Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Real Deal

Ted Cruz in Action One-On-One

Here's a revealing video.  Patterico drew our attention to it.  He wrote:

The Remarkable Persuasive Ability of Ted Cruz

We’ve seen this before: Ted Cruz takes on a hostile questioner in one-to-one conversation, and communicates with remarkable effectiveness. But in previous cases the questioners have been leftist shills, like a Code Pink activist or Ellen Page — people whom Cruz has simply bested in a debate.

This clip allows us to see a different scenario: an angry voter who isn’t a lefty hack but just somebody honestly concerned about his livelihood.

In this case, the voter is farmer in Iowa who is incensed by the fact that Cruz does not support ethanol subsidies. Cruz sets a tone of mutual respect, explains how his free-market policies could actually benefit the farmer — and ends up turning an angry guy into somebody who tells Cruz he hopes the votes come in for him.

Remarkable.

By the way: are there any snippets of Donald Trump having one on one conversations with hostile voters, having a civil and respectful discussion, and turning them around like this?

Yes, that is a rhetorical question.




Daily Devotional

Hard Days

TO ARTHUR GREEVES: On the meaning of interruptions and real life; on the difficulty of being patient; and on expiating through embracing one’s own sufferings.

C. S. Lewis

20 December 1943

Things are pretty bad here. Minto’s varicose ulcer gets worse and worse, domestic help harder and harder to come by. Sometimes I am very unhappy, but less so than I have often been in what were (by external standards) better times.

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time—I know your problems must be much the same as mine (with the important difference that mine are of my own making, a very appropriate punishment and, like all God’s punishments, a chance for expiation.)

Isn’t it hard to go on being patient, to go on supplying sympathy? One’s stock of love turns out, when the testing time comes, to be so very inadequate: I suppose it is well that one should be forced to discover the fact!

I find too (do you?) that hard days drive one back on Nature. I don’t mean walks . . . but little sights and sounds seen at windows in odd moments.

I had a most vivid, tranquil dream about you the other night, just chatting in the old way. Let’s hope it will happen sometime. For the rest, I’ve no news.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Yours, Jack

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Embarrassing

Time For All Good Men To Come to the Aid of the Party

Sadly once again Maori have been tarred with ignominy, shame, and a loss of mana.  The few have shamed the entire race.  Waitangi Day is supposed to be a holiday celebrating the beginning of the New Zealand nation.  Traditionally, Waitangi plays host to the Prime Minister and a bevy of politicians.  In recent years it has become the pretext for airing of Maori grievances--of which there appear to be no end.

Waitangi and the Treaty Grounds fall within the tribal area of Ngapuhi tribe.  It has traditionally played the role of host for guests and visitors to the Treaty Grounds on Waitangi day.  Ngapuhi is a deeply divided group, bedevilled with internecine bickering and animosity.  At present it appears that the extremists and the radicals are in charge.

One blogger wrote, urging Key not to attend:
John, don't go to the Ti Ti (sic) Marae at Waitangi.    The lunatics have taken control of the asylum.   The debate in Maoridom over the TPPA has become irrational egged on by the lies pedaled by opponents of the agreement.   I doubt whether anyone at Ti Ti has bothered to do the hard yards and read the agreement.   If they had then the sort of canard being pedaled around the unwashed that the agreement could see Maori prisoners sent off-shore to serve their time in US and Aust prisons would be seen for what it is ... loony tunes stuff.

What has happened on the Marae is mirrored in the discord among Ngapuhi as to who has the mandate to negotiate their treaty claim(s) and you can see why. Their leadership has been highjacked by the likes of Kingi Tauroa, Sonny Tau, Hone Harawira, Margaret Mutu and the Popata brothers.   And so it is with the TPPA debate ... rationality has gone out the window.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Doug Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Presidential Pardon in a World Gone Mad

Douglas Wilson

So let us begin with the “world gone mad” part. David Daleiden, the man behind the Planned Parenthood sting videos, has been indicted by a grand jury in Texas. He made the mistake of gathering secret footage of Planned Parenthood doing appalling things with the bodies of little boys and girls. If he had only had the good sense to run a sting operation on the executives of Tyson Foods, demonstrating abusive treatment of chickens, he could be writing his acceptance speech for the Pulitzer now.World Gone Mad

This last August, when the videos were first dropping, I argued that every presidential candidate needed to be asked whether or not he or she would commit to awarding David Daleiden the Medal of Freedom. Sometime after that I had the opportunity to ask Mike Huckabee if he would be willing to do that, and he said it was a good idea. That question is still a good one, is obviously necessary, and needs to be renewed.

