Saturday, 30 November 2019

Government Instability Growing Like a Mushroom

If Winston Goes Down, Jacinda Goes With Him

Mike Hosking
NZ Herald

Do you think the Prime Minister understands the trouble her party and Government is in?  The answers to the Peters problem, the drama around the New Zealand First Foundation, would seem to indicate not. It's not her business, she is claiming. Which technically is true, but irrelevant.

No, she shouldn't be poking her nose into New Zealand First affairs, but surely it defies all common sense that she can't see that Winston's troubles are her troubles, and vice versa.

She is tainted by association. Let us not forget that Winston has always been questionable company. From the early days with the Bolger-Shipley government, to the trouble with Clark that appears frighteningly similar over a decade later. If you hang with New Zealand First - at its very best, it's a colourful ride.  At its worst, it's the end of your government come election time.

The New Zealand First foundation, at first read, looks to have a tremendous number of questions to answer.

Ignoring The Clamour of the Herd

RIP Clive James

Poet, Broadcaster And, More Importantly, Climate Sceptic

1976: Television presenter and writer Clive James appears in Granada's late night rock show 'So It Goes'. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

James Delingpole
Breitbart London

Clive James, the Australian wit, critic, journalist, broadcaster and poet has died. His artistic virtues will, I’m sure, be widely celebrated and memorialised in the mainstream media. But of more interest here is the fact that he was an outspoken climate sceptic.

In an essay for the Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2017, he ripped into the hysterical exaggeration and scaremongering which constitutes ‘climate science.’

They came out of the grant-hungry fringe of semi-science to infect the heart of the mass media, where a whole generation of commentators taught each other to speak andwriteahyperbolicdoomlanguage(‘unprecedented’,‘irreversible’,etcetera),which you might have thought was sure to doom them in their turn. After all, nobody with an intact pair of ears really listens for long to anyone who talks about ‘the planet’ or ‘carbon’ or ‘climate denial’ or ‘the science’. But for now – and it could be a long now – the advocates of drastic action are still armed with a theory that no fact doesn’t fit.
Alarmists have always profited from their insistence that climate change is such a complex issue that no ‘science denier’ can have an opinion about it worth hearing. For most areas of science such an insistence would be true. But this particular area has a knack of raising questions that get more and more complicated in the absence of an answer to the elementary ones. One of those elementary questions is about how man-made carbon dioxide can be a driver of climate change if the global temperature has not gone up by much over the last twenty years but the amount of man-made carbon dioxide has. If we go on to ask a supplementary question – say, how could carbon dioxide raise temperature when the evidence of the ice cores indicates that temperature has always raised carbon dioxide – we will be given complicated answers, but we still haven’t had an answer to the first question, except for the suggestion that the temperature, despite the observations, really has gone up, but that the extra heat is hiding in the ocean. It is not necessarily science denial to propose that this long professional habit of postponing an answer to the first and most elementary question is bizarre. Richard Feynman said that if a fact doesn’t fit the theory, the theory has to go. Feynman was a scientist.

He once wrote a poem on the subject for the Times (of London)

Daily Meditation

Becoming a Worshiper of God

Church is boring”—this is the most oft-stated reason why people stay away from church. It raises some important questions. How is it possible that an encounter with a majestic, awesome, living God could ever be considered boring by anyone? God is not dull. If worship is boring to us, it is not because God is boring. Sermons can be boring and liturgies can be boring, but God simply cannot be boring. The problem, I think, is with the setting, the style, and the content of our worship.
The New Testament gives us little information about proper Christian worship. It establishes some guidelines, but does not offer much content. In contrast, the Old Testament provides a panorama of worship information. This poses some dangers, as well as some vital clues, for worship. We cannot simply reinstate the elements of Old Testament worship, because many of them are clearly fulfilled once and for all with the finished work of Christ in His offering of the perfect sacrifice.
The Old Testament does provide a key to elements involved in worship. We see, for example, that the mind must be engaged in worship. The centrality of preaching underscores the crucial role of the Word. Full worship, however, is both verbal and nonverbal. The whole person is addressed and involved in a worship experience. We note that in the Old Testament, worship intimately involved all five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.

