Thursday, 23 November 2017

Another Step in the Long March

Down Syndrome May No Longer Be a Death Sentence

Ohio Senate passes bill banning abortion after a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis

Kate Scanlon
The Blaze

Ohio may soon ban abortions after a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis.

What happened?

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Ohio Senate passed the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that would make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion based solely on a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis.  The bill was approved Wednesday in a 20-12 vote. Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the bill.

The state’s House passed its own version of the bill earlier this month, indicating that the bill will eventually make it to the desk of Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio). Kasich has signed other pro-life legislation as governor.

What do supporters say?

Supporters of the legislation cite high Down syndrome termination rates and say that the bill would protect children with the condition.

Daily Meditation

When God Himself Pleads Our Cause

O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul.  Lamentations 3:58

Charles H. Spurgeon

Observe how positively the prophet speaks. He doth not say, "I hope, I trust, I sometimes think, that God hath pleaded the causes of my soul;" but he speaks of it as a matter of fact not to be disputed. "Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul." Let us, by the aid of the gracious Comforter, shake off those doubts and fears which so much mar our peace and comfort.   Be this our prayer, that we may have done with the harsh croaking voice of surmise and suspicion, and may be able to speak with the clear, melodious voice of full assurance.

Notice how gratefully the prophet speaks, ascribing all the glory to God alone! You perceive there is not a word concerning himself or his own pleadings. He doth not ascribe his deliverance in any measure to any man, much less to his own merit; but it is "thou"--"O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life."

A grateful spirit should ever be cultivated by the Christian; and especially after deliverances we should prepare a song for our God. Earth should be a temple filled with the songs of grateful saints, and every day should be a censor smoking with the sweet incense of thanksgiving. How joyful Jeremiah seems to be while he records the Lord's mercy. How triumphantly he lifts up the strain! He has been in the low dungeon, and is even now no other than the weeping prophet; and yet in the very book which is called "Lamentations," clear as the song of Miriam when she dashed her fingers against the tabor, shrill as the note of Deborah when she met Barak with shouts of victory, we hear the voice of Jeremy going up to heaven--"Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life."

 O children of God, seek after a vital experience of the Lord's lovingkindness, and when you have it, speak positively of it; sing gratefully; shout triumphantly.

Morally Bankrupt Amorality Cannot Do the Heavy Lifting

Few and Far Between

The controversies rocking the United States over sexual immorality in high places has a number of aspects to it.  At the most superficial level it's good to see the beginnings of public rejection of sexual immorality.  Weinsteingate has served well in that regard--prompting a burning spotlight to be trained upon the media and the Hollywood glitterati.  The accusations and confessions have been spewing forth in a paroxysm of projectile vomiting.  

The "system" is rejecting the filth.  But now things have moved on to politicians and those who dance the dervishes of power.  Suddenly, both left and right are caught in the maw of gross, partisan hypocrisy.  When a member of the opposite party is accused of engaging in sexual predatory behaviour the very balefire of Hell is summoned.  But, when the accused is a member of one's own political party, or in-group, undignified silence is the order of the day.  Voices have begun to be heard calling for a removal of the logs out of one's own eye. 

This, from Politico:

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Reverberations From Luther Still at Work

Monk's Rebellion Helped Bring Power to the People

Dr Paul Moon
AUT Professor of History
NZ Herald

In a remarkable act of grace, Pope Francis decided to rename a square near the Colosseum in Rome after Martin Luther. And last year, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Papal Household, said Luther "deserves the credit for bringing this truth back when its meaning had been lost over the centuries, at least in Christian preaching, and it is this above all for which Christianity is indebted to the Reformation."

These are hugely symbolic gestures and concessions in anticipation of the 500th anniversary - on 31 October - of a German monk's protest against what he saw as the corruption and doctrinal error of the Catholic Church. Yet, despite the intervening centuries of difficult and torturous (sometimes literally) relations between Catholics and Protestants, the present pontiff has recently acknowledged Luther's intention was not to divide the church but to renew it.

