Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Daily Meditation

Restoring Our Relationship

Unregenerate man is consistently described as being in a state of alienation and enmity. This is the condition that makes reconciliation necessary. Reconciliation is necessary only when a state of estrangement exists between two or more parties. Estrangement is the natural fallen state of our relationship to God.
How are we enemies of God? Jonathan Edwards provides an insightful summary of the problem. He lists several points of tension between God and man:
1. By nature, we have a low esteem of God. We count Him unworthy of our love or fear.
2. We prefer to keep a distance from God. We have no natural inclination to seek His presence in prayer.
3. Our wills are opposed to the law of God. We are not loyal subjects of His sovereign rule.
4. We are enemies against God in our affections. Our souls have a seed of malice against God. We are quick to blaspheme and to rage against Him.
5. We are enemies in practice. We walk in a way that is contrary to Him.

Coram Deo

Examine your spiritual condition in light of Edwards’s five points of tension between God and man.

Passages for Further Study

Let's Start Over

Colonialist Proselytizers

The Surprising Discovery About Those  Missionaries

Andrea Palpant Dilley
Christianity Today

For many of our contemporaries, no one sums up missionaries of an earlier era like Nathan Price. The patriarch in Barbara Kingsolver's 1998 novel, The Poisonwood Bible, Price tries to baptize new Congolese Christians in a river filled with crocodiles. He proclaims Tata Jesus is bangala!, thinking he is saying, "Jesus is beloved." In fact, the phrase means, "Jesus is poisonwood." Despite being corrected many times, Price repeats the phrase until his death—Kingsolver's none-too-subtle metaphor for the culturally insensitive folly of modern missions.

For some reason, no one has written a best-selling book about the real-life 19th-century missionary John Mackenzie. When white settlers in South Africa threatened to take over the natives' land, Mackenzie helped his friend and political ally Khama III travel to Britain. There, Mackenzie and his colleagues held petition drives, translated for Khama and two other chiefs at political rallies, and even arranged a meeting with Queen Victoria. Ultimately their efforts convinced Britain to enact a land protection agreement. Without it, the nation of Botswana would likely not exist today.

The annals of Western Protestant missions include Nathan Prices, of course. But thanks to a quiet, persistent sociologist named Robert Woodberry, we now know for certain that they include many more John Mackenzies. In fact, the work of missionaries like Mackenzie turns out to be the single largest factor in ensuring the health of nations.

'This Is Why God Made Me'

Fourteen years ago, Woodberry was a graduate student in sociology at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (UNC). The son of J. Dudley Woodberry, a professor of Islamic studies and now a dean emeritus at Fuller Theological Seminary, he started studying in UNC's respected PhD program with one of its most influential figures, Christian Smith (now at the University of Notre Dame). But as Woodberry cast about for a fruitful line of research of his own, he grew discontented.

"Most of the research I studied was about American religion," he says of early graduate school. "It wasn't [my] passion, and it didn't feel like a calling, something I could pour my life into."

One afternoon he attended a required lecture that brought his vocational drift to a sudden end. The lecture was by Kenneth A. Bollen, a UNC–Chapel Hill professor and one of the leading experts on measuring and tracking the spread of global democracy. Bollen remarked that he kept finding a significant statistical link between democracy and Protestantism. Someone needed to study the reason for the link, he said.  Woodberry sat forward in his seat and thought, That's me. I'm the one.

Monday, 21 January 2019

German Throwback to Nazi Laws

‘Major Blow to Parental Rights’

Court Rules Against German Homeschoolers 

Thomas D. Williams
Breitbart London

A recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that German authorities had not violated a family’s rights when they stormed their home and carried away their four children to prevent them from receiving homeschooling, a decision condemned by human rights advocates as “a major blow to parental rights.”

The case goes back to August 2013, when more than 30 police officers and social workers burst into the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, just as they were beginning their first homeschooling lesson of the year, a practice that is illegal in Germany, and seized their children.

Ellen Fantini, Executive Director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe, told Breitbart News on Monday that Germany is one of the only nations to criminally enforce its ban on homeschooling, and that the officials had “entered the Wunderlich home with a battering ram and taken the children by force.”

The January 10 ruling by the ECHR defending the police action sends the very clear message that “German officials know better than parents how to educate their children,” Ms. Fantini said.  “This ruling ignores the fact that Germany’s policy on homeschooling violates the rights of parents to educate their children and direct their upbringing. It is alarming to see that this was not recognized by the most influential human rights court in Europe,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International. “This ruling is a step in the wrong direction and should concern anyone who cares about freedom.”

