Daily Archives: April 12, 2019

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Friday

Confession: Psalm 107:10–15

Those who sat in darkness and gloom,

prisoners of misery and iron—

because they rebelled against the words of God

and spurned the counsel of the Most High,

he therefore humbled their heart with trouble.

They stumbled and there was no helper.

Then they called to Yahweh for help in their trouble;

he saved them from their distresses.

He brought them out of darkness and gloom,

and tore off their bonds.

Let them give thanks to Yahweh for his loyal love

and his wonderful deeds for the children of humankind,

for he shatters the doors of bronze,

and cuts through the bars of iron.

Reading: Mark 14:66–72

And while Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the female slaves of the high priest came up. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean!” And he went out into the gateway, and a rooster crowed. And the female slave, when she saw him, began to say again to the bystanders, “This man is one of them!” But he denied it again. And after a little while, again the bystanders began to say to Peter, “You really are one of them, because you also are a Galilean, and your accent shows it!” And he began to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know this man whom you are talking about!” And immediately a rooster crowed for the second time. And Peter remembered the statement, how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times,” and throwing himself down, he began to weep.

Reflection

We recognize in the apostle two acts of will: the one, by which he willed not to die, a thing wholly free from blame; the other, by which he delighted to be a Christian, which was highly praiseworthy. In what then was the apostle blameworthy? Was it in that he preferred to lie rather than to die? Plainly this act of will was deserving of blame, for he willed to preserve the life of the body rather than that of the soul.…

He sinned, therefore, and not without the consent of his own will, which was feeble indeed and wretched, but certainly free. He did not sin by rejecting or hating Christ, but by loving himself too much. Nor did that sudden fear of death forcefully compel his will to this perverse self-love, but it proved it to exist. He was, without doubt, already such a man as this, but he knew it not—even though he heard Christ, from whom the truth could not be hidden, say: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times” (Matt 26:34 nrsv). That weakness of will—which was revealed, but not caused. It was by fear inspired. And it made known the extent to which he loved himself, and the extent to which he loved Christ. It was made known however, not to Christ, but to Peter.

—Bernard of Clairvaux

Concerning Grace and Free Will

Response

Do you love yourself—your comfort, your safety, your reputation—more than you love Christ? Are you defensive when challenged about these things, or are you repentant like Peter?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

This ‘n’ That — Do Not Be Surprised…

I ran across my transcripts from undergrad this week. It was interesting to look back at the grades I received in each class. I remembered some of those less-than-A grades being justified, but others were less deserved, at least as remember it! Even more interesting was that I didn’t vividly recall attending a couple of the classes listed! I’ve no doubt that I did, but it felt a little bit like that dream so many of us have where we arrive at the end of the semester and realize there’s a class we forgot to attend and now it’s time for the final exam.

It’s funny how our memory distorts things, isn’t it? That’s why I’m so thankful for technology like photographs, that help bring to mind fond and fun memories of times and people past. I suppose that’s also why many people journal (a discipline I admittedly struggle with, so don’t practice regularly). Writing down our thoughts and activities not only helps us remember, but it also helps us look back and see God’s sovereign hand in our lives, bringing us to praise and thank Him for His goodness and protection.

That’s one of the many reasons why the Bible is so precious. Far more than a mere journal of thoughts and opinions, the Bible is filled with historical, poetic, prophetic, and didactic writing. No matter the genre, we see our triune God revealed and His doctrine imparted. The best part? It was written by God himself, as He used His Holy Spirit to inspire men to write down His Word. That means the Bible is more trustworthy than any mortal journal, and even more sure than a photograph. We can know that every word is true and either has come to pass or will come to pass in the future. What a gift!

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:19-21

I hope you’ve already had the opportunity to spend time reading and meditating on God’s Word today. If you haven’t, I encourage you to step away from this post and do that instead. Then please come back so you can enjoy your week in review (kind of):

  • Some thoughts on anger.
  • I plan to read this later.
  • On the canon and the Council of Nicea.
  • Thomas Boston is becoming one of my favorites, too.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • At least the Cubs won their home opener!
  • I love hummingbirds and can’t wait to see them arrive at the feeders this year.
  • How do we make big decisions as Christians?

Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your saviour, your guide? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security.

Elisabeth Elliot

via This ‘n’ That — Do Not Be Surprised…

April 12 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

Leviticus 16; Psalm 19; Proverbs 30; 1 Timothy 1

 

several times in this book there is a formula of the sort, “For x things such-and-such, and for x+1 this-and-that.” For instance, Proverbs 6:16–19 begins, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him.” Then the list begins: “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers”—seven items, always the “x+1” number of items. This way of introducing a list with two lines—the first with a number one less than the number of items in the list; the second with the precise number of items in the list—builds anticipation and is part of the Hebrew parallelism that does not like to have exactly the same thing in both lines.

Proverbs 30 has several instances of this formula. It is not necessary to use the formula if a list is being introduced (30:24), but it is common (30:15b, 18, 21, 29). The five lists in this chapter are grounded in thoughtful observation of highly diverse phenomena, and each of the five makes a different point. Here I reflect on two of them.

