Daily Archives: January 17, 2019

January 17 Conquering Faith

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 17:38–51

Key Verse: 1 Samuel 17:45

David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

David’s faith may seem to be of an almost superhuman kind—one beyond reach—if you focus on the feats he accomplished. Killing a giant with only some stones and a slingshot seems unbelievable.

But that is exactly the point. It was impossible and unbelievable. David’s simple, childlike faith in a great God produced the decisive victory for the Israelites that brought much glory to their Lord’s name.

The faith David had—conquering faith—is yours when you understand the true nature of his trust in God. Conquering faith is a faith that rejects the discouraging words of others.

What if David had listened to the taunts and questions of his brothers, or what if he had let Saul’s doubts coerce him to wear cumbersome, oversize armor? David knew that if he let God do the job that God had called him to do, success was the only possible outcome.

Conquering faith also recognizes the true nature of the battle. When Goliath in arrogance came against the army of God, the issue became spiritual, and David understood this principle immediately.

Are you facing a spiritual “Goliath” right now? God does not expect you to manage the situation on your own. Ask Him to handle the conflict. Conquering faith knows the One for the job.

Heavenly Father, give me conquering faith—a faith that rejects discouraging words from others and recognizes the true nature of the battle. Handle my conflicts. Defeat my spiritual Goliaths.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 18). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Poll: 41% of millennials want Roe reversed

(Washington Examiner) A new poll released on the eve of the annual March for Life protest finds that millennials, the largest group of American voters, are not in lock step with Democrats on abortion and their support for the landmark Roe vs. Wade case legalizing abortion.

Long considered one of the top issues for the younger generation, the Students for Life poll found that millennials are equally divided, 39 percent to 39 percent, in their support and opposition to abortion.

What’s more, 41 percent said they want the 1971 case overturned and 7-in-10 said they support limits, such as parental notification, blocking abortions at five months of pregnancy, and ending government funding.

Source: Poll: 41% of millennials want Roe reversed

Worst 50 places for Christians ranked in 2019 World Watch List: India in top 10 for first time

(REUTERS/Jayanta Dey)People light candles on the grave of their relatives before praying at a cemetery during the observance of All Souls Day in Agartala, India November 2, 2016.

Open Doors USA has published its 2019 World Watch List of the top 50 countries in the world where Christians face the most extreme persecution for their faith.

While many of the top 10 countries listed this year were also on 2018’s list, a significant addition was India, due to the rise in Hindu radical attacks on Christians.

“The world’s two most highly populated countries rise on the World Watch List. For the first time since the start of the World Watch List, India has entered the top 10. Additionally, China jumped 16 spots, from 43 to 27,” the persecution watchdog group observed.

“Each of these countries is home to more than a billion people, so these trends are distressing. Hindu nationalists in India continue to attack Christians with what seems like no consequences, and in China, the increased power of the government and the rule of Xi Jinping continue to make open worship difficult in some parts of the country,” it added.

Looking at the numbers, 245 million Christians in the top 50 countries in the World Watch List are expected to face high levels of persecution in the coming year, which is an increase from the 215 million projected last year.

As many as 4,136 Christians were murdered last year because of their faith, while 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.

North Korea was listed at the very top of the World Watch List for the 17th-consecutive year, with Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, and India rounding up the top 10.

Among some of the main trends, Open Doors observed what it called the “shocking reality of persecution against women.”

“In many places, they experience a ‘double persecution’ — one for being a Christian and one for being a woman. Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community. This kind of persecution is difficult to assess because it is complex, violent and hidden — in many cultures where women are specifically targeted, it is difficult if not impossible to report accurate numbers,” the watchdog group writes.

It also noted that seven out of the top 10 World Watch List countries suffer from Islamic oppression, which is the main cause of persecution. It explained that this poses great challenges for millions of Christians who were born into Muslim families but converted and face heavy discrimination for deciding to follow Jesus Christ.

Continue reading about Christians facing persecution on The Christian Post.

Source: Worst 50 places for Christians ranked in 2019 World Watch List: India in top 10 for first time

245 million Christians suffering high levels of persecution

opendoorsuk.org

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Open Doors CEO Henrietta Blyth at the World Watch List’s parliamentary launch.
A new report by Open Doors has revealed the extent of Christian persecution around the world.

The 2019 report reveals the number of Christians experiencing high levels of persecution reached 245 million.

Its annual World Watch List details the 50 countries where persecution is at its worst.

Nigeria

Open Doors estimates over 4,300 Christians were killed because of their faith over the last year, though the true figure is thought to be much higher, with friends and relatives said to be afraid to report killings.

Most of these deaths occurred in North and Central Nigeria, where 3,700 Christians were killed for their faith, including 1,885 in ‘genocidal’ acts in Plateau state.

“almost a quarter of a billion people are suffering persecution today because of their Christian faith”

Levels of persecution in Nigeria are categorised as ‘very high’, but despite the violence, the country is only twelfth on the World Watch List.

Persecution is thought to be ‘extreme’ in eleven countries, including India, which overtakes Syria to make the top ten for the first time.

Asia

In Asia an estimated 140 million Christians – one in three – are persecuted.

In the previous year’s report, around 215 million Christians were said to have experienced persecution across 58 countries, but they now experience high levels of persecution in 73 countries worldwide.

Persecution in China was said to be receding in 2017, but it is on the rise once again, with the country jumping from 43 in last year’s list to 27 in 2019.

President Xi Jinping has considerably tightened control of religious affairs in the last year, with new rules dubbed “the most restrictive in 13 years”.

‘Shocking increase’

CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland Henrietta Blyth said: “Our research uncovers a shocking increase in the persecution of Christians globally.

“In China our figures indicate persecution is the worst it’s been in more than a decade – alarmingly, some church leaders are saying it’s the worst since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976.

“Worldwide, our data reveals that 13.9 per cent more Christians are experiencing high levels of persecution than last year. That’s 30 million more people.”

‘Extraordinary’

The report was presented to MPs at the World Watch List’s parliamentary launch yesterday.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “I think it is an extraordinary figure that almost a quarter of a billion people are suffering persecution today because of their Christian faith.

“It is also extraordinary to think that 80 per cent of people suffering persecution because of their faith are Christian.”

He said it should always be high on the list of priorities for Foreign Office ministers to raise the issue of persecution in countries where it is happening.

Source: 245 million Christians suffering high levels of persecution

January 17 A True Friend

Scripture reading: John 14:1–18

Key verse: Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times,

And a brother is born for adversity.

Have you ever had a friend who liked you because you were fun to be with and put on a good appearance? However, the moment your life took a turn for the worse, you found him distancing himself from you. If you have experienced such rejection, you’re not alone. Jesus experienced all kinds of rejection.

And in some ways that rejection continues. Perhaps He asks something of us that we think is too harsh or requires something we don’t want to give up. We back off in hopes that He will leave us alone. Once Jesus began talking about a deeper life commitment, many of His followers left.

The disciples told Him that His words were too severe. But Jesus was not persuaded by human opinion, and He held fast to the message the Father had given Him. His words were meant to convict while separating those who would remain with Him from those who would leave.

