Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Letter From America (About Britain)

Britain at the Crossroads

June’s EU referendum is the most important vote in Europe since 1945.

By George Will
National Review Online

London — Sixty-five years ago, what has become the European Union was an embryo conceived in fear. It has been stealthily advanced from an economic to a political project, and it remains enveloped in a watery utopianism even as it becomes more dystopian. The EU’s economic stagnation — in some of the 28 member nations, youth unemployment approaches 50 percent — is exacerbated by its regulatory itch and the self-inflicted wound of the euro, a common currency for radically dissimilar nations. The EU is floundering amid mass migration, the greatest threat to Europe’s domestic tranquility since 1945.

The EU’s British enthusiasts, who actually are notably unenthusiastic, hope fear will move voters to affirm Britain’s membership in this increasingly ramshackle and acrimonious association. A June 23 referendum will decide whether “Brexit” — Britain’s exit — occurs. Americans should pay close attention because this debate concerns matters germane to their present and future.

Daily Devotional

Strength to Wait

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. (Colossians 1:11)

John Piper

Strength is the right word. The apostle Paul prayed for the church at Colossae, that they would be “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). Patience is the evidence of an inner strength.

Impatient people are weak, and therefore dependent on external supports — like schedules that go just right and circumstances that support their fragile hearts. Their outbursts of oaths and threats and harsh criticisms of the culprits who crossed their plans do not sound weak. But that noise is all a camouflage of weakness. Patience demands tremendous inner strength.

For the Christian, this strength comes from God. That is why Paul is praying for the Colossians. He is asking God to empower them for the patient endurance that the Christian life requires. But when he says that the strength of patience is “according to [God’s] glorious might” he doesn’t just mean that it takes divine power to make a person patient. He means that faith in this glorious might is the channel through which the power for patience comes.

Patience is indeed a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), but the Holy Spirit empowers (with all his fruit) through “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). Therefore Paul is praying that God would connect us with the “glorious might” that empowers patience. And that connection is faith.

Under Orders

Establishing Allah's Sovereignty Upon the Earth

Consider the following quotations: 
I was ordered to fight all men until they say, "There is no god but Allah".  [Prophet Muhammad's farewell address, March 632.]

I shall cross the sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah.  [Saladin, January 1189.]

We will export our revolution throughout the world . . . until the calls "there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah" are echoed all over the world.  [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 1979.]

I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.  [Osama bin Laden, November 2001.]

[Cited by Efraim Karsh in the opening pages of his, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), p.1.]
The religion of "peace" is actually a call to arms, to jihad.  All men are to be brought into submission to Allah by force, by compulsion, by conquest.  Whenever Islam has experienced a reformation, it has returned to bloodshed as a means of extending its dominion.  Reforming back around the fundamentals of the religion has produced imperial ambitions, bloodshed, conquest, and forced submission.

The West has a hard time acknowledging this, let alone comprehending it.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Abortion Unmasked

They Supported Abortion — Until They Saw This Video

By Ericka Andersen
National Review Online

When faced with the reality of the abortion procedure, many people who are pro-choice change their minds instantly. A video put out by Live Action shows former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levantino describing and showing the process of a second-trimester (13-24 weeks of pregnancy) surgical abortion procedure. Dr. Levantino has preformed over 1,200 abortions and explains in detail how babies are ripped apart limb by limb in these procedures.

Live Action approached people on the street and asked them if they were pro-choice. To those that said yes, even up to the point of birth, they showed Dr. Levantino’s video of the procedure. After watching the video, the people who claimed to be pro-choice changed their minds on the spot. They admitted they were unaware of how developed babies are at this point in pregnancy and described the video as “inhumane.”

Daily Devotional

Through Simple Faith

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee." Psalm 55:22

Charles H. Spurgeon

Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin.

The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us.

We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to his plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding upon his province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin.

He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God's hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counsellor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the "broken cistern" instead of to the "fountain;" a sin which was laid against Israel of old. Anxiety makes us doubt God's lovingkindness, and thus our love to him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking.

Thus want of confidence in God leads us to wander far from him; but if through simple faith in his promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon him, and are "careful for nothing" because he undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to him, and strengthen us against much temptation. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."

The Great Petard

Try Harder

It turns out that Clint Eastwood is a profound cosmologist.  The best of the best, one may say.

The real question of the ages for the materialists and secularists is, Why does the universe exist at all?  For the Unbelieving cosmolgist it is a question inside a riddle, wrapped in an enigma.

David Berlinski rings the changes:
Oxford's Peter Atkins has attempted to address this issue.  "If we are to be honest," he argues, "then we have to accept that science will be able to claim success only if it achieves what many might think impossible: accounting for the emergence of everything from absolutely nothing."  Atkins does not seem to recognize that when the human mind encounters the thesis that something has emerged from nothing, it is not encountering a question to which any coherent answer exists.  [The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (New York: Basic Books, 2009), p.95f.]  
How have the materialist cosmologists fared?  About as expected.  The problem is sufficiently complex that the problem itself defies a simple description.  But we will put our materialist hat on and advance one anyway.  Since we know that all being is some sort of combination of time and space and matter and energy and since we know there is nothing else, how did these come into existence out of nothing?

Berlinski points out that physicist Victor Stenger has had a crack at the problem.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Letter From America (About Propagandists' Capture of Science)

Who Are the Real Deniers of Science?

When denying science is a progressive moral imperative

By Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online

Why do liberals hate science?

The Left has long claimed that it has something of a monopoly on scientific expertise. For instance, long before Al Gore started making millions by claiming that anyone who disagreed with his apocalyptic prophecies was “anti-science,” there were the “scientific socialists.” “Social engineer” is now rightly seen as a term of scorn and derision, but it was once a label that progressive eggheads eagerly accepted.

Masking opinions in a white smock is a brilliant, albeit infuriating and shabby, rhetorical tactic. As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Science is the language of facts, and when people pretend to be speaking it, they’re not only claiming that their preferences are more than mere opinions, they’re also insinuating that anyone who disagrees is a fool or a zealot for objecting to “settled science.”

Put aside the fact that there is no such thing as settled science.

Daily Devotional

Either Way, The Conversation Stops

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:

There’s a limit to the ‘one flesh.’ You can’t really share someone else’s weakness, or fear or pain. What you feel may be bad. It might conceivably be as bad as what the other felt, though I should distrust anyone who claimed that it was. But it would still be quite different. When I speak of fear, I mean the merely animal fear, the recoil of the organism from its destruction; the smothery feeling; the sense of being a rat in a trap. It can’t be transferred. The mind can sympathize; the body, less. In one way the bodies of lovers can do it least. All their love passages have trained them to have, not identical, but complementary, correlative, even opposite, feelings about one another.

We both knew this. I had my miseries, not hers; she had hers, not mine. The end of hers would be the coming-of-age of mine. We were setting out on different roads. This cold truth, this terrible traffic- regulation (‘You, Madam, to the right—you, Sir, to the left’) is just the beginning of the separation which is death itself.

And this separation, I suppose, waits for all. I have been thinking of H. and myself as peculiarly unfortunate in being torn apart. But presumably all lovers are. She once said to me, ‘Even if we both died at exactly the same moment, as we lie here side by side, it would be just as much a separation as the one you’re so afraid of.’ Of course she didn’t know, any more than I do. But she was near death; near enough to make a good shot. She used to quote ‘Alone into the Alone.’ She said it felt like that. And how immensely improbable that it should be otherwise! Time and space and body were the very things that brought us together; the telephone wires by which we communicated. Cut one off, or cut both off simultaneously. Either way, mustn’t the conversation stop?