The first is the list (without introductory formula) of small things that are extremely “wise”: ants, coneys (probably rock badgers), locusts, and lizards (30:24–28). This use of “wise” is bound up with the skill to survive (see meditation for March 14). An individual ant is nothing, easily crushed, without intelligence, yet ants store up food for the winter and survive. Rock badgers are small and relatively defenseless, yet they have the ability to make their homes in crags where others could not live. Lizards are so slow and stupid that children can catch them in their hands, and yet they have whatever it takes to live even in palaces. All these skills, all this “wisdom,” God has graciously granted. In the larger context of the book, the lesson is obvious. We too are like stupid little ants or lizards, yet God has graciously given us the wisdom to survive. Two more thoughts are not far behind: (a) our wisdom, like that of the ant, is derived from God; (b) it is shockingly rebellious not to acknowledge him with gratitude as the source of our life.

The second list itemizes the thing Agur the author does not understand: “the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden” (30:18–19). Thus sex is a created function, gloriously mysterious, to be treated with respect and neither cheapened nor abused.[1]


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

Indwelling Sin and the Believer — The Aquila Report

The Lord has given his people a desire and will aiming at great things; without this they would be unworthy the name of Christians; but they cannot do as they would. Their best desires are weak and ineffectual, not absolutely so (for He who works in them to will, enables them in a measure to do likewise) — but in comparison with the noble mark at which they aim.

 

I have been sitting, perhaps a quarter of an hour, with my pen in my hand, and my finger upon my upper lip, contriving how I should begin my letter. . . . At length my suspense reminded me of the apostle’s words, Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. These are contrary the one to the other — so that you cannot do the things that you would!” This is a humbling but a just account of a Christian’s attainments in the present life, and is equally applicable to the strongest and to the weakest. The weakest need not say less — the strongest will hardly venture to say more. The Lord has given his people a desire and will aiming at great things; without this they would be unworthy the name of Christians; but they cannot do as they would. Their best desires are weak and ineffectual, not absolutely so (for He who works in them to will, enables them in a measure to do likewise) — but in comparison with the noble mark at which they aim. So that while they have great cause to be thankful for the desire He has given them, and for the degree in which it is answered — they have equal reason to be ashamed and abased under a sense of their continual defects, and the evil mixtures which taint and debase their best endeavors. It would be easy to make out a long list of particulars, which a believer would do if he could — but in which, from first to last, he finds a mortifying inability. Permit me to mention a few, which I need not transcribe from books, for they are always present to my mind.

He would willingly enjoy God in prayer. He knows that prayer is his duty; but, in his judgment, he considers it likewise as his greatest honor and privilege. In this light he can recommend it to others, and can tell them of the wonderful condescension of the great God, who humbles himself to behold the things that are in heaven, that He should stoop so much lower, to afford his gracious ear to thesupplications of sinful worms upon earth. He can bid them expect a pleasure in waiting upon the Lord, different in kind and greater in degree than all that the world can afford. By prayer he can say, You have liberty to cast all your cares upon him who cares for you. By one hour’s intimate access to the throne of grace, where the Lord causes his glory to pass before the soul that seeks him — you may acquire more true spiritual knowledge and comfort, than by a day or a week’s converse with the best of men, or the most studious perusal of many folios. And in this light he would consider it and improve it for himself. But, alas; how seldom can he do as he would! How often does he find this privilege a mere task, which he would be glad of a just excuse to omit! and the chief pleasure he derives from the performance, is to think that his task is finished! He has been drawing near to God with his lips — while his heart was far from him. Surely this is not doing as he would, when (to borrow the expression of an old woman here,) he is dragged before God like a slave, and comes away like a thief.

The like may be said of reading the Scripture. He believes it to be the Word of God: he admires the wisdom and grace of the doctrines, the beauty of the precepts, the richness and suitableness of the promises; and therefore, with David, he accounts it preferable to thousands of gold and silver, and sweeter than honey or the honeycomb! Yet, while he thus thinks of it, and desires that it may dwell in him richly, and be his meditation night and day — he cannot do as he would. It will require some resolution to persist in reading a portion of it every day; and even then his heart is often less engaged than when reading a newspaper. Here again his privilege frequently dwindles into a task. His appetite is vitiated — so that he has but little relish for the food of his soul.

He would willingly have abiding, admiring thoughts of the person and love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Glad he is, indeed, of those occasions which recall the Savior to his mind; and with this view, notwithstanding all discouragements, he perseveres in attempting to pray and read, and waits upon the ordinances. Yet he cannot do as he would. Whatever claims he may have to the exercise of gratitude and sensibility towards his fellow-creatures — he must confess himself mournfully ungrateful and insensible towards his best Friend and Benefactor. Ah! what trifles are capable of shutting Him out of our thoughts, of whom we say: ‘He is the Beloved of our souls, who loved us, and gave himself for us, and whom we have deliberately chosen as our chief good and portion!’ What can make us amends for the loss we suffer here? Yet surely if we could, we would set him always before us; his love should be the delightful theme of our hearts:

From morn to noon, from noon to dewy eve!

But though we aim at this good — evil is present with us: we find we are renewed but in part, and have still cause to plead the Lord’s promise, to take away the heart of stone, and give us a heart of flesh.

He would willingly acquiesce in all the dispensations of divine Providence. He believes that all events are under the direction of infinite wisdom and goodness, and shall surely issue in the glory of God, and the good of those who fear him. He has no doubts that the hairs of his head are all numbered, that the blessings of every kind which he possesses, were bestowed upon him, and are preserved to him — by the bounty and special favor of the Lord whom he serves! He fully believes that afflictions do not spring out of the ground — but are fruits and tokens of Divine love, no less than his comforts! He is sure that there is a need-be, whenever for a season he is in heaviness. Of these principles he can no more doubt, than of what he sees with his eyes; and there are seasons when he thinks they will prove sufficient to reconcile him to the sharpest trials.

