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Daily Download: October 8, 2013 (Obamacare sticker shock, Reid’s refusals, Mid East gay death penalty, nuclear fusion)

Obamacare’s winners and losers in Bay Area — Here’s a good representative article of the sticker shock that some are now feeling now that Obamacare is officially in effect. Some with preexisting conditions are seeing some relief in their premiums, while some who are healthy with no preexisting conditions are seeing an increase, and it seems the difference is primarily based on where they live and how much they make per year with those living in nicer areas and making more money being the ones seeing premium increases. (Can anyone say “class warfare”?)

The story recounts a self-employed father of 4 whose annual family premiums went up by over $10,000. He says that he was laughing at the Republicans in Congress until he got his insurance bill in the mail, and now he suddenly realizes that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t intended to be affordable for him.  Another whose rates went up gave this classic Obamacare quote:

“Of course, I want people to have health care.  I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

In the article, the woman who has previously had breast cancer has seen her insurance rates fluctuate from $317 in 2005 to $1,298 in 2013. Her new rate is now $795. She’s the protagonist in this article, closing out the story by citing the benefits of the new law and encouraging optimism:

“Obamacare is a huge step in the right direction for those of us without employer coverage,” she said, adding that she hopes everyone will “join in and make this new legislation a success for all.”

Can it be a “success for all”? According to the article, the new law will “often” make “some” policies more expensive because it limits out-of-pocket expenses to $6,350 annually for an individual and $12,700 for a family. In addition, the law restricts the minimum and maximum premiums that people can be charged based on their age. Before the new law, a 64-year-old could be charged almost five times more than a 21-year-old, which one would assume makes sense because a 64-year-old is more likely to have health problems. But, beginning Jan. 1, the difference will be a 3-1 ratio, although 64-year-olds didn’t get any healthier overnight. I’m just concerned that these increased costs aren’t sustainable long-term, especially as our population ages.

GOP congressman: We stumbled into war over Obamacare — An anonymous GOP congressman lays out what happened to cause the fight over Obamacare and the ultimate federal government shutdown, showing that it was really caused by Harry Reid’s refusal to negotiate on anything offered on anything by Boehner.  While Boehner takes the blame in the press, the article seems to show that the real fight started because Reid was surprised by the strength of Ted Cruz’s campaign against Obamacare, and Reid in turn sought to embarrass Boehner before his GOP conference, ultimately leading both sides to dig in. The congressman makes a good analogy using the Battle of Gettysburg and how neither side intended to have a battle but instead stumbled into a pretty intense and historic moment.

Gulf states to introduce medical testing on travelers to ‘detect’ gay people and stop them from entering the country — I’m really curious what kind of medical test these Middle Eastern Gulf states are developing to detect homosexuality and how intrusive it is. Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) member countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – outlaw homosexual acts.  I’m surprised to learn that it’s illegal to be gay in 78 countries, with lesbianism banned in 49 countries. Even more, 5 countries will sentence gay people to the death penalty  – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania. Since 1979, Iran has executed more than 4,000 people for committing homosexual acts. In Sudan, the death penalty is issued to men after their third offense, but women may be stoned after their first offense of a lesbian act, or if not, they’ll be given thousands of lashes. Mauritania will stone publicly anyone caught in an “unnatural act”.

Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab — This is a big deal. Nuclear fusion would revolutionize the energy industry, but it’s been elusive for so long. It’s great to hear that a US-based lab is leading the way in developing nuclear fusion technology.

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Daily Download: October 4, 2013 (Atheist church, Democrats will likely win, drunk on grace, Chuck Smith)

Analysis: Why Obama Will Win the Gov’t Shutdown Fight With Republicans — This article lays out some good thought process from the Christian Post along with a little history lesson. According to the author’s reasoning, the structure of the United States government was designed to create a dysfunctional Congress to avoid an overwhelming power center focused in the legislative branch. Thus, as Republicans only control one half of an intentionally dysfunctional entity, their efforts will end up being in vain when they’re against the other half of their own branch plus another branch of the government that is wholly controlled by the Democrats. When the score is 1-1/2 to 1/2 with the third branch being an unknown quantity, the Republicans are fighting an uphill battle.

Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchividjian — Tullian Tchividjian is senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the former home pulpit of D. James Kennedy. He’s written a new book titled One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World, and this interview is focused on the key points in that book. But key to the discussion is his call for the church to get “drunk on grace”:

While attacks on morality will always come from outside the church, attacks on grace will always come from inside the church because somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe that this whole thing is about behavioral modification and personal moral improvement. We’ve concluded that grace just doesn’t possess the teeth to scare us into changing. As a result we get a steady diet of “do more, try harder” sermons; we get a “to do list” version of Christianity that causes us to believe the focus of the Christian faith is the life of the Christian. So we end up hearing more about “Christian living” than the Christ.