What kind of Friend is Jesus? He is the kind who willingly laid down His life as payment for your sins—past, present, and future. Without complaint He bore all your sorrows and suffering, while pledging never to leave or forsake you (John 14:18).

He is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. And before you whisper your most intimate prayer, He knows your heart and rushes to your side.

Jesus, thank You for laying down Your life for my sin and bearing my sorrow and suffering. Thank You that You will never leave me or forsake me.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 18). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

India Ranked Among Top Ten Worst Persecutors in the World

01/17/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – Yesterday, January 16, Open Doors USA released its annual World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians face persecution. For the first time, India was ranked in the top ten of the World Watch List after years of increasing anti-Christian violence and religious intolerance.

Much of the increased religious intolerance has been blamed on the rule of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Founded on a Hindu nationalist platform, the rise of the BJP in 2014 began an escalating cycle of persecution for many religious minorities in India, including Christians.

Using religiously divisive rhetoric for political gain, BJP politicians often inflame the passions of Hindu radicals. These radicals then attack religious minorities or their places of worship under the assumption that they have the ‘tacit approval’ of those in power. When the radicals receive little to no consequences for their anti-minority activities, the cycle of increasing violence continues to spin.

In 2014, the year the BJP took power, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) documented 144 cases of anti-Christian violence. In 2017, after three years of BJP rule, that number had more than doubled to 351 cases.

Commenting on the ranking of India, Open Doors said, “For the first time since the start of the World Watch List, India has entered the top 10. Hindu nationalists in India continue to attack Christians with what seems like no consequences.

Source: India Ranked Among Top Ten Worst Persecutors in the World

Benghazi: Scandal ‘Far Bigger Than Watergate’ Still Haunts Clinton – Analyst

The recent ruling by US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth may become a breakthrough in the 5-year long Clinton email scandal, Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel told Sputnik, asking how it happened that the Obama administration, the CIA and FBI had apparently overlooked “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency”.

“The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money-laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption”, says Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel, commenting on a US federal judge ordering former Obama officials to answer the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch’s (JW) questions on Hillary Clinton’s private email issue and the Benghazi scandal.

On 15 January, US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, fmr. secretary of state Clinton’s former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap must answer the watchdog’s written questions about the State Department’s response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

​”In time, historians will likely document that the Clintons and Obamas entered office in January 2009 with a grand plan to transform America’s relations with key powers, especially in the Middle East,” Ortel said. “This plan involved toppling national leaders in many nations by fomenting local uprisings using clandestine resources, in actions that were not likely validly authorized by Congress, as is certainly required under US laws”.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to boards her campaign plane at Miami international airport in Miami, Florida, U.S., October 26, 2016

© REUTERS / Carlos Barria

The Wall Street analyst noted that “regime change for profit” is “an old gambit, going back centuries, even millennia”.

According to Ortel, “it is certainly odd to see in the US that many senior Democrats and Republicans today who were so active in the Anti-Vietnam War movement were among those so willing to foment destabilising and seemingly unending conflicts in so many places”.

The question arises as to who benefits from “regime change” operations.

“Multinational defence contractors, investment firms, and financial institutions that happen also to be major donors to political campaigns”, the investigative journalist responded.

READ MORE: How US Meddles in Other Nations’ Elections ‘in the Interests of Democracy’

Hillary Clinton Knew What She Was Doing

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the Book Expo event in New York Thursday, June 1, 2017

© AP Photo / Craig Ruttle

Previously, it was thought that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was merely “sloppy” while conducting the government business via her private server and unsecured devices. For her part, the ex-government official claimed that she had used the controversial email system for the “purpose of convenience”.

However, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton threw this assumption into question, suggesting that Hillary Clinton could have deliberately switched to her private server to evade public record under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“The Clintons knew exactly what rules a White House and Secretary of State must navigate following Bill’s tenure as US President from January 1993 through January 2001”, Ortel emphasised. “From what I can tell, the system evidently adopted by the Clintons fell laughably outside protocols rigorously employed throughout the highest levels of our government.”

The investigative journalist elaborated that “top secret information (at highest classification levels) is, according to publicly available sources, trafficked through special facilities over secure equipment”.

“Transmissions are absolutely not supposed to be copied, edited, or removed from these facilities as apparently happened while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State and until her people turned over a portion of such materials to investigators late in 2014”, he highlighted.

Ortel asks a number of questions, in particular: Who, specifically, authorized these arrangements? Who may have complained about these arrangements? If no one actually complained, according to available records, are we sure these remaining records are accurate?

He stressed that it’s important to find out how much former president Barack Obama, his staff and the FBI/CIA knew about all this.

READ MORE: Emailgate: Untold Story of Clinton Foundation’s Ties With Defense Contractors

The Clintons Seem Impervious to Serious Inquiry

Although the Clinton email scandal erupted back in 2014, it is only now that it has been officially qualified as “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency” by Judge Lamberth.

“It seems as if the world is watching a modern day mafia drama, where so many members of the government bureaucracy across the political system are doing their level best to resist exposing the true contours of this scandal, having sworn blood oaths,” Ortel said, commenting on the issue.

(File photo) World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, left, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wait to address the Gallup Evidence and Impact: Closing the Gender Data Gap conference in Washington, Thursday, July 19, 2012

© AP Photo / Cliff Owen

He recalled that “for much lesser offenses involving mishandling classified information, numerous government employees and contractors have suffered jail sentences and other penalties, ruining many careers”.

“Yet, the Clintons, the Obamas, and the Bushes seem impervious to serious inquiry,” according to the Wall Street analyst.

Ortel suggested that “in the US, laws and regulations pertaining to Freedom of Information Act requests need to be modernised”. In particular, “government officials must not be permitted to use ‘alias’ emails of any type, or to communicate via email using nefarious means, including via the ‘draft’ folder”.

“Penalties for committing offenses need to be more severe than they currently are,” he stressed.

READ MORE: Why the Fall of the House of Clinton May Trigger Domino Effect Worldwide

Lamberth’s Ruling as a Potential Breakthrough in Clinton Email Case

“One hopes the Lamberth ruling, and the magnitude of the potential criminal conspiracy that seems ongoing will rekindle public interest in telling the whole story here”, the investigative journalist said when asked whether one could regard the federal judge’s ruling as a breakthrough in the Clinton emailgate case.

However, “to date, the Western ‘mainstream’ media is exhausting itself (and its credibility) spewing out maniacal anti-Trump hit pieces 24/7 while ignoring stories that seem, to me, far bigger than Watergate”.

There yet another set of questions demanding answers, according to the analyst:

1.            What did senior Obama-era officials know about the rationale for opening an FBI investigation into the mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin and others on 10 July 2015?

2.            Why did the Obama administration and senior Democratic Party officials encourage Hillary to continue her presidential campaign after 10 July 2015?

3.            Who in the Obama Administration may have tamped down investigations by the Justice Department and IRS into the Clinton Foundation for charity fraud and public corruption, starting in mid-2015 through and after the November 2016 election?

Citing experts’ opinion, Ortel presumed that email information “is never effectively destroyed” and “numerous parties inside and outside the US likely have all of the ‘missing’ Clinton emails”.

