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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
How would you like the job of building this road? Reminds me of the seven mile bridge in the Florida Keys.
The road is built on several small islands and reefs, and is crossed by eight bridges, several roads and overpasses. This road has a view of the open sea, which is rare
on the roads along the Norwegian coast. You can see fjords and mountains near the road. The spectacular road quickly became a tourist attraction, insofar precautions should
be displayed while driving, because of the attendance of the road by the local population and visitors. Imagine you are driving
Today's category: CrimeStupid Criminals 3¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ Portsmouth, RI: Police charged Gregory Rosa, 25, with a string of vending machine robberies in January when he: 1. fled from police inexplicably when they spotted him loitering around a vending machine and 2. later tried to post his $400 bail in coins.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ Lake City, Florida: Karen Lee Joachimi, 20, was arrested for robbery of a Howard Johnson's motel. She was armed with only an electric chainsaw, which was not plugged in.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ Ann Arbor News (crime column): A man walked into Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 7:50 am, flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ Bowling Green, Ohio, student Robert Ricketts, 19, had his head bloodied when he was struck by a Conrail train. He told police he was trying to see how close to the moving train he could place his head without getting hit.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ In Wesley Chapel, Florida, Joseph Aaron, 20, was hit in the leg with pieces of the bullet he fired at the exhaust pipe of his car. When repairing the car, he needed to bore a hole in the pipe. When he couldn't find a drill, he tried to shoot a hole in it.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ South Carolina: A man walked into a local police station, dropped a bag of cocaine on the counter, informed the desk sergeant that it was substandard cut, and asked that the person who sold it to him be arrested immediately.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ Indiana: A man walked up to a cashier at a grocery store and demanded all the money in the register. When the cashier handed him the loot, he fled--leaving his wallet on the counter.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ England: A German "tourist," supposedly on a golf holiday, shows up at customs with his golf bag. While making idle chatter about golf, the customs official realizes that the tourist does not know what a "handicap" is. The customs official asks the tourist to demonstrate his swing, which he does--backward! A substantial amount of narcotics was found in the golf bag.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ (Location Unknown): A man walked into a Circle-K (a convenience store similar to a 7-11), put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled-- leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ Texas: A man convicted of robbery worked out a deal to pay $9600 in damages rather than serve a prison sentence. For payment, he provided the court a check--a *forged* check. He got 10 years.¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ (Location Unknown): A man went into a drug store, pulled a gun, announced a robbery, and pulled a Hefty-bag face mask over his head--and realized that he'd forgotten to cut eyeholes in the mask.View hundreds more jokes online.Email this joke to a friend
Over the past several years, a number of states have tried to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood for various reasons, not the least of which because of videos released depicting Planned Parenthood officials engaging in the sale of fetal tissue and body parts.¬ But how much discretion does a state have to terminate those contracts? Can an individual sue any time they disagree? This question goes beyond the topic of Planned Parenthood funding specifically. But today, the United States Supreme Court declined to review a set of cases that could have provided an answer, leaving in place several lower court decisions that have blocked state executive decisions to terminate Medicaid contracts with and defund Planned Parenthood.In Gee v. Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast (5th Cir.) and Andersen v. Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri (10th Cir.), two circuit courts separately agreed that individuals have the right to sue states for withdrawing Medicaid funding from and thus limiting access to providers. Three other circuits agree‚ÄĒbut this is not an opinion unanimously held. In Does v. Gillespie, the 8th Circuit held that individuals do not have this right.In other words, in five circuits, according to Justice Clarence Thomas (writing in dissent from the court‚Äôs decision today (see pp. 9-12)), ‚Äúindividuals could sue whenever a state changes medical product providers or services.