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.


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


The Elders Speak with *Heavy Hearts*


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.

James MacDonald is Fired: A Day to Mourn, to Pray, & to Plead for Revival — Julie Roys

I woke up this morning to multiple texts informing me that James MacDonald had been fired from Harvest Bible Chapel. My first emotion was relief. Finally, some 10 months after a former Harvest pastor contacted me and urged me to investigate the mega-church pastor, MacDonald was out.

No longer can he prey on the sheep he was supposed to protect.  No longer can he use church members’ money to line his pockets. No longer can he rage on innocent employees and get people to believe the lies he’s spread about those who challenge him.

Scripture encourages believers to rejoice in the judgment of God (Psalm 96:13; Rev. 18:20) and this morning I felt a bit of that. But it was quickly tempered.

Sadly, thousands today are reeling in pain. A church is in shambles. Evangelicals are publicly embarrassed—again. And more men remain in positions of influence who have done reprehensible things.

No, today is not a day to rejoice; it is a day to pause and reflect. A day to mourn. A day to pray. A day to sit before God and plead for revival—both personally and collectively as His Body.

It is a solemn day. And in that spirit, I offer the following thoughts and suggestions that have been ruminating in me for some time:

  • Continue the Cleansing at Harvest

While I am heartened that the elders finally removed MacDonald, he should have been fired five years ago. That’s when eight former elders sent a letter to the sitting elder board, warning them that MacDonald was disqualified for office. Yet instead of investigating MacDonald, the board excommunicated some of the messengers. And shockingly, two of the elders who participated in a video slandering those men, Steve Huston and Paul Inserra, remain on the board. Huston even chairs the Executive Committee of the Elders.

In addition, Jeff Smith, the chairman of the finance committee who’s clearly failed to oversee properly the finances of the church, remains an elder.  So do Fred Ananias and Scott Stonebreaker, who wrongfully fired Pastor John Secrest from HBC Naples. And let’s not forget that the entire elder board recently pledged their unconditional support for MacDonald, showing a grievous misunderstanding of what it means to be an elder. All of them should step down and a transition team should be put in place.

Plus, the members of Harvest’s dwindling executive leadership team, including MacDonald’s two sons, should resign. These men worked very closely with MacDonald, and certainly knew of his reprehensible behavior. At best, they did nothing.  At worst, they protected him and punished his critics. If Harvest is going to have any hope of reforming its culture, it needs a clean slate and fresh leadership. These men need to go.

  • Fix the “Evangelical Machine”

The men surrounding MacDonald at Harvest weren’t the only ones who insulated him from accountability. As I wrote last year after blowing the whistle on the Moody Bible Institute, there’s an entire evangelical infrastructure, or “celebrity machine,” that shamefully protects the powerful. Sadly, evangelical leaders have known about MacDonald’s miserable behavior for years. I’ve heard them repeatedly talk about it behind closed doors.

MacDonald should have been removed from radio in 2012 when his gambling first came to light. I remember talking to leaders at Moody about it and being assured that MacDonald was repentant, only to find out later that he had been gambling with Moody’s chairman of the board.

But more recently, I heard a recording that’s perhaps the most disgusting example of this collusion and protection that I’ve ever witnessed. I am hoping and praying that Mancow will publish the full 50 minutes of audio that he has. As I mentioned, I have heard that full audio. And it includes two separate conversations with men in powerful positions within evangelicalism. They laugh along with MacDonald’s vile comments and become accomplices in his smear campaign against me and others. This kind of behavior is reprehensible and inexcusable and needs to end now among evangelical leaders. The good, old boy network is not good. It’s sinful.

  • Renew a Commitment to Holiness

As I said recently in my  interview with Drew Marshall, we serve a God who is both loving and holy. Yes, love compelled Christ to die on the cross. He did not wish any to perish. But His holiness compelled Him too. Had his holiness not required that sin be punished, Jesus would not have had to die.

Sometimes I think we forget this truth in the church. We forget that God has standards—and that breaking those standards has serious consequences. So many times over the past few months, I’ve heard Christians excuse inexcusable behavior by saying that nobody’s perfect. But as I’ve said numerous times, 1 Timothy 5:20 is clear: elders who continue sinning must be publicly exposed.

That is not harsh. That is not cruel. It is Christ protecting His Bride and His own reputation. God hates sin. And those in leadership should possess a healthy fear of God’s judgment. Likewise, those who follow should expect and require holiness in their leaders.

  • Support Truth-Telling

In a statement yesterday, Christianity Today urged Harvest to conduct an independent investigation, which the magazine said would “bring out the full truth” in a “more healthy atmosphere than what we’re witnessing now on social media and talk radio.” In addition, throughout the Harvest debacle, Harvest has repeatedly complained about “attack bloggers” and “gossip.”

Though I concede that not everything blogged, tweeted, or broadcast has been edifying, the truth is that nothing would have happened without passionate people employing these mediums. I have repeatedly told the guys at The Elephant’s Debt that I stood on their shoulders. I never could have done the reporting I did had Scott Bryant and Ryan Mahoney not doggedly researched and published for more than six years. Similarly, by the elders’ own admission, had Mancow not broadcast the shocking audio clips yesterday, MacDonald’s removal could have dragged on much longer. Given the elders’ track record, I’m not convinced it would have happened at all.

Christians are sometimes very uncomfortable with publicly reporting negative news, even when it’s true and necessary. I understand that. And I’m a big proponent of reporting responsibly—naming sources, double-checking facts, seeking comment from both sides. But I think we need to admit that when a system is broken, as it is at Harvest, there often is no other recourse. And instead of denigrating those who speak, we need to support them. Public truth-tellers are critical to reform. As Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” I am grateful to every source who went on the record concerning MacDonald, and every truth-teller who posted or broadcast. Thank you.

  • Comfort the Hurting

Lastly, we need to comfort the hurting. I know many people who attend Harvest or who have been impacted by MacDonald’s preaching are crushed today. As one person whom MacDonald led to the Lord recently remarked to me, “It’s like finding out your wife is a serial killer.” The disillusionment, betrayal, and loss can be excruciating. This is a very vulnerable time for a lot of people and I am sure God weeps for every wounded soul.

I am so sorry. I am sure words fail to soothe the pain your feeling right now. And I understand if you’re angry at me. Perhaps you wish this had never come to light.