Coram Deo

Is church boring to you? What do you think might be the reason? Spend some time in prayer asking God to show you how to become a true worshiper.

Passages for Further Study

Histrionic Fool

Pretentious Nonsense

We have been thoroughly entertained this morning by reading about a superb initiative in Stuff--one of New Zealand's daily news services.  It has decided to get really committed to fighting climate change.  It has decided to appoint a whole bunch of staff to promulgate climate change paranoia. 

The editor of Stuff courageously steps forward to swamp us all in his own version of histrionics.  We have been ruminating upon the contrast between our local rag, Stuff, and the Fox network in the United States. Fox, you recall, has a self-descriptive slogan.  It declares that it's news network reports in a manner that is "Fair, Balanced, and Unafraid.  Stuff has decided to take its paper in a different direction.  It will report in a way that is "Unfair, Prejudiced, and Very Afraid". 

At the bottom of the grand announcement, the Editor-in-chief, Patrick Crewdson tells us that his rag will strive to be completely opposed to coverage that is "Far, Balanced, and Unafraid".  His paper will be on watch for any views, opinions, evidence, or scientific analysis that does not conform to the following editorial policy:
Stuff accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused by human activity. We welcome robust debate about the appropriate response to climate change, but do not intend to provide a venue for denialism or hoax advocacy. That applies equally to the stories we will publish in Quick! Save the Planet and to our moderation standards for reader comments.
Now that, dear readers, is a hallmark of a muck-racking rag.  Stuff is asserting that when it comes to issues related to climate there is only one "truth" that will be acceptable--Stuff's.  Needless to say, that represents a desperate news-service searching for a meaning-to-life.  From this point on, dear reader, we will all know that nothing Stuff publishes on the weather and climate will be reliable.  Rather, its copy will represent the bloviations of the extremist and propagandist. 

That particular emperor has definitely discarded all his clothes. 

Friday, 29 November 2019

The Whiff of Corruption On Its Way To Becoming a Stench

A Wine Box, a Deep Throat and a Dumpster

The trail that led to the NZ First donations scandal

[The following article appeared in Stuff, November 24, 2019]

Matt Shand

The winebox containing NZ First Foundation documents was next to a dumpster filled with used nappies from a nearby daycare. Or, at least it was supposed to be. There were no boxes in sight. No other options. Time to dig through.

For the past six hours "Deep Throat" figures had been sending me directions from random phone numbers to where the documents could be found. The information had already been uncovered, people wanted to talk, but hard evidence - the documentation - was key.

For the past few hours calls had come in from random numbers giving locations with little context. "The Square Hamilton," the voice would say and hang up. Then call back with another suburb or landmark. After walking around making many people suspicious of a creeper another call arrives. "The shop on (redacted) street. Another call. Another suburb. "Dumpster. Closed lid. Go now". Having never spoken to these people before it was all on good faith.

There were two dumpsters that matched.

Daily Meditation

Invading the Human Soul

Biblical worship invades the human soul. It is the soul that too often has been banished from modern worship. We are a people preoccupied with self-image, self-esteem, and self-gratification. Yet in all this we don’t even know what a “self” is.
The human soul is in exile from our thinking. No wonder, then, that it is not considered relevant to worship. Heaven is too distant to contemplate. Our lives are lived within the restricted boundaries of our terrestrial horizon. We have so despised the notion of pie in the sky that we have lost our taste for it altogether.
But when our souls are engaged in worship, our gaze is lifted heavenward, our hearts are set aflame by the divine fire, and we are ready to be done with this world. There is such a thing as mystic sweet communion with Christ in worship.
I’m speaking about something that goes beyond emotion (but includes it); that transcends passion (but doesn’t annul it); that penetrates to the deepest core of our being, where we sense—nay, we know—that we are in the presence of the living God.

