Daily Archives: July 27, 2018

July 27: The Tricks We Play on Ourselves

2 Samuel 18:1–33; 2 Peter 2:12–22; Psalm 144:1–15

A great deal of leadership is based on consistency. King David is a prime example: He struggled most when he was inconsistent.

David’s son, Absalom, committed horrific acts against David and others (2 Sam 14–17). David repeatedly responded in a manner unbefitting a king, finally sending men out to destroy Absalom’s troops (2 Sam 18:1–4). As the troops headed out, he ordered his commanders—within hearing of the army—to “deal gently” with Absalom (2 Sam 18:5). With this order, David again acted beneath his role and duty as king: He asked for the leader of a rebellion to be spared—essentially using his own warriors as pawns in a game to regain his fallen son. Absalom didn’t deserve to be dealt with gently; he was a ruthless, terrorizing dictator and had opposed God’s chosen king. His time was up. For this reason, and perhaps others, Joab, one of David’s commanders, chose to kill Absalom (2 Sam 18:14).

It’s unlikely any of us will ever be in a position like David or Joab’s, but their story presents some lessons in leadership. Joab demonstrates that sometimes the “right hand man” knows better than the commander-in-chief. David’s repeated inability to separate his emotions from the situation (he made this same mistake with Saul) could have resulted in his untimely death and the complete destruction of the kingdom God had given him to steward. If David was willing to be so merciful, he could have invited Absalom back into the kingdom. David’s actions show us that we should seek the advice of others, asking that they help us think through the full ramifications of our actions. If David would have sought advice from Joab or another of his trusted leaders, he probably would have made a wiser decision—and preserved his dignity as king.

Based on David’s track record as a military leader, he would have dealt swiftly with any other uprising, but he ignored resistance from his own son to the point of peril. The events between David and Absalom don’t portray David as a man of love and mercy; instead, they reveal him as a man too easily swayed by conflicting feelings.

Selfishness is David’s ultimate downfall. He wanted Absalom to live because it seemed best in his mind—it was the ideal future he envisioned. In making a move to create that future himself, David jeopardized everyone he should have protected. He even jeopardized his own reign, which itself was a gift from God.

What are you currently being selfish about that has, until now, been deceiving you?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

July 27 Rejoicing in Your Inheritance

“In this you greatly rejoice” (1 Peter 1:6).

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Contemplating your eternal inheritance should give you joy that transcends any temporal circumstance.

Joy is a major theme in Scripture. The psalmist said, “Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright” (Ps. 33:1); “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to Thee; and my soul, which Thou hast redeemed” (Ps. 71:23).

Even creation itself is said to rejoice in the Lord: “Thou dost make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy. … Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all it contains; let the field exalt, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord. … Let the mountains sing together for joy before the Lord; for He is coming to judge the earth” (Ps. 65:8; 96:11–13; 98:8–9).

Joy is the special privilege of every believer, regardless of his or her circumstances. You might suffer untold heartache and persecution for your faith in Christ, but amid the severest trials, God wants you to know profound joy. That’s why Peter said, “To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13).

First Peter 1:6–9 identifies five elements of your Christian life that should bring you joy amid trials. The first is your protected inheritance. That’s what Peter referred to when he said, “In this you greatly rejoice” (v. 6, emphasis added). Other elements include a proven faith, a promised honor, a personal fellowship, and a present deliverance (vv. 6–9), which we will explore in coming days.

The Greek word translated “greatly rejoice” in 1 Peter 1:6 is not the usual Greek word for “rejoice.” Peter here used a more expressive and intense word that speaks of one who is happy in a profound spiritual sense rather than in a temporal or circumstantial sense. That’s the quality of joy God grants to those who trust in Him and who look beyond their temporal trials to the glory of their eternal inheritance. Let that be your focus as well.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the joy that transcends circumstances.

For Further Study: Read John 16:16–22. ✧ According to Jesus, why would the disciples lament? ✧ What would bring them joy? ✧ What does their experience teach you about the basis for your joy as a Christian?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 221). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

JULY 27 GOD NEEDS NO ADJECTIVES

I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us.

Isaiah 63:7

We do not need any enlarging adjectives when we speak of God, or of His love or mercy. God Almighty fills the universe and overfills it because it is His character—infinite and unlimited!

We do not need to say God’s “great” love, although we do say it. We do not need to say God’s “abundant” mercy, although we do say it. I expect we say it to cheer and elevate our own thoughts of God, not to infer that there is any degree in the mercy of God.

Our adjectives can be useful only when we talk about earthly things—when we refer to the great love of a man for his family, or of a man’s fabulous wealth.

But when we are speaking of God, there can be no such measuring point. When we speak of the riches of God, we must include all the riches there are! God is not less rich or more rich—He is rich! He holds all things in His being!

So it is with mercy. God is not less merciful or more merciful. Thankfully, He is full of mercy. Whatever God is, He is that in the fullness of unlimited grace!

Heavenly Father, the depth and breadth of Your attributes are beyond human measure and comprehension. God, there is no other god like You![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

July 27, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

19:7. In verses 7–9 David described the efficacious nature of the Law of the Lord. Just as the sun is the dominant feature of God’s natural revelation (vv. 4c–6), so the Law was the dominant element in God’s specific revelation in the Old Testament.

The perfect Law of God (cf. “flawless” in 12:6; 18:30; Prov. 30:5) can change people. It revives the soul and the Law’s statutes can be trusted to make one wise.[1]


19:7 On law, see note on 1:2. perfect. See note on 19:13. reviving the soul. That is, giving refreshment (see Prov. 25:13, “refreshes the soul”; Ps. 23:3 uses a similar expression). Sure, or trustworthy. simple. See Introduction to Proverbs: Character Types in Proverbs.

19:7 The close relation between God’s instruction through creation (vv. 1–6) and through his law (vv. 7–14) anticipates the role of Christ as mediator in creation and redemption (Col. 1:15–20).[2]


19:7 is perfect The Hebrew word used here, tamim, means to be “perfect” or “blameless”; it emphasizes personal integrity.[3]


19:7 The second part of the psalm extols specific revelation; that is, revelation in verbal form through divine inspiration (e.g., Ex 20:1; 1 Co 2:9–10; 2 Pt 1:21). The law did not come from a sun god, but from the Lord, the sovereign Creator. His revelation is open to all, to guide them in righteousness; the full revelation of the Godhead will come in Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1–3). Critical interpreters have suggested that this psalm is a composite of two psalms because of the sudden shift here from the realm of nature to the realm of Israelite law. Such a view ignores that God’s moral law—His principles for human behavior—are grounded in the structure of the universe (Rm 1:17–25). The creative power of God underlies the integrity of the law. The relationship of the created and moral orders was aptly expressed by Immanuel Kant: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above me, and the moral law within me.”[4]


[1] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 808). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 961). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 19:7). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 807). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

July 27 The Barrier of Personal Riches

Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”—Matt. 8:21–22

This man, perhaps a hanger-on who had followed Jesus around the countryside for a while, makes what seems at first to be a reasonable statement. His seeking permission to go and bury his father, however, did not mean his parent was already dead. It was and is a common Middle Eastern figure of speech referring to a child’s (mainly a son’s) responsibility to help with the family business until the father dies and the inheritance is available. Such a commitment can conceivably take a long time to fulfill. It’s the same as saying, “I need to wait until I receive my inheritance.”

This superficial disciple did not want devotion to Jesus to get in the way of receiving what was coming to him. He was okay with associating with the Lord by name, but his personal prosperity and well-being came ahead of serving Christ.

Jesus’ reply was right on the mark with another proverbial saying, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” In other words, “Let the world take care of the things of the world.” We should let the spiritually dead manage their own affairs.

Believers must not pattern their thinking after the world’s ways, but be disciples of Christ and bring the good news of eternal life to the world, relying on His grace and enabling.