I want to encourage you, though, to fix your eyes on Jesus. I’ll never forget a time when I was serving in a youth ministry and we discovered that a popular youth pastor at a neighboring church had abused several girls under his care. It was awful. We knew him. We knew his wife. We knew the kids in his ministry. And we grieved—and we prayed that God would not allow this betrayal of trust to drive kids away from Jesus. Surprisingly, it had the opposite effect.

At a meeting of all the youth who had been in this man’s ministry, a teenager stood up and declared, “We never worshipped or followed Jeff. We follow Jesus.” And that became the rallying cry for all those kids in that ministry. And God used that awful betrayal of trust to purify that church and lead them to a more focused devotion to Jesus than they had ever had before.

That’s my prayer for Harvest today. I know many of you at the church passionately love Jesus. You’re devoted to His Word. You sacrifice for His mission. And God can rebuild something beautiful from these ashes. That is His will. And He will do it if we remain focused and submitted to Him.

via James MacDonald is Fired: A Day to Mourn, to Pray, & to Plead for Revival — Julie Roys

After Collusion Case Collapses, House Dems Set To Launch “Vast” Russia Probe 2.0 — ZeroHedge News

Barely a day has passed since Richard Burr signaled that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia had turned up nothing substantive – and certainly not a “contract signed in blood” declaring “hey Vlad, we’re going to collude”.

And already, more details are leaking out about the Democrats’ plans to launch a wide ranging investigation that not only will re-litigate the collusion narrative, but will also reportedly focus on allegations of money laundering and other financial improprieties.

Mueller is just the beginning. House Democrats plan a vast probe of President Trump and Russia — with a heavy focus on money laundering — that will include multiple committees and dramatic public hearings, and could last into 2020.

Here’s more from Axios:

The state of play: The aggressive plans were outlined yesterday by a Democratic member of Congress at a roundtable for Washington reporters. The member said Congress plans interviews with new witnesses, and may go back to earlier witnesses who “stonewalled” under the Republican majority.

Why it matters: The reporters, many of them steeped in the special counsel’s investigation, came away realizing that House Dems don’t plan to depend on Robert Mueller for the last word on interference in the 2016 election.

Instead, Dems will use their new subpoena power to produce a voluminous exposé of their own.

The investigation will involve multiple committees, and by all accounts be far more critical than the House probe that ended last year.

At least three committees are already involved: The House Intelligence Committee is taking the lead, coordinating with House Financial Services on money-laundering questions and with House Foreign Affairs on Russia.

Democrats are considering ways to uncover what was said in a Trump private meeting with Putin, “whether that’s subpoenaing the notes or subpoenaing the interpreter or other steps.”

On the issue of Trump family finances, the president said he’s “not in a position to draw red lines.”

“I am concerned that he may have drawn a red line that the Department of Justice may be observing.”

“If we didn’t look at his business…we wouldn’t know what we know now about his efforts to pursue what may have been the most lucrative deal of his life, the Trump Tower in Moscow – something the special counsel’s office has said stood to earn the family hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“Now, most of his stuff isn’t building anymore: It’s licensing, and it doesn’t make that kind of money. So, this would have been huge.”

“[T]he fact that the president says now: ‘Well, it’s not illegal and I might have lost the election. Why should I miss out, basically, on all that money?’ He may very well take the same position now: ‘I might not be re-elected, and so why shouldn’t I…still pursue it?'”

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise: Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff (who are two prime candidates for the source of the latest round of leaks) have made no secret of their plans to subpoena Deutsche Bank to learn more about its lending relationship with the president. And as Dems prepare to let the subpoeanas fly, we imagine we’ll be learning more in the near future.

Source: After Collusion Case Collapses, House Dems Set To Launch “Vast” Russia Probe 2.0

From Two Murder Victims to One: It Didn’t Take Long for New York’s Radical Abortion Bill to Show its Deadly Consequences — Blog – AlbertMohler.com

The horror of abortion seems to appear daily and in ever deadlier form in the nation’s headlines as states across the country pledge their support for late-term abortion laws. These laws would essentially allow for abortion right up until the moment a child is born. New laws in New York and Rhode Island, as well as proposed legislation in Virginia and Illinois, represent a new chapter in the pro-abortion movement, which endeavors to make the womb the most unsafe place for any baby in the United States. The totality of the English language fails to describe the utterly chilling and abhorrent barbarity of the pro-abortion movement’s agenda.

Pro-choice advocates have typically not openly defended abortion rights during the third-trimester. Nevertheless, the truth was revealed when the pro-abortion movement vociferously opposed even a ban on partial-birth abortion. Most Americans – even most who say they favor some form of abortion rights — maintained that if a baby could survive outside the mother’s womb, protection should be granted.

That has changed. The inevitable outcome of the pro-abortion worldview leads to abortion on demand at any moment of the pregnancy. States should, according to this radical dogma, protect a woman’s right to abort at any time for any reason of her health—health being defined not only as life and death, but emotional and mental. The deadly logic of the pro-abortion movement took an even deadlier turn these past weeks.

The story, however, does not end there. As we will see, the insanity of these new late-term abortion laws has left in their wake moral confusion and degeneracy in the criminal justice system.

In 2004, a jury convicted Scott Peterson for not one, but two murders. Peterson murdered his pregnant wife that also lead to the death of his unborn son, Conner. The indictment and subsequent conviction for two murders meant that, in the public’s eye, the unborn child also counted as a life worthy of the justice system’s protection. The unborn child had been murdered even as his mother was murdered.

Before the ink could dry on New York’s “Reproductive Health Act,” a story appeared in the New York Times that reported, “As Democrats in New York last month celebrated Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s signing of a law expanding abortion rights in the state, anti-abortion campaigners predicted it would eliminate criminal penalties for violence that ends women’s pregnancies. The debate resurfaced over the weekend after the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, cited the new law… as the reason for dropping an abortion charge against a man who the police say fatally stabbed his former girlfriend when she was 14 weeks pregnant.”

The speed of the moral revolution is dizzying—days after the passage of this comprehensive abortion law, the criminal justice system dropped its case to protect the life of the unborn. This culture of death, in the matter of days, has radically redefined the moral compass of the nation.

