Daily Archives: August 2, 2018

August 2: Small Players

Isaiah 2:6–4:6; Luke 1:39–66; Job 1:13–22

A priest should know better. A man representing the spiritual state of God’s people shouldn’t be so quick to question God’s promises. But for Zechariah, obedience became complicated. When the angel Gabriel told him he’d have a son, he responded with doubt: “By what will I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years!” (Luke 1:18). Such happy news—such unexpected goodness—deserved a glad, believing response.

While Zechariah fully expected to encounter God in the temple, Mary wasn’t anticipating anything like Gabriel’s appearance. Yet she readily responded to the angel’s declaration with bold, simple allegiance: “Behold, the Lord’s female slave! May it happen to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Her alignment with God echoes Job’s response after he endured crippling loss: “Naked I came out from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. Yahweh gives, and Yahweh takes. Let Yahweh’s name be blessed” (Job 1:21).

It’s easy to view doubting or believing responses like these in a distant way. We don’t expect to experience such miraculous events or such crippling loss in our own lives. Because of this, we feel like small players in God’s plan—small players who need only small faith.

Regardless of whether we encounter such earth-shattering events in our lives, we did experience the most dramatic, miraculous act of God in history when Jesus died. We have been buried with Him and will be resurrected with Him (Rom 6:3–4). Because of this, we’re expected to put our hope and faith in God. Like Mary, we’re expected to fully align ourselves with Him; like Job, we are to bless Him in the difficult times. And finally, we’re expected to praise God when He shows us mercy we don’t deserve, as He did to Zechariah (Luke 1:64).

How can you boldly and sincerely step out in faith?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


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

August 2 A Hymn of Love

“I show you a still more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31).

✧✧✧

Without love, spiritual gifts are meaningless.

First Corinthians 13 has been called a hymn of love, or a lyrical interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount—the Beatitudes set to music. It’s a beautiful portion of Scripture that comes as a breath of fresh air in a book dealing with one problem after another.

This chapter has often been isolated from its context, but its real power lies in the balance and correction it gives to the rest of the book. The Corinthians, like all Christians, had been gifted by God at the moment of salvation to benefit the church in a special way. But many were abusing their gifts, seeking prominence for themselves rather than ministering to one another. So in chapter 12 Paul discusses the concept of spiritual gifts, in chapter 14 their proper use, and in chapter 13 the need to use them in love.

Like many Christians today, the Corinthians forgot that spiritual gifts can operate effectively only in a person who is truly spiritual. They had the gifts of the Spirit, but they weren’t displaying the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), the first of which is love.

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul begins, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” Love must be the motive and driving force behind everything we do!

How has God gifted you for ministry? Are you using your gifts in love?

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to purify your love and make you a more effective minister of the gifts He has given to you.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 12. ✧ Who distributes spiritual gifts? ✧ Which gifts did Paul mention? ✧ What is their purpose?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 227). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

AUGUST 2 GOD WOULD STIR US

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Matthew 5:6

There is no way that any of us can talk ourselves into getting a “longing for God.” Spiritual desire and hunger must come from God Himself! It cannot be whipped up.

As a grown boy, I tried selling peanuts, popcorn, chewing gum, candy and books on the old Vicksburg and Pacific railroad. I did not sell enough to become any great success, but I recall that we often tried to stir up some desire for our wares among the passengers. We would go through the coaches and give each person a few salted peanuts. No one seemed to want to buy on the first trip through, but when we came back, nearly everyone who had tasted was ready to buy. This was a common trick on the trains.

But it is a different story when we consider the spiritual life. No one but God through His Spirit is able to stir up spiritual desire among us. Those who have accepted a common state of spiritual living and have no deep desire for Him will never be stirred by human means.

Lord, Your Word says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). I desire to grow closer to You, Lord. I don’t want to merely sustain a distant relationship with an unknowable God.[1]


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

‘Hilarious & paranoid’: Lavrov laughs at idea that Russia uses memes to destroy US democracy

The idea that Moscow is swaying elections and bringing down US democracy by ‘meme-sharing’ is preposterous, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The accusations hurled at Russia by the US lawmakers left him baffled.

“It’s just hilarious when I hear that funny pictures can undermine American democracy,” Lavrov told reporters on Thursday, answering RT correspondent’s question about the latest US Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on alleged Russian interference in US domestic affairs.

Experts, brought as witnesses to testify before the Senate on Wednesday, spoke about Russia allegedly using the “less news, more memes” approach online to divide the US public. This led the lawmakers to raise concerns over how Russian “meme-sharing” affects American voters.

“I think that’s just paranoia that goes off the scale,” Lavrov chuckled, saying that talk of weaponizing memes only makes the Senators themselves look bad. “It’s not respectable for American lawmakers to make a sensation out of nothing.”

US politicians consistently accused ‘Russian trolls’ of waging a coordinated campaign to influence elections in the country – something Moscow denies. During repeated hearings in Congress, lawmakers failed to provide any concrete evidence that the alleged nefarious online activity was tied to Russia, and to present data on the effects such a campaign might have caused.

In fact, last year, tech giants Facebook, YouTube and Twitter told Senators that the content allegedly produced by “Russian operatives” made up a tiny fraction of their feeds.

Source: ‘Hilarious & paranoid’: Lavrov laughs at idea that Russia uses memes to destroy US democracy

August 2, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

The U.S. Senate passed a $716 billion defense policy bill on Wednesday, backing President Donald Trump’s call for a bigger, stronger military and sidestepping a potential battle with the White House over technology from major Chinese firms.

The U.S. Congress is sending President Donald Trump legislation that would force technology companies to disclose if they allowed countries like China and Russia to examine the inner workings of software sold to the U.S. military.

U.S. Republican senator Rand Paul is due to lead a U.S. delegation to Moscow and will meet Russian members of parliament on Aug. 6, Russian agencies cited senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachov as saying on Thursday.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama dipped into November’s midterm election fight for the first time on Wednesday, endorsing 81 Democrats in 14 states with a focus on young, diverse candidates and lower-level races.

Sweden will buy the Patriot air defense missile system from U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon Co, the government said, as it looks to boost its defenses amid growing tensions with Russia.

More than 10,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Greece from Turkey through the northern Evros river crossing in the first half of 2018, a nongovernmental organization said on Thursday, a quicker pace of arrivals compared to 2017.

Russia will deploy its military police on the Golan Heights frontier between Syria and Israel, its defense ministry said on Thursday, after weeks of mounting volatility in the area.

The Roman Catholic Church formally changed its teaching on Thursday to declare the death penalty inadmissible whatever the circumstance, a move that is likely to be viewed askance in countries where capital punishment is legal.

The United States imposed sanctions on two top officials in Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s Cabinet on Wednesday in a new attempt to get NATO ally Turkey to turn over an American pastor accused of backing a coup attempt against Erdogan two years ago.

U.S. sanctions imposed on Turkey over the trial of an American pastor accused of backing terrorism are unacceptable and will have limited impact on the Turkish economy, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Thursday.

AP Top Stories

A divided U.S. appeals court on Wednesday struck down a key part of President Donald Trump’s contentious effort to crack down on cities and states that limit cooperation with immigration officials, saying an executive order threatening to cut funding for “sanctuary cities” was unconstitutional.

Duterte ordered the demolishment as part of his government’s anti-smuggling and corruption campaign, according to a press release from the Cagayan Provincial Information Office. The vehicles had been smuggled into the country from the U.S. Their combined value was $5.5 million.

Muslim women and their allies organized protests in two Danish cities on Wednesday, as a ban on wearing face veils in public took effect in Denmark.

Gun rights activist groups found a way around the temporary halting of 3D-printed gun blueprints by publishing another set of blueprints on a new website Tuesday, which they say is activity protected under the First Amendment.

The Navy expects that new weapons and sensors will better enable the ship to destroy swarming small boat attacks, support carrier strike groups, conduct dis-aggregated operations, attack enemies with an over-the-horizon missile and engage in advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare, service statements specify. The Navy Is Moving Fast to Build a New Frigate.

