Monday, 30 June 2014

Punching a Pimply Face

Contempt for Sharkey Law

The difference between an unbelieving libertarian and an unbelieving leftist is quite simple to grasp. The unbelieving libertarian wants to go to Hell, and the unbelieving leftist wants to do the same thing, but wants me to pay for it.

Both need the gospel, and both present a problem for the evangelist. There is a spiritual problem in both instances. But the leftist, in addition to his spiritual problems, is also a public nuisance. He creates political and cultural problems, mostly having to do with various forms of coercion, compulsion, mandatory regulation, and forced labor for the pyramids. All these are covered by his all-purpose favorite euphemistic verb, which is “to ask.” We want to ask the well-off to pay their fair share. We want to ask small companies to provide health coverage they can’t afford. We want to ask the pyramid slaves to get their butts in gear.

They are the dyslexic party. They look at compulsion and read compassion.

Now none of this makes the libertine libertarian a fine fellow.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 30

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Festina lente (hasten slowly)

Here is a man [Psalm 73] suddenly tempted, tempted to say something, or... to do something. The force of the temptation is so great that he is almost thrown off his balance. He is on the point of falling to the temptation, and he tells us what it was that saved him. Here it is: 'If I say"—he was on the point of saying something—"'If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend....' What does he do? What is his method?

The first thing he does is to take himself in hand.... He just kept himself from saying what was on the tip of his tongue. It was there, but he did not say it. Now this is tremendously important. The Psalmist realized the importance of never speaking hurriedly, of never speaking on an impulse.... It is a perfectly good point for a man to make who is not a Christian at all .... there are things which we have to do in connection with this spiritual discipline that at first sight do not seem to be particularly Christian. But if they hold you, use them.

There are many people who are so anxious to be always on the mountain top in a spiritual sense that for that very reason they often find themselves falling down into the valley.

Euro-Scepticism on the Rise in the UK

Euro-Philes a Vanishing Species

We have long been Euro-sceptics.  The wider arc of history had been showing the continent of Europe to be in terminal, irrevocable decline.  Getting together into a federation or union, we believed, would end up  exacerbating the decline, not reverse it. It is falling out as we expected. 

The basis for European comity once lay in  the shared Christian belief structures of the Continent.  But the wars of kings, and of religion, and of struggles over absolute versus limited constitutional government, together with the rapid rise of Enlightenment rationalism meant that the Europe of the twentieth century was as divided as it had ever been.  The French hated the English and vice versa.  The Germans and French maintained a reciprocal antipathy.  The Mediterranean belt was hopelessly servile to corruption.

Post-war European federalism was an elite-driven, top down attempt to paper over these realities to make Europe (that is, European elites) really important in a global sense.  Europe as an economic bloc would rival the United States, Japan, China and the emerging economies of Asia.  Its currency would become the default currency of trade for the European bloc, possibly even eclipsing the US dollar as the world default currency.  These millenarian utopian dreams required a real unity of culture, world-view, and purpose to have any hope of success, but it simply did not exist, and never has--at least in the modern period.

It seems almost inevitable now that the UK will move away from these European federal ambitions.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Letter From Australia (About Self-Loathing)

This self-loathing insults Australian values

Andrew Bolt
Herald Sun
June 26, 2014

THE Sydney Opera House is Australia’s most iconic building. And on its stage in August was to be a taxpayer-funded talk: “Honour killings are morally justified.”

Be clear: the title is not a question but a statement.  Yes, in the heart of Australia we are now to rationalise the strangling, stoning, burning, beating or shooting of daughters and wives for supposedly shaming their men. . . .

In this case, Uthman Badar was invited by Sydney Opera House and the St James Ethics Centre for their Festival of Dangerous Ideas, and planned to attack critics of honour killings as the usual “secular (white) Westerner”, wickedly using these murders as a symbol of “everything that is allegedly wrong with the other culture”. Note: honour killings are only “allegedly wrong”. 

Yes, to see Westerners criticise an “Oriental” woman-killer was to see “the powerful condemn the powerless”, according to the blurb approved by Badar. Pity those powerless murderers.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 28

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

God knows: God undertakes

We cannot do better than remind ourselves again of... the faith of God's people throughout the centuries. That is the faith and teaching to be found, for example, in the hymns of Philip Doddridge. A typical example is found in his great hymn:

O God of Bethel, by whose hand
Thy people still are fed;
Who through this weary pilgrimage
Hast all our fathers led.

That is his great argument, based ultimately upon the sover­eignty of God, that God is the Ruler of the Universe, and we are known to Him one by one, and are in a personal relation­ship to Him. It was the faith of all the great heroes of the faith described in Hebrews 11.

Madness Replacing Reason

Indictments From the Common Lawyers

What does a Christian society look like?  What might be some of the key features of the Second Christendom when it emerges in redemptive history?  There are many.  One central feature will be the grounding of civil and criminal law upon the higher law of God.  This, of course, is not novel.  It is the way it used to be in the First Christendom.

F E Dowrick describes how biblical law (both written and inscribed in the creation itself) was deeply embedded in the English legal tradition.  He writes:

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Giants

Foundational Literature of Western Civilization

June 24, 2014
In his book The Case for Classic Christian Education (Crossway, 2003), Doug Wilson offers a list of “foundational” books for Western Civilization (some of which, but not all, would make their way onto his desert-island reading list.)
I’ve reproduced his list below, along with my own parenthetical recommendations on some translations, editions for kids, etc.

The Scriptures
Of course, the Scriptures are not included in the list of twenty-five books. The Bible is necessarily in a class by itself and forms the center of every class a student takes. But at the same time, the Bible is an important part of our broader literary heritage, particularly in the Authorized Version, popularly known as the King James. . . .

The Iliad
Written by Homer (c. 750 B.C.), this great work is about the fall of Hector in one sense, as well as the tragic fall of Achilles during the siege of Troy. The Trojan War is the setting, but this is not what The Iliad is about. Homer’s poetic gifts were great, but we should remember C. S. Lewis’s comment that it was his giftedness that made his granite despair shine as though it were marble.

[See Robert Fagles's translation. For kids, see Rosemary Sutcliff's retelling, The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey---or wait until July 2014 for a new edition of this retelling with illustrations by Alan Lee. For a Christian literary guide to the book, see Leland Ryken's work.]

The Odyssey
Mark Twain once quipped that we now know that Homer was not the author of these works, but they were rather to be attributed to another blind Greek poet with the same name. The Odyssey, more accessible to many modern readers than The Iliad, is about the return of Odysseus from a life of freebooting to his home country and his adventures on the way.

[See Robert Fagles's translation. For children, see Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of 'The Iliad.' Or wait till August 2014 to get her version with Alan Lee's illustrations.]

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 27

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

If we only spent more of our time in looking at Him we should soon forget ourselves ... stop looking at yourself and begin to enjoy Him.