Coram Deo

Spend some quiet time in worship, asking God to set your heart aflame with His divine fire.

Passages for Further Study

Mr Legality Is A Deadly Fellow

Subtle Unbelief Which Perverts the Gospel of Christ

Here is a powerful analysis we came across the other day.
A new and more powerful proclamation of [God's Law] is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law.  As it is, they are turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of Mr Legality, which is reported to be very skillful in relieving men of their burdens.

Mr Legality has indeed in our day disguised himself somewhat, but he is the same deceiver as the one of whom Bunyan wrote.  "Making Christ Master" in the life, putting into practice "the principles of Christ" by one's own efforts--these are the new ways of earning salvation by one's own obedience to God's commands.  And they are undertaken because of a lax view of what those commands are.  So it always is: a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace.  [J. Gresham Machen, quoted in Ned B. Stonehouse, J Gresham Machen: a Biographical Memoir (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987], p. 396.]
Our post-Christian world is still awash with people who live in the village of Morality.  want to obey the "Golden Rule" or claim they respect the Ten Commandments.  They will speak of the need to respect parents, of honesty and truth-telling, and of respecting the property of others.  Deep down they harbour a belief that these things will earn them merit and take them beyond the grave and win the approval of God in the Day of Judgement.   They don't claim to be perfect, or without faults.  But they believe that when the scales are brought forth on the day of judgement the Balance of God will show more righteousness than evil in their lives. 

Against this false view stands the clear, unambiguous statement of God: "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." [James 2:10.]   To repeat Machen's words: "So it always is: a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace."

Thursday, 28 November 2019

We Are a Christian Nation. We Are Proud to Be Able To Say That.

Hungary Shines Spotlight on Christian Persecution

Budapest Conference Speaks Out

Thomas D. Williams
Breitbart London

Hungary is holding its 2nd International Conference on Christian Persecution 2019 in Budapest this week to keep a bright light shining on the plight of Christians around the world.  Conference participants started filing into Budapest Monday, even though the speeches and events do not officially begin until Tuesday morning, and the patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, led the prayer before lunch in Aramaic.

Keynote speakers for the event include Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán; Nigerian Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah; and Gewargis III, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. Tristan Azbej, Hungary’s state secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, and Rev. Joseph Kassab, head of the Evangelical Community of Syria and Lebanon, are also conference speakers.

The Orbán government has been on the front lines of aid to persecuted Christians around the world, sending financial and logistical assistance so that Christians are not forced to migrate from their lands for economic reasons.

This summer, Mr. Azbej lamented a “wall of silence” that has been erected around the problem of Christian persecution, despite the enormity of the problem on a global scale.

Daily Meditation

Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer (Part 2)

John Calvin’s third rule of prayer was that we must always pray with genuine feeling. Prayer is a matter of passion: “Many repeat prayers in a perfunctory manner from a set form, as if they were performing a task to God … They perform the duty from custom, because their minds are meanwhile cold, and they ponder not what they ask.”
A fourth rule of prayer from Calvin was that it be always accompanied by repentance: “God does not listen to the wicked; that their prayers, as well as their sacrifices, are an abomination to them. For it is right that those who seal up their hearts should find the ears of God closed against them.”
Calvin said a humble submission is required: “Of this submission, which casts down all haughtiness, we have numerous examples in the servants of God. The holier they are, the more humbly they prostrate themselves when they come into the presence of the Lord.”
If I can summarize Calvin’s teaching on prayer succinctly, I would say this: The chief rule of prayer is to remember who God is and to remember who you are. If we remember those two things, our prayers will always and ever be marked by adoration and confession.

Coram Deo

Do you pray with genuine feeling? Do you always accompany your prayers with repentance?

Passages for Further Study

Hong Kong and China

Is the Dam Wall Beginning to Crack?

