Daily Archives: February 13, 2019

The Bible and Alcoholics Anonymous — Reformed Perspective

The following is a transcript of a Feb. 21, 2016 Truth in Love podcast produced by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and used here with permission.

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Dr. Heath Lambert: Addiction is a common problem, in fact, for me it has been more than a common problem. My mother who died several years ago battled alcohol addiction for most of her life; she was enslaved to alcohol for over twenty years. As a little boy on up into my teens, I have been to dozens and dozens and dozens of meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I am thankful for all the good things that AA brought into my Mom’s life to cause her ultimately to stop drinking, but it raises the question, what is a biblical response to addiction? What is a biblical understanding of AA?

To help us address this very important issue, I have invited to the podcast this week, Mark Shaw. Mark is the Executive Director of Vision of Hope and a pastor at Faith Church in Lafayette, Indiana. He is also an ACBC certified counselor and is the author of The Heart of Addiction. Mark, we are glad you are with us and as we think through this issue of addiction and AA, the word addiction is really not a word that we find in the Scriptures. How should Christians think biblically about that idea?

Mark Shaw: I think words are very important and they are like signposts; they point us in a direction. I think about 1 Corinthians 2:13 that says,

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

So with biblical language in regards to words like “addiction,” – I use that in my book title – and words like “relapse” and “alcoholism”; I use those words sometimes to help people know what the problem is. Then, when I write about it in my books like The Heart of Addiction I talk about a biblical, habitual sin nature problem and one of idolatry and of sin rather than as the world characterizes addiction.

Dr. Lambert: How does the world characterize addiction that is different than what the Bible understands as a habitual sin?

Shaw: These words are signposts and so they point people, I think, to a disease outside of themselves; to a problem that is not me, it is not really who I am, it is my disease. It is this thing outside of them rather than recognizing it as their own sinful problem that they need Christ to forgive them of and to begin the transformation process in their own hearts.

Dr. Lambert: Ok, so if that is what a biblical understanding of addiction is, then help us understand Alcoholics Anonymous; what is AA?

Shaw: AA is a program that started in the 1930s by a couple of guys: Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson. They started this program and really watered down some biblical teaching and biblical truth; no other way to say it than they just watered it down to make it more appealing to other people. So, you will hear some people who say that there are biblical truths in AA and in the organization’s Big Book, and that kind of thing, which undoubtedly are true; there are some biblical truths there but they don’t go far enough.

For example, one is that you admit that you are an alcoholic or you admit that you have a problem. Admission is good but confession is what the Bible says we should do. That is admission plus taking it the next step further of confessing it to a holy God that you have sinned against Him, that you need Christ’s forgiveness, and that you need this transformation to work in your heart by the Holy Spirit. There are words that they use that are good like “admission” and “making amends” and that kind of thing, but biblical truths are more excellent. Biblical truths point to the whole wisdom of God and so I think half-truths in AA can be dangerous for people.

Dr. Lambert: Ok, so let’s talk about that for a little bit because there are going to be a lot of people listening to this podcast who have had some kind of experience with AA. This is an organization that has affected and impacted untold millions of people.

I mentioned at the top of the podcast that my mother went to AA for years and years and years. I have been in more AA meetings than I know how to count. “Keep coming back, it works.” “It works if you work it.” “One day at a time.” I have been there; I know the stuff. I am thankful, as many who are listening to this are thankful for the good fruit that has come into the lives of people through their interaction with AA. Yet, as biblically minded Christians, we want to have concerns about AA. Why should biblically minded Christians be concerned about AA?

Shaw: AA sets itself up as a spiritual program. So right there I have a moment of pause; ok this is a spiritual program, but if you read the Big Book and what it teaches, the only higher powers that it mentions are like an enlightenment and something other than Jesus. By the very definition of the program it is a higher power of your own choosing, well, that is the very definition of idolatry. If I can choose a higher power, then I can make anything my higher power and that is idolatry. Those are super huge concerns from my perspective about being careful to send people to this so-called spiritual program that says any god will do; we know there is only one true God.

Then when you go to meetings, and you [Lambert] have been, they say things like, “we are spiritual people, but those people who go to church, they are religious people.” “We are spiritual they are religious.” It is characterizing you and me as though we are Pharisees; we are the rule-followers without the compassion and love of Christ.

That is just unfair. My concern for biblical counselors is when you send people to these programs, don’t assume that this is a Christian program and that the teachings and the writings – the Twelve Traditions, the Twelve Promises, the Twelve Steps – are going to point them to Christ because, as I said in the beginning, the words that they choose really point people away from Christ to more of a medical solution and to more of just a worldly, secular mindset. Those are some of the dangers and concerns that I have with the program.

