Daily Archives: October 16, 2019

OCTOBER 16 WISE RELATIONSHIPS

SCRIPTURE READING: 1 SAMUEL 20:1–42
KEY VERSE: 1 SAMUEL 20:42

Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘May the Lord be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’ ” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

How do we develop wise friendships? Friendship usually begins because of mutual concerns and interests, and deepens as you take time to build your relationship. Whether our interests may be in a sport, classical music, or raising our children—as believers, we have a mutual interest in our faith in Jesus Christ and our relationship with Him.
Many times our past experiences influence our ability in building trusting relationships. If we have been hurt before, we may be less likely to open our hearts again. Or we may base our friendship on personal ambition or selfishness. When we depend on another person for our security or take advantage of someone for our own personal gain, we are not building wise, lasting relationships.
A friendship that is based on the issue of what someone can do for you is not a true friendship. No person can ever satisfy the longing and need in your life. Only Jesus can meet all your needs—spiritual, physical, and emotional.
Building friendships requires risk of possible pain and rejection. However, it is worth the risk to find a friendship anchored by genuine trust, devotion, and loyalty. Ask God to show you how to be a true friend, and begin to work toward a lasting, rewarding friendship.

Lord, thank You for the good friendships You have provided. Help me to be one of those friends who comes alongside others without selfish motives.

Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 303). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Semper Reformanda in Context — Ligonier Ministries Blog

The phrase ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (the church reformed, always reforming) has been used so often as to make it a motto or slogan. People have used it to support a surprising array of theological and ecclesiastical programs and purposes. Scholars have traced its origins to a devotional book written by Jodocus van Lodenstein in 1674. Van Lodenstein, no doubt, had no intention of being a phrase-maker or sloganeer. What was his intention, and what did he mean by this phrase?

Van Lodenstein was a minister in the Reformed Church of the United Provinces in what we know today as the Netherlands. This church was born of decades of faithful preaching by ministers—many educated in Geneva—who risked their lives to carry the gospel, first into the French-speaking regions of the Low Countries, and later into the Dutch-speaking regions farther north. Some ministers were martyred for their faith, but they gathered a rich harvest of committed believers. Their message of the need for the reform of the church according to the Bible resonated with many who saw the corruptions of the old church.

Under the rulers Charles V and Philip II, the government of the Low Countries made every effort to suppress the Reformed religion, which was a large part of the reason for the Dutch revolt against their Spanish overlords. This revolt (1568-1648) became known as the Eighty Years’ War, giving birth to a new state in the northern part of the Low Countries. In this new state—the Dutch Republic, also known as the United Provinces—the Reformed Church was dominant, receiving government support and becoming the church of the majority of the population by the middle of the seventeenth century.

This church subscribed to the Belgic Confession (1561) and the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and had an essentially presbyterian form of government. Interference from the Protestant civil authorities of the new state limited the freedom of the Reformed Church, particularly in matters of discipline. That interference, in part, led to a crisis in the church in the early seventeenth century with the rise of Arminianism. That crisis was addressed and settled at the great international synod held in the city of Dordrecht in 1618-19. The Canons of Dort prepared at this synod became another doctrinal authority in the life of the church.

Jodocus van Lodenstein was born into a prominent family in the city of Delft in 1620. He was educated by two of the most distinguished Reformed professors of the day: the scholastic and pietist theologian Gisbertus Voetius of Utrecht and the covenant theologian Johannes Cocceius of Franeker. While being personally friendly with both theologians, he was more influenced by Voetius. Voetius stressed both precise theology and Christian living. Van Lodenstein was called to serve as a pastor in Utrecht, where he ministered from 1653 until his death in 1677. As a pastor, he always encouraged the faithful to disciplined, vital Christianity.

Van Lodenstein was an inheritor of a body clearly and fully reformed according to the Reformed or Calvinistic interpretation of the Bible. The Calvinists often described their vision of the church in three categories: doctrine, worship, and church government. In all three of these areas, the Dutch Reformed Church was thoroughly Calvinistic, similar in most ways to Calvinistic churches throughout the rest of Europe.

No church’s life is ever static, however, and van Lodenstein certainly saw some changes in his lifetime. In doctrine, for example, Reformed theologians were developing a covenant theology that would give great insight into both the structure of the unfolding revelation of the Bible and the work of Christ. Most Reformed Christians have seen this as a real theological advance. Van Lodenstein also saw the increasing use of the organ in public worship in the Reformed churches in his time. He knew the debates as to whether this change was a reformation or a deformation in the worship of the church. Are these the kinds of changes that he had in mind when he wrote about a church reformed and always reforming?

The answer to this question is no. Van Lodenstein was not thinking about adjustments and improvements to the church’s doctrine, worship, and government. These matters of external reform had been absolutely necessary when the Reformers accomplished them in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. But for Calvinists like van Lodenstein, they had been definitively accomplished and settled. He was not contemplating the value of relatively minor changes. He was not a man of later centuries who believed progress and change were necessary and good in and of themselves. He believed the Bible was clear on the foundations of doctrine, worship, and government, and that the Reformed churches had reformed these things correctly. In this sense, reform was a return to the teaching of the Bible. The Reformers had gotten these things right, and they were settled.

The great concern of ministers like van Lodenstein was not the externals of religion—as absolutely important as they are—but rather the internal side of religion. Van Lodenstein was a Reformed pietist and part of the Dutch Second Reformation. As such, his religious concerns were very similar to those of the English Puritans. They all believed that once the externals of religion had been carefully and faithfully reformed according to the Word of God, the great need was for ministers to lead people in the true religion of the heart. They saw the great danger of their day not as false doctrine or superstition or idolatry, but as formalism. The danger of formalism is that a church member could subscribe to true doctrine, participate in true worship in a biblically regulated church, and yet still not have true faith. As Jesus had warned against the Pharisees of His day, citing the prophet Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8).

The part of religion that always needs reforming is the human heart. It is vital religion and true faith that must be constantly cultivated. Formalism, indifferentism, and conformism must all be vigorously opposed by a faithful ministry.

Van Lodenstein and those who stood with him believed that the Canons of Dort presented a vision of true religion like their own. In the battle against Arminianism, one of the great issues had been the doctrine of regeneration. In sixteenth-century Reformed theology, theologians used regeneration as one of several synonyms for sanctification. So, for example, Article 24 of the Belgic Confession could state that we are regenerated by faith. But in the struggle against the Arminians, regeneration took on a more technical meaning, referring to the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in planting the new life in the soul that is necessary for faith. This new use of regeneration explained how faith was a gift of God, not the work of human free will. But it also explained how Christians were, by the grace of God, able to live a new life, pursuing holiness. The Canons of Dort declared:

When God carries out this good pleasure in his chosen ones, or works true conversion in them, he not only sees to it that the gospel is proclaimed to them outwardly, and enlightens their minds powerfully by the Holy Spirit so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God, but, by the effective operation of the same regenerating Spirit, he also penetrates into the inmost being of man, opens the closed heart, softens the hard heart, and circumcises the heart that is uncircumcised. He infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one compliant; he activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds.

This doctrine of regeneration was used, then, to stress the new principle of life in the Christian and the need for that new life to be lived out. The Christian needed to eschew formalism and live out his faith in the daily struggle against sin, finding rest and hope in the promises and Spirit of God.

So what did van Lodenstein mean by his famous phrase reformed and always reforming? Probably something like this: since we now have a church reformed in the externals of doctrine, worship, and government, let us always be working to ensure that our hearts and lives are being reformed by the Word and Spirit of God. Whatever other meanings may be made of this phrase, this original meaning is well worth pondering and preserving.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

via Semper Reformanda in Context — Ligonier Ministries Blog

OCTOBER 16 Powerful Praying

SCRIPTURE READING: Colossians 1:9–14
KEY VERSE: Hebrews 10:19

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.

A striking feature of Paul’s prayers is their sheer power. He was a gifted evangelist with a mastery of language that God used to capture intense spiritual truth. His prayers serve as models of how you can approach God in prayer with the boldness and confidence that are yours because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Paul’s prayers dealt with issues and ideas that would bring victory in any situation. In Colossians 1:9 (NASB), he asked for the believers of the Colossian church to “be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
You need the Lord’s infinite and exacting wisdom every moment of your life, and asking God to fill your heart and mind with wisdom means consciously acknowledging that you need Him. This prayer is so rock-solid because it is based in part on a promise of wisdom in James 1:5, and praying from the basis of God’s promises is an excellent way to be sure that you ask Him for something within His purposes.
Paul’s whole motivation for requesting wisdom and power from God was the glorification of Jesus: “So that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10 NASB).
You don’t have to settle for timid requests. You can pray within the privilege of your eternal position as a beloved one in Christ.

Father, give me power in prayer. Give me boldness in place of timidity. Make me a warrior in the spiritual realm.

Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 303). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Salvation from Start to Finish Is a Work of God for His Glory — Ligonier Ministries Blog

We contribute nothing to our salvation. In this brief clip, Stephen Nichols explains that from start to finish, salvation is a work of God for His Glory.

