Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Letter From America (About Moral Corruption In High Places)

Anthony Weiner, Part 3: The Clintonization of Politics Begins

We should always expect the politicians in Washington, DC, to act like a bunch of Weiners.

Robert Tracinski

Anthony Weiner is at it again, a three-time loser caught once again exposing himself in Internet exchanges with younger women—who inevitably hand him over to the tabloids for a feeding frenzy.

Given his compulsion toward self-destructive behavior, Anthony Weiner is actually lucky sending revealing photos to girls is his thing. If it were liquor, he’d probably already be lying in the gutter on Skid Row. If it were heroin, he’d probably be dead by now. As it is, his third time will cost him plenty, including his marriage to top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and—well, given the circumstances of the latest iteration of this scandal, he may be unlikely to get either custody or visitation rights with his son.

But that’s his business, and we can only wish it would remain his business. For the rest of us, having the Weiner scandal on the front pages is an early reminder of what it’s like having the Clinton family and its hangers-on at the center of American politics. What happens is that everything becomes all about them, and their personal soap operas become national news.

Daily Devotional

Lying Traitor
"How long will it be ere they believe me?"  Numbers 14:11

Charles H. Spurgeon

Strive with all diligence to keep out that monster unbelief. It so dishonours Christ, that he will withdraw his visible presence if we insult him by indulging it. It is true it is a weed, the seeds of which we can never entirely extract from the soil, but we must aim at its root with zeal and perseverance.

Among hateful things it is the most to be abhorred. Its injurious nature is so venomous that he that exerciseth it and he upon whom it is exercised are both hurt thereby. In thy case, O believer! it is most wicked, for the mercies of thy Lord in the past, increase thy guilt in doubting him now. When thou dost distrust the Lord Jesus, he may well cry out, "Behold I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves." This is crowning his head with thorns of the sharpest kind. It is very cruel for a well-beloved wife to mistrust a kind and faithful husband.

The sin is needless, foolish, and unwarranted. Jesus has never given the slightest ground for suspicion, and it is hard to be doubted by those to whom our conduct is uniformly affectionate and true. Jesus is the Son of the Highest, and has unbounded wealth; it is shameful to doubt Omnipotence and distrust all-sufficiency. The cattle on a thousand hills will suffice for our most hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating. If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust his fullness, but who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their supplies from him, and not one of them has murmured at the scantiness of his resources.

Away, then, with this lying traitor unbelief, for his only errand is to cut the bonds of communion and make us mourn an absent Saviour. Bunyan tells us that unbelief has "as many lives as a cat:" if so, let us kill one life now, and continue the work till the whole nine are gone. Down with thee, thou traitor, my heart abhors thee.

Faux Homelessness in New Zealand

One Man's Trash . . . 

Redefining categories to create sensational headlines--and (temporarily) further one's career--are stock in trade for those wanting to make a name for themselves.  In New Zealand, it seems that for some reason a good number of these "wannabes" come out of Otago University and are associated with "health research".  Maybe it's something in the water down there.

The latest example is Dr Kate Amore who has been busy telling us that 41,000 people in New Zealand are homeless.  How does Dr Amore define "homeless"?  So broadly that a university student, living in a swanky hall of residence is regarded as being without a home.

Here is Dr Amore's breakdown of the homeless:
If the homeless population were a hundred people, 70 are staying with extended family or friends in severely crowded houses, 20 are in a motel, boarding house or camping ground, and 10 are living on the street, in cars, or in other improvised dwellings. They all urgently need affordable housing. [Otago University Media Release]
Seventy percent of the "homeless" population are not living on the street, sleeping rough.  They are in houses.  But these houses are not their own: they are living with relatives, boarding with friends, etc. But Dr Amore proclaims that these folk are all living in "severely crowded houses".  How does she know?

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Self-Interested, Just-So Myths

Reports of Death Somewhat Premature

James Delingpole
Breitbart London

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is not being killed off because of “global warming” or any other allegedly man-made non-problem, the people who know the area best have confirmed.  According to local newspaper The Courier-Mail [paywalled]

Teams of divers in a joint two-week expedition sponsored by Mike Ball Dive and Spirit of Freedom surveyed 28 sites on 24 outer shelf reefs along a 300km section of the hardest-hit part of the reef from Bathurst Head to Raine Island.  Spirit of Freedom owner Chris Eade said reports of 93 per cent bleaching on the 2300km long Great Barrier Reef had made global headlines and damaged the reputation of the $5 billion reef tourism industry.

 “Scientists had written off that entire northern section as a complete white-out,’’ Mr Eade said.   “We expected the worst. But it is tremendous condition, most of it is pristine, the rest is in full recovery.  It shows the resilience of the reef.’’

Daily Devotional

Forgiven for Jesus’ Sake

For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)

John Piper

The righteousness of God is the infinite zeal and joy and pleasure that he has in what is supremely valuable, namely, his own perfection and worth. And if he were ever to act contrary to this eternal passion for his own perfections he would be unrighteous, he would be an idolater.

How shall such a righteous God ever set his affection on sinners like us who have scorned his perfections? But the wonder of the gospel is that in this divine righteousness lies also the very foundation of our salvation.

The infinite regard that the Father has for the Son makes it possible for me, a wicked sinner, to be loved and accepted in the Son, because in his death he vindicated the worth and glory of his Father.

Now I may pray with new understanding the prayer of the psalmist, “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great” (Psalm 25:11). The new understanding is that Jesus has now atoned for sin and vindicated the Father’s honor so that our sins are forgiven “on account of his name” (1 John 2:12).

The Father’s infinite pleasure in his own perfections is the fountain of our everlasting joy. The fact that the pleasure of God in his Son is pleasure in himself is not vanity. It is the gospel.

Rehabilitation of Criminals

Wanted: A Change of Heart

Can criminals be rehabilitated?  Of course they can.  But--and here is a big offensive "but" to the secular mind: rehabilitation cannot be wrapped up in a programme that produces guaranteed results.  Human beings are not Pavlovian dogs.  They are way above and beyond the controls of behaviourist "therapies".

In New Zealand there are a group of academics and researchers who have reached the conclusion that when it comes to prisoner rehabilitation, "nothing works".  David Garrett, writing a guest post in Kiwiblog, described the "nothing works" school as follows:
Criminologists are roughly divided into the “nothing works” camp – of which (Greg) Newbold is for the most part a member, and others who promote and champion various different kinds of programs, most of which have been tried before in some jurisdiction or another. The results of those programs – like (Kim) Workman’s He Ara Hou in the early 90’s – become spectacular failures if left to run long enough, often with increased rather than decreased reoffending rates. The “nothing works” camp holds that rehabilitation is not program but offender dependent – in other words offenders who want to be rehabilitated will be, and the rest won’t.
What a startling conclusion: if the offender has a change of heart and wants to be rehabilitated, he likely will be.  Really.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Snowflakes and Hell

Douglas Wilson

Hell is certainly a terrible thing to envision, and for many Christians it is a difficult doctrine even to defend. Many believers resolve it at the end of the day by deciding we need someplace to put the Hitlers and the Stalins, and then deciding to not look too closely at it thereafter.Last Judgment

But God does not limit Himself to the sins that we consider high wickedness. In the list of the damned given at the end of Revelation, it is striking what He begins with.
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death”” (Rev. 21:8, ESV)
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
The word rendered as cowardly by the ESV and fearful by the KJV is deilos. It refers to the timid, the skittish, the shy, the cowardly, the fearful. It is the word Jesus uses when He rebukes the disciples on His way to rebuking the winds and the waves (Matt. 8:26; Mk. 4:40).