The “Reproductive Health Act” effectively removed abortion from the state’s penal code. The law, therefore, secures abortion virtually on demand at any moment of pregnancy when it is claimed that the woman’s health is at risk. In other words, a woman can demand an abortion when she fells that the child would disrupt her emotional or mental state.

Furthermore, when New York expunged abortion from the state’s criminal code, it consequently denied the personhood of any human not yet born. No crime could now conceivably exist for killing an unborn baby because New York has revoked humanness from the unborn. Unborn babies are non-persons according to New York. Non-persons can be murdered without any legal consequences, even if the death resulted from the murder of the baby’s own pregnant mother.

The sponsors of the New York legislation attempted to assuage their opponents by assuring them that, under current law, “physical attacks that end pregnancies can be prosecuted as first-degree assault which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years.” That kind of argument deliberately avoids the crux of the issue and still denies the dignity of an unborn human life. Only the life of the mother matters in New York. Only an assault on her person is of consequence to the moral order of the pro-abortion agenda. An unborn child is not a human and as such, is undeserving of any legal protection.

This in no way detracts from the importance of laws that protect women from violence and assault. The issue is the diabolical avoidance on the matter of the unborn. The moral scheme of the pro-abortion movement has swept the rights of the unborn under the rug—unborn babies are not persons; their lives can be terminated, even up to their due date, without any legal ramifications. The new law was passed in New York, its passage was cheered with loud commotion, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it proudly into law – and all with deadly deliberateness.

The Christian worldview asserts the sinfulness of all abortion at any point during the pregnancy. The Scriptures proclaim the sanctity of life from fertilization, to birth, and through every phase of life until natural death. Human life is an extension of God’s glorious grace—he has made every single human being in his own image according to the purpose of his will. As the Scriptures say, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14).

The pro-abortion movement has sown a culture of death. It attempts to destroy and to deny the sanctity of life and the consequences are now clear to see. This is what happens when a society jettisons the moral code enshrined in every human as an extension of God’s common grace. The news in recent days reveals the inevitable outcome of this culture of death. Unless this march to death is reversed, the headlines will only become more horrifying and even deadlier.

This article draws from the February 13th edition of The Briefing. To listen to the full episode, click here. To subscribe to The Briefing–Dr. Mohler’s daily podcast that serves as an analysis of news and events–click here

via From Two Murder Victims to One: It Didn’t Take Long for New York’s Radical Abortion Bill to Show its Deadly Consequences — Blog – AlbertMohler.com

SHOCKING NEW STUDY Finds Twitter Censors Conservatives over Liberals at a 21:1 Ratio — The Gateway Pundit

It’s no secret that Twitter censors and shadow-bans conservatives.
The Gateway Pundit has reported on this extensively over the past few years.

We reported in July 2018 that Twitter has long been accused of censoring conservatives.  Twitter was indeed censoring and shadowbanning the President of the United States, Donald Trump’s twitter account, @realDonaldTrump.

Twitter is still at it!

In July 2018 we reported that a study by the leftist website VICE News found that Twitter is censoring top pro-Trump lawmakers.   Twitter is targeting pro-Trump Republican lawmakers Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and John Ratcliffe with the same shadowbanning technique.

Twitter is also censoring prominent pro-Trump accounts including: Mike Cernovich, Jack Posobiec, Paul Joseph Watson, TGP’s Jim Hoft, TGP’s Cassandra Fairbanks and Laura Loomer among others.

Last year Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told the Daily Caller Foundation on Wednesday he is considering filing a FEC complaint over Twitter’s preferential treatment of liberals versus its censoring of prominent conservatives.

In July there was even video proof that President Trump’s Twitter page is being censored.

Gateway Pundit contributor Cristina Laila received a notice in 2018 that her tweet violated Pakistani law.
What the h*ll?

The President has over 57 million followers on his account but rarely does he receive more than 20,000 retweets or 100,000 likes on his tweets.

Now a new study at Quillette by Professor Richard Hanania at Columbia University found that Twitter censors conservatives over liberals at a 21 to 1 ratio.

I found it difficult to establish the extent to which any of the suspended individuals or groups clearly supported Republicans over Democrats or vice versa. Classifying them along the left-right axis is also problematic, as there are some figures that neither side would be eager to claim. Most prominent individuals who were suspended did express a preference in the 2016 election, however. And by restricting our analysis to this subset, and counting how many supported Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, we can create a rough measure of whether there is bias, albeit one with a small sample size.

As noted above, of the 22 suspended individuals, only one was a Clinton supporter. This was actress-turned-activist Rose McGowan, who temporarily lost access to her account in 2017 for posting someone’s private phone number. Note that this is an unambiguous violation of Twitter’s rules, so the platform had little choice in this case. The platform does not seem to have suspended a single prominent Clinton supporter based on the substantive content of his or her expressed views.

Of course, the existence of this disparity does not prove that Twitter is actively discriminating against Trump supporters. Perhaps conservatives are simply more likely to violate neutral rules regarding harassment and hate speech. In such case, the observed data would not serve to impugn Twitter, but rather conservatives themselves.

Luckily, through the use of standard statistical methods—similar to those commonly applied to calculate confidence intervals in the physical and social sciences—one may determine that the underlying population disparity (i.e. the disparity between liberal and conservative behavioral norms) would have to be quite large in order for there to be any significant likelihood of observing a randomly constituted 22-point data set characterized by the above-described 21:1 ratio. Indeed, assuming some randomness in enforcement unrelated to bias, one would have to assume that conservatives were at least four times as likely as liberals to violate Twitter’s neutrally applied terms of service to produce even a 5% chance (the standard benchmark) that a 22-data point sample would yield a result as skewed as 21-1.

Are prominent Trump supporters more likely to break neutrally applied social media terms of service agreements than other voters? Perhaps. But are they four or more times as likely? That doesn’t seem credible.

Indeed, it is not difficult to find cases of liberals engaging in speech that appears to cross the line while not being punished for their transgressions. This includes the case of Sarah Jeong. After she was hired as an editorial writer for The New York Times, it was discovered that over the years she had posted dozens of messages expressing hatred and contempt of whites. When conservative activist Candace Owens copied some of Jeong’s tweets and replaced the word “white” with “Jewish,” she was suspended from the platform. Perhaps realizing how hypocritical this looked after they had not taken any action against Jeong, Twitter allowed Owens back on, but only after she deleted the offending tweets…

Harassment and the advocacy of violence are serious issues, and there is nothing morally objectionable about social media companies removing this kind of content from their platforms. However, such laudable objectives should not be used as cover to prosecute ideological campaigns. While social media platforms are private companies, anti-discrimination laws generally allow legislators avenues to address businesses that exhibit unacceptable biases in how they treat the public.