However, while these two major branches of Christianity tentatively inch closer to each other, the revolution Luther triggered half a millennium ago continues to roll well beyond the denominational estrangement he created. Even the fact that you can read this piece in the Herald today is partly due to that revolution.

Luther had faith in people more than popes.

Daily Meditation

We All Need Help

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

John Piper

Every one of us needs help. We are not God. We have needs. We have weaknesses. We have confusion. We have limitations of all kinds. We need help.  But every one of us has something else: we have sins. And therefore at the bottom of our hearts we know that we do not deserve the help we need. And so we feel trapped.

I need help to live my life and to handle death and to cope with eternity — help with my family, my spouse, my children, my loneliness, my job, my health, my finances. I need help. But I don't deserve the help I need.

So what can I do? I can try to deny it all and be a superman who doesn't need any help. Or I can try to drown it all and throw my life into a pool of sensual pleasures. Or I can simply give way to the paralysis of despair.

But God declares over this hopeless conclusion: Jesus Christ became a High Priest to shatter that despair with hope and to humble that superman or superwoman and to rescue that drowning wretch.

Yes, we all need help. Yes, none of us deserves the help we need. But no to despair and pride and lechery. Look at what God says. Because we have a great High Priest, the throne of God is a throne of grace. And the help we get at that throne is mercy and grace to help in time of need. Grace to help! Not deserved help, gracious help.

You are not trapped. Say no to that lie. We need help. We don’t deserve it. But we can have it. You can have it right now and forever. If you will receive and trust in your High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, and draw near to God through him.

Government Spending Hard and Real

That Did Not Take Long

We are watching a political debate occurring in the New Zealand parliament over government spending and the fiscal deficit.  It becomes clearer by the day that the present government, led by the socialist Labour Party, either lied deliberately or ignorantly dissembled over its spending plans. 

The former Minister of Finance, Steven Joyce has been vindicated by the latest wave of forecasts coming from the major trading banks.  Joyce had claimed during the election that Labour's economic plan had a hole--a bunch of spending was not taken into account.  But the Labour Finance Spokesman, Grant Robertson solemnly promised that Labour's figures and projections were accurate, credible, and reliable.  The Commentariat cheered Robertson, and mocked Joyce--who was accused of lying and deliberately misleading the voters.

Now, just little more than a month after the election, Robertson, now Minister of Finance, is rapidly revising his figures and projections.  Funny that.  He--and his party--are exposed either as incompetents or frauds--or both.  Joyce has been vindicated.
Economists See Government Debt Rising Billions More Than Labour's Plan
Hamish Rutherford
Finance Minister Grant Robertson maintains the Government still plans to cut New Zealand's debt levels, as economists warn billions more will be borrowed over the coming years.  In Opposition Labour laid out a fiscal plan which would borrow around $11 billion more than National had proposed, but still cut debt as a share of the total economic output from 24 per cent to 20 per cent by 2022.

The plan formed a major point of contention during the election campaign, as National finance spokesman Steven Joyce was widely mocked for his claim that Robertson's plan had a major "fiscal hole".

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

His Kingdom Is Forever

Martin Luther’s Shelter Amid the Flood of Depression

Ryan Griffith
The Gospel Coalition

For Martin Luther (1483–1546), there was always a clear connection between Scripture and congregational song. The Psalter was Israel’s songbook, not simply David’s. Paul twice commended singing Scripture as part of the ordinary Christian life (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Jesus and his disciples sang together after the Passover meal (Mark 14:26).

Even (perhaps, especially) in the darkest hours, God’s people coupled prayer and Scripture with singing (Acts 16:25). But, like Scripture, vernacular song had been largely absent among the laity in the late medieval church. While chant survived in German monasteries and choral pieces in the Latin processionals and mystery plays, congregational singing was increasingly rare.

Luther not only thought this was unbiblical, he also recognized it removed a major weapon against the enemy. Music was a grace of God because it linked biblical truth with cordial affection. Luther commented:
Music is a fair and lovely gift of God. . . . Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor. I would not exchange what little I know of music for something great. Experience proves that, next to the Word of God, only music deserves to be extolled as the mistress and governess of the feelings of the human heart. We know that to the devils, music is distasteful and insufferable.