“Let us hope that Judicial Watch, Judge Lamberth and others continue to capture the public interest, so that justice may be served, at long last,” Ortel said. “Members of dynastic political families who engage in, and cover up criminal activities certainly are not too big to jail, in an America that adheres to and honours our founding ideals.”

The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Source: Benghazi: Scandal ‘Far Bigger Than Watergate’ Still Haunts Clinton – Analyst

Letter to the Editor: I Was Seduced by the “Jesus” of “Jesus Calling”

LTRP Note: At Lighthouse Trails, we believe that many Christians have been seduced by “another Jesus” who has come as an angel of light, goodness, and love through books such as Jesus Calling and The Shack. The Bible warns of “seducing spirits,” but many in the church (including much of church leadership) ignore such warnings while embracing the “Jesus” of these books. After reading this letter, if you are someone, or if you know someone, who is drawn to the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling, you may e-mail us and request a copy of Warren Smith’s booklet, 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book, and we will send you a copy free of charge.

Dear Lighthouse Trails,

I want to share my experience with the book Jesus Calling in hope that my account might help someone else who has been deceived as I have. I am so grateful for your work in exposing this kind of deception. Converted 51 years ago, absolutely devoted to Jesus Christ and the Bible, teaching other women the same, and yet . . .

MY DECEPTION—Sarah Young’s book Jesus Calling, given to me by a Catholic friend, immediately brought me a serenity, a remarkable feeling of peace, a revelation, a fresh insight to the Gospel. I had never seen Jesus in such a freeing way! I soon was relieved of “burdens” and obligations from many biblical commands, not that they were unimportant (this Jesus assured me they were) but that this wonderfully simplified access to God would cover all those bases anyway. I had only to turn my mind over to this Jesus, the correct interpreter. He would guide me so well. I felt free from serious studying of the Word, of searching out meaning, of obeying it, because this loving Jesus would tell me about it when needed, and there was no reason to labor needlessly. Didn’t he say his burden was light? How could I have missed it?

Of course, all of God’s recorded teachings were still valid to me, but because there are so many of them to think about and coordinate, this “One-size-fits-all” approach was refreshingly simple. There were Scriptures included with each teaching that I could always refer to, but they were appropriately in more subdued print indicating his assurance that I didn’t have to read them unless I particularly wanted to. Either way was OK. He would bring them all together for me anyway, and I could shift my focus away from what my flesh was often wrestling with, those corrections from Scripture. I no longer felt scriptural warnings, including the need to repent, because it was now unnecessary. I wasn’t obligated to study for myself, but could rely on what he personally translated to me. He would let me know the real meaning when it was needed, so I could relax and take it easy in that regard. My only job was to clear my mind and let him fill it with his words. At last, I had come fully into my Mary role, sitting at his feet! By just letting him have constant and exclusive control of my thinking (well, it was my goal, at least), I could be sure that I was meeting all his requirements in this wonderfully simplified way. I realized that my previous struggles against sin were now really a matter of giving him a blank slate, of relinquishing my thoughts. How “light” my load became!

Feeling blessed beyond measure and thinking, “Why me, Lord, what have I done to deserve this goodness,” I entered into a state of great humility, knowing that as unworthy as I was, I had been included in an exclusive, blessed group, encasing me in love. At the same time, this feeling of love set up a longing in me that others would come in also, so I bought more copies Jesus Calling to give away, spreading the good news to dear friends and more. Humility and love—I had both!

MY DELIVERANCE—Surprisingly, and to my great disappointment, my godly daughter was horrified when I introduced this to her because as she read it, superficial and unscriptural qualities jumped out at her immediately. It frightened and sickened her that there was now a chasm between us. She kindly and firmly resisted my attempts to get her into the circle, and her son joined in earnest prayer for me. She frantically searched the Internet for a book to convince me that Jesus Calling was dangerously wrong and found Warren Smith’s Another Jesus Calling which she asked me to read immediately. I patiently laid it aside, meaning to “get to it” when I could. God then led another godly daughter to sit up late reading Mr. Smith’s book and to share its contents next morning with her mom.

Apparently, prayers had gotten me ready for this encounter because what followed could only be described as divine intervention. As I listened in astonishment, my eyes were immediately and completely opened to the truth of this enormous, beguiling, occultic deception, and suddenly, it all became so clear. God, full of mercy, was rescuing this foolish, gullible, female from the lure of a false Jesus. Truly, I had been deceived by a spirit disguised as an angel of light, one who had presented himself as so sweet, peaceful, and loving that I had been his willing victim. I will be forever grateful to Warren Smith and a praying, persevering family for my deliverance.

E. H., an 80-something great-grandmother
Atlanta

(photo from the cover of “Another Jesus” Calling; used with permission from Mountain Stream Press)

Source: Letter to the Editor: I Was Seduced by the “Jesus” of “Jesus Calling”

Desiring God Blog denounces the “Open-But Cautious” view of charismatic gifts — Religious Affections Ministries: Conservative Christianity, Worship, Culture, Aesthetics, Classical Education, Homeschooling, Family

Andrew Wilson, writing at the Desiring God blog (the parachurch ministry of John Piper), denounces the so-called “Open but Cautious” view of charismatic gifts as the view that’s least biblically indefensible (he’s probably right on that point):

Open-But-Cautious Continuationism, however, is almost always neither one nor the other. It involves the strange affirmation that Paul told his converts to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, and that his instructions still apply today, but that we are not especially going to follow them! This, for anyone with a high view of biblical authority, surely cannot be right. Paul’s exhortation in Romans, as we have already seen, is that “having gifts that differ, . . . let us use them” (Romans 12:6).

This is just another example (in a long line) of the Desiring God (DG) blog advocating charismatic gifts. Here, however, the blog makes clear that any compromising position is most to be discarded. I’d imagine (I could be wrong) that there are folks at DG that disagree with Pastor Wilson. Yet this is a clear and open advocacy of charismatic gifts without alloy. Cessationism is wrong, and “Open but Cautious” is an unbiblical compromise. The only option left (in their option) is full charismaticism, embracing and seeking the gifts.

via Desiring God Blog denounces the “Open-But Cautious” view of charismatic gifts — Religious Affections Ministries: Conservative Christianity, Worship, Culture, Aesthetics, Classical Education, Homeschooling, Family

January 17, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Source of the New Covenant

because of the tender mercy of our God, (1:78a)

It is God’s tender mercy that moves Him to show compassion to lost sinners. Tender translates splagchna, which literally refers to the inner parts of the body, such as the intestines, heart, liver, and lungs (cf. Acts 1:18). Figuratively, it describes the affections and the heart as the seat of those affections (2 Cor. 6:12; 7:15; Phil. 1:8; 2:1; Col. 3:12; Philem. 7, 12, 20; 1 John 3:17). In combination with eleos (mercy) it vividly depicts the intensity of God’s compassionate concern for sinners.