Now Hell really is an awful prospect, and it will be an awful prospect for all who will be consigned there.

Daily Devotional

The Unity of the Race

C. S. Lewis

It is a wonderful thing and a strengthening of faith that two souls differing from each other in place, nationality, language, obedience and age should have been thus led into a delightful friendship; so far does the order of spiritual beings transcend the material order.

It makes easier that necessary doctrine that we are most closely joined together alike with the sinner Adam and with the Just One, Jesus, even though as to body, time and place we have lived so differently from both. This unity of the whole human race exists: would that there existed that nobler union of which you write. No day do I let pass without my praying for that longed-for consummation.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

Compiled in Words to Live By 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.

How Did It Come to This?

God Will Not Be Mocked

The West did not become pagan overnight.  Nor did it become militantly anti-Christian since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.  These changes have been coming over three hundred years.  Christians and churches have been caught like a frog in the pot.

Many have blithely gone along thinking all was hunky dory.  But suddenly they face hostile rules, workplaces, regulations, law courts, and general public opprobrium--apparently out of nowhere--and they are confused, left staggering.  It as if they had been walking peacefully along the sidewalk, only to have someone come up behind them and smash them to the ground with a "king hit".  Where did that come from?

But in reality these changes, whilst now producing suppurating, rotten fruit, have been long in the generation and nurture.  One of the earliest battlegrounds was education.  Prior to what we call the Modern Period, education was largely the care and concern of Christians and churches.  But following the pagan "Enlightenment" and the French Revolution, education was wrested away from Christendom, and progressively placed firmly in the hands of statists.
The French and Italian branches of the liberal tradition that stems from the French Revolution treated religion as an enemy.  The German, British, and Scandinavian branch treated it as a competitor.  Later, liberals in most places gave up liberal ideas for some amalgam of Marxism and Freudianism, firmly embedded in statism.  The pure version of these doctrines, in addition to the late-nineteenth-century vitalism that merged with other elements to form fascism, have taken European souls from Christianity and Judaism.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Repentance Made Vile

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Douglas Wilson

Repentance is a gift that can be given to individuals, but it is not limited to that. When reformation and revival break out, and it the genuine article, it is because that same gift is being given to crowds. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance, and all of Judea turned out to hear him (Matt. 3:5). Jesus was exalted to the highest place in order that repentance might be given to Israel (Acts 5:31). In short, what God does in and for an individual heart is something He is fully capable of doing for an entire generation.Vile

There are two enemies of such repentance. One is the insolence that wants to continue to pursue the wickedness in question, whatever it is. Think Planned Parenthood, NAMBLA, and so on. The other is a disapproval of the open forms of wickedness, a disapproval that wants to manage its way away from the cliff edge by means of reasonable reforms. This is the approach that laments having to choose between Hillary and Trump in the coming election, but it never dawns on such a person to consider that we should repent of being the kind of nation that deserves to be saddled with such a choice.

But true repentance is a root and branch affair, and it is either happening or it isn’t. And when it happens, the “tell” is that the name of Jesus is being preached and exalted. There is no such thing as secular salvation. So for those who long to see true repentance given to our nation, both forms of avoiding it are equally problematic.

An unrepentant America necessarily has to see repentance as the adversary. But in order to see repentance as an adversary, it must be cast as some awful thing, some sort of wicked thing. Repentance itself must be made vile.

What could be more obviously good than repentance? How could it possibly be made vile? Let us not underestimate our adversaries. When lying is your native tongue, the sky appears to be the limit.

Daily Devotional

The Message of Creation

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:22–23)

John Piper

It would be a great folly and a great tragedy if a man loved his wedding band more than he loved his bride. But that is what this passage says has happened.

Human beings have fallen in love with the echo of God’s excellency in creation and lost the ability to hear the incomparable, original shout of love.

The message of creation is this:

There is a great God of glory and power and generosity behind all this awesome universe; you belong to him; he is patient with you in sustaining your rebellious life; turn and bank your hope on him and delight yourself in him, not his handiwork.

Day pours forth the “speech” of that message to all who will listen in the day, speaking with blindingly bright sun and blue sky and clouds and untold shapes and colors of all things visible. Night pours forth the “knowledge” of the same message to all who will listen at night, speaking with great dark voids and summer moons and countless stars and strange sounds and cool breezes and northern lights (Psalm 19:1–2).

Day and night are saying one thing: God is glorious! God is glorious! God is glorious!

On-Line Schools

Empowering Parents A Little Bit

The New Zealand government has thrown a monkey wrench into the vast state school engine.  At the drop of a hat, out of left field, the Ministry of Education has incorporated on-line schooling into the system.  If the media's reporting on this move reflects accurately the response of the educational establishment, it has been condemned swiftly, unequivocally, and universally.

Basically, it will involve education providers being allowed to instruct and teach kids via on-line media.  The providers will need to be registered with the State and doubtless their educational offering, processes, and disciplines will be subject to the Education Review Office--which currently inspects all registered schools.

The Minister of Education, Hekia Parata had this to say:
"This innovative way of delivering education offers a digital option to engage students, grow their digital fluency, and connect them even more to 21st century opportunities.  "There will be a rigorous accreditation process alongside ongoing monitoring to ensure quality education is being provided." [NZ Herald]
But it turns out that on-line learning is a very, very bad idea. It takes pupils away from the institution of the physical bricks and mortar school.  That, apparently, is terrible.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Reject The Priestcraft Peddled by the Government

How a Formerly Pro-Choice Nursing Instructor Discusses Abortion with her Students

The Torch
Cynthia Isabell

I have been a labor and delivery nurse since 1980.  During my thirty-six year nursing career, I have also worked in medical units and for hospice. Being a nurse has allowed me to be present with people through their early beginnings of intrauterine life, and with others through their last breaths.  It has been an amazing and rewarding journey. Life is precious and life is fleeting, and life should be respected. I am pro-life.

I am also a nursing instructor and have taught obstetrics to hundreds of young men and women, our future nurses.  My students often ask me what my opinion is regarding abortion.  “Are you pro-life or pro-choice?” they ask me.  I do not ask them the same, as I don’t want them to fear that their position might affect how I grade them.

When I answer that I am pro-life, the students often assume that my position is based on my religious beliefs, and so they respond that “you can’t force your religious beliefs on everyone else.” I explain that my argument against abortion is based on the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy, and on logical reasoning.

