Thursday, 31 May 2018

Rolling Back Obamian Idiocy

Ending Obama’s Mixed-Sex Prison Policy

Neil Munro

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ deputies are ending President Barack Obama’s last-minute decision to impose the transgender ideology in federal prisons.  Obama’s January 2017 transgender policy directed prison officials to allow men to move into women’s prisons if the men claim a female “gender identity.”

Sessions’ revised policy says officials “will use biological sex as the initial determination” when assigning people to either male or female prisons, according to the policy document published May 11 by Buzzfeed.

Critics said Obama’s transgender policy would have created huge risks of rape because few people who say they are transgender have undergone genital cosmetic surgery, and few can pass as members of the opposite sex. For example, Obama’s policy would allow male criminals into women’s prisons and pressure women-who-say-they-are-men to live in men’s prisons.

Sessions’ new policy marks another step in reasserting the normal biology-based legal distinctions between female and male. Those distinctions were being scrubbed from the law by Obama’s pro-transgender policies. Trump has already begun reversing Obama’s pro-transgender policies in K-12 schools, in health care, and the military which now says it classifies soldiers’ sex by using the “bright line based on biological sex.”

Daily Meditation

Fostering Fear of God

Ligonier Ministries

I recently heard a young Christian remark, “I have no fear of dying.” When I heard this comment I thought to myself, “I wish I could say that.” I am not afraid of death. I believe that death for the Christian is a glorious transition to heaven. I am not afraid of going to heaven. It’s the process that frightens me. I don’t know by what means I will die. It may be via a process of suffering, and that frightens me. I know that even this shouldn’t frighten me. There are lots of things that frighten me that I shouldn’t let frighten me. The Scripture declares that perfect love casts out fear. But love is still imperfect, and fear hangs around.

There is one fear, however, that many of us do not have that we should have. It is the fear of God. Not only are we allowed to fear God, we are commanded to fear Him. A mark of reprobation is to have no fear of God before our eyes.

Martin Luther made an important distinction concerning the fear of God. He distinguished between servile fear and filial fear. He described servile fear as that kind of fear a prisoner has for his torturer. Filial fear is the fear of a son who loves his father and does not want to offend him or let him down. It is a fear born of respect. When the Bible calls us to fear God, it is issuing a call to a fear born of reverence, awe, and adoration. It is a respect of the highest magnitude.

Coram Deo

Ask God to give you filial fear for Him, an attitude of reverence, awe, and adoration.

A Loud Mouth Braggadocio Takes Some Hits

The Hunters And Their Dogs Sense Vulnerability

The received wisdom is that politics is a metaphorical blood sport.  Opposition parties tend to take no prisoners.  Nor do the media, when they sense a weak member of the herd.  Out come the hunting rifles, a few sighting rounds are fired, and if the prey remains transfixed, staring into the spotlight, it's all on.  

Folk in general tend to dismiss this aspect of democratic governments.  Often it appears childish.  But it does serve a vitally important function.  It helps keep politicians honest.  A politician facing the spotlight at the moment in New Zealand is Phil Twyford, a loud mouthed braggadocio who has a whole bunch of executive responsibilities.  Phil has been spotted in the glare of unwelcome publicity and the hounds are off the leash.

The first thing to note is that Twyford, otherwise known to his close friends as Tweeford, is the Minister of Housing.  There is apparently a shortage of "affordable housing" in New Zealand.  Up to the mark stepped Tweeford during the election campaign and he fair swiped the ball out of the park.  He promised that Labour and its cronies would build 100,000 new "affordable houses" above and beyond what would be built by the private sector.  Every challenge and question about the veracity of such a promise was dismissed with an arrogant snap of the fingers.  Phil knew best.

Now, however, the Opposition and the media have had a chance to look into the details.  What they have discovered is that there is nothing there at all.  Tweeford has been operating in Cloud Cookoo Land.  What's the problem?

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

" Between the Idea and the Reality . . . Falls the Shadow"

Media Coverage of the Israeli–Palestinian Clash Is Built on a Myth

Daniel Harsanyi
National Review Online

No matter how often Hamas tells us that rioters on the Israel–Gaza border are armed, the media keep referring to them as “protesters” and “demonstrators.” No matter how often Hamas concedes that those rioters are part of a broader “war,” the media simply won’t report it as such. And even though rioters assure reporters they have a desire to kill and burn Jews, left-wing journalists and pundits continue to frame Israel as the aggressor.

This week, a senior Hamas official bragged that 50 of the nearly 60 people killed by the Israeli Defense Forces at the Israel–Gaza border were members of Hamas. Israel has identified around 24 of those killed during the riots as Hamas members — ten of them reportedly members of the internal-security apparatus. All of this is an amazing coincidence considering how the clashes have been portrayed as a massacre of innocent civilians and children.

Hamas, of course, has no problem boasting about these deaths, but it’s the goal: If you’re going to embed armed terrorists in a ginned-up mob that has been propagandized, paid, coerced, and then sent toward military installations and civilian centers across the border, you are counting on casualties. Because martyrdom is the point.

Instead of taking them at their word, Hamas apologists continue arguing that Gaza is an open-air prison. This is true only if you consider people who lock themselves up as prisoners.

Daily Meditation

Casting Burdens Leads to Divine Sustenance

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."

Gagging Orders and The Urki

Instant Incarceration

One begins to get the sense that the governing authorities in the UK are speaking and acting more and more like their equivalents in the Third Reich or Stalin's show trials.  Over recent days the scandal of the arrest and instant imprisonment of Tommy Robinson has raised all sorts of questions.

The first questions concern the universal gag order upon the press by the sentencing judge.   So, readers need to be aware that some of the information in this piece is officially verboten and that the "good judge" has forbidden them to know about it.

Bruce Bawer, writing in Gatestone has been covering the story.  [Being a US organization, Gatestone is exempt from the gag.]  Here are the bare details:

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Bonfire of the Vanities Rages On

Gender-Exclusive Choirs Go Up in Smoke

Harvard Policy Forces Choirs to Accept Opposite Genders

Joel B. Pollak
Breitbart News

The Harvard Glee Club, the oldest collegiate choir in the nation, will open its membership to women, following new rules by the Harvard College administration that penalize students for joining same-sex organizations.

The Glee Club has been all-male since its founding in 1858. A companion all-female choir, the Radcliffe Choral Society, was established at neighboring Radcliffe College in 1899, and has continued to perform since Radcliffe was merged into Harvard.

Almost all western choral music is written for separate vocal parts — soprano and alto, for women; and tenor, baritone, and bass, for men. There are occasionally men who sing alto and women who sing tenor, but these are rare exceptions.

For centuries, choral music has made use of the biological differences between men and women to create harmonies — and to create unique sounds, in the case of music written for single-gender choirs.

There is already a mixed choir at Harvard, the Harvard Radcliffe Collegium Musicum. Though the leadership of the Glee Club told the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, that he does not foresee any musical changes to the group, it is not clear how the Glee Club and the Choral Society will offer musical repertoires that differ from the mixed Collegium Musicum, once they no longer maintain their traditional single-sex membership.

