Daily Briefing: February 16, 2017

Posted by    |    February 16th, 2017 at 6:08 am

T O P   N E W S

Political News

Nick Note: “Only God Knows Why” 90s rock star Kid Rock is considering a run for the Senate, but we do know why World Relief is laying off 140+ staff members. Late last night, World Relief released this statement: “As a direct result of the recent decision by the Trump Administration to dramatically reduce the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. throughout fiscal year 2017, World Relief has been forced to make the difficult decision to layoff 140+ staff members across its U.S. Ministry.” World Relief is laying off workers and Andy Puzder, Mr. Trump’s pick for labor secretary, withdrew his nomination Wednesday as GOP senators wavered. Here is the text of his statement making the announcement. Senators wavered when this video surfaced depicting Puzder’s ex-wife on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” saying that he “vowed revenge” when she made public spousal abuse allegations. This was a blow to the Trump administration and was coupled with news that House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz would ask the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate leaks of classified information. Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen assert this morning in a compelling column that the media is the opposition party, functioning more like the US Oversight Committee. In other news related to national security, the WSJ reports that U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligencefrom President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised. And speaking of withdrawing, President Trump is not participating in March Madness by not filling out a NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN. As we can see, decisions have repercussions – from layoffs to investigations.  Andy Stanley writes regarding decisions: “People without clear vision are easily distracted, have a tendency to drift from one idea to another and often make foolish decisions that rob them of their dreams.” In the Scriptures, we read that we are to set our eyes on the Father so that we don’t grow weary of doing good (Colossians 3:2, Galatians 6:9). By setting our eyes on him, we are not looking around in an effort to please others (Galatians 1:10). However, when we have a picture of him, we glorify him and bless them (1 John 4:20). Disregard Kid Rock’s advice to “put the picture away.

Eiffel Tower to be surrounded by $20M bulletproof glass wall by year’s end (USA Today)

“The French government is constructing an 8.2-foot-high, bulletproof glass enclosure around the base of the Eiffel Tower to protect the iconic structure from a terrorist attack. But many French are offended by what they describe as a tasteless design that will be an eyesore. “It’s pure madness!” said Bernard Thiebaut, a retired electrical engineer who lives in Paris. “It’s not just a physical barrier, it’s also a philosophical and a psychological barrier.”

Nick Note: I would be doing you a disservice if I did not tell you to get to Paris as soon as you can. Be in awe at Sainte-Chapelle. Meander around the Palais-Royal Gardens. Stroll through The Marais. Unfortunately, darkness has encroached upon the City of Lights in recent months because of terrorist attacks. Home to 5 million Muslims, France is seen by some as on a collision course with particular Islamic factions because of its brand of secularism. Thus, they are building a wall (sounds familiar). What are we to think as Christians? We find ourselves in the tension, existing between not living in fear (1 John 4:18) yet being wise and prepared (1 Peter 5:8, Matthew 10:16).

Dominican Republic radio hosts killed during Facebook Live broadcast (CNN)

“Medina, along with his radio co-worker Leonidas Martinez, were shot and killed Tuesday while hosting their radio program in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, attorney general Jean Rodriguez said in a statement. The Facebook Live video that appears to show the final moments of Medina’s life remains up on his page, flooded by commenters mourning his death.”

Nick Note: Absolutely tragic (Exodus 20:13, 2 Peter 3:9). What are these Facebook Live videos doing to those who watch (re: the law of unintended consequences)? Fyodor Dostoyevsky is right: “Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.” 

Hate Group Numbers in U.S. Rose for 2nd Year in a Row, Report Says (NY Times)

“The number of anti-Muslim groups grew the most, almost tripling to 101 in 2016 from 34 in 2015, in part because of President Trump’s 2015 proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States in response to the Syrian refugee crisis and terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando, Fla. There were a total of 917 hate groups operating in the United States in 2016, an increase from 892 in 2015 and 784 in 2014, the center said in its annual report.
“The number of organized anti-government groups, like armed militias, dropped by almost 40 percent, however, to 623 in 2016 from 998 in 2015. That decline was a consequence of the increasingly mainstream presence of policy ideas and conspiracy theories about Islam and immigrants that originated on the political fringe, researchers said.”

Nick Note: According to the definition on the website, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” A cursory look over the list and you will see most of these groups are hateful. But why the inclusion of groups like Probe Ministries? Unfortunately, in some instances, they equate disagreements with hate. But doesn’t love at times call you to disagree with others? Consider Pew’s latest research that finds Americans are actually feeling warmer toward people in nearly every religious group — including Muslims — than they did three years ago. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first (John 15:18).”

