FloridaSen. Marco Rubio, one of Obamacare’s fiercest critics, has not only enrolled in the federal healthcare program but has also opted to take the generous employer subsidy offered to congressional lawmakers and staff.
“Senator Rubio spent time looking at all the options and decided to enroll through the D.C. exchange for coverage for him and his family,” spokeswoman Brooke Sammon told The Tampa Bay Times.
The subsidy, which many Republicans wanted to scrap, will pay up to 75 percent of monthly premiums. Some lawmakers who have already enrolled in Obamacare have chosen not to take the taxpayer-funded subsidy.
Rubio’s office defended the Republican’s decision saying, “Senator Rubio is following the law, even though he opposes it.”
In September, Rubio joined tea party colleagues in a 22-hour filibuster of the budget bill in an attempt to force a vote to defund the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. The strategy created a rift in the Republican Party and a backlash after the government was forced into shutdown because of the opposition to Obamacare.
Isaac Hunter, former pastor at Summit Church in Orlando, Fla., has died, reports Northland, A Church Distributed. Hunter is the son of Northland Senior Pastor Joel Hunter. Pastor Vernon Rainwater wrote the following message in a blog entry and a post on the Northland’s Facebook page Tuesday:
“By now you may have heard that Pastor Joel and Becky’s son Isaac Hunter died today. All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we’re feeling.
“We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this … Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven (Romans 8:38-39).
“I know we all want to reach out to the Hunter family, but the way we can love them best at this time is to pray for them and respect their privacy. Right now, would you please pray for them? We will have opportunities in the future to fully express our love and sympathies. Memorial service information will be posted on Northland’s website as soon as it’s available.”
Isaac and Rhonda Hunter have three children together. He has two brothers, Joshua and Joel. It is not yet known how Hunter, 36, died or any details surrounding his death. At press time, the Orange County Medical Examiner’s office was closed and not able to comment.
Hunter founded Summit Church in 2002. It has since become one of the fastest-growing churches in Central Florida with five locations and an estimated 5,000 worshippers. The church grew out of a ministry the younger Hunter started at his father’s megachurch.
Hunter made headlines last year when he resigned after admitting to an affair with a former staffer.
According to court documents from 2012, his family also found an undated suicide note on his computer with instructions to Summit Church on what should be done “If I die,” written before his 35th birthday on April 26, 2012.
“I would very much like to be remembered as a person who loved his children, his parents, his brothers, and his best friends—well, while I could,” Hunter wrote. “I fear I will love them better in my absence. As I have become what I never wished to be, a burden on those I love the most.”
Gonzalez became a household name in the late 1990s when as a 6-year-old Cuban boy he was found floating off the coast of Florida in an inner tube after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach the U.S.
“But, despite that, Cuba, even with all its problems has progressed over the years,” Gonzalez added. “The progress we’ve made is all thanks to Cuba’s courage, our dignity, our continued fight for a more just model.”
Gonzalez, now 20 and a cadet at a Cuban military academy, echoed the communist mantra as he spoke to the network at the World Festival of Youth and Students – a left-wing conference that attracted more than 10,000 people from all over, CNN reported.
Gonzalez is expected to speak at the conference though he couldn’t say what topic he would tasked with discussing.
“My topic could range anywhere from the lifting of the unjust blockade on Cuba to the freedom of the ‘Cuban Five.’ The main reason we’re here is because we want a revolutionary progressive movement that leads to socialism,” he said.
The Cuban Five is a reference to the five Cuban intelligence agents convicted in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations in South Florida, exile groups and politicians. They are regarded as heroes in Cuba.
After being rescued by U.S. officials from the waters off Florida’s coast in November of 1999, Gonzalez was subsequently returned to his father in Cuba in June 2000 after U.S. immigration officials ruled the boy should return to Cuba over the objections of his Miami relatives and other Cuban exiles.
When asked by CNN en Español how his life has been in Cuba since leaving Miami, Gonzalez said, “I haven’t suffered any consequences because of what happened. It has not affected me psychologically, but it has been hard for my family,” adding, “those were tough times.”
