Daily Archives: October 12, 2019

October 12 The Value of Little Things

Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:38–42

Key Verse: Matthew 10:42

And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.

For evangelists like Billy Graham, ministry consists of preaching the gospel to millions of people at large, preplanned events. However, a great majority of the work God does through His people is on a much smaller scale. Notice Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:42—even a cup of cold water to a little one will be rewarded by God.

Acts of service, such as giving water to a child, speak to humility of heart and willingness that truly honor God. It is the person who is willing to set up folding chairs, take food to the homeless, or simply listen to a hurting friend whom God uses in a profound way.

Perhaps those activities seem insignificant compared to preaching a revival or building a mission church. However, they are the backbone of a healthy ministry where the love of God is displayed in authentic ways.

Lest you think your small offerings are lost, Brother Lawrence admonishes, “We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

So make the most of every opportunity to do the little things that make such a big difference. You will certainly not lose your reward.

Lord, help me make the most of every opportunity. I want to do little things in a big way.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 299). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

An Alien Righteousness — Ligonier Ministries Blog

We are saved by a righteousness that is not our own. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul shares the good news of Christ’s imputed righteousness.

This Reformation Month, watch a short video every day on the history and insights of the Protestant Reformation. And don’t forget that for this month only, you can request your free digital download of R.C. Sproul’s video teaching series Luther and the Reformation plus the ebook edition of The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols at ligm.in/Reformation. Offer ends October 31, 2019.

Transcript

Imputation means that the righteousness of Jesus is counted for me the moment I believe in Jesus Christ. That’s what Luther said. That that righteousness an “iustitia” alien—an alien righteousness. A righteousness that’s “extra nos.” A righteousness that’s apart from me, it’s not mine inherently. It belongs to Christ. And what Christ does is when I put my trust in Him, He imputes or counts to me His righteousness. And on the basis of that imputed righteousness, God declares me just right now. So that if I die right now, I go heaven right now because I’ve all the righteousness I will ever need to get there, namely the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That’s good news.

via An Alien Righteousness — Ligonier Ministries Blog

October 12 The Priority of Prayer

Scripture Reading: Daniel 6

Key Verse: Psalm 84:2

My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

The story of Daniel in the lions’ den is one of high drama. The action is so captivating that it is easy to overlook the reason why King Darius had Daniel thrown into the pit of hungry beasts.

The cause of Darius’s anger was not nearly as dramatic as the outcome. It was Daniel, quietly going about his daily business of prayer. Ordinarily his faithfulness would not have been a problem, but Daniel’s enemies decided to use it against him by making it a crime to pray to anyone except Darius.

What was Daniel’s response?

Now when Daniel knew that the document [the law to pray to Darius] was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. (Dan. 6:10–11 nasb)

Daniel was not about to alter his commitment to prayer to protect himself. He could have prayed somewhere else besides his upper chamber with windows. But Daniel knew that to give in was to demonstrate a lack of faith.

Most important, prayer was more than an issue over which to make a statement. Daniel did not want to give up prayer because it was his means of fellowship with almighty God.

Precious heavenly Father, help me make prayer a priority. As I make this spiritual journey into Your presence each day, I know You will meet me there.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 299). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

October 12 Set Free to Take Risks

Scripture reading: Psalm 1:1–6

Key verse: 1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

God enables us to do His will, and His presence, peace, power, and provision guarantee our achieving His end.

In Telling Yourself the Truth, author William Backus addresses the lack of confidence that paralyzes many Christians:

The misbelief that it is stupid or sinful to make decisions which might turn out wrong is unfounded. We’re told to be wise as serpents, harmless as doves. Wisdom does not mean acting in fear or cowardice.

Perfect love casts out fear means to us that the love of God has wiped out the power of fear over our lives if we will use God’s methods of conquering it. “Cast your fears [cares] on Me!” He explains. “Give them to Me! I know what to do with them.” It is in this way we are set free to take risks.

Then whether we succeed or fail is not our utmost concern. We are not enslaved by fear of negative results. We willingly allow ourselves possible failure, possible negative results. Painful fear and anxiety no longer play a dominant role in our lives.

The Christian walking by the Spirit, in the will of God, can trust that outcomes of his actions in faith are totally in the hands of the Father. The truth for the Christian is that disaster, catastrophe, or utter defeat cannot occur. We have no business thinking in those terms!

God never fails.

Here they are, Lord—all my fears, cares, and worries. I give them to You. Free me to take risks.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 299). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Christian Leaders Respond to Beto O’Rourke Saying that Churches Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status if They Oppose Same-Sex Marriage — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s declaration churches should lose their tax-exempt status if they do not agree with same-sex marriage drew quick rebuttals from Southern Baptist leaders and others.

If elected president, the former congressman from Texas said he would make such a policy a priority in response to a question during the Power of Our Pride Presidential Town Hall Thursday night (Oct. 10) in Los Angeles. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation sponsored the town hall, and CNN conducted and telecast the event. HRC is the world’s largest civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

CNN host Don Lemon asked O’Rourke during the town hall, “Do you think religious institutions — like colleges, churches, charities — should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?”

“Yes,” O’Rourke replied to a cheering audience. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.

“And so as president, we are going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore called O’Rourke’s comments “alarming because they represent precisely what those on his side of these issues have said for years that they are not seeking to do.”

“Tax exemption for churches is not a ‘reward,’ but a recognition that the power to tax is the power to destroy,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments for Baptist Press. “And, indeed, with these comments Congressman O’Rourke threatens to destroy every church, synagogue or other religious institution that does not adopt his viewpoint on sexual ethics over and against their own traditions and authoritative texts. That is not the American way.”

Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted, “I believe this is where the entire left is headed. I have been saying for years this will someday happen. Will it be sooner than later?!”

Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press

via Christian Leaders Respond to Beto O’Rourke Saying that Churches Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status if They Oppose Same-Sex Marriage — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Religious Right Sticks by President Trump as Political Heat Rises — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Faith leaders pray with President Donald Trump after he signed a proclamation for a national day of prayer to occur on Sept. 3, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House, on Sept. 1, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As the threat of impeachment looms, President Donald Trump is digging in and taking solace in the base that helped him get elected: conservative evangelical Christians who laud his commitment to enacting their agenda.

Trump told reporters last week that “the biggest pastors” have assured him that Christians are “electrified” by his clash with Democrats who are probing his pushes for Ukraine to launch an investigation into a political rival, former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.

And the prominent evangelicals who have proven Trump’s most stalwart allies are staying in his corner for the impeachment fight, even as some push back against his withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria — a move that imperils scores of Kurdish Muslims and Christians in the region. Although Trump’s Syria pullback is alarming conservative Christians whose support he needs to win reelection, their rallying against his impeachment indicates a bond that appears strong enough to withstand the current foreign policy rift as 2020 balloting nears.

South Carolina pastor and televangelist the Rev. Mark Burns, a backer since the early days of Trump’s 2016 campaign, said in an interview that “it’s important that religious leaders reach out to the president.” Burns contended that Trump’s struggles are partly connected to his Christian faith, adding that “Satan wants to remove a vessel that God has installed to again be a blessing to the religious community.”

Burns said he spoke with Trump briefly last week, when the president met with black conservatives at the White House, and recalled hearing the Holy Spirit “as I crossed the street to walk into Trump Tower” for their first meeting in 2015. Maryland-based Pentecostal Bishop Harry Jackson, who has met with Trump at the White House, said that he plans to hold a large prayer gathering this year for “healing in the nation.”

But it’s not clear whether Trump is seeking or receiving the religious solace that former President Bill Clinton sought as his own impeachment plight intensified two decades ago. Clinton named two progressive pastors to provide spiritual reprieve in 1998, as an extramarital affair earlier in his presidency metastasized into national scandal.

The current president has no religious leaders in such a defined role, though he gets frequent backup from Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress — who warned of “a civil war like fracture” from removing Trump — and the Rev. Franklin Graham. The son of the late Rev. Billy Graham has denounced the impeachment investigation but this week asked followers to “pray w/me” that Trump would reconsider his ceding of Syrian territory to Turkey.

Another evangelical Trump ally who has defended Trump’s Syria withdrawal, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., said in an interview that he and the president are in regular communication but described himself as “not a spiritual adviser, not a counselor. I’m just his friend.” Falwell Jr.’s wife, Becki, said she also maintains a friendly, mutually supportive text-message conversation with first lady Melania Trump.

The Rev. Tony Suarez, who joined Trump’s evangelical advisory board during the 2016 campaign, said that he and the president did not talk impeachment when he last visited the White House two weeks ago. If he’d had the chance, Suarez said, he would offer to pray with Trump, just as “I would offer to pray with anyone who was going through a trying period in their life.”

The Democratic impeachment inquiry deals with Trump’s bid to get Ukrainian authorities looking into unfounded corruption allegations against Joe Biden, a top rival in the 2020 election, and his son, Hunter. Biden’s son served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while the former vice president steered U.S. policy toward Kyiv.

No evidence has emerged to support Trump’s charges of improper behavior by the Bidens. But Suarez, the executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and other pro-Trump evangelicals dismissed the impeachment investigation as a politically motivated effort by Democrats to undercut the president.