Daily Meditation

Planning for Eternity

Ligonier Ministries

What will the future be like? What will your income be in five years? What will your health be like in three years? Will civilization be safe for your children and your grandchildren? We ask questions like these, even if only to ourselves. Businesses and ministries also plan for the future, including five- and ten-year plans.

Do you have a two hundred-year plan? Obviously, you expect that you will have died by the end of that period.

What will your death have brought you? Job asked it this way: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14).

The Gallup Poll on Religion in America indicates that the majority of professing Christians believe in life after death. Most of those, however, reject any real idea of hell. The arguments for a heaven without a hell are based primarily not on sound biblical exegesis but on human sentiment. People simply prefer not to believe in hell. It is a subject very few can discuss dispassionately. Yet to deny the reality of hell, one must stand firmly opposed to the unambiguous teaching of Jesus.

Consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–26. This passage clearly indicates a great chasm between heaven and hell. It is unbridgeable. Where we are in eternity is where we will be in two hundred years. It is where we will be in two thousand years and in two million years.

The very point of this parable is that people are reluctant to heed the biblical warnings of a judgment that truly is final, with all further appeals exhausted (Luke 16:27–31).

Celebrating a License To Do Evil

The Irish Vote

So Ireland has decided to join the abortuary and kill its unborn children.  The media have been enthusiastically welcoming this "progressive" move.  People have been in the streets dancing.  Women's rights are what matters.  Protection for the unborn is never mentioned.  

Dr Susan Berry confirmed the "landslide" nature of the vote:
Ireland’s campaign to save the country’s Eighth Amendment, which bans abortion, is conceding it has lost Friday’s referendum by a landslide.  The people of Ireland “weighed it in the balance and it came down on one side. I obviously would have preferred if they had come down on the other,” John McGuirk, communications director for the “Save the 8th” campaign, told national broadcaster RTE, according to Reuters.  “There is no prospect of the (abortion rights) legislation not being passed,” McGuirk added.  Many who voted in favor of repeal are crying “tears of joy” with the prospect of abortion access in their country  [Breitbart London]
The issue has been framed as a vote for women's health.  The health of the most defenceless and dependant human beings in the nation will now be literally cut to pieces.  May God have mercy.

Dr Berry, however, points out what is also well known--at least amongst those who refuse to gild a malodorous lily.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Propaganda Constructs A False World

Homophobia Does Not Exist

It is Clearly an Invention’

Thomas D. Williams, PhD
Breitbart London

The former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office has denied the existence of “homophobia,” asserting that it is an invention of the gay lobby for “totalitarian domination” over the minds of others.
In a shock interview last week with Costanza Miriano, an Italian Catholic writer and mother of four children, German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller had strong words to say about the “International Day Against Homophobia” celebrated on May 17.

“Homophobia simply does not exist, it is clearly an invention, an instrument of totalitarian domination over the minds of others,” the cardinal said. “The homosexual movement lacks scientific arguments and therefore they have built an ideology that seeks to dominate, seeking to construct their own reality.”

The prelate tied strategies of the gay lobby to those employed by Marxists, in inventing a “phobia” for those that oppose them.  “It is the Marxist scheme, according to which it is not reality that forms thought, but thought that forms reality,” he said. “And so, whoever does not accept this reality must be considered sick.  As if, among other things, you could use police or the courts to combat a disease.”

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.

Unintended Consequences

The Religious Wars of the 21st Century

When homosexuality or polygamy or trans-genderism or abortion become recognised as human rights, Christians and the Christian faith are immediately in the crosshairs.  Why?  Because Christian conscience and praxis deny these activities are human rights.  

John Davidson describes how this is unfolding in some states in the increasingly Disunited States.
Ever since the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, we’ve been seeing myriad broader implications from the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell. From wedding cake bakers to event planners, if you dissented from the new regime you could have your livelihood taken from you. Now, the inexorable logic of Obergefell is bearing down on religious organizations that do social welfare work, as conservatives predicted.

Last week, a group of foster families in Philadelphia asked a federal court to end a new municipal policy that prevents Catholic Social Services from placing children in foster homes.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

A Witness Unto Death:

Bodies of Christian Martyrs Returned to Egypt

Barnabas Fund

Last week the bodies of the 20 Egyptian Christians martyred by Islamic State (IS) in Libya in 2015 were returned to Egypt. This is a very poignant reminder of IS’s activities, their systematic killing and their brutality. A total of 21 people were beheaded by IS including one Ghanaian. According to a video of the incident posted by IS, the martyred wore orange jumpsuits and were brutally murdered at a beach location in Sirte, an IS stronghold at the time. Their bodies were recovered when the area was recaptured from IS in October last year and eventually forensically identified by doctors.

These 20 were among the many displaced Egyptians who risked their lives trying to find work in an increasingly lawless and chaotic Libya, in the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall in 2011. Many hundreds of Christian families have since fled their homes in North Sinai in Egypt, fearing for their lives after IS issued death threats against all Christians in the region early in 2017.

Many Christians will have been moved by Foxe’s Book of Martyrs account of martyrdoms such as Tyndale, who was strangled and burnt at the stake, in obedience to Christ during the Reformation. It is difficult to imagine their suffering and faithfulness “unto death” (Revelation 2:10) in the Western church today, where Christians still enjoy relatively unrestricted freedom of belief and worship. The notion of “sacrifice” as part of Christian life has become abstract and perhaps more connected with giving up time, money, resources or personal comforts in Christian service.

Egyptian Christians often call martyrdom a “second baptism”.

Daily Meditation

God Works for You

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. (Psalm 121:1–3)

John Piper

Do you need help? I do. Where do you look for help?

When the Psalmist lifted up his eyes to the hills and asked, “From where does my help come?” he answered, “My help comes from the Lord” — not from the hills, but from the God who made the hills.

So he reminded himself of two great truths: one is that God is a mighty Creator over all the problems of life; the other is that God never sleeps.

God is a tireless worker. Think of God as a worker in your life. Yes, it is amazing. We are prone to think of ourselves as workers in God’s life. But the Bible wants us first to be amazed that God is a worker in our lives: “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

God is working for us around the clock. He does not take days off and he does not sleep. In fact he is so eager to work for us that he goes around looking for more work to do for people who will trust him: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is whole toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

God loves to show his tireless power and wisdom and goodness by working for people who trust him. Jesus was the main way the Father showed this: “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Jesus works for his followers. He serves them.

This is what we must believe — really believe — in order to “rejoice always” (Philippians 4:4) and “give thanks in everything” (Ephesians 5:20) and have the “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7), and “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6) and “hate our lives in this world” (John 12:25) and “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:39).

What a truth! What a reality! God is up all night and all day to work for those who wait for him.

Something Rotten in Scandinavia

Paradise Lost

For many long years the New Zealand Labour Party has been fascinated with Scandinavia.  The previous Labour politician, Helen Clark--Prime Minister for three parliamentary terms--was besotted with an ambition to make New Zealand more like Scandinavia.  One did not need to be a genius to understand the attraction: in Scandinavia the State provided all--at least all that was needed to live a comfortable life.  Clark and others wanted New Zealand to be remoulded into being the Scandinavia of the South Pacific.

