Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Daily Brief - Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and secured. For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow? " (2 Samuel 23:5 NAS)

Today's Daily Brief
1. Fire Breaks Out in Building Adjacent to the White House - AP

Thick smoke hovered over the nation's capitol Wednesday after a fire broke out on the White House compound in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The blaze started at about 9:30 a.m. near the ceremonial office of Vice President Dick Cheney on the second floor of the building. The vice president was across the street in his office in the West Wing of the White House at the time. Cheney's ceremonial offices suffered massive water and smoke damage, and another staff member's office was damaged by fire. No one was hurt in the blaze.

· Give praise to the Lord for preventing loss of life and extreme damage to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building due to the fire today. The building, completed in 1888, will be quickly repaired and work resumed. · "In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works:" (Titus 2:7a)

2. Bush Signs Bill Boosting Auto Fuel-Efficiency Standards - AP

President Bush signed into law Wednesday legislation that will bring more fuel-efficient vehicles into auto showrooms and require wider use of ethanol, calling it "a major step" toward energy independence and easing global warming. The legislation signed by Bush at a ceremony at the Energy Department requires automakers to increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent to an industry average 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The House passed the energy bill Tuesday by a 314-100 vote after the Senate cleared it last week.

· Although this is great news for the future, the rest of us also need mercy at the gas pumps now. Ask our Lord to intervene in the global energy markets, so that we all might find "grace to help in time of need." Amen. Perhaps He will grant the leaders of the gasoline industry "witty inventions" to reduce our fuel costs quickly! · "I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions." (Proverbs 8:12)

3. Senate OKs $70B for Iraq, Afghanistan - ABC News

The Senate gave President Bush a big win on Iraq Tuesday night as it passed a massive $555 billion spending bill combining funding for 14 Cabinet departments with $70 billion for U.S. military operations there and in Afghanistan.

· Offer a great chorus of praise that the impasse between the President and the Congress over the funding of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for next year has been resolved, and that these monies will now flow to where they are needed most. Praise God! · "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)

4. Spending Bill 'Guts' Border Fence, Critics Say -

The House passed a large omnibus spending bill late Monday, including a provision that some conservatives say would "gut" plans to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

· Pray . . .pray . . . pray. The Department of Homeland Security has also created a "virtual fence" along our southern border, using the tools of high-tech systems to provide continuous monitoring and securing of that area. Lift up all in authority over this issue; may they continue to find God's wisdom to protect our nation. · "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)

5. Bush Orders 'Significant' Cut in Nuclear Arsenal - NY Sun

President Bush has approved "a significant reduction" in the American nuclear weapons stockpile, cutting it to less than one-quarter its size at the end of the Cold War, the White House said today.

· Whatever his reasons, President Bush's reduction of nuclear power seems to fly in the face of common sense, considering the advance of terrorism and Russia's rattlings of its swords. Do we need to reduce or just not build more power? O, Lord, forgive us if we are being foolish as a nation to reduce our military strength. · "For I said, Hear me,lest otherwise they [enemies] should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me." (Psalm 38:16)

6. Ahmadenijad Unable to Complete Hajj - Agence-France Press

More than two million Muslims from across the globe gathered on Tuesday around Mount Arafat near the Mecca birthplace of Islam for the zenith of their annual pilgrimage. At Arafat, in western Saudi Arabia, a massive crowd of the faithful was to spend the day praying and asking for God's forgiveness, in a symbolic wait, or "wuquf", for the final judgement. Among this year's pilgrims is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, invited by Saudi King Abdullah to become the first president of the Islamic republic to take part. Ahmadinejad was due to have joined Iranian pilgrims at Arafat but an announcement at the gathering said that "due to the heavy traffic, the president was not able to make it."

His pilgrimage has an added significance because of the sometimes rocky relations between Shiite Iran and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia. An Iranian demonstration during the hajj in July 1987 led to Tehran and Riyadh breaking diplomatic relations. Security forces tried to break up the protest and 402 people, including 275 Iranians, were killed. Iranian pilgrims stayed away from the hajj until 1991.