But now the stakes are raised — because Planned Parenthood has opted for the bang instead of the whimper — and so we have the perfect opportunity to call and raise them a couple hundred.

Daily Devotional

Deep In Debt

"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors."
Romans 8:12

Charles H. Spurgeon

As God's creatures, we are all debtors to him: to obey him with all our body, and soul, and strength. Having broken his commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to his justice, and we owe to him a vast amount which we are not able to pay. But of the Christian it can be said that he does not owe God's justice anything, for Christ has paid the debt his people owed; for this reason the believer owes the more to love.

I am a debtor to God's grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor to his justice, for he will never accuse me of a debt already paid. Christ said, "It is finished!" and by that he meant, that whatever his people owed was wiped away forever from the book of remembrance. Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine justice; the account is settled; the handwriting is nailed to the cross; the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God's justice no longer. But then, because we are not debtors to our Lord in that sense, we become ten times more debtors to God than we should have been otherwise.

Christian, pause and ponder for a moment. What a debtor thou art to divine sovereignty! How much thou owest to his disinterested love, for he gave his own Son that he might die for thee. Consider how much you owe to his forgiving grace, that after ten thousand affronts he loves you as infinitely as ever. Consider what you owe to his power; how he has raised you from your death in sin; how he has preserved your spiritual life; how he has kept you from falling; and how, though a thousand enemies have beset your path, you have been able to hold on your way. Consider what you owe to his immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, he has not changed once.

Thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast--yield thyself as a living sacrifice, it is but thy reasonable service.

What Could Go Wrong?

Hidebound Socialists Moving Left

Plates are shifting in the NZ political landscape.  Or, a better image would be to make reference to deck chairs on the Titanic.  The Labour Party is moving radically to the left.

We abhor socialism in all its facets.  It always represents "legalised" theft on a grand scale.  It's end is death, economic death--long term poverty and degradation for the most vulnerable.  But modern politicians are not the sharpest pins in the cushion.  Give them half a sniff at political power and the control of billions of tax revenue and their spending plans swarm forth like new-born blowflies from a maggot infested carcass.  Many such politicians know they are causing problems for future generations.  But who cares?  Some other rubes will inherit the problem.  The negative and destructive consequences of socialism are often slow in the maturation.  The consequences will always be inherited by someone else.  It's known as "kicking the can down the road".  

In New Zealand we have a peculiar rort called tertiary education.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

A Good Day At the Office

We'll Take the Win

Yesterday the New Zealand cricket team did not just beat Australia, it  trounced Australia.  These things do not happen that often, so we thought we would take a moment to note it for posterity.  

The dumbed down NZ Herald tried to make out that the Aussie media were all over their team for its incompetence and damned NZ with faint praise.  In fact that was not the case.  Sure the Aussie scribes were sharply critical of their own team's performance, but they knew that "up" was "up" and opined accordingly.

Here is a smattering of the commentary:

Daily Devotional

He Knows Your Need

Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. (Matthew 6:31–32).

John Piper

Jesus wants his followers to be free from worry. In Matthew 6:25–34, he gives at least seven arguments designed to take away our anxiety. One of them lists food and drink and clothing, and then says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:32).

Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need. He is emphasizing we have a Father. And this Father is better than an earthly father.

I have five children. I love to meet their needs. But my knowing falls short of God’s in at least three ways.

First, right now I don’t know where any of them is. I could guess. They’re in their homes or at work or school, healthy and safe. But they might be lying on a sidewalk with a heart attack.

Second, I don’t know what is in their heart at any given moment. I can guess from time to time. But they may be feeling some fear or hurt or anger or lust or greed or joy or hope. I can’t see their hearts.

Third, I don’t know their future. Right now they may seem well and steady. But tomorrow some great sorrow may befall them.

This means I can’t be for them a very strong reason for not worrying. There are things that may be happening to them now or may happen tomorrow that I do not even know about. But it is totally different with their Father in heaven. He knows everything about them now and tomorrow, inside and out. He sees every need.

Add to that, his huge eagerness to meet their needs (the “much more” of Matthew 6:30).

Add to that his complete ability to do what he is eager to do (he feeds billions of birds hourly, Matthew 6:26).

So join me in trusting the promise of Jesus to meet our needs. That’s what Jesus is calling for when he says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

Letter From America (On A Plutocracy of the Right)

Palin's Endorsement of Donald Trump

For reasons which one day we ought to explain to our regular readers, we at this blog are attentive to and interested in US politics.  We think that we probably owe our readers an explanation at some time, an apologia or justification for our position.  But we will hold that for the future.  For the moment we will observe that our interest in the United States is due to a stronger Christian vestige in that country than remains in New Zealand.

