Thursday, 31 July 2014

Letter From the UK (About the Left's Anti-Semitism)

Is the Left anti-Semitic? 

Sadly, it is heading that way 

Brendan O'Neill
The Telegraph
29 July, 2014

Brendan O'Neill is editor of the online magazine spiked and is a columnist for the Big Issue in London and The Australian in, er, Australia. His satire on environmentalism, Can I Recycle My Granny and 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas, is published by Hodder & Stoughton. He doesn't tweet.

There has been a lot of talk over the past two weeks about whether it is anti-Semitic to oppose Israel’s attack on Gaza. Radical Leftists and liberal commentators have insisted (perhaps a bit too much?) that there is nothing remotely anti-Semitic about their anger with Israel or their fury on behalf of battered, bruised and bombed Palestinians. And of course they are right that it is entirely possible to oppose Israel’s militarism without harbouring so much as a smidgen of dislike for the Jewish people. Some will oppose the war in Gaza simply because they are against wars in general, especially ones that impact on civilians.

However, it seems pretty clear to me that much of the left in Europe and America is becoming more anti-Semitic, or at least risks falling into the trap of anti-Semitism, sometimes quite thoughtlessly. In the language it uses, in the ideas it promotes, in the way in which it talks about the modern world, including Israel, much of the Left has adopted a style of politics that has anti-Semitic undertones, and sometimes overtones.
This is a recurring theme in anti-Israel sentiment today: the idea that a powerful, sinister lobby of Israel lovers has warped our otherwise respectable leaders here in the West, basically winning control of Western foreign policy.

The key problem has been the Left’s embrace of conspiratorial thinking, its growing conviction that the world is governed by what it views as uncaring “cabals”, “networks”, self-serving lobbyists and gangs of bankers, all of which has tempted it to sometimes turn its attentions towards those people who historically were so often the object and the target of conspiratorial thinking – the Jews.

Yes, one can hate Israel’s attack on Gaza without hating the Jews. But there’s no denying that the hatred being expressed for Israel’s attack on Gaza is different to the opposition to all other acts of militarism in recent times.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 31

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Be still, and know that I am God

... we worry about things. If only we realized God’s loving concern for us, that He knows everything about us, and is concerned about the smallest detail of our lives! The man who believes that can no longer worry.
Then think about His power and ability. ‘Our God’, ‘my God’. Who is my God who takes such a personal interest in me? He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is the Sustainer of everything that is. Read again Psalm 46 to remind yourself of this: ‘He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder’. He controls everything. He can smash the heathen and every enemy; His power is illimitable. And as we contemplate all that, we must agree with the deduction of the Psalmist when, addressing the heathen, he said, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. [‘Be still”] means, ‘Give up (or ‘Give in’) and admit that I am God’. God is addressing people who are opposed to Him and He says: This is My power; therefore give up and give in, keep silent and know that I am God.

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Douglas Wilson
July 30, 2014

The Dems are talking up the prospect of impeachment for the president right now because they know what a loser issue that would be for the Republicans, and the Democrats desperately need for the Republicans to obtain for themselves a loser issue that can be wrapped around their necks. They are able to talk it up because even though the Republican leadership is (wisely) dismissing such talk with contempt, there is a high level of frustration with the president’s behavior in the Republican base. The leadership is attempting to vent this frustration with their lawsuit, seeking to head off any talk of impeachment. The last go round with all this, when Clinton was impeached, was disastrous for the Republicans, because they treated ordinary politics as though it were something else. When you start killing ants with a baseball bat, the rest of the story will not go well for you.

For our foreign readers, in our system a president is impeached when the House of Representatives brings articles of impeachment. It is like being indicted — the trial is yet to happen. The House prosecutes the case, and the Senate serves as the jury. Thus when a president is impeached by the House, he will then be convicted (or not) by the Senate.
As St. Augustine once succinctly put it in his treatise on just war, don’t start what you can’t finish.

Up to this point in our history, impeachment has only been on the table three times.

The Justification of Knowledge and Truth, Part I

Knowing a Lot About Nothing Much

Ever since Wittgenstein and Foucault burst onto the scene, the justification of knowledge has been a big issue.  To Wittgenstein and the post-modernists that emerged in his wake, all knowledge is the product of perspectives and the sub-set of language which reflects and reinforces each particular perspective.  The  meaning of "linguistic signs" came from the processes of learning the language of each respective perspective, or world-view.  Thus post-modernism was born: all human knowledge is circular, conditioned, and relative.  The assertion, "This is the truth" becomes "This is my perspective"--a far less significant claim. 

One consequence has been the growing focus upon the basis for knowledge, and how knowledge itself can be justified or regarded as authoritative.  Historically, there have been three basic tendencies offered in the non-Christian world to justify knowledge.  The first tendency is rationalism.  The second is empiricism.  The third is subjectivism which is where post-modernism would probably be anchored.  John Frame argues that these three should be regarded as tendencies, rather than schools, since advocates of one of these perspectives inevitably mixes in doses of the other two.  [John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1987), 9.109]

We can illustrate this by considering rationalism.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Crawling Snake of Envy

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
July 25, 2014

I said recently that envy is the great invisible driver in our modern political conflicts. On what basis can I say this, and is this not a case of trying to read hearts?

First, we see the simple statements of Scripture as treating envy as public, visible, identifiable. But first, hold your horses. A bit further down, I will conclude by reconciling my point that envy is “visible,” and yet is the “great invisible driver.”

So then, where does Scripture describe envy as a public kind of sin? Pilate knew why Jesus was on trial before him, and it had nothing to do with the actual charges.
“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy” (Mark 15:10).
Stephen, narrating the story of Joseph and his brothers, interpreted their hostility toward Joseph as driven by envy, even though the Genesis account doesn’t mention the envy by name (Gen. 37:4). The writer of Genesis says that the brothers saw that Jacob loved Joseph more, and they hated him — which is an instance of envy.
“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him” (Acts 7:9).
Luke records the fact of mobs forming, but he is also able to tell (at a glance) why they were forming.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 30

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

For I am myself my own fever and pain

Let us ... consider what this man discovered about himself in detail. [Psalm 73:21–2]. The first thing ... was that he had very largely been producing his own troubles and his own unhappiness ... his trouble was not really the ungodly at all; it was himself. He found that he had ... ‘worked himself up’ into this condition ... What he is saying [in v. 21] is that he has done something to himself. He is saying, ‘I have soured my heart... I was preparing for myself a piercing pain’. He had been doing it himself. He had been stimulating his own heart, he had been exacerbating his own trouble, he had been souring his own feelings. He himself had really been producing his own troubles and giving rise to this piercing pain which he had been enduring until he went into the sanctuary of God.

This is clearly a very important and vital principle. The fact is ... that we tend to produce and exacerbate our own troubles.

True Colours

Out of the Abundance of the Heart, the Mouth Speaks

One of the reasons we have such little respect for politicians is their lack of integrity.  It's an easy indictment to make and no doubt there are politicians who maintain high personal and professional ethical standards as they go about their tasks and duties.  But far too many slide into misleading and deceptive behaviour if they think it will be to their advantage in the polls.