One can understand the Left's fascination and enthusiasm for the Nordic utopia.  Tony Judt, in his magisterial Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (London: Vintage/Random House, 2010) summarizes the attraction of Scandinavia as it was in the 1970's:
To many foreign observers and most Scandinavians the results appeared to speak for themselves. . . . Scandinavians lived longer, healthier lives than most other people in the world (something that would have amazed the isolated, impoverished Nordic peasantry of three generations before.)  The provision of educational, welfare, medical, insurance, retirement and leisure services and facilities was unequalled. . . . By the mid-1960's, Europe's "frozen north" had acquired near-mythic status: the Scandinavian Social Democratic model might not be replicated readily elsewhere, but it was universally admired and widely envied.  [Judt, p.367.]
And so it was that the Left in New Zealand turned away from a slavish adulation of communism to the kind, gentle, non-authoritarian, inclusive democratic paradise of Scandinavia.  No labour camps in sight.  Socialism with a kind, human face.  What was there not to like?

But something was not right.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Obamacare Abortion-pill Mandate Struck Down

Cannot Force Christian Universities To Fund Abortions

Obama HHS Abortion Mandate Suffers Another Defeat

May 16, 2018

A federal district court issued an order Tuesday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate against four Christian universities in Oklahoma represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. The order also declares that the mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Obama-era mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception through their health plans under threat of heavy penalties. The Department of Justice, under the Trump administration, abandoned its defense of the flawed mandate, which the Department of Health and Human Services implemented during the previous administration.

“Religious organizations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government. Today’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.

“These universities no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs they teach and espouse, and they are no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs,” Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these drugs without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”

Daily Meditation

Anticipating Heaven

Ligonier Ministries

Do I as a living, breathing, conscious person have a concrete hope for my future? What do I have to look forward to? At times, when I discover that my own spirit is sagging and a sense of heaviness intrudes on me, I sometimes wonder why the gloomy cloud is perched above my head.

Biblical eschatology gives us solid reasons for expecting a personal continuity of life. Eternal life for the individual is not an empty human aspiration built on myth, but an assurance promised us by Christ Himself. His own triumph over the grave is the church’s hope for our participation in His life.

We have heard so much ridicule and mocking about pie-in-the-sky theology that I’m afraid we’ve lost our appetite for it. What the Scriptures promise for our future involves a lot more than a perpetual visit to Mother Butler’s. Jesus Christ and Simple Simon have very little in common.

The promise of heaven is indeed glorious—a promise that not only anchors the soul but fires the soul with hope. Life is not an outrageous horror, though we witness outrages daily. The outrage is not the bottom line. The sting of death has been overcome.

The victory of Christ is not established by platitudes or conjured-up positive mental attitudes. Jesus is not the Good Humor Man. His call to joy is rooted in reality: “Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Therein resides our future hope—that Christ has overcome the world. He stared directly into the face of death and death blinked.

Coram Deo

Reflect on this truth as you face your problems today: Jesus overcame the world and has given you the power to do likewise.

The Dislocations of the EU on Britain's Labour Market

Another Brexit Bonus?

Unrestricted migration has caused huge strains in UK society.  It has been one of the major failures of EU ideology.

We live in a time when people are mobile.  Labour was once seen as fixed--in location, or nation.  Capital, on the other hand, was mobile.  If labour were too expensive or in short supply, a business could move its capital offshore to jurisdictions where labour was more plentiful and less expensive.  It could set up its business in another country relatively easily.  But moving the entire work force to another country was almost impossible.

But now things have changed somewhat.  Labour (at least for the moment) is far more mobile than it used to be.  What this has meant is that migrants (often operating off a very low cost base) have been able to enter Britain and take jobs which otherwise British people would have taken.  The end result has been under-utilization of British labour, and an over-utilization of (cheaper, more mobile) migrant labour.  In this sense, business has never had it so good.  It has not had to move its plant and capital offshore (thereby saving costs); it could stay exactly where it was, and employ cheap migrant labour.  Consequently it is reaping the benefits of moving to an offshore, lower-cost labour market, without actually moving an inch.
As many of four million Brits cannot get a job or the work they would like because they are forced to compete with a “virtually unlimited pool” of migrant workers from the European Union (EU), a report has said.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Social Action To Be Thankful For

Chattanooga: A City Abortion-Free for 25 Years


Twenty-five years ago, Chattanooga was embroiled in a heated debate over abortion. Today, all is quiet. Both abortion clinics are closed. Six area hospitals stopped doing abortions and Planned Parenthood left town.  Not one doctor in town will admit to doing elective pregnancy terminations.

Many have remarked that "Chattanooga is an abortion-free city done right." Even a local doctor who used to do abortions stated, "I think the pro-lifers here have been very responsible.  They have used political, economic and social pressure to push their agenda, not violence." -- Chattanooga Times, 2/27/95

Others at the time made similar observations. A local medical ethics professor said, "To speak in favor of abortion in this town is like saying that you are in favor of sin."  This Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. there will be a "Give Thanks to God" service at the National Memorial to the Unborn at 6230 Vance Rd. The public is invited to come and hear and give testimonies, sing and give thanks to God.

"This Sunday people of our city will come together to celebrate 25 years of being abortion-free. We give thanks to God," said Charles Wysong, president of American Rights Coalition an organization that helps women sue abortion clinics for malpractice and is one of the organizers of the event. "Abortion may be legal but malpractice is not," he declared.

"Seeing Chattanooga become abortion-free is a great story, and we have created a website to help other cities become abortion-free," said Wysong.

Daily Meditation

Jesus Knows His Sheep

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them. (John 10:27)

John Piper

Jesus knows those who are his. What is this knowledge?

John 10:3 is a close parallel to verse 27. It says, “The sheep hear his voice, he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out.”  So when Jesus says, “I know them,” this means at least that he knows them by name; that is, he knows them individually and intimately. They are not anonymous, lost in the flock.

Verse 14 provides another insight: “I am the good shepherd, and I know my own and my own know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”  There is a real similarity between the way Jesus knows his Father in heaven and the way he knows his sheep. Jesus sees himself in the Father, and he sees himself in his disciples.

To some degree Jesus recognizes his own character in his disciples. He sees his own brand mark on the sheep.  He is like a husband waiting for his wife at the airport, watching as each person disembarks from the plane. When she appears, he knows her, he recognizes her features, he delights in her, she is the only one he embraces.

The apostle Paul puts it like this: “The firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are his’” (2 Timothy 2:19).

It is hard to overemphasize what a tremendous privilege it is to be known personally, intimately, lovingly by the Son of God. It is a precious gift to all his sheep, and it contains within it the promise of eternal life.

Rare Bipartisan Co-Operation

No Rednecks Here

There are some proposals for prison reform in the US which are bipartisan and have begun making their way through the legislature.
With a prison reform bill working its way through Congress, President Donald Trump gave the effort a significant boost Friday by asking Congress to get a bill attacking the issue to his desk, The Hill reported.  The First Step Act recently made it through the House Judiciary Committee last week with a 25-to-5 vote.  “There is no substitute for personal accountability and there is no tolerance for those who take advantage of society’s generosity to prey upon the innocent,” Trump said. “But if we want more prisoners to take charge of their own lives, then we should work to give them the tools to stand on their own two feet.”  [The Blaze]
This sort of thing rarely gets huge press coverage.  It's too boring.  It lacks sensational punch, so is often overlooked.  On the other hand, there are have been lots of similar or related proposals in the US over the years.  What's in this one?
The House of Representatives is currently considering a bill that is referred to as the First Step Act. The full title is the “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.”  . . . .