At the same time we abhor the doctrine of American Exceptionalism which we regard as a perverse idolatry, offending and provoking the Lord of the heavens and the earth to a consuming wrath.  To cut to the chase, America should know better.  To whom much has been given, much is expected.  The practice of American Exceptionalism is like Israel, whilst enjoying the land of milk and honey, deciding they had better do obeisance to Baal to thank him for "his" wonderful provision.

Therefore, we confess that we appreciate the kind of criticism and analysis below.  Yes, it is caustic.  Yes, it is devastating.  Yes, it is directed at those who ought to know better.  Because they, and their camp followers, ought to know better, it is worthwhile mounting the argument.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

NZ Labour Party Goes Retrogressive

TPP or Die -- Why We Need It

Duncan Garner
Newshub

The political consensus on free trade is over.  Stand by for thousands of protesters to target the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement on Thursday.

After decades of supporting free trade, Labour has chosen to veer left into the bosom of New Zealand First and the Greens and oppose the TPP. It's short-sighted and totally hypocritical, in my view. It looks like the party has had its strings pulled by anti-TPP academic Jane Kelsey.

This is a serious and controversial departure for Labour, and it may yet hurt the party among middle New Zealand voters.  Do these politicians know that our bottled wine can be sold tariff-free in Canada, Japan and the US on day one of the TPP being implemented? Why would you oppose that after we as a country have fought for this for so long? Most fruit and other produce can be exported tariff-free too, as a result of the TPP.

I travelled the world with Labour and National Party ministers for years, watching them fight bloody hard for market access for our exporters. I have seen a block of New Zealand butter selling for $25 in Japan; the same with cheese. Some of these tariffs are so high our exporters are locked out.

Daily Devotional

Insider Knowledge

C. S. Lewis

We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody [behind the Moral Law]. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, then I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place). The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put into our minds. And this is a better bit of evidence than the other, because it is inside information. You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Man's Inhumanity to Man, Part II

Satan's Emissaries

The history of Burma (Myanmar) provides a case study in cruelty and man's inhumanity to man.  Part I canvassed British colonial inhumanity to the native Burmese tribes.  Ironically, British "civilised" cruelty was little different to the capricious personality cults of many Burmese kings in previous centuries.  

The twentieth century witnessed a global explosion of repressive, totalitarian regimes.  Millions upon millions lost their lives, sacrificed upon the altar of secularist ideologies (Mao, Hitler, Lenin/Stalin, Pol Pot).  The Killing Fields were liberally irrigated by the blood of  millions of sacrificial victims to cult of Man as God.  Burma has been one of the longest running totalitarian regimes.  Now, it appears, even its dark times may be coming to an end.  Its repressive military regime is one of the last to survive--along with North Korea.

This is not to imagine, of course, that there are no repressive regimes left upon earth.  One only has to glance at Islamic authoritarian states (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Palestinian Authority, ISIS) to see brutal injustice continuing its work.  But the size and scale of the repression in Burma  and North Korea have taken human deification to another level entirely.

Emma Larkin describes the tender embraces of Insein Prison in Yangon, a place of fearsome repression, torture, and human suffering.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Politicized Legal Systems

Manifest Corruption of Justice

The United States sometimes resembles a Monty Python script.  Never has this been more the case than a recent Grand Jury decision in Texas indicting the heroes who exposed Planned Parenthood's perfidy.

Houston Grand Jury Indicts David Daleiden For Organ Trafficking, Issues No Charges Against Planned Parenthood

Lauren Reeder, a Harris County prosecutor, has been a board member for Planned Parenthood since 2013 and a fundraiser since 2009.


JANUARY 25, 2016
By The Federalist Staff

Months after the release of undercover videos detailing Planned Parenthood’s scheme to traffic aborted baby body parts, a grand jury has finally brought brought criminal charges. Not against Planned Parenthood, but against David Daleiden, the pro-life activist behind the undercover sting videos.

Daily Devotional

An Inexhaustible Supply For All Our Needs

"And of his fulness have all we received."
John 1:16

Charles H. Spurgeon

These words tell us that there is a fulness in Christ. There is a fulness of essential Deity, for "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead." There is a fulness of perfect manhood, for in him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. There is a fulness of atoning efficacy in his blood, for "the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." There is a fulness of justifying righteousness in his life, for "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." There is a fulness of divine prevalence in his plea, for "He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."