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

via Salvation from Start to Finish Is a Work of God for His Glory — Ligonier Ministries Blog

The Heretical Doctrine Of Pelagianism Denies The Biblical Fact That All Humans Born Since Genesis 5 Have Been Created In The Image Of Fallen Adam — Now The End Begins

Pelagianism says that human beings are not born with a natural inclination toward sin, but the scriptures written by our apostle Paul for the Church Age tell a very different story

Many of you right now who just read the headline are likely scratching your heads and saying to yourself “what on earth is Pelagianism, and why should I care?” Well, you should care because it is a false teaching about the nature of man, the nature of sin, and what you believe to be true about it will have a huge impact on how you see and understand large portions of the Bible. So let’s take a look at false teaching of Pelagianism and where it came from.

Pelagianism is named after a Catholic monk named Pelagius who was active in the early 400’s AD. Pelagius denied original sin and taught that every person was born morally neutral: we are able to sin but also able not to sin. Pelagius said that human beings fall into sin by choosing to follow Adam’s example. People can be saved by following the example of Christ instead of that of Adam. While grace is helpful, Pelagius taught, it is not necessary for a person to attain eternal life; the exercise of one’s free will is enough. In this way, Pelagius denied the substitutionary atonement of Christ. You can read more about Pelagius and his beliefs here, but as you can see in this short biographical snippet, Pelagius was not a Bible believer and his teachings were obviously not in line with scripture.

Adam was created in the image of God as the Bible says, from original material taken from the ground. God breathed the breath of life into Adam and he became a ‘living soul’. Eve, his wife, was not taken from the ground but from a rib from Adam. These are the first two humans ever recorded, and no one since them has come into the world in the way they did. Everyone after them would be born vaginally from the womb of a woman. As we all know, Adam and Eve fell into sin, were judged and removed from the garden as punishment. Adam and Eve had lots of children, and we read about the start of their replication process in Genesis 5. And it is here in Genesis 5, that the key understanding our sin nature is found.

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:” Genesis 5:1-4 (KJV)

Do you see the problem? I have underlined and bolded it for you to make it crystal clear. Everyone since Genesis 5:3 has been born not in the image of God, but in the image of fallen Adam. From the day you exited your mother and opened your eyes, you were born in a sin-cursed body provided you by Adam, you are his child and you are in his image. We are the “sons and daughter” who were born in the image of Adam.

Now let’s time travel all the way to the New Testament and listen as Jesus says something to Nicodemus that will blow his mind. Listen as Jesus tells Nicodemus that his first birth is no good.

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1-3 (KJV)

For those of you who have read this amazing third chapter of the gospel of John, you are well aware of Nicodemus’ struggle to wrap his head around this strange, new teaching of needing to become ‘born again’. And what was Nicodemus reply? He says “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Great question! As we read further though the Bible and into the writings of Paul, it is then we begin to understand the truth about these bodies we all are born in. We are born as sinners, in the image of our father Adam, who was a sinner and created children in his image. This is what the Bible teaches.

Pelagianism is the unbiblical teaching that Adam’s sin did not affect future generations of humanity. According to Pelagianism, Adam’s sin was solely his own, and Adam’s descendants did not inherit a sinful nature passed down to them. God creates every human soul directly, and therefore every human soul starts out in innocence, free from sin. We are not basically bad, says the Pelagian heresy; we are basically good.

You will notice that I am purposely not using terms like “original sin” because those words do not appear in the Bible, but the idea that we are all born in sin and all born as sinners absolutely does. The problem is not that we commit sin as we grow, the problem is that we go up as sinners who need a new birth, who need to have the ‘old man’ washed away and the ‘new man’ formed.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” Titus 3:5 (KJV)

Pelagius basically said that since we have free will, which is true, all we need to do is “make better choices” and all will be well. But Jesus said nothing about making better choices, no, He told Nicodemus that he was corrupt from his birth! Choose all you like, be as good and as moral a person as you can possibly be, but you were born in the image of Adam and you need to be born again in the image of Jesus Christ. This right here, is the fundamental platform of New Testament Christianity.

Calvinists take the opposite position to Pelagius and say that since we are “dead in trepasses in sin” that we are unable and incapable of getting saved or even to be able to ask God to save us because we are “dead” and dead people cannot take any action. This is just as much heresy as what Pelagius taught, just 180 degrees on the other side. If we are incapable of asking God to save us, and that people only get saved because God forces them to become saved, then you are left with a God that creates people He has no intention of saving all the while tormenting them about their unsaved condition. That would not be God, that would be what a sadist would do, and that is not the God of the Bible who did this for us:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

You are not a sinner because you commited sin or because you have besetting sins, or any combination thereof. You are I are sinners because we were born in the image of fallen Adam, hardcoded and hardwired, and it is not fixed by the ‘software update’ of making better choices or using your free will to be a better you. You don’t need new software, you need new hardware and new software, and that can only come by:

  • Realizing that you on your best day doing great things for other people are still a Hell-bound lost sinner who cannot ‘good works’ your way out of going to the Hell you so richly deserve. You are not in this condition because you have been “bad”, but because you were born this way. You were born in the image of a sinful, fallen man named Adam, God wants you to be born again in the image of the perfect man, Jesus Christ.
  • Understanding that Jesus Christ has already provided the ‘fix’ you so desperately need on the cross at Calvary, and has PAID IN FULL your sin debt, went to Hell in your place, and offers that pardon to you at no cost of any kind to you. As an added Church Age bonus, if you will accept that FREE GIFT, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit will “seal you in” until the day of redemption so you can never lose it.
  • Accepting that there can be no works attached to grace for salvation. As we have said many times already, your free will can help you make better choices, absolutely, but no one can choose how they are born into this world. You cannot chose to be born male or female, you cannot choose your race or ethnicity, you can’t even chose the location of your birth, but there is One and only Only who can and did. God chose to be born into this life as a male, chose to be born as a Jew, and chose to be born in Bethlehem. We call that person Jesus the Son of God, our sinless Saviour. He came to save sinners who could not save themselves, no matter how much free will He gave them. But you can use your free will to willingly accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as your payment for your sin.

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Scriptures Showing All Are Born Sinners In This Life

Pelagius was condemned as a heretic, and rightly so, by the Council of Ephesus in 431. Now you know that here at NTEB, we put very little value if any on the various councils and creeds that arose in the time period beginning from the takeover of biblical Christianity by Rome around 313 AD, and on forward as the Roman Catholic church grew in strength and power. But what we do place a very high value on is what does the Bible say about it? So here are just a smattering of verses smashing to pieces the rank heresy known as Pelagianism.

  • “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10 (KJV)
  • “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Romans 5:12 (KJV)
  • “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Romans 5:18 (KJV)
  • “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Romans 5:19 (KJV)

Paul shows us over and over and over again that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, nothing at all. No amount of good works, good deeds, and abstaining from sinful pursuits counts towards our salvation in any way at all. But Paul shows us that our free will can be put to good use, if we use it properly and how God intended us to us it. This account is recorded for us in Acts 16, and it is just as powerful today as it was 2,000 years ago.

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:25-31 (KJV)

Paul invited the Philippian jailer to use his free will to believe on Jesus and receive the free gift of God’s grace and mercy for the pardon of his sins. The Bible records that the jailer did exactly that, and he and his whole house was saved. Are you lost? Be like the jailer and use your free will to believe on Jesus according to the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (KJV). Are you saved? Use your free will resist the Devil and turn from your sins as you work out your sanctification as a child of God. But you cannot use your free will to live any way you want to live, be the ‘master of your fate’ and the ‘captain of your destiny’, as Pelagius taught. It is about submitting ourselves to the will of the Father, and not about making ‘better choices’.

Apart from the intervention of the Holy Spirit of God, our free will is a useless trinket that cannot erase one smudge of the sin stain we were all born with. Pelagius was a heretic then, and his false teaching remains a heresy today. We will let the Bible have the last word on whether or not man is born in sin or not, and here it is:

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:5-7 (KJV)

via The Heretical Doctrine Of Pelagianism Denies The Biblical Fact That All Humans Born Since Genesis 5 Have Been Created In The Image Of Fallen Adam — Now The End Begins

Candidates Mock Anderson Cooper For ‘Ellen’ Question, Ignoring Immigration And Climate Change — The Gateway Pundit

In Tuesday night’s three-hour debate, moderator Anderson Cooper never found time to ask about issues Democrats hold dear, like climate change and immigration and LGBT rights.

But he did take time to ask a question about … Ellen DeGeneres?

“Last week, Ellen DeGeneres was criticized after she and former President George W. Bush were seen laughing together at a football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, ‘We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK, that we’re all different,’” Cooper said to the 12 candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“So in that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impacts it’s had on you and your beliefs,” he said.

The question went over like a lead balloon.

“Three hours and no questions tonight about climate, housing, or immigration,” candidate Julian Castro wrote on Twitter. “Climate change is an existential threat. America has a housing crisis. Children are still in cages at our border. But you know, Ellen.”

Sen. Kamala Harris also ripped the question.