As Trump celebrates their support, with plans to address religious conservatives on Saturday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, dozens of other pastors are aligning to support the impeachment inquiry with a day of prayer on Sunday.

“We welcome the light of truth, honesty, and transparency that this moment affords our country, whatever may be revealed,” wrote members of the group Red Letter Christians, many of them progressives, who signed a statement supporting Democrats’ investigation. “This is not a matter of partisanship, but of deepest principle.”

Click here to read more.
Source: Religion News Service

via Religious Right Sticks by President Trump as Political Heat Rises — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Before Assange, Snowden, and Manning, The Deep State Targeted John Lennon | The Free Thought Project

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https://thefreethoughtproject.com

“You gotta remember, establishment, it’s just a name for evil. The monster doesn’t care whether it kills all the students or whether there’s a revolution. It’s not thinking logically, it’s out of control.”—John Lennon (1969)

(TRI) – John Lennon, born 79 years ago on October 9, 1940, was a musical genius and pop cultural icon.

He was also a vocal peace protester and anti-war activist and a high-profile example of the lengths to which the Deep State will go to persecute those who dare to challenge its authority.

Long before Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning were being castigated for blowing the whistle on the government’s war crimes and the National Security Agency’s abuse of its surveillance powers, it was Lennon who was being singled out for daring to speak truth to power about the government’s warmongering, his phone calls monitored and data files illegally collected on his activities and associations.

For a while, at least, Lennon became enemy number one in the eyes of the U.S. government.

Years after Lennon’s assassination it would be revealed that the FBI had collected 281 pages of files on him, including song lyrics. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI at the time, directed the agency to spy on the musician. There were also various written orders calling on government agents to frame Lennon for a drug bust. “The FBI’s files on Lennon … read like the writings of a paranoid goody-two-shoes,” observed reporter Jonathan Curiel.

As the New York Times notes, “Critics of today’s domestic surveillance object largely on privacy grounds. They have focused far less on how easily government surveillance can become an instrument for the people in power to try to hold on to power. ‘The U.S. vs. John Lennon’ … is the story not only of one man being harassed, but of a democracy being undermined.”

Indeed, all of the many complaints we have about government today—surveillance, militarism, corruption, harassment, SWAT team raids, political persecution, spying, overcriminalization, etc.—were present in Lennon’s day and formed the basis of his call for social justice, peace and a populist revolution.

Corrupt kids: A generational stench seeps from the swamp | WND

A popular 1930s radio program began with a distinctive voice asking, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.” The answer then followed with an ominous laugh. Referencing the program’s crime-fighting vigilante, the answer came, “The Shadow knows.” For almost two decades, audiences gathered around their radios to listen to The Shadow’s latest tale of mystery and suspense.

Today, we are listening to tales of mystery and suspense emanating from the shadows of the effort to impeach President Donald Trump. Democrats endeavoring to keep the spotlight on him, as we have seen with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, are witnessing the results of that light spilling over, illuminating what has lingered in the shadows. This has led to the exposure of possible misdeeds by the offspring of party leaders or, at a minimum, the cultivation of their possible assistance by foreign interests. It is creating a very discomforting feeling, not only about where the priorities of our political leaders lie but why they are so determined to keep the spotlight focused on Trump.

As is often the case, with time the truth emerges. And, as such, a common thread linking various anti-Trump political leaders is starting to emerge, possibly giving us some insight as to why they are so committed to Trump’s impeachment. In several cases we see a financial factor tied directly to a politician or a politician’s offspring.

Let us begin with one of the first politicians to encourage their anti-Trump supporters to assume a confrontational role whenever possible, either against him or those serving in his administration: Rep. “Mad Maxine” Waters, D-Calif.

Trump was not even in the Oval Office two weeks before Waters was spreading her confrontational venom. As a representative of the party of alleged tolerance, she called on supporters to confront Trump administration officials wherever found, showing up where they were speaking, eating or visiting, creating a crowd and telling them “they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.” It did not take long for her message to generate its desired impact.

But if one examines Waters under the microscope, it is easier to understand why she chooses to keep the spotlight off herself and on Trump. If you are dubbed “one of the most corrupt members of Congress,” there is a keen interest in shifting that spotlight’s focus to another target. One wonders how Waters has become so wealthy as a member of Congress supposedly serving the people, tallying several homes in a state having the highest number of homeless. Included in this race-baiter’s real estate portfolio is a $4 million mansion in one of the wealthiest areas of Los Angeles – a neighborhood almost completely white, unlike her mostly Hispanic and black constituency.

Nor has Waters hesitated to share the wealth with other family members. Most recently, ethical concerns have been raised over her funneling public funds (more than $750,000 since 2004) to her daughter’s company. Nothing like trying to avoid focusing on one’s own vices by suggesting someone else be investigated.

Then there is the son of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Paul, whom, it is now reported, like Hunter Biden, has financial ties to Ukraine. Reporter Patrick Howley revealed a 2013 video of Pelosi promoting himself and using his mother’s appearance in an ad. As a board member of Viscoil and part of the senior management team of its related company NRGLab, business was being done in Ukraine. While it appears he was not involved in anything untoward there, still it is indicative of a value placed on the offspring of Washington, D.C.’s “swamp” creatures and the need to maintain a stable for their possible future need.

More damning for Paul, however, is a charge of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission against an investment company he co-founded, focusing on “environmentally friendly” ventures. The charge stems from the company secretly being controlled by two individuals with previous convictions for fraud running the business although banned from doing so.

For his Ukranian associates, Hunter Biden has clearly proven to be the most productive horse in the stable they maintain. He has his fingers in a number of ventures that are paying him dearly, enabling him to feed his penchant for drugs, alcohol, strip clubs and prostitutes. His involvement in the Ukraine has been well-documented where, allegedly, with help from his father as vice president, he managed to get the government to fire a prosecutor investigating Burisma Holdings, on whose board Hunter sits. And in a bombshell revelation by Ukrainian MP Andriy Derkach, at some point Joe Biden was paid $900,000 personally for consulting services by that company.

Hunter also partnered with Christopher Heinz, the stepson of then senator and later Secretary of State John Kerry, to create an international private equity firm. Populated by political loyalists, the firm was positioned to make profitable deals overseas with foreign governments with which the U.S. was negotiating. Hunter’s nefarious dealings also involve a financial stake in Megvii Technology – which raised billions of dollars to advance facial recognition technology in China and was recently blacklisted by the U.S. Commerce Department for human rights violations.

Adding to the Biden family’s legal-troubles profile is Joe’s younger brother, James, who has a history of murky financial dealings. He and his associates are accused of defrauding a Tennessee rural health-care company and of falsely promising to get Joe’s help to land the firm some lucrative contracts by implementing their health-care models into his campaign. One can only wonder if Joe’s off-the-wall promise during a campaign speech in Iowa last July to cure cancer was linked to helping brother James’ marketing of such a cure as well.

The 2016 book “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends” by Peter Schweizer details how Hunter’s equity firm richly benefited from Joe’s 2013 trip to China. Apparently unconcerned over the negative appearance traveling with his father on Air Force Two while conducting private business there might have, Hunter laid the groundwork during the trip for a billion-dollar deal with a subsidiary of the Bank of China. While Schweizer’s book triggered an investigation of the Clinton Foundation, no similar investigation was prompted into Hunter’s activities.

There is a certain stench emanating from the swamp – and it is generational. As the spotlight now begins exposing the financial benefit to which families of swamp creatures believe they are entitled, we are in desperate need of a crime-fighter hero like The Shadow to drain it once and for all. A collateral benefit of doing so will clear it of the calls we keep hearing for impeachment.

Source: Corrupt kids: A generational stench seeps from the swamp

The Beginning Of The End | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

They sure are trying their best. To do what? To goose markets higher. It’s been quite the spectacle all year, but this Friday sure took the cake. The entire week had been a giant jerk fest of sudden rips and dips as headline chasing algos were ripping through support and resistance levels unleashed like fat kids at the candy shop. But this Friday was something else, almost designed to have markets overdose on an insulin spike.

Ever more hyped up on an impending China deal, every meeting, and movement of negotiators caused market spikes, a Trump tweet about “warm feelings”, a $82.7B repo operation by the Fed to keep things tidy, a sudden out of the blue $60B/month Treasury buying operation announced by the Fed, multiple Fed speakers to boot, what a scene.

And really Fed? You are throwing this $60B a month announcement out on a Friday with the $DJIA already up 350 points? What are you thinking here? The Fed knows this kind of announcement juices up markets. The Fed sheepishly claims it’s not QE. Oh piss off already. Expanding the balance sheet by $60B a month is a massive intervention any way you cut it or slice it. How big? Do the math. $60B per month is a run rate of $720B a year. And while they claim they’ll stop it in Q2 next year who really believe anything they say? Did you believe QT was on autopilot last year? Lol. Fool me once.

You know what else is $720B a year or $60B a month? The ENTIRE US MILITARY BUDGET. The largest military budget on the planet. Millions under arms, submarines, aircraft carriers, nuclear arsenal, bombers, fighter jets, military bases across the globe, satellites, drones, laser guided missiles, you name it. All of it runs at $60B per month.
So lest everyone is blind to numbers these days as everything is so monstrous our eyes glaze over I trust this comparison highlights how massive the Fed’s announcement was on Friday. But not QE. Right. Believe it if you so choose.

