Daily Archives: January 1, 2020

January 1 Happy New Year

The LORD himself goes before you … he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
(Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV)

This year you’re going to walk a prepared path! God has your next twelve months planned out. Ask Him, and He’ll reveal it to you a day at a time (sometimes hourly). David said, “You chart the path ahead of me … every moment You know where I am. You know what I am going to say before I even say it. You both precede me and follow me and place Your hand of blessing on my head” (Psalms 139:2–5, TLB).

Take some time today to get alone with God. You’ll be glad you did! As you face this year, you need to know that the one who fed and clothed His children in the wilderness for forty years and never missed a day will watch over you every night as you sleep and meet you every morning when you awake. Nothing will come up this year that He can’t handle. For you “Happy New Year” isn’t a wish—it’s a guarantee! Do what David said, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalms 37:5). You’ll be able to sing:

Great is Thy faithfulness; Great is Thy faithfulness;

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed thy hand hath provided,

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


He’ll be with you every day of this year![1]


[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 1). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

January 1 Thoughts for the quiet hour

Come up in the morning … and present thyself … to me in the top of the mount

Exod. 34:2

My Father, I am coming. Nothing on the mean plain shall keep me away from the holy heights. Help me to climb fast, and keep Thou my foot, lest it fall upon the hard rock! At Thy bidding I come, so Thou wilt not mock my heart. Bring with Thee honey from Heaven, yea, milk and wine, and oil for my soul’s good, and stay the sun in his course, or the time will be too short in which to look upon Thy face, and to hear Thy gentle voice.

Morning on the mount! It will make me strong and glad all the rest of the day so well begun.

Joseph Parker[1]


[1] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

SICK. Democrat Lawmaker Blames President Trump After Iranian Proxy Groups Attack US Embassy in Baghdad — The Gateway Pundit

On January 17, 2016, a cargo plane with $400 million in foreign currencies was secretly sent to Iran in the dead of night.

This was the same day the Iranian regime released four American hostages held in Tehran.
iran prisoners us
L to R: Matt Trevithick (Photo Credit Robin Wright) Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian (Photo Credit AP), Saeed Abedini (News 4).

Two days after Obama sent Iran the ransom cash the US government wired 13 individual payments for $99,999,999.99 , each with an independent MICR, totaling $1,299,999,999.87.

Cash from Obama’s ransom payment to Iran was traced to terrorist groups in the region.

Via Reddit The Donald:

Democrats thought this was a good idea.

On Tuesday Iranian proxy groups attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Democrats including Rep. Gerry Connolly blamed President Trump — NOT Iran.

Via Breitbart.

Rep. Gerry Connolly said, “I would call upon the president to re-examine both his rhetoric and his policies with respect to Iran. Much of this friction and violence flows from his very fateful decision to renounce and walk away from our own agreement that was working, the Iran nuclear agreement. Thus severing any working relationship we possibly could have with Iran. And Iran now has very little to lose in the relationship. That puts it in a very dangerous position.”

via SICK. Democrat Lawmaker Blames President Trump After Iranian Proxy Groups Attack US Embassy in Baghdad — The Gateway Pundit

Dem Sen Accused of Staging Benghazi Question for Hillary Demands Trump Explain Security Issues at Embassy in Iraq

A Democratic senator who tried to ensure we didn’t get any answers on Benghazi is now demanding President Donald Trump give Democrats answers on the Iraqi embassy attack. Mind you, the assault on our embassy in Baghdad hasn’t actually resulted in any deaths as of Wednesday.

Source: Dem Sen Accused of Staging Benghazi Question for Hillary Demands Trump Explain Security Issues at Embassy in Iraq

Bozell & Graham: Christian persecution is real. New York Times and other media could care less | FOX news

In some corners of the world, they are out to destroy Christianity itself. But where is the reporting on this worldwide genocide?

The secular media greet Christmas as a shopping season and not as a special time for Christianity. They can devote hours of December “news” to which hot toys or gadgets would make great gifts but not to segments on Christ and his birth.

The same applies to the persecution of Christians. The apathy shown by the pro-“human rights” media here is appalling. They can pile on the “news” stories about children getting separated from their parents at the border as being un-Christian … but not Christians being butchered. In some corners of the world, they are out to destroy Christianity itself.

Some national newspapers can tell us what’s going on so long as it’s not on the front pages. On Dec. 28, The New York Times ran a story headlined “Affiliate of ISIS in Nigeria Releases Video of Executions” and reported that 11 were executed in revenge for Americans’ taking out ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Times wouldn’t put the word “Christian” in the headline. Why? “A voice-over says the killings are a ‘message for Christians’ and that all of those killed were Christian, although Nigerian experts said some of them were probably Muslims, based on previous episodes involving the group,” The Times said.

How serious was the news? This story was published on page A-8. There were dozens of stories more important. Network coverage? It looks like ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC don’t find the genocide of any particular import. They are ignoring it. Only that “right-wing” Fox News seems interested, as if only conservatives care.

Speaking of Nigeria, The Wall Street Journal posted a commentary online by Bernard-Henri Levy titled “The New War Against Africa’s Christians.” It began: “A slow-motion war is underway in Africa’s most populous country. It’s a massacre of Christians, massive in scale and horrific in brutality. And the world has hardly noticed.”

And who notifies the world? The press somberly raises its hand, but writ large, it hasn’t really lifted a finger on this subject.

In some corners of the world, they are out to destroy Christianity itself.

Levy met with survivors who offered blood-curdling details: “The mutilated cadavers of women. A mute man commanded to deny his faith, then cut up with a machete until he screams. A girl strangled with the chain of her crucifix.”

Back in March, we noted that anywhere from 120 to 280 Christians had been slaughtered by Islamic militias in Nigeria since Feb. 9, and ABC, CBS and NBC offered nothing. They might argue, and certainly some have, that they just don’t have the resources to cover this kind of event. They’ll tell us that once upon a time, the networks operated a series of international bureaus, with teams of reporters located in strategic areas around the globe, but that time has passed.

But that’s poppycock. Sure, those bureaus simply no longer exist today. Or, if they do, they’re shells. But that’s not a reality thrust on them; it’s one they’ve chosen. If they were to want to cover these horrors, they would apply the necessary resources. And if somehow that were a possibility, they could make arrangements with international news agencies to carry their footage. It’s done all the time — when they want to.

Were they in place today, the technology would allow the world to know of these atrocities within hours, even within minutes. God only knows how many lives might have been saved had there been international attention paid to the horror.

The problem is that this is old-fashioned news, and by and large, we’re done with that. We are in the age of gossip, of chatter focused on giving the lowest common denominator within certain ideological guidelines. How can the public want what it doesn’t know exists? So the genocide continues unabated.

It’s the same story — Trump — told all day, every day, on every network, broadcast or cable. It delivers the ratings, and that’s all most news outlets care about.

It’s important to recognize that for every minute spent on Trump gossip — which is about 90 percent of it — is a minute taken from what’s important. In this case, a worldwide genocide against Christianity is underway.

Sometimes we wonder how “journalists” sleep at night.