I was not always pro-life.  In the past I considered myself pro-choice.  [Continue reading at The Torch.]
 nursing. Cynthia has also been a nursing instructor for seventeen years. She holds a masters degree in adult health nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice with a certificate in nursing education.

Daily Devotional

Make Us Peacemakers

"If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution."  Exodus 22:6

Charles H. Spurgeon

But what restitution can he make who casts abroad the fire-brands of error, or the coals of lasciviousness, and sets men's souls on a blaze with the fire of hell? The guilt is beyond estimate, and the result is irretrievable. If such an offender be forgiven, what grief it will cause him in the retrospect, since he cannot undo the mischief which he has done! An ill example may kindle a flame which years of amended character cannot quench. To burn the food of man is bad enough, but how much worse to destroy the soul! It may be useful to us to reflect how far we may have been guilty in the past, and to enquire whether, even in the present, there may not be evil in us which has a tendency to bring damage to the souls of our relatives, friends, or neighbours.

The fire of strife is a terrible evil when it breaks out in a Christian church. Where converts were multiplied, and God was glorified, jealousy and envy do the devil's work most effectually. Where the golden grain was being housed, to reward the toil of the great Boaz, the fire of enmity comes in and leaves little else but smoke and a heap of blackness. Woe unto those by whom offences come. May they never come through us, for although we cannot make restitution, we shall certainly be the chief sufferers if we are the chief offenders. Those who feed the fire deserve just censure, but he who first kindles it is most to blame.

Discord usually takes first hold upon the thorns; it is nurtured among the hypocrites and base professors in the church, and away it goes among the righteous, blown by the winds of hell, and no one knows where it may end. O thou Lord and giver of peace, make us peacemakers, and never let us aid and abet the men of strife, or even unintentionally cause the least division among thy people.

The Quickening Vortex

It Was Meant to Be

Angelo Codevilla's book, The Character of Nations is an insightful volume.  He explores the relationship between the character of citizens, or the ruled, and the character of the regime, and the interaction between the two.

The changing character of people, society, and regimes throughout the West is well known, particularly by Christians, but it remains a staggering event, nonetheless.  The speed at which the character of nations and regimes have changed within one generation has left many people wondering, along with Theoden of Rohan, "How has it come to this?"  What on earth has enabled and facilitated such a rapid change?

Codevilla provides a description of the magnitude of the change--in this case in the United States.  There is little new in his account--but it serves to remind us once more how profoundly the character of Western societies and regimes has changed.
Consider a snapshot of life in New York City.  In July 1994, after lengthy deliberation, the city government decided that a person riding the subway stark naked could be arrested--but only if the individual was smoking.  Whereas an earlier generation of city officials would not have hesitated to protect the community against "indecent exposure", by 1994 it was difficult to find an official who would explain that concept.  But there was broad agreement among officials that subway riders should be protected against second hand smoke, something unknown to these officials' parents.  The change from intolerance of public nudity to intolerance of public smoking is just a whiff of what amounts to a revolution in American public life.  [The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prospertiy, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 2.]
Codevilla's book was published at the end of the twentieth century, just a few short years ago.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Letter From the UK (About Self-Righteous Patricians Sneering at the Plebs)

Betraying Brexit

The Revolt of the Elites Against the People

Brendan O'Neill
The Spectator

Why is everyone so chilled out about the threats to Brexit? Why isn’t there more public fury over the plotting of lords and academics and experts to stymie Brexit and thwart the will of 17.4m people? In all the years I’ve been writing about politics, I cannot remember a time when democracy has been treated with as much disgust, with as much naked, Victorian-era elitism, as it is being today. And yet we’re all bizarrely mellow. We’re going about our business as if everything is normal, as if the elites aren’t right now, this very minute, in revolt against the people. We need to wake up.

Every day brings fresh news of the revolt of the elite, of the march of the neo-reactionaries against the mandate of the masses.

Daily Devotional

On Pleasure

C. S. Lewis

[The demon Screwtape writes:] [God, the “Enemy,” is] a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are “pleasures for evermore.” Ugh! Don’t think He has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the Miserific Vision. He’s vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.

From The Screwtape Letters

Compiled in Words to Live By 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. 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.

Big Brother Knows Best

Parental Incompetence Is a Fundamental Assumption of the System

A universal state school system--such as we have in New Zealand--is predicated upon the incompetence or failures of parents. The state's Ministry of Education, together with teacher unions, justify their existence persistently on the assumption that parents are of little use when is comes to arranging for the education of their children.

Those who might be sufficiently obtuse to challenge this assertion, can be swatted away with a couple of questions.  Firstly, does our objector favour a universal parental voucher system so that parents can choose a school for their children?  If they don't they clearly think that parents are incompetent to choose wisely for their children.  Or, they hold to the idea that the state school system could not cope with the resultant disruption--which is an implicit acknowledgement that the state school system is bureaucratically hide bound and, to that extent, ineffective.

Secondly, since a voucher system would very quickly and effectively empower parents, why has no political party promoted or supported the idea?  Why has the Ministry of Education not advised the Government to move rapidly in this direction?  Why is empowering parents such an anathema?

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Iranians Turning to Christ

The Story of Iran’s Church in Two Sentences

The Gospel Coalition
Mark Howard

Everyone loves a good story. As Christians, we especially love stories that tell us how, when all seems lost, God makes a way.  One such story is about the church in Iran—and it’s one of the greatest stories in the world today.

It’s a simple story that can be summarized in just two sentences: Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ.  As simple as it is, such an amazing story is worth examining deeper.

Growth Amid Persecution

The Iranian revolution of 1979 established a hard-line Islamic regime. Over the next two decades, Christians faced increasing opposition and persecution: All missionaries were kicked out, evangelism was outlawed, Bibles in Persian were banned and soon became scarce, and several pastors were killed. The church came under tremendous pressure. Many feared the small Iranian church would soon wither away and die.

But the exact opposite has happened. Despite continued hostility from the late 1970s until now, Iranians have become the Muslim people most open to the gospel in the Middle East.

Daily Devotional

An Unshakably Happy God

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

John Piper

God is absolutely sovereign.  “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Therefore he is not frustrated. He rejoices in all his works when he contemplates them as colors of the magnificent mosaic of redemptive history. He is an unshakably happy God.

His happiness is the delight he has in himself. Before creation, he rejoiced in the image of his glory in the person of his Son. Then the joy of God “went public” in the works of creation and redemption. These works delight the heart of God because they reflect his glory. He does everything he does to preserve and display that glory, for in this his soul rejoices.

All the works of God culminate in the praises of his redeemed people. The climax of his happiness is the delight he takes in the echoes of his excellence in the praises of the saints. This praise is the consummation of our own joy in God.

Therefore, God’s pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in him are the same pursuit. This is the great gospel!

Free Speech for Me--Restrictions for You

The Stench of Self-Righteous Hypocrisy

We have a great deal of sympathy for the following issue, raised by several unions over recent days. 