“Three hours. Not one question about the climate crisis. Not one question about LGBTQ+ rights. Not one question about immigration. These issues are too important to ignore. #DemDebate,” she wrote.

Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” also mocked the question.

DeGeneres, the famed daytime talk show host, and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, were invited to a Dallas Cowboys game by Charlotte Jones, daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Former president George W. Bush, who has a home in Dallas, also attended, sitting in the owners box.

When she posted a picture, Twitter blew up, with liberals shaming her for sitting next to Bush.

But DeGeneres fired back.

“People were upset,” DeGeneres says in a segment set to air on her show Tuesday. “They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?’ … A lot of people were mad, and they did what people do when they’re mad: They tweet.”

She explains that people can be friends, even if they have differing views on politics.

“I’m friends with George Bush,” DeGeneres said. “In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have.”

DeGeneres joked that she knew before she went that there would people there with different views.

“When we were invited, I was aware that I was going to be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs. And I’m not talking about politics… I was rooting for the Packers,” DeGeneres said. “So I had to hide my cheese hat in Portia’s purse.”

And she added that people should simply be more kind.

“Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them,” she said. “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”

Bush’s spokesman, Freddy Ford, told Fox News on Tuesday: “President and Mrs. Bush really enjoyed being with Ellen and Portia (de Rossi) and appreciated Ellen’s comments about respecting one another. They respect her. “

via Candidates Mock Anderson Cooper For ‘Ellen’ Question, Ignoring Immigration And Climate Change — The Gateway Pundit

Trump Blamed For Causing Violence In Typically Peaceful Middle East — The Babylon Bee

U.S.—After Trump moved some troops from Northern Syria, he was immediately blamed for causing violence in the typically peaceful Middle East.

Syria, which was known around the world as an idyllic paradise until January 20, 2017 at 12:00 PM EST, is now in shambles thanks to some minor troop reassignments. Trump tried to restablize the Middle East by announcing a deployment of 2,000 U.S. troops to defend the famed bastion of democracy and freedom Saudi Arabia, but it was too late. The damage had been done.

“It’s sad that the usually serene resort destination of Syria has been transformed into a war-torn hellscape under Trump,” said Hillary Clinton. “Under my watch, the Middle East was basically a big golf resort.”

Barack Obama and George W. Bush joined in their condemnation of what Trump has done to the Middle East. “It’s like they say in Texas,” said Bush. “Attack Iraq once, shame on me. Attack it twice, well, then you won’t get attacked again.”

“Trump has betrayed our allies, the Kurds,” said one man in Arizona who had just googled “who are the Kurds” a few minutes before. “Look at all this violence he’s causing in the usually utopian paradise of Syria.”

The nation has called on Trump to allow U.S. soldiers to stick around for another few centuries in order to bring our various conflicts to a satisfactory conclusion.

At publishing time, the Pentagon had issued a reminder to the nation that “we’ve always been at war with Turkey.”

via Trump Blamed For Causing Violence In Typically Peaceful Middle East — The Babylon Bee

President Trump Meets With Italian President Mattarella – Oval Office – Video and Transcript… — The Last Refuge

Earlier today President Trump met with Italian President Matarella and held a press availability in the oval office prior to bilateral discussions. [Video and Transcript below]

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[Transcript]

via President Trump Meets With Italian President Mattarella – Oval Office – Video and Transcript… — The Last Refuge

Satan Endorses Paula White’s New Book — The Babylon Bee

HELL—After a long day of going to and fro upon the earth seeking whom he may devour, Satan, ruler of demons, took a moment to send out a tweet about a new book he was very excited to endorse: prosperity preacher Paula White’s new release Something Greater.

White, who claims to be a preacher but is actually a heretic and also a woman, put out her new book and was praised by many, including the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Satan wrote on his official Twitter account: “My friend @Paula_White has a WONDERFUL new book releasing tomorrow about God’s power to transform lives. Read SOMETHING GREATER and give it to anyone looking for hope!” He also tweeted out several selfies of him reading the book by a cozy fire.

Several major evangelical leaders followed the lead of the Prince of Darkness and also sang the book’s praises including Jerry Falwell Jr, Franklin Graham, and Robert Jeffress.

White, who is said to be President Trump’s spiritual advisor and pastor, accepted all the high praise of her new book by tweeting out, “Blessings will overtake you, Satan!… God says so!”

via Satan Endorses Paula White’s New Book — The Babylon Bee

OCTOBER 16 A Zeal for God

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 63:1–11
KEY VERSE: John 17:3

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Jesus defined eternal life in John 17:3, our key verse today. Thus, while eternal life is certainly the possession of unending fellowship with Christ, the principal context is the quality of relationship with your Savior.
There is no substitute for a personal hunger to know Christ experientially. The God who sought you and saved you jealously desires to reveal Himself to you. But you must pursue Him.
“Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls,” A. W. Tozer wrote in The Pursuit of God.

We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we found Him we need no more seek Him.
I want deliberately to encourage a mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.

If your heart for God has dimmed, seek Him today. As Tozer announced, “He waits to be wanted.”

Dear Lord, don’t let my zeal for You grow dim. Don’t let complacency hamper my spiritual growth. Manifest Yourself to me today in a new and deeper dimension.

Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 303). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

What Do Socialists and Environmentalists Really Want? — Christian Research Network

“History has shown us that people don’t behave well when crammed together in big cities.  Big cities have given us the “Blue” states.  Big cities are bastions of socialism and government control.  The population of big cities is mostly Socialist Democrats.  Big cities, with their majorities, control the legislative process and give us legislators that support socialism, more laws and environmental extremism. … The people who inhabit big cities are more apt to believe whatever the government tells them.” 

(Ron Ewart – News With Views) This article could really be wrapped up in three sentences.  The socialist Democrats of America want to control your money, your land, your home, your power, your water, your food, your education and your health care.  They want to control what you do, where you live, where you work, what you drive and what you wear.  They even want to control your news and your entertainment.  They have almost succeeded on all fronts.

These aren’t new revelations.  You have all heard them say it, on the campaign trail and in the recent debates.  It gets worse every year as they troll for votes offering free “stuff” to a dumbed down electorate.

Besides wanting to control every aspect of our lives, the socialist Democrats openly advocate for open borders.  They want to do away with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE.  They want Medicare for all and wipe out private health care for 180,000,000 Americans.  One of these insane asylum inmates (AOC) wants to close all of our prisons and let all the violent prisoners loose on society.  They want free college for all students and free health care for illegal aliens.  They want to take away our guns.  They want to repeal the Electoral College so that eight (8) major cities in America, New York, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego and Los Angeles, would control the vote.  They want to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar power, an insane idea and impossible.    View article →

via What Do Socialists and Environmentalists Really Want? — Christian Research Network

October 16, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Confession of Sin (5:16)

It is easy to misunderstand the command to confess sins to one another. James cannot intend meetings where people confess any and every sin to each other. This is the only Bible verse that says, “Confess your sins to each other,” so the rest of Scripture must guide our thinking. Here are some salient biblical principles:

  1. The offender confesses to the one offended, whether to a human or to God.
  2. We confess secret sins to God, since sins such as anger, envy, or lust offend him, even if they never lead to action. It is highly unlikely that we will accomplish anything constructive by telling someone, “I envied you,” or “I lusted after you.”
  3. We confess private sins privately to the one or the few we offended. We confess public sins (which offend many) publicly. For example, if a leader propounds heresy, deceives his people, or misuses public funds, public confession is apt.

The confession James recommends must fit category three. Once a sick and sinning believer repents, fellowship is restored (James assumes that the offended party will be ready to forgive). Then the whole body of Christ can pray effectively for healing.

James expects those prayers to be effective, for “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (5:16). Elders are responsible to set an example of personal righteousness, yet James 5:16 expects the whole church to pray. Every saint—everyone who is righteous by faith—prays.

Still, the efficacy of a prayer lies in the grace and power of God, not the goodness and merit of the petitioner. (The request “Pastor, please pray for me” may reveal a defective concept of prayer.) The prayers of the righteous have power, yet God gives us that righteousness by faith and by the Holy Spirit.[1]


16 Clearly building on the thought of the previous verse, with its mention of sins, prayer, and healing, the author transitions to exhort those in the Christian communities to mutual confession of sins and prayer. The use of “Therefore” (oun) followed by two present imperative verbs facilitates the transition. The first exhortation is to “confess your sins to each other.” Ropes, 309, understands the confession to be by the sick persons, who then are prayed for by the well, resulting in physical healing, but James seems to move from the specific situation of a seriously sick person in v. 15 to the general principle concerning the need for mutual confession and prayer in v. 16. On this interpretation, it is difficult to see the confession as preventative (as with Davids, 195), since the healing follows sickness in the verse, but the connection between sin in a community and physical illness seems clear nonetheless. Confession, a public acknowledgment of one’s guilt, may be by an individual or as a community, and in many cases in biblical literature, confession is connected to physical healing or some general form of salvation (Davids, 195–96; Johnson, 334). Johnson especially has shown the connection between physical healing and social restoration. This dynamic is prominent in the ministry of Jesus (e.g., Lk 5:17; 6:18–19) and reiterated in Acts (4:22, 30; 28:27; see Johnson, 335). Thus James, dealing with communities in which there was a good bit of social strife, points to vital Christian remedies for fractured relationships—open confession of sin and mutual prayer, which are actions that promote transparency, support, and unity. Consequently, the exhortations to confession and prayer are followed by “so that” (hopōs), a marker showing the purpose for something, and that purpose in the present case is expressed as “you may be healed.” The healing in mind is physical but points to a deeper spiritual healing of sin and broken relationships.