Dr. Lambert: Many Christians have come to see that there are imperfections and significant problems in AA and so there have been efforts to try to rehabilitate AA with some kind of Christianized version; we think of programs like Celebrate Recovery. Should Christians try to rehabilitate or rescue Alcoholics Anonymous by getting rid of the bad parts and trying to insert some Christian elements into it?

Shaw: Yeah, I had a friend once tell me, “When does a lie, ever added to truth, make the truth better, and when does the truth, ever added to a lie, make the lie into pure truth?” Well, it doesn’t happen.

So, I like to start with truth, I like to start with the Scriptures, I like to proclaim the excellencies of Christ and point people to the riches of the Bible. I understand there are well-meaning people that are in these programs and they are doing their best and maybe it is all that is out there in their minds. I would rather just start with teaching Scripture, teaching the Word, teaching about idolatry, sin, ruling heart issues and address those matters with these people who struggle with addiction rather than using programs that kinda mix them; the world’s teaching with the truth of God’s Word. I don’t think oil and water mix, I don’t think it can be done; it confuses people and it may lead them down the wrong path.

Dr. Lambert: So I mentioned that my mom went to AA. In my memory as a little boy, I think she started going to AA about the time I was seven and finally was sober for what would turn out to be the rest of her life by the time I was twelve. So it took about five years for the things that were working in AA to be able to take hold. I am very thankful for that. When she went to the last rehab center they all said she was at death’s door; she nearly drank herself to death.

It was interesting because from the time I was twelve to the time I was twenty-five, my mom was a miserable person. She was what her friends in AA called “a dry drunk.” She was angry; she was sad; she was promiscuous. She was one of just the nastiest people I have ever met. She was able to keep a job, she was able to keep a roof over her head unlike when she was drinking, but she wasn’t a better person. In fact, me and my brothers use to seriously wish that she would go back to drinking because you could at least live with her. When she wasn’t drunk you couldn’t live with her when she was this way.

The reason I mention that is because what happened when I was twenty-five was I share the gospel with my mother for the umpteenth time…but she believed. She repented of her sins and believed, and heart change began to happen. She began to be a qualitatively different person. So for me it was this powerful demonstration – I am thankful for the good things that AA did, but really AA didn’t take my mom very far; it taught her to go to hell more efficiently. It cleaned up her life but she was still going to hell; she was not a changed person. It was the power of Jesus Christ in the Word of God that really brought her the rest of the way. What is it that the Bible adds that is so superior to the Twelve Steps?

Shaw: Well, the Bible talks about our sin, our need for Christ, and that the transformation process is progressive; that we become like Christ. You know, transformation, we have been transformed in justification, we are being transformed and in sanctification, we will be transformed in glorification and in the AA program, in the Twelve Steps, you won’t hear anything about Jesus Christ, you won’t hear anything about confession of sin. You admit you are wrong but you don’t confess sin, certainly not to a holy God, because you are picking a god of your own choosing and of your own understanding. If I choose God, then who is really God? It is me; I am in that position of authority.

So the Bible gives us lots of biblical truth that moves us and grows us in a deeper way and in an eternal way rather than the Twelve Step program. Which, I agree has some helpful teaching and some things in it that can really help people to be clean and sober, but our goal is not to be clean and sober, our goal is to be like Jesus for God’s glory and that part is missing in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Mark Shaw is the author of “The Heart of Addiction” and “Addiction-Proof Parenting.” This article first appeared in the Sept. 2016 issue.

via The Bible and Alcoholics Anonymous — Reformed Perspective

James MacDonald Has Been Deposed and It Took a Recording Played by Mancow to Send the Elders Over the Edge — The Wartburg Watch

James MacDonald is gone. Now what?

“Any fool knows that bravado is always a cover-up for insecurity. That’s the truth. And on that note, I’ll say goodnight. God love you.”  Bobby Darin

James MacDonald Is Given the Boot

Video

The Elders Speak with *Heavy Hearts*

FEBRUARY 2019 ELDER UPDATE

Dear Harvest Bible Chapel Family:

It is with great sadness that we as the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel wish to convey to you a very recent development that has caused us to take immediate action regarding our Senior Pastor, Dr. James MacDonald.

Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor. That timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported.

Our Elders and Staff are committed to fulfilling our fiduciary duty as the leadership of this congregation, knowing that at times the outcome may be misunderstood or emotionally painful. A more detailed communication regarding next steps for our church will take place in our weekend services.

3 points from this statement jump out at me.