We have seen numerous incidents in New Zealand where workers have been going about their lawful business, heading into their places of work, only to be confronted by loud, screaming, intolerant, and reprehensibly rude Greenpeace bigots.  Apparently their employer had been involved in some actual or potential degradation of the environment and Greenpeace is now busy victimising the innocent workers involved.  

The unions are proposing that a 150 metre exclusion zone be placed around all workers in transit to their place of employment.  Others have been calling for a one kilometer exclusion zone.  The emotional damage caused by Greenpeace zealots is incalculable and entirely without defence.  However, longtime Greenpeace activist and prominent actress, Lucy Lawless has reacted angrily to the union proposals.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Consistency--Thou Art a Jewel

Rugby Stars Lobby Against Easter Trading Changes

Isaac Davison
NZ Herald

Former All Black Michael Jones says the Government should not be interfering in Easter Sunday. Photo: Jason Oxenham
Former All Black Michael Jones says the Government should not be interfering in Easter Sunday. Photo: Jason Oxenham
Two former All Blacks are putting pressure on Pacific Island MPs to vote against law changes which will allow shops to open on Easter Sunday.  Former rugby stars Michael Jones and Aiolupotea Tonu'u said today that the law change could harm Pacific workers who had obligations to their churches and families on the religious holiday.  They are appealing directly to Pacific MPs in Parliament to cast their vote against the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill when it returns to Parliament.

The bill will give councils the power to pass bylaws to allow trading on Easter Sunday.  It narrowly passed another hurdle this week, 62 votes to 59 votes.  MPs cast a personal vote, rather than voting along party lines, because of the religious aspect of the legislation.

Two Pacific MPs - National's Sam Lotu-Iiga and Alfred Ngaro - voted in support. If they switched their votes, the legislation would fail.  Jones is a devout Christian who refused to play rugby on Sundays. He also has links to the National Party.  However, he was critical of the National-led Government for "interfering with Easter Sunday".

Daily Devotional

Why You Give in to Sexual Sin

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:8, 12)
John Piper

Why isn’t he crying out for sexual restraint? Why isn’t he praying for men to hold him accountable? Why isn’t he praying for protected eyes and sex-free thoughts? In this psalm of confession and repentance after essentially raping Bathsheba, you would expect David to ask for something like that.

The reason is that he knows that sexual sin is a symptom, not the disease.

People give way to sexual sin because they don’t have the fullness of joy and gladness in Christ. Their spirits are not steadfast and firm and established. They waver. They are enticed, and they give way because God does not have the place in our feelings and thoughts that he should.

David knew this about himself. It’s true about us too. David is showing us, by the way he prays, what the real need is for those who sin sexually — joy in God.

This is profound wisdom for us.

Back to the Future

Islamic Imperialism and Its Failures

Islam is a uniformitarian religion.  It recognises no distinctions of race, colour, ethnicity, or geography--theoretically.  In his final visit to Mecca, Muhammad uttered his "closing" address:
O people, your Lord is one and your ancestor is [also] one.  You are descended from Adam and Adam was [born] of the earth.  The noblest of you  all in the sight of Allah is the most devout.  Allah is all knowing and all wise. [Koran, Sura 49, 13]
Theoretically this made all human beings equal; it also made the community of Islam--the umma--borderless and universal.  The promise of Islam to remake the world via the universal umma could be expressed as follows:
At a stroke the past was wiped clean.  One's ethnic origin and traditional ties and relationships counted for nothing, only one's faith and piety.  The umma was not merely a novel form of socio-political communal organisation.  It was a divinely ordained brotherhood, bound together by something far stronger than blood and far wider than the Arabian Peninsula: the great equalizer between Arabs and non-Arabs, free men and freed men. [Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007),  p.19.]
This was a radical notion.  It was Muhammad's version of the Lord's Great Commission.  But, it had a critical difference: in the mind of Muhammad there was no distinction between temporal and religious authority or rule.  They were one and the same.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Post-Christendom's Latest Death Wish

The Tragic Transgender Contagion

Anguished parents note that entire peer groups seem determined to ‘transition’ together.

By David French
National Review Online

When thinking about transgender issues, you can choose to believe either the Left’s comforting lie or the messy — and sometimes quite sad and scary — truth. Here’s the comforting lie: that there are a certain class of people who live in “a state of emotional distress” because their sex “assigned at birth” conflicts with their “gender identity.” For these people it is the height of cruelty to ask them to live according to their “assigned” sex. So, when even children demonstrate the allegedly objective criteria of “consistence, insistence, and persistence,” then they can and often should begin the process of transitioning to a new gender.

It’s all science, you see. And denying that science not only makes you a Neanderthal, it makes you a bigot.

According to this lie, parents should rejoice when their children finally identify as transgender. After all, it’s the first step to becoming their “true selves.” According to this lie, there is nothing to fear except discrimination itself. Once individuals embrace their true identity, only intolerance can destroy their lives. Thus the fury at dissenters. Thus the academic censorship. Because of high suicide rates in transgender populations, endorsing ideological conformity becomes a matter of life and death.

The truth, however, is stubborn.

Daily Devotional


C. S. Lewis

[The demon Screwtape writes:] The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.

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. 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.

The Fruits of Believing The State is as God

No Surprises There

We have oft stated in this blog that statism is the prevailing religion throughout the West.  Each and every problem can be solved by the State--acting, reacting, ruling, punishing, pushing, directing, funding, defunding, taxing--always taxing.  Mark Twain was right: there are only two certain things in a statist world: death and taxes.

One prosaic example will suffice.  New Zealander's diets are pretty bad in some quarters.  We are now learning that, contrary to decades of bad science and advice, the real dietary problem is sugar, not fat.  We are facing an obesity epidemic that has a long road of multiplying diseases that will play out over generations.  For example, in New Zealand we are now seeing young children develop Type II diabetes--which is entirely diet caused.  This is not a hereditary condition, but a result of the amount of sugar the children ingest as part of their daily diet.  The list of ailments and diseases which flow from having diabetes is as long as can be imagined, with more coming to light as the epidemic worsens.  But, let's repeat.  This is an epidemic plague that is inextricably lifestyle related.

What has been our response?

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The Dominican Republic Presents Its Credentials

Sophisticated and Exemplary

Doubtless there are many things in the Dominican Republish which are not exemplary.  But on one matter, the murder of unborn children, the Dominican Republic is far, far more enlightened and advanced and sane and sophisticated and exemplary than Western and China and the Japanese nations.

This, from Turtle Bay and Beyond:

Unborn Dominican Children Protected 

By Marianna Orlandi, Ph.D

Yesterday, the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic affirmed that the unborn has a right to life in their country.   Upon approval of the new Criminal Code, the majority decided to eliminate a new paragraph of article 110, which would have decriminalized abortion not only to save the mother’s life, but also in cases of malformation, incest, and rape.

The prolife vote of the Chamber is consistent with a previous judgement of the Constitutional Court, which struck down an amendment to the criminal code that already tried to legalize abortion in those same “exceptional” cases.  Moreover this vote is consistent with article 37 of the national constitution: “The right to life is inviolable from conception to death. The death penalty cannot be established, pronounced or applied, in any case.”