There is a fulness of victory in his death, for through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil. There is a fulness of efficacy in his resurrection from the dead, for by it "we are begotten again unto a lively hope." There is a fulness of triumph in his ascension, for "when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men." There is a fulness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fulness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is a fulness at all times; a fulness of comfort in affliction; a fulness of guidance in prosperity. A fulness of every divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fulness which it were impossible to survey, much less to explore. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." Oh, what a fulness must this be of which all receive!

Fulness, indeed, must there be when the stream is always flowing, and yet the well springs up as free, as rich, as full as ever. Come, believer, and get all thy need supplied; ask largely, and thou shalt receive largely, for this "fulness" is inexhaustible, and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it, even in Jesus, Immanuel--God with us.

Man's Inhumanity to Man, Part I

Blaming the Mongolian Race

In Emma Larkin's wonderful volume [Finding George Orwell in Burma (New York: The Penguin Group, 2011)] she describes the long history of tyranny which has afflicted that nation for many centuries.  Sadly, the British--as colonial masters--were little better.  By the time Burma became a colony the doctrines of evolutionism were becoming more and more embedded in the colonial mind.  This led to a "natural" conclusion that primitive native people were not sub-human.

She cites a government report at the time:
In Burma we are dealing with a Mongolian race . . . and Mongolian races appear to have always found an element of cruelty in their punishments necessary.  [Op cit., p. 146.]
In other words, "we need to treat them in the only way these brutes understand".  George Orwell served as a policeman in Burma for a time.  During his time there in the early 1920's some 20,000 criminals were being locked up every year.  He describes the horror of British run jails in Burma in The Road to Wigan Pier:
The wretched prisoners squatting in the reeking cages of the lock-ups, the grey cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with bamboos, the women and children howling when their menfolk were led away--things like these are beyond bearing when you are in any way directly responsible for them. [Ibid., p.46]
This is not to say, of course, that the British were any worse than the authoritarian rulers that preceded them.  Rather, it is to say they were as bad.

Monday, 1 February 2016

On the Brink of Collapse?

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

There was a time when Europe smugly regarded itself as the acme of human civilisation.  The European Union was the avatar of a glorious humanitarian future for the human race.  The EU was a microcosm of what the United Nations would one day become.  

Now, it's future is in doubt.  This, from The Guardian:

Refugee crisis: Schengen scheme on the brink after Amsterdam talks

Passport-free area faces being suspended for two years, as senior diplomat says of refugee influx: ‘This cannot continue’  EU governments have placed a large question mark over the future of Europe’s passport-free travel zone, signalling an extension of national border controls within the 26-country Schengen area in response to the immigration crisis.

As Europe scrambled to put together a coherent answer to the biggest challenge the union has faced, EU interior ministers meeting in Amsterdam on Monday compounded a sense of gloom and confusion in the face of ever rising numbers of people heading into Greece from Turkey.  Klaas Dijkhoff, the Dutch migration minister, said the governments were to ask the European commission for permission to extend and prolong the border controls from May because the numbers of refugees reaching Europe were not diminishing.

Under the rules governing the open travel area, governments could suspend the Schengen system for two years, dealing a potentially terminal blow to a scheme that has been in place for more than 20 years. “These measures are inevitable at this point in time,” said Dijkhoff of the likely suspension. Following eight hours of talks in the Dutch capital, the Austrian interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, said: “Schengen is on the brink of collapse.”

In the past week, national leaders and senior EU officials have made increasingly alarmist pronouncements on Schengen’s future, warning that the travel zone could crumble within weeks and bring with it the risk of union dissolution.

The countries bearing the brunt of the mass influx of more than 1 million asylum seekers in the past year rounded on Athens, with Austria bluntly dismissing Greek arguments and warning that it could be kicked out, at least temporarily, of the Schengen area. Germany and Sweden echoed the criticism. Between them, the three countries have taken in about 90% of asylum seekers over the past year, but are reining in their liberal admissions policies.

Vienna last week triggered a chain reaction of curbs on refugee movement by announcing plans to cap the numbers allowed in over the next four years. Sweden has already imposed stringent national border controls and Germany is mulling whether to suspend Schengen for two years.

Mikl-Leitner rejected Greek arguments about the difficulties of patrolling its maritime borders with Turkey and explicitly warned Athens about a Schengen expulsion. “Greece has one of the biggest navies in Europe,” she said. “It’s a myth that the Greek-Turkish border cannot be protected.”  The Swedish home affairs minister, Anders Ygeman, said of Greece: “If a country doesn’t live up to its obligations, we will have to restrict its connections to the Schengen area.”

