Daily Archives: January 17, 2019

17 january (1858) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Search the Scriptures

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20

suggested further reading: Acts 17:10–15

I teach that all men by nature are lost by Adam’s fall. See whether that is true or not. I hold that men have so gone astray that no man either will or can come to Christ except the Father draw him. If I am wrong, find me out. I believe that God, before all worlds, chose to himself a people, whom no man can number, for whom the Saviour died, to whom the Holy Spirit is given, and who will infallibly be saved. You may dislike that doctrine; I do not care: see if it is not in the Bible. See if it does not there declare that we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” and so on. I believe that every child of God must assuredly be brought by converting grace from the ruins of the fall, and must assuredly be “kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation,” beyond the hazard of ever totally falling away. If I am wrong there, get your Bibles out, and refute me in your own houses. I hold it to be a fact that every man who is converted will lead a holy life, and yet at the same time will put no dependence on his holy life, but trust only in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. And I hold, that every man that believes, is in duty bound to be immersed. I hold the baptism of infants to be a lie and a heresy; but I claim for that great ordinance of God, Believer’s Baptism, that it should have the examination of Scripture. I hold, that to none but believers may immersion be given, and that all believers are in duty bound to be immersed. If I am wrong, well and good; do not believe me; but if I am right, obey the Word with reverence. I will have no error, even upon a point which some men think to be unimportant; for a grain of truth is a diamond, and a grain of error may be of serious consequence to us, to our injury and hurt. I hold, then, that none but believers have any right to the Lord’s Supper; that it is wrong to offer the Lord’s Supper indiscriminately to all, and that none but Christians have a right either to the doctrines, the benefits, or the ordinances of God’s house. If these things are not so, condemn me as you please; but if the Bible is with me, your condemnation is of no avail.

for meditation: This is how to use these daily readings—according to the Bible, Spurgeon must have made some mistakes (James 3:1, 2).

sermon no. 172[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 24). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

17 JANUARY 365 Days with Calvin

The Source of All Gifts

See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. Exodus 31:2

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 12

The call of Bezaleel was special because God entrusted to him an unusual and by no means ordinary work, yet we know that no one excels even in the most despised and humble handicraft unless God’s Spirit works in him. For, although “there are diversities of gifts,” it is still the same Spirit from whom these gifts flow (1 Cor. 12:4). God has seen fit to distribute and measure these gifts out to every person. This is not only so with the spiritual gifts that follow regeneration but also in all the branches of knowledge that come into use in common life.

It is, therefore, wrong to ascribe the means of our support partly to nature and God’s blessing, and partly to the industry of man, since man’s industry itself is a blessing from God. The poets are more correct who acknowledge that everything in nature, including the arts, comes from God, and that therefore everything ought to be accounted as divine inventions.

Understanding this doctrine is useful, first, because all things that refer to the support and defense of life should excite our gratitude, and whatever seems to be derived from man’s ingenuity should be regarded as proofs of God’s paternal solicitude for us. Second, we should honor God as the author of so many good things, since he sanctifies them for our use. Moses applies many epithets to the Spirit, because he is speaking of a remarkable work. Yet we must conclude that whatever ability is possessed by anyone emanates from one only source, God. The one difference is Bezaleel, who was endued with consummate excellence, while God makes distribution to others according to his pleasure.

for meditation: We seldom recognize the gifts God has given us for what they really are: gifts! Let us make the gifts we have received reasons for greater praise to God instead of greater reliance on ourselves. Do you feel responsible to use your gifts diligently for God’s glory?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 35). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

I’m A Senior Trump Official, And I Hope A Long Shutdown Smokes Out The Resistance – LewRockwell

Article Image

The Daily Caller is taking the rare step of publishing this anonymous op-ed at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose career would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here.

As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.

Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position — some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

Process is what we serve, process keeps us safe, process is our core value. It takes a lot of people to maintain the process. Process provides jobs. In fact, there are process experts and certified process managers who protect the process. Then there are the 5 percent with moxie (career managers). At any given time they can change, clarify or add to the process — even to distort or block policy counsel for the president.

Saboteurs peddling opinion as research, tasking their staff on pet projects or pitching wasteful grants to their friends. Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown.

Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks. One might think this is how government should function, but bureaucracies operate from the bottom up — a collective of self-generated ideas. Ideas become initiatives, formalize into offices, they seek funds from Congress and become bureaus or sub-agencies, and maybe one day grow to be their own independent agency, like ours. The nature of a big administrative bureaucracy is to grow to serve itself. I watch it and fight it daily.

Read the Whole Article

— Read on www.lewrockwell.com/2019/01/no_author/im-a-senior-trump-official-and-i-hope-a-long-shutdown-smokes-out-the-resistance/

Paul: Trump Pledged to End Wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Reinvest at Home

US Forces in Syria, Afghanistan

AP Photos

In Syria, U.S. armed forces have been fighting the Islamic State or ISIS, a terrorist group that once controlled significant territory and resources, but the administration insists that ISIS has been defeated. As such, Trump is moving to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria.

In Afghanistan, U.S. troops have been at war there for nearly 18 years, since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, making it the longest war in U.S. history. While Paul was nonspecific on the details of the timeline and scope of withdrawal from Afghanistan, the senator from Kentucky said that President Trump did make clear to senators and national security officials on Wednesday he intends to end the war there too. Paul said:

I’ve just come from the White House and we had a great meeting there. I tweeted out that I’ve never been prouder of the president and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not the kind to just say something is really great if it’s not. I really am proud of the president for making an argument that no president in recent history has made and that is that we have been at war too long in too many places and that he’s really going to make a difference. This is the kind of stuff those of us who have seen the horror of war and see the horror of those who have lost limbs in war and war that has gone on and on and on. We live for the day that somebody will actually stand up and say ‘I’m going to change history.’ I think the president is that person—and I really am proud of him not only for saying that not only is he following through with his Syria policy but I really do think there will be changes in Afghanistan as well. If you look at the polling data for the American people, I think the American people are with the president and they’re tired of both parties who are unwilling to stand up and say enough is enough. It’s time to spend some of that money at home. He mentioned how much money we spent in Afghanistan on gas stations, luxury hotels, and this and that—our country suffers. We need to be able to spend that money here at home.

Regarding the specifics of the withdrawal plans, Paul said he will allow the president to detail those for the nation but laid out how Trump has made clear both wars are coming to an end, and soon:

I think the president will have to characterize the specifics, but I think his general—the idea is we’re going to do things differently. We’re not going to stay forever. The Afghans will have to step up. The Afghans will need to begin fighting their own wars and protecting their country. It’s not that we’ll do nothing. I think the president still help them. I think we’ll still actually be there longer than I would like to be, but the president is willing to acknowledge that America’s longest war needs to come to a close and that we need to learn how to declare a victory. I can tell you with each successive conversation that I’ve had with him, I feel that he really is going to try to do something extraordinary for our country. We’ve been at war for so long and so many young men and women have died and so many have given up parts of their body. I think it’s a part of the president that a lot of people haven’t seen publicly, and that’s his concern for those he has met at Walter Reed… He takes that burden very personally that he is in charge and he is the one who now gets to decide whether we’re going to be in this forever or if we’re going to change course. And I think he’s going to change course. And I think he’s going to set his own. I don’t want to talk to the specifics though because I think he has to tell the country that, but I will tell you if you’ll look at his language in his tweets about ‘endless war’ and you hear him talk about how long this has gone on, I think you’re seeing one of the extraordinary things about how people couldn’t figure out how did Donald Trump get elected? Well, it would be because he doesn’t fit neatly in a box. He was a different kind of Republican who actually looked at the issues of war and said you know what? We ought to think of America first, and not spend so much everywhere all the time that really a lot of times just doesn’t work frankly.

Paul added that in addition to a major policy win for the president, the withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan–ending both wars finally–are major political wins for him,as well, heading into his re-election in 2020.

Paul said when asked by Breitbart News about how important keeping these promises is for his re-election:

I think most people, most political pundits, still haven’t figured out how he won in 2016. I think he did win by being different. He got a lot of working class voters who understand that he wanted to and would stand up to foreign countries to make sure we get a better deal for this country, that he would make even our friends and allies pay more for their own defense and the day of everybody thinking that we were Uncle Sam and going to take care of their every want and wish, that those days were over. That’s also what he was saying with regard to war. He won because he said things—look he will defend America. He said in the meeting that he is for a stronger defense than anybody in the meeting ever imagined and that he will do whatever it takes to defend America but that he’s not going to fight forever or leave our troops in wars forever where it’s not really helping America.

Paul was part of a meeting with several other senators and national security officials, along with Trump, at the White House. He also met with Trump privatel, where they discussed the ongoing government shutdown.
— Read on www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/01/16/rand-paul-donald-trump-pledged-to-end-u-s-wars-in-syria-afghanistan-spend-wasted-resources-at-home/

Is This The Real Reason Why Stocks Are Surging? | Zero Hedge

“…watch what they do, not what they say!!”

Wondering why US equity markets are soaring at a pace not seen since the March 2009 lows? Confused by the massive swings higher despite weak macro data, and tumbling earnings expectations?

