Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Long Dark of Moria


EU: Belgium introduces death penalty without trial for minors. It is called “euthanasia”.

Posted on | November 28, 2013 
By J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
A day of shame at the Belgian Senate: a country abandons civilization.
The culture of death, which is bound to lead to the self-destruction of any society that adopts it, is making great strides in Europe. The latest development is that the Belgian Senate has voted in favour of a new bill that extends the legalisation of “euthanasia” to minors. There is no lower age limit, nor is it a requirement for the victims of those so-called “mercy-killings” to have asked for such “mercy”.

Instead, the basis for killing these children is the choice they hypothetically would make if they only understood their condition. In reality, however, they will be killed either at the request of their parents, or may be even (for example if the parents are unavailable, or if they unable or unwilling to make such a request) at the initiative of a public administrative body. In other words, this is a death penalty without trial, without criminal charges, without a right to defence.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 30

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. —Psalm 51:13

Devotional:
"I will teach transgressors thy ways." Here he speaks of the gratitude which he would feel should God answer his prayer and engages to show it by exerting himself in effecting the conversion of others by his example.

Those who have been mercifully recovered from their falls will feel inflamed by the common law of charity to extend a helping hand to their brethren;

Prophetic Bombers

Anglican Church Definitively Condemned 

It seems inevitable that severe disruption of some kind, if not a split, is going to occur in the Anglican church.  This ought not discourage us on the face of it, for not all separations and splits are bad.  The call to "come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing" (II Corinthians 6:17) remains, reminding us that it is the Living God Who is sovereign and His Word rules over churches, not the reverse.

What is discouraging is the extent of judicial blindness now manifest in the Anglican church.  The Telegraph recently presented the thinking of bishops via a report, compiled by a panel of bishops, and  issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York over the issue of homosexuality.  As is so often the case in such matters it is the childish, asinine reasoning that accompanies the attempt to justify what is wicked that reveals so much about the spiritual condition of the denomination.  What is the recommendation of the report?

Friday, 29 November 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Gravy of Grace and Gratitude

Blog and Mablog

If you like to eat what you like to eat, this means that you are a human being. If you are morally indignant about the food choices of others, this means you are well on the way to becoming a food leftist.

Leftism is that impulse that wants to establish coercion and call it community. Apply the coercive impulse to food and farming choices, and you have the food leftist.

And it begins with the indignation. Once the indignation is established, it becomes possible to draw on a hidden premise that too many Americans share — that sins should be crimes — and move from that position to the idea that made up sins should be made into real crimes.

When the food regulators change their minds, and start cracking down on this product instead of that product, this is simply part of the way authoritarian regimes operate.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 29

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. —II Timothy 3:14, 15

Devotional:
Timothy, even from his childhood, had learned the holy Scripture. By this he means that Timothy had much more advantage than if he had but recently been brought to the faith from heathendom. True it is that his father was a heathen, but God of his gracious goodness made him follow the faith of his mother and his grandmother. And therefore he had been faithfully brought up, and instructed in the doctrine of God, and in true religion, even from his mother's breast.

For if a man be sixty years old, being already old and frail for the knowledge of the Gospel, still he must strive with himself, seeing he has erred all his life long, to make up for that which he has lost.

Unclothed Emperor

Poor Qualifications Exposed

The education establishment, which is made up of educrats, principals, many teachers, teacher unions and politicians, have long celebrated the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) testing system in New Zealand secondary schools.  Recently, however, tertiary institutions provided anecdotal and experiential testimony that our official education system is failing to prepare students for study at universities, colleges, and other tertiary institutions.  The report was prepared by the Tertiary Education Commission--a government quango.

According to the NZ Listener:
A confidential Tertiary Education Commission report reveals profound and widespread concerns about the way NCEA prepares students for further study. It paints a picture of substandard mathematics and science education, NCEA students coming unstuck in their first year at university and tertiary providers scrambling to come up with their own diagnostic tests and remedial courses. The document is a summary of formal reports from 15 tertiary institutions – universities and polytechnics – that offer engineering courses.
How does the problem manifest?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Trust, But Verify

Reclaiming Vital Liberties

Blogger Patterico has been consistently has been critical of Snowden leaks.  Like many, he sees it as undermining the government which necessarily has to conduct some activities in secret.  Recent revelations, however, find him rethinking.

Snowden Document Reveals The Government Is Tracking Individuals’ Online Activities for the Explicit Purpose of Embarrassing Them

Filed under: General — 
Patterico @ 7:30 am

The latest Edward Snowden document shows the government tracking online activities of people in order to discredit them with charges of hypocrisy for viewing porn and such. But it’s OK, nothing to worry about . . . they’re all Muslims:
The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger.”
It doesn’t take a genius to see how a brass knuckles politician might drool over access to information that would embarrass and destroy their critics and political opponents.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 28

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. —Zechariah 4:6

Devotional:
Here we are reminded that if we desire to become proficient in the mysteries of God, we must not arrogate anything to ourselves; for here the Prophet honestly confesses his own want of knowledge. And let us not at this day be ashamed to lie down at God's feet, that he may teach us as little children; for whoever desires to be God's disciple must necessarily be conscious of his own folly, that is, he must come free from a conceit of his own wisdom, and be willing to be taught by God.

The angel bears witness that the power of God alone is sufficient to preserve the Church and there is no need of other helps. For he sets the Spirit of God in opposition to all earthly aids; and thus he proves that God borrows no help for the preservation of the Church, because he abounds in all blessings to enrich it.