And yet, despite 2 rate cuts, the liquidity and news spectacle on Friday, no new highs. Everything including the kitchen sink is being thrown at these markets. The hype is palatable. And here we are. One year after rate hikes and balance sheet unwind on autopilot we’re back into crisis management, because that’s what rate cuts and balance sheet expansion is.
The ECB has cut and relaunched QE, the Fed has cut twice and is now running a US military budget size balance sheet expansion program.

Take these actions and place them anywhere else in history (2000, 2007, any time) and this would be called an emergency intervention program.

Why is nobody calling it that now? Because all of our senses and perceptions have been dulled by the constant droning on of central bankers telling us that without their existence the stone age is coming back? Please.

Yes they are all afraid of the consequences of debt/credit monstrosity they have unleashed and their only choice to blow an even bigger bubble.

Whether they will succeed is another question. But know that all this frantic action to manipulate the liquidity and rate equation is in response to one chart, the chart that says we are at the beginning of the end.

First comes the yield curve inversion, then comes the steepening, and that’s exactly what happened this week:

Why are central bankers acting like there is a global crisis? Because they know exactly the history of this chart and hence they are trying everything in their power to avert the inevitable. And if that means they have to lie and not call it QE then that’s what they have to do.

They’re buying treasuries because the US government has an insatiable demand for debt. Spending keeps increasing, courtesy both GOP and Democrats, increased military spending, liability obligations, you name it, revenue is not large enough as growth is slowing, hence trillion dollar deficits are here and debt must be financed and when you have that much debt to sell you need buyers. And now the Fed is back in the game.

It’s all a big game.

Also a big game: That big China deal which is no big deal at all, it’s no deal. Nothing is in writing, nothing’s been signed, but let’s call it a great phase 1 partial whatever that means:

Let me tell you what it doesn’t mean: No company is suddenly going to increase their capex or business investments because in 5 weeks, maybe, something will get signed to buy more soybeans and pork as part of phase 1. They didn’t solve anything, it’s a face saving exercise and gives the Chinese time. Time for what? Time to see how the political situation unfolds in the US.

Impeachment? Here’s an out of field controversial and admittedly entirely speculative take on all this: Who’s says Trump is around for phase 2 or phase 3 as he called it yesterday? Everybody assumes he’ll survive impeachment and may well win the election next year. Who says he actually wants to? As radical as it sounds impeachment may be his best and most desirable option.

He sure is acting like he wants to get impeached, he’s practically daring not only Democrats but increasingly Republicans as well. Think about it. What if he really is trying to get impeached and nobody’s doing it for him? The logical path would be to do ever more outrageous things until they finally caved and impeached him. His sudden and unexpected move with the Kurds/Turkey caused big consternation with his Republican supporters who couldn’t quite fathom what he was doing. If he was trying to get impeached such a move would be consistent with such a move. Sounds too crazy? Consider this:

Why would Trump want to get impeached? It’s actually a win win for him. First off he would not have to risk losing at the ballot box next year. Despite all the claims to the contrary his poll numbers are dreadful, for someone not liking to lose a historical defeat in 2020 would not exactly be ego soothing. His entire narrative has been around fake news, fake polls, fake this and fake that. A defeat at the ballot box next year would be a historic repudiation of such a narrative.

If he and his team know a recession is very possible in 2020, then they also know they would likely lose for that reason alone. But it’s more than that. An impeachment process allows to lose the presidency but keep a deep state conspiracy narrative alive. I didn’t lose, I was pushed out by the evils from within. A much more appealing narrative, especially if it comes with a blank immunity check for everything that may well still be uncovered. See, losing the 2020 election doesn’t come with an immunity deal. It may come with an arrest warrant. But dragging the country through a paralyzing constitutional crisis would likely come with an immunity deal as people from both sides would practically beg him to step down. Sure he says, but gimme and my family a blanket get out of jail free card. Why don’t you President Pence? After all it’s been done before.

The political remains speculative, but the Chinese are well served in waiting and managing to get a tariff delay for October in exchange for buying some soybeans and pork. Who knows that the political landscape will be 2-3 months from now.

But what is clear is this non deal deal is not going to suddenly promote investment or sudden economy growth. It may produce a sugar relief high, but as I outlined before: Bulls need new highs or face a major double top. And so far, despite all this:

No new highs. Yet. Next week Q3 earnings will start rolling in in earnest. Besides the results, look closely at the outlooks, especially hiring, as jobless claims is still the missing link for bears. But this week bears got another checkmark: The steepening of the yield curve has begun. The beginning of the end?

Source: The Beginning Of The End

Meet 1,000 Andrew Brunsons still in prison for their faith | Open Doors USA

October 2019 marks the one-year anniversary of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release from Turkey. On that day, the news that millions of Christians had prayed and waited for filled the headlines: Brunson was free. The pastor from North Carolina who spent 25 years leading a church in Izmir, Turkey—the last two of those years from a Turkish prison cell—had been acquitted of false charges of espionage and terrorism.

[Photo above: In July 2019, U.S. Pastor John Cao’s conviction was upheld in a Chinese appeals court. Currently, Cao is serving a seven-year sentence in a Chinese prison.]

During his imprisonment and ongoing trial (it was paused and continued four times), Pastor Brunson, his wife Norine and their family were at the center of millions of prayers, numerous news articles, and even tweets and diplomatic efforts from members of the U.S. government. With each development in Brunson’s case, Open Doors mobilized thousands, maybe millions, of prayers for the Brunsons on the Andrew Brunson Prayer Wall on our website and through social media.

We rejoiced at the news of his release—and still do.

But this anniversary is also a stark reminder that thousands of Christians, including many leaders in the church, remain imprisoned for their commitment to follow Jesus. Yet unlike Pastor Brunson, reporters aren’t writing about these believers; politicians aren’t posting about them; and the worldwide Church isn’t praying for them by name.

There are thousands of Andrew Brunsons around the world, imprisoned because they follow Jesus. But their names and stories are virtually unknown.

Because they carry the name of Jesus

In many of the 50 countries on Open Doors’ World Watch List, Christians are arrested and imprisoned for their faith in Christ. At Open Doors, we get almost daily reports from our field that a man, woman or child has been arrested or sentenced because they carry the name of Jesus. Almost every day, we hear of another family that will be forever changed through a parent’s imprisonment.

In many countries, such as Iran, China and North Korea, Christians are considered “political prisoners,” which often carries a longer sentence in brutal conditions. Morad*, a former church leader in Iran, describes his experience in prison; he spent the first week in solitary confinement. His story offers glimpses of the physical brutality and mental isolation that Christians imprisoned for their faith must endure.

“It was just me, the door and three walls,” he says. “Sometimes the guards brought me tea, but they didn’t let me out to go to the bathroom [a torture tactic].”

In the six months he was there, Morad saw 20 people executed. “They announced it through the prison loudspeakers,” he says. “Some of them had been in my cell; it was heartbreaking to see the fear of death in their eyes. Prison was a terrible, terrible place.”

While it’s impossible to introduce you to all of the persecuted Christians either in prison or awaiting trial today, we wanted to tell you about a few who represent thousands of believers. Because of where they live and that country’s laws or cultural mores, they have been hunted and jailed.

Meet Fatemeh Mohammadi

Fatemeh Mohammadi is now serving a six-month sentence in Evin Prison. Photo courtesy of Article 18.

Iran is one of the worst offenders of religious freedom, with the state seeking out Christians and arresting whole house churches. Meet  Fatemeh Mohammadi, a leader in the underground church in Iran who was recently sent to Iran’s Evin Prison in Tehran (known as the “torture factory”),

She is 19 years old and prior to this sentence, she had already spent six months in prison. Her crime? Being a member of a house church in Tehran. She is also an activist for Christians, boldly speaking out about believers’ rights, including the bad treatment she received in prison.

Earlier this year, the bold young woman wrote an open letter to Iran’s Minister of Intelligence, accusing him of violating the constitution by targeting Christians. In her letter, she accused him of violating Article 23 of Iran’s constitution, which states that “no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”

Fatemeh also questioned why Christians are prevented from “talking about their beliefs with their peers,” while Muslims can freely engage in “propaganda” at schools, universities, mosques and shrines.

Meet Shagufta Kausar and Shafat Masi

While Asia Bibi no longer occupies the prison cell she lived in for almost a decade, another Christian woman, also accused of blasphemy, has literally taken Bibi’s place. Meet Shagufta Kausar and her husband, Shafat Masi. The couple has been on death row in Pakistan since 2014 for allegedly texting blasphemous messages. They have been waiting for five years for their appeal to be heard by the Lahore High Court. Kausar, a mother of four, is reportedly imprisoned in the same cell in Multan Women jail, where Bibi was kept for many years.

Meet Pastors David Lin, John Cao, Wang Yi and five unnamed others

Pastor Wang Yi, founder of Early Rain Covenant Church, remains in prison since his arrest in December 2018.

As China continues its crackdown on Christians, arrests and imprisonment, especially of church and ministry leaders, are part of the reality for many Christians. Two U.S, pastors, David Lin and John Cao, are currently imprisoned in China. Lin is serving a life sentence, and Cao’s conviction was recently upheld.

