"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.
Yesterday we discovered how the prophet Nehemiah used prayer to overcome discouragement. Today, as we move to the second chapter of Nehemiah, we will see how he used the same situation to encourage others to be successful.
Traveling to Jerusalem to assist with the reconstruction of the destroyed city walls, Nehemiah was immediately confronted with a chance to testify to others concerning God’s goodness. He told his people of God’s guidance and care. Seeing his confidence in the Lord, the people began to help with his project.
Then, in verse 19, we see that as he worked, Nehemiah was challenged by doubters and mockers. They constantly questioned him, but despite their questions, the prophet remained strong, giving glory to God, in whom his trust lay.
Once again we can learn a valuable lesson from Nehemiah’s example. When faced with the daunting task of rebuilding the fallen city walls, he did not fear his enemies, nor did he collapse under pressure from skeptics. The Lord had given him a task, and he was bound to complete it no matter what obstacles stood in his way.
What was the source of this confidence? Nehemiah’s foundation of faith was firmly established upon the God of promise. Therefore, not only was he able to move forward with confidence, he was also able to encourage others to trust in the Source of his strength.
Lord, help me to keep You at my core, so that others can be encouraged by the faith they see at work in me.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.
Meditation on God’s Word brings countless benefits to your relationship with the Lord. Do you long for deeper intimacy? Do you want the source of strength that comes from acknowledging God as Provider? Coming before the Lord with a genuine desire to know Him more is the foundation of your faith.
Meditation quiets your spirit. You cannot humble yourself before God and open up your thoughts and feelings to Him without experiencing His gentle touch. Your spirit calms down from the stress of living as you realize how much He cares for you.
Meditation purifies your heart. Have you ever been reading your Bible and felt God tugging at your heart about something you said or did? That is the work of the Holy Spirit, who is making you more like Christ. In the process called sanctification, God brings your heart in tune with His.
Meditation increases your discernment. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16 nasb). You’ll know what is right by the standard of His Word.
Meditation confirms good counsel and exposes the bad. When you know what God says, you can evaluate the words of others. Compare all counsel to God’s Word before you accept it. Meditation is the first step to knowing what He says.
O God, I wait before You. Please quiet my spirit, purify my heart, and increase my discernment. Confirm the good counsel I receive, and expose the bad. Strengthen the foundation of my faith.
 Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 316). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
You may be waiting for God to answer your prayers, but are you listening? There is a reason our daily devotion and prayer time is called quiet time; we are supposed to be still and quiet before Him. It is easiest to hear a still small voice when all is silent. Yet in the hustle and bustle of a workaday world it is easy to fall into a rut of simply reporting requests to God and walking away without taking the time to be quiet and listen.
Patrick Morley comments on the problem:
Our quiet times often become yet another perfunctory duty of the Christian life, another activity to verify our Christianity to ourselves. When this happens, the quiet time has become secularized. We cannot apply worldly methods to spiritual needs.
We are too busy. The suffocating pace of secular society subtly strangles our personal devotions. We must come apart to meet with the Lord. But, it seems we can barely function without the dull drone of a radio or a television in the background.
Some of us have forgotten why we take time, and with Whom we spend it. Instead of thinking of devotions in terms of what we want from God, perhaps some of us need to reevaluate. Let us go and meet with God and humbly quiet ourselves before the throne of His grace. Leave the religious party horns and hats to others.
Help me be quiet in Your presence, Lord, then speak to me with a still small voice.
Kayla’s ministry began in middle school when she volunteered to serve in homeless shelters. In high school, she raised awareness about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and won the 2007 Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her work with Americorps and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
In college, she was active with United Christian Ministries. Her minister describes her as “a humble, down-to-earth girl who liked to ease the suffering of just one person. Small, seemingly insignificant gestures of compassion did not escape her.”
While in college, she traveled to India, Israel, and the Palestinian territories on volunteer missions. In Arizona, she worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic.
In December 2012, Kayla traveled to the Turkey-Syria border to provide aid to Syrian refugees. Grieved about the suffering she witnessed, she wrote in her blog at the time, “Anger, sadness, and fear are the best composts for compassion.”
On August 3, 2013, she and a friend visited a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria, to repair the hospital’s internet connection. They were reportedly taken captive by ISIS the next day.
She noted: “I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no one else.”
Kayla added: “I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free.” She assured her family, “I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down + I will not give in no matter how long it takes.”
She then testified: “I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing.”
“It is better for you to escape alone.”
Kayla Mueller would “remain strong” across the horrific ordeal to come.
Another former hostage told reporters that Kayla passed up a chance to escape in order to increase the odds of escape for a group of teenage girls in captivity with her. They found a way to sneak out of al-Baghdadi’s house late one night and asked her to come with them. She told them, “No, because I am American. If I escape with you, they will do everything to find us again. It is better for you to escape alone. I will stay here.”
