Thursday, 24 May 2018

Daily Meditation

Jesus Knows His Sheep

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them. (John 10:27)

John Piper

Jesus knows those who are his. What is this knowledge?

John 10:3 is a close parallel to verse 27. It says, “The sheep hear his voice, he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out.”  So when Jesus says, “I know them,” this means at least that he knows them by name; that is, he knows them individually and intimately. They are not anonymous, lost in the flock.

Verse 14 provides another insight: “I am the good shepherd, and I know my own and my own know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”  There is a real similarity between the way Jesus knows his Father in heaven and the way he knows his sheep. Jesus sees himself in the Father, and he sees himself in his disciples.

To some degree Jesus recognizes his own character in his disciples. He sees his own brand mark on the sheep.  He is like a husband waiting for his wife at the airport, watching as each person disembarks from the plane. When she appears, he knows her, he recognizes her features, he delights in her, she is the only one he embraces.

The apostle Paul puts it like this: “The firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are his’” (2 Timothy 2:19).

It is hard to overemphasize what a tremendous privilege it is to be known personally, intimately, lovingly by the Son of God. It is a precious gift to all his sheep, and it contains within it the promise of eternal life.

Rare Bipartisan Co-Operation

No Rednecks Here

There are some proposals for prison reform in the US which are bipartisan and have begun making their way through the legislature.
With a prison reform bill working its way through Congress, President Donald Trump gave the effort a significant boost Friday by asking Congress to get a bill attacking the issue to his desk, The Hill reported.  The First Step Act recently made it through the House Judiciary Committee last week with a 25-to-5 vote.  “There is no substitute for personal accountability and there is no tolerance for those who take advantage of society’s generosity to prey upon the innocent,” Trump said. “But if we want more prisoners to take charge of their own lives, then we should work to give them the tools to stand on their own two feet.”  [The Blaze]
This sort of thing rarely gets huge press coverage.  It's too boring.  It lacks sensational punch, so is often overlooked.  On the other hand, there are have been lots of similar or related proposals in the US over the years.  What's in this one?
The House of Representatives is currently considering a bill that is referred to as the First Step Act. The full title is the “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.”  . . . .

The bill seeks to reduce the recidivism rate by improving conditions and development opportunities for inmates in federal prisons, allowing them the chance to be job-ready upon their release and lowering the chances that they fall back into the same criminal lifestyle that caused them to be incarcerated in the first place.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow, Idaho

Gadsden Love

Douglas Wilson

The second greatest commandment is that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Lev. 19:18). The command presupposes that we love ourselves, and tells us to render that same kind of love to our neighbor.

This became problematic for conservative believers over the last generation or so because representatives of our therapeutic and sentimental times constructed an imperative for the narcissistic self out of it. You can’t love your neighbor until you learn to wuvvv yourself—which structurally was sound enough. All the poison was found in how they were defining love—warm, sentimental treacle, sticky with self-flattering affirmations about how God “don’t make no junk.”

But love is not to be defined as sentimental self-affirmation, or affirmation. Love means treating someone lawfully from the heart. Sin is lawlessness, John tells us (1 John 3:4). Love is the fulfillment of the law, as Paul says: 
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8–10).
You say you love a man? Respect his goods. And if you don’t respect his goods, it doesn’t matter how soaring your emotions might be concerning him.

Daily Meditation

The Freest Love

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it; yet the LORD set his heart in love upon your fathers and chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as at this day. (Deuteronomy 10:14–15)

John Piper

God’s electing love is absolutely free. It is the gracious overflow of his boundless happiness guided by his infinite wisdom.

Deuteronomy 10:14–15 describes the delight God had in choosing Israel from all the peoples of the earth. Notice two things.

First, notice the contrast between verses 14 and 15. Why does Moses describe the election of Israel against the backdrop of God’s ownership of the whole universe? Why does he say in verse 14, “To God belongs everything in heaven and on earth” and then say in verse 15, “Yet he chose you for his people”?

The reason seems to be to get rid of any notion that God was somehow hedged in to choose this people. The point is to explode the myth that each people has its own god and this god has a right to his own people but no more.

The truth is that this is the only true God. He owns everything in the universe and can take any people he wants for his own special possession.  Thus the unspeakably wonderful truth for Israel is that he chose them. He did not have to. He had rights and privileges to choose absolutely any people on the face of the earth for his redeeming purposes.