What is the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian? Paul in the second Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 3, says it is this, that the non-Christian is a man who looks at Christ and God with a veil over his eyes and therefore cannot see. What is the Christian? This is his description (v. 18): "But we all"—every one of us as Christians—"we all with open face (the veil has gone), beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory." That is the Christian. He spends his time in looking at Christ, in gazing upon Him. He is so enraptured by the sight of Him that he has forgotten himself.

If you were to feel more interest in Christ you would be less interested in yourself. Begin to look at Him, gaze upon Him with this open, unveiled face. And then go on to learn that in His Kingdom what matters is not the length of service but your attitude towards Him, your desire to please Him.... He does not count service as other people do. He is interested in the heart. We are inter­ested in time, we all clock in and count the time we have spent, the work we have done.

Like the first men in the parable (Matthew 20:1-16) we claim to have done all, and boast of the time we have spent in the work. And if we are not among those who went in at the beginning we are concerned because we have not done this and that, and because we have missed all this time. Our Lord is not interested in our work in this way. It is the widow's mite He is interested in.

It is not the amount of money, it is the woman's heart.... That is also the case that Paul puts here (1 Corinthians 15:8-10). "Last of all he revealed himself unto me also." But thank God that does not make any difference ... He is not interested in time, He is interested in relationship.

Spiritual Depression, pp. 88-9

“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”

Integration Into the Void

Forthcoming Reformation

In his important essay, The End of Courtship, Leon Kass makes the following observations about love, courtship, and marriage as it now plays out in college campuses and universities across the United States.  His observations would hold true, we believe, pretty much everywhere throughout the West. 

Below is a summary of excerpts to enable us to get the flavour.  (We will draw some implications for Christians, churches, and the Kingdom at the end.)

Here is a (partial) list of the recent changes that hamper courtship and marriage:

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Letter from the UK (About a Conscience Clause for Christians)

Judge Who Sided With Gay Couple over Christian B&B Owners Now Accepts Religious Rights

21 Jun 2014

The Supreme Court judge who ruled against a Christian couple who refused a room in their bed and breakfast established to a gay couple appears to have performed an about-face in her decision on the case.

Thought it is too late for these particular defendants, Baroness Hale's recent comments claiming there should be a 'conscience clause' in law for religiously motivated breaches of anti-discrimination law may set an interesting precedent for the future.

The case erupted when in 2008, B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull accepted a booking for a double room from Steven Preddy, believing him to be coming with his wife. When Preddy arrived at the Chymorvah House in Cornwall, to the surprise of the religious hoteliers, he was instead accompanied by his gay partner Martyn Hall. 

The proprietors made it clear they could not give Preddy and Hall a double room due to religious reasons and proceeded to turn them away. Subsequently, the gay couple was awarded £3,600 in compensation, after court proceedings which found the Bulls to be in breach of anti-discrimination law.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 26

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

God's plan is sure

It is God Himself who gives us life, and the body in which we live it; and if He has done that we can draw this deduction, that His purpose with respect to us will be fulfilled. God never leaves unfinished any work He has begun.... And therefore we come back to this, that there is a plan for every life in the mind of God. We must never regard our lives in this world as acci­dental. No. "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" Christ said one day to His timorous and frightened disciples. And we need to say that to ourselves. We can be certain that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, and it will be carried out.

So we must never be anxious about our life and about its sustenance and its support.

Rules for the Plebs

Living Well Above the Herd

There are few things more likely to stir up cynicism and disgust than "leaders" who moralistically lecture everyone about their duties and responsibilities, whilst they themselves live irresponsibly (by their own declared rules).  Hypocrisy always has a nasty smell. 

We are all familiar with "celebrities" who hector the world about poverty, global warming, and a host of other fashionable causes, only to live ostentatious lifestyles which loudly proclaim they believe themselves to be above their particular set of moralistic rules for the rest of humanity.  We are familiar with the carbon footprint of one Al Gore--dedicated warrior against global warming--whose extravagant lifestyle and business dealings put the lie to his pontificating.  Gore is a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of chap. 

The Greens in general are notorious for this kind of dissembling.  Greenpeace has hit the news recently over just such hypocrisy.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Letter From the UK (About Fiddled US Temperature Data)

The scandal of fiddled global warming data

The US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record 

21 Jun 2014

When future generations try to understand how the world got carried away around the end of the 20th century by the panic over global warming, few things will amaze them more than the part played in stoking up the scare by the fiddling of official temperature data. There was already much evidence of this seven years ago, when I was writing my history of the scare, The Real Global Warming Disaster. But now another damning example has been uncovered by Steven Goddard’s US blog Real Science, showing how shamelessly manipulated has been one of the world’s most influential climate records, the graph of US surface temperature records published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been “adjusting” its record by replacing real temperatures with data “fabricated” by computer models.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 25

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

You are here!
(red arrow-label affixed to London Underground maps)

It is not the time of your entry into the Kingdom that matters but the fact that you are in the Kingdom. ... How foolish it is to mourn the fact that we were not in earlier, and to allow that to rob us of the things we might be enjoying now. It is like a man going to a great exhibition and discovering that there is a long queue. He has come rather late. He arrives at the exhibition but he has to wait a long time, he is about the last to get in. What would you think of such a man if, having got in through the door he simply stands at the door and says, "What a shame I wasn't the first to get in, what a pity I wasn't in earlier" ? You laugh at that, and rightly so, but... you are probably laughing at yourself, for that is precisely what you are doing spiritually. "O that I have left it so late." My friend, begin to enjoy the pictures, look at the sculpture, enjoy the treasures. What does the time of your entering matter?

The fact is that you are in, and the exhibition is there, all spread out before you....

The NewSpeak of Global Schooling

Behind Common Core

Crisis Magazine

The philosophy in the school room in one generation will become the philosophy of government in the next.  — Abraham Lincoln

 [A]t the request of educators I wrote the World Core Curriculum, the product of the United Nations, the meta-organism of human and planetary evolution.   — Robert Muller, former U.N. Assistant Secretary General

The education reform known as Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for grades K-12, adopted by forty plus states and more than half of the U.S. dioceses, is designed to produce a universal “work force ready” population prepared to self-identify as “global citizens.”  Many education professionals have been critical of CCSS. But even they may not know the philosophical reason why financiers like Bill Gates have bankrolled the Common Core system. The same sources of funding for Common Core in the United States are promoting similar methods and aligned texts world wide through the auspices of the United Nations.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 24

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Don't cripple your present by thoughts of your past

[Some people] are crippled in the present as the result of looking back into the past ... to the fact that they spent so much time outside the Kingdom and are so late in coming into it... to be miserable in the present because of some failure in the past is a sheer waste of time and energy. The past cannot be recalled and you can do nothing about it... The world in its wisdom tells us it is "no use crying over spilt milk." Well, quote that to the devil! Why should a Christian be more foolish than anybody else? ... We must never for a second worry about anything that cannot be affected or changed by us. It is a waste of energy.... But let us go further and realize that to dwell on the past simply causes failure in the present. While you are sitting down and bemoaning the past and regretting all the things you have not done, you are crippling yourself and preventing yourself from working in the present.