But often when he aims to apply them in an hour of present distress — he cannot do what he would! He feels a law in his members warring against the law in his mind; so that, in defiance of the clearest convictions, seeing as though he perceived not — he is ready to complain, murmur, and despond! Alas! how vain is man in his best estate! How much weakness and inconsistency, even in those whose hearts are right with the Lord! and what reason have we to confess that we are unworthy, unprofitable servants!

It were easy to enlarge in this way — would paper and time permit. But, blessed be God, we are not under the law — but under grace! And even these distressing effects of the remnants of indwelling sin are overruled for good. By these experiences — the believer is weaned more from SELF, and taught more highly to prize and more absolutely to rely on Him, who is our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption! The more vile we are in our own eyes — the more precious He will be to us! A deep repeated sense of the evil of our hearts — is necessary to preclude all boasting, and to make us willing to give the whole glory of our salvation where it is due!

Again, a sense of these evils will (when hardly anything else can do it) reconcile us to the thoughts of DEATH! Yes, they make us desirous to depart that we may sin no more, since we find depravity so deep-rooted in our nature, that, like the leprous house, the whole fabric must be taken down before we can be freed from its defilement!

Read More

via Indwelling Sin and the Believer — The Aquila Report

Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed…

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04/12/19 Judgment and Pity — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Judges 1-2, Luke 10:1-24

God had uniquely chosen His people, led them out of slavery in Egypt, taken them into the promised land, and loved them as a son—but still they disobeyed His very commands and turned to other gods. Those other gods were false gods, but the Hebrews nevertheless chose to abandon the true God to worship the “Baal and the Ashtoreths” (Judg 2:13). The Lord turned them over to their enemies, and they “suffered greatly” (Judg 2:15) under His judgment.

God in grace, however, raised up judges to lead them, and He “saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive” (Judg 2:18). He did that because He “was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them” (Judg 2:18). In His righteousness, He held them to His standards; but, in His mercy, He heard their groanings and raised up deliverers.

Today, I think about how many times I’ve followed my own idols, only to pay the price of shame and anguish, and then to be reminded that God is my deliverer! His compassion moved Him to send His Son to die for me while I was yet a sinner (Rom 5:8), and His love keeps me in His hands. How can I not but praise Him?

PRAYER: “God, Your patience and Your compassion are amazing. Thank You.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Judges 3-5, Luke 10:25-11:13

via 04/12/19 Judgment and Pity — ChuckLawless.com

April 12 For the love of God (Vol. 1)

Leviticus 16; Psalm 19; Proverbs 30; 1 Timothy 1

 

god is so wonderfully generous in his self-disclosure. He has not revealed himself to this race of rebels in some stinting way, but in nature, by his Spirit, in his Word, in great events in redemptive history, in institutions that he ordained to unveil his purposes and his nature, even in our very makeup. (We bear the imago Dei.) Psalm 19 depicts two of these avenues of divine self-disclosure.

The first is nature, or more precisely, one part of nature, the heavenly host observed and enjoyed by all of us. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge” (19:1–2). But just as ancient peoples manufactured complex myths to explain the sun, the moon, and the stars, the shame of our culture is that we manufacture complex “scientific” myths to explain them as well. Of course, our knowledge of how things really are is more advanced and accurate than theirs. But our deep-seated philosophical commitment to the notion of random, purposeless, mindless, accidental, “steady-state” origination of everything is horribly perverse—anything to avoid the far more obvious conclusion of a supremely intelligent God capable of spectacularly wonderful design. The evidence is there; the celestial host “pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”

The second is “the law of the Lord”: perfect, trustworthy, right, pure, righteous, radiant, reviving the soul, making wise the simple, giving joy to the heart, enduring forever, more precious than gold, sweeter than honey, warning, promising great reward (19:7–11). Here too we manage to trim and silence what God has revealed. Great scholars invest wasted lives in undermining its credibility. Many people choose snippets and themes that soon constitute a grid for eliminating the rest. Cultural drift constructs new epistemologies that relativize God’s words so that they are no more revelatory than the source documents of any other religion. Worst of all, Christians invest so little time and energy in learning what they claim to be the Word of God that it falls away by default. Yet it remains an unimaginably glorious revelation.

Leviticus 16 depicts another avenue of revelation. God graciously instituted an annual ritual under the old covenant that depicted fundamental principles of what he is like and what is acceptable to him. Guilty sinners may approach him through a mediator and a blood sacrifice that he prescribes: the Day of Atonement is both ritual and prophecy (cf. Heb. 9:11–10:18).

Respond with the psalmist: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (19:14).[1]


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

04/11/2019 — Wretched

WR2019-0411

•Matt Walsh and Ben Shapiro talk faith
•God builds the bridge, we walk across?
•Love and the choice to go to Hell
•Quoting the Bible to those who don’t believe it
•Great news for Joni Eareckson Tada
•Pray for Tomorrow Clubs and Cindy Marty
•How to beat your wife gently, from one Muslim scholar

Download Now (right click and save)

via 04/11/2019 — Wretched

Pastoral Burnout — Wretched

Episode 2481

Pastoral Burnout

Segment 1 (00:00) – Todd introduces article by soulshepherding.org containing 20 statistics on Pastoral stress. He shows stats 20-16.