Well, the answer is simple once again, “it’s not the economy, it’s the central banks, stupid!”

Q4 2018 saw global stock markets finally wake up to the fact that the world’s central banks were withdrawing liquidity and played catch-down to an ugly tightening reality. December’s contagion to American stocks was the final straw for the world’s elites however  and after the Mnuchin Massacre, it appears the Plunge Protection was ordered back into battle and as the chart below shows – central bank balance sheets suddenly started to grow – aggressively so… and that is what is dragging stocks higher, squeezing shorts at an unprecedented pace, and economically irrationally levitating P/Es despite a wall of uncertainty ahead.

Just like in 2018, 2017, and 2016, the start of the year has prompted a resurgence in the size of global central bank balance sheets… and just like in 2018, 2017, and 2016, global stocks (with US being the most liquid attractor of that flow) are soaring…

And just remember, The ECB is supposed to be tapering, The Fed is still on ‘autopilot’ for now, and The BoJ is being forced to taper its buying size…

So WTF is Draghi doing? It’s been a month since The ECB was supposed to have halted QE and yet the balance sheet is surging still?

So the simple lesson once again is – watch what they do, not what they say!!
— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-16/real-reason-why-stocks-are-surging

Thursday Briefing Jan. 17, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

Outrage from the sexual revolutionaries as Second Lady Karen Pence will teach at school that affirms historic Christian teachings on sexual ethics

Parental rights, religious liberty, and homeschooling: Why it’s dangerous and unsustainable to ground fundamental rights in a secular worldview

Why divorce is never as smooth as the Bezos announcement tries to makes it appear

The post Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

Download MP3

— Read on albertmohler.com/2019/01/17/briefing-1-17-19/

January 17, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

The Preeminent Example of Christ’s Love

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (13:34–35)

The Lord’s charge to the eleven apostles in one sense was not new. The Old Testament prescribed love for God (Deut. 6:5) and people (Lev. 19:18), as Jesus Himself affirmed (Matt. 22:34–40). But it was a new commandment (cf. 1 John 2:7–8; 3:11; 2 John 5) in the sense that it presented a higher standard of love—one based on the example of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Believers face the daunting challenge of loving one another even as Jesus loved them (cf. 15:12–13, 17). Of course, to love like that is impossible apart from the transforming power of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31–34). It is only “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5; cf. Gal. 5:22) that believers can love as Jesus commanded.

Christ’s example of selfless, sacrificial love sets the supreme standard for believers to follow. D. A. Carson writes,

The new command is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice … The more we recognize the depth of our own sin, the more we recognize the love of the Saviour; the more we appreciate the love of the Saviour, the higher his standard appears; the higher his standard appears, the more we recognize in our selfishness, our innate self-centredness, the depth of our own sin. With a standard like this, no thoughtful believer can ever say, this side of the parousia, “I am perfectly keeping the basic stipulation of the new covenant.” (The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991], 484. Italics in original.)

In Ephesians 5:2 Paul exhorted, “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us.” Such love is “patient, … is kind and is not jealous; … does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4–7). If the church ever consistently loved like that, it would have a powerful impact on the world.

In his book The Mark of the Christian, Francis Schaeffer listed two practical ways Christians can manifest love for each other. They can do so first by being willing to apologize and seek forgiveness from those they have wronged. What causes the sharpest, most bitter disputes in the body of Christ are not doctrinal differences, but the unloving manner in which those differences are handled. Being willing to apologize to those whom we have offended is crucial to preserving the unity of the body of Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that reconciliation with other people is a prerequisite to worshiping God: “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matt. 5:23–24).

A second practical way to demonstrate love is to grant forgiveness. In light of the eternal forgiveness that comes through the cross, Christians should be eager to forgive the temporal offenses committed against them (Matt. 18:21–35; cf. 6:12, 14–15). Because God’s love has transformed believers’ hearts, they are able to extend that love to others in forgiveness. “In this is love,” wrote John in his first epistle, “not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10–11). In Luke 17:3–4 Jesus commanded, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” In Ephesians 4:32 Paul wrote, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (cf. Col. 3:13).

The Lord’s command to love extends beyond the church to embrace all people. Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians was that they would “increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people” (1 Thess. 3:12). He exhorted the Galatians to “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10). The writer of Hebrews charged his readers, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:2).

The Lord’s statement, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples” reveals the effect of believers’ having love for one another: the world will know that we belong to Him. The church may be orthodox in its doctrine and vigorous in its proclamation of the truth, but that will not persuade unbelievers unless believers love each other. In fact, Jesus gave the world the right to judge whether or not someone is a Christian based on whether or not that person sincerely loves other Christians. Francis Schaeffer writes,

The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture.… In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians.

That’s pretty frightening. Jesus turns to the world and says, “I’ve something to say to you. On the basis of my authority, I give you a right: you may judge whether or not an individual is a Christian on the basis of the love he shows to all Christians.” In other words, if people come up to us and cast into our teeth the judgment that we are not Christians because we have not shown love toward other Christians, we must understand that they are only exercising a prerogative which Jesus gave them. (The Mark of the Christian [Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1970], 12–13)

One’s love for other believers also assures that believer that his faith is genuine. As John wrote, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14; cf. 2:10; 4:12).[1]

The New Commandment

John 13:33–34

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

The Gospel of John has been given many fine titles in the long history of its exposition, but none are more fitting than those that identify it as the Gospel of God’s love. It has been called “God’s love letter to the world.” But if this is so, then it is probably also true that either John 3:16 or the verses to which we come now are its heart. They are those in which the Lord Jesus Christ speaks to his disciples out of his great love for them, reminding them of that love and encouraging them to love one another.

The Preface

Verse 34 is the key verse of this section, but it is nevertheless significant that it is preceded by another that is, in some sense, its preface. The preface says, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come” (v. 33). As I read the various commentators on this Gospel I find a discussion of why the disciples could not follow Christ and of the difference between their inability and the inability of the Jews. (The same words were spoken to the Jewish leaders earlier.) But I do not find an explanation of the connection between this verse and the great verse following. Yet it is in this connection that the importance of the verse lies.

What is its significance? It is along two lines. First, it is evident that since the Lord Jesus Christ was about to depart from the world, the only example of true love that the world had ever known was about to be taken from it. Jesus was himself love, for he was God and “God is love” (1 John 4:8). He was about to prove that love by dying on the cross. Yet in the very act of dying, which was to be followed by his resurrection and ascension into heaven, he was to be taken from humanity. How, then, were men and women to know what true divine love is? How were they to see love demonstrated when he was about to be taken from them? The answer is that they were to see it in those who are Christ’s disciples. Jesus is being taken, but now the disciples are to love as he loved. It is as if Jesus had said, “I am going; therefore you must be as I have been in this world.”

The second way in which the preface is important is in its transference of the love the disciples felt for him to one another. There is no doubt that each of the disciples (Judas excluded, who by now, however, had left the upper room) loved Jesus. Whatever he said they would do. Several had just prepared the upper room for this last dinner. Peter is about to say that he will die for Jesus if necessary. It is true, of course, that their love was not as strong as they thought it was. Peter would not die; in fact, he would deny his Master. The others would scatter at the moment of the arrest in Gethsemane. Nevertheless, they did truly love him. And yet, just as certainly as they loved him, so is it certain that they did not really love one another with anything even approaching that intensity. On the contrary, they were actually jealous of one another. They were disputing over who should be greatest. They would not wash the others’ feet. In this situation Jesus, who is about to be taken from them, points out that now it is precisely one another whom they must love.

The vertical love of disciples for the exalted Christ must be expressed horizontally in their love for all other Christians. Moreover, the horizontal love, which can be seen by everyone, is proof of the vertical dimension.

Things New and Old

In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, in a section of Christ’s teachings dealing with the kingdom of God, Jesus speaks of a teacher of the law being like an “owner of a house, who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (v. 52). At this point he is himself like that teacher, for he follows his preface by the giving of a command that is at once both new and ancient.

The command to love is old in that it existed before Christ’s coming. In its simplest and best-known form it is found in Leviticus 19:18, which says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” This is the verse to which Jesus referred when he was asked his opinion concerning the first and greatest commandment. He said that the greatest commandment was that recorded in Deuteronomy 6:5—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” The second was Leviticus 19:18.

But if the commandment was an old commandment, as it must have been if it is recorded in one of the first five books of the Old Testament, in what sense is it new? Indeed, how can Christ call it “a new command”? The answer is that it was raised to an entirely new level and given an entirely new significance by Jesus. We can say that it is given a new object; it is to be exercised according to a new measure; it is to be made possible by a new power. Each of these is involved in Christ’s saying.

In the first place, the command to love received a new object. It is true that the verse from Leviticus declares that the Jew is to love his neighbor as himself. But the neighbor involved is a Jewish neighbor only. The first half of the verse makes this plain, for in a parallel sentence the reader is told that he is not to hold a grudge against any of “your [also his] people.” This is a physical, family relationship. In Christ’s command, by contrast, the relationship is spiritual, for the neighbor is any believer in Jesus.