The bill seeks to reduce the recidivism rate by improving conditions and development opportunities for inmates in federal prisons, allowing them the chance to be job-ready upon their release and lowering the chances that they fall back into the same criminal lifestyle that caused them to be incarcerated in the first place.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow, Idaho

Gadsden Love

Douglas Wilson

The second greatest commandment is that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Lev. 19:18). The command presupposes that we love ourselves, and tells us to render that same kind of love to our neighbor.

This became problematic for conservative believers over the last generation or so because representatives of our therapeutic and sentimental times constructed an imperative for the narcissistic self out of it. You can’t love your neighbor until you learn to wuvvv yourself—which structurally was sound enough. All the poison was found in how they were defining love—warm, sentimental treacle, sticky with self-flattering affirmations about how God “don’t make no junk.”

But love is not to be defined as sentimental self-affirmation, or affirmation. Love means treating someone lawfully from the heart. Sin is lawlessness, John tells us (1 John 3:4). Love is the fulfillment of the law, as Paul says: 
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8–10).
You say you love a man? Respect his goods. And if you don’t respect his goods, it doesn’t matter how soaring your emotions might be concerning him.

Daily Meditation

The Freest Love

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it; yet the LORD set his heart in love upon your fathers and chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as at this day. (Deuteronomy 10:14–15)

John Piper

God’s electing love is absolutely free. It is the gracious overflow of his boundless happiness guided by his infinite wisdom.

Deuteronomy 10:14–15 describes the delight God had in choosing Israel from all the peoples of the earth. Notice two things.

First, notice the contrast between verses 14 and 15. Why does Moses describe the election of Israel against the backdrop of God’s ownership of the whole universe? Why does he say in verse 14, “To God belongs everything in heaven and on earth” and then say in verse 15, “Yet he chose you for his people”?

The reason seems to be to get rid of any notion that God was somehow hedged in to choose this people. The point is to explode the myth that each people has its own god and this god has a right to his own people but no more.

The truth is that this is the only true God. He owns everything in the universe and can take any people he wants for his own special possession.  Thus the unspeakably wonderful truth for Israel is that he chose them. He did not have to. He had rights and privileges to choose absolutely any people on the face of the earth for his redeeming purposes.

Therefore, when he calls himself “their God” he does not mean that he is on a par with the gods of Egypt or the gods of Canaan. He owns those gods and their peoples. If it had pleased him, he could have chosen a totally different people to accomplish his purposes.  The point of putting verses 14 and 15 together in this way is to stress the freedom and the universal rights and authority of God.

The second thing to notice (in verse 15) is the way God exercises his sovereign freedom to “set his love upon the fathers.” “He delighted in your fathers to love them.” He freely chose to take pleasure in loving the fathers.

God’s love for the fathers of Israel was free and merciful and wasn’t constrained by anything that the fathers were in their Jewishness or in their virtue.

Kim Jong-Un Has Little Room to Move

The "Idi Amin" Solution May Beckon

An interesting piece out of Australia has appeared in our local rag.  It is quite some time since we read about the dire internal threats facing North Korea.  Yet, the fact remains that Kim Jong-un is between the proverbial rock and a very hard place.  He faces a threat that historically, in the past one hundred years, has brought down more dictatorships than anything else.

That threat has not been war (although all totalitarian states place their countries on a permanent war footing).  The threat has been people power.  Their own people.  Totalitarian states, those that have imposed secular atheism by force throughout the twentieth century, have ended not with the a bang, but the proverbial whimper.

The article quotes Professor Kim Dong-yup, director of research at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, who has personal experience dealing with North Korea's negotiating tactics, having taken part in previous military talks between the North and South.
Prof Kim said the country's people, brutally oppressed by the regime for so long, are becoming more aware of the outside world and harder to control, so are less likely to tolerate continued economic malaise.  "Given the context, that the North Korean people have access to five million mobile phones and numerous markets where they can access information, the regime simply cannot be sustained through control and oppression," he said.  "The biggest thing Kim Jong-un is fearful of is not the pressure from the outside world it is his people. So he has made the strategic decision that by keeping nuclear weapons, he will not make his people happy and will not ensure his regime's survival.  [NZ Herald.  Emphasis, ours.]
The last thirty years of the previous century teache us what happens when countries build walls not for defence, but to keep their people inside the stockade.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

More on Trump Derangement Syndrome

Democratic Hysteria

Why Trump Won The Election

By Marc A. Thiessen
The Washington Post

If you want to understand why Donald Trump is president today (and why he could very well win a second term), look to the Democrats’ hysterical response to two of Trump’s major foreign policy achievements over the past week.

Last Thursday, the president traveled to Joint Base Andrews to greet three American hostages whose release he had secured from North Korea. Unlike his predecessor, Trump did it without sending the offending regime an unmarked plane loaded with hundreds of millions in hard currency. The return of these American captives should have been a moment of celebration and bipartisan unity.

So how did Democrats respond? By blasting Trump for the way he welcomed the U.S. hostages home. The pretext for their outrage was Trump’s comment thanking Kim Jong Un, who he said “really was excellent to these three incredible people” — by which Trump obviously meant releasing them. No matter. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) took the Senate floor to attack Trump for his “troubling” remarks. “Kim Jong Un is a dictator” who “capriciously detained American citizens,” Schumer declared, channeling Captain Obvious, and warned that, by praising Kim, Trump “weakens American foreign policy and puts American citizens at risk around the world.”

Seriously? How do Democrats take a positive event such as the release of American hostages and turn it into an excuse to attack Trump? Apparently, Trump Derangement Syndrome is so debilitating that Democrats can’t bring themselves to say “Good job, Mr. President,” even when he brings our hostages home. Before, Democrats complained that Trump was too belligerent toward Kim; now, they’re upset that he is too effusive.

Daily Meditation

We Are Asking For What He Has Already 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.

Censorship and Media Manipulation in Gaza, Part I

Hamas In Control

A couple of days ago we posted a piece on the strategy of Hamas in the recent turmoil in Gaza.  Further to that theme, we direct your attention to an article in The Atlantic back in November 2014 by Matti Friedman, then a member of the "Press Corps" covering Israel.  

That year was in the midst of yet another "Gaza War".  The "War" has began again: same issues, same actors, same duplicity, and same prejudice on the part of the media covering the events.  They are now the "useful idiots" on the scene, to take up Lenin's alleged phrase.
During the Gaza war this summer, it became clear that one of the most important aspects of the media-saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered: the press itself. The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.