Segment 2 (09:20) – Todd goes through points 15-8 .Discusses issues such as in-church conflict and issues with pastors’ spouses.

Segment 3 (17:50) – Stats 7-1 are revealed. Todd discusses things such as friend and familial issue, as well as time off.

Wretched Surprise! (25:47) – Lame sermon illustration: Dog Paddling

via Pastoral Burnout — Wretched

Same People Behind Iraq War Lies Pushed Russian Collusion | Zero Hedge

If you had the blood of so many young Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis on your hands because you peddled a lie, wouldn’t you be a tad more cautious before repeating that kind of mistake?

Authored by Julie Kelly via American Greatness,

For more than two years they misled us.

Exploiting fear and confusion after a shocking event, they warned that our country was in imminent danger at the hands of a mad man. They insisted that legitimate intelligence, including a CIA report issued a month before a national election and a dossier produced by reliable sources in the United Kingdom, proved the threat was real. The subject monopolized discussions on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the press.

They argued that the situation was so dire that it was straining our relationship with strategic allies. Any evidence to the contrary was readily dismissed. And anyone who questioned their agenda was ridiculed as a coward, a dupe, or a conspiracy theorist. The news media dedicated endless air time and column inches to anyone who wanted to repeat the falsehood.

But an investigative report released two years after the propaganda campaign began found no evidence to support their central claim. The CIA report was highly flawed. The official dossier, some concluded, was deceptive and “sexed-up.”

No, I’m not referring here to the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, although the similarities are nearly identical. I’m talking about the period between 2002 and 2004 when many of the very same people who recently peddled collusion fiction also insisted that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction—including material to produce nuclear bombs. On the heels of the horrors of 9/11, the United States and our allies waged war against Iraq in 2003 based primarily on that assurance.\

But in 2004, a special advisor to the CIA concluded Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. There were no stockpiles of biological or chemical agents; no plans to develop a nuclear bomb. The main argument for the war had been wholly discredited. But it was too late: The conflict officially raged on for another seven years, including a “surge” of 20,000 more U.S. troops in 2007 at the behest of the late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). We still have a troop presence in Iraq to this day.

In between the two scandals was more than a decade of recriminations against once-trusted experts on the Right who led our nation into battle. The Iraq war cost the lives of more than 4,400 U.S. troops, maimed tens of thousands more and resulted in an unquantifiable amount of emotional, mental, and physical pain for untold numbers of American military families. Suicide rates for servicemen and veterans have exploded leaving thousands more dead and their families devastated. And it has costtaxpayers more than $2 trillion and counting.

So, these discredited outcasts thought they found in the Trump-Russia collusion farce a way to redeem themselves in the news media and recover their lost prestige, power, and paychecks. After all, it cannot be a mere coincidence that a group of influencers on the Right who convinced Americans 16 years ago that we must invade Iraq based on false pretenses are nearly the identical group of people who tried to convince Americans that Donald Trump conspired with the Russians to rig the 2016 election, an allegation also based on hearsay and specious evidence.

It cannot be an innocent mistake. It cannot be explained away as an example of ignorance in the defense of national security or democracy or human decency. It cannot be justified as a mere miscalculation based on the “best available information at the time” nor should we buy any of the numerous excuses that they offered up to rationalize the war.

In fact, one can draw a straight line between the approach of neoconservative propagandists from the Iraq War travesty and the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. The certainty with which they pronounced their dubious claims, their hyperbolic warnings about pending doom—all eerily similar:

Bill Kristol in 2003: “We look forward to the liberation of our own country and others from the threat of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and to the liberation of the Iraqi people from a brutal and sadistic tyrant.”

Bill Kristol in 2018“It seems to me likely Mueller will find there was collusion between Trump associates and Putin operatives; that Trump knew about it; and that Trump sought to cover it up and obstruct its investigation. What then? Good question.”

John McCain in 2003: “I believe that, obviously, we will remove a threat to America’s national security because we will find there are still massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

John McCain in 2017: “There’s a lot of aspects with this whole relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin that requires further scrutiny. In fact, I think there’s a lot of shoes to drop from this centipede. This whole issue of the relationship with the Russians and who communicated with them and under what circumstances clearly cries out for an investigation.”

David Frum in 2002 (writing for President George W. Bush): “States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.“

David Frum in 2016: “I never envisioned an Axis of Evil of which one of the members was the US National Security Adviser.”

Max Boot in 2003: “I hate to disappoint all the conspiracy-mongers out there, but I think we are going into Iraq for precisely the reasons stated by President Bush: to destroy weapons of mass destruction, to bring down an evil dictator with links to terrorism, and to enforce international law.”

Max Boot in 2019: “If this is what it appears to be, it is the biggest scandal in American history—an assault on the very foundations of our democracy in which the president’s own campaign is deeply complicit. There is no longer any question whether collusion occurred. The only questions that remain are: What did the president know? And when did he know it?”

Those are just a handful of examples from a deep trove of comparisons. Other accomplices on the Right involved in both scandals include former NSA Director Michael Hayden; former Weekly Standardeditor Stephen Hayes; MSNBC host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough; neoconservative think tankers Robert Kagan and Eliot Cohen; and former Bush aides Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner.

Even George W. Bush questioned aloud last year whether alleged Russian meddling “affected the outcome of the election.”