Uneasy and Sleepless

 The Foment Of Fairness

We have been working through David Fischer's Fairness and Freedom, which claims to be a "history of two open societies--New Zealand and the United States".  It represents a history of the idea of freedom and liberty, as developed in the two respective countries.  [David Fischer, Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies, New Zealand and the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).]

In a nutshell, the thesis is that the United States has been built upon and moulded around the idea of freedom as liberty from state oppression, whilst New Zealand has been built upon the idea of freedom as fairness throughout society.  The brush strokes of the thesis are necessarily broad and all-encompassing.  Critics would allege that this necessarily leads to over-simplification.  However, wrinkles aside, the basic thesis has enough correspondence with reality to warrant consideration.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Letter From Australia (About Resuming Normal Service)

The Great Climate Grind


Tim Blair
The Daily Telegraph
November 25, 2013

AUSTRALIAN pride is restored. This is no small accomplishment, considering the depths to which we sank in 2009, when prime minister Kevin Rudd offered this wince-making speech to that year's United Nations climate conference in Denmark:
"Before I left Australia, I was presented with a book of handwritten letters from a group of six-year-olds. One of the letters is from Gracie. Gracie is six. 'Hi,' she wrote. 'My name is Gracie. How old are you?' Gracie continues, 'I am writing to you because I want you all to be strong in Copenhagen. Please listen to us as it is our future.' I fear that at this conference, we are on the verge of letting little Gracie down."
We were a different country back then, outsourcing economic policy to babies and actually admitting it to the world. Happily, things have changed. For this year's UN climatefest in Warsaw, Poland, Tony Abbott's government didn't even bother to send the environment minister, much less the Prime Minister and his pre-teen fan mail.
Instead we sent some delegates who quite properly treated the whole exercise as a lark, much to the consternation of Gaia's little Gracies.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 26

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Republished from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
Jesus saith unto him, 1 am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. —John 14:6

Devotional:
"I am the way." Though Christ does not give a direct reply to the question put to him, yet he passes by nothing that is useful to be known. It was proper that Thomas' curiosity should be checked; and, therefore, Christ does not explain what would be his condition when he should have departed out of this world to go to the Father, but dwells on a subject far more necessary.

Thomas would gladly have heard what Christ intended to do in heaven, as we never become weary of those intricate speculations; but it is of greater importance to us to employ our study and labor on another inquiry, how we may become partakers of the blessed resurrection.

The statement amounts to this, that whoever obtains Christ is in want of nothing; and therefore that whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone strives after something beyond absolute perfection.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Luddite Zealots

Here comes yet another confrontation between the law-abiding and Greenpeace.  West of Taranaki a Greenpeace flotilla is attempting to stop a deep-sea drilling rig commencing exploratory drilling for oil.  As things stand, Greenpeace is currently (and proudly) breaking the law.  This from the NZ Herald:
The scene is set for a skirmish off the North Island's west coast this morning as protest vessels hold fast to Anadarko oil drilling ship the Noble Bob Douglas. Anadarko had intended to begin drilling 185km off the coast of Raglan on Thursday or Friday but has been shadowed by a flotilla of six protest vessels. One, the Vega, remains within the 500m exclusion zone. Among those on board the 11.5m ketch are Greenpeace NZ chief executive Bunny McDiarmid and former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.
This confrontation is a bit more interesting this time around, however.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 25

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

Devotional:
So we see that our Lord Jesus Christ only calls those who are "heavy laden and travail." Therefore, he excludes all those who slumber in their iniquities, who flatter themselves, or hurl themselves without any fear of God into reckless living. Those who have burst out into evil cannot approach our Lord Jesus; that is certain. For what will bring us to him save the voice by which he invites us?

It is certain that the door is shut to as many as blind themselves with their pride and presumption, who make themselves believe they are righteous in themselves; they cannot hope that our Lord Jesus Christ will bring them any comfort.

Don't Steal--The Government Does Not Like Competition

It's Redistribution, But Not As We Had Thought of It

Quantitative easing has been a massive thievery of ordinary citizens and a redistribution of wealth to the monied classed operating in the financial sector.  A Mckinsey report documents how this has played out in the UK (and in the US, and Europe in general).

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 23

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. —Isaiah 40:8

Devotional:
"But the word of our God shall stand forever." This passage comprehends the whole Gospel in a few words; for it consists of an acknowledgment of our misery, poverty, and emptiness, that, being sincerely humbled, we may fly to God, by whom alone we shall be perfectly restored. Let not men therefore faint or be discouraged by the knowledge of their nakedness and emptiness; for the eternal word is exhibited to them by which they may be abundantly supported and upheld.

We are likewise taught that we ought not to seek consolation from any other source than from eternity, which ought not to be sought anywhere else than in God; since nothing that is firm or durable will be found on the earth.

The Magic of Free Trade

Mutual Understanding Not Enough

What causes wars?  An almost universal consensus (in the West) is that wars are the result of misunderstandings.  When wars break out it is widely believed that they could have been avoided if only the protagonists had a better understanding of each other.  Why do Muslim imams and religious leaders label the West with the sobriquet Great Satan?  It's because they do not understand us.  If they did, they would like us better and would not say such things.  A suppressed snide corollary usually goes with this cliche: Islamic misunderstanding is due to ignorance.  If they knew more, if they were better educated, they would like us Westerners better. 

As Jonah Goldberg put it

Friday, 22 November 2013

Follow the Money

Epic Fail

UN climate talks fall apart as 132 countries storm out


Posted By Michael Bastasch 
On 12:25 PM 11/20/2013 
The Daily Caller

Poor countries pulled out of the United Nations climate talks during a fight over transferring wealth from richer countries to fight global warming.