U.S. Pastor David Linn with his daughter in 1984. He remains in a Chinese prison.

Lin was placed under house arrest in China in 2006 when he tried to get government permission to run a ministry in China. He was jailed and then reportedly convicted under fraudulent charges.

For 12 years, Lin was allowed a Bible, and he even started a ministry within the prison. However, his Bible was sent to the United States in December 2018, and, a few months later, Lin phoned his family and requested assistance in getting out of the prison. His health is now deteriorating.

His case closely resembles that of Greensboro, North Carolina-based pastor John Cao, who was seized in March 2017 after he attempted to cross the border between China and Myanmar for the education ministry he has run for 30+ years for minority children. He has since been sentenced to seven years in prison on an “organizing illegal border crossings” charge. He, too, is suffering from poor health. Reportedly, he has lost 50 pounds and is forbidden to have any visitors other than his attorneys.

Pastor Wang Yi and five elders of Early Rain Covenant Church remain in prison after last December’s raid on the church in Chengdu, followed by the arrests of Early Rain founder Pastor Wang and five other leaders. Recently, Wang was charged with “illegal business activities” on top of “incitement to subvert state power.” His lawyer, Zhang Peihong, has said that authorities have refused to let him meet with Pastor Wang. After Wang’s arrest in December 2018, church members released an open letter the pastor had written in September–giving instructions that it be publicized if he went missing for more than 48 hours.

In it, he wrote that the persecution of the church by the Chinese Communist regime is an “extremely evil crime” and that “the great mission of Christ requires our great resistance to the world.”

Meet 50,000 unknown believers imprisoned in North Korea

This photo, recently captured in an undisclosed location, shows a rare glimpse of a North Korean prisoner.

We could never reveal the names of any North Korean Christians who are living in conditions that have been described as equal to or worse than World War II-era concentration camps. But our ministry partners to North Korea estimate that there are at least 50,000 believers hidden in one of the country’s many labor camps or maximum security prisons (called a Kwan-li-so) where political prisoners (including Christians) are taken.

Ex-prisoners like Hannah have shared horrific abuses, such as being caged and not allowed to stand up. Hea Woo recalled being given a handful of rotten corn as a daily food ration. An unnamed prisoner (Prisoner 42) offered a vivid and detailed account of her time as a North Korean prisoner:

“In the camp, I work 12 hours a day. Sometimes more. Every day is just one long living nightmare. One day they will call me, and I won’t move. I will have died here in a North Korean prison. They will dispose of my body, and the first new prisoner that comes in will be ‘Prisoner 42.’ They will wear my clothes.”

Called to remember the prisoner

Just as Pastor Brunson said from his Izmir cell, “My greatest fear is I will be forgotten,” our incarcerated brothers and sisters share the same feelings. Open Doors has visited and ministered to enough ex-prisoners to know all too well that while believers like these demonstrate unimaginable perseverance and faith behind bars, they’re also suffering as they endure. They feel abandoned, depressed, oppressed. They are weary and crippled physically and emotionally.

But we can take comfort in knowing that our sovereign, omniscient and omnipotent God knows about every arrest, every conviction and every prison sentence, and every appeal won and lost. And that He has a plan our limited human view just can’t comprehend. In the meantime, God has asked us to pray in these specific situations.

Writing in a time of great persecution for Christ followers who had lost property, been thrown into prison, were ostracized from their Jewish community, etc., the author of Hebrews offers a clear call to prayer for those who are suffering for the gospel:

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb. 13:3).

And in Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus is clear that when we enter into the suffering of others, we are answering His call:

“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

We also know, through conversations with ex-prisoners and our ministry partners, that the prayers of the worldwide church are like a nourishing lifeline—believers know they are being carried to the throne of God. We are called to intercede for one another, and when we do, God uses that obedience to strengthen both us and the prisoner.

We have numerous accounts from ex-prisoners and persecuted believers telling us that they sensed the Body of Christ praying for them in their prison cell—and that they drew strength from that knowledge, especially in the most difficult situations.

When we spoke with Mojtaba, he said he remembered feeling the prayers of the Body of Christ—and it gave him the strength to go on. “I am the fruit of prayers,” he says. “The most important thing you can do is pray.”

Saman*, also a house church leader before he was arrested and imprisoned in Iran, said that knowing the global Body of Christ is praying for him and knows his story has strengthened him.

“I am encouraged that you visit us, that my story is shared, and that people pray for me,” he says. “You can’t imagine how much it means to me to know I’m not alone in this.”

Praying for imprisoned believers

Scripture tells us repeatedly that we will not always understand God’s ways. But we continue to pray even when things don’t make sense in our heads and hearts, trusting God and His wisdom—remembering that He is good.

  • Pray that prisoners experience the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit,
  • Ask God to give them supernatural endurance and courage, becoming bold witnesses to guards and other inmates.
  • Pray they walk in peace and talk in wisdom during interrogations.
  • Pray they will find physical healing and favor with guards as they request medical treatment.
  • Ask God to give them dreams and other ways to assure them their families are safe.
  • Pray that imprisoned Christians learn to pray for their persecutors and to see them as tools the enemy is using.
  • Pray that they will continue to pray each day, asking God to guide their steps and bring them closer to the heart of Christ.
  • Ask God to make a way for prisoners to have a Bible.
  • Pray they will be reminded of strengthening and comforting scriptures.
  • Pray that ultimately, prisoners will be released and allowed to return home.
  • Pray for peace and comfort for families awaiting appeal verdicts.
  • Pray with prisoners in Open Doors’ post-prison trauma counseling. Ask God to open their hearts and close their eyes to difficult memories that would keep them from recovery and healing.

Source: Meet 1,000 Andrew Brunsons still in prison for their faith

Was Adam Schiff running a spy operation against the White House? | American Thinker Blog

So much for whistleblowers. Starting to look more and more like Adam Schiff ran a spy operation against the White House, based on news of his hirelings.

Seems every day brings a new revelation about Democratic efforts to rig an impeachment of the president. The false claims and astonishing conflicts of interest being thrown out there are piling up fast.

Latest, from the San Francisco Examiner, exposes House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s choice of staffers, who it turns out had been two disgruntled deep-staters from the White House who had actually worked with the so-called ‘whistleblower’:

Abigail Grace, who worked at the NSC until 2018, was hired in February, while Sean Misko, an NSC aide until 2017, joined Schiff’s committee staff in August, the same month the whistleblower submitted his complaint.

The whistleblower was an NSC official who worked with former Vice President Joe Biden and who has expertise in Ukraine, the Washington Examiner has reported.

A career CIA analyst with Ukraine expertise, the whistleblower aired his concerns about a phone conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to a House Intelligence Committee aide on Schiff’s staff. He had previously informed the CIA’s legal counsel’s office.

Schiff initially denied he knew anything about the complaint before it was filed, stating on Sep. 17: “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.”

But it later emerged that a member of his staff had spoken to the whistleblower before his complaint was submitted on Aug. 12. The Washington Post concluded that Schiff “clearly made a statement that was false.”

Grace, 36, was hired to help Schiff’s committee investigate the Trump White House. That month, Trump accused Schiff of “stealing people who work at White House.” Grace worked at the NSC from 2016 to 2018 in U.S.-China relations and then briefly at the Center for a New American Security think tank, which was founded by two former senior Obama administration officials.

So these people were all buddies beforehand, and this would explain why the so-called whistleblower had been sneaking around with Schiff’s staff before he made his whistleblower complaint.

And that only came after someone with influence was able to get the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IGIC) to change the rules about whistleblowers needing no firsthand knowledge about the wrongdoing they were supposedly reporting. Once that rules change was put into place, the whistleblower got going.

More and more, this sounds like a preplanned setup. And one Trump operative has a very good summary of what seems to have been really going on as these anything but exculpatory stories mount:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The real headline is this: <a href=”https://twitter.com/AdamSchiff?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@AdamSchiff</a&gt; was spying on the White House illegally &amp; rumor is the &quot;whistleblower&quot; met with Schiff on a regular basis before the whistleblowing – that is why he went to the Dem side of the Intel committee first…a total setup <a href=”https://t.co/d45tUDFHdE”>https://t.co/d45tUDFHdE</a></p>&mdash; Tony Shaffer (@T_S_P_O_O_K_Y) <a href=”https://twitter.com/T_S_P_O_O_K_Y/status/1182845577681362944?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>October 12, 2019</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Schiff was essentially running an illegal spy operation against the White House, recruiting his staffers, having them recruit their whistleblowers, grooming them up, changing the rules so they could file their complaints, and then lying that they knew anything about the lunatic efforts to get President Trump impeached. See, they were just standing there, minding their own business when all this stuff happened. And everything that did happen was just … a coincidence.

Experienced intelligence operatives, and apparently this Trump operative has this sort of background, like to say there are no coincidences.

As facts continue to roll out, it’s getting more and more obvious that Schiff’s operation was to orchestrate this impeachment scenario all along, going into high gear with the flameout of the Mueller investigation.

Trump’s been having a bad time with public opinion in the wake of the Schiff operation orchestrating the media coverage as well. But the facts on the ground suggest it was all an illegal spying operation on the president.

And that’s a far more concrete crime than anything Trump is accused of committing. Right now, Schiff has 109 congressional representatives signed on to GOP Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona’s call to condemn and censure Schiff for this sick little illegal freelance operation to spy on Trump.

