Thursday, 31 March 2016

Europe's Traitorous Enclaves

Europe’s Fear Of "Fear"

‘Islamophobia’ Led Directly To The Belgium Attacks

This latest attack in Brussels would not have been possible without this network of native-born, disaffected Muslims. And for that, Europe has no one to blame but itself.

M. G. Oprea

Last week, I wrote about the myriad instabilities in the Middle East and North Africa, from the civil war in Yemen to the bombings in Turkey and the ongoing disaster in Syria. What I didn’t touch on, however, is how these instabilities are reverberating on the European continent. Sadly, this week another tremor was felt. Today, during the morning commute, terrorists bombed a train station and the airport in Brussels. So far, more than 30 are reported dead and more than 150 injured.

These attacks come five months after the Paris attacks that shocked the world and took the lives of 130 men and women. These terrorists had pledged their allegiance to ISIS and were carrying out what they believed to be holy jihad. Although most of the perpetrators were killed during the attacks or in the days after in a suburb of Paris, one man eluded the police. That man, Salah Abdeslam, was captured on Friday after a months-long manhunt.

The city has been on high alert since his arrest. They knew Abdeslam had a large network in Brussels, and that he had been planning more attacks. They feared his network of operatives would lash out. They also discovered detonators in a safe house last week before his arrest. Presumably, today’s bombings in Brussel were a reaction to Abdeslam’s apprehension, either out of concern that he would talk or that the police would soon be on to them, too.

What is shocking the Brussels police, however, is the scale of Abdeslam’s network and its capacity to help him avoid capture for so long in a city that authorities were scouring for him.

Daily Devotional

The Jewels of a Christian

"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Hebrews 5:8

Charles H. Spurgeon

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of his own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers?

No, our Master's experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ's "being made perfect through suffering"--it is, that he can have complete sympathy with us. "He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, "I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; he sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong." Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in his steps. Find a sweet support in his sympathy; and remember that, to suffer is an honourable thing--to suffer for Christ is glory.

The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does he honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him."

Daily Devotional

10 Results of the Resurrection

If Christ has not been raised, your hope is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

John Piper

Here are ten amazing things we owe to Jesus’s resurrection:

1) A savior who can never die again. “We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again” (Romans 6:9).

2) Repentance. “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel” (Acts 5:31).

3) New birth. “By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

4) Forgiveness of sin. “If Christ has not been raised, your hope is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

5) The Holy Spirit. “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear” (Acts 2:32–33).

6) No condemnation for the elect. “Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God” (Romans 8:34).

7) Jesus’s personal fellowship and protection. “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

8) Proof of coming judgment. “God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

9) Salvation from the future wrath of God. “We wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 5:10).

10) Our own resurrection from the dead. “We know that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence” (2 Corinthians 4:14; Romans 6:4; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:20).

Clinging to Old, Failed Mantras

No Exceptions

Command and control economies are notoriously wasteful, inefficient, and destructive of wealth.  This has always been the case.  No more so than in modern China.  Because the country is so vast and the population so huge the inefficiencies and waste increase geometrically.  

Let's take the matter of wind farms for power generation as an example.  We are familiar with the hard economic reality that wind farms only work if they are heavily subsidised by the state.  This is not a problem in China because the state fundamentally owns all capital and all labour.  But what it does do is turbo-charge the wastefulness and capital  destruction intrinsic to wind farms.

The centralist planners in Western countries (that is, those who believe that the state sector knows best when it comes to wealth creation, production, distribution, and economic growth) can only look at China with green envy.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

A Few Svens

Douglas Wilson

Suppose we set up a thought experiment. Suppose that in the aftermath of the Brussels attack (and all the attacks before that), someone conducted a survey of Christians in North America and discovered that seventy percent of them thought that their Muslim neighbors were “much more likely” to have terrorist sympathies. This would be reported as a bigotry problem among the Christians, and not an instance of how insightful they were being.

If a survey were taken of Muslims, and seventy percent of them reported that they had “experienced discrimination” from Christians in some way, shape or form, this would be taken at face value, another evidence of a bigotry problem among the Christians.

The way such judgments break is not really telling us what Christians in this society are like, but it is telling us which group in this society is “justified” and which group is not. This is simply “heads I win, tails you lose” writ large.

Moral judgments are part of the human operating system. We cannot function without them, and they are so integral to our thought processes that we are frequently unaware of them. Fish don’t know they are wet, in other words. Because we are a fallen race, our moral judgments are frequently inaccurate or wrong, but we still make them. All the time.

Daily Devotional

On Heaven

C. S. Lewis

The symbols under which Heaven is presented to us are (a) a dinner party, (b) a wedding, (c) a city, and (d) a concert. It would be grotesque to suppose that the guests or citizens or members of the choir didn’t know one another. And how can love of one another be commanded in this life if it is to be cut short at death?

Think of yourself just as a seed patiently waiting in the earth: waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking. I suppose that our whole present life, looked back on from there, will seem only a drowsy half- waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming.

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Cake Them With Tar and Feathers

New Zealand's Fifth Column

Politically smart, morally invidious.  The Labour and the Green parties are starting to flirt with ideas of a Universal Income in New Zealand.  This is incredibly smart politics.  It will prove popular with so many.  After all, Robert Muldoon rocketed to electoral success by promising a pay-as-you-go universal tax funded pension.  The folk loved the idea.  And so one of the biggest liabilities upon the public exchequer under which we all now bend was born.

Labour and the Greens have learnt the lesson.  Struggling for political survival.  Lusting for husting success they are thinking of expanding the idea of universal superannuation to a guaranteed, state funded, basic income for every adult in the country.
All adult New Zealanders could be given a Government handout of at least $200 a week under a new policy being considered by the Labour Party.  The co-leader of a global network promoting a "universal basic income", British professor Guy Standing, will be a keynote speaker at a Labour conference on "the future of work" in Auckland next week.  He said yesterday that a system "where every legal resident of New Zealand should be entitled to a modest monthly basic income" would reduce inequality and give some security to people who increasingly have to earn a living from insecure casual and short-term work. [NZ Herald]
At this juncture we will don the robes of the prophets and make some modest predictions if this were ever to come to pass:

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Letter From the Land of Cotton

Why The Left (And Donald Trump) Are On A Never-Ending Witch Hunt

George Fields
The Federalist

Leftism always identifies some group as the source of all problems in society, some class that makes all mankind choke.

My kid sister, who does Twitter, took it upon herself to propagate my last article. Several of her friends reacted negatively. One was so utterly silly that I took to the typewriter to concoct a response; but then realized my critic was 14 years old. So I thought better of it and went to bed.

As I arose in the morning, my sister had sent me another critique of my article. It read as follows: “Guys this is cis white male trolling people. Just report block, and move on.” At first, I was thrilled to think leftists had finally determined that my sister and I, being of Sicilian and Vietnamese ancestry, had graduated into being white (the master race, as the Democratic primary would suggest), as opposed to being genetically inferior racial toxins requiring forced sterilization, as Madame Sanger and the Progressives of yesteryear contended.

As I spent the better part of the day waiting eagerly for the official diploma informing me of my change in status, I began to contemplate that, although I had been promoted to society’s ruling class, I had also been demoted to the Left’s newest object of hatred.  I say newest, because “white people” are surely not the first.