An essay I wrote for Tablet on this topic in the aftermath of the war sparked intense interest. In the article, based on my experiences between 2006 and 2011 as a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press, one of the world’s largest news organizations, I pointed out the existence of a problem and discussed it in broad terms. Using staffing numbers, I illustrated the disproportionate media attention devoted to this conflict relative to other stories, and gave examples of editorial decisions that appeared to be driven by ideological considerations rather than journalistic ones. I suggested that the cumulative effect has been to create a grossly oversimplified story—a kind of modern morality play in which the Jews of Israel are displayed more than any other people on earth as examples of moral failure. This is a thought pattern with deep roots in Western civilization. [Matti Friedman, The Atlantic.]
He goes on to describe the incestuous relationships between the omni-present NGO's, the media and  the UN in Israel.  This leads to an institutional blindness to the activist roles played by NGO's and the UN.  It is only recently that some "bad press" has emerged on the immorality and moral depredations of the staff of organizations like Oxfam.
Confusion over the role of the press explains one of the strangest aspects of coverage here—namely, that while international organizations are among the most powerful actors in the Israel story, they are almost never reported on. Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know, because these groups are to be quoted, not covered. Journalists cross from places like the BBC to organizations like Oxfam and back. The current spokesman at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, for example, is a former BBC man. A Palestinian woman who participated in protests against Israel and tweeted furiously about Israel a few years ago served at the same time as a spokesperson for a UN office, and was close friends with a few reporters I know. And so forth.
These organizations long ago ceased to be "neutrals"; rather they became partisan actors doing the bidding of the Islamic extremists in the region.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Left Arrogance Plays Into Trump's Hands

Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think

By Gerard Alexander
New York Times

Mr. Alexander is a professor of political science at the University of Virginia.

. . .  Many liberals are very smart. But they are not as smart, or as persuasive, as they think.  And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected. . . . (M)embers of political tribes seem to have trouble recognizing that they, too, can push people away and energize them to vote for the other side. Nowhere is this more on display today than in liberal control of the commanding heights of American culture. . . .

Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.

But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.

Daily Meditation

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.

Oh How Clever We Are . . .

Crime and Punishment

The present NZ Government appears all at sea over crime and criminality.  In a nutshell, its naive and simplistic view is that crime is caused by social problems.  Fix society's problems within the sectors of Health, Education, and Welfare, and crime would drop away to nothing.  As is always the case, the Left runs this reductionist absurdity with a high octane dose of self-righteousness.

The Left sees itself as compassionate and nuanced on the matter.  It is deeply aware of the social causes of crime and criminality which have captured people, turning them into criminals.  It's love for such disadvantaged folk who have ended up in the prison system quickly morphs into self-righteousness.  It characterizes its ideological opponents as cruel, simplistic, narrow, and bigoted.  This implies that the Left is compassionate, nuanced, sophisticated, and broad-minded.

  • The Left presents itself as intelligent, advanced, and sophisticated.  It refuses to address criminality in a superficial manner.  It relishes the complexity of the social causes of crime because to pontificate and meditate upon such things creates a self-image of Leftist sophistication and intelligence.  Those who oppose Leftist sophistication are easily and readily characterised as red-necks.
  • The Left relishes the prospect of the State being cast as the Saviour and Redeemer of society.  Prisons are essentially negative in the "solutions" they offer to crime.  They punish by their very nature.  But the Left sees  that as both negative and cruel.  On the other hand, to use the power, resources, and functions of the State to redeem people from criminal lifestyles, is a high and holy calling.

At this point, the Left is feeling really good about itself.  Oozing moral superiority it stands forth as the Great Solution to NZ crime and criminality. Cue Andrew Little, the present Minister of Justice.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Ocean Clean-Up: Another Ill-informed, Misdirected Mania

Plastic Bans Are Stupid:  Won’t Save the Whales

James Delingpole
Breitbart Big Government

From the U.S. to the European Union to Australia, the West is waging war on plastic.
It’s the latest moral panic. Soon, we’re told, there will be more plastic in the sea than there are fish. The floating island of plastic known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now three times the size of France. Fish are becoming so addicted to pollution they actually prefer plastic microbeads to real food. It’s killing whales. Etc. Etc.

Of course I can see why governments are keen to be seen responding to this terrible threat. If you’re as desperately useless as Theresa May’s UK government, for example, it makes perfect sense to try to distract everyone from your incompetence by launching bold anti-plastic initiatives which get you a big thumbs up from national treasures like Sir David Attenborough and which don’t cost the public purse much money.

But I wish they wouldn’t bother. As this article from Inside Sources demonstrates – and it really ought to be required reading for all those bansturbators out there working themselves into a righteous frenzy about just how Medieval they’re going to get on plastic’s ass – these plastic bans, in the West at any rate, are a complete waste of space.

Daily Meditation

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 Second Great Awakening?

The Coming of the Lord

Most are familiar with the historical Great Awakening.  It was a remarkable revival of true Christianity that occurred in the eighteenth century, primarily in the United Kingdom and in the eastern United States.

Now there is talk of the United States being on the verge of another awakening, another Christian revival.  Of course, it's too early to tell.  Moreover, as one church historian observed, such broad and deep movements of the Spirit of God are often difficult to discern at the time.  They are more clearly seen in hindsight.  For example, Western Europe was totally unaware of the thunderstorm which cracked overhead whilst a solitary lawyer trembled in fright in the early sixteenth century.  Yet it was that prosaic weather event which set in train the conversion of one Martin Luther whose subsequent preaching and teaching shook the foundations of a rotting church.  Out of this came the Reformation, one of the greatest revivals of true, biblical religion since the time of the apostles.

Some are claiming to see signs of a genuine revival in the United States.  Once again, it's probably too early to be definitive on such things.  So, we should take the following with a sprinkling of caution.  Nevertheless, there is room for encouragement here.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Farce On An International Scale

Backing Down Quietly

Here is a story which appears to have gained no traction whatsoever in the media:  China is backing out of its commitment to "fight global warming".   In New Zealand we witnessed an outpouring of euphoria from every quarter when the Paris Agreement was signed.  But, on this latest development, we have seen and heard nada. 

Ah, how we long for a return of genuine media scepticism.  Sadly, at least in this country, the media has morphed into a non-synchronised bunch of misfit cheerleaders when it comes to the subject of Global Warming. 

Caution: you are now entering a truth zone.  Do not read further if you crave your personal "safe place".

Climate Change Conference Collapses

China Backs Down from Emission Commitments

by John J. Xenakis

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Climate change activists struggle to replace U.S. climate change money
  • China backs out of its climate change commitments with ‘bifurcation’
 Climate change activists struggle to replace U.S. climate change money

After two weeks, an international climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, attended by delegates from over 200 countries, has ended in failure, without agreement on the major issues of finance and transparency.

Climate change finance has been in trouble from the beginning.

Daily Meditation

A Rich and Bountiful Giver

Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our Lord Jesus is ever giving, and does not for a solitary instant withdraw his hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be stayed. He is a sun ever-shining; he is manna always falling round the camp; he is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from his smitten side; the rain of his grace is always dropping; the river of his bounty is ever-flowing, and the well-spring of his love is constantly overflowing.