  1. Mancow played some snippets of remarks by what sounds like James MacDonald. It was these disgusting comments that made the elders get busy… finally. I guess the plunging of knives into posted images of pastors or members is not a fireable offense in Chicago?
  2. The elders claim that they will fulfill their fiduciary responsibility. They are in a heap of trouble in terms of debt. The good folks at The Elephant Debt have been warning them about this for years. Could the entities that gave them the loans call them in? Hoo boy.
  3. Exactly what were the elders doing for the past year? They backed the lawsuit against The Elephant Debt and Julie Roys. I predicted that the lawsuit would fail since lawsuits against bloggers rarely prevail. The elders followed him in this ridiculous path. 3 1/2 months later the elders decided to can MacDonald? Good night! However they were praying back then as well. Are they trying to say that God approved of that dad-blasted, stupid lawsuit just a few short months ago and now He wants MacDonald out? C’mon, boys.Shame on you…

Elders: Get rid of MacDonald’s sons and reimburse TED and Julie Roys for their legal fees due to your negligence in allowing this stupid lawsuit to proceed.

What did MacDonald say on those recordings?

These recordings prove MacDonald’s lack of character. I believe the elders knew about this sort of nonsense for years but ignored it since the money was flowing.

Julie Roys reveals some of the content in Mancow Airs Shocking Comments By James MacDonald: My Response

I’ve also now heard the complete 50 minutes of audio that Mancow referenced, and heard the clips in context, and they are credible. I’ve also reached out to MacDonald for comment, and he did not respond with either a confirmation or denial.

Mancow said he plans to air the entire 50-minute conversation on an upcoming podcast.

In them, the man who’s presumably MacDonald jokes about me having an affair with Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today (CT). (ed. Roys denies this is true.)

MacDonald also makes vulgar references to Harold Smith and Ed Stetzer, CT contributing editor and the executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.

He also allegedly insults CT, calling it a “. . . pipe-organ protecting, musty, mild smell of urine, blue hair Methodist loving, mainline dying, women preacher championing, emerging church adoring, almost good with all gays, and closet Palestine promoting Christianity” magazine.

especially disconcerting to me is an excerpt where MacDonald alleges that I and “another person who used to attend (Harvest)” approached the houses of people who were victims in a DCFS investigation and shouted at them about a cover-up at Harvest. He alleges that I’m “off the rails” and predicts that in 30 days, I’m going to be “riding a tricycle with a midget on (my) shoulders.”

He claimed to put child pornography of Harold Smith’s computer

She links to Mancow’s show in which he aired some of these statements that were made allegedly by MacDonald. She also gives approximate times of various comments in this post so you can target your listening. I, too, will post the recording when it becomes available.

Christianity Today’s editor in chief Mark Galli responds to what he claims to be slander.

There is little question in my mind that MacDonald could be in a world of hurt with these comments. Years ago, I explained how to understand the law to some people who were afraid of a lawsuit for telling what they believed to be true. You must always tell the truth or what you believe to be true. So, you can recount what happened to you when you were molested by your youth pastor. You can’t make something up like “every night he dresses up like Marilyn Monroe and dances to music by The Monkees” unless he actually does that.

On Mancow, MacDonald, and the Harvest Mess: CT’s editor in chief, Mark Galli, commented on today’s aired remarks. Might I add, Galli is more than gracious.

First, we want to address MacDonald’s alleged derogatory remarks about various members of CT’s staff broadcast today on Mancow, a radio show based in Chicago. MacDonald is clearly angry with the way CT has covered his leadership at Harvest, and he’s succumbed to the temptation to slander me, threaten our CEO, and denigrate others. This is unfortunate. But this is part of the life of journalism, because we know that we’re not exactly popular with people about whom we have to report bad news. We also know that people (including me) privately say things in anger that they later regret. So we’re not going to blast back at MacDonald or to demand a public apology.

So, thinking about the legal definition of libel/defamation, take a look at the following statements. Do they seem like someone is stating something they believe to be true or do they seem like they are made up in a fit of fury?

Regarding Roys:

…In them, the man who’s presumably MacDonald jokes about me having an affair with Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today (CT).

….especially disconcerting to me is an excerpt where MacDonald alleges that I and “another person who used to attend (Harvest)” approached the houses of people who were victims in a DCFS investigation and shouted at them about a cover-up at Harvest. He alleges that I’m “off the rails” and and predicts that in 30 days, I’m going to be “riding a tricycle with a midget on (my) shoulders.”

MacDonald has absolutely no reason to believe that these things are true.

