Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Daily Meditation

Becoming a Worshiper of God

Church is boring”—this is the most oft-stated reason why people stay away from church. It raises some important questions. How is it possible that an encounter with a majestic, awesome, living God could ever be considered boring by anyone? God is not dull. If worship is boring to us, it is not because God is boring. Sermons can be boring and liturgies can be boring, but God simply cannot be boring. The problem, I think, is with the setting, the style, and the content of our worship.
The New Testament gives us little information about proper Christian worship. It establishes some guidelines, but does not offer much content. In contrast, the Old Testament provides a panorama of worship information. This poses some dangers, as well as some vital clues, for worship. We cannot simply reinstate the elements of Old Testament worship, because many of them are clearly fulfilled once and for all with the finished work of Christ in His offering of the perfect sacrifice.
The Old Testament does provide a key to elements involved in worship. We see, for example, that the mind must be engaged in worship. The centrality of preaching underscores the crucial role of the Word. Full worship, however, is both verbal and nonverbal. The whole person is addressed and involved in a worship experience. We note that in the Old Testament, worship intimately involved all five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.

Coram Deo

Is church boring to you? What do you think might be the reason? Spend some time in prayer asking God to show you how to become a true worshiper.

Passages for Further Study

How Low Can the Incompetence Go?

Unbelievable, But True

As inconceivable as it may appear, the fox has been put in charge of the henhouse--in real life.  New Zealand is being run by government agencies that are either incompetent, ignorant, or infantile, or, on the other hand, government departments have become front organizations for criminal gangs.

Consider the following:  
A high-profile gang member has been stood down from his role within the Royal Commission of Inquiry into historic state abuse months after multiple allegations of domestic violence were raised.

Harry Tam, a long-time member of the Mongrel Mob, was the facilitator of the inquiry's Survivors Advisory Group, a position that gave him the authority to appoint gang-affiliated men and women to the group, and access survivors' personal information.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in Care released a statement Friday morning stating it was aware of allegations raised against "a staff member" and had commenced an independent investigation, but would not comment on the nature of the allegations. The Commission said the matter has been referred to New Zealand Police.  [Stuff]
So, here is this leading gang member who has allegations of domestic abuse and assault made against him.  He has been appointed to help run an inquiry into historical abuse suffered by those in state care.  Apparently his bosses thought he would be a sitter for this particular sinecure because he had first-hand knowledge of domestic violence.  He has been a front-line perp it would seem. 

Harry Tam's former partner complained.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

"A Calculated Attempt to Slime"

Australian Donors Slam 'Smear Campaign' Against Israel Folau 

Matt Young
NZ Herald

Supporters who have donated to Israel Folau's controversial GoFundMe campaign say they have contributed because "freedom of speech is under attack and religion prevails" as the fundraiser edges closer towards one million dollars.  The devoutly Christian athlete was fired after a tribunal found him guilty of a "high-level" breach of the Rugby Australia code of conduct for posting on social media that "hell awaits" gay people.

He has set up an online fundraiser to support his legal fight against Rugby Australia. approached those who donated to his campaign over the weekend, but none wanted to be identified, citing the "fear of a diatribe of hate and righteousness being thrust upon them by the lefties and extremists".

Another declined to be identified blaming his own workplace's code of conduct. 

One donor in Melbourne told "I don't think there's any reason to shine light. Let people donate to him as he serves his people and is being unfairly shamed in public."  Another said supporters of Folau "fear labels such as bigot and homophobic being piled on them, all while simply expressing their opinion or just exercising their democratic right.  We cannot have a debate nowadays without these labels being thrown at you," the supporter said.

It comes as the Australian Christian Lobby called attacks on Folau a "smear campaign", with managing director Martyn Iles saying he was "very happy to financially support him".  "As Christians, we are supposed to stand with those of the household of faith who encounter various difficulties and trials," he wrote on Facebook.  Mr Iles described the situation as a "calculated and deliberate attempt to slime Israel Folau".

