Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Vindication of a Sort

Supreme Court Lets Trump Build the Wall; Lifts Injunction

Joel Pollak
Breitbart News

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump to begin building the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border using emergency funds, lifting an injunction Friday that had been imposed by a district court in California and upheld by the Ninth Circuit.
After Congress refused to appropriate enough funding to build a barrier along the border earlier this year, President Trump declared a national emergency to allow the administration to access more money. In total, he ordered $8 billion spent — though, as Breitbart News pointed out, only $3.6 billion needed an emergency declaration.

The president was exultant on Twitter:

Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!
The decision was largely along partisan lines, with all five Republican-appointed justices voting to lift the injunction, while all three liberal justices were opposed.

Daily Meditation

Learning to Love

Love is a popular topic, one that evokes warm feelings and a rush of spiritual adrenaline. Every year the polls indicate that the chapter of the Bible voted “most popular” is 1 Corinthians 13. This is the famous “love chapter” of the Bible. That this chapter holds such perennial appeal for Christians indicates something of the profound concern we have for the matter of love.
1 Corinthians 13 is a double-edged sword, however. It not only comforts us with an inspiring and exalted rhapsody of love, it also presents a portrait of the nature of love so clearly that it reveals the flaws and warts of our feeble exercise of love. It shows us how unloving we are. It sets the bar, presenting a norm of love that condemns us for falling so miserably short of it.
Perhaps our delight in the love chapter rests upon a superficial nod toward this biblical paean of love. Maybe we read its eloquent words as if they were merely the lyrics of a romantic ballad. But once we probe the content of the chapter, discomfort inevitably sets in.
The ultimate norm of love is God Himself. His love is utterly perfect, containing no shadow that would obscure its brilliant purity.

Coram Deo

Prayerfully study 1 Corinthians 13. How does your love measure up to these standards?

Passages for Further Study

No "Religious Free" Zones

Illicit Distortions Of  Church and State

In his book A History of the American People, Paul Johnson confronts a modern fallacy.  In the United States it has become increasingly the case that the separation of church and state means that the state must be a thoroughly secular institution. 

This misconstruction has been eagerly picked up and "run" in most secular states in the West.  Philosophers like Jurgen Habermas in Germany has argued strongly for a secular (that is, atheistic) public square where all philosophies and views can be discussed and debated on neutral ground.  Most folk today who are interested in the debates over church vs. state accept a fundamental premise of this view which is that the doctrines of the separation of church and state necessarily mean that the state is a secular referee--and, therefore, neutral and indifferent towards religious belief. 

The effect of this has been to shove religious beliefs and doctrines out of the public square and chain them to the kitchen table.  Paul Johnson argues that this is a radical distortion of what originally was meant by the "separation of church and state". 
The First Amendment . . . has been widely, almost wilfully, misunderstood in recent years, and interpreted as meaning that the federal government is forbidden by the Constitution to countenance or subsidize even indirectly the practice of religion.  That would have astonished and angered the Founding Fathers.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

A Hard-Charging Cabinet

Finally, Brexit Has Begun

Michael Brendan Dougherty
National Review Online

Boris Johnson and his new cabinet could well fail, but at the very least the men who led the Leave campaign are now charged with carrying out its result.

A funny thing happened at the moment in 2016 when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union: The winning campaigners dispersed. One of the most consequential poll results in the U.K.’s history provided a mandate to Parliament, but did not produce a government of the men and women who’d made the case for it to voters.

So there was a curious interregnum. Theresa May, a reluctant Remainer, took the premiership from David Cameron. In first her Lancaster House speech, she promised an energetic agenda: The Conservative party would take charge of repairing the frayed edges of the Union, helping working families, and addressing British society’s “burning injustices.” She promised to see the country through Brexit, too, taking the country out of the European customs union and political project. But none of these things came about.

Now, May’s failure to pass a painfully negotiated withdrawal agreement from the EU has brought the end of her government, and birthed another led by the men who made the Brexit result possible. Boris Johnson, the most famous Tory Brexiteer, is now prime minister.