Therefore, when he calls himself “their God” he does not mean that he is on a par with the gods of Egypt or the gods of Canaan. He owns those gods and their peoples. If it had pleased him, he could have chosen a totally different people to accomplish his purposes.  The point of putting verses 14 and 15 together in this way is to stress the freedom and the universal rights and authority of God.

The second thing to notice (in verse 15) is the way God exercises his sovereign freedom to “set his love upon the fathers.” “He delighted in your fathers to love them.” He freely chose to take pleasure in loving the fathers.

God’s love for the fathers of Israel was free and merciful and wasn’t constrained by anything that the fathers were in their Jewishness or in their virtue.

Kim Jong-Un Has Little Room to Move

The "Idi Amin" Solution May Beckon

An interesting piece out of Australia has appeared in our local rag.  It is quite some time since we read about the dire internal threats facing North Korea.  Yet, the fact remains that Kim Jong-un is between the proverbial rock and a very hard place.  He faces a threat that historically, in the past one hundred years, has brought down more dictatorships than anything else.

That threat has not been war (although all totalitarian states place their countries on a permanent war footing).  The threat has been people power.  Their own people.  Totalitarian states, those that have imposed secular atheism by force throughout the twentieth century, have ended not with the a bang, but the proverbial whimper.

The article quotes Professor Kim Dong-yup, director of research at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, who has personal experience dealing with North Korea's negotiating tactics, having taken part in previous military talks between the North and South.
Prof Kim said the country's people, brutally oppressed by the regime for so long, are becoming more aware of the outside world and harder to control, so are less likely to tolerate continued economic malaise.  "Given the context, that the North Korean people have access to five million mobile phones and numerous markets where they can access information, the regime simply cannot be sustained through control and oppression," he said.  "The biggest thing Kim Jong-un is fearful of is not the pressure from the outside world it is his people. So he has made the strategic decision that by keeping nuclear weapons, he will not make his people happy and will not ensure his regime's survival.  [NZ Herald.  Emphasis, ours.]
The last thirty years of the previous century teache us what happens when countries build walls not for defence, but to keep their people inside the stockade.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

More on Trump Derangement Syndrome

Democratic Hysteria

Why Trump Won The Election

By Marc A. Thiessen
The Washington Post

If you want to understand why Donald Trump is president today (and why he could very well win a second term), look to the Democrats’ hysterical response to two of Trump’s major foreign policy achievements over the past week.

Last Thursday, the president traveled to Joint Base Andrews to greet three American hostages whose release he had secured from North Korea. Unlike his predecessor, Trump did it without sending the offending regime an unmarked plane loaded with hundreds of millions in hard currency. The return of these American captives should have been a moment of celebration and bipartisan unity.

So how did Democrats respond? By blasting Trump for the way he welcomed the U.S. hostages home. The pretext for their outrage was Trump’s comment thanking Kim Jong Un, who he said “really was excellent to these three incredible people” — by which Trump obviously meant releasing them. No matter. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) took the Senate floor to attack Trump for his “troubling” remarks. “Kim Jong Un is a dictator” who “capriciously detained American citizens,” Schumer declared, channeling Captain Obvious, and warned that, by praising Kim, Trump “weakens American foreign policy and puts American citizens at risk around the world.”

Seriously? How do Democrats take a positive event such as the release of American hostages and turn it into an excuse to attack Trump? Apparently, Trump Derangement Syndrome is so debilitating that Democrats can’t bring themselves to say “Good job, Mr. President,” even when he brings our hostages home. Before, Democrats complained that Trump was too belligerent toward Kim; now, they’re upset that he is too effusive.

Daily Meditation

We Are Asking For What He Has Already Promised

In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him.  Colossians 2:9-10

Charles H. Spurgeon

All the attributes of Christ, as God and man, are at our disposal. All the fulness of the Godhead, whatever that marvellous term may comprehend, is ours to make us complete. He cannot endow us with the attributes of Deity; but he has done all that can be done, for he has made even his divine power and Godhead subservient to our salvation.

His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immutability and infallibility, are all combined for our defence. Arise, believer, and behold the Lord Jesus yoking the whole of his divine Godhead to the chariot of salvation! How vast his grace, how firm his faithfulness, how unswerving his immutability, how infinite his power, how limitless his knowledge! All these are by the Lord Jesus made the pillars of the temple of salvation; and all, without diminution of their infinity, are covenanted to us as our perpetual inheritance. The fathomless love of the Saviour's heart is every drop of it ours; every sinew in the arm of might, every jewel in the crown of majesty, the immensity of divine knowledge, and the sternness of divine justice, all are ours, and shall be employed for us.