Whereas the first part of v. 16 consists of exhortations, the second makes a theological assertion concerning the effectiveness of prayer. In this case, the NASB reflects more accurately than the NIV the structure of the Greek text: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” First, the prayer under discussion is that of a righteous person. In 1:5–8 and 4:3–4, James has already noted that a sinful lifestyle hinders prayer, and he now expresses the flip side of that fact. In 5:17–18, he follows by offering Elijah as a prime example of such a person. Second, the prayer is “effective” (energeō, GK 1919), expressed with an adjectival participle meaning “to work,” “to be active,” or “to be operative.” Thus the prayer in mind is prayer put into action, or made operative. Finally, this prayer is able to “accomplish much.” James uses a verb (ischyō, GK 2710) that connotes having the resources or power to bring something about, and what prayer is able to accomplish is “much.”[2]


16 Some think vv. 16–18 are meant to be quite disjunct from 14 and 15, and are concerned not with illness but with miscellaneous neighbors’ quarrels and offenses. We cannot believe that after vv. 14 and 15 a stylist like James would here have invited misunderstanding by using “heal” in any but its medical sense. The well-documented association of sickness, sin, and confession in Jewish thought and ministrations seems to us to confirm (against, e.g., Dibelius; see Mitton, pp. 202ff.) the unity of the whole passage in question (vv. 13–18, esp. 14–18, including the connective oun, “therefore,” found at the beginning of v. 16 in all the great manuscripts, though missing in a few others). But our case does not stand or fall on that reading: we hold that exactly as 5:12 belongs to the whole passage 5:7–12, so there is no break between vv. 15 and 16. Confession and prayer were already implicit in Jewish thought of the sickbed; and the elaborate passage from “The prayer of a righteous man is very powerful in its operation” to the end of v. 18 is climactic not merely to the first ten or eleven words of v. 16 but to the whole passage, certainly from the beginning of v. 14.

In the ancient mind sin and sickness went together, and so confession of sin was necessary if prayer for the sick was to be effective. The confession is to be not only to the elders (or other ministers) but to one another, that is, probably to those they have wronged. But the OT speaks much of the necessity of confession for those who are well, as a private or as a public or national act of repentance, and the rabbis developed quite elaborate formulas for the purpose. The texts cited by the authorities show how the sick man’s visitors, the Jewish “guild for visiting the sick,”75 swept his room, reminded him to make a will, prayed for him, and habitually exhorted him to confess his sins in the belief that he would be cured: “Great is the power of repentance.… It brings healing.” The NT Church, as is shown by 1 John 1:9 and this passage in James, continued the practice: its subsequent history we need not here explore.

On the Greek words rendered “is very powerful in its operation,” Mayor thinks (p. 173) that the interpretation of De Wette and Alford, “the prayer of a righteous man avails much in its working,” is “irrefragably correct,” giving the sense that is apt, necessary, and lucid. Westcott saw that the word energoumenē is middle, not passive, and got it so translated in RV, “availeth much in its working”; but, with the notable exception of Ropes (pp. 309f.), critics have not generally accepted his view. The word does not here signify fervor (as in KJV, “the effectual fervent prayer”).79 Ps. 29:4 shows the Hebrew idiom: the voice of Yahweh “is with power” (where KJV, RV, and RSV quite correctly say, “is powerful”; cf. the Anglican Prayer Book Version, “is mighty in operation”). We join the participle and main verb in 5:16 in a way not unusual in Greek, as in, for example, “I have sinned in betraying” (Matt. 27:4).

This aphoristic form, without any connective, typical of James’s style, pithily expresses the effectiveness of prayer. “Prayer,” declared P. T. Forsyth, “is not mere wishing. It is asking—with a will.… It is energy. Orare est laborare. We turn to an active Giver; therefore we go into action.” Prayer is an act of faith (Jas. 1:6), and so energoumenē is apt enough for a “principle” or “power” from above at work. See further Excursus I, pp. 205ff.[3]


5:16 / James summarizes his teaching on healing in two sentences. First, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. Confession of sin is important for healing. Pastors experienced in the Christian healing ministry repeatedly witness to times when the confession of a resentment, a grudge, or an unforgiven injury has lead to physical healing with or without further prayer. But James is generalizing beyond the individual healing situation, for now it is not “to the elders” but to each other that confession is made. The picture is that of a church gathering and the confession of sin to the assembled group. The mutual public confession (supplemented by private confession where public confession would not be appropriate) lays the basis for public prayer, in which people freed from all grudges and resentments, and reconciled through confession and forgiveness, pray for healing for each other. In this kind of atmosphere, the services of the elders at the bedside will rarely be needed.

Second, the prayer of a righteous [person] is powerful and effective. The righteous person is not sinlessly perfect, but is the person who has confessed any known sin and who adheres to the moral standards of the Christian community. With a clear conscience and in unity with God, this person prays a prayer that is powerful and effective. The Greek adds a difficult expression that probably means “when it reaches God and he answers it” (lit. “when it works”). Prayer is not itself powerful; it is not magic. But its power is unlimited in that the child of God calls on a Father of unlimited goodness and ability.[4]


5:16 confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The scope now broadens to a more general principle: communal confession and communal prayer bring healing. This broadening will continue in 5:17–18, so perhaps we are to see James indicating that elders praying for the sick, including confession, is a specialized and more powerful form of general prayer for one another, which is a specialized form of prayer in general. Higher-profile or more-difficult cases of sickness may require the higher level of authority invested in the elders, but communal prayer and confession can still be effective in other cases.[5]


Power of Prayer

5:16

Confession of sin and praying for one another are vital ingredients of the healing ministry in the Christian community. When sin is removed, the power of prayer becomes evident in its amazing effectiveness.

16a. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

In this text we note three essential verbs: confess, pray, and heal.

  • “Confess.” James says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other.” With the adverb therefore, he links this sentence to the preceding verse where he writes of sickness, sin, and forgiveness. James uses the adverb to refer to the previous verse, to provide a basis for the succeeding sentence, and to stress the necessity of confessing sin.

Unconfessed sin blocks the pathway of prayer to God and at the same time is a formidable obstacle in interpersonal relations. That means, confess your sins not only to God but also to the persons who have been injured by your sins. Ask them for forgiveness!

“Confession cleanses the soul.” That is a time-worn saying which does not lose its validity. Confession is a mark of repentance and a plea for forgiveness on the part of the sinner. When the sinner confesses his sin and asks for and receives remission, he experiences freedom from the burden of guilt.

To whom do we confess our sins? The text says “to each other.” James does not specify the church or the elders; rather, he speaks of mutual confession on a one-to-one basis within a circle of believers. He does not rule out that members of the church ought to confide in the pastor and elders (v. 14). Some sins concern all believers in the church and thus these sins ought to be confessed publicly. Other sins are private and need not be made known except to persons who are directly involved. Discretion and limitation, therefore, must guide the sinner who wishes to confess his personal sins. Curtis Vaughan makes this telling observation:

But whereas the Roman Catholics have interpreted confession too narrowly, many of us may be tempted to interpret it too broadly. Confession of all our sins to all the brethren is not necessarily enjoined by James’ statement. Confession is “the vomit of the soul” and can, if too generally and too indiscriminately made, do more harm than good.

  • “Pray.” The beauty of Christian fellowship comes to expression in the practice of mutual prayer after sins have been confessed and forgiven. The offender and the offended pray on behalf of each other; together they find spiritual strength and comfort in the Lord. In their prayers they visibly and audibly demonstrate reciprocity. The forgiven sinner prays for the spiritual welfare of his fellow believer, who in turn commends him to the mercies of God.
  • “Be healed.” James states the purpose for confessing sin and praying for each other by saying, “so that you may be healed.” He is purposely vague in this statement; that is, he fails to mention whether he means physical or spiritual healing, actual or possible healing, individual or corporate healing. What is certain, however, is that when believers confess their sins to each other and pray for one another, a healing process takes place. And that can be applied to any situation.

16b. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Who is this righteous man? We are inclined to look to spiritual giants, to the heroes of the faith, and to men and women of God. In our opinion they are the people who through prayer are able to move mountains. But James mentions no names, except that of Elijah with the qualification that he is “just like us” (v. 17). He means to say that any believer whose sins have been forgiven and who prays in faith is righteous. When he prays, his prayers are “powerful and effective.”

Both prayer and the answer to prayer are powerful and effective. The one does not cancel the other. That is, prayer offered in faith by a forgiven believer is a powerful and effective means to approach the throne of God. And, God “rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6), for his answers to prayer are indeed powerful and effective.

