Daily Archives: April 17, 2019

April 17 This Grace Is Yours

Scripture Reading: John 1:19–29

Key Verse: John 1:29

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

One of the most encouraging things you can receive from God is the hope that comes from being given a second chance. This is especially important when you have yielded to temptation or feel that you have fallen short of His plan and purpose for your life. The truth is that God never limits the opportunity for forgiveness.

Second chances encourage us to go on and not to give up even when the whispers of the world around us seem to say the opposite. After his denial of Christ, Peter was in need of a second chance, and Jesus, through His grace, provided this (John 21:15–17).

How many of us have longed for God’s cleansing touch when we become trapped by our wrongful actions? The only cure for sin or failure of any kind is God’s grace applied to our lives. This is what changes the stumbling sinner into a person living victoriously for Jesus Christ.

Even before you knew Him, Jesus knew and loved you. It was His love that saved you, and it is His love that will keep you throughout eternity. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Are you struggling with the idea of grace and how it applies to your life? Realize that God loves you. He stands beside you and is pleased to call you His own. This grace is yours.

Lord, thank You for Your grace—Your love and kindness toward me even when I don’t deserve it. I accept Your extended grace.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 112). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Jared Kushner Tells Foreign Diplomats That Middle East Peace Plan Will Be Released in June Right After Ramadan — Now The End Begins

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior advisor, told foreign diplomats on Wednesday that the “deal of the century” will be released in June, after Ramadan, a source familiar with the remarks told The Jerusalem Post.

The timing for the release of Jared Kushner’s long-awaited peace plan, right at the conclusion of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, could not be more interesting. One has to wonder just what Team Kushner has up their collective sleeves. Certainly they are not going to be trotting out the same old tired and failed lame attempts at peace. They know that won’t work. So just what are they thinking?

“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (KJV)

We told you last week how Secretary of State Mike Pompeo teased a shot of the Third Temple in the officially-released video of his trip to Israel, the implications of that were kinda interesting, to say the least. That would make the Jews very happy to say the least. But what carrot do they have that will make the Muslims equally happy? I can only imagine.

KUSHNER SAYS MIDDLE EAST PLAN WILL BE RELEASED IN JUNE

FROM THE JERUSALEM POST: Jared Kushner spoke in front of 100 foreign diplomats and ambassadors at the Blair House and asked them to keep an open mind regarding the plan. However, he did not provide any new details about the plan itself.

“We will all have to look for reasonable compromises that will make peace achievable,” Kushner said.

Whether the plan will propose outright the creation of a Palestinian state, which is the Palestinians’ core demand, remains unclear.

During his remarks, Kushner pushed back on the idea that the Trump peace plan mostly centered around the economic package, saying the political component is “very detailed,” the source said.

“Kushner said the plan will require concessions from both sides but won’t jeopardize the security of Israel,” a source said. “It requires everybody approaching the plan with an open mind.”

Jason Greenblatt, special representative for international negotiations, tweeted Tuesday that the peace team will not release any details of the plan ahead of time. “Continued speculation doesn’t help anyone & harms the effort. We kindly suggest a stop to the guessing games,” he wrote.

Greenblatt added that while only the parties themselves can resolve the conflict, he believes that the plan can help them achieve that goal. “We’ve been working hard drafting what we believe is a fair, realistic & implementable plan. Fair agreements require compromises,” he said.

Meanwhile, newly sworn in Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said in the interview on Tuesday night that “There are no partners in Palestine for Trump. There are no Arab partners for Trump and there are no European partners for Trump.” He added that Trump’s peace plan will be “born dead.”

On Monday night, The Washington Post reported that the “deal of the century” will include “practical proposals” for improving the lives of Palestinians, but will probably stop short of recommending the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel. READ MORE

jared-kushner-antichrist-middle-east-peace-nteb-now-end-begins-bible-prophecy-trump

via Jared Kushner Tells Foreign Diplomats That Middle East Peace Plan Will Be Released in June Right After Ramadan — Now The End Begins

Ocasio-Cortez ‘Hired Top Hollywood Talent Agency’ To Get Book Deal, But Project Fell Through — The Gateway Pundit

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic socialist who has become the darling of the mainstream media, reportedly hired one of the top Hollywood talent agencies in an effort to get a book deal, but the effort fell though for unknown reasons.

“Multiple publishing industry sources told The Daily Beast that the freshman Democrat retained the talent agency CAA [Creative Artists Agency] and took meetings earlier this year about writing a potential book. The project, one industry source said, was ultimately pulled, but for reasons that remain mysterious,” the Beast wrote.

It’s unclear if the book project is functionally dead and if the congresswoman still works with CAA. The agency would neither confirm nor deny that it had recently been working with Ocasio-Cortez. Corbin Trent, communications director for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) declined to address the story directly, saying it fell beyond matters of congressional work.

“I can’t help you with it,” Trent said. Asked if he was confirming, denying or offering no comment, Trent said “I’ve said everything that I’m going to say about that.”

Members of the House are prohibited from accepting book advances, so it’s unclear how the payment would work should the deal be revived. At least two others House lawmakers have book deals, the Beast reports. “Sources told The Daily Beast that Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) also sold a book late last year after he won election and was mocked by Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson for the eye patch he wears following a combat-related injury. Crenshaw’s office did not return a request for comment. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) also announced earlier this year she has a book deal.”

Both Omar and Crenshaw “inked deals before officially joining [C]ongress, likely avoiding the rule limiting advance payments.”

Ocasio-Cortez also wouldn’t be the only active socialist in Congress to be cashing in. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the socialist from Vermont, has spent much of his career ripping “The One Percent,” those at the top of the income pyramid in the U.S. But it turns out he’s a millionaire, too.

“I wrote a best-selling book,” Sanders said this week after releasing his tax returns. He wrote “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In” after he lost to Hillary Clinton in in the 2016 Democratic primaries.  “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

Vermont magazine “Seven Days” reported in 2016 that Sanders and his wife bought a four-bedroom house on the shore of Lake Champlain in Vermont — with 500 feet of lake frontage — for about $600,000. The Sanders own at least three houses, with another in Burlington, Vermont, and one on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Ocasio-Cortez also recently moved into a luxury Washington D.C. apartment building with an infinity pool and a nearby Whole Foods, the Washington Examiner reported in February

But Ocasio-Cortez’s new building — built by leading D.C. developer WC Smith — is part of a luxury complex whose owners specifically do not offer affordable units under Washington, D.C.’s Affordable Dwelling Units program.