One manifestation is the practice of "gotcha politics".  Commentator John Armstrong explains:
"Gotcha politics" is all about focusing voters' attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.  It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents' campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.  At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, [sic] of course.  What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.
A basic rule of thumb is whenever a politician sanctimoniously promises to focus upon the "issues" and to run a principled campaign one can be sure that they will do the exact opposite.  Thus it has proved to be the case with the Greens, whose sanctimony has become noisome and their integrity now at an invisible vanishing point.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Letter From America (About the Gaystapo)

Newspaper Editor Fired Over Blog Post Decrying ‘Gaystapo’ and Rewording of the Bible — and Now He’s Fighting Back

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 29

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Jesus was meek, and lowly in heart

Look at the portrait of Stephen and you will see this text [Matthew 5:5] illustrated. Look at it in the case of Paul, that mighty man of God. Consider what he suffered at the hands of these different churches and at the hands of his own countrymen and various other people. As you read his letters you will see this quality of meekness coming out, and especially as he writes to the members of the church at Corinth who had been saying such unkind and disparaging things about him. It is again a wonderful example of meekness.

But of course we must come to the supreme example, and stand and look at our Lord Himself. ‘Come unto me’, He said, ‘all ye that labour ... and I will give you rest... I am meek and lowly in heart.’ You see it in the whole of His life. You see it in His reaction to other people, you see it especially in the way He suffered persecution and scorn, sarcasm and derision. Rightly was it said of Him, ‘A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench’.

Justice No Longer Blind, But Partial

Taking Care of One's Own

In New Zealand we allow judges to suppress the names of convicted offenders and their victims.  Originally this was introduced to allow the court discretion to protect victim(s) and their families.  Within a short space of time it has morphed into something quite degraded, if not sinister.  Certain judges have taken it upon themselves to decide whether the penalty of the public knowing the name of a convicted criminal would be unduly severe because they were "important" people.

What sort of people would be so regarded, we hear you ask?  Well, celebrities for one.  They would suffer too much harm from having their names and guilt disclosed, so they have been granted name suppression.  You know, upstanding, important folk like Rolf Harris.  Once name suppression has been granted, to mention their names in public, whether on a blog, or in the media, or at a social gathering risks the ire of the court.  Then there are sports people who are professionals and therefore in the public eye.  They too deserve name suppression.  Then there are pollies, well-connected people, "pillars" of the community--all these  in the calculus of some justices apparently deserve name suppression and having their guilt and offending kept secret.

One gets the distinct impression that these perverse elitist justices think that all whom they regard as their peers ought to enjoy such protection.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter from Moscow

On the Lam for Jesus

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
July 22, 2014

And of course we should all know that Christians ought not to be scofflaws. We are to be among the best citizens a magistrate ever had — we should be diligent and hard-working, dutiful and responsible, so that we might put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. We should bake the best cakes in Colorado, but not for the homo-fest, sorry.

But wait . . . doesn’t the Bible say that we must do whatever they say we must do — cakes, flowers, incense to Caesar, the works? Well, no (Acts 5:29).

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king” (1 Pet. 2:13–17).

So let’s take a look at some of the actions of the man who wrote those words — and not in order to charge him with hypocrisy.

“And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him” (Acts 12:7–10).

Peter then went over to John Mark’s house, left a message, and disappeared from the book of Acts a wanted man, on the lam, with his picture in all the post offices.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 26

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Christ! I am Christ’s! and let the name suffice you,
Paul has no honour and no friend but Christ

Look at this Colossus of a man, Paul, who had one of the greatest minds the world has ever known.... And yet Paul tells us that when he went to Corinth he was ‘in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling’. He did not bounce on to a platform radiating self-confidence and self-assurance and authority. And he did not let off a few jokes to put himself right with the congregation. He was not perfectly at ease, a ‘master of assemblies’.

‘Weakness, fear and much trembling.’ Why? Because Paul knew his own limitations. He knew what he could not do, and he was terrified, indeed he trembled, lest in any way he or his personality might come between those souls and this tremendous message which had been committed unto him. He did not put on things which he knew would appeal to them. He did the exact opposite. He determined ‘not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified’. Moreover, he says, ‘My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.’ Both with regard to his matter and manner he would not pander to the popular taste. And the result was that when he spoke, though some might say that ‘his speech was contemptible’, there was power, and men and women were convicted and converted, became Christians and were established in the Church. What was the secret? It was ‘the demonstration of the Spirit and of power’. It was this Holy Ghost authority.

Authority, p. 85

“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.”

Refining Fire

Exiles Departing an Unbelieving Church

We have recently recommenced reading the book of Ezekiel--this time, in large chunks at a time, rather than chapter by chapter.  Ezekiel was an exile, having been "removed" from Judah to Babylon in one of the early Babylonian actions against Judah and Jerusalem.  Other exiles would follow, ending up in the final siege and destruction of the city, and the terrible slaughter of the year 586BC. 

It was in captivity that Ezekiel was called by God to be His prophet to the exiles, even as Jeremiah was called to be God's prophet to Judah.  Jeremiah has been called the "weeping prophet" because of his heart-wrenching lamentations, mourning, and weeping over the stubborn Israelites and their refusal to listen to Jeremiah's warning of imminent destruction.  If Jeremiah was the weeping prophet, Ezekiel was the suffering prophet, called by God to act out before the exiles Judah's heard-hearted refusal to listen to God, and the inevitable consequences that followed.

The first twenty-four chapters of Ezekiel document Israel's centuries of unfaithfulness and unbelief.  The exiles, watching from afar, hoping for some relief, hated Ezekiel and his message of condemnation and threat--which is to say, they hated God.  The nadir of Ezekiel's suffering comes when the Lord tells him that He is about to take his wife, but that he must not mourn for her.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Letter From the UK (About Western Blind Eyes)

Iraqi Christians are raped, murdered and driven from their homes – and the West is silent 

The Telegraph
July 21st, 2014 

For the first time in 1,600 years, Mass is not being said in Mosul: an ancient culture has been wiped out in a matter of weeks. It's a war crime that, strangely, no one seems to want to talk about.

Mosul is the second-largest city in Iraq and the place where many Christians believe Jonah was buried. Since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) rode into town, their faith has been forced underground. Bells have been silenced, the hijab enforced with bullets. Tens of thousands fled after being offered an unattractive choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or be put to the sword. The levy was unaffordable. According to one local news agency, Isis troops entered the house of a poor Christian and, when they didn’t get what they wanted, the soldiers raped the mother and daughter in front of their husband and father. He committed suicide out of grief.

Having driven away the worshippers, the Isis fanatics are now trying to extinguish the physical legacy they left behind. A centuries-old church has been burned to the ground; Jonah’s tomb has been desecrated. Isis wants to create the Islamic equivalent of Year Zero, a brave new world with no evidence of Christianity, women’s rights, democracy or even that most subversive of instincts, human pity.