I wrote a post on what constitutes slander in the Bible: Slander or an Inconvenient Truth? I wrote this because so many Christian leaders cry *slander* when it is simply someone truthfully confronting poor behavior or some other sort of sin. Last year, Frank Turk, formerly of Pyromaniacs fame, in a fit of pique due to my writing about Tom Chantry’s arrest and court case, claimed I was slandering Chantry. I tried to explain why it is not slander to discuss it in this situation. But, he decided to accuse me of  *necrophilia* and kept repeating it. I then got to take him to school on legal definitions and he decided social media was not for him….

So, Galli is correct that what James MacDonald said about Roys and him is slander by anyone’s definition. It appears that Roys and Galli are nice people and do not intend to sue him but they would be well within their rights to do so.

So what’s going to happen?

There are all kinds of predictions going on in social media.

  • MacDonald is already making the rounds of pastor friends and is trying to raise money to reboot his ministry.
  • MacDonald could join forces with Mark Driscoll in Scottsdale who is reportedly holding a conference on Biblical Church Governance.  You can’t make this stuff up.
  • He could join the ARC. Watch this group, folks. They are church planting faster than the SBC.
  • He will take troops to Naples and takeover the Naples HBC church.
  • What is his *stuff* that he can take with him? Does he own the rights to things like Vertical Church? Radio/podcasts, etc?
  • Does he get any money ala salary, retirement commitments, benefits, etc
  • He will leave Chicago.
  • The elders will be forced to resign.
  • HBC will fold like Mars Hill.
  • He’ll become a church planting expert for the SBC’s NAMB.
  • Bill Hybels and MacDonald will team up to do Christian cruises for I Heart Radio.
  • PETA will invade and free the white-tailed deer.
  • MacDonald auctions his leather jacket on Ebay and offers to shave off his goatee for $100,000. He goes to Vegas and puts it all on one spin of the roulette wheel. He loses.

Please feel free to make predictions.

NAMB in Chicago

I received word today that the SBC’s North American Mission Board bought two houses to put up church planters. They claim it is associated with HBC. Could someone confirm this information?  Is the NAMB buying real estate? Also, can anyone tell me how many of their church plants have failed?

Can anyone recommend good churches near HBC?

I have received a number of requests from people who are leaving HBC. If any of you have some suggestions, please add them in the comment. If you have a link to the church’s website, please add it. If you are a pastor or leaders of a local church, please leave a comment about your church.

I cannot vouch for any churches that folks might suggest in the comments. Always do due diligence. Read their websites and always read their resource list. Then, attend but do not join for a long time. When in doubt, give me a call.

via James MacDonald Has Been Deposed and It Took a Recording Played by Mancow to Send the Elders Over the Edge —

February 13 Sin Solution

Scripture Reading: Galatians 6:4–9

Key Verse: Galatians 6:4

Let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Can you get away with sin? You may cheat on a major school exam, pass the test and class, and do so without the teacher uncovering your deceit. You also may covertly engage in immoral behavior and falsely be perceived as morally upright.

The IRS may never catch your falsified income tax report. Your employer may never know you pilfered office supplies. But in each instance there are consequences for your actions. Even when others are unaware, God has established an inviolate moral law of sin and consequences. And although the consequences may be delayed, they will occur.

Paul applied the agrarian metaphor of sowing and reaping to our behavior. A crop is reaped much later than it is planted, but the harvest does come. Sooner or later, we experience the ramifications of our sin, since we are ultimately accountable to God.

Never underestimate the internal price you pay for sin. The weight of guilt is enormous. Bitterness and depression settle uncomfortably in your soul as you try to suppress the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Confession and repentance are God’s provisions—His solution—for dealing with transgression. Acknowledge yours to Him (and others when appropriate). Receive His forgiveness. You don’t have to plead for it, just receive the gift of His pardon. Trust Him to help you handle the consequences.

Father God, thank You for Your provisions of confession and repentance to deal with my sin. I acknowledge my sins and receive the gift of Your pardon. I trust You to handle the consequences of any bad spiritual seed I have sown in the past.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 46). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

A Table in the Presence of Our Enemies — Unfathomable Grace

The Lord is Israel’s Chief Shepherd, and because of this gracious relationship, they lack absolutely nothing that they really need. He commands them to rest in him as sheep do in lush pastures. He guides them, feeds them, washes them, protects them, and provides comfort. He is the one who restores their souls. Oh, how fantastic it is to hear and know the voice and the loving care of the Chief Shepherd.

