How we know God

Pencil Preaching for Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Dec 1, 2020 by Pat Marrin /

Jesus at prayer419.jpg

“My heart is moved with pity” (Matthew 15:32).

Isa 25:6-10A; Matt 15:29-37

What we know about God from philosophy is based on the reasonable assumption that because there is creation there must be a Creator, a First Cause and Unmoved Mover. But for believers, everything we know about God is from Jesus Christ, who made God visible and personal during his human journey on this earth.

We believe that God is love because Jesus was a loving person who cared deeply about others, comforted and restored those damaged by life’s troubles and failures, welcomed the lost, the outcast and lonely, lifted up the poor and encouraged everyone to trust in the essential goodness of life and not to be afraid. 

In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus fulfilling one of the may prophecies of Isaiah about God’s desire to care for his people.  He heals people suffering from all manner of sickness and limitation, giving sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, making the cripples walk and restoring those afflicted with deformities and illnesses.  He feels deep pity for the crowds who have followed him into the wilderness and are now hungry.  He multiplies a few loaves and fish to provide an abundant feast.

This is what God is like. Jesus does what God would do if God were among us, human like us, experiencing life with a human heart moved with pity. Gandhi once said that if God were to come into a world filled with hungry people, God would come as bread.  Jesus called himself bread from heaven, the bread of life. Even death could not defeat this gift of life. Jesus revealed God’s desire to lift the veil of sadness and wipe away the tears of sorrow by destroying death.  By his death and resurrection, Jesus revealed that the ultimate promise of God is about giving us abundant life.

The season of Advent first leads us into the desert so we can experience how much we need God. By leaving the bright lights of the city, we learn to see the stars again in the night sky.  Undistracted by other wants and needs, we rediscover our longing for what is essential, what fills us with wonder and questioning.  If we ponder the great loneliness that covers the earth like a veil, we can again let pity well up from the depths for all the suffering in our world.  This is the human condition we share with every other person on the earth. 

Advent invites us to renew our faith in the God Jesus revealed in so many human ways. We are invited to pray again as children pray, hearts filled with expectation and trust that what is promised will come true.  What do we most want to happen for us this year at Christmas? What secret desire, needed change, difficult decision, audacious prayer will we bring to our next meeting with God? Because of Jesus, this encounter could be face to face.


We Coach everyone we connect/ Life coaching/Transformation coaching/Beat depression with communication/Believe creates magic/Remove toxic people from your circle

Start programing your unconscious to achieve the goals of your life. Your unconscious is your belief system and your feelings for yourself, your internal map.

When you reprogram your unconscious you see always the positive signals which the universe is arranging for you and take everything as a part of the supreme power’s plan.

There are many ways for the programming of your unconscious like one can practice visualizations in which you visualize your success in advance and feel the happiness in your body, Affirmations is also a powerful technique to reprogram your unconscious when you continuously repeat one thing every day your subconscious will accept it as a new program, Engaged in positive self-talk and start believing that everything comes to you very easily.

You attract your success, everything is magical in your life like a higher power is behind you and gives you exactly what you are thinking…

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EXCLUSIVE: President Buhari violates NAPTIP Act in appointment of agency’s head

National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP)
National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP)

NAPTIP is an agency founded in 2003 to tackle human trafficking and similar human rights violations in Nigeria.

by Yusuf Akinpelu December 2, 2020

By appointing Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim as the new director-general of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), President Muhammadu Buhari has flouted the law establishing the agency.

Section 8 (1) of the NAPTIP Act 2015 stipulates that the director-general of the agency must be appointed from the directorate cadre in the civil service or from an equivalent cadre in any of the nation`s law enforcement agencies.

President Muhammadu Buhari [PHOTO CREDIT: @theasovilla]

But the credentials of Mrs Sulaiman-Ibrahim do not match this requirement.

“There shall be for the agency a Director-General who shall be from the Directorate cadre in the public service of the Federation or its equivalent in any law enforcement service and shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister,” the section reads.

