LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network #5354 with Daniella Whyte

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1. According to The New York Times, American officials have concluded that North Korea ordered the attacks on Sony Pictures’s computers, a determination reached as the studio decided Wednesday to cancel the release of a movie comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong-un and that is believed to have led to the hacking. Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism attack. Sony capitulated after the hackers threatened additional attacks, perhaps on theaters themselves, if the movie, “The Interview,” was released. Officials said it was not clear how the White House would respond.

2. According to Religion News Service, The Church of England announced on Wednesday that Libby Lane, a parish priest from Hale, a small village outside Manchester, would become its first woman bishop, ending centuries of all-male leadership in this country’s established church. The announcement from Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence in London, came just a month after changes to canon law making it possible for women to assume the role of bishop. Lane, a mother and wife, will be consecrated as the eighth bishop of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester, at a ceremony at York Cathedral on Jan. 26.

3. According to Liberty Counsel, In a special referendum vote, Fayetteville voters repealed a law passed by the City Council in August that required churches, Christian schools, and other para-church ministries to hire homosexuals for “secular” jobs, allowed men to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms, and required Christian business owners to service “same-sex weddings.” Liberty Counsel became involved as soon as word spread that the City Council was considering passage of the radical ordinance, and Liberty Counsel attorneys wrote a letter to the Fayetteville City Council. Local attorneys Stephanie Nichols and Travis Story drafted the referendum to repeal the law, and more than enough signatures were obtained to place the matter in a special election. The voters were heard and the law was repealed by a margin of 52 to 48 percent.

4. According to AFP, Israel’s internal security service said Monday it has arrested five Palestinians for planning attacks including a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The suspects from the West Bank were arrested in October and November and included a woman who planned to blow herself up in Israel’s commercial capital. The announcement came after a series of deadly incidents in Jerusalem in November, where lone Palestinian attackers killed a number of Israelis.

5. According to Baptist News Global, A grand jury in Manatee County, Fla., has indicted 33-year-old Andres “Andy” Avalos Jr. on three counts of first-degree murder for the killing of his wife, a Southern Baptist pastor and a third person in a violent spree in Bradenton, Fla., on Dec. 4. Avalos was arrested after a 51-hour manhunt Dec. 6 and reportedly confessed to all three murders. He was originally charged with second-degree murder — described as an unlawful killing without premeditation — but after meeting for two-and-a-half hours the grand jury found probable cause to up the charges to murder in the first-degree. If convicted Avalos could face the death penalty.

6. According to Free Press, A co-owner of a Massachusetts pharmacy and the head pharmacist have been charged in a federal indictment with 25 counts of second-degree murder in the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people nationwide. A total of 14 people were charged, but Barry Cadden, a cofounder of the New England Compounding Center, and Glenn Adam Chin, a pharmacist who was in charge of the sterile room, were hit with the most serious charges. They are accused in a federal racketeering indictment of causing the deaths of patients by “acting in wanton and willful disregard of the likelihood” that their actions would cause death or great bodily harm. More than 750 people in 20 states were sickened and 64 died after they contracted fungal meningitis and other illnesses from tainted steroids made by the company.

7. According to Bloomberg, Taliban militants vowed more strikes on Pakistan’s army if it doesn’t halt operations along the Afghan border, a threat that comes a day after the group slaughtered young students in one of the country’s deadliest attacks. As mourners thronged outside the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, the city where the attack took place, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called a meeting that includes top opponent Imran Khan, who has led streets protests to oust him since August. A list of the 148 dead at the hospital showed that most of the 132 students who passed away yesterday were 14 years old. The carnage may galvanize support for a more stringent campaign to uproot Taliban militants based along the border with Afghanistan who want to impose their version of Islamic law in place of Pakistan’s democracy.

8. According to Charisma News, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will impose a death sentence on anyone caught smuggling a Bible. According to a post by HeartCry Missionary, “In actuality, the new law extends to the importing of all illegal drugs and ‘all publications that have a prejudice to any other religious beliefs other than Islam. In other words, anyone who attempts to bring Bibles or gospel literature into the country will have all materials confiscated and be imprisoned and sentenced to death.” The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is governed by Sharia law, and the death sentence is just the latest in a string of Islamic-based attacks on Christians, part of a culture of “religious cleansing.”

9. According to MNN, Late last month, Voice of the Martyrs brought Christmas to Christian families in Borno. Dozens of children clapped and sang as a Christmas celebration began in a Maiduguri church. Although they were among the thousands of Christians who fled Islamic extremist violence in northern Nigeria, inside there were smiles and songs. The late November celebration was held to distribute Bibles and aid to Christian families in Borno state’s capital city who fled attacks on their churches, homes, and villages. Some of the families receiving the aid now live in makeshift tents set up around the perimeter of the Maiduguri church compound.

10. According to the Associated Press, The United States will veto a proposed Palestinian resolution “to end the occupation” at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. Secretary of State John Kerry said that America will veto the Jordanian-backed proposal at a meeting with the top Palestinian negotiator. It was not initially clear how the US would react to the proposal by the Palestinians after a shaky few months between US and Israeli relations. However, the US ultimately decided it would oppose the resolution, a unilateral move that would force a schedule for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Luke 1:68-70 says, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.”

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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