The success of democracy in the recent Hong Kong local authority elections is significant.  It is now clear that the protesters enjoy widespread public support.
Though the district councils’ authority is mostly local, they appoint 117 of the 1,200 members of Hong Kong’s Election Committee. Coupled with the roughly 400 opposition members already sitting on the election committee, the additional seats will give the pro-democracy camp much greater sway when the next chief executive of Hong Kong is selected in 2022. The current chief executive, Carrie Lam, has denounced this year’s protests and remained staunchly on the side of Beijing.

“The result is astonishing. It is a clear sign that a public majority supports the democratic movement and the anti-extradition protests,” says Eric Lai, the vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, a group that has played a key role in organizing the protests. [Daniel Tenreiro, National Review Online.]  
What impact is this election result likely to have  upon the Chinese Government's Politburo?  Does it bring pressure upon President Xi Jinping, or is it of little or no account to the dictator?

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Will The Black Vote in the US Be Guided By Its Wallet?

Interesting Times

Black voters in the US have long supported the Democratic Party.  Yet, given the strong domestic economic growth the US has enjoyed under Trump, it was always going to be intriguing as to whether the black vote would start to swing towards the Republican Party. 

According to Breitbart, a couple of recent polls give a hint that the swing may have started.  Yes, it is true that one swallow does not a summer make.  The two polls may be outliers.  It is too early to tell. But . . .

The Trump Campaign emphatically claims that the tide is turning and that Trump will win support from a majority of black voters in 2020. 
The Trump campaign celebrated the news.  “It might shock Democrats that support for President Trump is rising with Black Americans but it shouldn’t,” Trump campaign Principal Deputy Communications Director Erin Perrine said to Breitbart News. “Blacks are more prosperous than ever because of President Trump with record-low unemployment and rising paychecks.”
Charles Spiering writes:
A pair of recent polls show that 34 percent of black likely voters approve of President Donald Trump’s presidency, a stunning development that could have a massive impact on his re-election campaign in 2020.  A Rasmussen poll released Friday showed black likely voter approval of Trump at 34 percent. An Emerson Poll showed 34.5 percent approval by the same demographic.
We will see, as the prophet said. 

The Signature of the Father of Lies

Weird . . . On A Grand Scale

Douglas Wilson has written a superb piece at the Blog and Mablog site, titled Idiocracy

Our generation is dumber than a sackful of hammers.  The ignorance is self-caused and self-willed.

Wilson gives us three examples of the trope:

The rich and the poor. 

. . . But here is the central chicanery, the legerdemain, the conjuring trick. There is a difference between statistical categories and actual people. There is a stark difference between a statistical underclass and a permanent underclass. A generation ago, a bunch of the student couples below the poverty line—the Smiths, Murphys, Talcotts, and Peabodys—are now in the upper middle class. And some of the people in the upper middle class have drifted downward out of it.

In a society that contains as much upward mobility as ours does (which is to say, a great deal), to compare income disparity between statistical groups a generation ago and statistical groups now, as though we were talking about the same people, is the height of absurdity.

Climate change.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The US President Is Still Breathing

Victor Davis Hanson's "Take" On the Trump Presidency

What was the upshot of the animus toward Trump I’ve catalogued in this series? In the first two years of his presidency, Trump has not resigned. He has not been impeached. He has not been indicted. He has not died or been declared non compos mentis. Trump did not govern as a liberal, as some of his Never Trump critics predicted. He had not been driven to seclusion by lurid exposés of his past womanizing a decade earlier as a Manhattan television celebrity. Predictions of all that and more were no more accurate than earlier prognostications that Trump would never be nominated and certainly never elected.

An administrative state, swamp, deep state, call it what you wish, was wrong about Trump’s nomination, his election, and his governance.