Daily Meditation

Imitating the Father

If we are to search out the depths and riches of the meaning of God’s love, we can approach our quest in two ways. We can work from the top down or from the bottom up. By working from the top down, we can focus on everything the Bible says about the character of God’s love, seeing the full expression of the declaration that “God is love,” and then seeing how that dimension of God’s character is to be reflected by His image-bearers.
Or we can proceed from the bottom up, reflecting on God’s commandments to us regarding love, and discern from this light of His law something of His own character that stands behind His law and out of which His perfect law proceeds.
The apostle Paul calls us to imitate God, which is carried out by walking in love (Eph. 5:12). Next, this imitation is viewed as an imitation of Christ—in that Christ, as the new Adam, perfectly demonstrates the character of the Father’s love. He is the Beloved of the Father. He is the supreme lover of God and lover of our souls as well. He shows love both in its vertical and horizontal relationships.

Coram Deo

Meditate today on God’s love and the supreme example of love, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Passages for Further Study

New Zealand's Madcap Zealots

More Self-Destructive By the Day

One of the more extreme Islamic Shia'a cults is known for its devotees' self-flagellation.  In New Zealand we have another form of the same idiocy.  We are afflicted by extremist climate zealots who are bent on legislating economic activity and development in such a way as to impoverish the nation.
The legislation, unveiled in May, aims for all greenhouse emissions – aside from biogenic methane – to be reduced to net zero by 2050.  It commits to reducing gross emissions of biogenic methane to between 24-47 per cent below the 2017 levels, by 2050.

That 47 per cent level is what DairyNZ is taking issue with.  Mackle told MPs that if this became law, dairy farmers' total profit could reduce by 33-42 per cent across the 2030-2050 period.  "This is a substantial loss of income and is more than 10 times higher than the cost of $2500 per farm estimated in the Government's analysis. The impact for rural communities and the wider economy could be huge."

But Forest and Bird chief executive, and former Green MP, Kevin Hague, said New Zealand "cannot afford to go easy on methane".  "If we imagine that we are going to hit any of these targets without making significant land-use changes, we're kidding ourselves." . . . .
The bill's regulatory impact statement (RIS) revealed that New Zealand's economy could miss out on up to $50 billion worth of economic growth because of the Zero Carbon Bill.  The RIS, written by officials at the Ministry for the Environment, reveals that New Zealand's economy will grow to $522 billion by 2050 if the zero-carbon legislation is not adopted and the status quo is maintained. 

However, if the legislation does come into force – as it is expected to later this year – the RIS showed New Zealand's GDP in 2050 will be between $472 billion and $476 billion.  That is a difference of $45 to $49 billion.

Well, what's the problem with giving up $45 to $49 billion annually?

Monday, 29 July 2019

Creation.Com Weighs In On Canaanitism

US States’ abortion bills reveal culture clash over unborn human life

Published: 25 July 2019 (GMT+10)


States in the US are battling over the value of human life. Georgia’s state law now bans abortions after a heartbeat can be detected—around 6 weeks gestation.1 A popular location for filming in the US because of tax breaks, many actors have said they will now boycott the state, while other actors slam the hypocrisy in this largely symbolic stand, as many of the ‘boycotters’ have never actually filmed anything in Georgia.2
Alabama has passed, by an overwhelming majority, the strictest abortion law in the nation, which would make abortion a felony in the state of Alabama, with no exceptions for rape and incest.3 Ohio bans private insurance companies from covering abortion costs.

These laws follow several states which have passed or attempted to pass laws which legalize abortion up to birth. New York’s abortion law goes beyond allowing abortion at any point up to birth, and even removes criminal penalties for harming an unborn child who is wanted by the mother.4 Virginia now allows non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions.5 At the time of writing, more states are lining up on either side of the conflict to pass laws of their own.
These battles are being played out in state legislatures, because it is widely anticipated that a now conservative Supreme Court could overturn the 1973 decision Roe. v. Wadewhich legalized abortion across the nation, much as the court’s decision on Obergefell v. Hodges legalized gay marriage over the laws of various states. If Roe was overturned, the issue would go back to the states. Some states, like New York, would continue to allow almost unlimited abortions, while states with laws on the books limiting or completely criminalizing abortion would be able to enforce those laws.