EU governments have been seized by a rising sense of panic, desperate for the numbers of arrivals to slow down while all the evidence points in the opposite direction. About 35,000 have made the sea crossing from Turkey to Greece since the beginning of the year, a 20-fold increase on the same period last year.

“We don’t have any good options, only bad options on the table,” said a senior diplomat in Brussels. “This simply can’t continue. There’s agreement among the member states on that.”  Meanwhile, as the numbers arriving via Turkey have shown little let-up, three EU commissioners were in Ankara in what has turned into quasi-permanent negotiations with the Turkish government aimed at getting them to stem the flow.

The EU-Turkey pact shows little sign of delivering and the EU also cannot agree on how to fund the €3bn (£2.3bn) price tag promised to the Turks, although Germany wants to pay Turkey more. A joint statement from the German and Turkish governments following Berlin negotiations last Friday referred to the €3bn bill as merely a “first” payment.

Pressure on Greece also highlighted further divisions in an EU riven several ways over the refugee crisis. Italy, Luxembourg and the European commission all talked down the prospects of punishing Greece or expelling it from the Schengen system.   “There is no plan to exclude Greece from anything,” said Natasha Bertaud, the commission spokeswoman on immigration. She confirmed, however, that an EU mission was in Macedonia last week exploring how to strengthen the vulnerable country’s border with northern Greece.

Following Austria’s announcement of immigration curbs, countries on the Balkan route between Greece and Austria have followed suit, meaning that hundreds of thousands could end being kettled up in Greece unless there is an EU policy breakthrough.

Although the EU’s border agency Frontex has no mandate to operate in Macedonia, member governments have sent a total of 57 police and immigration officers to the country.  Athens responded angrily to the pressure. The migration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, said Greece was being scapegoated in an EU “blame game”. “The European crisis will be a humanitarian crisis in Greece with thousands of trapped refugees and migrants,” he warned.

Greek officials pointed out that they have so far spent €2bn managing the migration wave. “That’s money we really don’t have,” said one. “Tell me: where’s the European solidarity?”

The Syriza-led government says that ringfencing the eurozone’s weakest link would be tantamount to turning it into a huge refugee camp at a time of acute social hardship.  Echoing those fears, analysts said suspension from the border-free zone could easily reignite scenarios of ejection from the single currency, which Athens only narrowly averted last summer. “It’s a symbolic act,” said economics professor Theodore Pelagidis, a fellow at the Brookings thinktank. “It would be interpreted by investors that Greece could face the danger of being ejected from the eurozone in the not so distant future.”

Regional experts said next month’s EU summit between heads of state would be critical. By then, officials deployed by Brussels will have completed a Schengen evaluation report expected to play a decisive role in determining whether Greece should remain in the zone.   “The February meeting will give us a better sense of whether the EU-Turkey deal is delivering,” said Mujtaba Rahman, head of European analysis at Eurasia group, a risk consultancy. “The real power lies in Germany. For Merkel, it is really important to deliver a substantial reduction in refugee numbers by the time of local state elections in mid-March,” he said.

There was a widespread perception, he said, that Greece had not done enough to process migrants properly, including setting up camps or hot spots where refugees could reside before their relocation. “Germany and others have become very frustrated with the lack of progress,” he said. “Now they are at risk of having a solution imposed upon them.” 

Daily Devotional

Delayed Deliverances

John Piper

Immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (Acts 16:25)

In this age, God rescues his people from some harm. Not all harm. That’s comforting to know, because otherwise we might conclude from our harm that he has forgotten us or rejected us.

So be encouraged by the simple reminder that in Acts 16:19–24, Paul and Silas were not delivered, but in verses 25–26, they were.

First, no deliverance:


  • “They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace.” (v. 19)
  • “The magistrates tore the garments off them.” (v. 22)
  • They “inflicted many blows upon them.” (v. 23)
  • The jailer “fastened their feet in the stocks.” (v. 24)


But then deliverance:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God . . . and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (verses 25–26)

God could have stepped in sooner. He didn’t. He has his reasons. He loves Paul and Silas.

Question for you: If you plot your life along this continuum, where are you? Are you in the stripped-and-beaten stage, or the unshackled, door-flung-open stage?

Both are God’s stages of care for you.

If you are in the fettered stage, don’t despair. Sing. Freedom is on the way. It is only a matter of time. Even if it comes through death.

Snake-Oilers Extraordinaire

 Deceived and Deceiving

Watching Al Jazeera news the other day, we were treated to a doomster (er . . . spokeswoman) from Oxfam telling us that more and more wealth is being concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer plutocrats, whilst the poor are getting poorer.  The terms of description were profoundly apocalyptic. 