Daily Meditation

Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer (Part 1)

For John Calvin, prayer was like a priceless treasure that God has offered to His people.
Calvin’s first rule of prayer was to enter into it with a full awareness of the One to whom we are speaking. The key to prayer is a spirit of reverence and adoration: “Let the first rule of right prayer be, to have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into converse with God.”
Calvin wrote of how easy it is for our minds to wander in prayer. We become inattentive, as if we were speaking to someone with whom we are easily bored. This insults the glory of God: “Let us know, then, that none duly prepare themselves [sic] for prayer but those who are so impressed with the majesty of God that they engage in it free from all earthly cares and affections.”
Calvin’s second rule of prayer was that we ask only for those things that God permits. Prayer can be an exercise in blasphemy if we entreat His blessing for our sinful desires: “I lately observed, men in prayer give greater license to their unlawful desires than if they were telling jocular tales among their equals.”

Coram Deo

How does your personal prayer life line up with these two rules? Is your heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into conversation with God? Do you ask only for those things God permits?

Passages for Further Study

A Deafening Silence

An Eye Witness Account of Armistice Day

We have been reading a biography of J. Gresham Machen by Ned Stonehouse.  Machen was a pivotal figure in warding off the capitulation to unbelief in US Presbyterian circles in the first half of last century.  It is an excellent read.

During WW1 Machen volunteered with the YMCA to go to Europe to assist and support combatants, helping relieve suffering and ward off hunger and even starvation.  At one point he describes "Armistice Day" from his perspective in the trenches.
I got some sleep on the floor of our little hovel.  Then rumors began to come in.  The armistice was said to have been agreed on at 2:10am.  Desultory firing continued but this was said to be usual even after an armistice is signed.  At four o'clock the French could be heard singing in their quarters.  When I poked my head in they said that the news was not official.  But somehow thee was a new atmosphere of hope.

With the morning light the news was confirmed.  Firing was to cease at 11 A.M.  Meanwhile there was quiet.  A strange peacefulness pervaded the  air.  The walk to the Y.M.C.A. canteen, which the night before had been hideous with the flash and roar of the guns and with the menace of arriving shells was now safe as though we were at home.

I shall never forget that morning.  Perhaps one might regret not having been (say) at Paris when the stupendous news came in.  But I do not think I regret it.  We  heard, indeed, no clamor of joyful bells, no joyful shouts, no singing of the Marsellaise.  But we heard something greater by far--in contrast with the familiar roar of war--namely the silence of that misty morning.  I think I can venture upon the paradox.  That was a silence that could really be heard.  I suppose it was the most eloquent, the most significant silence in the history of the world.  [Ned Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1977) p. 284.]

Monday, 25 November 2019

"I See No Evil; I Hear No Evil"

Jacinda Ardern Faces Litmus Test Over Winston Peters

Political donations appear to have been hidden inside a secret slush fund controlled by a coterie of Winston Peters' trusted advisers.

Duncan Garner

. . . The questions surrounding Winston Peters and NZ First will force the prime minister to make a call on whether they've breached electoral law. And that could lead to an early elections, says Duncan Garner.

In 2008 it was a donations scandal that rocked Peters and, by association, Helen Clark. I was there. It was disastrous.  Clark tried to wash her hands of it, claiming she had no ties to Peters, but he provided her with the numbers to be the PM, and Clark and Labour were dragged down daily by the constant leaks and information that challenged Peters and his ability to tell the truth.

Truth is Labour suffered by association after Peters denied receiving a $100,000 donation from the expat Kiwi transport and logistics billionaire Owen Glenn.  Peters said, at the time, the $100,000 was given to his lawyer, Brian Henry, to cover legal fees. He said Henry did not tell him about it, and that it did not need to be declared.

Henry told Parliament's privilege committee that the money was paid directly to cover a legal debt, and did not need to be declared. During a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the same donation controversy, Henry also gave evidence.  Glenn contradicted Peters' statement, testifying before Parliament's privileges committee at the time that Peters had solicited the donation and that he knew about it.

And here we go again.