After courts in Germany ruled in favor of the government, the Wunderlich family appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, which agreed to take up the case in August 2016.

Daily Meditation

Recognizing Our Enmity

As children we played games drawn from the scenario of war. When a friend approached we pretended that we were sentries. The dialogue was simple: “Halt! Who goes there? Friend or foe?” Our categories left no room for indifferent neutrality. They were restricted to two options, friend or enemy. Those are the only options we have in our relationship with God. No one is neutral. We are either God’s friends or God’s enemies.
Jonathan Edwards once preached a sermon titled, “Man, Naturally God’s Enemies.” In this sermon Edwards declared: “Men, in general, will own that they are sinners. There are few, if any, whose consciences are so blinded as not to be sensible they have been guilty of sin … And yet few of them are sensible that they are God’s enemies. They do not see how they can be truly so called; for they are not sensible that they wish God any hurt, or endeavor to do Him any.”
Yet despite human protestations to the contrary, Scripture clearly describes natural fallen men as enemies of God. Paul, in speaking of our salvation, wrote, “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom. 5:10). Again, “You … were alienated [from God] and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” (Col. 1:21). Also, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God” (Rom. 8:7).

Coram Deo

Think of the characteristics and qualities of intimate friendship, then apply these to your spiritual relationship with the heavenly Father. Are you truly a friend of God?

Passages for Further Study

Weird and Weirder

The Death Religion Ill-Meaning, and Stupid to Boot

Jana J. Pruet
The Blaze

Volunteers from a pro-life organization spent hours placing 3,600 crosses in a field in Bellingham, Washington, over the weekend.  Each cross, crafted by hand and painted bright white, represented one of the babies who is killed by abortion every day in the U.S.

That was Saturday.

The night before, three of eight Lynden Human Life's pro-life signs, which are spread out across Whatcom County were vandalized. Lynden Human Life is a nonprofit that provides education and resources to help protect the unborn and the elderly.  Coincidence?

Spokeswoman Lynden Juanita Verbree doesn't believe so.  "I think this group knew what our plans were and went to work the night before [the crosses went up]," Verbree told TheBlaze in a phone interview Tuesday.

Verbree, who has worked with Lynden Human Life since 1981, said the group puts up the crosses every January just before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  The "cemetery" will stay in the field until mid-April.

What did the vandals do to the signs?  All three of the 12 foot by 8 foot signs were vandalized with paint.  The vandals wrote,"Your life drains earth," in red spray paint.

Image source: Martin Verbree
The message and meaning is pretty clear.  The baby is alleged to "drain" the earth, by which we suppose the protesters meant that every new human life actually consumes the resources of the earth in some way.  The implication is that the new born child is Earth-Enemy Number One. Weird.

However, the secret protesters/vandals are clearly hypocrites.  If they truly believes that human life "drains" the earth, by far the best contribution they could make would be to commit suicide.  However, for some inexplicable reason they must also believe that their negative contribution to the earth ought to be overlooked. Weirder still.  [Ed.]

Saturday, 19 January 2019

The Brash Saga

Massey University Misdirects Itself

Obvious Lessons Ignored

Grant Miller

Massey University will have eagerly turned the page on 2018, but choices loom about the year ahead.  The university's leadership will have to figure out what being a Treaty of Waitangi-led organisation means day to day.

More importantly, there's a badly battered reputation in need of repair. Massey's self-inflicted wounds came from the university forgetting what universities are supposed to be about – robust debate, for example.

The university council brought in Douglas Martin of consulting firm MartinJenkins to review the decision to cancel a politics club event where former National Party leader Don Brash had been due to speak.   The review team made many reasonable observations. The conclusion vice-chancellor Jan Thomas did not lie about her intentions was also fair.

However, Thomas had turned Massey into New Zealand's most embarrassing university and the university council's response was to endorse this state of affairs.  We may infer from council members' quick backing of the vice-chancellor that they didn't grasp how badly into the mire the institution had been plunged.