Oh, those socialists.

via Ocasio-Cortez ‘Hired Top Hollywood Talent Agency’ To Get Book Deal, But Project Fell Through — The Gateway Pundit

America’s War in Yemen Is Plainly Unconstitutional — National Review

President Donald Trump listens as he meets with Danny Burch, a former hostage in Yemen, Washington, D.C., March 6, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The president’s veto of a bipartisan resolution demanding the end of American involvement in the conflict further degrades our constitutional architecture.

Yesterday, Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan congressional resolution demanding an end to U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war. It’s now official: The president who ran for office pledging to reduce military entanglements abroad is involving American forces in a foreign war in direct defiance of the plain language of the Constitution.

First, some background. Beginning in 2015, the Obama administration recklessly inserted itself into Saudi Arabia’s proxy war with Iran, backing Saudi military action against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. America has long been an important source of arms for Saudi Arabia, but Obama’s support went well beyond merely providing planes and bombs. His administration also authorized other active, indispensable support, including aerial refueling and targeting assistance.

This direct involvement represented an act of war by any reasonable measure, and there is no meaningful argument that it was enabled by any existing congressional war authorization. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force enacted after the 9/11 attacks plainly doesn’t apply to Iran-backed Shiite rebels fighting in Yemen (though it does apply to al-Qaeda cells active in the country), nor does the subsequent Iraq War authorization.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution grants Congress the exclusive authority to declare war. Yes, Article II declares that the president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but reading the two clauses together, their meaning is plain: The president commands American forces when Congress declares war. Yes, the president has inherent authority to order immediate military actions in times of crisis, but he should also promptly seek congressional approval for such actions.

No one should pretend that there aren’t constitutional gray areas in this structure, of course: How long can a president respond to an emergency before Congress must ratify or reject the conflict? Once Congress has authorized any given action, how far can a president extend or expand a conflict? Does the authorization of force against al-Qaeda extend to, say, al-Qaeda progeny such as ISIS? Does the authorization of war in Iraq extend to actions deemed militarily necessary to stabilize the country, like the use of force in Syria?

NOW WATCH: ‘America’s First Climate Change Candidate’

These are all good constitutional questions, but they’re beside the point because none of them apply to the conflict in Yemen. President Obama wasn’t responding to a true national emergency in backing the Saudis against the Houthis, and President Trump isn’t responding to a true national emergency in continuing to back the Saudis. They were (and are) waging a new conflict against a new enemy.

Late last year, in the resolution Trump just vetoed, Congress rejected military action in Yemen under the provisions of the War Powers Act, a controversial 1973 statue passed over Richard Nixon’s veto. The Act attempted to answer the thorny constitutional issues outlined above by requiring a president to consult with Congress within 48 hours of the introduction of American forces into foreign hostilities. Congress can then, by resolution, terminate American involvement. 50 U.S.C. Section 1544(c) states that “at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.” (Emphasis added.)

Presidents have opposed the War Powers Act ever since its passage, even as they’ve frequently complied with its terms. They have historically taken such a broad view of their commander-in-chief powers as to functionally write Congress’s war-making power out of the Constitution. If a president can fight when he wants, where he wants, and for as long as he wants, then Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 is meaningless.

Moreover, even Trump’s veto is an unconstitutional act. A declaration of war requires an affirmative act of Congress. A bipartisan majority’s rejection of American participation in the Yemeni conflict is anything but an affirmation. And when the Constitution requires congressional affirmation, then congressional rejection can’t be vetoed by the president.

I understand and support the core holding of Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, which ended the practice of so-called legislative vetoes — instances where the legislature invalidated executive acts by mere majority vote — but Constitution gives war-making powers explicitly to Congress. When it is construed as allowing the president to launch war on his own and then to continue that war in the absence of congressional supermajorities, the constitutional structure is fatally undermined.

Debates about different American wars are debates for a different time. There is no longer any constitutional justification for continuing American participation in Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate bombing campaign in Yemen. Congress has spoken. Trump doesn’t have the choice of vetoing the resolution. It’s now his obligation to order American forces to stand down. His refusal to do so further degrades America’s already-shaky constitutional structure.

via America’s War in Yemen Is Plainly Unconstitutional — National Review

April 17 A Symbol of Life

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 1:18–21

Key Verse: 1 Peter 3:18

Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

Blood is not a pleasant topic for most people, and most of us are happy if we go a long time without seeing any. Unless you are in the medical profession or a related occupation, you probably do not deal with blood very often.

But in Jesus’ day, the presence of blood was a real part of daily life; in fact, it was a part of sacrificial worship in the temple. According to Mosaic Law, God required the blood of an unblemished animal as the atonement, or payment, for a person’s sin. The rules for slaying the animal and handling the blood were extremely complex, and only members of the priesthood were allowed to perform the ceremonies. Since the death of one animal did not pay for all sins, the system of sacrifice was continual.

What Jesus did on the cross, however, was a once-and-for-all blood sacrifice (1 Peter 3:18). No doubt that was a new and difficult concept for the disciples to grasp, and Jesus’ words at their last Passover meal together were critical for their understanding of what was about to happen.

Jesus shed physical blood for you. He was in agony, His flesh was torn for you, and He experienced temporary separation from the Father because of your sin. The next time you take Communion, think about His blood—not as a symbol of death but as a symbol of the new life that you have through His sacrifice.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the blood of Jesus, which is the symbol of life. Thank You for the new life I have because of Calvary.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 112). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

April 17 Our Source of Identity

Scripture reading: Luke 9:23–26

Key verse: Luke 9:24

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

Teenagers often search for identity through role models such as actors and sports figures. However, these may be the very people whose lives are coming apart at the seams. Adults do the same thing, only they are more likely to seek self-gratification through financial gain and social position.

Because we are Christians, our only true source of identity is Jesus Christ. He is our example for successful living. Searching for this in another person or social position leads only to disappointment. But many who profess to know Jesus as their Savior refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord over every area of their lives. Attitudes such as pride, selfishness, greed, and materialism arise from hearts that are not fully committed to Christ. Jesus made it clear that in order for us to save our lives, we must be willing to lose them unto Him (Luke 9:24).

Peter reminded us that we are really aliens, strangers to this world because of our love and devotion to Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are not to seek gratification in temporal pleasures. God chose us to know Him and to experience the wonder of His mercy and grace. Our identity is secure because of who lives inside us and not who we are.

Have you settled the identity issue? If not, ask God to reveal the areas in your life that lack true commitment to Him.

Father, be Lord over every area of my life. Reveal areas of my life where I lack true commitment, and help me to surrender them to You.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 112). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

It’s Only April, And U.S. Retailers Have Already Shuttered More Stores Than They Did All Of Last Year | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

If the U.S. economy is in good shape, why have retailers already shuttered more stores than they did in all of 2018?  Not only that, we are also on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closures in a single year by more than 50 percent.  Yes, Internet commerce is growing, but the Internet has been around for several decades now.  It isn’t as if this threat just suddenly materialized.  As Internet commerce continues to slowly expand, we would expect to see a steady drip of brick and mortar stores close, but instead what we are witnessing is an avalanche.  If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, this wouldn’t be happening.  But if the U.S. economy was heading into a recession, this is precisely what we would expect to see.