Source: Bozell & Graham: Christian persecution is real. New York Times and other media could care less

“I, Who Vowed To Never-Ever Short Stocks Again, Just Shorted The Entire Market” | ZeroHedge

Authored by Wolf Richter via WolfStreet.com,

The setup is just too juicy.

In my decades of looking at the stock market, there has never been a better setup. Exuberance is pandemic and sky-high. And even after today’s dip, the S&P 500 is up nearly 29% for the year, and the Nasdaq 35%, despite lackluster growth in the global economy, where many of the S&P 500 companies are getting the majority of their revenues.

Mega-weight in the indices, Apple, is a good example: shares soared 84% in the year, though its revenues ticked up only 2%. This is not a growth story. This is an exuberance story where nothing that happens in reality – such as lacking revenue growth – matters, as we’re now told by enthusiastic crowds everywhere.

Until just a couple of months ago, the touts were out there touting negative interest rates soon to come to the US and thus making stocks the only place to be. Those touts have now been run over by the reality. Now they’re touting QE4 by the Fed, or whatever. And people were looking for any reason to buy.

The unanimity of it all was astounding. I’ve seen this before, but not in this magnitude.

And there is this: As stocks were surging over the past few months, investors with large gains who wanted to sell didn’t sell before year-end in order to defer that income for tax considerations. So there was reduced selling pressure from that group that would have liked to sell, and that will sell after the new year starts.

So I shorted the stock market today, December 30 – me who is on record of saying repeatedly that I would never ever short anything ever again, after the debacle of November 1999 when I shorted the most obviously ridiculous Nasdaq high-fliers a few months too early. They collapsed to near-zero, but not before ripping off my face.

But I changed my mind. The setup is just too perfect. A year ago, on December 22, 2018, as stocks had been plunging, I wrote, Nothing Goes to Hell in a Straight Line, Not Even Stocks. That turned out to be true – practically nothing goes to hell in a straight line. I expected a bounce. I didn’t expect that the bounce would be this huge. But now it’s part of the setup for shorting the market.

  • I sold short the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust [SPY] the biggest and most liquid ETF tracking the S&P 500 index. It’s up nearly 29% in 2019, from already wildly overvalued levels a year ago, despite the drop it had gone through.
  • And I sold short the Nasdaq 100 Invesco QQQ ETF [QQQ], which tracks the NASDAQ 100, the largest most liquid tech-focused ETF. It’s up 42% in 2019.

I have spoken out against shorting because the risk-reward relationship is out of whack. If you short individual stocks, the maximum gain if the shares go to zero is 100%, while the maximum loss is theoretically unlimited and can easily exceed the entire value of the bet. And betting against stocks by buying put options leads most investors to pay the premium and watch those options expire worthless.

The only way you can short stocks and make money reliably is if you have a large megaphone that is closely followed by algos, traders, and the entire financial media. You quietly take your short position in a stock and then announce it, and algos and traders react, and the shares plunge. That’s the only reliable way to make shorting work.

My little website isn’t followed by algos and can’t move markets or stocks or anything else, and that’s a good thing. I can say whatever I want, and nothing big happens as a result of it.

Shorting is socially frowned upon. It’s like you’re willfully trying to destroy people’s constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness. Back in 2017, NYSE Group President Tom Farley, famously told Congress, “It feels kind of icky and un-American, betting against a company.”

But I still won’t short individual stocks because they can get too crazy – especially Tesla, one of the most obvious shorts with an enormous amount of short interest outstanding. This in itself is practically a guarantee the stock cannot crash because short sellers become buyers to take profits when the price drops enough, and they put a floor under the shares. And the massive short interest makes TSLA prone to violent short-covering rallies.

This stock is a prime example of how crazy the market is. In the US, there were fewer new vehicles sold in 2019 than in 2000. Similarly, in Europe and in Japan. Even formerly booming markets, such as China and India, have now hit the skids in auto sales. For growth, every automaker needs to take market share away from other automakers – a tough game in a no-growth environment.

Tesla’s revenues fell 7.3% year-over-year in the third quarter, a steeper decline than the revenue declines at other US automakers.

At $412 a share, Tesla is valued at $75 billion. This is over three times 12-month revenues ($24 billion).

GM is valued at $52 billion. This is just 0.36 times 12-month revenues ($144 billion). By this measure of the price-to-sale ratio, Tesla, if it ever becomes profitable on an annual basis, is overvalued by a factor of 10 compared to GM.

GM at this price is still a sell, in my view. As for Tesla, in the optimistic scenario that it makes an annual profit of $1 billion, it’s shares would have to drop to $41 before they’re on the same level of overvalued as GM, and both would still be a sell at those levels.

So Tesla at the current price is one of the most obvious shorts in history. But I wouldn’t short the shares because they’re just too crazy, and because the short is too obvious.

Given how eagerly investors are betting on a big plunge, deeply out-of-the-money Tesla put options carry a big premium. For example, one contract (representing 100 shares) that expires in January 2021, with a strike price of $290, which is about 32% below today’s share price, traded today at $2,625 — another sign that Tesla has become one of the most obvious shorts out there. And that takes them off the table for me.

In terms of my SPY and QQQ short positions: they’re a trade, not a prediction of where the market will be a year from now. They represent my expectations that the market will drop enough to make this worthwhile over the next few months.

If this math is successful, and I cover those shorts with a gain, it doesn’t mean that I turned bullish on the market. On the contrary. In the larger scheme of things, stocks would have to tank a whole bunch more before I’d take a buy-and-hold position in the overall market. Happy New Year!

*  *  *


Introduction to the month of January | Reformed Perspective

We do not preach a lot of sermons from Proverbs, but it is not Solomon’s fault.  He was inspired by God to write these proverbs and God preserved them for us.  Since all Scriptures speak of Christ (how He saved us and how He sanctifies us for His glory) then we must find Christ in them.  It is our fault therefore that we do not preach more from Proverbs.

One of the reasons we likely have not heard more preaching from Proverbs is that the book is seen as a list of morals. And since we insist on historical, redemptive preaching, Proverbs doesn’t seem to fit well into that way of preaching.  Well, maybe it is hard to preach Proverbs, but we must be bold.  We must dig into Proverbs and learn of our salvation and sanctification through Jesus Christ. This is what we will do this month.

I hope after this month you will take more time to dig into this book regularly and see the rich doctrines it contains and illustrates. Let God’s Word bless you.

Proverbs on pride 

“By pride comes nothing but strife…” – Proverbs 13:10a 

Scripture reading: Proverbs 21:1-5

Do you enjoy being around a humble person, someone with a gentle spirit?  You feel safe around him.  But it is most difficult to be around a show-off or egomaniac. He only talks about himself and you can’t wait to get away from him.

What does pride look like?

Proverbs 21:24 says:

“A proud and haughty man —’Scoffer’ is his name; he acts with arrogant pride.”

A man may think he is superior by virtue of his education, money, position, ability or influence.

What happens when one has pride? 