Daily Devotional

"I Shall Crucify Him Afresh"

"Then all the disciples forsook him and fled."
Matthew 26:56

Charles H. Spurgeon

He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives, fled from him in the very beginning of his sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but sheep at the best, and they flee when the wolf cometh. They had all been warned of the danger, and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic, and took to their heels.

It may be, that I, at the opening of this day, have braced up my mind to bear a trial for the Lord's sake, and I imagine myself to be certain to exhibit perfect fidelity; but let me be very jealous of myself, lest having the same evil heart of unbelief, I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honour to have stood at Jesus' side right manfully; they fled from honour; may I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety. O God, let me not play the fool also.

Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares, grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my recreant spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for his truth.

What anguish must have filled the Saviour as he saw his friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in his cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it. If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify him afresh, and put him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from an end so shameful.

Will Europe See It Through?

First Steps

It looks as if Europe has taken some significant steps to seal its border from the endless progression of economic migrants making their way to Europe.  It remains to be seen how effective its policing will be of the boats and the vehicular and foot traffic.  

The immediate focus is upon migrants boating up and crossing from Turkey to Greek islands near to Turkey, at which point the migrants land de facto in Europe.  The new policy is stated as follows:
From Sunday morning, any asylum seeker who lands on the holiday islands including Kos, Lesbos and Chios with no longer be able to catch ferries to Athens, but will be swiftly interviewed by asylum officials or judges at new detention camps.

From April 4, once Greek law has begun, deportations to Turkey will begin with leaders hoping within weeks that the process will take no more than days.  Those that appeal their removal will be brought before Greek judges in rapid-fire court hearings, under an operation costing €20 million a month involving 4,000 staff.  [The Telegraph]
We predict that the flow of migrants via Turkey to Europe via Greek islands will cease, rapidly.  It remains to be seen whether the flow from North Africa across the Med, or the vehicle and foot traffic from Eastern Europe will be similarly interdicted.  To date, lax and easy European policy has created the migrant crisis, proving a beacon and magnet for those wanting to better their lives (which is the case for most people on earth).

Only when the borders are shut to volitional migrants can a sustainable genuine refugee programme be put in place and developed.  As one commentator put it, Europe has finally decided to adopt the Australian solution.  Anything less swamps and drowns a genuine refugee programme with a flood of economic migrants.

Yet it is still an open question as to whether Europe has sufficient commitment to such a policy to see it carried out fairly and justly.

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Saruman's Amongst Us

Kissing Judases

I was once invited to a dinner with a Roman Catholic cardinal.  He was a friend of Pope John Paul II and had been on of those who elected his successor, Pope Benedict XVI.  The main topic of the evening was the state of religious freedom around the world, but the conversation ranged far wider, and it was both deep and delightful.

Just as we were about to finish our coffee and end the evening, he suddenly changed the topic and asked me about the crisis roiling the worldwide Anglican Church.  Not wanting to be drawn on what Francis Schaeffer used to call a "soup question" rather than a "dessert question" (one that requires asking early in a meal to do justice to its importance), I replied somewhat lightly, "The Anglican Church is flourishing in many parts of the world, especially in the Global South, but it certainly has huge problems in the West.  But then, you had your Borgia popes."

Instead of brushing off the remark, as I expected, the cardinal became serious.  "Yes," he said, "Alexander VI (with his record of incest, murder, bribery and corruption) was one of the worst leaders ever to have led the Christian church  But he never denied a single article of the Apostle's Creed, whereas several of the Episcopal bishops flout the teaching of the church catholic and deny the very heart of the Christian faith--and still stay on as Christian leaders.  That is the shame of the Episcopal Church, and that is unprecedented in Christian history."

The cardinal was correct.

Daily Devotional

Stores of Wine and Oil

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit."
Luke 10:21

Charles H. Spurgeon

The Saviour was "a man of sorrows," but every thoughtful mind has discovered the fact that down deep in his innermost soul he carried an inexhaustible treasury of refined and heavenly joy. Of all the human race, there was never a man who had a deeper, purer, or more abiding peace than our Lord Jesus Christ. "He was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows." His vast benevolence must, from the very nature of things, have afforded him the deepest possible delight, for benevolence is joy.

There were a few remarkable seasons when this joy manifested itself. "At that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth." Christ had his songs, though it was night with him; though his face was marred, and his countenance had lost the lustre of earthly happiness, yet sometimes it was lit up with a matchless splendour of unparalleled satisfaction, as he thought upon the recompense of the reward, and in the midst of the congregation sang his praise unto God.

In this, the Lord Jesus is a blessed picture of his church on earth. At this hour the church expects to walk in sympathy with her Lord along a thorny road; through much tribulation she is forcing her way to the crown. To bear the cross is her office, and to be scorned and counted an alien by her mother's children is her lot; and yet the church has a deep well of joy, of which none can drink but her own children. There are stores of wine, and oil, and corn, hidden in the midst of our Jerusalem, upon which the saints of God are evermore sustained and nurtured; and sometimes, as in our Saviour's case, we have our seasons of intense delight, for "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of our God."

Exiles though we be, we rejoice in our King; yea, in him we exceedingly rejoice, while in his name we set up our banners.

The "Problem" of Free Speech

Offensive Camper Vans

Matters of public decency are always problematic.  On the one hand, free speech advocates rush to defend public speech (signs, displays, words) that generally support their own views.  Thus, grossly offensive "art" in galleries and museums ridiculing Christian doctrines or people are riotously celebrated.  But when the "cause" is contrary to hedonistic or libertine principles, it quickly becomes another matter.

We have seen just such a case in New Zealand--the Wicked Campers affair.  Wicked Campers rent out cheap and nasty camper vans for tourists to hire and beetle around the country.  Their vans are always recognizable: garishly painted, with crude and offensive slogans--usually demeaning women.  A few female politicians have harrumphed and trumpeted their ire at Wicked Campers.  Not a few Christians are likely asking Cabinet Ministers Paula Bennett, Louise Upston, Amy Adams, and Maggie Barry  the odd rhetorical question like, How does it feel now?

Ironically, many of Wicked Campers clients are female tourists.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Letter From the UK (About a Long Overdue Death)

The Solar Industry Is Dying. Good Riddance.

James Delingpole
Breitbart London

If you still own shares in solar energy it’s probably a sign that you’ve been in the sun too long: the sector is tanking – and deservedly so – as reality dawns that this is a Potemkin industry, an Enron of a con-trick, whose survival depends not on the energy it generates but on the subsidies it squeezes from the taxpayer.

Consider Exhibit A:  the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the California desert. This $2.2 billion project, heavily backed with federal grants by the Obama administration, is absolutely brilliant at killing birds. According to some estimates it accounts for 28,000 a year (the workers at the plant nickname them “streamers” because they fall from the sky like burning comets), though the company denies this. What it’s not so good at is the job it was designed for: generating electricity.

It has failed to produce sufficient quantities of its exorbitantly expensive power (it charges between $135 and $200 per megawatt hour; the market rate for conventional electricity is $35 per megawatt hour) as required by its contract with PG&E Corp and may have to shut down unless bailed out by the California state authorities.

Daily Devotional

On Goodness

C.S. Lewis

There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him. And the higher and mightier it is in the natural order, the more demoniac it will be if it rebels. It’s not out of bad mice or bad fleas you make demons, but out of bad archangels. The false religion of lust is baser than the false religion of mother-love or patriotism or art: but lust is less likely to be made into a religion.