Daily Meditation

Understanding Free Will

Martin Luther struggled greatly with the relationship of God’s sovereignty to human free will and sin. In fact, one of the greatest books ever written on the subject, The Bondage of the Will, is from Luther’s pen. When Luther grappled with this issue, he especially struggled with the Old Testament passages where we read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 4:217:3–413–1422–238:151930–329:27–10:210:16–2024–28).
When we read these passages, we tend to think, “Doesn’t this suggest that God not only works through the desires and actions of humans, but that He actually forces evil upon people?” After all, the Bible does say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
When Luther discussed this, he observed that when the Bible says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, God did not create fresh evil in the heart of an innocent man. Luther said that God didn’t harden people by putting evil in their hearts. All that God must do to harden anyone’s heart is to withhold His own grace; that is, He gives a person over to himself.

Coram Deo

Is your heart open to the needs of others? Is it responsive to spiritual things? Ask God to keep your heart soft and pliable to His divine will and purposes.

Passages for Further Study

New Zealand's Travelling Envirocrats

Expensive Self-Congratulation Is Always Ugly

Wars are expensive undertakings.  International bureaucratic talkfests crafting war plans, strategies, targets, timetables, and bloated bellies are likewise very expensive.  But since it is all necessary in the "war against climate change" such spending is absolute, industrial grade, highest quality kosher salt.

Of course communication via electronic means has never been more pervasive and cheaper.  But this has merely seemed to convince our spendthrift government masters of the need to revert to ancient forms of global communication.  In order to "fight" against climate change, face-to-face communication is absolutely essential.  The electronic age has strangely ushered in a global, "whites of their eyes" old-style model of communication.

According to Stuff, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent and wasted by our travelling climate change warriors:

Friday, 18 January 2019

Another "Peace-In-Our-Time" Disaster

Deep Throat Insider

Theresa May’s Brexit Deal – ‘It’s a Trap’

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit “deal” is a deviously engineered, triple-lock trap which will leave Britain stuck for all eternity in the European Union, an anonymous civil servant has confirmed.
The civil servant, writing at Brexit Central, describes May’s Withdrawal Agreement as an “Orwellian misnomer”. Far from helping Britain to leave the EU it keeps it perpetually bound in chains.

He or she goes on to detail the three locks which have been cunningly inserted into the Withdrawal Agreement by legalistically-minded civil servants who know exactly how to sabotage Brexit. 

First is the transition period, lasting until at least 2021.
We must hand over an estimated £39 billion for nothing, be bound by EU law and take orders from an unelected Joint Committee operating under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Will the EU27 agree an equitable free trade agreement before the end of 2020? Unlikely, since all the goodies they want in the “future partnership” are set out in the Northern Ireland backstop, which kicks in automatically on 1st January 2021.
Second is the backstop.

Daily Meditation

Analyzing Unanswered Prayer

Our prayers are sometimes not answered because we pray in vague generalities. When all our prayers are either vague or universal in their scope, it is difficult to experience the exhilaration that goes with clear and obvious answers to prayer. If we ask God to “bless everyone in the world” or “forgive everyone in town,” it would be difficult to see the prayer answered in any concrete way. Not that it is wrong to have a large scope of interest in prayer, but if all prayer is given to such generality, then no prayer will have specific and concrete application.
Our prayers are also hindered if we are at war with God. If we are out of harmony with God or in a state of rebellion toward Him, we can hardly expect Him to turn a benevolent ear toward our prayers. His ear is inclined to those who love Him and seek to obey Him. He turns His ear away from the wicked. Thus our attitude and reverence toward God is vital to the efficiency of our prayers.
We also tend to be impatient. When I pray for patience I tend to ask for it “right now!” It is not uncommon for us to wait years, indeed decades, for our most earnest petitions to be realized. God rarely is in a hurry. On the other hand, our fidelity to God tends to depend on “prompt and courteous” action by God. If God tarries, our impatience yields to frustration.
We also have short memories and easily forget the benefits and gifts we’ve received from the hand of God. This is the mark of the apostate—he forgets the benefits of God. The saint remembers the gifts of God and doesn’t require a fresh one each hour to keep his faith intact.
Though God does heap grace upon grace, we should be able to rejoice in God’s benefits if we never receive another benefit from Him. Remember the Lord when you go before Him. He will not give you a stone when you ask Him for bread.

Coram Deo

Reflect on these reasons for unanswered prayer to determine if they are affecting your prayer life: praying in generalities, being at war with God, being impatient, and forgetting the benefits you have received from God.

Passages for Further Study

A Mess of Educational Pottage

"Experience Day Tramps"

The government's NCEA education system is deteriorating by the year.  Some "woke" schools are voting with their feet.  Simon Collins, writing in the NZ Herald, has written an excellent piece on the issues.  