ASK YOURSELF

Are there any plans and hopes and dreams you are still holding on to that may not square with the will of God for your life? If you had to surrender any of these for the cause of Christ, how do you think you’d react?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 217). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

JULY 27 ABSENCE OF REPENTANCE BRINGS SPIRITUAL UNCERTAINTY

In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.

2 TIMOTHY 2:25

The man who is seriously convinced that he deserves to go to hell is not likely to go there, while the man who believes that he is worthy of heaven will certainly never enter that blessed place.

I use the word “seriously” to accent true conviction and to distinguish it from mere nominal belief.

It is possible to go through life believing that we believe, while actually having no conviction more vital than a conventional creed inherited from our ancestors or picked up from the general religious notions current in our social circle. If this creed requires that we admit our own depravity, we do so and feel proud of our fidelity to the Christian faith. But from the way we love, praise and pamper ourselves it is plain enough that we do not consider ourselves worthy of damnation!

The poor quality of Christian faith and the uncertainties that mark the lives of a host of church members grow out of our modern evangelistic scene’s absence of real repentance. So, too, the absence of repentance is the result of an inadequate view of sin and sinfulness held by those who present themselves in the inquiry room. “No fears, no grace,” said Bunyan. “Though there is not always grace where there is fear of hell, yet, to be sure, there is no grace where there is no fear of God. For the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and they that lack the beginning have neither middle nor end.”[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Nikki Haley Shares How a Fateful Knock at the Door Changed Her Indian-Sikh Family Forever — Faithwire

United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has delivered some powerful remarks to the Religious Freedom Summit. Revealing fascinating details of her Sikh family’s emigration to the United States, Haley opened up about her own conversion to Christianity and the staggering privilege she’s experienced growing up in a country that champions religious freedom.

‘The Human Rights Council Is a Farce’: Nikki Haley Brings House Down, Reveals ‘Faith Journey’ That Led Her to Christ 20 Years Ago

https://www.faithwire.com/2018/07/25/the-human-rights-council-is-a-farce-nikki-haley-brings-house-down-reveals-faith-journey-that-led-her-to-christ-20-years-ago/embed/#?secret=Xs5P3tgGgQ

The three-day Ministerial for the Advancement of Religious Freedom was poignantly hosted at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., running from Tuesday thru Thursday this week.

“It says everything about our country that this first ministerial has been devoted to the importance of preserving, protecting and expanding religious freedom,” Haley opened in her keynote address.

“America’s respect for religious freedom informs our foreign policy. It is an overlooked weapon in our modern arsenal of democracy.”


Ambassador Haley said that the expansion of religious freedom is “a means to protect peace and security.”

Then, the former governor of South Carolina revealed that Religion freedom is also “personal” to her.

“I’m fortunate to benefit from religious tolerance. My parents emigrated to a small town in South Carolina from India in 1969 as members of the Sikh faith,” Haley explained. “My Dad wore a turban and still does to this day. We were the first Indian-American family in our small town in South Carolina.”

“We stood out,” Haley quipped, to laughter from the crowd.

The Ambassador went on to explain how many of the locals in their town would arrive at the door in an attempt to evangelize the family.

“People would show up at our door asking us to convert to their religion. Some had tears in their eyes because they sincerely believed that eternal damnation awaited those who didn’t share their faith,” she said.

“My older sister was given a Bible once from these well-meaning visitors. When my mom saw it, she told my sister to read it cover to cover. ‘There’s truth in there,’ she said,” Haley recalled.

The politicians then remarked on her personal faith in Jesus.

“Twenty years ago my faith journey took me to Christianity,” she said, adding: “I have found great strength in my faith and trust in my heart, but I am a person who is humble in my faith. I don’t claim to have the wisdom to know what God has in store for me or for other people.”

“But I do know this,” Haley continued, “there are many places in the world where my faith journey would have been impossible, places where governments deny their people the right to choose their faiths the right to have a faith at all. ”

The Ambassador said that it was to her “great fortun” that her parents were able to “legally emigrate to America.”

“Here, we not only protect our inalienable right to know God’s grace, we also know that true grace cannot be imposed by government. It must be embraced freely from within,” she said.

Haley also noted that her experience as ambassador to the United Nations had “given the opportunity to see the most intimate and personal issue impacts entire nations and peoples.”

She added: “It has given me the chance to extend the remarkable example of American religious freedom, something I experienced first-hand, into the international arena.”

The Ambassador also noted that at the UN, she has witnessed how “peace and security are being threatened from the denial of religious freedom.”

In a brilliantly articulated remark, Haley said that the denial of religious freedom is “so destructive” because it “represents the state elevating itself above the divine.”

“In America, our rights are outside of the realm of government,” she added. “Denial of religious freedom is the ultimate authoritarianism. Limiting or denying religious freedom is a key way for governments to exert control over their people.”

Haley concluded: “Where there is religious tolerance, there is political tolerance. And where there is political tolerance, there is peace, security and prosperity.”

(H/T: CBN News)

via Nikki Haley Shares How a Fateful Knock at the Door Changed Her Indian-Sikh Family Forever — Faithwire

July 27 Respecting What Is Right

Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17, nasb

If you sincerely respect others, including your enemies, you will be predisposed to do the right thing concerning them. Such respect helps you to discipline and prepare yourself ahead of time to respond in all situations in a manner pleasing to God.

Behaving in a way that respects what is right and demonstrates graciousness and forgiveness toward others, even your enemies, should be a positive testimony to them. It will also “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10).[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 228). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

There’s a Direct Line from Obama, Holder, Rice, Lerner, Clinton to FBI Scandals

Defying Congress, weaponizing government, lying to voters and erecting a justice double standard created a bitter harvest today

Former President Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House were marked by four huge scandals, each of which uniquely contributed to the unprecedented level of corruption now being exposed in the FBI’s Russia Collusion investigation.

The four scandals include:

1.) Fast & Furious (2011), which exposed the Department of Justice (DOJ) selling high-powered rifles and other firearms to individuals known to be straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels.

2.) Benghazi (2012), the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in a U.S. Consulate in Libya, including J. Christopher Stevens, the country’s Ambassador to Libya, and the Obama administration’s false explanation of it.

3.) IRS Targeting (2013), in which the federal tax agency’s illegally singled out Tea Party, conservative and evangelical non-profit applicants for illegal harassment during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns.

4.) Hillary Email (2015), which included hundreds of emails containing highly sensitive classified information to and from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her private server, which was compromised by multiple foreign powers and hackers.

Official wrong-doing seen separately in each of these four scandals came together to create the current FBI scandal. Here’s how:

Defying Congress: When then-Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress on June 28, 2012, he became the first sitting member of a presidential cabinet to be so voted. The vote was the result of Holder’s refusal to turn over Fast & Furious documents sought by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The committee, led by its chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), wanted to know why hundreds of an estimated 2,000 weapons — including AK-47s and .50 Calibre sniper rifles — whose sale to straw purchasers was sanctioned by DOJ, were turning up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. After months of negotiations between Issa and DOJ failed, Holder simply refused to provide the requested documents.

Lying to America: For days after the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghaz, Libya, Obama, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers, among many others in the administration, claimed the four Americans who died were victims of a spontaneous protest of an obscure Internet documentary critical of Muslims.

Rice notably repeated that claim on the five most-watched morning news programs on the Sunday following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Libya. Clinton also repeated it to relatives of the four men killed when their bodies were returned to the U.S. for burial.

In fact, U.S. officials knew soon after the start of attack, which included two highly coordinated waves and lasted nearly 12 hours, that the Libyan terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia was behind it. Clinton even told daughter Chelsea in an email during the attack that it was mounted by “an Al Queada-like group” of terrorists.