One is left wondering what on earth is going on the minds and hearts of these doomsters.  Surely they know better.  Surely their thinking and reasoning cannot be that purblind and stupid.  Surely they are pulling a confidence trick--and doing so self-consciously.  If that were the case it would be more understandable and (in a perverse way) more respectable than the only other option--which is, that Oxfam personnel really believe their own propaganda.  If the latter were to be the case, it makes them pitiable.

One thing is clear: there is a great confusion involved when spokespeople conflate two quite distinct and separate things together, as if they were the same.  On the one hand, there is the issue of poverty in the world--absolute poverty, no less--and on the other, there is the issue of the discrepancy in wealth between the most wealthy and the least wealthy.  A growing discrepancy or gap between the two tells us precisely nothing about the incidence of poverty in the world. 

The Oxfam spokeswoman, taken in the full flight of apocalyptic dooming, assumed that these two things are the same.  Why, it's so obvious, it need not be debated.  Another grand suppressed premise is that the world's wealth is fixed, finite, and unchangeable, such that the more wealth plutocrat A holds in his Scrooge McDuck-vault, the less wealth is available for the poor. 

Oxfam's nonsense was too much for The Telegraph editorial writers.  Their headline cut to the chase:

Saturday, 30 January 2016

PC Idealogues Produce Growing State Power

Sunday Schools to be Monitored

UK Government Scrutiny to Prevent Hate Preaching in Sunday Schools

Simon Kent
Breitbart London

Sunday schools, church groups, choirs and Scout troops will all be swept up by broad surveillance proposals designed to confront Islamic radicalism in teaching institutions.  New Ofsted rules designed to monitor any organisation which interacts with a child for more than six hours a week means traditional church gatherings along with community groups are liable for inspection by government authorities.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has said the new rules would cover all activities taking place, meaning every church that offers several activities for youngsters, including Scouts, choirs or youth clubs, would need to be registered with the government and be prepared for their activities to be monitored by the state.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw revealed his inspectors would use powers intended to crack down on Muslim madrassas run by extremists who might be seeking to groom pupils for radical activities to also regulate Christian Sunday schools.

Daily Devotional

To Ruth  Broady

Lewis’s last letter to a child about Narnia.

C. S. Lewis
26 October 1963

Many thanks for your kind letter, and it was very good of you to write and tell me that you like my books; and what a very good letter you write for your age!

If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so. I’m so thankful that you realized the ‘hidden story’ in the Narnian books. It is odd, children nearly always do, grown ups hardly ever.

I’m afraid the Narnian series has come to an end, and am sorry to tell you that you can expect no more.

God bless you.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Christian Modernity

The Latest and Best

The old fundamentalist creed runs "We have no creed but Christ, no confession but the Bible".  At first glance this has the appearance of a profound truth.  Upon further reflection, it quickly dissimulates into an empty, self-contradictory slogan.

It is obvious that much of evangelical Christendom remains profoundly ignorant of the teachings of the Bible.  This ignorance is celebrated as a strength, which is somewhat embarrassing.  Let's explore the notion, "no creed but Christ, no confession but the Bible" a bit further.

The first thing which is immediately apparent is that this pithy statement is itself a creedal statement. The Latin "credo" means "I believe".  A creed is nothing other than a concentrated, distilled summary of what one believes.  Therefore creeds are inescapable.  Even anti-creeds such as  "no creed but Christ, no confession but the Bible" are statements of doctrine and what an individual or a particular church believes.

Secondly, the statement  "no creed but Christ, no confession but the Bible" represents a profound stubbornness against the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Letter From America (About Germany on the Brink)

Angela Merkel Must Go

Ross Douthat
New York Times

 

ON New Year’s Eve, in the shadow of Cologne’s cathedral, crowds of North African and Middle Eastern men accosted women out for the night’s festivities. They surrounded them, groped them, robbed them. Two women were reportedly raped.

Though there were similar incidents from Hamburg to Helsinki, the authorities at first played down the assaults, lest they prove inconvenient for Angela Merkel’s policy of mass asylum for refugees.  That delay has now cost Cologne’s police chief his job. But the German government still seems more concerned about policing restless natives — most recently through a deal with Facebook and Google to restrict anti-immigrant postings — than with policing migration. Just last week Merkel rejected a proposal to cap refugee admissions (which topped one million last year) at 200,000 in 2016.

The underlying controversy here is not a new one. For decades conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have warned that Europe’s generous immigration policies, often pursued in defiance of ordinary Europeans’ wishes, threaten to destabilize the continent.  The conservatives have made important points about the difficulty of assimilation, the threat of radicalization, and the likelihood of Paris-style and Cologne-style violence in European cities.