The proud man with elevated feelings crushes others or takes advantage of them. Because of pride, Solomon enslaved his fellow Jews!  Pride caused slavery. Pride caused the destruction of the Jews in the holocaust by Hitler, the slaughter of the Armenians by the Muslims, and the murder of the Chinese and Koreans by the Japanese. Today we see pride when men abuse their wives, belittle different races and display impatience. God may destroy you if you are proud or destroy the thing in which you show your pride: car, wealth, job, education or health!  Remember Herod and the worms! Remember Adam.

How do you cure pride?

Know that God hates the proud.  Proverbs 8:13 tells us:

“…Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.”

God brings them down to destruction. You must, therefore, remember you are not your own but belong to your Saviour Who died for you. You are His servant.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that you will follow wisdom (another name for Jesus) and abandon pride, that you will humbly serve and worship the Saviour.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God DevotionalRev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON.  He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed.

Source: Introduction to the month of January

2020 Vision/The Year Many Christians Began to See Clearly | Blog & Mablog


To review, things are quite a mess. Not only are they quite a mess, but it is difficult to imagine that the pickle we have gotten ourselves into would have been at all visible from the vantage point of the eighties, say. Let us pretend that some mischievous hippie back then slipped some acid into a coke that Rousas Rushdoony was drinking, and thus it was he began to prophesy wildly. He wouldn’t have able to come anywhere near what we are currently being confronted with, on almost a daily basis—as reported to us by news anchors with straight faces on top of everything else.

It is high time, I would therefore suggest, for someone to orchestrate a new release of Christian Reconstruction. We can call it Christian Reconstruction 2.0 with all bugs removed, and all the features retained. This time out, the recons would be best known for the love they bore toward one another, the Christians who were not recons would be best known for not misrepresenting what the recons were actually trying to say, and the secularists would be crazier than ever, and which is why I am even  writing about all of this, actually.

After all, if all the overheated and dire predictions about what the theonomic agenda might entail came true, it wouldn’t be half as bad as 2019 was. I mean, all the Deuteronomic blessings, and with half the crazy!

So allow me to present . . .

Eleven Features of Christian Reconstruction 2.0

Please feel free to circulate any or all of these items as freely as you can, and don’t bother about giving credit. In fact, now that we mention it, since my reputation as Toxic Boy is not going to be gone until sometime in 2024, it might be best if you made a point of not giving me credit.[1] And if somebody presses you on where you got that crazy idea about biblical absolutism, say, you can always just say Augustine or somebody like that. Pretty much any figure from church history except for the last fifty years would be fairly safe.

So here we go.

Gospel Front and Center

As it is not possible to make a good omelet with rotten eggs, even with the best recipe, or with superb equipment, the first order of business is always to deal with the eggs first. Without that, the finest vision for the best social order is going to wind up as a ghastly hellhole that virtually everyone can fit into. The people involved in the project have to be right with God, and be walking with Him.

And in order to be right with God, it is necessary for sinful men and women to recognize that we all have rebelled against God, both in the sin of our first father, and in our subsequent copycat sins following after. As the damage was done by the first Adam, it could only be undone by another Adam, and so God sent Christ to fulfill that role—to be the head of a reconstituted human race. So He lived a perfect sinless life on our behalf, was betrayed by one of His disciples, was nailed to a cross of wood, and while there experienced the wrath of a holy God as though all of it was poured over His head and shoulders. He died under the curse of that wrath, and God vindicated Him three days later by raising Him up from the dead for our justification.

We enter into that justification by faith alone, and even that faith is a gift from God—lest it occur to anyone to start bragging about their forgiveness. We believe in Him rightly when we look to the crucified and risen Christ, and trust God to put us right with Him on the basis of that, plus nothing else.

This happening to a lot of people is the foundation of everything else.

Biblical Absolutism

After we are converted to God, after God has taken away our heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh, our responsibility is to live and breathe on the basis of the Word of God. It is to become the environment in which we work, and sleep, and walk, and run, and drive, and eat, and drink. It is to encompass our going out and our coming in.

This means that we must resolve, before God, to have no problem passages. Once the work of exegesis is done and we know what the text says, we need to have settled in our hearts beforehand not to have any difficulty with what it means for us.

This also means that we agree not to have any fancy theological workarounds or jury-rigged excuses for not doing what God commands us to do. Exhibit A would be “but that’s in the Old Testament.”

And a word to the moderates (falsely so-called) among us. There is no way to wobble on modestly angular passages about wifely submission without that wobble being transmitted into absolutely everything else. You thought you would just tap the brakes deftly there, in that one spot, and next thing you know, your eighteen-wheeler of cultural engagement is fishtailing down a frozen highway of compromise and on the black ice of diseased doctrine. So to speak.

Centrality of Worship

The most important activity in our lives is the activity of worship. We were created to worship God, and we can ascend no higher than when we bow in His presence. Each one of us is summoned to the city of the living God, and we must visit there on a weekly basis (Heb. 12:22). I emphasized city there because this means that the other saints are present. You are not summoned to solitary communion with Him in a divine fishing cabin up by the lake.

But people who see the corrupt state of our culture clearly have temptations of their own. They tend to have thought many things through, and are precisionists, and so they are really critical of the churches that are around them. They think they are isolated reformers, but they are actually loners, thinking pure thoughts to themselves.

Whether or not the local saints have their act completely together, it is important for us to gather together with them on the Lord’s Day, and worship Him. He sees everything, including the mess, but fundamentally He sees us presented to Himself in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Do not separate yourselves, as is the manner of some. Those who do so, on account of the lame nature of contemporary Christianity, are among the chief contributors to the lameness.

The Incoherence of Secularism

Secularism used to be able to host big parties, in much the same way that the prodigal son used to buy drinks for the house. It was all his father’s money, and yet it looked to the tankard-huggers that this young man was quite the swell. And as long as the money held up, he was able to maintain his position. But alas, when you are being stupid, the money runs out.

If secularism is the leprosy, then cultural Marxism, feminism, wokeness, and all the other associated hot ideas are the advanced stages—the point when the fingers have started to fall off.

We do not know that secularism “works.” What we have discovered is that secularism can “work” for two centuries, provided it is preceded by ten centuries of Christianity. We have discovered what we should already have known, which is that wastrel sons can throw away their father’s money.

So this is the time when Christians need to stop paying lip service to secularism—and not because we are opposed to religious liberty. Secularism is not fountainhead of religious liberty. It is the fountainhead of evangelical bakers being threatened by the state because they didn’t want to put two dudes on the top of the cake. Don’t talk to us about religious liberty when we are the ones being fined for wrongthink.

So we must reject secularism as an ideal, root and branch.

Created Natural Reality

In the beginning God created the heavens and earth, and He was not lying. The way it looks out there is pretty much the way it is out there. The natural order is objectively there, and every element in this natural order has a nature.

The authority of God is evident in all things, but foundationally in the way He created all things. Scriptures do not impose an order on creation, but rather they describe the order that is pervasive everywhere. God is God everywhere. He is God in the orbit of Saturn, He is God of the subatomic oscillations, He is the God of male and female, and He is the God of rocks on the beach.

The nature and definition of every created thing resides in the will and mind of God, and so cannot be altered, shifted, rearranged, or redefined by autonomous man. God gave us dominion over the created world, and not a tyranny over the created world.