Daily Meditation

Receiving Joy and Strength

There is still another vital aspect to the “why” of Jesus’ departure. He said, “If I do not go away, the Helper (Paraclete) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Jesus’ departure was tied to Pentecost. There is no Pentecost without ascension. As the invested King of kings, Jesus had the authority together with the Father to send His Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way upon the church. Jesus spoke of a certain necessity of His leaving in order for the Spirit to come. Herein was another great advantage. He declared, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you” (Acts 1:8KJV).
Two remarkable things happened to the disciples after Jesus departed. The first is that they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). They were not despondent over the departure of Jesus. Obviously they finally understood why He was leaving. They understood what, for the most part, the church since then has failed to understand. We live as if it would not have been better for Jesus to leave.
The second obvious change in the lives of the disciples was in their spiritual strength. After Pentecost, they were different people. No longer did they flee like sheep without a shepherd. Instead, they turned the world upside down. They turned the world upside down because they fully understood two simple things: the “where” and the “why” of Jesus’ departure. 

Coram Deo

Great joy and spiritual strength are two of the benefits of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Let Him release these benefits in your life today.

Passages for Further Study

Stranger Than Fiction

Monty Python Would Have Had a Field Day

New Zealand prisons are going to become a laughing stock.  Needless to say, the mirth will be well deserved.  A new lexicon has been developed which (in effect) will require that prison staff  to refer to prisoners as "mate" and "mates", along with appropriate derivates.  Groups of prisons will be called, "maties".

Really.  Yes . . . or close enough to.  Give Kelvin Davis, the Minister of Corrections, enough time and he will stipulate prisoners must be addressed as, "Yo, bro . . . "  or something equally colloquial and friendly. 
Corrections to Call Prisoners 'Men In Our Care'

They Must be Referred To By Their First Names

George Block

"Prisoners" is out, "men in our care" is in under a new directive from Corrections.  Corrections has begun calling prisoners "men in our care" in a move slammed by staff, according to well-placed sources.

Some officers are also being asked to address prisoners by their first names instead of their surnames, as was previously standard practice.  The raft of new terms also includes the te reo word paihere in lieu of prisoners, which in its noun form translates to "bundle".  Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said the idea was to humanise people in prison and "uphold their mana".  
Kelvin Davis, the Minister of Corrections claims that the idea is to humanise prisoners and uphold their mana.  But what happens, pray, when one of their incarcerates beats another incarcerate to a pulp?

Saturday, 23 November 2019

We Have Been Here Before

Pay To Play

Other people's money and Winston Peters seem to be joined at the hip.  Once again, it appears that Peters has being playing a shady game when it comes to donations made to his political party.  The basic theme is reported to be large donations given to a trust, which then parcels out money to fund the Peters political party.  Only a select few know where the money has come from.

Is this a serious problem?  Yes, particularly if the large secret donations are coming from people and organizations with an interest in certain law changes or policies which the donor will benefit from.  It could well turn out to be a massive "Pay to Play" rort.

Danyl Mclauchlan  writing in The Spinoff  explains how the scheme appears to work and what are its likely political consequences.

The NZ First Donations Scandal is Very Serious

It won't Let Jacinda Ardern Hide

Danyl Mclauchlan | Contributing writer

It’s happening.

During its time in government New Zealand First has fundraised aggressively. They’ve also taken very strong policy stands on behalf of specific industries and companies. But no specific donations have been declared; instead the party has been funded by loans from the New Zealand First Foundation, a mysterious entity run by two of Winston Peters’ most trusted advisers.

Those advisers are his lawyer Brian Henry, and Doug Woolerton, a former New Zealand First MP who now runs a Hamilton based lobbying company called “The Lobbyist”, which advertises the provision of “all ancillary services such as media strategies, speeches, drafting changes for legislation, submissions to select committees and personal introductions when appropriate”.

And now Waikato Times reporter Matt Shand has what almost every investigative journalist in the country has been sniffing around for: leaked records from the New Zealand First Foundation. His story on Stuff reports that the foundation has been accepting party political donations and paying for electoral expenses in a way that appears designed to avoid transparency or oversight.