But they have also trafficked in more apocalyptic predictions — fears of a “Eurabia,” of mass Islamification — that were somewhat harder to credit. Until recently, Europe’s assimilation challenge looked unpleasant but not insurmountable, and the likelihood of Yugoslavian-style balkanization relatively remote.

With the current migration, though, we’re in uncharted territory.

Daily Devotional

Not The Apologist of Sin

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."
Romans 3:31

Charles H. Spurgeon

When the believer is adopted into the Lord's family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once; but then he is under a new rule, and a new covenant. Believer, you are God's child; it is your first duty to obey your heavenly Father. A servile spirit you have nothing to do with: you are not a slave, but a child; and now, inasmuch as you are a beloved child, you are bound to obey your Father's faintest wish, the least intimation of his will.

Does he bid you fulfil a sacred ordinance? It is at your peril that you neglect it, for you will be disobeying your Father. Does he command you to seek the image of Jesus? Is it not your joy to do so? Does Jesus tell you, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect"? Then not because the law commands, but because your Saviour enjoins, you will labour to be perfect in holiness.

Does he bid his saints love one another? Do it, not because the law says, "Love thy neighbour," but because Jesus says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments;" and this is the commandment that he has given unto you, "that ye love one another." Are you told to distribute to the poor? Do it, not because charity is a burden which you dare not shirk, but because Jesus teaches, "Give to him that asketh of thee."

Does the Word say, "Love God with all your heart"? Look at the commandment and reply, "Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already--I have no need, therefore, to fulfil thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now and he has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute." May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ's love, that your prayer may be, "Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight."

Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.

We Get the Politicians We Deserve, They Say

What Have We Done?

Suddenly the NZ Labour Party has discovered the idea of national sovereignty.  It is somewhat of a late conversion.  Faced with the prospect of the present government signing the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP") free trade agreement--a political and policy objective formerly prosecuted and advanced by the Labour Party with great gusto and some notable successes--the Labour leader has now decided that TPP is a bridge too far.  

What is on that bridge? we wonder.  Labour leader, Andrew Little has been very clear in recent days.  The reason he (and his party) now opposes free trade agreements is that they end up diminishing national sovereignty.  They obligate New Zealand not-to-do nasty things with international trade.

This is a right pickle for the Labour Party.  The dizzying intellect of Mr Little has led the Party into a position which rapidly collapses into a quagmire with a scintilla of reflection.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Progress Against Civil Asset Forfeiture, Part II

State By State

Civil Forfeiture Now Requires A Criminal Conviction In Montana And New Mexico

Forbes
Nick Sibilla


Just in time for the Fourth of July, states are declaring their independence from civil forfeiture.
Enabled by civil forfeiture laws, police can seize and keep property without the government ever filing criminal charges. Innocent Americans actually must prove their own innocence in court if they ever hope to regain their property. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies routinely seize property and pad their budgets with forfeiture revenue. Outlets as diverse as The New Yorker and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver have detailed this travesty of justice.

But thankfully, civil forfeiture’s days may soon be numbered. Starting July 1, two major reforms from Montana and New Mexico will go into effect.

Earlier this year, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed a law that requires the government to first obtain a criminal conviction before taking and keeping someone’s property through civil forfeiture.  This legislation also shifts the burden of proof onto the government—where it belongs—when spouses, neighbors and other innocent owners try to get back property used by a suspect without their knowledge. Montana’s civil forfeiture reforms are vital to restore due process and protect the property rights of the innocent.

The Montana State  Legislature.
The Montana State Legislature.

New Mexico went even further and abolished civil forfeiture outright.

Daily Devotional

The Vital Importance of Creeds and Confessions

C. S. Lewis

I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper.

But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together.

In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Rebellion Gathers Strength and Pace

Do Not Touch The Unclean Thing

Gender bending is the next big stage as the West integrates into its own void.  Many people will doubtless be found amazed at the speed and velocity of this spontaneous movement and how quickly it has insinuated itself into the institutions of government, law, courts, and schools.  

We are not surprised at the velocity of the movement.  These things gather pace as the rebellion against God grows stronger.  Part of the consequence of God giving over a culture to its own destruction is that the resistance to evil attenuates; the lust for evil becomes more intense.  The common thread is the frenetic drive for more human autonomy.