BBC

As Europe bakes in another heatwave, forecasters say the all-time temperature record could be broken in the coming days. The current European record is 118.4F set in Athens in July 1977. Temperatures are rising in Spain and Portugal, aided by a surge of hot air sweeping in from Africa. Forecasters say the heat in some parts could keep rising, breaking national records and even the 41-year-old European record.

A sprawling, endlessly complicated pro-Trump conspiracy theory has jumped from fringe social media sites to mainstream attention. “We are Q,” read one sign at the event in Florida. “WHERE WE GO ONE WE GO ALL,” read another. Others wore T-shirts with the letter “Q” and slogans such as “The Great Awakening”.

Google is developing a version of its search engine that will conform to China’s censorship laws, reports said. The company shut down the engine in 2010, complaining that free speech was being limited.

The US has formally locked out apparel products from Rwanda after the East African nation banned imports of second-hand clothes and shoes.

Reports that one of Japan’s most prestigious medical universities tampered with female applicants’ entrance exam scores have sparked an outcry on social media. Japanese paper Yomiuri Shimbun says Tokyo Medical University began altering results in 2011 to ensure under 30% of successful applicants would be women.

WND

Hillary Clinton is setting her sights on a new office: executive producer. The former secretary of state is teaming with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television to bring Elaine Weiss’ critically acclaimed book The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote to the small screen. The drama will mark Clinton’s debut as an exec producer.

The price of a can of Coca-Cola? Likely going up. A package of Pampers? That too. Plane tickets? They also may be more expensive. These items and more may cost more in the coming months as people start feeling the effects of higher fuel prices and raw-material costs as well as a range of tariffs.


News – 8/2/2018

Trump mocks Charles Koch for saying tariffs unfair to foreign workers: ‘He is correct’
“Charles Koch of Koch Brothers, who claims to be giving away millions of dollars to politicians even though I know very few who have seen this (?), now makes the ridiculous statement that what President Trump is doing is unfair to ‘foreign workers.’ He is correct, AMERICA FIRST!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. Trump has taken aim at the Koch network this week, blasting the Koch brothers as a “total joke” on Tuesday and promising he would be a “puppet for no one” amid rising tensions over his trade policies.

Vatican changes teaching to oppose death penalty in all cases
The Roman Catholic Church formally changed its teaching on Thursday to declare the death penalty inadmissible whatever the circumstance, a move that is likely to be viewed askance in countries where capital punishment is legal.

Trump Donates $400,000 Salary to Repair Military Cemeteries
In a much under-reported move, U.S. President Donald Trump has donated his $400,000 salary for the repair of military cemeteries. In a White House spending report sent to Congress it noted that the president’s salary was sent to the Department of the Interior.

Return of the Biblical Harp
After more than 2,000 years, the prophetic sound David’s harp is heard once again in Jerusalem. When the Third Temple is rebuilt, these biblical harps will return, to be used in Jewish worship.

IAF struck 7 ISIS militans in overnight strikes in Syrian Golan Heights
Israel struck seven ISIS militants who were 200 meters from the Israeli border in an air strike on the Syrian-held Golan Heights overnight Wednesday, the army confirmed on Thursday. At 10:30 p.m. IAF jets hit seven armed terrorists, who were tracked by Israel for several kilometers. The terrorists were situated between the Alpha line and the border. No terrorists infiltrated Israeli territory…

Report: Iran hacks Israel in cyber attack
A group of “highly active” hackers based in Iran have been found to be trying to steal vital information from governments in the Middle East. The group, dubbed “Leafminer,” has attacked networks in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and Afghanistan, according to a report issued by US cyber security firm Symantec.

Andrew Brunson: US hits Turkey with sanctions over jailed pastor
The US has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers over the continued detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. The evangelical from North Carolina has been held for nearly two years over alleged links to political groups. “We believe he’s a victim of unfair and unjust detention,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Saudi Arabia’s women are allowed to drive, but not everyone is happy about it
From the very first day 31-year-old Salma Barakati got behind the wheel of her car after Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving, the men in her village near Mecca would gather around her and unleash a torrent of insults. The insults soon turned to threats. Then, less than 10 days after women were allowed to drive, a neighbor woke up Barakati in the middle of the night: Her car was on fire.

Iran readying massive military exercise in Persian Gulf, officials say
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard is expected to soon begin a major naval exercise that could demonstrate its ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial conduit for global energy supplies, US officials say. The exercise in the Persian Gulf could begin as soon as the next two days, according to two US officials directly familiar with the latest assessment of the Revolutionary Guard’s troop movements.

Lieberman halts fuel shipments to Gaza citing continued fire balloon terrorism
Israel will stop shipments of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip from Thursday in response to militants in the enclave launching incendiary balloons that have torched fields in Israel. “The decision has been taken in view of the continued terror of incendiary balloons and friction along the (border) fence,” a statement from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s office said.

Massive U.S. defense policy bill passes without strict China measures
The U.S. Senate passed a $716 billion defense policy bill on Wednesday, backing President Donald Trump’s call for a bigger, stronger military and sidestepping a potential battle with the White House over technology from major Chinese firms. The Senate voted 87-10 for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The annual act authorizes U.S. military spending but is used as a vehicle for a broad range of policy matters…

China calls for peace mechanism for Korean peninsula
China on Thursday called for a push to establish a peace mechanism for the Korean peninsula as well as denuclearization. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he hoped the United States and North Korea – who agreed at a summit in June to end a nuclear standoff – would maintain contact and resolve each other’s concerns to have success in their talks.

Catholic Church changes teaching to oppose death penalty in all cases
The Roman Catholic Church formally changed its teaching on Thursday to declare the death penalty inadmissible in all circumstances. The 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church has allowed the death penalty in extreme cases for centuries, but the position began to change under the late Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.

Conservatives Banned From Social Media? Here’s What They Can Do About It
“I do fear that that the social justice aggression within corporations against conservatives is part of a larger and more subversive plan. If one studies the leftist tactics of socialist gatekeeper Saul Alinsky, one would discover that they often use the strategy of harassing their enemies to illicit a vicious overreaction. “

Item fast-tracked by Bill Clinton kills at least 22
At least 22 women have been killed, and hundreds more have ended up with ectopic pregnancies or have required blood transfusions and hospitalization due to an abortion pill fast-tracked by the Bill Clinton administration.

Christians United For Israel Faces Strange Prospect Of Completed Goals
What do you when you’ve accomplished all of your major goals? It’s not something most organizations ever need to ponder, as they often spend decades working toward a single legislative victory in Washington. In the case of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), however, it’s no longer an idle question.

The Number Of Americans Living In Their Vehicles “Explodes” As The Middle Class Collapses
..As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase, the middle class is steadily eroding.  In fact, I recently gave my readers 15 signs that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed.  More Americans are falling out of the middle class and into poverty with each passing day, and this is one of the big reasons why the number of homeless is surging.

Nearly 120,000 displaced in Myanmar floods
Nearly 120,000 people have been displaced after floods submerged a vast swathe of southeastern Myanmar, killing 11 people and sending panicked residents fleeing for dry ground with children perched on their shoulders and few belongings in tow.

Police on alert for violence as Jerusalem prepares for largest-ever Pride Parade
2,500 officers to be deployed throughout city ahead of Thursday march; dozens of right-wing extremists and anti-LGBT activists say police warned them not to disrupt it

Pennsylvania Diocese Publicly Identifies 71 Priests Accused Of Child Sexual Abuse
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania released the names of the 71 clergymen accused of child sex abuse Wednesday and blamed bishops for failing to stop the abuse.

South Africa Passes New Law to Legally Confiscate White Farmer’s Land
The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has ruled that African National Congress must now initiate a parliamentary process to reserve the right of legal land grabs of white farmers land without compensation.

Popular travel site calls Jerusalem an ‘Israeli settlement’
…Michael Freilich, chief editor of the Joods Actueel newspaper in Belgium, said, “I thought it was a hoax until I checked it out and saw it with my own eyes.” He said he had been tipped by a reader about the treatment of Jerusalem by Booking.com.