Weaponizing Law Enforcement: When Congress approved and Obama signed Obamacare into law in 2010, debate over it had already sparked the Tea Party protest movement of mostly conservative and populist middle-class Americans, many of whom had never before participated in the political process other than voting.

Related: These Five FBI Scandal Figures May Never Get Out of the FISA Woods

To combat the movement, IRS senior executive Lois Lerner began in 2010 imposing extremely intrusive demands for information on Tea Party, conservative and evangelical non-profit applicants and delaying decisions on their applications for tax exemption.

The illegal harassment begun in 2010 continued through Obama’s successful re-election campaign in 2012. Four years later, the IRS admitted its conduct was wrong and apologized.

The Lerner operation helped Obama’s re-election campaign, according to a 2017 study by four scholars from Stockholm University, Harvard’s Kennedy School for Government and the American Enterprise Institute. They calculated that IRS targeting cost Republicans as many as 8.5 million votes in 2012 in an election that saw Obama defeat Mitt Romney by 5 million votes.

Double Standard for Justice: Congressional investigators, according to The Hill, found “passages in FBI documents stating the ‘sheer volume’ of classified information that flowed through Clinton’s insecure emails was proof of criminality as well as an admission of false statements by one key witness in the case, the investigators said.

“The name of the witness is redacted from the FBI documents but lawmakers said he was an employee of a computer firm that helped maintain her personal server after she left office as America’s top diplomat and who belatedly admitted he had permanently erased an archive of her messages in 2015 after they had been subpoenaed by Congress.”

Related: Lisa Page May Seek Immunity, Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell Says

Even so, former FBI counter-intelligence chief Peter Strzok made a key change in the draft of then-FBI Director James Comey’s July 2016 statement to the nation on the bureau’s Hillary email investigation: Strzok changed the words “grossly negligent” to “extreme carelessness.”

Because federal law requires prosecution of federal officials, regardless of their title, for “gross negligence” in handling classified information, Strzok’s change, which Comey approved and spoke to the nation, effectively gave Clinton a free pass just months before voters went to the polls to decide between her and Donald Trump.

Even Comey’s revelation of new Clinton emails 11 days before the polls opened and his second absolution two days before the voting couldn’t deflate her seemingly invincible status on election day as overwhelmingly favored to defeat Trump.

Nearly three years after Clinton’s grossly negligent mis-handling of classified information was first reported, she still has a security clearance that gives her access to … classified information.

And Then Came The Steele Dossier:

Strzok eventually joined special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in May 2017 of allegations that aides to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign against Clinton colluded with Russian interests.

But then a second messaging scandal broke, this one involving thousands of texts sent on FBI cell phones to and from Strzok and his lover, then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Their messages revealed deep, bitter, determined opposition to Trump and provided a map of their influence on the Hillary email and Russia collusion probes, the latter led by special counsel Robert Mueller, beginning in May 2017.

Related: Gowdy Shreds IG’s Reasons for Ignoring ‘Textbook Bias’

Strzok was removed from the Mueller probe and demoted to the FBI’s human resources department, while Page left the bureau entirely. Their departures from the active investigations, however, did nothing to change the facts about a profoundly dirty document at the heart of the Russia collusion investigation.

That document is the dossier prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele, based on material gathered in great part from Russian intelligence sources and described by former FBI Director James Comey as “salacious and unverified.”

The dossier painted an extremely negative portrait of Trump and was funded by Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which she then controlled. The funding was channeled to Steele via the Perkins Coie law firm to Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C.-based opposition research firm.

The dossier is at the heart of the Mueller probe because the FBI made it the primary basis of four applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Act seeking permission to spy on former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

The FISA court approved the surveillance but the FBI concealed from the judges the fact the dossier was funded by Clinton. The FBI also assured the court that the information in its applications for surveillance authority was credible and verified. Mueller has indicted multiple people but not Page.

Virtually all that has been learned about the Steele dossier, the FISA warrant, the Strzok/Page texts and protecting Clinton from prosecution, as well as the key facts in the four preceding scandals listed resulted from three sources:

Most prominent at every stage has been congressional investigations, especially the House Judiciary Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Related: This FISA Passage Points to the Heart of Mueller’s Collusion Case Against Trump

Republican leaders on those panels have brought pressure through subpoenas, contempt citations and impeachment threats. Also prominent was the June 9 report of DOJ’s Inspector General that exhaustively documented the virulent hatred for Trump in the Strzok/Page text messages.

Finally, the non-profit government watchdog Judicial Watch, has adroitly used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits to obtain court orders forcing release of key documents in all of the scandals covered in this post. The Judicial Watch document archive is a rich resource for those interested in fully understanding these scandals.

Just as Holder refused to turn over Fast & Furious documents sought by Congress, DOJ and the FBI have done the same thing.

Just as Obama, Rice, Powers and Clinton lied about Benghazi, so did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (appointed by Trump), former FBI Director James Comey (appointed by Obama) and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe (promoted by Comey) when they signed the FISA applications and thereby certified the credibility of the material included in the documents.

Just as Lerner weaponized the IRS against the Tea Party, using the FISA process and the Steele dossier to enable surveillance of Page was a raw exercise of federal law enforcement and intelligence resources in an effort to harm Trump and thereby help Clinton.

Finally, just as the double standard of justice protected Clinton, the FBI investigation of the Russian collusion allegations led to the Mueller probe against Trump, even though it was Clinton who paid for Russian dirt on Trump.

That may be the ultimate example of a double standard in American justice.

— Read on www.lifezette.com/2018/07/theres-a-direct-line-from-obama-holder-rice-lerner-clinton-to-fbi-scandals/

How Will We Live Now? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

The year 1976 continues to reverberate throughout evangelical Christianity. The towering giants of the evangelical world at that time seemed to see our world in increasingly hopeful terms. The urgent cultural crises of the 1960s appeared to be in recession.

As we now know, it was not really so. In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion on demand nationwide. Larger intellectual currents were setting the stage for a massive shift in the culture. Evangelicals were wearing “I Found It” buttons and building massive megachurches, but the culture was shifting toward a hostile secularism that would not be fully apparent for a generation.

Still, some saw it coming. I turned 17 in 1976 and was facing my last year of high school and trying to figure out the world around me. An apologetic crisis had troubled me for a couple of years by then, and I needed help. I was already facing some of the issues and questions that would soon explode onto the American scene.

Thankfully, I did get help, and from multiple sources. D. James Kennedy introduced me to the writings of Francis Schaeffer. At that point, I had not met Schaeffer, but his writings were a form of theological rescue for me. They gave me a way of understanding how the Christian faith related to and answered the questions of the world around me.

In 1976, Schaeffer released How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture, and I bought one of the first copies. I read it from cover to cover with intensity, knowing that Schaeffer was telling the story of Western civilization.

How Should We Then Live? was both a book and a multi-episode video project, just like Lord Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation, a 1969 series on the history of Western society told from a humanistic perspective. This was not a coincidence. Schaeffer was deliberately answering Clark and telling a very different story. The subtitle of the book made that clear—The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. That was virtually the opposite of Lord Clark’s story. Schaeffer did not disagree with every argument of Clark’s Civilisation, but he did disagree with many of Clark’s arguments and, more importantly, with Clark’s humanistic interpretation of the main story.

Francis and his wife, Edith, founded and directed L’Abri Fellowship, a ministry in the Swiss mountains, drawing disaffected and confused young people from around the world, presenting them with the gospel of Christ, and answering their questions with a rational and demonstrative apologetic for biblical Christianity. While other leaders were building the evangelical empire, the Schaeffers took in scores of long-haired and intellectually agitated young people, engaging their minds and interpreting the culture.