Unborn babies are human—but are they people?

This is still in textbooks today even though it’s known it is wrong.

With the availability of 4D ultrasounds, it is impossible to maintain the old lie that unborn babies are just ‘blobs of tissue’. Science has also disproven the lie that the unborn child ‘recapitulates’ older stages of evolutionary development with gills and a tail at early stages of development. This is scientific fact-- the unborn child is human. Yet, lay people still misled by errors in textbooks and popular media call into radio shows with statements like “We are removing women’s rights just because of a zygote.”6 The encouraging news is that as high-definition ultrasounds become more and more common, young people have grown up seeing the photos of their unborn brothers and sisters on the fridge next to their own, and the celebration of wanted unborn life makes a dramatic impact when we’re discussing whether unwanted children at the same stage of development can be killed.
A culture that knows unborn babies are indeed human but continues to kill them in numbers greater than any holocaust in history is no better than the Caananites, who sacrificed their children by placing them in the bronze statue of Moloch to be burned alive. Pro-abortionists are outraged by what they consider to be the violation of women’s rights. But if the baby is a human, does it not also have rights?

Humanity vs ‘personhood’

But is the unborn human a person? That might seem like a strange question, but ‘ethicists’ are trying to move the goalposts by separating the category of ‘human’ and the category of ‘person’. To someone like Peter Singer, an intelligent creature like a pig could be a ‘person’ but not ‘human’, entitled to the legal protections afforded a ‘person’. However, a child early in development, even for a period after birth, would not qualify as a ‘person’ based on an arbitrary measurement of brain development.
However, we are rightly horrified by past atrocities committed against humans declared ‘nonpersons’. In the early 20thcentury, under eugenics laws, people declared ‘feebleminded’ could be sterilized and institutionalized for life. And the Nazis infamously killed millions of Jews, along with gypsies, disabled people, and other ‘undesirables’, who were also considered nonpersons.
The advances in care of unborn children and extremely premature children are making it harder to maintain the charade that the elective murder of these babies is equivalent to getting an appendectomy. It is possible to repair spina bifida and other problems in utero, and the most premature baby to survive was born at 21 weeks.

Education is the key to open the door to the Gospel

One might draw some analogies to the campaign of the great British abolitionist William Wilberforce in the 1800s. In a country and society that strongly held to slavery, it was just a cultural norm—even amongst Christians. Wilberforce campaigned tirelessly for many years and with great opposition, but he tried to educate society and particularly the lawmakers of the day that these slaves were indeed human beings. He sought to overcome ignorance about the issue. Abortion is the next great slavery debate for our nations as we continue to educate and overcome ignorance about the science of the unborn.

What has worth?

Pro-abortion activists often protest that it is unjust to have legal penalties or restrictions for women and doctors who have or perform abortions. This is usually a strawman argument because few abortion laws target the mothers, but most target the abortionist.
Is it wrong to penalize those who kill unborn children? Consider the penalties for disturbing the unborn of endangered species. Destroying a bald eagle egg can be punished with a jail sentence and/or hefty fine. The eggs of sea turtles are similarly protected. If we can recognize that even animals can be valuable enough for their unborn to be protected with such laws, surely unborn humans in God’s image should be given similar protections.