Practical Considerations in 5:16

Scripture provides numerous examples of the power of prayer. Here are a few chosen at random:

Joshua prayed and the sun stood still (Josh. 10:12–13)

Elijah prayed and the widow’s son came back to life (1 Kings 17:19–22)

Elisha prayed and the Shunammite’s son was restored to life (2 Kings 4:32–35)

Hezekiah prayed and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain (Isa. 37:21, 36)

The Jerusalem church prayed and Peter was released from prison (Acts 12:5–10)

Scripture portrays these people as ordinary men and women who sinned, sought forgiveness, prayed in faith, and received divine answers to prayer. In short, they are our kind of people.[6]


5:16. The conclusion is clear: therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other. A mutual concern for one another is the way to combat discouragement and downfall. The cure is in personal confession and prayerful concern. The healing (that you may be healed) is not bodily healing but healing of the soul (iathēte; cf. Matt. 13:15; Heb. 12:13; 1 Peter 2:24). It is the powerful and effective … prayer of a righteous person that brings the needed cure from God. This of course relates to the closing two verses of James’ letter. If James 5:14–16 refer to physical healing, then those verses seem disjointed with the verses before and after them.[7]


5:16. However, all of James’s readers should be prepared for that open and honest confession of sin which was a necessary prelude to healing (that you may be healed). But the command to confess your trespasses to one another is still based within James’s discussion of sickness and should not be stretched into a general admonition. There is no biblical command to publicly confess all our known sins. Confession to God is necessary in regard to any sin one is aware of, and should be made in conformity with 1 John 1:9. But only here in Scripture is there a command to make confession to one another and this lies fully within the parameters of the need for prayer by the elders and fellow Christians (pray for one another) that God will make the sick person well.

It seems apparent that James was not thinking in vv 14–15 of instantaneous healing after the elders have prayed. Rather, he is thinking of collective prayer, both by the elders and the congregation, and he is thinking of ultimate, rather than immediate, recovery. But if the sick person has reason to believe that God’s hand of discipline is on him, he should be prepared to acknowledge his failures openly so as to clear the path for effective prayer.

Prayer can work wonders! Not, however, if it comes from an unrighteous heart, or if it is shallow, glib, and superficial. Rather, it avails much when it is an effective, fervent prayer expressed by a righteous man. The words effective, fervent both translate a single Greek verb form (energoumenē) which is difficult to render precisely in English. The familiar English words used by the NKJV are on target, but since the verb “energize” is from the Greek verb in question, James’s statement might be paraphrased as “a spiritually energetic prayer” or “a prayer energized by God.” The point is that such prayer is more deeply at work than prayers that are verbalized in a casual or perfunctory state of mind. James is speaking of prayer that is Spirit-wrought and that comes from the heart and soul. Such prayer can be offered only by a righteous man, so that James implies that if the sick man will indeed turn from any sins he has committed, he could even pray effectively for himself. In fact, this is precisely what righteous King Hezekiah did in a time of near-fatal illness (2 Kgs 20:2–6), though his sickness was not related to sin so far as is known.[8]


5:16 — Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

We cannot obey a multitude of God’s commands without being in regular, close fellowship with other believers. He has designed this world so that many of our needs are met only through mutual interdependence.[9]


5:16 confess your sins. Mutual honesty, openness, and sharing of needs will enable believers to uphold each other in the spiritual struggle. effective prayer … can accomplish much. The energetic, passionate prayers of godly people have the power to accomplish much. Cf. Nu 11:2.[10]


5:16 confess your sins to one another. Sometimes confession in the community is needed before healing can take place, since sin may be the cause of the illness (cf. 1 Cor. 11:29–30). Pray for one another is directed to all the readers of James’s letter and indicates that he did not expect prayer for healing to be limited to the elders (James 5:14). The righteous will have great power in prayer, as God grants their requests.[11]


5:16 confess your sins to one another While James instructs his audience to confess their sins to each other, few nt texts attest to a standard practice of public confession.

James probably is referring to the act of confessing to the offended party, which would fit with the letter’s emphasis on fellowship in the congregation (see Matt 5:23–24). Confessions could also include public acknowledgment of sin in cases where the whole church has been violated.

so that you may be healed This could refer to physical healing or the restoration of the congregation’s spiritual health.

a righteous person Refers to a person who is committed to doing the will of God and to cultivating right relationship with Him.[12]


5:16 confess your sins. Though confession to a priest is not required by Scripture, confession to God and to one another is. Overreaction against the Roman Catholic sacrament of penance may lead to a neglect of authentic godly confession.

righteous person. A godly person who prays in faith is a just or righteous person.[13]


16. Confess your faults one to another. In some copies the illative particle is given, nor is it unsuitable; for though when not expressed, it must be understood. He had said, that sins were remitted to the sick over whom the elders prayed: he now reminds them how useful it is to discover our sins to our brethren, even that we may obtain the pardon of them by their intercession.

This passage, I know, is explained by many as referring to the reconciling of offences; for they who wish to return to favour must necessarily know first their own faults and confess them. For hence it comes, that hatreds take root, yea, and increase and become irreconcilable, because every one pertinaciously defends his own cause. Many therefore think that James points out here the way of brotherly reconciliation, that is, by mutual acknowledgment of sins. But as it has been said, his object was different; for he connects mutual prayer with mutual confession; by which he intimates that confession avails for this end, that we may be helped as to God by the prayers of our brethren; for they who know our necessities, are stimulated to pray that they may assist us; but they to whom our diseases are unknown are more tardy to bring us help.

Wonderful, indeed, is the folly or the insincerity of the Papists, who strive to build their whispering confession on this passage. For it would be easy to infer from the words of James, that the priests alone ought to confess. For since a mutual, or to speak more plainly, a reciprocal confession is demanded here, no others are bidden to confess their own sins, but those who in their turn are fit to hear the confession of others; but this the priests claim for themselves alone. Then confession is required of them alone. But since their puerilities do not deserve a refutation, let the true and genuine explanation already given be deemed sufficient by us.

For the words clearly mean, that confession is required for no other end, but that those who know our evils may be more solicitous to bring us help.

Availeth much. That no one may think that this is done without fruit, that is, when others pray for us, he expressly mentions the benefit and the effect of prayer. But he names expressly the prayer of a righteous or just man; because God does not hear the ungodly; nor is access to God open, except through a good conscience: not that our prayers are founded on our own worthiness, but because the heart must be cleansed by faith before we can present ourselves before God. Then James testifies that the righteous or the faithful pray for us beneficially and not without fruit.

But what does he mean by adding effectual or efficacious? for this seems superfluous; for if the prayer avails much, it is doubtless effectual. The ancient interpreter has rendered it “assiduous;” but this is too forced. For James uses the Greek participle, ἐνεργουμένη, which means “working.” And the sentence may be thus explained, “It avails much, because it is effectual.” As it is an argument drawn from this principle, that God will not allow the prayers of the faithful to be void or useless, he does not therefore unjustly conclude that it avails much. But I would rather confine it to the present case: for our prayers may properly be said to be ἐνεργούμεναι, working, when some necessity meets us which excites in us earnest prayer. We pray daily for the whole Church, that God may pardon its sins; but then only is our prayer really in earnest, when we go forth to succour those who are in trouble. But such efficacy cannot be in the prayers of our brethren, except they know that we are in difficulties. Hence the reason given is not general, but must be specially referred to the former sentence.[14]


16. The oldest authorities read, “Confess, therefore,” &c. Not only in the particular case of sickness, but universally confess.

faults—your falls and offenses, in relation to one another. The word is not the same as sins. Mt 5:23, 24; Lu 17:4, illustrate the precept here.

one to another—not to the priest, as Rome insists. The Church of England recommends in certain cases. Rome compels confession in all cases. Confession is desirable in the case of (1) wrong done to a neighbor; (2) when under a troubled conscience we ask counsel of a godly minister or friend as to how we may obtain God’s forgiveness and strength to sin no more, or when we desire their intercessory prayers for us (“Pray for one another”): “Confession may be made to anyone who can pray” [Bengel]; (3) open confession of sin before the Church and the world, in token of penitence. Not auricular confession.

that ye may be healed—of your bodily sicknesses. Also that, if your sickness be the punishment of sin, the latter being forgiven on intercessory prayer, “ye may be healed” of the former. Also, that ye may be healed spiritually.

effectual—intense and fervent, not “wavering” (Jam 1:6), [Beza]. “When energized” by the Spirit, as those were who performed miracles [Hammond]. This suits the collocation of the Greek words and the sense well. A righteous man’s prayer is always heard generally, but his particular request for the healing of another was then likely to be granted when he was one possessing a special charism of the Spirit. Alford translates, “Availeth much in its working.” The “righteous” is one himself careful to avoid “faults,” and showing his faith by works (Jam 2:24).[15]


[1] Doriani, D. M. (2007). James. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 199–200). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[2] Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 271–272). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Adamson, J. B. (1976). The Epistle of James (pp. 198–200). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Davids, P. H. (2011). James (pp. 124–125). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Samra, J. (2016). James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (pp. 84–85). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 178–180). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] 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. 835). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8] Hodges, Z. C. (2010). The Epistle of James. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (pp. 1140–1141). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[9] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Jas 5:16). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[10] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jas 5:16). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[11] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2399). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[12] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jas 5:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[13] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1807). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[14] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (pp. 357–360). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[15] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 494). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

CNN debate slammed by critics, candidates: ‘Damaged the network’s credibility even further’ | FOX news

CNN’s Democratic presidential debate was criticized by everyone from media watchdogs to the candidates themselves following Tuesday’s showdown — with complaints ranging from perceived favoritism of Sen. Elizabeth Warren to attacks on the specific questions asked by moderators.