At one point, she and several other hostages were watched by Mohammed Emwazi, who was later dubbed “Jihadi John” after he carried out the beheadings and killings of ten hostages. When one of his fellow guards claimed that Kayla had converted to Islam, she denied his claim. A hostage who witnessed her courage said, “I would not have had the guts to say that. . . . It was very clear that all of us were impressed by the strength she showed in front of us. That was very clear.”
How to be a “true follower of Christ”
Last Saturday evening, a US Special Forces operation dedicated to Kayla Mueller led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. His caliphate had already been destroyed; he was hiding in a cave and using his children as human shields when he died.
He will be remembered as one of history’s worst criminals. Kayla Mueller will be remembered as one of history’s most courageous martyrs.
Now it is up to us to make her story our own.
If you’re reading this Daily Article in America, you’re probably not facing martyrdom for your faith. If you’re one of our readers in China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Iran, you are facing the very real possibility of dying for Jesus.
Wherever you live, your decision to serve your Lord comes at a cost. Jesus was clear: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Today is the day to decide that we will follow Jesus wherever he leads at whatever the cost. Today is the day to respond to Kayla Mueller’s faith by emulating her courage.
A. W. Tozer: “The true follower of Christ will not ask, ‘If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?’ Rather, he will say, ‘This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!’”
Will you be a “true follower of Christ” today?
NOTE: First15 is now offering their first printed collection of devotionals. Foundations contains five weeks of devotionals on centering yourself in the Lord and setting a firm foundation for the new year. With this print edition, you can pull away from the distraction of technology to meet with God in a new way. Plus, all orders received this month will receive a free set of beautifully designed reflection cards to carry your daily experience with God into a truly abiding relationship. Request your copy of Foundations today.
The results of a new survey are truly disturbing. It was discovered that more than half of Americans want themselves, others, and the media censored by the government. Unfortunately, instead of learning from history, people are actually asking for a repeat of Nazi Germany or the gulags of the Soviet Union.
The First Amendment, which guarantees Americans freedom of speech, should be overhauled to reflect current cultural norms, according to 51 percent of the respondents to a surveypublished on Wednesday by the Campaign for Free Speech. The campaign is hoping to call attention to the dire state of Americans’ preeminent civil rights with the poll, which breaks down opposition along gender, race, class, and educational lines.
History will continue to repeat until humans learn the lessons of the past. Censorship is always necessary for tyranny to thrive.
The younger respondents were, the more they supported overhauling the law to restrict speech. However, college graduates were the least likely of all educational groupings to support the restrictions, indicating that the increasingly regulated speech environment at American universities may be backfiring in some cases and producing adults who cherish their rights because they know what it’s like to be deprived of them. –RT
What was also horrifying, is that over half of millennials believe “hate speech” should be against the law, though no definition of “hate speech” was given (and indeed the definition tends to vary given the time and place) during the survey. Most of those who want a ban on such speech consider jail time an appropriate penalty, although female respondents were the least supportive of such draconian sentencing, according to a report by RT.
And it isn’t just the free speech of their fellow Americans that some people want to be censored. They also want what is essentially, state-owned media. In fact, 57 % of respondents support government action against “newspapers and TV stations that publish content that is biased, inflammatory, or false,” with nearly half of those agreeing such offenses should carry a jail sentence. That means the government will get to decide the official narrative, and those who have evidence otherwise or dare to speculate against the government would be kidnapped and forced to spend time in jail.
The media is not particularly well-liked in 2019, with the average American trusting the press less even than lawyers and members of Congress, and people over 65 years-old were the only group in which the majority opposed punitive government regulation. But using the government to force the media to parrot the official narrative will only result in absolute brainwashing without any resemblance of the free-thinking that made society great left. A majority of Americans want the government to decide what the truth is and then punish those who disagree.
Buckle up; because 2020 is going to be a bumpy ride. As far as basic human rights go, expect to start feeling enslaved in the very near future.
Kanye West has launched his online shop where you can purchase very mediocrely-designed sweatshirts with matching pants for a mere $390 for the set
Kanye West shocked the world last month when he announced he had become a ‘born again Christian’ and was preparing to drop a new album entitled ‘Jesus Is King‘. No sooner had that happened when he again shocked the world by announcing a new-found friendship with motivational speaker and false bible teacher Joel Osteen.
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:1-3 (KJV)
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Revelation 3:17,18 (KJV)
So this confirms my initial suspicions that the whole ‘Jesus Is King‘ and Sunday Service Experience is just another Kanye West “joint” designed to promote himself by any means possible. And in a very predictable move, you can look forward to the ‘Jesus Is Born’ Christmas album dropping in December. No, I’m not kidding but I wish I was. Here is a review of his current album, which I trust you will find most insightful.