The Great Divorce. Copyright © 1946, C. S Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed 1973 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

We Get What We Pay For

PBG--Pretty But Gangster

Nearly every day we hear or read  a story like this:
A vehicle was carjacked during a police chase overnight that stretched from Auckland's North Shore to the Waikato.  Police said at 12.25am officers attempted to stop a fleeing vehicle on Lake Rd, Devonport.   The pursuit was abandoned and the driver continued heading south on the Southern Motorway at high speed.  Police used spikes at Bombay and the vehicle stopped a short distance later.  The driver made a dash for freedom taking a second vehicle at gunpoint.  ONE News reported the man was eating raw methamphetamine during the chase and took a person hostage during the carjacking. [NZ Herald]
Eventually the "perp" was apprehended in the Waikato.  We have seen an increasing number of flights-by-vehicle where, under police rules, the chase has had to be abandoned.  In the case above, doubtless fixed cameras and/or the police helicopter would have tracked the fleeing driver and police would have intercepted the perp rather than chased him.

But the more general problem remains.  The widespread awareness that police chases will almost certainly be abandoned has had the perverse incentive of encouraging vehicular flight.

Friday, 25 March 2016

At Last--Some Scientists Earn Our Respect

College of Pediatricians Calls Transgender Ideology ‘Child Abuse’

Austin Ruse
Breitbart News

The American College of Pediatricians warns educators and legislators that “a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex” is dangerous for children.  In a strongly worded statement issued today, the professional association of pediatricians says “a person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.” It describes such thinking as problem that exists in the mind and not the body and “it should be treated as such.”

The college of pediatricians is joining a heated debate that increasingly pits concerned parents against school teachers, administrators, legislators, and transsexual advocates who are pushing the trans agenda in grade-schools, city governments, state governments, and the federal government.

A wave of “non-discrimination” bills are appearing around the country that require public women’s restrooms to accommodate men who think they are women and even those who consider themselves “gender non-binary,” that is, men who appear to be men but who say there are neither male or female.

Daily Devotional

Jesus Died for This Moment

I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. This life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

John Piper

When the alarm went off at 4:59 this morning, I had a split-second thought of the utter realness of dying and standing before an utterly holy God with nothing to commend me but my own life.

The horror of it was only surpassed by the flash of reality: Jesus Christ died for this moment.

Then it was gone.

My immediate sense was: This is the essence of what happens whenever someone is converted. This is how Jesus Christ is discovered to be real. This is how a person comes to cherish the love of Christ. Suddenly, for the first time, they see and feel with the eyes of their heart the undeniable reality of having to meet God with a guilty conscience.

The impact of that vision is devastating. It causes them to know that their only hope is a Mediator. Standing alone, with nothing to commend them but their own sinful life, they are utterly lost. If there is any hope for eternity in the presence of this God, we will need a Redeemer, a Substitute, a Savior.

At this point of terrible crisis, nothing shines forth but the gospel of Jesus Christ — “who loved me and gave himself for me.” In the split second before he was there, I was granted to see the all-engulfing darkness and horror of the judgment — not a theological inference, not a merely rational conclusion, not a mere thought, but a glimpse with the inward eye full of knowing and feeling and certainty.

Our God is a consuming fire. He will not look upon evil. We are utterly lost. My guilt was so huge, so real, so unquestioned in that split second that there is not even the remotest possibility of making excuses. It was sudden and all-enveloping and infinitely hopeless.

In this instant Jesus is all that matters. O Christ! O Christ! Can my heart contain the wave of gratitude?! O Gift of God, my desperate and only Need!

Good Friday

Cosmic Personalism At Work

Many people in the West have adopted what we may call the Buddhist view of the death of Christ.  The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth has meaning, even great significance, in the Buddhist world-view.  For the Buddhist, life is pain and suffering.  The goal is to escape existence and achieve nothingness.  For the Buddhist, the Cross of Christ signifies the essence of life, which is suffering.

 This view of life equates roughly to the materialist, secularist view, prominent in the West.  Existence and self-consciousness is a random consequence of the collision of sub-atomic particles.  The great goal--the only true goal of this life--is to escape the existence of self-conscious being which is a mirage and reach the state of impersonal non-being which is the truth and the future of all.

Both the Buddhist and the Western materialist have the same view of Jesus dying at Calvary.  The Cross witnesses to the vale of tears that is existence in this life.  It supposedly makes humans long for the state of nothingness when all consciousness will cease and personhood will dissipate like a cloud of vapour.  Both the Buddhist and the Western materialist recognise the Cross as a siren call teaching us to yearn for our future of non being and nothingness.

The Christian doctrine of Jesus on Calvary's cross could not be more diametrically opposed to these interpretations.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

The Bully Mouth

Donald Trump has the persona of a bully "down to a t" as the saying goes.  Either he is acting out a role scripted for him by someone else, or this is his true, natural persona.  The undeniable fact is that Trump seeks to intimidate and standover his opponents.

How many times has be threatened to sue those who oppose or criticise him?  Countless times.  One can just imagine him giving a State of the Union address: "Either you do what I say or I am going to sue the lot of you".  What a joke.  Repeatedly, he has sought to intimidate critics or opponents, warning them to "Watch out."  The implication being that he has some dirt on them which he will hurl unless they stop criticising him.

His latest target is Heidi Cruz, the wife of his last real Republican rival in the race for nomination at the Republican candidate.

Daily Devotional

Jesus Died for This Moment

I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. This life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

John Piper

When the alarm went off at 4:59 this morning, I had a split-second thought of the utter realness of dying and standing before an utterly holy God with nothing to commend me but my own life.

The horror of it was only surpassed by the flash of reality: Jesus Christ died for this moment.

Then it was gone.

My immediate sense was: This is the essence of what happens whenever someone is converted. This is how Jesus Christ is discovered to be real. This is how a person comes to cherish the love of Christ. Suddenly, for the first time, they see and feel with the eyes of their heart the undeniable reality of having to meet God with a guilty conscience.

The impact of that vision is devastating. It causes them to know that their only hope is a Mediator. Standing alone, with nothing to commend them but their own sinful life, they are utterly lost. If there is any hope for eternity in the presence of this God, we will need a Redeemer, a Substitute, a Savior.

At this point of terrible crisis, nothing shines forth but the gospel of Jesus Christ — “who loved me and gave himself for me.” In the split second before he was there, I was granted to see the all-engulfing darkness and horror of the judgment — not a theological inference, not a merely rational conclusion, not a mere thought, but a glimpse with the inward eye full of knowing and feeling and certainty.

Our God is a consuming fire. He will not look upon evil. We are utterly lost. My guilt was so huge, so real, so unquestioned in that split second that there is not even the remotest possibility of making excuses. It was sudden and all-enveloping and infinitely hopeless.

In this instant Jesus is all that matters. O Christ! O Christ! Can my heart contain the wave of gratitude?! O Gift of God, my desperate and only Need!

Embarrassed to be a Kiwi

Thumbs Down

Politics is a blood sport.  Sometimes it matters.  This past week we were treated to the Colosseum-crowd's full throated blood lust roar.  It transpired that Prime Minister, John Key and Rebecca Kitteridge, NZ's spy boss, told what is alleged to be a half-truth when, at a Parliamentary committee some time ago, they spoke of the risk of Kiwi jihadi-brides heading off to the Middle East.  