At least as early as 1523, Luther had begun the practice of turning his biblical meditations into congregational hymns. Singing was a way to meditate on Scripture, driving it afresh into the cold recesses of the heart.

Daily Meditation

On Sensitiveness

C. S. Lewis

Did we pretend to be angry about one thing when we knew, or could have known, that our anger had a different and much less presentable cause? Did we pretend to be “hurt” in our sensitive and tender feelings…when envy, ungratified vanity, or thwarted self-will was our real trouble? Such tactics often succeed. The other parties give in. They give in not because they don’t know what is really wrong with us but because they have long known it only too well…It needs surgery which they know we will never face. And so we win; by cheating. But the unfairness is very deeply felt. Indeed what is commonly called “sensitiveness” is the most powerful engine of domestic tyranny, sometimes a lifelong tyranny.

From Reflections on the Psalms
Compiled in A Mind Awake Reflections on the Psalms. Copyright © 1958 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1968 by Arthur Owen Barfield. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 1968 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

"The Forgotten Ghost of the English Language"

A Legacy That Has Lasted Nearly Five Hundred Years

William Tyndale was martyred, but not before he had translated the Scriptures into common English.  He was born in 1494--two years after Columbus had set sail.  He had relatively humble beginnings, learned the classical languages (Latin, Greek, and Hebrew) at school and then subsequently at Oxford.

He proposed to translate the Bible into English--and was refused permission by the Bishop of London.  He, therefore, left for the Continent and lived in the Netherlands and Germany.  He worked largely alone.  He was often a fugitive.  He had published a tract, The Practyse of Prelates opposing Henry VIII's annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragorn.  That was sufficient to have Tyndale placed on a "capture" list.  Eventually he was betrayed and arrested on the Continent.
He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and was condemned to be burned to death, despite Thomas Cromwell's intercession on his behalf. Tyndale "was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned".   His final words, spoken "at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice", were reported as "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes."  [Wikipedia]
That might have been expected to be the end of Tyndale's influence upon the world.  How wrong that would have turned out to be.

Monday, 20 November 2017

The War Within

The Enduring Appeal of Creepy Christianity

The desire for certainty in an uncertain world yields terrible results.

By David French
National Review Online

Speaking broadly, there are two great, competing temptations that tug at the Christian Church. Both of them are based on the fear of man.

The first is the one that the theologically orthodox discuss and battle the most: the temptation to forsake Christian doctrine to seek the approval of a hostile culture. This is the old argument that the world would embrace the Church if only the Church were more like the world. It is embraced by much of Mainline Protestantism, and it’s the path to religious extinction. In the effort to appeal to the world, the Church becomes the world, and the logic for its distinct existence disappears. Thus the rapid decline of denomination after denomination that has decided to essentially merge with America’s secular culture.

The second temptation is one that attracts the theologically orthodox: the temptation to run toward a form of hyper-legalism as a firewall to protect your family from the sins of the world. Mothers and fathers are desperate for a way to guarantee that their children will grow up to love the Lord. They want to build high walls against sin, so they seek to create distinct communities that are free of the world’s filth and moral compromise.

This second temptation is pernicious. Theologically, it fundamentally denies a very uncomfortable scriptural truth: that this side of heaven we can’t eliminate uncertainty or temptation. We “see through a glass darkly.” We simply don’t have all the answers — for raising children, for sustaining a successful marriage, for thriving in our careers, or for responding to sickness and adversity.

The scriptural response to this fundamental uncertainty is unsatisfying to some. Faith, hope, and love are vague concepts. The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.

Daily Meditation

A Much More Profitable Service

Avoid foolish questions.  Titus 3:9

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them.

Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle's precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus?

Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to "avoid foolish questions."