No other candidate reached double digits in the survey, The Hill reported. The Gravis Marketing poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Huckabee, who finished a strong second in South Carolina’s 2008 primary, hasn’t ruled out a 2016 presidential bid, and appeared to take a step closer with his planned headliner speaking engagement later this week at a meeting of conservative pastors.
Some polls in Iowa, which he won in 2008, have found him to be a strong potential candidate there.
He‘ll be in Little Rock, Ark., on Thursday and Friday for the Arkansas Renewal Project, part of evangelical organizer David Lane’s American Renewal Project. Huckabee had the support of pastors in his 2008 fight against eventual winner Sen. John McCain.
Pastors from Iowa and South Carolina — two key political states early in the GOP primary season — will be meeting with Huckabee during the convention to urge him to run, the Des Moines Registerhas reported.
“The purpose is to let Gov. Huckabee know there are people that would like to see him run for president again,” Randy Davis, an evangelical Christian from Ottumwa, Iowa, who caucused for Newt Gingrich in 2012, told the Register.
“It seems like Gov. Huckabee has this uncanny ability to communicate the conservative message without being obstinate or polarizing,” Davis said.
Federal court records show Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson was among the more than 100 investors bilked out of millions of dollars by convicted schemer William Dean Chapman, according to a story on Politico.
“I can confirm that it’s Rep. Grayson,” said an anonymous representative for the congressman via email. “Court documents seem to have disclosed the congressman’s full name, despite the existence of court procedures that are intended to protect victims’ privacy.”
Grayson, whose losses amounted to $18 million, originally was identified as “A.G.” in the documents. When Chapman – sentenced Dec. 6 to 12 years in prison – made a last-minute move to withdraw his guilty plea, Grayson’s name appeared in papers submitted by prosecutors responding to the defendant’s action.
Chapman, a 44-year-old Sterling, Va., man, founded and owned Alexander Capital Markets. His Ponzi business included loaning clients money in exchange for their stock holdings, which he sold improperly. In all, more than $35 million was lost.
According to Politico, Grayson’s losses date back to 2007, and Chapman offered his client a $100,000-per-month payback plan. Grayson’s wealth stems from his involvement with a telecommunications company. Financial disclosure statements put his assets at $22.8 million.
Growing up in destitute Haiti, all 10-year-old Marie Louise ever knew was poverty and hunger pangs. The things most Americans take for granted—sitting at a table to eat a full meal, not to mention the use of utensils—were completely foreign to her and the other children in her village. Instead, she was all too used to scooping a handful of dirt or even cement into her mouth simply to have something in her stomach to keep her from starving to death.
But then God’s love, in the form of a Florida-based nonprofit ministry called Feeding Children Everywhere, found its way to Marie Louise’s village. Through founder Don Campbell’s connections withOpen Door Haiti and its founder, local pastor Wiljean Compere, the young girl now eats three healthy meals each day and has been spared the life of disease and hunger for which she was formerly destined.
That’s not all. Her story is being replicated by millions around the world as Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) rapidly expands to make its mark nearly, well, everywhere.
FCE’s journey has taken Campbell and his wife, Kristen, from feeding their neighborhood to embarking on seasons in which the couple mobilized churches throughout Central Florida, ran a local branch of a Minnesota-based nonprofit and, in 2010, launched into Haiti. Today the organization provides 15 million meals annually to hungry children in the U.S. and around the world, all in the name of Jesus—and with the financial support and volunteer manpower of mega-corporations such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, K Force, Johnson & Johnson and many others (including entire sports associations).
Major secular organizations helping to support a ministry? How did that happen?
From his youth, Campbell always believed his working career would somehow involve food. Forced to become the man of the house at age 10 after his father took his own life, Don became the family chef and learned to cook for his mother and sisters. As he grew up, food and soccer became his passion.