It’s an abuse of his office, for sure, given that Schiff is supposed to be focused on intelligence, not on being one of those creepy secret-police characters in ‘The Lives of Others.’ It’s also an outrageous misuse of taxpayer dollars. In light of this Schiff spy operation, and if Democrats don’t want some backatcha next time there’s a Dem in office with a Republican House, it really ought to be every last one of them signed up to that Biggs list.

Image credit: Caricature by Donkey Hotey, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Source: Was Adam Schiff running a spy operation against the White House?

Trump Is Right About the Kurds, Period | LifeZette

It is not an easy thing to leave an ally alone on the field.

For those of us who have worn the uniform and worked with foreign comrades, there is a strong bond forged between those of other nations with whom we trained — and beside whom we perhaps even fought.

But those legitimate feelings of loyalty, honor, and shared sacrifice do not take the place of the cold, hard, geopolitical realities that we as a nation sometimes must face.

Or, as the 19th century British statesman Lord Palmerston said, “Nations have no permanent friends or allies — they only have permanent interests.”

So it is with the Kurds.

President Donald Trump is right to withdraw our forces — a small group of approximately 50 to 100 troops in northern Syria — from Kurdish-held territory on the Turkey border, an action he announced this past week.

“We’re not a police force,” the president said on Monday at the White House.

“I don’t want to stay there for the next 40 years,” Trump also said. “It’s not going to do anything … I campaigned on the fact that I was going to bring our soldiers home, and bring them home as rapidly as possible.”

“We’re willing to do what we have to do, but there has to be an end game,” he said later in his remarks.

Related: Trump Reveals the Hardest Part ‘by Far’ of His Job in the White House

Yes, the Kurds are an independent people who have stood next to us as staunch allies.

So were the South Vietnamese. Should we have invaded the North to stop the South’s defeat in the Vietnam War in the spring of 1975? Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek was our ally. A land war on mainland China to forestall a communist victory in 1949, anyone?

North Korea is a brutal state that subjugates many of its people to the point of animal husbandry. Should we land the 82nd Airborne in Pyongyang to liberate them because it would be morally right?

Though these options would have been — and would be — emotionally satisfying, they are strategically indefensible. And our national security policy needs to be based on our beliefs, not our feelings

So it seems strange that the some of the loudest protests right now against Trump’s announcement on this matter are coming from within the GOP. Most members of the hysterical emotion party — the Dems — have remained silent because they darkly think that withdrawing American forces from anywhere is a good thing.

Those Dems who publicly oppose the president on this have not suddenly become proponents of an aggressive American foreign posture. They merely want to try to score points off Trump any way they think they can.

Related: Sen. Rand Paul Supports Trump on Troops Pullout

If the president cured cancer, they’d talk about health care unemployment.

The cleavage in the GOP is a reverberation from the Cold War. The U.S. was facing the Soviets then. They were a global enemy committed to our destruction. We faced off with them, many times by proxy, in more than several nooks and crannies on the planet.

Repeated retreats in that contest could have had existential consequences.

But after long toil and the canny brinkmanship of President Ronald Reagan, we won the Cold War. With that, we did more than our bit, yet again, to actually save the planet (as opposed to the watermelon socialists — green on the outside, red on the inside — of today). That kind of treasure and blood was spent by us three times within 100 years.

We have earned the right to now look after our own national interests first — while still meeting our strategic responsibilities.

We can remain hawks — just not the birds of the knee-jerk variety.

Some people in the GOP haven’t quite internalized that yet; they see any strategic maneuver that does not lead with a punch in the face as cowardice and betrayal. Nuance is not their forte.

Also, as a veteran, I have always found it ironic that some of the strongest cries for military intervention come from those who have never worn a military uniform. I mean, gee — I would hate to interrupt anybody’s time in law school with a silly thing like national defense.

And, c’mon, the Turks aren’t exactly the Soviets. They are, in fact, NATO allies.

Yes, their wannabe dictator Erdogan has been feisty of late and not necessarily in a way we would encourage. However, much of that is designed for internal consumption to distract from his domestic woes.

This move likely smoothed some of his feathers and may make him less annoying to us in the future. And that’s the key, for us.

As for the Kurds?

They have been duly trained by our special forces and are well supplied with weapons and support equipment from us. We have not ruled out resupplying them if we thought it was necessary. The American personnel committed to the operation only numbered in the hundreds at best — and some reports have it at less than that. So it’s not like we’re hightailing it off Omaha Beach.

The Kurds have been bravely fighting for a country of their own against one and all for centuries — and in all probability they will continue their struggle. But when it comes down to it, American lives should only be expended on American interests.

Far too many U.S. combat deaths already on near-eastern fields attest to the wisdom of that.

The president recognizes this, campaigned on it, and won on it.

And in the final analysis, he realizes this: As much as we wish the Kurds well, this just isn’t our fight.

Source: Trump Is Right About the Kurds, Period

The World’s Least-Free Countries Reveal Just How Much “Socialism Sucks” | Mises Wire

[Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World. By Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell.  Regnery Publishing, 2019. 192 pages.]

Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell are well-known free market economists, and they do not look with favor on a disturbing trend among American young people. “In the spring of 2016,” they tell us, “a Harvard survey found that a third of eighteen-to twenty-nine year olds supported socialism. Another survey, from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, reported that millennials supported socialism over any other economic system.” (p.8)

Unfortunately, the young people in question have little idea of the nature of socialism. Lawson and Powell would like to remedy this situation, but they confront a problem. Ordinarily, one would urge students to read Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, Mises’s “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth,” and similar classic works, in order to understand the basic facts about the free market and socialism, but the millennials are unlikely to do so. One must attract their attention. What can be done?

Lawson and Powell have had the happy idea of presenting elementary economics in a humorous way that will appeal to those “turned off” by serious and sober scholarship. In the latter adjective lies the key to their approach. Both of the authors enjoy drinking beer, and they travel around the world to various socialist countries in pursuit of their beloved beverage, making incisive comments about the economy of each country as they do so. They write in a salty style that will make millennials laugh, though some readers will find it jarring.

For the young, “socialism” means no more than vague ideas about “fairness”, but, the authors note, the term has a precise meaning: “To separate the state from socialism in any large society is like trying to separate private property from capitalism. It can’t be done. I’ll say it once more for the people in the back: socialism, in practice, means that the state owns and controls the means of production.” (p.128) No country is completely socialist, but some are more socialist than others. How can the degree of socialism be evaluated? Lawson has, along with James Gwartney, produced an annual economic freedom index for the Fraser Institute, which the authors use to answer this question, sometimes with surprising results.

Many professed socialists look to Sweden for inspiration, but according to the freedom index, “Sweden gets a 7.54 rating, which is good enough for twenty-seventh place out of the 159 countries in the study. . .Bottom line: Sweden is a prosperous, mostly capitalist country.” (pp.10-11)

The authors must now confront an objection. Why should we not prefer welfare-state capitalism to the straightforward free market economy the authors want? They reply that Sweden prospered under freedom, but the increased taxation needed to finance the welfare state has brought about stagnation. “Sweden grew most when it was freer than it is today.” (p.13)

If some people admire Sweden, few except fanatics have good words for the economy of Cuba. Nevertheless, must we not recognize the wonders accomplished by the Cuban socialized medicine? We must give the devil his due. Lawson and Powell are not convinced. “Official Cuban health statistics are impressive. . .Yet, we also know that the hospitals most Cubans use are so poorly equipped that people often have to bring their own sheets. What gives? The silence [on the streets} is part of the answer. The lack of automobiles means a lack of traffic fatalities. Since automobile accidents are a leading cause of death among younger people, the lack of automobiles has a disproportionate impact on life expectancy statistics for reasons that have nothing to do with health care. The low rate of infant mortality is a product of data manipulation.” (p.53)

Why has Cuban socialism, like all other centralized socialist economies, failed? The authors present with great clarity the essential point: “’[A]lmost a hundred years ago, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explained that socialism, even if run by benevolent despots and populated with workers willing to work for the common good, could still not match capitalism’s performance. Socialism requires abolishing private property in the means of production. But private property is necessary to have the free exchange of labor, capital, and goods that establish proper prices. Without proper prices, socialist planners could not know which consumer goods were needed or how best to produce them. . .Socialism also gives tremendous power to government officials and bureaucrats who are the system’s planners—and with that power comes corruption, abuse, and tyranny.” (p.37)

Socialist tyrants were the greatest mass murderers in history, and the young must be apprised of this melancholy fact. “Stalin ranks just behind Mao as history’s second greatest mass murderer, with Hitler coming in third—and all three dictators were, of course, committed socialists of one sort or another.” (p.115)

Some millennial socialists respond with a distinction. The despotic governments mentioned were not genuinely socialist. The authors answer with appropriate severity: “This is the same dirty trick socialists have played for decades. Whenever things go south, as they inevitably do, they claim that it wasn’t ‘real’ socialism. I [Lawson[ find the whole thing more than a little disingenuous and very irritating. When socialists, democratic and otherwise, held up Venezuela as a great socialist experiment in the 2000s, the message was, ‘See, we told you so; socialism works!’ but when failure happened, the message changed to, “No, wait—that’s not real socialism!’ They want to claim socialism during the good times but disavow it during the bad.” (pp.127-128) A related gross error, the famous “nirvana fallacy,” is to compare an ideal state of affairs, conjured up by socialists, with difficulties of real-world capitalism.