It is unthinkable that we would allow a telephone or electricity company to prevent those on one side of the political aisle from using its services. Why would we allow social media companies to do the same?

via SHOCKING NEW STUDY Finds Twitter Censors Conservatives over Liberals at a 21:1 Ratio — The Gateway Pundit

Explosive New Book ‘In The Closet Of The Vatican’ Reveals That 80% Of Catholic Priests Are Homosexuals And Many Use Male Prostitutes — Now The End Begins

The book is a ‘startling account of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican’, according to British publisher Bloomsbury

The Catholic Church is not Christian, it is Roman Catholic. The Christian Church we see in the Bible was started by Jesus Christ, while the Catholic Church is the creation of pagan political Rome that was designed to keep the empire alive. And in regards to that, it has been fantastically successful. Pagan Rome is alive and well, wrapped inside the wolfish veneer of the counterfeit church. To the world’s 1.5 billion Roman Catholics, please prayerfully consider the following verses as part of your invitation to be partakers in eternal life.

“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:4,5 (KJV)

The book ‘In The Closet Of The Vatican’ is going to be released on the exact same day that Pope Francis will be holding a summit on sexual abuse of children at the hands of Catholic priests and bishops. The Catholic Church is a snake pit, and the Vatican is the hold of every manner of vile and unclean spiritual devils. I pray that this book will be the necessary means of motivation to free many prisoners of the Catholic counterfeit.

I personally was set free from the bondage to the Roman Whore on March 14th, 1991. You can click here to read my testimony of conversion from Roman Catholic to born again Christian.

Eighty percent of Vatican priests are gay according to explosive new book which claims to uncover double lives of homophobic priests who use male prostitutes

FROM THE DAILY MAIL UK: The 570-page expose, titled In the Closet of the Vatican, claims that four in five clerics in the Roman Catholic Church are homosexuals – but aren’t necessarily sexually active.

French sociologist and journalist Frederic Martel, who spent four years conducting 1,500 interviews for the book, found that some priests maintained discreet long term relationships, while others lived double lives having casual sex with gay partners and using male prostitutes.

He found that a number of clerics spoke of an unspoken code of the ‘closet’, with one rule of thumb being that the more homophobic they were, the more likely they were gay.


The author, a former adviser to the French government, claims the late Alfonso López Trujillo – a Colombian cardinal who held senior roles in the Vatican – was an arch-defender of the church’s teaching on homosexuality and contraception while using male prostitutes, according to Catholic website the Tablet.

The book is a ‘startling account of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican’, according to British publisher Bloomsbury. In its marketing material, Bloomsbury claims the book ‘reveals secrets’ about celibacy, misogyny and plots against Pope Francis.

But critics of the book said ‘it is not always easy to tell when Martel is trafficking in fact, rumour, eyewitness accounts or hearsay,’ according to the Tablet.

It’s due to be released in eight languages across 20 countries next Wednesday, on the day that Pope Francis’ holds a summit at the Vatican on sexual abuse attended by bishops from all over the world.

Martel, a former adviser to the French government who is openly gay, claims he spoke with 41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignors, 45 papal ambassadors or diplomatic officials, 11 Swiss guards and more than 200 priests and seminarians as research for the book.

The author spent around 200 weeks staying in residences inside the Vatican in Rome, according to the Tablet.

Although the book doesn’t conflate homosexuality with the child sex abuse in the church, Martel claims gay priests do not want to report abuse on children in case their on homosexuality is exposed – according to sources familiar with the book’s contents. READ MORE

Pope Francis: Catholic Church should apologize for LGBT treatment

Pope Francis is speaking out again in support of gay people. The pope says the Catholic Church owes an apology to gay individuals and others who have been mistreated. Referring to Christians, he said “we are sinners.” Francis spoke after a visit to Armenia, where he angered Turkey’s government by describing the mass killings of Armenians a century ago as “genocide.” Seth Doane reports from Rome.

via Explosive New Book ‘In The Closet Of The Vatican’ Reveals That 80% Of Catholic Priests Are Homosexuals And Many Use Male Prostitutes — Now The End Begins

Mid-Day Snapshot · Feb. 13, 2019

The Foundation

“Industry is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and manufacturers flourish: and herein consists the true wealth and prosperity of a state.” —Alexander Hamilton (1790)

MAGA: Quality of Life and Optimism Soaring to New Heights

Trump called the U.S. economy “the envy of the world.” A lot more Americans are agreeing.

Anti-Trump Press Spins Bigger Paychecks as a Bad Thing

Tax refunds may be smaller, but that’s because we paid less in taxes all year.

California’s High-Speed Derail

The governor scraps the project just as the Green New Deal pushes it nationwide.

No Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion, but MSM Still True Believer

Meanwhile, newly obtained FBI emails show an attempted quid pro quo to go easy on Hillary Clinton.

Sexual-Abuse Scandal Rocks the SBC

A new exposé reveals decades of sexual abuse within America’s largest protestant denomination.

Humor Video: Bad Lip Reading the SOTU

Trump makes his way to the podium, while Pence and Pelosi wait patiently…

Today’s Opinion

Marc A. Thiessen
How Trump Can Get the Rest of His Wall Money — Without a Shutdown or Emergency
Star Parker
Socialism Has Already Hurt America
Byron York
Trump Tax Returns: Dems Ready for Ultimate Fishing Expedition
Ben Shapiro
The Republican Pouncing Problem
Tony Perkins
Is the Party Over for Dem Extremists?
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Wednesday Top Headline Summary

Border-barrier funding, $22 trillion in debt, high-speed rail, no collusion, Green New Deal, Comey corruption, and more.

Wednesday Short Cuts

“We will not produce anybody like Donald Trump from a crowded primary field.” —Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown

Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

February 13, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day


And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” (28:2–7)

No sooner had the women reached the tomb than they found the stone had been moved aside by a severe earthquake. This was the second supernaturally caused earthquake in connection with Jesus’ death and burial, the first one having occurred at the moment of His death (Matt. 27:51).