A Grief Observed. Copyright © 1961 by N. W. Clerk, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Preface by Douglas H. Gresham copyright © 1994 by Douglas H. Gresham. 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.

Messianic Pretenders

Cigarettes The Next Bit-Coin

When governments attempt to mould human behaviour so as to make citizens become more righteous, the state has taken on messianic pretensions.  Such idolatrous rebellion against the Lord of glory goes neither unnoticed, nor unpunished.

When the prohibition of alcohol became the law of the land in the United States--it was a prodigious overreach with pseudo-messianic overtones.  Many Christians were sucked into this spurious social cause.  Prohibition resulted in a "nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933" [Wikipedia].  It also provided a huge boost to the power and influence of crime and criminal gangs.

What the government banned was driven underground into the darkness where the mobsters lurk.

Friday, 27 May 2016

From the Caverns of Isengard

The Divorce Revolution Has Bred An Army Of Woman Haters

W Bradford Wilcox
The Federalist

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d earn the ire of a character named Turd Flinging Monkey, the nom de plume of a popular online activist. A leader in the Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) movement, which encourages men to avoid romantic relationships with women, Monkey did not take kindly to my new Prager University video talking up the benefits of marriage for men.

In the video, I noted, among other things, that married men work harder (about 400 more hours), smarter (they’re less likely to quit without having found another job), and more successfully (they make about $16,000 more per year) than their single peers. I described these as features, not bugs, of married life for men.

In response, in a video of his own, Monkey unloaded on marriage, arguing that the things I had described as features of marriage were in fact bugs.

For men, marriage equals slavery: “Marriage, in essence, is a man choosing his slave master.” For men, marriage equals unrequited sacrifice: “So married men work 400 hours more per year than single men; that’s not a good thing. They’re not hanging out with their friends… They’re sacrificing their life for other people. Now, you may think that’s noble, but that’s not a benefit for the man.” For men, marriage equals emasculation: it means “giving a woman power over your life, power over your income.”

Above all, for men, marriage equals a soul-destroying divorce: “talk to the men in MGTOW who have had their wallets ripped out their a** in family court. Go to the graves of men who killed themselves after they were unemployed and couldn’t afford child support and faced jail. Talk to those men about how wonderful marriage was… Ask them about the hundreds of hours they work extra each year to avoid going to prison because they owe so much child support or alimony that they gotta move in with their parents.”

Turd Flinging Monkey Isn’t Alone

This is Turd Flinging Monkey’s view of marriage.

Daily Devotional

He Married Her in Old Eternity

"Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee."  Isaiah 41:9

Charles H. Spurgeon

If we have received the grace of God in our hearts, its practical effect has been to make us God's servants. We may be unfaithful servants, we certainly are unprofitable ones, but yet, blessed be his name, we are his servants, wearing his livery, feeding at his table, and obeying his commands.

We were once the servants of sin, but he who made us free has now taken us into his family and taught us obedience to his will. We do not serve our Master perfectly, but we would if we could. As we hear God's voice saying unto us, "Thou art my servant," we can answer with David, "I am thy servant; thou hast loosed my bonds."

But the Lord calls us not only his servants, but his chosen ones--"I have chosen thee." We have not chosen him first, but he hath chosen us. If we be God's servants, we were not always so; to sovereign grace the change must be ascribed. The eye of sovereignty singled us out, and the voice of unchanging grace declared, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Long ere time began or space was created God had written upon his heart the names of his elect people, had predestinated them to be conformed unto the image of his Son, and ordained them heirs of all the fulness of his love, his grace, and his glory. What comfort is here!

Has the Lord loved us so long, and will he yet cast us away? He knew how stiffnecked we should be; he understood that our hearts were evil, and yet he made the choice. Ah! our Saviour is no fickle lover. He doth not feel enchanted for awhile with some gleams of beauty from his church's eye, and then afterwards cast her off because of her unfaithfulness.

Nay, he married her in old eternity; and it is written of Jehovah, "He hateth putting away." The eternal choice is a bond upon our gratitude and upon his faithfulness which neither can disown.

Chinese Prognosis

No Virtuous Circle of Creative Destruction

The Communist Chinese regime has had to walk a tightrope over Mao Zedong and his disastrous Cultural Revolution.  On the one hand, Mao is portrayed as the revered Father of the Nation; on the other, his Cultural Revolution is acknowledge as a cruel, barbaric fiasco.  

Associated Press has reported:
China’s official media reaffirmed on Tuesday the Communist Party’s longstanding judgment that the Cultural Revolution was a catastrophic mistake after staying silent on Monday’s 50th anniversary of the start of the decade-long upheaval.

The official party mouthpiece People’s Daily published an opinion piece on its website precisely at midnight on Tuesday unequivocally praising the 1981 party resolution that condemned the bloody political movement launched by Mao Zedong to enforce a radical egalitarianism. “Our party has long taken a solemn attitude toward bravely admitting, correctly analyzing and firmly correcting the mistakes of our leadership figures,” the piece read.
What, then, is the lesson of the Cultural Revolution?  The (official) People's Daily confirmed what the government thinks should be the "takeout" from Mao's great leap forward.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Letter From America (About How Fascism May Emerge)

This is How Fascism Comes to America

Robert Kagan
The Washington Post

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post.
The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well.

But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence.

 His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common:

Daily Devotional

Why We Love God

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

John Piper

Since loving God is the evidence that he loves you with electing love (Romans 8:28, etc.), the assurance that God loves you with electing love cannot be the ground of your love for him. Our love for him, which is the evidence of our election, is our spiritually apprehending the all–satisfying glory of this God.

It is not first gratitude for a benefit received, but recognition and delight that to receive him would produce overwhelming gratitude. This recognition and delight is, or should be, according to Scripture, attended immediately with the assurance that he does in fact give himself to us for eternal enjoyment.

The Gospel call (Christ died for sinners; believe on him and you will be saved) is a call not first to believe that he died for your sins but that, because he is the kind of God who redeems at such a cost and with such wisdom and holiness, he is worthy of trust and he is a truly satisfying repose for all my longings.

Believing (that is sensing, apprehending) this is then immediately attended with the confidence that we are saved and that he did die for us, since the promise of salvation is given to those who thus believe.

The core of Christian Hedonism is thus at the very heart of what saving faith is and what it means to truly "receive" Christ, or to love God.

Compare: "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). This may mean that God’s love enables our love for him through the incarnation and atonement and work of the Holy Spirit, not that our motive to love is first his making much of us.

Or it may mean that in beholding and spiritually apprehending God to be the kind of God who loves sinners like us with such amazingly free grace and through such stunningly wise and sacrificial means of atonement, we are drawn out to delight in this God for who he is in himself, rather than taking the sentence to mean that we love him first because we find ourselves personally and particularly chosen by him.

Don't Cry for Me, Venezuela

No Toilet Paper or Repentance

The Atlantic has published a lengthy article on what is going down in Venezuela.  The country is on its knees: it is figuratively bleeding from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.  But it's half a world away.  Why should we care?  

In a general sense, we Christians care because this entire world belongs to the Lord, the Messiah Who has bought it all with His redemptive sacrifice and proved it by His resurrection from the dead.  When we Christians speak of Christ the King, we do not speak figuratively.  He literally is King of all kings.