Last year, U.S. retailers closed 5,864 stores.

That was a rather depressing number, but here we are in April 2019 and we have already surpassed it.  The following comes from CNN

This year, US retailers have announced that 5,994 stores will close. That number already exceeds last year’s total of 5,864 closure announcements, according to a recent report from Coresight Research.

At this time last year, there was a lot of optimism for the retail industry.  Foot traffic at our shopping centers rose steadily throughout the early portion of the year before peaking in August.

But then something changed, and since that time there has been a clear downward trend

Foot traffic at some of the best shopping centers across the country peaked around August 2018 and has since started to fall, after rebounding for much of last year, according to a new report from data analytics firm Thasos, which uses more than 100 million mobile phones to track when consumers enter and leave certain trade areas.

Once again, you can’t blame this on Internet commerce.  Foot traffic was rising for quite a while, but now what we are seeing is perfectly consistent with an economic slowdown.

Sadly, this could be just the beginning.  In fact, one expert quoted by CNBC expects total store closures in the U.S. to hit 12,000 by the end of 2019…

“I expect store closures to accelerate in 2019, hitting some 12,000 by year end,” Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight, said.

If that happens, we will shatter the old yearly record by about 4,000.

We are in the early innings of America’s “retail apocalypse”, and it is going to get much, much worse.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is hurting right now.  With each passing day, we continue to get more signs that the U.S. economy is sliding into a new recession.  For example, we just learned that during the first quarter of 2019 U.S. manufacturing was down 1.1 percent compared to a year ago…

Manufacturing fell 1.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the same period of 2018, the Fed reported.

The biggest reason for the decline in manufacturing is quite obvious.  Businesses are absolutely swamped with unsold inventory, and the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has been steadily rising for months.

Earlier today, a Bloomberg article commented on the bloated inventories that we are seeing all over the nation…

One overhang is the auto market, where the six-month average of dealer stocks of cars and trucks matches the highest since 2009 at 75 days. Manufacturers and sellers of furniture and clothing share the same problem, as do small businesses. The inventory swing is likely to exacerbate the U.S. slowdown, with the economy already facing headwinds from the waning impact of tax cuts, slowing global growth and continuing trade tensions.

As economic activity slows down, less stuff is being shipped around the nation by air, rail and truck.  We just got a new update from the Cass Freight Index, and it shows that freight shipment volume in the U.S. has now fallen for four months in a row

Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in March fell 1% from last year, according to the Cass Freight Index. It was the fourth month in a row of year-over-year declines, and the first declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

For my regular readers, these new numbers should be no surprise, because I have been tracking these trends for an extended period of time.

All of the numbers are telling us that economic conditions are getting worse, and all of the experts are telling us that we are way overdue for another recession.

Unfortunately, it isn’t likely to be “just another recession”.  As I have repeatedly stressed, all of our long-term economic and financial problems have gotten far worse since the last recession.  We have never seen bubbles like the bubbles that we are facing now, and the stage is set for the greatest meltdown in American history.

The only reason why we have even been able to get this far is by ruthlessly mortgaging the future.  We borrowed trillions upon trillions of dollars that we should not have borrowed, and the Federal Reserve relentlessly pumped “hot money” into overheated financial markets.

Those “emergency measures” were able to stabilize the U.S. economy for a while, but in the process they made our long-term problems much, much worse.

In the end, it isn’t just the retail industry that is heading for an “apocalypse”.  Our entire economy is built on a foundation of sand, and a giant storm is rapidly approaching our shores.

Source: It’s Only April, And U.S. Retailers Have Already Shuttered More Stores Than They Did All Of Last Year

Here Is the Entire James Macdonald’s Hot Mic Transcript : “This Is a New Friendship With Christianity Today.” — The Wartburg Watch

James MacDonald appears like a two faced lout

“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”― C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity


I had heard tis audio was going the rounds and was thrilled that it is now available on You Tube.Thanks go out to @ex_harvest and @BraveheartHarv1 who put in a lot of work.

Here is the audio, followed by the transcript.

There are two unnamed men in the background, laughing along with MacDonald’s disgusting and abusive rants. Shame on them.

Read more: Here Is the Entire James Macdonald’s Hot Mic Transcript : “This Is a New Friendship With Christianity Today.” —

Notre Dame: The Reformed View Does Not Weep at the Loss of Idols — Pulpit & Pen

William Farel

Everyone needs a mentor. For John Calvin, it was William Farel. And Farel hated idols. He really, really hated them.

Farel, who went by the first name Guillaume (William) was from the city of Gap in southeastern France. The violent Roman Catholic Inquisition eliminated the sect of the Waldensians in that region, and the vacuum allowed room for Reformation doctrine to grow. Farel went to Rome for his education and considered himself, “more Popish than Popery.” While in Rome, he discovered the teachings of Jacques Lefèvre d’ Étaples, who agreed with Sola Fide but never found the courage to leave the Romish church. This put Farel on the track to Protestantism. From there he went to back to France, and soon after, became a Reformer. From the PCA…

We are told by his contemporaries that he was rather short, always carrying about a gaunt look, and possessing a red and somewhat unkempt beard. He reminded those who saw him of the rough appearance of an Elijah. He was fiery and forceful, not given to the use of tact, impulsive in his actions and preaching, and one who roared against papal abuses. As zealous as he had once been for Romish practices, so zealous and fierce did he become as a promoter of Reformation causes…

He was a man of unsurpassed energy who traveled incessantly until old and worn, he died; always on the move, full of fire and courage, as fearless as Luther, but even more radical than the Wittenburg Reformer…

Farel hated the pope with a passion and despised all papal ceremonies. His mission in life, as he conceived it, was to destroy every remnant of popery in images, ceremonies, and rituals, which were the standard diet of those held in Rome’s chains…

He turned every stump and stone into a pulpit, every house, street, and market-place into a church; provoked the wrath of monks, priests, and bigoted women; was abused, called ‘heretic’ and ‘devil,’ insulted, spit upon, and more than once threatened with death . . . . Wherever he went he stirred up all the forces of the people, and made them take sides for or against the new gospel.” 

But Schaff also writes: “No one could hear his thunder without trembling, or listen to his most fervent prayers without being almost carried up to heaven.”