Something else about this new object is very important. Jesus says that the disciples are to love one another and that this is to be a witness to the unbelieving world. However, it is obvious from Christ’s own example and from his teaching elsewhere that this is not to be a love that is held back from unbelievers. Even the very nature of the relationship makes this clear, for if the relationship involved is spiritual, then obviously there is no way of knowing who might be included in the company of believers should God so move. When the relationship was physical, the limits were obvious. One was supposed to love other Jews. Gentiles were not to be loved. They were sinners, those whom God obviously wished to destroy. But when the relationship became spiritual, the whole matter was broadened. This spiritual, Christian brotherhood is created by God’s drawing together those of all races and languages. Consequently, the Christian is to love every individual—everyone; for anyone can be a special one for whom Christ died.

Alexander Maclaren, that great preacher of another generation, speaks of the newness of such love as it battered the ancient world’s societies. “When the words were spoken, the then-known civilized Western world was cleft by great, deep gulfs of separation, like the crevasses in a glacier. … Language, religion, national animosities, differences of condition, and saddest of all, differences of sex, split the world up into alien fragments. A ‘stranger’ and an ‘enemy’ were expressed in one language by the same word. The learned and the unlearned, the slave and his master, the barbarian and the Greek, the man and the woman, stood on opposite sides of the gulfs, flinging hostility across. A Jewish peasant wandered up and down for three years in His own little country, which was the very focus of narrowness and separation and hostility, as the Roman historian felt when He called the Jews the ‘haters of the human race’; He gathered a few disciples, and He was crucified by a contemptuous Roman governor, who thought that the life of one fanatical Jew was a small price to pay for popularity with his troublesome subjects, and in a generation after, the clefts were being bridged and all over the Empire a strange new sense of unity was bearing breathed, and ‘Barbarian, Scythian, bond and free,’ male and female, Jew and Greek, learned and ignorant, clasped hands and sat down at one table, and felt themselves ‘all one in Christ Jesus.’ ”

The commandment of Christ does not only have a new object. It also is to be exercised according to a new measure. What was love before this, after all? A vague feeling of good will? A sense of pride in one’s race? A need to defend a neighbor or to free a family member who had become a slave? Yes, this and perhaps a bit more. But it was not that measure of love seen in the fact that the God of the universe would take human form, suffer, and die for those who were ungodly in order that, almost in spite of themselves those who hated God and had tried to turn from him might be redeemed from the chains of sin and brought into glory. “This is love,” writes John in the fourth chapter of his magnificent first letter, “not that we loved God [because we did not], but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (v. 10).

The measure of this love is the standard found in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails” (vv. 4–8). This is the love Jesus brought, and it was a new thing in this world.

Third, the command to love is also new in that it is made possible by a new power. The power is the power of the Holy Spirit, the very life of the Lord Jesus Christ in each believer. How much we need this! Without it we cannot love as Christ loved; for such love cannot be achieved by human energy.

Our Great Example

There is one more point to be seen in these two verses: Jesus is himself our example as we obey his command. He indicates this in the second half of verse 34, in which he says, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It is not just that we are to love. It is that we are to love as he loved us. His love is to be the full measure of our love for one another.

How can we speak about this practically? One way is to return to the verses from 1 Corinthians cited earlier. When they were quoted before they were quoted exactly as they are printed in our Bibles. This time read them with the word “Jesus” substituted for the word “love.” “Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He is not rude, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. Jesus never fails.” Clearly, the substitution of “Jesus” for “love” is quite proper, for Jesus is obviously the embodiment of such love. Our hearts acknowledge it to be so, and we rejoice in the fact.

Now make another substitution. We are told in our text that we are to love as Christ loves. But since 1 Corinthians 13 reveals the way that Christ did love, we (if we love in that way) should be able to substitute our name for his. We should be able to put “I” where “love” is printed. “I am patient, I am kind. I do not envy, I do not boast, I am not proud. I am not rude, I am not self-seeking, I am not easily angered, I keep no record of wrongs. I do not delight in evil, but rejoice with the truth. I always protect, always trust, always persevere. I never fail.” When we read it this way the result is humbling, for we recognize that we do not love as Jesus loves. We do not even understand such love. And we find ourselves praying, “Oh, Lord Jesus, teach me to love others as you love.”

When we pray this way God will help us, and we will begin to grow in the love and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let Us Love

We should get more out of this command than the disciples did on the first occasion on which it was spoken. We think that they must have been struck by these great words and have remembered them vividly, but this was not the case. On the contrary, not one of them really heard the command or understood what it meant.

We know this because of the course of the discussion that follows verse 35. We remember that Jesus had begun his discussion of the new command by informing the disciples that he was going to leave them and that they would not be able to follow him in his departure. They heard this, and it filled them with dismay. It crowded all other thoughts from their minds. Next, Jesus talked about his new command, but they did not hear him, for he had barely finished talking about it when Peter broke in to ask, “But, Lord, where are you going?” Peter had been thinking about Christ’s earlier announcement and was returning to it. Jesus stopped to deal with Peter’s questions, and before he could get back to the subject of the new commandment Thomas responded, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered Thomas, and he never did get back to the great command.

Jesus is not frustrated by human preoccupation, however. So, after many years had passed, the Holy Spirit spoke to John the evangelist, who was present on the earlier occasion, and caused him to write a book which is in one sense an exposition of the new commandment. The book is 1 John, and it expounds the new commandment completely.

In all, the new command is talked about in four separate passages: 1 John 2:7–11; 3:11–18; 4:7–21; and 5:1–5. But the key passage is 4:7–21, in which the words “love one another” occur three times. In each case a different reason is given why this exhortation must be heeded.

The first reason why we should love one another is that love is God’s nature. John says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7–8). John’s argument is that, if we truly are God’s children, we will bear the characteristics of our Father.

Second, John tells us that we should love because love led to God’s gift. In these verses John reminds us that we were spiritually dead men and women before God the Father sent his Son to die for us. Being dead we were not able even to understand what he had done. But when Christ died for us, and when by the work of the Holy Spirit we were made alive spiritually, we were able to believe on Christ and recognize the love of God in Christ, which stood behind the sacrifice. Consequently, having thus come to know love and take the measure of love, we are to love. John’s way of putting it is: “This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. … Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (vv. 9, 11).

Finally, we are told that we should love one another in that love is God’s present and continuing activity. God is not creating the world today; he has already done that. He is not sending Jesus to die; Jesus has already died. What God is doing is working in Christians through love in order that others who do not yet know him might see him through such divine activity. John writes: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us [and, thus, men see him]” (v. 12).

Do those who are not yet Christians see God in you? It is a breathtaking thought. But this verse teaches that they can and will, if you will love others. Will you? Remember, this is not a divine invitation, as if Jesus had said, “Won’t you please love others?” It is not even one of a series of steps to successful living, as if he had said, “You will be happier if you love one another.” It is Christ’s new command. Love one another! God grant that we shall and that, in doing so, we may truly be his disciples.[2]

34. A new commandment I give you. To the consolation he adds an exhortation, that they should love one another; as if he had said, “Yet while I am absent from you in body, testify, by mutual love, that I have not taught you in vain; let this be your constant study, your chief meditation.” Why does he call it a new commandment? All are not agreed on this point. There are some who suppose the reason to be, that, while the injunction formerly contained in the Law about brotherly love was literal and external, Christ wrote it anew by his Spirit on the hearts of believers. Thus, according to them, the Law is new, because he publishes it in a new manner, that it may have full vigour. But that is, in my opinion, far-fetched, and at variance with Christ’s meaning. The exposition given by others is, that, though the Law directs us to the exercise of love, still, because in it the doctrine of brotherly love is encumbered by many ceremonies and appendages, it is not so clearly exhibited; but, on the other hand, that perfection in love is laid down in the Gospel without any shadows. For my own part, though I do not absolutely reject this interpretation, I consider what Christ said to be more simple; for we know that laws are more carefully observed at the commencement, but they gradually slip out of the remembrance of men, till at length they become obsolete. In order to impress more deeply, therefore, on the minds of his disciples the doctrine of brotherly love, Christ recommends it on the ground of novelty; as if he had said, “I wish you continually to remember this commandment, as if it had been a law but lately made.”

In short, we see that it was the design of Christ, in this passage, to exhort his disciples to brotherly love, that they might never permit themselves to be withdrawn from the pursuit of it, or the doctrine of it to slip out of their minds. And how necessary this admonition was, we learn by daily experience; for, since it is difficult to maintain brotherly love, men lay it aside, and contrive, for themselves, new methods of worshipping God, and Satan suggests many things for the purpose of occupying their attention. Thus, by idle employments, they in vain attempt to mock God, but they deceive themselves. Let this title of novelty, therefore, excite us to the continual exercise of brotherly love. Meanwhile, let us know that it is called new, not because it now began, for the first time, to please God, since it is elsewhere called the fulfilling of the law, (Rom. 13:10.)

That you love one another. Brotherly love is, indeed, extended to strangers, for we are all of the same flesh, and are all created after the image of God; but because the image of God shines more brightly in those who have been regenerated, it is proper that the bond of love, among the disciples of Christ, should be far more close. In God brotherly love seeks its cause, from him it has its root, and to him it is directed. Thus, in proportion as it perceives any man to be a child of God, it embraces him with the greater warmth and affection. Besides, the mutual exercise of love cannot exist but in those who are guided by the same Spirit. It is the highest degree of brotherly love, therefore, that is here described by Christ; but we ought to believe, on the other hand, that, as the goodness of God extends to the whole world, so we ought to love all, even those who hate us.