First up, he presents the argument of the "external exams are evil" folk.: 
At Kia Aroha College in Ōtara, no one sat external exams this year.  "We don't do exams," says principal Haley Milne.  "We don't want to put our young people in the gambling situation of an exam, where people's lives can fall apart in one day."

Her mother Dr Ann Milne, who was the principal for 22 years until 2016, says the college aims to develop young people who can think for themselves rather than just recite rote learning.  "Exams are a colonial system," she declares. "Exams test your memory and that's all. They don't actually help you to apply that learning in any way."
Kia Aroha College is presented as an "extreme" case--but the attitudes and principles at play are found right through the government school system.  The use of external exams is dropping sharply away.
Papers with external exams have dropped from 32 per cent in 2008 to 26 per cent in 2017 of all assessments for Level 1 of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).  At Level 2 externals have declined from 28 per cent to 21 per cent. And at Level 3 they have plunged from 37 per cent of all assessments in 2008 to 24 per cent last year. 

Combined with much higher rates of achievement, merit and excellence in internally assessed papers, the Ministry of Education sees the trend as "a risk to NCEA's credibility and robustness".
Is is not strange that  two critical features now stand out in the government school landscape?  Who would have seen that coming.  Firstly, the use of external exams has "plunged".  Secondly, the achievement and passing rate of internally assessed papers (the majority) have risen astronomically. 

If we were an employer, we would definitely put up a sign: "Internally assessed graduating students need not apply."

Thursday, 17 January 2019

The Southern Border Problem


There’s A National Emergency On The Border, But It’s Not What You Think

Trump says there’s a crisis on the border, but the crisis reaches far beyond the border into every institution in Mexico and Central America.

By John Daniel Davidson
The Federalist

During negotiations to end the government shutdown last week, President Trump said he might declare a national emergency over the southern border in order to bypass Congress and build his wall with defense funding. Trump repeated this threat on Sunday, then on Monday morning announced he would address the nation tonight regarding what he called “the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border.”

Do we really have a national emergency on the border, or is Trump just trying to leverage the language of crisis as part of his negotiations with Democrats? Yes and no. There is indeed a crisis on the border, but it’s not what you think.

The crisis is not, as Trump would have us believe, that record numbers of illegal immigrants are entering the country.

Daily Meditation

Eliminating Unrealistic Expectations

Sometimes we all feel as if our prayers lack the power to penetrate our ceilings. It seems as though our petitions fall on deaf ears and God remains unmoved or unconcerned about our passionate pleading. Why do these feelings haunt us?
There are several reasons why we are sometimes frustrated in prayer. One is that our expectations are unrealistic. This, perhaps more than any other factor, leads to a frustration in prayer. We make the common mistake of taking statements of Jesus in isolation from other biblical aspects of teaching in prayer, and we blow these few statements out of proportion.
We hear Jesus say that if two Christians agree on anything and ask, it shall be given to them. Jesus made that statement to men who had been deeply trained in the art of prayer, men who already knew the qualifications of this generalization. Yet in a simplistic way we interpret the statement absolutely. We assume the promise covers every conceivable petition without reservation or qualification. Think of it. Would it be difficult to find two Christians who would agree that to end all wars and human conflict would be a good idea? Obviously not. Yet if two Christians agreed to pray for the cessation of war and conflict, would God grant their petition? Not unless He planned to revise the New Testament and its teaching about the future of human conflict.
Prayer is not magic. God is not a celestial bellhop at our beck and call to satisfy our every whim. In some cases, our prayers must involve the travail of the soul and agony of heart, such as Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane. Sometimes young Christians have been bitterly disappointed in “unanswered” prayers, not because God failed to keep His promises, but because well-meaning Christians made promises “for” God that God never authorized.

Coram Deo

Do you have unrealistic expectations that account for seemingly unanswered prayers? Are you treating God like a celestial bellhop?

Passages for Further Study

Holy Myths and Gross Prejudices

Transgender Taboos: Don’t Question ... or Else

By John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera, Op-Ed Contributors
The Christian Post

There are a growing number of people who transitioned from one gender to the other, only to regret it, and then try to reverse the process. Why aren’t we hearing their stories?

Here’s a fun fact: the word “taboo” came to the English language from natives on what is now the nation of Tonga. Believe it or not, when British explorer James Cook first visited the remote island, he noticed that certain things, in particular certain foods, were strictly off-limits. When he asked why, they replied these things were “taboo,” which meant “consecrated, inviolable, forbidden, unclean or cursed.”