‚ÄĚ Sound like bad policy? At the very least, it‚Äôs one inconsistently applied across the circuits.For one, states need clarity on this issue, and they still don‚Äôt have it.Justice Thomas called it ‚Äúthe Supreme Court‚Äôs job‚ÄĚ ‚Äúto clarify the confusion in the law in this area.‚ÄĚ True. The Court‚Äôs own rules‚ÄĒand caselaw‚ÄĒprovide as much.‚ÄúSo what explains the Court‚Äôs refusal to do its job here?‚ÄĚ Justice Thomas posited. ‚ÄúI suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‚ÄėPlanned Parenthood.‚Äô‚ÄĚAs Justice Thomas notes, ‚Äúthe question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood‚Äôs ability to challenge the States‚Äô decisions‚ÄĚ to defund. But Justice Thomas suggests that the political cloud that hovers over the topics of abortion and Planned Parenthood prevent even the most sterile and noncontroversial legal issues from getting the attention they deserve. We‚Äôre inclined to agree.This case ‚Äúhas nothing to do with abortion,‚ÄĚ Justice Thomas points out. It‚Äôs just about a private right of action under Medicaid‚ÄĒinvolving whether individuals can sue, for instance, whenever a state changes medical product providers or services.Are these cases considered hot potatoes because of their broader abortion defunding implications? Possibly.Right now, 11 states have taken action to defund abortion in Medicaid programs: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas. Florida‚Äôs measure wound up in the courts, and was blocked. Other cases, like a challenge to an Ohio funding law, involve payment to abortion providers in other contexts.These cases are not directly affected by the Supreme Court‚Äôs actions today. But the optics certainly wouldn‚Äôt look good for Planned Parenthood if a Supreme Court decision, even on different legal grounds, meant that states could go forward with their decision to defund Planned Parenthood.One of these days, the Supreme Court will have to confront the issue.
This past week, Urban Meyer, legendary football coach of The Ohio State University, announced his retirement. Meyer had won more than 90 percent of his games as the Buckeyes' head coach, including all seven of his games against rival Michigan. He had won three Big Ten championships and the 2014 national championship. In addition to his success at Ohio State, Meyer had won two other national championships while coaching at Florida, and his 186-game win total over 17 years is higher than any other FBS coach over the same period of time.So, why resign now? There were several reasons‚ÄĒthe most dominant being that of Coach Meyer's health. Meyer revealed in October that in 2014 he had surgery on a cyst in his brain that causes stress-related headaches. The symptoms of those headaches were visible this past fall during some of Ohio State's games when Meyer frequently wore pained expressions on his face and at one point collapsed on the sideline.Though Meyer did not draw a straight line between his stress-related headaches and his suspension that occurred earlier this year, he did say that the suspension also contributed to his decision to retire. Ohio State put Meyer on leave in early August while investigating reports that he had mishandled allegations of domestic violence and other inappropriate behavior made against former assistant Zach Smith in past years. The school suspended Urban Meyer for the first three games of the season after finding he failed to live up to the standards of the university and did not tell the truth when asked about those allegations at a Big Ten media event in July. Meyer said that he believes the suspension will have some lasting impact on his legacy.Urban Meyer leaves the Ohio State program strong, and the future of football at OSU is bright, though Meyer himself leaves, at least to some degree, bruised and blemished. Several points are worthy of consideration for those of us who are involved in ministry.Remember the SabbathWhen Meyer left Florida to take a year off before going to Ohio State, he said that it was a time of reflection when he had to ascertain his priorities. He determined to make family more important than football, something he had not previously done.There is no denying that the constituents we serve never fully understand the pressures that leaders are under‚ÄĒthe pressure to succeed, the pressure to always be there, the pressure to always be professional when reviled by inside and outside sources.And to deal with these pressures, leaders have to take time away and off. Whatever is most therapeutic for you‚ÄĒwhether it is yard work, sitting in a cabin with a book, hunting, fishing, preaching out‚ÄĒdo it! You will be criticized for it. You will be called lazy for doing it. And you will always feel like there is no convenient time for it. But go see a ball game with your son, get away with your wife, take your daughter shopping. Do it!I have heard preachers say, ‚ÄúThe devil never takes a vacation.