Mercy is a glorious attribute of God, celebrated throughout Scripture. He is “merciful and gracious” (Ps. 86:15; cf. 145:8), and “full of compassion and … merciful” (James 5:11; cf. Luke 6:36). The outworking of that mercy results in God showing kindness to sinners. Speaking of His tender mercy toward Israel, Isaiah wrote, “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them” (Isa. 63:9). In Jeremiah 33:26, God said of downtrodden Israel, “I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them” (cf. Ezek. 39:25). Mary rejoiced that God’s “mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him” (Luke 1:50) and that “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy” (v. 54). Earlier in his hymn of praise, Zacharias also spoke of God’s past mercy to Israel (v. 72). Ephesians 2:4 declares that it is because God is “rich in mercy” that He redeems lost sinners, while in 1 Timothy 1:13 and 16, Paul praised God for His mercy in saving him. Titus 3:5 declares that God “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy” (cf. 1 Peter 1:3; 2:10).

In his classic exposition of the attributes of God, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer expressed the wonder that all the redeemed should feel when they contemplate God’s mercy toward them:

When through the blood of the everlasting covenant we children of the shadows reach at last our home in the light, we shall have a thousand strings to our harps, but the sweetest may well be the one tuned to sound forth most perfectly the mercy of God.… We who earned banishment shall enjoy communion; we who deserve the pains of hell shall know the bliss of heaven. And all through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us. ([New York: Harper & Row, 1975], 96)

There was nothing inherently wrong with the Mosaic covenant; “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). It was an absolutely perfect reflection of God’s righteous character. Had God merely enforced the terms of the Mosaic covenant and condemned all sinners to eternal punishment for violating His law, He would have glorified Himself by displaying His justice. But God chose to have mercy on hopeless, helpless sinners in the misery of their fallen state and institute the New covenant, with its promise of forgiveness, righteousness, and full eternal acceptance with God.

The Blessings of the New Covenant

which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (1:78b–79)

Zacharias anticipated the coming of the One whose death would procure the blessings of the New covenant—the Messiah. He identified Him using a metaphor rich in Old Testament messianic theology and symbolism. Anatolē (Sunrise) literally means “rising,” and refers here to the first light of dawn. On high (lit., “out of” or “from the height”) refers symbolically to heaven. Zacharias thus depicts the Messiah as a great light from heaven, who will shine the light of salvation upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death (cf. Isa. 9:2; Ps. 107:10, 14; John 12:46). He is the “the sun of righteousness [who] will rise with healing in its wings” (Mal. 4:2), shining into the deep darkness of sin and ending the soul’s long night. Second Peter 1:19 speaks of the time when “the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts,” while in Revelation 22:16, the Lord Jesus Christ called Himself “the bright morning star.”

Darkness in Scripture can be used metaphorically in two ways. Intellectually, it refers to ignorance and error (e.g., Ps. 82:5; Eccl. 2:14; Eph. 4:18). Morally, darkness symbolizes sin (e.g., Prov. 2:13; 4:19; John 3:19; Rom. 13:12; 2 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:8, 11), and the realm of Satan (e.g., Luke 22:53; Eph. 6:12; Col. 1:13). God is light (1 John 1:5), and consequently Jesus, God incarnate, came into the world as the Light of the world (John 1:9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46). He is “a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison” (Isa. 42:6–7).

To a lost world groping in the darkness and desperately hoping for light (Isa. 59:9–10), God, knowing there was no human solution to sin’s dilemma (v. 16), sent “a Redeemer … to those who turn from [their] transgression” (v. 20; cf. 53:4–6, 8, 10–12). Speaking of the New covenant that would bring that about, God declared, “ ‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from now and forever’ ” (v. 21).

The light of salvation will continue to shine in the millennial kingdom, as Isaiah 60:1–5 reveals:

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice.

Indeed, throughout eternity the light of God’s glory will illuminate the New Jerusalem:

No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light; but you will have the Lord for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory. Your sun will set no more, neither will your moon wane; for you will have the Lord for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over. (60:19–20)

Not only would the Messiah bring the light of salvation to His people, He would also guide their feet into the way of peace. Lost sinners, stumbling around in the darkness, know nothing of true peace (Rom. 3:17). But peace is one of the elements of the New covenant. In Isaiah 54:10, God said, “ ‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.” “Peace I leave with you;” Jesus promised, “my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Peace, Paul wrote, begins with salvation: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). The kingdom of God is characterized by “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), and the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard [believers’] hearts and [their] minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).

With the end of Zacharias’s song of praise, the curtain falls on the life of John the Baptist, not to be raised again until the beginning of his public ministry in chapter 3. The Bible passes over his childhood in silence, revealing even less details about it than it does of Jesus’ childhood. All that is known of John during the long years between his circumcision and the beginning of his public ministry is that he continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel. He then assumed the role predicted for him as Messiah’s forerunner, proclaiming the New covenant of which his father so eloquently and passionately spoke.[1]


78. Through the bowels of mercy. In so great a benefit Zacharias justly extols the mercy of God, and not satisfied with merely calling it the salvation which was brought by Christ, he employs more emphatic language, and says that it proceeded from the very bowels of the mercy of God. He then tells us metaphorically, that the great mercy of God has made the day to give light to those who were sitting in darkness. Oriens, in the Latin version of this passage, is not a participle: for the Greek word is ἀνατολή, that is, the Eastern region, as contrasted with the West. Zacharias extols the mercy of God, as manifested in dispelling the darkness of death, and restoring to the people of God the light of life. In this way, whenever our salvation is the subject, we ought to raise our minds to the contemplation of the divine mercy. There appears to be an allusion to a prediction of Malachi, in which Christ is called “the Sun of Righteousness,” and is said to “arise with healing in his wings,” (Mal. 4:2,) that is, to bring health in his rays.[2]


78, 79. Because of the merciful heart of our God,

With which the Rising Sun will visit us from on high,

To shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow,

To guide our feet into the path of peace.

Note the following:

  • “The merciful heart of our God” is literally “our God’s entrails [or: bowels] of mercy.” A discussion of this figure of speech can be found in N.T.C. on Philippians, p. 58, footnote 39.
  • “With which” = “equipped with this (merciful heart).”
  • “The Rising Sun” (some prefer “the Dawn” or simply “Dawn”), like “the horn of salvation” in verse 69, indicates and describes the Messiah. The point is that in and through him the Most High himself will in his tender mercy visit the people in order to help and save them.

Basically the Greek term used here (anatolē) means rising (cf. Matt. 2:2). It is but a small step from rising or rise to sunrise, and from there to the Rising Sun. Since we know that Zechariah, the author of this hymn, was deeply aware of the prophecies of Malachi (note resemblance between 1:17, 76 and Mal. 3:1), it is not difficult to believe that he is here echoing Mal. 4:2, the passage about the coming of “the sun of righteousness with healing in his wings.”

  1. There is considerable textual support for the reading “has visited us” instead of “will visit us.” But the reading “will visit us” is at least equally strong. Besides, accepting the future tense here is favored by the fact that the passage occurs in a context of futures (“will be called,” “will go before,” verse 76). Also, Jesus was not yet born, so that “has visited” can be justified only if it be interpreted as a prophetic past. All in all it would seem that the future tense deserves the preference in this case.
  2. The “visit” of this “Sun” has as its purpose: “to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow” (verse 79). This phraseology is derived from Isa. 9:1, 2, which is also quoted in Matt. 4:16.