Breitbart News has carried a piece on moves within the UK Conservative Party and the UK government to drive all gender distinctions out of UK society.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About the King of the Whole Earth)

Saviour of the World #2

Douglas Wilson
Blog&Mablog

Introduction:
Far too many Christians take a phrase from Luther without the faith of Luther. They do believe that this world is “with devils filled,” but have no knowledge of the “one little word” which fells the evil one. That one little word is cross. Christ is the Savior of the world—not only because He died for the world and for lost humanity—but because in His death He overthrew the reigning principalities and powers who had previously been in power. Tragically, many Christians believe that spiritual warfare is conducted as though Christ never died, or as though His death is irrelevant to that conflict. But this is not what the Bible teaches.Plant From Bible
The Text:
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:31-32).

The Old World:
Throughout the Old Testament we see a celestial and angelic government over the nations of men. The gods of the various nations are closely identified with those nations. For example, angelic beings stand behind the nations of Persia (Dan. 10:13) or Tyre (Ez. 28:11-16). General statements are made in which God is contrasted with these beings, and He is in another category entirely. “Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; nor are there any works like Your works” (Ps. 86:8). God was sovereign over such celestials then, but He exercised His sovereignty over and through them. They were, in some significant sense, mediatorial princes. In the Christian aeon, God has established just one Prince… and He is one of us, a man.

The Age to Come:
The period of the New Testament is the time of transition between the reign of the celestial princes, and the dominion of man in Christ. “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him . . . For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:5-9). The author of Hebrews did not yet see the promise made to mankind fulfilled. Nevertheless, he does see the fulfillment as centered in Christ.

Sovereign and Mediator:
Now an important distinction is necessary. God, by definition, has always exercised sovereign control over the world. The hair on every head has always been numbered. But in the accomplished mission of Christ, the cross and resurrection, God established a new mediatorial rule in the world. Christ as the eternal Word of God has always been sovereign. But in the Incarnation, God has established His Son as a new mediatorial Prince, and we are seated and enthroned in the heavenly places in Christ.

Triumph:
We must remember the power of the conquering cross. This is how the New Testament describes it over and over again. If we miss this, we are missing a central part of the impact of the gospel.
Note especially the italics. “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Cor. 2:6-7).

What did these rulers not know? They did not know the cross would topple them, and glorify the saints. Jesus said, “… of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11).
Paul exults in this conquest: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15). A triumph included a public humiliation of the defeated after the battle was over.

What was the point of the cross? “… that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil . . .” (Heb. 2:14)

What Satan offered Christ in the temptation, Christ refused. But Christ refused because He planned to knock him down, and take the kingdoms of men from him. “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house” (Mark 3:27).

Ruler of the Kings of the Earth:
This is why we worship and serve Jesus Christ. Who is He? “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5).

A Tale of Two Cities

Jerusalem and Athens

Observations from Churchill that make for interesting reading 50 years down the road.

The Greeks rival the Jews in being the most politically-minded race in the world.  No matter how forlorn their circumstances or how grave the peril to their country, they are always divided into many parties, with many leaders who fight among themselves with desperate vigour.  It has been well said that wherever there are three Jews it will be found that there are two Prime Ministers and one leader of the Opposition.

The same is true of this other famous ancient race, whose stormy and endless struggle for life stretches back to the fountain springs of human thought.  No two races have set such a mark upon the world.  Bot have shown a capacity for survival, in spirit of unending perils and sufferings from external oppressors, matched only by their own ceaseless feuds, quarrels, and convulsions. . . .

No two cities have  counted more with mankind than Athens and Jerusalem.  Their messages in religion, philosophy, and art have been the main guiding lights of modern faith and culture.  Centuries of foreign rule and indescribable, endless oppression leave them still living, active communities and forces in the modern world, quarrelling among themselves with insatiable vivacity.  Personally I have always been on the side of both, and believed in their invincible power to survive internal strife and the world tides threatening their extinction.  [Winston Churchill, The Second World War.  (London: The Reprint Society, 1954).  Vol. V:  Closing the Ring, p. 413.] 

Daily Devotional

Served in Serving Others

John Piper

Jesus said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?” (Mark 8:17)

After Jesus had fed both the 5,000 and the 4,000 with only a few loaves and fish, the disciples got in a boat without enough bread for themselves.  When they began to discuss their plight, Jesus said, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand?” (Mark 8:17). What didn’t they understand?

They did not understand the meaning of the leftovers, namely, that Jesus will take care of them when they take care of others. Jesus says,  “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Understand what? The leftovers.  The leftovers were for the servers. In fact, the first time there were twelve servers and twelve basketfuls left over (Mark 6:43). The second time there seven basketfuls left over — the number of abundant completeness.

What didn’t they understand? That Jesus would take care of them. You can’t outgive Jesus. When you spend your life for others, your needs will be met.