Headlines – 8/2/2018

Netanyahu warns that Israel will stop any Iranian attempt to close Red Sea

Israel Warns Iran of Military Response If It Closes Key Red Sea Strait

Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel would help Saudis destroy Iranian blockade

Iran just heated up tensions with Trump in a major show of force to practice closing the Strait of Hormuz

Can Iran Crash Oil Markets By Blockading The Strait Of Hormuz?

Iran’s parliament summons Rouhani as economy falters under US pressures

Germany’s central bank imposes rule to stop cash delivery to Tehran

Russia says Iranian forces pulled back from Golan in Syria; Israel unsatisfied

Lieberman: IDF prepared to act and respond on two fronts

Lieberman halts fuel shipments to Gaza citing continued fire balloon terrorism

US Senate passes huge defense bill including $550 million for Israel

Israel inaugurates Jewish heritage center in hotly contested East Jerusalem neighborhood

In battle for East Jerusalem, property deeds are the weapon of choice

US said to have sought clarifications from Israel on nation-state law

Amnesty International alleges Israeli spyware linked to Saudi Arabia

Middle East expert: Yemen is the biggest humanitarian crisis on the planet

Egyptian president may seek to break two-term limit, petition suggests

Trump slaps Turkish ministers with sanctions over detention of US pastor

Turkey says to retaliate against US decision to impose sanctions over pastor

Erdogan accuses US of ‘Zionist mentality’ in pastor’s case

Denmark’s ban on ‘Burqa’ enters into force amid expected rally

American Couple Who Spent Life Savings to Bike Around the World Killed in ISIS-Claimed Attack

US planning to reduce troops in Africa despite growing terrorist threat

Trump suggests China meddling in North Korea talks amid trade tensions with US

China Is Trying to Wipe Taiwan Off the Map

Trump Administration Threatens Even Higher Tariffs On China

Mueller is taking another shot at interviewing Trump as the president escalates his attacks on the Russia probe

Trump Pushes for Interview With Mueller Against Lawyers’ Advice

Trump urges end to probe ‘right now,’ setting off new storm

Trump calls on Sessions to stop Mueller’s Russia probe, raising specter of attempted obstruction

Durbin: Trump ‘Dangerously Close to Obstruction of Justice’

Donald Trump’s reckless tweeting may be foolish, but it isn’t obstruction of justice

Trump lawyer Giuliani says midterms will answer impeachment question

Reporters, Celebs Call Trump Supporters ‘Nazis,’ ‘KKK,’ Want Them ‘Euthanized’ After Tampa Rally

Is compassion fatigue inevitable in an age of 24-hour news?

Trump’s order threatening to withhold funding from ‘sanctuary cities’ is unconstitutional, court rules

Recession looming? Two classic warning signs are already here

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Lorengau, Papua New Guinea

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Pijijiapan, Mexico

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Jiajuedibu, China

Cayambe volcano in Ecuador erupts to 36,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 19,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,000ft

Australia’s drought is like a cancer eating away at farms and families

Climate change could increase heat wave deaths 2,000 percent by 2080: study

2017 shatters global climate records including highest sea levels, hottest year without El Nino

Death Valley Records Planet’s Hottest Month, Scientists Warn It May Become Uninhabitable

The Carr Fire, the 7th Most Destructive in California History, Rages On

More than 1,000 homes torched as California wildfires reach ‘uncharted territory’

Scientists Develop A Strain Of Genetically Modified Rice That Neutralizes HIV

Drug-resistant superbugs may have just learned a new trick

Germs gaining resistance to hand gels in hospitals

Gay Valedictorian Rejected By Parents Gets Over $80,000 In Donations To Go To College


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DEFENDING CAIN: Pope Francis Changes Official Catholic Church Catechism Teaching On Death Penalty — Now The End Begins

The Vatican announced on Thursday Pope Francis approved changes to the compendium of Catholic teaching published under Pope John Paul II.

One of the many lies put forth by the Catholic Church is that they “never change” their doctrines and teachings. But in reality, they change quite often. Such is the case with today’s announcement that the Catholic Church, reversing centuries old doctrine, now says that the death penalty is ‘inadmissible’ in all circumstances and cases. And as usual, this is in flagrant disregard of clear Bible teaching in both Testaments.

“Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Genesis 9:6 (KJV)

“For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Romans 13:4 (KJV)

FROM THE CATHOLIC CRUX: According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the death penalty now is no longer admissible under any circumstances. The Vatican announced on Thursday Pope Francis approved changes to the compendium of Catholic teaching published under Pope John Paul II.

“The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church now says on the death penalty, adding that the Church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

This is a departure from what the document, approved under Pope John Paul II in 1992, says on the matter: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” READ MORE

As the Catholic Church under Pope Francis becomes more and more Liberal, the split within their church grows ever wider. Many Vatican watchers says this in being done in anticipation of allowing the LGBTQ to officially be welcomed within their ranks.

Whatever the case, the raging turmoil engulfing the Catholic Church swirls ever closer to the breaking point. For a church that ‘never changes’, the changes are coming almost too fast to count. Now about those sex scandals

via DEFENDING CAIN: Pope Francis Changes Official Catholic Church Catechism Teaching On Death Penalty — Now The End Begins

August 2, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

14 An initial reading of this verse seems to indicate Mordecai’s unwavering hope in the providence of God. Even if Esther keeps silent, deliverance will arise from another place, but Esther herself has the opportunity to be a significant player in the deliverance of her people. Nevertheless, it is not at all clear how to read the statement about deliverance by itself and then how to read it in the context of the rest of the verse and the potential threat at the end of v. 13. For whatever reason, Mordecai has just warned Esther that she is not immune in the king’s household, and he repeats the warning here: “you and your father’s house will perish.” The latter warning includes him, as he is her only “family.” That would be particularly poignant for her as she has been nurtured by him in the absence of her “father’s house.”

Furthermore, his challenge to consider the reason she has been brought to the royal position has its force only if there were no other alternative! Otherwise, she could easily be tempted to do nothing but simply rest in the hope that relief will indeed come from somewhere else. One way of addressing the issue is to posit that help might arise (yaʿamôd), but elsewhere, and the proximity of the royal palace to Haman and the center of the maelstrom would mean that Esther and Mordecai will get swept away.

John M. Wiebe (“Esther 4:14: ‘Will Relief and Deliverance Arise for the Jews from Another Place?’ ” CBQ 53/3 (1991): 409–15) interprets the second clause of this verse as a rhetorical question that assumes a negative response. The relevant portion would read, “if you keep silent at this time, will help and deliverance come for the Jews from another place? [Answer: ‘No, it won’t …;] and you and your father’s house will perish [‘as well’].” This rendition addresses the problems that are incumbent in the traditional reading of the text, namely, that if help does arise from (whatever is meant by) “another place,” why would not Esther’s family, and especially Mordecai, also be delivered by this agent? As a result of the truly dire nature of Mordecai’s challenge, Esther’s mood changes dramatically, and the narrative takes a decisive turn.