The world has a nature. Everything in the world has a nature. We have a nature. Scripture teaches us how to understand those natures. If we are obedient, life is straightforward. This answers the question about what happens if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it. Does it make a sound? Of course.

Sex and Babies

Christians who are really interested in shaping culture should start with baby-making, and not with artisanal beer-making. The beginning of every form of culture-shaping that matters has to be found in marriage, the marriage bed, and the fruit of the marriage bed. This is not all that there is to it, obviously, but it is the sine qua non of cultural engagement. Fertility and fecundity are not footnotes or afterthoughts.

Cultures are built by men who have families to feed.

Governments from God

One of the first things that happens after conversion is that we find the Spirit at work in our lives. He works His fruit into us, and one of the earlier and more obvious fruits would be self-control or self-government. When individuals are set free from their lusts and selfish demands, they are set free to participate in the other governments that God established, and to do so as free men or free women.

The three governments that God has directly established Himself are the government of the family (Gen. 2:18), the government of the church (Eph. 4:11-12), and the government of the state (Rom. 13:1-2). These are His institutions, and so He sets down the rules for them. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Pastors and elders are to feed the flock. Magistrates are to reward the righteous and punish the wrongdoer.

Historical Optimism

The course of the kingdom of God in this world is not to be thought of as God’s Alamo—as some noble but hopeless cause. The earth will be as full of the knowledge of Christ as the sea is as full of water. The aroma of the gospel will extend from the river to the ends of the earth. The stone that was cut out apart from human hands has struck Nebuchadnezzar’s statue on the feet, and that is a fact that cannot be undone. The leaven grows and expands until the whole loaf is affected. Through Abraham, all the families of the earth will be blessed. The mustard seeds grows, and nothing can stop it from growing. The root of Jesse will be lifted up as an ensign, and all the nations will stream to it. The living water from Ezekiel’s Temple will flow out over the threshold, and will get deeper as it goes. The families of earth will turn to the Lord and be saved. The nations of men will be discipled, and they will learn all the commandments that Jesus taught us. I would give Scripture references for all that preceding crazy talk, but I think that it might be a good spiritual exercise for you to find them all yourself.

The objection is obvious—such a task of complete global evangelization would be overwhelming, would it not?

But of course, Jesus never told us it would be easy. He told us it would be done.

Free Markets

The preaching of free grace results in free men, and the activities of free men result in free markets. So there is no other way to create and sustain free markets apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whenever the true God is not Lord over the transactions of men, there will always be men—and it is always a certain kind of man—who sees that as a job opening. They want to be lord of the transactions.

This is directly linked to the gospel, of course, but we also need to understand that property rights are human rights.

The pretended omniscience of central planners is one of those dumb ideas that grow more powerful the more it is refuted by events. All aspiring forms of socialism are hailed as true socialism, finally, and they remain in that envious position until the inevitable face plant, at which point they become “not true socialism.” Structurally, this approach cannot be refuted, and the reason it cannot be refuted is because it is a fallacy.

And for those who claimed Jesus was a socialist, they can be refuted pretty simply. Of course He was not a socialist—He was able to keep the people fed.

Christian Education

Given that all the foregoing is how we are to understand life, it should follow—as night follows day—that we need to teach our children to understand life in this same way. The bottom line here is that Christian kids require a Christian education. They are to grow up in an environment dominated by the Word of God (Deut. 6:4-9). Christian fathers are to see to it that their children are established in the paideia of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4).

Think of it this way. When you reflect on how many things about the Scriptures’ relationship to all of life that you have had to unlearn, why would you want to put your children into the same difficulty? There is great wisdom in this proverb: if you don’t have time to do it right, then how on earth will you find time to do it over?

In bringing up your children in the Lord, you have one shot. That shot ought not to consist of providing them with the same pagan education that all the kids up and down the street are getting, and then desperately coupling this with a wish that they are not paying attention to all the bad parts. And what are those bad parts? You have no idea.

So Christian education, conducted at least ten miles away from the closest secular mandate, is absolutely essential. Do what it takes.

Chestertonian Calvinism

If you gather all these assumptions together, and assemble them in a scriptural framework and order, then the resultant attitude is going to be serious joy. Not bubble gum joy, and not happy happy joy joy, and nothing frothy about it. We are in a real fight, but we are to fight like cavaliers, and not like back alley thugs.

God is sovereign. The world, sinful though it is, lies in the palm of His hand. Sin is pervasive and it is a deadly insanity. He has put us right through the gospel, and assigned to us the task of setting the world to rights. This is as though God’s Spirit descended on a huge lunatic asylum, set a handful of inmates back into their right minds, and then told them to turn the asylum into a first-rate university. A tall order, but the right response is yes sir.

We are allowed to ask if He will accompany us in the work, and the answer is that He will be with us always.


[1] The year 2024 is the time when most of my dire predictions will have come true, and so I am invited to meet with the boards of at least six major evangelical institutions and seminaries, all of which wanted to express their sorrow at not having listened to me. I am very gracious in response, which I thought was only right, since we are all going to be in the same cattle cars, heading off to the same Sunshine Tolerance Camps. Might as well get along. And no, this does not conflict with the section on historical optimism above. This is not us being conquered. It is how we conquer.

Source: 2020 Vision/The Year Many Christians Began to See Clearly

The New Year … Coming Back to Gospel Reality — Unfathomable Grace

Agatha Christie, the famous mystery writer of the early 1900s, lived in Sunningdale, England. From an outsider’s perspective, all seemed well until one night she disappeared. Her family and the authorities commenced a search. Several days later, her abandoned and damaged car was discovered in a city about 100 miles away. However, Mrs. Christie was nowhere to be found. Many theories began to be bantered about. Some believed the death of her mother was too much for her to bear. Others believed the trauma of her marriage had caused her to take off in the night. Then, there were others who speculated that Archibald, her unfaithful husband, had committed serious foul play.

Eleven days later, the missing author was found checked-in at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel. Mrs. Christie was alive, but she was not well. Strangely, she had checked in under the name Teresa Neele — the name of her husband’s mistress. She was disheveled, confused, and she could not remember her name and address. Agatha could not recall how she had arrived at the hotel; much of her personal life was lost in the fog. Who knows what caused it, but Agatha Christie suffered from a temporary form of amnesia. For a short season of time, she forgot who she was.

My friends, according to Pastor Peter, spiritual amnesia is something with which we often struggle. Let’s listen to his inspired spiritual counsel:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.     (2 Peter 1:1-11)

Despite what Jesus Christ has done for us, Satan screams non-truths at us. He is a liar. He is an accuser. Incessantly he distort Christ’s completed work and God’s Good News. He never tires of first encouraging our self-righteous ego and then pouring us with self-loathing depression.

Relentlessly, our world encourages us to distrust God and trust in any number of idols. Boldly, they proclaim themselves to be wise while thinking bible-believing Christians to be fools.

Then there is the ongoing warfare we continually experience with our sinful flesh. Because we have new hearts, we have an ever-growing longing for righteousness and a hatred for sin. However, as we continue to find ourselves falling short of God’s good standards, if we are not careful, we will find ourselves tempted to despair.