It has been revealed that the Kiwi women they had in mind were actually living in Australia (on New Zealand passports).  They had indeed left Australia and headed off to meet the "love of their lives" amongst ISIS jihadis.  One newspaper foamed at the mouth:

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Pro-Life Rhetoric and War

Douglas Wilson

One of the problems that arises out of pro-life phrases like “sanctity of human life” is that it makes human life the standard. But God’s law is the standard, not human life. We should rather speak of the sanctity of God’s law, and the resultant dignity of human life.

Neglect of this principle is why pro-lifers often walk into a trap when they are asked if they are pacifists or if they support capital punishment under any circumstances. When they reply that they are not pacifists or if they show support for capital punishment, they are then charged with inconsistency. “Pro-life, huh?”

But life can never be the standard. God’s law (revealed or natural) is the only possible standard for public righteousness. Speaking of which, I am currently reading a good book on the subject of God’s law — we live in lawless times, and this book would be a good refresher for a lot of people.

A defenseless child in the womb is always to be protected, and never assaulted. That is the case across the board. The child has done nothing that could possibly warrant a just execution, and this is true in the very nature of the case. All we need to know is that we are talking about abortion. If we are talking about abortion, then we know what side we are on.

When it comes to capital punishment, we actually need to know the additional circumstances.

Daily Devotional

Me, Myself, and I

Screwtape encourages confusion and pride:

C. S. Lewis

The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so. Much of the modem resistance to chastity comes from men’s belief that they ‘own’ their bodies—those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another! It is as if a royal child whom his father has placed, for love’s sake, in titular command of some great province, under the real rule of wise counsellors, should come to fancy he really owns the cities, the forests, and the corn, in the same way as he owns the bricks on the nursery floor.

We produce this sense of ownership not only by pride but by confusion. We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun—the finely graded differences that run from ‘my boots’ through ‘my dog’, ‘my servant’, ‘my wife’, ‘my father’, ‘my master’ and ‘my country’, to ‘my God’. They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of ‘my boots’, the ‘my’ of ownership.

A Year with C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 1942, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Never Let a Scotsmen Get Near a Penny

Sturgeon's Duplicity, Cameron's Complicity

The Scots are universally known for their parsimony.  As the old chestnut has it, the Scots invented copper wire, as two sons of the Highlands fought over a penny.  How they must be ruing the day they voted in Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party.  Under her prudent stewardship, Scotland ran up a fiscal deficit of 15 billion pounds last year.  This momentous achievement amounted to 9.7 percent of Scottish GDP, compared to the UK running up a deficit over the same period amounting to 4.9 percent of UK GDP.

Mind you, the size of the UK deficit is way, way too much.  But Scotland's is reprehensible.  It seems as though the Scottish National Party believe that money grows on trees.  What's a few billion amongst friends, eh?  In any event, someone else will pay for it.

This all arises out of an electoral con.  During the referendum over whether Scotland should withdraw from the UK, Nicola Sturgeon and her party argued that there was indeed a free lunch that all Scotland could enjoy.  It could enjoy, on the one hand, a huge expansion of government spending, and on the other, the sure confidence that someone else would pay for it.  In this case the "someone else" was a vast exaggeration of the value of its oil deposits.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Parallel Legal Systems in the UK

Appalling Disabilities

First cousin marriages in Pakistani communities leading to 'appalling' disabilities among children Baroness Flather, a cross-bench peer, says it is 'absolutely appalling' that first cousin marriages in Pakistani communities are leading to 'so much disability among children'

Deputy Political Editor
The Telegraph

Couples who are getting married should be forced to have a DNA test first to ensure they are not cousins amid growing concern about incest within Pakistani communities, Britain's first Asian peer has claimed.  Baroness Flather, a former Tory who now sits as a cross-bencher, said in the House of Lords that it is "absolutely appalling" that first cousin marriages in Pakistani communities are leading to "so much disability among children".

She said: "There are a lot of first-cousin marriages in certain communities, particularly among Pakistanis who come from the Pakistani Kashmir area. We know so much about DNA now, but there is so much disability among the children, which is absolutely appalling.  "You go to any such family and there will be four or five children, at least one or two of whom will have some disability. That is absolutely unacceptable, and if we cannot do anything about it, is it fair to the children?"

Baroness Flather, a former barrister who was born in the Pakistani city of Lahore when it was part of India, said: "Never mind the parents — it is not fair to the children that they should be allowed to become disabled because of a social practice. It is a social practice which does not belong in today’s age, when we know so much about DNA.

Daily Devotional

Imitating the Love of Christ in Marriage

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church."
Ephesians 5:25

Charles H. Spurgeon

What a golden example Christ gives to his disciples! Few masters could venture to say, "If you would practise my teaching, imitate my life;" but as the life of Jesus is the exact transcript of perfect virtue, he can point to himself as the paragon of holiness, as well as the teacher of it. The Christian should take nothing short of Christ for his model. Under no circumstances ought we to be content unless we reflect the grace which was in him.

As a husband, the Christian is to look upon the portrait of Christ Jesus, and he is to paint according to that copy. The true Christian is to be such a husband as Christ was to his church. The love of a husband is special. The Lord Jesus cherishes for the church a peculiar affection, which is set upon her above the rest of mankind: "I pray for them, I pray not for the world." The elect church is the favourite of heaven, the treasure of Christ, the crown of his head, the bracelet of his arm, the breastplate of his heart, the very centre and core of his love.

A husband should love his wife with a constant love, for thus Jesus loves his church. He does not vary in his affection. He may change in his display of affection, but the affection itself is still the same. A husband should love his wife with an enduring love, for nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." A true husband loves his wife with a hearty love, fervent and intense. It is not mere lip-service. Ah! beloved, what more could Christ have done in proof of his love than he has done? Jesus has a delighted love towards his spouse: He prizes her affection, and delights in her with sweet complacence.

Believer, you wonder at Jesus' love; you admire it--are you imitating it? In your domestic relationships is the rule and measure of your love--"even as Christ loved the church?"

Rising Above the Law?

Critical Cases

Sometimes Christians get confused about how God's justice and mercy relate together.  Sometimes poorly taught Christians think that the wonderful display of God's infinite mercy in Jesus Christ must mean that Christians ought not to encourage the execution of justice upon a malefactor.  They come to believe that the only interaction between Christians and the justice system should be to express compassion and mercy upon the guilty, and to labour hard for the incarcerate's rehabilitation.  

Unfortunately, those who think thus know not the holiness of God, nor His mercy.  Yet the Scriptures are full of holding these two divine attributes of God's being--justice and mercy--together.  Our duty is to do likewise to the best of our ability.  The dying thief on the cross understood this better than many modern Christians.  In rebuking his fellow malefactor, he said, "We both deserve our punishment, but the Christ does not."  [Luke 23: 39-43] Then he called out to Christ for mercy, and was received into His Kingdom immediately.

Christians are to be concerned about justice and grace.  It follows that Christians should always be concerned about the justice system--its goals, its motives, and its standards.  We believe (because Scripture teaches) that the civil magistrate is a servant (deacon) of God to administer His wrath, in this life, upon evildoers.  [Romans 13: 1-4]  Therefore we treat the justice system with fear and respect; yet we also do all we can to reach out to prisoners to extend to them the love and mercy of God.

At this blog we have previously endorsed our "Three Strikes" law.  It is better than most.  It is written in a careful, balanced way.