I read How Should We Then Live? straight through, but the book troubled me. Who was right about the main story of Western civilization, Schaeffer or Clark? I wasn’t sure when I first read the book. Lord Clark pointed to the continual rise of the culture over centuries, right down to the present. Schaeffer saw modern culture as overwhelmingly opposed to God and disintegrating, cut off from any ability to make transcendent judgments or truth claims. He saw the looming humanism as a direct challenge to Christianity. I realized then that Lord Clark believed the same, and yet he saw the new humanism as a liberation from ancient but persistent religious beliefs. To my chagrin, I had not realized the presuppositions behind Clark’s story of civilization.

The collision between Clark and Schaeffer introduced me to the great collision of worldviews that became such a central interest and urgency of my life. On the one hand, I felt embarrassed that I had not recognized the problems with Lord Clark’s storyline. On the other hand, I knew that I desperately wanted to understand the intersection of ideas, morality, art, culture, architecture, music, science, philosophy, and biblical Christianity.

Years before words such as worldviews and truth claimsentered the common evangelical vocabulary, Schaeffer was introducing the terms and stressing their importance. He knew that the great conflict of world-views was underway, and he cared deeply about a generation of young people who were even then deciding between Christianity and intellectual revolution.

Schaeffer was absolutely right when he began How Should We Then Live? with these words: “There is a flow to history and culture.” Yes, there is such a flow, and Christians had better know which way the culture is flowing.

“People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of those presuppositions than even they themselves may realize,” Schaeffer wrote, and he was talking this way when most evangelicals were unaware of the storm of worldviews that was coming. He perceived the presuppositions of the looming humanistic and secular worldview as showing up first in art and high culture. He was right. While most evangelicals were watching Gunsmoke and taking their kids to the newly opened Walt Disney World, Schaeffer was listening and watching as a new worldview was taking hold of the larger culture.

He was also right that the greatest threats to evangelical faithfulness were the promises of personal peace and affluence. He was prophetic in criticizing the Christian church for a legacy of racism and the abuse of economic abundance. He was right when he looked to developments such as Roe v. Wade and knew that something seismic had shifted in the culture, and that bigger shocks were yet to come.

He was also asking precisely the right question: How should we then live? That question that troubled Schaeffer so much in 1976 troubles all of us now. We are about to find out if professing Christians in this generation are going to believe and to live authentic biblical Christianity.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

via How Will We Live Now? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

The Joel Osteen Sermon that Changed Oprah’s Life (Critique) — Tim Challies

This marks the final entry in a series of videos I’ve very much enjoyed putting together: The Great Sermon Series. And for this last video we are going in a different direction by looking at a not-so-great sermon. Joel Osteen’s “The Power of I Am” may be the most popular sermon on YouTube, but it’s also got to be the worst.

(Written by Tim Challies & Joey Schwartz; produced by Thaddeus Maharaj)

Transcript

Tim: In this video series, we’ve been exploring great sermons that have made a widespread impact and stuck around for the long haul. These are sermons that feed your soul and stir your emotions. They’re the sermons that leave you breathless. The sermons that change your life, that stay in your mind forever. Here’s a warning for today’s sermon: if you love the Word of God and you treasure the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this one is guaranteed to stir up some kind of emotion. It may take your breath away as you gasp in horror and disbelief. And if you watch all the way through, it will definitely stay burned in your mind.

Joel: When you get up in the morning and look in the mirror, instead of complaining, you should be saying, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am attractive, I am getting younger. You talk like that and God will renew your youth.

Tim: For this sermon, we’re taking a different approach. We’re going to look at the number one sermon on YouTube. This one has over three million views. This is a sermon Oprah Winfrey shared on her YouTube channel after saying, this one changed the way she see’s her life. And we’re going to see why, despite all of the praise, it is truly, truly terrible. What makes Joel Osteen’s The Power of I Am such a flaming dumpster-fier of a sermon? Let’s take a closer look.

Osteen’s sermon starts on a positive note. He has the congregation hold up their Bibles and say a pledge together.

Joel: Hold up your Bible, say it like you mean it. This is my Bible, I am what it says I am, I have what it says I have, I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess, my mind is alert, my heart is receptive, I will never be the same, in Jesus name. God bless you.

Tim: Thousands of listeners say together, today I will be taught the Word of God. Unfortunately, over the next 28 minutes, that could not be further from the truth. Osteen ignores the Bible. He’s got no text at the heart of the sermon and he only quotes it haphazardly. He misuses the Bible. He butchers some of its stories, like saying that God’s promise to Abraham was only fulfilled when his wife Sarah elevated her self-esteem and changed her I am’s. He ignores the Bible, he misuses the Bible, but he most certainly does not teach the Bible. There are so many problems jam-packed into this wretched little sermon that we could go on all day. But we’ll boil it down to just three reasons this sermon is so very, very bad.

First, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is distorted. I understand it’s no small accusation to say that Osteen is distorting the Gospel. After all, the apostle Paul in Galatians 1, verse 9, insists, that those who preach a different gospel are under the curse of God.

So, let’s be clear about what the Gospel is. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that, first, humanity’s great problem is that in our sin against God we are separated from Him and we are under His wrath. And two, that God’s solution for us is to believe in Jesus Christ who lived a righteous life and paid the full penalty for His people’s sins in their place. That is the Gospel. So, what does Osteen teach? Just listen as he gives his main point.

Joel: Here’s the principle: what follows the I am, will always come looking for you. When you say, I am so clumsy, clumsiness comes looking for you. I am so old, wrinkles come looking for you. I am so overweight, calories come looking for you. It’s just like you’re inviting them. Whatever you follow the I am with, you’re handing it an invitation, opening the door, giving it permission to be in your life.

Tim: Rather than the foundational problem with humanity being our sin, Osteen teaches that our foundational problem is one of self-esteem. We don’t think highly enough of ourselves, we don’t see ourselves as being as great as we truly are. So, what’s the solution for this kind of self-esteem problem? Well, he’s happy to guide us.

Joel: Get up in the morning and invite good things into your life. I am blessed, I am strong, I am talented, I am disciplined, I am focused, I am prosperous. When you talk like that, talent gets summoned by Almighty God, go find that person. Health, strength, abundance, discipline starts heading your way.

Tim: Instead of faith in Jesus Christ being the solution for man, Osteen has different ideas. We ought to look in the mirror, we have to see our own amazingness there. And then, then we will be amazing. For Osteen, the solution is within us, rather than outside of us. The solution is in our minds rather than in our God. We do not need an awesome God for salvation, we simply need to remember that we ourselves are awesome. According to Osteen, the problem at the heart of humanity is one of self-esteem and the solution is to elevate our self-esteem, to believe in ourselves, to change our I am’s. See, he believes that words have the power to change reality. So we need to speak the right words and then believe those words and see how the world then conforms to those words. This is why we need to keep saying, I am young, I am beautiful, I am wealthy. What we believe, we speak, and what we speak, we create. This is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not even Christianity. This is just a new variation of the law of attraction mixed up with some of the power of positive thinking and this hefty dose of prosperity theology thrown in. It makes the good news of Jesus Christ essentially irrelevant since humanity doesn’t even really need salvation. We have everything we need within ourselves to flourish in this life and in the life to come.

The second reason the sermon is so very, very bad, is that the character of Jesus Christ is inverted. Osteen doesn’t merely fall short of displaying and proclaiming the true character of Jesus, he actually flips Him right around, so that he teaches people the exact opposite of what Jesus Christ taught.

Joel: But how many people, when they wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, the first thing they say, I am so old, I am so wrinkled, I am so worn out? You are inviting oldness, you’re inviting fatigue. Do us all a favor, stop inviting that. When you get up in the morning, look in the mirror, instead of complaining, you should be saying, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am attractive, I am getting younger. You talk like that, and God will renew your youth.