“When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a pro soccer player, and I still play with a group of men,” he says. “But I’ve always had this food thing at the core of me too. I love good food, and I love to entertain. That’s where my heart is. To tell you the truth, I always thought that I would open up a restaurant. But obviously God took me in a different direction—a wonderfully different direction.”
The first steps of that “wonderfully different direction” began when Don served at the Central Florida Dream Center in 2002 and then became a staff pastor at Family Worship Center in Sanford, Fla. But he and his wife, Kristen, weren’t satisfied with simply working with youth on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. They longed to make a bigger impact.
“Jesus was extremely relational in everything He did,” Campbell says, “and we are super relational people as well. We started learning to connect with people and honoring relationships over promotion, if you will. By doing that, we have been promoted.”
The FCE dream started small—just by meeting a community need of feeding neighborhood children from their dining room table. As word began to spread, the Campbells’ work expanded in their community and eventually with a Minnesota-based nonprofit. After years of volunteering and feeding children from their home, the couple took their entire life savings of $9,000 and rallied friends, family and volunteers—and FCE was officially born.
But it wasn’t until an event no one could have foreseen that the ministry really took hold. In January 2010, following the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti and the numerous aftershocks that left more than 200,000 dead and hundreds of thousands in need of aid and food, the ministry pushed into deploy mode.
Campbell approached Doug Holliday—a friend who also happens to be the U.S. president of the humanitarian aid organization Open Door Haiti—to explore a partnership for helping destitute children affected by the earthquake. Open Door Haiti became FCE’s first international feeding partner, and FCE organized packing events with local churches to raise money to fund the project and ship 250,000 meals to hungry children in the nation.
According to Campbell’s estimates, FCE has grown 200 percent every six months since its inception and is one of the fastest-moving nonprofit organizations in the world. He describes FCE’s vertical growth during the past three years as “nothing short of miraculous,” and the evidence certainly supports this.
In the last two years, FCE has expanded beyond its corporate headquarters in Longwood, Fla., to include facilities in Hartford, Conn., and Los Angeles—with plans to launch offices in other regions as well. Despite the increasing space and staggering amounts of food passing through these facilities, the ministry staff is kept intentionally lean—FCE currently has 15 full-time employees and 60 interns working at its Florida location—as it continues to prioritize volunteer training.
And yet the rapid growth of the ministry doesn’t surprise Campbell. The Holy Spirit’s leading through divine business appointments—which is how virtually every corporate connection has come—and the ministry’s heart to do things God’s way have made FCE an easy sell to corporate partners, he says.
Instead of approaching businesses and asking them simply to write a check, FCE has devised a way for corporate employees to get involved with a hands-on approach to alleviating local and global hunger. In an era in which most companies see the value in blending social justice advocacy with their own corporate values and culture, FCE has found a sweet spot. The nonprofit organizes events and allows corporations to bring teams of individuals to get physically involved in the food-packing process. In turn, employees leave the events with a sense of personal satisfaction, having helped to make a difference in the lives of hungry children across the U.S. and around the world.
“You have companies like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America—two of the larger companies in this country—that have executives and people that want to do something good and noble from a social responsibility standpoint,” Campbell says. “We’ve found a niche where they can take the dollars they normally contribute and instead use those dollars to mobilize their staff and deploy their donation into their community and ultimately impact the lives of children locally and globally.
“We approached them and told them that we have volunteer opportunities—philanthropic opportunities—that they can attach to their check and give them a feeling of pride that they’re doing something to impact the world. You might be surprised at just how eager people are to help when you’re asking them for more than simply money.”
Eager indeed. Jodie Hardman, senior vice president and market manager for Bank of America, says that when bank employees are asked to gather for a packing event, there is usually a waiting list of at least 150 to 200 people.
“It fills up pretty quickly,” says Hardman, who herself has participated in past packing events. “People don’t have to have a special skill or a special gift to give back to the community. Knowing that you’re helping others, you feel good, and it gives you a lot of pride that you’re making a difference. It’s a great lesson you can teach to your kids.”