Sitting in darkness and death’s shadow indicates a condition of danger, fear, and hopelessness, a pining away, with no human help in sight. In Scripture the designation darkness, when used figuratively, refers to one or more of the following features: delusion (blindness of mind and heart; cf. 2 Cor. 4:4, 6; Eph. 4:18); depravity (Acts 26:18); and despondency (Isa. 9:2; see its context, verse 3). Though all three qualities are probably in the picture here, yet the emphasis may well be on the last of the three (despondency, hopelessness).

The antonym of darkness is light, which, accordingly, refers to genuine learning (the true knowledge of God, Ps. 36:9), life to the glory of God (Eph. 4:15, 24; 5:8, 9, 14), and laughter (gladness, Ps. 97:11). All three may well be included, but here too the emphasis is perhaps on the last of the three.

The real meaning of the words, accordingly, is this, that Jesus Christ, by his presence, teaching, deeds of mercy and power, would fill the hearts of all his followers with the joy of salvation. No longer would they be pining away in gloom and despair. Whenever Jesus enters human hearts, the words of a popular hymn go into effect,

The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin,

The light of the world is Jesus.

  • “To guide our feet into the path of peace.” Those who a moment ago were pictured as sitting down in despair are now standing on their feet; in fact, are walking. Their sadness has been turned into gladness. Note the connection: “to shine on those … to guide our feet.” By means of shining, the Rising Sun guides our feet. All we, sinners, had gone astray and had turned to our own way (Isa. 53:6), not knowing “the way of peace” (Isa. 59:8, 9). Then the Sun rises, shines, directs our feet into the path of peace.

This peace is both objective and subjective. Objectively it amounts to reconciliation with God through “David’s horn,” “the Rising Sun,” the Messiah (2 Cor. 5:20). Subjectively it is the quiet and comforting assurance of forgiveness and adoption (Rom. 8:16 f.). It is the smile of God reflected in the reconciled sinner’s heart, the shelter from the storm, the hiding-place in the shadow of his wings, the stream that issues from the fountain of grace. To that peace the Rising Sun directs our feet.

As this touchingly beautiful song draws to its close it seems as if already we hear the angels sing:

Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men he has graciously chosen.

We have studied “Elizabeth’s Song of Love” and “Mary’s Song of Faith.” That we have every right to call the priest’s prophecy “Zechariah’s Song of Hope” can hardly be questioned. The very word prophecy, as here used, implies also the forward look, which, as has been shown, is the distinguishing trait of this song.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2009). Luke 1–5 (pp. 120–123). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, p. 77). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 128–129). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

January 17, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

The U.S. government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s call for Congress to fund a wall he promised to build on the U.S.- Mexican border is threatening another campaign pledge to make rules easier to navigate for banks and corporations.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday were moving ahead with legislation to prevent the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, following a court decision this week blocking inclusion of such information.

Zimbabwean police plan to charge activist pastor Evan Mawarire with subverting the government, a crime which carries up to 20 years in jail on conviction, after violent protests this week in which three people were killed and scores injured, lawyers said.

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength that should continue to underpin the economy. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 213,000 for the week ended Jan. 12.

AP Top Stories

With the U.S. government shutdown now in its fourth week, states have begun taking steps to cushion the blow for federal workers who have been tossed out of work or forced to work without pay. Measures range from special arrangements for accessing unemployment benefits to an interest-free loan backstopped by state coffers.

According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than $13 billion in duties imposed by the Trump administration were assessed on imported goods as of Dec. 18. Actual collections could lag and be lower because of refunds and other factors, but Treasury Department reports show receipts from all customs duties have risen sharply since the tariffs took effect.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked Pakistan on Thursday for its help in pushing forward peace talks with the Taliban as diplomatic efforts continued to keep the process on track, Pakistani officials said.

An American teacher captured by Kurdish-led forces in Syria acknowledged in an interview aired Tuesday that he was drawn to the Islamic State movement but said he did not fight.

A US citizen was among those killed in a powerful truck bomb attack against a heavily fortified foreign compound in Kabul this week, officials said Wednesday, as the government continued investigating the blast site. The Taliban have claimed responsibility after the bomb detonated near the Green Village compound in east Kabul on Monday. Afghan authorities have said at least four people were killed and 113 wounded.

Disgraced former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick is almost certain to be defrocked in the next few weeks over allegations against him, including sexual abuse of minors, two Vatican sources said. Last July, McCarrick became the first Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal.

One of the world’s most successful brands committed ideological hara-kiri this week. Recognized around the world as a symbol of manly civility for more than a century, Gillette will now be remembered as the company that did itself in by sacrificing a massive consumer base at the altar of progressivism.

Newly obtained documents reveal that the United States has been training coalition military personnel from the United Arab Emirates for the air war in Yemen.

Representatives Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and Andy Harris of Maryland, both members of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced the Border Bonds for America Act of 2019 — a law that would allow Americans to buy such securities from the U.S. The money would be put in a trust fund and used just to build a wall along the nearly 2,000 mile border.

The U.S. is stepping up its involvement in the debate over reforming the World Trade Organization and questioned the Geneva-based body’s policies that allow China to benefit from rules meant to bolster poorer nations.

Qatar donated 68 armored vehicles to Somalia on Thursday, Qatar’s defense ministry said, a sign that Doha is pushing for influence in the country with the role of its Gulf rival, the United Arab Emirates, under strain.

U.S. Border Patrol agents in New Mexico say a group of nearly 250 immigrants are in custody after turning themselves in to authorities at the Antelope Wells Port of Entry.

BBC

One of North Korea’s top negotiators is on his way to Washington to meet US officials ahead of a possible second summit between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump. South Korean reports say that Kim Yong-chol, flying from Beijing, is carrying another letter from Mr. Kim to Mr. Trump.

A 21-year-old man from the US state of Georgia has been arrested over an alleged terror plot to attack the White House and Statue of Liberty.

Second Lady Karen Pence, the wife of the US vice-president, will return to teaching art at a school that requires employees to oppose LGBT lifestyles. The school in Springfield, Virginia, bars teachers from engaging in or condoning “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity” and “transgender identity”.

WND

There are approximately 1,800 campaigns to raise money for those affected by the stalemate on the fundraising website GoFundMe, according to GoFundMe spokesperson Katherine Cichy. The campaigns have raised over $400,000 total, Cichy said.

A new poll released on the eve of the annual March for Life protest finds that 41 percent of millennials, the largest group of American voters, are not in lock step with Democrats on abortion and their support for the landmark Roe vs. Wade case legalizing abortion.

Christians around the world suffered a huge increase in persecution last year – with around 30 million more people being targeted than in the previous year.


Mid-Day Snapshot

The Foundation

“He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” —Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

Pelosi’s SOTU Political Play

The House speaker invited the president to give the annual address … in writing.

Furloughed Fed Employees Are Now on Paid Vacation

As Dems play political games, the president acts to mitigate as much of the impact of the shutdown as possible.

The Razor’s Edginess

Millions of Americans are sick and tired of being lectured, cajoled, berated, and bombarded.

90% of Guns Used in Crime Obtained Illegally

A DOJ report finds that the vast majority of guns used in criminal activity were obtained illegally.

RIP: Air Force Medal of Honor Recipient Joe Jackson

He was famous for his daring rescue of a team of Air Force combat controllers in Vietnam.