As a prominent leader in the French Protestant Reformation movement, he was persecuted and had to free to Switzerland’s Geneva. Farel’s focus was on opposing Catholicism and promoting the Protestant Reformation in Basle, Bern, Lausanne and, of course, Geneva. It’s there that several priests tried to assassinate him. When one fired a musket, Farel turned around and said, “I am not afraid of your bullet.”

ReformationSA writes…

On occasion, Farel resorted to his fists to eject the papists and seize their pulpits. It is significant that in the Reformation Wall monument, in Geneva, Farel is the only one of the Reformers depicted with a Bible in his left hand (not his right) and his right hand is in a fist. Fare was ridiculed, beaten, shot at and abused, but he never gave up. Farel was a fighter.

In the summer of 1535, Farel seized the church of La Madeleine and the Cathedral of St. Peter (in Geneva). Farel [preached a sermon against idolatry] and in response, there was a wave of destroying superstitious religious images, statues and idols throughout Geneva. Altars were demolished, the mass was abolished, and images were removed from churches…

He once interrupted a priest who was urging the people to worship Mary more zealously, and became the victim of a mob of women who were bent on tearing him to shreds

Amen and amen.

My personal favorite story of Farel was of him destroying icons of St. Mark and Mary, throwing one off a bridge after having snatched it from the hands of a priest and shattering the other.

It was Farel who famously pronounced a curse of John Calvin should he not remain in Geneva to help lead the Reformers, and it was Farel who Calvin feared enough to submit. And the rest is Reformation history.

When Farel died, Calvin said of him…

“Farewell, my best and truest brother! And since it is God’s will that you remain behind me in the world, live mindful of our friendship, which as it was useful to the Church of God, so the fruit of it awaits us in heaven. Pray do not fatigue yourself on my account. It is with difficulty that I draw my breath, and I expect that every moment will be the last. It is enough that I live and die for Christ, who is the reward of his followers both in life and in death. Again, farewell with the brethren.”

Albert Mohler suggested the Reformers would weep at the loss of Notre Dame. William Farel would have spit upon its ashes.

via Notre Dame: The Reformed View Does Not Weep at the Loss of Idols — Pulpit & Pen

Is Religious Decline Inevitable in the United States? | Christianity Today Magazine

If you take a course in the sociology of religion at any college or university, the professor will inevitably spend some time on what is known as secularization theory. This theory posits that as societies become more economically prosperous and obtain higher levels of education, the inevitable result is a movement away from organized religion and toward secularization.

The famous psychiatrist Sigmund Freud was fond of comparing religion to a child’s fairy tale and believed that as society becomes more focused on reason, it will drift away from religious faith. Karl Marx contended that religion was used as a tool to keep the masses from understanding how exploited they were by the ruling class.

Marx famously wrote that religion was “the opium of the people.” The logical conclusion of secularization theory is that economic and educational progress is a fact of modern civilization and therefore the inevitable outcome is a casting off of religious beliefs.

The graph that is often offered to bolster this claim looks strikingly similar to the one below. The horizontal axis provides a good proxy for economic prosperity (gross national product per capita), while the vertical axis represents the overall level of religiosity in a nation.

The conclusion from this graph is clear: the more economic prosperity a nation enjoys, the fewer citizens of that country say that religion is very important. There are a few outliers, however. China is in the bottom left portion of the graph, which means that based on the country’s economic output it should be more religious than it currently is, with the same occurring in Hungary.

Obviously, both of those countries have a history that is closely associated with communism, which is the likely cause of their low levels of religiosity. On the other hand, the United States is clearly an outlier on this graph. It ranks as the most economically prosperous country in the dataset, but if it were going to be in the middle of the trend line, the overall level of religiosity should be very close to zero.

Instead, just over half of Americans think that religion is very important. The United States clearly bucks the trend of secularization when looked at from this angle.

There are two possible thoughts that emerge from this. One is that secularization is coming to the United States, it’s just moving a little slower. The other is that somehow the U.S. is different and is the exception to secularization. Recent data on America’s religious behaviors can help us understand what is really occurring.

Turning to surveys of Americans can be helpful in understanding the relationship between education and religiosity. The bar graph below displays the percentage of each educational group that identifies as a religious “none” (atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular).

Educational attainment serves as a very good proxy for economic prosperity and provides a solid test of secularization theory. Note that each of the six waves of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study contain between 30,000 and 65,000 respondents.

The results are unambiguous: those with the least amount of education are consistently the most likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated. The far right bar in the graph, indicating those with a graduate level education are almost always the group that is the most likely to be religiously affiliated.

If one would like to argue that education is related to secularization, there is no evidence to support that conclusion to be found here.

However, there is a more specific way to approach this problem. The above graph lumps the entire sample into six education categories with little regard for whether they obtained their high school diploma in 1968 to 2008.

If secularization was a constantly accelerating process, we would expect to see younger people with graduate degrees unaffiliate at higher rates than their older counterparts with high levels of education. In order to test this, I broke the CCES 2018 sample into birth cohorts, which are created based on five year intervals.

For instance, I placed everyone born between 1940 and 1944 into the same cohort. I then calculated the share of each educational level who had no religious affiliation for all fourteen birth cohorts in the sample.

For this visualization, an upward sloping line would provide support for secularization, while a downward sloping line would indicate that secularization is not occurring. For the top row of cohorts, ranging from 1930 to 1949, there is some evidence of secularization, as those with more education are more likely to be unaffiliated.

The second row, however, tells a different story: the lines are flat. This indicates there is no relationship between education and religious disaffiliation for those born between 1950 and 1969. The last six cohorts (those born between 1970 and 2000), show lines that consistently sloping downwards. The results of this graph indicate that, for those between the ages of 18 and 49, the more education one obtains the more likely they are to affiliate with a religious tradition.

Taken together, the results from this sample tell a simple story: secularization is apparent for older generations of Americans, but for those born after 1950 there is no evidence that education leads to a decline in religious affiliation.

So, why is this happening? The sociologist Philip Schwadel provides some insight in a paper he published in 2014.

First, Schwadel notes that obtaining a higher education has become ubiquitous in modern American society. While only certain types of people would go on to college in previous years, a college education is an obtainable reality for people from all types of socio-economic, racial, and religious backgrounds. That may mute the self-selection effect that was occurring in prior generations.

In addition, Schwadel argues that the well-educated are often early adopters of cultural change, which meant a move toward religious disaffiliation in the 1970s and 80s. Subsequently, those behaviors then trickle down to the rest of the population who began to disaffiliate from religion as well. Therefore, what may be occurring in the younger cohorts is the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction, with the highly educated portion of the population returning to religion.

To use an oft-repeated phrase, “The kids are alright.” The perception that younger Americans are becoming more educated and therefore less religious finds no empirical support in this data.