Daily Meditation

Seeking a Reformation of Worship

When Israel’s prophets denounced the corruption of Israelite worship, they sought reform, not revolution. Though they vehemently criticized liturgicalism, they never attacked the liturgy. Though they railed against externalism and formalism, they never sought to remove the externals and forms God had instituted.
For the forms of worship to communicate the content they are designed to convey, there must be constant instruction so that people understand their meaning. The sacraments are not naked symbols. They must be clothed with the Word. Word and sacrament must go together. Sacrament without Word inevitably yields formalism. Word without sacrament inevitably yields a sterility of worship.
We need a reformation of worship, a new discovery of the meaning of classical forms. I cannot be casual about worshiping God. God stripped of transcendence is no God at all. There is such a thing as the Holy. The Holy is sacred. It is uncommon. It is other. It is transcendent. It is not always user-friendly. But it is relevant. It provokes adoration, which is the essence of godly worship.

Coram Deo

Think about the sacraments and liturgy of the church you attend. Are they truly meaningful to you or have they become mere forms of ritual?

Passages for Further Study

Israel Folau: What Is At Stake

Folau’s Court Case V. Religious Freedom

The Gospel Coalition, Australia

Sacked Australian Rugby player Israel Folau decided earlier this month to begin legal proceedings against his former employer Rugby Australia. He has recently produced a YouTube video explaining his decision and has opened up a gofundme page to raise funds for his legal expenses.

This high profile court case will likely have ramifications for religious freedom here in Australia. As such, TGCA spoke to Associate Professor Neil Foster to gain insight into this event.

TGCA: Why exactly is Israel Folau taking his former employer to court?

I don’t have access to the court documents which have been filed, but based on news and other internet reports it seems that the situation is as follows: he seems to be making a claim under s 772 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“FWA”), which provides:
An employer must not terminate an employee’s employment for one or more of the following reasons, or for reasons including one or more of the following reasons:..(f)…religion.
This provision was inserted into the Act to implement Australia’s obligations under some international conventions drafted by the ILO (the International Labour Organisation), referred to in s 771 of the FWA.

To repeat what I have previously said on my blog:

One obvious question is whether the termination here has been for the “reason” of Mr Folau’s religion. His exhortation was a paraphrase of a Bible verse, and accompanied by an encouragement to repent and seek salvation in Jesus Christ. But it might be claimed that the termination was not on the basis of his religion, but rather on the basis of his choosing to express his religion in a way which insulted or offended homosexual persons.

The question is a complex one.

Monday, 24 June 2019

The UK's Commitment To Do Evil

Court Orders Forced Abortion For Disabled Woman

Catholic News Agency

A British judge has authorized doctors to perform an abortion on a pregnant Catholic woman with developmental disabilities and a mood disorder, despite the objections of the woman’s mother and the woman herself. The woman is 22 weeks pregnant.

“I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the State to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn't want it is an immense intrusion,” said Justice Nathalie Lieven in her ruling in the Court of Protection, June 21.  “I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society's views of termination,” Lieven explained, arguing that her decision is in the best interest of the woman.

The Court of Protection handles cases involving individuals judged to lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.  The woman, who cannot been publicly identified, has been described as “in her twenties,” and is under the care of an NHS trust, part of the UK’s National Health Service.

Doctors at the trust wished to abort her pregnancy and argued that, due to her diminished mental capacity, the abortion would be less traumatic for the woman than giving birth, especially if the baby would then be placed in foster care.   The woman’s mother made clear to doctors and the court that she would assume care of her grandchild.  [Note: the "doctors" apparently did not assess the trauma they are going to inflict upon the mother's baby. Ed.]

The woman is believed to have the mental capacity of a grade school-age child. She is reportedly Catholic, and her mother is Nigerian.  It is unknown if the pregnancy was conceived consensually, and police are investigating the circumstances of conception.