As I have loved you. He holds out his own example, not because we can reach it, for we are at a vast distance behind him, but that we may, at least, aim at the same end.[3]

34 Jesus delivers to his disciples a new commandment: “love one another.” In the Vulgate (the Latin translation, which since the sixteenth century has been the official version of the Roman Catholic Church), “new command” is translated mandatum novum, from which is derived the name Maundy Thursday, the anniversary of the Last Supper. The commandment is not new in the sense that it was formerly unknown. Leviticus 19:18 reads, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The newness of the command lay in the meaning given to love by the life and teachings of Jesus. It was to be a covenantal love, distinguished from even the noblest forms of human love by the fact that it was “spontaneous and unmotivated” (Brown, 614). God’s love does not question the worthiness of the recipient but gladly gives of itself in humble service.[4]

13:33–35. The words where I am going, you cannot come offer the only saying in John that appears three times with the same wording (7:33; 8:21). Imagine the confusion of the disciples at this point. They did not have the luxury of knowing the opening verses of chapter 14. They could only ponder what the Lord meant until he continued his teaching with further explanation.

Love extended leads to discipleship and denial and perhaps even to death. But the sacrifice itself should not be the focus for the disciples, but the motive behind it. These verses lay a strong groundwork for John’s three epistles. This is a new commandment and a new object. Not just “love God” or “love me,” but love one another.

In 1 John this theme of loving one another appears in 2:9–10; 3:11–18; 4:7–12, 19–21; and 5:1–3. It was not only a new commandment and a new object, but a new mode (as I have loved you) and, perhaps most difficult and shocking of all, a new judge. Verse 35 can be identified as the key verse of this chapter. God allows the world to judge whether people are truly Jesus’ disciples by the way they behave toward one another. Sadly, the church has not done very well on this point. Perhaps this accounts for some of the struggles the gospel has had for almost two thousand years.

In the 1960s when Christian folk music was becoming popular, we often sang a song that repeated the phrase, “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Not by the size of our buildings. Not by the frequency of our attendance. Not by the multiplicity of religious duties we observe. Not by the ostentation of our public worship. As Morgan puts it, “The measure in which Christian people fail in love to each other is the measure in which the world does not believe in them, or their Christianity. It is the final test of discipleship, according to Jesus” (Morgan, p. 241).[5]

34. A new precept I give you, that you keep on loving one another; just as I have loved you, that you also keep on loving one another.

In the Fourth Gospel the term which we have translated precept here (ἐντολή) is used in three connections; as follows,

  1. with respect to a legal commandment or order issued by the Sanhedrin (11:57);
  2. with respect to the charge or instruction given to Jesus by the Father (10:18; 12:49, 50; 14:31);
  3. with respect to the precept given by Jesus to his disciples (13:34; 14:15, 21; 15:10, 12).

Although these three meanings are very closely related, nevertheless, it is probably best to distinguish among them. A legal commandment or order is issued by men who may or may not have a warm, personal interest in those who are required to obey it. There is certainly no evidence to show that the Sanhedrin was filled with affection for the people! When used in that sense the word has the flavor of that which is outward, official, and codified. The charge or instruction given by the Father to the Son is the direction which the Sender in his love gives to the Sent, in complete harmony with the eternal plan on which they have agreed. The precept is a rule, made by Jesus and illustrated by his own example, for the regulation of the conduct and inner attitude of the disciples, toward Christ, one another, and the world. Although we do not object to the popular term the new commandment, and use it ourselves, yet here in verse 34 the word is employed in the sense of precept. Both the charge and the precept spring from love; hence, when necessity demands (to show that the same term is used in the original in both clauses of a sentence), either term can be used to cover both ideas (as in 15:10). The precept here given is new (καινή, not νέα). It is characterized by the freshness and the beauty of the dawn. It is altogether desirable.

It is true, indeed, that the commandment which required love for the neighbor, for “the children of thy people,” is found already in the Old Testament (Lev. 19:18; Prov. 20:22; 24:29). In fact, love for God and for the neighbor is the summary of the law (Mark 12:29, 31). But the newness of the precept here promulgated is evident from the fact that Jesus requires that his disciples shall love one another as he loved them! His example of constant (note: keep on loving), self-sacrificing love (think of his incarnation, earthly ministry, death on the cross) must be the pattern for their attitude and relation toward one another. Because voluntary obedience to this precept is of paramount importance for the spiritual welfare of the disciples (and, in fact, of the entire Church), and because his own heart is filled with love, Jesus repeats this precept.[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 89–91). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1037–1042). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Gospel according to John (Vol. 2, pp. 75–76). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 557). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, pp. 254–255). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 2, pp. 252–253). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Democrats Turn On Obama’s “Establishment” Legacy As 2020 Approaches | Zero Hedge

“More and more voices seem to be saying, either obliquely or bluntly, that Obama was a bad president.”

 As Democrats turn their attention to the 2020 primaries, there is a marked sense of deflation over the prospects of beating Donald Trump. The thought of candidacies from Elizabeth Warren – botched DNA “reveal” aside, and the ever-confident Joe Biden, have failed to stoke much excitement throughout the Democratic base. 

As Vanity Fair’s T.A. Frank notes, Democrats surveying their options going into 2020 have begun to genuinely question the state of their party – and an increasing number of them are settling on the conclusion that Obama was a bad president

 If today’s Democrats can’t beat Trump, then maybe Hillary Clinton wasn’t as bad a candidate as her critics claimed. And if Clinton wasn’t the problem, then what was the problem? Such questions are behind a recent spike of debates on the left over Barack Obama’s record. More and more voices seem to be saying, either obliquely or bluntly, that Obama was a bad president. Vanity Fair

Most on the left will agree that when Obama ran he was the obvious choice vs. his Republican opponents. In fact, Democrats who object to how Obama handled major issues such as war and peace, health care, immigration and the economy would likely conclude that he was still the better of all the evils on the right. 

That said, Obama was an establishment man at the end of the day, after campaigning as a revolutionary that would end wars and “change” the status quo (powered of course by mass quantities of “hope”). He sold himself as a disruptive phenomenon, then bombed seven countries and cobbled together an unsustainable healthcare plan destined to fail. 

That makes it tempting to say that Obama is being criticized only for pushing insufficiently to the left, settling for the Affordable Care Act rather than Medicare for All or a stimulus package under a trillion dollars rather than one twice that size. But such an explanation tends to assume a difference of degree rather than kind, with Obama dwelling in a more purplish spot than his bluer critics. In reality, the categories that matter as much as left and right are those of establishment and radical. Obama’s record of siding reliably with the former at a time when the zeitgeist had come to favor the latter is the source of much of the tension over his legacy

The categories of establishment and radical are tricky to define, except to say that the former wishes to preserve much of the status quo, while the latter seeks more fundamental change. If one side is full of people with opinions on how to set the dials, the other is full of people who say we need a new instrumental panel. This creates interesting alliances of left and right, ones that are less a union of extremes—a product of what political scientists call “horseshoe theory”—and more a union of dissent. A radical is not an extremist, necessarily. It’s someone who believes the fundamentals are flawed. –Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair’s Frank notes that many of the disputes between today’s establishment and its radicals “are merely continuations of where we were about 25 years ago. Clinton-era policy such as NAFTA and the decision to intervene in the Kosovo war in 1999 were widely supported by the establishment center, while “the outer bands of the left and right opposed it.” When it came to immigration, “the center took a high-influx view while the disruptors took a more restrictive one.” 

Blistering economic growth in the late 1990s and a relatively peaceful world stifled the debate between establishment-supported US policy and radicals on the left and right. Then came 9/11, “which reshuffled everything but also caused the right (with plucky exceptions such as Ron Paul and the founders of The American Conservative) to put aside internal disputes and, for the most part, fall in line behind George W. Bush.” 

Then came the credit crisis – and the moment of truth in which the choices were massive bailouts, or economic cleansing by fire. The establishment, of course, chose the former. 

After the failures of Iraq and other Bush policies, though, the divisions roared back to life. If there was a crystallizing moment, it was when Wall Street as we knew it was about to collapse. In the eyes of the establishment, left and right, an unforeseeable real-estate crash had threatened the survival of the country’s vibrant financial sector and, with it, the wallets and neighborhood A.T.M.s of every American. In the eyes of the radicals, our financial sector was an out-of-control predator built on a rotten edifice that was finally about to crumble. Its collapse wasn’t the threat; it was the cure. For the first time in years, an immense policy question was breaking out not between parties but within them. Among both Democrats and Republicans, an establishment wing was supporting the bailouts, while the radical wing was opposing them. –Vanity Fair

Enter Obama

Barack Obama entered the scene amid financial chaos, as billions in bailouts and short-term lending facilities orchestrated by major central banks was the only mechanism propping up the financial industry, or at least helping it collapse in an “orderly” way. Of course, this isn’t what the “radicals” wanted – and Obama sold himself as quite the disruptive candidate. 