The Hill media reporter Joe Concha told Fox News that CNN’s debate enhanced its already not-so-respectable reputation.

TULSI GABBARD SLAMS CNN, NEW YORK TIMES DURING DEBATE FOR ‘DESPICABLE’ ‘SMEARS’ OVER SYRIA, RUSSIA

“The network is under heavy criticism from the left and right today, and rightly so,” Concha said. “Its pursuit of sizzle over steak and focus on social issues over truly substantiate matters – economy, jobs, opioid crisis, border crisis, all-things China – has damaged the network’s credibility even further.”

CNN debate moderators Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett look on before the event. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CNN debate moderators Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett look on before the event. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CNN partnered up with The New York Times for the event, which was moderated by CNN’s Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper and Gray Lady editor Marc Lacey. While viewers complained about several issues with the moderators, a question Cooper asked about Ellen DeGeneres and former President George W. Bush’s friendship was perhaps the most lampooned.

“Three hours and no questions tonight about climate, housing, or immigration,” Julian Castro tweeted. “Climate change is an existential threat. America has a housing crisis. Children are still in cages at our border. But you know, Ellen.”

CNN FACES MORE ACCUSATIONS OF POLITICAL BIAS AHEAD OF DEMOCRATIC DEBATE

Sen. Kamala Harris also took to Twitter to criticize the moderators, noting there weren’t questions about climate change, LGBTQ rights or immigration.

“These issues are too important to ignore,” Harris wrote.

While Castro and Harris used social media, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hi., slammed CNN and The Times directly from the debate stage over what she described as “smears” against her on foreign policy.

“The New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime-change war,” Gabbard said. “Just two days ago, The New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia — completely despicable.”

CNN BOSS JEFF ZUCKER ESCAPES QUESTIONS ABOUT OLD COLLEAGUE MATT LAUER

DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall said the major flaw was that moderators allowed Sen. Elizabeth Warren to dominate the proceedings.

“The time imbalance was so obvious and quite unfair to Gabbard, Castro and the others.  That Warren is now or at the top of recent polls is no excuse for allowing such an imbalance,” McCall told Fox News. “A candidate forum is supposed to give all candidates a fair opportunity to engage the dialogue and that absolutely did not happen. The debate moderators apparently don’t own stopwatches.”

McCall said the imbalance “lends credence to the critics who say these forums are all about promoting some candidates over others” and Warren was clearly the favorite.

CNN, NYT SLAMMED FOR AVOIDING CHINA DURING PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: ‘THIS IS LITERALLY A JOKE,’ ‘SHAMEFUL’

“The moderators were also quite powerless at times when they tried to move on or determine who would speak next. Candidates tended to ignore the moderators’ directions and interrupt as they wanted,” McCall said, adding that talking over the moderators is nothing new.

“This is standard procedure now in these televised spectacles, but it remains a weakness in the format and relegates moderators to bystanders at times,” he said.

The debate came hours after a secretly recorded video appeared to show a CNN staffer saying the network likes Warren “a lot” and dislikes Gabbard. CNN’s own Twitter account even pointed out that Gabbard received less time than other candidates. According to CNN itself, Warren spoke for over 22 minutes, followed by Biden’s 16-plus minutes, while Gabbard only spoke for roughly eight minutes.

Following the debate, Gabbard’s sister criticized CNN via a tweet sent by the candidate’s verified account that accused the network of cutting off Gabbard to “protect Warren.”

PROJECT VERITAS’ ALLEGED CNN WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS NETWORK IS ‘PUMPING OUT PROPAGANDA’

“It was no surprise that CNN began with almost 20 minutes talking about impeachment and defending the Bidens seeing as how CNN’s been obsessed with impeachment for at least three years now,” NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck told Fox News.

“Between cutting off Tulsi Gabbard and asking far-left, leading questions on abortion, gun control, and the Supreme Court, CNN reminded America last night just how invested they are in defeating and removing the President from office,” Houck added.

Conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News that the debate was harmful to candidates because liberal moderators were so easy on them.

“CNN is actually doing a disservice to the Democratic candidates and to Democratic voters by refusing to ask tough questions of the front runners,” Barron said. “Whoever the Democrats nominate will have to square off against President Trump on the debate stage and I promise you he won’t treat the nominee with kid gloves”

Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News that CNN wouldn’t be a “neutral referee” because of its own bias and that was before the debate even started — and the moderators didn’t do anything to change his mind.

“CNN, which has done as much as any outlet in America to promote impeachment, began the entire debate with 12 questions on the subject – one easy one for each candidate,” Gainor wrote following the debate.

CNN and The Times were also heavily criticized for overlooking China, which has been a focal point of the recent news cycle. China made headlines in recent weeks between its trade war with the United States and the growing tensions between the communist nation and the NBA – but the moderators didn’t seem to care what 2020 candidates thought about the situation.

“There hasn’t been one question about China in this entire 3 hour debate. It is shameful,” “The View” co-host Meghan McCain tweeted.

The “foreign policy” portion of the debate featured questions predominately about Trump’s recent troop withdrawal from Syria as well as handling Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It’s patently amazing that the network couldn’t find the time over three hours to ask one question about arguably a Top-3 topic going into the 2020 election, China, but did ask as its final question of the night about the friendship between Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush,” Concha said.

Source: CNN debate slammed by critics, candidates: ‘Damaged the network’s credibility even further’

The Early Church Thrived Amid Secularism and Shows How We Can, Too | Christianity Today Magazine

I attended seminary in the 1970s. I had to take several classes in the history of Christianity, though in those days it was called “church history.” My professor taught the course largely as a history of Christian thought. We studied orthodoxy and heresy in the early Christian period, monastic and scholastic theology in the medieval period, the Reformation controversies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the evangelical awakenings of the eighteenth century, and the liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as its major twentieth-century critics (Barth and Bonhoeffer).

In general, we learned church history from a Christendom perspective. Questions of correct belief loomed largest, at least as I remember it. We studied it as a kind of history of the Christian family, which was our family.

In the beginning of my teaching career, I taught the history of Christianity in much the same way. My primary interest was Reformation theology and the evangelical awakenings, though I never totally neglected to tell the larger story. Students seemed interested enough, at least for a while.

But then students began to change, and their interests shifted. They started to question the attention to doctrinal precision that emerged during the Reformation period. They wondered about the emotion of the evangelical awakenings. Doctrinal faith seemed too abstract and narrow, emotive faith too fragile and insecure.

I was teaching a Christendom course, but my students were asking for something different. I discovered that they needed something different because they were (and still are) growing up in a world very different from the one that existed only a generation ago.

Together we—professor and students—found it in early Christianity.

They began to pepper me with questions. How did early Christians start and sustain a movement over such a long period of time (some 250 years) before Christendom began to emerge? How did the church maintain a steady rate of growth under such difficult circumstances? How did Christian leaders make disciples without the religious benefits and privileges we take for granted today? How did this minority movement influence the larger culture, even though the vast majority of people living in the Roman Empire did not assume Christianity was the one true religion, Christian ethics were the best way to live, and Christian institutions were worthy of special privilege?

The success of the early church was certainly not inevitable. Christians could have accommodated to the culture to win recognition and approval, which would have undermined the uniqueness of their belief system and way of life. Or Christians could have isolated themselves from the culture to hide and survive, which would have kept them on the margins—safe, to be sure, but also irrelevant.

Instead, Christians engaged the culture without excessive compromise and remained separate from the culture without excessive isolation. Christians figured out how to be both faithful and winsome. They followed what was then known as the “Third Way,” a phrase that first appeared in a second-century letter to a Roman official named Diognetus.

What made the Third Way so successful and fruitful? At the heart of it was the unique identity and mission of Jesus. Jesus Christ shaped everything that followed in his wake. No one in the ancient world had ever encountered the likes of him before. Romans had no categories for him and neither did Jews. Not even his disciples could make sense of him until after the resurrection. Jesus Christ summoned his followers to a new way of life because he was first and foremost the way to new life. In other words, it was his uniqueness that made the early Christian movement unique.

The Third Way spawned a new movement—new in theology, in story, in authority, in community, in worship, and in behavior. Christian belief was so new, in fact, that it required Christians to develop a process of formation in the Third Way to move new believers from conversion to discipleship, from outsider to insider, from observer to full-fledged member, which produced generation after generation of believers who, established firmly in the faith, were able to grow the movement over a long period of time.

What can we learn today from the church’s witness to Rome some 2,000 years ago?