If the authors are ready to rebuke the errors of misguided youth, they look with sympathy on some of their hopes. Many young people condemn the drug war, with its rampant racism and mass incarcerations, and they are right to do so: “The U.S. government’s war on drugs is unwinnable because, in the language of economists, it is a supply-side war, when demand isn’t very price-sensitive. This means when the U.S. government scores a ‘win’ in the war, the price of the remaining drugs goes up more than the usage falls. As a result, net revenue to drug cartels increases, which increases their ability to corrupt law enforcement and buy weapons and other smuggling equipment. The result has been an endless cycle of increasing violence along the entire supply chain in Central and South America. . .” (p.135)

It is not only the drug war, but the war on terror as well, that ought to be condemned, and here once more, the many millennials who protested against the war are in the right. “We feel the same about the war on terror. The wars and violence associated with it in the Middle East are a major reason for Europe’s immigration wave. . .advocates for capitalism can be against war precisely because war undermine capitalist institutions and freedoms.. . .Chris Coyne wrote a book entitled After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy, in which he shows that when the U.S. engages in foreign intervention, it rarely creates the kind of lasting institutional change that supports what some might call a ‘neoliberal’ society. Economist Robert Higgs’s classic book, Crisis and Leviathan, shows how crises in the United States, especially wars, have led to expanded government at the expense of markets. Chris’s latest book, Tyranny Come Hone: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism, co-authored with another friend of ours, Abby Hall, has shown how U.S. military interventions abroad ‘boomerang’ back to the United States in ways that decrease our freedoms at home. See, anti-war isn’t a uniquely leftist position. Capitalists should be anti-war too.” (pp.136-137. I regret the use of “neoliberal” as a term of praise and the solecism “advocates for.”)

I confess that I approached the authors’ project of a drinking tour of the socialist countries with skepticism. Would it be more than ajeu d’esprit? Reading the book has laid my skepticism to rest. Socialism Sucks has the potential to do great good, if it gets into the right hands, and its impressive sales suggest that it will do so.

Source: The World’s Least-Free Countries Reveal Just How Much “Socialism Sucks”

J.P.Morgan Warns About The “State” Of The American Consumer | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

J.P. Morgan has taken to issuing warnings over the mental state and overall health of the American consumer’s habits. As a nation, we are deeply indebted to consumerism and that’s what is currently keeping the fragile economy afloat.

With the manufacturing industry already officially in a recession, the Institute of Supply Management purchasing manager index was registering a reading of 47.8 (anything over 50 indicated growth) for September, the worst reading since 2009 the news seems bleak even for the consumerism that’s fueling this debt-based economy.  The U.S. and the Chinese trade war is also degrading business confidence, causing management teams to pull back on spending. That leaves consumers to carry the economic water – and many are tapped out; no longer able to take on any more debt in order to keep things afloat.

J.P. Morgan consumer-finance analyst Richard Shane sees this as bad news for the stocks he coversaccording to Barron’s. On Tuesday morning, Shane cut his target prices on every single stock he covers—including names like American Express and Capital One Financial—by an average of almost 10%. What’s more, he downgraded shares of auto lender Ally Financial.

Shane is seeing some visible cracks in this “booming” economy and it’s time to be aware of them, “While the sector should continue to enjoy solid fundamentals through year-end, our outlook headed into 2020 becomes more cautious,” Shane wrote in a research report.

“Specifically, the prospects of a slowing economy, indications of pockets of labor weakness and heightened political uncertainty all may weigh on the group.”

Investors so far, appear to be aware of the risks in the markets going into 2020.  Consumers, on the other hand, appear to have hardly noticed any of the red flags appearing right in front of them. After all, total household debt rose to $13.9 trillion in the second quarter, its 20th consecutive quarter of growth, according to Shane. Most consumer debt is housing-related, but borrowers also have $1.3 trillion in car loans. $0.8 trillion in credit-card debt, and $1.5 trillion in student debt.

Shane doesn’t see the bottom falling out of the economy. He doesn’t think it’s time to panic just yet because while consumer debt loads are at record highs, debt as a percentage of household wealth isn’t, he points out.

But the red flags are still there. Consumerism is being fueled by a strong job market.  Should that go sightly the wrong way, things could get ugly, quickly.

Source: J.P.Morgan Warns About The “State” Of The American Consumer

When Everything Seems in Ruins: Encouragement from C.S. Lewis | Faithlife Blog

This guest post is from pastor and C.S. Lewis scholar Ryan Pemberton.

***

When I get called in to speak, it’s either on the topic of C. S. Lewis or calling. That’s about all I’m good for, I like to joke (half-jokingly). The best is when I can share a bit on both.

As a minister for university engagement in Berkeley, I’m often doing some combination of the two. And while C. S. Lewis is quoted as much as any other writer among Christians, it isn’t often that I see others looking to Lewis for wisdom on calling. But I’ve found him to be a helpful guide here, too.

While studying theology at Oxford, I had the privilege of serving as President of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society. Nowhere else was my feeling of Imposter Syndrome more acute.

One of the many perks of this role was the opportunity to meet scholars and those who knew Lewis during his life and to hear firsthand stories of their experience with Lewis. One of the most memorable of those conversations was with Laurence Harwood, C. S. Lewis’s godson.

Laurence was tall and well dressed. He spoke in a calm voice, which peaked to excited high notes when he recalled what it was like to grow up with Lewis visiting his family’s home for dinner.

“I always loved it when Jack came around,” Laurence told us over dinner. “As children, we’d be playing games when he’d come over, and he’d get right down there with us on the floor, at our level. He was genuinely interested in what we were playing, and he’d play with us. Not in a condescending way. He’d always beat us, of course, but we really enjoyed him.”

Before our meal was finished, Laurence shared a difficult experience he faced during his own days as an Oxford student. He told us how, after being struck with double pneumonia, he did not pass his first-year’s preliminary exams, and therefore was not able to return for his second year. He received a letter from Lewis in response to hearing this news.

“At the moment, I can well imagine, everything seems in ruins,” Lewis wrote to Laurence. “That is an illusion.”

Lewis encouraged his godson neither to dwell on this seemingly bad news, nor to consider himself the victim of Oxford’s exam system, but rather to do his best to brush himself off and get on with life. He must trust that this would actually serve to save him much hard work and many years spent traveling in what very well might have been the wrong direction.

Lewis went on to explain that many people, if not most, find this to be one of life’s most difficult periods, struggling from failure to failure, as it had been for him:

Life consisted of applying for jobs which other people got, writing books that no one would publish and giving lectures that no one attended. It all looks hopelessly hopeless, yet the vast majority of us manage to get on somehow and shakedown somewhere in the end. You are now going through what most people (at least most of the people I know) find, in retrospect to have been the most unpleasant period of their lives.

But it won’t last; the road usually improves later. I think life is rather like a bumpy bed in a bad hotel. At first, you can’t imagine how you can lie on it, much less sleep on it. But presently one finds the right position and finally one is snoring away. By the time one is called it seems a very good bed and one is loath to leave it. (C. S. Lewis, My Godfather, 125)

For those of us standing on this side of Lewis’s remarkable success and achievements, it’s difficult to imagine his experience with self-doubt and vocational struggles. And yet, knowing that Lewis struggled here can offer peace to those of us who are yet struggling with disappointment or questions. If nothing else, Lewis’s candid letter is a reminder that faithfulness to the One who calls, rather than to any particular call, is the true measure of success.

Watch and enjoy more about Lewis with the C.S. Lewis Bundle, on sale now.

***

Ryan J. Pemberton, MA (Oxon), MTS (Duke Divinity School), is the minister for university engagement at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. He is the author of Called: My Journey to C. S. Lewis’s House and Back Again (Leafwood Publishers) and Walking With C. S. Lewis: A Spiritual Guide Through His Life and Writings (Lexham Press). 

Source: When Everything Seems in Ruins: Encouragement from C.S. Lewis

October 12, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Fellowship

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (4:8a)

The third command is to draw near in intimate fellowship and communion with the living, eternal, almighty God. Salvation involves submitting to God as Lord and Savior, but also brings the desire for a true relationship with Him. Seeking salvation is seeking God (cf. Ps. 42:1; Matt. 7:7–11).

One of the primary functions of Old Testament priests was to “come near to the Lord [and] consecrate themselves” (Ex. 19:22; cf. Lev. 10:3; Ezek. 43:9; 44:13). Our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who brings us to God, prayed to His Father, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3), and later affirmed and defined those who believe in Him, praying that they “may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (v. 21). Above all else, the apostle Paul sought to “know Him [Christ] and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10).

“Drawing near to God” was in the Old Testament a general expression for the one who sincerely approached God in penitence and humility. Through Isaiah, the Lord said of those who came near Him hypocritically and superficially, “This people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote” (Isa. 29:13). But the psalmist declared, “As for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works” (Ps. 73:28).

David assures us that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18). He counseled his own son Solomon, “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him” (1 Chron. 28:9; cf. 2 Chron. 15:1–2; Zech. 1:3). Through Jeremiah, the Lord promised, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).