... It is always wrong to mortgage the present by the past, it is always wrong to allow the past to act as a brake upon the present. Let the dead past bury its dead. There is nothing that is more reprehensible, judged by common canons of thought, than to allow anything that belongs to the past to cause you to be a failure in the present.... The people I am describing are failing in the present. Instead of living in the present and getting on with the Christian life they are sitting down bemoaning the past. They are so sorry about the past that they do nothing in the present. How wrong it is!

Spiritual Depression, p. 80, pp. 82-3

“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”

The Christian Heritage of Justice

 Being Treated Fairly Before the Court

It is a great boon to live in a just society--and, no, we are not thinking of the faux "justice" of egalitarianism, now so very popular amongst the ignorant and those riddled with the canker of envy.  Rather, we have in view the system of justice which enables citizens to seek redress or get their actions judged properly and fairly.

Justice is often difficult to define. The traditions of English common law, however, have developed over many centuries the concept of a fair trial and the principles which undergird it.  F.E. Dowrick [Justice According to the English Common Lawyers (London: Butterworths, 1960)], courtesy of a series of lectures by Lord Denning, has provided a summary of the essential principles which make up a fair trial.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Letter From America (About Essential Truths)

10 Essential Economic Truths Liberals Need to Learn

Jeffrey Dorfman
5th June 2014

Jeffrey Dorfman teaches economics at the University of Georgia.  In this article he presents ten economic principles or verities, which, he says, "liberals" need to learn.  Synonyms for "liberal" would be "left wing", "progressive", or, in the case of New Zealand, an apt synonym would be "general population", such is our adulation of bad economic principles.

1) Government cannot create wealth, jobs, or income. Because government has to take money from somebody before it can spend it, there is no economic gain from anything the government does. Money collected in taxes or borrowed would have been either spent or invested in the private sector. Any jobs government claims to have created are only in place of other jobs the same money would have produced if people had been allowed to spend it themselves.

It is possible for government to own businesses which trade like any other company in the private sector.  These may make profits, can, therefore, grow in size and capital base and add jobs as a result.  These are truly exceptions to the general maxim that governments cannot create wealth, jobs or income.  And Dorfman's general point remains true: government enterprise comes into existence by expropriating property from citizens in the first place.  Governments are unable to create wealth from nothing; in the first instance governments must appropriate property from tax payers.  

2) Income inequality does not affect the economy. Poor people do spend more (or all) of their income while people with higher earnings save some of their income. However, saving is as good for the economy as consumer spending (or better). The basic identity is that national income equals consumer spending plus investment plus government spending on goods and services plus net exports. To make investments, money first must be saved; so savings contribute to national income, too. In fact, savings that lead to increased capital (a company borrows it to build a factory, for example) will lead to higher national income in the long run because the capital can produce income year after year.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 23

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

The need of Christian discipline

[The Psalmist] is very sorry for himself. There is nothing wrong with his life. He is a very good man. But he is being very hard pressed, he is being dealt with very unfairly, and even God seems to be unfair to him. That is how he thought about himself while he was outside the sanctuary. But inside the sanctuary all this is changed."... So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee" [Psalm 73:22]. What a transfiguration! What an entirely different view of himself! And it is all the result of his thinking being put right, and made truly spiritual....

This man ... not only reveals his honesty and his sincerity, and the truthfulness that was so essentially a part of his make­up, but also—and this is the thing I want to emphasize—he displays an understanding of the nature of the spiritual life.

In these two verses [21-22] we have this man's account of his repentance.

We learn what he said to himself about himself and, in particular, about his recent conduct. It is, indeed, a classic example of honest self-examination.

Why the Fuss?

A Bit of Bribery and Corruption Makes the World Go Round

There has been a long tradition in the West against bribery, followed by the inevitable corruption of judges, rulers, and officials.  But billions of people in the world live in jurisdictions where bribery is simply the way things are done.  For centuries the Chinese have used "fragrant grease" to get officials and administrators to deliver what they are seeking.  Bribery and corruption are common in India, where it is regarded as "paying--or tipping--in advance". 

Every so often a non-Westerner enters a Western jurisdiction and attempts the age-old practice of bribery and public wrath and condemnation is called down upon his head.  We have seen this very thing in New Zealand over recent days.  The opposition Labour Party has been fulminating against the government, accusing it of taking bribes to favour a certain Chinese investor who has become a New Zealand citizen.  Corruption, corruption, corruption has been the cry.  Well it may have been.  But, sadly for the Labour Party, it has now emerged that it too has apparently been equally corrupted by the same Chinese immigrant, who, in the past has given money to Labour, as well as the current administration.  Shame and red faces all around. Oh, dear.  Never mind.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Paideia Principle

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
Thursday, June 19, 2014 

The Christian faith is a religion of world conquest, and no, not that kind of world conquest. If we do not believe this, then every form of cultural engagement will be simply a form of slow surrender. It is the way of compromise. You can always tell this kind of person because they are always wrestling with the contours of something or other. And if you don’t believe in the triumph of the gospel, and you don’t want to surrender, then the only safe thing to do is to go the way of the neo-Amish. But there is another approach.

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

I want to take a moment to review what we mean by the paideia of God. No doubt many of you have heard me on this topic before, and so I will just take a few moments with some review. But I want to do this so that we can go just a little bit further up, and a little bit further in.

So Paul tells Christian fathers to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. One of the words he uses here is paideia, which for the ancients was a loaded term.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 21

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them a garland for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness

To "mourn" is ... quite inevitable. As I confront God and His holiness, and contemplate the life that I am meant to live, I see myself, my utter helplessness and hopelessness ....But it obviously does not stop there. A man who truly faces him­self ... is a man who must of necessity mourn for his sins also ... if I bemoan these things in myself, I am truly mourning.

Yet the Christian does not stop even at that. The man who is truly Christian... mourns also because of the sins of others. He sees that the whole world is in an unhealthy and unhappy condition. He knows that it is all due to sin; and he mourns because of it.

That is why our Lord Himself mourned. ... He saw this horrid, ugly, foul thing called sin which had come into life ... and had upset life and made life unhappy.... That is what is meant by mourning in this spiritual sense in the New Testament.... It is the very antithesis of the spirit and mind and outlook of the world, which, as our Lord puts it, 'laughs now'.... It laughs, and says, 'Don't dwell too much upon these things" The Christian man's attitude is essentially different....

Basic Economics

What God has Given, Let Not Man Wrest

The Pope has come out recently, criticizing the market economy.  His public ruminations are, to put it baldly, silly.  He has done our Lord and the Christian faith no honour in this instance.