The G77 and China bloc led 132 poor countries in a walk out during talks about “loss and damage” compensation for the consequences of global warming that countries cannot adapt to, like Typhoon Haiyan. The countries that left claim to have the support of other coalitions of poor nations, including the Least Developed Countries, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Africa Group.

Poor countries have demanded that the developed world give them $100 billion annually by 2020 to prepare for the impacts of global warming, such as heat waves and droughts. Brazil even put forward a proposal last week that would have made rich countries pay for historical greenhouse gas emissions.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 22

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC website

Bible Text:
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. —Psalm 91:5, 6

Devotional:
Wherever you turn, all the objects around you are not only unworthy of your confidence, but almost openly menace you, and seem to threaten immediate death. Embark in a ship; there is but a single step between you and death. Mount a horse; the slipping of one foot endangers your life. Walk through the streets of a city; you are liable to as many dangers as there are tiles on the roofs.

If there be a sharp weapon in your hand, or that of your friend, the mischief is manifest. All the ferocious animals you see are armed for your destruction. If you try to shut yourself in a garden surrounded with a good fence and exhibiting nothing but what is delightful, even there sometimes lurks a serpent. Your house, perpetually liable to fire, menaces you by day with poverty and by night with falling on your head....

Extenuation by Race

Wretched Argument for Racial Inferiority

If we were Maori, with just the slightest smidgeon of self-respect, honour and decency, we would right now be hanging our head in shame and boiling with righteous anger, both at the same time.  On what provocation, we hear you ask? On this:
Christchurch defence lawyer James Rapley said Maori should receive shorter prison sentences because they come from an environment of social deprivation and inequality.  "Fifty-one per cent of the prison population is Maori," he told the Court of Appeal. "Everyone says everyone should be treated alike and equally, but not everyone is equal."[NZ Herald]
Rapley was arguing before the Court of Appeal to get the sentence of one Fabian Mika reduced by ten percent on the grounds that he was Maori.  Not, notice, on the grounds of Mika's remorse over his crime, his early guilty plea, his efforts at restitution of his victims, or extenuating circumstances, but because of his race.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Obamamandias

Blog and Mablog

With apologies to P.B. Shelley . . .

I met a traveler from bankrupt land
Who said: ‘One vast and hapless head of stone
Lies in the desert. Near it, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered website lies, still down.
That haughty look, and sneer of cold command,
And photo-op poses, a myriad!
Still cannot get it, overwhelmed by “things”
Like “If you like it, you can keep it. Period.”
And on the teleprompt these words appear—
“My name is Obamamandias, king of kings:
Look on my work, ye uninsured, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
A once great health care system stretches far away.’

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 19

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC website.

Bible Text:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. —Matt. 7:21

Devotional:
It is easy to perceive what we are to learn from the law; namely, that God, as he is our Creator, justly sustains towards us the character of a Father and a Lord; and that on this account we owe to him glory and reverence, love and fear. Moreover, that we are not at liberty to follow everything to which the violence of our passions may incite us; but that we ought to be attentive to his will, and to practise nothing but what is pleasing to him.

Not so Fast

Tweaks to China's One-Child Monstrosity

The Chinese government announced some changes to their one-child policy and to labour camps.  Everyone in the West was excited--well, sort of.  Things might be looking up.  Firstly, the changes to the one-child policy.
Far from sweeping away all family planning rules, the party is now providing a new, limited exemption: It said families in which at least one parent was an only child would be allowed to have a second child. Previously, both parents had to be an only child to qualify for this exemption. Rural couples also are allowed two children if their first-born child is a girl, an exemption allowed in 1984 as part of the last substantive changes to the policy. [NZ Herald]
The Herald article is right on the nose.  This represents just a minor tweak to an horrendous policy.  Wendy Wright reports how the Chinese government itself quickly rushed to qualify and downplay the change.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Fissures in the Ranks

Human Depravity

Last time we checked Kim Jong Un was a human being.  We presume he still is.  He is one of us.  As one of us he is demonstrating the relentless evil that lies in every human heart.  Relentless evil that can become regnant. 

Whilst most human beings will recoil in horror at the recent accounts of public executions in North Korea, we also have to acknowledge that Kim Jong Un is one of us.  He is not an animal.  He is not a demon.  He is blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh.  Either we must own him and his depravities, or we must implore the  King of kings to judge him speedily, in this life and the next. 

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November  20

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Republished from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. —I Timothy 6:10

Devotional:
We shall find a restraint laid upon us, to keep us from being inflamed with an inordinate desire of growing rich, and from ambitiously aspiring after honors. For with what face can any man confide in the assistance of God, towards obtaining things which he desires in opposition to the Divine word?

Far be it from God to follow with the aid of his blessing what he curses with his mouth.

Battle Lines

The Clash of  Dinosaurs and Innovators

The PPTA--the secondary school teacher union--is revealing itself to be out of touch with its own members, let alone parents and their children.  Our readers will recall that the PPTA has placed a ban upon any co-operation or contact between the new charter schools and any of its members, or even with any government school (which suggests that the union sees itself as actually in de facto control of the government schools, a view presumably based upon reality).  As in the parable of the Good Samaritan, if union members and government schools see a charter school they are to cross to the other side of the street, avert their eyes, and hurry on their way.  So runs the PPTA ban--and they must be obeyed.

Except they are not--at least not by their own members, many of whom, we suspect, are more than  embarrassed by the antediluvian stance of their own union.  One of the soon-to-open charter schools is setting up a middle school, South Auckland Middle School.  According to its manager, in a piece posted on Kiwiblog, they have advertised eight new teaching positions, and had 105 applicants--many of them PPTA members.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 19

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. —Zechariah 12:1

Devotional:
Since then what Zechariah says could hardly be believed, he prescribes to the Jews the best remedy—that they raise up their eyes and then turn them to the earth. The expanse of the heavens constrains us to admire God; for however stupid we may be, we cannot look on the sun and the moon and stars and on the whole bright expanse above without some strong emotions of fear and of reverence.