And let’s not forget who was in charge of the FBI before, during, and after the Iraq War: Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel hired in May 2017 to find evidence of Russian collusion. In his February 2003 Senate testimony, Mueller confirmed reports that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and expressed concern that Hussein “may supply terrorists with biological, chemical or radiological material.” James Comey, Mueller’s close friend and successor at the FBI, served as George W. Bush’s deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005. Comey, of course, is the man who opened an investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016 and signed the FISA application in October 2016 to spy on Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Both, we’ve been assured repeatedly, were Republicans.

A Deficit of Humility and Introspection

So why did they do it? Why did Kristol, McCain, Frum, Boot, et. al., dive headlong and without shame into a domestic political war with just as much thoughtless braggadocio as they brought to the disastrous Iraq war? Clearly, this war did not have the same deadly results as the war in Iraq but, nonetheless, it fueled an unprecedented degree of anger and division among our countrymen and toward our new president. It ensnared innocent people who suffered real-life consequences, their fate grotesquely cheered by these mendacious fraudsters.

Why?

If you had the blood of so many young Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis on your hands because you peddled a lie, wouldn’t you be a tad more cautious before repeating that kind of mistake? If you assured Americans that the Iraq war would last just a few months, as Bill Kristol said in 2002, but instead it ended up lasting eight years, wouldn’t you be chastened about making more predictions? If your actions led directly to the election of a Democratic president who launched his winning campaign based on your egregious failures, wouldn’t you hesitate before inserting yourself in another scandal that gave fodder to your political opponents at your expense?

The answer, apparently, is “no.”

It’s unlikely any of these collusion propagandists on the Right truly believed the contents of the Steele dossier. One reason they played along was to exact revenge against the man who won the White House over their objections and called their bluff on the Iraq War: Donald Trump.

When Trump stood on a debate stage in February 2016 and said the Iraq war was a “big, fat mistake,” he didn’t just say it to a random Republican opponent. He said it directly to Jeb Bush, the brother of the president who launched the war. “George Bush made a mistake, we should never have been in Iraq,” Trump seethed. “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none.”

The crowd mostly booed. But Trump didn’t back down. In a post-debate interview on Fox News, Trump reiterated his criticism. “The Iraq war was a disaster. We spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives. What do we have?” he asked Tucker Carlson. “We have nothing, absolutely nothing.” Nothing except a massive bill in blood and treasure borne mostly by the middle and working class.

At the time, Trump’s view was well outside the mainstream of conservative orthodoxy. Republicans were not inclined to admit failure on the battlefield, let alone to doubt the motives of intelligence, military, and political leadership we had trusted and were taught not to question. “Challenging the assumption that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction would draw scorn and mockery,” Adam Mill reminded us in an excellent piece for American Greatness. Further, with near-unanimous consent, House and Senate Republicans voted in 2002 to authorize military force against Iraq.

But Trump laid bare the culpability of the failed war’s Republican architects. He exposed the lingering guilt many rank-and-file Republicans felt about their unflinching support for a war that ultimately was based on a docket of falsehoods and empty promises. A war its promoters were eager to get into but had no plan to win.

Crossing a Red Line

Further, Trump intended to halt the Republican Party’s fealty to the Bush Doctrine. The post-9/11 foreign policy of the neoconservatives running the Bush Administration centered around preemptive war, regime change, and the spread of democracy in the Middle East.

But 15 years later, Trump called out the doctrine’s failures and faulted those who authored it: 

“That’s why I have to look for talented experts with approaches and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect résumés but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war,” Trump said in a foreign policy speech in April 2016. “We have to look to new people because many of the old people frankly don’t know what they’re doing.”

At a campaign rally in May 2016, Trump specifically mocked Kristol. “All the guy [Kristol] wants to do is kill people even though he knows it’s not working although he doesn’t know because he’s not smart enough.”

A red line, so to speak, had been crossed. The candidate likely to win the Republican presidential nomination was taking direct aim at the elite Republican establishment so they responded in kind. Dozens of Republican national security and intelligence experts denounced Trump in an August 2016 public letter, insisting he would be a “dangerous president and put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.” Kristol enlisted an independent candidate to run against Trump.

At the very same time, the Obama White House and top Democratic officials in his administration were circulating the Steele dossier and investigating the Trump campaign for possible collusion with the Russians. (After the election, McCain and one of his advisors distributed the phony Steele dossier to the FBI, lawmakers, and reporters.)

The symmetry is impossible to ignore or dismiss as coincidence. The Trump-Russia collusion hoax was a chance for these jilted influencers to get revenge against a president and a party that no longer had any use for them. Trump threatened their long-held grasp of centralized power, so they did everything they could to hold on to it, including siding with the Left to sabotage him. It was a craven act of self-restoration. Excommunicated by the Right, they sought to redeem themselves by sucking up to the Left, which not so long ago accused Iraq war promoters of being criminals.

Utterly Shameless and Undeterred

The question now is, will the Left shun these useful idiots once and for all? Now that their role in pushing the collusion narrative from the anti-Trump Right is over, will they stop booking Kristol on CNN? Will the Washington Post stop publishing Boot and Wehner and Hayden? Will Jake Tapper ask them any hard question, such as, “how can you be so wrong twice in 15 years?” Will the anti-war Left remember the human destruction for which they are responsible?

Further, they viewed Robert Mueller as the man who could destroy Trump. Much like their objective in the aftermath of the Iraq war, their end goal was to be proven right that Donald Trump was unfit to lead, not actually to do what was right for the country. It was pure ego.