However, though Israel be God’s most cherished possession, the Sovereign God chooses not to remove them from hazardous places, painful experiences and dangerous foes. No, in accordance with his wisdom, he marches his beloved in and through the “valley of the shadow of death.” Quite often his flock is found “in the presence of their enemies.” Egypt is behind them. Jericho is before them. And all about them are hostile nations wishing to plunder and devour them in the wilderness. In addition, they are plagued by satan without and sin within. Yes, God is always present and watching, but they are a church continually harassed by their world, their wicked flesh, and their former father the devil.

However, despite their precrious circumstances and surroundings, God continually feeds them. For all Israel he does so by supplying quail and manna from above. Then, in accordance with his laws of ceremonial worship, he commands his people to partake of seven annual feasts. But, if you are his priests, he specially prescribes worship rituals to feed you over and over again. Depending on the sin, the day, the purpose, and the financial condition of the various worshipers, cows, sheep, goats, turtledoves, pigeons, grain and corn are selected, sanctified, slaughtered, and sacrificed. Parts of them are consumed by fire. But the rest is set aside to be cooked and served to the priests and their families.

Clearly, when one reads the Pentetuch, it is God’s ceremonial will that his children, and especially his priests, are to be nourished, satisfied, encouraged and blessed by his sacrifices, over and over again. And this, “in the presence of their enemies.”

And this continues to be a theme from Genesis through Revelation. God loves to feed and feast with his people. He dines with …

  • Adam and Eve in the Garden
  • Abraham on the overlook above Sodom
  • Israel’s elders on the Mountain of God
  • Israel on the Passover night.
  • Israel in the seven ceremonial feasts
  • The Five Thousand in Jesus’ day
  • The Four Thousand in Jesus’ day
  • The Disciples in the Upper Room
  • The Disciples along the shore
  • The Lord’s Supper in particular churches

And all of this culminates with the Wedding Supper which he hosts for us, his bride, in paradise.

Yes, it is God’s revealed will throughout the totality of the Bible that all his sheep, all his worshipers, all his children, all his priests, should be consistently nourished, satisfied, encouraged, and blessed by his bountiful provision. Over and over again, they are to dine at the table of the Lord, in the presence of their enemies, with their cups running over.


Therefore, friends, you who are loved by God, and still harrassed by the world, the flesh, and the devil, why would you remain hungry?

Spiritually and personally, come to the Bread of Life and eat. Jesus Christ is the one who always satisfies the hunger and thirst of sinners. So, why would you lack contentment and filling on this earth? And then why would you perish, wake up in the place of torment, and cry out, “I hunger and thirst.”  Today, come to Jesus and be fed by the Gospel. Begin your relationship with him right now.

Then, spiritually and personally, come again to the buffet table several times a day. Read his Word, speak to him in prayer, and be persistently fed. There is no need to go hours wihtout a meal. Snack throughout the day and be satisified.

photo-1531627467965-e9c3dd19209cThen, spiritually and corporately, come to the church on the Lord’s Day and be specially fed by means of his Word, his ceremonial supper, his ceremonial washing, and sessions of prayer. Jesus asks his elders, “Do you love me?” In response we reply, “Yes, Lord.” He then says, “Well then, feed my sheep.” Brothers and sisters, come to the place where the Scriptures are read and preached, the prayers are offered in spoken and sung tongue, and the sacraments are regularly placed before you. Don’t be malnourished. Don’t settle for junk food. Come and eat! Fresh grace is yours if you open your mouth and partake.

Then finally, consider opening up your homes and engage in feeding one another. Yes, I am aware that I just transitioned from spiritual feeding to physical feeding, but I believe there is some fantastic and mystical blessing in practicing hospitality. Consider the model, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the Apostles at Pentecost, and when the New Testament version of Christ’s church showed itself, this is what they did:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.     (Acts 2:42-47)

photo-1520869309377-88c9274a27c2God’s friends were devoted to the Word, to prayer, to THE ceremonial breaking of bread, and to fellowship. They met together in the Temple, in synagogues, and in other places. And quite often, they shared their both their financial resources and their food. Community Groups were the norm in the Spirit-directed church. And what did God do in response? God graced the congregation with growth; he graced the congregation with encouragement; and he supplied all their needs even though they remained “in the presences of their enemies.”

Jesus loved to eat with his friends, and his church did the same. He encourages all his leaders to manifest the grace of hospitality. As Christ’s family, we are intended to be a fourth means of grace towards one another.