Daily Meditation

Emulating the Model of Worship

God instituted the model of worship found in the Old Testament.
The worship of Israel was formal and liturgical. Solemn rites were central to the experience. The setting of temple worship was anything but casual. The meeting place had an ambiance of the solemn and the holy. The ritual was designed for drama. The literature and music were high and majestic. God inspired the content of songs (the Psalms). The finest craftsmen, who were filled by the Holy Spirit, fashioned the articles of art. God designed the vestments of the priests “for glory and for beauty” (Ex. 28:2).
Everything in Israelite worship, from the music to the building to the liturgy, focused attention on the majesty of God. God, in His holiness and in His redemptive work, was the content of the form. It was solemn, because to enter the presence of God is a solemn matter.
But even God-ordained patterns of worship can be corrupted. Liturgy can degenerate into liturgicalism, or even worse, sacerdotalism, by which the rites and sacraments themselves are seen as the instruments of salvation. The forms of worship can devolve into formalism and the externals into externalism.

Coram Deo

In your devotional time today, try some of the forms of praise and worship described in Psalm 150.

Passages for Further Study

Masters of the Universe At Work

It's Your Money They Are Wasting

We have posted several pieces on the NZ Government's "housing policy".  A recent comprehensive article dissects the situation--both past and present.  As a result the Government is in a messy mess.  

We have made reference to the inexperience and general incompetence of the Housing Minister, Phil Twyford.  His only real world experience to date has been in prancing around the world with Oxfam.  He is a big-vision man with small-time experience or wisdom in the real world.  That's been problem Numero Uno.

Secondly, he and his colleagues belong to the socialist mindset that tax payer extorted money thrown at an idea or project can solve any problem.  By spending money, great things will magically come to pass.  There appears to be no commitment to hard nosed, brutal critical evaluation and risk management in policy development.  There appears to be very little, if any, self-critical scepticism.  By throwing money at the so-called "housing problem" all obstacles will be overcome.  Public announcements of "progress" seem to represent little more than boasts, and "big-noting".  What we have been left with is the state's half a dozen Kiwibuild houses which few, if any want to buy.

The houses that have been built in the programme thus far have turned out to be purchased by those who meet certain criteria--in particular they are "middle class" and can afford them.  The question is begged: what on earth is the state doing building such houses for those who can buy them pretty much everywhere on the open market--particularly if they are willing to buy already existing houses in areas that are "middle class".

Here are a couple of excerpts from the article by Henry Cooke, published in The Guardian.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Shades of Orwell's "1984"

Pupil Thrown Out of Class for Saying There Are Only Two Genders

"I know what the Authority thinks . . . "

Victoria Friedman
Breitbart London

A 17-year-old school pupil was allegedly removed from class for failing to be “inclusive” by saying there are only two genders.  Footage covertly filmed on a mobile phone by a Scottish school pupil went viral after it appeared to show a teacher reprimanding the boy for stating that there are only two genders.

In a separate room from the rest of the class, the pupil is heard questioning why he was removed for expressing his “opinion” that there are only two genders, to which the 56-year-old male teacher replied: “What you were saying is not very inclusive. This is an inclusive school.”

The pupil rebutted that “scientifically, there are just two genders” and that he thought it was “silly” to insist otherwise. He also challenged the teacher on why he could share his “opinion” in the classroom but the pupil could not, prompting the teacher to reply: “I am not putting my opinion out. I am stating what is national school authority policy.”

“Well, that’s not scientific whatsoever,” the pupil said, to which the teacher responded: “Not every policy is scientific.  I know what you think, and I know what the authority thinks, I know the authority’s point of view is very clear,” the 56-year-old added later, as if that should settle the matter.  “[W]e make no discrimination on the grounds of [gender],” the teacher declared.

Daily Meditation

Invading the Human Soul

Biblical worship invades the human soul. It is the soul that too often has been banished from modern worship. We are a people preoccupied with self-image, self-esteem, and self-gratification. Yet in all this we don’t even know what a “self” is.
The human soul is in exile from our thinking. No wonder, then, that it is not considered relevant to worship. Heaven is too distant to contemplate. Our lives are lived within the restricted boundaries of our terrestrial horizon. We have so despised the notion of pie in the sky that we have lost our taste for it altogether.
But when our souls are engaged in worship, our gaze is lifted heavenward, our hearts are set aflame by the divine fire, and we are ready to be done with this world. There is such a thing as mystic sweet communion with Christ in worship.
I’m speaking about something that goes beyond emotion (but includes it); that transcends passion (but doesn’t annul it); that penetrates to the deepest core of our being, where we sense—nay, we know—that we are in the presence of the living God.