Amongst many things, it pleases our King to illustrate vividly for all who care to look what happens when petty rebels take over a country and seek to rule by sin's wisdom.  Such a country always enters into a self-inflicted judgement.  Venezuela has become a proverb, a warning to all Unbelief and rebellion against the King of the whole earth: "if you walk in rebellion and Unbelief, you will eat its bitter fruit."

The people of Venezuela decided a couple of decades ago to elect a Strong Man, one Hugo Chavez.  Hugo promised much, but all of it involved theft.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Reaping the Whirlwind

No Slippery-Slope Here

When the centre is lost, nothing holds.  When a culture turns away from the Lord and Giver of life, death becomes the answer.

Twenty-Year Old Euthanised

Sex abuse victim in her 20s allowed by doctors to choose euthanasia due to ‘incurable’ PTSD

WHEN we think about euthanasia, many of us picture an elderly person.  They’ve had many good years, but an illness has ruined their quality of life. They’re in pain, and they want to end things on their own terms. For many people, this is an easy concept to accept.

But a recent case in the Netherlands is getting a lot of media attention, and it’s troubling ethicists.  A sexual abuse victim in her 20s was allowed to go ahead with assisted suicide as she was suffering from “incurable” post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.

Daily Devotional

Grieving The Death of His Wife, Joy

C. S. Lewis

I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace. On any view whatever, to say, ‘H. is dead,’ is to say, ‘All that is gone.’ It is a part of the past. And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where ‘the former things have passed away.’

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.

Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions ‘on the further shore,’ pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There’s not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn’t be like that. Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. How well the spiritualists bait their hook! ‘Things on this side are not so different after all.’ There are cigars in Heaven. For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored.

And that, just that, is what I cry out for, with mad, midnight endearments and entreaties spoken into the empty air.

It's Going to be Entertaining

When Our Leaders Spend Too Much Time in Latrines

The more one thinks about trans-genderism the more it becomes a hoot.  Now we know that it's not polite to laugh at pagans and what they get up to.  Well, not polite in a PC kind of way.

Our defence for laughing and mocking the pagans is that such holy levity occurs in Scripture.  Take, for example, Elijah's divinely inspired hooting at the priests of Baal as they tried their darndest to get their idol to hear them and do something.  You remember what went down.

The challenge God, through His prophet, put to the people gathered on Mount Carmel was simple enough: if Baal was truly god, then follow him, but if Yahweh was God, then bow before Him.  It's time, said Elijah, to stop betting the field and backing both.  It's one or the other.

So, Elijah gave them a contest.  Let two massive sacrifices be prepared on two altars.  Then we will have a contest to authenticate who is truly divine: Yahweh or Baal.  We will see which deity answers by fire out of heaven and burns up the sacrifice.  The devotees of Baal were up for it.
Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped round the altar that they had made.  [I Kings 18: 25,26]
Elijah (whose name incidentally means, "Yahweh is my God") engaged in some holy mockery:

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Deny Him Seventy Times Seven

Douglas Wilson

I was recently asked how the radical ethic taught by Jesus — if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two — relates to baking a wedding cake for a same sex mirage ceremony. And then shortly after that, I saw the meme off to the right floating around somewhere, and thought that it was perhaps time to shine my little flashlight, one of those two battery jobs, on this particular exegetical funny business.

The first thing to deal with is the very glib equation of floral arrangements, wedding cake baking, and photography with carrying a Roman soldier’s bag two miles instead of one. Back in the day, everyone who saw that civilian carrying the bag would know that the civilian had been pressed into service, and further, there is no sin involved in carrying a bag. The law allowed the Roman soldier to make someone carry his pack for a mile, no more. When the follower of Christ went the second mile, this was a means of assuming the center, taking control of the situation.

When Jesus healed the ear of Malchus, He was doing precisely this sort of thing. This armed entourage came out to arrest Him, and Jesus quietly assumed command of it. What Jesus was teaching His disciples was a way — everything else being equal — of assuming the center. When Jesus stood before Pilate, bound and beaten, He was in control of the situation, and Pilate was not. Pilate was the one who got scared.

But nobody thinks that this teaching of Christ means that there is never a point of simple resistance.

Daily Devotional

Asking For What He Has Promised

"In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him."  Colossians 2:9-10

Charles H. Spurgeon

All the attributes of Christ, as God and man, are at our disposal. All the fulness of the Godhead, whatever that marvellous term may comprehend, is ours to make us complete. He cannot endow us with the attributes of Deity; but he has done all that can be done, for he has made even his divine power and Godhead subservient to our salvation.

His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immutability and infallibility, are all combined for our defence. Arise, believer, and behold the Lord Jesus yoking the whole of his divine Godhead to the chariot of salvation! How vast his grace, how firm his faithfulness, how unswerving his immutability, how infinite his power, how limitless his knowledge! All these are by the Lord Jesus made the pillars of the temple of salvation; and all, without diminution of their infinity, are covenanted to us as our perpetual inheritance.

The fathomless love of the Saviour's heart is every drop of it ours; every sinew in the arm of might, every jewel in the crown of majesty, the immensity of divine knowledge, and the sternness of divine justice, all are ours, and shall be employed for us. The whole of Christ, in his adorable character as the Son of God, is by himself made over to us most richly to enjoy. His wisdom is our direction, his knowledge our instruction, his power our protection, his justice our surety, his love our comfort, his mercy our solace, and his immutability our trust.

He makes no reserve, but opens the recesses of the Mount of God and bids us dig in its mines for the hidden treasures. "All, all, all are yours," saith he, "be ye satisfied with favour and full of the goodness of the Lord." Oh! how sweet thus to behold Jesus, and to call upon him with the certain confidence that in seeking the interposition of his love or power, we are but asking for that which he has already faithfully promised.

A Canard Atop a Mirage

If It Can Be Described, It Cannot Possibly Be True

Darwin and evolutionism are increasingly under fire from secular scientists.  In 1981, a senior paleontologist of the British Natural History Museum was delivering a lecture to his trans-Atlantic colleagues at the American Museum of Natural History.

He acknowledged that Darwinism was being surrounded by an increasing number of doubting-Thomas scientists.  He argued that,
Darwin's theory of natural selection is under fire and scientists are no longer sure of its general validity.  Evolutionists increasingly talk like creationists in that they point to a fact but cannot provide an explanation of the means.  [Phillip Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 2nd ed., 1993), p. 9f.; quoted by Douglas F. Kelly, Creation and Change: Genesis 1:1 -- 2:4 in the light of Changing Scientific Paradigms (Fearn, Ross-shire: Mentor/Christian Focus Publications, 1997), p.24.]
Others are more blunt.  Take, for example, Lynn Margulis, Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts:
She shows that molecular biology has as yet been unable to demonstrate the formation of a single new species by mutations, and concludes that neo-Darwinism is "a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology." [Kelly, ibid.]
Ouch.  A "minor twentieth-century religious sect"!  Could you put the matter in a less equivocal manner, Professor?

Monday, 23 May 2016

The Squibbiest of Damp Squibs

What a Fizzer

The Panama Papers were set to bring down the New Zealand government.  It was to be the scandal of all scandals.  Heads would role.  Governments would tumble into the tumbrils.