Mrs Sulaiman-Ibrahim, a politician and businesswoman (dealing in Mary Kay products), does not, however, qualify for the position as she is neither of the directorate cadre in the public service nor does she holds any equivalent position in any of the country’s law enforcement agencies.

Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Tuesday announced the appointment of Mrs Sulaiman-Ibrahim saying until her appointment she was a special adviser on strategic communication to the minister of state for education.

She is therefore a political appointee, whose appointment ends with the expiration of the tenure of the current government.

Mr Shehu added that the new NAPTIP boss holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and two masters degrees in arts management and business administration respectively.

She hails from Nasarawa State in North-Central Nigeria. She was also a member of the Nasarawa State Economic Advisory Council.

There is, however, no records of her holding other public service positions which put her in the right stead to head NAPTIP as stipulated by the law.

The spokesman to Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice and Attorney- General of the Federation, Umar Gwandu, declined comment when contacted on the violation of NAPTIP Act by the President.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Halima Oyelade, also declined comment. The humanitarian affairs ministry directly oversees NAPTIP.

Meanwhile, Julie Okah-Donli, who Mrs Sulaiman-Ibrahim succeeded on Tuesday, was also not qualified for the top job she held for close to four years.

Her job profile showed that before her appointment to NAPTIP, she had only worked as a lawyer, a legal adviser of the Nigerian Capital Market Institute, an executive assistant to former Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa, and head of the Abuja branch and northern region for UBA Trustees.

In fact, she was in private legal practice when she was hired for the job, in clear violation of the NAPTIP Act.

The reason for Ms Okah-Donli’s sudden removal is unclear. She was appointed for a four-year tenure on April 13, 2017, in line with the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015. Her four-year tenure was to expire on April 13, 2021.

NAPTIP is a law enforcement agency founded in 2003 to tackle human trafficking and similar human rights violations in Nigeria.

Philippians 3:15-20

Arlin Sorensen's Thoughts on Scripture

In Philippians 3:15-20 Paul continues teaching us to adopt his attitude as a Christ Follower. Maturity should bring us to a place where we are focused on serving an audience of One, and are focused on our call in Christ. If we aren’t there yet, Paul is trusting that God will reveal to us how important it is. “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” Paul wasn’t focused on trying to convince us, he knew God was more than able to deal with His own. He didn’t have the attitude that if he failed to convince them, they would then never be convinced.

Paul would not allow a lack of understanding to excuse anyone from doing what he did know to be the Lord’s will. What we don’t know can never…

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Known Crook Helped By Big banks To stash millions until 2017 (Investigative Piece)

Despite a long record of fraud, a New Jersey con man was able to swindle hundreds of victims around the world who were promised cheap used cars.

By Will Fitzgibbon November 30, 2020 /

The headquarters of JPMorgan Chase, America’s largest bank, in New York City. (inset) car dealer Sergey Kapustin.

JPMorgan Chase, America’s largest bank, helped move millions of dollars for a New Jersey con man long after he was first accused of ripping off customers looking for good deals on the used cars of their dreams.

Many borrowed from family and friends to pay car dealer Sergey Kapustin for vehicles that had been hurricane-damaged or, in some cases, didn’t even exist.

JPMorgan, a Wall Street banking giant, told the U.S. Treasury Department in 2015 that it had moved money for Kapustin, his family members and his companies, according to confidential reports filed with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN.

Two years later, U.K.-headquartered Standard Chartered Bank told FinCEN that it, too, had moved money for Kapustin, according to documents.

JPMorgan and Standard Chartered Bank helped move $9.3 million for Kapustin and his companies after he was first publicly accused of fraud in 2008, according to an analysis of the documents and other records by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

BuzzFeed News provided thousands of leaked FinCEN reports to ICIJ, which coordinated the efforts of more than 400 reporters in the FinCEN Files investigation. The probe revealed that banks continued to profit from moving criminals’ money after promising U.S. authorities that they would crack down on financial crime.

In reporting Kapustin’s story, ICIJ examined leaked FinCEN documents and hundreds of pages of court filings. Reporters spoke with lawyers and victims around the world.