To go to the heart of the problem, the Law of the Living God grants ownership and protection to the property of those made in His image--aka, human beings.  He prohibits us stealing the property of others (the Eighth Commandment).  He also prohibits us coveting what others have (the Tenth Commandment).  These two commandments, amongst other things, exclude (in the sense of condemning) the rulers, powers, and authorities intruding into the "stuff" of citizens, taking what they see fit, and enforcing distribution to others.

In a nutshell, these two commandments prohibit all forms of socialism--that horribly pagan idea which proposes that society (the community, the governing authorities, the rich and powerful, the Collective, the Politburo, etc.) is the ultimate and final owner of everything and that private ownership rights are always only at the final pleasure of the Collective.  In his decrying the market economy, the Pope was siding with socialistic doctrines whereby some other authority (state, church, "society") has prior ownership of Mrs Smith's garden spade, and can--for whatever reason or pretext--requisition it.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Depravity Without Bounds

Planned Parenthood: Kill Amendments to Ban Sex-Selection Abortions

17 Jun 2014
Breitbart News

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California have issued a floor alert to members of the California legislature urging lawmakers to defeat all pro-life amendments to budget bills, including any that ban sex-selection abortions or require parental consent for minors to obtain an abortion.

The memo to California lawmakers, dated June 12, speaks on behalf of more than 110 Planned Parenthood facilities in the state and declares California to be a “pro-choice state,” based on a Field Poll from four years ago which they claim found 71 percent of Californians opposed to any further restrictions on abortion.

In addition, the Planned Parenthood affiliates' memo states that any amendments that could restrict abortion are “hostile” to “choice,” and it threatens that lawmakers who vote “on any budget amendments to restrict abortion access may be included on the PPAC Legislative Scorecard.”

To justify their demands upon lawmakers, the Planned Parenthood affiliates cite:

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 20

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

The change the Spirit makes

The disciples received [the power of the Holy Spirit] on the day of Pentecost... Peter began to preach immediately with boldness, authority and power, and three thousand were converted. We read in Acts 4 that the authorities could not dispute the boldness with which Peter and John bore witness to the resurrection and said these things. It was nothing but a manifestation of the Holy Ghost. The same Peter who had been so nervous and so apprehensive (indeed, who had been such a coward that, because he was afraid of losing his life, he had denied his own Lord, his greatest Friend and Benefactor), now stands up with boldness ready to confront the whole world and all the devils in hell, and proclaims this Jesus whom he had so recently denied What is this? The authority of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit manifesting His authority in an extra­ordinary manner.

We read later that after these men had been arrested and had become free again, they met together and had a prayer meeting (Acts 4:23-33). When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness".... Again, in Acts 4:33 we find that "with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus...." What was the secret of their power? That they were able to argue scientifically that resurrection is possible? That they were able to reconcile the miraculous with the scientific? No! It was the authority and power of the Holy Ghost turning these men into living witnesses who were irresistible. 'And great grace was upon them all."

Authority, pp. 83-4

“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”

Greenist Purity

The Horrors of Genetically Modified Food

Genetically modified organisms are seen by many as the avatar of the End.  Terrible evils will be unleashed upon the human race because genes are spliced and foods are made more productive, more nutritious, more technologically supercharged for human consumption.  In New Zealand, the Greens have long campaigned that it must be outlawed with a capital "O".  As it stands, there is a fair old sequence of hurdles to jump before genetic modification is deemed kosher.

The historical reality is somewhat different.  Most food that we consume has been genetically modified in one way, shape, or form.  Take the carrot.
We believe that carrots should be woody and unpalatable and horrid to eat
It never used to be orange until the jolly Dutch genetically modified it in celebration of the House of Orange--and forever after we in the West have been corrupted and physically sickened by this monstrous genetically modified vegetable, unknowingly imbibing craven Dutch nationalism.

Wikipedia provides a brief history of the carrot's genetic modification:

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Silly, Febrile Journalists

Abbott Derangement Syndrome

In New Zealand, we are familiar with what has become known as the Key Derangement Syndrome.  The reference is to Prime Minister, John Key.  For a long time, the establishment media and opposition political parties appeared to lose their ability to think when it came to the Prime Minister.  They collectively went agog and aghast whenever Key featured, seeing all kinds of sinister plots, disasters, and repeated faux pas.

Now Australia has been caught in the same syndrome, only this time it is the Abbott Derangement Syndrome.  Miranda Divine documents the nonsense pouring forth from the minds, mouths and scribblings of the media:

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 19

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

He that spared not His own Son, how shall he
not also with him freely give us all things?

[Our Lord's] argument [Matthew 6:25] is a very profound and powerful one; and how prone we are to forget it! He says in effect, 'Take this life of yours about which you are tending to worry and become anxious. How have you got it? Where has it come from?' And the answer, of course, is that it is a gift from God. ... So the argument which our Lord uses is this. If God has given you the gift of life—the greater gift— do you think He is now suddenly going to deny Himself and His own methods, and not see to it that that life is sustained and enabled to continue? God has His own ways of doing that, but the argument is that I need never become anxious about it.

Of course I am to plow and sow and reap and gather into barns.

Limping Limpidly

The West's Double Standards

As we write this the Western world is agog with disgust at the brutality of an insurrection unfolding in Iraq.  People are being lined up and mown down.  Others are subjected to public beheadings because they don't believe in the peculiar doctrines of the Islamic Sunni sect.  The West decries such behaviour as medieval by which it means, primitive--that is, ibehaviours that belong to an age which has not benefited from the Enlightenment. 

The West, in its preening desire to be inclusive and tolerant towards all has conveniently forgotten that the historical symbol of Islam is the scimitar.  The ardent Islamic Sunni soldiers now operating in Iraq are simply being consistent.  And, we want to ask the chattering classes and the Commentariat in the West, what could possibly be wrong with that?  Upon what high moral stool is the West sitting whence to declaim such behaviour? 

The established religion of the West is secular humanism, and its philosophy of existence is evolutionism.  But the West has conveniently forgotten that secular humanism and evolutionism is morally neutral at best, vacuous at worst.  Yet still the West clings forlornly to notions of morality, of right and wrong.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Letter From the UK (About Warmongers and A War-wearied Nation)

More Brits Joined Jihad Than Volunteered For UK Army Reserves

17 Jun 2014, 5:08 AM PDT

More British citizens joined the jihad in Syria and Iraq than signed up for the Army Reserves over the last twelve months, according to the MailOnline. Whilst "several hundred" have gone to fight for militants in the Middle East, only 170 have enlisted for the British Army Reserves despite a major recruitment campaign.

Foreign Secretary William Hague believes that as many as 400 Brits have gone to fight alongside the jihadists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis). Their activities are now a major concern for the government, as they are likely to return to the UK radicalised and with military training. It is widely believed that these British militants will continue their 'struggle' when they get back to the United Kingdom.