It might seem like this revolution has nothing to do with us in the West, but that's more than a little naive.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 26

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Then are the children free

The trouble with us Christian people is that we do not realize what we are as children of God, we do not see God’s gracious purposes with respect to us.... He contrasted us as children with the grass of the field. The grass is here today in the field, but tomorrow it will be thrown as fuel into the oven to bake bread. But God’s children are destined for glory. All the purposes and the promises of God are meant for us and designed with respect to us, and the one thing we have to do ... is just to realize what God has told us about ourselves as His children. The moment we grasp that, worry becomes impossible. A man then begins to apply the logic which argues: ‘If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life’ (Romans 5:10). That is it. Whatever happens to us, ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ The mighty argument continues in Romans 8 ... We may have to face problems and distresses and sorrow, but ‘in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us’. The vital thing is to see ourselves as His children. The argument follows of necessity. If God so clothe the grass how much more shall He clothe you? Your heavenly Father, who sees the birds, feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? We have to realize what we are as God’s children.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, pp. 131–2

“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.”

Louisa Wall Is Appalled

We Are the Borg, And We Have Your Interests at Heart

NZ Member of Parliament, Louisa Wall (Labour) has taken a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.  The case concerns a cartoon by a newspaper which, according to Stuff,
depicted people taking advantage of the Government's breakfast-in-schools programme to spend money on their vices.
But, it's not that Wall lacks a sense of humour.  It's that some of the figures in the cartoon expending money on their vices were Maori and Pacific Island folk.  To Wall, the cartoon amounted to speaking about these racial groups with contempt, which the law forbids.  The Human Rights Commission disagreed.

In response, Wall has animadverted that there is something systemically wrong with either the law or the Human Rights Commission or both.
MP Louisa Wall says it is "appalling" that the Human Rights Commission has not upheld a single complaint under its race relations section despite receiving more than 2000 complaints since 1993.
Two thousand complaints, and not one upheld.  Why?

Friday, 25 July 2014

Letter From the UK (About Wolves)

Britain Needs More Wolves Like it Needs the Black Death 

By James Delingpole
21 Jul 2014
Breitbart London

Eco campaigner George Monbiot has been howling in the Guardian about a wicked government conspiracy to prevent wolves (and other locally extinct wild animals) being reintroduced to mainland Britain.

He is incensed that the government is preparing to pass a bill in which any animal species that "is not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state" will be classified as non-native and subject to potential "eradication or control".

Monbiot lists some of the former British natives that fit into this category. They include: the lynx; the wolf, the European beaver; the brown bear; the spotted hyena; the lion; the wolverine; and the blue stag beetle.
What maddens Monbiot is that by declaring all such  species personae non gratae the government is trampling on his latest masterplan - explained in more detail in his latest book Feral - to repopulate Britain's landscape with exotic beasties.

Apparently there is great public appetite for this. Or so he claims:

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 25

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Have you anything to declare?

How are we to deal with this problem of ‘feelings’? [My first suggestion] is a very practical one—it is just this. If you are at all depressed at this moment you should make certain that there is no obvious cause for the absence of joyous feelings. For instance, if you are guilty of sin, you are going to be miserable. ‘The way of the transgressor is hard.’ If you break God’s laws and violate His rules you will not be happy. If you think that you can be a Christian and exert your own will and follow your own likes and dislikes, your Christian life is going to be a miserable one. There is no need to argue about it, it follows as the night the day, that if you are harbouring some favourite sin, if you are holding on to something that the Holy Spirit is condemning through your conscience, you will not be happy. And there is only one thing to do, confess it, acknowledge it, repent, go to God at once and confess your sin, open your heart, bare your soul, tell Him all about it, hold nothing back and then believe that because you have done so, He forgives you. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’

If unconfessed sin is the cause of your unhappiness I should be wasting my time and yours by going on with my fist of other causes. How many are trapped at this point. Let us be perfectly clear about it; let your conscience speak to you; listen to the voice of God as He speaks through the Spirit that is within you, and if He is placing His finger upon something, get rid of it. You cannot hope to solve this problem while you are harbouring some sin.

Spiritual Depression, pp. 113–14

“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 ContraCelsum S-Files

Bravery Above and Beyond, or Not

The Contra-Celsum S-files record particularly outstanding achievements of human beings--whether glorious or inglorious.  Today we wish to give recognition to the actions of a policeman who went, some would think, above and beyond the call of duty, but others would argue he was simply doing his job exceptionally well. 

The NZ Herald has the account:
West Auckland teen Caleb Heka was in Waikumete Cemetery on Saturday when his dog of six years turned on him.  The brave actions of Henderson police Constable Ben Klinkenberg, the first emergency staff member on the scene, have been credited with saving the young man's life.

It was about 10 minutes before Mr Klinkenberg, 28, turned up.  "Caleb, he was in a pretty bad way," [neighbour] Mrs Ludlow said. "The dog had bitten him in the thigh and his forearm was all torn up, and I think he's obviously gone right through the hand as well."  Mrs Ludlow believed Mr Klinkenberg, who was by himself initially, saved Mr Heka's life.  "My heart sank when he turned up by himself. I thought, 'I should tell him he needs back up'. But [Caleb] had some really bad injuries and someone had to go and help that kid."

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Letter From the UK (About Russia as Rogue-State)

Russia must choose between respecting the law of nations and becoming a rogue state

Last updated: July 19th, 2014
The Telegraph

Lord Palmerston was our last Whig prime minister, and probably the most ebullient patriot ever to occupy 10 Downing Street. When a French Ambassador politely told him, "If I had not been born French, I should wish to have been born British," Palmerston replied, "If I had not been born British, I should wish to have been born British". On another occasion, informed by his French counterpart that the English had no word equivalent to the French word sensibilit√©, he snapped back: "Yes we have – humbug!"

So when, in 1858, the French government demanded restitution from Britain over a failed attempt on the life of Napoleon III by an Italian nationalist named Felice Orsini, who was said to have had support from British radicals, many expected a brusque response from the peppery 76-year-old PM: perhaps the despatch of a gunboat to the Seine to teach Frenchie better manners.

Instead, Palmerston reacted with horror to what had happened. He ordered prosecutions against the British radicals accused of having abetted Orsini, and introduced a Conspiracy to Murder Bill into Parliament. He did these things at a time when the United Kingdom was without question the world's leading power, able to enforce her will on every continent and archipelago.

Note that no one was accusing the British state, either directly or indirectly, of having been implicated in the assassination attempt. The complaint, rather, was that the authorities had not kept a proper eye on potential terrorists living under British jurisdiction. Orsini had learned how to make his bombs, and seemed to have acquired his materials, while exiled in London. The modern equivalent might be – to pluck an example from the air – turning a blind eye to the acquisition of a surface-to-air missile launcher by a paramilitary group supported by your own armed forces.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 24

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Fixed on this blissful centre

Every time we take a step in the direction of God [James 4:8] ... God will take a step in our direction.... If we approach Him truly, if we approach Him honestly, we can always be certain that God will meet us. He is the God of salvation. That is a very good reason for drawing near to Him. He has every blessing that we need. There is nothing we can ever stand in need of but God has it.... He is the Giver of ‘every good gift and every perfect gift’. He has put them all in Christ, and He has given us Christ. ‘All things are yours’, says Paul to the Corinthians. Why? Because ‘ye are Christ’s’. It is an inevitable piece of logic.... It is only when I am near to God in Christ that I know my sins are forgiven. I feel His love, I know I am His child and I enjoy the priceless blessings of peace with God and peace within and peace with others. I am aware of His love and I am given a joy that the world can neither give nor take away.