A Merciless and Unpredictable Tyrant

The Fragile Thinness of Civilization

English history--like most histories--is replete with tyrants and tyrannies.  Henry VIII was one of the worst.  We acknowledge that he was a creature of his times.  The administration of capital justice was so often based upon witnesses whose testimony, in turn, was based upon confessions extracted under torture.

Our times have seen plenty of this kind of evil malice.  Stalin, for example, wanted in some strange way to dress up his infamy and cruelty with show trials.  Testimonies extracted under torture, or the threat thereof, formed a large part of these trials.  Stalin knew all these confessions were garbage, but the formalities had to be adhered to.  Appearances needed to  be maintained.  Why Stalin persisted in such bizarre arrangements is hard to fathom.  Surely he could not have been trying to convince himself.  Was he trying to keep alive the myth of the New Model Man in the minds of the peasantry?

In Henry's case one driver was the need for a legitimate (male) heir; he had a hard time finding the right queen who would produce the goods.  His second queen, Anne was eventually convicted of multiple adulteries and executed.  Was Anne an adulteress?  It seems not.  The testimony against her was probably extracted under torture.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

I Suggest We Not Vote for Dirtier Elections

Douglas Wilson

So I begin these ruminations with a most necessary qualifier, necessary at least in these troubled days of ours. To defend due process is not to defend the dirty deeds that must be prosecuted or rejected under a system of due process. A civilized society, in order to institutionalize a bias against lynchings—against a populace taking what they might call “direct action” based upon what “everybody knows—must insist upon due process.
That said, here is the qualification yet again. I indent it so that certain people can find it more easily. If Roy Moore is guilty of what his accusers say, then he deserves everything he is going to get, good and hard. With a career and reputation in shambles, he would have no complaint against the Almighty over what transpired. As the bluesman Paul Butterfield once put it, trenchantly enough, “Ain’t no one to blame but myself.”

But if he is not guilty of the charges, then the Washington Post and the suborned women who accused him are the guilty ones. Not only are they guilty of false accusation, but they are guilty of something every bit as bad as what they accused Moore of doing. “And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you” (Deut. 19:18–19).

We have an accusation of a disqualifying sexual crime; if guilty, Moore ought not to be a senator. We have the counteraccusation that WaPo was offering money to women if they were willing to accuse Moore. This too is disqualifying; people who do this should be run out of the business of journalism. But notice that I am withholding judgment in both cases. I do not know if Moore molested a girl decades ago, and I do not know if the WaPo paid women to lie about Moore.

Daily Meditation

On Goodness

C. S. Lewis

It has sometimes been asked whether God commands certain things because they are right, or whether certain things are right because God commands them. . . I emphatically embrace the first alternative. The second might lead to the abominable conclusion . . . that charity is good only because God arbitrarily commanded it—that He might equally well have commanded us to hate Him and one another and that hatred would then have been right.

I believe, on the contrary, that “they err who think that of the will of God to do this or that there is no reason besides His will.” God’s will is determined by His wisdom which always perceives, and His goodness which always embraces, the intrinsically good. But when we have said that God commands things only because they are good, we must add that one of the things intrinsically good is that rational creatures should freely surrender themselves to their Creator in obedience.

The content of our obedience—the thing we are commanded to do—will always be something intrinsically good, something we ought to do even if (by an impossible supposition) God had not commanded it. But in addition to the content, the mere obeying is also intrinsically good, for, in obeying, a rational creature consciously enacts its creaturely role, reverses the act by which we fell, treads Adam’s dance backward, and returns.

From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in Words to Live By The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

More on Ardern's Flappy Lips

"It's All About Me"

We posted the other day a piece on how New Zealand's new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has mounted a soap box and oozed sanctimony on Australian migrant policy.  The Ozzies don't have enough compassion.  New Zealand apparently has plenty.  Ardern has "offered" to take 150 of these economic refugees from Manus Island--where they are currently being held--but her "offer" has been strangely put.  She has not only made the offer--she has also insisted that Australia take it up, publicly nagging the Australian PM, Michael Turnbull.

Turnbull is reported to be furious with Ardern's flappy lips.