Unfortunately, that probably isn’t where the similarities between Russian collusion and the Iraq War will end. The collusion propagandists on the Right will never apologize for supporting the hoax—just like most have not yet apologized for leading the country into a deadly, destructive, and arguably unnecessary war. Even now, after both the Mueller investigation and the House Intelligence committee have found no evidence of collusion, they won’t let up. Kristol is still tweeting Trump-Russian conspiracy theories and both Kristol and Frum are creating new conspiracies about the Mueller report. They know no shame.

In another ironic twist, authors David Corn and Michael Isikoff wrote a book, Hubris, that lamented the lack of accountability for the neoconservative pushers of the Iraq war. “If you look at the media cheerleaders from that time . . . David Brooks, Bill Kristol . . . did they lose one speaking engagement? Did they lose the fee for one column?” Corn asked during a 2013 MSNBC interview. “There was no price to be paid.”

Corn and Isikoff were the two reporters who published Steele dossier-sourced articles prior to the 2016 presidential election. Isikoff’s article was cited extensively in the October 2016 FISA application on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Of course, they won’t pay a price, either.

So, there may not be a short-term price for the Iraq War/Trump-Russia propagandists on the Right to pay. The only consolation, if there is one, is that these con men are unlikely to ever to have a home again in the Republican Party. They will not have any influence; they’ll be political poison for any candidate dumb enough to seek their endorsement.

They can never again initiate a foreign war that costs thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. Yes, they’ll be played for fools at CNN, MSNBC and in the Washington Post—trotted out as “conservatives” to condemn Republicans who are actually advancing policies that help the country. But they will never be taken seriously by anyone on the Right; to the contrary, they’ll be a collective cautionary tale for future generations of Republican leaders and influencers.

While they are not directly responsible for enormous bloodshed in this instance, like they are for the Iraq War, their deception about Trump-Russia collusion did result in actual harm to hundreds of people victimized by the farce. Every Trump family member and associate has been under a shadow of manufactured suspicion since the election; ditto for every White House aide, cabinet member, and former campaign worker. The amount of money and time wasted on this travesty will never fully be known.

Carter Page, a former U.S. Navy officer, was stalked relentlessly by the media and congressional investigators—and was a recipient of numerous death threats—not to mention spied on by his own government for a year in a fruitless attempt to find collusion between the campaign and the Kremlin. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, still not sentenced more than 18 months after his plea deal for one count of lying to federal officials, is bankrupt. The home of Roger Stone was raided by the FBI at dawn; he, too, is going bankrupt. The civil libertarians and so-called freedom-loving conservatives all have been silent on these political persecutions.

Will the Fraudsters Get Away With It Again? 

The country has been divided by hate and rage and unjustified distrust. Legitimate problems—such as illegal immigration, sustained job growth for the middle class, faulty trade agreements, the opioid crisis—have been completely ignored by our ruling class with the exception of President Trump. Calls to retaliate against Russia have been far and wide, while real international threats, such as China, North Korea, and ISIS have been overlooked by the collusion propagandists. This has been their intention all along; with no solutions to offer for any of these issues, the vanquished neoconservatives cling to relevance by spinning fabulist tales all in service of destroying a Republican president.

The goal of the intersectional Iraq War and Trump-Russia collusion fraudsters was clear: Regime change. The playbook is nearly identical—produce flawed intelligence, rally support from the media, portray any opponent as a bad actor, keep creating new crimes. However this time, instead of seeking to depose an Iraqi tyrant, the collusion propagandists within the conservative establishment sought to remove a duly elected U.S. president.

This is unconscionable and likely illegal. It’s the reason why Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) this week is expected to make at least eight criminal referrals to the Justice Department related to the real scandal: The weaponization of the world’s most powerful law enforcement and intelligence apparatus to sabotage a rival presidential campaign and derail an incoming administration.

That’s a necessary start. But those who did not engage in specifically illegal activity but nonetheless bolstered those venal efforts also must be held responsible. They escaped justice and accountability once—they can’t get away with it again. They must be shamed into political oblivion.

JUST IN: City of Chicago Sues Hate Hoaxer Jussie Smollett For Cost of Investigating Staged MAGA Attack — The Gateway Pundit

The city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against hate hoaxer Jussie Smollett in Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday after he refused to pay $130,000 reimbursement for the investigative costs into his fake MAGA attack.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx stunned the country when her office decided to drop all charges against Jussie Smollett after a grand jury returned a 16-count indictment against the ‘Empire’ actor — Foxx’s office didn’t even consult with the Chicago Police Department.

On March 28th, the Chicago Police sent Jussie Smollett a bill for $130,000 on demanding payment for his false statements — and Smollett refused to pay up.

A statement from the city read (via WGN Chicago):

The Law Department has filed a civil complaint against Mr. Smollett in the Circuit Court of Cook County that pursues the full measure of damages allowed under the false statements ordinance. This follows his refusal to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019.

A lawyer for the city of Chicago wrote in the complaint, “Defendant knew his attackers and orchestrated the purported attack himself. Later, when police confronted him with evidence about his attackers, he still refused to disclose his involvement in planning the attack.”

“On the evening of January 28, 2019, Defendant’s flight into Chicago was delayed, and he called Abel (Osundairo) telling him he needed to delay the staged attack, and Abel agreed.”