Tim: Let’s imagine for a moment that our words really do create our reality. Let me ask this, what kind of a reality would a true Christian want to create? Wouldn’t he want to create a reality in which he’s displaying Christian character, in which he’s displaying Christian maturity? Yet, how often does Osteen encourage his people to declare, I am holy, I am godly, I am humble, I am generous? Never. Because he’s only concerned for what’s on the surface. He constantly tells the congregation, especially the women to say, I am beautiful, I am attractive, I am young, I am prosperous, so that they’ll begin to look beautiful and look attractive and look young and be prosperous. The reality he wants them to call into existence is so superficial. It can’t be reconciled with, let’s say 1st Samuel chapter 16, verse 7, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Or how about the prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah chapter 53, verse 2, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him”, that’s Jesus, “and no beauty that we should desire Him.” What truly concerns God, is not our appearance, but our character.

For another example, watch how Osteen tells his people to deal with weakness.

Joel: That’s why there are forces constantly trying to make us feel intimidated, inferior, unqualified. And if you’re going to fulfill your destiny, you’ve got to shake off the negative voices, shake off the thoughts that are telling you, I am unable, I am unqualified. No, don’t invite weakness in.

Tim: Osteen insists we shouldn’t accept any form of weakness. Instead, we should remind ourselves that we are strong, we are able, we are qualified. But, how does this fit with Romans chapter 5, verse 6, “For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” Christ died for the weak, not the strong. Would Osteen be okay with Paul’s words in 2nd Corinthians chapter 12, verse 9, “But He said to me,” Christ said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul says, “therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest on me.” Instead of exhorting his people toward holy pursuits like inner character and godliness and humble dependence, Osteen appeals only to their felt needs of outer beauty and self-sufficiency. He inverts the character of Jesus. He calls people toward worldliness and away from true Christlikeness.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. Why would I critique a man who says he loves Jesus? Shouldn’t love compel me to assume the best of him and to give him the benefit of the doubt? Aren’t we all on the same team for Jesus? Okay, let’s do that. Let’s give Joel Osteen the benefit of the doubt. To be fair, to make sure we’re being fair, let’s go back over the sermon, and we’ll just watch together all the clips where Osteen talks about Jesus.

You can’t make this stuff up. Between the Bible pledge at the beginning of the sermon and the sinner’s prayer at the end of the sermon, Osteen mentions the name of Jesus a grand total of zero times. Do you see what he’s doing? He’s telling his church how to live without ever once referencing the greatest man who ever lived, the one who shows us how to live.

And this is the third reason this sermon is not great. The name of Jesus Christ is missing. This is astounding. But when you think about the content of the sermon, it actually makes sense. How can you mention the name of Jesus, who became poor for our sake, when you’re obsessed with getting rich in the name of God? How can you mention the name of Jesus, who died a shameful and a gruesome and a bloody death when you’re talking about claiming the promise of perfect health? How can you mention the name of Jesus, who came to save sinners, when you’re telling people that they’re awesome, that they’re amazing? You see, the name of Jesus wasn’t mentioned in this sermon, because it goes against everything that Jesus Christ lived and died and was raised for. He couldn’t mention the name of Jesus because simply speaking the name of Jesus would have brought shame to this false gospel he was espousing.

Despite the YouTube count, this is not a great Christian message. In fact, there’s nothing truly Christian about it. It’s not a Christian message because it fails to preach Christ, who is the message of Christianity. And it’s not great because it fails to proclaim the greatness of God. Even worse, it sets up health and wealth and self-centered flourishing as being so much greater than God.

So Christian, let me plead with you before you listen to the latest popular speaker, think about the truth you are receiving. Does it encourage you toward worldliness or Godliness? Does it exalt man or God? Does it align with the truth of scripture? As Paul told the Romans, abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good.

And Christian preachers, let me plead with you, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all of its goodness, with all of its power. Tell of the sinful state of man, tell of God’s love for us in sending His Son. Tell of the perfect life and obedience of Jesus, tell of His full payment for our sins on the cross. Tell of His death-defying resurrection and tell of the salvation that He offers to those who repent of their sins and believe in His name. Tell the people that God Himself is the greatest prize of the Gospel and please, oh please, proclaim the name of Jesus. His name is worthy of all glory and all honor and all praise. And to be sure His name is worthy of being included in your every sermon.

via The Joel Osteen Sermon that Changed Oprah’s Life — Tim Challies

How Can We Know There’s a God? (A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus) — Truthbomb Apologetics

This week’s Haven Today Program is a series entitled “A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus.”  The special guest is Dr. John Dickson, who is a “Thinker, Speaker, and Writer from Australia.” The series title is also the name of his most recent book.  In the brief video below, Dr. Dickson explains how one can know there is a God.

via How Can We Know There’s a God? (A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus) — Truthbomb Apologetics

July 27, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

3  For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4  Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 43:3–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


43:4 Israel is considered precious because of God’s sovereign grace (Deut. 7:6–8).[1]


43:3–4. A second reason Israel need not fear is that God loves her. This special love is not because of something the nation did or some quality she possesses. It is because of His choosing. As a ransom or reward for releasing the Jewish captives, Persia was enabled by God to conquer Egypt … Cush (modern-day southern Egypt, all of Sudan, and northern Ethiopia), and Seba, possibly the same as Sheba in southern Arabia (cf. 60:6; Job 6:19; 1 Kings 10:1–13) where the Sabeans lived (cf. Job 1:15; Isa. 45:14; Ezek. 23:42; Joel 3:8). In contrast with non-Israelites (represented by these three nations), Israel is precious and honored because of God’s love.[2]


43:3–4 God’s people are secured by his resolve to be glorified through their salvation. I give Egypt as your ransom … Cush and Seba. Here Isaiah plays on the idea of a ransom price that is sometimes conveyed by “redeemed” (v. 1; see note on 41:14). God will move history for the sake of his people. “Egypt” alludes to the exodus. The more remote Cush and Seba may imply that God will go to any length and alter the history of any nation for his people’s salvation. On “Cush,” see note on 18:1. “Seba” was probably along the Red Sea, though it is uncertain whether it was on the African or Arabian side.[3]


43:4 precious … honored. God’s people are exalted by election (49:5; Ex. 19:5; Deut. 7:6–8).[4]


43:3–4 There is no record of a time when God gave Egypt, Cush, and Seba as a ransom for Israel—and surely God does not need to pay off anyone to redeem His people. Some believe this verse referred to the Persian defeat of Egypt, but this occurred in the reign of Cambyses, after Cyrus had already decreed that the Israelites could return home (Ezr 1:1–3). This passage can be taken as a symbolic affirmation that, because of God’s great love for His people (Is 43:4), He will do anything to redeem them.[5]


43:3–4 God’s people are so precious that he is willing to save them at the price (ransom) of EgyptCush, and Seba. The land of Cush was south of Egypt, on the upper (southern) portion of the Nile River, roughly identical to modern Ethiopia. Seba’s location is unknown. Some scholars take this as a reference to the fact that while King Cyrus of Persia decreed the restoration of Judah, his successors went on to attack Egypt and Cush. Indeed, God is willing to give much more than these three countries in place of his people.[6]


[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 851). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] Martin, J. A. (1985). Isaiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1097). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1318). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1013). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[5] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1048). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[6] Longman, T., III. (2017). Isaiah. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1104). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

How ‘Social Media’ Became ‘Anti-Social Media’: Twitter’s And Facebook’s Reckoning

Twitter and Facebook engage in what many conservatives consider to be politically biased behavior. The two social media giants need to reform, or risk losing millions of users.

Editorials – Investor’s Business Daily / by TERRY JONES

Media Bias: Twitter might soon have the government breathing down its neck for “shadow-banning” conservatives, while Facebook’s market value has plunged more than $130 billion in just two days as the once-dominant social media site’s growth goes flat amid charges of bias. Is this the beginning of the end of the social media boom?

A report by Vice Media, which can hardly be considered right of center, found that Twitter appeared to suppress certain accounts of conservative groups, individuals and politicians.