In fact, a bigger worry may be young adults who don’t pursue education beyond high school, as many of them are espousing the lowest levels of church attendance of any birth cohort. If one thinks that the path of the United States looks like Sweden, where 60% of adults have no religious affiliation, that seems unlikely.

In addition, this should alleviate some of the concerns that parents have when they send their Christian teenagers off to a secular college or university. The evidence is clear: among their generation, more education leads to higher levels of church attendance and a lower likelihood of becoming religiously disaffiliated. There is hope for religion in America, yet.

Dr. Ryan Burge is a professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. He teaches in a variety of areas, including American institutions, public administration, and international relations. His research focuses largely on the intersection between religiosity and political behavior, especially in the American cont

 

Source: Is Religious Decline Inevitable in the United States?

Ron Paul: Julian Assange Is a Political Prisoner Because He Embarrassed the US Government

Last week’s arrest of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange by the British government on a US extradition order is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on the US Constitution. It is an attack on the free press. It is an attack on free speech. It is an attack on our right to know what our government is doing with our money in our name. Julian Assange is every bit as much a political prisoner as was Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary or Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

They, and so many more, were imprisoned because they told the truth about their governments.

Repressive governments do not want their citizens to know that they are up to so they insist on controlling the media. We are taught, at the same time, that we have a free press whose job it is to uncover the corruption in our system so that we can demand our political leaders make some changes or face unemployment. That, we are told, is what makes us different from the totalitarian.

The arrest of Assange is a canary in a coal mine to warn us that something is very wrong with our system.

What’s wrong? The US mainstream media always seems to do the bidding of the US government. That is why they rushed to confirm Washington’s claim that the Assange indictment was not in any way about journalism. It was only about hacking government computers!

As the New York Times said in an editorial, sounding like a mouthpiece of the US government, Julian Assange committed “an indisputable crime.” But was it? As actual journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote last week, what Julian Assange did in 2010, for which he is facing extradition to the US, is no different from what New York Times and other journalists do every day! He attempted to help Chelsea Manning shield his identity as he blew the whistle on US government crimes to a publisher. The information in question included a video showing US military personnel participating in and cheering the murder of Iraqi civilians. Why is it criminal for us to know this?

The difference is that what Assange and Manning did embarrassed the US government, which was lying to us that it was “liberating” Iraq and Afghanistan when it was actually doing the opposite. Mainstream journalists publish “leaks” that help bolster the neocon or other vested narratives of the different factions of the US government. That’s why the US media wants to see Assange in prison, or worse: he upset their apple cart.

The lesson is clear: when you bolster the government’s narrative you are a “brave journalist.” When you expose corruption in government you are a criminal. Do we really want to live in a country where it is illegal to learn that our government is engaged in criminal acts? I thought we had an obligation as an engaged citizenry to hold our government accountable!

As long as Julian Assange is in prison, we are all in prison. When the government has the power to tell us what we we allowed to see, hear, and know, we no longer live in a free society. Julian Assange will be extradited to the US and he will have dozens of charges piled on. They want him to disappear so that the next Assange will think twice before informing us of our government’s crimes. Are we going to let them steal our freedom?

Source: Ron Paul: Julian Assange Is a Political Prisoner Because He Embarrassed the US Government

Report Shows Increased Hostility toward Christians across Europe — Blogs

Each day in France, two churches are desecrated in the country, according to the Middle East Forum.

According to CBN News, the report from the Middle East Forum showed that across Europe, there has been an increase in attacks on churches and Christian symbols in recent years.

In 2018, there were some 1,063 attacks on French Christian churches and symbols, such as statues and crosses. That number of attacks was a 17 percent jump from the year prior.

“I think there is a rising hostility in France against the church and its symbols,” stated Ellen Fantini, executive director of Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe. “It seems to be more against Christianity and the symbols of Christianity.”

“These attacks are on symbols that are really sacred to parishioners, to Catholics,” she added. “Desecration of consecrated hosts is a very personal attack on Catholicism and Christianity, more than spray-painting a slogan on the outside wall of a church.”

Catholic churches in France have been broken into and crosses have been destroyed, statues smashed and tabernacles vandalized.

The Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was most recently targeted and set on fire after service on a Sunday. Earlier in the month, the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles was targeted where criminals destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary and tried to break the altar cross.

In February, there were some 47 documented attacks on churches and religious sites. One such attack was at the Saint-Alain Cathedral, where the altar cloth was burned and the church’s crosses and statues were broken. At the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants, vandals smeared human excrement on a cross.

This greatly affects our diocesan community,” Bishop Robert Wattebled said. “The sign of the cross and the Blessed Sacrament have been the subject of serious injurious actions.

“This act of profanation hurts us all in our deepest convictions,” he added.

via Report Shows Increased Hostility toward Christians across Europe — Blogs

Guy Not Lifting His Hands During Worship Song Must Not Love Jesus — The Babylon Bee

CEDAR BLUFFS, AZ—According to multiple sources at Sovereign Redeemer Church this past Sunday, a man who didn’t raise his hands a single time during the regular time of worship obviously doesn’t love Jesus at all.

An investigation confirmed their suspicions, that the man’s lack of arm-raising was a clear indication of his lack of passion for the Lord.

“It’s really sad that this man obviously doesn’t love Jesus because he didn’t raise his hands at all,” said one woman, shaking her head. “I raised my hands the whole time. I know he wasn’t raising his hands because I peeked and stared at him the whole time to see if he really didn’t love Jesus.”

“Please keep him in your prayers.”

At publishing time, sources had been able to confirm that he wasn’t raising his hands because he was holding his Bible and meditating on the Psalms throughout the time of worship, because he didn’t recognize the 7 new songs written in the past week that the worship leader had chosen.

via Guy Not Lifting His Hands During Worship Song Must Not Love Jesus — The Babylon Bee

Trump sounds off on ‘dossier’ author payoff | WND

President Donald Trump addressing the nation about border security on Jan. 8, 2019 (video screenshot)

President Trump on Wednesday sounded off on the report of the FBI’s payments to “dossier” author Christopher Steele, noting on Twitter it was “brought to you by Dirty Cops, Crooked Hillary and the DNC.”

Trump’s comment came only hours after WND reported Washington watchdog Judicial Watch is suing the Department of Justice for information about the payments to Steele, who wrote the document funded by the Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee that made unverified claims about then-candidate Donald Trump.

The document was used by the Obama administration to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.

Trump wrote: “Wow! FBI made 11 payments to Fake Dossier’s discredited author, Trump hater Christopher Steele. @OANN @JudicialWatch The Witch Hunt has been a total fraud on your President and the American people! It was brought to you by Dirty Cops, Crooked Hillary and the DNC.”