“In my nine years as a judge, I have never seen someone so willing to lie and cheat and steal than you,” U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman said in 2015 during a civil case brought by victims against Kasputin.

Years later, a different U.S. federal judge jailed Kapustin for money laundering after he tricked customers in Russia and other former Soviet republics into buying used cars from the U.S. that were not delivered or were damaged by storms.

Kapustin was “cruel,” “cold” and “calculating in taking advantage of these individuals,” U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton said.

Sergey Kapustin
Sergey Kapustin. Image: via VKontake

Kapustin, 51 and who says he has limited English, asked his daughter, Maria Kapustina, to respond to questions.

“He’s not a bad guy,” Kapustina said. “He didn’t intentionally defraud a bunch of people and lose the business that he built from the ground up.”

The 2007-2008 financial crisis and Hurricane Sandy, which damaged cars that Kapustin was unable to recoup through insurance, sent the company into a tailspin, she said. “He acknowledges that he messed up along the way somewhere and that perhaps he should have gone about some things differently,” Kapustina said.

Kapustina rejects the negative characterizations of her father, who she describes as hardworking, hands-on with customers and unmaterialistic. It can be easy to misread him in court, she said. “He doesn’t smile often, he’s very serious, he’s a big Russian guy…But that’s every stereotypical Russian man.”

Kapustina was eating breakfast at home with her family around New Year’s Day when the FBI came to arrest her father. She was shocked. “You can’t treat any person like that, no matter what they do,” Kapustina told ICIJ. “It was as if you’d just caught a murderer or a mass drug dealer.”

For years before the federal court cases, Kapustin’s victims — hundreds of them — told anyone who would listen that the car salesman was bad news. They grumbled on online chat groups, pleaded with U.S. embassies and the FBI, and hired attorneys.

Kapustin’s reputation preceded him. Various banks, which opened at least 11 accounts for him and his companies, were among the last to notice.

Irina Glazunova, an accountant from the northern Russian city of Murmansk, recalled her last phone call with one of Kapustin’s employees, in 2013. She was trying to locate the second-hand Lexus she’d purchased.

The employee laughed, she said, and told her, “We are crooks.” Then, she said, he threatened legal action: “Come get me across the ocean … and we will sue you.”

Kapustin made use of a ready arsenal of legal threats as he pocketed millions from victims who were promised cheap used cars from the U.S. Some never arrived. Others, snapped up at salvage auctions, had been submerged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The victims in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan lost from $6,000 to $65,000 each, according to the judgment in a lawsuit filed by nearly two dozen victims in U.S. federal court in New Jersey.

Kapustin and his accomplices operated “slick Internet websites” advertising bargains on gently used vehicles but often had no cars to sell, the lawsuit claimed. They used images of cars pilfered from other online car-sales sites to lure customers in a “bait and switch” scheme,  the suit alleged.

Kapustin fake car yard ad
A 2013 federal lawsuit alleges that the Kapustins included a New Jersey address on “beautifully-designed websites” they developed to advertise vehicles for sale, but did not operate from that location, which was home to an entirely separate car dealership.

In 2015, Judge Hillman ruled in the victims’ favor and ordered that 17 of them be repaid. For many customers, however, it was already too late. Kapustin’s companies “diverted” money to foreign bank accounts after customers asked a federal court to freeze his assets, victims alleged. Judge Hillman ruled that Kapustin’s companies filed “fraudulent bankruptcies” to avoid payouts.

Glazunova began to suspect that Kapustin was a crook in 2013. A dozen lawsuits alleged that he was as early as 2008. New Jersey’s attorney general said Kapustin’s car dealership had knowingly misled customers in a 2009 false-advertising complaint.

Despite the trail of allegations, JPMorgan and Standard Chartered moved Kapustin’s money — even after U.S. authorities fined the banks and placed them on probation for helping other criminals move illicit funds.

It’s impossible that the banks didn’t know. Everything was on the public record. — Lawyer Anna Brown

In all, according to court and bank records, at least two other banks with U.S. operations allowed Kapustin to shift cash through their accounts: Wells Fargo Bank and Rhode Island-headquartered Citizens Bank.