And what did he do? Instead of pulling the plug on massive bailouts opposed by much of his base, Obama went full-throttle and sided with the establishment instead. It was the safer choice, after all, and earned Obama plenty of defenders. But that choice came at a great cost to Obama’s legacy

Only one Wall Street executive ever went to prison for his part in the financial crisis. For millions of Americans, any residual trust in the competence and integrity of the ruling class was lost, and Obama had become part of the problem. –Vanity Fair

At that point Obama’s credibility was shot, and it was predictable that when forced to choose, he would side with the establishment. Obama proceeded to send a surge of Troops to Afghanistan, conceal records of detainee abuse under President Bush, refuse to nationalizing banks or prosecute executives who had committed malfeasance, and promoted trade agreements created by establishment negotiators. 

Oh, and when the establishment called Obama callous when he initially refused to intervene in Libya, he reversed course and toppled Gaddafi (with his very establishment Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton).

Many of these positions, welcome as they were within the Beltway, were out of sync with the mood of the country. In the 1990s, the radicals had been on the fringes, but that was no longer the case after 2008. An anti-war and anti-corporatist message sent Ron Paul riding surprisingly high in 2012, and a filibuster by Rand Paul in 2015 over the issue of drone strikes prompted even Democrats to deploy the #StandWithRand hashtag. Tea Party Republicans began to team up with Democratic union members to oppose Obama’s trade deals. Fury over the bank bailouts made its way into the congressional campaigns of Republicans and Democrats alike. –Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair‘s Frank gives Obama somewhat of a break – noting that it would be unfair to call him an “establishment president,” due to the “status-quo overtones of the term.” After all, “He gave us the Affordable Care Act, the stimulus, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, an executive action for Dreamers, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a nuclear deal with Iran, diplomatic relations with Cuba, a climate deal in Paris, a New START treaty, a reform of student-loan programs, and two liberal Supreme Court appointments.”

Then again, “many of the country’s most ominous trends proceeded apace under his watch.” 

The financialization of the economy kept increasing. Student debt kept exploding. Trade policy kept its same priorities. Opioid addiction kept spreading. Suicide numbers kept rising. Disparities in life expectancy between rich and poor kept widening. Union membership kept declining. Illegal border-crossers kept coming. Our defense commitments kept growing. In towns like Jasper, Indiana, and Mebane, North Carolina, factory workers—a hundred here, a couple of hundred there—kept losing their middle-class jobs, outcompeted by giant Chinese mills with appalling conditions. –Vanity Fair

Towards the end of his article, Frank points out a staggering statistic by left-leaning author John B. Judis’ book The Nationalist Revival: 3.4 million jobs were lost to the growth of trade with China since 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization. For many of those “forgotten Americans” whose jobs went overseas, Obama’s last State of the Union address boasting about America’s robust manufacturing surge was a slap in the face. Just as insulting was his vision of making “change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more people.”

Even Bill Clinton made the observation of Obama that “millions of people look at that pretty picture of America he painted and they cannot find themselves in it.”

Trump and 2020

“Radicalism deferred was radicalism intensified,” writes Frank. And Donald Trump – despite his “countless” failures, is a radical if nothing else. 

And this is what Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden and the rest of the Democrats have to contend with in 2020. Warren, who put out a bizarre video of herself drinking beer on instagram, is not a radical – and will have to embrace Obama’s voting record along with her own. 

This leaves other Democrats, such as Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke – who are also not radicals, but are instead establishment-friendly and “assisted by charisma, youth, and identity. 

Each bet could win or lose, because Trump is a wild card. Still, while revolution must give way to a new establishment eventually, the mood doesn’t seem to favor it yet, and our shifts are still ongoing. (Just look at Tucker Carlson’s recent monologue attacking our ruling class and its quest to “make the world safe for banking.” Much of it could have been delivered by Bernie Sanders.

In short, Obama spent eight years “deferring a radical disruption” that the country was absolutely waiting for. And then Trump – an actual radical, came along and took the Oval Office away from the establishment.
— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-16/obamas-sell-out-establishment-haunting-democrats-going-2020

Core Christianity | 10 Things You Should Know About Being Single

1. Marriage doesn’t make life easier.

Perhaps the greatest temptation in singleness is to assume marriage will meet our unmet needs, solve our weaknesses, organize our lives, and unleash our gifts. Far from the solution, Paul (in 1 Corinthians 7) makes marriage out to be a kind of problematic Plan B for Christian life and ministry. Marry if you must, but be warned that following Jesus is not easier when you join yourself to another sinner in a fallen world. 

While marriage may bring joy, help, and relief in certain areas, it immediately multiplies our distractions, because we’re responsible for this other person, his or her needs, dreams, and growth. It’s a high calling and a good calling but a demanding one that will keep us from all kinds of other good things.

2. You have purpose regardless of your relationship status.

Every single person on the planet was made to say something about God. The Creator and Sustainer of the universe made each of us, and filled us, along with the other seven billion people on the planet, with a purpose. Most of us have a hard time really believing we were created by someone, and for something far bigger than ourselves. We’re raised, trained, and spent in a much smaller world, a world centered on ourselves and reaching only as far as we can see. 

But God made you and me for far more than marriage, business, or whatever else we each might choose for ourselves. If we miss this, we risk wasting our lives running in wrong directions, pursuing pitiful dreams, and serving tiny gods. The earlier we answer the biggest questions about our life, though, the better we’ll answer all the smaller ones—like what we will study, where we will work, and whom we will marry.

3. Time is on your side.

If God leads you to marry, you may never again know a time like the one you’re in right now. A season of singleness is not the minor leagues of marriage. It has the potential to be a unique period of undivided devotion to Christ and undistracted ministry to others. 

With the Spirit in you and the calendar clear, God has given you the means to make a lasting difference for his kingdom. You’re all dressed up, having every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), with literally everywhere to go.

4. You need the church.

Joining a church is one of the most radically countercultural and spiritually beneficial things you can do in the not-yet-married life. When everyone else your age refuses to be tied down and resists being accountable, submit yourself to a body of believers. Drive a stake into the ground and say to the whole world that you belong to Jesus, that your life is his, and that you’re willing to have others hold you to that. 

5. You can be friends with married people.

The longer you’re not yet married, the more time you have to learn about marriage from other people’s successes and failures. While you can’t avoid your own set of marital missteps and sins, you certainly can increase the odds of successes, small and large, by being a good student beforehand. 

Look for opportunities to be a regular part of a married person’s life and family. If you’re not around enough to see any ugliness or messiness, you might not be around enough. Don’t impose on people, but don’t be afraid to initiate the conversation either. Offer to babysit on date night or help with yard work or bring a meal when one of the kids goes down sick. Then be a student. Ask questions. Take notes on what to imitate. As our minds and hearts are being shaped by Scripture for marriage, we need examples of flawed but faithful marriages. 

6. God’s plan for you isn’t all about you.

The gospel is a story for you but it is not a story about you. This good news—the news that rescued you from hell and promised you to heaven—was not about God making you happy apart from him and his glory, but about satisfying you now and forever with himself. He loved you enough to give you himself. 

Why did God save you? Not just so that you could escape hell or relieve some shame and regret, not even so that you could get into heaven. God saved you for God. The Bible says God loved you, chose you, saved you, and made you his own “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6). 

7. Make Jesus your greatest treasure . . . not a relationship.

Most people will strive just to survive singleness and wait to get serious about Jesus and his mission later, when things have settled down in life. A brave few of us will develop not-yet-married habits of knowing him deeply and sharing him freely, likely far beyond what we would be able to do after our wedding day. Singleness has the potential to be a garden—or a gym, or a kitchen, or a school—for undistracted devotion to Jesus unlike any other season of our lives. To believe that, we need to learn some things about this life. Those who live for God’s glory—who live for the next life in this one—will feel a persistent, even painful urgency. 

The work we have to do, in our own hearts and for the sake of the lost, is the most important work that’s ever been done in history. We develop spiritual muscles now by saying, with everything we have and do now, that Jesus is our greatest treasure. Life is short, and everything we have and see here is passing away. Everything but Jesus.

8. Don’t forget your calling.

We are saved to go out into the world for the glory of our Jesus, to make him known—single or married—as our Lord, Savior, and greatest treasure. Redemption is a life-saving rescue, but it also involves a profound rewiring and repurposing. Conversion is about commission, not just salvation, because we’re not saved to be saved, but saved to be sent.

9. Remember that your heavenly Father knows what you need.

That almighty God of holiness and mercy is not just a judge or a king, but he’s a dad. He watches over and loves you as one of his own sons or daughters. You have an all-wise and all-powerful Father in heaven, who knows everything you need and promises to deliver it precisely when you need it. Jesus says: 

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. . . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt. 6:25, 32–33)

God is with us, and he cares for us. Before Jesus left the earth, as he commissioned his disciples to go into a dark world with the hope of the gospel, he says to them (and to us), “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). God’s infinite wealth and power will meet and provide for God’s weak and suffering people with God’s relentless compassion and care when they are clinging together to God’s Word, especially to his promises. 