Honestly, there are too many great quotes in this interview to pull them out and talk about them. Just read it. It’s the real deal. OK, I can’t help it … here’s one more great quote:

So, it doesn’t surprise me at all when I hear people react to grace with suspicion and doubt. It doesn’t surprise me that when people talk about grace, I hear lots of “buts and brakes”, conditions and qualifications. That’s just the flesh fighting for its life, after all. As Walter Marshall says, “By nature, you are completely addicted to a legal method of salvation. Even after you become a Christian by believing the Gospel, your heart is still addicted to salvation by works…You find it hard to believe that you should get any blessing before you work for it.”

But while I’m not surprised when I hear venomous rejoinders to grace (the flesh is always resistant to “It is finished”), I am saddened when the very pack of people that God has unconditionally saved and continues to sustain by his free grace are the very ones who push back most violently against it.

Godless Megachurch Breaks Into U.S. — I’m very confused by this article and video.  By the look of things, an atheist group in the UK has created a Sunday morning gathering (Sunday Assembly) that acts like a church and smells like a church and sounds like a church but isn’t church because they’re only celebrating life and how to live it better.  And now it’s going on the road to become a worldwide concept.  Seems almost … competitive with church?  I’m sure every atheist would assure you that they have no need to “do church” and that this isn’t an attempt to compete with those who do have faith or an attempt to feel somehow included in the weekly gatherings that Christians and other people of faith hold.  Why have it on Sunday?  Why emulate what is otherwise known as church?  I can come up with all the arguments that would be made as to why it isn’t how it looks, but it’s still very strange.

Muslim-Born Man Testifies: ‘I’ve Never Seen This Type of Love Before’ After Church Unites to Save His Local Business — Here’s a cool story about the difference a local church can make when they team up to do good in their community.

Chuck Smith Has Died: Some Thoughts on the Amazing Life of Chuck and the Improbable Story of Calvary Chapel — Pastor Chuck Smith and his ministry at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, were great catalysts for what became the evangelical movement in American Christianity. If you participate in a church with contemporary, relevant worship that is passionate about evangelism, is passionate about planting church, or believes in all of the spiritual gifts and pursues them (not just signs gifts) actively in your church body, you have Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel as predecessors of your pursuits. This link to Ed Stetzer’s blog gives proper credit to this great pastor of the 20th century and links to other sites where you can learn more.

You will not stop believin’ how much fun this SM East video is to watch — I posted this video on Facebook as well, but I find it really fun so I wanted to post it here as well. I spent lots of time with high schoolers from Shawnee Mission East High School during my time in Kansas City. I was a volunteer with the local Kansas City K-Life during law school, and we had a whole hoard of kids from Shawnee Mission East who were part of our ministry. We went to their football games, basketball games and baseballs and got to know them and their friends and family. I also had many friends who grew up at Shawnee Mission East in my Kanakuk days thanks to the Kansas City K-Life ministry of Bruce Morgan in the late 1980s and his influence in the lives of all of those kids who ended up working at Kanakuk when they went to college. Shawnee Mission East holds a special place in my heart even though I never went to school there. The school created the video below, singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” while featuring over 1600 students who came to the school outside of schools to be a part of this video to promote their alma mater. It’s a very fun video and must have been quite an effort to produce. Great job, Lancers!

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Daily Download: August 21, 2013 (Paglia on Hillary / Apologetics deals / Birth of a star)

Camille Paglia: “It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton is our party’s best chance” — Camilla Paglia unloads on Hillary Clinton’s experience in an interview on Salon.com as she says it’s time to move on from baby boomer candidates and openly dreams of a 40something governor with actual executive experience to step into the fray of presidential politics and become the next hope of the Democratic party:

As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It’s time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We’ve had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.

I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying “I take responsibility” for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.

Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. It’s even a key motif in “King Lear.” As far as I’m concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, “What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?” Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood.

20+ Apologetics Books on Kindle from $0.99 TO $2.99 — I’m into Christian apologetics, which is the study of the evidences, proofs and facts that support the Christian faith, and I even once started the process of getting a certificate in apologetics studies from Biola University, but then my life got crazy with having kids and running a business.  But, for those of you who are into apologetics as well, there are few things better than a good book to read.  This link is to a list of apologetics books you can get on your Kindle for cheap.  Have fun!

The birth of a star, captured in stunning photographic detail — Astronomers have captured photos of the development of a star called Herbig-Haro 46/47 that is located in the southern constellation of Vela, 1,400 light-years from Earth. The photos reveal massive jets of gas, such as carbon monoxide and ionized oxygen, shooting away from the forming star at speeds of up to about 621,000 mph. According to Hector Acre, an associate professor at Yale University who is studying this star formation, newly forming stars send out large jets of gas, even as they pull gas and other matter toward them in the process of their formation.

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