Changing the laws is only one step

Changing the laws is only one front of the battle. Governments can change and thus reverse the laws, just as is happening now. The Gospel changes hearts and minds, and ultimately that is how one changes a country and its laws. It is important that we protect the most vulnerable in our society with laws, but we have to remember that being pro-life is ultimately a Gospel issue. It’s possible for an unsaved woman to choose life for her child, and both of them eventually go to an eternity away from the Lord. So our pro-life efforts on all levels need to be visibly connected to the Gospel, or they will ultimately be for nothing.
In the light of a seemingly endless erosion of moral laws in our societies, we should be hugely encouraged by these developments. The battle over abortion laws shows us that Roe isn’t settled law, even more than 40 years later. Many other Western nations and their academics have often criticized the US and its citizens because of their strong religious roots and how it still permeates the culture today. One BBC commentator called it a return to the ‘dark ages’.7
Many Americans are not convinced by evolutionism, much to the dismay of academics both in the US and abroad. In part due to the work of creation ministries, and with the support of Bible-believing churches, evangelical Christians are leading the fight against the slaughter of unborn babies. From a biblical foundation, we can show that God has always affirmed what science now proves to be true—that from conception we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator, and that’s why it is wrong to murder human beings at any point in their life.
The states who are passing pro-life laws should be applauded for making a stand in the face of the inevitable criticism. We should be encouraged as we fight for the lives and the human rights of the smallest, most vulnerable members of the human family.
Our booklet Is Human Life Special? discusses the abortion debate along with many other topics such as eugenics. It affirms scientifically and theologically the specialness of humanity, and also revisits some of history’s atrocities performed in the name of evolution.
Amazing things are happening in the US. This is a great time for all Christians to revisit this issue and create awareness in your own communities and countries. Discounts are available for bulk orders. Why not give a copy to everyone in your church, particularly your youth who are on the front lines in dealing with these cultural views in their places of education?

Daily Devotional

Making History Count

For a little fun, as well as an important look into the pages of your history, take a few minutes for a simple exercise. Take a pencil and paper and jot down the five most meaningful compliments you’ve ever received. They may have been verbal or nonverbal, direct or indirect. On your paper note:
1. The nature of the compliment.
2. When it was given.
3. Who gave you the compliment and what role that person represented to you.
After completing this exercise, try another: Write down the five most important events in your life. Then write briefly why these “historic” moments are so important to you.
These two exercises represent a simple means by which you can come to grips with who you are. To finish the exercise, ask yourself this question: If Rembrandt could paint only one portrait of you, what would he have you doing in the portrait? What is your fruitful moment? Maybe tomorrow will bring a moment that will redirect your personal history.
Our history is not the result of blind fate or the impersonal forces of chance. My personal history and yours are bound up with the Author and Lord of history, who makes my personal history count forever.

Coram Deo

Do the two exercises suggested in today’s reading, then answer the question: “If Rembrandt could paint only one portrait of you, what would he have you doing in the portrait?”

Passages for Further Study

Complicit Politicians Sneering At Those Attacked by Recidivist Criminals

Guest Post: Is Three Strikes “Silly”?

Republished from Kiwiblog

A guest post from David Garrett:

Before and after his abortive attempt to repeal the three strikes (3S) law, Andrew Little’s only comment on it was and remains that it is “silly”, and “the high water mark of policy stupidity”. To the best of my knowledge, he has never actually explained what is “silly” about it, or explained why he thinks it is “stupid”. Perhaps he thinks  the voters are stupid, and will just take his word for it? So, do his  officials agree with him? It would seem not.

In a report on 3S released in December last year, Justice Department officials said inter alia  “the existing evidence is mixed and more robust research is needed to understand the true effects of these laws” and “Research in this area appears to be prone to political bias.” Aint that the truth.  However buried in the report is this:

“…in comparison with second strikeable offences committed before the law came into effect there has been a drop in the number of second strike offences since the laws implementation.”

That statement clearly states that specific deterrence is occurring.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Debunked Myth

Google Is Deliberately Biased

Jennifer Smith
Daily Mail

Google whistleblower says the company IS politically biased and says bosses' claims that they are neutral are 'ridiculous' as he warns 'algorithms don't write themselves'.  Greg Coppola, who says he has worked for Google for five years, spoke to Project Veritas

Coppola has worked for Google since 2014 and he says it was fine until the 2016 presidential election when the site turned against Trump.  He says he 'just knows how algorithms are' and said it was 'ridiculous' to suggest that Google is unbiased.  He says there are people whose jobs are dedicated to promoting certain sites.  Coppola works on Google Assistant which he insists has no bias.

Greg Coppola spoke to Project Veritas to share his views and said that while he 'respects' his manager, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, his comments on bias are inaccurate.  He claims to be based in New York and says he has worked for Google since 2014.

Coppola said that there were a 'small number' of people whose jobs were dedicated to promoting certain news sites over others and that the bias is left-leaning, favoring CNN and The New York Times.

'A small number of people do work on making sure that certain new sites are promoted.