‚ÄĚ True, but you are not trying to be like the devil. You are trying to be like the Lord. And He took a Sabbath.Remember the SourceI have a pastor friend who is an avid fan of Michigan, and understandably, he hates Ohio State. If Urban Meyer would have duplicated the feeding of the five thousand, my friend would tweet, ‚ÄúUrban Meyer takes little boy's lunch.‚ÄĚ There is no denying that we have enemies, and these enemies will never be able to be pleased by anything that we do.Urban Meyer was strongly criticized for the way he handled Zach Smith, but my hope is that no leader would be handed such an unwinnable situation. Are there things that Coach Meyer could have done better? Of course, there are! But I hope that we never become proficient at handling disciplinary situations, for that would necessitate we have an abundant amount of them. Of course their hopeful rarity is not an excuse to mishandle them‚ÄĒthere may be times when we need to seek counsel on how to handle them.All too often stress is caused in our lives by the armchair quarterbacks who have never taken the field, but are absolutely certain they know the best way for us to lead the team. This is not to say that we cannot learn a germ of truth in even the most destructive criticism. It is to say that we cannot allow the destructive critic to get into our minds and eat us alive. Always consider the source of the criticism.Remember the ScriptureThe Bible tells us that, ‚ÄúDavid encouraged himself in the Lord.‚ÄĚ God's Word is filled with multiple promises for every emotional struggle of life. God gives peace! And we must allow ourselves to be filled with God's peace even when the media critics are field dressing our leadership style. At times, all of us need to go back to the Bible and encourage ourselves again in the Lord.In the ultimate analysis, the Lord is the final judge of our ministries. Other coaches, irate fans, and wealthy boosters are not primarily where our ear is bent. It is bent to the One whose, ‚ÄúWell done,‚ÄĚ means the most‚ÄĒthe Lord Himself. The fear of man brings a snare, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.As an Ohio State fan, I am very appreciative of Urban Meyer's contributions. I trust that his retirement will give him the sabbatical time, the stress release, and the spiritual reflection that he needs. And may I, in turn, learn from the strengths and weaknesses of our legendary coach.
by Hohn Cho used to be a political activist when I was younger, an ardent hard-core Socialist in college and the beginning of law school, before settling in as a left-wing Democrat who thought Bill Clinton was a stealth conservative. I was especially active in the 2003-04 Presidential election cycle, before God radically saved me in December 2004. I may tell that story here another time, but for now I'll just say that as I learned more and more about the Word of God and began to adopt an increasingly Christian worldview, my political activism and government-centered leftism morphed as well.When one's earnest desire is to put Christ at the center of everything, other things tend to change and fall away. My politics remained quite liberal for a few years, albeit with a growing unease and discomfort and ultimately full opposition to abortion, then shifted dramatically and swiftly in 2008-09 after a fleeting interest in theonomy, before once again settling in as what I would now approximate as conservative libertarianism . . . and that's libertarian with a small "l" because I'm no longer a "party" man.In fact, as someone who was once deeply involved in political activism, I marvel at how something as temporal and transient as the biennial ritual of federal elections has so regularly become "the most important election of our lifetime" as many hype them to be. Having an eternal perspective can help keep Christians grounded when all around them are dire and even apocalyptic warnings and rhetoric about the consequences of this or that party gaining (or maintaining) power. In this regard, I believe it's extremely profitable to remember the theological fact that our sovereign God reigns, and my friend Nathan Busenitz just preached a tremendous sermon from the book of Daniel on the Sunday night before the midterms on this very subject.Regardless, there are some overly zealous Christian electioneers who at times seem to forget that theological fact, particularly when they go beyond well-meaning encouragements and exhortations to vote. Unfortunately, some go so far as to say or imply that if we don't vote, or even more, if we don't vote a specific way, we're in sin. If someone were to say that to me, I like to think I'd reply, "And what possible verse can you cite that shows I am breaking a commandment of God by spending the time and vote-resource over which God has given me stewardship in the way that I choose, rather than in the way that you prefer?"And no, general propositions such as seeking the good of the city or loving one's neighbor aren't quite the same as insisting someone else's conscience must be bound to vote—a particular act on