Apparently, a legal firm in Panama called Mossack Fonseka--you have to love the name, rhyming as it does with Cossack, but we digress--a firm which touts itself as a "leading global provider for legal and trust services" had been hacked.  Suddenly the nefarious, crooked dealings of gazillions of unsavoury human beings was about to be exposed.

It named New Zealand as a good place to do business.  In the logical permutations of the febrile mind, that necessarily meant that New Zealand was aiding and abetting money laundering.  Its reputation was about to be shredded and tossed to the cyclonic wind of outrageous rage.

Enter from stage left a media cabal that received said Panama Papers, told us that it was in possession of squillions of dirty little secrets, and built up the "Big Reveal" as the cataclysm to end all cataclysms.

Daily Devotional

The Light Beyond the Light

If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.   Colossians 3:1–2)

John Piper

Jesus Christ is refreshing. Flight from him into Christless leisure makes the soul parched.

At first it may feel like freedom and fun to skimp on prayer and neglect the Word. But then we pay: shallowness, powerlessness, vulnerability to sin, preoccupation with trifles, superficial relationships, and a frightening loss of interest in worship and the things of the Spirit.  Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute.

If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancĂ©, don’t fall in love with the mailman. Don’t fall in love with the video preview, and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.

Jesus Christ is the refreshing center of summer. He is pre–eminent in all things (Colossians 1:18), including vacations and picnics and softball and long walks and cookouts. He invites us this summer: “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy–laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

Do we want it? That is the question. Christ gives himself to us in proportion to how much we want his refreshment. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Peter’s word to us about this is: “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Repentance is not just turning away from sin, but also turning toward the Lord with hearts open and expectant and submissive.

What sort of summer mindset is this? It is the mindset of Colossians 3:1–2, “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

It is God’s earth! It is a video preview to the reality of what the eternal summer will be like when “The city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23).

The summer sun is a mere pointer to the sun that will be. The glory of God. Summer is for seeing and showing that. Do you want to have eyes to see? Lord, let us see the light beyond the light.

Family Violence

Axe Grinding On a Whetstone of Half-Truths

One of the local rags has been running an extended feature on domestic violence, with almost sole concentration upon males assaulting females.  Some of it has been utter nonsense, such as when an erstwhile academic claimed that one in three women has suffered violence at the hands of a male.  Such wild exaggerations do the cause no good at all and severely discredit the case.

But domestic violence of the category "Male assaults female" remains despicable.  It is criminal.  It deserves the full weight of the law and justice to roll down upon it.  However, the way this has been dealt with in the newspapers has been flagrantly sexist.  There has been nary a peep about the other half--that is, the violence perpetrated when "Female assaults male" or "Female assaults child".  Once again, the ideological cant of the media and the protagonists of the cause end up discrediting the entire matter.  They are all embarrassing advocates indeed.

A far more faithful, truth-telling advocate has been Bob McCroskrie, of Family First New Zealand.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Indecent Exposure as a Human Right, Part III

A Velvet Glove Covering The Iron Fist

The previous two article in this series have focused upon the transgenderist madness of the United States.  But the present ham-fisted, moronic President is in too much of a hurry.  He has pronounced a top-down dictat which represents a radical shift in law and precedent that makes trans-genderism a human right.  

Now, let's be clear.  Transgenderist ideology has nothing to do with one's gender per se.  Rather it has everything to do with one's gender identity.  So, today one identifies as a male, tomorrow a female, and the day after as a dragon.  It matters not.  Society must recognised one's fundamental human rights--one of which is gender self-identity.  (OK, so this human "right" has only been discovered and articulated in the past five minutes, but let's not get all legalistic.  It's the vibe of the matter that's important.  Doesn't it feel right to proclaim that people have the freedom to be whatever they want to be?  Of course it does.)

We mentioned that Obama is a moron, but he is a moron in a hurry, so he has had to to something BIG.  Since trans-genderism only came down in the last shower of rain, Obama has had to act quickly to capture it and make it part of the US landscape.  He hasn't much time left.

But in New Zealand, we do it the right way.  We do it quietly, subtly, so that no-one will know.

Daily Devotional

On Heaven

C.S. Lewis

Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.
Everything becomes more and more itself. Here is joy that cannot be shaken. Our light can swallow up your darkness; but your darkness cannot now infect our light. No, no, no. Come to us. We will not go to you. Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? Did you not know they were stronger than their opposites?

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.

Toleration That Comes At a High Price

Secularism's Cant and Its Insecurity

The secular state has clung to the notion that it is neutral toward all religions.  Therefore, from the vantage point of neutrality, it can claim the modern secular state believes in religious freedom, liberty of conscience, and tolerance.  It turns out that this is all a bunch of horse manure.

A moment's reflection would show that in order to promulgate the idea of religious toleration and freedom for all religions, the secular state has already decided that no religion is actually true; the only true truth is the secularist stance, which presupposes the ultimate irrelevance and untruth of all religions.

In one sense, the secular state is clearly neutral towards all fairy stories.  Little Red Riding Hood compels no more loyalty from the State than, say, Cinderella.  Why can the State argue for universal toleration towards all such children's fables and fairy stories?  Because all such stories are equally untrue.  They are fairy stories after all.  In precisely the same manner, the secular state proclaims toleration and freedom for all religions.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Indecent Exposure As a Human Right, Part II

Governed By Morons

Douglas Wilson on Obama's Enforced Trans-Genderism in Schools


If incoherence were beans, or cheese, or sour cream, or anything like that, Obama’s executive DECREE on bathrooms in government schools would be at least a nine-layer dip.

Incoherence, how do I not follow thee? Let me be unable to count the ways. There are too many. They come too fast. They are throwing them at my head now. Breathe, Wilson. Just do them one at a time.

First . . . no, wait. Better not say first. That’s counting.

Actually I can say first when just setting the stage. So first, I did actually read that dog’s breakfast of an “guidance” letter from the Justice Department. Here are the two quotes that kind of revealed to the watching world that the strongest nation in the world is now being governed by morons. But we cannot say this in a pejorative way, as though we had a right to look down on our rulers, because the only people dumber than morons are the people who allow themselves to be governed by morons.

Daily Devotional

Taken Out of Ourselves

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:

And then one or other dies. And we think of this as love cut short; like a dance stopped in mid-career or a flower with its head unluckily snapped off—something truncated and therefore, lacking its due shape. I wonder. If, as I can’t help suspecting, the dead also feel the pains of separation then for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.

It follows marriage as normally as marriage follows courtship or as autumn follows summer. It is not a truncation of the process but one of its phases; not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure. We are ‘taken out of ourselves’ by the loved one while she is here. Then comes the tragic figure of the dance in which we must learn to be still taken out of ourselves though the bodily presence is withdrawn, to love the very Her, and not fall back to loving our past, or our memory, or our sorrow, or our relief from sorrow, or our own love.

A Grief Observed. Copyright © 1961 by N. W. Clerk, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Preface by Douglas H. Gresham copyright © 1994 by Douglas H. Gresham. 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 Call of Philosemitism

Following Apostolic Teaching

We have just finished reading an interesting volume on the Jewish Question--about the place and position of Jewish people upon the earth.  In the West, anti-semitism is making a "comeback" it would seem.  This is taking place, in part because of the influence of Islam in general and the attitudes and activities of  some Islamic refugees in Europe, on the one hand, and because of the recent tendency of the Left sympathetically to embrace Islam, and Islam's prejudices.  Anti-semitism is one such.