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Idol Lies Broke in the Temple of Baal

Trump’s Scandals and Business Failures

The Definitive Roundup

By Celina Durgin
National Review Online

Given their number and scale, it can be difficult to keep track of all of Donald Trump’s many scandals and debacles. And so, for those whose heads are still spinning, here is a comprehensive roundup of the man’s disastrous record:


Trump Management Inc. was accused of discriminating against minorities seeking housing at the company’s properties in Brooklyn and Queens. Two government-sanctioned undercover “testers,” one black woman and one white woman, posed as potential renters in 1972. The black woman was told nothing was available, but a short while later the white woman was offered a choice between two available Trump apartments. Federal investigators found that Trump employees marked applications from minorities with codes and allegedly steered blacks and Puerto Ricans away from buildings with majority-white tenants.

DOJ lawyers filed a case in 1973 accusing Trump Management, along with Trump and his father, Fred C. Trump, of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Trump claimed he didn’t want the government to force him to rent to welfare recipients. Eventually he and his father reluctantly agreed to the judge’s order to place ads in local newspapers proclaiming their properties equally open to minorities. Trump Management also had to agree to end discriminatory practices, and he and his father had to “thoroughly acquaint themselves” with the Fair Housing Act.


Before Trump bought the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, the league briefly enjoyed some attention in its 1982 inaugural season.

Daily Devotional

Prayer’s Exclamation Point

John Piper

All the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Prayer is a response to promises, that is, to the assurances of God’s future grace.  Prayer is drawing on the account where God has deposited all his promises of future grace.  Prayer is not hoping in the dark that there might be a God of good intentions out there. Prayer goes to the bank every day and draws on promises for the future grace needed for that day.

Don’t miss the connection between the two halves of this great verse. Notice the “that is why”: “All the promises of God are Yes in Christ. That is why (therefore) we pray Amen through him, to God’s glory.”

To make sure we see it, let’s turn the two halves around: When we pray, we say Amen to God through Christ, because God has said Amen to all his promises in Christ. Prayer is the confident plea for God to make good on his promises of future grace for Christ’s sake. Prayer links our faith in future grace with the foundation of it all, Jesus Christ.

Which leads to the final point: “Amen” is a full and precious word in times of prayer. It doesn’t mean primarily, “Yes, I have now said all this prayer.” It means primarily, “Yes, God has made all these promises.”

Amen means, “Yes, Lord, you can do it.” It means, “Yes, Lord, you are powerful. Yes, Lord, you are wise. Yes, Lord, you are merciful. Yes, Lord, all future grace comes from you and has been confirmed in Christ.”

“Amen” is an exclamation point of hope after a prayer for help.

Floundering in A Self-Made Mire

Traps for Small Players

The once proud NZ Labour Party is becoming more of an embarrassment every day.  In this devolution and regression lies a cautionary tale.  You have to spare a thought for the Labour pollies.  Being in opposition in New Zealand's Westminster system of government can be a torturous experience, particularly if you are not the smartest pin in the cushion.

You sit in Parliament day after day about five metres away from the seats where real power resides.  You might as well be five kilometers away.   Everything is stacked against you.  As they say, one day on those Treasury benches is worth a thousand on the seats opposite.

The big challenge for opposition parties in the Parliament is to scrub up as a government in waiting. So often this thought rarely enters the collective head, and when it does, it usually lasts only until the next news cycle.  An old adage says that opposition parties don't win elections; the governing parties lose them.  Opposition parties in their haste and lust for power always forget this adage.  They thrash around trying to do something, and therein lies the tale.

The biggest temptation for Her Majesty's loyal opposition is to avoid magnifying problems to where the electorate reasonably ask it to proffer solutions.  At that point, electoral oblivion beckons.  That's the point Labour has reached now.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

No Longer the "Land of the Free"

Courageous, Principled Christians Resist State Persecution

Billy Holloway

A Christian florist who was sued and found guilty of discrimination after refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding is continuing her fight for a religious accommodation, with the Washington Supreme Court recently agreeing to hear her case.

So, what’s the legal battle all about?

In essence, it’s yet another effort to strike a balance between the rights of religious wedding vendors and those of gays and lesbians seeking out said services. From scenarios involving bakers to photographers to florists, these legal conundrums continue to unfold and seem to be ramping up in the wake of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage across the nation last year.

Attorneys for Barronelle Stutzman, the 71-year-old owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, plan to argue that the florist’s right to decline making arrangements for gay weddings and to, thus, live out her Christian values are “robust” at both the state and federal level.

Daily Devotional

Why Has God Set His Love on His People?

TO MARY VAN DEUSEN: On God wanting us and not what we can do for God; and on our job to become more and more God’s.

C. S. Lewis

25 March 1954

I must be short for I have had a run of absolutely full days and there are endless things waiting to be done. You ask ‘for what’ God wants you. Isn’t the primary answer that He wants you. We’re not told that the lost sheep was sought out for anything except itself [Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:3-7]. Of course, He may have a special job for you: and the certain job is that of becoming more and more His. Yes, isn’t [William] Law good?

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Tribe, the Whole Tribe, and Nothing But the Tribe

Union Malfeasance

Hindsight, we are told, is a wonderful thing.  Others have opined that hindsight is always 20-20 vision.  So you have to be reasonably restrained when considering a case like that of Robert Burrett.
Pukenui School in Te Kuiti tried to get rid of Burrett, its deputy principal, in 2001 because he was drunk, dishevelled and disorganised.  But according to board chair at the time Steve Parry, the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) made the process extremely difficult. [Stuff]
The teachers union ran interference.  The school's deputy principal was allegedly guilty of the "triple D", which must rank right up there with dismissal: he was drunk, dishevelled, and disorganised.  Nevertheless, the union ran interference for him.  Pretty effectively it would seem.
"They were quite evasive and defensive of the guy, and it frustrated us to a high level," Parry said. "Of course a person has rights and has to be protected, but they were really trying to make things confusing and difficult, they weren't really engaging in the problems we had."
So the union was acting like a Gridiron defensive blocker, running interference in the disciplinary process between the employer (the school) and the union member.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Why the Future of Atheism is Bleak

Douglas Wilson

What can you do when you hate someone who is completely, entirely, wholly, and necessarily out of range?

When it cannot strike at the Father God, He who dwells in unapproachable light, what can the rage of impotence do? There is really only one option, and that is to strike at an effigy. You cannot reach Him because He is the one who sits upon the circle of the earth. He pulls the heavens aside like they were a curtain, and He looks down upon a host of angry men — who all breathe through their noses — and He laughs.

So one of the oldest tricks in the book, when you cannot reach the detested king, is to burn that king in effigy. When you can’t get at the one you loathe, take it out on a picture.

We can see this in (at least) three ways.

Daily Devotional

Giving Alms to Christ Himself

"Remember the poor."
Galatians 2:10

Charles H. Spurgeon

Why does God allow so many of his children to be poor? He could make them all rich if he pleased; he could lay bags of gold at their doors; he could send them a large annual income; or he could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that he sees it to be best.

"The cattle upon a thousand hills are his"--he could supply them; he could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of his children, for the hearts of all men are in his control. But he does not choose to do so; he allows them to suffer want, he allows them to pine in penury and obscurity. Why is this?

There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in alms-giving to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth.

If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord's flock--remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart--recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself.