The Cash-Is-King Sermons of Kanye West
FROM THE RINGER: In 2015, Atlanta-based minister Creflo Dollar decided to put his faith in God, and in the generosity of his sizable following, and purchase a $65 million jet. The jet, Dollar said, would allow him to “safely and swiftly share the good news of the gospel worldwide.” It’d be a Gulfstream G650—the most expensive Gulfstream—reflecting the sterling standard of blessing you could hope to receive at Dollar Ministries. When people were understandably confused about why the good pastor couldn’t just fly commercial, Dollar answered back in sermon, and as it is, his response was a pretty good summary of prosperity theology: “I can believe God as long as I want to! If I wanna believe God for a $65 million plane, you can’t stop me from dreamin’!” (It’s true, we can’t, not really.)
On Kanye West’snew gospel album Jesus Is King, out last Friday, he raps with similar conviction about charging extortionate merch prices. Following a highly visible and protracted fall from grace that I refuse to break down any further because I would sooner die, Kanye has returned to the church. His solvency is now a godly concern, and the devil works in straightforward but nonetheless evil ways, like through operating taxes and overhead cost. “I can’t be out here dancing with the stars,” Kanye says on “On God,” a song where he clumsily shifts accountability for the past few years of his public life onto a higher power. It’s only made listenable by a high-spirited Pi’erre Bourne beat, which sounds like plug-and-play superhero theme music. If Kanye West was ever a lightning rod, an irresistible force that remade popular American music in his image several times over, he’s now more like a personification of Tony Robbins’s flattest aphorisms standing on a Sunday school lesson book and a stack of tarot cards in an oversized Balenciaga jacket. His swift, wholesale change from superstar rapper to megachurch pastor can’t come as a complete surprise, though. He’s always been a fan of Ma$e.
The greatest sin of Jesus Is King is that it’s boring, and Kanye—when not flattening literal centuries’ worth of text and thought about religious custom into a song about Chick-fil-A’s store hours—is inert, ineffectual, and generally difficult to believe in this space. Much like a choral arrangement of “So Anxious.” The only song truly deserving of a second listen, if just to appreciate West’s skill as a producer, is “Follow God”—with its gravelly Whole Truth sample and pounding drums, it could be a good piece of boom-bap in the hands of someone who still had some interest in rapping. How could Kanye, when there are tax shelters and low-income housing communities and hydrogen-powered iPlanes to build? Now that it’s not just the Yeezy Supply line, the music feels even more like an obligation. Jesus Is King is a way to wipe away his transgressions wholesale rather than thoughtfully engage with them. Go figure.
“I will no longer entertain—I’m not here for anyone’s entertainment,” West said during an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1, during which he proclaimed himself to be “the greatest human artist of all time.” He also announced that another album, Jesus Is Born, will be coming out on Christmas Day. READ MORE
Christianity, Kanye & Chick-Fil-A
Interesting conversation on Kanye’s “conversion”, but made before launch of online merch store.
Pastor Joel Osteen’s Full Sermon “The Power of ‘I Am’”
Is Kanye West harnessing the “power of I am” preached by motivational speaker and false teacher Joel Osteen? Sure looks like it.
“More than 20 years have elapsed since a group of feminist scholars at Fuller Seminary realized that the truths concerning the economic Trinity (the specific roles of the members of the Trinity in our redemption) posed a threat to the assumptions of feminism. In a paper that rocked the seminary, these feminists proposed that any member of the Holy Trinity could have become the incarnate Son of God.”
(Jeff Maples – Reformation Charlotte) Man’s natural wisdom is perpetually pitted against the wisdom of Almighty God. And, this opposition to God’s wisdom is most commonly disguised as pragmatism. In fact, numerous heresies frequently began as ‘pragmatic’ decisions….
But, pragmatism is seldom static, it inevitably, however slowly, creeps in the direction of man-centeredness — losing along the way the overarching goal of exalting God and His sovereign and infallible ways. The 20th Century has certainly witnessed this drift away from theo-centricity in the spread of Arminianism and its resultant marketing of the church.
Now, of late, in its continued tangle with social justice issues, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is faced with yet another pragmatic decision. Should Beth Moore’s prolific ministry be validated and defended in the interest of popularity, profit, and peace? Permit this author to express the question in a more generic manner, without using proper names or denominations: View article →
27 It is understandable, then, how Paul concludes vv. 12–27: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” This is how Paul began the discussion about the body in v. 12, and now he ends it in a similar manner. These two verses frame the entire discussion of the church as the body of Christ.