Given the bicameral nature of the Dominican legislature, local prolifers are waiting for the vote of the Senate before crying victory. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority that refused to decriminalize abortion is a true miracle already: 132 votes against – 6 in favor. . . .

At present, the killing of a preborn child remains a crime, punishable by a 2 to 3 years sentence both for the mother and for anybody who helps her. The physician, nurse, obstetrician, pharmacist, or any other professional who assists in or performs an abortion faces a sentence of 4 to 10 years.
Just the reading those criminal sentences for the aborting mother and professionals who aide and abet the crime of murder of the most innocent amongst us are a ray of light in a dark, dark world.

Daily Devotional

What It Means to Bless the Lord

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! (Psalm 103:1)
John Piper

The psalm begins and ends with the psalmist preaching to his soul to bless the Lord—and preaching to the angels and the hosts of heaven and the works of God’s hands. The psalm is overwhelmingly focused on blessing the Lord. What does it mean to bless the Lord? It means to speak well of his greatness and goodness.

What David is doing in the first and last verses of this psalm, when he says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” is saying that speaking about God’s goodness and greatness must come from the soul.

Blessing God with the mouth without the soul would be hypocrisy. Jesus said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). David knows that danger, and he is preaching to himself that it not happen.

Come, soul, look at the greatness and goodness of God. Join my mouth, and let us bless the Lord with our whole being.

Pavlov's Dogs

Education Unions Have No Confidence In Their Members

Unionised teachers in New Zealand hate "bulk funding" with a vengeance.  It's tribal, it's visceral.  It is without rhyme nor reason.  The idea behind bulk funding is that the government hands over a lump sum of taxpayer's money (less the bureaucratic costs of collecting, administering, calculating, budgeting, etc.) and school management decides how this is spent.  

Bulk funding has been used in other areas, with great success.  It is a way of devolving decisions to those responsible to carry them out.  It minimises the risk of "one size for all" head-office control and planning.  It also reduces the control of teacher unions over school operations and for that reason unions hate bulk funding in schools.

The government is once again giving bulk funding in the education sector a crack--at least in concept.  Consultations are being held.  Unions have already jumped, going public to declare emphatically that there is no way they are going to agree.  Never, no Never, no Never! is the line.

This self-interested position has led to all kinds of rather strange outcomes.  The one that has caused us to laugh loudest into our corn flakes bowl is the sight of the President of the Principals Federation implying that his members (that is, school principals) are a bunch of incompetent, ignorant dodos, desperately in need of the education they are supposedly giving to students.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Letter From America (About a Victorious Skirmish Over Religious Liberty)

California Relents For the Moment

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
Christianity Today

A day after religious leaders released an open letter calling on California to protect religious liberty in higher education, the lawmaker behind a controversial bill dropped the proposal in question, allowing religious schools to keep exemptions to anti-discrimination laws related to sexuality.

Under state Senator Ricardo Lara’s amended bill, schools must “disclose if they have an exemption and report to the state when students are expelled for violating morality codes,” the Los Angeles Times reported.  “HUGE NEWS! Sponsor of #SB1146 is amending bill to keep exemptions in place,” tweeted Andrew Walker, director of policy studies at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “#SB1146 is still bad, because it has the disclosure (public shaming) element, but this, for now, is good.”

“Sighs of relief and prayers of gratitude that California #SB1146 bill (restricting religious liberty of colleges) has been dropped,” tweeted National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president Leith Anderson.

Earlier versions of Senate Bill 1146 would have prevented colleges that received state funds from enforcing codes of student conduct reflecting a college’s religious beliefs about sexual identity, including teaching that marriage is between a man and woman and limiting bathrooms to biological gender. Traditionally, California’s religious schools have received a religious exemption from non-discrimination laws. This bill would have limited it to students who were preparing for a religious career, such as ministry.

Daily Devotional

Put on the Brakes

TO HARVEY KARLSEN: On the remedies for sexual temptation—frequent and regular prayer and communions, monthly confession, avoiding discouragement, not exaggerating nor minimizing one’s sins, avoiding either trains of thought or social situations that lead to temptation, and applying the brakes, gently and quietly, while the danger is still a good way off.

C. S. Lewis

13 October 1961

Your letter did not reach me till to-day. Of course I have had and still have plenty of temptations. Frequent and regular prayer, and frequent and regular Communions, are a great help, whether they feel at the time as if they were doing you good or whether they don’t. I also found great help in monthly confession to a wise old clergyman.

Perhaps, however, the most important thing is to keep on: not to be discouraged however often one yields to the temptation, but always to pick yourself up again and ask forgiveness. In reviewing your sins don’t either exaggerate them or minimise them. Call them by their ordinary names and try to see them as you would see the same faults in somebody else—no special blackening or whitewashing. Remember the condition on which we are promised forgiveness: we shall always be forgiven provided that we forgive all who sin against us. If we do that we have nothing to fear: if we don’t, all else will be in vain.

Of course there are other helps which are more commonsense. We must learn by experience to avoid either trains of thought or social situations which for us (not necessarily for everyone) lead to temptations. Like motoring—don’t wait till the last moment before you put on the brakes but put them on, gently and quietly, while the danger is still a good way off. I would write at more length, but I am ill. God bless you.

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.

Androgynous Drones: Sweden's Inhumanity to Man, Part II

Going Solo

In the nineteen sixties, the Swedish regime decided that it would move rapidly to create the New Model Man, Sweden style.  It sought to achieve a rebuilding of society upon Marxist lines, without resorting to Mao's dictum that power grows out of the barrel of a gun.  Its new society was to be accomplished indirectly, by making each citizen depend more and more on the State and its regimes.

One critical objective was to deconstruct and dismantle the institution of the family.  In this grand endeavour, Sweden's regime has been remarkably successful.  The regime's first target was the push women into the workforce--a goal which was achieved by taxation policies that made it far more profitable to have women leave homes and enter the work force.  The regime also punished employers who would not co-operate in meeting hiring quotas for females by predatory fines.  Today, 91 percent of Swedish women between 25 and 54 are employed in the work force.  Behold the New Model Androgynous Humanity.

The Swedish state opened up an additional front.  It systematically began to remove any special distinction or status attached to marriage and family.  The objective was to make marriage and family a minority lifestyle--a vestige of a former faded primitive time.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Flickering Sparks

Decline in UK Christianity 'Halts'

Sun 07 Aug 2016
By Antony Bushfield

The decline in the number of people calling themselves Christians has halted, new figures suggest.  A small increase in the percentage of Brits who classify themselves as followers of Christ has been found in the British Social Attitudes Survey.

The report, which is published every year, has not been official released but the Sunday Telegraph has reported some of its findings.  The amount of Brits who say they are Christian has increase in the past year from 42 per cent to 43 per cent, it says.  Such a small change is within the margin of error in surveys but if it is to be believed it shows a decade long decline in Christianity has levelled off.