In a statement to the House of Commons on Syria and Iraq yesterday Mr Hague said: "As I have previously told this House, we estimate the number of UK-linked individuals fighting in Syria to include approximately 400 British nationals and other UK-linked individuals who could present a particular risk should they return to the UK."

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said that scale of jihadists from Britain was humiliating for the country because it outstripped the number of Army Reserve volunteers.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 18

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Grace was more abundant

You and I must never look at our past lives; we must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Christ Jesus. I challenge you to do that. If you look at your past and are depressed by it . . . you must do what Paul did. 'I was a blasphemer', he said, but he did not stop at that. Does he then say, "I am unworthy to be a preacher of the gospel'? In fact he says the exact opposite: 'I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful putting me into the ministry.' When Paul looks at the past and sees his sin he does not stay in a corner and say, 'I am not fit to be a Christian, I have done such terrible things'. Not at all. What it does to him, its effect upon him, is to make him praise God. He glories in grace and says, 'And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.'

That is the way to look at your past.

Meditation on the Text of the Week

Once Was Blind, But Now I See

Let the sea roar; and all that fill it;
The world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills sing for joy together
Before the Lord, for he comes
To judge the earth.
Psalm 98: 7-9

The biblical perspective on the Creation is that first and foremost it belongs to God and exists for His glory.  The inspired psalmist confirms that the entire creation sings hymns of glory to God.  These hymns are heard first by Him.  They are unto Him; His ears reverberate to the glorious orchestra and choir.

The trees, the grasses, the seas and all that is in them, the animals and birds, the sun and the moon--they all sing to God's glory.  When we see them and rejoice in the glory of this created world we see what non-Christian folk struggle to comprehend--we comprehend that the Creation is singing to God and the magnification of His glory before it sings to us.  That makes the Creation even more glorious to our eyes and ears.

If we are listening to a choir singing we may be profoundly moved by the beauty of the music.  When we realise that the beauty is first heard by God Himself, appreciated by Him, and loved by Him before it is known and appreciated by us, the glory of the music becomes more weighty, more significant, more holy.  The services of the choir become all the more valuable in our eyes.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 17

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Blessed are they that mourn

This ... marks off the Christian as being quite unlike the man who is not a Christian and who belongs to the world.... The one thing the world tries to shun is mourning; its whole organization is based on the supposition that that is something to avoid. The philosophy of the world is, Forget your troubles; turn your back on them, do everything you can not to face them. The whole organization of life, the pleasure mania, the
money, energy and enthusiasm that are expended in entertain­ing people, are all just an expression of the great aim of the world to get away from this idea of mourning and this spirit of mourning. But the gospel says, 'Happy are they that mourn." Indeed, they are the only ones who are happy! [see also Luke 6]....

This ... is something which is never found in the world ... this is something which is not as evident in the Church today as it once was and as it is in the New Testament. . . [an] idea has gained currency that if we as Christians are to attract those who are not Christians we must deliberately affect an appear­ance of brightness and joviality ... not something that rises from within, but something which is put on.... I cannot help feeling that the final explanation of the state of the Church today is a defective sense of sin and a defective doctrine of sin.

The Rise of the Secular Clerisy, Part II

Will the Secular Clerisy Triumph?

In Part I of "The Rise of the Secular Clerisy", published here, Joel Kotkin argued that an elite has arisen to  coalesce around a series of propositions and ideas which are now being enforced with regularity.  To espouse a contrary opinion is to enunciate heresy.  The enforcement sanctions used by this new elite have gone beyond mere public opprobrium to sending the guilty to Coventry, and to sacking offenders from their jobs.  Not that their employment had anything to do with the hateful opinions being expressed.  It's just that what they believe is increasingly seen as an anathema. Witness the case of the CEO of Mozilla forced to resign because he happened to give a small donation several years ago to a political campaign opposing homosexual "marriage".   It is getting very close to the ancient punishment of exile. 

In the second part, Klotkin analyses the seat of the power of this new clerisy.  Whilst he is analysing the battlefield as it exists in the United States, we are confident the same patterns and nodes of power are to be found in almost all countries in the West.  The first bulwark of influence and power is found in the nation's bureaucracies, both federal and state. 

America’s Nomenklatura

The Clerisy has thrived during these hard times. Since 1990, the number of government workers has expanded by some five million to some twenty million. That’s four times the number who were employed by the government at the end of the Second World War, a growth rate roughly twice that of the population as a whole.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Letter From the UK (About Obama's Flunkery)

Obama Flunks his Climate Science 101 at University of California, Irvine

15 Jun 2014

Denying climate change is like saying the moon is made of cheese, President Obama has said in his latest attempt to persuade an unconvinced world that "global warming" is the most urgent crisis of our time.

Obama was speaking to a crowd of around 30,000 at a commencement ceremony at the University of California, Irvine. Justifying the extravagance of his metaphor he said: "I want to tell you this to light a fire under you."
Here are some lines from his speech which explain why those present would be better off ignoring their pyromaniacal president's entreaties.

"I'm not a scientist." Possibly the only factually accurate words in the president's entire speech.

"But we've got some good ones at NASA." "Did have some good ones at NASA" would have been more accurate. Problem is, the organisation that put man on the moon is now in the grip of climate alarmists like Gavin Schmidt, successor to activist James "Death Trains" Hansen. In 2012, 49 former NASA astronauts and scientists wrote to protest against the anti-scientific, alarmist position being adopted by Hansen and Schmidt at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). They wrote: "We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data."

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 16

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Look at Him, keep looking at Him .

... am I poor in spirit? How do I really feel about myself as I think of myself in terms of God, and in the presence of God? ... what are the things I am saying, what are the things I am praying about, what are the things I like to think of with regard to myself? What a poor thing it is, this boasting of the things that are accidental and for which I am not responsible, this boasting of things that are artificial and that will count as nothing at the great day when we stand in the presence of God. This poor self! That hymn of Lavater's puts it perfectly: "Make this poor self grow less and less," and "O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me."

How does one therefore become "poor in spirit"?

Defence of Britain Hangs on Skyhooks

Trojan Horse debate: We were wrong, all cultures are not equal

For years, we all turned a blind eye to the segregation of Muslim pupils. Now it is time to stand up to propagators of barbarism and ignorance 

We have been following the "Trojan Horse" issue Birmingham where a group of dedicated, consistent Islamic activists have sought to take control of some public schools by means of infiltration, subterfuge, and dissembling, until it is too late.  They regard this attempt as jihad--a manifestation of holy war.  The matter has become exposed, the government has reacted, and for now, it seems, the effort has failed.  We said at the time that this would shake the British establishment, for two reasons.