Daily Meditation

Prayer’s First Priority

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)
John Piper

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that the first priority in praying is to ask that our heavenly Father’s name be hallowed.

Notice that this is a petition or a request. It is not a declaration (as I thought it was for years). It is a request to God that he would see to it that his own name be hallowed.

It is like another text, Matthew 9:38, where Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send out laborers into his own harvest. It never ceases to amaze me that we, the laborers, should be instructed to ask the owner of the farm, who knows the harvest better than we do, to add on more farm hands.

But isn’t this the same thing we have here in the Lord’s Prayer — Jesus telling us to ask God, who is infinitely jealous for the honor of his own name, to see to it that his name be hallowed?

Well it may amaze us, but there it is. And it teaches us two things.

One is that prayer does not move God to do things he is disinclined to do. He has every intention to cause his name to be hallowed. Nothing is higher on God’s priority list.

The other is that prayer is God’s way of bringing our priorities into line with his. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of his great purposes.

Bring your heart into line with the jealousy of God to hallow his name, and you will pray with great effect. Let your first and all-determining prayer be for the hallowing of God’s name, and your prayers will plug into the power of God’s jealousy.

Letter From Scotland

Gender and Free Speech

Prof Dr Donald Macleod

I have no idea whether the Reverend Richard Cameron, Minister of Scotstoun Parish Church, is good at his day-job, faithfully preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified; I am never happy about singling out one particular sin, whether homosexual behaviour or anything else, for special condemnation; and I hold no more brief for hecklers than I do for protesters and demonstrators.  An essential part of democracy they may now be deemed to be, but too often they are no more than disruptive forms of verbal violence, resorted to by those who prefer show of force to reasoned argument.

But this morning I have a lot of sympathy for Mr. Cameron, who hit the headlines earlier this week when he loudly and publicly challenged Jeremy Corbyn, ‘Who’s going to be the first terrorist invited to the Commons when you’re Prime Minister?’  With the nastiness now typical of post-Blair Labour, the search for dirt on Mr Cameron quickly got under way, and was duly found, among his tweets.  He had remarked, apparently, that homosexual behaviour is sin; and what is worse, he had declared that allowing children to change their gender is wicked.

Now he has been suspended by the Church of Scotland, pending an inquiry.  The decision will be welcomed by many as an encouraging sign that the Kirk is at last catching up with the spirit of the age.  But what if the real meaning of the ‘spirit of the age’ is that free speech is only for such and for such-as-such?

Truth is, we are living in an age of state-imposed conformity which is utterly intolerant of any dissentient voice.

Friday, 22 November 2019

The Quiet Glory of Simple Sunday Worship

Worship Wars, and the ‘Simple People’

Donald Macleod

We don’t usually think of the Roman Catholic Church as suffering from the kind of worship-wars which have so often disrupted Evangelical churches.  After all, the Pope and the Magisterium exercise a firm control, and the freedom of individual priests and local parishes is carefully circumscribed by innumerable detailed Canons.

It was fascinating, then, to discover from Elio Guerriro’s recently translated biography of Pope Benedict XVI, that Romanism, too, has had its fair share of liturgical innovators; and as Archbishop of Munich, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and finally as Pope, Joseph Ratzinger was well placed, and well qualified, to evaluate their impact.

Originally a loyal supporter of the reforms proposed by the Second Vatican Council, Ratzinger quickly realised that, although the Council had introduced only minor changes, these had been sufficient to encourage a widespread impatience with all liturgical tradition; and what troubled him was strikingly similar to what was happening within Evangelicalism.

Daily Meditation

Love’s Greatest Happiness

No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:29–30)
John Piper

The union between Christ and his bride is so close (“one flesh”) that any good done to her is a good done to himself. The blatant assertion of this text is that this fact motivates the Lord to nourish, cherish, sanctify, and cleanse his bride.