Most of the increase in Christian numbers appears to have come from the 'nones' category, which includes people who had no faith. The number choosing that option fell from 49 per cent to 48 per cent.

Figures in the survey also suggest the number of young people with no belief is falling. Last year 65 per cent of under 25s identified themselves as not having a religion. Now it is 62 per cent.  The number of people saying they are Christian is now back at the same level it was in the survey seven years ago.

Daily Devotional

Fixed Bounds of Tribulation

"This sickness is not unto death."  John 11:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

From our Lord's words we learn that there is a limit to sickness. Here is an "unto" within which its ultimate end is restrained, and beyond which it cannot go. Lazarus might pass through death, but death was not to be the ultimatum of his sickness. In all sickness, the Lord saith to the waves of pain, "Hitherto shall ye go, but no further." His fixed purpose is not the destruction, but the instruction of his people. Wisdom hangs up the thermometer at the furnace mouth, and regulates the heat.

1. The limit is encouragingly comprehensive. The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestinated, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of him who numbers the hairs of our head.

2. This limit is wisely adjusted to our strength, to the end designed, and to the grace apportioned. Affliction comes not at haphazard--the weight of every stroke of the rod is accurately measured. He who made no mistakes in balancing the clouds and meting out the heavens, commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients which compose the medicine of souls. We cannot suffer too much nor be relieved too late.

3. The limit is tenderly appointed. The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary. "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." A mother's heart cries, "Spare my child;" but no mother is more compassionate than our gracious God. When we consider how hard-mouthed we are, it is a wonder that we are not driven with a sharper bit. The thought is full of consolation, that he who has fixed the bounds of our habitation, has also fixed the bounds of our tribulation.

How Is Greece These Days?

The Sick Man of the West

Little over a year ago, Greece was in the news daily.  It was facing a severe economic crisis.  Having borrowed heavily to sustain a national lifestyle to which it was not entitled, the country was unable to meet its interest and capital repayments.  Greece's membership in the European Union was the fundamental cause of the problem.  It had been able to borrow vast amounts of money using the credit worthiness of much stronger European countries (such as Germany) since the EU (once Greece became a member)  now implicitly guaranteed Greece's loans.  Suddenly Greek debt became as "safe" an investment as lending to the German or the UK governments.

So Greece had been on a borrowing splurge.  But it could not pay the loans back, or even service them.  It turned once again to the EU to provide more funding, more borrowing.  The EU finally caved in, and turned on the money spigots once again, in exchange for more draconian financial disciplines.  Greece tightened its belt and groaned.

The emergency borrowing had the effect of kicking the can down the road until another day dawned.  We hear little these days of Greece and its fortunes.  But a recent article in the Guardian reminds us that the piper is still waiting to be paid.  Greece is going to come back to its EU masters in even worse shape.  When it does, it will become apparent that the UK did the smartest thing in a century when it voted in favour of Brexit.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Inglorious Ignominy of Multi-Culti

Is Britain Finally Waking Up?

James Delingpole
Breitbart London

If ever you’ve worried that parts of Britain now resemble some hideously corrupt, Third World Islamic basket case hell hole then you’re going to love Sir Eric Pickles’s gloriously robust report on electoral fraud.

His target, it’s clear, isn’t just the Muslim communities in places like London’s Tower Hamlets (and Birmingham and many Northern towns) which have imported to Britain the kind of political skullduggery and malpractice routine on the Indian subcontinent. More broadly what Pickles is attacking is the bankrupt philosophy of Multiculturalism and the entrenched, institutional political correctness that have made it all possible.

Consider, for example, this passage on the use of “foreign languages” at polling stations:
The languages spoken in polling stations (and other places such as the count) has recently become an issue with concerns that promoting the use of non-English languages could disguise coercion or influence within the polling station. This has not been helped by the Electoral Commission facilitating what it calls “community languages”. Such an approach undermines integration and leaves the door open to fraud. These are not ‘community languages’ – they are foreign languages.
Here is a bloody-minded Yorkshireman being about as blunt as you possibly can in an official report. The reason Muslim communities get away with flouting and corrupting British values, he is saying, is because the relevant authorities are turning a blind eye.

In this instance, he is referring to the practice of “booth capturing”, explained here for Breitbart last year by Jonathan Foreman.
Few people in the UK have heard of “Booth-Capturing”. In India and across South Asia it is a political phenomenon that is all too familiar. It is one of the most visible and outrageous illegal methods that are used to undermine democratic elections in the region.

Essentially, thugs working on behalf of a political party physically take over polling stations and use the threat of violence to prevent supporters of opposing parties from voting. (It helps that many parties have youth wings whose real purpose is the supply of necessary muscle).
Of course, these thugs speak in languages like Urdu and Bengali in order to make it harder for English speaking authorities – mainly the police – to prove that voters are being intimidated.

The obvious solution to this is to do what the Pickles report suggests and insist that from now on only English (or for historical reasons, Welsh) can be spoken at polling stations. Why, given the scale of the problem, hadn’t the Electoral Commission already suggested and instituted this?

Daily Devotional

The Diabolical and Animal Selves

C. S. Lewis

If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.

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.

Androgynous Drones: Sweden's Inhumanity to Man, Part I

Forced Labour By Whip and Bribe

Sweden is a magnet for rape and rapists.  Why?  Because it is a society where the family has been systematically weakened and even destroyed by purposeful design.  By intent, the State has replaced the family.  All sorts of unintended, disastrous consequences have followed and will follow.  One is that Sweden has the highest rate of rape in Europe--in fact, the highest rate of all Western nations.

Whilst the nation had toyed with the ideas of achieving a similar destruction of the family as was occurring in Soviet Russia, Sweden did not get serious until the 1960's.  The objective was to create a truly Marxist society where both men and women were measured and treated primarily as economic entities, as units of labour.  This meant that women needed to get out of the home and away from caring for children, and needed to be put to work in paid employment.  This, in turn, could only be accomplished by policies which deconstructed the family.  Angelo Codevilla takes up the story:
The centrepiece of the government's effort was to push and pull women out of the home into the labor market.  The push came from Sweden's steeply progressive income tax.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

A Vast Aquifer of Corruption

Douglas Wilson


Rachel Held Evans has recently argued that a vote for Hillary Clinton is not inconsistent with a pro-life ethic. There are any number of confusions involved in how she presents the case, but I am going to try to limit myself to addressing just three of them.Hillary

I want to limit what I say to those things which are relevant to the pro-life issue, but without intimating that the other issues surrounding the Clintons are unimportant. The Clinton metropolis was built in its particular location deliberately, with nothing accidental about it. Thinking ahead, they built the whole thing on top of a vast aquifer of corruption. The people living there are not going to run out of brown water for hundreds of years. I say this simply to set the stage.