Video: Weatherman Fired Over Racial Slur Slip-Up

Matt Christiansen dissects how a man was canned for a tongue slip: Martin Luther “Coon.”

MLK v the Democrat Party

Black Americans are recognizing that Democrats have turned MLK’s dream into a nightmare.

Thursday Short Cuts

The BIG Lie: “The government is closed because of President Trump.” —Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Thursday Top Headlines

Federal workers guaranteed pay, Dems disunited, terror plot foiled, missile defenses expanded, Rainbow Mafia, and more.

Today’s Opinion

Edwin J. Feulner
The Presidential Loser Who ‘Won the Future’
Tony Perkins
First Freedom: A Day to Celebrate
Victor Davis Hanson
Trump’s Reelection Chances May Be Better Than You Think
Cal Thomas
Now Playing in Puerto Rico
Mona Charen
Is Gillette Wrong?

Today’s Meme


Today’s Cartoon



News – 1/17/2019

FBI: Sting nabs jihadist who wanted to attack White House with anti-tank rocket
A would-be jihadist who had detailed plans to use an anti-tank rocket to storm into the White House was arrested in a sting Wednesday after he traded his car for guns and explosives, authorities said.

Nepal earthquake: Waiting for the complete rupture
…the country may still face the threat of much stronger earthquakes with a magnitude of 8 or more. This is the conclusion reached by a group of earth scientists from ETH Zurich based on a new model of the collision zone between the Indian and Eurasian Plates in the vicinity of the Himalayas. Our model shows that, although the Gorkha earthquake reduced the stress level in part of the rupture zone, tension actually increased in the frontal section close to the foot of the Himalayas. The apparent paradox is that ‘medium-sized’ earthquakes such as Gorkha can create the conditions for an even larger earthquake,”

Nairobi terrorists say attack was revenge for U.S. Jerusalem embassy move
Al Shabaab, a Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate fighting to impose strict Islamic law, said it carried the assault on the upscale dusitD2 compound over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Magnetic Pole Shift Could Turn Our World Upside Down
But the movement of the north magnetic pole has been the object of study since 1831. Initially, it was tracked moving into the Arctic Ocean at a rate of about 15km each year. But, since the mid 1990s, it has picked up speed. It’s now shifting at a rate of about 55km a year. At the same time, Earth’s magnetic field has been getting weaker and weaker, and this has many experts deeply concerned that we could soon experience a catastrophic pole flip.

Israel Air Force Invited to First-Ever Joint Exercise With Britain’s RAF
The IAF has been invited to take part in the annual Cobra Warrior exercise at Coningsby airbase in Lincolnshire in September. While defense cooperation between Israel and Britain has been intensifying at all levels in recent years, the IAF has never been invited to participate in the exercise.

Was FBI Secret Trump Investigation After Firing of Comey a Treasonous Coup?
James Comey was appointed by Barack Obama to be the FBI Director in 2013 after Robert Mueller left the post. On May 9, 2017, President Trump fired Comey, causing him to turn against Trump and work with Mueller in trying to destroy the Trump presidency. The nation is now learning that upon Comey’s firing, loyal, Obamanite FBI leadership launched a top secret internal investigation into Trump. Many as asking if this secret investigation was legal and some are suggesting that it may have been an attempt at a treasonous coup to remove Trump from office.

Expel international observers from Hebron – top minister to Netanyahu
Netanyahu must oust the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), thereby ending the mandate of the international observer force, Public Safety Minister Gilad Erdan said on Thursday. He issued his call 14 days before his decision to renew the mandate of the organization that has operated in Hebron for 12 years was expected to be in, based on an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Putin warns West on Balkans as Serbia prepares lavish welcome
Russian President Vladimir Putin heads a powerful delegation to Serbia on Thursday, aiming to cement co-operation with a country seeking to join the EU. Ahead of his Belgrade visit, Mr Putin accused some Western countries of “destabilising” the Balkans. Security will be tight in the Serbian capital. MiG jets will escort his plane and 7,000 police are being deployed.

US Pentagon urges missile defence sensors in space
The US must research new technologies, such as a layer of sensors in space, to find and destroy incoming missiles, a Pentagon report is expected to say. The Missile Defence Review, due for release on Thursday, says the US should revamp its missile defence programme to combat foreign threats. It includes plans to study a possible orbital sensor system to intercept and stop missiles in their tracks.

Border rancher: ‘We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal’
Ranchers and farmers near the U.S.-Mexico border have been finding prayer rugs on their properties in recent months, according to one rancher who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by cartels who move the individuals. The mats are pieces of carpet that those of the Muslim faith kneel on as they worship.

Immigration group files suit to force Southern Poverty Law Center revoke ‘hate’ label
One of the most prominent groups advocating for stricter immigration went to court Wednesday to demand a judge order the Southern Poverty Law Center to stop labeling it a “hate group,” accusing the self-described watchdog of running an illegal racket to silence political opponents. The Center for Immigration Studies says the SPLC’s accusations that it is racist and anti-immigrant are wrong and have cost the nonprofit support and financial backing…

Report: Trump’s Mideast plan proposes Palestinian state in West Bank
Israeli television said on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan would propose a Palestinian state on as much as 90 percent of West Bank, with a capital in East Jerusalem, but not including its holy sites. The Trump administration has said publication of the plan, kept closely under wraps, could be months away, and cautioned against speculation about its contents.

Black South African politician urges followers to ‘kill whites’, saying: ‘We will kill their children and their women’
The leader of a South African political party has called for the killing of white women and children in a row over the taxi industry. Andile Mngxitama, president of Black First Land First (BLF), was speaking at a rally on the weekend in Potchefstroom near Johannesburg when he made the violent comments.

‘Palestinian’ leader Abbas takes over largest UN bloc, calls for a global battle against terrorism
The global community must band together to combat terrorism, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday as he took over the chairmanship of the United Nations Group of 77 and China, the organization’s largest bloc of member states.

NYC: Sculpture proclaiming “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet” removed from Ground Zero
It looks as if the New York chapter of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was caught napping on this one. Ordinarily one would have expected them to swoop in with charges of “Islamophobia” and make sure the sculpture stayed right where it was.

US Pentagon accounted plans for stationing troops on the Mexican border – liberals outraged
According to an Associated Press report, the military deployment will not only continue until the end of September 2019, but will be enhanced as soldiers and Marines continue to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its efforts to reinforce the southern border, including the arrival of more migrant caravans.

PURE HATE: Muslim mobs close four churches in Egypt –
In recent weeks, hardline Islamic extremists have carried out a spate of attacks against four churches in Egypt, persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported. All four churches were in the midst of seeking official recognition from the state to carry out worship services.

‘Mass casualty’ attack on White House foiled
A metropolitan Atlanta man has been accused of plotting to destroy the White House – as well as other government buildings in Washington, D.C. – in a case that was revealed on Wednesday.

O’Rourke Questions the Relevance of the Constitution: ‘Does It Still Work?’
Former congressman and failed Senate candidate Robert Francis (Beto) O’Rourke questioned the relevance of the United States Constitution in a recent interview with the Washington Post.

US Foster Care Supplies 88 Percent of Sex Trafficked Children, Study Finds
Child sex slavery is a rapidly expanding problem in the United States, yet it’s a problem many people don’t want to face up to.