God caused an earthquake on Mount Sinai just before He revealed the law to Moses (Ex. 19:18) and on Mount Horeb when He revealed Himself to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11). In the end times He will also send numerous earthquakes (Joel 2:10; Matt. 24:7; Rev. 6:12; 8:5; 11:13–19). Now, within three days, He caused two earthquakes just outside Jerusalem.

This earthquake had occurred when an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, causing the earth around the grave to tremble violently. The angel had come to open the secured and sealed grave, and when he arrived he rolled away the stone and sat upon it. Although it had probably taken several strong men some time to put the stone in place, the angel removed it in an instant.

The angel did not move the stone in order to let Jesus out of the tomb, as many Easter stories and paintings suggest. If Jesus had the power to raise Himself from the dead, which He did (John 10:18), He certainly had the relatively minor power required to escape a sealed grave. As He demonstrated during several postresurrection appearances, just as He was no longer bound by death, He was no longer bound by the limitations of the physical world or of time (see Luke 24:31; John 20:26). In His glorified form He could escape a closed grave just as easily as He could enter a closed room. In comparing the gospel accounts, it becomes clear that Jesus had already left the tomb when the stone was rolled away. The angel moved the stone not to let Jesus out but to let the women and the apostles in.

From John’s gospel it seems that Mary Magdalene apparently left the garden as soon as she “saw the stone already taken away from the tomb” (20:1). Before the angel appeared, “she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him’ ” (v. 2). Obviously she had missed the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ resurrection. She was so overwrought at discovering the tomb empty that she ran frantically to the two most prominent disciples, Peter and John, to tell them what she thought was terrible news. It did not occur to her that Jesus might be risen as He had predicted, and she assumed that someone had stolen the body and hidden it. It is obvious that Peter and John did not consider the possibility of resurrection either, and they immediately ran to the tomb to find out what they could (John 20:3–4).

Meanwhile the angel had manifested himself to those who were near the tomb, and his appearance was like lightning. The description suggests that God transmitted some of His own Shekinah glory to the angel, just as He had transmitted a measure of it to Moses on Sinai when the covenant was renewed (Ex. 34:29). In a similar way, the angel’s glistening garment that was as white as snow suggests God’s purity and holiness. The angel bore the very imprimatur of the character of God in order to make clear to the observers not only that he was a supernatural messenger but that he was an agent of God and not Satan.

The guards were so awestruck that at first they shook for fear of him. Shook translates a Greek term that has the same root as “earthquake” in verse 2, indicating that the soldiers experienced personal earthquakes of both mind and body. But after a brief moment of shaking, they then became like dead men, paralyzed with fear. The idea seems to be that they not only became rigid but unconscious, completely traumatized by what they saw.

The women were also frightened, but, unlike the soldiers, they received comfort from God’s messenger. Aware of their fright, the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid.” Perhaps a better translation than answered would be “explained,” because the women, too terrified to speak, had not asked a question.

The soldiers had good reason to be afraid. Not only was the angel’s appearance terrifying in itself but, because they had been charged with protecting the grave, an empty tomb could spell their death. The women, however, had no reason to fear, and the angel’s first words were meant to give them comfort and assurance.

They had not come expecting to find Jesus raised, but in His gracious mercy God overlooked their weak faith and their lack of understanding. Acknowledging their great love, God responded with great love. “I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified,” the angel said to them; “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”

Has risen translates a Greek aorist passive and can also be rendered, “has been raised.” Jesus Himself had power to give up His life and to take it up again (John 10:18). But Scripture makes clear that He also was raised by the power of the Father (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:3) and of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11). The entire Trinity participated in the resurrection of Jesus.

The angel gently reminded the women that Jesus’ resurrection should not surprise them, because it happened just as He said. Luke reports that they then “remembered His words” (24:8).

Next the angel invited the women to come, see the place where He was lying. At this point the women went into the tomb and observed that it was indeed empty. The angel joined them in the tomb and reiterated the same basic message, saying, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him” (Mark 16:6). Perhaps the message was repeated because the women found it so hard to believe, despite the fact that they now remembered Jesus’ predictions that He would rise on the third day.

When Peter and John entered the tomb a short while later, they “beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself” (John 20:6–7). The burial clothes were just as they were when Joseph and Nicodemus laid the body to rest, except for the face-cloth, which was set to one side. Jesus did not have to be unwrapped any more than He had to have the stone removed. At one moment He was encased in the linen, and the next He was free, leaving the wrappings unchanged.

While the women were in the tomb, another angel joined the first, “one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying” (John 20:12). Their positions are reminiscent of the two golden cherubim who were on either side of the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:18). The two angels in the garden were posted at either end of the tomb of Jesus, who, by the sacrifice He had just made of His own life, became the true and eternal Mercy Seat for sinful mankind.

The two angels gave still another reminder to the women. “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?” they asked. “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of the sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5–7). For a third time the women were told the glorious truth of Jesus’ resurrection, a truth whose fulfillment they should have been eagerly expecting.

One of the angels then said, “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead.” The women’s fascination must quickly turn to proclamation. They did not have time to revel in the marvelous reality of the good news but were to go immediately and announce it to the cowering disciples, who were still hiding in Jerusalem.

It would seem more than justified for the Lord to have allowed the disciples to suffer in fear, despair, and agony for a week or so before telling them the good news. They had stubbornly refused to believe that Jesus would die and be raised, although He had told them of His death and resurrection many times. But in His gracious mercy God sent the women to tell the disciples as soon as possible, so they would not have to experience another moment of misery and grief. He did not rebuke them for their lack of faith and for their cowardice but rather sent them messengers with a gracious word of hope and comfort.

One wonders why God chose to reveal the truth of the resurrection first to those women rather than to the disciples. One commentator suggests that it was because God chooses the weak to confound the strong. Another suggests the women were rewarded for their faithful service to the Lord in Galilee. Another holds that, because death came by a woman in a garden, so new life was first announced to a woman in a garden. Others propose that it was because the deepest sorrow deserves the deepest joy or that supreme love deserves supreme privilege.

But Scripture offers no such explanations. It seems obvious that the women were the first to hear the angelic announcement of the resurrection simply because they were there. Had the disciples been there, they, too, would have heard the good news directly from the angel rather than indirectly from the women.