Firstly, the establishment for years has told itself and everyone else that Britain is a multi-cultural, tolerant nation.  Thou shalt not judge.  Thou shalt not offend.  Thou shalt accept each and all in good faith--etc. etc.  Secondly, the establishment has chosen to adopt the view that underneath all cultures and religions everyone really is a thoroughly good chap.  Therefore, all cultures are benign, positive, and fundamentally humanist in their ideological framework.  

In this view, Islamic schools would basically be schools where teachers and pupils dressed quaintly, but apart from that delightful oddity, would be champions of secular humanism.  

The Trojan Horse project of an attempted Islamic takeover of some public schools has shaken the toleranzistas up a good deal.  But, ideologically the establishment has nowhere to go.  Long ago it threw out the Christian faith in favour of secular rationalistic jibberish.  It's between a rock and a hard place.  It does not want Islamic schools, but the grounds of its opposition are tenuous indeed.  

Allison Pearson, writing in the Telegraph provides us with an example of the confused melee now on display.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Letter From America (About Oppression on College Campuses)

Colleges Use ‘Anti-Discrimination’ Rules Against Christians

Can school administrators decide who belongs in a Christian group?

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 14

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

This means you!

The trouble with this type of unhappy Christian is that he does not really believe the Scriptures. You say: "My trouble is that terrible sin which I have committed." Let me tell you in the Name of God that that is not your trouble. Your trouble is unbelief. You do not believe the Word of God. I am referring to the First Epistle of John and the first chapter where we read this: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That is a categorical statement.... There is no limit to it....

Whatever your sin—it is as wide as that—it does not matter what it is, it does not matter what it was, "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So if you do not believe that word, and if you go on dwelling on your sin, I say that you are not accepting the Word of God, you are not taking God at His word, you do not believe what He tells you and that is your real sin.... "What God hath cleansed, that call thou not common" (Acts 10:15)....

The Rise of the Secular Clerisy

Misanthropic Distrust of Humanity

We have posted several pieces in recent months on the rise of ideological authoritarianism in the West, particularly in the Europe, Canada, the UK, and the United States.  Further in this vein we are going to reproduce an article written by Joel Kotkin, entitled "Watch What You Say, The New Liberal Power Elite Won’t Tolerate Dissent" that not only calls attention to this phenomenon in the United States, but identifies the nodes of its influence and power.  

We believe Christians, along with all citizens should be not just aware of these developments, but conscious of the implications for civil freedom, liberty, and the threats to the right of dissent.  One of the reasons Christians need to be aware is that common to all the nodes of influence of the new ideological authoritarianism is a disdain, if not outright hatred of the Christian faith, and a despising of Christians and the Church. 

Watch What You Say, The New Liberal Power Elite Won’t Tolerate Dissent

Friday, 13 June 2014

Letter From the UK (From Tolkien)

A Piece of Gandalf Magic

Lord of the Rings author's rediscovered message to fellow teacher talks about how frustrating he found the work

Alison Flood
Thursday 12 June 2014
The Guardian

JRR Tolkien, who famously wrote the first line of The Hobbit while marking exam papers, told a fellow teacher that "all teaching is exhausting and depressing" in a previously unknown letter which has just come to light.
The Lord of the Rings author wrote the letter on 17 January 1964 in response to Anne Mountfield, a newly qualified teacher who was working at Eltham Green School in London. Mountfield had written to Tolkien that her "rather restless" class had been spellbound when she read them The Hobbit. Tolkien typed her a reply, saying that the story of Bilbo Baggins's adventures "seems to go down well at school".

He then added a handwritten note to the bottom of the letter, telling Mountfield that "All teaching is exhausting, and depressing and one is seldom comforted by knowing when one has had some effect. I wish I could now tell some of mine (of long ago) how I remember them and things they said, though I was (only, as it appeared) looking out of the window or giggling at my neighbour".

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 13

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

This means you!

The trouble with this type of unhappy Christian is that he does not really believe the Scriptures. You say: "My trouble is that terrible sin which I have committed." Let me tell you in the Name of God that that is not your trouble. Your trouble is unbelief. You do not believe the Word of God. I am referring to the First Epistle of John and the first chapter where we read this: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That is a categorical statement.... There is no limit to it....

The Character of Faith

Mother Courage

Miss Pennsylvania USA’s remarkable mother

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Meditation on the Text of the Week

Children, Dogs, and Crumbs

For many years we have both loved and identified with the woman spoken of in Matthew 15: 21--28.  In the first place she was a rank outsider, a truly inferior person.  She was a woman, and Pharisaic Judaism stipulated that a man ought not to talk to a woman in public.  It was sinful and shameful.  Some rabbis even said this stricture must extend even to one's wife. 

Secondly, she was a Gentile--one of the hated ones.  But, this means nothing. we hear you say.  Our Lord did not care whether one was a Gentile or a Jew--He was without such carnal prejudices.  Did He not declare that He came to call the Gentiles; did He not bring salvation to the Samaritan woman at the well?  True, but in the Gospel of Matthew our Lord is constantly referring to the Gentiles as evil people, whose contemptible practices were to be avoided at all costs. (Matthew 6:7, 32, for example).

Jesus had withdrawn and taken His disciples north, towards the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon.  There they encountered this Canaanite woman, possibly of Philistine descent, a member of a cursed race and culture.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Letter From America (About the Closing Academic Mind)

The Closing of the Academic Mind

The Weekly Standard
May 5, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 32
By William Kristol
From Brandeis on the Atlantic to Azusa on the Pacific, an iron curtain has descended across academia. Behind that line lie all the classrooms of the ancient schools of America. Wesleyan, Brown, Princeton, Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Berkeley, Bowdoin, and Stanford, all these famous colleges and the populations within them lie in what we must call the Liberal sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from the commissars of Liberal Orthodoxy. .  .  .

How can one resist the chance to echo Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech? Okay, it’s not a precise analogy. It’s true that liberalism isn’t communism. It’s true that today’s liberals deploy the wet blanket of conformity rather than the clenched fist of suppression. It’s true that communism crushed minds, while today’s liberalism is merely engaged in closing them. And it’s true that most of the denizens of our universities, unlike the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe, embrace their commissars. But commissars they are.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 11

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Thou didst not spare Thine only Son,
But gav'st Him for a world undone,
And freely with that blessed One,
Thou givest all

A farmer one day went happily and with great joy in his heart to report to his wife and family that their best cow had given birth to twin calves, one red and one white. And he said, "You know I have suddenly had a feeling and impulse that we must dedicate one of these calves to the Lord. We will bring them up together, and when the time comes we will sell one and keep the proceeds, and we will sell the other and give the proceeds to the Lord's work." His wife asked him which he was going to dedicate to the Lord. "There is no need to bother about that now," he replied, "we will treat them both in the same way, and when the time comes we will do as I say." ... In a few months the man entered his kitchen looking very miserable and unhappy. When his wife asked him what was troubling him, he answered, "I have bad news to give you. The Lord's calf is dead." "But," she said, "you had not decided which was to be the Lord's calf." "Oh yes," he said; "I had always decided it was to be the white one, and it is the white one that has died. The Lord's calf is dead."