It’s called “shadow banning,” in which Twitter engages in subtle blocking of conservative accounts on the site’s search function. It amounts to making one side of the political debate — mainly, conservatives and libertarians — far less visible in searches than the liberal and progressive side.

The report said: “The Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican congressmen, and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman no longer appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter,VICE News has learned. It’s a shift that diminishes their reach on the platform — and it’s the same one being deployed against prominent racists to limit their visibility.”

Meanwhile, “Democrats are not being ‘shadow banned’ in the same way,” the report said. “Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same situation in Twitter’s search.”

In other words, once again a progressive-dominated tech-site biases its service towards the left-side of the political spectrum to the detriment of the conservative-libertarian right.

It’s not just Twitter, of course. Facebook is having problems now for the same reason: It treats Republicans and conservatives differently than Democrats and leftists on its site.

Of course, conservatives don’t have to have Facebook or Twitter accounts. But then, if those two social media define themselves as politically oriented sites, the rules change somewhat.

That may be what Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was getting at on Wednesday. He was one of a number of well-known mainstream Republicans, including several other members of Congress and even the chair of the Republican National Committee, who had their accounts obscured by Twitter.

Gaetz told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he is pondering filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over Twitter’s suppression of his account.

“I am contemplating a complaint with the FEC, because if my political opponents have better access to the Twitter platform than I do, that’s no different than a private company giving my political opponents access to a billboard or television time or radio time,” said Gaetz. “That wouldn’t be equal.”

“So I believe that Twitter may have illegally donated to the campaigns of my opponents by prejudicing against my content,” he added.

Others have complained of the same thing. Blogger, screenwriter, author and co-fonder of Pajamas Media Roger Simon noted that his own account seems to have shriveled from around 30,000 followers to about 17,000, following an “algorithm change” that Twitter says it made in Spring to “improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter.”

Conservatives have complained for years about biased treatment on Facebook, too. Things got so bad in 2016, that they sought a meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

In late April of this year, a group of more than 60 conservatives issued a joint demand to Facebook and other social media and search sites that they  “rectify their credibility with the conservative movement” by explaining why they sometimes remove innocuous material and delete legitimate accounts.

Among those signing included former Attorney General Edwin Meese and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.

A study by The Western Journal found: “After Facebook’s January algorithm changes, pages associated with members of both major parties saw a significant decrease in interactions with readers, but the Facebook pages of Republican members of the House and Senate were impacted measurably more than those of their Democrat counterparts.”

Right-of-center critics have lodged similar complaints about Google’s search engine, which seems to favor liberal-left news sites when bringing up the results of a search. In some ways, Google, a pervasive search utility, has less of a defense for its alleged bias than either Facebook or Twitter, which are basically luxury communication apps.

Trump’s Tweets

No surprise, the apparent bias has riled up President Trump, whose own Twitter account is the subject of a movement to have it removed. Yesterday, in response to recent developments, he tweeted out: “Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.”

He’s right. This obvious anti-conservative bias is not healthy, not for our democracy or for the companies involved. Facebook and Twitter should expect more trouble ahead.

That’s especially true from those who feel “shadow-banned” or deceptively excluded from social media for expressing mainstream conservative political beliefs, while unhinged leftist critics on the same media routinely call their right-of-center foes “Hitler,” “racist” and even worse with impunity.

It’s time for the techie progressives that run the social media companies to clean up their act. If they don’t, they face inevitable decline as a force in American culture.

America’s traditions of free speech, open debate and the marketplace of ideas deserve respect. Rank political bias against conservatives, libertarians and the Republican Party is not acceptable.

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— Read on www.investors.com/politics/editorials/social-media-bias/

Facebook stock collapses as censorship increases

Originally published in Lifesite News

Facebook suffered a financial hit yesterday with more forecasted for the future, amid lingering fears about user privacy and an ongoing scandal over alleged political discrimination and censorship on the world’s largest social media platform.

The company’s second-quarter earnings fell short of Wall Street’s expectations Wednesday, Yahoo Finance reports, with disappointing active user growth. Facebook’s stock was down 24% in after-hours trading on Wednesday and down 18$ in early trading on Thursday.

“For the second quarter, the social network reported earnings-per-share of $1.74 on revenues of $13.23 billion, as well as 2.23 billion monthly active users,” Yahoo’s J.P. Mangalindan writes. “Analysts were generally expecting earnings-per-share of $1.72 on revenues of $13.3 billion. They were also expecting 2.25 billion monthly active users for the quarter.”

Facebook chief financial officer Dave Wehner warned that revenue growth would continue to decelerate in the third and fourth quarters of 2018 as well, though founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg attempted to highlight a silver lining by noting that the Facebook-owned Instagram continues to perform well, as a “story of great innovation and product execution.” He also noted that approximately 2.5 billion people use at least one app owned by the company (which also includes WhatsApp and Messenger) every day.

Wednesday’s report is particularly significant as it follows the first full quarter after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed as many as 87 million Facebook users’ personal data had been harvested by a third party. It also follows an ongoing controversy over improper suppression of conservative content.

Several former Facebook employees admitted in 2016 that the platform “routinely” manipulated its trending news feature to exclude topics of interest to conservatives. Multiple analyses have found that Facebook’s algorithm changes instituted at the beginning of the year have disproportionately impacted conservative politicians and websites.

The social media giant has been forced to apologize for numerous instances of improperly flagging conservative or Christian content as “hateful” or otherwise inappropriate. It has also come under fire for letting left-wing organizations like PolitiFact and the Southern Poverty Law Center influence its “fact-checking” and “hate speech” policies.

Most recently, the company admitted that it suppresses the reach of content from pages it deems guilty of spreading “fake news.” Facebook has promised an internal review of its policies to weed out bias, but conservatives remain skeptical that it will truly solve the problem.
— Read on gatewaynews.co.za/facebook-stock-collapses-as-censorship-increases/

Is There a Temple in Heaven? — Grace to You Blog

In the ancient world, the two most important buildings of any national capital were the palace and the temple. They represented civil and spiritual authority. In heaven the centrality of the throne of God emphasizes both His sovereignty and His worthiness to be worshiped. All heaven is His palace, and all heaven is His temple.

In Revelation 3:12 Christ says, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” In Johannine writings “he who overcomes” is every true believer. So every redeemed person is pictured here as a pillar of the temple ceremonially inscribed with three names. In Revelation 7:15 one of the twenty-four elders, speaking of saints who have come out of the great tribulation, tells the apostle, “They are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.”

In other words, those verses teach that Christians will serve God forever in a heavenly temple. Other passages also speak of a temple in heaven. For example, Revelation 11:19 speaks of “The temple of God which is in heaven” and “the ark of His covenant . . . in His temple.” Later John describes “the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven” (Revelation 15:5). Those passages make it clear that there is a temple in heaven.

In Revelation 21:22, however, describing New Jerusalem, John writes, “I saw no temple in it.” Attempting to reconcile Revelation 21:22 with the rest of Revelation, some interpreters argue that presently there is a temple in heaven, but when God constructs the new heavens and earth, there won’t be. That does not seem to capture the most obvious meaning of John’s description. The temple in heaven is not a building; it is the Lord God Almighty Himself. Revelation 7:15 implies this when it says “He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.” And Revelation 21:22-23, continuing the thought of “no temple,” adds, “For the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

The glory of God both illuminates heaven and defines the boundaries of its temple. One might say all heaven is the temple, and the glory and presence of the Lord permeate it.

A misunderstanding of these verses, unfortunately, has contributed to the notion that heaven is a dull, monotonous place. After all, who wants to be a pillar in a temple we can never leave (cf. Revelation 3:12)? But don’t miss the import of what John is saying here. The point is not that we become immovable support posts in a building, but that we enter the very presence of the Lord and never again leave Him. Remember, He is the temple of which we are pillars. The imagery is tremendously rich, echoing Jesus’ promise, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3)—and the apostle Paul’s great hope, “so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Our place will forever be in the very presence of God.