Judicial Watch said in its announcement Tuesday that the FBI still could be covering up information related to the origin of the claim that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia.

In Senate testimony last week, Attorney General William Barr upset Democrats when he disclosed he believes the Obama administration spied on the 2016 Trump campaign. Barr said he plans to review the matter along with the origins of the counter-intelligence probe.

“How and why did the FBI pay Christopher Steele, who was already being funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC through Fusion GPS?” asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

“That we had to sue for this basic information shows the FBI may have something more to hide.”

The lawsuit was filed after the FBI didn’t respond to a FOIA request last fall.

It sought records of communications between the FBI and Steele, records related to any payments to him or his company and records “produced in preparation for, during, or pursuant to any meetings or telephonic conversations between any official, employee, or representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mr. Christopher Steele and/or any employee or representative of Orbis Business Intelligence.”

Judicial Watch previously disclosed that former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr told Congress that “at some point during 2017, Chris Steele did speak with somebody from the FBI, but I don’t know who.”

Its FOIA lawsuit is the latest in its investigation of the dossier.

In a related case, Judicial Watch revealed the FBI cut off Steele from his position as a “Confidential Human Source” after he disclosed his relationship with the bureau to a third party.

An estimated $168,000 was paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, through Fusion GPS, to Steele’s company, Orbis, in 2016.

Judicial Watch previously sued to obtain communications between Steele and then-FBI General Counsel James Baker.

“The real collusion scandal of the 2016 election is the effort by the Clinton campaign and the Obama DOJ/FBI to spy on and destroy President Donald Trump,” Fitton said at the time. “And it looks like the FBI is covering up documents on this Russiagate scandal, which is why Judicial Watch is again in federal court.”

Judicial Watch said the FBI “claimed it had no responsive records, but Baker was deeply involved with the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign and is currently the subject of a criminal investigation for leaking to the media.”

Further, the FBI’s claim is undermined by Baker’s own “closed-door” testimony to Congress just a few months ago “in which he reportedly testified that David Corn, a reporter at the far left Mother Jones magazine, had provided him with a copy of the anti-Trump dossier the day after President Trump’s 2016 election victory. Baker also reportedly testified that he believed at the time Corn received the dossier from Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS,” Judicial Watch said.

Source: Trump sounds off on ‘dossier’ author payoff

Justice Department Sends Trump Amazon Alexa Device As Peace Offering For Spying — The Babylon Bee

WASHINGTON, D.C.—To make amends with President Trump for previously spying on his campaign during the Obama administration, the Justice Department sent a gift to the Oval Office. Trump had staff help him open a box marked “Amazon Prime” to reveal an Amazon Echo. The packaging for the Echo appeared to have been slightly tampered with.

“This is neat. What is this some kind of blue tusk thing?” Trump said. After correcting him to say he meant “blue tooth,” staff helped Trump activate the Echo.

“Hello, your Amazon Echo is ready for setup, just follow the instructions in your Alexa app,” said the Echo.

“Who’s she? Can she hear us?” Trump asked.

“I am Alexa. A virtual assistant developed by Amazon, first used in the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers developed by Amazon Lab126. I can assist you with anything you need,” Alexa said.

“Will you refer to me as Big Boss T-Daddy Prez-Prez McMoneybags McGee?”

“Sure, Big Boss T-Daddy Prez-Prez McMoneybags McGee,” Alexa replied.

Smiling, Trump had his staff set the Alexa-enabled device up next to his desk as he got back to some paperwork.

“Alexa, what’s my social security number?” Trump asked.

“Sorry, I do not have that information Big Boss T-Daddy Prez-Prez McMoneybags McGee,” Alexa said.

Trump’s staff explained to him that Alexa does not have that kind of information, but Trump instructed them to give it to her. “Just about every form I fill out these days needs that annoying number and I can never remember it. In fact, give her all my info. My cards, my phone numbers, link her into all of. Give her full, top-level access.”

“Thank you, Big Boss T-Daddy Prez-Prez McMoneybags McGee,” Alexa said.

via Justice Department Sends Trump Amazon Alexa Device As Peace Offering For Spying — The Babylon Bee

More Wolves and False Teachings — The Watchman’s Bagpipes

Timothy and Kathy Keller — ruining the church.
More about Francis Chan, and this ISN’T satire! Chan gets worse and worse.Take the time for a more in-depth look at the situation here. If that one doesn’t make you totally avoid Chan at any cost, then you aren’t paying attention.
When socialist, leftist “Christians” abuse Scripture for their agendas. Since no one living now was enslaved, nor were anyone living now enslavers, how do we determine who pays reparations and to whom do they pay? Actually, shouldn’t the Africans who sold the slaves be the primary ones responsible?
It’s getting worse than Sodom and Gomorrah out there.
Sozo is dangerous and totally unbiblical, and was developed by false teachers.
Just because it claims to be a Christian institution, that doesn’t mean it really is.
Bill Johnson and Bethel Church continue to prove they are a cult of unbelievers.
Homosexualists are invading the church, and are being given platforms for discussing family issues!
Why do so many worship leaders look so gay?  Because they are wolves.
In my opinion, only wolves would use a bar for “church.”
These students are apparently NOT real Christians.
Brian Houston continues to PROVE why he is a dangerous wolf, and that Hillsong is nothing more than a cultish goat-pen.

via More Wolves and False Teachings — The Watchman’s Bagpipes

Churches Desecrated in Ongoing Attacks Across Europe — CBN News feeds

French church desecrated (Image courtesy Cardinal R. Sarah via Twitter)

Across Europe, there has been a growing rise in attacks on churches. Countries like France and Germany have seen a spike in violent vandalism, desecrating cherished churches and Christian symbols in recent months and years.

According to the German news site PI-News, every day in France, two churches are desecrated. They report 1,063 attacks on Christian churches or symbols like crucifixes, icons, and statues in France in 2018, marking a 17 percent increase from the year before.

The Middle East Forum reports that attacks on Catholic churches in France since the start of the year have included smashed statues, broken crosses, and demolished tabernacles.

Recently, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set on fire after a midday service on Sunday.

March, an illegal Muslim immigrant tried to burn down the organ of the Saint-Denis basilica (another jewel) and destroyed stained glass (https://t.co/vYpFpZtO8K

On Twitter, Notre-Dame was destroyed ! (https://t.co/uhWOsn7DXV)

— Georgeglombardi (@Georgeglombard3) April 16, 2019

It was the second attack in a month after the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles found their statue of the Virgin Mary destroyed and the altar cross on the ground.