The use of “who knows” in this context is not an ambivalent expression of doubt but rather a strong statement that Esther is indeed the Jews’ only hope and that she has been brought to this point for this time. On the confidence of the expression, see Joel 2:14 and Jonah 3:9. Mordecai’s closing statement may be an oblique acknowledgment that Esther’s experience in getting to that point has been a horrifying one for her and for him as her guardian.[1]


4:14 — “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place .… ”

God is never bound by our faithlessness or cowardice. He desires to use us to bless His people, but if we fail to trust Him, He will use someone else. But He will always accomplish His will.[2]


4:14 relief and deliverance. Mordecai exhibited a healthy faith in God’s sovereign power to preserve His people. He may have remembered the Lord’s promise to Abraham (cf. Ge 12:3; 17:1–8). you … will perish. Mordecai indicated that Esther would not escape the sentence or be overlooked because of her prominence (cf. 4:13). such a time as this. Mordecai indirectly appealed to God’s providential timing.[3]


4:14 deliverance will rise. Despite his emotional turmoil (v. 4), deep down Mordecai is sure that the Jews will survive. This reflects his faith that God will protect his people, though the text does not make this explicit. from another place. Mordecai does not seem to know what other source of help would appear, but he expresses confidence that God will somehow rescue his people. your father’s house. Esther’s family on her father’s side. Since Mordecai is sure the Jews will be delivered, his statement that Esther and her family will perish presumably means that they will be punished for Esther’s refusal to act. God is apparently the one who will punish them, though again, this is not explicitly said. you have … come … for such a time as this. The strongest hint yet of Mordecai’s belief in divine providence.[4]


4:14 For if indeed you keep silent This remark of Mordecai’s is one of the most faithful responses in the book, yet it lacks any direct mention of God. Mordecai’s thinking seems to reflect that of Judaism in general—that God would find a way for his people to survive, no matter what (compare Isa 10:20). Mordecai may see this relief coming from another person, another city, or God in general.

you and the family of your father will perish Mordecai could be saying that it will be too late for the Jewish people living in Susa by the time deliverance comes or that divine retribution would come to Esther for her inaction (compare Num 14:18).

Who knows Mordecai’s remark parallels Joel 2:14, where a similar phrase occurs. In both passages, divine relief and deliverance are sought.

for a time such as this Mordecai does not assert why Esther has been appointed queen, but seems to imply that it very well could have been for a divine purpose.[5]


4:14 Though the name of God does not appear in the Book of Esther, the phrases “who knows” and “from another place” in this verse are clearly “God language” set within a context giving evidence that Yahweh God has placed Esther in a position to save her people, who also are God’s people by way of covenant.[6]


4:14 Mordecai acknowledged the sovereignty of God. He knew that Haman could not ultimately succeed in his campaign because God’s design cannot be thwarted. God is the one in control and He was committed to the preservation of the Jews, who are beneficiaries of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gn 17:1–9).[7]


[1] Phillips, E. (2010). Esther. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Chronicles–Job (Revised Edition) (Vol. 4, pp. 634–635). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Es 4:14). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Es 4:14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 858). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Es 4:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Es 4:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] 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. 726). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

August 2 Jesus vs. Demons

When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him … and they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”—Matt. 8:28–29

Demons can attack people mentally, physically, or spiritually. Spiritually, they oppose true religion, promote the false, and control the occult. Intellectually, they advocate false ideologies, insanity, and masochism. Our Lord always recognized demonized people as being victims of powers beyond their control and in need of deliverance, not condemnation or exhortation.

By calling Jesus “Son of God,” the demons controlling the Gadarene men showed they knew His true identity. They recognized Him as their spiritual antagonist who had the full authority to destroy them at will. Their question “Have You come here to torment us before the time?” further recognized that there is a God-ordained schedule, not yet completed, when He will relegate them to eternal damnation. As in other subjects, the demons had a correct doctrine of last things. But such belief is mere recognition, not acceptance. James reveals that even they tremble at the consequences of unbelief: “the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).

Demons despise everything about God and His Son. Yet they can’t do anything but pay Jesus the greatest deferential respect when in His presence. That supports Paul’s teaching that one day at the name of Christ, “every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11).

ASK YOURSELF

Seeing the demons so obviously in fear of Christ’s dominance should encourage us that He is more than able to handle any situation. Have you been withholding a need from Him, not sure He cared or could do anything about it? Bring it boldly to Him today.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 223). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

AUGUST 2 MANY SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN CHRIST GO UNCLAIMED

Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

EPHESIANS 1:3

Those spiritual blessings in heavenly places which are ours in Christ may be divided into three classes:

The first is those which come to us immediately upon our believing unto salvation, such as forgiveness, justification, regeneration, sonship to God and baptism into the Body of Christ. In Christ we possess these even before we know that they are ours!

The second class is those riches which are ours by inheritance but which we cannot enjoy in actuality until our Lord returns. These include ultimate mental and moral perfection, the glorification of our bodies, the completion of the restoration of the divine image in our redeemed personalities and the admission into the very presence of God to experience forever the Beatific Vision. These treasures are as surely ours as if we possessed them now!

The third class consists of spiritual treasures which are ours by blood atonement but which will not come to us unless we make a determined effort to possess them. These are deliverance from the sins of the flesh, victory over self, the constant flow of the Holy Spirit through our personalities, fruitfulness in Christian service, awareness of the Presence of God, growth in grace, an increasing consciousness of union with God and an unbroken spirit of worship. These are to us what the Promised Land was to Israel, to be entered into as our faith and courage mount.[1]


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

Beautiful Viral Video Shows Humanity of Preborn Baby as It Grows

In a little over three minutes, the mystery and dignity of the beginnings of human life are revealed — and people are responding

In one week, a video depicting the humanity of a preborn baby in vivid detail has amassed tens of millions of views — capturing the hearts, minds and imaginations of viewers.

The video illustrates the processes of fertilization, development, and birth of a baby in a little over three minutes. (See the video at the bottom of this page.)

“Imagine if expectant mothers had a little window into the womb, where everyone could see this development as it happens,” said pro-life advocate Jean Purcell, 79, of Columbia, Maryland, after watching the video. “Abortion might be a thing of the past if the miracle were revealed day by day, and God’s artistry in creating humanity was revealed.”

The creator of the video, Hashem Al-Ghaili, is a Yemeni man who lives in Germany and works as an independent “influencer” primarily through his popular Science Nature Page on Facebook, according to LifeSiteNews. His work has reportedly inspired people to seek him out as a public speaker and media consultant.

Originally uploaded to Youtube but shared to Facebook last week, the video features music and informative captions throughout.

“Welcome to Life!” reads a caption at the end of the video.

Hashem Al-Ghaili’s video has been on Facebook for about a week, during which it has been viewed 47 million times and shared over half a million times. Al-Ghaili’s Facebook page has more than 27 million followers.

The video does not stake out a position on the debate over when human life begins, although settled science establishes that the physical life of a distinct human organism begins at fertilization, rather than implantation.

The video shows several milestones of fetal development, such as the brain, nose, ears, and intestines beginning to form at six weeks; the heart being fully developed by 10 weeks; the baby beginning to kick at 18 weeks; and finally, the wondrous delivery of a baby into the world.

Though preborn babies are fully alive and human from fertilization, some 3,562 abortions are performed each day.

That’s right.

Thousands of times daily, this beautiful process is ended before it has a chance, really. to begin.

— Read on www.lifezette.com/2018/08/beautiful-viral-video-shows-humanity-of-preborn-baby-as-it-grows/

Idolatry Begins When Truth about God Is Exchanged for a Lie | Stand to Reason

Last week I wrote on the danger of false ideas about God. More specifically, I highlighted a powerful warning from A.W. Tozer. Simply stated: Wrong thinking about God leads to worshiping the wrong god—idol worship.

An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God, while idolatry is giving worship or devotion to that thing that replaces God. Significantly, this is the first commandment by God to Israel in the famous Ten Commandments.

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…. (Exodus 20:3–5)

This command seems clear enough, but there are many people hearing these words who wonder how this commandment applies to them. After all, they aren’t bowing down to carved images.

Consider the warning from A.W. Tozer, “Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it.”

Idolatry isn’t limited to pagans bowing down to idols. That’s just one manifestation of idolatry. It often looks much more subtle than that. In fact, there are all kinds of modern-day idols that attempt to displace God from His rightful place. Sports. School. Jobs. Family. Kids. A boyfriend. A girlfriend. Personal pleasure. A hobby. Our reputation. Our stuff. The list goes on and on.

So, we know what idolatry is. But how does idolatry start? What is the root cause? Fortunately, we are not left guessing. Paul tells us in his letter to the Christians in Rome.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Rom. 1:21–25)

Long before anyone bows down and worships an idol, Paul tells us that something happens in their mind. Paul says an exchange takes place. People will “exchange the truth about God for a lie.” They begin to accept a lie about God—a false idea.

Let me summarize Paul’s words as best as I can: Behind every act of false worship, there is a false idea about God.