The whole of Christ, in his adorable character as the Son of God, is by himself made over to us most richly to enjoy. His wisdom is our direction, his knowledge our instruction, his power our protection, his justice our surety, his love our comfort, his mercy our solace, and his immutability our trust. He makes no reserve, but opens the recesses of the Mount of God and bids us dig in its mines for the hidden treasures. "All, all, all are yours," saith he, "be ye satisfied with favour and full of the goodness of the Lord."

Oh! how sweet thus to behold Jesus, and to call upon him with the certain confidence that in seeking the interposition of his love or power, we are but asking for that which he has already faithfully promised.

Censorship and Media Manipulation in Gaza, Part I

Hamas In Control

A couple of days ago we posted a piece on the strategy of Hamas in the recent turmoil in Gaza.  Further to that theme, we direct your attention to an article in The Atlantic back in November 2014 by Matti Friedman, then a member of the "Press Corps" covering Israel.  

That year was in the midst of yet another "Gaza War".  The "War" has began again: same issues, same actors, same duplicity, and same prejudice on the part of the media covering the events.  They are now the "useful idiots" on the scene, to take up Lenin's alleged phrase.
During the Gaza war this summer, it became clear that one of the most important aspects of the media-saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered: the press itself. The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.

An essay I wrote for Tablet on this topic in the aftermath of the war sparked intense interest. In the article, based on my experiences between 2006 and 2011 as a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press, one of the world’s largest news organizations, I pointed out the existence of a problem and discussed it in broad terms. Using staffing numbers, I illustrated the disproportionate media attention devoted to this conflict relative to other stories, and gave examples of editorial decisions that appeared to be driven by ideological considerations rather than journalistic ones. I suggested that the cumulative effect has been to create a grossly oversimplified story—a kind of modern morality play in which the Jews of Israel are displayed more than any other people on earth as examples of moral failure. This is a thought pattern with deep roots in Western civilization. [Matti Friedman, The Atlantic.]
He goes on to describe the incestuous relationships between the omni-present NGO's, the media and  the UN in Israel.  This leads to an institutional blindness to the activist roles played by NGO's and the UN.  It is only recently that some "bad press" has emerged on the immorality and moral depredations of the staff of organizations like Oxfam.
Confusion over the role of the press explains one of the strangest aspects of coverage here—namely, that while international organizations are among the most powerful actors in the Israel story, they are almost never reported on. Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know, because these groups are to be quoted, not covered. Journalists cross from places like the BBC to organizations like Oxfam and back. The current spokesman at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, for example, is a former BBC man. A Palestinian woman who participated in protests against Israel and tweeted furiously about Israel a few years ago served at the same time as a spokesperson for a UN office, and was close friends with a few reporters I know. And so forth.
These organizations long ago ceased to be "neutrals"; rather they became partisan actors doing the bidding of the Islamic extremists in the region.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Left Arrogance Plays Into Trump's Hands

Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think

By Gerard Alexander
New York Times

Mr. Alexander is a professor of political science at the University of Virginia.

. . .  Many liberals are very smart. But they are not as smart, or as persuasive, as they think.  And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected. . . . (M)embers of political tribes seem to have trouble recognizing that they, too, can push people away and energize them to vote for the other side. Nowhere is this more on display today than in liberal control of the commanding heights of American culture. . . .

Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.

But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.

Daily Meditation

Why We Love God

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

John Piper

Since loving God is the evidence that he loves you with electing love (Romans 8:28, etc.), the assurance that God loves you with electing love cannot be the ground of your love for him. Our love for him, which is the evidence of our election, is our spiritually apprehending the all–satisfying glory of this God.

It is not first gratitude for a benefit received, but recognition and delight that to receive him would produce overwhelming gratitude. This recognition and delight is, or should be, according to Scripture, attended immediately with the assurance that he does in fact give himself to us for eternal enjoyment.

The Gospel call (Christ died for sinners; believe on him and you will be saved) is a call not first to believe that he died for your sins but that, because he is the kind of God who redeems at such a cost and with such wisdom and holiness, he is worthy of trust and he is a truly satisfying repose for all my longings.

Believing (that is sensing, apprehending) this is then immediately attended with the confidence that we are saved and that he did die for us, since the promise of salvation is given to those who thus believe.

The core of Christian Hedonism is thus at the very heart of what saving faith is and what it means to truly "receive" Christ, or to love God.

