 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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