which the Bible is silent, perhaps because we don't really see democratic systems of government during the periods of the Old and New Testament writings and their preponderance of theocracies, monarchies, and dictatorships—in an oddly specific manner. Because after all, in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 10:29-30, perhaps I will dare to seek the good of the city and love my neighbor in the way that I see fit, rather than the way that you think I should? Christian liberty and the freedom of conscience is an important doctrine, and R. Scott Clark has written extensively and helpfully on this topic.To dig into this a bit more, I live in the extremely liberal state of California, so the chances that my conservative vote will have any impact whatsoever on the major federal or statewide offices is pretty much zero. Now, I do take the stewardship of my vote seriously, and there were a few local races and ballot initiatives that appeared like they could be close, and so both my wife and I did in fact vote. California makes this easier by allowing permanent vote-by-mail, and so there's no need to wait in line . . . it's just the time to read and fill out the ballot, and the cost of either a stamp or the gas (which remains more expensive in light of the failure of California's ballot initiative to repeal the gas tax, I believe due to the misleading advertising and summary of the initiative by the partisan Attorney General, but I digress) to one's local polling station.But I would have no criticism for Christians who were to decide differently. Especially for states without vote-by-mail and long lines, I think I could make a strong case that the time driving to and from the polls and standing in line might be better spent evangelizing the voters, phone banking for a passionate cause, working some overtime and donating that money to missions, pleading with pregnant women at an abortion mill, or on one's knees in prayer for the nation. Frankly, to get a bit less spiritual about it, if a person were even just to spend that time joyfully with his or her own family, I would still have no criticism for that person!At the end of the day, the decision of whether and how to cast a vote, and the time required for that vote, is between a person and the Lord, and my sense of it is that most people tend to have a highly overdeveloped sense of the significance of each individual vote, especially in a nation with over 325 million people. Yes, one vote really can make the difference in an election, but the reality is that only one vote in 89,000 is expected to make such a pivotal difference in a Congressional election, and an adult would typically make only about 38 such votes over the course of his or her lifetime between the ages of 18 to 80, inclusive. Your odds are a bit better at the state legislature level, but even there, it's one vote in 15,000. Instead, the great majority of votes are actually "wasted" votes, which are votes for either losing candidates, or winning candidates in excess of the precise number needed to win.Now, obviously no one but the Lord knows how any given election will turn out in advance, and again, I take seriously the stewardship of the vote that citizens in this country receive. Generally speaking, I encourage Christians to exercise their right to vote! And I deliberately chose to wait until well after Election Day before posting this article, because I didn't want to cause any of my brothers and sisters who cared passionately about the 2018 midterms to stumble. With that said, humility is a fundamental virtue for Christians, and I think it's important to remember that each of us is merely one person in a very large nation, and that no one should expect any single vote to be either a panacea, or the property of any person or party other than the specific individual in question.Anyway, that was a lot of methodological prelude to get to what I'd originally planned as an analysis of the 2018 midterm elections. As it stands right now, the Democrats look to be gaining thirty-something seats in the House, while the Republicans seem to be adding two Senate seats. Governor races were a mixed bag, with Democrats picking up seven statehouses from the Republicans in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, but falling short in the critical 2020 states of Florida (assuming the recount doesn't overturn the current results), Iowa, and Ohio, where projections at the "gold standard" of polling analysis, fivethirtyeight.com, had showed "likely" (for Florida) or "lean" (for Iowa and Ohio) Democrat.Of course, both parties appear to be "spinning" the results for all they're worth, so much so that I felt a viewpoint from someone with a Christian (and politically, as I said, a non-Democrat, non-Republican, conservative libertarian) worldview might be interesting for some. This is already getting a bit long, so I'll focus the analysis on the House and Senate. (The governor races are interesting, and will definitely have significant local impact, particularly on the