A New Jersey mother received a surprising and heartfelt Christmas gift this past Tuesday evening when her son, an Army mechanic stationed in Afghanistan, showed up at her work dressed as Santa.
Leslie Ruggiero, a nurse in Brick, N.J., was not expecting her son, 29-year-old Army Spc. Travis Ruggiero, to be home for the holidays, but rather to be stationed in Afghanistan during the Christmas season. It was to her happy surprise on Tuesday evening, while attending a Christmas work party, that her son managed to get a 21-day leave from work and make it home just in time for Christmas Day.
Leslie was accompanying other maternity ward nurses at Ocean County Medical Center at their holiday party on Christmas Eve when a man dressed as Santa gave her a large red letter to read. A video of the event shows Leslie tearing up as she read the letter, telling her coworkers that it was from her son who is on a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. more >>
Around this time each year, people begin thinking about fresh starts. People want to change things about their lives, and often the New Year provides a perfect time to do it. The Bible has a lot to say about fresh starts, too. The creators of the CEB Study Bible have compiled 10 verses to start 2014 out right.
10 Verses to Usher in the New Year
1. Don't remember the prior things; don't ponder ancient history. Look! I'm doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don't you recognize it? I'm making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. – Isaiah 43:18-19 CEB more >>
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reached out to Christians over the Christmas holiday in three visible ways. But Christian leaders have denounced his "hollow words."
In a Christmas statement, Rouhani "wished a new year full of cooperation, peace, security and tranquility for the Christians," Fars News reported. He also reached out to Christians through his Twitter account, proclaiming, "May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians."
But some were wary of his seemingly friendly words especially as Christians, including Iranian American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, continue to be persecuted. more >>
In order to illustrate how the story of Jesus Christ's birth and the journey that led Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem is still relevant today, Pastor Perry Noble of the South Carolina megachurch NewSpring traveled to Israel to demonstrate the nativity scene's modern-day significance, which he shared during a recent sermon.
His message was part of the church's three-part "The Journey" series, which featured a video of Noble in the cities of Nazareth and Bethlehem. The focus of his sermon was on the reminder that Jesus was born and came back for individuals who are "shook up, messed up and cleaned up."
"Everyone's going through a spiritual journey. Maybe yours has you shook up or messed up or is taking you to a place where you want to get cleaned up…we've all been there. I'm talking about the divorce papers…the phone call in the middle of the night…when we get in those situations, we all ask, 'God, where are you?'" said Noble. more >>
In his Angelus address on the Feast of St. Stephen, Pope Francis on Thursday focused on persecuted Christians around the world.
"We are close to those brothers and sisters who, like St. Stephen, are unjustly accused and subjected to violence of various kinds," Francis said on Thursday. "This happens especially where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or not fully realized."
The remarks came just a day after a Christian neighborhood market and Catholic church were bombed in Baghdad, Iraq, leaving 38 people dead. There have been growing concerns for the safety of Christians especially in the Middle East region. Notable world figures, including Britain's Prince Charles, have recently said that followers of Christ in the region are in danger of disappearing from Christianity's birth place. more >>
A video posted by a Planned Parenthood affiliate on YouTube celebrating the "12 Days of Contraceptives" is no longer available for viewing online.
The controversial 5-minute advertisement video, posted Monday by Planned Parenthood Arizona, was recently made into a private video, so it cannot be viewed by the general public.
The video is not listed on the YouTube Account for Planned Parenthood Arizona, with the most recent upload as of Thursday evening being a video from October titled "Simple Facts about Health Insurance and Obamacare." more >>