Sparrow Excrescence

Fish Or Cut Bait

Poor Alan Duff.  He's pretty angry about religion--any religion.  Readers not from New Zealand may not know that Alan Duff is the author of the celebrated book (later a movie) Once Were Warriors.  It exposes the degradation of gang violence in New Zealand.  Alan doesn't like gang violence.  He does not like crime.  He also does not like child illiteracy.  He has spent a good deal of effort trying to encourage children to read.

It turns out that he does not like Jesus Christ, either.  Having announced that he is a devotee of Big Bang evolutionism, aka atheism, and a devoted disciple of Richard Dawkins, he derides the Christ.  He says of a visit to a cathedral in Bayonne:
I can't wait to get out of there as I feel such a hypocrite with thoughts of wondering how on earth Jesus Christ not only got away with his preposterous ideas but that they went on to become one of the great religions of the world.

If someone like Jesus turned up now, declaring himself the son of God, he'd be declared mentally unwell and given help. Except in America where they'd be hostile and the guy would be homeless. In a Muslim country he wouldn't last two minutes.  [NZ Herald]
He also cannot stand alleged hypocrites.
How did white Christian church-goers in America attend church every Sunday and the same - or any other - day dish out corporal punishment to their Negro slaves?  Why is the death penalty in the USA carried out by the most religiously minded states? Why did the Church of England approve capital punishment for children as late as Victorian times?
Alan is a man bristling with morality, condemnation, outrage.  Not that he does not have his heroes and his prophets.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Political Satire

Too True

Daily Devotional

The Triumph Is Sure

Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. (Isaiah 25:3)

John Piper

Isaiah sees the day coming when all the nations — representatives from all the people groups — will no longer be at odds with Yahweh, the God of Israel and his Messiah, whom we know to be Jesus.

They will no longer worship Bel or Nebo or Molech or Allah or Buddha or utopian social programs or capitalistic growth possibilities or ancestors or animistic spirits. Instead they will come in faith to the banquet on God’s mountain.  And they will have the veil of sorrow removed and death shall be swallowed up and the reproach of God's people will be removed and tears shall be gone forever.

That's the setting for understanding the vision of verse 3: “Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.” In other words God is stronger than the “strong people” and he is so powerful and so gracious that in the end he will turn ruthless nations to revere him.

So the picture Isaiah gives us is one of all nations turned to God in worship, a great banquet for all the peoples, the removal of all suffering and grief and reproach from the nations who have become his people, and the final putting away of death forever.

This triumph is sure because God is doing it. Therefore we can be certain of it.

Not one life spent in the cause of world evangelization is spent in vain. Not one prayer or one dollar or one sermon or one letter of encouragement mailed or one little light shining in some dark place — nothing in the cause of the advancing kingdom is in vain.

The triumph is sure.

Back to Pagan Myths

The Full Circle of Quantum Cosmology

It appears that particle physicists and cosmologists are a cranky lot.  The longer they go on the more weird their speculations become.  A lot of the weirdness has to do with shuffling away from the Big Bang--which is uncomfortably close to the biblical doctrine of creation.  

Stephen Hawking and his collaborators have said no, no, no to the C word and speculatively cast about for an alternative explanation.  David Berlinski aptly puts Hawking's explanation for the origin of the universe, or the cause of the Universe, in the form of a religious catechism:

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Scientists Discredited--Again

No, Stephen Hawking 

Science Doesn’t Need Any Help From The European Union

James Delingpole

World reknown british astrophysicist Stephen Hawking delivers a lecture on the origin of the universe to coincide with the announcement of the 'Next Einstein' initiative, on May 11, 2008, on the outskirts of Cape Town.

Stephen Hawking and 150 other distinguished scientists – all fellows of the Royal Society – have written a letter to the (London) Times saying that if Britain leaves the European Union it would be a “disaster for UK science.”

No it wouldn’t.

Only 3 per cent of science R & D funding in Britain comes from the European Union. And it’s not as though we should be grateful for this sop: not when you consider that Britain puts far more into the EU than it gets back in return. If we were out, we could decide for ourselves how much we want to spend on science – and on which projects – rather than having a bunch of incompetent foreigners decide for us.

When I say “a bunch of incompetent foreigners” I mean just that.

Daily Devotional


C. S. Lewis

If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’

The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature— while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.

We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. . . . .

Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Spywatchers

Checks and Balances in Secret Services

Mass surveillance of New Zealand citizens has been a hot issue in this country for the past eighteen months or so.  Our local spy networks, along with international spy partners, have been sharply criticised for engaging in (literally) unwarranted spying.

The NZ spy agencies have opened up more than ever before and have more diligent and exacting review mechanisms overseeing them.  The independence and integrity of the reviewers seems beyond question.  The first independent review has now been published, entitled "Intelligence and Security in a Free Society: Report of the First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand".

The Foreword states:
Our central conclusion is that there should be a single, integrated and comprehensive Act of Parliament that lays out in plain English how the agencies are constituted; what their
purposes are; how all their intelligence and security activities are authorised; and how they are overseen so as to protect those freedoms and liberties that are part of what we are as a nation.

The Act should state clearly that its fundamental purpose is the protection of New Zealand as a free, open and democratic society. That then becomes the guiding principle by which the activities of the agencies must be undertaken and judged.

There should always be debate about how best to ensure that purpose is achieved.
Freedom and liberty cannot be preserved either in a vacuum of apathy or in an atmosphere of tolerance of the abuse of power. But nor can they be preserved by wilfully or casually ignoring the existence of those who reject or threaten the values of freedom and liberty.  Our report proposes a legislative framework designed to encompass both those enduring truths. 
So far, so good.   The Report goes on to conclude that no mass surveillance of New Zealanders is taking place.  The assessment on this issue is as follows:

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Editors of the National Review Endorse Cruz

Ted Cruz for President

By The Editors
National Review Online

Conservatives have had difficulty choosing a champion in the presidential race in part because it has featured so many candidates with very good claims on our support. As their number has dwindled, the right choice has become clear: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

We supported Cruz’s campaign in 2012 because we saw in him what conservatives nationwide have come to see as well. Cruz is a brilliant and articulate exponent of our views on the full spectrum of issues. Other Republicans say we should protect the Constitution. Cruz has actually done it; indeed, it has been the animating passion of his career. He is a strong believer in the liberating power of free markets, including free trade (notwithstanding the usual rhetorical hedges). His skepticism about “comprehensive immigration reform” is leading him to a realism about the impact of immigration that has been missing from our policymaking and debate. He favors a foreign policy based on a hard-headed assessment of American interests, one that seeks to strengthen our power but is mindful of its limits. He forthrightly defends religious liberty, the right to life of unborn children, and the role of marriage in connecting children to their parents — causes that reduce too many other Republicans to mumbling.

That forthrightness is worth emphasizing. Conservatism should not be merely combative; but especially in our political culture, it must be willing to be controversial. Too many Republicans shrink from this implication of our creed. Not Cruz.

Daily Devotional

The Danger of Being Proud of Grace

"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
1 Corinthians 10:12

Charles H. Spurgeon

It is a curious fact, that there is such a thing as being proud of grace. A man says, "I have great faith, I shall not fall; poor little faith may, but I never shall." "I have fervent love," says another, "I can stand, there is no danger of my going astray." He who boasts of grace has little grace to boast of.