Tozer states, “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place.” That’s it exactly. Wrong ideas about God don’t just lead to idolatry; they are idolatry. And what begins as idolatrous thoughts leads to idolatrous actions. This is demonstrable from both Scripture and our own lives.
— Read on www.str.org/blog/idolatry-begins-when-truth-about-god-exchanged-lie

August 2 Two Religions

How long will you falterbetween two opinions?

1 Kings 18:21

Humanity has always had two systems of religion available. One is from God and is based on His gracious accomplishment. The other is from mankind and is based on the achievements of men and women. One is all of sovereign grace and is embraced by faith. The other is all of human works and is performed in the flesh. One flows out of a sincere heart, the other from outward hypocrisy.

Even Moses’ law, though from God, was not a means of salvation. It was a means of showing people their need for salvation. “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). When Jesus came, He taught us that we are incapable in ourselves of keeping that perfect law. He made it clear that we must choose the religion of grace and faith rather than the religion of law and works.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 235). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

This isn’t culture war. It’s worse.

Progressives continue to astonish normal people with their complete incomprehension of normals (as Kurt Schlichter calls them) as human beings. Perhaps that´s because they don´t see us as human beings. They call us unsavory names – deplorables, bitter clingers, toothless, plus every dirty word they can think of. They throw nasty, biological things. They spit on people. (snip) This isn´t “culture war.” Culture has nothing to do with it. It´s war on normality by Brownshirts, incited or paid for by the likes of George Soros and Tom Steyer.
— Read on www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/08/this_isnt_culture_war_its_worse.html

Can a Christian lose salvation?

In one of my recent articles, a pastor from the 1600s offered the suffering Christian the encouragement that whatever they are suffering here on earth is “all the hell you shall ever know.” A commentator on that post asked “can a Christian lose their salvation?”

Lets make this personal:

What if I slip up and fall? What if I commit a big sin?

What if I ‘backslide’ on my faith, perhaps even renouncing it?

Can I lose my salvation?

Having once followed Jesus can we end up being cast aside?

At risk of being accused of offering a spoiler, I will quote at the outset one of my first blogging buddies, David Wayne who said:

“It is true that, if you are truly saved, you cannot lose your salvation, but it is equally true that there are many who think they are saved and who aren’t.” David Wayne

There is a vital question we must ask ourselves, therefore,  before we get into this subject of losing salvation:
— Read on www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2018/08/can-a-christian-lose-salvation/

Thursday Briefing Aug 2, 2018 – AlbertMohler.com

A house built upon the sand: Revoice, LGBT identity, and biblical Christianity

AlbertMohler.com — Torn Between Two Cultures? Revoice, LGBT Identity, and Biblical Christianity

What a newly claimed prophetic role reveals about the ideology of sexual revisionists

Enforced secularism in the nation’s capital: Appeals court rules transit system can ban religious speech in ads

Washington Post (Ann E. Marimow) — Metro can ban all religious ads on buses and trains, court rules

The post Thursday, Aug 2, 2018 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.
— Read on albertmohler.com/2018/08/02/briefing-8-2-18/

Torn Between Two Cultures? Revoice, LGBT Identity, and Biblical Christianity — Blog – AlbertMohler.com

The chaos and confusion which are the inevitable products of the Sexual Revolution continue to expand and the challenges constantly proliferate. The LGBTQ+ revolution has long been the leading edge of the expanding chaos, and by now the genuinely revolutionary nature of the movement is fully apparent. The normalization of the behaviors and relationships and identities included (for now) in the LGBTQ+ spectrum will require nothing less than turning the world upside down.

This revolution requires a total redefinition of morality, cultural authority, personal identity, and more. The revolution requires a new vocabulary and a radically revised dictionary. Ultimately, the moral revolutionaries seek to redefine reality itself. And this revolution has no stopping point. The plus sign at the end of LGBTQ+ is a signal of more challenges sure to come.

Just a few days ago, a conference was held in St. Louis. The “Revoice” conference was advertised as “supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”

The name was no accident, as the organizers called for a “revoicing” of the evangelical message on issues of sexuality, sexual identity, and beyond.

The organizers stated plainly that they  “envision a future Christianity where LGBT people can be open and transparent in their faith communities about their orientation and/or experience of gender dysphoria without feeling inferior to their straight, cisgender brothers and sisters; where churches not only utilize but also celebrate the unique opportunities that life-long celibate LGBT people have to serve others; where Christian leaders boast about the faith of LGBT people who are living a sacrificial obedience for the sake of the Kingdom; and where LGBT people are welcomed into families so they, too, can experience the joys, challenges, and benefits of kinship.”

They also stated emphatically: “We believe that the Bible restricts sexual activity to the context of a marriage covenant, which is defined in the Bible as the emotional, spiritual, and physical union of a man and a woman that is ordered toward procreation.” And, “At the same time, we also believe that the Bible honors those who live out an extended commitment to celibacy, and that unmarried people should play a uniquely valuable role in the lives of local faith communities.”

They acknowledged that these convictions “constitute the ‘traditional sexual ethic’, because it represents the worldview that the Bible consistently teaches across both the Old and New Testaments and that Christians have historically believed for millennia.”

In other contexts, organizers have identified themselves with “great tradition Christianity,” a recognition of a constant pattern of Christian teaching faithful to Scripture. That theological tradition is the source of the “traditional sexual ethic” acknowledged by the organizers.

The language is important, as language always is. The mission statement and website of the conference refer over and over again to “LGBT people” and uses the language of “sexual minorities” and even “queer Christians.”

The principle organizer of the conference, Nate Collins, told Christianity Today: “We all believe that the Bible teaches a traditional, historic understanding of sexuality in marriage, and so we are not attempting in any way to redefine any of those doctrines. We’re trying to live within the bounds of historic Christian teaching about sexuality and gender. But we find difficulty doing that for a lot of reasons.”

Actually, the signals sent by many involved in the conference are a bit confusing, to say the least. In recent years, some in the evangelical world have urged references to “Side A” and “Side B” Christians who identify as LGBTQ. Side A refers to those who have abandoned the historic Christian teaching about sexuality and marriage and now affirm same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. The Side A advocates are more associated with liberal Protestant denominations that have long ago abandoned biblical orthodoxy and now preach the sexual revolution.

Side B refers to those who identify as both LGBTQ and Christian, and who affirm the traditional Christian ethic on sexuality and marriage. Revoice seems clearly to identify as Side B, but some of the main organizers and speakers gladly join in common efforts with Side A advocates. LGBTQ identity binds Side A and Side B advocates together.

We should also note that Revoice did not have much of a voice on transgender questions. It is not at all clear, for example, what in the leaders’ minds celibacy or a commitment to “the historic Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality” is supposed to mean for the “T” in LGBT. Even the use of “LGBT” in this context is impossible to square with “historic Christian teaching about sexuality and gender.”

Gregory Coles, author of Single, Gay, Christian, was worship leader for Revoice. In the book, Coles raises the scenario of two women who identify as Christians, one a lesbian married to a woman and the other a “straight” Christian who says she believes in the biblical ethic restricting sex to marriage between a man and a woman, but who is promiscuous in a series of heterosexual relationships. Coles then writes, “Theologically, I am more in agreement with the second friend. But whose life is most honoring to God? Who really loves Jesus more? Who am I more likely to see in heaven? I don’t know.”

Of course, that is a strange and forced scenario. The biblical answer would be that both women are living in sinful violation of Scripture.

Earlier in the book, Coles spoke of being in a room that included some who identify as Side A and some who identify as Side B (as Coles does). But his description of the predicament is telling. When asked to identify as Side A or Side B, Coles writes: “I didn’t want to be reduced to a simple yes or no. I wanted a new side, something further along the alphabet, something full of asterisks and footnotes and caveats. I’ve never been fluent in the language of binaries.”

Several issues press for immediate attention. One is the identification of people as “LGBT Christians” or “gay Christians.” This language implies that Christians can be identified in an ongoing manner with a sexual identity that is contrary to Scripture. Behind the language is the modern conception of identity theory that is, in the end, fundamentally unbiblical. The use of the language of “sexual minorities” is a further extension of identity theory and modern critical theory and analysis. In this context, “sexual minority” simultaneously implies permanent identity and a demand for recognition as a minority. As Kevin DeYoung rightly noted, the use of this language implies a political status.