Beyond Words

Bear in mind that the biblical writers are struggling to describe the indescribable—and you and I are not capable of unscrewing the inscrutable. Even if God had revealed all the details about heaven, we wouldn’t be able to know or understand them. It is unlike anything we know. But in Ephesians 2, Paul gives some insight into heaven from a slightly different perspective. Here Paul is describing our utter dependence on God for salvation, saying that before we were redeemed we were dead in our trespasses and sins (v. 1), by nature children of wrath (v. 3). Then he describes God’s mercy and love toward us in saving us from our sins. The thought of God’s grace reaching out to save us when we deserved the opposite ought to overwhelm us with gratitude and humility.

Now notice what Paul says in Ephesians 2:7: God saved us “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” That verse won’t satisfy people curious to understand what heaven looks like, but note the vivid description of what heaven will be like: it is a place where the riches of God’s grace shine even more brightly than they do here on earth. That is what makes me long for heaven most.

Stop and think of it. Every good thing we know here on earth is a product of God’s grace (see James 1:17). And we who know Christ are going to heaven for this express purpose: so that God can showcase the infinite riches of His grace by showering His goodness on us endlessly. Does that not make your heart prefer the glory of heaven to the meager pleasures of earth?

(Adapted from The Glory of Heaven.)

via Is There a Temple in Heaven? — Grace to You Blog

How to T.R.A.I.N. Christian Students (Rather than Teach Them) — Cold Case Christianity

I’ve written repeatedly about why the Church needs to stop teaching students about their faith. Young Christians are leaving the Church in tremendous numbers during their college years, and our efforts to teach them has been incapable of reducing this rate of attrition. That’s why it’s time to stop teaching students and start training them. There’s a difference between teaching and training. Teaching is about imparting knowledge; training is about preparing for battle. As I explain this principle around the country, I use the acronym, T.R.A.I.N. to help people understand the conceptual difference:

T – Test
Challenge students to expose their weaknesses.

R – Require
Expect more from students than we sometimes think they can handle

A – Arm
Provide students with the truth and teach them how to articulate it

I – Involve
Deploy students to the battlefield of ideas

N – Nurture
Tend to students’ wounds and model the nature of Jesus

This week I’m going to briefly describe each step in this process. You may be thinking, “Hey this youth ministry stuff doesn’t really apply to me.” You’re wrong. I think the problem facing young Christians in our culture is indicative of the problem facing all of us as Christians. If we hope to become better Christian Case Makers so we can influence the culture and respond obediently to the command of God (1 Peter 3:15-16), we’ve got to rethink our approach to knowledge and Christian education. So let’s examine the TRAIN paradigm and see what it can provide. We’ll start today with TESTing.

Whenever I work with a youth group for an extended period of time, I begin with a test. This accomplishes two goals. First, it helps me see where specific weaknesses may be so I can focus my efforts. But more importantly, testing helps students understand how much they need to be trained. My experience as a police officer has helped me to understand why this is so important. We have a bar in our city that is a constant source of fights and disturbances. Officers are continually called to the location to handle difficult problems. It’s a perfect place to test new officers. When I was on training, I knew my field training officer (FTO) was going to volunteer our unit for any call that was dispatched to this bar, because he wanted to see if I could handle myself in tough situations. At some point, every new officer has to be tested to see if he or she can do the job; this bar became the perfect test location. Sometimes I held my own, sometimes I didn’t. After a scuffle in which I didn’t fare as well as I would have liked, I understood my need for improvement and started training as a fighter and wrestler. I was determined to do better next time. The test exposed my weakness and encouraged me to train.

That’s why I start by testing Christian students with role-playing. If at all possible, I try to have the host pastor introduce me as an atheist and give me two hours with the group during the first training session. In this first meeting, I present the case against theism calmly (but unflinchingly) to see if the students can make a case for what they believe. Sadly, they are usually unable to hold their own. These first sessions are nerve wracking for students who struggle to respond to my claims and begin to anxiously squirm under the weight of dozens of unanswered objections. They don’t fare well in this bar fight. When it’s over and I finally reveal I am actually a Christian who has come to help train them, the relief in the room is palpable. They are delighted to see I am a Christian (even though I am obviously aware of the many atheistic objections we face), and they are ready and eager to train. Like young officers, there’s a time when every Christian student must be tested. We can either seize the opportunity to test in the setting of our youth ministries, or we can pass on the opportunity and allow the first test to take place in college (when we aren’t available to our students). It’s our choice.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of Christian students (including your own children), stop teaching them and start training them. Begin the process with a test, and continue through the steps we’ll be talking about here on the blog this week. We can impact the character and durability of our young Christians, but we’re going to have to be intentional trainers to get the job done.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case DetectiveChristian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime SceneGod’s Crime Scene for Kids, and Forensic Faith.

via How to T.R.A.I.N. Christian Students (Rather than Teach Them) — Cold Case Christianity

Brannon Howse: July 26, 2018 | Worldview Weekend

Guest: John Fallahee and Jason Pratt. Topic: Rocket scientist Jason Pratt joins us to discuss the fallacy of Christian author Hugh Ross that declared that global warming was leading to a global ice age and potentially the end of the world as we know it. Topic: Former Catholic John Fallahee joins us to respond to the audio we play of John Piper declaring “genuine Christians who are devout and inconsistent Roman Catholics” are saved. Piper then lays out 7 heretical doctrines of the Church of Rome but only calls them concerning. Piper then goes on to make numerous contradictory statements that Brannon and John expose. John Fallahee explains the fallacy of Piper remarks in light of Biblical truth. Topic: We take your calls.
— Read on www.worldviewweekend.com/radio/audio/brannon-howse-july-26-2018

Are Big Social Media Companies Being Used To Advance The New World Order’s Agenda? | Zero Hedge

“…it has become exceedingly clear that they are singling out particular points of view for censorship, and the end result is that the agenda of the New World Order is being advanced.”

Authored by Michael Snyder via The American Dream blog,

In 2018, we have seen an unprecedented crackdown on anti-establishment voices on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. When they were first created, these social media platforms were essentially neutral, and they really did greatly contribute to the marketplace of ideas. But now there is a tremendous effort to censor voices that are a threat to the establishment, and in recent months we have witnessed the greatest purge of conservative voices in the history of the Internet. Anything that does not conform to the agenda of the elite is being labeled as “hate speech”, and countless anti-establishment voices have had social media accounts either “shadowbanned” or terminated completely. Needless to say, this could dramatically affect the outcome of the elections in November.

And it isn’t just political voices that are being silenced. As you will see at the end of this article, Facebook has been shutting down dozens and dozens of alternative health pages.

Why would they do that?

Well, the New World Order absolutely hates when people start questioning conventional medicine, vaccines and the giant pharmaceutical companies. Rather than engaging in legitimate debate, they would rather shut down dissenting voices instead.

Before the Internet came along, the elite had a virtual monopoly over the flow of information in our society. They owned all of the television networks, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, etc.

But then the Internet happened, and all of a sudden ordinary people like you and I could communicate with one another on a mass scale without having to go through the gatekeepers. It was a wonderful thing, but we all knew that it wouldn’t be like that forever.

We can debate the extent to which the globalists are directly pulling the strings at these social media companies behind the scenes, but the end result of all of this censorship is evident to all of us. Anti-establishment voices are being silenced, and the agenda of the New World Order is being advanced.

At this point, the censorship of anti-establishment voices is so obvious that even liberal news outlets are reporting on it. The following comes from Vice News

The Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican congressmen, and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman no longer appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter, VICE News has learned. It’s a shift that diminishes their reach on the platform — and it’s the same one being deployed against prominent racists to limit their visibility. The profiles continue to appear when conducting a full search, but not in the more convenient and visible drop-down bar. (The accounts appear to also populate if you already follow the person.)