Anyone who has ever tasted of these things must say that there is nothing comparable to being near to God.

Hamas--Mad or Just Islamic?

Thoughtful Secularists Think Hamas is Insane

There has been a plethora of half-truth media reporting on the conflict in Gaza.  Many in the West are so easily gulled and duped.  But more thoughtful media personnel understand that "things are not always what they seem."  William Saletan, writing in Slate puts the conflict into a more realistic context--yet still misses some key truths when it comes to understanding the mind of Hamas.

The Palestinian militants are showing an utter disregard for their own people.

There are lots of things we can debate about the crisis in Gaza. You can argue that Israel has committed war crimes, that a culture of violence has corrupted Palestinian society, or that a ground invasion is a terrible idea. But one thing should be clear to everyone: Hamas is insane. It’s destroying Gaza.


I’m not saying this to excuse Israel. Its pathological relationship with Gaza—war, occupation, radicalization, bombardment, blockade—is full of callousness and mistakes. The casualty list from the current air campaign, filled with Palestinian civilians, is grotesque. Israel thinks its need to respond outweighs the cost of killing women and children. But part of the travesty is how little Hamas has done for its own people.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

 The Mind of a Free Man

Douglas Wilson
July 18, 2014

Villainy is not honest. I mean, c’mon.

This means that when rulers are ungodly, we should expect them to be like their father, the devil, who is the father of liars (John 8:44). When they lie, they speak their native language. Bitterness and cursing are under their tongue, but of course never at the press conference.

False teachers do not knock on your door with a brief case full of literature, and say, “Hello, I am here from the devil, and I have come to lead you into eternal torments.” That kind of stuff never makes it into the brochures.
False kings have confidence in the American people. They simper, flatter, and coo. They do what they do “for the children,” meaning of course the ones they haven’t chopped up — but all very constitutionally.

Now this is not just a character assessment. It has ramifications. And the ramifications directly affect, at the end of the day, our compliance. Or, I should say, if we are following the ramifications, our lack of compliance.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 23

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Outreaching Love

The next thing [Paul] mentions [in 2 Timothy 1:7] is ‘love’. Now I find this most interesting and fascinating. I wonder how many of you would have put love at this point on our list? Why, do you think, does he put it here? What does he mean by it? ‘God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power....’ Yes, I understand that I need power. But love—why love? .. . Here is a superb bit of psychology, for what after all, is the main cause of this spirit of fear? The answer is ‘self’—self-love, self-concern, self-protection ... how can I do this, what if I fail? T—they are constantly turning in upon themselves, looking at themselves and concerned about themselves. And it is just here that the spirit of love comes in, for there is only one way to get rid of yourself.... You will never deal with self yourself. That was the fatal fallacy of those poor men who became monks and anchorites. They could get away from the world and from other people, but they could not get away from themselves.

There is only one way to get rid of self, and that is that you should become so absorbed in someone or something else that you have no time to think about yourself.

Greenist Folly

Not Cheap

Not good news at all.  This headline in the Daily Telegraph ought to make every self-respecting greenie shudder in paroxysms of guilt:

Wind turbine fires 'ten times more common than thought', experts warn

Study backed by Imperial College finds wind turbines prone to "catastrophic" fires but the true scale of the problem is unknown

Then came a spectacular image--that is, if you enjoy pyrotechnic displays:

A  £2 million, 100 metre tall wind turbine catches fire in hurricane-force winds at Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, Scotland. The wind turbine was spinning so fast it caught fire. The engine of the giant turbine went up in flames and its blades were blackened by smoke. The turbine was one of 15 set up on hills overlooking the Scottish coast, built to supply green electricity to 20,000 homes.
A £2 million, 100 metre tall wind turbine catches fire in hurricane-force winds at Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, Scotland, in 2011. Photo: STUART MCMAHON

Wind turbines catch fire.  In fact they are prone to do so, according to a study backed by the Imperial College London.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A New Diaspora

Jihadist-held Mosul free of Christians

July 21, 2014
The Daily Telegraph

IRAQ'S second-biggest city has been cleared of Christians, an Iraqi official says, as Mosul's final Christian families, facing an ultimatum from Islamist militants at home, fled to the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

"THE numbers of Christians in Mosul were around 50,000 people," said Bashar Kiki, a local council chief in the northern province of Nineveh, where Mosul is the key city.

"Since (the US-led invasion of) 2003, around 30,000 Christians have left the city. The rest have left the city after recent threats made by terrorist groups," he added. Kiki relocated the council to the town of Qushahwali, some 45km north of Mosul, after it fell to militants from the Islamic State terrorist organisation in June. "Now Mosul is free of Christians for the first time in its history."

Earlier this week, members of the Islamic State ordered Mosul's Christians to either convert to Islam or pay a protection tax or face death. The al-Qaeda splinter group gave Christians until mid-Saturday to make a choice.

A presidential spokesman in Kurdistan on Saturday called on the world to swiftly assist the Kurdistan government in sheltering and protecting the Christians they have taken in. According to Iraq's most senior Christian cleric, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, there were about 1.2 million Christians living in Iraq before the US-led invasion of the country. The figure has dwindled to around 500,000 at present.

The Islamic State has seized large chunks of territory in Iraq's Sunni heartland in the north and west in recent weeks. The chief of the radical Sunni group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, last month declared the establishment of an Islamist caliphate in the territory under its control, which includes parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria, raising fears for the emergence of a regional militant enclave.

[We are thankful that the Christians have escaped and found refuge in Kurdistan.  May God bless those who have shown them refuge.  Ed.]

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 22

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

How faith grows

Faith does not work automatically ... you have to apply it. Faith does not grow automatically either; we must learn to talk to our faith and to ourselves.... Do you remember how the Psalmist puts it in Psalm 42? Look at him turning to himself and saying, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?’ That is the way to make faith grow. You must talk to yourself about your faith. You must question yourself as to what is the matter with your faith. You must ask your soul why it is cast down, and wake it up! ... Your faith does not grow mechanically, you have to attend to it. To use our Lord’s analogy, you have to dig round and about it, and pay attention to it. Then you will find it will grow.

European Progress

Breathing the Free Air

At this blog, we are all free-traders.  If Johnny Appleseed wants to sell his apples to customers in the Orange Free State, the respective states have no warrant to interfere with the property rights of Johnny nor his customers.  Secondly, free trade has a long history of demonstrating that, whilst economic dislocation might initially occur, in the longer term the population of poorer countries benefit from the opportunity to export to wealthier nations.  Free trade is one of the most effective modes of "foreign aid" ever seen--much more effective than dumping lashings of money upon less developed countries in some top-down, bureaucratic, government driven "we know best" model. Thirdly, free mutual trade is one of the most effective inoculations against the deadly virus of nationalism. 