The larger problem is the idea that any believer can claim identity with a pattern of sexual attraction that is itself sinful. The Apostle Paul answers this question definitively when he explains in 1 Corinthians 6:11, such were some of you. But, writes Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.”

There have been Christian believers throughout the entire history of the church that have struggled with same-sex temptation and who have come to know that pattern of temptation as what we now understand as a sexual orientation. Whatever the language we choose to use, Christians do understand that some people come to know a pattern of temptation and sexual attraction that is directed toward others of the same sex. In his book, All But Invisible, Nate Collins argues that the most important element in same-sex orientation is its “givenness.” By that he means that it is an orientation or pattern of attraction that is not chosen but discovered.

But “givenness” in a fallen world does not mean that the orientation — the same-sex attraction itself — is not sinful. The Bible identifies internal temptation as sin. As Denny Burk and Heath Lambert argue, “same-sex attraction, not just homosexual behavior, is sinful.” We are called to repent both of sin and of any inner temptation to sin.

The issues here are bigger than sexuality. As Denny Burk and Rosaria Butterfield rightly explain, we confront here a basic evangelical disagreement with Roman Catholicism. Ever since the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Roman Catholic Church has insisted that involuntary incentive to sin is not itself sin. In the most amazing sentence, the Council of Trent declared: “This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin.” Don’t miss the acknowledgement that the doctrine of Trent is contrary to the language of the apostle. Furthermore, remember that Catholic theology includes both infant baptism and baptismal regeneration — meaning that evangelicals and Catholics have fundamentally divergent understandings of both justification and sanctification.

John Calvin referred to concupiscence as “depraved” and “at variance with rectitude.” In this verdict, Calvin was joined by other Protestants — and the New Testament. Just think of the language of the historic Book of Common Prayer, praying in repentance for the “devices and desires of our own hearts.”

Surely, the mortification of sin required of Christians would demand that we put as much distance as possible between ourselves and any temptation to sin (Romans 8:12-13).

In the interview with Christianity Today just prior to the conference, Nate Collins attempted to respond to criticisms by insisting, as he does in his book, that sexual orientation and same-sex attraction are not always erotic, but can be celebrated as aesthetic and relational. He affirms that same-sex sexual attraction is sinful, but he argues that sexual orientation is actually not necessarily erotic, but centered in “the perception and admiration of personal beauty.” In his book he refers to this as an “aesthetic orientation,” a term he concedes is his own.

Wesley Hill, another speaker at Revoice, is a major proponent of “spiritual friendships” within LBGT identity. He has written: “Being gay is, for me, as much a sensibility as anything else: a heightened sensitivity to and passion for same-sex beauty . . . .”

Same-sex attraction is not limited to sexual attraction, but it strains all credibility to argue that this “aesthetic orientation” can be non-sexual. Considered more closely, the “aesthetic orientation” actually appears to be even more deeply rooted in a sinful impulse. Aesthetic attractions are as corrupted by sin as the sexual passions. To put the matter bluntly, are we to affirm that an “aesthetic orientation” towards the same sex is pure and blameless and non-sexual? This would be severe pastoral malpractice.

Speakers at Revoice pointed to Ruth and Naomi and David and Jonathan as biblical examples, but in both cases the relationship was clearly and definitively neither erotic or aesthetic and references to them in this light are deliberately misleading. The “spiritual friendship” model, related to LGBTQ identity, is just not compatible with an evangelical biblical theology, even if Catholics can eagerly affirm the idea.

In one of the more astounding moments of Revoice, Nate Collins read from Jeremiah 15 and then asked:

“Is it possible that gay people today are being sent by God, like Jeremiah, to find God’s words for the church, to eat them and make them our own? To shed light on contemporary false teachings and even idolatries, not just the false teaching of the progressive sexual ethic, but other more subtle forms of false teaching? Is it possible that gender and sexual minorities who have lived lives of costly obedience are themselves a prophetic call to the church to abandon idolatrous attitudes toward the nuclear family, toward sexual pleasure? If so, we are prophets.”

Idolatry of the nuclear family? Here we see the destabilizing power of the sexual revolution and modern critical theory at full force.

It is, of course, possible for human beings to idolize anything, but that is not what is really at stake in Collins’s comment. He really claims that gay people are called to a prophetic role to correct the church for believing in the normative nature of the nuclear family.

Before pressing further, we should note that the term “nuclear family,” referring to a father and mother and their children in one household is a fairly recent term, dating back only to the twentieth century. The family, of course, is as old as Genesis. The more accurate term for describing the family is not “nuclear” but “natural” or “conjugal.”

And right there is the issue. What the Bible reveals, from Genesis 1 onward, is the fact that God created human beings as male and female, both made in his image, and made for the conjugal relationship of marriage and procreation which is the very first divine command to humankind (Genesis 1:28). Marriage, the conjugal union of a man and a woman, is revealed as God’s creative purpose, from the beginning.

Even those men and women who do not marry are defined by the conjugal union that brought them into being and by the normative nature of the natural family (both “nuclear” and extended) that is honored throughout Holy Scripture. The subversion of marriage and the family has been one of the most devastating results of modernity, and this very subversion is central to the ambitions of the sexual revolutionaries.

In his book, Collins identifies “heteronormativity” as a central problem in both secular society and the church: “It’s one thing to say that the only kind of sexual expression permitted by Scripture is the heterosexual pattern. It’s another thing to say that heterosexual orientations as they are embedded in our fallen world are not sinful in themselves because they match the general creational pattern.”

That is simply wrong. Every human being past puberty is a sexual sinner of some form, but the attraction of a man to a woman, completed in the conjugal union of marriage, is precisely “the general creational pattern.” Furthermore, in Romans 1:26-27 the Apostle Paul refers to same-sex passion and activity as “contrary to nature” — thus the rejection of the “general creational pattern.”

After the Fall, all human beings are born sinners and fall short of both the glory of God and the clear testimony of creation (Romans 1:18-32), but the creational pattern itself is not sinful. The New Testament presents the church as the family of faith, made up of all those adopted by God through Christ. Thus, all believers are brothers and sisters in one household of faith. Furthermore, the New Testament explicitly honors celibacy (which by the way, only makes sense against the background of normative marriage and family life), but that celibacy is chaste in form and directed toward gospel deployment (1 Corinthians 7:1-8). Collins rightly calls on congregations to leave no member without inclusion in family life — a searing indictment of many congregations, to be sure. Similarly, Rosaria Butterfield has underlined the priority of gospel hospitality among Christians.

But denouncing “idolatrous attitudes toward the nuclear family” as a claimed prophetic role for those who identify as LGBTQ+ Christians reveals just how far the ideology of the sexual revisionists has reached even within American Christianity. The relativizing of the natural conjugal family represents what Malcolm Muggeridge called the “great liberal death wish.” It stands in direct contradiction to the mandate given by God in Genesis 1:28. The Great Commission expands that mandate; it does not reverse it.

Even before the conference began, notice was given of a session entitled, “Redeeming Queer Culture: An Adventure.” The description is itself astounding: “For the sexual minority seeking to submit his or her life fully to Christ and to the historic Christian sexual ethic, queer culture presents a bit of a dilemma; rather than combing through and analyzing which parts are to be rejected, or redeemed, or to be received with joy (Acts 17:16-34), Christians have often discarded the virtues of queer culture along with the vices, which leaves culturally connected Christian sexual minorities torn between two cultures, two histories, and two communities. So questions that have until now been largely unanswered remain: what does queer culture (and specifically, queer literature and theory) have to offer us who follow Christ? What queer treasure, honor, and glory will be brought into the New Jerusalem at the end of time (Revelation 21:24-26)?”