As the King can never die, so his grace can never fail. Daily we pluck his fruit, and daily his branches bend down to our hand with a fresh store of mercy. There are seven feast-days in his weeks, and as many as are the days, so many are the banquets in his years. Who has ever returned from his door unblessed? Who has ever risen from his table unsatisfied, or from his bosom un-emparadised? His mercies are new every morning and fresh every evening. Who can know the number of his benefits, or recount the list of his bounties? Every sand which drops from the glass of time is but the tardy follower of a myriad of mercies. The wings of our hours are covered with the silver of his kindness, and with the yellow gold of his affection. The river of time bears from the mountains of eternity the golden sands of his favour. The countless stars are but as the standard bearers of a more innumerable host of blessings.

Who can count the dust of the benefits which he bestows on Jacob, or tell the number of the fourth part of his mercies towards Israel? How shall my soul extol him who daily loadeth us with benefits, and who crowneth us with loving-kindness? O that my praise could be as ceaseless as his bounty! O miserable tongue, how canst thou be silent? Wake up, I pray thee, lest I call thee no more my glory, but my shame. "Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake right early."

Why Has Gaza Got All Wound Up Again?

Human Shields

Gaza is in the news once again.  It is not the first time.  It will almost certainly not be the last.  What we see on display--as we have so many times before--is the ruthless, hate-filled machinations of Hamas, using its own population as human shields.  

To be sure, when the citizens of Gaza get on the bus and ride to the border fence with Israel, then start storming the fence, they are face to face with deadly force that could well kill them.  But what you don't see is armed Hamas guerrilla fighters up front and centre.  That is not the objective.  Their objective has a propaganda point to make.  Their citizens are little more than "useful idiots".  The objective of Hamas is to isolate Israel and turn the rest of the world into an Israel-hating phalanx in the hope that Israel will be ultimately be destroyed.

Just how much the civilian bus-riders believe in Hamas and its violent extremism is hard to tell. What is clear us us is that Hamas could not care a fig for the citizens it is supposed to protect and nurture.  Using them as human shields and front-line cannon fodder does not really fit the bill of protecting and nurturing.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

The Kim Jong-Un Porky Award Goes To . . .

Phil Twyford, NZ Minister of Housing

If Twyford Can't Phil us in on KiwiBuy/Build, Who Can?

Duncan Garner

Seriously, what has Labour and its MPs been doing these last nine years? Eating their lunch?  We'd been led to believe its flagship Kiwibuild idea was this amazing, smart and innovative housing policy.  We'd been told it was an answer to the housing crisis for those who couldn't get into their first home.

I was thinking wow, our best architects and planners had come up with something very new and impressive and all on a large scale. I was thinking, think big, but 2018 style. And I assumed KiwiBuild meant just that;  as Housing Minister Phil Twyford said, 100,000 homes would be built.

Now we learn, um no, that's not the case. It's Kiwibuy, that house, your house, any house will do.

Labour has simply thrown its arms up in the air and put up a classified advertisement the size of a house that calls for all houses to be bought and sold as Kiwibuild dwellings. Labour wants the biggest shortcut to success possible.  It wants to buy current homes under construction or off the plans and call them Kiwibuild's own. It's a total hoax.

Daily Meditation

Why We Should Love Our Enemies

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.  (Luke 6:27)

John Piper

There are two main reasons why Christians should love their enemies and do good to them.

One is that it reveals something of the way God is. God is merciful.

“He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
So when Christians live this way, we show something of what God is like.

The second reason is that the hearts of Christians are satisfied with God and are not driven by the craving for revenge or self-exaltation or money or earthly security.

God has become our all-satisfying treasure and so we don’t treat our adversaries out of our own sense of need and insecurity, but out of our own fullness with the satisfying glory of God.

Hebrews 10:34: “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property [that is, without retaliation], since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” What takes away the compulsion of revenge is our deep confidence that this world is not our home, and that God is our utterly sure and all-satisfying reward.

So in both these reasons for loving our enemy we see the main thing: God is shown to be who he really is as a merciful God and as gloriously all-satisfying.

The ultimate reason for being merciful is to glorify God — to make him look great in the eyes of man.

Making the Most Out of Failure

Propaganda, Faux-Reality, And Truth

In the past few days, the North Korean regime has been snake-oiling prodigiously.  Its propaganda machine has been operating at peak capacity.  It has been trumpeting its universal good-citizenship.  It has decided to destroy forever its underground nuclear testing site.  This surely must "prove" its good faith in the upcoming talks with the United States.  

Sadly, in a regime so out of touch with truth, lying is perpetual.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

What Genocide Really Looks Like

China's New Gulag

The mass incarceration of a minority people

Jay Nordlinger
National Review Online

In the April 30 issue of this magazine, we published a piece about Jerome A. Cohen, a veteran American scholar of China. He told me that he was consumed, at present, by one thing above all: the mass incarceration of the Uyghur people, with no due process whatsoever. It reminded him of Austria and Germany, where some 40 of his relatives were murdered.

Jerry Cohen is a judicious and experienced man, not the kind given to alarms. So, when he talks this way, you listen. He further said that the Uyghurs were getting precious little attention from the world press. We will give them a little here.

What attention there is, is mainly coming from Radio Free Asia. This is a sister organization to RFE/RL (a combination of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty). RFA has a Uyghur service, the only one outside of China (and therefore the only honest one). It is staffed by Uyghur Americans — who pay a terrible price. So do their families, trapped in China. Relatives of six staffers have been rounded up, in retaliation for the work done by the staffers. Gulchehra Hoja is one of these staffers. A full 24 of her relatives have been rounded up.

For the Chinese government, this is standard operating procedure.

Daily Meditation

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.”

The Glory of the Saviour Uncloaked

‘These Bombs Led Me to Christ’

The “Napalm Girl” from a famous Vietnam War photo tells her story of coming to faith.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi

‘These Bombs Led Me to Christ’

You have seen my picture a thousand times. It’s a picture that made the world gasp—a picture that defined my life. I am nine years old, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier, arms outstretched, naked, shrieking in pain and fear, the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance.

My own people, the South Vietnamese, had been bombing trade routes used by the Viet Cong rebels. I had not been targeted, of course. I had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those bombs have brought me immeasurable pain. Even now, some 40 years later, I am still receiving treatment for burns that cover my arms, back, and neck.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Too Good To Be True

Saudi Church-Building Deal Dismissed as “Fake news”

The Barnabas Fund

Claims that Saudi Arabia had agreed with the Vatican to allow the building of churches for the first time in its history were dismissed as “fake news” this week. News reports in the Egyptian press claimed on 4 May that Saudi Arabia had made a deal with the Vatican to construct churches for “Christian citizens”.

But the Vatican later denied any such deal had been made, and the Egypt Independent, the original source of the story, removed the article from its website.

The paper had originally stated that the Muslim World League, an organisation funded by the Saudi Government and which promotes Islamic teachings, had signed the deal with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

The report did not state whether any churches would potentially be built in Saudi Arabia itself.

The country follows a strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and it is impossible for anyone living in the country to openly practise Christianity. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians from other nations, such as the Philippines, other parts of Asia, or African countries, who are living and working in Saudi Arabia. But they must meet in private homes to worship, and risk harassment, arrest and deportation if they are caught doing so.