Compare: "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). This may mean that God’s love enables our love for him through the incarnation and atonement and work of the Holy Spirit, not that our motive to love is first his making much of us.

Or it may mean that in beholding and spiritually apprehending God to be the kind of God who loves sinners like us with such amazingly free grace and through such stunningly wise and sacrificial means of atonement, we are drawn out to delight in this God for who he is in himself, rather than taking the sentence to mean that we love him first because we find ourselves personally and particularly chosen by him.

Oh How Clever We Are . . .

Crime and Punishment

The present NZ Government appears all at sea over crime and criminality.  In a nutshell, its naive and simplistic view is that crime is caused by social problems.  Fix society's problems within the sectors of Health, Education, and Welfare, and crime would drop away to nothing.  As is always the case, the Left runs this reductionist absurdity with a high octane dose of self-righteousness.

The Left sees itself as compassionate and nuanced on the matter.  It is deeply aware of the social causes of crime and criminality which have captured people, turning them into criminals.  It's love for such disadvantaged folk who have ended up in the prison system quickly morphs into self-righteousness.  It characterizes its ideological opponents as cruel, simplistic, narrow, and bigoted.  This implies that the Left is compassionate, nuanced, sophisticated, and broad-minded.

  • The Left presents itself as intelligent, advanced, and sophisticated.  It refuses to address criminality in a superficial manner.  It relishes the complexity of the social causes of crime because to pontificate and meditate upon such things creates a self-image of Leftist sophistication and intelligence.  Those who oppose Leftist sophistication are easily and readily characterised as red-necks.
  • The Left relishes the prospect of the State being cast as the Saviour and Redeemer of society.  Prisons are essentially negative in the "solutions" they offer to crime.  They punish by their very nature.  But the Left sees  that as both negative and cruel.  On the other hand, to use the power, resources, and functions of the State to redeem people from criminal lifestyles, is a high and holy calling.

At this point, the Left is feeling really good about itself.  Oozing moral superiority it stands forth as the Great Solution to NZ crime and criminality. Cue Andrew Little, the present Minister of Justice.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Ocean Clean-Up: Another Ill-informed, Misdirected Mania

Plastic Bans Are Stupid:  Won’t Save the Whales

James Delingpole
Breitbart Big Government

From the U.S. to the European Union to Australia, the West is waging war on plastic.
It’s the latest moral panic. Soon, we’re told, there will be more plastic in the sea than there are fish. The floating island of plastic known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now three times the size of France. Fish are becoming so addicted to pollution they actually prefer plastic microbeads to real food. It’s killing whales. Etc. Etc.

Of course I can see why governments are keen to be seen responding to this terrible threat. If you’re as desperately useless as Theresa May’s UK government, for example, it makes perfect sense to try to distract everyone from your incompetence by launching bold anti-plastic initiatives which get you a big thumbs up from national treasures like Sir David Attenborough and which don’t cost the public purse much money.

But I wish they wouldn’t bother. As this article from Inside Sources demonstrates – and it really ought to be required reading for all those bansturbators out there working themselves into a righteous frenzy about just how Medieval they’re going to get on plastic’s ass – these plastic bans, in the West at any rate, are a complete waste of space.

Daily Meditation

What Is Meekness?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

John Piper

Meekness begins when we put our trust in God. Then, because we trust him, we commit our way to him. We roll onto him our anxieties, or frustrations, our plans, our relationships, our jobs, our health.  And then we wait patiently for the Lord. We trust his timing and his power and his grace to work things out in the best way for his glory and for our good.

The result of trusting God and the rolling of our anxieties onto God and waiting patiently for God is that we don't give way to quick and fretful anger. But instead, we give place to wrath and hand our cause over to God and let him vindicate us if he chooses.

And then, as James says, in this quiet confidence we are slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). We become reasonable and open to correction.

Meekness loves to learn. And it counts the blows of a friend as precious. And when it must say a critical word to a person caught in sin or error, it speaks from the deep conviction of its own fallibility and its own susceptibility to sin and its utter dependence on the grace of God.

The quietness and openness and vulnerability of meekness is a very beautiful and a very painful thing. It goes against all that we are by our sinful nature. It requires supernatural help.

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, that is, if you trust him and commit your way to him and wait patiently for him, God has already begun to help you and will help you more.  And the primary way that he will help you is to assure your heart that you are a fellow heir of Jesus Christ and that the world and everything in it is yours.

A Second Great Awakening?

The Coming of the Lord

Most are familiar with the historical Great Awakening.  It was a remarkable revival of true Christianity that occurred in the eighteenth century, primarily in the United Kingdom and in the eastern United States.