How refreshing it has been, then, to read Gertrude Himmelfarb's The People of the Book: Philosemitism in England, From Cromwell to Churchill (London: Encounter Books, 2011). The historical, gradual re-acceptance of Jewish people into the United Kingdom is fascinating in part because of the cast of actors involved over a three hundred year period, from Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans onward.  This cast begins with Cromwell, of course, who was staunchly philosemitic (that is, a lover of the Jewish people).  The Jews had been expelled from England: Cromwell began the reversal of that position.  But it also includes luminaries such as philosopher, John Locke, scientist, Isaac Newton, and notables such as Edmund Burke, William Macaulay, author and politician, Benjamin Disraeli, Gladstone and Winston Churchill, as well as literary figures such as Walter Scott, George Eliot and Charles Dickens.

This political and literary tradition, coupled with the attempt by Hitler to exorcise the Jewish people from the human race and the reaction that was part of World War II has left the English speaking world largely philosemitic--at least up to our generation, when things have begun to change.

Himmelfarb documents the connection between a love of the Old Testament amongst Christians--one of the great consequences of the Reformation--and a sense of kinship and respect for the Jewish people that was one of its fruits, particularly in England.  Puritan scholarship with respect to the Old Testament, to the Hebrew language, and to traditional rabbinic teaching was legendary.  Out of it came an abiding theme of philosemitism that flowed through to the wider culture of learning, the arts, and politics.  It did not win Jewish people full civil and political rights immediately--but the leaven was at work, and in the end the "revolution" was bloodless and a consequence of the "natural acceptance" of higher and deeper truths.  It represents a particular high water mark of Christian civilisation.

With the attenuation and decline of the Christian faith in the English speaking world--already well under way by the end of the nineteenth century, and gathering pace throughout the twentieth, it was inevitable that the Jewish Question would arise again.  And so it has come to pass.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Indecent Exposure As a Human Right, Part I

Civil Rights Doctrines Perverted to Justify Indecent Exposure

President Obama is not wasting time.  His days in the White House are numbered.  He is doing all he can to bring into being the radical millenarian vision to which he is wedded.  The latest outrage is an attempt to institute by diktat the revolutionary notion of wilful gender identity in the nation's schools.  
We will run a series of articles over the next couple of days addressing this outrage.

Firstly, the Editors of National Review:

The Obama Administration Rewrites Title IX

By The Editors — May 13, 2016
This morning the Department of Justice and Department of Education released a joint statement of extraordinary breadth and scope. Under the guise of offering “guidance,” the Obama administration put every single public and private educational institution receiving federal funds on notice that it intends to interpret and enforce Title IX — a statute, written in 1972, that by its explicit terms only prohibits sex discrimination — as also prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status.” If a boy claims he is a girl, then, according to the Obama administration, he is a girl and must be treated as such by the educational institution.

Daily Devotional

What Is Meekness?

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

John Piper

Meekness begins when we put our trust in God. Then, because we trust him, we commit our way to him. We roll onto him our anxieties, or frustrations, our plans, our relationships, our jobs, our health. And then we wait patiently for the Lord. We trust his timing and his power and his grace to work things out in the best way for his glory and for our good.

The result of trusting God and the rolling of our anxieties onto God and waiting patiently for God is that we don't give way to quick and fretful anger. But instead, we give place to wrath and hand our cause over to God and let him vindicate us if he chooses.  And then, as James says, in this quiet confidence we are slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). We become reasonable and open to correction.

Meekness loves to learn. And it counts the blows of a friend as precious. And when it must say a critical word to a person caught in sin or error, it speaks from the deep conviction of its own fallibility and its own susceptibility to sin and its utter dependence on the grace of God.  The quietness and openness and vulnerability of meekness is a very beautiful and a very painful thing. It goes against all that we are by our sinful nature. It requires supernatural help.

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, that is, if you trust him and commit your way to him and wait patiently for him, God has already begun to help you and will help you more.  And the primary way that he will help you is to assure your heart that you are a fellow heir of Jesus Christ and that the world and everything in it is yours.

A New Constantine?

Is Chinese Premier Xi Jinping Going to Follow The Example of an Ancient Roman Emperor

There have been a series of articles published in Epoch Times over recent months to the effect that the current Chinese Premier, Xi Jinping is going to change the stance of the Chinese Government toward Falun Gong.  Epoch Times is an international media organisation owned and controlled by Falun Gong, an erstwhile religion which has been severely and implacably persecuted by the Chinese regime for over a decade.  

We read:
Through a number of unusual political gestures, Xi Jinping appears to have hinted at a departure from the policy of his predecessor toward the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline, a large group that was targeted for elimination in 1999 shortly after they mounted that appeal to the central government.

Xi Jinping’s recent actions—which include moderate remarks on how to treat petitioners, the purge of some particularly rough security officials, demands that the security forces conduct themselves with probity, and what borders on conciliatory remarks about religion in China—while subtle, indicate, in part due to their sequence and timing around such a sensitive anniversary, a potential shift in stance and emphasis to the Party’s status quo policies.
We are unable to comment on the reliability of this report.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Pride of Life in a Codpiece

Douglas Wilson

As the bathroom wars continue to unfold, and as the advocates of totalitolerance continue to embrace the arts of coercion, as they continue to bombard us with ideas so fine they have to be mandatory, it has been natural for Christians to try to pivot.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be opposing same sex mirage. Perhaps we shouldn’t be opposing the rights of mentally disturbed men to pee with our daughters. I know, somebody suggests, let’s turn the discussion to matters of religious liberty. Surely there we might find some common ground there. Surely there we will be able to reach a compromise.Church State

There may be some short term tactical relief in such a move, and I am entirely in favor of it if and when it happens. Those who fight for such tactical relief are to be commended. But there is no long-term strategic success to be found in the fight for religious liberty. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but somebody has to. Here is the reason:

Religious liberty is itself a religious value.

Religions differ. They differ wildly. They differ fundamentally. Some religions value liberty for practitioners of other religions, and some religions don’t value liberty for practitioners of other religions. Some religions respect the authority of the individual to choose his own religion, and other religions don’t allow for conversions at all. If you want the fruit called religious liberty, you have to want the tree that this kind of fruit grows on.

This means that if we want maximum liberty for people who don’t believe in Jesus, then we will have to . . . believe in Jesus.

Daily Devotional

Absolutely Clean--and Free

"All that believe are justified."  Acts 13:39

Charles H. Spurgeon

The believer in Christ receives a present justification. Faith does not produce this fruit by-and-by, but now. So far as justification is the result of faith, it is given to the soul in the moment when it closes with Christ, and accepts him as its all in all.

Are they who stand before the throne of God justified now?--so are we, as truly and as clearly justified as they who walk in white and sing melodious praises to celestial harps. The thief upon the cross was justified the moment that he turned the eye of faith to Jesus; and Paul, the aged, after years of service, was not more justified than was the thief with no service at all.

We are today accepted in the Beloved, today absolved from sin, today acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! soul-transporting thought! There are some clusters of Eshcol's vine which we shall not be able to gather till we enter heaven; but this is a bough which runneth over the wall. This is not as the corn of the land, which we can never eat till we cross the Jordan; but this is part of the manna in the wilderness, a portion of our daily nutriment with which God supplies us in our journeying to and fro.

We are now--even now pardoned; even now are our sins put away; even now we stand in the sight of God accepted, as though we had never been guilty. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." There is not a sin in the Book of God, even now, against one of his people.