Coram Deo

Spend some quiet time in worship, asking God to set your heart aflame with His divine fire.

Passages for Further Study

True, Historically Accurate Position

The Establishment Clause Revived

The "Establishment Clause" of  the US Constitution represents the first amendment made to the US Constitution.  Wikipedia provides a summary of its intent and meaning:

In United States law, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, together with that Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, form the constitutional right of freedom of religion. The relevant constitutional text is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...".

The Establishment Clause was based on a number of precedents, including the Constitutions of Clarendon, the Bill of Rights 1689, and the Pennsylvania and New Jersey colonial constitutions. An initial draft by John Dickinson was prepared in conjunction with his drafting the Articles of Confederation. In 1789, then-congressman James Madison prepared another draft which, following discussion and debate in the First Congress, would become part of the text of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The second half of the Establishment Clause includes the Free Exercise Clause, which allows individual citizens freedom from governmental interference in both private and public religious affairs.

The Establishment Clause is a limitation placed upon the United States Congress preventing it from passing legislation forcing an establishment of religion. The second half of the Establishment Clause inherently prohibits the government from preventing the free exercise of religion. While the Establishment Clause does prohibit Congress from preferring or elevating one religion over another, it does not prohibit the government's entry into the religious domain to make accommodations for religious observances and practices in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause. Furthermore, it does not prevent the placement of religious symbols on government premises.

The whole idea of the Establishment Clause is that there shall be no established religion in the United States--that is, a religion established by the Congress or the Executive Branch of government. 

In recent decades non-establishment has come to mean that the State is required to be functionally atheistic.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Free Speech . . . Or Not?

Most College Students Say Campus Climate Prevents Them from Expressing Views

Alana Mastrangelo
Breitbart News

A recent study found that most college students say that the political and social climate on their college campuses prevents students from expressing their true beliefs. The study reveals that more than two-thirds of college students admitted that campus culture causes students to self-censor over the concern that their classmates could find their views “offensive.”

“College students largely agree that the political and social climate on college campuses prevents some students from saying what they really believe because they’re afraid of offending their classmates,” says a recent study conducted by the Knight Foundation and College Pulse.

The study found that 68 percent of American college students say “the climate on my campus prevents some people from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive,” while roughly 31 percent disagree. The study also notes that students in agreement with this statement have “increased modestly over the last 12 months.”

Daily Meditation

Surveying the Crisis of Worship

There is a crisis of worship in our land. People are staying away from church in droves. One survey indicated that the two chief reasons people drop out of church are that it is boring and irrelevant.
If people find worship boring and irrelevant, it can only mean they have no sense of the presence of God in it. When we study the act of worship in Scripture and church history, we discover a variety of human responses to the sense of the presence of God. Some people tremble in terror, falling with their faces to the ground; others weep in mourning; some are exuberant in joy; still others are reduced to a pensive silence. Though the responses differ, one reaction we never find is boredom. It is impossible to be bored in the presence of God (if you know that He is there).
Neither is it possible for a sentient creature to find his or her encounter with God a matter of irrelevance. Nothing—and no one—is more relevant to human existence than the living God.

Coram Deo

Do you find worship boring and irrelevant? If so, pray for a renewed sense of God’s presence.

Passages for Further Study

Real Politick Outside of London

Interesting Days

OK.  So it seems to be shaping up that Boris Johnson will become the leader of the Conservative Party in the UK.  Love him or loathe him, thems will be the apples and the pears.  So, then, Brexit awaits.  Or it should, unless Johnson is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

But what is not clear (yet) is where the UK Labour Party will stand on the issue.  After all, the majority in the Commons will struggle to be held together by a Boris Johnson led Conservative Party.  Where will Johnson's allies come from?  How will the Labour Party vote? 