Since then God exceeds all that men can comprehend in the very creation of the world, what should hinder us from believing even that which seems to us in no way probable?

The Mafia Under Some Pontifical Heat

Crackling Light Sabres

We always follow developments in the Roman Catholic church with interest.  One of the issues which has disturbed us for many years is the alleged corruption of the Vatican bank and the influence of the Mafia on the Vatican.  It seems that Francis, the present pope, is endeavouring to work a reformation in these matters. 

We fervently hope that he will be successful.  The following account has appeared in The Guardian:
Pope Francis's crusade against corruption has made him a target for Italy's all-powerful mafia clans, a leading anti-mob prosecutor has warned.  Nicola Gratteri, who has battled Calabria's shadowy 'Ndrangheta mafia, said on Wednesday that Francis's attempt to bring transparency to the Vatican was making the white collar mobsters who do business with corrupt prelates "nervous and agitated".  He told the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano: "Pope Francis is dismantling centres of economic power in the Vatican.  If the bosses could trip him up they wouldn't hesitate. I don't know if organised criminals are in a position to do something, but they are certainly thinking about it. They could be dangerous."
There are two issues here.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Letter From America (About the US Monarch)

Thus Spake Obama

The incompetence of our neo-monarchy

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 18

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Republished from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. —Ezekiel 9:4

Devotional:
This is a remarkable passage, because from it we learn, first, that God effectually threatens the impious, so that he may have attendants always at hand to obey him; then, that even unbelievers make war under the direction of God, and are governed by his rod, and do nothing except at his will.

But, thirdly, we are taught that God never rashly executes his vengeance without sparing his elect. For this reason in the slaughter of Jerusalem he has an angel, who opposes a shield, as it were, to the Chaldeans, lest their cruelty should injure them beyond God's pleasure.

Teacher Unions Vs Charter Schools

Unmasked

We are finding the conniptions of the Teacher Unions over charter schools "exceedingly diverting", as Jane Austen would say. 

The Post-Primary Teachers Association (aka, the secondary school teacher union) has announced a member ban on all members having anything to do with charter schools.  But, like all educational unions, it seeks to control not just its own members, but government schools themselves--telling principals and administrators what they can and cannot do, with the implicit strike-threat if they are foolish enough to disobey.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Letter From Australia (About Pain in the US)

No Cure as Obamacare Gets Worse 

James Morrow
The Daily Telegraph
November 15, 2013 12:00AM


IN politics, leaders live and die by their promises. Julia Gillard effectively wrote her government into the history books when she went back on her assurance that "there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead". 
In the US, President Barack Obama is in similar strife over an oft-repeated promise that under his plan to overhaul health care - the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare for short - Americans who liked their GPs and their health care plans would be able to keep seeing their GPs and using those same plans.  Or as he put it in various forms to the American public more than two dozen times: "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."

The only thing is, it turned out not to be true.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 16

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients. —Ezekiel 7:26

Devotional:
In this way he advises the Jews that they should catch at security in vain, as if, at the passing away of one evil, they were already free.

For the wicked, as soon as God withdraws his hand, think themselves escaped from all trouble, and so despise God more carelessly; for they fancy that God has done with them just like a debtor who has paid a small sum to his creditor, and thus has sustained a relaxation and is careless; so the reprobate harden themselves when God grants them some respite; for they think that they have an agreement with him that he should not trouble them any more.

But the Prophet denounces that there would be such a heap of evils that one calamity should have many companions, because God would not cease to add evils to evils. —Commentaries

John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.

The Annals of Soft-Despotism

A Fillip to Ivory Poaching and Trafficking

The drive to be as god always lurks the heart of every human being.  That, after all, was the original temptation in the Garden of Eden when our first parents fell into sin.  The serpent hissed that if Adam and Eve were to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they would not die at all, but would become like God, knowing good and evil for themselves.  (Genesis 3: 4)  Adam and Eve bought the lie.  We, in our turn, were born into the lie, believing it and yearning to live it.

One of the downstream effects is to believe that power and wisdom are conterminous.  This is why the idolatry of statism has such a powerful hold over our hearts and minds.  We are born believing that, as gods, we should have power and dominion and that when we secure power, we will be wise and effective.  We will make things happen--for good, of course, albeit good-as-it-seems-to-us, according to our lights, since we now think that we know good and evil for ourselves, on our own recognisance. 

Usually, what happens, is that we succeed only in magnifying evil and doing more harm.  Take something as prosaic as the protection of elephants and rhinos against extinction.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Food Libertarian

Blog and Mablog

From time to time the authorities haul in some renegade cheese maker, and those who love bureaucratized food safety all breath a sigh of relief. This kind of tyranny is heavy-handed enough to get noticed by those who yearn for food freedom — as I do — but not so noticed generally that we can get the food fascists to stop it. Yet.

There are two basic points that need to be made about this. The first is that the government does have a role in food safety — but it is not the role of preventative regulation. Rather, in a realm of food libertarianism, the government would set the definitions and standards. This is what a fluid ounce is, and that is what counts as cleaning a chicken.

These standards would not be enforced by food inspectors before the fact, but would rather be used whenever an action had been brought by a dissatisfied or food-poisoned customer.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 15

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: —John 16:26

Devotional:
"In that day you shall ask in my name." Besides, when Christ is said to intercede with the Father for us, let us not indulge in carnal imaginations about him, as if he were on his knees before the Father, offering humble supplication in our name. But the value of his sacrifice, by which he once pacified God towards us, is always powerful and efficacious; the blood by which he atoned for our sins, the obedience which he rendered, is a continual intercession for us.