· The people of God prayed, asking that this burgeoning alliance between Iran and Saudi Arabia would be severed; and God has answered our prayers. Amen! We press on now for the souls of the two million Moslems who have made this pilgrimage, seeking forgiveness. Lift up the believers in this part of the world, asking both for their protection, and for opportunities to share the only way we can be forgiven of our sin -- through the Shed Blood of the Lamb, asking Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord. · "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

The Middle East in Focus

This week, for all the headlines cited below, please join us in proclaiming THIS DECREE:

Therefore thus says the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it. . . and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem." (Zechariah 1:14-16)

1. 'Road map duties are not morally equal' - Jerusalem Post

With the world increasingly putting Israel's obligation under the road map to stop settlement activity on par with the Palestinian obligation to uproot the terrorist infrastructure, Israeli officials have begun taking the offensive, with one official saying Monday that the two obligations are not "morally equivalent." Construction on Har Homa, the official said, doesn't kill anyone.

2. Abbas welcomes idea of international force in territories - Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday he supported a French proposal to deploy an international force to help shore up Palestinian security forces.

3. U.S., Britain to host investors' conference for PA in Bethlehem - Ha'aretz

The United States and Britain will host an investors' conference aimed at bolstering the Palestinian economy in Bethlehem in March or April next year, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Tuesday.

4. IDF test launches upgraded Patriot - ICEJ News

The Israeli military declared a success on Wednesday a test launch of an upgraded Patriot missile battery conducted in the Negev yesterday. The test was held after a number of improvements were made to the U.S.-built Patriot, and was able to take down an aircraft simulating an attack mission

5. Latin Patriarch rejects identifying Israel as 'Jewish state' - ICEJ News
Annual pre-Christmas address pro-Palestinian again

In his annual remarks ahead of Christmas observances, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah insisted on Wednesday that Palestinians should not be expected to meet Israel's demand that they acknowledge it as a "Jewish state," maintaining that the Holy Land should be shared by all three monotheistic faiths.

6. Experts warn major Israel quakes fast approaching - AFP

As if political instability and rampant insecurity in the Middle East are not worrying enough, Israeli experts are warning that a major earthquake could strike the region at any time.

World Rallies to Aid PA

World Rallies to Aid Palestinian Government
Leaders Say Time to Act is Now

The world rallied to the support of the embattled Palestinian government Monday, and the co-chairman of a donors' conference said he was confident they could meet a $5.6 billion target in aid. World leaders at the conference also urged Israel to ease restrictions on movement in the West Bank and Gaza to make a recovery of the Palestinian economy possible. Some 90 countries and international organizations came together in Paris for the biggest pledging conference in more than a decade.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pledged $555 million for 2008. However, the money includes about $400 million that the White House announced but has not been approved by Congress. For renewed peace efforts to succeed, she said, "the continued and unwavering support of the international community is absolutely vital. That is why we are here today, and not a moment too soon.'' "The Palestinian Authority is experiencing a serious budgetary crisis,'' Rice said. "This conference is literally the government's last hope to avoid bankruptcy.''

From international Mideast envoy Tony Blair to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, participants called for urgent action, saying a new chance for an Israeli- Palestinian peace deal must not be missed. Peace talks resumed last week after seven years of diplomatic deadlock, and international aid is seen as key to making the process work. "We will not rest until we have that two-state solution a reality in this region of the world,'' Blair, a co-sponsor of the conference, told the conference.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the donors must "invest now, invest generously, and remain steadfast in their financial commitments over the next 36 months.'' Some of the biggest donors announced their pledges at the start of the conference. The European Union said it would give $650 million in 2008 and Norway pledged $140 million a year for three years. Britain, France and Germany announced a combined $1.08 billion for three years. Western donors have urged Arab states to do more. Since 2002, Arab League members have been promising the Palestinians $55 million a month but have not always paid in full.

· O, Lord, we ask for the American people to have a stronger voice in allowing so much of our own tax money to go to the Palestinans as has been designated by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Forgive us for thinking that we can buy peace and cooperation with American money from a people that indulge terrorism. Help Secretary Rice to see the situation from a Biblical point of view. You alone are the Prince of Peace. · "He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him." (Proverbs 18:17)

Omnibus Spending Bill

This Pork's on the House

Mexico City Policy Saved

One of the few bright spots in an otherwise wasteful omnibus spending bill was yesterday's preservation of the pro-life Mexico City policy, which Democrats had threatened to strip from the $515 billion budget package. Facing a presidential veto and plummeting approval ratings, the leadership finally backed off and included the policy, which prevents U.S. tax dollars from funding overseas groups who perform or promote abortion.

Funding Increased for Planned Parenthood

While the outcome was a significant victory for the White House and validated weeks of hard work for the Hill's pro-lifers, its effect is somewhat dulled by the bill's increased funding of Planned Parenthood. The Title X program, which is a prime source of income for abortion organizations, received a $17 million increase--bringing its total funding to just under $300 million.