To this end, we are heartened that finally the European Common Agricultural Policy ("CAP") is having its last rites read.  This from the NZ Herald:

Monday, 21 July 2014

Letter From the UK (About Australia)

17 Jul 2014, 
Breitbart UK

Australia has become the first country in the world to abolish its hated carbon tax - in fulfillment of an electoral "pledge in blood" by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The tax was introduced by the Labor-Greens coalition in mid-2012, despite earlier promises to the contrary by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  Prime Minister Abbott described the tax - estimated to have cost every Australian household $550 per year - as "useless and destructive." It has now been repealed, after much wrangling - and only on the third attempt - by the Australian senate.

As Phillip Hutchings reports at Watts Up With That?, the tax was indeed a total waste of time and money.
Among the reasons it was so misbegotten are:

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 21

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Not I ... but Christ in me

‘God hath not given us the spirit of fear.’ What, then, is the spirit He has given us? ... ‘... but of power.’ ... We have a task, we know our own weakness. Yes, but here is a power even for weaklings, and it means power in the most comprehensive sense conceivable. Are you afraid that you will not be able to live the Christian life?

The answer is: ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do.’ The fear and the trembling remain ... but you are enabled to work by the power ‘that worketh in you both to will and to do’... it means also power to endure, power to go on whatever the condition, whatever the circumstances, power to hold on and to hold out... it means that the most timorous person can be given power in all things, even to die. You see it in the apostles, you see it in a man like Peter who was afraid of death, afraid to die. He even denied his Lord because of that fear.... But look at him afterwards.... The spirit of power had entered into him and now he is ready to die. He will face the authorities, he will face anybody....

False Prophets

A Prescient Judge Points the Way

A judge in Downunder has caused discombobulation and outrage at his suggestion that there is nothing principially wrong with incest.  That incest should be advocated from the bench ought not be surprising to Christians.  When secular humanism becomes the regnant religion, anything that can be done will be done--and will likely be endorsed and approved.  The reason is that the ethic of secular humanism runs, "I am the master of my fate; man is the measure of all things; nothing human is foreign or absolutely wrong." 

When this ethic is applied consistently to sexual mores nothing is implicitly forbidden.  Explicit prohibitions are ignorant, primitive, time-bound prejudices and subject to change by the next more-enlightened generation.  We are in the middle of just such a sea change.

The secularists are actively pushing the boundaries.  But The Daily Telegraph in the land of Oz has been so outraged, it has called for a judge to be sacked. Why?  Because the judge has suggested that there is nothing wrong with incest, only sexual and physical mechanics which can easily be controlled.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

When the Bricks Start to Fall

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
Sunday, July 13, 2014

It is worthy noting that the Lord Jesus describes one of the features of hypocrisy as being manifested in an inability to read the culture.

“Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?” (Luke 12:56).

A hypocrite does not know what is coming down because it does not suit him to know what is coming down. It is always handy to say, when things are comparatively calm, “well, that’s not my interpretation.”

But this simply reveals the narcissism of our age — as though our interpretations were in any way authoritative! Yes, yes, we know your interpretation, but is it correct?

When God shakes down a culture, He does it so that the things that cannot be shaken may remain (Heb. 12:27). This means that when the earthquake starts, and the bricks start to fall out of the building you are in, you have a moral responsibility to know where the shelters are.

True shelters are those congregations of God’s people that are not hypocritical, where the Word is faithfully proclaimed (not just taught), where the sacraments are faithfully administered, where discipline is faithfully practiced. In fact, it would be a good idea to start attending such shelters now.

Call it disaster preparedness.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 19

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

The test of our humility

... these Beatitudes as they proceed become increasingly difficult ... what we are now considering is more searching, more difficult, more humbling and even more humiliating.... The first Beatitude asks us to realize our own weakness and our own inability... it makes us feel we have nothing— But here, I say, is something which is still more searching—’Blessed are the meek.’

Now why is this? Because here we are reaching a point at which we begin to be concerned about other people. Let me put it like this, I can see my own utter nothingness and helplessness face to face with the demands of the gospel and the law of God. I am aware, when I am honest with myself, of the sin and the evil that are within me, and that drag me down. And I am ready to face both these things. But how much more difficult it is to allow other people to say things like that about me! I instinctively resent it. We all of us prefer to condemn ourselves than to allow somebody else to condemn us. I say of myself that I am a sinner, but instinctively I do not like anybody else to say that I am a sinner.... So far, I myself have been looking at myself. Now, other people are looking at me, and I am in a relationship to them, and they are doing certain things to me. How do I react to that? That is the matter which is dealt with at this point. I think you will agree that this is more humbling and more humiliating than everything that has gone before. It is to allow other people to put the searchlight upon me instead of my doing it myself.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, i, pp. 64–5

“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.”

Mockery the Best Medicine Now

The Wonderland of Oz and Other Places

We are all aware of the intellectual disingenuousness with which the global warming crusade has been conducted.  At the hands of UN and media propagandists, "global warming" was morphed into "climate change" so than any variability in climate could be claimed as "evidence" of the earth warming.  Colder temperatures thus became "proof" that global warming was actually occurring.  This has led to the perturbing situation we have at present.  Despite no rise in global temperatures for the past 16 years that very phenomenon is evidence of climate change, aka, global warming. 

In that perverse disingenuous spirit, we now present the latest evidence of global warming to alarm all men everywhere.

Firstly, the the whacky land of Oz, which boasts yellow brick roads, talking tin men, and other curiosities:

Friday, 18 July 2014

A Skirmish Won

Sensing the Wind's Direction

The normal modus of European Community politics is for extremist pressure groups to route their causes through the European Parliament or the European courts, seek affirmative resolutions or judgements, then turn around and demand that all member states comply post haste, or face court action.  These extremist groups tend to avoid the ballot box, where almost without exception they are soundly rejected. 

One of the latest moves has been to seek a judgement in the European Court of Human Rights to the effect that all member states must recognise homosexual marriage as a human right.  Thankfully, in this instance, the Court has soundly rejected the plaintiffs.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 18

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Christian—you are no ordinary person!

Timothy at the moment was guilty of the spirit of fear, he was gripped by it; so Paul reprimands him—’God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7)... our essential trouble, if we suffer from this particular manifestation of Spiritual Depression, is our failure to realize what God has given us, and is giving us, in giving us the gift of the Holy Ghost.... It is a failure to realize what God has done for us, and what God is still doing in us.... The Apostle has to tell Timothy to stir up the gift of God.

Our fears are due to our failure to stir up—failure to think, failure to take ourselves in hand. You find yourself looking to the future and then you begin to imagine things and you say: T wonder what is going to happen?’ And then your imagination runs away with you. You are gripped by the thing; you do not stop to remind yourself of who you are and what you are, this thing overwhelms you and down you go. Now the first thing you have to do is to take a firm grip of yourself, to pull yourself up, to stir up yourself, to take yourself in hand and to speak to yourself... the big thing that Paul is saying in effect to Timothy is: ‘Timothy, you seem to be thinking about yourself and about life and all you have to do as if you were still an ordinary person. But, Timothy, you are not an ordinary person! You are a Christian, you are born again, the Spirit of God is in you. But you are facing all these things as if you are still what you once were, an ordinary person!’