Now there is talk of the United States being on the verge of another awakening, another Christian revival.  Of course, it's too early to tell.  Moreover, as one church historian observed, such broad and deep movements of the Spirit of God are often difficult to discern at the time.  They are more clearly seen in hindsight.  For example, Western Europe was totally unaware of the thunderstorm which cracked overhead whilst a solitary lawyer trembled in fright in the early sixteenth century.  Yet it was that prosaic weather event which set in train the conversion of one Martin Luther whose subsequent preaching and teaching shook the foundations of a rotting church.  Out of this came the Reformation, one of the greatest revivals of true, biblical religion since the time of the apostles.

Some are claiming to see signs of a genuine revival in the United States.  Once again, it's probably too early to be definitive on such things.  So, we should take the following with a sprinkling of caution.  Nevertheless, there is room for encouragement here.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Farce On An International Scale

Backing Down Quietly

Here is a story which appears to have gained no traction whatsoever in the media:  China is backing out of its commitment to "fight global warming".   In New Zealand we witnessed an outpouring of euphoria from every quarter when the Paris Agreement was signed.  But, on this latest development, we have seen and heard nada. 

Ah, how we long for a return of genuine media scepticism.  Sadly, at least in this country, the media has morphed into a non-synchronised bunch of misfit cheerleaders when it comes to the subject of Global Warming. 

Caution: you are now entering a truth zone.  Do not read further if you crave your personal "safe place".

Climate Change Conference Collapses

China Backs Down from Emission Commitments

by John J. Xenakis

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Climate change activists struggle to replace U.S. climate change money
  • China backs out of its climate change commitments with ‘bifurcation’
 Climate change activists struggle to replace U.S. climate change money

After two weeks, an international climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, attended by delegates from over 200 countries, has ended in failure, without agreement on the major issues of finance and transparency.

Climate change finance has been in trouble from the beginning.

Daily Meditation

A Rich and Bountiful Giver

Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our Lord Jesus is ever giving, and does not for a solitary instant withdraw his hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be stayed. He is a sun ever-shining; he is manna always falling round the camp; he is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from his smitten side; the rain of his grace is always dropping; the river of his bounty is ever-flowing, and the well-spring of his love is constantly overflowing.

As the King can never die, so his grace can never fail. Daily we pluck his fruit, and daily his branches bend down to our hand with a fresh store of mercy. There are seven feast-days in his weeks, and as many as are the days, so many are the banquets in his years. Who has ever returned from his door unblessed? Who has ever risen from his table unsatisfied, or from his bosom un-emparadised? His mercies are new every morning and fresh every evening. Who can know the number of his benefits, or recount the list of his bounties? Every sand which drops from the glass of time is but the tardy follower of a myriad of mercies. The wings of our hours are covered with the silver of his kindness, and with the yellow gold of his affection. The river of time bears from the mountains of eternity the golden sands of his favour. The countless stars are but as the standard bearers of a more innumerable host of blessings.

Who can count the dust of the benefits which he bestows on Jacob, or tell the number of the fourth part of his mercies towards Israel? How shall my soul extol him who daily loadeth us with benefits, and who crowneth us with loving-kindness? O that my praise could be as ceaseless as his bounty! O miserable tongue, how canst thou be silent? Wake up, I pray thee, lest I call thee no more my glory, but my shame. "Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake right early."

Why Has Gaza Got All Wound Up Again?

Human Shields

Gaza is in the news once again.  It is not the first time.  It will almost certainly not be the last.  What we see on display--as we have so many times before--is the ruthless, hate-filled machinations of Hamas, using its own population as human shields.  

To be sure, when the citizens of Gaza get on the bus and ride to the border fence with Israel, then start storming the fence, they are face to face with deadly force that could well kill them.  But what you don't see is armed Hamas guerrilla fighters up front and centre.  That is not the objective.  Their objective has a propaganda point to make.  Their citizens are little more than "useful idiots".  The objective of Hamas is to isolate Israel and turn the rest of the world into an Israel-hating phalanx in the hope that Israel will be ultimately be destroyed.

Just how much the civilian bus-riders believe in Hamas and its violent extremism is hard to tell. What is clear us us is that Hamas could not care a fig for the citizens it is supposed to protect and nurture.  Using them as human shields and front-line cannon fodder does not really fit the bill of protecting and nurturing.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

The Kim Jong-Un Porky Award Goes To . . .