Here is an interesting indicator: 

’We Must Leave’: Pro-Brexit Labour Warns Corbyn 2nd Referendum Would Be ‘Toxic’

Twenty-six Labour MPs in marginal and Brexit-supporting constituencies have written to party leader Jeremy Corbyn urging him to strike a deal with the next prime minister to secure Brexit by October 31st, warning that pushing for a second referendum would be “toxic to our bedrock” of supporters.
The letter was sent on Wednesday, reported by Guido Fawkes, as a meeting of the Shadow Cabinet failed to agree on explicitly backing Remain as official Labour Party position, with Mr Corbyn saying however that it is “now right to demand that any deal is put to a public vote”, or second referendum. Other colleagues urged the leftist to support a second referendum now, with the party campaigning on a platform for Remain.

The signatories of the letter urged the Labour Party to stand by its pledge to honour the 2016 referendum and warned that “a commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock Labour voters, driving a wedge between them and our Party, jeopardising our role as a party of the whole nation.” The MPs added that the “populist right” and Brexit Party in particular represent a “potent threat” to Corbyn’s party in the traditionally working-class, pro-Brexit, but Labour-supporting heartlands. [Emphasis, ours]
“The Peterborough by-election result, with Labour’s vote share down 17%, and the Brexit Party coming so close, gives a stark warning of what could happen in Tory-Labour marginals, the majority of which are Leave seats,” the letter continued, adding that Peterborough canvassers were briefed “to assure voters that Brexit will not be stopped”.  [Breitbart News]

So, when all is said and done, it appears as though the "people" in electorates outside of London want Brexit--so much so, that the Labour Party fears electoral oblivion if it is seen to be supporting yet another referendum on the issue.  The electorate has "been there, and done that".  Any fiddling around with second referendums risks Labour entering the electoral void, with its supporters turning instead to the Brexit Party at the next general election. 

Johnson, if he were smart, could achieve a Grand Coalition:  Conservative rump, plus Labour rump, together with the Brexit Party. 

Thursday, 20 June 2019

This Emperor Has Worn Out His Ragged Clothes

Alarmist Claims on Extinction Can Lead to Apathy

Bob Brockie

A new United Nations report on biodiversity, released in May, claims that a million of the world's species are at imminent risk of extinction, while 4000 native plant and animal species also face extinction in New Zealand, according to another recent report.

These claims give the impression that droves of plants and animals are going extinct, but things are not as alarming as these reports assert.   Very few animals have disappeared from the world's continents in recent years.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps a close eye on extinctions and lists very few animals going extinct on the continents.  Since 2000, the Union lists only the Western black rhino, a Japanese otter, the Yangtze River dolphin, five species of Australian marsupial rodents, and some African grasshoppers.

More island species have gone extinct over the list 18 years, comprising the Formosan leopard, a Christmas Island bat, the Pinta Island tortoise, a Uruguayan island lizard, a Madagascan grebe, a Bermuda owl, the Norfolk Island silvereye, a Costa Rican toad, an Australian island marsupial rat, a giant stick insect from Singapore, and a Madeira island butterfly

Extinction doomsayers have always attracted headlines.

Daily Meditation

Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer (Part 2)

John Calvin’s third rule of prayer was that we must always pray with genuine feeling. Prayer is a matter of passion: “Many repeat prayers in a perfunctory manner from a set form, as if they were performing a task to God … They perform the duty from custom, because their minds are meanwhile cold, and they ponder not what they ask.”
A fourth rule of prayer from Calvin was that it be always accompanied by repentance: “God does not listen to the wicked; that their prayers, as well as their sacrifices, are an abomination to them. For it is right that those who seal up their hearts should find the ears of God closed against them.”
Calvin said a humble submission is required: “Of this submission, which casts down all haughtiness, we have numerous examples in the servants of God. The holier they are, the more humbly they prostrate themselves when they come into the presence of the Lord.”
If I can summarize Calvin’s teaching on prayer succinctly, I would say this: The chief rule of prayer is to remember who God is and to remember who you are. If we remember those two things, our prayers will always and ever be marked by adoration and confession.