The number of Saudi citizens who are Christians is known only to God. As converts from Islam they are liable to execution for apostasy, and therefore most are secret believers.

Daily Meditation

We Inherit All of Christ with Him

Joint heirs with Christ. Romans 8:17

Charles H. Spurgeon

The boundless realms of his Father's universe are Christ's by prescriptive right. As "heir of all things," he is the sole proprietor of the vast creation of God, and he has admitted us to claim the whole as ours, by virtue of that deed of joint-heirship which the Lord hath ratified with his chosen people.

The golden streets of paradise, the pearly gates, the river of life, the transcendent bliss, and the unutterable glory, are, by our blessed Lord, made over to us for our everlasting possession. All that he has he shares with his people. The crown royal he has placed upon the head of his Church, appointing her a kingdom, and calling her sons a royal priesthood, a generation of priests and kings. He uncrowned himself that we might have a coronation of glory; he would not sit upon his own throne until he had procured a place upon it for all who overcome by his blood. Crown the head and the whole body shares the honour. Behold here the reward of every Christian conqueror!

Christ's throne, crown, sceptre, palace, treasure, robes, heritage, are yours. Far superior to the jealousy, selfishness, and greed, which admit of no participation of their advantages, Christ deems his happiness completed by his people sharing it. "The glory which thou gavest me have I given them." "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." The smiles of his Father are all the sweeter to him, because his people share them. The honours of his kingdom are more pleasing, because his people appear with him in glory.

More valuable to him are his conquests, since they have taught his people to overcome. He delights in his throne, because on it there is a place for them. He rejoices in his royal robes, since over them his skirts are spread. He delights the more in his joy, because he calls them to enter into it.

North Koreans May Copy the East German Precedent

When Citizens Face Imprisoning Fences

There are a few examples in recent history of nation-states ceasing to exist almost overnight.  One of these is East Germany.  On one occasion, whilst gingerly feeling its way forward, East Germany opened its borders to West Germany for a day.  The authorities expected that a few East Germans would wander across, look around out of curiosity, and return to the East.  Some indeed did the sight-seeing trip.  But thousands crossed the border that day and did not return.  It was the end of the new beginning.  The German Democratic Republic itself was in its death throes.  And everybody knew it. 

A significant component of this event was that citizens on both sides of the border viewed themselves fundamentally as Germans.  It was their racial, ethnic identity.  We are now confronted with another possible people led re-unification--namely, Korea.  There are several salient similarities with the case of people-led German re-unification.  The ethnic, racial, cultural and historical ties that link the two as one are an example.  Both North and South view themselves as Koreans.

There is lots that we do not know.  But by all accounts the state of life and the suffering of the common people in North Korea is atrocious.  Meanwhile, over the border, down south, there is a rapidly modernising, peaceful, prosperous Asian Tiger.

The North Korean regime is typical of totalitarian dictatorships.  It long ago lost touch with reality and can no longer distinguish reality from propaganda.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Letter From America (About Genderism)

The Transgender Debate

Conservatives Can’t Compromise the Truth

By David French
National Review Online

Over on the home page, J.J. McCullough has penned a piece urging a “compromise on transgenderism,” but as I read it, this proposed compromise looks a lot like capitulation. While J.J. rightly notes that the Left has overreached in its “effort to strong-arm sweeping social change as a flex of their power,” he asks conservatives to essentially abandon their central argument and accept the radical left’s premise that a man can be a woman or a woman can be a man. This paragraph stands out: 
Though transgenderism is a far rarer phenomenon than homosexuality, I think most adults could admit it does seem like a rather persistent aspect of humanity. Most can probably recall a transgender person making at least some minor appearance in their life. If we concede that transgenderism is not going away, and is not something anyone intends to exert effort toward ending, then Americans, especially conservative ones, should reflect on our culture’s honest and fair attitude toward homosexuality and acknowledge that the most sensible path out of the present acrimony will probably require similar compromise. Some degree of cultural ceasefire and consensus seems the only path for both sides to maintain a degree of pride while avoiding a more radical, disruptive societal transformation. (Emphasis added.)

I can acknowledge that gender dysphoria is a “persistent aspect of humanity,” but I will not concede that gender dysphoria trumps biology, and I don’t think our culture should cease efforts towards “ending” the dangerous notion that men or women should amputate healthy organs in the quest to sculpt their bodies to become something they’re not. Gender dysphoria may not “go away,” but transgenderism is something else entirely. Our culture is in the midst of a live and important dispute over the very nature of biological reality — and over the psychological and spiritual health of hundreds of thousands of precious souls — and now is not the time to abandon the field.

Daily Meditation

Labour and Toil For the King--With Great Joy

Only be thou strong and very courageous.  Joshua 1:7

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our God's tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage.

Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do.

When we are desponding we are subject to a grievous malady, not to be trifled with, but to be carried at once to the beloved Physician. Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus that no one should come into the king's court dressed in mourning: this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still he would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice.

The Christian man ought to be of a courageous spirit, in order that he may glorify the Lord by enduring trials in an heroic manner. If he be fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonour his God. Besides, what a bad example it is. This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic which soon spreads amongst the Lord's flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up, Satan will be too much for you. Let your spirit be joyful in God your Saviour, the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, and no fiend of hell shall make headway against you; but cowardice throws down the banner. Moreover, labour is light to a man of cheerful spirit; and success waits upon cheerfulness.

The man who toils, rejoicing in his God, believing with all his heart, has success guaranteed. He who sows in hope shall reap in joy; therefore, dear reader, "be thou strong, and very courageous."

It's a Mad World

Ideationism and the White Witch

Every so often the vacuity of Unbelief and rebellion against God is revealed in startling fashion.  In a recent example, an "expert" in child rearing was arguing that babies ought to be consulted before their nappies (diapers) were changed.
‘Sexuality expert’ and author Deanne Carson has attracted mass ridicule after suggesting babies should “give consent” to having their nappies/diapers changed by their parents.

Speaking to ABC News (Australia), Carson was asked what age clients she works with.  She replied: “We work with children from three years old, we work with parents from birth”.  “From birth?” the host responds, to which Carson smugly retorts:

“Yeah, just about how to set up a culture of consent in their homes. So, ‘I’m going to change your nappy now, is that ok?’  Of course the baby isn’t going to respond, ‘Yes mum that’s awesome, I’d love to have my nappy changed’. But if you leave a space and wait for body language and wait to make eye contact then you’re letting that child know that their response matters”. [Raheem Kassam, Breitbart London]
Carson (allegedly) has an extensive consulting practice in how to raise children--and, of course, teaching them gender neutrality, trans-genderism, and human sexuality.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Lusting After Methuselah

Can Death Be Abolished?

by Geoff Chapman
Creation Ministries International

There is no doubt that life expectancy is higher than a century ago.  There are now 14,000 centenarians in Britain, and according to the Office of National Statistics, one in three of today’s babies will live to see their 100th birthday. Some scientists and medical experts are even claiming that ageing could be delayed indefinitely.

Postponing death?

Can we really cheat death? Life, death and time are pictured in this 17th-century painting by Philippe de Champaigne.