Spiritual Depression, pp. 99–100

“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.”

Death Valley

Can These Bones Live?

The roots of our rapid devolution from public and official Christianity in the West to radical secularism are fascinating to trace.  You can take a long bow, a short bow or a medium bow vista.  All are valid to some degree.

The "short bow" view traditionally commences with the sixties as the beginning of a time of rapid change: the Beatles, the pill, no fault divorce, secular feminism, a rapid expansion of a vast government income re-distribution system, the legalisation of killing unborn children on a mass industrial scale, the official promulgation of evolutionism as a religious certainty--to name but a few of the many devolutionary milestones--with the result that the West is now in a place which few foresaw when John Lennon and his mates boasted they were more popular than Jesus Christ.  Today the West is engaged in furious debates over whether homosexuals can legitimately be married, whether incest and pederasty should be classified as human rights, and how many genders there are.  As Theoden of Rohan once said, "How did it come to this?"  No doubt many folk today who were alive in the fifties are likewise shaking their heads in astonishment at the devastation wreaked upon the law and culture and religion which had stood unassailable for centuries. 

The causes of such a rapid and comprehensive devolution are complex to be sure.  But we suggest that one precipitous factor was the most widespread religion of the day.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Letter from the UK (About an Ethiopian Farmer)

Ethiopian Farmer Sues British Government 

- For Sending Aid to Ethiopia

16 Jul 2014, 4:13
Breitbart London

[The history of foreign aid does not make for pretty reading.  Like most government initiatives, the actual outcome is far from the original intent.  Now an Ethopian is suing the British Government because its aid grants to Ethiopia have cemented a one-man dictatorship in that country.  It's to the credit of the UK judiciary that the case is being allowed to proceed. Ed.]

A 33-year-old Ethiopian farmer has become so disillusioned with the way UK overseas aid is propping a “one party state” that he is suing. The man, who has been granted anonymity to protect his family, believes that UK overseas aid helped the Ethiopian government inflict “brutal treatment” on himself and others.

The court papers were filed in Kenya claiming that the UKs £1.3bn donation to Ethiopia is being used to oppress the population. The father of six known as "O" has come in for criticism of his action because his legal fees are being paid by the British Taxpayer despite never having been to the UK.

However "O" insists his action is necessary, and has pledged to give any compensation he wins to charity. The exact reasons for "O" bringing the case is unclear but it is known that he was forced from his home and ended up in a refugee camp after he was tortured for trying to protect his land.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 17

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

‘Little faith’—and its results

What then is this condition which is described by our Lord as being ‘little faith’? ... We can say ... in general that it is one which is confined to one sphere of life only. It is faith that is confined solely to the question of the salvation of our souls, and it does not go beyond that. It does not extend to the whole of life and to everything in life.

This is a common complaint among us as Christian people. On the question of the salvation of our souls we are perfectly clear.... We have seen ... that the only way of deliverance is in the Lord Jesus Christ.... And we believe on Him, and have that saving faith with regard to the present and to all eternity. That is saving faith, the thing that makes us Christians, and without which we are not Christian at all.

Yes; but Christian people often stop at that, and they seem to think that faith is something that applies only to that question of salvation.

Making Sport For All

Extraordinary Politicians

Politicians are past masters at making sport for the nation.  They tell themselves, of course, that they are performing Very Important Work, which in a few rare cases may be true.  And given that a large swathe of our population believes that the gummint is a minor deity it is no wonder that it swoons and gasps at the ruminations and peccadilloes of our pollies. 

Pollies are somewhere between used car salesmen and a B-grade comics.  They become more interesting as their comedic skills increase.  When they get to the point of being stupidly caught in their own nets, it can become mildly entertaining in a Three-Stooges kind of way.  But when they get us belly-laughing, they come close to earning their salaries.  After all, at that point they are dolling out the best medicine.

We have just recovered from the laughter and bemusement around the office which accompanied one pollie portentously proclaiming that he believed the momentous issue of the day was to accomplish a redivivus of the extinct moa.  The infamous Trevor Mallard has done this sort of thing before.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

On Ransacking the Penumbrae

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
Friday, July 11 2014

When confronted with the prospect of a devolution into tyranny, most Christians are clear on the nature of such tyranny, and the fact that it is bad, but are unclear on their liberty to oppose and disregard it. No, I should say more — on their duty to oppose and disregard it.

The evangelical baker and the Roman Catholic flower arranger who are hauled off into sensitivity training for refusing to strike an insufficiently celebratory pose over same sex mirage are being abused, no question. But . . . what about Romans 13, and the lions, and the coliseum? Shouldn’t we just take it?

Well, yes and no. If we were in the position of the early Christians, building a new civilization from scratch, we should do exactly what they did. When we are not starting from scratch, we should live up to what we have attained. And one of the things we have attained — because the Spirit has been at work in the world on this particular project for two thousand years now — is the rule of law.

Our current system of administrative rules, regulations, laws, and penalty kicks, is not just a bad system of governance, although it is that. It is — all of it — profoundly unlawful. Most of it has gone well past the point of being unconstitutional, and is now overtly anti-constitutional.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 16

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Do your part—and leave it in God’s hands

We are going to consider the case of those who ... are afraid of the future ... a very common condition and it really is most extraordinary to notice the way in which the enemy often produces the self-same fundamental condition in the same people by these apparently diametrically opposed methods. When you have put them right about the past, they immediately begin to talk about the future, with the result that they are always depressed in the present. You have satisfied them about forgiveness of sin, yes, even that particular sin which was so exceptional.... And then they say, ‘Ah, yes, but...’, and they begin to talk about fears concerning the future and what lies ahead.... Now it is right that we should think about the future.... But what we are always warned against in Scripture is about being worried about the future. ‘Take no thought for the morrow’, means ‘Do not be guilty of anxious care about the morrow.’ It does not mean that you do not take any thought at all, otherwise the farmer would not plough and harrow and sow. He is looking to the future, but he does not spend the whole of his time wondering and worrying about the end results of his work. No, he takes reasonable thought and then he leaves it... although it is very right to think about the future, it is very wrong to be controlled by it....