Phil Twyford, NZ Minister of Housing

If Twyford Can't Phil us in on KiwiBuy/Build, Who Can?

Duncan Garner

Seriously, what has Labour and its MPs been doing these last nine years? Eating their lunch?  We'd been led to believe its flagship Kiwibuild idea was this amazing, smart and innovative housing policy.  We'd been told it was an answer to the housing crisis for those who couldn't get into their first home.

I was thinking wow, our best architects and planners had come up with something very new and impressive and all on a large scale. I was thinking, think big, but 2018 style. And I assumed KiwiBuild meant just that;  as Housing Minister Phil Twyford said, 100,000 homes would be built.

Now we learn, um no, that's not the case. It's Kiwibuy, that house, your house, any house will do.

Labour has simply thrown its arms up in the air and put up a classified advertisement the size of a house that calls for all houses to be bought and sold as Kiwibuild dwellings. Labour wants the biggest shortcut to success possible.  It wants to buy current homes under construction or off the plans and call them Kiwibuild's own. It's a total hoax.

Daily Meditation

Why We Should Love Our Enemies

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.  (Luke 6:27)

John Piper

There are two main reasons why Christians should love their enemies and do good to them.

One is that it reveals something of the way God is. God is merciful.

“He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
So when Christians live this way, we show something of what God is like.

The second reason is that the hearts of Christians are satisfied with God and are not driven by the craving for revenge or self-exaltation or money or earthly security.

God has become our all-satisfying treasure and so we don’t treat our adversaries out of our own sense of need and insecurity, but out of our own fullness with the satisfying glory of God.

Hebrews 10:34: “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property [that is, without retaliation], since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” What takes away the compulsion of revenge is our deep confidence that this world is not our home, and that God is our utterly sure and all-satisfying reward.

So in both these reasons for loving our enemy we see the main thing: God is shown to be who he really is as a merciful God and as gloriously all-satisfying.

The ultimate reason for being merciful is to glorify God — to make him look great in the eyes of man.

Making the Most Out of Failure

Propaganda, Faux-Reality, And Truth

In the past few days, the North Korean regime has been snake-oiling prodigiously.  Its propaganda machine has been operating at peak capacity.  It has been trumpeting its universal good-citizenship.  It has decided to destroy forever its underground nuclear testing site.  This surely must "prove" its good faith in the upcoming talks with the United States.  

Sadly, in a regime so out of touch with truth, lying is perpetual.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

What Genocide Really Looks Like

China's New Gulag

The mass incarceration of a minority people

Jay Nordlinger
National Review Online

In the April 30 issue of this magazine, we published a piece about Jerome A. Cohen, a veteran American scholar of China. He told me that he was consumed, at present, by one thing above all: the mass incarceration of the Uyghur people, with no due process whatsoever. It reminded him of Austria and Germany, where some 40 of his relatives were murdered.

Jerry Cohen is a judicious and experienced man, not the kind given to alarms. So, when he talks this way, you listen. He further said that the Uyghurs were getting precious little attention from the world press. We will give them a little here.

What attention there is, is mainly coming from Radio Free Asia. This is a sister organization to RFE/RL (a combination of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty). RFA has a Uyghur service, the only one outside of China (and therefore the only honest one). It is staffed by Uyghur Americans — who pay a terrible price. So do their families, trapped in China. Relatives of six staffers have been rounded up, in retaliation for the work done by the staffers. Gulchehra Hoja is one of these staffers. A full 24 of her relatives have been rounded up.

For the Chinese government, this is standard operating procedure.

Daily Meditation

At the Bottom of It All

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:5)

John Piper

The experience of Charles Spurgeon is not beyond the ability of any ordinary Christian.  Spurgeon (1834–1892) was a contemporary of George Mueller. He served the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London for over thirty years as the most famous pastor of his day.

His preaching was so powerful that people were converted to Christ every week. His sermons are still in print today and he is held up by many as a model soul–winner.

He recalls an experience when he was sixteen that shaped his life and ministry for the rest of his days.
When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this.

I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths [the doctrine of election] in my own soul — when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man — that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, that clue to the truth of God.

One week–night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it.

The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment — I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so?

Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”

The Glory of the Saviour Uncloaked

‘These Bombs Led Me to Christ’

The “Napalm Girl” from a famous Vietnam War photo tells her story of coming to faith.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi

‘These Bombs Led Me to Christ’

You have seen my picture a thousand times. It’s a picture that made the world gasp—a picture that defined my life. I am nine years old, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier, arms outstretched, naked, shrieking in pain and fear, the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance.