Who dareth to lay anything to their charge? There is neither speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing remaining upon any one believer in the matter of justification in the sight of the Judge of all the earth. Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus.

Paradigm Shifts and Mumblings

What's That Young Kid Saying?

One of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century, Cornelius Van Til once observed that when human beings (of whatever stripe) begin to think about the world and study it they have already made up their minds what they will find.  Neutrality is impossible.  The fisherman's net mesh has already pre-determined what kinds of fish will be caught before it is cast into the sea.

In the eighteenth through to the early twentieth centuries, the ruling theological paradigm was Deism. Sure god existed, but he/she/it was detached and removed from the material realm, far from the realm of creatures, stars, and planets, or, in other words, from the realm of time, space, energy, and matter.  Most scientists, academics, and researchers presumed Deism--consciously or unconsciously--before they began their work.  In other words, they presupposed from the outset that they would find no evidence whatsoever of God's handiwork or presence in the realms of time, space, energy and matter, and, lo and behold, their research "proved" what they had presupposed.

But as the twentieth century progressed the Deistic presuppositions became more and more problematic.  It has become science's "dirty little secret" or its skeleton in the closet.  As Douglas Kelly has written:

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Another Evil Money Launderer

Emma Watson Exposed

Sagacity, Care, and Prudence: the Benefits of Blind Offshore Trusts

Emma Watson denied avoiding tax after becoming the latest high-profile name listed in the Panama Papers offshore data leak.  The actress, currently taking a break from acting to campaign for feminism, is listed as a beneficiary of a company based in the British Virgin Islands.

But Watson said the account was set up for the sole purpose of "protecting her anonymity and safety".  A spokesman for the 26-year-old Harry Potter star said: "Emma receives absolutely no tax or monetary advantages from this offshore company whatsoever, only privacy."

Her account came to light after data collated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was published online for the first time.  [Note: the data was hacked--that is, stolen.  But when "evil capitalists and money launderers are the target, all's fair--apparently.  Who quibbles about such details--that greater good and all that.  Ed.]

More than 200,000 offshore account details from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm, are now available.

"UK companies are required to publicly publish details of their shareholders and therefore do not give her the necessary anonymity required to protect her personal safety, which has been jeopardised in the past owing to such information being publicly available," Watson's spokesman said.  "Offshore companies do not publish these shareholder details."

Other famous names listed in the papers include the Duchess of York, The X Factor's Simon Cowell and Paul Burrell, the former butler to the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  [NZ Herald]
We note that Emma Watson is a wealthy woman; therefore she belongs to the exploitative classes who oppress the poor.  The capital allegedly owned by Watson means that less money is available to the poor.  In the mind of the Left, to attack Watson is not only a moral thing to do.  It is a civic duty.

Daily Devotional

At the Bottom of It All

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:5)

John Piper

The experience of Charles Spurgeon is not beyond the ability of any ordinary Christian.

Spurgeon (1834–1892) was a contemporary of George Mueller. He served the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London for over thirty years as the most famous pastor of his day.  His preaching was so powerful that people were converted to Christ every week. His sermons are still in print today and he is held up by many as a model soul–winner.

He recalls an experience when he was sixteen that shaped his life and ministry for the rest of his days.
When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this.

I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths [the doctrine of election] in my own soul — when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man — that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, that clue to the truth of God.

One week–night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it.

The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment — I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so?

Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”

Failing In The Duty of Care

Slow Learners

Yesterday we took a look at the continuing failure in government schools to teach mathematics.  Today's piece focuses upon reading.  The reality is that government schools are failing to teach kids from low socio-economic strata to read.  This means that the children from low socio-economic homes grow up and stay poor.  They are unable or unlikely to escape the poverty trap.

On the other hand, kids from middle class homes and families generally do OK.  They learn to read satisfactorily, if not well.  How does this work?  It works as one would expect.  The most potent educational environment is the home.  Pupils from middle class families pick up enough knowledge about language (they hear it spoken, they observe their parents reading, there are books around the hous--and so forth) and they arrive at school more ready and more primed to read.
One academic described it as similar to the "Matthew effect", where the "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" and said New Zealand needed to address the way it taught children from disadvantaged backgrounds.  "You have the children that come into school with lots of literacy knowledge, enough to attach new knowledge to, so they will learn to read no matter how they are taught," said Massey University's Dr Alison Arrow.  . . . kids that come in with limited knowledge have nothing to build on. They don't know spoken words have sounds in them, for example. So if they don't get explicit instruction when they get to school they struggle to catch up and they will lag behind for the rest of their school career." [NZ Herald]
Well, say the official Left, the solution to the plague of illiteracy amongst the poor is glaringly obvious: eradicate poverty and hey presto the kids from poorer homes will match the reading ability of middle class kids right through all their years of schooling.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Allah Commands Their Death

Christian Converts Persecution by Muslims in Germany

Chris Tomlinson
Breitbart London

A new study shows that potentially thousands of Christians have been attacked and harassed in German migrant homes by Muslim guards and fellow migrants.

Multiple human rights organizations are warning the German government of the conditions that Christians in asylum homes are being subjected to. One organization in particular has chronicled 231 specific cases of the harassment of Christians by Muslim migrants and Muslim security guards in asylum homes.

Open Doors is a humanitarian relief organization that specializes in helping Christians who are persecuted worldwide. Markus Rode, a member of the group, said that the study is only “the tip of the iceberg” and called for more action to address the problem Frankfurter Allgemeine reports.

Daily Devotional

What Else Is Needed?

"Thou art my portion, O Lord."  Psalm 119:57

Charles H. Spurgeon

Look at thy possessions, O believer, and compare thy portion with the lot of thy fellowmen. Some of them have their portion in the field; they are rich, and their harvests yield them a golden increase; but what are harvests compared with thy God, who is the God of harvests? What are bursting granaries compared with him, who is the Husbandman, and feeds thee with the bread of heaven?

Some have their portion in the city; their wealth is abundant, and flows to them in constant streams, until they become a very reservoir of gold; but what is gold compared with thy God? Thou couldst not live on it; thy spiritual life could not be sustained by it. Put it on a troubled conscience, and could it allay its pangs? Apply it to a desponding heart, and see if it could stay a solitary groan, or give one grief the less? But thou hast God, and in him thou hast more than gold or riches ever could buy.

Some have their portion in that which most men love--applause and fame; but ask thyself, is not thy God more to thee than that? What if a myriad clarions should be loud in thine applause, would this prepare thee to pass the Jordan, or cheer thee in prospect of judgment? No, there are griefs in life which wealth cannot alleviate; and there is the deep need of a dying hour, for which no riches can provide. But when thou hast God for thy portion, thou hast more than all else put together. In him every want is met, whether in life or in death.

With God for thy portion thou art rich indeed, for he will supply thy need, comfort thy heart, assuage thy grief, guide thy steps, be with thee in the dark valley, and then take thee home, to enjoy him as thy portion forever. "I have enough," said Esau; this is the best thing a worldly man can say, but Jacob replies, "I have all things," which is a note too high for carnal minds.

Close To the Working Definition of Insanity

Failure in Maths Will Be Fixed By More of the Same

Our highly vaunted New Zealand Secondary School curriculum focuses upon students achieving passes or credits in NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement).  But at least in maths the system is developing into a comprehensive failure.  As one wag put it, NCEA has come to mean "No Child Educated in Arithmetic".  