This is a remarkable passage, by which we are taught that we have the heart of the heavenly Father, as soon as we have placed before him the name of his Son. —Commentaries

John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.

Test-Tube Superstition

Karakia, Anyone?

Intellectual deceit and rampant hypocrisy crowd the modern Western stage.  Unbelief is not just a nasty termagant, it is also replete with intellectual dishonesty.  Take, for example, the militant insistence that New Zealand be a secular nation.  Religion, we are told, is replete with myths, lies, and deceits.  The only truth is secular truth--which apparently means truth which can be observed and experimentally proven in a test-tube.

But at the same time, and out of the same mouths (albeit from the other side) there is an enthusiastic celebration of spirituality.  In our country this has become institutionalised in the employing of Maori to incant and pray at all public events and gatherings.  In fact, it is pretty well acknowledged now that no event would be a happening at all, were it not accompanied by Maori prayers, or incantations (karakia), or traditional animist chants to invoke the Maori pantheon of gods.  No formal school opening, no commissioning of a public project, no opening of a New Zealand embassy anywhere around the world would be the real deal without an effusive display and contribution from Maori spiritualism.

Apparently Unbelieving secularism has fallen prey to the rationalist-irrationalist dichotomy.  In the end, the rationalist becomes the superstitious irrationalist. 

This is not just a New Zealand failing.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

John Milton, Standing, Waiting, and Serving

The Greatest Sonnet in the English Language

john-milton 
 
Leland Ryken writes that John Milton’s “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” is to him “the greatest sonnet in the English language.” During the middle phase of Milton’s life (1640-1660) he focused on supporting the Puritan cause and largely set aside his poetic vocation. By 1654, at the age of 55, he had gone completely blind, and probably composed this sonnet around this time.


When I Consider How My Light Is Spent
by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

[Grand encouragement for those whose afflictions appear to render them useless to God, in God's Kingdom. Ed]

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 14

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, —Psalm 40:7

Devotional:
"Then said I, Lo! I come." Here David indicates his readiness to yield obedience, as well as the cordial affection of his heart and persevering resolution. His language implies that he cordially preferred the service of God to every other desire and care, and had not only yielded a willing subjection, but also embraced the rule of a pious and holy life, with a fixed and steady purpose of adhering to it. This he confirms when he says that the Law of God was deeply fixed in the midst of his bowels.

It follows from this, first, that however beautiful and splendid the works of men appear, yet unless they spring from the living root of the heart, they are nothing better than a mere pretence; and, secondly, that it is to no purpose that the feet, and hands, and eyes, are framed for keeping the Law unless obedience begin at the heart.

What Webs We Weave

No H8? -- Bombshell Book: Matthew Shepard Tortured, Murdered by Gay Lover

 
by Austin Ruse 14 Sep 2013, 10:07 AM PDT TheBlaze

[Philosophies and faiths can in general be known by their fruits.  Our Lord has instructed us to know people by their fruits--for good or ill.  The promotion of homosexuality is an ideological faith, part of an aggressive religion, which promotes the institutionalisation of human sexual lusts.  On the political front, one of the oft seen fruits of the movement to promote and normalise homosexuality is a love of lying and deceit to promote the cause.  This takes a variety of forms.  One is to allege that celebrities or public figures are secretly closet homosexuals.  Another is to engage in vicious personal vilification of ideological opponents.  The pivotal reason why truth telling is of little importance to the homosexual rights movement is due to it having no normative ethical standards by which it judges itself.  There are no moral absolutes in homosexuality, only situation ethics ("love" overrides all else) and utilitarianism (the end justifies the means). Of course these amoral ethical positions are not peculiar to the homosexual rights movement, but in our opinion they do typify it.

In 1998 a young homosexual male in Laramie, Wyoming was brutally murdered.  The general homosexual political narrative was to identify it first as a homophobic hate crime and second to use this horrible event as a cause c'elebre for the promotion of homosexual demand rights.  It is now being alleged that the homosexual propaganda network deliberately and knowingly distorting the truth, for the sake of the cause.  It would appear that the murder was actually a homosexual-on-homosexual hate crime and also a meth addict on addict crime.  That one homosexual would kill another is not the point.  That the homosexual lobby would lie and deceive the public about it is.  By these fruits we can assess the homosexual rights movement.  Ed.]

Almost everything you think you know about the Matthew Shepard narrative is false.

Matthew Shepard was the winsome young homosexual in Laramie, Wyoming who in October 1998 was tortured, killed, and left hanging grotesquely from a fence. He was discovered almost a day later and later died in the hospital from his horrific wounds.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow


Not Really Luther

We confess to referring to the quotation attributed to Luther, which urges Christians to defend the truth of God at the point at which it is facing attack.  But, according to Douglas Wilson, it would seem that Luther did not make that observation at all.  Someone else did.  It turns out the original statement is even more compelling.  [Ed]
There is a famous Luther quote that he actually didn’t say, and which my son-in-law Ben Merkle recently tracked down. Here is the quote, and it is a hummer.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 13

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not. —Isaiah 39:2

Devotional:
"And Hezekiah was glad." This is a remarkable example; and it teaches us that nothing is more dangerous than to be blinded by prosperity. It proves also the truth of the old proverb, that "it is more difficult to bear prosperity than adversity." For when everything goes on to our wish, we grow wanton and insolent, and cannot be kept in the path of duty by any advices or threatenings. When this happened to Hezekiah, on whom the Prophet had bestowed the high commendation, that "the fear of God was his treasure" (Isa. 33:6), we ought to be very much afraid of falling into the same dangers.