So, let’s eat … in our prayer closets, in our churches, and around our dining room tables. As priests, let’s partake of Christ regularly. As priests, let’s love Jesus by feeding his flock.

via A Table in the Presence of Our Enemies — Unfathomable Grace

Midweek Apolegtics Hit & Misc: Investigating the Truth of the Gospel Eyewitnesses

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The Only Chart That Matters For The Global Economy — ZeroHedge News

Back in June 2017, we wrote that if one had to follow just one macro indicator that impacts virtually every aspect of the global economy, that would be the Chinese credit impulse. Not surprisingly, the article was titled “Why The (Collapsing) Credit Impulse Is All That Matters.” Then, last December, just in case there was any confusion, we once again wrote ”
Why The Collapsing Chinese Credit Impulse Is All That Matters

Fast forward two months, with the world once again on the verge of a recession and with China – whose recent economic data has been on the verge of disaster – closely watched as the spark that could light the next global economic and financial conflagration, it’s all about, once again, China’s credit impulse.

The reason is simple: since the Fed reassured markets of its patience last week, incoming US data have painted a relatively healthy picture of the US economy, although while holding up well, US growth is unlikely to re-accelerate at this point in the cycle, and last week’s dismal loan officer survey illustrated the fickleness of credit conditions and risks of tighter lending standards even as loan demand has collapsed, suggesting the US economic engine is on the verge of shutting down.

Meanwhile, the outlook for Europe has rarely been gloomier, as discussed this morning in “Europe Emerges As World’s “Weakest Link“”

While it’s not a disaster yet, as some Q4 GDP prints have been somewhat better than survey data had suggested, the forward-looking data still do not show any meaningful rebound. Besides Italy’s recession, the continued softness in German activity is a key concern. German factory orders and industrial production surprised on the downside, signalling protracted weakness, rather than the swift bounce-back expected earlier.

The host of challenges for the German auto sector, including from the slowdown in its biggest market, China, and potential US import tariffs, casts doubts about the strength of this nascent recovery.

Finally, as Barclays notes, with Europe lacking the ability (monetary) or willingness (fiscal) to provide meaningful policy stimulus, it remains highly exposed on developments in external demand and political event risks (no-deal Brexit, US tariffs, domestic turmoil).

This leaves China as the only source to provide fresh impetus to global momentum, in turn depending on its own ability and willingness provide yet another stimulus to its domestic economy.

In other words it’s all up to, you guessed it, China’s credit Impulse, which brings us once again to the only chart that matters, because as Barclays vividly shows, when it comes to global GDP, the only variable that will impact global GDP (with a 5 quarter lag) is how much credit China is injecting at any given moment. In fact, even if China is again successful in reflating its credit conditions without bringing its entire house of credit cards crashing down – and with the ongoing crackdown on shadow banking this is questionable at best – global GDP has a long way to drop before it even catches down to China’s credit impulse.

The bigger problem is that despite a modest uptcking in China’s credit impulse from post-crisis lows, Chinese data have continued to disappoint, and after this week’s Chinese New Year holiday, although a batch of fresh data next week will provide additional information, including new loans, money supply, external trade and international reserves.

For the record, Barclays expects Chinese data to remain weak for several months, “before stimulus measures start showing an effect. Until then, the global economy can hope for signs of stabilisation, but no meaningful rebound.” Yet even if China’s growth boost arrives some time in the second half of 2019, Barclays expects it to be weaker than the surge of 2016-17.

Meanwhile, amid a gloomy macro picture, political uncertainties are only rising, and if anything, last week’s Brexit developments suggest the process will run into the 11th hour (ie, end-March rather than end-February), with an increased risk of a no-deal Brexit, even if all involved parties would prefer to avoid it. At the same time, optimism on a US-China trade deal, while gyrating day by day, will ultimately end up being disappointed as the best the two countries can do with just weeks left until the March 1 deadline, is kick the can on the tariff hike yet again.

As Barclays writes, “this sort of brinkmanship on issues with potentially significant economic consequences will not only keep financial markets nervous but likely also affect decision-making by agents in the real economy. And more tensions seem underway: last week brought the first leaks from a report the US administration is expected to publish on 17 February on EU car imports, which leaves the threat of a 25% tariff on the table. Moreover, ongoing yellow-vest protests in France and the related diplomatic row between France and Italy further highlight the tensions the European elections in May could bring.”

In other words, even as China and the US posture for the political upper hand in the form of who ends up “on top” in the ongoing trade war, the reality is that as long as China keeps sinking, it is only a matter of time before it drags down not just the US but the entire world down with it.

In the meantime, after flirting briefly with “normalization”, the global race to the bottom is back in full force as central banks globally are falling in line with the Fed’s dovish message: the Bank of England downgraded 2019 forecasts to below ours and that of the consensus, signalling that a hike this year is unlikely; earlier in the week, Australia’s RBA governor departed from the bank’s forward guidance, suggesting the chances for the next move being a hike or cut are equal. India’s RBI surprised us and the consensus by delivering a rate cut; Brazil’s central bank remained on hold, but did acknowledge that the inflation outlook had become more benign, and markets are no longer pricing any hikes in 2019. Mexico’s Banxico remained on hold and signalled a pause in its hiking cycle, while Russia kept its rates on hold as well.