Daily Meditation

Producing Fruit

One cannot be a Christian and have no fruit. Indeed, all Christians yield some measure of all the fruit of the Spirit. It is not that one receives the fruit of love and another the fruit of joy. All the fruit is to be manifest in all Christians.
The degree of the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit may vary from Christian to Christian, and even episodically in the individual Christian’s life. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is part of the Spirit’s work of sanctification. Sanctification is not a monergistic work; it is synergistic: It involves and requires the cooperation of the believer. We are working out our salvation while at the same time God is working within us.
All of our labor in sanctification would yield no fruit if God were not working in us. Ultimately, it is His fruit in that He is the source of it and power for it. But the full measure of the fruit of the Spirit requires that we work. We are to work not casually or occasionally. Our labor is to be done in fear and trembling.

Coram Deo

God is at work within you. Are you cooperating?

Maybe, Just Maybe . . .

A Marmite Figure

One of our favourite UK shows is "Yes, Minister" and then, latterly, "Yes, Prime Minister".  A common theme throughout was the ability of senior bureaucrats to blind-side and steer their political masters. 

However, as time passed real life began to imitate art.  The sprawling, inefficient UK bureaucracy has come to exercise just the same kind manipulation of its political masters that was so well represented in the TV series.  Into this mess, we welcome the new PM, Boris Johnson. 

Johnson's playbook does not at first sight fill one with a great deal of confidence when it comes to disciplined thinking and action.  He has a history of flip flopping, of making things up as he goes alone, and of putting on a good show rather than exercising a Thatcher-like control of those working under him.  Things become considerably more positive, however, when one considers some of his colleagues.  In particular, one thinks of Dominic Cummings. 

The odds are that all but a few of us in the Antipodes have heard the name.  That is likely to change.  James Delingpole explains why.

Friday, 26 July 2019

May Our Lord Take Notice and Take Action

Syrian Christian woman gang raped and stoned to death in Idlib by Islamist rebels

19 July 2019
Syrian Christian Suzan Der Kirkour, 60, was raped repeatedly, tortured and stoned to death near her home in Idlib governorate by Islamist militants, reportedly linked to an Al-Nusra Front rebel group active in the area, a Barnabas Fund contact has reported.
Miss Der Kirkour, a retired local school teacher, went missing from her home in the mainly-Christian village of Al-Yacoubia on 8 July.
Her body was found the following day by members of her church in a nearby grove.

Suzan Der Kirkour suffered an appalling nine hour ordeal of rape and torture before being killed by Islamist rebels
Suzan Der Kirkour suffered an appalling nine hour ordeal of rape and torture before being killed by Islamist rebels

Forensic investigations revealed that the barbaric ordeal was prolonged, lasting for around nine hours, before Miss Der Kirkour was murdered by stoning. 
A Christian leader in the region said, “Attacks against Christians, mainly women and girls, are frequent here now, but this one has shocked the community. Suzan was an unmarried lady and a respected teacher who only remained in the village for the sake of her pupils, so that they could continue their studies.” 
He added, “She was well known in her church and was the teacher of many in the village. Our prayers are with her relatives and church.”

Daily Meditation

Experiencing Supernatural Joy

In John’s Gospel, Jesus expounded His declaration that He is the vine and we are the branches: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
This text indicates that the joy of the Christian is not the natural joy of human life. It is a supernatural joy insofar as it has a supernatural source. It is the work of Christ within us. Though Jesus spoke of His joy being in us, it is still our joy once it is in us. He is its source and its power, but it is still our joy.
Jesus also spoke of the end or purpose of His joy remaining in us, namely, that our joy may be full. The term full speaks of a degree, in this case an ultimate degree. There is no more joy than full joy. Yet we can experience partial joy or less than full joy, not because there are fluctuations in Jesus’ joy, but because there are fluctuations in the degree of our abiding in Christ.
We cannot fall out of Christ, but in the process of sanctification we experience greater and/or lesser degrees of clinging closely to Him. Here our wills are important in that we are called to abide in Christ.

Coram Deo

Ask God for supernatural joy to flood your life.

Passages for Further Study