Hardman says that although there are many worthy charities to choose from, FCE is exactly the type of organization Bank of America looks for in its community investment program.
“It all goes back to the simplicity of their process,” she says. “Their events are so spirited. A lot of times when you’re asked to do something for the community, it can be a somber event when you’re serving. But with FCE, there’s a lot of spirit around it. It’s fun, and it’s fulfilling.”
But personal fulfillment isn’t the only benefit participants receive. When God opens the door—and He frequently does—FCE’s staff seizes the opportunity to share His love to whoever will listen.
Ron Johnson, senior pastor at One Church in Longwood, and one of the Campbells’ biggest spiritual supporters, says people are more apt to receive the gospel message when they aren’t simply listening to a sermon but instead are seeing Jesus’ love in action.
“That’s the genius of the model, the fact that Don and his people are taking kingdom principles and bridging them while addressing a major need in the world—hunger,” he says. “They are reaching people that may never darken the door of a church. The reason it’s working is that they don’t have to convince people by their words. What they are doing—feeding hungry children—touches the core of our humanity.”
For Campbell, the work comes as a direct response to Jesus’ frequently quoted but rarely followed words in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink” (v. 35).
Campbell says it’s clear that feeding people and meals around the table were at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. And he believes that God wants to do great things through His kids using that same model. “If we’re willing to move in faith, the Bible says that pleases God,” he says. “If you move in big faith, God can do big things.”
It’s because of the “big things” God is doing through FCE, along with Campbell’s personal integrity, that he has earned the respect of many pastors in the Central Florida area. Among those is Jeff Krall, under whom Campbell served as youth and family life pastor at Family Worship Center.
“Don has told me that he has had conversations with people in the secular world, and they look at him and say, ‘You’re a different kind of Christian,’” Krall says. “They tell him, ‘I think you’ve got the words and actions of life.’ The universal appeal of what he is doing with FCE is amazing.”
‘Man, oh, man, this could potentially destroy some real good companies in Florida.’
The U.S. Department of Labor takes the term ‘volunteer’ literally, but the IRS says volunteer firefighters are technically employees if they’re on the job more than 30 hours per week, making them subject to Obamacare’s employee-mandate rules.
Since the Obamacare law doesn’t specifically carve out an exemption for them, fire departments where 50 or more people work – either as volunteers or real employees – are expected to provide health insurance for every one of them.
Rattner and show host Joe Scarborough were pushing back at one-time presidential candidate Howard Dean, who was arguing that a left-leaning Democratic party would not pose a problem for the nation.
“I think [former president] Bill Clinton put our party right back where it belongs,” said Rattner. “We could have been [former candidate] Michael Dukakis for the next 20 years. I want us to stay there.”
See videos below.
The overall exchange got heated between Scarborough and Dean. At one point, Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, accused Dean of spouting “Carl Bernstein nonsense.”
Four of the biggest recurring challenges men face are marriage, work, health, and money. These are the four areas where most of us will experience our toughest long-term circumstances and problems.
In this excerpt from Patrick Morley’s book, How God Makes Men, see how God employs the principle of a greater good to make men of us in these areas.
This is what I believe is the single biggest problem men as a group face today—bigger than all their other problems combined. Their marriages are not working as God designed. What can we learn from Joseph that God can use to make us into the husbands He created us to be?
For our marriages, the message is stay the course. Trust that God does have a purpose and that He is always at work in your life and in your relationship. You may be in a marriage that seems beyond help. I say “seems” because no marriage is beyond the hope of reconstruction by the strong arm of God. Nothing that has happened in your marriage has surprised God. If we learn anything from Joseph, it’s that nothing is beyond His redeeming power.
Consider Charles. All Charles did was work. His wife’s heart grew stone cold toward him. He retaliated by thinking about how happy he could be with other women and planning a divorce. This went on for a long time. Yet he knew divorce was not God’s plan for marriage. Then one day, while he was driving in his car, God supernaturally gave him a deep, unquenchable love for his wife. And the following week God changed his wife’s heart too.