Yes friends, despite what Christ has done for us, there is no shortage of voices encouraging us to forget the Gospel benefits of Jesus. Something or someone is always encouraging us to get our eyes off Christ, and sadly, they are often successful in helping us forget our election, atonement, regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

Therefore, let’s get out our Gospel glasses, put them back on and address our nearsighted amnesia problem:

  • We are the predestined, the foreknown, the chosen, and the elect.
  • We are those upon whom Christ looked and looks with compassion.
  • We are those for who Christ lived, suffered, died, and for who he prays.
  • We are sheep of his fold.,
  • We are brothers and sisters in his family.
  • We are his joint-heirs.
  • We are sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.
  • We are the bride of Christ.
  • We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
  • We are sanctified saints.
  • We are citizens of his Kingdom.
  • We are the apple of his eye.
  • We are as washed as we will ever be.
  • We are clothed in righteousnesss and can never be better clothed.
  • We are intimate partakers of the divine nature, and cannot be more close.
  • We are completely holy, and cannot be more holy.
  • We are perfectly perfect, and cannot be more perfect.
  • We are entirely good, and cannot be more good.
  • We are completely forgiven, and cannot be more forgiven.
  • We are totally accepted, and cannot be more accepted.
  • The Law is no longer our judge, for Christ has received our judgment.
  • The Law is now our cheerleader, for Christ has been our righteousness.
  • The Law is not our guide, for Christ’s wisdom is something we desire.
  • We can now say “yes” to worship.
  • We can now say “no” to sins.
  • We are those gifted and called to consistently increase in showing forth the Spirit’s virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. We can practice these qualities. We are those who get to live effective and fruitful lives of worship.
  • We can hourly repent of our disbelief and sin and freshly enjoy God’s Gospel.
  • And when this life is over, then comes heaven.

Oh brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s leave the fog and come back into the light. Let’s remember that which we have forgotten. Let’s enter the New Year differently than we left the old. Let’s forgo our near-sightedness and see things clearly. Wake up and wise up. It’s a New Year, and it’s time for a reality check.

via The New Year … Coming Back to Gospel Reality — Unfathomable Grace

Hillary Clinton Slams Trump For Not Taking A More ‘Hands-Off’ Approach To Embassy Attack — The Babylon Bee

WASHINGTON, D.C—Hillary Clinton has slammed President Trump on Twitter for not taking a more “hands-off” approach to the protests in Iraq that threatened American lives at the embassy there.

After Trump quickly sent Marines to defend Americans trapped at the embassy, Clinton immediately blasted him for taking such “rash, uncalled-for” action when he could have just “waited around a while to see what happens.”

“If I were president, I definitely would have let things play out,” she said. “Sending American troops to protect American lives seems a little hasty. What if you need to get a little shut-eye or recharge in your lizard person spawning chamber for a few hours?”

“I would have slept on it first.”

She later admitted her criticisms might not matter, because, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Meanwhile, Americans under siege at the embassy took a few moments to thank God that Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States.

via Hillary Clinton Slams Trump For Not Taking A More ‘Hands-Off’ Approach To Embassy Attack — The Babylon Bee

Giuliani Says Ukraine Corruption Came From ‘Highest Levels Of Obama Administration’; Wants To Testify, Try Case | ZeroHedge News

Rudy Giuliani is not only willing to testify in President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, he wants to “do demonstrations” in order to outline what he described as a “series of criminal acts” involving “the highest levels of the Obama administration, adding that Democrats Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will go down in history like Joe McCarthy when people “calm down and watch this carefully.”

“What I learned is the corruption in Ukraine is vast, it’s extensive, it highly involves the Democratic party – not just in 2016 but for many years,” the former New York City mayor said at Trump’s New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

“When the full scope of what happens in Ukraine comes out, there are going to be a lot of Americans who participated in the corruption,” adding “The Bidens took millions of dollars laundered out of Ukraine, and the only reason they’re getting away with it is because you and the press protect them…”

When asked what he discovered, Rudy replied “I’m not going to tell you what I found out until I have a proper forum… but it’s devastating,” adding “We will figure out the right forum.”

“This is expanding, it will turn out to be a series of criminal acts. It will involve the highest levels of the Obama administration. It’s the reason the Democratic party is in panic.”

“I would testify, I would do demonstrations, I’d give lectures, I’d give summations. Or, I do what I do best, I try the case,” adding, with a smile, “I’d love to try the case.”

“If you give me the case, I will prosecute it as a racketeering case. Which I kind of invented anyway.”

(Relevant part begins at 3:15)

Source: Giuliani Says Ukraine Corruption Came From ‘Highest Levels Of Obama Administration’; Wants To Testify, Try Case

January 1 The Awesome Face of God

Psalm 29:2

Give unto the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

As you meet with God in the light of morning, as your thoughts turn to Him in the adrenaline rush of the day, as you move into the silent sanctuary on the Lord’s Day—know that He takes His place upon the throne whenever you give Him your praise. Your bowed head, your humbled heart, and your attentive spirit open the door to heaven. It’s a door that swings both ways, for God comes to us, no matter where we are.

The wonder of worship is the wonder of His very real presence. It’s music from another world, wonder that floods out all the darkness and the dust of death this life contains. We rediscover the innocence of children again as we praise and exalt God’s name, for He opens Himself to us. It’s the most awesome moment of life—more awesome than holding your first child in the delivery room, more awesome than meeting the person you’re destined to marry, more awesome than seeing the earth from the window of the space shuttle. You’ve seen something more beautiful: the face of God Himself.[1]


[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 2). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

The Media Is Lying about the Attacks on the Embassy in Baghdad — The Federalist

Media figures are lying about recent attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Why?

You can tell that the Obama administration’s legacy in the Middle East is in danger because the media, as the self-appointed janitors of President Barack Obama’s legacy, have gone into overdrive obfuscating the timing, context, and significance of this week’s attack on the United States embassy in Baghdad. Though President Donald Trump has gone a long way to dismantling Obama’s legacy in the region, there is much more that remains to be done, including a halt to American taxpayer money that has been flowing into Iranian-controlled governments in Iraq and Lebanon.

Earlier this week Iran-backed militias stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, chanting “Down, down USA!” and hurling water bottles and smashing security cameras. The attackers breached parts of the embassy and were only disbursed the next day, after Trump deployed Marines to ensure the safety of our embassy personnel and property.

The attacks have been building for months, including roughly a dozen attacks on U.S. assets by these militias and American retaliatory strikes against five locations in Iraq and Syria belonging to the Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah. The group represents an ongoing replication of the “Islamic revolutionary model” that Iran first “exported” to and “perfected” in Lebanon in the early 1980s.

The New York Times has labeled the attackers “mourners” responding to the U.S. strikes, while the front page of the first Washington Post edition of 2020 labeled them “protesters.” The latter is a particularly pernicious mislabeling. The media has done its best to conflate the attacks with anti-Iran protests that have been happening across Iraq for the last three months, but of course those actual protesters are pro-Iraqi sovereignty demonstrators fed up with the corruption and the broad perception that the Iraqi government is controlled by Iran.