Pots and Kettles

The Irresponsible Amongst Us

Every so often editorial writers get hopelessly confused.  Here is an example:  an editorial in the NZ Herald made this statement of fact:
Domestic violence . . .  is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.
Then, a few paragraphs later, the writer states:
Professor David Fergusson, who has studied the lives of 1265 people born in Christchurch in 1977, said his research suggested the rates of domestic violence by men and women are similar and in many instances involved mutual violence between couples. "Women do suffer more in terms of fearfulness and related outcomes," he said, "but what we do find in our study is that violence is usually mutual and there isn't a predominant aggressor."
The writer then adopts the tone of a scold with respect to the Professor and his research:

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

China, Abortion, and the Christian Church

China beachhead

China | Pro-life efforts are growing in the nation with the most abortions. But saving lives in the womb is an enormous challenge—even within the church

Issue: "China's abortion regime," July 26, 2014

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 15

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

The enigma of faith

This Beatitude [Blessed are the meek], this particular description of the Christian, causes real surprise because it is so completely and entirely opposed to everything which the natural man thinks. ‘Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.’ World conquest—possession of the whole universe—given to the meek, of all people! The world thinks in terms of strength and power, of ability, self-assurance and aggressiveness. That is the world’s idea of conquest and possession. The more you assert yourself and express yourself, the more you organize and manifest your powers and ability, the more likely you are to succeed and get on. But here comes this astounding statement, ‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth’—and they alone. Once more, then, we are reminded ... that the Christian is altogether different from the world. It is a difference in quality, an essential difference. He is a new man, a new creation; he belongs to an entirely different kingdom. And not only is the world unlike him; it cannot possibly understand him. He is an enigma to the world. And if you and I are not, in this primary sense, problems and enigmas to the non-Christians around us, then this tells us a great deal about our profession of the Christian faith.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, i, p. 63

“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.”

Destructive Hyperbole

Groping in the Fog

The office of ContraCelsum has been shaking over the past few days with bouts of belly laughter--which is, as we know, the best medicine.  We have been told in harridan-esque tones that we in New Zealand have a "rape culture".  Well knock us down with a feather duster.  We didn't see that one coming.

A rape culture.  What on earth is that?  Whence its origins?  Where is it to be found?  Does it come from from a particular ethnic group or immigrant ethnicity that just happens to sanction rape as part of their legal tradition?  Apparently not, because no particular ethnic, nor cultural group has been identified by the protagonist as having a culture of rape.  It's not a valued or traditional practice in British culture, Irish culture, Australian culture, or Chinese culture as far as we are aware.  Some may have said Indian culture celebrated rape in some circumstances, but recent legal cases against rapists in that country weaken that argument.  We are also aware that honour rapes take place in Islamic societies with the objective of removing shame from a family or village or town.  We grant that comes pretty close to an actual culture of rape. 

But in New Zealand?  So far, no evidence exists of such cultural practices here.  Thus we have no idea what is meant, or being referred to.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Numerous Piles of Blue Ruination

Douglas Wilson
Blog & Mablog
July 10, 2014

Boehner has announced that he disagrees with the growing calls for the impeachment of Obama. This is tactically shrewd, but nobody should mistake what I mean by tactically shrewd. When Jesus said that a king should take care to determine whether his ten thousand could take the king with twenty thousand, He was not saying anything about the actual merits of the case (Luke 14:31).

There is no question in my mind but that Obama deserves to be impeached. But he has gotten to this particular imperial point, disregarding the law with all the disdain of a sun king, for the same reason that any attempt at an orderly process of impeachment would devolve into a Washington circus maximus ten times worse than what happened with Clinton. He has gotten away with being corrupt because all of Washington is corrupt.

The impeachment process forced Richard Nixon out because the media was in full-throated cry against him, and then as a result his political base of support collapsed. Everybody thought that 18 minutes of conversation that went missing on the White House tapes was beyond fishy. We are now dealing with years of missing emails from Lois Lerner, and while there is outrage on the right, the whole thing can still be called contained. Call this fishiness inflation. If there is water to be carried, the media will carry it.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 14

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

I am what I am ... by the grace of God

What matters first of all if you are a Christian is not what you once were, but what you are. Does that sound ridiculous ? It is so perfectly obvious.... Yes, how obvious when I put it like this, but how difficult to see it sometimes when the devil attacks us. The Apostle said that he was ‘not worthy to be called an apostle because [he] persecuted the Church of God’, but he goes on to add: ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am.’ What does it matter what I was? ‘I am what I am.’ Put your emphasis there. Do not be for ever thinking about what you were. The essence of the Christian position is that you should remind yourself of what you are. Certainly there is this past with all its sins. But say this to yourself:

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like [me] His praise should sing?

The Lust for Power

A Pox on Both Their Houses

We commented recently upon a bizarre proposal by the Labour Party that cases of rape must take away the burden of proof from the accuser, and place it upon the shoulders of the defendant.  Innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental principle of judicature which the Labour Party is willing to toss aside whimsically in order to win a few votes from the radical feminists.  The NZ Herald continues the debate over this antediluvian proposal. 
Labour's justice spokesman Andrew Little did not think the party's proposal would lead to more innocent people being convicted.  "I don't see why. You're assuming that there is a propensity to lay false complaints. There is no evidence pointing to that."
There is no evidence of a propensity to lay false complaints. What planet is Little from?  This statement beggars belief and one wonders whether Little is just fundamentally ignorant of the real world, or whether he is being deliberately obtuse for political reasons.  OK, so let's put this claim to the test: if Little were to be taken seriously and in good faith, he would be claiming that in the past fifty years there has been no evidence of any person laying false complaints of rape

In August 8, 2005, the NZ Herald ran the following story:

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Letter from the UK (About Margaret Thatcher Redivivus)

Children held back by 'vested interests' in education, says Michael Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove attacks educational establishment for holding back classroom reforms, just as thousands of teachers prepare to stage a national strike 

By , Education Editor
08 Jul 2014 

Education standards risk being undermined “by vested interests determined to hold back reform”, Michael Gove has said on the eve of a major national teachers' strike. In a swipe at classroom unions, the Education Secretary says attempts to reform schools have “not always been easy” because too many teachers believe “things must stay the same”.
Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Gove says large numbers of pupils across Europe – including England – are facing a bleak future unless extra effort is made to raise standards and create more equal access to good schools. He says teaching standards must improve because too many children are still attending schools that “aren’t good enough”. 
Michael Gove is one of the most courageous politicians of our day.  He is not afraid to front up and confront the unions which have hitherto had a stifling stranglehold over education in the UK--as they do here in New Zealand.  Just as Thatcher stared down the coal miner unions during the UK miners' strike of 1984-5 and saw them off, opening up the pathway to necessary reform in the UK, so Gove is attempting the same.  Different unions, same reality.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 12

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Christ changes everything

Men who have been the hopeless slaves and victims of sin, and who have reduced their families and homes to conditions of abject poverty, once they have been converted and brought to Christ have proceeded to transform their whole surroundings and conditions. In regenerating a man, the gospel changes even his personal appearance. He begins to pay new attention to his clothing and that of his wife and children; the very furniture of his home is altered, and the aspect of his premises improved. Once the man himself is put right, he proceeds to put everything else right.

The great movement for popular education in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries came as a direct result of the awakening of men, under the influence of the gospel, to the realization of the fact that they had minds and brains.

Liberty is a Fragile Treasure

The Politics of Guilt and Pity Trump Justice

People charged with a crime have to be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt to be convicted.  This is not a tangential, but a fundamental, component of our system of justice.  The burden of proof is on the accuser, and his agents--the police and inquisitorial agencies of the State.