The NZ Herald complains:
Thousands of children begin secondary school each year without the reading, writing or maths skills needed to make it through. . . . A national monitoring study from 2013 had even lower results, with just 41 per cent of students at the expected level when they leave primary, despite the majority achieving well just four years earlier.

The drop-off after Year 4 - when students are aged 9 to 10 - is a trend across all subjects, but in mathematics it is particularly significant.  "International studies and national data provide clear evidence that we have a serious achievement challenge in mathematics," a Ministry of Education maths plan said.  "We have very good evidence about what leads to effective mathematics teaching and learning. But putting this together in the classroom and making it possible across the system is challenging and complex."
Let's see now.  The fundamentals of mathematics--that is, arithmetic--have been around for millennia.  There is nothing new here.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Theologically Vacuous Imperial Cult

The Idolatry of the Donald

Trump is the natural product of American civil religion.

By Bonnie Kristian
The American Conservative

“I even brought my Bible—the evangelicals, OK?” Donald Trump whinged at a campaign stop in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. “We love the evangelicals and we’re polling so well.” For good measure, he waved his prop a little more and doubled down, “I really want to win Iowa—and again, the evangelicals, the Tea Party—we’re doing unbelievably, and I think I’m going to win Iowa.”

This sycophantic word vomit was about average as Trump’s public forays into religion go. His transparent attempts to cast himself as a churchgoer have been awkward at best, and more often approach the bizarre if not the heretical. Nevertheless, as the man himself would say, the professing evangelicals—and the “professing” is key here—love him. They really, really do.

But for all the headlines the Trumpvangelicals have snagged, their vehement support is ably matched by the strident opposition to Trump found among millions of American Christians of all stripes, many of them (like me) appalled that such blatant pandering and brash prurience is, well, working on our fellow travelers in the faith. Nearly a year into this misadventure, it is still tempting to ask: How is this happening? How is the heir of the Moral Majority endorsing a twice-divorced former strip club owner? How is Trump so appealing to what is supposed to be a Christian nation?

And it is in precisely that last phrase—“Christian nation”—the answer may be found: America’s entrenched, pseudo-Christian civil religion is the primary culprit here. President Trump is the due result of our theologically vacant imperial cult, which in the guise of orthodoxy worships only the power of the state.

Daily Devotional

On Grief

C. S. Lewis

Real sorrow ends neither with a bang nor a whimper. Sometimes, after a spiritual journey like Dante’s, down to the centre and then, terrace by terrace, up the mountain of accepted pain, it may rise into peace—but a peace hardly less severe than itself. Sometimes it remains for life, a puddle in the mind which grows always wider, shallower, and more unwholesome. Sometimes it just peters out, as other moods do. One of these alternatives has grandeur, but not tragic grandeur.

From Experiment in Criticism
Compiled in Words to Live By
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.

Economic Ignorance

National Embarrassment

The current leader of the Labour Party in New Zealand, Andrew Little appears to be more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic.  His career before becoming a professional politician consisted of being a union manager.  His commercial experience is, to put it kindly, somewhat limited.  But he is steeped in the ideology of class warfare--workers versus the capitalists and that sort of thing.

We find ourselves embarrassed by the apparent ignorance of the man.  He often shows that he has little clue about how three quarters of the rest of the population think, live, and act.  For Andy, it's all about class warfare: the oppressed proletariat versus the capitalist pigs.

He is at present promoting a bill in Parliament, the Healthy Homes Guarantees Bill.  This would require landlords to ensure that all rental homes are warm and dry, and that each home must have a heating source.  When it was pointed out to Andy that this would inevitably mean that rents would go up, Andy fiercely denied that would be the case, unless the respective landlords were rapacious and greedy.

One cannot miss the slime of class warfare oozing forth.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Surrender the Good Surrender?

Douglas Wilson

Carl Trueman says a lot of good things here, and I invite you all to reflect on them. Having done so, I want to take this occasion to argue with his selection of one word, about which more in a minute.Surrender

Trueman sees right through the posing of those Christians whose idea of “engaging culture” is really just an excuse for aping pop culture, driven by a deep-seated need to show clips from top movies during the sermon. But fondling the Egyptians’ gold and leering at the Egyptian girls is not the same thing as plundering the Egyptians. Quite a different mindset is involved.

So the word Trueman uses that I want to take issue with is anti-culture.

Daily Devotional

Why the Trial of Faith?

"All the days of my appointed time will I wait."  Job 14:14

Charles H. Spurgeon

A little stay on earth will make heaven more heavenly. Nothing makes rest so sweet as toil; nothing renders security so pleasant as exposure to alarms. The bitter quassia cups of earth will give a relish to the new wine which sparkles in the golden bowls of glory. Our battered armour and scarred countenances will render more illustrious our victory above, when we are welcomed to the seats of those who have overcome the world.

We should not have full fellowship with Christ if we did not for awhile sojourn below, for he was baptized with a baptism of suffering among men, and we must be baptized with the same if we would share his kingdom. Fellowship with Christ is so honourable that the sorest sorrow is a light price by which to procure it.

Another reason for our lingering here is for the good of others. We would not wish to enter heaven till our work is done, and it may be that we are yet ordained to minister light to souls benighted in the wilderness of sin. Our prolonged stay here is doubtless for God's glory. A tried saint, like a well-cut diamond, glitters much in the King's crown. Nothing reflects so much honour on a workman as a protracted and severe trial of his work, and its triumphant endurance of the ordeal without giving way in any part. We are God's workmanship, in whom he will be glorified by our afflictions.

It is for the honour of Jesus that we endure the trial of our faith with sacred joy. Let each man surrender his own longings to the glory of Jesus, and feel, "If my lying in the dust would elevate my Lord by so much as an inch, let me still lie among the pots of earth. If to live on earth forever would make my Lord more glorious, it should be my heaven to be shut out of heaven."

Our time is fixed and settled by eternal decree. Let us not be anxious about it, but wait with patience till the gates of pearl shall open.

The West's Tower of Babel

Good To Be Alive

It's an exciting time to be a Christian at the beginning of the third millennium, AD.  Whilst the Church is growing in leaps and bounds in parts of the world which have long suffered under the darkness of Unbelief and its attendant cruelties, the West's defalcation from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord is gathering strength.  

We Christians in the West are called to be merry warriors, fighting the good fight.  One of the reasons for merriment and joy is that Unbelief in the West is reaching its apogee.  We have seen (and will continue to see) the ridiculous spectacle of militant materialists shouting their atheism from the rooftops, whilst clinging to Victorian moralisms.  Man is the measure of all things and nothing human is foreign to me.  Except . . . Except . . . Except Islamic radicals blowing up innocent men, women, and children.  That's evil incarnate!

Western Unbelief denies the presence of God, yet spends most of its energy declaiming perceived wickedness and evils of one kind or another.  Its moralism has no foundation or meaning or authority, but it is asserted with a passion and vehemence which can only be associated with gnawing insecurity.  When the point is weak, speak louder.

But others in the West's present intellectual pantheon are less loud and more thoughtful.  They know the jig is up.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

When Less is a Whole Lot More

Why the Spanish May be Better Off Without a Government

The state’s most important economic role is to get out of the way

James Bartholomew
The Spectator

On 26 October last year, the Spanish government shut up shop in preparation for a general election. This duly took place in December but then a strange thing happened: after all the build-up, the arguments, the posters and the television coverage, the result was… nothing. The various parties were so balanced, so mutually distrustful and ill-assorted that no government could be formed. Since last October, therefore, there has been no government in Spain.