The Aussies are well experienced in playing hardball when it comes to such squabbles.  They have their own version of utu, or revenge.  A well-timed leak was promiscuously sprayed across both countries this week.  Apparently, the "refugees" on Manus Island have been engaging in under-age sexual activity with members of the local population.

Friday, 17 November 2017

A Morally Perverse Myopia

Western Progressives Continue to Romanticise Communism

Liam Hehir

Fifty years after his death, Che Guevera, the Butcher of la Cabana, remains a romantic icon of radical chic.
Fifty years after his death, Che Guevera, the Butcher of la Cabana, remains a romantic icon of radical chic.
 Ever seen an ordinary young person in a T-shirt bearing the visage of Benito Mussolini? Ever dined at a restaurant bedecked with Third Reich propaganda? Ever listened to a new recording of the Horst Wessel song by a popular contemporary folk singer?

It would be unthinkable for the National Party leader to quote Alfred Rosenberg, ideological architect of National Socialism. No prime minister would ever declare a sympathetic treatment of Reinhard Heydrich to be his or her favourite movie. No credible political figure would argue that the problem with fascism is that it has never been tried properly.

Yet on the centenary of The October Revolution – the coup d'etat that saw the creation of the Soviet Union – communism retains a grasp on the imaginations of Western progressives.

I went out to dinner in Wellington recently.

Daily Meditation

Dependence Produces Fruit

The branch cannot bear fruit of itself.  John 15:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

How did you begin to bear fruit? It was when you came to Jesus and cast yourselves on his great atonement, and rested on his finished righteousness. Ah! what fruit you had then! Do you remember those early days? Then indeed the vine flourished, the tender grape appeared, the pomegranates budded forth, and the beds of spices gave forth their smell. Have you declined since then? If you have, we charge you to remember that time of love, and repent, and do thy first works.

Be most in those engagements which you have experimentally proved to draw you nearest to Christ, because it is from him that all your fruits proceed. Any holy exercise which will bring you to him will help you to bear fruit. The sun is, no doubt, a great worker in fruit-creating among the trees of the orchard: and Jesus is still more so among the trees of his garden of grace. When have you been the most fruitless? Has not it been when you have lived farthest from the Lord Jesus Christ, when you have slackened in prayer, when you have departed from the simplicity of your faith, when your graces have engrossed your attention instead of your Lord, when you have said, "My mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved"; and have forgotten where your strength dwells--has not it been then that your fruit has ceased?

Some of us have been taught that we have nothing out of Christ, by terrible abasements of heart before the Lord; and when we have seen the utter barrenness and death of all creature power, we have cried in anguish, "From him all my fruit must be found, for no fruit can ever come from me." We are taught, by past experience, that the more simply we depend upon the grace of God in Christ, and wait upon the Holy Spirit, the more we shall bring forth fruit unto God. Oh! to trust Jesus for fruit as well as for life.

Loose Lips Launch Ships

Ardern's Moral Posturing Has Consequences

During the Second World War, in Britain the warning was, "Loose Lips Sink Ships".  As the U-boats hunted for convoys of merchant vessels, sinking hundreds as they made their way to Britain carrying vital supplies, people were made conscious of the need for secrecy.  Given German intelligence operatives were active on radio listening posts, information often deemed to be harmless might have been sufficient for security leaks, leading to focused U-boat efforts on expected convoys. 

Now circumstances have changed.  We need to update the slogan from "Loose Lips Sink Ships" to "Loose Lips Launch Ships".  Several years ago Australian waters were invaded by boats launched out of Indonesia, carrying "refugees".  The Labour government of the day welcomed them into Australia.  At its height, one boat a week was arriving on Australian shores.  Most of these "boat people" were not genuine refugees: they were economic migrants who had paid money for passage to Australia.  They arrived, as the scam requires, with all their documentation mysteriously missing.  No passports, no documents proving provenance.  No UN refugee certification.  Nothing. 