This is analogous to the reality that the closer a believer stays to the Lord and to His work, the more he is going to witness and experience the Lord’s power. Those who are there when the Lord’s people gather for worship and prayer, who are there when His Word is being taught, who are there when the lost are being won to Christ, who are there when others are being served in His name, who are regular in their times of private prayer-those are the ones who will most often experience first-hand the work of God.

The angel’s further instruction to the women was to tell Jesus’ disciples that “He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” Earlier in the week Jesus had told the eleven remaining disciples, “After I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee” (Matt. 26:32). Being both Jewish and Gentile, Galilee represented the world at large. It was there that Jesus began His ministry, in “Galilee of the Gentiles,” where “the people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light” (Matt. 4:15–16). It would also be in Galilee that the disciples would receive the Great Commission from the Lord to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19).

It was not that Jesus would first appear to the disciples in Galilee, because He manifested Himself to them several times before that. He appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34), to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:15; cf. Mark 16:12), to ten of the disciples as they were assembled on resurrection evening (John 20:19), to all eleven disciples eight days later (John 20:26), and to seven of the disciples as they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1).

But Jesus’ supreme appearance to the disciples was to be in Galilee, where He “appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time” (1 Cor. 15:6) and where He would commission the eleven to apostolic ministry.[1]

5–7 The angel speaks (lit., “answered”; see comments at 11:25) words that allay the women’s fears (cf. Mk 16:5–7; Lk 24:4–8). The empty tomb by itself is capable of several explanations (cf. Jn 20:10–15). This explanatory word of revelation narrows the potential interpretations down to one: Jesus has risen from the dead (v. 6), a truth to be confirmed by personal appearances. In Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark, the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, announced by the angel, is also tied into Jesus’ promises “as he said” (cf. 16:21; 17:23; 20:18–19). This is one of several significant “minor agreements” of Matthew and Luke against Mark in the resurrection narratives. The women are invited to see the place where Jesus lay and commanded to go “quickly” (v. 7, a happy touch) to give his disciples the joyous message. Unlike Mark, Matthew does not explicitly mention Peter.

Jesus had promised to go ahead of his disciples into Galilee (see comments at 26:32); the angel now reminds them of this (v. 7). The present tense proagei (“is going ahead,” GK 4575) cannot mean that Jesus is already on his way, because (1) v. 10 places him still in Jerusalem, and (2) a verb like “go ahead,” if pressed to mean Jesus was actually traveling, “would also seem to presuppose that the disciples also were on the way to Galilee” (Stonehouse, Witness of Matthew, 173). The verb is not a progressive present but a vivid future. As he promised, Jesus will arrive in Galilee before they do and meet them there, contrary to their expectation (see comments at 26:32; 28:10).[2]

28:5–7. When the two women arrived, they were also terrified by the appearance of the brilliant being sitting on the stone. The angel said, Do not be afraid. Matthew used a construction that usually implies a command to stop doing something that was already being done. The women were to stop being afraid.

The angel next gave the reason they need not fear: I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. Jesus will forever be known as the crucified one (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2; Gal. 3:1). The salvation he wrought through his death, the victory he won, and the obedience he displayed will stand for eternity.

The news the angel brought them was also reason to stop fearing and start rejoicing: He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.

As proof of the angel’s startling announcement, he invited them to look into the open, empty tomb: Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew used the Greek imperfect tense to show that he had been lying there for some time. In Matthew’s abbreviated account, he did not record whether the women actually looked into the tomb, but we can be sure they did. This strengthened their faith and prepared them to serve as eyewitnesses to the disciples.

Once they had become convinced by their own observation that Jesus was gone, the angel gave them these instructions: Go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead. These two women were given the honor of taking the news to the disciples. As it turned out, this was a difficult job. Some of the disciples doubted (28:17).

Jesus had gone elsewhere and would be waiting for them. He had gone ahead into Galilee. There you will see him. This was God’s gentle reminder of the instructions Jesus had given the disciples less than three days before (26:32). They would not find Jesus lingering around the place of his burial. There was no use looking for him in Judea. The king was in sovereign control as he had always been.[3]

The story of the guard will be continued at verse 11. For the present Matthew returns to the women: 5, 6. The angel, answering, said to the women, Don’t you be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. Luke 24:2 and John 20:12 speak of “two” angels; Matthew and Mark, of only one. Why this difference? Some answer, “Although two angels were actually present, one alone was the speaker.” But this will hardly do, for according to Luke both of the “two men in dazzling apparel” addressed the women. So do also the two “angels” in John’s account. The reason for the difference has not been revealed to us. There is, of course, no contradiction, for neither Matthew nor Mark states that there was only one angel.

“Don’t you—very emphatic in the original—be afraid,” says the angel. In other words, “Don’t you be like others who were scattered in every direction, and some of whom you may even have met.” Why do not these women need to be afraid? Why must they stop their weeping and rejoice instead? The angel answers, “for I know that you are looking for Jesus the crucified.” In other words, “You have no reason to fear, for you are the loyal friends of Jesus. Yes, you have remained loyal to him even though the world despised and crucified him. It was to show that loyalty that you came here this morning.”

We might have expected a different message, for example, a stern rebuke, in view of the fact that these women showed by their action that they had not taken seriously enough Jesus’ prediction of rising on the third day. But no, all this is passed by—though not completely. A mercifully veiled rebuke—better, a gentle admonition, a loving reminder—comes at the very end of the angel’s message: He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. “Just as he said.” The angel does not even say, “just as he said again and again and again.” See above p. 9. It is as if the angel is saying, “In view of your marvelous courage and loyalty, your lack of sufficient faith is hereby forgiven.” Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the heavenly messenger did not create this message. It was given to him, as a comparison between verses 5 and 10 clearly shows. Reassuringly, the angel adds, Come, see the place where he lay. According to Mark 16:5, by this time the women were already inside the tomb. But the angel bids them come even closer, so that they may see whatever there is to be seen; for example, not only the empty tomb—“He is not here”—but also “the linen bandages lying there, and the sweatband not lying with the linen bandages but folded up in a place by itself” (John 20:7). They must convince themselves that everything is orderly in this tomb. No disciple has been here to remove the body, nor has an enemy pillaged the tomb. In either case the bandages would no longer have been present. The women—just like Peter and John that same morning—must see that the Lord, restored from death to life, had himself removed the bandages and the sweatband, had provided for himself a garment such as is worn by the living, had calmly and majestically put everything in its place in the tomb, and had then departed from the tomb gloriously alive.