“The first thing my clients did was complain to their banks,” said Anna Brown, who represented Glazunova and others in the federal lawsuit in New Jersey, filed in 2013. “It’s impossible that the banks didn’t know. Everything was on the public record.”

JPMorgan, Standard Chartered, Citizens Bank and Wells Fargo declined to answer questions for this story.

In 1998, Kapustin moved to New York City from Moscow, where he operated a car dealership. Within a year, the goateed father of four bought Global Auto, which sold used cars from a small lot in Delran, in central New Jersey. He became a U.S. citizen and sold used cars domestically and overseas, including to a niche market in the former Soviet Union, where customers perceived American car dealers as more trustworthy than local ones.

Kapustin grew wealthy and invested in a Finnish motel, Motel Road 66, near the Russian border. The motel holds a Summer Bike Fest where young women shake golden pom-poms while men arm wrestle and rev motorcycle engines loudly. The festival stage is decked out in Finnish, American and Confederate flags.

Two New Jersey residents alleged in 2008 civil complaints filed in state court that he and others had doctored car sales contracts. One victim said her signature was forged on a document to require an additional payment of more than $11,000 after she had paid nearly $30,000 for a used BMW.

Kapustin and his companies denied wrongdoing. The cases were settled confidentially.

Henry Furst, the attorney for both plaintiffs, said he raised the car dealer’s past with Bank of America. He remembers asking, “How could you deal with this guy when all of these cases were chock-full of fraud?”

Holding banks accountable requires financial resources and know-how that most victims of car scams don’t have, Furst said.

“These are people earning $18 an hour,” Furst said. “They just need a car to get to work or to transport their kids. And they’re going to fight Bank of America?”

Bank of America declined to respond to questions about its relationship with Kapustin.

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Months after the first New Jersey complaint against Kapustin, a Spanish customer paid for a white Mercedes, according to state court records. Kapustin took the money, and then told the customer that the car was no longer available because of “customs issues,” but he did not refund the payment, according to the complaint. Kapustin denied wrongdoing and settled out of court.

“Mr. Kapustin’s version of events was ridiculous,” the victim’s attorney, Carolyn Gilinsky, told ICIJ. He “depended on his victim’s unwillingness to undertake the expense and effort necessary to pursue an international fraud claim.”

Gilinsky said she is not surprised that banks worked with Kapustin after the 2008 accusations. “I always work under the assumption that most laws are written by banks and insurance companies and they are written in a way so that they always win,” Gilinsky said.

The same year, New Jersey’s attorney general filed a false-advertising complaint against one of Kapustin’s companies that sought to force an end to “unfair or deceptive acts.” The company misled customers about prices, failed to disclose damage to vehicles and persuaded one person to sign a blank sales document, according to the complaint.

The company, Global Auto Inc., settled with the state and paid $123,000 in penalties and legal costs. It denied wrongdoing and did not make restitution to victims.

Kapustin was released from prison in October. He now lives off $182 per week unemployment benefits, his daughter said.

The early New Jersey court cases were resolved through “a common understanding” after “full disclosure” during the sales process, Kapustina said. The state’s law sides with customers, she said. “It was very easy for us to seem like the bad guys.”

Kapustina rejects allegations that her father filed fraudulent bankruptcies to avoid repaying debts. “There were no offshore companies and no secret bank accounts,” she said. No one working for her father would have said they were crooks, Kapustina said.

The FinCEN documents indicate that JPMorgan called attention to Kapustin activities seven years after the 2008 New Jersey fraud cases.

In October 2015, JPMorgan alerted FinCEN to almost $4 million in wire transfers, from January 2012 to September 2014, tied to Kapustin, his family and his companies. Standard Chartered reported its suspicions in June 2017 after having worked with Kapustin and others until at least September 2015.

The eight names that JPMorgan sent to FinCEN match people and companies that attorney Anna Brown listed as defendants in 2013.