Some who do this imagine that their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, or else the brook will soon be dry. If a continuous stream of oil comes not to the lamp, though it burn brightly today, it will smoke to-morrow, and noxious will be its scent. Take heed that thou gloriest not in thy graces, but let all thy glorying and confidence be in Christ and his strength, for only so canst thou be kept from falling. Be much more in prayer. Spend longer time in holy adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your lives more carefully. Live nearer to God.

Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men's souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come, when he whom you love shall say, "Come up higher," may it be your happiness to hear him say, "Thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away." On, Christian, with care and caution! On, with holy fear and trembling! On, with faith and confidence in Jesus alone, and let your constant petition be, "Uphold me according to thy word."

He is able, and he alone, "To keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."

Relentlessly Shifting Blame

A National Sport

In 2000, Stephen Wallace was shot and killed by a policeman in the small New Zealand town of Waitara.  A summary of events is as follows:
It’s unclear what sparked Steven Wallace’s rampage through Waitara that night. After cooking his tea and watched a Super 12 game on T.V, Steven had headed out to a New Plymouth bar. Once returning home it is unclear what triggered the violent reaction that would end his life only hours later. Neighbours to the Wallaces were said to have heard yelling and swearing as Wallace beat the family shed with a golf club around 3am that morning. His mother stood by calling to him to calm down and come inside. Wallace threw the golf clubs in the boot of his car and sped away with blood-alcohol level twice that of the legal driving limit. As he left his mother was worried enough to dial 111 but hung up before the call was answered.

Wallace rampaged like a man possessed. Leaving golf clubs at various scenes he smashed and beat windows and cars. 3 cars were damaged. A taxi with passengers, a private car with 6 youths in it, the third car was a police patrol car. It has been said that night Wallace was intent on killing either himself or someone else and that the Senior Constable was an unwitting pawn in his game.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Case for Cruz, #2

Douglas Wilson

So first a round-up from last night. On the Democratic side, Sanders beat Hillary in Michigan, which was festive. On the Republican side, there were four states in play. Trump won three of them, while Cruz took Idaho. More relevant to the immediate discussion was the fact that Cruz took second place in Michigan, which was next door to Ohio, supposedly Kasich country. He also took a strong second in Mississippi. In other words, when it comes to delegate counts, both Trump and Cruz had good nights. For Rubio, it was just good night.

Here is the math. The Republican nominee needs 1,237 delegates to be elected on the first ballot at the convention. After last night, Trump is 779 shy of that goal. Cruz is only 878 short. Trump has 458 delegates and Cruz has 359, just 99 behind him. That is a gap that Cruz can readily make up, provided we keep the following in mind.

1. Note that the Rubio and Kasich strategies are necessarily aiming for a brokered convention.

Daily Devotional

I Love Real Mice

TO HILA NEWMAN, an eleven-year-old girl who had sent Lewis her drawings and a letter of appreciation for the first three Chronicles of Narnia: On Lewis’s care not to decode the Chronicles of Narnia.

C. S. Lewis

3 June 1953

Thank you so much for your lovely letter and pictures. I realised at once that the coloured one was not a particular scene but a sort of line-up like what you would have at the very end if it was a play instead of stories. The [Voyage of the] DAWN TREADER is not to be the last: There are to be 4 more, 7 in all. Didn’t you notice that Aslan said nothing about Eustace not going back? I thought the best of your pictures was the one of Mr. Tumnus at the bottom of the letter.

As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer!

Reepicheep in your coloured picture has just the right perky, cheeky expression. I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in College but I have never set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, ‘Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.’

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Follow the Money

Why Brexit Would Be Good for the Enviroment

The old adage says, Follow the money.  If you want to make an educated guess about the bed folk are going to end up lying in, think about the motivation of filthy lucre.  Granted, this is a pretty cynical view, but more often than not it gets you close to the animus of the matter.

The big debate of the moment in the UK is Brexit.  Should the UK leave the security of the European Union and bravely cast off for a foreign shore?   We were surprised (at least initially) to hear that Greenpeace and its fellow travellers have come forward to oppose leaving the European Union.  What on earth does Britain's potential exit from Brusselmania have to do with saving the Antarctic penguins?  In order to answer that question, we have to follow the money.

The Institute of  Economic Affairs has done just that.  Christopher Snowden has written a piece entitled: Euro Puppets: The European Commission’s remaking of civil society.   In it he argues that the √©minences grises of Europe use money to bind all kinds of social groups to do their bidding.  Mostly they fund groups which reflect their own centralist, statist political ideology.  They fund a veritable panopoly of left wing causes and groups.

Take environmental groups like Greenpeace, for example.  Writes Snowden:

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Not Bad

Of Hammers, Nails and Their Heads

Further to the recent police siege in Kawerau, [discussed here] one of our local opinionistas has got it right--at least it appears to us.

Here is Larry Williams, radio show host, giving us his view on what happened and its consequences. We find ourselves in full agreement.
It was a peaceful ending in the Bay of Plenty siege.

Police arrested Rhys Warren who allegedly shot four cops. He can count himself lucky to have come out alive.  Had the cops shot the gunman dead, it wouldn't have come as a shock considering the circumstances.

The alleged offender's whanau have taken aim at the cops. They reckon that they could've ended the siege earlier.  How would we know? How would we know that they wouldn't make the stand-off worse?

The police were faced with a hostile operation and they certainly didn't need the family hindering that.  That could've complicated an already tense situation. Meddling family was the last thing they needed.

Daily Devotional

God Cares for You

John Piper

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6–7)

Why is anxiety about the future a form of pride?

God’s answer would sound something like this:

I — the Lord, your Maker — I am he who comforts you, who promises to take care of you; and those who threaten you are mere men who die. So your fear must mean that you do not trust me — and even though you are not sure that your own resources will take care of you, yet you opt for fragile self-reliance, rather than faith in my future grace. So all your trembling — weak as it is — reveals pride.

The remedy? Turn from self-reliance to God-reliance, and put your faith in the all-sufficient power of future grace.

We see anxiety as a form of pride in 1 Peter 5:6–7. Notice the grammatical connection between the verses. “Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God . . . [verse 7] casting all your anxieties on him.” Verse 7 is not a new sentence. It’s a subordinate clause. “Humble yourselves . . . [by] casting all your anxieties on him.”

This means that casting your anxieties on God is a way of humbling yourself under God’s mighty hand. It’s like saying, “Eat politely . . . chewing with your mouth shut.” “Drive carefully . . . keeping your eyes open.” “Be generous . . . inviting someone over on Thanksgiving.”

One way to be humble is to cast all your anxieties on God. Which means that one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride. Which means that undue worry is a form of pride.

Now why is casting our anxieties on the Lord the opposite of pride? Because pride does not like to admit that it has any anxieties. And if pride has to admit it, it still does not like to admit that the remedy might be trusting someone else who is wiser and stronger.

In other words, pride is a form of unbelief and does not like to trust in God’s future grace. Faith admits the need for help. Pride won’t. Faith banks on God to give help. Pride won’t. Faith casts anxieties on God. Pride won’t.

Therefore the way to battle the unbelief of pride is to admit freely that you have anxieties, and to cherish the promise of future grace in the words, “He cares for you.”

Very Thankful to Live in New Zealand

The Bigger Picture

There are some good things about living in New Zealand.  One of them is the way the police handle the kind of situation which unfolded this week near Kawerau.  In an armed standoff, four police were injured by gunfire.  The alleged perpetrator had holed himself up in a house.  It took nearly 24 hours to get the guy out and surrender.