At the center, of course, was Jesus Christ himself—human and divine, crucified and resurrected, suffering servant and triumphant King, Son of Man and Son of God. Early Christians believed that God had revealed himself as Jesus Christ. They claimed that this revelation showed the world who God is as well as what kind of people humans were created to be.

They viewed worship as a bridge between divine and human worlds, as if in worship Christians stepped into a liminal space between heaven and earth. They did not see themselves primarily as consumers who attended worship to hear a good sermon and sing a few familiar songs but as beholders of the unspeakable glory of God. Worship not only ushered them into the very presence of God but also prepared them to return to the ordinary life of market, home, and neighborhood as disciples of Jesus.

Christians embraced a new story, too. The story of Jesus opened their eyes to see history not as a narrative of the empire’s achievements—and atrocities—but as a narrative of God’s redemptive work in the world, which often occurs in quiet and mysterious ways. For them, Bethlehem and Golgotha occupied center stage, not the Roman court.

Jesus Christ reshaped identity. He promised to make people new creatures; he broke down dividing walls of hostility; he transformed how his followers saw themselves and treated “the other.” Primary identity in Christ changed all earthly and secondary identities—marital, ethnic, and economic.

Christians became a nation within a nation, a new oikoumene or universal commonwealth that spanned the known world, crossing traditional cultural barriers. Their primary loyalty was to fellow believers, not nation or race or tribe or party or class. Christians created a new oikos (house church), too, which established a different kind of family. God was true Father; they were all brothers and sisters. The Christian movement was therefore both radically global and local at the same time. Both oikoumene and oikos had the effect of undermining and transforming the traditional social order.

They lived differently in the world. Christians were known as the people who cared for the “least of these,” challenging Rome’s patronage system and culture of honor and shame. They lived this faith out with enough consistency and success to attract Rome’s attention, which is why Rome identified the Christian movement as the Third Way. Rome’s various responses—fascination, confusion, suspicion, opposition, persecution—only underscored how unique the movement was.

In the same way that it’s not easy to understand and to follow the Christian faith in our increasingly post-Christendom setting, it wasn’t easy to make sense of in a pre-Christendom setting. Which is why the early Christian movement established the catechumenate as a strategy of formation. This ancient Christian process of formation, which lasted two or three years, was both inherent to the faith and necessary for its survival and growth. It was inherent because discipleship was the only possible response to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And it was necessary because the church faced stiff opposition and competition in the ancient world. The difference between Roman religion and Christianity was so great that the church had to develop a process to move people from the old world of traditional religion to the new world of Christianity.

Can this ancient movement speak to us today? It depends upon how fiercely we cling to the old arrangement.

As long as Christians assume we are still living in Christendom, the church will continue to decline in the West, no matter how ferociously Christians fight to maintain power and privilege. If anything, the harder Christians fight, the more precipitous the decline will be, for cultural power and privilege will come at an increasingly high price. Christians will either accommodate until the faith becomes almost unrecognizable, or they will isolate until their faith becomes virtually invisible.

Nothing short of a change of church culture will suffice—from a culture of entertainment, politics, personality, and program to a culture of discipleship. Such a radical change will require patience, steadiness, and purposefulness.

The good news is, we are not alone, and the story of early Christianity reminds us of this fact. Faithful Christians have gone before us, bearing witness to the truth of Christianity, the power of the gospel, and the high calling of discipleship. Calling out across the centuries, they tell us that it is possible now, as it was then, to live as faithful followers of Jesus the Lord in a culture that does not approve of it or reward it.

Two millennia ago, Jesus Christ—his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension—set in motion a movement that turned the world upside down. He is the same Lord today. It can happen again.

Gerald L. Sittser is a professor of theology and a senior fellow in the Office of Church Engagement at Whitworth University. He is the author of eight books, including the best-selling A Grace Disguised, The Will of God as a Way of Life, and Water from a Deep Well.

This essay is adapted from his latest book, Resilient Faith: How the Early Christian “Third Way” Changed the World. Used by permission from Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group copyright 2019.

Source: The Early Church Thrived Amid Secularism and Shows How We Can, Too

Democrat Debate ‘Desiderata’: Kamala Klowns, Biden Battered, Bernie Bounces Back | ZeroHedge News

Last night’s Democratic Party presidential nominee debate in Ohio – amid a biggest-ever-on-the-same-stage gaggle of twelve nattering naybobs clamoring for attention – reminded us of Max Ehrmann’s 1920s prose poem ‘Desiderata’ about life being a struggle at times.

The word desiderata means “things that are desired,” which is exactly what last night was all about – offering Americans everything they’ve ever desired (and the rich will pay), sadly missing out on Ehrmann’s real topic of remaining honest to oneself and others (something that seems to have disappeared entirely from our political sphere.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story…”

Anderson Cooper gave Joe Biden full absolution on all things Ukraine-related, the rest of the field went after Elizabeth Warren for not admitting she’s going to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for her socialized medicine, and everyone went all-in for abortion.

So with that in mind, what were the big takeaways from last night’s (fourth) Democratic debates?

Via The Hill,

Warren in the firing line

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has jumped to the top of some national polls recently, and her status as the new front-runner was underlined when several of her rivals attacked her.

They clearly see an urgent need to curb her momentum.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) were among the most aggressive in jabbing at Warren early on, though others, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), joined the fray later.

Warren by no means crumbled. But she was put on the defensive as she has never been before.

On her “Medicare for All” plan, Buttigieg argued it limited choice, while Klobuchar hit her refusal to acknowledge that paying for it would almost certainly involve tax hikes.

Warren’s argument on the tax issue — that voters are concerned about overall costs, and that any tax increase would be offset because there would be no private insurance premiums — is logically defensible. But her rivals will exploit her tendency to sound evasive on the tax point.

The Massachusetts senator seemed to become more comfortable as the night wore on. And her basic position that Democrats need a platform more ambitious than one that “nibbles around the edges of the big problems in this country” has real magnetism for progressive voters.

Warren survived her first turn in the firing line competently. But everyone will be watching the polls in coming days to see whether the sustained attacks on Tuesday slowed her march.

A bad night for Biden — again

Indifferent debate performances have been a problem for former Vice President Joe Biden before — and he failed to break the streak on Tuesday.

The 76-year-old faded into the background for large swathes in Westerville. When he did gain the spotlight, his answers were prone, once again, to lack sharpness or punch.

Even though Biden is two years younger than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), he continues to sprinkle his remarks with much more anachronistic phrases. On Tuesday, he talked about people “clipping coupons in the stock market” — a reference that seemed several decades out of date.

Biden’s backers would argue that his support has always come from older, more centrist Democrats and that he is the strongest candidate to take on Trump.

But there was nothing remotely dominant about his performance on Tuesday night.

Bernie bounces back — with AOC’s help

Sanders came into this debate facing serious questions about his health. It was the 78-year-old’s first major appearance since having a heart attack.

The Vermont Independent began putting those worries to rest with a typically feisty performance. There was no sign of a lack of vigor or stamina.

But the biggest boost to the veteran democratic socialist came from outside the debate hall.

As the clashes in Westerville were winding down, The Washington Post broke the news that he would be endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) at a Saturday rally in Queens, N.Y. Soon after, news emerged that Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) would also back him.

The endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez was arguably bigger news than anything that happened on the debate stage on Tuesday. The young left-wing icon’s endorsement may not be a surprise in itself — she worked as a volunteer organizer for Sanders’s 2016 campaign — but the timing delivers a jolt of excitement to his campaign at just the right moment.

It will also come as a disappointment to Warren, whom Ocasio-Cortez had also previously praised.

Buttigieg seizes his moment

Buttigieg was the single standout performer on Tuesday. He took the fight to Warren, was prominent in the key early stages of the debate and made his case more broadly as a candidate able to connect with voters beyond the liberal base.

Buttigieg has always been an effective television performer, and he has showed startling fundraising strength.

He has, however, struggled to translate those assets into real momentum in the polls.

The 37-year-old mayor’s path into serious contention lies in the possibility that he could supplant Biden as the centrist standard-bearer against the progressive wing of the party, represented by Warren and Sanders.

He helped himself in a big way on Tuesday — and Biden’s weakness also played into his hands.

Harris misfires with Warren attack

Harris shone in the first Democratic debates in Miami in late June, but she has faded in the polls since then.

She enjoyed a good moment early on Tuesday when she turned a general discussion of health care to the topic of women’s reproductive rights — a winning move with the crowd in the hall, and presumably with a lot of Democratic voters.

Just as memorable — but for the wrong reasons, from Harris’s perspective — was a later exchange with Warren on the subject of President Trump’s Twitter account.

Harris pressed Warren on why she wouldn’t support Harris’s push to have Trump banned from the social media platform. But Warren easily turned the attack around by saying that she was focused on removing Trump from the White House, not just from Twitter.

Harris persisted with the confrontation but the overall effect was to diminish herself rather than Warren, with the California senator seeming mean-spirited and somewhat petty.

It was a bad moment for a candidate who could ill afford one.