Putting the pieces together, it becomes clear that Revoice and its organizers would rewrite the meta-narrative of Scripture so that Creation before the Fall is not heterosexual in orientation and can even include same-sex “aesthetic orientation,” the Fall is limited in its extent related to our sin nature, redemption does not mean that the “new creature” in Christ will break from identity with sin, and the New Creation will include “treasure, honor, and glory” from queer culture.

There is another big issue embedded in that session description. Note the mention of “culturally connected Christian sexual minorities.” At first glance, that might seem to mean something like a connection to the culture at large. But in the language of the LGBTQ+ community, it means connection to “queer culture.” The “culturally connected Christian sexual minority” (watch every word carefully) is, as the statement emphasizes, “torn between two cultures, two histories, and two communities.” That means torn between queer culture and the church.

That, to state the matter clearly, is unstable, unfaithful, unworkable, unbiblical . . . impossible.

This returns us to the issue of sexual identity and Christian identity once again. A Christian who has been identified as LGBTQ+ will certainly pray for and be concerned for the conversion of friends in the LGBTQ+ community, and we can pray that personal friendships and Christian hospitality can lead to gospel advance among these friends and the LGBTQ+ community. But the identity of a Christian cannot be with any culture defined in its essence by the rejection of God’s design and command.

Though that language has received scant attention it is among the most important associated with Revoice.

And the issue of language arises again and again and again. In his main address to the conference, Nate Collins lamented: “I’m tired. I’m tired of people saying I’m using the wrong words. I’m tired of people saying I’m not using enough of the right words.”

In his interview with Christianity Today, Collins conceded that some of the language used on the website for the conference was seen as revealing a “slippery slope ethically,” but he defended even the language by saying: “Right now the conversation on LGBT issues and gender, sexuality, and evangelicalism is fragmented. There’s a lot of groups of people that use language in very specific ways that makes sense to them but doesn’t make sense to people outside of their tribe.”

Later, Collins said: “We’re just trying to make space for people for whom the language they use is meaningful, in terms of how they are trying to reconcile their gender and sexuality with their faith.”

At one very strange level, that is an open admission that the self-expressive language of many in the Revoice community reflects a movement in flux and in motion, even in language.

But references to “queer culture” are not accidental, and the language from the conference is clear enough. Revoice represents an attempt to build a half-way house between LGBTQ+ culture and evangelical Christianity. They want to define what they mean by “Side B,” when the LGBTQ+ culture is unambiguously “Side A.”

We should take the organizers of Revoice at their word and hear what they are saying. We should lament the brokenness and understand the many failings of the Christian church toward those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community. But we dare not add yet another failure to those failures. We cannot see Revoice as anything other than a house built upon the sand. Revoice is not the voice of faithful Christianity.

__________________________

Christianity Today (2018, July 28). Revoice Founder Answers the LGBT Conference’s Critics. Retrieved from https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/july-web-only/revoices-founder-answers-lgbt-conferences-critics.html

Denny Burk and Heath Lambert, Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2015)

Gregory Coles, Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 2017)

Nate Collins, All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017)

Wesley Hill, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2015)

 

 

 

 

The post Torn Between Two Cultures? Revoice, LGBT Identity, and Biblical Christianity appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

via Torn Between Two Cultures? Revoice, LGBT Identity, and Biblical Christianity — Blog – AlbertMohler.com

August 2, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

1  I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2  I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3  On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 138:1–3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


Individual Thanksgiving (138:1–3)

1–3 Typical of the thanksgiving psalms is the repetition of verbs for praise: “I will praise … sing … bow down … praise.” The first and last verbs form an inclusio by the use of the same root (ydh, “praise”). The praise of the Lord is both an expression of devotion (“with all my heart”; cf. 119:2) and a witness against the impotence of idols (“before the ‘gods,’ ” v. 1). Praise belongs to the Lord alone and not to the gods of the nations, whose kings will have to submit to the Lord (vv. 4–5).

Praise of the “name” of the Lord (Yahweh, v. 2) involves a personal experience of God’s covenantal perfections: his “love” (ḥesed, GK 2876) and “faithfulness” (ʾemet, GK 622; see Ex 34:6; cf. Pss 25:10; 57:3; 61:7). The Lord is constant in his love toward his children, and so great is his faithfulness to his “promise-name” (“your name and your word,” v. 2) that the psalmist exclaims that whatever the Lord has done in the past is dwarfed by what he is still doing! For him, the “name” of God evokes the connotation of the promises of the covenant.

Praise is appropriate in the forms of song and liturgical prostration in the direction of the Lord’s “holy temple” (v. 2; cf. 5:7; 28:2; 134:2). The Lord is faithful and good. The formal praise (vv. 1–2) ends on a personal confession as to what the Lord has done. The psalmist has experienced distress and called on the Lord for help, who not only answered his prayer but also strongly encouraged him, thereby revitalizing his life (“bold and stouthearted,” v. 3).[1]


138:1–3 / It is possible the expression, before the “gods,” can refer to human “judges” (perhaps Exod. 21:6; 22:8–9, 28), but it is more likely we should understand this term in the same sense as it is used in Psalm 82 (see the commentary), namely as “heavenly beings” (i.e., angels). Your holy temple also denotes “your holy palace,” wherein Yahweh as king presides over his “divine council” of “heavenly beings” (cf. 29:1–2; 89:5–8; 1 Kgs. 22:19–23; Isa. 6:1–8; 40:1–11; also Jer. 23:18; Job 15:8). At this location, the worshiper engages in ritual prostration (I bow down, cf. 5:7). As with the thanksgiving psalms, the essential basis for thanksgiving is the testimony that God answers when called (v. 3). This belief reflects the fundamental tradition of the prayer psalms of the individual (see the Introduction).[2]


138:2 In accordance with the custom of godly Jews, David bowed down toward the holy tabernacle when worshiping (the temple had not yet been erected). He extolled the name of Jehovah for His steadfast love and faithfulness. It is His love that prompts Him to give us “His precious and very great promises” and it is His faithfulness that insures that every one of them is fulfilled.

“For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” The context has to do with the faithfulness of God in keeping His word, and the meaning seems to be that He has not only done what He said He would, but has done much more in addition. Also there may be the thought that “in the abundant fulfilment of His promise (to David) God had surpassed all previous revelation of Himself.” If the verse is applied to the Incarnate Word, then it means, of course, that God has magnified the Lord Jesus above every other manifestation of Himself.[3]


138:1, 2 As in many psalms, the poet begins his praise with a determination to involve his whole being (146:1). Before the gods: David is so confident in his faith in the Lord that he is determined to take the name of God into foreign territory. Your holy temple: The use of the word temple does not rule out David as the author of this or similar poems (15:1). The Hebrew term is a general one that would fit whatever building was in use in David’s day. The term was also proper for later readers and singers of this psalm when the actual temple had been built.[4]


Praise from the psalmist (138:1–3)

138:1–3. David vowed to praise the Lord wholeheartedly before the “gods,” and to worship Him in the temple for His loyal love … faithfulness (cf. 108:4; 115:1; 117:2), name, and Word. “Gods” could refer to the pagan gods, in which case David was praising the true God in spite of their supposed presence. Or “gods” may refer to human leaders (as judges or kings), though pagan gods seems preferable here.