For the church to believe that Jesus rose from the dead is fine, but it is not enough. It should also consider what kind of Savior it was who rose from the dead. Is he still the same loving Redeemer who before he died healed the sick, cleansed the leper, raised the dead, comforted the mourning, pardoned and died for the sinner who accepts him by a living faith? Careful study of the resurrection account answers this question with a thunderous affirmative.[4]

5 The angel first directs his attention to calming the women’s fears: μὴ φοβεῖσθε ὑμεῖς, “Do not you too become afraid” (emphatic ὑμεῖς, “you,” i.e., as did the guards). It is not uncommon for such heavenly messengers similarly to exhort those whom they approach not to fear (e.g., Luke 1:13, 30; 2:10; pertaining to Jesus, cf. v. 10 in the present pericope; 14:27; 17:7; Rev 1:17). With the tomb now open, the women can be correctly described as “seeking” (ζητεῖτε) Jesus who, having accomplished his goal—hence as the risen one—can now also remarkably be described as τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον, “the crucified one” (the perfect participle reflecting his ongoing status as such; the same form is used in describing the heart of the kerygma in 1 Cor 1:23; 2:2; cf. Gal 3:1). But the crucified one is not in the tomb where the women expect him to be, indeed, where they had seen him buried two days earlier (27:61).

6 The women are told οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε, “he is not here.” The angel has not opened the tomb so that Jesus may come out. No one, indeed, saw Jesus come out of the tomb. All the women have thus far are the brief words of the angel. The reason he is not there is made very plain in the triumphant words ἠγέρθη γάρ, “for he has been raised,” a divine passive with God as the acting subject (cf. v. 7). This declaration rules out all alternative explanations of the empty tomb. It alone explains the empty tomb. The words καθὼς εἶπεν, “just as he said,” refer to his predictions of his resurrection in 16:21; 17:23; 20:19 (cf. 12:40; 26:61; 27:40, 63). The women are invited into the tomb to see where Jesus “lay” (ἔκειτο) as proof that the body was not there. Yet faith in the resurrection does not result from the empty tomb itself (Nauck). The women will yet see the risen Jesus for themselves.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 4, pp. 308–312). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 658). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 479–480). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 990–991). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] Hagner, D. A. (1998). Matthew 14–28 (Vol. 33B, pp. 869–870). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

February 13 When Prayers Seem Not to Be Answered

scripture reading: Matthew 26:36–44
key verse: Matthew 26:44

He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

In the black–and–white 1950s, one of the most engaging shows on television was Father Knows Best. Despite the perils of raising a son and two daughters, the wise father always seemed to have a solution. In the realm of prayer, this principle is at work: our heavenly Father knows best.

When your petitions are mercifully granted—healing for a sick spouse, extra income for a pressing need, a promotion at work—you worship and thank God for His goodness.

When your requests are not granted—a sick mate does not improve, the financial need remains unmet, you are passed over for that promotion—you still worship and thank God for His goodness.

In the first instance that is easy. In the second that is extremely difficult, and you may think, Why doesn’t God come through? What is He trying to do to me? Doesn’t He care?

Your view of God is fogged by the confusion over prayer’s primary purpose. Prayer is trusting God to do what He knows is best for your life, not just in the short run but also in the long run.

The character of God is the anchor for prayer. He loves you. He always works for your best. You can always trust Him.

You know best, God. Let me rely on Your wisdom when my prayers seem to go unanswered. I know You are always working in my behalf. Teach me to trust.[1]

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

The Russia Collusion Sham: More and More Evidence Leads Back to the Most Corrupt President Ever – Barack Hussein Obama — The Gateway Pundit

As layers of information are uncovered and unscrambled, the facts behind the Russia collusion scam come to light.  As the light begins to shine on the truth,  a silhouette of former President Barack Hussein Obama appears.

Barack Obama had the opportunity to be the greatest President in US history.  America was ready for a change after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an economic collapse.  A big change was needed and this is what Obama promised.

Unfortunately, Obama’s changes led the US to more misery.  The economy barely fluttered out the market collapse of 2008 and even worsened immediately after Obama took office.  The wars in the Middle East increased, ISIS was formed and American guns were provided to terrorists and drug cartels.  Billions were given to Iran and four Americans in Benghazi were left to die on foreign soil despite calls for help.  Regulations were the norm and the economy never reached its potential.  But the gravest of Obama’s actions were left hidden, until now.

All roads in the Trump – Russia collusion hoax lead back to Obama.

By piecing together available information, some are only starting to appear.

We now know that corrupt FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were part of a plan to implicate candidate Trump with Russia. Strzok was assigned to the Trump – Russia collusion investigation shortly after having interviewed and exonerated Hillary Clinton of all wrongdoing related criminal actions in her email scandal.  As noted by the Daily Caller in December of 2017 –

The New York Times identified Strzok earlier this year as the agent tapped by FBI brass to supervise the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

As The Times reported in April:

In late July [2016], the F.B.I. opened an investigation into possible collusion between members of Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Besides Mr. Comey and a small team of agents, officials said, only a dozen or so people at the F.B.I. knew about the investigation. Mr. Strzok, just days removed from the Clinton case, was selected to supervise it.

The Times also reported that Strzok relied on information provided to the FBI by Christopher Steele, the former British spy who was hired by an opposition research firm working for the Clinton campaign to investigate Trump’s Russia activities.

Steele briefed FBI agents in early July 2016 on some of the rumors he had heard about Trump. In a dossier he started working on in June 2016, Steele alleged that the Kremlin had blackmail material on Trump and that the Trump campaign was working directly with Russian government officials to influence the election.

“It took weeks for this information to land with Mr. Strzok and his team,” The Times reported in April.

Another bit of information is found in the fictional writings of Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book –Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. These same authors who were instrumental in pushing out the fake Russia dossier story, next put in the work to create a greater fiction in their creative writing work about the fake Trump – Russia conspiracy.  But in their work, they do drop glimpses of truth, which when taken with other pieces of information, lead us back to the Obama White House.

NATIONWIDE POLL: Does President Trump Have Your Vote In 2020?