I actually am grateful that RHE is pro-life, but she has been so compromised by her other commitments that her pro-life understanding has gotten pretty anemic. When you combine the following language with the fact that she is supporting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, one of the most ardent defenders of abortion to be found anywhere, I trust you understand that what we are dealing with is kind of pro-lifey, but is not really pro-life. The emphasis is mine.
“Or, put another way, as a Christian, I believe the sacred personhood of an individual begins before birth and continues throughout life, and I believe that sacred personhood is worth protecting, whether it’s tucked inside a womb, waiting on death row, fleeing Syria in search of a home, or playing beneath the shadow of an American drone.”
Worth protecting. What does that mean?

Daily Devotional

My Soul Thirsts for God

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1–2)

John Piper

What makes this so beautiful and so crucial for us is that the Psalmist is not thirsting mainly for relief from his threatening circumstances. He is not thirsting mainly for escape from his enemies or for their destruction.

It’s not wrong to want relief and to pray for it. It is sometimes right to pray for the defeat of enemies. But more important than any of that is God himself.

When we think and feel with God in the Psalms, this is the main result: We come to love God, and we want to see God and be with God and be satisfied in admiring and exulting in God.

A likely translation of the end of verse 2 is: “When will I come and see the face of God?” The final answer to that question was given in John 14:9 and 2 Corinthians 4:4. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” And Paul said that when we are converted to Christ we see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

When we see the face of Christ, we see the face of God. And we see the glory of his face when we hear the story of the gospel of his death and resurrection. It is “the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”

May the Lord increase your hunger and your thirst to see the face of God. And may he grant your desire through the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

We Know What's Best For You

What the Public Does Not Like It's Going to Get

Last week the Every Life Research Unit in New Zealand put out the following press release:

Kiwis "3-1 Against Euthanasia"
Thursday, 11 August 2016
Health Select Committee’s Investigation Finds Kiwis 3-1 Against Euthanasia

“Maryan Street and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society wanted to know New Zealanders’ views on legalising assisted suicide,” says Dr Jane Silloway Smith, Director of Every Life Research Unit, “and the people have spoken: at a ratio of about 3 to 1, they have told Parliament not to legalise assisted suicide.”

Dr Smith has been analysing submissions made to the Health Select Committee’s investigation into ending one’s life in New Zealand. She has conducted a random sampling of the 20,576 submissions made public by the Committee thus far. Her analysis has found that 78% of submitters are against legalising assisted suicide, while 22% are in favour of changing the law.

“Submitters to the Health Select Committee have overwhelmingly expressed their opposition to assisted suicide,” comments Dr Jane Silloway Smith. “The very clear ratio against a change in the current law alongside the high number of total submissions shows that there is a strong public political will opposed to assisted suicide.”
So, let's just bring our readers up to date.  The secularist "culture of death" has been pushing for the right to kill "suffering" people.

Monday, 15 August 2016

We Hope the Movie is Worthy of Its Subject

In Faithful Service To Our Lord

We came across an amazing story in one of our prominent New Zealand current affairs blogs.  We reproduce it in full:

An Incredible Hero

August 12th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Just listened to a podcast about a true hero, Desmond Doss. Desmond Doss was a conscientious objector in WWII yet won the Congressional Medal of Honour for bravery.  He was a devout Seventh-day Adventist and took the sixth Commandment literally “Thou shalt not kill” and also the fourth “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”.

He took this to mean he could not kill, or even hold a weapon, nor work on a Saturday. However he became an Army medic as even Christ healed people on the Sabbath. He could have tried to defer or stay home, but wanted to help the war effort – so long as it didn’t violate his religious beliefs.

He got many hassles for his devout beliefs and refusal to train on Saturdays or hold a weapon. One superior even tried to get him discharged on the grounds of mental illness. He refused to take this way out, saying how could he agree being a Christian is a mental illness.

He served initially in 1944 in Guam and the Philippines.

Daily Devotional

A Bit in the Mouth of Behemoth

"The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice."  Psalm 97:1

Charles H. Spurgeon

Causes for disquietude there are none so long as this blessed sentence is true. On earth the Lord's power as readily controls the rage of the wicked as the rage of the sea; his love as easily refreshes the poor with mercy as the earth with showers. Majesty gleams in flashes of fire amid the tempest's horrors, and the glory of the Lord is seen in its grandeur in the fall of empires, and the crash of thrones. In all our conflicts and tribulations, we may behold the hand of the divine King.

"God is God; he sees and hears
All our troubles, all our tears.
Soul, forget not, 'mid thy pains,
God o'er all forever reigns."

In hell, evil spirits own, with misery, his undoubted supremacy. When permitted to roam abroad, it is with a chain at their heel; the bit is in the mouth of behemoth, and the hook in the jaws of leviathan. Death's darts are under the Lord's lock, and the grave's prisons have divine power as their warder. The terrible vengeance of the Judge of all the earth makes fiends cower down and tremble, even as dogs in the kennel fear the hunter's whip.

"Fear not death, nor Satan's thrusts,
God defends who in him trusts;
Soul, remember, in thy pains,
God o'er all forever reigns."

In heaven none doubt the sovereignty of the King Eternal, but all fall on their faces to do him homage. Angels are his courtiers, the redeemed his favourites, and all delight to serve him day and night. May we soon reach the city of the great King!

"For this life's long night of sadness
He will give us peace and gladness.
Soul, remember, in thy pains,
God o'er all forever reigns."

Sins of the High Hand

A Balrog Awakens

Western nations are in the middle of one of the most radical attempts to destroy the institution of marriage ever seen in human history.  It will not succeed.  But, the devastation resulting from the attempt will be the death of Western civilization as we have known it.  The fruits are already swelling, ripening, and falling rotten from the tree.  

The challenge to marriage and the attempts to undermine it will not be overcome by the passing of a few laws.  The worldview which enabled the sustained attack upon marriage in the first place must be repented of by a majority of citizens, and that will take a reformation more profound and widespread than the Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  It will require what the Puritans used to call "root and branch" repentance.

In the law of God and, therefore, in the Christian faith there are sins, and then there are Big Sins.  To be sure, all sins, no matter how small or inconsequential to our evil eyes, bring alienation from God and enmity between people.  When Adam and Eve engaged in a reinterpretation of the fruit of the one tree that was not to be touched or eaten, doubtless they thought it was a small matter.  What was the fruit of one tree amongst thousands and thousands?  We know how that turned out. But in human society, some sins are more destructive, more damaging to the human condition upon the earth than others.  The redefining of marriage is one of those sins.  It represents what the Bible calls a "sin of the high hand".  It is a sin which is contrary to Nature, contrary to sustained human experience over thousands of years, and a sin of supreme arrogance and wilful rebellion.  It is the sin for which there is no atonement, no repentance, no forbearance.
But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.” [Numbers 15: 30,31]
One commentary describes the sin of a high hand as follows:
In the Ancient Near East one can find pictures of statues of a god or a warrior with his right fist raised up to the sky. This is the picture of a "high-hand." In the passage above (from Numbers 15) it is used of someone who is literally showing a defiant fist to God as if to say, "Try and strike me dead, I am doing my own thing."  This same sentiment is echoed in Hebrews 10:26 which reads, "If we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment…" What we can be sure of is that this sin is not accidental and is done in a flaunting, defiant and open-eyed, unremorseful manner which effectively tells Yahweh that He is irrelevant. 
When an entire culture embraces a sin of the high hand we can be certain that only suffering, death, and destruction will be the result, until the Lord grant a universal, culture transforming repentance.   But if the ordinary patterns of  redemptive history repeat, that will only come about after the lands have been ravaged, pillaged, and laid waste.