Because they are prompted by God’s own Spirit and accepted by the Lord Jesus (John 6:44, 65), those who seek to know, worship, and commune with God will be satisfied. As noted above, that was the Father’s will long before it was theirs (Rom. 8:29: Eph. 1:4–5). When they come to him like the prodigal son—in humility, penitence, and brokenness over their sin—the heavenly Father says to them, in effect, what that earthly father said to his son: “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:22–24).

Jesus told the Samaritan woman from Sychar, “An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24; cf. Phil. 3:3). The writer of Hebrews admonishes believers, “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.… Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 4:16; 10:22).

In his message to the pagan philosophers on Mars Hill, Paul said,

While I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist. (Acts 17:23–28)

The redeemed heart longs for communion with God (Pss. 27:8; 63:1–2; 84:2; 143:6; Matt. 22:37).[1]


Come Near to God (4:8)

When we hear “Come near to God,” we might think of public worship or private prayers. “Come near” is sometimes the language of worship (Lev. 21:3; Isa. 29:13; Heb. 7:19), but James has not been discussing worship. Therefore, “come near” could mean returning to God in covenant renewal after straying. For example, God speaks through Malachi, saying, “Return to me, and I will return to you” (Mal. 3:7; cf. Zech. 1:2–3). In Hosea 12:6, the prophet links “return to your God” with “come near to your God.” It is certainly true that we may “come near” to God after sinning (perhaps after succumbing to temptation). But “come near” and “draw near” means more than “repent.” We come near to God to worship him, to serve him, to meet him, to seek help, and to gain assurance, as well as to repent. It is better, therefore, to conclude that James is offering a far-reaching promise, a promise that other gods do not make. When we draw near to God, he also draws near to us. As Moses asked, “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Deut. 4:7).[2]


8 By contrast, James exhorts his hearers to “come near to God,” an action that has its own result: “and he will come near to you.” The concept of drawing near to God occurs in relation to approaching God in priestly service (e.g., Ex 19:22; 40:4–6; Lev 10:3), and new covenant believers can draw near because they have a better hope through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb 7:19). To draw near to God means to approach him in prayer, to turn toward him and not away from him. The result will be that God himself will respond by approaching the one who approaches him. In other words, a healthy relationship will be reestablished. As was the case in the old covenant system of worship, part of the process of drawing near to God involves cleansing, which James states in parallel fashion: “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” The images here, of course, are figurative and represent repentance from sin. The author has already mentioned the “double-minded” person in 1:8, and, as in that context, the double-minded people James has in mind are those with a divided commitment and questionable loyalties and therefore those who are unstable spiritually. These are “sinners” because they have not been committed resolutely to the ways of the Lord. Thus repentance is needed.[3]


8 Originally draw near was used of the Jewish priest drawing near in worship (Exod. 19:22; Lev. 10:3; Ezek. 43:19; 44:13), and then by a natural transition, of any approach to God. “God goes out,” as the rabbis taught, “to those who approach him.” On the other hand, the NT emphasis on God’s moving even toward the undeserving is, as C. G. Montefiore perceived, without precedent in Judaism;50 but “God loves,” as St. Bernard said, “both more than you love, and before you love at all.”

The call to cleansing seems to be bound up with the call to God—two aspects of one action. Although the language is Levitical, it is used here, as often by the rabbis, of spiritual and moral cleansing: God himself was once compared to a purifying ritual bath. Here hands and hearts symbolize deeds and thoughts respectively. From David’s prayer for a clean heart (Ps. 51:11) it was concluded that his yetser was unclean. Repentance is the sinner’s first step toward God; the Greek word54 is the usual strong word for sinners, and double-minded56 indicates the fundamental defect of these professing Christians (see 1:8).[4]


Drawing Near to God (4:8a)

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” This command, like the previous one, brings in its wake a promise. Both Testaments texts cited above speak of drawing near to God in the context of the flight of the evil one, so it is likely that James is drawing upon a traditional idea. In context, this line stands in dramatic contrast with 4:6b. Opposition to the proud stands in contrast to God’s drawing near to the one who draws near to God, which implies that drawing near is a dimension of humility, submission, and resisting the devil. The metaphor has several connections, not the least of which is to the prophetic summons for God’s people to draw near to God to hear him, to establish covenant relationship, and to turn from sin:

The spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law; but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them (2 Chron 15:1–4).

Therefore say to them, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech 1:3).

Ever since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts (Mal 3:7).

Other connections, and less likely in my opinion, would be the cultic expression of drawing near to the God of the Temple cultus even though the connection of drawing near and consecration is clearly at work in our text (cf. 4:8b). Thus, Exodus 19:22: “Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them” (see also 24:2; Deut 16:16). Drawing on the cultic experience but closer to what James has in mind is Hebrews 4:16: “Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (cf. 7:19). Prayer, too, is sometimes described as confessional, elective drawing near to God and God being near to the one praying (Deut 4:7; Ps 145:18), but an important warning is that physical and verbal proximity is no substitute for inner vulnerability to God (Isa 29:13).

Drawing near to God, then, is about a person’s inner repentant disposition of vulnerability to God’s will (cf. Jas 1:21) and is combined with the attentive behaviors of doing God’s will. In short, it is repentance leading to holiness, faith accompanied by works, and hearing and doing. However it is understood, the act of God drawing near is God’s choice of restoring the relationship with those who have fractured the relationship. This language of drawing near to God and God drawing near to us reminds one of the powerful covenant formula of the Old Testament: “I will be your God and you will be my people” (e.g., Gen 17:2, 4, 6–8; Exod 6:2–8). James is speaking to teachers who have fractured the messianic community and is calling them to repentance in terms of drawing near to God if they wish to have God draw near to them.328 What that drawing near of God would look like is not clear, but surely James would be thinking of peace in the community and compassion for those in need—both emerging from a leadership that has been renewed through repentance.[5]


4:8 / Full repentance will mean purification. There is both promise and demand in the call Come near to God and he will come near to you. As a promise, there is the reciprocal promise of God: Turn to him and he will turn to you (Mal. 3:7), return to him and he will return (Zech. 1:3). God is a loving father waiting for the chance to respond to his children in forgiveness, but the demand states that they must repent and come near. This term normally indicates an activity of worship: All their church’s worship is not a coming near, for their community disharmony rooted in preoccupation with worldly success makes it unacceptable. “Come near,” calls God. “Worship me truly! Worship with obedience!” (cf. 1:27).

Continuing the metaphor, James cries, Wash your hands, you sinners. Worship in the Old Testament required cultically clean hands, so they were ritually washed before certain parts of the worship (e.g., Exod. 30:19–21). These Christians are at present unfit for worship because of their sin. The term sinners is strong, for James will not accept any excuse. Their actions are sin—plain, inexcusable sin. They will change their behavior (wash … hands) only when they accept this fact.

James moves from behavior to the inner problem when he demands: Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Again a ritual term from the Old Testament is selected (cf. Exod. 19:10), but the defilement now is not outward (e.g., from having touched a dead body) but inward. The nature of the purification necessary appears in the term double-, the same term found in 1:8, meaning, not a person consciously hiding his or her real motives but one who has divided motives. On the one hand, they wish to follow Christ and be good Christians; on the other hand, they are not willing to give up the world (cf. Rom. 6:8; 2 Cor. 5:11–17). They excuse their following worldly patterns of influence and money making (cf. 4:13–17). But James has already stated that God will not share them with the world; he wants them all (4:4). Thus they need to cleanse themselves inwardly from their worldly motives and to seek Christ and his kingdom alone.[6]


4:8 Come near to God … Wash your hands … purify your hearts. See Psalm 24:3–4. Hands represent actions, and hearts represent attitudes. Those who are engaged in envy and quarrels must both stop their contentious actions and change their proud attitudes. “Wash” and “purify” represent the holiness and separateness that are required for drawing near to God. See also Matthew 5:8; 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1; Hebrews 10:22.

double-minded. The same word is used in 1:8 to speak of the person who is of two minds as to whether God will answer the request for wisdom. Here the immediate context is of readers who have been adulterous by being friends with the world while belonging to God. Many adulterers are of two minds as to what will truly make them happy, their spouse or their lover. James is accusing his readers of being of two minds as to whether following God or their own desires is the best way to achieve the blessings of life.[7]


4:8. Come near to God involves approaching God in worship and commitment. Those who approach God in the obedience of worship find that he comes near to them. As our knowledge of the Lord deepens, we learn more fully his strength, power, and guidance for godly living.[8]


4:8. On the other hand draw near to God and He will come near in response. To draw near to God, however, demands His cleansing. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Both “wash” and “purify” are verbs that refer to ceremonial cleansing, a figure that spoke eloquently to Jewish converts. The need for cleansing is clear from the way James addressed his readers, “you sinners” and “you double-minded” (dipsychoi; cf. 1:8).[9]


4:8 Next we should draw near to God. We do this by prayer. We must come before Him in desperate, believing prayer, telling Him all that is on our heart. As we thus approach Him, we find that He will draw near to us. We thought He would be far from us because of our carnality and worldliness, but when we draw near to Him, He forgives us and restores us. The fourth step is: Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Hands speak of our actions and hearts represent our motives and desires. We cleanse our hands and purify our hearts through confession and forsaking sins, both outward and inward. As sinners we need to confess evil acts; as double-minded people we need to confess our mixed motives.[10]


4:8. But it was not enough simply to reassert one’s commitment to obedience and to resisting temptation. Repentance needs to have a personal dimension in which a Christian’s fractured fellowship with God is renewed. Therefore James enjoins his readership to draw near to God, knowing that such action will be reciprocated: and He will draw near to you. Of course, as the Apostle John makes clear (1 John 1:9), confession of sin is the first step in drawing near to God again. But renewed prayer and meditation on Scripture are also appropriate steps. God will respond to such steps, not only with forgiveness, but with other tokens of His nearness. He is always more eager to bridge the gap between believers and Him than they are. Restored closeness, therefore, between God and James’s readers is precisely what James is aiming at here. God would meet them more than halfway.