Then Labour lost an election, and the Liberal administration stopped the boats virtually overnight.  They simply deployed the Australian navy to detect the ships and turn them back to Indonesia.  They continue to patrol in this fashion, and they continue to turn boats back.

But those in the business of people-running on the seas are smart, well-informed, cunning, and business savvy.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Diminishing Reservoir of Credibility

Not A Good Sign

What is it about the Left and lies and propaganda working together like a Three Ring Circus?  It defies fundamental standards of a duty of care.  Here is Heather Du Plessis Allan's take on Labour's start in government in New Zealand.  The thing that stands out is the baldness of the propaganda and the lies.  It is inexplicable.  
Well that didn't take long. Two weeks and the paint has started to chip off the new Government. After a couple of moments of questionable truthfulness over the last week, the new mob are starting to look a lot more like the last lot, where truthfulness wasn't a high priority.

The most audacious bout of Labour's truth-bending came on the first day of Parliament this week when the king of all logistical cock-ups played out. The drama probably generated flurries of "WTF" texts between political nerds, but it's pretty esoteric to the rest of us, so I'll just give you bullet points.

Daily Meditation

Do Not Harden Your Heart

So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:19)

John Piper

Even though the people of Israel saw the waters of the Red Sea divide and they walked over on dry ground, the moment they got thirsty, their hearts were hard against God and they did not trust him to take care of them. They cried out against him and said that life in Egypt was better.

That is what this verse is written to prevent. O how many professing Christians make a start with God. They hear that their sins can be forgiven and that they can escape hell and go to heaven. And they say: “What have I got to lose? I'll believe.”

But then in a week or a month or a year or ten years, the test comes — a season of no water in the wilderness. A weariness with manna, and subtly a growing craving for the fleeting pleasures of Egypt, as Numbers 11:5–6 says, “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”

This is a terrifying condition to be in — to find yourself no longer interested in Christ and his Word and prayer and worship and missions and living for the glory of God. And to find all fleeting pleasures of this world more attractive than the things of the Spirit.

If that is your situation, I plead with you to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking in this text. Give heed to the Word of God. Do not harden your heart. Wake up to the deceitfulness of sin. Consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our great confession, and hold fast to your confidence and hope in him.

And if you have never even made a start with God, then put your hope in him. Turn from sin and from self-reliance and put your confidence in a great Savior. These things are written that you might believe and endure, and have life.

Reflections on The Another, Yet-to-Come Reformation

Another Demi-Millennium

We have been in the midst of the demi-millennial celebrations and remembrances of the Reformation.  It has certainly been a time of reflection.  One factor, often not given due weight in discussions about the topic is the influence of new technology upon the Reformation.  Without that technology it is unlikely that the Reformation would have taken place--at least in the form in which it occurred.

That technology was the printing press.  The reason this was so significant is that the Reformation was critically involved with the recovery of the authority of the Word of God, over men, the Church, and society generally.  Rapid reproduction and publishing of the text of the Bible for the common man was hugely important.
Printing (from the 1430's) and cheaper paper meant that copies of ancient texts and modern translations could be made available outside the clerical and aristocratic elite, even to ordinary literate people--the gentry, merchants, yeomen, artisans.   Printed Bibles appeared in German in 1466, and in Italian, Dutch, French, Spanish and Czech in the 1470's.  Lay readers ceased to be dependent on the clergy to transmit the world of God.  Instead of asking what God meant (which required experts to explain) they began to ask simply what God said, and decide on its meaning themselves. [Robert Tombs, The English and Their History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), p.160.]
The significance of this technology ought not be overlooked.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

A Significant Book For Our Times

Who Is Truly Catholic?

Fred Sanders
The Gospel Coalition

I keep a shelf of conversionist and church-proselytizing literature in my office library, but I don’t look at it very often, or like it very much.

Most of the books in that genre contain rather poor writing and weak editing, since they’re often churned out from tiny presses to serve a niche market. What is that niche market? It’s people who for various reasons have come to view differences among churches as an urgently vital thing to read books about.