Unintended Consequences

Prohibition Works Out Well for Criminal Gangs

It is universally acknowledged that Prohibition was a failure in the United States in the 1920's.  Not only did it fail in preventing access to alcohol, it proved a boon for criminal gangs which were able to prosper significantly manufacturing and selling contraband alcohol.  But, as we are well aware, those who do not learn history's lessons are condemned to repeat them.  Consequently, we find many voices clamouring for prohibitions of various kinds in our day.  Dumb and dumber.

As with the Prohibition movement early last century, there are always plenty of social evils to garnish the argument for prohibiting whatever the evil substance du jour  might be.  Tobacco is the biggie at the moment.  New Zealand has a diverse bunch of wowsers who have publicly committed to making New Zealand "smoke free" by 2025.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

The Problem With Smart People


The real problem with smart people is that they so frequently aren’t.

The confusion — of which we have many examples, alas — is between having a car with a really high rpm, and having a car that is on the right road. The two need not be the same thing at all.

Look at the Obamawheezer. That baby was designed, crafted, invented, implemented, promoted, urged, and force fed to us by a bunch of really smart people. And by “smart people,” I mean high rpm people on the wrong road. This does not exclude the possibility of some dumb people on the wrong road, doing their part, but in the main these were people who had briefcases in junior high school, with SAT scores that looked like they came from people like that.

Napoleon was smart, and he attacked Russia when it wasn’t springtime. So apparently this is a thing.

The trap that gets these people is the pride that wells up in them when, like Steppenwolf, they get their motor running.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 12

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. —Zechariah 10:1

Devotional:
The prophet no doubt includes here, under one kind, all things necessary for a happy life; for it is not the will of God to fill his people in this world as though they were swine; but his design is to give them by means of earthly things, a taste of the spiritual life.

Hence the happiness of which Zechariah now speaks is really spiritual; for as godliness has the promises of the present as well as of the future life (I Tim. 6:8), so the purpose of God was to consult the weakness of his ancient people, and to set forth the felicity of the spiritual life by means of earthly blessings. —Commentaries

John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.

Heads Must Roll

Pam Corkery's  Calls For a Committee of Public Safety

Pamela Corkery, opinionated provocateur, has chosen an unfortunate turn of phrase writing about a hot public controversy presently incandescing the pages of our newspapers.  Some under-age girls have been allegedly date-raped by young men.  The police have not yet charged anyone.  Pamela has called for "heads to roll", apparently oblivious of the historical reference to the horrendous Reign of Terror. 

Maybe Pamela  forgot the connection.  Or maybe she does not care.  Or maybe she is ignorant.  Or maybe like a true people's demagogue she finds nothing offensive, unjust, or distasteful in seeing innocent heads roll from the guillotine blades into the tumbrels? 

Whatever the case, it does seem that Pamela has chosen to overlook the minor matter of evidence, witnesses, and proof beyond reasonable doubt in matters criminal and judicial.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Letter From America (About Drifting)

The Drift toward Despotism

Too many of our rulers and their enforcers reflexively see the citizenry as a threat.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 11

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. —II Timothy 2:22

Devotional:
"Flee the lusts of youth." It is not as though he were a young man of twenty years, for he had been exercised in preaching the word of God now a good while; he was a doctor, not only of one church, but of the country round about him; as we know that Saint Paul had appointed him not only to preach in one place, but also to have an eye afar off, to warn the bishops and all that were in like charge as he was. So then he was a man of some maturity and ripe years; on the other hand, God chose him from among others; yes, and he had received singular gifts; there was not only doctrine and prophecy in him, but his life was of like quality and he had great zeal to advance the honor of God.

In short, he was an example to all men. Yet he has need to be humbled and to have some warning from Paul to the end that he not allow himself at some time to stray from the path and show the follies of youth. At what age? He must have been more than thirty years old.

The Annals of Soft-Despotism

"We Know What's Best For You"

When governments would be as God to their people, and when the people think the government speaks with a divine voice, foolishness and stupidity rapidly bud and bloom on the vine.  That's why President Reagan is alleged to have said the most terrifying sentence in the language was, "I am from the government, and I'm here to help."  Governments that pretend to be omni-competent end up being profoundly incompetent, dumb, and stupid, which when coupled with oppression, become very hard to bear indeed. 

Take the much vaunted roll-out of universal, government run, healthcare in the United States--aptly coined "Obamacare".  We are not referring just to the government designed and run websites purportedly allowing folk to research and purchase health insurance--which are proving to be a spectacular failure, with more bugs than a Florida swamp in summer. That's bad enough.  But everyone with half a brain, and with even a very basic idolatry-meter, knows that this is just the beginning. 

Blogger Patterico explains that the bad news is going to keep coming.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Why Children Matter



Nurture and Admonition in the 21st Century I


Introduction
A family is a divinely-ordained community. It is a set of defined relationships, with obligations and privileges assigned by God accordingly. It is not an arbitrary collection of individuals, and it is not something that we get to define. God created the family—it was not invented by us in the first place, and so we do not get to reinvent it. For this reason, parents must beware of treating the family as an “assemblage” that results from “techniques” developed by “experts.”

Young parents should therefore come to the Scriptures with a true hunger and openness. This is particularly true of those young parents who didn’t see a good model growing up—God is the God of new beginnings. He breaks the cycle, blessing to a thousand generations, and cutting off disasters after three or four. Be encouraged.

The Text:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1, ESV).
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).