“Cell phone records indicate that at 12:49 AM, Defendant and Abel spoke by telephone. Defendant told Abel the attack should take place at 2:00 AM at agreed upon location. Minutes later, Ola ordered an Uber to pick the brothers up at their home.”

Despite all of the evidence against Jussie Smollett, he continues to maintain that he was attacked by white racist Trump supporters — one of his lawyers even floated the absurd idea that the Osundairo brothers, who are of Nigerian descent, wore “white face” when they attacked him.

Smollett still could face federal charges for the fake threatening letter he sent to the ‘Empire’ studio in Chicago.

Read the full complaint here.

via JUST IN: City of Chicago Sues Hate Hoaxer Jussie Smollett For Cost of Investigating Staged MAGA Attack — The Gateway Pundit

Trey Gowdy Discusses AG Bill Barr and “Spying” -vs- “Surveillance”… — The Last Refuge

Trey Gowdy appears on Fox News to discuss the current issues and political arguments around “spying” -vs- “wiretaps and surveillance”.  This interview is not quite as noteworthy as one Gowdy gave yesterday… however, the notation about someone wearing a wire into the Trump campaign is interesting. Both interviews are worth watching/mining:

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Last night Trey Gowdy gave an interview that was much more interesting.  In last nights interview Gowdy discusses the two-page EC and FBI origination documents he reviewed where the “Trump Campaign” was outlined as the target:

Fox never uploaded this video. However you can find the interview at 07:15

[prompted, just hit play]

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via Trey Gowdy Discusses AG Bill Barr and “Spying” -vs- “Surveillance”… — The Last Refuge

Eureka! – Devin Nunes: “The Spying Began in 2015″…. — The Last Refuge

 

Finally…. F.i.n.a.l.l.y, Devin Nunes outlines the origin of the spying operation as it began in 2015 and extended into 2016.  During an interview to discuss his criminal referrals to Attorney General Barr [see here] Devin Nunes outlines the big picture.  WATCH:

[Transcript @02:08] Devin Nunes:  “Well Sean, let’s just, let me make it as clear as I possibly can. Okay, and now, thank God, we have an attorney general who calls spying for what it is.”

“In late 2015, early 2016, spying began on the Trump campaign.”

“That information leaked; that led to, what they consider to be, “legal spying” that began, that they’ve acknowledged that they started doing in the end of July; you just had Carter Page on; they considered that all “legal spying.”

“They then leaked that information, right, shortly after the election all through the spring that was leaking out; why? To create a narrative that Donald Trump shouldn’t have been President that he’s a Russian asset, etc. etc. So ‘spying’ and ‘leaking’”.

“Then you have the culmination of the ultimate spying, where you have the FBI Director spying on the president, taking notes, illegally leaking those notes of classified information; why?  So they could appoint a special counsel to spy on an acting president again.  So there’s a lot of spying and a lot of leaking, and that’s as clear as I can put it.”

Finally Devin Nunes is outlining what CTH has been calling attention to for over two years.  The spying began in 2015.   “Spygate” was part of the larger “Russian Conspiracy and Collusion” operation.   This was all planned well in advance.

The spying began in 2015, and was part of the collaborative process -and reason- for Nellie Ohr to join the political opposition research being conducted by Fusion GPS.

CIA Director John Brennan had his OCONUS lures, Joseph Mifsud and Stefan Halper on standby awaiting targeting information.  They needed targets.

Fusion-GPS and Nellie Ohr were researching targets based on candidates.  Donald Trump was the most likely candidate to win the GOP nomination.  Trump was the focus of identifying targets.

As the Fusion and Ohr research was ongoing, and when it became transparent that Trump was going to be the victor in the Primaries; the media began demanding to know who were the foreign policy and national security advisors to candidate Trump.  This DNC inspired effort to demand names and lists was in alignment with Brennan, Fusion and Ohr.

Once they had some names identified (March/April ’16), ie. Papadopoulos, Flynn, Manafort and Page,…  Brennan tasked Mifsud and Halper to run the spygate operation.

In/around late June and early July of ’16, Brennan was in position to turn over the outcome of his operation to the FBI via an origination EC memo.

[April 22nd 2018] According to House Intelligence Committee member Devin Nunes; who is also a member of the intelligence oversight ‘Gang-of-Eight’; that EC contains intelligence material that did not come through “official intelligence channels” into the U.S. intelligence apparatus.

The EC was not an official product of the U.S. intelligence community. Additionally, Brennan was NOT using official partnerships with intelligence agencies of our Five-Eyes partner nations; and he did not provide raw intelligence –as an outcome of those relationships– to the FBI. {Go Deep}

CIA Director Brennan formatted the same intelligence to the White House where Susan Rice and Samantha Powers were doing the unmasking to facilitate the leaks.

The FBI took Brennan’s two-page “EC” memo and originated the official counterintelligence operation known as “Crossfire Hurricane” on July 31st, 2016.

FBI Counterintelligence Agent Peter Strzok wrote out the operational instructions and objectives for the operation.  As noted by Trey Gowdy, included in those instructions was the targeting of the “Trump Campaign” specifically.

That’s how the whole damn thing began.

The intelligence outcomes were then continually distributed to the White House and in August 2016 to the Gang-of-Eight as noted by Brennan’s testimony.

Brennan: [13:35] “Third, through the so-called Gang-of-Eight process we kept congress apprised of these issues as we identified them.”