There are times and places where that’s entirely valid, because the theological and spiritual differences are real, which is why I dutifully keep the books around. But even if you avoid the nasty and bellicose entries, the whole genre suffers from a downward tug, a gravitational pull toward low standards of argument, appeals to base motives, and cloying self-congratulation. Few books in the genre avoid palpable tackiness. More importantly, they usually radiate heat without light; when you read them you risk your mind getting softer as your heart gets harder.

But Ken Collins (professor of historical theology and Wesley studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky) and Jerry Walls (professor of philosophy and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas) have somehow broken the spell. They have teamed up, as a church historian and a philosopher, to write a well-reasoned, informative, and truly helpful book about Roman Catholicism. Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation is a serious and substantive account of what Protestants can’t accept about Roman Catholic theology.

What they can’t accept is simple: they object to the exclusive claims of the Church of Rome to be the one true church, and the only ecclesial entity deserving the title of catholic.

Daily Meditation

Being Pulled Into God

C. S. Lewis

An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him.

You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bed- room where an ordinary man is saying his prayers.

The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.

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.

The Incomparable Playright

The Making of an "English World View"

It is both intriguing and encouraging that Shakespeare seems to be making a revival.  The invention of the pop-up Globe has seen multitudes of people all around the world attending seriously good productions of plays written in (mainly) in the 1590's.  There is no literary figure to compare with Shakespeare on the Continent throughout the early modern period. 

Shakespeare grew up in a time when the biblical world-view was predominant.  This included, amongst other things, a profound belief in human nobility, on the one hand, and total depravity, on the other.  The English Reformation was well underway; it took human faults and failings very seriously.  We do not mean to imply that Shakespeare was a Reformer: on the contrary.  But he could not escape much of the world-and-life view preached and taught by the Reformers--and parts of that world-view he appears to have adopted in all seriousness. 

Consequently, in partial congruence with the Apostle Paul, Shakespeare's view of humanity was that amongst its ranks  "not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth".  [I Corinthians 1: 25f]

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Horrors Of It All

The Gruesome Reality Of Dismemberment Abortion

Abortion providers in Texas don’t think the state should require them to kill a fetus before dismembering it in its mother’s womb.

John Daniel Davidson
The Federalist

Editor’s Note: This article contains descriptions of human dismemberment caused by second-trimester abortions.

A bizarre spectacle unfolded this week in a federal district courtroom in Austin, Texas, where a group of abortion providers argued they shouldn’t have to kill a fetus before dismembering it in its mother’s womb, and the state argued that they should.

At issue is a state law passed earlier this year, Senate Bill 8, that would ban live dismemberment abortions. A live dismemberment abortion is exactly what it sounds like: a doctor uses forceps to tear apart a live fetus, limb by limb, and remove it from the mother’s uterus. This is usually done in the second trimester, when the fetus is too large to be suctioned out.

The law in question wouldn’t ban such a procedure, but it would require abortion doctors in Texas to ensure that a fetus is dead before they dismember it. The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Paxton, hinges on the constitutionality of the Texas law and marks the first time the merits of such a statute have been considered at a trial.

Daily Meditation

The End of History

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:9–10)

John Piper

Paul describes the second coming of Christ as hope and terror.

Jesus Christ is coming back not only to effect the final salvation of his people, but through his salvation “to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.”

A final comment concerns history’s climax in the book of Revelation: John pictures the new Jerusalem, the glorified church, in 21:23: “The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

God the Father and God the Son are the light in which Christians will live their eternity.

This is the consummation of God’s goal in all of history — to display his glory for all to see and praise. The prayer of the Son confirms the final purpose of the Father: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

We may conclude that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever. He stands supreme at the center of his own affections. For that very reason, he is a self-sufficient and inexhaustible fountain of grace.

I Will Make Them a Horror

When God Becomes Weary of  Relenting

The Prophet Jeremiah was serving the Lord in the last days of Judea, before the Babylonians came down and destroyed Jerusalem.  He has been called the weeping prophet because of his lamentations and cries over the destruction that he knew was coming.