God changed what seemed like irresolvable differences into a greater good–both for them and for others. Today Charles boldly helps other men save their marriages by telling the story of how God intervened in his marriage.
Men routinely ask me how to resolve marriage tensions. A man whose marriage was hanging by a thread asked, “What should I do?”
Then I said what I always say: “You can’t, but Jesus in you can; so put your faith in Him, not what you see, and give it a few years.” Give it a few years–that’s the school of Joseph talking.
Once I saw a research report claiming that five years after they were divorced, a majority of people wish they would have worked harder to make their marriages work. In fact, an analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households revealed that 86 percent of unhappily married couples who did stick it out found that five years later their marriages were happier.
So if happiness is what you want, stick it out and give it a few more years. Adjust your expectations. Family systems scholar Edwin Friedman stated, “In reality, no human marriage gets a rating of more than 70%.” The happiness that working through your problems will bring far exceeds the shadow of happiness that divorce might bring. Most divorced men I’ve met have attested that the negative impacts of divorce, especially on their children, seem to go on forever. Besides, you’re not the only one whose happiness is at stake.
However, if your wife pulls out anyway, and you are on your own, you can use that time to stand strong and reveal the power and glory of God. You can continue to live in absolute loyalty to Jesus Christ by putting your faith in Him and keeping yourself morally pure until you remarry, or even remarry her. Over a dozen men in our Friday morning Bible study have done just that. Because they stayed true, God brought them back together again with their divorced or separated wives. And it didn’t hurt to have a small group of men to meet with on a weekly basis.
Of course, no one can guarantee any specific outcome for your relationship with your wife. What we do learn from Joseph, however, is that you can trust God’s Word that nothing has happened to you by human decision–yours or hers–apart from what is permitted by His will. And what God allows He will also use to put His power on display. What God wants from you now is the absolute loyalty that can come only from putting your faith in Jesus Christ. Remain faithful, and God will use your seemingly dead-end marriage to reveal His glory through a greater good. So stay the course.
Patrick Morley is founder and CEO of Man in the Mirror. After building one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies, in 1991, he founded Man in the Mirror, a nonprofit organization to help men find meaning and purpose in life. Dr. Morley is the best-selling author of The Man in the Mirror, No Man Left Behind, Dad in the Mirror, and A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines.
The Obama administration has met its self-imposed goal to have the online federal insurance exchange working smoothly for most people who use it, according to a government report today.
The site, healthcare.gov, has been plagued by errors and bugs for two months, opening a new onslaught by Republican congressman opposed to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The problems with the exchange have hurt President Barack Obama in the polls and prevented many Americans from enrolling in new insurance plans.
A repair effort launched in mid-October has cut the rate of error messages to less than 1 percent per page from about 6 percent in October, according to the report today by the Department of Health and Human Services. After faltering with little more than 1,000 simultaneous users at the start of October, the site can now handle 50,000 at a time, or about 800,000 per day, the report said. The repair effort continued into the evening yesterday, officials said.
“Dramatic progress has been made on improving healthcare.gov,” the administration said in the eight-page report. “There is more work to be done to continue to improve and enhance the website and continue to improve the consumer experience in the weeks and months ahead.”
Over the last two weeks, navigators who help people use the site have said the site was getting easier to use, though the progress was slow and there were frequent outages. Today’s report said the administration would continue working to improve healthcare.gov moving forward.
The goal of having the site “work smoothly for the vast majority of users” was set by Jeffrey Zients, the management consultant President Barack Obama assigned to supervise repairs after its calamitous Oct. 1 debut.
Technicians supervised by Zients fixed or improved more than 400 items on a “punch list” that grew quickly starting the week of Nov. 9, according to the report.
Uninsured Americans, or those losing coverage at the end of this month, have until Dec. 23 to sign up for plans effective Jan. 1. The federal website serves 36 states, including Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania, while 14 states including New York and California run their own.