My own people, the South Vietnamese, had been bombing trade routes used by the Viet Cong rebels. I had not been targeted, of course. I had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those bombs have brought me immeasurable pain. Even now, some 40 years later, I am still receiving treatment for burns that cover my arms, back, and neck.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Too Good To Be True

Saudi Church-Building Deal Dismissed as “Fake news”

The Barnabas Fund

Claims that Saudi Arabia had agreed with the Vatican to allow the building of churches for the first time in its history were dismissed as “fake news” this week. News reports in the Egyptian press claimed on 4 May that Saudi Arabia had made a deal with the Vatican to construct churches for “Christian citizens”.

But the Vatican later denied any such deal had been made, and the Egypt Independent, the original source of the story, removed the article from its website.

The paper had originally stated that the Muslim World League, an organisation funded by the Saudi Government and which promotes Islamic teachings, had signed the deal with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

The report did not state whether any churches would potentially be built in Saudi Arabia itself.

The country follows a strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and it is impossible for anyone living in the country to openly practise Christianity. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians from other nations, such as the Philippines, other parts of Asia, or African countries, who are living and working in Saudi Arabia. But they must meet in private homes to worship, and risk harassment, arrest and deportation if they are caught doing so.

The number of Saudi citizens who are Christians is known only to God. As converts from Islam they are liable to execution for apostasy, and therefore most are secret believers.

Daily Meditation

We Inherit All of Christ with Him

Joint heirs with Christ. Romans 8:17

Charles H. Spurgeon

The boundless realms of his Father's universe are Christ's by prescriptive right. As "heir of all things," he is the sole proprietor of the vast creation of God, and he has admitted us to claim the whole as ours, by virtue of that deed of joint-heirship which the Lord hath ratified with his chosen people.

The golden streets of paradise, the pearly gates, the river of life, the transcendent bliss, and the unutterable glory, are, by our blessed Lord, made over to us for our everlasting possession. All that he has he shares with his people. The crown royal he has placed upon the head of his Church, appointing her a kingdom, and calling her sons a royal priesthood, a generation of priests and kings. He uncrowned himself that we might have a coronation of glory; he would not sit upon his own throne until he had procured a place upon it for all who overcome by his blood. Crown the head and the whole body shares the honour. Behold here the reward of every Christian conqueror!

Christ's throne, crown, sceptre, palace, treasure, robes, heritage, are yours. Far superior to the jealousy, selfishness, and greed, which admit of no participation of their advantages, Christ deems his happiness completed by his people sharing it. "The glory which thou gavest me have I given them." "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." The smiles of his Father are all the sweeter to him, because his people share them. The honours of his kingdom are more pleasing, because his people appear with him in glory.

More valuable to him are his conquests, since they have taught his people to overcome. He delights in his throne, because on it there is a place for them. He rejoices in his royal robes, since over them his skirts are spread. He delights the more in his joy, because he calls them to enter into it.

North Koreans May Copy the East German Precedent

When Citizens Face Imprisoning Fences

There are a few examples in recent history of nation-states ceasing to exist almost overnight.  One of these is East Germany.  On one occasion, whilst gingerly feeling its way forward, East Germany opened its borders to West Germany for a day.  The authorities expected that a few East Germans would wander across, look around out of curiosity, and return to the East.  Some indeed did the sight-seeing trip.  But thousands crossed the border that day and did not return.  It was the end of the new beginning.  The German Democratic Republic itself was in its death throes.  And everybody knew it. 

A significant component of this event was that citizens on both sides of the border viewed themselves fundamentally as Germans.  It was their racial, ethnic identity.  We are now confronted with another possible people led re-unification--namely, Korea.  There are several salient similarities with the case of people-led German re-unification.  The ethnic, racial, cultural and historical ties that link the two as one are an example.  Both North and South view themselves as Koreans.

There is lots that we do not know.  But by all accounts the state of life and the suffering of the common people in North Korea is atrocious.  Meanwhile, over the border, down south, there is a rapidly modernising, peaceful, prosperous Asian Tiger.