Devolutionary Progress

The Impossibility of Science

The world of science is in a parlous condition.  It is not a recent phenomenon.  However, its rotten fruits seem to appear more frequently.  Who would have thought that we would see "official science" sanctioned by actual governments along with the putative government of the United Nations--which "science" has then moved aggressively to silence criticism and debate.  It has also been caught withholding and fabricating data, and even argued that those who oppose should suffer imprisonment and other legal sanctions.  Yet this has become "normal" in the vast propaganda overreaches of climate science and its spurious hypothesis of man-caused global warming. 

Something is going on beneath the surface.  How could a scientific position cause such alarm that to oppose it or question its veracity would invite civil sanctions?  What kind of society would act in that way?  An increasingly primitive one.  Socrates was condemned to death for the heinous crime of corrupting the youth of Athens.  Was it because of his bi-sexuality?  No.  Was it due to his pederasty?  No.  It was due to his suggestion that the gods may be mythical, not real.  For this "corruption", he was condemned to a big sip of  hemlock.  The question is, Why has modern, official science become so corrupted that it more resembles the primitive ignorance of ancient Athens than a modern, advanced state? 

To answer the question we need to consider the philosophical and religious foundations of science.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Letter From the UK (About An Honour Killing)

Honour Killings

In case any thought that "honour killings" were some hyperbolic fantasy, consider the following:

Guilty Husband Wore Wife's Clothing After Murdering Her in 'Honour Killing'

6 Jun 2014

A man walked away from a crime scene wearing his wife’s clothing after murdering her in a so-called ‘honour killing’. Ahmed Al-Khatib was caught on CCTV wearing Rania Alayed’s clothes to give the impression that she was still alive.

The Express reports that Syrian-born Al-Khatib lured his wife to his brother’s house in Salford, Greater Manchester and killed her because she had left him to become more “Westernised”. He claimed in court that he had killed her in self-defence during a row because he believed an evil spirit had entered her body.
However, he was yesterday found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of murdering his wife and of perverting the course of justice, and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

After the murder, he stuffed his wife’s remains into a suitcase before he and his brother drove the body 87 miles and buried it at the side of a lay-by on the A19 road in North Yorkshire. His wife’s body has never been found.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 10

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

The fight of faith

These New Testament people had believed and had become Christian, and yet it was necessary for the Apostles Paul and Peter and John and others to write letters to them because they were in trouble in one way or another.  They were unhappy for various reasons, they were not enjoying the Christian life. Some were tempted to look back to the life out of which they had been saved; others were tempted severely, others per­secuted cruelly.

Thus the very existence of the New Testament Epistles shows us that unhappiness is a condition which does afflict Christian people. There is in this, therefore, a strange kind of comfort which is nevertheless very real. If anyone reading my words is in trouble, let me say this: The fact that you are unhappy or troubled is no indication that you are not a Christian; indeed, I would ... say that if you have never had any trouble in your Christian life I should very much doubt whether you are a Christian at all.... The whole of the New Testament and the history of the Church throughout the centuries bear eloquent testimony to the fact that this is a "fight of faith"; and not to have any troubles in your soul is, therefore, far from being a good sign.

The Last President

Lassitude and Emptiness

Normally the term "lame duck" in government refers to an elected official whose term has expired or who has lost an election, and he is awaiting the time when he is required to relinquish office.  Basically, nothing is done.  Everything goes on auto-pilot.  Folk twiddle their thumbs.  

The following article appeared in National Review Online, but it draws upon a piece published in Politico.  It documents, or argues, that President Obama, with over two years of his administration to go, has become the lamest of lame ducks.  It appears that Obama has simply lost interest in the job.  He came, he saw, and it wasn't what he expected.  Now he just wants to go home.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing.  An absentee President may allow folk to experience that less government is better government, as in "the government that governs least, governs best".  We suspect, however, that historians will eventually write up Obama as a tyro attempting to do an adult's job.  If nothing else, it's downright shameful.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Slovakian Fidelity

Great news 

Slovakia protects marriage through a constitutional amendment

Posted on June 4, 2014 
By J.C. von Krempach, J.D.

Today, Slovak MPs from SMER (Social-Democrats) and KDH (Christian-Democrats) voted to define marriage as a ‘unique bond between a man and a woman’ in the Constitution. Ruling party SMER agreed to the demand of opposition party KDH in exchange of their support for a judicial reform.
Slovak flagThe support for the amendment in the chamber was overwhelming: 102 parliamentarians voted in favour of the constitutional amendment, while 18 voted against.

The Constitution was amended to make attempts to re-define marriage  less likely in the future.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 09

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah

Sin ... entered human life from the outside and it attacked even the Son of God. That I am forgiven is glorious, that I have a new nature is wonderful and still better. But still I am left to face this terrible power that is set over against me, and which strives ever to defeat me.... It has defeated the mightiest and the strongest. It has not hesitated to match its strength even with God Himself. Its subtlety and suggestions meet me every­where. Who am I to confront such a foe ? What is man at his best against such an antagonist ? . . . Man cannot, for all men have failed.... Is all hopeless?

Must we continue to strive and strive in vain? No! A David has appeared and smitten this Goliath; a Jonathan has routed the Philistines again. The Man has entered the lists and delivered the enemy a mortal wound from which he can never recover. . . .

Strange Bedfellows

The Rising Voice of Conscience

The Greens have come out with an abortion policy they want to float before the electorate. This from Stuff:
The Greens have ratified a policy on abortion, which would get rid of a process a certified consultant says is "perfectly workable".  Abortion is a crime under the Crimes Act, and is legal only if two consultants agree that the pregnancy would seriously harm the woman's physical or mental health, or that there is a substantial risk the child would be born seriously disabled.  The Greens want abortion removed from the crime statutes, saying it would reduce stigma and judgment surrounding the procedure. This would mean a woman seeking one would not need external approval.
Just what this policy platform has to do with environmental concerns is not immediately obvious--unless the sub-text is that Greens are typically anti-human, seeing mankind as the biggest threat to the environment on the planet.  More abortions means less human beings: ergo, it's good for the environment.

Thankfully, however, notwithstanding the Greens misanthropy,  the abortion tally in New Zealand is dropping.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Letter From the UK (About Smoking in Australia)

Plain Packaging Fails 

Cigarette Sales Rise in Australia

6 Jun 2014

Cigarette sales in Australia have increased since the introduction of plain packaging, according to the Australian. The increase has come from budget brands that are no longer identifiable as being cheaper due to their packaging.

Total sales in the first full year since the new packaging came in showed an overall increase of 59 million individual cigarettes across the country. This represents one of the few incidences of cigarette consumption increasing in a modern Westernised country. The increase of 0.3 percent reverses the downward trend of 15.6 percent in the previous four years.