Confirming exactly that accusation, the Iraqi government has repeatedly attacked the anti-Iran protesters, killing hundreds and wounding thousands, while giving a free pass and ready access to the Iran-backed fighters who stormed our embassy.

The media’s goal is to characterize the protests as a wholesale rejection of Trump’s policies in the region, hence the wall-to-wall disinformation about mourning and protesting. What’s actually at stake is Obama’s legacy. The Iran Deal was a bargain in which Iran would be handed control over the Middle East in exchange for some temporary limitations on nuclear activities. As Obama said, the Saudis — by which he meant Sunnis across the region — would just have to learn to “share the neighborhood” with Iran. The attack on our embassy shows what sharing the region actually means, and the anti-Iran Iraqi protesters are saying they reject it.

Trump has partially, though not completely, withdrawn from the Iran deal, and Tehran is feeling the pressure. Behnam Ben Taleblu, a scholar from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington recently said the ‘Death to America’ chants are a “dead giveaway” that these protests are being orchestrated by Iran as an effort to shore up its position. “These are pro-Iran and pro-militia sympathizers that appear to be out of touch with the thousands of Iraqis who have been chanting ‘Iran, out!’”

Other parts of Obama’s legacy, however, persist. One of the most glaring in the aftermath of the attack on our embassy is that we continue to pour money into countries like Iraq and Lebanon that are outright dominated by the mullahs in Iran through proxies like the Hezbollah militias in those countries.

Inside the administration, Trump loyalists have sought to cut that aid the Deep State has rushed in to preserve those policies. In Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently sent around a two-page bill titled the “Stop Sending American Taxpayer Money to Governments Controlled by Terrorists Act.” The bill smartly proposed halting assistance to any Lebanese administration that is improperly influenced by Hezbollah.

Cruz’s bill should be expanded to include any government that is under Iranian control, not just Lebanon, as Iran has made attempts to establish proxy regimes in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Given Iran is interested in expanding its hegemony in the region by reproducing the Islamic Revolution in neighboring countries, there is no realm in which American aid should facilitate such activities.

Cruz’s proposal, and likewise, an expansion of it, would amount to a full condemnation of what Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Tony Badran has labeled the Obama Realignment Doctrine, or. Obama’s strategy to restore a power “balance” in the Middle East by empowering Iran and disfavoring our long-term allies. Such an approach achieved its heyday in the Iran Deal and its repudiation in Trump’s withdrawal. For those on the left, the current desire to salvage the remnants of Obama’s legacy has come at the expense of revealing the true nature of Iraqi unrest. It’s not only irresponsible but further reveals the level of perpetual dishonesty needed to sustain popular support (or at minimum, acceptance) of the Iran Deal. If your strategy requires lying to justify its existence, perhaps it’s not such a fantastic approach.

Erielle Davidson is a Staff Writer at the Federalist and a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. Find her on Twitter at @politicalelle.

via The Media Is Lying about the Attacks on the Embassy in Baghdad — The Federalist

Two Ways We Get the Gospel Wrong, One Way to Get It Right | Core Christianity

Christians tend to fall into two variations of the same error. Some confuse the work of God for human action or cultural achievements, or they pit God’s saving work against all human action or virtue. As odd sounding as it is, God’s work in Christ is undermined by both approaches making Christ only half a Savior.

Jesus not only frees us from the guilt of sin but also of its power in our lives. God makes us into new creatures in his Son and enables us to walk according to the grace of God. The gospel we find in God’s Word is greater than we imagine.

Contributing to Salvation or Standing on the Sidelines?

On one end of the spectrum, you find many people who believe they are in some sense contributing or adding to Christ’s redeeming work. Whether it is personal virtue, or human culture, or even the church itself, Christ’s work is incomplete. We have to add something to it. Either through a perfect act of faith or penance, we remove the burden of our own guilt. Somehow, we put God into our debt, “meeting” him half way. Or so we think. But this is not grace.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may find people who extol the grace of God but to the neglect of God’s work within us. Many people who have grown up in legalistic homes or environments don’t know what to make of the Christian life. There is little room for virtue or moral examples, habits or disciplines.

When Christians who have grown up in this environment come to a fresh understanding of the gospel of free grace, they don’t know what to make of God’s work within us. Anything that sounds like a duty is met with resentment.

God’s Word challenges both views. We find something very different in the gospel of grace. We should not seek to remove the good habits or practices from the Christian life. Rather, we need to see them in their proper place and order. The new life we have in Christ is far greater than we often consider.

Participating in the New Life in Christ

When it comes to one’s right standing before God (i.e. justification), Christ’s virtues and perfection are the sole basis for God’s gracious gift and declaration of forgiveness (Rom. 3:21-26; 5:1-11). Christ alone is the path and means to God. His work is sufficient for everything we need for life and godliness.

When it comes to our moral life and how we live, following Christ’s example, his virtues and his perfections are again the fountain. Our life is now flowing from the life of Christ. We are like the tree planted by the rivers of living water (Ps. 1:3). His work of salvation is the source from the beginning of faith to its end. His virtue is what is now being formed in us (i.e. sanctification) by the Spirit of God (Eph. 2:8-10; Gal. 3:1-14).

Christ’s eternal love fills us from the inside out. Everything that we do is in the power of his love, in the power of his work, and in the power of his Spirit (John 15:1–11). Jesus does not open the door to the new life in order for us to just try harder. No! He himself is the new life God has promised to anyone who has faith. We find life by abiding more and more in him. In him are all the riches God has prepared for those who love him.

How the Gospel Is Greater Than We Imagine

Jesus’ work has not only removed the guilt and condemnation of sin but also its power and dominion in our very lives. We don’t have to give in to sin anymore. We don’t have to be enslaved to our desires. We have been given the Spirit to walk in newness of life, daily die to ourselves and rest in Jesus’ finished work. God cleanses us each day so we can walk in his love and power.

After being forgiven of our sins and clothed with Christ’s perfect work by faith, the Spirit continues giving Christ to us in all his virtue. We come to participate in his very life by faith and something wondrous begins to happen. God begins to form and shape us into the image of Christ.

Christ’s good works are now being shaped in us by faith, making us doers of that word of Christ. The Spirit begins to work in, with, and through us in our lives to bring Christ to others in all our callings.

No matter how small our callings seem to be, we can know that God is at work, bringing the love of Christ to others in what we say and do (Eph. 2:8-10; Ja. 1:22-25; 1 Jn. 4:7-12). Our words can give grace to our hearers and, because Christ’s Spirit dwells within us, we can buy back the time since the days are evil.

We can be sure our deeds have an eternal significance that matter. God has started a good work in us. He will complete the good work he has begun and will never let us go. This is the greatness of the gospel that we can experience and walk in even now!

Source: Two Ways We Get the Gospel Wrong, One Way to Get It Right

Top Ten 2019 Lighthouse Trails Author Articles

The Word Like Fire

According to Lighthouse Trails:

Lighthouse Trails has been blessed and privileged to work with dozens of committed, discerning, Bible-believing authors since 2002. Below is a list of 10 articles we posted in 2019 by some of these men and women. Click here for list…

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What to listen for in a (false) teacher

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

False Teachers (as are politicians) are selling something. Will you buy?