Judicature is structured this way--and has been for centuries--because the power, resources, and influence of the State are so much greater than a citizen's.  There are other principles set in concrete to afford similar safeguards and protections.  The accused cannot be compelled to testify against himself.  Again the reason is the mismatch of power between the State and the accused.  The State has the power to "lean" on an accused, with threats, intimidation, even torture.  "Confessions" under even the hint of duress are thrown out immediately--which is why interviews are extensively videoed and audio-taped.  They provide evidence of no duress by the State.

It is disconcerting, however, when the politics of guilt and pity intrude.  These fundamental principles of justice set down to maintain the integrity of judicature can be tossed overboard in an emotive tsunami.  The NZ Labour Party, polling in the twenties percent range, desperate to strike some resonance amongst the few identity-orientated groups which still maintain lingering vestiges of support, has come forth proposing to dismantle "proof beyond reasonable doubt".  This from the NZ Herald:

Friday, 11 July 2014

Letter From the UK (About Bert and Ernie)

Bert and Ernie gay marriage cake leaves Christian bakery facing court threat

Christian bakery facing legal action from equality quango for refusing to make cake with Sesame Street characters saying ‘support gay marriage’ 

By , Religious Affairs Editor 
July 07, 2014

A Christian-run bakery is facing legal action from a Government agency for refusing to produce a cake carrying a picture of the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage”.
Ashers Baking Co, based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, cancelled an order for a novelty cake with a picture of the puppets arm in arm printed onto the icing saying that it went against the directors’ religious beliefs.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 11

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

The spirit we receive of wisdom, grace and power 
And always sorrowful we live, rejoicing evermore
(Charles Wesley)

Let us, then, try to define this man who mourns. What sort of a man is he? He is a sorrowful man, but he is not morose. He is a sorrowful man, but he is not a miserable man. He is a serious man, but he is not a solemn man. He is a sober-minded man, but he is not a sullen man. He is a grave man, but he is never cold or prohibitive. There is with his gravity a warmth and attraction. This man, in other words, is always serious; but he does not have to affect the seriousness. The true Christian is never a man who has to put on an appearance of either sadness or joviality. No, no; he is a man who looks at fife seriously; he contemplates it spiritually, and he sees in it sin and its effects. He is a serious, sober-minded man. His outlook is always serious, but because of these views which he has, and his understanding of truth, he also has ‘a joy unspeakable and full of glory’. So he is like the Apostle Paul, ‘groaning within himself’, and yet happy because of his experience of Christ and the glory that is to come. The Christian is not superficial in any sense, but is fundamentally serious and fundamentally happy. You see, the joy of the Christian is a holy joy, the happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness ... it is a solemn joy, it is a holy joy....

Roe v. Wade, Part III

The Most Poisonous Pollutant

Forty years have passed since the calamitous Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court of the United States.  Looking back, the reasoning behind the decision shows all the hallmarks of a bunch of Unbelievers scratching around for a pretext to rationalise what they really wanted to have transpire--abortion on demand, the crowning glory of a culture of death.

In order to permit the unborn child to live, he or she must have "the capability of meaningful life" said the justices.  Since the unborn child could not speak for himself or herself, and since mother was speaking against it, seeking the baby's death, clearly the capability of a meaningful life was severely diminished.  Inability to communicate or to have your nearest and dearest deny your continuation implies a severe diminution of meaningful existence, after all. 

But the "value" which persuaded the court most of all and which proved to be decisive was the "right to privacy".  Harold O J Brown commented:

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Freedom the Issue, Not Just Religious Freedom

Two Important Judgments on “Religious Freedom” 

– and why I object to both of them

Posted on July 4, 2014
By J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
Turtle Bay and Beyond

In the last week judges in the US and Europe have issued two very important judgment on religious freedom. One is the US Supreme Court’s judgment in the “Hobby Lobby” case, which upheld the right of a Christian company to not pay, as part of the so-called “Obamacare” health insurance system, for his employees’ contraceptive drugs which he deemed to be abortifacient, and thus not in line with his religious convictions. According to this decision, the employer’s religious freedom supersedes the state’s interest in supplying (allegedly?) abortifacient drugs to everyone who wants them.

The other one is a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, upholding a French law that prohibits the wearing of headscarves (known as niqab, burqa, or chador) and other gear that makes the wearer unrecognizable: according to the Court, the State’s margin of appreciation on these matters is wide enough to justify such a law, even if it sets limits to the right of Muslim women to live according to what they claim are the precepts of their Religion.

It appears that “religious freedom” is interpreted very differently on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US it seems to enjoy greater recognition than in Europe.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 10

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

The ‘one faith’: what is it?

... there is only one answer to the question. It is the great essential New Testament message concerning ‘justifying faith’.

That was the very nerve and centre of apostolic preaching.... ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Romans 1:16). This was the kernel of apostolic preaching—that it is by faith a man is justified, not by the deeds of the law, or any righteousness of his own.

We have a classic statement of it in Romans 3.... ‘Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, ... that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus ...’ (vv. 24–26).

That is the great central message of the gospel. It is through this faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work that we are justified. That is the meaning of this ‘one faith’.

Secularism and Despotism Necessarily Coeval

We Know What They Mean

Any discussion about rights--that is, human rights--can only proceed intelligently and rationally these days if it is prefaced by careful definitions.  Are we speaking about demand rights, freedom rights, natural rights, civil rights, egalitarian rights, and so on?  "Debates" over rights usually amount to little more than ships passing in the night, respectively catapulting slogans into empty air, with a mutual conviction that he whose foghorn is the loudest wins the debate.  All heat, no light.

Having said that, there are few things more amusing than watching a secular humanist trying to deal carefully and intelligently with human rights.  To unroll the broadest canvas, we must remind everyone that when a secularist talks about human rights he or she immediately casts the discussion around the role and responsibilities of government.  The reason is not hard to discern.  For the secularist, the State is the highest authority in existence.  There is nothing, no-one to whom the secularist can appeal beyond the power and condescension of the State.

We should note, however, that this view is an oddity in the grand scheme of things.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Atheistic Conditioning

Richard Dawkins: Give me the Child and I’ll Give you the Man

Anthony Horvath

Religious leaders are well aware of the vulnerability of the child brain, and the importance of getting the indoctrination in early.  The Jesuit boast, ‘Give me the child for his first seven years, and I’ll give you the man,’ is no less accurate (or sinister) for being hackneyed.

The above quote comes from Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion in the chapter titled “The Roots of Religion.”  I was thinking about that chapter when I heard that Mr. Dawkins was putting out a children’s book.   Has Dawkins decided he needs to get into the ‘indoctrination’ business?

Of course, the word ‘indoctrination’ has taken on a negative air, and is only applied when one disapproves of what is being transmitted—even if one is about the same business.  Dawkins’ real problem is not with the Jesuit’s ‘sinister’ approach.  He admits it is ‘no less accurate.’  His real beef must be with the content the Jesuits presented.

Good!  Then we are all agreed!  ‘Indoctrination’ isn’t ‘sinister.’  Transmitting the beliefs, values, and perceptions of one generation to the next is an important and unavoidable necessity that must take certain definite forms because of the nature of who we are transmitting them too:  children.

Now, we cannot really believe that atheists and secular humanists have every really thought that ‘indoctrination’ was the exclusive domain of the religionists.