LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network #563 with Daniella Whyte

1. According to The Associated Press, Islamic extremists are rampaging through villages in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, killing, burning and looting with no troops deployed to protect civilians, fleeing villagers said Wednesday. More than 40 people have been killed in seven villages as houses and mosques have been burned down and businesses and homes looted this week, according to Emmanuel Kwache and state legislator Adamu Kamale. Kamale said he has appealed in vain to authorities to send troops since the attacks began on Friday. On Monday, he said, the militants moved from villages to the town of Michika.The extremists who denounce democracy are increasing attacks as Nigeria prepares for Feb. 14 elections. Some 10,000 people died in the 5-year insurgency in the past year.

2. According to The Associated Press, President Barack Obama’s attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, is facing Senate questioners as she seeks to become the first black woman to hold the nation’s top law enforcement job. In the first Republican-led confirmation session of the Obama administration, Lynch was to appear Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee as it opens two days of hearings on her nomination. Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, would replace Eric Holder, who announced his resignation last fall after leading the Justice Department for six years.

3. According to the News Consortium, in recent months, India has seen a wave of violence towards Christians that left five dead, including one 11-year-old child. A new report revealed that another 7,000 people experienced other types of persecution that year, including 300 clergymen or leaders of Christian communities who were victims of violence. Most of India is Hindu, but there is also a large population of Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. In recent years the country of more than a billion has seen a sharp turn towards nationalism and fundamentalism, and those who do not fit the Hindu Indian profile are being targeted for violence or discrimination.

4. According to BBC, Russia says North Korea’s leader has accepted an invitation to Moscow in May, South Korea’s Yonhap reports. The news agency cites a written response from the Kremlin, but says it does not mention Kim Jong-un by name. Yonhap quotes a Unification Ministry official as saying the reference to the leader could be ambiguous, as Kim Yong-nam is the nominal head of state. Kim Jong-un has not made any overseas visits since taking power in North Korea in late 2011. His first destination will been keenly watched for what it might indicate about his policies and strategy.

5. According to Israel National News, Iran plans to continue its efforts to “destroy the Zionist entity” — and that includes arming terrorists in Judea and Samaria. Iran’s Defense Minister said, ‘Arming the West Bank is one of the policies of Iran and we will use all our capabilities in this way.’ He made the comments at the memorial service for the Iranian general who was killed along with other Hezbollah forces in an Israeli Air Force strike last Sunday. Commenting on the attack, he said it “will not be passed over” and that Iran would take the “appropriate action” when it wished to.

6. According to the Times of Israel, an Israeli television station has reported that Iran has built a 27-meter-long missile, capable of delivering a warhead “far beyond Europe,” and placed it on a launch pad at a site close to Tehran. It also showed what it said were the first satellite images of the missile ever seen in the West. It stressed that the missile could be used to launch spacecraft or satellites, but also to carry warheads. The Channel 2 news report showed satellite imagery documenting what it said was Iran’s “very rapid progress” on long-range missile manufacturing.

7. According to USA Today, The Obama White House has threatened to veto eight bills taken up by the Republican House in January — the most veto threats to begin a new Congress since the Reagan White House first started issuing formal veto threats in 1985. The spurt of veto threats has rankled congressional Republicans, who say that President Obama isn’t giving bipartisanship a chance. But the White House blames Republicans, saying they’re bringing up bills they already know he opposes. Whoever’s at fault, the amount of veto brinksmanship appears to be at a modern high. Counting a verbal veto threat on an Iran sanctions bill that hasn’t been drafted yet, Obama’s veto threat count so far this year rises to nine. By comparison, Reagan issued five veto threats by this point in 1987, but those threats were on different versions of just two bills.

8. According to Reuters, Kurdish forces took control of the Syrian town of Kobani on Monday after driving out Islamic State fighters, although Washington said the four-month battle was not yet over. Some Islamic State supporters took to Twitter to say the fight for Kobani, a focal point of the international struggle against the ultra-hardline Islamist group, was still raging. Islamist militants launched an assault on the predominantly Kurdish town last year, using heavy weapons seized in Iraq and forcing tens of thousands of locals into exile. The Islamic State still has fighters in hundreds of nearby villages, and called on supporters on Monday to target people in the West with whatever weapons they could lay their hands on.

9. According to USA Today, Calling for “fairness for all,” top Mormon leaders said Tuesday that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would support certain “reasonable safeguards” for gays and lesbians in housing and employment while pushing for national legislation to protect “vital religious freedoms” for those who object to them. The announcement, in a rare news conference, stressed that the church was not announcing any change in its doctrine or teachings, only a “balanced approach” to “overcome the sharp divisions and present cultural divide in our nation” over rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and what it called “the erosion” of religious liberty. At the same time, the church also wants exemptions from those laws if they conflict with someone’s religious beliefs.

10. According to Reuters, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the first group of about 100 U.S. troops to head to the Middle East in the next few days to establish training sites for Syrian opposition fighters battling Islamic State militants. Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the troops, mostly special operations forces, were authorized last week and would begin arriving in countries outside Syria in the coming days, with a subsequent wave of several hundred military trainers following in the weeks thereafter.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: John 4:24 says, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Jane Goodall said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

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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