Summary of the Text:
The juxtaposition of these two passages is intended to make the foundational point that, as God treats us as His children, so also we, in imitating Him, must seek to be like Him in our treatment of our own children. As He deals with us, so also must we deal with our own children.

God has created us as reflective and imitative creatures. We become like what we worship. Idolaters do this (Ps. 115:4-8), and worshipers of the true God do it (2 Cor. 3:18). This is the way human beings are. There are few places where the ramifications of this are as important as they are in child-rearing.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 09

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. —Isaiah 42:16

Devotional:
"And I will lead the blind." It is often advantageous to us also to have no way open to us, to be straitened and hemmed in on every hand, and even to be blinded, that we may learn to depend solely on God's assistance and to rely on him; for, so long as a plank is left on which we think that we can seize, we turn to it with our whole heart. While we are driven about in all directions, the consequence is that the remembrance of heavenly grace fades from our memory.

If, therefore, we desire that God should assist us and relieve our adversity, we must be blind, we must turn away our eyes from the present condition of things, and restrain our judgment, that we may entirely rely on his promises. Although this blindness is far from being pleasant, and shows the weakness of our mind, yet, if we judge from the good effects which it produces, we ought not greatly to shun it; for it is better to be "blind" persons guided by the hand of God, than, by excessive sagacity, to form labyrinths for ourselves. —Commentaries

John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.

The Authentic Bard

Performing Shakespeare’s Plays in the Original Accent and Pronunciation

This is rather neat.

  Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

Friday, 8 November 2013

Privileges and Pride



'One Ring to Bring Them All and in the Darkness Bind Them'

Beware the man whose fundament for truths and morals rises no higher than himself or his kind.  Such a person is apt to oppose most vehemently all Christians, whose fundaments rest on a Being infinitely higher and wiser than mankind.  The vehemence rests of two planks.  Firstly, the frustration that arises from being uncloaked, being exposed as resting opinions, truth, and ethics on wishful thinking, not metaphysical substance.  Secondly, the frustration of having to discourse with one whose God does not and will not bow to the "wisdom" of a creature.

But worse, often the one whose fundamental belief is that Man is the measure of all things, is not just filled with hatred for the contrary view.  He also has a love of power, secretly lusting to rule over others, controlling them so as to reinforce his ideas.  As philosopher Bertrand Russell once said: "Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power."  Quite so.

As Jonah Goldberg put it:

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

In a Perfect World . . .

Blog and Mablog

“Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” (Ex. 18:21).

In a perfect world — because it is an imperfect world — political rulers should have three fundamental characteristics. They should fear God, be men of truth, and hate coveteousness. We live in a time when the fear of God must not exist or, if it does, it must not be acknowledged, when candidates manufacture lies deliberately, and loving covetousness usually functions as the foundation of their proposed economic plan.

But those are the requirements that Scripture sets forth, and so that is what we should be laboring for. That happy result may not happen in the next election, but that is where we are seeking to get.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 07

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful; unholy. —II Timothy 3:2

Devotional:
If any wrong be done us, if we sustain but the loss of a penny, we can quickly say, "What wickedness there is nowadays!" But if we have what we would desire, and no man trouble us, no man grieve us, we think all is well.

But though the honor of God be trodden under foot, all honesty completely banished, and men become as brute beasts, it is all the same to us, as long as we sustain no hurt nor damage.

And yet if we are God's children, we must needs taste what he has showed us here by his Spirit, that though all things go as we desire, with respect to the goods of this world, we must not cease for all that to sigh and be grieved unless God be served and there be good order and sin be kept in check as it ought to be.

Amazing Grace

Breaking the Cycle of Curse

Modern secular society has a fetish over youth.  Which is a way of saying that the preceding generation has lost self-respect.  There are few things more shameful than witnessing disrespect for elders.  One of them is elders taken in self-loathing who attempt to cope by falling into an egregious adulation of youth.  "We, in our generation, have failed miserably.  We have been terrible.  But the youth of today--well, to them belongs the future.  They are wonderful."  The adulation of youth serves as a pathetic attempt at atonement for the guilt of a generation which rebelled against God, but discovered when it was all too late that things had not worked out so well.

Jonah Goldberg describes it this way:

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Political, Not Partisan


Scripture tells us that in our assemblies, when we come together, we should pray for “kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:2). This is something we regularly do in our worship service. But when it comes down to it, we also need to vote in the same direction as our prayers, and this next Tuesday is a time when it does come down to it.

As you know, it is not my place, from this pulpit, to urge you to vote for candidate x or candidate y. Vote for Murphy, or vote for Schultz, have no place here. The pulpit must never become a place for factional politics, or partisanship. At the same time, the presence of the Church in the world is inescapably political, and this means that if we do not draw the charge of partisanship, we are not doing our job. If we are not drawing the charge of license, we are not really preaching grace. If we are not drawing the charge of fatalism, we are not really preaching God’s rule over all things. So then, in the same way, if the political presence of the Church in the world makes no political difference to those given over to partisanship, then we are not fulfilling our calling rightly.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 06

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty: but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein: therefore have I set it far from them. —Ezekiel 7:20

Devotional:
Whatever God has given to men is a testimony of his paternal favor; therefore God's liberality abounds in us when he enriches us with his gifts.

If therefore riches are a glory and ornament, so also are bodily health, and honors, and things of this kind. Since therefore God wishes his favor to be conspicuous in all his gifts, by which he adorns and marks men out, the Prophet properly says that the Jews were adorned with gold and silver. But he accuses them of ingratitude, because they turned such glory into pride.

The Jews made their images, which were so many abominations before God, out of gold and silver.

Hypocritical Cant

So, What's Wrong With . . . ?