There are plenty of places in the world where, once police confirmed that the gunman was alone, the house and the gunman would have been shot to pieces.  An experienced (now retired) police negotiator described the process and disciplines applied.
Former police negotiator and detective Lance Burdett spoke to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning about the siege and how police were handling it.  The alleged gunman has now been arrested and the siege is over.

He said police procedure for this type of incident is trained around the world - it's called Cordon, Contain and Appeal (CCA).  "There will be attempts made to contact him through all sorts of mediums, whether it's through loudhailer to get him to talk on the phone - that's the ultimate, to get him talking on the phone. Use of social media - if that's available, they'll be doing that. Any way of getting him to communicate."

Mr Burdett, who is now a negotiator instructor, said things could "turn on a knife edge" during situations like this.  "People are so unpredictable, particularly when they're emotional. So it's a bit like 50 per cent of murderers in prison are from domestic related incidents - ordinary people just suddenly snap and change."

Friday, 11 March 2016

Seeing Things In A New Light

Cruz Not So Bad

Endorsements for Ted Cruz are starting to come thick and fast.  As Senator Rubio seems to be fading, the increasingly stark choice for the Republican Party is either Donald Trump or Cruz.  When put in those terms, the eyes of most become focused and clear--rapidly.  

Here is a sample of some recent endorsements.

Carly Fiorina, who has dropped out of the Republican race:

Daily Devotional

When The Iron Gates Open

"Abide in me."
John 15:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

Communion with Christ is a certain cure for every ill. Whether it be the wormwood of woe, or the cloying surfeit of earthly delight, close fellowship with the Lord Jesus will take bitterness from the one, and satiety from the other. Live near to Jesus, Christian, and it is a matter of secondary importance whether thou livest on the mountain of honour or in the valley of humiliation.

Living near to Jesus, thou art covered with the wings of God, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Let nothing keep thee from that hallowed intercourse, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to the well-beloved. Be not content with an interview now and then, but seek always to retain his company, for only in his presence hast thou either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk evermore.

Thou hast a difficult road before thee: see, O traveller to heaven, that thou go not without thy guide. Thou hast to pass through the fiery furnace; enter it not unless, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, thou hast the Son of God to be thy companion. Thou hast to storm the Jericho of thine own corruptions: attempt not the warfare until, like Joshua, thou hast seen the Captain of the Lord's host, with his sword drawn in his hand. Thou art to meet the Esau of thy many temptations: meet him not until at Jabbok's brook thou hast laid hold upon the angel, and prevailed.

In every case, in every condition, thou wilt need Jesus; but most of all, when the iron gates of death shall open to thee. Keep thou close to thy soul's Husband, lean thy head upon his bosom, ask to be refreshed with the spiced wine of his pomegranate, and thou shalt be found of him at the last, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Seeing thou hast lived with him, and lived in him here, thou shalt abide with him forever.

Bang, Bang. You're Dead.

False Allegiances and Irrelevance

We have often observed that the materialistic atheists amongst us are often the most strident moralisers in the market place.  They are always telling us what they deem to be right and wrong, moral and immoral, evil and good.  Islam, insists Richard Dawkins, is a perverse, wicked thing.  Christianity is so morally bankrupt that any parent who attempts to teach its basic doctrines to her or her child, should suffer their children to be removed from their care.  Morally bankrupt?

Christopher Hitchens, whilst alive, thundered like a Titan against totalitarianism, communism, and any authoritarian standard within his line of sight. He thought abortion was OK, but grabbing someone off the street and torturing them was very bad form.  All of which was and is entertaining but hardly relevant to materialism or atheism, let alone their conjoint.

There is an instructive video entitled Collision in which Christopher Hitchens debates Douglas Wilson.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Case for Cruz

Douglas Wilson

Idaho’s primary is tomorrow, and for a first time in a long time, the Idaho primary actually matters. I have previously endorsed Cruz, and wanted to take this opportunity to exhort my fellow Idahoans to help do their part in deflating the Trump balloon.Trumpistan

But first, for my foreign readers, a few words of encouragement. I imagine this whole thing is not unlike an American watching a cricket match. You can tell by the cheering which side is happy, but beyond that the whole thing recedes into the great cloud of unknowing. So here is a quick explanation for you.

Just as the parliamentary system invites the existence of splinter parties and coalitions, so the American constitutional system “invites” two parties. Throughout our history, we have always had two major parties, and then the small groups are off on the edges. The two major parties are not immortal, and sometimes one of the edge parties replaces a major party, but the simple fact of two major parties is very much part of our unwritten constitution.

So here is a handy glossary.

Daily Devotional

How Can I Be Filled with the Spirit?

Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

John Piper

How can we be filled with the Holy Spirit? How can we experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our church that fills us with indomitable joy and frees us and empowers us to love those around us in ways so authentic that they are won to Christ?

Answer: meditate day and night upon the incomparable, hope-giving promises of God. As the verse above shows us, that’s the way Paul kept his heart full of hope and joy and love.

The full assurance of hope comes from meditating on the promises of God's Word. And this does not contradict the sentence eight verses later that says that the Holy Spirit gives us hope (Romans 15:13). This is because the Holy Spirit is the divine author of Scripture. It is no contradiction that the way he fills us with hope is by filling us with his own word of promise.

Hope is not some vague emotion that comes out of nowhere, like a stomachache. Hope is the confidence that the stupendous future promised to us by the Word of the Spirit is going to really come true. Therefore, the way to be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with his Word. The way to have the power of the Spirit is to believe the promises of his Word.

For it is the word of promise that fills us with hope, and hope fills us with joy, and joy overflows in the power and freedom to love our neighbor. And that is the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Private Christianity Alone is Tolerable

Foxy Secularism

Secularism thinks of itself as uber tolerant.  It's version of tolerance is so advanced and righteous, secularism insists upon and demands compliance with its dogma at every point.  It is profoundly intolerant in the matter.  

The urbane secularist will tell you that he smiles upon all religions.  Why would one get upset at the equivalent of a childish nursery rhymes?  Does the secularist get all wound up about Jemima Puddleduck?  Does the secularist get agitated over the Christian?  Never.  Provided, of course, that Christianity is restricted and restrained to the private square.  It has no place in the public square.  The secularist's perversion of tolerance demands an exclusive hold over the public square.  As soon as the Christian offers a scintilla of Christian reasoning or argumentation in the public square for a Christian position or belief, off to the gas chambers with him.  The public square is for secularism only and the secularist is the sole licensed operator therein.

Now even Jemima Puddleduck, that most gullible of ducks, knows that the sly secularist fox has endless conniptions and consternations when defining what is public and what it private.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

A Bridge Too Far

Apolitical Christians Speaking Up

Billy Hallowell

Famed pastor and author Max Lucado typically avoids weighing in on political candidates, but the continued rise and popularity of Republican businessman Donald Trump recently led him to break that silence, penning an op-ed about the importance of “decency.”

Lucado, pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, told Christianity Today that the public statement was spawned after Trump made a series of claims about his Christian faith while on the campaign trail.

“There was one occasion he held up a Bible. On another occasion, at Liberty University, he read from scripture. On multiple occasions he’s said ‘Of course I’m a Christian,’” Lucado said. “There was a time in Iowa when he said ‘I’m a Christian,’ and somebody asked about forgiveness and he said ‘I’ve never asked God for forgiveness.’”

The pastor said that he simply can’t comprehend Trump’s latter response.