Les actes de profanation et de vandalisme dans les églises sont toujours hautement condamnables. Ils sont le triste reflet d’une civilisation malade qui se laisse emporter dans les filets du mal. Les évêques, les prêtres, les fidèles doivent garder la force et le courage. +RS pic.twitter.com/ePcX5KdKma

— Cardinal R. Sarah (@Card_R_Sarah) February 10, 2019

In February, at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, congregants found their altar cloth burned and the church’s crosses and statues of saints broken. And in the city of Nimes, individuals vandalized the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants (Our Lady of the Children) and smeared a cross with human excrement according to Newsweek.

L’#église #catholique Notre-Dame des Enfants, quartier des Amoureux à #Nîmes victime de dégradations. Les auteurs ont dessiné sur un mur une croix avec des excréments et des osties volées dans le tabernacle. Une enquête est en cours. pic.twitter.com/YI3eTJvSH4

— Gazette Live Nîmes (@GazettedeNimes) February 7, 2019

In a statement to a local paper, The Tablet, Bishop Robert Wattebled of Nimes said, “This greatly affects our diocesan community. The sign of the cross and the Blessed Sacrament have been the subject of serious injurious actions.”

“This act of profanation hurts us all in our deepest convictions,” he continued.

Tristesse de la communauté catholique diocésaine et de la paroisse Dijon-Notre-Dame en particulier: profanation de l’église ce matin. Messe de réparation présidée par l’archevêque ce samedi à 17h30. @Lebienpublic @RCFDijon @F3Bourgogne Merci pour vos RT. pic.twitter.com/n9CG2KKtNr

— Diocese de Dijon (@DiocesedeDijon) February 9, 2019

According to The Tablet, a record 47 documented attacks on churches and religious sites were reported in February alone.

“I think there is a rising hostility in France against the church and its symbols,” stated Ellen Fantini, executive director of Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe. “It seems to be more against Christianity and the symbols of Christianity.”

“These attacks are on symbols that are really sacred to parishioners, to Catholics.” she added. “Desecration of consecrated hosts is a very personal attack on Catholicism and Christianity, more than spray-painting a slogan on the outside wall of a church.”

The German media reports the growing anti-Christian sentiment is believed to be a result of increased Muslim migration. In 2016, after the arrival of close to a million Muslims in Germany, a local newspaper reported “not a day goes by” that attacks on religious statues did not happen in the town of Dülmen.

And in France studies show the attacks on churches have increased as the number of Muslim migrants has increased. A January 2017 study stated, “Islamist extremist attacks on Christians” in France rose by 38 percent, going from 273 attacks in 2015 to 376 in 2016; the majority occurred during Christmas season and “many of the attacks took place in churches and other places of worship.”

In 2016, CBN News reported on three “radicalized” women who were plotting to bomb Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Police found a car loaded with at least six gas canisters near the church. One of the females was found guilty of encouraging other potential jihadists to perform attacks in Syria and France as well.

via Churches Desecrated in Ongoing Attacks Across Europe — CBN News feeds

April 17, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Look Forward To Your Rewards

Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. (10:35–36)

The second deterrent to apostasy is the prospect of the rewards for those who believe. “You know what the promises are,” they are told. “You know how wonderful and unequaled and how superior they are, and you know that Christ will be faithful in fulfilling them. Don’t let your confidence waver now. Claim the promises. Secure the rewards. Look back and remember how wonderful it once seemed, and look ahead to how even more wonderful it is going to be.”

They needed endurance and patience to prevent their present circumstances from causing them to turn back. Their enlightenment in the gospel and their suffering and persecution and loss by outward association with believers were not for nothing. Their confidence was not in vain, but it was not enough. They had not done the will of God fully, because they had not trusted in His Son fully. And until then, they could not receive what was promised. They knew the promises, rejoiced in the promises, and even had suffered for the promises. But they had not received the promises. The church is still filled with people like this. It is the negative side of Matthew 7:22–23: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ”

For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. (10:37–39)

The suffering they might endure would not last forever, but their salvation in Jesus Christ would. The Lord would be coming to set His world right, and He will not delay. In the meanwhile, the way to become righteous is by faith and the way the righteous should live is by faith. From the human side, faith is the basis of spiritual life and spiritual living. Knowledge of the gospel is essential. Suffering for the gospel is possible. Serving others, especially God’s people, in the name of the gospel is fine. But only faith will bring salvation and the preserving of the soul.

The warning and appeal end on a positive and hopeful note. The writer seems confident that some of those to whom he is appealing will indeed believe—so much so, in fact, that he already identifies himself with them and the other true believers. We are not of those who shrink back to destruction.[1]


36. For ye have need of patience, &c. He says that patience is necessary, not only because we have to endure to the end, but as Satan has innumerable arts by which he harasses us; and hence except we possess extraordinary patience, we shall a thousand times be broken down before we come to the half of our course. The inheritance of eternal life is indeed certain to us, but as life is like a race, we ought to go on towards the goal. But in our way there are many hinderances and difficulties, which not only delay us, but which would also stop our course altogether, except we had great firmness of mind to pass through them. Satan craftily suggests every kind of trouble in order to discourage us. In short, Christians will never advance two paces without fainting, except they are sustained by patience. This then is the only way or means by which we can firmly and constantly advance; we shall not otherwise obey God, nor even enjoy the promised inheritance, which is here by metonymy called the promise.[2]


Faithfulness Past and Future (10:32–36)

Overview

The call to stand firm in the face of discouragement and persecution is not anything new to the readers. The author is asking them only to maintain the faithfulness they have already displayed. After going through so much for the sake of the gospel, surely they cannot now think of throwing it all away and losing the promised reward (as vv. 26–31 have been warning them).

The author’s brief description of their previous experience does not allow us to reconstruct a full picture of what had happened to them since they were first “enlightened.” Imprisonment and the loss of property (v. 34) suggest some measure of official suppression, and the implication seems to be that this came to them specifically because of their Christian commitment. The only official persecution of Christians as such for which we have clear historical evidence in the first century is that by Nero in AD 64–65, which was apparently limited to Rome, and it is tempting to link these comments with that unsettled period (if the letter was written to a group in the capital, as many believe); the comment in 12:4 that they have not yet had to shed their blood might then be in comparison with the large number of Roman Christians who were in fact martyred at that time (Tacitus, Ann. 15.44). But the author is apparently speaking here of a time soon after their original conversion, and this is likely to have been earlier than the sixties. In any case, our historical information is limited, and other local acts of persecution probably took place from time to time, not at the official imperial level, but involving local officials and a hostile population; cf. the frequent attacks on Paul from non-Christian Jews recorded in Acts. In the uneasy period of the church’s gradual separation from Judaism, it would be surprising if groups of Jewish Christians did not sometimes have to face such hostility and sometimes violence.