Ashton Kutcher: Kids’ happiness is ‘stripped away’ by sex trafficking (USA Today)

“I’ve been on FBI raids where I’ve seen things that no person should ever see,”shared the father of two children under the age of 3. “I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia. This child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.”

Nick Note: Watch his remarks here. And if you want to see Kutcher blow Sen. John McCain a kiss, click here. Nearly 46 million people worldwide are living in modern slavery, according to the Walk Free Foundation. This is an increase of twenty-eight percent from the group’s last survey back in 2014, which concluded that the number was 35.8 million (for more, read my article). As those who have been set free, we should seek to set others free – through our words and actions (Luke 4:18). The slavery problem is large and solutions can at times be complex and intricate. But there are people and organizations that are effectively working to end this pernicious problem such as Traffick 911. Consider supporting their great work.

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

Gender Fluidity on the Runways (NY Times)

“Society is in a time of renewed ferment about gender. Culture wars rage over bathrooms and even the very notion that men or women have to choose one fixed gender identity. President Donald J. Trump reportedly likes his female staff “to dress like women”; just what this means isn’t entirely clear. The divide looms between those who welcome the new fluidity and those who yearn for clearly defined gender roles. So designers on the runway this week engaged in a continuing dialogue about how clothing defines masculinity and femininity — and how it scrambles these notions, too.”

Nick Note: It’s Fashion Week in NYC. No word on if Right Said Fred is “doing their little turn on the catwalk.” However, we do know that the runways have been filled with examples of designers expressing their political point-of-view and their melancholy over the direction of the country. Coupled with that is dad sweatpants. Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli noted that fashion is always outrageous in difficult times. The clothes indicate many are experiencing difficulty, but what do your clothes indicate? “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)” You don’t need to wear your heart on your sleeve, but you should seek to sympathize with those who are heartbroken.

Americans Just Broke the Psychologists’ Stress Record (Bloomberg)

“For 10 years, the APA has been running its “Stress in America” survey, usually finding that stress is caused by three primary factors—money, work, and the economy. Those factors clearly play a role in the current national mood. Younger Americans are worried about college debt, older ones about retirement, and everyone, it seems, about the economic prospects of the next generation….The results of the January 2017 poll show a statistically significant increase in stress for the first time since the survey was first conducted in 2007,” the APA said on Wednesday in a report on the survey of 1,019 adults living in the U.S., conducted from Jan. 5 to Jan. 19 by Harris Poll.”

Nick Note: Winston Churchill noted: “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” (Matthew 6:34)

Out of the Office: More People Are Working Remotely, Survey Finds (NY Times)

“Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults. That represents a 4 percentage point increase since 2012, a shift that meets the demands of many job seekers.”

Nick Note: Fifth Harmony is all about working from home and they are not alone. Research indicates that remote workers are more productive and that the flexibility provided can help to close the gender gap. However, more people may be “working from home” but a new market has opened up relative to shared working spaces. Office buildings offering co-working space and executive suites — offices that independent contractors or other workers can rent for a limited time — grew by 12.9 percent last year. According to HBR, people thrive in co-working spaces. In the Scriptures, we read that we were made in the image of God. This God existed in community (the Trinity (Matthew 3:16-17) and worked diligently (Colossians 3:23, Genesis 1).

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

Steve Harvey Asks, “What Part Of Your Wife Is Bigger Than It Should Be?” Man’s Slick Answer Has Everyone Rolling.

Nick Note: Watch the clip here. This guy is butter on a bowling lane – smooth. He was ready for that question, prepared to give a response. Are you? “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)….”

8-Yr-Old Serenades Ellen With Ed Sheeran Song, But When He Turns Around His Reaction Is Priceless.

Nick Note: Watch the clip here. In his song “Thinking Out Loud,” Sheeran adds his voice to the ever-growing catalog of songs that testify to the joys of love. In the song, Ed sings how he is going to love her, to the point that he is going to “fall in love with you ever single day.” For Sheeran, love means sacrificing for your beloved in order to be close. Like the dark to the night, Ed wants to be so close that to be apart doesn’t make sense. Ed Sheeran sings about it, God embodies it. His thoughts towards you are more numerous than the stars in the sky (Psalm 139:18). He misses you who are far away, and has made a way for you to come near through his Son (Ephesians 2:13-14). He is committed to you, even when you are not committed to him (2 Timothy 2:13), to such an extent that he was willing to sacrifice his best when you were at your worst (Romans 5:8).

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