10. Prayer is fuel.

God means for our lives—married or unmarried, student or employee, young or old—to run on the power of prayer. Prayer fuels the engine of our heart and mind. We need God in and through prayer more than we need anything else. We will not do anything of any real and lasting value without God, which means we will not do anything of any real and lasting value without prayer. 

Our waiting and longing should be shaped by and filled with prayer. Our search for purpose and direction in singleness should begin with prayer. Our pursuit of joy should be a journey of prayer.

Content adapted from Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal. The article first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.
— Read on corechristianity.com/resource-library/3/1045

Today’s Democrats: Anti-Christian, Anti-Israel, Anti-God — American Thinker

Anyone who considers himself a friend of God must have at least great pause when it comes to modern Democrats. Seldom has a major American political party so distanced itself from the notion that, as President John Adams pointed out, “righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.”

This is what happens when “live your truth” is the prevailing moral position. No one should be surprised that politicians who support the “right” to kill children in the womb, who championed the legal redefinition of marriage, and who now pretend that we can no longer rely on science, or common sense, or even simply our eyes to tell us who is a male and who is a female, would display open animus against people whose faith tells them such positions are immoral, and who live according to the notion that there is such a thing as absolute truth.

If something is immoral, then perhaps it should be illegal. If there is such a thing as absolute truth, then perhaps our laws should reflect that truth. Democrats just can’t take the chance that such thinking will prevail. Thus, unless Christians can manage to get themselves elected, our role in our government is increasingly imperiled.

This is especially true of Christians who wish to serve in the judiciary. Because liberals have long seen the courts as a “super-legislature” that they can use to enact their perverse agenda, Brett Kavanaugh will be far from the last Christian conservative judge who will draw the ire of Democrats who wish to derail such nominations.

Before Justice Kavanaugh, there were Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and Amy Coney Barrett and her loud “dogma.” Now we have “Sir” Brian C. Buescher of the Knights of Columbus. Democrat Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono recently implied that Judge Buescher’s membership in the two million-strong, 136-year-old Catholic service organization makes him unfit for the federal courts.

What really troubled the Senate Democrats is the position of the Knights of Columbus on abortion and marriage. Never mind that such positions are perfectly in line with centuries-old teachings of the Catholic Church and that disqualification on such grounds would bar from public service every Catholic who actually adheres to the Church’s teachings. As Matthew Continetti rightly notes:

My concern is the anti-Catholic sentiment manifest in the Democratic Party. Last March, Feinstein demanded to know if Michael Scudder, now confirmed to the Seventh Circuit, worked with his parish ‘to establish a residential crisis pregnancy center.” Last May, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island asked Peter J. Phipps, now confirmed as a district court judge, about the Knights. Last October, Feinstein, Harris, and three other Democrats wanted to know about the relationship between Fourth Circuit nominee Allison Jones Rushing and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit that supports religious liberty. Last November, Feinstein asked Third Circuit nominee Paul Matey, “If confirmed, will you recuse yourself from all cases in which the Knights of Columbus have taken a position?

Right-minded Catholics should thank God that Trump was elected. As Rod Dreher reported, a “new Wikileaks dump from Clinton campaign chief John Podesta’s emails reveals that Podesta created a couple of activist groups for the sake of undermining the Catholic bishops and the Church’s authority.” As Thomas Peters tweeted, “the head of Clinton’s campaign has been organizing to fracture a major religion.” Or, as Dreher rightly noted:

[A]t the senior level of the Democratic Party’s brain trust, a Clinton political operative — a Catholic! — created front groups specifically to undermine the authority of the Catholic bishops, and to separate the bishops from the people, as well as to secretly undermine Catholic teaching to make it more friendly to the Democratic Party’s agenda. Podesta ought to be excommunicated.

Continetti notes that Democrats have not limited their religious bigotry to Catholics:

Baptists and Episcopalians are also under scrutiny. In June 2017, Bernie Sanders clashed with Russell Vought, now acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, over a blog post Vought had written regarding Islam that several Muslim groups considered Islamophobic. “I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith,” Vought said. By the end of the exchange, Sanders said, “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”

Democrats also opposed Mike Pompeo’s nomination as Secretary of State because of how his Christian faith informs and impacts his politics. Pompeo — a Presbyterian — has served as a deacon, is open about his faith, and has also indicated that he actually believes what the Bible says  about life, sex, and marriage. In November 2017, Sheldon Whitehouse critically questioned federal district court nominee Trevor McFadden — an Anglican — over his church’s traditional teachings on marriage and the family.

Along with targeting Christians who believe what the Bible reveals on the significant moral issues of our time, modern Democrats have also targeted Jews and the nation of Israel.

As John Perazzo recently noted, the black left is littered with racists and anti-Semites. These Jew-haters are not mere race pimps and publicity prostitutesala Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, but are also elected Democrats. As Warren Henry revealed last year, “Democrats are fielding even more anti-Semitic candidates for Congress.” They’re not just running, but winning.

As Henry points out, Michigan representative Rashida Tlaib — who profanely promised to impeach President Trump — “is representative of the Democratic Party’s gradual march beyond the embrace of candidates and officials who criticize Israeli policy or its current government to a much uglier place in politics.” Like a growing number of Democrats in Congress, Tliab supports a “one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement.

Henry also notes:

The founders and leaders of the BDS movement support a “one-state solution” that destroys Israel as Jewish state. The movement is the intellectual descendant of the 1945 Arab boycott, which did not distinguish between Jews and Israel. It is based on the premise that Israel is a racist apartheid state requiring the sort of action once taken against South Africa.

Marc Greendorfer recently revealed:

While BDS has risen in the United States, so has anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitic incidents have spiked from a low point of 751 incidents in 2013 to nearly 2,000 in 2017.  It is no coincidence that the spread of a movement that demonizes Jews has had the same effect in the U.S. that similar campaigns had in the last 2,000 years.

The real agenda of BDS is the destruction of Israel. Robert P. George of Princeton warns,  that leading Democrats will soon altogether turn on Israel. The modern left hates Israel because the existence of a nation called Israel is one of the greatest evidences that the God of the Bible is real. They hate God, so they hate Israel.

This is also why the left hates Christianity. Authentic Christianity points people to the truth. As a California church recently declared, “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still a sin. The culture may change, the Bible does not.”

The left’s deceit seem to know no bounds, thus we are left debating what was once almost universally accepted. This is what results when a major political party is so often opposed to the truth.

Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America


Today’s Democrats: Anti-Christian, Anti-Israel, Anti-God — American Thinker

‘You’re Killing Us, Nancy!’ What Activists Did to Pelosi’s Personal Wall to Expose Her Hypocrisy on Border Wall | CBN News

Anti-illegal immigration activists used creative means to call out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for what they call her hypocrisy for living behind a security wall. 

WASHINGTON – Anti-illegal immigration activists used creative means to call out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for what they call her hypocrisy for living behind a security wall.

Led by conservative activist Laura Loomer, the group hopped the California lawmaker’s fence and pitched a tent with the word “immorality” spray-painted on it red, alluding to remarks Pelosi made earlier this month on border security.

“A wall is an immorality. It’s not who we are as a nation,” Pelosi said at the time. “And this is not a wall between Mexico and the United States that the president is creating here. It’s a wall between reality and his constituents.”

Monday’s protest, which included a small group of alleged illegal immigrants from Guatemala, was part of an effort to call attention to the need for a wall along the US southern border.

“Come on, you can’t say everyone is welcome here and then lock your door,” said Loomer. “You’re killing us, Nancy! You’re killing us!”

Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer tweeted several photos of the incident, which was live-streamed on Twitter.

At Pelosi’s behest, Loomer and her entourage were eventually given tickets by law enforcement officers and removed from the property.

— Read on www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/national-security/2019/january/youre-killing-us-nancy-what-activists-did-to-pelosis-personal-wall-to-expose-her-hypocrisy-on-border-wall

Examining the Claims of Theism and Christianity with Russ Garret (Podcast) | Cold Case Christianity

J. Warner Wallace talks with Russ Garrett from The Coffee Break about the evidence for Christianity. What are the common objections to Christianity and how can these be answered? What approach can we take to defend the truth of Christianity?


— Read on coldcasechristianity.com/podcasts/examining-the-claims-of-theism-and-christianity-with-russ-garret-podcast/

Dan Bongino: Hey, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, show us how it’s done and donate 70 percent of your income to the government | Fox News

Hey Democrats, here’s an idea. You should sign a pledge to commit to a 70 percent tax rate. Then, you give all that money to the government and show us conservatives what it really means to you.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stealing some of the spotlight from Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi?

Newly elected Democratic congresswoman issues her own response to President Trump’s Oval Office address; reaction from Democratic strategist David Brown and Charlie Hurt, opinion editor at The Washington Times.

New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez relies on a lot of economic ignorance to get you to believe what’s not true could be true.

The reason she prefers to use a marginal tax rate as a talking point is because she believes it wouldn’t affect the overwhelming majority of Americans and that she can get public support for it. She assumes that most Americans will say, “Hey, it’s not gonna affect me — it’s just going to screw people who make $10 million or more.”

The problem is, (and I’ll give you some numbers in just a moment) her entire basis – the economic basis – for this is nonsense is based on garbage talking points.