Coram Deo

Do you pray with genuine feeling? Do you always accompany your prayers with repentance?

Passages for Further Study

New Zealand's Dark, Dark Present.

The Other Side of the "Oranga Tamariki Baby Uplift Story"

We remember well the terrible story of Nia Glassie.     You can read a summary here.  The point is that a defenceless child was murdered because the family responsible for her death were themselves dead in a prison of narcotic abuse.  But within parts of  Maoridom in New Zealand, family or whanau outweigh all other considerations when it comes to child rearing and raising. 

Whilst the country was sickened and outraged by what happened to little, defenceless Nia Glassie it has learned little, if not anything at all.  We are back right where we started as it were.  Certain Maori are claiming their "whanau rights" trump all.  But when a household or an extended family is in the grip of domestic violence, drugs, and alcohol whanau rights are shot to pieces in practice and reality.  Bleating on about them as a last resort to preserve some vestige of human dignity has long ago fled the coup.

A family lawyer has published her view of the matter.

You've probably seen it – the video of the young Hawke's Bay mother with the week-old baby that (the child welfare agency) Oranga Tamariki is attempting to uplift. I watched it, but my reaction was likely different to yours.  It's hard watching, but it didn't leave me wondering how Oranga Tamariki could be so cruel, or how the social worker could have made such an error of judgment, or why the family wasn't given a chance to try, or how our legal system could allow such an injustice to happen.

I didn't wonder, because I'm a family lawyer.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

The Act Party Hangs It Hat on Freedom of Speech

Not a Bad Place to Stand

The "intolerant new left" is working in the background of the Government to censor New Zealanders' thoughts and speech, Act Party leader David Seymour says.  Act unveiled a new logo with the tagline "for freedom" at its annual conference in Auckland's Parnell today, with speakers highlighting free speech policy and opposition to gun laws passed after the Christchurch shootings.

The Act party unveiled a new logo with the tagline "for freedom" at its annual conference in Auckland's Parnell today.  "None of us, nor our ancestors, came here to have our thoughts and speech censored by a state apparatus," Seymour said in his keynote speech.  "In fact, many New Zealanders have come here to get away from exactly that. But make no mistake that is exactly what the intolerant new left wants, and they are working in the background of the current Government.

"For a long time, we could rely on the liberal left to uphold freedom of expression. They may have wanted to take your property, but at least they'd let you have your thoughts and opinions."

Seymour has faced accusations he is seeking the "racist vote" after announcing a member's bill that would repeal parts of the law that makes some speech unlawful if it is threatening, abusive or insulting and likely to "excite hostility" against a group of people or bring them into contempt on the ground of their colour, race or ethnicity.  Today, Seymour said the bill would remove from the Human Rights Act the words "abusive" and "insulting" and leave only "threatening" as a crime.

"It should never be a crime to insult or abuse someone with language because nobody should ever be punished on the basis of subjective opinion."  [NZ Herald]

Daily Meditation

Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer (Part 1)

For John Calvin, prayer was like a priceless treasure that God has offered to His people.
Calvin’s first rule of prayer was to enter into it with a full awareness of the One to whom we are speaking. The key to prayer is a spirit of reverence and adoration: “Let the first rule of right prayer be, to have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into converse with God.”
Calvin wrote of how easy it is for our minds to wander in prayer. We become inattentive, as if we were speaking to someone with whom we are easily bored. This insults the glory of God: “Let us know, then, that none duly prepare themselves [sic] for prayer but those who are so impressed with the majesty of God that they engage in it free from all earthly cares and affections.”
Calvin’s second rule of prayer was that we ask only for those things that God permits. Prayer can be an exercise in blasphemy if we entreat His blessing for our sinful desires: “I lately observed, men in prayer give greater license to their unlawful desires than if they were telling jocular tales among their equals.”

Coram Deo

How does your personal prayer life line up with these two rules? Is your heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into conversation with God? Do you ask only for those things God permits?

Passages for Further Study