British doctor Dr Aubrey de Grey believes people who have already been born could live for ten centuries because of ongoing research being done into “repairing the effects of ageing”. He hopes ultimately to create treatments that mean death could be postponed by constantly repairing our bodies, so that we can live as long as 1,000 years or possibly even forever.

Dr de Grey founded the aptly-named Methuselah Foundation. Its website states that, “By advancing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, we want to create a world where 90-year olds can be as healthy as 50-year olds—by 2030.”

Daily Meditation

A People for His Name

Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14)

John Piper

It is scarcely possible to overemphasize the centrality of the fame of God in motivating the mission of the church.

When Peter had his world turned upside down by the vision of unclean animals in Acts 10, and by the lesson from God that he should evangelize Gentiles as well as Jews, he came back to Jerusalem and told the apostles that it was all owing to God’s zeal for his name. We know this because James summed up Peter’s speech like this: “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14).

It’s not surprising that Peter would say that God’s purpose was to gather a people for his name; because the Lord Jesus had stung Peter some years earlier with an unforgettable lesson.

You recall that, after a rich young man turned away from Jesus and refused to follow him, Peter said to Jesus, “Look, we have left everything and followed you [unlike this rich fellow]. What then shall we have?” Jesus responded with a mild rebuke, which in effect said that there is no ultimate sacrifice when you live for the name of the Son of Man. “Every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

The truth is plain: God is pursuing with omnipotent delight a worldwide purpose of gathering a people for his name from every tribe and language and nation (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the fame of his name among the nations.

Therefore when we bring our affections in line with his, and, for the sake of his name, renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join his global purpose, God’s omnipotent commitment to his name is over us and we cannot lose, in spite of many tribulations (Acts 9:16; Romans 8:35–39).

The Man Who Would Put Things Right

Cuddling Up To Recidivist Criminals

Andrew Little, Minister of Justice in New Zealand, is committed to removing New Zealand's Three Strikes Law.  He calls it a total failure.  In so doing he is being disingenuous--and he knows it.  The NZ Three Strikes law was carefully crafted to ensure that it gradually came in effect over time, allowing offenders plenty of warning of the increasing penalties they faced if they continued to commit serious crimes.  

Moreover, the law as passed was scrupulous to ensure that judges had the right to override the law in the event of unintended outcomes.  But Little argues that the ineffectiveness of the law is proven by the fact that over eight years, it has not reduced crime one little bit, and no-one has received a third strike sentence.  He well knows that it the law was intended to come into force gradually and it is only now that our worst recidivist offenders are facing their final Third Strike, meaning a mandatory,  fully served sentence would be handed down.  But, says Little in a master stroke of duplicity, the fact that it has made no difference over eight years "proves" the law has failed.

Friday, 11 May 2018

A Story of Two Korean Refugees

They escaped Kim Jong Un

Starting Over in New Zealand

Lincoln Tan
NZ Herald

A woman who says she was once picked as a potential sex slave to North Korea's political elite and another who claims she was trafficked for four years in China have come to New Zealand with dreams of starting new lives.

Bora Choe, 24, and Sue Park, 26 - who are being housed in a secret location in Auckland - are among a group of five women brought here by a Christian group Love Your Neighbour Charity Trust. . . . Choe dreams of becoming a bible teacher and Park wants to be a nurse, and described their lives back in Kim Jong Un's North Korea as a "living hell" and remain cynical about the regime's intentions.

Standing at a height of almost 1.7m, the attractive Choe is considered tall by North Korean standards. At 14, she was selected at school by Kim's government officials to become one of the "nation's brides".  North Korea's sex slavery practice recently made the news when it was claimed that its 230 strong all-female cheerleading squad at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are also forced to provide sexual services to Kim's top aides.

Choe was born in Chŏngjin, the capital of Hamgyong Province and the country's third largest city. She said officials would come to schools there selecting girls based on their height and beauty.  "Like the other girls I actually don't know what they have chosen us for except that it is to work for the nation," Choe said.  "As a young girl at that time I felt happy and honoured to be selected."

Choe went through assessments for her beauty, skin and health but was dropped when officials found out that her grandfather was Chinese. Her mother had also defected to South Korea.

Every North Korean is expected to show allegiance to Kim's Workers Party of Korea.

Daily Meditation

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).

Rugby's Collective Versus Free Speech

The Hum of the Hive

"The team is the thing!"  Australian rugby boss, Raelene Castle is caught in a cleft stick over Israel Folau.  She says its the hardest thing she has ever had to deal with.  At least she is making an effort to deal with the Folau's beliefs that unrepentant men and women are bound for Hell.  Here is her account of the fundamental issue:
Castle said she has spoken to Folau again this week, but Rugby Australia has refrained from taking action against Folau despite the reaction from fans, players and sponsors.  "There's no black and white answer," Castle said.  "On the one hand you're dealing with a human rights issue. On the other hand, you're dealing with freedom of speech and someone's right to express their views, whether it be religious or otherwise.

"I think the test continues to be whether that's done in a respectful way, so that's the measure that we'll continue to apply.  It's a very hot topic in the Australian landscape at the moment. The freedom of speech movement is looking for a conversation to be had and that's why - and I keep repeating myself - it's very delicate and we're trying to manage both sides so everyone feels included."  [NZ Herald]
In this quotation, however, Castle seems confused.  She appears to distinguish between "human rights" on the one hand, and "freedom of speech", on the other.  For some reason Castle may have overlooked, or forgotten, that free speech is one of the most fundamental of all human rights.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Letter From Hungary

‘We Are Building a Christian Democracy'

Hungarian PM Orban Getting Tougher on Immigration: ’

Chris Tomlinson
Breitbart London

After a huge electoral victory that saw his party win a two-thirds super-majority, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has announced tougher immigration rules and his vision of a Hungary built on “Christian democracy”.

The Hungarian leader announced his new plans in a radio broadcast on Friday, saying: “We are building a Christian democracy. An old-fashioned Christian democracy whose roots are in the European tradition, where human dignity is essential and where there is a separation of powers,” newspaper Ouest France reports.

“We will defend the Christian culture and we will not give the country to foreigners,” Orban added, and spoke about a proposed constitutional amendment from 2016 to limit mass migration, which failed to pass due to the government not having the required two-thirds majority in parliament at the time.

“I feel obliged to implement this constitutional amendment now,” he said.

Hungary’s Orbán Calls for Patriotic Alliance to Save Europe, ‘We’ll Fight Together to Stop the Soros Plan’ 

The amendment could increase the rift between Orbán and the European Union, as it also states that the country will reject any EU rules or policies that could radically change the ethnic makeup of the country or infringe Hungary’s territorial borders.

On the topic of the European Union and its recently announced 1.24 trillion euro budget, Orbán said he would not support the budget, claiming it would help fund mass migration.  As part of the budget announcement, the EU added a new policy that could see countries not upholding so-called “EU values” having their funding cut off.

A major part of the campaign of Orbán and his Fidesz party was the influence of left-wing billionaire George Soros and his vast network of pro-mass migration NGOs.  “George Soros has an army of shadows working in Hungary. We want to unmask it. We want to show that migration is not a human rights issue but a national security issue,” he said.