Now in English parlance today, we tend to use the word “taboo” as a figure of speech or hyperbole. We don’t think of whatever is being referred to as literally being “consecrated,” “inviolable,” “uncleaned” or “cursed.”

Or do we?

A recent article in Canada’s National Post identified something it called the “new taboo.” It’s off-limits to even talk about the increasing number of people who, having undergone gender-reassignment surgery, now not only regret their decision, they want to reverse the procedure.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Mockery and Sarcasm Called For

Twelve Debunked Climate Scares We Can Laugh at in 2019

James Delingpole
Breitbart News

2019 won’t be the year the climate change scare finally dies, unfortunately. But the people pushing it will look increasingly desperate, sad and piteously short of evidence to support their junk science theories.

Here, courtesy of the Global Warming Policy Forum, are the top twelve climate scares debunked in 2018. Share it with your alarmist friends to wish them a happy, sceptical New Year.

January 2018:  Worst-case global warming scenarios not credible: Study
PARIS (AFP) – Earth’s surface will almost certainly not warm up four or five degrees Celsius by 2100, according to a study released Wednesday (Jan 17) which, if correct, voids worst-case UN climate change predictions.

A revised calculation of how greenhouse gases drive up the planet’s temperature reduces the range of possible end-of-century outcomes by more than half, researchers said in the report, published in the journal Nature.

February:  ‘Sinking’ Pacific nation Tuvalu is actually getting bigger, new research reveals

Daily Meditation

Stunting Worship

The visual impact of the furnishings and the buildings of both the Old Testament tabernacle and temple was awesome. The eyes were dazzled with a sense of the splendor of God.
Sound was vital to Old Testament worship. The choral compositions of the Psalms were moving to the Spirit. They were accompanied by the full harmony and rhythm supplied by the harp, the lyre, the flute, and trumpets. The piano and the organ are marvelous instruments, but they cannot produce the sounds that the other instruments provide. Hymns and choral anthems are greatly enhanced when they are supported with greater orchestration.
Old Testament worship involved all five senses. The element of touch is missing in most Protestant worship. Charismatic groups emphasize the laying on of hands, which meets a strong human need for a holy touch. Early Christian worship involved the placing of the pastor’s hands on each person with the pronouncement of the benediction. When congregations got too large for such personal attention, the act gave way to the symbolic gesture of the benediction spoken by the pastor with outstretched arms. This was a simulation of the laying on of hands, but the actual touch was lost.
Old Testament worship included taste and smell. The fragrance of burning incense gave a peculiar sense of a special aroma associated with the sweetness of God. One of the first gifts laid at the foot of the manger of Jesus was that of frankincense. Most Protestants reject incense without giving any substantive reason for its rejection.
Taste was central to the Old Testament feasts as well as the New Testament celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The injunction to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8) is rooted in the worship experience. The people of God “tasted the heavenly gift” (Heb. 6:4).
Perhaps we have stunted worship by excluding elements that God once included and deemed important.

Coram Deo

Reflect on ways you might involve your physical senses in worshiping God in your private devotions.

Passages for Further Study

Sunlight the Best Disinfectant

A Painful Necessity

They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant.  And so it can be amongst men: the revelation of good deeds and misdeeds can go a long way towards setting things on a better course.  

In this light, it seems a very positive thing that the dark secrets of Roman Catholicism concerning the sexual purity of Roman Catholic priests are now being publicly disclosed--despite the ongoing demands for secrecy and confidentiality.

Big Jump in US Catholic Dioceses Naming Names
Over the past four months, Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in an unprecedented public reckoning spurred at least in part by a shocking grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, an Associated Press review has found.

Nearly 50 dioceses and religious orders have publicly identified child-molesting priests in the wake of the Pennsylvania report issued in mid-August, and 55 more have announced plans to do the same over the next few months, the AP found. Together they account for more than half of the nation’s 187 dioceses.

The review also found that nearly 20 local, state or federal investigations, either criminal or civil, have been launched since the release of the grand jury findings. Those investigations could lead to more names and more damning accusations, as well as fines against dioceses and court-ordered safety measures.

“People saw what happened in these parishes in Pennsylvania and said, ‘That happened in my parish too.’ They could see the immediate connection, and they are demanding the same accounting,” said Tim Lennon, national president of the board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.  [AP]
In many cases the accused cannot be brought to trial.  They have passed to face a higher court.  But the disclosures are useful and beneficial nonetheless.