In short, unless China can shoulder the burden of sparking global growth as it did back in 2016 and also after the global financial crisis, it will be all up to the central banks, all of which have seen their tightening initiatives hit a brick wall, with easing next on deck, and eventually even more QE. Which, of course, has resurrected traders’ Pavlovian response to “buy everything” back from hibernation in response to coming QE/NIRP, with both stocks and bond surging in recent weeks, which in turn has made risk parity funds, which are long both of these asset classes, the best performers of 2019.

 

Source: The Only Chart That Matters For The Global Economy

Rock Solid Proof Of Collusion Between Obama Clinton And FBI Found — The Federalist Papers

There is now rock solid, indisputable proof that the administration of former President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the FBI colluded to protect the Clinton campaign.

And what is more damaging is that there appears to have been a quid pro quo in which the FBI would gain from doing it. Fox News reported.

Newly released internal FBI emails showed the agency’s highest-ranking officials scrambling to answer to Hillary Clinton’s lawyer in the days prior to the 2016 presidential election, on the same day then-FBI Director James Comey sent a bombshell letter to Congress announcing a new review of hundreds of thousands of potentially classified emails found on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

The trove of documents turned over by the FBI, in response to a lawsuit by the transparency group Judicial Watch, also included discussions by former FBI lawyer Lisa Page concerning a potential quid pro quo between the State Department and the FBI — in which the FBI would agree to effectively hide the fact that a Clinton email was classified in exchange for more legal attache positions that would benefit the FBI abroad, and allow them to send more agents to countries where the FBI’s access is ordinarily restricted.

The quid pro quo would have involved the FBI providing some other public reason for withholding the Clinton email from disclosure amid a Freedom of Information Act request, besides its classification level. There are no indications the proposed arrangement ever took place.

And, in the face of mounting criticism aimed at the FBI, the documents revealed that Comey quoted the 19th century poet Ralph Waldo Emerson by assuring his subordinates, “To be great is to be misunderstood.”

On the afternoon of Oct. 28, Clinton lawyer David Kendall demanded answers from the FBI — and the agency jumped into action, the emails showed.

Many of the emails found on the computer were between Clinton and her senior adviser Huma Abedin, Weiner’s now-estranged wife. Despite claims by top FBI officials, including Strzok, several of those emails were determined to contain classified information.

“I received the email below from David Kendall and I called him back,” then-FBI General Counsel James Baker wrote to the agency’s top brass, including Comey, Page and Strzok, in an email. “Before doing so I alerted DOJ via email that I would do that.”

Page and Strzok eventually were revealed to be having an extramarital affair, and Strzok was terminated after a slew of text messages surfaced in which he and Page derided Trump and his supporters using their government-issued phones. Republicans, citing some of those text messages, have accused Strzok and Page of orchestrating a coordinated leak strategy aimed at harming the president.\

Although a portion of Kendall’s email was redacted, Baker continued: “He said that our letter was ‘tantalizingly ambiguous’ and made statements that were ‘inchoate and highly ominous’ such that what we had done was worse than transparency because it allows people to make whatever they want out of the letter to the prejudice of Secretary Clinton. … I told him that I could not respond to his requests at this time but that I would discuss it with others and get back to him.

“I suggest that we have some kind of follow up meeting or phone call with this group either this evening or over the weekend to address this and probably other issues/questions that come up in the next 24 hours,” Baker concluded. “Sound reasonable?”

In a partially redacted response, Strzok agreed to spearhead a conference call among the FBI’s top officials the next day.

On Nov. 6 — just two days before Election Day — Comey sent another letter to Congress stating that agents had concluded their review of “all of the communications” to or from Clinton while she was secretary of state that appeared on the laptop, and that the review did not change his assessment that Clinton should not be prosecuted.

In an email also sent Nov. 6 and unearthed by Judicial Watch, Strzok wrote to the FBI’s leadership: “[Redacted], Jon and I completed our review of all of the potential HRC work emails on the [Anthony Weiner] laptop. We found no previously unknown, potentially classified emails on the media.”

Strzok added that a team was coming in to “triple-check” his methodology and conclusions.

However, at least 18 classified emails sent from Abedin’s account were found by the FBI on the Weiner laptop. And, despite Strzok’s apparent claim, FBI officials later conceded they had not manually screened all of the nearly 700,000 emails on the laptop, but instead used computer technology to prioritize which emails to screen as Election Day rapidly approached.