The North Korean regime is typical of totalitarian dictatorships.  It long ago lost touch with reality and can no longer distinguish reality from propaganda.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Letter From America (About Genderism)

The Transgender Debate

Conservatives Can’t Compromise the Truth

By David French
National Review Online

Over on the home page, J.J. McCullough has penned a piece urging a “compromise on transgenderism,” but as I read it, this proposed compromise looks a lot like capitulation. While J.J. rightly notes that the Left has overreached in its “effort to strong-arm sweeping social change as a flex of their power,” he asks conservatives to essentially abandon their central argument and accept the radical left’s premise that a man can be a woman or a woman can be a man. This paragraph stands out: 
Though transgenderism is a far rarer phenomenon than homosexuality, I think most adults could admit it does seem like a rather persistent aspect of humanity. Most can probably recall a transgender person making at least some minor appearance in their life. If we concede that transgenderism is not going away, and is not something anyone intends to exert effort toward ending, then Americans, especially conservative ones, should reflect on our culture’s honest and fair attitude toward homosexuality and acknowledge that the most sensible path out of the present acrimony will probably require similar compromise. Some degree of cultural ceasefire and consensus seems the only path for both sides to maintain a degree of pride while avoiding a more radical, disruptive societal transformation. (Emphasis added.)

I can acknowledge that gender dysphoria is a “persistent aspect of humanity,” but I will not concede that gender dysphoria trumps biology, and I don’t think our culture should cease efforts towards “ending” the dangerous notion that men or women should amputate healthy organs in the quest to sculpt their bodies to become something they’re not. Gender dysphoria may not “go away,” but transgenderism is something else entirely. Our culture is in the midst of a live and important dispute over the very nature of biological reality — and over the psychological and spiritual health of hundreds of thousands of precious souls — and now is not the time to abandon the field.

Daily Meditation

Labour and Toil For the King--With Great Joy

Only be thou strong and very courageous.  Joshua 1:7

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our God's tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage.

Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do.

When we are desponding we are subject to a grievous malady, not to be trifled with, but to be carried at once to the beloved Physician. Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus that no one should come into the king's court dressed in mourning: this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still he would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice.

The Christian man ought to be of a courageous spirit, in order that he may glorify the Lord by enduring trials in an heroic manner. If he be fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonour his God. Besides, what a bad example it is. This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic which soon spreads amongst the Lord's flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up, Satan will be too much for you. Let your spirit be joyful in God your Saviour, the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, and no fiend of hell shall make headway against you; but cowardice throws down the banner. Moreover, labour is light to a man of cheerful spirit; and success waits upon cheerfulness.

The man who toils, rejoicing in his God, believing with all his heart, has success guaranteed. He who sows in hope shall reap in joy; therefore, dear reader, "be thou strong, and very courageous."

It's a Mad World

Ideationism and the White Witch

Every so often the vacuity of Unbelief and rebellion against God is revealed in startling fashion.  In a recent example, an "expert" in child rearing was arguing that babies ought to be consulted before their nappies (diapers) were changed.
‘Sexuality expert’ and author Deanne Carson has attracted mass ridicule after suggesting babies should “give consent” to having their nappies/diapers changed by their parents.

Speaking to ABC News (Australia), Carson was asked what age clients she works with.  She replied: “We work with children from three years old, we work with parents from birth”.  “From birth?” the host responds, to which Carson smugly retorts:

“Yeah, just about how to set up a culture of consent in their homes. So, ‘I’m going to change your nappy now, is that ok?’  Of course the baby isn’t going to respond, ‘Yes mum that’s awesome, I’d love to have my nappy changed’. But if you leave a space and wait for body language and wait to make eye contact then you’re letting that child know that their response matters”. [Raheem Kassam, Breitbart London]
Carson (allegedly) has an extensive consulting practice in how to raise children--and, of course, teaching them gender neutrality, trans-genderism, and human sexuality.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Lusting After Methuselah

Can Death Be Abolished?

by Geoff Chapman
Creation Ministries International

There is no doubt that life expectancy is higher than a century ago.  There are now 14,000 centenarians in Britain, and according to the Office of National Statistics, one in three of today’s babies will live to see their 100th birthday. Some scientists and medical experts are even claiming that ageing could be delayed indefinitely.

Postponing death?

Can we really cheat death? Life, death and time are pictured in this 17th-century painting by Philippe de Champaigne.


British doctor Dr Aubrey de Grey believes people who have already been born could live for ten centuries because of ongoing research being done into “repairing the effects of ageing”. He hopes ultimately to create treatments that mean death could be postponed by constantly repairing our bodies, so that we can live as long as 1,000 years or possibly even forever.

Dr de Grey founded the aptly-named Methuselah Foundation. Its website states that, “By advancing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, we want to create a world where 90-year olds can be as healthy as 50-year olds—by 2030.”