Banks often file suspicious activity reports in response to negative publicity, court cases or government inquiries. It is unclear why JPMorgan and Standard Chartered alerted FinCEN when they did. Your gift goes global with ICIJ. Support cross-border investigative journalism. Donate now

In December 2016, U.S. prosecutors announced criminal charges against Kapustin. “Bank records from Kapustin accounts, beginning as early as January 2009, reflect wire transfers from dozens of victims, and the absence of any apparent refunds,” according to an FBI affidavit related to the case.

Mikhail Matveev, a manager at British American Tobacco in St. Petersburg, Russia, lost $14,920 on a Honda SUV that wasn’t delivered. “I have a disabled child and I needed the car for my child’s transportation to the hospital, day-care center and rehabilitation facilities,” Matveev said in an affidavit.

Matveev borrowed money from family and friends to buy the car. He never received a refund.

Other victims included a Russian truck driver earning $500 a month, a retired military officer, a jazz musician and a Kazakh engineer who is the father of a child with a severe brain disorder. The engineer borrowed money from his mother to buy a $21,000 Honda that never arrived, he told the court.

In March 2018, Kapustin pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of money laundering. He agreed to repay more than $1 million to at least 61 victims with individual payments as high as $89,960 and as low as $2,920. One year later, during sentencing, he apologized for his behavior.

The judge told him that he had gotten off lightly.

Glazunova, the Murmansk accountant, said she hadn’t received a penny despite two U.S. judges’ orders that entitled her to more than $150,000 in monetary and other damages.

Glazunova came to the United States and testified against Kasputin before a grand jury. Other victims called Glazunova to share their stories, she said, including a young woman who said that her mother had suffered a stroke and her father had died of a heart attack after learning that they had been cheated.

Glazunova bristles at the memory of hearing during the trial that he used victims’ money to send one of his children to a modeling school that cost $200,000. The Kapustin family says it never paid such money or sent children to such a school.

“He spat in our face,” she said. “The bottom line is, I think we lost after all.”

How is it Possible for God to Become a Man?


The mystery of the Incarnation, or the mystery of God’s becoming man, is not something that can easily be understood by finite human minds. However, just as we can’t fully comprehend God himself but can at least understand him at a certain elementary level, so can we also have a basic understanding of how it is not logically impossible for God to become man in the divine person of Jesus Christ.

As we have already seen, Christians believe that God is a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who each fully possess the divine nature. Upon his Incarnation, God the Son became man within the body of his mother, Mary. He did all this while remaining one divine person and retaining his fully divine nature, even as he took on a fully human nature through the Incarnation. This mystery is called the hypostatic union, and it means that Jesus was not half God and half man (like a Greek demigod) but was 100 percent God and 100 percent man. How is this possible? According to the Catechism:

Christ’s human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from “one of the Trinity.” The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity (CCC 470).

Saying that “Jesus is God” means that Jesus is a divine person. Whatever is true of Jesus is also true of God, even if it may sound strange at first. For example, since Jesus died on the cross, it is also true that God died on the cross, because Jesus is God. Of course, God did not go out of existence,but that is not what it means to die.

Death occurs when a being’s parts are separated into their basic elements. In this case, Jesus’ soul was separated from his body, but God still raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 10:9). Since Jesus is God, then it is true that Jesus raised himself from the dead, just as he said he would in John 2:19-21.

The Catechism goes on to say that even though Christ had a divine nature, his knowledge was true human knowledge; as such, it was limited, and Jesus had to go through a process of learning to acquire it (CCC 472). This is echoed in Luke 2:52, where it says that, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” Christ had human knowledge and a human will that cooperated with the Father, but he also possessed a divine will and divine knowledge as a part of his divine nature.

The universe continued to function while Christ was an infant because even though the Son’s divine nature was united to his human nature, it was not limited by it. In his divine nature, God the Son continued to operate in perfect communion with the other two divine persons of the Holy Trinity. So it is accurate to say that God, in the person of the Son, became a little baby by taking on a human nature. This doesn’t mean, however, that a little baby possessing only a human nature was put in charge of ordering the universe. Instead, God the Son, who was fully divine throughout his entire human life on earth, sustained and still sustains, all of existence.