“Again, in consultation with the White House, I PERSONALLY briefed the full details of our understanding of Russian attempts to interfere in the election to congressional leadership; specifically: Senators Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr; and to representatives Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff between 11th August and 6th September [2016], I provided the same briefing to each of the gang of eight members.”

“Given the highly sensitive nature of what was an active counter-intelligence case [that means the FBI], involving an ongoing Russian effort, to interfere in our presidential election, the full details of what we knew at the time were shared only with those members of congress; each of whom was accompanied by one senior staff member.”… (LINK)

In the background, Nellie Ohr worked with Chris Steele to format the extracted, some open-source, intelligence information into a Dossier.  The Steele Dossier was the laundry process for political opposition research to be formulated into official intelligence and returned back into the FBI for use in the official counterintelligence operation.

[NOTE: •On July 31st, 2016 the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign. They did not inform congress until March 2017. •At the beginning of August (1st-3rd) 2016 FBI Agent Peter Strzok traveled to London, England for interviews with UK intelligence officials. •On August 15th, 2016 Peter Strzok sends a text message to DOJ Lawyer Lisa Page describing the “insurance policy“, needed in case Hillary Clinton were to lose the election. That’s where Carter Page comes in.]

(link to Nunes Referral Letter)

♦ Prove the July 31st, 2016, Crossfire Hurricane operation originated from fraud by exposing the CIA operation that created the originating “Electronic Communication” memo. Declassify that two-page “EC” document that Brennan gave to Comey.

♦ Release and declassify all of the Comey memos that document the investigative steps taken  by the FBI as an outcome of the operation coordinated by CIA Director John Brennan in early 2016.

♦ Reveal the November 2015 through April 2016 FISA-702 search query abuse by declassifying the April 2017 court opinionwritten by FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer. Show the FBI contractors behind the 85% fraudulent search queries. [Crowdstrike? Fusion-GPS? Nellie Ohr?]

♦ Subpoena former DOJ-NSD (National Security Division) head John Carlin, or haul him in front of a grand jury, and get his testimony about why he hid the abuse from the FISA court in October 2016; why the DOJ-NSD rushed the Carter Page application to beat NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to the FISA court; and why Carlin quit immediately thereafter. Squeeze this bastard’s nuts in the proverbial legal vice.

♦ Prove the Carter Page FISA application (October 2016) was fraudulent and based on deceptions to the FISA Court. Declassify the entire document, and release the transcripts of those who signed the application(s); and/or depose those who have not yet testified.

♦ Release all of the Lisa Page and Peter Strzok text messages without redactions. Let sunlight pour in on the actual conversation(s) that were taking place when Crossfire Hurricane (July ’16) and the FISA Application (Oct ’16) were taking place.

♦ Release all of Bruce Ohr 302’s, FBI notes from interviews and debriefing sessions, and other relevant documents associated with the interviews of Bruce Ohr and his internal communications. Including exculpatory evidence that Bruce Ohr may have shared with FBI Agent Joseph Pientka. [And get a deposition from this Pientka fella]

♦ Release the August 2nd, 2017, two-page scope memo provided by DAG Rod Rosenstein to special counsel Robert Mueller to advance the fraudulent Trump investigation, and initiate the more purposeful obstruction of justice investigation.

via Eureka! – Devin Nunes: “The Spying Began in 2015″…. — The Last Refuge

April 11 Filling the Empty Life

Scripture reading: John 4:3–18

Key verses: John 4:13–14

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Jesus motioned in the direction of the well by which He was standing and said to the woman: “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:13–14 nasb). The water Jesus offers is continuous. It wells up inside a person, satisfying the deepest needs of the heart.

The woman to whom Jesus was speaking was very needy. Her life was emotionally frayed and spiritually and morally bankrupted. Instead of feeling free to join the other women as they drew water from the well, she chose to come at a time when no one else was there. Sin always separates us from others.

Yet she was the very type of person who drew the love of God in a very compassionate way. Instead of bypassing Samaria, Jesus directed His band of disciples right into the heart of the region. There He waited for this woman to make her appearance.

She had been married five times, and the man she was living with was not her husband. It was obvious that she had tried in vain to fill the emptiness within her heart; still it remained. Instead of condemning her, Jesus offered her a way out of the bondage that had held her life captive.

Is there an emptiness in your life that needs the Savior’s touch? Depression, anxiety, frustration, disappointment—even these are points of healing when we turn to Him. Jesus’ death on the Cross assured that your empty life can be filled!

Fill the empty places in my life, dear Lord. Take away my depression, anxiety, frustration, and disappointment.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 106). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

April 11, 2019 Evening Verse Of The Day

12 The terminology used here is that of marriage and adoption, where a nonbiological union is formed (Milgrom, Leviticus 23–27, 2302).[1]


26:12 — “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”

God’s greatest desire since the beginning of creation is to be with us, His people, and to bless us. God not only desires to be in the closest, most intimate relationship possible with His people, but He promises to do so.[2]


26:12 your God … My people. The promise of an intimate covenant relationship with the God of the universe is given (cf. 2Co 6:16).[3]


26:12 I will walk about in your midst Probably means that Yahweh will move about among the Israelites—a reference to His continued presence in the journey to the promised land and—ultimately—the settling of the land (compare 2 Sam 7:6–7).[4]


[1] Hess, R. S. (2008). Leviticus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, p. 814). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Le 26:12). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Le 26:12). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Le 26:12). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.