Plain packaging was introduced in December 2012 and was hailed at the time by Labor Health Minister Nicola Roxon as the "world’s toughest anti-smoking laws". But the plan appears to have backfired as half of the increase in sales have come from the cheaper brands, suggesting that smokers merely switched brands and smoked more because they were cheaper.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 07

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Paul's way was copied from his Lord

Here was a man, with great powers, and obviously, as a natural man, fully aware of them. But in reading [Paul's] Epistles you will find that the fight he had to wage to the end of his life was the fight against pride. That is why he kept on using the word "boasting." Any man gifted with powers is generally aware of them; he knows he can do things, and Paul knew this. He has told us in that great third chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians about his confidence in the flesh. If it is a question of competition, he seems to say, he fears no one; and then he gives us a list of the things of which he can boast. But having once seen the risen Lord on the road to Damascus all that became "loss,"and this man, possessed of such tremendous powers, appeared in Corinth ... "in weakness and fear and much trembling." That is the position right through, and, as he goes on with the task of evangelism, he asks, "Who is sufficient for these things?" If any man had a right to feel "sufficient" it was Paul. Yet he felt insufficient because he was "poor in spirit."

Bad Taste

Failure Can Be the Better Outcome

Some things leave a long-lingering sour taste in the mouth.  Taste is variable, and not not everyone's senses react similarly.  As the  old saying has it, one man's meat is another man's poison.  So, we do not expect that our fastidious dislike of  New Zealand pouring out cash to support  America's Cup challenges and defences will be shared by everyone.

To be clear, we do not find it noisome when some large, successful corporates throw in millions upon millions of dollars to support campaigns or defences of this Rich Man's Sport.  A corporate will make commercial decisions about the cost-benefits of advertising and brand exposure.  Ultimately they will decide whether the benefits justify the costs.  Eventually corporates will face the scrutiny not only of their respective boards of directors, but also, ultimately, their shareholders.

Two items hit the news yesterday.  Firstly, the New Zealand America's Cup syndicate leader returned home to announce that time was running short and that unless substantial multi-million dollops of the green stuff were contributed in short order, Team New Zealand would be skewered.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 06

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

The New Life in Christ

The Christian should know why he is a Christian. The Christ­ian is not a man who simply says that something marvelous has happened to him ... he is able and ready "to give a reason for the hope that is in him." If he cannot, he had better make sure of his position. The Christian knows why he is what he is, and where he stands. He has had doctrine presented to him, he has received the truth. This "form of sound teaching' has come to him. It came to his mind, and it must ever start with his mind. Truth comes to the mind and to the understanding enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

Then having seen the truth the Christian loves it. It moves his heart. He sees what he was, he sees the life he was living, and he hates it. If you see the truth about yourself as a slave of sin you will hate yourself. Then as you see the glorious truth about the love of Christ you will want it, you will desire it. So the heart is engaged. Truly to see the truth means that you are moved by it and that you love it. You cannot help it. If you see the truth clearly, you must feel it. Then that in turn leads to this, that your greatest desire will be to practice it and to live it.

That is Paul's whole argument. He says: Your talk about continuing in sin is unthinkable. If you only realized your unity with Christ, that you have been planted together in the likeness of His death and have therefore risen with Him, you could never speak like that. You cannot be joined to Christ and be one with Him, and at the same time ask 'shall we continue in sin ?' Does this great truth give me license to go on doing those things which formerly appealed to me? Of course not. It is inconceivable. A man who knows and believes that he is 'risen with Christ' will inevitably desire to walk in new­ness of life with Him.

Spiritual Depression, pp. 61-2

“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”

Propaganda Really Works--Sometimes

Smelling Dead Rodents

One of the signal attributes of the crusade by global warming apocalyptic warriors is its poor traction amongst the public.  It is not for want of trying.  The media in general have jumped into the pot and used their respective megaphones.  Politicians have trumpeted the fearful cause from bully pulpits.  Schools have frightened young pupils to death in the attempt to raise a new generation of eco-warriors.  But the public remains spectacularly unmoved.  Why?  Are we all suicidal lemmings? 

More likely the public is smarter than our so-called betters.  A recent piece in the Washington Post gave five key reasons why the public remains unconvinced, if not downright sceptical, about global warming propaganda.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

FairTrade and Peasants

Surprise! Fairtrade Doesn't Benefit The Poor Peasants


This will come as a surprise to those who have bought into the marketing malarkey about Fairtrade products and not as a surprise to any of those who have really looked at the issue. Which is that there doesn’t seem to be any great benefit in the system for the poor peasantry that it’s supposedly designed to help. In fact, it actually seems to make people worse off, not better off. This isn’t I hasten to add, the result of a study done by some hateful neoliberal like myself. No, this is the result from a four year long research program by the impeccably liberal (and veering over into Marxian third world nonsense at times) School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Their report is here and they’ve an article explaining matters here.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

June 05

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Beware of brief delight and lasting shame
 is no part of the gospel to denounce pleasure and enjoy­ment; in fact, the gospel offers a joy greater than anything else can give. But it is not content with testing by this one standard only. It desires to know the nature of the joys or the pleasures, whether it is good, whether it is true, and whether it is beautiful.... Men and women today do not like thought processes and discrimination. Like children, they desire to do what they like.... They therefore hate discipline and the facing of difficulty.

They object to the inconvenience of having to face the questions of truth, goodness, evil, and beauty. They do what they want to do, pleading the rightness of self-expression.

9/11 And The Culture of Death

Elijah's Mantle

In our self-absorbed, narcissistic Western culture there is a cardinal sin.  If any dare to transgress this One Great Commandment, he is instantly execrated and cast outside the city.  This OGC is the signature word of secular humanism: "Thou must never believe that God is judging us."   Sadly, oh so sadly, there are many in the Church today--weak and poorly taught believers--who subscribe to this OGC above all else.

We recall how the OGC suddenly burst forth from the hearts of the people with incandescent indignation when the earthquakes hit Christchurch, New Zealand.  Amidst all the mourning, weeping, and anger there was one proposition that was instantly condemned--even by churchmen.  The very idea that God might be judging New Zealand was shouted down in a chorus of horror.  At the time it took an Unbelieving left-wing public commentator, Chris Trotter to point out that whatever god people were appealing to when they said such things and intoned the OGC, it was not the God of the Scriptures, nor of the historical Christian faith.

That God is a holy, an awful (that is, awe inspiring) God, Who in His own words declares:  "You shall not bow down to them or serve [idols]; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me." (Deuteronomy 5:9)  and "The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.' ” (Exodus 34:6,7) [Emphasis, ours]

But the OGC declaims this God to be non-existent.  The god of the people and of the state is a god who is little more than a simpering cheerleader for the vainglory of his makers--modern, secular men.  Funny, that.

Every so often a man of God stands forth to reflect the actual, biblical truth.