It was a startling moment when at the October 2019 Truth Matters Conference, in reply to interviewer Todd Friel’s query to answer in one or two words to the name Beth Moore, John MacArthur forthrightly said “go home”.  Even more startling is when he likened her and her ilk to hucksters selling jewelry on TV. (video here). It was true and thus it was a relief to hear.

False teachers are selling something. They have to. The holy Spirit isn’t in or behind their words propelling them into hearts and minds, so in order to get their message across, false teachers have to resort to sales language. Sales language appeals to the flesh.

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5 Bible Verses That Can Change Your Life | Lies Young Women Believe

by Bethany Beal | 1/01/20

Happy New Year, friends. We can’t wait to spend another year with you. To kick off 2020, we’ve pulled your favorite posts out of the vault. Enjoy them again (or for the first time) with our “Best of” series all month long. 

Up first, Bethany shares five Bible verses that can change our lives. 

Different experiences, challenges, and joys in my life have resulted in me latching onto specific verses in Scripture.

  • When it came to singleness, I always turned to Proverbs 3:5–6.
  • When it came to purity of heart, I always turned to Psalm 51:10.
  • When it came to discouragement, I always turned to Joshua 1:9.

I intentionally memorized and meditated on specific passages that I knew would help me when I needed them most. These verses became my lifeline.

Let’s just be real for a moment. The Bible is big. It can be hard to know where to turn to when you’re dealing with a specific challenge in your life. Although we should always be learning, growing, and developing in our relationship with God and in our understanding of Scripture, it can be so helpful to memorize some key passages, passages you can call to memory the moment you need them.

These five passages have helped me over and over again. Memorize them, and take them with you wherever you go.

5 Bible Verses Every Girl Should Know

  1. Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

This has been my all-time favorite passage for most of my life. It helps in almost any situation. When I was struggling with singleness, I would meditate on this passage and make it my prayer.

  1. Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Whether it’s for an impure thought, an unkind word, gossip, or something else, this is your go-to passage as you ask the Lord to give you a pure heart. I often pray this verse to God. I ask Him to change my heart and make this true for me.

  1. Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

It can be so easy to forget what Christ has done for us. We forget how much we’re loved and how often God has forgiven us. Instead of offering that same love and forgiveness to others, we hold them to an impossible standard. We harbor anger, bitterness, resentment, annoyance, and rude speech. Let’s choose to focus on the gospel and love others how Christ has loved us. Let’s choose to love with a pure, self-sacrificing type of love.

  1. Philippians 2:3–4: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

So many of life’s problems come down to pride and selfishness. Can you imagine how much more joy and peace we would have in our lives if we applied this passage? Our friendships, relationships, and marriages would look radically different. Let’s pray for humility.

  1. Revelation 4:8: “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

This should be our life mantra, the goal of everything we do—to worship God and bring glory to Him. God was. God is. God is to come. Instead of getting caught up in self-worship, let’s get caught up in Christ-worship. Let’s remember that life isn’t about us at all. It’s all about our amazing Savior.

Let’s Make a Bigger List

Those are a few verses that have greatly impacted my life and helped me to grow in my spiritual maturity and relationship with Christ.

I would love to hear from you. Which of these verses do you want to memorize? How would that verse change your life if you truly believe it and live it? What verses would you add to this list?

PS: Knowing Scripture is the best way to combat the lies thrown at us every day. That’s why here at Revive Our Hearts, we’re kicking off the new year by focusing on getting into God’s Word. We want to invite you to join us in our 30–Day Bible Reading Challenge as we walk through the book of Acts together. Each day features Scripture, a devotional, a prayer, reflection questions, and further tips for studying the Bible. We hope you’ll join us! Sign up here.

(You can still sign up after January 1, and you will get all thirty days of content!) 


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January 1, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 3:31–35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Lord: The Acknowledgment of Jesus’ Followers (3:31–35)

Having left Nazareth to find Jesus (v. 21), Jesus’ mother and His brothers finally arrived in Capernaum. In light of the fact that Mary believed in Jesus, her coming was likely motivated by a desire to protect the Son of God. Jesus’ half brothers, however, were convinced He had lost His mind. They came to rescue Jesus from the massive crowds that threatened to smother Him—likely intent on taking Him back to Nazareth with them.

From outside the house, they sent word to Him and called Him. Inside, Jesus was addressing a crowd that was sitting around Him, when they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” Accepting the interruption, Jesus responded in a way that was utterly unexpected and must have surprised those who heard Him speak. Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Jesus’ question was not born out of ignorance, since He obviously knew the identity of His earthly family members. Nor did it intend any level of disrespect or antagonism toward His mother and brothers, whom He clearly loved (cf. John 19:26–27). Jesus simply used this real-life interruption to teach a transcendent spiritual truth to His followers who were gathered around Him.

Answering His own question, Jesus looked about at those who were sitting around Him and said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” The Lord’s point was that the only relationship to Him that matters eternally is not physical but spiritual. His spiritual family is comprised of those who have a saving relationship with Him through faith (cf. John 1:12; Rom. 8:14–17; 1 John 3:1–2). As He earlier explained to Nicodemus, it is not earthly birth that makes one part of the family of God but being born from above (John 3:3–8). Unlike the scribes and Pharisees, who resisted and blasphemed the Holy Spirit by rejecting the Son of God, genuine disciples are careful to do the will of God by honoring Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). As Jesus explained in John 6:40, “This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” On another occasion in Judea, when a woman exclaimed to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed” (Luke 11:27), He responded similarly, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (v. 28). Only those who heed God’s word will be eternally blessed. That word begins with the testimony of the Father, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him” (Matt. 17:5).

As Mark has already noted (v. 21), some of Jesus’ family members regarded Him as a lunatic. Meanwhile, members of the religious elite regarded Him as a liar, accusing Him of being in league with Satan. But the followers of Jesus, those who belonged to His spiritual family, embraced Him as their Lord. They obeyed the will of the Father, which is that sinners would believe in the Son to whom the Holy Spirit bears witness and receive eternal life (cf. John 3:16; 15:26; 16:13–15).