As gracious as the invitation to draw near to God is, however, it could not be done apart from candid and painful renunciation of sin. When even dedicated Christians get into the Lord’s presence, their wretched condition becomes acutely painful to them (see Isa 6:1–5; Rev 1:17). James’s readers could hardly expect to genuinely draw near to God without similar feelings. Thus they are now exhorted to cleanse [their] hands from sin and to purify [their] hearts from their double-minded mentality. They must put away any evil thing their hands were doing. Also, they must renounce the split loyalties they had, which drew them aside to worldly concerns.[11]


4:8 Draw near. Pursue an intimate love relationship with God (cf. Php 3:10). The concept of drawing near to God was associated originally with the Levitical priests (Ex 19:22; Lv 10:3; Eze 44:13), but eventually came to describe anyone’s approach to God (Ps 73:28; Is 29:13; Heb 4:16; 7:19; 10:22). Salvation involves more than submitting to God and resisting the devil; the redeemed heart longs for communion with God (Pss 27:8; 42:1, 2; 63:1, 2; 84:2; 143:6; Mt 22:37).[12]


8. Draw nigh to God. He again reminds us that the aid of God will not be wanting to us, provided we give place to him. For when he bids us to draw nigh to God, that we may know him to be near to us, he intimates that we are destitute of his grace, because we withdraw from him. But as God stands on our side, there is no reason to fear succumbing. But if any one concludes from this passage, that the first part of the work belongs to us, and that afterwards the grace of God follows, the Apostle meant no such thing; for though we ought to do this, yet it does immediately follow that we can. And the Spirit of God, in exhorting us to our duty, derogates nothing from himself, or from his own power; but the very thing he bids us to do, he himself fulfils in us.

In short, James meant no other thing in this passage, than that God is never wanting to us, except when we alienate ourselves from him. He is like one who brings the hungry to a table, and the thirsty to a fountain. There is this difference, that our steps must be guided and sustained by the Lord, for our feet fail us. But what some cavil at, and say, that God’s grace is secondary to our preparation, and as it were the waiting-maid, is very frivolous; for we know that it is no new thing that he adds new to former graces, and thus enriches more and more those to whom he has already given much.[13]


Ver. 8.—Draw nigh to God (ἐγγίσατε τῷ Θεῷ) A phrase used of approach to God under the old covenant (see Exod. 19:22; 34:30; Lev. 10:3). Equally necessary under the new covenant is it for those who draw near to God to have “clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4). Hence the following injunction: “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.”[14]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (pp. 205–207). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Doriani, D. M. (2007). James. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (p. 149). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 256). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Adamson, J. B. (1976). The Epistle of James (pp. 174–175). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] McKnight, S. (2011). The Letter of James (pp. 349–350). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[6] Davids, P. H. (2011). James (pp. 102–103). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Samra, J. (2016). James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 53). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.

[8] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 321). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[9] Blue, J. R. (1985). James. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 830). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[10] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2237). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[11] Hodges, Z. C. (2010). The Epistle of James. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (pp. 1131–1132). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[12] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jas 4:8). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[13] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (pp. 334–335). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[14] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). James (p. 56). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

Intel Expert Tony Shaffer: Government Officials Trained in “Information Dark Arts” Are Using These Techniques Against President Trump, — The Gateway Pundit

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Anthony “Tony” Shaffer joined One America News Network to discuss the current and ongoing attacks against President Donald Trump from inside the US government.

The latest attack by the shadow government is by highly trained intelligence officials in coordination with Democrat Party operatives and the fake news media surrounding President Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian President.

We know now since President Zelensky has defended President Trump twice already that there was nothing unusual, unethical or illegal about Trump’s call with Zelensky in late July.

However, the Democrats, their deep state operatives and their liberal fake news media have succeeded in persuading a large swath of the US population that Trump committed a criminal act during the call.

Tony Shaffer says this is another example of how trained intel operatives are using their training against the sitting US president.

Tony Shaffer: The pattern that we’ve examined and looked at looks to me like individuals who are trained in what I’ve done and they’ve decided that they are going to use those talents for purposes of political gain, not to protect the American people… The appearances to me Richard are that you have individuals who’ve decided they are willing to vacate tho oath of office for purposes of using these immensely powerful, very dark art, but effective dark arts for purposes of a political party, not to benefit the American people.

This is also called TREASON.

God hear our pleas for justice.

Via The National Sentinel:

via Intel Expert Tony Shaffer: Government Officials Trained in “Information Dark Arts” Are Using These Techniques Against President Trump, — The Gateway Pundit

Thousands More US Troops to Middle East | Stephen Lendman

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by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Reports about Trump regime withdrawal of US forces from Syria are greatly exaggerated, thousands more Pentagon troops to the region ordered.

On Friday, US war secretary Mark Esper’s spokesman said he “authorized the deployment of additional US forces and the following equipment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” including:

Two Fighter Squadrons

One Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW)

Two Patriot Batteries

One Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD)

Nominally “to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia,” unexplained was that the kingdom’s only foreign threats are invented or caused by partnering with US aggression in Yemen.

Since May, US Middle East forces were increased by 14,000, the war department statement added.

Waging endless wars in multiple theaters, the statement falsely claimed the US “does not seek conflict with” Iran — while all-out Trump regime economic terrorism seeks to crush its economy and starve its people into submission, Nuremberg-level high crimes left unexplained.

Iran is the region’s leading proponent of peace and stability, seeking cooperative relations with other countries, confrontation with none.

In a Financial Times op-ed, Foreign Minister Zarif discussed his “HOPE — Hormuz Peace Endeavor” initiative, urging regional cooperation “to build (mutual) trust,” stressing:

“We can, collectively, choose to remain on this path of instability and tension, and await the unknown. Or, we can instead choose peace, security, stability and prosperity for all.”

President Rouhani proposed it in his UN General Assembly address last month, stressing Iran threatens no one. It rejects intimidation and threats.

It’s committed to combat terrorism, not support or spread it like Washington and its imperial allies. It seeks cooperative relations with other nations.

Zarif stressed Tehran’s compliance with UN Charter provisions and other international laws.

He urged regional countries “to commit to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the inviolability of our international borders, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. We should categorically reject any threat or use of force or participation in coalitions against each other.”

“We can begin with — or work towards — the signing of a Hormuz Community Non-Intervention and Non-Aggression Pact.”

“We can set up joint task forces to come up with practical steps towards these objectives and gradually build confidence and expand co-operation.”

Peace and stability defeats US imperial aims. Endless hot wars and by other means, along with chaos, serves them.

Deploying thousands more US troops to the Middle East, already boiling from its aggression, likely assures continuing or increasing it in multiple theaters, not stepping back from the brink toward resolution anywhere.

Zarif quoted poet Rumi saying 800 years ago: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

There’s virtually no chance that US hardliners will show up other than with swords drawn and guns blazing.

On Friday, Esper falsely blamed Iran for striking key Saudi oil facilities last month — despite no evidence suggesting it, Yemeni Houthis explaining they carried it out.

They successfully struck strategic Saudi targets numerous times earlier. Iran is at peace with its neighbors, involved only (with military advisors) aiding Damascus combat US-supported terrorists.

Esper falsely claimed thousands more US troops, weapons, and military equipment to the Middle East are “to deter and defend (against) the Iranians.”

On the same day, a National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) vessel was reportedly struck by one or more missiles or rockets in the Red Sea near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Despite heavy damage, its crew is reportedly safe, the vessel stable, and heading toward Iran’s Larak island.

An investigation is underway to determine responsibility for the attack. Was Israel behind what happened?

On October 10, Netanyahu suggested he might order a preemptive strike on Iran — falsely claiming a threat from the country that doesn’t exist.

Iranian authorities will likely get to the bottom of what happened. More of the same could come any time.

In a Friday press briefing, Trump’s envoy for regime change in Iran Brian Hook falsely claimed thousands more US troops being deployed to the region aim to counter “Iran’s revolutionary adventures” that don’t exist.

Adding that the Trump regime is “commit(ted) to providing stability in the region” is belied by its endless aggression in multiple theaters, along with economic terrorism on Iran — all of the above the highest of high crimes.

Source

Putin Reiterates Russia’s Condemnation of Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Ahead of Visit | Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that whoever stood behind the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, Russia firmly condemned these types of activities.

Source: Putin Reiterates Russia’s Condemnation of Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Ahead of Visit