27 This sentence, which ties all the preceding pieces together, spells out what the Corinthians must have known right along, that the foregoing analogies were all about them. In v. 12 Paul asserted that the body, with its diversity in unity, is like Christ. Now he says plainly, “you are the5 body of Christ,” meaning that collectively in their common relationship to Christ through the Spirit they are his one body (vv. 12–13). At the same time “each one of you is a part of it,” meaning that individually they make up the many parts (v. 14). As the next verses make plain, this means that individually they are members with a variety of “assigned” parts. As before, the emphasis lies on the many who give the one body its necessary diversity.
12:27 / Verses 27–31a apply and explain the metaphor of the church as the body of Christ in relation to the Corinthians’ situation. Verse 27 begins with the bold declaration, you are the body of Christ. This statement means there is diversity among the Corinthian Christians in terms of their gifts, although they are united by God’s design and work among them. Despite the differences, each one … is a part of the body, and each and all are necessary for the good of the whole.
27. You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
“You are the body of Christ.” Paul addresses the members of the Corinthian church with the personal pronoun you. They are the people who have been made holy in Christ Jesus and are called to be holy (1:2). Yet these people quarreled, caused divisions, failed to expel an immoral brother, brought lawsuits against fellow brothers, criticized the apostles, and did not properly observe the Lord’s Supper. In spite of all these shortcomings, Paul tells the Corinthians that they are the body of Christ.
In the Greek text, Paul uses the noun body in the absolute sense of the word. That is, the word appears without the definite article which, for the sake of acceptable English, we have supplied. Paul does not say “a body” or “the body,” but merely “body” to indicate that this is the one and only, for there is no other body of Christ. He is not referring to Christ’s physical body but rather speaks figuratively about the church as Christ’s body (e.g., Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:24). To say it differently, Paul states that the church to which the Corinthians belong is one entity without division.
The church as Christ’s figurative body exists in him and belongs to him. It is genuinely united with Christ, for every individual member is by faith included in him. Each local congregation is a microcosm of the entire church, so that everyone who observes the congregation’s various functions knows that this body is the church in action. Here Paul states the principle of unity in multiplicity. In the next clause he notes multiplicity in unity.
“And individually members of it.” We have no information about the size of the Corinthian church, but Paul avers that every individual member is part of Christ’s body. By saying this, Paul underscores the individuality of the members, for each has received a different gift from the Lord. With these gifts and functions at their disposal, all the members together contribute to the well-being of the Christian community.
12:27. Paul next applied the analogy of the human body to the church as the body of Christ. He began with the declaration, Now you are the body of Christ. Paul used this metaphor for the church many times in this letter and in other epistles (Rom. 12:5; Eph. 3:6). Here he focused on the diversity and honor of the various members of Christ’s body, starting with this general assertion and then pointing to each person in the church at Corinth. Each one is a part of the body. Without exception every person who has trusted Christ receives a place in the body of Christ.
27 The Corinthians are the body of Christ and each one of them is part of it. Some felt superior and as a result others were made to feel inferior in their ministry. They were tempted to withdraw, or actually withdrew, from any active role in the Christian meeting. Just as some Corinthians failed to recognize the body in 11:29, so here they exercised their ministry in a way which had a negative effect on other members. They showed partiality in their response to others—something which clearly happened in secular society.
12:27 Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are the body of Christ. This cannot mean the Body of Christ in its totality. Neither can it mean a Body of Christ, since there is only one Body. It can only mean that they collectively formed a microcosm or miniature of the Body of Christ. Individually each one is a member of that great cooperative society. As such he should fulfill his function without any feeling of pride, independence, envy, or worthlessness.
 Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 369). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, p. 220). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Winter, B. (1994). 1 Corinthians. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1181). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
A lot of people in the West complain too much about any little suffering they have to experience. But sometimes, when a very harsh suffering is felt by someone who has tried to follow Jesus, an explanation is necessary. I found something very good on the Reasonable Faith web site, written by Dr. William Lane Craig.
He makes the following points:
We are not in a good position to assess the probability of whether God has morally sufficient reasons for the evils that occur.
The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil.
Relative to the full scope of the evidence, God’s existence is probable.
I’ve written before about point #1, in which Dr. Craig’s describes the limitations of human knowledge that make it hard for us to know for certain that a specific evil or suffering…
More than five hundred years ago, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. Little did he know how the Lord would use him to ignite a movement that would change the world.
For a limited time, you can stream Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer for free on Ligonier’s YouTube channel. Celebrate Reformation Week by remembering the events God used in Luther’s life that led him to rediscover the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Tell your friends about this film or watch it together.
To dig even deeper into Luther’s story and significance, you can also download Ligonier’s free accompanying study guide.
“With a holy boldness, Martin Luther took his stand contra mundum, against the world.” —R.C. Sproul