Now, just to be clear. Let’s say you made $11,000,000 —  you would pay a 30 percent tax rate on every dollar you made from zero to $10 million. You would only pay that 70 percent rate on a million bucks.

Well, where’s the million dollars come from? It comes from the million you made over $10 million. If you make $11,000,000 per year, you would only pay that 70 percent rate on $1,000,000.

Now, a lot of people, even some middle-class RINO Republicans say, well, that doesn’t sound so bad, you know, it’s only going to affect them on the dollars they make over $10 million – and that’s even for multibillionaires.

OK, then what’s the problem? They should pay a 70 percent tax rate.

Liberals, if you want to pay the 70 percent marginal tax rate, go right ahead. It’s voluntary. Just pay It!  Here’s how it would work: Everyone should sign a pledge to commit to a 70 percent tax rate. Then, you give all that money to the government and show us conservatives what it really means to you.

Well, the first problem is we don’t owe the government squat and the second problem is that the government can’t spend money better than you can. That’s why we don’t give the government extra money as conservatives because government generally stinks at spending money. That’s why!

And by the way liberals, if you want to pay the 70 percent marginal tax rate, go right ahead. It’s voluntary. Just pay It!

Here’s how it would work: Everyone should sign a pledge to commit to a 70 percent tax rate. Then, you give all that money to the government and show us conservatives what it really means to you.

Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? But I know you won’t do it because you’re big frauds. You’re hypocrites. You’ve always been hypocrites. You’re ideologues and you don’t stand for a darn thing.

I challenge you to donate your salary, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. Show us how it’s done and step up.

I’m not donating my salary, so don’t worry about me. I don’t give my money to the government.

But Democrats, I challenge you to step up. Yes, go ahead and step up. You’ve spent this country into an abyss of debt and your programs stink. They fail everywhere you try them. And still, I’m supposed to give you my money?

You go first, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, step right up.

This article has been adapted from “The Dan Bongino Show” Ep. 895: Liberals Will Never Leave You Alone.
— Read on www.foxnews.com/opinion/dan-bongino-hey-rep-ocasio-cortez-show-us-how-its-done-and-donate-70-percent-of-your-income-to-the-government

John Stossel: Government shutdown lessons — We could take a chainsaw to so much of government | Fox News

This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. During shutdowns, government tells “nonessential workers” not to come to work. But if they’re nonessential, then why do we pay 400,000 of them?

As the government shutdown continues, some government workers are applying for unemployment to cover cost of living

Bryan Llenas reports on the impact that the government shutdown has made so far as it enters day 16 of the shutdown.

This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media keep using the word “crisis.”

Shutdown sows chaos, confusion and anxiety!” says The Washington Post. “Pain spreads widely.”

The New York Times headlined, it’s all “just too much!”

But wait. Looking around America, I see people going about their business — families eating in restaurants, employees going to work, children playing in playgrounds, etc. I have to ask: Where’s the crisis?

Pundits talk as if government is the most important part of America, but it isn’t.

We need some government, limited government. But most of life, the best of life, goes on without government, many of the best parts in spite of government.

Of course, the shutdown is a big deal to the 800,000 people who aren’t being paid. But they will get paid. Government workers always do — after shutdowns.

Columnist Paul Krugman calls this shutdown, “Trump’s big libertarian experiment.” But it’s not libertarian. Government’s excessive rules are still in effect, and eventually government workers will be paid for not working. That makes this a most un-libertarian experiment.

During shutdowns, government tells “nonessential workers” not to come to work. But if they’re nonessential, then why do we pay 400,000 of them?

But there are lessons to be learned.

During a shutdown when Barack Obama was president, government officials were so eager to make a point by inconveniencing people that they even stopped visitors from entering public parks.

Trump’s administration isn’t doing that, so PBS found a new crisis: “Trash cans spilling… (P)ark services can’t clean up the mess until Congress and the president reach a spending deal,” reported “NewsHour.”

But volunteers appeared to pick up some of the trash.

Given a chance, private citizens often step in to do things government says only government can do.

The Washington Post ran a front-page headline about farmers “reeling… because they aren’t receiving government support checks.”

But why do farmers even get “support checks”?

One justification is “saving family farms.” But the money goes to big farms.

Government doesn’t need to “guarantee the food supply,” another justification for subsidies. Most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies, yet there are no shortages of peaches, plums, green beans, etc.

Subsidies are a scam created by politicians who get money from wheat, cotton, corn and soybean agribusinesses. Those farmers should suck it up and live without subsidies, too.

During shutdowns, government tells “nonessential workers” not to come to work. But if they’re nonessential, then why do we pay 400,000 of them?

Why do we still pay 100,000 American soldiers in Germany, Japan, Italy and England? Didn’t we win those wars?

We could take a chainsaw to so much of government.

The New York Times shrieks, “Shutdown Curtails FDA Food Inspections!”

Only if you read on do you learn that meat and poultry inspection is done by the Department of Agriculture. They’re still working. And the FDA is restarting some inspections as well.

More important, meat is usually safe not because of government — but because of competition.

Food sellers worry about their reputations. They know they’ll get bad publicity if they poison people (think Chipotle), so they take many more safety measures than government requires.

One meat producer told me that they employ 2,000 more safety inspectors than the law demands.

Lazy reporters cover politicians. Interviewees are usually in one place — often Washington, D.C. Interviewing politicians is easier than covering people pursuing their own interests all over America. But those are the people who make America work.

While pundits and politicians act as if everything needs government intervention, the opposite is true.

Even security work is done better by the private sector. At San Francisco’s airport, security lines move faster. Passengers told me, “The screeners are nicer!” The TSA even acknowledged that those screeners are better at finding contraband. That’s because San Francisco (Kansas City, Seattle and a dozen smaller airports) privatized the screening process. Private companies are responsible for security.

Private contractors are better because they must compete. Perform badly, and they get fired.

But government never fires itself.

Government workers shout, “We are essential!” But I say: “Give me a break. Most of you are not.”

— Read on www.foxnews.com/opinion/john-stossel-government-shutdown-lessons-we-could-take-a-chainsaw-to-so-much-of-government

The Obama/New York Times Plot To Overthrow Trump – (Video)

Article Image

Another “blockbuster” report on Trump’s “ties” to Russia has fizzled into nothingness, as the New York Times’ piece over the weekend on an FBI counterintelligence investigation opened against the president was riddled with holes and absurdities. What came through loud and clear, however, was that Obama appointees and loyalists in the FBI and elsewhere in the deep state were determined to do everything in their power to overthrow a legally elected US president.

The rise of Socialism: Standing on the shoulders of morons | Sovereign Man

I’ve spent the last several days in this quaint Colombian city near the Venezuelan border (though I’m presently at the airport, en route to Chile for a board meeting).

As I’ve discussed several times in the past, Colombia is great. It’s naturally gorgeous, incredibly cheap, and full of interesting opportunities.

The country has recently emerged from decades of civil war. And the rebuilding efforts will have a profound impact on the economy… most notably with the national infrastructure.

Colombia’s highways are pitiful.

Did you know? You can receive all our actionable articles straight to your email inbox… Click here to signup for our Notes from the Field newsletter.

The distance from here to Bogota is barely 400 kilometers– it shouldn’t be more than a 3-4 hour drive. But it takes almost nine hours thanks to the terrible highways.

Railways, ports, even digital infrastructure are all lacking in Colombia, in large part because of the decades-long war against the FARC. For years the government didn’t want to build more railways if the guerrillas were just going to destroy them.

With the war over, they’re dumping an enormous amount of money into modernizing the country, which invariably brings interesting opportunities.

Colombia is still cheap today.

I spent the weekend in the mountains outside of Bucaramanga looking at real estate projects where, for example, a plush family home on more than an acre lot in an upscale community ran less than USD $70,000.

That’s cheap. My rule of thumb is that anything less than $1,000 per square meter for good quality residential housing (about $92 per square foot) is a great deal.

I also saw a huge, stately home with a grand, Spanish colonial interior courtyard, plus several acres of land, for less than $200,000.

That’s a hell of a bargain for a country with such a bright future.

One of the most noticeable things about this town, though, is the presence of so many Venezuelan refugees.

Bucaramanga is very close to the border, so it’s a natural migration point for Venezuelans fleeing their country. They’re EVERYWHERE.

Talking to these people, it’s apparent that the conditions are far worse than generally reported in the media. I’ve been to Venezuela several times myself, and I’ve seen firsthand the lack of food, medicine, etc.

It’s incredible that a country like Venezuela that’s rich in so many resources is in such a desperate situation.

Venezuela is legendary for its world-class oil and mineral deposits. But more than that, Venezuela boasts incredibly talented entrepreneurs and skilled labor, plus plenty of port facilities, arable land, etc.

This place SHOULD be an economic powerhouse. And decades ago it used to be.

But today Venezuela is one of the world’s most impoverished nations.

How did it all go wrong?

It’s all due to the rise of corrupt socialism.

You know the story: about 20 years ago, Hugo Chavez took control of Venezuela and engaged in radical economic and political reforms that awarded supreme power to the government (specifically to Chavez) while doling out crippling socialist programs that the country couldn’t afford.