issue of gerrymandering. They may also serve as an interesting preview of how states might vote in the 2020 Presidential election, and even have a potential impact on that race as partisan governors potentially use their state-level machines to assist their chosen candidate. But I think that's enough about that.)First, the House. It has become quite standard for the party of a newly-elected President to lose seats at the first midterm election. We saw this in 1982 (when Reagan's Republicans lost 26 seats), 1990 (when George H.W. Bush's Republicans lost a modest 8 seats), 1994 (when Clinton's Democrats lost a whopping 54 seats), and 2010 (when Obama's Democrats lost an even more eye-popping 63 seats). The only exception in recent history was in 2002, when a post-9/11 George W. Bush's Republicans actually picked up 8 seats, with American troops in Afghanistan and Congress having just passed a resolution authorizing any means necessary (including war) against Iraq, and that reckoning was apparently just delayed until 2006, when GWB's Republicans lost 31 seats.By this measure, the Democrat pickups in the House this year appear to be as expected, perhaps a bit above average, and generally in line with pre-election polling and predictions, which according to fivethirtyeight.com was 36 seats at the midpoint of the estimate. And the fact that the Democrats now control the House will obviously have ramifications pertaining to both legislation (you can count on nothing conservative making it through, and a raftload of liberal proposals passing which will never make it through the Senate . . . and to the extent there is bipartisan desire and will, some possible compromise bills in areas such as infrastructure, the environment, and middle-class tax relief) and oversight (with many Democrats promising investigations of various Trump administration people and policies). Impeachment in the House has also been floated by some of the more left-leaning Democrats, but the unofficial leadership line from the Democrats is that doing so would be an unwelcome distraction at this time.Next, the Senate. As with the House, the usual pattern has been for the party of a newly-elected President to lose Senate seats at the first midterm election. The pattern is less robust, however, likely due to the smaller number of seats at issue and the nature of the particular states voting for open Senate seats in the midterm election in question. Even so, the party of a newly-elected President typically does not gain Senate seats at the first midterm election, especially when House seats are concurrently being lost. So the likely addition of two Senate seats to the existing Republican majority is significant, and although it's still within the 80% confidence range of pre-election polling and predictions, it's quite a bit more favorable to the Republicans than the projected 0.5 seat gain at the midpoint of the estimate. You can see this come out especially strongly when you compare the Senate polls for Florida (showing D+3), Indiana (D+2), Missouri (D+1), North Dakota (R+5), and Tennessee (R+5) to the actual results of Florida R+0.2 (pending recount), Indiana R+7.5, Missouri R+5, North Dakota R+11, Tennessee R+11.So the Republicans beat expectations in the Senate, and that has two major ramifications. First, for the next two years, President Trump has the continuing ability to nominate and confirm conservative judges and (potentially) Justices. More than that, with a cushion of three extra Republican Senators, the nominations can be even more conservative, as the margin allows for defections by the last two "pro-choice" GOP Senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, should the President nominate a clearly pro-life judge Amy Coney Barrett. And second, it will be easier for the Republicans to hang onto control of the Senate in 2020, which in turn would allow for continuing confirmations of conservative judges by a re-elected President Trump, or aggressive use of the Senate's advise and consent power against liberal judges by a newly-elected Democrat President. Given that the 2020 Senate map already includes a very likely pickup in Alabama and potential losses in increasingly blue Colorado and Maine (albeit in a race against a long-time survivor in the form of Collins), the battleground for control will likely be fought in (relatively) redder Arizona and Iowa, rather than, say, (relatively) bluer North Carolina and New Hampshire, depending on which party controls the tie-breaking Vice Presidential vote.So what does all of this mean from one Christian's perspective? Speaking for myself, I consider the murder of nearly a million unborn children every year to be the single most important political issue (or rather, human rights issue, as Samuel Sey has so aptly written) facing the United States. And to say it again, I actually am not a "party man" and I am not a Republican. But the reality of our two-party system is that one party has enshrined into its platform that it will "continue to oppose-and seek to