In Jeremiah 15, the prophet declares God's sentence upon Judah:
I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the Lord: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. And I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.  [Jeremiah 15: 3-4]
God declares that He will not relent because of what King Manasseh had done nearly one hundred years previously.  Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, had provoked God in a way so grievous that it "locked and loaded" God's wrath upon Judah.  And this, we may add, in the face of Manasseh's subsequent captivity at the hands of the Assyrians, then release, followed by his repentance and relative faithfulness.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Those Who Do Not Learn From the Past Condemned To Repeat It

Idealising Communism 

Tom Switzer
Centre for Independent Studies

Next week marks the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution. November 7, 1917 was not just one of the most influential events of all time, it ushered in the most terrifying period in human history. In the matter of scale, the Russian revolutionaries and their later successors in China and elsewhere achieved a record of far more deaths than either world war. According to the London-based project to create a Museum of Communist Terror, 15-18 million people died in World War One; 40-80 million died in World War Two; and 80-100 million died under communist regimes.

Yet 100 years later, many young people in the West are ignorant of the ideology that inspired Lenin, Trotsky and millions of their worldwide followers. According to YouGov surveys, only 55% of American millennials think communism was, and still is, a problem. A third of young people believe US president George W. Bush murdered more people than Soviet dictator Josef Stalin did. And about 70 per cent of young British people have never heard of Mao Tse-Tung, the communist revolutionary whose regime murdered tens of millions of Chinese.

The British Labour Opposition’s treasury spokesman, John McDonnell, identifies with the Marxist cause — even once waving Mao’s Little Red Book in parliament.

Daily Mediation

Happy Are Those Who Dwell In His House

The eternal God is thy refuge.  Deuteronomy 33:27

Charles H. Spurgeon

The word refuge may be translated "mansion," or "abiding- place," which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home. There is a fulness and sweetness in the metaphor, for dear to our hearts is our home, although it be the humblest cottage, or the scantiest garret; and dearer far is our blessed God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.

It is at home that we feel safe: we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. So when we are with our God we "fear no evil." He is our shelter and retreat, our abiding refuge. At home, we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God, when, wearied with life's conflict, we turn to him, and our soul dwells at ease. At home, also, we let our hearts loose; we are not afraid of being misunderstood, nor of our words being misconstrued.

So when we are with God we can commune freely with him, laying open all our hidden desires; for if the "secret of the Lord is with them that fear him," the secrets of them that fear him ought to be, and must be, with their Lord. Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness: and it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight. We have joy in him which far surpasses all other joy. It is also for home that we work and labour. The thought of it gives strength to bear the daily burden, and quickens the fingers to perform the task; and in this sense we may also say that God is our home. Love to him strengthens us. We think of him in the person of his dear Son; and a glimpse of the suffering face of the Redeemer constrains us to labour in his cause.

We feel that we must work, for we have brethren yet to be saved, and we have our Father's heart to make glad by bringing home his wandering sons; we would fill with holy mirth the sacred family among whom we dwell. Happy are those who have thus the God of Jacob for their refuge!

Rotting Foundations

Holy Separation Long Overdue

It is being reported that the secularist paradise of the South Pacific is going to remove all references to Jesus Christ, the King of all kings, from the Parliamentary prayer.  

This would serve to bring the Parliament into line with official truth as it is declared daily in our government run schools.  What should Christians think of this?  Our view is that it is a move long overdue.  Let us be clear why.

We do not mean to suggest that the Lord Jesus Christ ought to have no place of honour, lordship, or kingship over our Parliament.  Quite the contrary.  It is precisely because He is the King of kings that our Parliament and government in general is duty bound to remove all references to Him.  For our governing authorities and our rulers long ago rejected the Christ and entered into a programme of rebellion against Him.  Therefore, to live denying Christ with every breath, whilst praying to Him in a vacuous, mindless way at the commencement of Parliament is the acme of hypocrisy.  It is a perilous course.

If we need reminding what the King thinks of such perversity, let us remind our readers of the seven woes pronounced by our Lord upon the established authorities of Israel.