Headlines – 1/17/2019

Trump peace plan: divide Jerusalem, Palestinian state on 85-90% of W.Bank

US Special Representative says Israeli TV report on “Deal of the Century” is inaccurate, says speculation on its contents is unhelpful

Palestinians say any peace plan without a state along 1967 lines will fail

PA chairman’s spokesman rejects any agreement without a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders

Egypt, Israel Plan Undersea Gas Pipeline Amid Growing Spirit of Cooperation

New Regional Gas Forum Brings Israel Big Geopolitical Gains, but at What Cost?

Al-Shabaab: Kenya attack because of Jerusalem recognition

Police probing death of Israeli woman in West Bank crash; family: it’s terror

Australian police: In ‘horrific’ attack, Israeli student murdered while on phone

Think Tank: Biggest Security Threat Facing Israel in 2019 Is Multi-Front War in North and South

‘Israel may need to invade Iran to stop its entrenchment in Syria’

Russia’s air defenses can’t stop Israel from stomping on Iran in Syria with airstrikes

4 Americans killed in Syria attack. ISIS claims responsibility

An American CEO who survived 9/11 died in the terror attack on a Kenya hotel

U.S. troop deaths revive anger over Trump’s Syria withdrawal plan

Vice-President Pence says IS defeated despite Syria attack

In last 24 hours, over 2,000 evacuated from final Syria ISIS holdout

Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan to discuss U.S. pullout from Syria next week

Javad Zarif: Iran wants key role in rebuilding Iraq after ISIS fight

Iranian embassy in Beirut slams US as ‘ISIS incubator’

Iran Vows to Keep Forces in Syria After Netanyahu Warns of More Strikes

Netanyahu praises Bolton for ‘pressure on Iran to abandon nuclear ambitions’

Atomic chief: Iran could enrich uranium to 20 percent within 4 days

After botched satellite launch, Iran plans second try at space shot in months

Trump administration to roll out new space-based missile defense plan

Trump ‘might actually leave Nato’, former US ambassador says

U.S. to Withdraw From Major Nuclear Arms Treaty – Citing Russian Violations

Russia ready to work with US to save arms treaty, says Lavrov

Bid to keep U.S. sanctions on Russia’s Rusal fails in Senate

Russia Says Ukraine May No Longer Be a Country Soon

Kremlin: The idea that Donald Trump could have worked for Russia is stupid

Giuliani doesn’t deny Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia – says he only denies Trump himself colluded

As shutdown lingers, Pelosi pushes Trump to delay State of Union speech

Pelosi only gives Trump a bigger audience by canceling State of the Union

White House Redefines Who Is Essential to Get Parts of Government Moving Again

Oakland Airport TSA Agent: ‘Things Not Being Checked Like They Should Be’

Border rancher: ‘We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal’

Number of Anchor Babies in California Twice Wyoming’s Total Population

FBI: Man Wanted to Attack White House With Anti-Tank Rocket

Top Trump official resigned over White House plan to withhold disaster-relief funds from Puerto Rico: report

“People of Puerto Rico are paying off this debt with their life”: Court hearing begins on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis

Theresa May survives vote, but Britain remains in Brexit deadlock

Former Irish PM: No-deal Brexit will mean ‘psychological and political isolation’

Another good day for Putin as turmoil grips US and UK

Russia raises alarm over U.S. support of Venezuela’s opposition

Venezuela’s opposition looks for ways to oust Maduro, transfer power

Nationwide strike paralyzes Tunisia as 670,000 public servants demand pay rise

Zimbabwe protests: Military deployed after eight killed in fuel hike demonstrations

Zimbabweans say social media blocked in wake of violent protests

Man Who Says He Was Abducted By Aliens Breaks 45-Year Silence

The world’s first artificial meteor shower is set to fly over Japan tonight

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Tobelo, Indonesia

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Mohean, India

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Sola, Vanuatu

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Tobelo, Indonesia

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Cairo turns orange as sandstorm sweeps Egypt

Fine dust and toxic smog are suffocating these Asian countries prompting one country to experiment in extreme forms of weather modification

Trouble brewing? World’s top coffee species at risk of extinction thanks to global warming

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

Researchers Create Perfect Blood Vessels in a Petri Dish for the First Time

Opioid painkiller producer misled doctors to boost sales, prosecutor alleges

Anti-vax Movement Listed by World Health Organization as One of the Top 10 Health Threats for 2019

Ebola outbreak continues in the Congo as obstacles challenge health care workers

Oregon Could Become the First State to Require In-Home Surveillance of Newborn Babies

New job of U.S. vice president’s wife at Christian school sparks LGBT+ furor

Karen Pence just wants to teach art, but people are mad the school has standard Christian beliefs


Apostasy Watch Daily News

Is Saving the Earth More Important than Saving Souls? (The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity #10)

Divination Is Forbidden By God

James MacDonald to take ‘indefinite sabbatical’ amid scrutiny; elders plan ‘peacemaking’ process

Charismatic Preacher Claims Apostles Were Wrong When They Rejected Worship From Men

Chris Rosebrough exposes false prophet Belinda Williams

Charlie Shamp: Pete Rose Will Enter The Hall of Fame as a Sign of Christ’s Imminent Return


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Faithless Men and Women of Faith

Unfathomable Grace

When we look at our less-than-perfect faith today, what are we to learn? We know we believe. We know we have faith. We know we want to walk more faithfully than we do, but what we are we to conclude when we see ourselves — again — throwing our God and our neighbors “under the bus” while we selfishly and recklessly worship ourselves? I am fairly sure the story of Abraham and the words of Paul will be of great assistance to us today.

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Abraham proves to be a man of great faith. When reading his life story, there are times when Abraham seems to stand head-and-shoulders above most worshipers. God commands him to leave his family, his country, his people and all that is comfortable to him. God then instructs him to travel to an undisclosed location, and faithfully Abraham believes God, forsakes his old life, and…

View original post 1,395 more words

Triple Breakout Test In Play For S&P 500! — Kimble Charting Solutions

Is the rally of late about to run out of steam or is a major breakout about to take place in the S&P 500? What happens at current prices should go a long way in determining this question. This chart looks at the equal weight S&P 500 ETF (RSP) on a daily basis over the…

via Triple Breakout Test In Play For S&P 500! — Kimble Charting Solutions

#1 – The Doctrine of Personal Identity | 30 Practical Doctrines You Need to Know — Randy White Ministries

“Who are you? Are you any different from the animals? Have you lost the image of God? Can you be complete? These questions and many more will be answered in #1 of 30 Practical Doctrines You Need to Know.”

Session notes:
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Frwmnew.tk%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2019%2F01%2Fms-SFLwii-1.pdf&hl=en_US&embedded=true

Download (PDF, 991KB)

via #1 – The Doctrine of Personal Identity | 30 Practical Doctrines You Need to Know — Randy White Ministries

30 Practical Doctrines You need to Know – What is doctrine? — Randy White Ministries

30 Practical Doctrines You need to Know – What is doctrine?

Dr. White teaches a new series about the 30 Practical Doctrines You need to Know. This session teaches what a doctrine really is.

