- - Monday, February 27, 2017

First, if you enjoyed the movie “Hacksaw Ridge” then you’ll enjoy this piece about Desmond Doss, the late Army medic and humble Christian hero of the story. For the longest time, Doss didn’t even want the story told. 

… The problem was that Doss was afraid of compromises and wanted praise focused on God, not himself. [‘Hacksaw Ridge’ producer Terry] Benedict, however, grew up in an Adventist home and embraced the faith elements of this story. The filmmaker promised Doss that if they worked together, it would be “God first, you second and everyone else can get in line.” He also knew the elderly Doss had to put his memories on the record — soon.

There was so much to tell. Doss was abused during Army training because many soldiers considered him a coward. Army officials — who “never got the memo” that conscientious objectors could train as medics — repeatedly tried to have him discharged, said Benedict.

During five days of grueling documentary interviews in 2003, Doss kept telling the same simple, humble story over and over. Finally, Benedict shook his friend by the shoulders and urged him to speak from his heart. Doss began weeping, admitting that he’d thought he was having a mental breakdown on the ridge. He was “exhausted and in unmitigated desperation mode,” said Benedict.

More than anything else, Doss believed there were more wounded men on that battlefield that God wanted him to save. …

Next, Franklin Graham writes that we are in a “A Critical Moment for the Nation“:

…My deep and abiding concern for our nation is for souls. There is nothing more valuable than a person’s soul, for we will spend eternity either in the presence of God in Heaven, or away from His presence in everlasting torment.

That’s why I am so passionate about the protection and preservation of our religious freedoms. When courts and legislatures become advocates for deviant sexual behavior, while vigorously pursuing and prosecuting Christians simply for obeying their faith-based convictions, then you know our country is at a critical juncture.

The prophet wrote: “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14, ESV).

Indeed, truth has been stumbling in the public squares of our courts, schools and places of business as the forces of evil seek to suppress righteousness and justice through social and legal intimidation.

I believe, through God’s divine mercy and the fervent prayers of His people, that we can see a reversal—a breakthrough for truth and justice to reign once again. I believe that the light of the Gospel can and ultimately will overwhelm this present darkness. I believe the good works of Holy Spirit-filled followers of Christ can shine brilliantly in a broken and dim world so that God is glorified.

So let’s keep praying for God’s truth to prevail, for justice to be upheld, and for God to be honored in these crucial days and the months ahead.

Third, Pew Research reports data showing “Most white evangelicals approve of Trump travel prohibition and express concerns about extremism“:

While most Americans disapprove of Donald Trump’s recent executive order that would prohibit refugees and travel from some Muslim-majority countries, a recent Pew Research Center survey finds a sizable divide on the issue among the country’s major religious groups.

Most Republicans support and most Democrats oppose the order, which would temporarily prohibit accepting new refugees from Syria into the U.S. and also prevent people (refugee or otherwise) from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

The partisan gap is mirrored by a religious one. About three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants (76%), most of whom identify with or lean toward the GOP, say they approve of the travel ban. In stark contrast, big majorities of black Protestants (84%) and religious “nones” (74%) – two strongly Democratic constituencies – disapprove of the executive order.

Finally, there is a lot of talk these days about the economic burden imposed on businesses and schools for complying with government regulation. But how much are we talking about? The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on “Virginia universities tally up cost of unfunded federal mandates.” Add this to the list of reasons why the price of higher education just keeps escalating.

The University of Virginia estimates it spends $20 million a year complying with unfunded federal mandates just for its academic division.

In the past five years, the College of William & Mary reports it has added at least four full-time positions to handle the increase in regulatory requirements and gives “a conservative estimate” of $4.5 million to $6.7 million in annual compliance costs.

Virginia Commonwealth University estimates its total compliance cost at just over $13 million.

…The state’s public universities last month submitted reports on how much they spend on the bureaucracy of federal regulations as part of a congressional review of unfunded mandates.

The information was requested by U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in a December letter to Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford.

Schools submitting the voluntary reports said the true costs of compliance were likely underestimated because of the short turnaround time for providing the figures by mid-January.

…The report from the Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education included the eye-popping detail that about 11 percent, or $150 million, of Vanderbilt University’s 2013 expenditures were devoted to compliance with federal mandates.

The task force included 16 college and university presidents, including Vanderbilt’s president, and was supported by the American Council on Education, an advocacy group for higher education. That led some critics to see a conflict of interest in allowing the industry to recommend its own deregulation.

Now, deregulation may be viewed through a different lens under a new task force that Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has said he will lead.  …


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