Abstinence Education Takes a Hit

Unlike past years, abstinence education did not receive a similar raise. Instead, abstinence-until- marriage programs are under intense attack. This week in the omnibus, the President's requirement that 33% of PEPFAR prevention funds go toward the "A" (Abstinence) and "B" (Be Faithful) approach was waived, dealing a severe blow to overseas abstinence efforts. As a result, the U.S. now faces a return to condom-based prevention programs, eroding the progress made in reducing HIV/AIDS rates abroad. Until now, America had been the only major international donor to promote the "A, B" approach in foreign countries.

Examples of "Pork" Abound

Unfortunately, Congress seems more intent on preserving their pet projects in the omnibus bill than saving thousands of human lives through PEPFAR. At last count, the spending proposal had over 8,000 earmarks, including some as inane as Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) "Hippie Museum" and as self- serving as Rep. Charlie Rangel's (D-N.Y.) near-$2 million "Monument to Me." Although (or more likely because) the proposal was chock-full of pork, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave the House just 24 hours to review the 3,565 page bill. In this Congress, haste really did mean waste.
(Source: Family Research Council)

· Mixed results like these demonstrate to us yet once again the TRUTH of God's word -- that we must "first of all" pray for "all in authority" that we might lead "quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness."

As all of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and the 100 members of the United States Senate return home now for the holidays, lift each one up in prayer from your own district or state. May our Lord increase His wooing of each one unto Himself, that he or she might find Him as Savior and return to act next year according to His will. Amen.

· "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."(I Timothy 2:1,2)

Bush's Judicial Nominees Stalled in Committee

Bush's Judicial Nominees Stuck in a Holding Pattern

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, likes to tout his progress in considering and confirming judicial nominees. But the numbers tell a different story. In the past 25 years, 17 circuit court nominees, on average, have been confirmed during the final Congress of a presidency. Fifteen of President Clinton's nominees were confirmed during his final two years; just five of President Bush's nominees have been confirmed this year.

Four of Bush's district court nominees - Thomas Farr, James Hall, Richard Honaker and Gustavas Puryear - have been waiting an average of 262 days for hearings. Four circuit court nominees also have been waiting for months: Peter Keisler, Catharina Haynes, Robert Conrad and Steve Matthews.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said Leahy likes to bury conservative nominees. "The recent extended fight over Leslie Southwick's nomination to the 5th Circuit - which took 10 months - stands out as a classic case of Leahy obstructionism," he said. "Despite his public boasting, Leahy ignores the almost complete standstill this year on the critically important court of appeals nominees. "He routinely employs a 'get even' mentality to ensure that President Bush confirms far fewer federal judges in his eight years than Clinton did in his."

Since the summer recess, the Judiciary Committee has had only one hearing on one circuit court nomination. (CitizenLink)

· The battle over the judiciary still is raging . . . even if it sits on the back burner in the daily headlines. In the New Year, let's make this issue a priority for prayer . . . and for action. As believers, our war is not against any member of the Senate, but against the forces that seek to control them.

· "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12)

Update: The Christmas Bill

[Note: On Monday, we reported to you that the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve King, that honored Christianity in our nation, and upheld our rights to name Christmas as a national holiday. At that time, we reported that nine members of the House, who had voted FOR a similar bill earlier this year, honoring Islam and Ramadan, had voted AGAINST this bill. Please find below the full report on this bill, including the names of those nine members, which comes to us from the Family Research Council, Prayer Targets.]

Anti-Christmas/Pro- Ramadan Congressmen -

Last week the House of Representatives voted on H.R. 847, a resolution "recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith." Sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) the measure passed by a huge margin. Yet, 17 Democrats who voted either "nay" or "present" to Christmas, voted formally to recognize Ramadan and Islam in October. H. Res. 635, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), which acknowledges the "commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commended Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith."

The following members voted "no" to H.R. 847 but "yes" to H. Res. 635: Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Fortney Stark (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D- CA). Those who voted "present" on H.R. 847 and "yes" on H. Res. 635 include: Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Peter Welch (D-VT) and John Yarmuth (D-KY). Something is very wrong here.

· May God open the eyes of our leaders who have demonstrated inconsistency and bias toward American Christianity! May God give them an understanding and heart appreciation for our nation's Christian heritage - the very heritage that has given us the strength and disposition to extend tolerance toward people of other faiths!

· "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3)