Session notes:
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Frandywhiteministries.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2019%2F01%2F010618-What-is-Doctrine.pdf&hl=en_US&embedded=true

Download (PDF, 319KB)

via 30 Practical Doctrines You need to Know – What is doctrine? — Randy White Ministries

A Doctrinal Crises — Randy White Ministries

There is a doctrinal crisis in the broader Christian world today. It is a crisis that is seen in Protestant, evangelical, and, to a lesser degree, in fundamentalist circles. It is a crisis that is rampant within denominational churches and a growing menace in independent churches.

For several generations, doctrinal teaching has been out of favor. Today, the chickens have come home to roost.

As I see it, the doctrinal crises has three roots.

Problem 1: doctrine has been boiled down to that which is purely theological

We live in a world that is desperately in need of Biblical doctrine, but instead of providing it, the Christian community has reduced doctrine to bibliology, theology, Christology, pneumatology, anthropology, angelology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology. These are certainly fundamental doctrines, but we live in a society that can’t figure out which bathroom to use. Why is our world so confused? Because Christians have not taught that issues like gender identity, marriage, sexuality, elder-care, types of church music, end-of-life issues, abortion, and a million other practical issues are only resolved by doctrine. I think it is time that churches begin to teach their families and families begin to teach their children that doctrine pervades every corner of life and that every problem of societal life is addressed by doctrine.

Problem 2: doctrine has largely been reduced to “secondary” and “tertiary” matters.

A common quote (often attributed to Augustine, but not likely to be so), says-

In essentials, unity

In non-essentials, liberty

In all things, love

The problem with this quote is that in recent days, almost all things have become “non-essentials” within the church. In fact, one professor said,

“I found that this quotation is a pan-denominational maxim, quoted as authoritative in a dizzying variety of incompatible Christian traditions.”

What is an essential doctrine? While Christians and local churches could certainly agree on a very short list, there are endless Christian communities that only have a few items on the “essentials” list. It is secondary or tertiary to determine a Biblical dogma for matters of Baptism, for example, or gender of church leadership, or the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. In recent years, tertiary has become common when discussing doctrine. It is a word that seems to have come to mean, “Believe whatever you want, but we are not going to talk about it around here.” It is also a word that is almost always assigned to eschatology issues in doctrinally weak churches (and how can one claim to have a Biblical worldview if they don’t have a clue how the world will end?)

The assembly gathered in Acts 2 was gathered around “the apostle’s doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Today, it is hard to find any kind of doctrinal statement on a church website, and equally difficult to find out a church’s doctrine in a face-to-face visit. Ask about a doctrinal issue and you’ll often hear the Augustinian quote and a lecture about how, “we just want to love people, and issues like that divide.”  How did it come to be that issues over which the first assemblies were gathered, and issues which later became the gathering point around which entire movements and denominations have been built, have now become issues that divide?

Today, the de-emphasis on doctrine to the secondary and tertiary has been a boon to the ecumenical movement, which is fully dependent on the trend toward tertiary doctrines. Because of this, churches that once had denominational or historical identity now join together for worship (because matters of gender leadership, prayer, gifts of the Spirit, etc. are all tertiary), Vacation Bible School (where evangelism is either non-existent or the churches simply don’t care that there really are doctrinal issues that affect even the manner of how to be saved, and what should happen after salvation), and missions (which has become mostly social-justice and humanitarian issue, but will still suck mission dollars out of unsuspecting generous donors).

Problem 3: Pastors are not taught the doctrines of the church nor practical doctrines of the faith, thus they do not teach others.

As I wrote about concerning the problem of denominational seminaries, there is little doctrinal or exegetical work done in the Master of Divinity program, which is the “go-to” degree for denominational pastors. I have personally grown away from denominational affinity (though I still retain a Baptist theology, one can be “Baptist” without being tied to any specific denomination), but denominations “rule the roost” in pastoral education. In the standard M.Div. degree, doctrinal education consists of a couple of classes of 10 areas of systematic theology and a class on denominational church history. No seminary student graduates with a comprehensive understanding of how to develop theological and practical doctrines. How can a pastor be expected to teach that which he does not know?

I would venture to say that the recent Master’s level seminary graduate that is headed into a pastoral role would struggle to carry on a conversation about most areas of theology, and I haven’t even discovered many signs that they want to engage in such conversations. This is because building a doctrinal bedrock is not a priority among these church-growth agents who will call themselves pastors.

Problems Ahead

A church without doctrinal clarity creates families with doctrinal drift. Families with doctrinal drift create confusion in society. Society under confusion is exactly what we have today. The only recipe to fix it is for churches to return to doctrinal clarity, and this is a “slow-fix” that will take a couple of generations but is well worth the effort.

It starts with your church, your pastor, your Bible study, your home. If you are in a church that doesn’t have doctrinal clarity, switch churches. If you are a pastor who has neglected doctrinal teaching, change your ways. Doctrine matters!


This article was adapted from comments given in the introductory sermon to a series called “30 Practical Doctrines You Need to Know.” The sermon can be viewed in whole below.

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Randy White is the founder and CEO of Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. He teaches Bible online at http://www.RandyWhiteMinistries.org and preaches at the Taos (NM) First Baptist Church.

via A Doctrinal Crises — Randy White Ministries

Beto O’Rourke Questions Validity of our Constitution

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

So Texas Representative, Beto O’Rourke questioned whether a document which is 230 years old can still “manage” the U.S.

I’ll give him one thing:  He is saying what all Leftist liberals are thinking.

Oh how I would love to have a sit down with this man and discuss our Constitution. I think that if he was asked what kind of government we have, Beto would say “We’re a democracy.”    That’s the Snowflake answer.

Nope, Mr. O’Rourke – we are a Democratic Republic and that is vastly different from a pure democracy.

We are governed by a body of laws which are stated articulately in our Constitution.  There are ways to “amend” this document, but it has to be through legislation and then upon ratification; a new amendment will be added. Mr. O’Rourke fails to recognize that our Constitution IS what sets us apart from other governments.

Benjamin Franklin

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January 17 A Divinely Offered Opportunity

scripture reading: Joshua 1:1–2, 10–18
key verse: Isaiah 58:11

The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water,
  whose waters do not fail.

The company needs to know by Friday. Will you take the job in Wichita or not? The church wants an answer next week. Will you teach the Bible study this quarter or decline?

Decisions. Opportunities. Some of them come only once, and they demand a precise response. How do you know what to do?

The Israelites were presented with a grand command from the Lord of hosts: be ready in three days to cross the Jordan River and enter the land promised to your forefathers. There were obstacles—an overflowing, raging river with enemies on the other side. But the Israelites obeyed God, and the blessings followed.

When decisions are not so clear–cut, you still employ principles to seize the opportunities offered by God. Just as Joshua was commanded, you are to meditate in the Word constantly. His Word rolls back the darkness and doubt.

If you fail, if you make the wrong decision, God is still with you wherever you go. He uses even your botches to teach you. Above all, obey what you believe God has shown you. Even when you are wrong, you will still be all right.

I want to seize each opportunity this day affords, Father. Let Your Word roll back the darkness and doubt threatening my life. I praise You that even when I am wrong, You will make it right.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.