Vice News mentioned just a few examples, but the truth is that hundreds of prominent anti-establishment conservatives have been “shadowbanned” on Twitter. Conservative members of Congress such as Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes have all been victimized, and earlier today U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz posted a furious tweet in which he accused Twitter of “deliberately targeting” all of them.

BREAKING: @Twitter deliberately targeting @RepMarkMeadows, @Jim_Jordan, @DevinNunes, & me to be #Shadowbanned.

Is it only a coincidence that these allegations would arise the week following my heated exchange with Twitter Executives before the Judiciary Committee??

WATCH. pic.twitter.com/6i1mtHLnhN

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) July 25, 2018

If Democrats were being treated the same way, at least we could say that Twitter was being fair.

But Vice News discovered that not a single liberal member of Congress has been shadowbanned…

Democrats are not being “shadow banned” in the same way, according to a VICE News review. McDaniel’s counterpart, Democratic Party chair Tom Perez, and liberal members of Congress — including Reps. Maxine Waters, Joe Kennedy III, Keith Ellison, and Mark Pocan — all continue to appear in drop-down search results. Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same situation in Twitter’s search.

When you are shadowbanned, it becomes much more difficult for people to find your account, and whatever you post is seen by a lot fewer people.

Prior to the Vice News article, Gizmodo discovered that quite a number of top anti-establishment Internet pundits were receiving the “shadowban” treatment as well…

“In what appears to be new ranking behavior, Gizmodo has identified several prominent far-right accounts now buried by Twitter’s search feature,” the site claimed. “As an unintended side effect of demoting divisive figures, many of the dropdown results now show fake accounts.”

Some examples of accounts which have been censored include author and journalist Mike Cernovich, author and YouTuber Stefan Molyneux, InfoWars Editor-at-Large Paul Joseph Watson, Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft, and commentator Laura Loomer.

And Breitbart added quite a few more names to the list

Breitbart News also discovered other examples of censored users, which included author and commentator Lauren Southern, OAN correspondent Jack Posobiec, Dilbert creator Scott Adams, lawyer and commentator Will Chamberlain, Gateway Pundit reporters Lucian Wintrich and Cassandra Fairbanks, Daily Caller contributor Scott Greer, Daily Caller reporter Peter J. Hasson, Daily Caller and Rebel Media journalist Rob Shimshock.

But let’s not just pick on Twitter. Facebook is an even bigger offender, and it has been reported that traffic from Facebook to many conservative sites is down by 70 percent or more since the 2016 election.

YouTube is a major offender as well. On Wednesday, we learned that they just deleted four more videos from the Infowars YouTube channel…

YouTube removed four videos from Jones’ channel, which has 2.4 million subscribers, that contained instances of hate speech and child endangerment, sources familiar with the matter said. YouTube channels are deleted if they get three strikes in a three-month period.

Two videos contained hate speech against Muslims, and a third contained hate speech against transgender people, sources said. A fourth showed a child who was pushed to the ground by an adult man, under the headline “How to prevent liberalism.” All four of the videos are currently posted on Infowars.

And prior to that, YouTube completely shut down the SGTreport

My You Tube channel has been terminated. 3rd strike for no good reason. #Censorship #BigBrother Please tweet to @TeamYouTube & demand that this injustice be immediately corrected by restoring my channel.

There were hundreds of high quality videos on that channel, and now they are all gone.

It is important to keep in mind that it appears that it is only anti-establishment voices that are receiving this kind of treatment. In fact, I don’t know of a single “never Trump” Republican that has been censored. Establishment voices on the “left” and the “right” are being totally left alone, but anti-establishment voices are being relentlessly persecuted.

And like I said at the beginning, it isn’t just political voices that are being censored. Global Freedom Movement recently compiled a list of 82 major alternative health pages that have been taken down by Facebook…

1 Collectively Conscious (915K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

2 Natural Cures Not Medicine (2.3M followers) – Deleted on June 11th, 2018.

3 I Want to Be 100% Organic (700K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

4 Viral Alternative News (500K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

5 Organic Health (230K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

6 Natural Cures From Food (120K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

7 Heart Centered Rebalancing (3.9M followers) – Deleted a few years ago.

8 Awareness Act (1.1M followers) – Deleted in mid-2017.

9 Conscious Life News (1.1M follower) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

10 Wake The Fuck Up (550K followers) – Deleted about a year ago.

11 Living Traditionally (570K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

12 Organic Wellness (600K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

13 Chocolate Socrates (608K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

14 Earth We Are One (1.7M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

15 Meditation Masters (2.3M followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

16 People’s Awakening (3.6M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

17 Nikola Tesla (1.7M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

18 Interesting Stories (1.5M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

19 The Warrior (1.7M followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

20 Natural Health Warriors (140K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

21 Tech Explorers (270K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

22 Universe Explorers (1.5M followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

23 Area 51 (1.5M followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

24 The Global Meditation (70K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

25 Video Explorers (780K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

26 Spiritualer. Com (80K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

27 Flower of Life (670K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

28 EWAO (30K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

29 Global Freedom Movement (27K followers) – Deleted on June 19th, 2018.

30 Health & Alternative Medicine (550K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

31 Pure Nature (1.7M followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.

32 Nature Gallery (654K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.

33 Mesmerizing Nature (912K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.

34 Nature’s Touch (150K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.

35 We Really Like Animals (544K) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

36 Nature’s Majesty (191K followers) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

37 Nature Magic (33K followers) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

38 Floral Photobook (160K followers) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

39 My Own Little World (1.5M followers) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

40 Brighten Your Soul (100K followers) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

41 Essence of Spirit (12K followers) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

42 Jesse Ventura Fan Page (750K followers) – Deleted a few years ago.

43 Exposing the Truth (800K followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

44 Learning the Truth (1M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

45 Latruth (7M followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.

46 Healthy Life Box (1.8M followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

47 Healthy Food House (3.4M followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

48 Health Awareness (2.5M followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

49 Healthy Life And Food (350K followers) – Deleted on May 23rd, 2018.

50 Check These Things (80K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

51 Health Care Above All (90K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

52 Health and Healthy Living (450K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

53 Health & Alternative Medicine (550K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

54 Healthy Living Motivation (644K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

55 Alternative Health Universe (420K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

56 Natural Medicine Corner (411K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

57 Organic Health Team (490K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

58 Global Health Care (130K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

59 Healthy Alternative Medicine (140K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

60 Natural Healthy Team (190K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

61 Organic Food Medicine (30K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

62 Love, Health and Happiness (10K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

63 Healthy Organic Life (25K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

64 Healthy Lifestyle (55K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

65 Guardian of Health (160K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

66 Daily Health Keeper (190K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

67 Health & Love Page (720K followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

68 Diabetes Health Page (180K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

69 The Beauty of Power (170K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

70 Nutrition Facts and Analysis (170K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

71 Deeper Perspectives (32K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.

72 Healthy Living (1.8M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

73 Organic Planner (1.5M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

74 Healthy Lifestyle (1.4M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

75 Just Natural Medicine (1M followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

76 Great Remedies – Great Health (650K followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.

77 Nature is Beautiful (1.1M Followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.

78 Amazing World (872k Followers) – Deleted on June 6th, 2018.

79 Pure Nature (425k Followers) – Deleted on June 6th, 2018.

80 Photography World (1.4M Followers) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

81 World Magazine (845k Followers) – Deleted on June 20th, 2018.

82 Divine Mystical Love (25k Followers) – Deleted November 2017

We will continue to press Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for answers, but it has become exceedingly clear that they are singling out particular points of view for censorship, and the end result is that the agenda of the New World Order is being advanced.

— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-07-26/are-big-social-media-companies-being-used-advance-new-world-orders-agenda