overturn-federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman's access to abortion" while the other (at least ostensibly) affirms "that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed."Given that abortion was instituted not by legislatures but by the Supreme Court in 1973's tragic Roe v. Wade decision, and that subsequent efforts to pass laws against abortion have been similarly governed by the Supreme Court, at this point under our current system of government, it is only the Supreme Court that has the power to limit or reverse Roe. This is precisely why many conservatives have so prioritized the importance of the composition of the Supreme Court!The problem is that in our (small-r) republican form of government, things are indirect. We elect Presidents and legislators who we hope will represent our views, and sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. The Supreme Court is one additional step removed, in that they are nominated by Presidents and confirmed by the Senate, but then they have a lifetime confirmation and the nine Justices have a separate body of their own, with rules and precedents and procedures.And sometimes conservatives might elect a President who we hope and believe will appoint pro-life Justices, but then that President either doesn't follow through (e.g., Sandra Day O'Connor), or is prevented from doing so by the Senate (e.g., Robert Bork), or perhaps even believes a nominated and confirmed Justice is pro-life, but actually is not, or has a change of heart while on the bench (e.g., David Souter). Meanwhile, there is a competing ebb and flow over the years to both the Presidency and the Senate, such that Democrats are actively trying to nominate and confirm Justices who are fervently in favor of abortion.All of this has resulted in a "five steps forward, four steps back" type of situation since 1973's Roe decision, and it has been a slow and at times very painful process. In fact, I have even seen some evangelicals (many of whom lean toward the "social justice" side of the discussion, incidentally) try to use this glacial pace in the fight against abortion as an apparent justification for reducing the importance of abortion in our political calculus.From my perspective, this argument is at best naÔve, showing a lack of deep understanding of the political process and the uncertainties that come along with representative democracy. At times, the argument comes across as bizarrely prioritized, as efforts to stop murder of the unborn are minimized (I previously objected to one example of this I perceived in a national secular newspaper) while efforts to promote, say, mere socioeconomic improvement among certain portions of society in an already incredibly wealthy nation are maximized. And sometimes, the argument is even intellectually dishonest, attempting to pretend as if imperfectly trying to do something good is the same thing as overtly promoting something horribly sinful.Barring divine intervention, there is zero chance Democrats will move the ball on abortion in a positive direction, whereas Republicans might at least try to do so in certain (important) contexts. Despite his many faults, President Trump has at least been delivering on his promise to nominate conservative judges and Justices. And speaking as someone who didn't support him, deplores a lot of his rhetoric and some of his actions, and thinks voting is one of the least effective ways of either "doing justice" or engaging with the public sphere as a Christian, I've been pleasantly surprised to see the gradually increasing prospects of Roe being overturned. Meanwhile, unless the Lord returns first, I will continue praying fervently and supporting other active and lawful efforts to protect the lives of the unborn.This probably was not "the most important election of our lifetime." However, at some point, these elections impact the composition of the Supreme Court and thus the future of Roe. Ultimately, the question I have for professing pro-life Christians is this. If you're truly concerned about abortion, about the nearly one million unborn lives ended every year in the United States alone, how high of a priority is it for you? Is it high enough of a priority for you to at least vote against it, should you opt to exercise your stewardship of voting? And when it comes to that voting, if one party proudly proclaims to the entire world that it is adamantly and fervently supportive of that murderous practice, while the other is at least attempting (however imperfectly, especially given the indirect nature of the process) to stop it, how will you vote?I know my answer, for which I will be accountable to the Lord. And as you process through your own answer, I pray God will grant you clarity, wisdom, and the joy of a clear conscience informed by Scripture.
A church in Florida has been stripped of its ability to serve as a polling location in future elections because of a controversial sign its pastor placed on its premises on Tuesday.
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