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Who Is Jesus For Us This Christmas?: All Together Podcast Featuring James Carroll, Rob Bell And Lisa Sharon Harper

Welcome to this week’s ALL TOGETHER, the podcast dedicated to exploring how religious ideas and spiritual practice inform and shape our personal lives, our communities and our world. All Together is hosted by Paul Raushenbush, the Executive Editor of HuffPost Religion and is available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Christmas is upon us, the trees are up, the lights are on, and stores are open. Yet even as the radio plays a rotation of Christmas favorites, the news tells the story of individuals suffering and communities and nations in conflict. As Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in his Christmas Sermon in 1967: “This Christmas season finds us a rather bewildered human race. We have neither peace within nor peace without.”

Christmas is meant to be a joyful and hopeful time celebrating the birth of Jesus, but how does Jesus birth and life relate to the lack of peace and justice in the world? How do we find hope amidst the challenges people are experiencing in this moment.

In order to better understand Jesus, and what his birth means, Raushenbush invited James Carroll, author of Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age, Rob Bell, whose special on the Oprah Winfrey Network debuts on December 21st, and Lisa Sharon Harper who is the Director of Mobilization at Sojourners to explain who Jesus is to them, and why Christmas should be seen as a powerful opportunity for personal and societal transformation.



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The Muslim, the Christian, and the Bull

“My mother is Orthodox Christian and my father is Muslim,” said my new friend, Ismail. “In my country, Ethiopia, we think people of other religions are going to hell. So, even though my mother and father like each other a lot; their marriage upset their two families. Family holidays are not very pleasant.”

“Which are you, Orthodox or Muslim?” I queried.

“I’m Muslim. So are my brothers. Theology makes a big difference, you know.”

“Oh? What kind of difference?” I asked.

“Well, take for example when you’re slaughtering a bull. You need a real sharp knife to cut his throat, you know.”

“Yes, I can imagine,” I responded.

Ismail went on. “It’s important when slaughtering a bull just how you address God. We Muslims believe that God is one. God’s oneness is very important. The Christians believe in three gods, three gods as one in the Trinity. See, this is a big difference.”

This was the first moment in my life that I had associated either Allah or the Trinity with bull slaughtering.

Ismail had one more thing to say. “I like America. Here we respect each other’s views.”

I said nothing. But, silently, I agreed.



WATCH: This Pastor May Have Confessed Cancer Away

He’s lying in his hospital bed, but pastor Julian Malone is still preaching peace in a video filmed before surgery.

“Shalom,” he begins, greeting his New Testament Church family, as well as saints all over the world. The pastor was diagnosed with an aggressive, inoperable form of cancer, according to Fox 6 Now. Rather than wallow in sorrow, though, Malone counted it all joy.

“God has given me grace to practice Isaiah 43:1-2,” Malone says in the video. “And James, chapter one, verses two and three, ‘When, not if, when you fall into various trials, count it all joy.

“There are some things in which God wants to take us for His glory and for our good.”

The prayers of the saints were heard. A few days after the surgery, the church received word their pastor was free of cancer.

Cancer and its treatment are violent, but Malone was spared some of the more threatening side effects of treatment. According to Fox, Malone never felt nauseated or lost his hair, and Malone believes it’s because he professed God’s name through all of treatment.

Watch the video below to see how God uses this man through his trials.



How's the nativity in your heart?

Has the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season distracted you from the reason we celebrate? A look at the Baby Jesus in the manger, through the eyes of a child help bring perspective to our busy lives. “Crowns and angel wings have been chipped and glued, chipped and glued. And Baby Jesus continues to sleep in peace in His momma’s arms.”



Bubbaclaus, Er, Golf Champ Bubba Watson Throws Down Christmas Rap

Bubba Claus, Gumby and an elf walk into a recording studio and the result is a fantastical mash up of holiday spirit and bringing God glory.

Pro-golfer Bubba Watson tries his hand at rapping, saying, “I thank God every day for the moves that I’ve made.”

“Thank you, baby Jesus, who was born in a manger,” he says over a “Hallelujah” chorus.

Watch the video for a heart-warming laugh.



Wal-Mart Uses Corporate Dollars to Promote Gay Agenda

Walmart is increasing capitulating to the homosexual-bisexual-transgender agenda. So says the Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH). The group is calling on Americans to urge Wal-Mart to stop promoting homosexuality and gender confusion (transgenderism) with its corporate dollars. “During the Christmas season, we should focus on honoring God and His Son, Jesus, who came to earth to die for our sins,” says AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera. “Wal-Mart has done much good in the world, but celebrating politically correct sins—homosexuality and transsexuality—only dishonors God and incentivizes Walmart’s own workers to embrace immoral and confused behavior patterns in their lives. Walmart needs to get out of the sin promotion business and at least return to neutrality on the homosexual/transgender issue.” Here’s the backstory: Wal-Mart is now publicly pro-“gay” and giving major grants to homosexual/transgender events and organizations, including $25,000 to $50,000 to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund—a group that helps elect “out” homosexuals to political office, mostly Democrats. Giving corporate dollars to “gay/trans” groups like GLVF helps Wal-Mart increase its score on the rigged “Corporate Equality Index” (CEI) put out annually by the homosexual group Human Rights Campaign. Wal-Mart’s pro-homosexual/transgender CEI score is now 90 percent—up from 40 percent in 2008. The world’s largest company has embraced a pro-homosexual/bi/transgender agenda in recent years, especially after granting homosexual “domestic partner” employee benefits in 2013. The CEI scoring system is completely biased against social conservatives: If Wal-Mart were to give a grant to a pro-family group like AFTAH that opposes homosexual “marriage” and male “transgenders” using female restrooms, it would lose 25 points according to HRC’s rigged CEI scoring system. The only way for Wal-Mart to get the 10 points it needs to reach a perfect “100-percent” score on the CEI scorecard is for it to provide “transgender health benefits”—paying for or subsidizing body-mutilating sex reassignment surgeries as an employee “health” benefit. AFTAH is calling on Americans to urge Wal-Mart to stop promoting homosexuality and gender confusion (transgenderism) with its corporate dollars. TAKE ACTION: Call Wal-Mart’s headquarters at 479-273-4000 or use their Contact Page to politely express your concerns about Wal-Mart “going gay” and turning its back on godly morality and traditional marriage.