When the price of oil was at an all-time high, they were able to limp along.

But when oil prices fell, Venezuela’s government went broke.

They tried to make up for it by nationalizing and expropriating everything that wasn’t nailed down– businesses, private land, etc. But that made matters worse.

They also borrowed heavily, burned through their international reserves, and printed an unbelievable amount of money. The currency quickly went into free-fall.

When I first went to Caracas several years ago, the exchange rate was about 8 bolivares per US dollar. A few months later when I returned, it was 50. My next trip was 500.

Soon a single US $100 bill would buy me literally stacks of Venezuelan bolivares; and by the time they finally capitulated and took the money out of circulation, it took over 4 million bolivares to buy a single US dollar.

(Since August 2018 the Venezuelan government started issuing new currency, which is basically the old currency minus a few zeros…)

All of this began with a premise that the government could centrally plan prosperity– that a tiny political elite could engineer wealth and efficient productivity while simultaneously providing an endless supply of free benefits to the constituents who keep them in power.

This experiment in central planning has notoriously failed throughout history (and it bankrupted Venezuela in less than two decades).

Yet we invariably see it rear its ugly head over and over again despite its dismal track record… especially in times when wealth and income inequality rise.

Every time people feel like they’re getting screwed by the system… every time they feel like someone else has an unfair advantage, there are cries to seize assets, confiscate wealth, and centrally plan prosperity.

We’re starting to see those calls rise again in the Land of the Free, where a whole spate of socialist-leaning candidates are coming out of the woodwork… including some presidential contenders.

There are now 40 socialists in Congress, including the infamous 29-year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who think it’s a great idea to centrally plan the economy, jack up tax rates to confiscatory levels and even nationalize certain private industries.

Their desires are echoed by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman who believes that 70%+ would be the best tax rate for maximum economic efficiency.

It’s even more interesting to note that, according to a recent Gallup poll, more younger Americans (18-29) now identify with Socialism than Capitalism – 51% vs. 45%. That’s a 12-point decline in a positive view toward capitalism in just the past two years… back in 2010, 68% of young Americans viewed capitalism favorably.

To borrow from Isaac Newton, they seem to be standing on the shoulders of morons.

And yet membership in the Democratic Socialists of America has swelled 7x just in the last two years. 

This is all really alarming.

I’m not saying the US is going to become Venezuela in 20 years. But the Land of the Free is rapidly going down the same destructive path.
— Read on www.sovereignman.com/trends/the-rise-of-socialism-standing-on-the-shoulders-of-morons-24411/

Persecution growing in spread and intensity: Open Doors – Eternity News

2019 World Watch List reveals 245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution

Persecution of Christians worldwide has increased over the past year, with one in nine believers experiencing “high” levels of persecution compared with one in 12 a year ago, according to the 2019 World Watch List released by Open Doors today.

In what Open Doors Australia described as an “hallmark of the success of Christianity,” persecution is growing in both intensity and the number of countries and Christians affected. On the 2019 World Watch List, 73 of the 150 countries surveyed show extreme, very high or high levels of persecution.

“The world will get worse before it gets better … ” – Tim Reid, Open Doors

“The first thing I would say is that persecution is the hallmark of successful Christianity,” Tim Reid, Church Engagement Manager for Open Doors Australia, told Eternity. “I think when the gospel is being shared, persecution increases. I don’t necessarily mean that Christianity is rapidly growing in numbers, but it does mean Christianity is growing in courage.

“The whole philosophy of Open Doors is not necessarily the end of persecution – it’s not even a top priority – it’s to give people the strength to stand under the face of it and try to grow as they can.”

Open Doors estimates that 245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in the top 50 countries on the World Watch List for 2019. North Korea remained ranked at No 1 in the 2019 list, a position it has held since 2002, with about 50,000 to 70,000 Christians believed to be in labour camps. Russia entered the list at No 41 due to increasing violence from Islamic extremists.

Life for Christians became even more precarious in Nigeria, where 3731 believers were killed – double the number in the 2018 list – by extremist groups of Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram. This accounted for about 90 per cent of the 4136 recorded deaths of Christians as a direct result of persecution in the 2019 list.

According to Reid, increased persecution of Christians in India went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world.

“In India, violence against Christians has been increasing since the Modi government stepped into power, elected with promises to restore Hindu dominance in the nation. Churches have been attacked and Christians assaulted,” he says.

“I spoke in May last year at a Senate inquiry [into religious freedom] about four horror days in India in which three pastors were hospitalised, one losing his fingers in an axe attack.”

Reid told Eternity that these attacks on Christians had flown under the radar of police, so the perpetrators had not received due punishment.

“That kind of Hindu extremism we have also noticed in Nepal and religious nationalism as a topic is starting to spread to other countries too,” he says, giving Myanmar as an example.

Reid there were a few factors behind the increase in persecution.

“We’re seeing religious nationalism increase, so the kind of intensity that we’ve seen from Islamic extremists over the years we are now starting to see in other contexts,” he said.

“But persecution is biblical and the world will get worse before it gets better and there is a move in many nations towards an anti-Christian sentiment.” He said Open Doors was not just committed to social justice but to helping the gospel advance and that necessarily brought with it persecution.

Open Doors Australia is calling for the government to create a permanent position to advise on religious freedom.

“Roles such as that we’ve seen overseas have been really crucial in bringing to the fore at a government level what persecution is already happening,” Reid said.

“So in the Asia-Pacific region, we see that as persecution increases in places like India or China, where we have a great deal of trade, that there are Christians being discriminated against and Australia has a role to play in this area.

“Australia’s human rights record in the department of freedom of religious belief has been quite exemplary, but other people who we trade with it’s not necessarily been the case. So it’s part of Australia’s moral obligation to lift these people in circumstances where they’re not experiencing the same freedom.”

“The unforeseen benefit of that is that many churches are now asking us to speak.” – Mike Gore

Mike Gore, CEO of Open Doors Australia, said the unforeseen benefit of Christians feeling less secure of their place in Australian society was an increased engagement by churches with the persecuted church.

He said there had been a 20 per cent increase in the number of donors to Open Doors Australia, to 11,500. The target was 18,000 by the end of 2020.

“What we’re seeing is a change in a section of the church towards religious freedom in this nation. There’s a big element that’s saying we need the message of Open Doors in our churches now because we’re feeling uncomfortable. Things aren’t feeling as safe anymore. What do we do? We haven’t felt this before and we’re worried about things like same-sex marriage, religious diversity, and all of these fears that the West equates with persecution,” he said.

“The unforeseen benefit of that is that many churches are now asking us to speak.”

“I think an understanding of the increased focus of the media in the last five years on persecution, married with the uncomfortable feeling of changing societal values in Australia, has created a perfect of storm of tensions resolving in churches wanting to know more about the cost of faith.

Reid adds: “What’s really exciting here is that as people engage with persecution, what they will find is the true hope-filled story that where there seems to be persecution the church in many circumstances is still joy-filled and seeking God with all their heart.”

“When people engage with that example, their faith will come alive here in Australia as well.”
— Read on www.eternitynews.com.au/world/persecution-growing-in-spread-and-intensity-open-doors/

January 17 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

Genesis 18; Matthew 17; Nehemiah 7; Acts 17


when a large building project is finished, or when an important goal has been reached, often there is a tendency to slack off. Many a congregation has devoted considerable energy to building a new facility, only to retreat into lethargy for months or even years afterward.

Nehemiah perceives that the building of the wall is not the climax of the return, after which relaxation should be the order of the day. The rest of the book makes this point clearly enough. The rebuilding of the wall is scarcely more than preparation for a number of more far-reaching political and religious reforms. In ministry, it is vital always to distinguish means and ends.

With the wall finished, Nehemiah stays on for a while as governor of the entire region of Judah, but appoints two men to be in charge of Jerusalem—his brother Hanani (apparently a man he could trust), and a military man, Hananiah, chosen “because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do” (Neh. 7:2—compare meditation for January 6). There is something refreshing and fundamental about such leaders. They are not sycophants or mercenaries; they are not trying to “find themselves” or prove their manhood; they are not scrambling up the mobile ladder to success. They are men of integrity, who fear God more than most.

Nehemiah then gives instructions regarding the opening and closing of the gates—instructions designed to avoid any traps set between the dangerous hours of dusk and dawn (7:3). Thus the administration and defense of Jerusalem are settled.

The sheer emptiness of the city is what now confronts Nehemiah (7:4). The walls have been rebuilt more or less along their original lines. Jerusalem is a substantial city, and yet the vast majority of the returned Jews are living in the countryside. What takes place in the following chapters, then, is something that can only be called a revival, followed by the determination of the people to send one-tenth of their number into Jerusalem to become the fledgling kernel of a new generation of Jerusalemites. As a first step, Nehemiah digs out the now aging records of those exiles who had first returned from exile in order to determine whose genealogical records demonstrated them to be part of the covenant people, and especially those who could legitimately serve as priests. The steps Nehemiah pursues seem to be part of a careful plan, one which, as Nehemiah himself insists, “my God put … into my heart” (7:5).[1]

[1] Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 2, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.