“It is big news that, just days before the presidential election, Hillary Clinton’s personal lawyer pressured the top lawyer for the FBI on the infamous Weiner laptop emails,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “These documents further underscore that the fix was in for Hillary Clinton. When will the Justice Department and FBI finally do an honest investigation of the Clinton

Source: Rock Solid Proof Of Collusion Between Obama Clinton And FBI Found

Why S&P Bulls Should Worry As The Baltic Dry Collapse Nears Worst On Record — ZeroHedge News

As we noted recently, despite global stock markets soaring, global freight indices have been more-than-seasonally weak so far in 2019 with the Baltic Dry Index in particular crashing.

The Baltic Dry Index represents the cost of renting an ocean-going container ship to move goods from, say, Chinese factories to the Port of Los Angeles. The more stuff being made and sold, the higher the demand for such ships, and thus the higher the price to rent one. And vice versa.

This is definitely one of the vice versa times. After rising to robust levels in mid-2018 the Baltic Dry Index has since collapsed…

 

This is just shy of the worst start to a year on record (since at least 1984)…

 

As The Wall Street Journal recenjtly noted, Free-Falling Freight Rates Spell Trouble For Shipping

Dry bulk shipowners face a long period of uncertainty as spot prices collapse and China shipments shrink.

A slowing global economy, coupled with weak demand from China over the Lunar New Year and from Brazil after Vale SA’s iron ore disaster, is dragging shipping rates to near record lows, and few in the industry expect things to improve any time soon.

Brokers in Singapore and London said capesize vessels, the largest ships that move bulk commodities like iron ore, coal and aluminum, were chartered in the spot market for as low as $8,200 a day on Thursday, a $500 decline from Wednesday. Break-even costs for carriers can be as high as $15,000 a day, and daily rates in the capesize market hovered above $20,000 last year.

“Everyone is looking for a catalyst to push the market up, but it’s not there,” said a Singapore broker.

The Baltic Dry Index, which tracks the cost of moving bulk commodities and is considered a leading indicator of global trade, is down more than 50% since the start of the year.

“A long slowdown in the Chinese economy will hurt commodity demand and send shipping rates sharply lower,” Bloomberg Intelligence industry analyst Rahul Kapoor said.

And that is why equity market “believers” should be worried. US equities have soared despite earnings expectations plunging…

And given the leading nature of The Baltic Dry Index (you can’t sell what you haven’t shipped into inventory), the message for US equities is ominous – perhaps fun-durr-mentals will matter once again?

Worse still, as John Rubino previously concluded, the trade war isn’t just a piece of political theater for the US. We really do need factories to come back home if we want to avoid a populist and/or socialist revolution. And next generation manufacturing tech like 3D printers will in any event move production closer to end users, lowering the need for at least some of today’s shipping.

It’s possible, in other words, that the whole free trade/mobile capital/cheap labor/long supply chain Age of Globalization, with its assumption of unlimited rich-country demand and plentiful cheap energy for transport was just an artifact of a very specific time. It was so cheap and easy to move things around that building toys or TVs wherever labor was cheapest and shipping them to wherever the money resided made financial sense.

That might not be a permanent state of affairs, and if it’s not, those giant ships won’t be the only stranded capital out there.

Source: Why S&P Bulls Should Worry As The Baltic Dry Collapse Nears Worst On Record

February 13 The Universal Standard

Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 2:4–6

Key verse: 2 Timothy 2:25

In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.

Each age has no end of philosophies, reasoning, and belief systems that are presented as truth. To be substantiated, truth must meet three unyielding criteria:

First, truth must be universal in that it must apply to everyone: African, European, American, and Asian. There can be no cultural distinctions if it is unalterable truth.

Second, it must be uniform in that it must apply to everyone in the same manner. The criteria for applying ultimate truth cannot be differentiated to any degree. Truth must work equally for children and adults, for the well-educated and the unschooled.

Third, truth must be unending in that it must be eternally valid. What was truth for the fifth-century man must also be truth for the twentieth–first-century man.

Using those guidelines, only one body of truth can suffice—the Word of truth, the Bible. It applies to everyone, in the same manner, for every age.

Whether one is a conquistador or a computer operator, rich or poor, black or white, the Bible is the truth upon which everyone can build a lasting life. It is the wisdom for salvation, liberated living, and eternal security.

Are you building your life on the unalterable, all-sufficient truth of the Bible, or are you following the vain reasoning of man?

Lord, I reject the philosophy, reasoning, and belief systems of this world. Please apply the universal standard of Your Word of truth to my life.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 46). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.