Isikoff and Corn write that John Brennan, Obama’s CIA Director, was so convinced of Russia meddling in the 2016 election that he formed a team that met in Obama’s White House that looked into this meddling (by spying on candidate Trump) –

While Brennan wrangled the intelligence agencies into a turf­-crossing operation that could feed the White House information on the Russian maneuver, Obama convened a series of meetings to devise a plan for countering whatever the Russians were up to. The meetings followed the procedure known in the federal government as the “interagency process.” The protocol was for the deputy chiefs of the relevant government agencies to meet and hammer out options for the principals — that is, the heads of the agencies — and then the principals hold a separate (and sometimes parallel) chain of meetings to discuss and perhaps debate before presenting choices to the president.

But for this topic, the protocol was not observed. Usually when the White House invited the deputies and principals to such meetings, they informed them of the subject at hand and provided “read­ahead” memos outlining what was on the agenda. This time, the agency officials just received instructions to show up at the White House at a certain time. No reason given. No memos supplied. “We were only told that a meeting was scheduled, and our principal or deputy was expected to attend,” recalled a senior administration official who participated in the sessions. (At the State Department, only a small number of officials were cleared to receive the most sensitive information on the Russian hack; this group included Secretary of State John Kerry; Tony Blinken, the deputy secretary of state; Dan Smith, head of the department’s intelligence bureau; and Jon Finer, Kerry’s chief of staff.)

For the usual inter-agency sessions, principals and deputies could bring staffers. Not this time. “There were no plus ones,” an attendee recalled. When the subject of a principals or deputies meeting was a national security matter, the gathering was often held in the Situation Room of the White House. The in‑house video feed of the Sit Room — without audio — would be available to national security officials at the White House and elsewhere, and these officials could at least see that a meeting was in progress and who was attending. For the meetings related to the Russian hack, Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, ordered the video feed turned off. She did not want others in the national security establishment to know what was under way, fearing leaks from within the bureaucracy.

The Secretary of State (John Kerry) was invited to these meetings but not Admiral Mike Rogers?  Could it be because Rogers, the Director of the National Intelligence Agency, was not part of the spy on Trump team because he had already initiated an audit into the FISA program due to irregularities he noticed in early 2016?  Did Obama and Brennan not want Rogers on the team because they were afraid he was too honest?

At the same time that Brennan was creating his team that met in the White House to spy on Trump, the FBI created its investigation into Trump – Russia collusion.  The entire scam was in place.

Obama was out to stop Donald Trump from being President.

Hat tip D. Manny

The Russia Collusion Sham: More and More Evidence Leads Back to the Most Corrupt President Ever – Barack Hussein Obama — The Gateway Pundit

BREAKING: James MacDonald Officially Fired From Harvest Church — Reformation Charlotte

CHICAGO TRIBUNE — BREAKING: Harvest Bible Chapel elders announced early Wednesday morning that senior pastor James MacDonald has been terminated.

A statement posted by church elders cited “conduct that the Elders believe is contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church” as the reason for MacDonald’s immediate termination, effective Tuesday.

The decision to remove MacDonald as senior pastor of one of the Chicago area’s most prominent Evangelical Christian churches “accelerated” on Tuesday, elders said, when “highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to the media and reported.” They also cited “other conduct under consideration.’

The move was made with “heavy hearts,” the statement said.

Check back for more details.

Since Harvest Bible Chapel announced a month ago that senior pastor James MacDonald was taking an “indefinite sabbatical” from his duties, uncertainty has swirled around the church and MacDonald’s future. It has also engulfed other Harvest campuses as far away as Florida.

Harvest announced Jan. 16 that MacDonald, a founding member of the network of Chicago-area evangelical churches that draws thousands every weekend, was taking time away for what the pastor himself described as actions that “can only be called sin.” While MacDonald was not supposed to preach in Chicago during the sabbatical, the announcement indicated he may work at Harvest’s newest location in Naples, Fla., where he had preached during the first two Sundays in January.

Blindsided by the announcement, the campus pastor in Naples spoke out against the arrangement. Two days later, he said, he was fired.

John Secrest, whose church joined the MacDonald network of Harvest churches in the summer of 2018, said he was stunned by the turn of events and the announcement that MacDonald would be stepping aside but perhaps still preaching at the Naples location. During a recent interview with the Tribune, Secrest said he did not think MacDonald should be able to work in Naples until the internal matters were cleared up. He even indicated that perhaps the best path forward was to sever the formal partnership between the Florida campus and the Illinois churches. Secrest, who described a scenario in which church leaders and ordinary members in Naples were kept in the dark regarding developments, said his requests and suggestions were rebuffed.

After Secrest outlined his concerns about the MacDonald situation in an emailed letter to his flock in Florida, he was fired for insubordination.

“We didn’t sign up for all of this drama that has nothing to do with us,” Secrest said. “I told them this is just unconscionable, please don’t do this. … We got sucked into something that on the surface seemed attractive, but under the surface was very toxic.”

After Secrest was dismissed, Harvest posted a statement on its website updating church members. The letter stated that MacDonald “agrees it is wise for him to remain out of all leadership involvement of Harvest Bible Chapel, including preaching on any campus” during his sabbatical. The elders’ letter also stated that recent events, including “the termination of the Lead Pastor of the Naples Campus” had church leadership reviewing its structure and decision-making process.

“As we strongly desire to make wise, God-honoring decisions, we will be building a team of people to review our current structure,”” stated the letter posted on the Harvest website. “It is our hope that this team of Elders, staff, church members and experienced outside counsel will help us move forward in a healthy way.”

MacDonald and a church spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

In announcing MacDonald’s sabbatical, church elders said Harvest Bible was embarking on a thorough examination of the church’s financial, organizational, leadership and management policies with the help of two outside ministries that “specialize in helping churches resolve issues in God-honoring ways.”

Although the exact nature of MacDonald’s “sin” was not specified in the pastor’s online statement, or in a series of social media posts he has made since New Year’s, Harvest has been the target of a barrage of criticism from a few vocal former members who have accused church leadership of financial mismanagement and dishonest operations.

“I have carried great shame about this pattern in certain relationships that can only be called sin,” MacDonald said in a statement posted on the church’s website. “I am grieved that people I love have been hurt by me in ways they felt they could not express to me directly and have not been able to resolve.”


BREAKING: James MacDonald Officially Fired From Harvest Church — Reformation Charlotte