The reason David would praise the Lord is that God had answered his prayer, thus strengthening his faith.[5]


138:2 — … You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

The Bible is not merely one holy book among several; it is God’s holy revelation to humanity.[6]


138:2 holy temple. Refers to the tabernacle since Solomon’s temple has not yet been built. Your word … Your name. Most likely this means that God’s latest revelation (“Your word”) exceeded all previous revelation about God. This would be in concert with David’s prayer (2Sa 7:18–29) after he received the Davidic promise (2Sa 7:12–14, 16).[7]


138:2 give thanks to your name. See note on 135:1. you have exalted above all things your name and your word. As the ESV footnote indicates, the Hebrew is difficult; the ESV text is more likely than the footnote, though: the particular experience for which the psalm gives thanks shows that God has “exalted” his “name” (to which the singer gives thanks) and his “word” (i.e., his word of promise to care for his servants).[8]


138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple The psalmist honors the temple because it is Yahweh’s residence on earth. The psalmist sees God’s presence as especially localized in the Jerusalem temple because of His covenant relationship with Israel.

give thanks to your name The psalmist honors God’s reputation because of His pattern of helping Israel. See note on 91:14.

your word according to all your name This phrase emphasizes God’s commitment to Israel.[9]


138:2–3 Constant love translates the Hebrew word chesed (see word study at 136:1–26). The fulfillment of God’s promises surpasses all previous revelation.[10]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 956). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 481). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 768). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 737–738). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[5] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 890–891). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[6] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ps 138:2). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[7] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 138:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[8] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1115). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 138:2). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[10] Warstler, K. R. (2017). Psalms. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 935). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Appalling Speakers at the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering – EXPOSING THE ELCA

The ELCA has assembled the most appalling speakers to preach to more than 30,000 teenagers. Over the last three months Exposing the ELCAhas warned you of the disturbing, foul-mouthed and extreme speakers and organizations who will be promoting their thoughts and ideologies into the hearts and minds of all those listening.
— Read on www.exposingtheelca.com/exposed-blog/appalling-speakers-at-the-2018-elca-youth-gathering

The Trans Assault on Everything — CultureWatch

The trans madness is an attack on everyone and everything. By pretending that reality and biology do not exist, everyone is impacted by this lunacy and everything is thrown up in the air. And as activist groups and leftist governments throw their full weight behind all this, it becomes even more draconian, destructive and coercive.

Just recently for example the World Health Organization declared that gender dysphoria is no longer considered to be a mental health condition. The trans militants were jubilant about this. A spokesperson for Transgender Victoria was ecstatic: “It’s big because a big, powerful organization is sending an affirming message saying being trans is part of human diversity rather than pathologizing us.”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5860545/Gender-dysphoria-no-longer-considered-mental-health-condition.html

But all this is having profound negative consequences on our young people especially. In Canada where gender bending laws are all the rage, experts are very concerned. Sex neuroscientist Dr. Debra Soh said this: “Let me get this out of the way: gender is binary and not a social construct. Children should not be used as pawns to further this agenda.”
http://www.lifesitenews.com/mobile/news/panel-slams-trudeaus-gender-identity-law-as-false-and-unscientific-on-its-1?__twitter_impression=true

And in the UK where there have also been major legal changes in regard to gender and identity, experts are expressing their deep concerns. Consultant psychiatrist at Bristol Royal Infirmary Dr Lucy Griffin says she is ‘extremely worried’ about the long-term effects of the medications being used on young people:

We know that cross sex hormones are associated with permanent infertility. Patients are also likely to have impaired sexual function. And there are other concerns. We think that [transitioning] women are at increased risk of heart disease. We know they are at risk of male pattern baldness and abnormal fat redistribution. Children can’t vote and they can’t leave school, but we are allowing them to make decisions about their fertility and sexual function. My own feeling is I can’t see how young people’s health can be anything but harmed by these treatments.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5642577/NHS-sex-change-drugs-putting-hundreds-children-risk-year.html

Many other experts have shared their concerns on this, and I have quoted from many of them on these pages. Yet our activist governments are going full steam ahead in this, ramming it down everyone’s throats. Consider the latest outrage from Australia’s most far-left government, Victoria. The social engineers there just can’t get enough of the radical sex agenda, pushing everything from so-called safe schools to the entire trans agenda.

As we read in today’s press:

A major Victorian government department is promoting the first Wednesday of every month as “They Day”, asking its 10,000 employees to avoid “gendered” language and instead refer to others using neutral pronouns such as “they” or “them”. In a move criticised for pushing political correctness and identity politics under the guise of inclusiveness, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued staff with stick-on badges featuring preferred pronouns and produced a short film to highlight the issue.

In a memo emailed to staff, which has been seen by The Australian, They Day is promoted as a “new recurring calendar event” aiming to create awareness of “gendered pronouns”. “Non-binary identities are just as valid as binary gender identities,” the email says. “Names don’t always correspond to a person’s gender. There may be a gap between a person’s gender identity and your perception of the person. Saying ‘they’ is more flowing and inclusive than saying ‘he’ or ‘she’.”

An initiative of the department’s Pride Network, They Day follows the contentious release of the government’s Inclusive Language Guide in 2016 that discouraged the use of “heteronormative” terms such as “husband” and “wife”. Also aimed at public sector employees, the guide cautioned against assuming that everyone was heterosexual and recommended the use of alternative gender-neutral pronouns of “zie” and hir”.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/bureaucrats-told-use-genderneutral-speech/news-story/9cb64690112ae646369010490e60ca7e?nk=4eb9eec5ef94761caf7b0f3843fb713f-1533168944

Good grief. Take a chill pill guys. Your radical social engineering is so disgustingly obvious. Why don’t you try asking parents what they think of all this insanity, instead of just force-feeding all this madness on our helpless children?

Thankfully not everyone has applauded this madness. Dan Flynn of the Australian Christian Lobby said the video was a “shocking waste of departmental resources”. He went on to say, “It’s tragic that the Victorian public service can be used as a vehicle to encourage radical gender theory within the workforce, silencing those who believe in male and female gender.”
http://www.9news.com.au/national/2018/08/02/06/56/gender-neutral-they-day-victorian-state-government-campaign

And it is not just sinister governments, but diabolical corporates as well which are targeting our children. Consider a few more ugly examples of this:

Netflix has released the trailer for an upcoming animated series titled Super Drags. The series, which is Netflix’s first original animation from Brazil, follows the story of three department store workers who transform into drag queens under nightfall, hoping to “combat shade and rescue the world’s glitter from the evil villains.”

“We are thrilled that our first Brazilian animation will present our audiences with the daring, scandalous and fabulous world of Super Drags!” said Chris Sanagustin, Netflix’s Director of Original International Content.
http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/sexuality/fast-lane/article/2018/06/01/netflix-releases-trailer-new-animated-series-super-drags

Things are so bad at Netflix with its immoral and anti-child programming that an online petition is running on this: citizengo.org/en/md/163309-help-us-stop-netflix-animated-drag-queen-series?tc=fb&tcid=49870849

And not to be outdone, we now have a trans super hero:

Supergirl is set to become the first live-action television series to include a transgender superhero. Nicole Maines, a transgender actor and activist, will join the upcoming fourth season of the Warner Brothers drama as Nia Nal, who becomes known as Dreamer. The character is described as a “soulful young transgender woman” with a “fierce drive to protect others”.

Speaking after her character was announced at Comic Con in San Diego, California, she told Variety magazine.: “It seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to.” She added: “I want fans to take away an understanding of trans people. We can be anybody, we can be who we want, we can be superheroes – because in many ways we are.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/supergirl-first-transgender-superhero-nicole-maines-a8458531.html

Everywhere we see the deliberate targeting of our vulnerable young people by the militants. War has been declared. It is time to say “enough is enough”. And it is time to reclaim the things that matter, like biology, like reality, like truth. We are living in dark days that most folks never would have imagined.

However some wise and discerning minds could in fact see all this happening. We not only have the dystopian novelists like Orwell and Huxley writing about such things long ago, but even further back than that we had great minds like Chesterton warning us of what was to come.

Nearly a century ago he was writing about what will soon be upon us. Back in August of 1926 he wrote this in a piece for The Illustrated London News:

We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four, in which furious party cries will be raised against anybody who says that cows have horns, in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening a mob with the news that grass is green.

Yep, he nailed it. We now live in such a world. If anyone today dares to say that there are only two genders, and putting on a dress does not turn a male into a female, they are treated as intolerant dinosaurs and hateful bigots. But reality has a way of digging its heels in.

As one wit put it, ‘If I had a dollar bill for every gender there is, I’d have two dollars and a bunch of counterfeits.’ Yep, we can live in make-believe land all we like, but reality cannot so easily be overthrown. But the scary thing is, while reality cannot be destroyed, we can destroy countless children as the activists go on their merry way in their attempts at social and cultural annihilation.

via The Trans Assault on Everything — CultureWatch