By some definitions, this cannot be love. Love, they say, must be free of self-interest — especially Christlike love, especially Calvary love. I have never seen such a view of love made to square with this passage of Scripture.

Yet what Christ does for his bride, this text plainly calls love: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church . . . ” (5:25). Why not let the text define love for us, instead of bringing our definition from ethics or philosophy? According to this text, love is the pursuit of our joy in the holy joy of the beloved.

There is no way to exclude self-interest from love, for self-interest is not the same as selfishness. Selfishness seeks its own private happiness at the expense of others.

Love seeks its happiness in the happiness of the beloved. It will even suffer and die for the beloved in order that its joy might be full in the life and purity of the beloved.

This is how Christ loved us, and this is how he calls us to love one another.

The Evils of the Chinese Government

Leaked Xinjiang Papers Confirm

Chinese Communist Party Is Full Of Lying Murderers

Unprecedented leaked documents confirm the Chinese Communist Party is committing ethnic cleansing, and lying about it to its own people and the world.

Helen Raleigh
The Federalist

The New York Times’ Asia correspondents Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley dropped a bombshell last Saturday by reporting on the Xinjiang Papers, a 403-page collection of reportedly classified documents including speeches by Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other Communist Party officials on plans to carry out the massive incarceration of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang and government directives instructing local officials how to coerce Uyghur students to return home with lies and threats.

The leak of such classified documents out of China is unprecedented. Ramzy said on Twitter that the person who leaked these documents was from the Chinese political establishment and “expressed hope that the disclosure would prevent party leaders, including Xi Jinping, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions.” We should thank this leaker for risking his or her life to expose the true evil of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in their own words. The Xinjiang Papers confirm what the CCP is doing in Xinjiang is an ethnic cleansing, and the CCP is ruthless and untrustworthy.

State-Conducted Torture, Rape, and Imprisonment

The United Nation defines ethnic cleansing as “a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.” Some of the coercive practices used to remove civilian populations include “torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, extrajudicial executions, rape and sexual assaults, severe physical injury to civilians, confinement of civilian population in ghetto areas, forcible removal, displacement and deportation of civilian population.” These have happened and are still ongoing in Xinjiang, a supposedly “autonomous territory” in northwest China and home to many ethnic minorities in China.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Oozing Self-Righteousness Will Put Them Above the Law

Extinction Rebellion

One day it will be impossible to criticise the fanatics of Extinction Rebellion. Until then, I’ll tell the truth about those irrational zealots

Peter Hitchens
Mail on Sunday

It will soon be impossible to criticise the fanatics of Extinction Rebellion.   In fact, I will not be at all surprised if, in years to come, I and others face prosecution for having dared to doubt them.

Soon we will be sitting in an impoverished, dark country, with a trashed economy, incessant power cuts and dismal standard of living, caused by their dogma.  We are like a thirsty man refusing to drink from a tap because of a water shortage, while his local water company leaves hundreds of leaks unrepaired, allowing thousands of gallons to drain away each hour

Putting people on trial for warning against this will be one way to keep warm and occupied.

So, while I still may, I’ll say that this is one of the nastiest and stupidest outbreaks of intolerant, irrational zealotry since mankind emerged from the Dark Ages. I speak as a former intolerant zealot, who grew out of it.  I know the fierce joy which comes from despising others, only too well. And I fear it.

So, off we go into the cold and dark, while the red-clad propaganda mummers simper and gesticulate. Protesters are pictured at a 'grief march' in London last week
So, off we go into the cold and dark, while the red-clad propaganda mummers simper and gesticulate. Protesters are pictured at a 'grief march' in London last week

Perhaps the most dispiriting version of it is to be seen in the painted, beatific faces of the red-robed mime-artists who are to be found on so many of the demonstrations demanding that this country commits economic suicide.

Who can tell what is going on behind those self-satisfied, ethereal expressions?