Prefer visual aids, here is The Daily Caller…

But, taking a bigger picture view of what occurred, The Nation’s Jeet Heer notes that the divide between the left and the moderates now defines the Democratic party.

With a dozen voices contending to be heard, it was impossible for the three leading candidates—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden—to dominate the conversation or engage in extended arguments.

Instead, the crowded field divided into two major teams, the left and the moderates.

Sanders and Warren commanded the left team, but they were occasionally helped out by Julian Castro, Cory Booker, and, surprisingly, billionaire Tom Steyer, who agreed with Sanders’s contention that the rich have too much power in American society. Tulsi Gabarrd was the wild card of the group, supporting the left team on many occasions but occasionally veering off on her own, as in her willingness to accept unspecified restrictions on reproductive freedom.

The moderate Democratic team was larger, led by Joe Biden but also including Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang were the wild cards on this side, occasionally taking hard-line or outlier positions, but basically agreeing with the moderate team’s emphasis on national unity, civility, and the need to avoid radical change. Yang’s advocacy of the Universal Basic Income was more far-reaching than any other position on the moderate side, but it fell far short of Sanders’s call for a federal job guarantee. Similarly, O’Rourke’s strong position on gun control shouldn’t mask the fact that he’s not on board with any fundamental changes in the economic order.

New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie noted that “one consistent thread in these debates is how Castro (and Booker, to a lesser extent) regularly play the assist to Warren.” One way to think about this pattern is that Castro and Booker are auditioning to be vice-presidential picks if Warren is the nominee. Similarly, by sniping at Warren, Buttigieg was auditioning to be Joe Biden’s running mate.

As in the earlier debates, Sanders and Warren are clearly the intellectual leaders of the field, the ones who are defining the direction of the party with bold ideas like Medicare for All. Tellingly, the moderates often say they share the goals of these ideas, but they demur about the execution and emphasize the need to unify the nation against Donald Trump.

The recurring rhetorical move of the moderates is to concede that the goals the left wants are admirable and suggest that there are less divisive ways to get the same results. The problem with this argument is that in the polarized America of 2019, with Donald Trump regularly accusing Democrats of treason, the goal of conciliation seems utopian. Democratic voters very clearly want a fighter, which is one reason Warren is on the cusp of becoming a front-runner. Sanders, too, although he’s running third, has a solid base made up of one in six Democratic voters. On the moderate side, only Joe Biden has taken off, and his appeal is reliant on a nostalgia for the Obama era.

In terms of setting the policy goal, there’s only one team winning in the Democratic primaries: the left.

And with all that in mind, we revert back to Desiderata:

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

Happy indeed.

Source: Democrat Debate ‘Desiderata’: Kamala Klowns, Biden Battered, Bernie Bounces Back

William Barr and His Detractors — The BreakPoint Podcast

In a 1798 address to the Massachusetts Militia, President John Adams said, “We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion.” Human vices can, he continued, “break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net.”

Then, Adams famously concluded, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Two centuries later, many people see religion not only as unnecessary for constitutional governance, they see it as an absolute hindrance. The differences between the “freedom of religion” and “freedom from religion” crowds are about as deep as it gets. Not only are there competing views on religion in public life fighting for the public square, there are competing visions of the human person and what it even means to be free.

A recent speech at Notre Dame, by U. S. Attorney General William Barr, offered a clear and accurate explanation of religious freedom and why it matters, as well as the challenges it faces today. In clear and sobering terms, Barr described what the Founders regarded as “our supreme test as a free society,” that is, “whether the citizens in such a free society [can] maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.”

Failing this test, Barr explained, will lead to one of two tyrannies, either “the coercive power of government to impose restraints,” or “the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good . . . where . . . the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.” To put it differently, either we govern ourselves, or the state must step in to restrain our passions.

And, what is the source of the self-discipline and virtue necessary for self-government? Religion. Specifically, biblical religion. As Barr put it, “religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. . . It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.”

But, biblical religion and religious freedom are no longer seen as positive goods. Increasingly, in fact, they are even seen as potential evils. In this context, Mr. Barr said, “The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor . . . It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake—social, educational and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”

This is not hyperbole. Just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor, or Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, or any pregnancy care center what happens when you violate the orthodoxies of the new secular religious consensus.

In fact, right on cue and as if to prove the Attorney General’s point, Barr’s speech ignited a collective freak-out among many secularist, progressive voices. Just google “William Barr” along with words like “theocracy,” “zealot,” “Torqemada,” or “Handmaid’s Tale.”

The Attorney General’s speech reminds us that competing visions for America and its future are rooted in completely different worldviews: One leads to freedom, the other leads to tyranny—because it discards the trues source of freedom.

This much is clear: We can no longer assume our friends and neighbors “get” religious freedom. We must make the case for religious freedom as a positive good for all, as a necessary ingredient of human flourishing, for true freedom, and for our life as a nation.

One way is to read or watch, and then share the Attorney General’s speech. And, read the outstanding and important new book by religious freedom attorney Luke Goodrich called  “Free to Believe.” It lays out the compelling case for religious liberty and how you and I can help promote and preserve it, for ourselves and our posterity.

via William Barr and His Detractors — The BreakPoint Podcast

AG Barr Blasts ‘Militant Secularists’ in Speech on Religious Freedom — Christian Research Network

“This is not decay,” he said. “This is organized destruction. Secular forces and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia, in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

(Caleb Park – Fox News)  Attorney General William Barr blasted “militant secularists” and their attacks on Judeo-Christian values in a blistering speech at Notre Dame Friday, saying “religion has been under increasing attack” over the past five decades.

Barr told students and faculty at the university’s law school that “the problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced — secular values are being forced on people of faith.”

“Among the militant secularists are many so-called progressives,” he said. “But where is the progress? We are told we are living in a post-Christian era, but what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is the system of values that can sustain human social life?”  View article →

via AG Barr Blasts ‘Militant Secularists’ in Speech on Religious Freedom — Christian Research Network

October 16 CONFIDENT DECISION MAKING

SCRIPTURE READING:
Psalm 31
KEY VERSE:
Psalm 31:15

My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.

Watching a football player lie motionless on the turf after a vicious hit is sobering. Almost universally feared, but usually unspoken, is the possibility of an injury that results in paralysis. Often these fears are relieved when the player is escorted off the field.
Far more damaging and much more prevalent is another kind of paralysis that sets in when we are faced with a decision. Multitudes are frozen in fear and confusion in the decision–making process. It is a form of bondage that God certainly does not desire.
You can be confident in any form of decision making because your trust is ultimately in the Lord Jesus Christ. You are responsible to gather facts, analyze them, and weigh alternatives. People hold you responsible for results also.
Having done your part, you can rest because the Lord is in control. You do not know the future; He does. Your times and decisions are in His hands as you trust in His guidance (Ps. 31:15). Even when the consequences of your decision are not what you envisioned, you still know that God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

Lord, please guide my decisions as I build my life on You. Eliminate fear and confusion. Give me the mind of Christ as I gather facts, analyze them, weigh alternatives, set my goals, and accomplish them by faith.

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

16 OCTOBER (1859) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Come and welcome

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: John 6:35–40

How wide is this invitation! There are some ministers who are afraid to invite sinners, then why are they ministers? They are afraid to perform the most important part of the sacred office. There was a time I must confess when I somewhat faltered when about to give a free invitation. My doctrinal sentiments did at that time somewhat hamper me. I boldly confess that I am unchanged as to the doctrines I have preached; I preach Calvinism as high, as stern, and as sound as ever; but I do feel, and always did feel an anxiety to invite sinners to Christ. And I do feel also, that not only is such a course consistent with the soundest doctrines, but that the other course is after all the unsound one, and has no title whatever to plead Scripture on its behalf. There has grown up in many churches an idea that none are to be called to Christ but what they call sensible sinners. I sometimes rebut that by remarking, that I call stupid sinners to Christ as well as sensible sinners, and that stupid sinners make by far the greatest proportion of the ungodly. But I glory in the confession that I preach Christ even to insensible sinners—that I would say even to the dry bones of the valley, as Ezekiel did, “Ye dry bones live!” doing it as an act of faith; not faith in the power of those that hear to obey the command, but faith in the power of God who gives the command to give strength also to those addressed, that they may be constrained to obey it. But now listen to my text; for here, at least, there is no limitation. But sensible or insensible, all that the text saith is, “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely.” The one question I have to ask this morning is, art thou willing?

FOR MEDITATION: Jesus gladly received children and their carers; he rebuked his own disciples, some of God’s children, who tried to get in the way (Mark 10:13–16). Are we helping or hindering others who need to come to Christ?

SERMON NO. 279

Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 296). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Wednesday Briefing October 16, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

PART I

 The Secular Threat Defined: A Remarkable Defense of Religious Liberty from the U.S. Attorney General

PART II

 What Exactly Does It Take to be Called an Extremist by the Secular Left? Evidently, It Doesn’t Require Anything Extreme

PART III

 The Reshaped Battle for Religious Liberty in the United States: Lessons from History Inform the Present


DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING

PART I

PART II

NEW YORK TIMES

 God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator, by Paul Krugman

PART III