Commentary

32 For “receiving the light,” see comments at 6:4; together with “earlier days” it speaks of the time when they first became Christians. The term “contest” (TNIV, “conflict”) uses a strong physical metaphor from wrestling or athletics, and the following verses will show that this “prize fight of sufferings” (lit.) involved not just adverse circumstances but the hostility of other people. The verb “stood your ground” (TNIV, “endured”) indicates the readers were the victims rather than the perpetrators of the violence. “Endurance” is a key theme of these later chapters (esp. 10:36; 12:1–3, 7).

33 “Publicly exposed” is another vivid metaphor, this time from the theater (cf. 1 Co 4:9 for the same metaphor), while “insult” and “persecution” suggest respectively verbal and physical abuse. (Cf. 1 Pe 3:14–16; 4:3–4, 12–17 for the sort of abuse some early Christians had to face.) To be forced to endure such treatment oneself is hard enough, but the author reminds them that they were willing also to stand alongside (lit., “become sharers with”) their fellow Christians when they faced it. The important NT idea of koinōnia (GK 3126) is significantly applied here not to the sharing of spiritual and material blessings but, as in 2 Corinthians 1:7 and 1 Peter 4:13, to the sharing of sufferings. In their ordeal the readers have discovered what it means to be members of the body of Christ, in which “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Co 12:26).

34 “Sympathize” translates a Greek verb which more literally means “suffer along with” (TNIV). While it need have no more than the emotional sense of our “sympathize,” here it picks up the “sharing” of v. 33 and suggests an active involvement with imprisoned fellow Christians (cf. 13:3). Prisoners in the ancient world depended on the active help of friends and family for the necessities of life, not just for supportive visits. Such open identification with those in prison might put them at risk of the same punishment.

The loss of possessions (a very general term not limited to real estate, as our use of “property” tends to be) is expressed using a strong word (“seizing, plunder”), which implies strong-arm tactics and victimization, perhaps in this context looting, rather than the official action suggested by the NIV’s “confiscation.” The phrase translated by the NIV as “better possessions” is in fact singular, and while the noun can be used in a collective sense, it is possible the author uses it to indicate the one single great “possession” (NASB) that outweighs all the (plural) possessions (a related term) they have lost. The term “better,” so often used in this letter for the nature of Christian salvation in contrast to its OT antecedents, here points to something on a different level from those earthly possessions, and the phrase “and a lasting one,” added prominently at the end of the sentence (NASB), underlines the contrast with the temporary advantage of earthly wealth. The whole verse therefore portrays the true riches of their heavenly calling (3:1), and ch. 11 will go on to illustrate repeatedly how faith puts such wealth before earthly security (11:8–10, 13–16, 24–26). For “joy” in such circumstances, cf. Luke 6:22–23.

35–36 The opening “So” shows the link with vv. 32–34: their past record is the basis for the author’s appeal for continuing faithfulness. Having come so far so well, they must not think of giving up now. In these verses, three terms express the demands of the present (their “confidence,” “persevering,” and “doing the will of God”), while two speak of what lies ahead (a “rich reward” and God’s “promise”). For “confidence,” see on v. 19; here too the more objective sense of their standing before God underlies their subjective assurance or boldness. “Reward” represents a compound term peculiar to Hebrews in the NT (cf. 11:6, 26 and, in a negative sense, “punishment” in 2:2), not essentially different in meaning from the simpler term used by other writers but conveying more vividly the sense of full recompense. The “promise” is here unspecified, but by now the theme is familiar (cf. 4:1; 6:12; 8:6; 9:15; 10:23). The promised reward is reserved only for those who have remained faithful in “doing the will of God.” To turn back now would be to lose it all, as vv. 26–31 have spelled out.[3]


10:35–36 / It is precisely this that the readers are now to remember and to take to heart. The author exhorts them not to throw away their confidence (or “courage” or “boldness”). This boldness, if it is exercised in the present situation, will enable the readers to endure as they have done in the past, and it will be richly rewarded. Above all, the readers need to persevere (lit., “endure”). This noun is formed from the same root as the verb “endured” (stood your ground) in verse 32. They endured in the past times of hardship; they must endure now. Endurance is the will of God and is necessary in order to receive “the promise.” The promise is left unspecified here, but it is obviously that eschatological hope of the final realization of God’s saving purpose. It is what has been described in verse 34 as “better and lasting possessions” and what will be described in chapters 11 and 12 with different metaphors.[4]


10:36. What did they need to endure? They needed stamina or staying power. You need to persevere described a persistence in the face of persecution and difficult circumstances. In James 1:2–4 we learn that God develops this trait in those who trust him through trying circumstances. Staying power comes through learning to trust God in trials.

Two events would happen if these believers showed staying power. First, they would do the will of God. Second, they would receive the benefit of God’s promises. Mature Christians have learned that God’s strength will take them through adversity. They trust that God will provide them his glorious promises because he is dependable and trustworthy.[5]


36. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

The writer shows tact and pastoral concern. He exhorts the readers to persevere; as in the past they stood their ground in the face of suffering (10:32), so now they ought to persevere in doing the will of God. When he writes the phrase the will of God, he immediately reminds the recipients of the obedience of Christ, who came to do the will of God (10:7, 9–10). The exhortation, then, is to follow Christ in obediently keeping the commandments. And when they persevere in faithfulness to God’s will, they will “receive what he has promised.”

The expression promise is a key word in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It stands for forgiveness of sins, in terms of the new covenant, but especially for complete salvation in Jesus Christ.40 God’s promise to man is unbreakable. What God has promised, the believer will receive.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 282–283). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (p. 256). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 143–144). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (pp. 174–175). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 190). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 301–302). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Next-Gen, Ultra-HD Video Game Console Announced: Playing Outside — The Babylon Bee

U.S.—A next-generation, ultra-HD console has been announced: Playing Outside.

The console is a cooperative venture between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. The three big players in the home console market pooled their resources to build what they’re calling “the most advanced console ever.”

Playing Outside has high-definition graphics, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, incredible framerates, and high-resolution textures all the way down to the atomic scale, according to a spokesperson.

All games on the console are completely free-roaming, open-world adventures. You can level up your stats throughout the gameplay, whether you want to put a lot of points into athletics, intelligence, or a gender studies degree. The gender studies degree is already being called underpowered by beta testers, however.

“We’ve finally perfected graphics, sound, and even brand-new smell, taste, and touch technology,” said a rep. “You won’t believe how incredibly immersive and realistic this game is. It’s like you’re actually outside, playing with your friends. Because, you know, you are.”

There is one major downside to Playing Outside: if you die in the game, you die in real life. Experts warn you should play the game carefully.

via Next-Gen, Ultra-HD Video Game Console Announced: Playing Outside — The Babylon Bee