We have all heard of "convenient Christians"--folk who seek to maintain a Christian fa├žade when it is socially, politically, or personally convenient to do so.  But, it is all part of acting out a persona.  Such people are rightly called hypocrites, an epithet of disdain.

But far more common, yet equally despicable is the hypocrisy of Unbelievers.  It is impossible to describe adequately the tawdry hypocrisy of Unbelievers prattling on about this evil and that wrong whilst they know--and we all know--they don't believe a word of it.  Oh, maybe they tell themselves they are true born again believers, who detest whatever particular ignominy of the day.  But in truth they have no foundation, no principles, and no ethics upon which their high dudgeon can be sustained.  At best it manifests mere cant.

Since Unbelievers reject the Living God, anything is possible and acceptable in principle.  Anything which is allegedly not acceptable or wrong or immoral is not actually, for "wrong" and "immorality" have no ultimate or operational meaning.  What is "wrong" to one is "right" to another.  One man's treasure is another's rubbish.  Who knows?  Who cares? 

We suspect that more than the odd couple know this to be the case.  That is why Unbelievers are so shrill about their moralities and their principles and their ethics.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Letter From America (About a Clueless President)

Obama: The Myth of the Master Strategist

His poor maneuvering before and after the Obamacare rollout shows that he’s not three moves ahead.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 05

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: —John 16:8

Devotional:
"He will convince the world." It ought to be observed that in this passage Christ does not speak of secret revelations, but of the power of the Spirit, which appears in the outward doctrine of the Gospel, and in the voice of men.

For how does it come that the voice proceeding from the mouth of a man penetrates into the hearts, takes root there, and at length yields fruit, changing hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, and renewing men, but because the Spirit of Christ quickens it? Otherwise it would be a dead letter and a useless sound, as Paul says in that beautiful passage in which he boasts of being a minister of the Spirit (II Cor. 3:6), because God powerfully wrought in his doctrine.

Branding Matters

Getting Our "Positioning" Right

New Zealand has a problem with youth suicides.  There are too many of them.  Way too many.  We posted recently that a national newspaper had this to say:
The deaths from the Taupo Bay area in the Far North follow the Herald on Sunday's reports on a similar cluster [of youth suicides) in Kawerau two years ago. These, and the country's relentlessly high suicide rate, are now prompting calls for a nationwide suicide prevention publicity programme similar to that used to combat depression - and for government funding to be more effectively targeted.
The secular world is finds itself in serious in conflict over young people taking their own lives.  On the one hand there is this brute reality that every fibre of our being screams out that it is wrong. But, on the other hand, secular amorality also insists that there can be nothing immoral or unethical about the act itself.  So we are filled with pity and guilt without any ethical warrant.  We are all dressed up with nowhere to go.  We know we are sad, but unsure whether we ought to be.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Letter From America (About Presidential Prevarications)

A Phalanx of Lies

Remember that health insurance you could keep?

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 04

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from OPC Website

Bible Text:
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. —I Timothy 6:12

Devotional:
Therefore as God was not moved to give us hope of our salvation for any goodness that he saw in us, but because it pleased him, and pleased him of his mere mercy, so when he goes on still to guide us, until we be come to the haven of salvation, he does it because it pleases him. This is the cause of the free calling of God towards us continually; so that men are beaten down here and cannot rejoice in themselves in that it is said that we must make an end of our salvation.

Thus God does not want us to be idle, but, notwithstanding, our activity must be with fear and trembling. And why? Because it is God who works in us, giving us the will, giving us the effect, and everything else according to his good pleasure.

Let us do the best we can, but without presumption, without pride. Let us not think that we can do so well as to merit anything, or that man is worthy to be exalted against God; for by this means the grace of God would be darkened and made to be nothing. —Sermons

John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.

Worthy Heirs

Integrating Into Folly

Self-destruction is always lurking at the edges of Unbelief.  Then, unexpectedly, it can capture the whole shooting box and what seemed so influential, so compelling slips away "not with a bang, but a whimper".  Here are a couple of prosaic examples.  The first is the soon-to-be-elected Mayor of New York City. 

Now we all know that NY City weighs in heavily at the "progressive", left-wing end of the spectrum.  What is known as the "loony left" has always found plenty of kindred spirits in that place.  How else could Nanny Bloomberg have been tolerated for so long?  Now he is about to be replaced by someone much more loony.  Robert Wargas, writing in The Telegraph, profiles the city's next mayor.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Letter From the UK (About US Spying and the Vatican)

US 'spied on future Pope Francis during Vatican conclave'

NSA spied on the future Pope Francis before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI 

The Telegraph 
6:35PM GMT 30 Oct 2013


[The unwarranted indiscriminate snooping and spying on phone and electronic conversations by the United States on anyone it chooses appears to be expanding by the month.  Now we learn that the US spied on the Vatican during the time of selecting a new pope. Ed]

The National Security Agency spied on the future Pope Francis before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI, it was claimed on Wednesday. The American spy agency monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.
The claims were made by Panorama, an Italian weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.

Calvin's Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 02

Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin

by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Reproduced from the OPC Website

Bible Text:
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. —John 3:18

Devotional:
We are reminded how acceptable and precious a sacrifice in the sight of God faith is. As nothing is more dear to him than his truth, so we cannot render to him more acceptable worship than when we acknowledge by our faith that he is true, for then we ascribe that honor which truly belongs to him.

On the other hand, we cannot offer to him a greater insult than not to believe the Gospel; for he cannot be deprived of his truth without taking away all his glory and majesty. His truth is in some sort closely linked with the Gospel, and it is his will that there it should be recognized. —Commentaries

John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.