With a hand held high against heaven, with a fist pumping in a celebration of libertine "deliverance", the West has sealed its fate. Angelo Codevilla describes the leaven of mayhem now working its way through Western society:
The very notion of "redefining" families is a thinly disguised argument for the proposition that the natural family is no better than any other human arrangement and is probably the worst of the lot.  Thus, practitioners of what were once called "deviant" lifestyles want to pin the family label on relations between homosexuals less because they think there is little difference between homosexual and heterosexual relationships than because they want for homosexual couples whatever deference natural families normally receive.

Yet this desire cannot be fulfilled for logical as well as practical reasons.  If families are not natural and permanent unions of one man, one woman, and their children, in addition to others related by blood and marriage, they are the products of infinitely variable choices.  And if that were the case, how could one deny the label family to sometime unions of one man with man women, of one woman with many men, of many men with men?  Why deny it to any combination of bisexuals, pedophiles and necrophiliacs or to practitioners of sex with other species or with one's own offspring?  Ye to the extent that the label "family" is restricted to some living arrangements and not others, the criterion for restriction must be natural.  The acceptance of nature as the criterion, however, drives us back to one man and one woman united to reproduce and raise children.  [Angelo M. Codevilla, The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997)  p.155f.]
The Balrog, a demon from the ancient world, has awakened.  He comes forth.  The secular West has not just torn down Christendom, it is now busy destroying itself.  Our Christian duty in such times is to continue to testify faithfully to our lost, unrecoverable generation, even after the example of our fathers, of Noah, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah--and above all, of the Lord Himself.
 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. [Matthew 23: 37, 38]
Thus end all cultures and peoples who, having heard the Word of God and once tasted the good fruits of His kingdom, yet lift up the high hand in stubborn, wilful rebellion.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Terminal Disease of a Once Healthy Nation

British Authorities Still Ignoring Egregious Crime

Massive Pakistani-Led Child Sex Ring

Why bother rescuing thousands of children from rape if it might mean enduring claims of anti-Muslim racism?

M.G. Oprea

A new investigation by the Daily Express has found that the massive Rotherham child sex exploitation ring whose discovery rocked England two years ago is not only still in operation, but is as strong as ever. Reports from social workers, police, residents, and abuse victims all said the same thing: It’s still happening on an “industrial scale.”

In 2014, an independent inquiry led by Alexis Jay, a former senior social worker, found that men of Pakistani origin had groomed at least 1,400 young girls for sexual exploitation over the previous 16 years. These girls, as young as 12, were variously raped, abducted, tortured, and forced into prostitution. Keep in mind, this happened—and is still happening—in the heart of England, not some far-flung banana republic.

Daily Devotional

On Self

C. S. Lewis

The more we get what we now call “ourselves” out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. . . . I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call “me” can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.

Compiled in Words to Live By
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.

The Subornation of World Vision

A Sad, But Salutary Lesson

We long ago stopped supporting the Christian aid organisation, World Vision.  That is not to say that at that time we reached the view that the organisation was corrupt or that its aid projects were counter-productive.  Rather, we were uncomfortable with World Vision's increasing reliance upon secular state governments and the UN for its work--both in the sense of relying upon them as a key source for funds and being willing to work within their moral universe.  

World Vision, by turning to the pagans for funding and support, would eventually become dependant upon them, if not compromised in their commitment to the Christian gospel.  There were plenty of other, more consistent Christian organisations worthy of support.  The best Christian charity is face-to-face work, person-to-person, village-by-village.  The best Christian charitable work is rarely in a hurry, believing that suffering has been intrinsic to the human condition ever since the Fall.  The best Christian charitable work honours Christ and walks after Him, not instead of Him.

Now it has emerged that funds from World Vision have been siphoned off by one of its senior employees and funnelled to aid and abet Hamas, a blood thirsty Islamic pseudo-state.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Peter Hitchens's Letter from the UK (About Justice)

The Church In Retreat--From Ignominy

Peter Hitchens
The Mail Online

As the vast Goddard inquisition lurches off the rails, are we finally recovering our sanity about child abuse? Terrible as this crime is, it is not an excuse for losing our heads and trampling on justice.  This week I record a small victory in one such case of injustice, that of the late, saintly and much-loved Bishop George Bell. He was publicly smeared as a paedophile without a hearing by the Church of England – on the basis of a single, ancient uncorroborated accusation.

I am pleased to say that, under cover of a cloud of holy smoke, the C of E has retreated.  The Church doesn’t understand English law (hence the kangaroo court) and has a nasty habit of using the anonymous complainant, an elderly lady known as ‘Carol’, as a human shield. Any criticism of the Church’s injustice is falsely alleged to be an attack on her.

The current Bishop of Chelmsford, The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, recently said in the House of Lords that defenders of George Bell had ‘made hurtful comments’ about ‘Carol’. It was a nasty thing to say, and it was not true.  I have been pursuing Mr Cottrell, helpfully pointing out to him what the Bible says about bearing false witness, and about owning up to wrongdoing. He is, after all, a modern sort of Bishop and can’t necessarily be expected to be well-versed in such things.

Daily Devotional

Have Mercy on Me, O God

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)

John Piper

Three times: “Have mercy,” “according to your steadfast love,” and “according to your abundant mercy.”

This is what God had promised in Exodus 34:6–7:
The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.
David knew that there were guilty who would not be forgiven. And there were guilty who by some mysterious work of redemption would not be counted as guilty, but would be forgiven. Psalm 51 is his way of laying hold on that mystery of mercy.

We know more of the mystery of this redemption than David did. We know Christ. But we lay hold of the mercy in the same way he did.

The first thing he does is turn helpless to the mercy and love of God. Today that means turning helpless to Christ.


Just Making Stuff Up

Politics is a blood sport, metaphorically speaking.  At times it can be extremely formulaic and boring.  However, in the Westminster system, governments face formal questioning from opposition parties.  This can sometimes be one of the most entertaining and informative aspects of political interchange.  At times, the information gleaned shows how ill-prepared or superficial our politicians can be.  The institution of Parliamentary Question Time is one of the great strengths and virtues of the Westminster system of government.

In the vid below is an interchange between Andrew Little, Leader of the Opposition and John Key, the Prime Minister.  Now Little does not appear to be the sharpest pin in the cushion.  At times he appears tone deaf to political subtleties, but he soldiers on regardless.  In this particular characteristic he reminds one of Jeremy Corbyn, present leader of the Labour Party in the UK.

Watch Little go through his staff-prepared question sheet acting out a role--albeit woodenly and badly.