One can imagine that the average political correspondent would think this a terrible problem, maybe even a crisis. The Financial Times has referred to Spain ‘enduring’ months of ‘political uncertainty’. This is assumed to be a matter requiring furrowed brows and grave tones. But the economy seems to be taking a different view of the matter. It is bowling along more breezily than in a long time. The growth rate during the final quarter of last year was an annualised 2.9 per cent, which, in these days of dismal Euro-growth, is a star performance — easily beating the pants off Italy, France and even Germany.

The improvement has continued this year. Unemployment has fallen month after month and is now down to 20.4 per cent which, though awful, is an improvement on a year ago when it was 23.2 per cent. That is a much better showing than in most EU countries.

Daily Devotional

On Morality

C. S. Lewis

I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one’s eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people’s eyes can see further than mine.

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. 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.

When Ignorance Becomes Invincible

Entertaining Incompetence

The reflexive mindset of the Left is that capitalists (owners of capital--that is, property or money) are evil.  They are involved in a grand conspiracy to oppress the proletariat.  Money means power.  Power always has its way over the poor, who, by definition, are powerless.  [A suppressed premise is always at work in this mindset: namely, that the pot of capital is fixed.  If one has more capital, the amount of wealth or capital held by others diminished accordingly. The Left, therefore, reflexively also believes that an egalitarian redistribution of all capital is the only just outcome.]

In New Zealand this has led to an unusual, yet completely understandable situation.  The Left believes that the current Prime Minister, John Key is both evil and corrupt.  He has to be, by definition, because he is rich.  Consequently, the Prime Minister is responsible for making other people poor.  He is an oppressor of the poor.  Moreover, to the Leftist mind, he made his money in the worst possible way.  It was easy money.  He did not work up a sweat.  He did not labour or work hard.  He made his money out of buying and selling currencies on global money markets.  Thus, Key is not only a member of the oppressor evil class.  He is also a leech, and a  blood sucker.

For the past decade the Left has laboured to expose John Key's corruption and evil.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

A Trump Administration Might be a Good Thing

Douglas Wilson

No, no. I haven’t gone soft in the #NeverTrump department. Read on.

“Their heart is as fat as grease; But I delight in thy law” (Ps. 119:70).

1. A Trump administration would manifestly be a judgment from God, and judgments from God are good. Not pleasant, but they are always good.
God knows how to make the ears tingle (Jer. 19:3). And when He brings evil upon a nation, He is doing what is good.
2. A Trump administration would mean that as a nation we had abandoned the pretenses of hypocrisy and evasion. Our egotism would be manifest, our pride appalling, and our insolence remarkable.
When politicians are hypocrites, voters have plausible deniability. But when the politicians brag about their infidelity, when they boast in their ignorance, when they luxuriate in their dishonesty, and it doesn’t appear to matter to the electorate, then it is time to acknowledge that the electorate deserves whatever it is going to get, good and hard.
3. A Trump administration would identify a larger number of “conservative” hustlers than have already been revealed.

Daily Devotional

By His Stripes Does Healing Come

"Great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all."  Matthew 12:15

Charles H. Spurgeon

What a mass of hideous sickness must have thrust itself under the eye of Jesus! Yet we read not that he was disgusted, but patiently waited on every case. What a singular variety of evils must have met at his feet! What sickening ulcers and putrefying sores! Yet he was ready for every new shape of the monster evil, and was victor over it in every form. Let the arrow fly from what quarter it might, he quenched its fiery power. The heat of fever, or the cold of dropsy; the lethargy of palsy, or the rage of madness; the filth of leprosy, or the darkness of ophthalmia--all knew the power of his word, and fled at his command.

In every corner of the field he was triumphant over evil, and received the homage of delivered captives. He came, he saw, he conquered everywhere.   Whatever my own case may be, the beloved Physician can heal me; and whatever may be the state of others whom I may remember at this moment in prayer, I may have hope in Jesus that he will be able to heal them of their sins. My child, my friend, my dearest one, I can have hope for each, for all, when I remember the healing power of my Lord; and on my own account, however severe my struggle with sins and infirmities, I may yet be of good cheer. He who on earth walked the hospitals, still dispenses his grace, and works wonders among the sons of men: let me go to him at once in right earnest.

Let me praise him, as I remember how he wrought his spiritual cures, which bring him most renown. It was by taking upon himself our sicknesses. "By his stripes we are healed." The Church on earth is full of souls healed by our beloved Physician; and the inhabitants of heaven itself confess that "He healed them all." Come, then, my soul, publish abroad the virtue of his grace, and let it be "to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off."

It's the Vibe

How Embarrassing

New Zealand has its own Dennis Denuto.  Trust us to imitate the Aussies.  Actually, our Dennis is female, so strictly we have our own Denyse Denuto.

For those of our readers who have never had the fun of watching the Australian comedy, The Castle, below is the classic courtroom scene in which lawyer, Dennis Denuto is attempting to argue his client's case against eminent domain. If you haven't seen it, take a look. Clearly Dennis has a dizzying intellect and a scintillating grasp of the law.

We now have our own version of Dennis, one Andrea Vance.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Letter From America (About Evangelicals vs the Republican Party)

It's Trump: Here's what evangelicals should do now

Bruce Ashford
Fox News

Following his victory in the Indiana primary, Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for president of the United States. In upcoming days, many of us in the evangelical community will be tempted to be despondent, maybe even to detach ourselves from the political process out of a feeling of helplessness. And yet, we should not despair. Although we have lost the nomination contest, at the same time we surely have won an opportunity to regain our evangelical witness.

We must regain our witness. Even if Trump were to have lost the nomination in a contested convention, Evangelicals had already slipped up by supporting the rise of a primary candidate whose campaign is characterized by overheated ethno-nationalistic aggression, who wants to curb free speech, who did not immediately and decisively distance himself from David Duke’s support for his candidacy, who seems only questionably committed to the pro-Life and religious liberty causes, who regularly demeans those who oppose him, and whose rallies have been punctuated by violence and civil unrest. In spite of these things, a certain sector of the Evangelical world—let’s call them Trumpangelicals—support his candidacy.

But what about the rest of us, those of us who are Evangelical but cannot countenance the thought of an Evangelical-supported Trump nomination?

Daily Devotional

Pleased with His Precepts

I delight to do your will, O my God. (Psalm 40:8)

John Piper

How does being born of God make the commandments of God a delight rather than a burden?

The apostle John says, “This is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” In other words, the way that being born of God overcomes the worldly burdensomeness of God’s commandments is by begetting faith. This is confirmed in verse 1, which says, literally, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”

Faith is the evidence that we have been born of God. We do not make ourselves born again by deciding to believe. God makes us willing to believe by causing us to be born again. As Peter said in his first letter, God “caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). Our living hope, or faith in future grace, is the work of God through new birth.

So when John says, “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world,” and then adds, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith,” I take him to mean that God enables us, by the new birth, to overcome the world — that is, to overcome our worldly disinclination to keep God’s commandments. The new birth does this by creating faith, which evidently includes a disposition to be pleased, rather than put off, by God’s commandments.

Therefore, it is faith that overcomes our inborn hostility to God and his will, and frees us to keep his commandments, and say with the psalmist, “I delight to do your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8).