Those who truly recognize that Jesus is Lord respond with an eagerness to obey Him. True conversion has always been marked by obedience to the Word of God and submission to the authority of Christ. As Jesus explained in John 8:31, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” A few chapters later, He echoed that same truth: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). By contrast, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4; cf. 3:24). Embracing the lordship of Jesus Christ is more than mere lip service (cf. Matt. 7:21). It is the essence of the Christian life and a sure characteristic of those who are part of the family of God. As John R. W. Stott explains:

In order to follow Christ we have to deny ourselves, to crucify ourselves, to lose ourselves. The full, inexorable demand of Jesus Christ is now laid bare. He does not call us to a sloppy half-heartedness, but to a vigorous, absolute commitment. He calls us to make him our Lord. The astonishing idea is current in some circles today that we can enjoy the benefits of Christ’s salvation without accepting the challenge of his sovereign lordship. Such an unbalanced notion is not to be found in the New Testament. “Jesus is Lord” is the earliest known formulation of the creed of Christians. In days when imperial Rome was pressing its citizens to say “Caesar is Lord,” these words had a dangerous flavour. But Christians did not flinch. They could not give Caesar their first allegiance, because they had already given it to the Emperor Jesus. God had exalted his Son Jesus far above all principality and power and invested him with a rank superior to every rank, that before him “every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (John R. W. Stott, Basic Christianity [London, Inter-Varsity Press, 1971], 112–13)

The eternal destiny of every sinner is determined by what that person does with Jesus Christ. Those who ultimately regard Him as either a lunatic or a liar will spend eternity apart from Him in hell. But those who do the will of God by embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are promised eternal life in heaven (Rom. 10:9). There, as members of the family of God, they will worship their risen King forever.[1]

Jesus’ True Family (3:31–35)

31 Mark now turns back to the family of Jesus. By inserting (intercalating) the account of the Beelzebul controversy into the family episode he has both heightened the suspense and allowed for traveling time from Nazareth to Capernaum. The rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders parallels the rejection by his family and reminds the reader that it is Jesus’ own people who are rejecting him. These developments allow Jesus to define true spiritual relationships in the kingdom of God.

The family arrived at Jesus’ location but did not enter, presumably because of the size of the crowd. Instead they stood outside (exō) and sent someone in to call him. Only Jesus’ mother (the only reference to her in Mark’s gospel) and his siblings are mentioned specifically. Joseph is not mentioned; presumably, he was not living at this time. The Greek word adelphoi can mean either “brothers” or “siblings” (i.e., “brothers and sisters”), and the latter may be intended here. Jesus’ sisters will be explicitly mentioned in 6:3. Possible evidence for the presence of Jesus’ sisters is the analogy in v. 35, where Jesus’ spiritual family includes “my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark shows no interest or concern in the later church debate over whether these siblings were (1) born to Mary after Jesus was born, (2) Joseph’s children by a previous marriage, or (3) only cousins of Jesus (as the Roman Catholic Church has historically asserted; see comments at 6:3). For Mark the point of the story is the climactic pronouncement in vv. 34b–35 that true spiritual relationships are defined not by blood or birth but by common allegiance to the will and purpose of God.

32–35 When Jesus was told that his family was looking for him, he responded by asking the rhetorical question, “Who are my mother and my brothers [and sisters]?” (v. 33). Then with a sweep of his eyes over those seated in a circle around him, he identified his true family: “Here are my mother and my brothers [and sisters]” (v. 34). This statement would certainly have included the Twelve but also the “crowd” (ochlos, GK 4063, v. 32) gathered around him—the wider group of his followers. Jesus’ point is that in the age of salvation there are spiritual ties that are closer than blood or family ties. Jesus’ true family consists of all those who obey the will of God (v. 35)—in Mark’s narrative world, those who are responding positively to Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ words are particularly shocking in the “dyadic” (group-oriented) culture of the Middle East, where respect and loyalty for family and clan were (and are) among the highest values. While Jesus does not reject or repudiate his own family, he places spiritual relationships on a higher plane. It can easily be imagined what this statement meant to the original readers of Mark’s gospel. F. C. Grant, 694, writes, “In place of broken family relations, ostracism and persecution, was the close and intimate relation to the Son of God.” The striking spatial contrast between Jesus’ physical family, who are “outside” (exō; vv. 31–32), and his spiritual family, who are “sitting around him” inside, will be taken up in the next chapter (see comments at 4:11). A reversal is taking place in Mark’s gospel: those who have traditionally been insiders to God’s blessings—the religious leaders and the physical heirs of Abraham’s promise—will become the outsiders. And those who were formerly outsiders (sinners, tax collectors, Gentiles) will become the insiders and recipients of God’s salvation.

In view of the Jewish attitude of respect and honor toward one’s parents—an attitude adopted by the church—the historicity of these two family scenes (vv. 20–21; vv. 31–35) can scarcely be denied, for the church would never have invented a story that put the family of Jesus in such bad light.[2]

33–35 Jesus seized upon the interruption as an occasion for teaching. The rhetorical question, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” focuses attention on the deeper issue involved in an authentic relationship to him. With a look which apparently took in those who sat closest to him, Jesus announced “Behold, my mother and my brothers.” It is probable that the group indicated did not embrace more than the Twelve. The larger context stresses their special position as those who are with Jesus in obedience to his summons (Ch. 3:14). Their openness to God’s action in sending Jesus bound them to him with ties more intimate than those achieved through physical relationship. By following Jesus the Twelve are marked off as those who do the will of God. Jesus’ statement regarding the true family, however, looks beyond the Twelve to a larger company of men and women: “whoever shall do the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” It is the performance of the will of God which is decisive in determining kinship with Jesus. In the new family which Jesus calls into being there is demanded the radical obedience to God which he demonstrated in his submission to the Father and which the disciples manifested in their response to his call. The one context which makes Jesus’ word intelligible is that provided by the demands of the Kingdom of God which has drawn near in his person. Because the Kingdom is breaking in upon men there is a new urgency in the demand for obedience. At the same time this demand creates a fellowship in which the common pursuance of the will of God binds a man closely to Jesus and permits him to know another as brother, sister or mother.108[3]

3:31–35 / This episode is directly connected with the preceding one (3:20–30), as explained in the comments on that portion, and is also part of a larger section that includes the calling of the Twelve (3:13–19). The Twelve are introduced in 3:13–19, and in 3:20–35 they are contrasted with “teachers of the law” and with Jesus’ family. Although the disciples fail in many ways in later episodes, here they are presented as specially favored by Jesus for their willingness to follow him. As mentioned before, the disciples are major characters in Mark and what is said about them is both positive and negative. The reader is supposed to identify with the Twelve and is supposed to learn from what is said to them and about them the high privilege and duties of discipleship, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the difficulties and temptations to failure.

In the present passage, Jesus says of his disciples that they have become his true family. Though it is fairly clear that the Twelve are the ones referred to, the more general description of those Jesus commends as those seated in a circle around him (3:34) has the effect of leaving the circle open for others to join. The Christian readers are to identify themselves with those who do God’s will (3:35) and so are to see themselves included among those given this special closeness to Jesus.

It is not stated in this episode what Jesus’ family wanted (3:31), but since it appears that they are mentioned in 3:21 as trying to “take charge of him,” their intent here is no doubt the same—that is, this is not simply a friendly visit from relatives! This makes Jesus’ sharp rejection of them in favor of his followers a little easier to understand. There is other evidence that Jesus did not enjoy the support of his own family during his ministry (e.g., John 7:1–9). There is the mention of Jesus’ mother at the crucifixion in John 19:25–27, but little is said to indicate her own position among the disciples. Acts 1:14 mentions Mary, his mother, as among the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection; and James, his brother, is mentioned as a leader in the early church (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19; 2:9). It is not made clear how Jesus’ family moved from misunderstanding (and perhaps rejection) to faith and commitment.

In the light of this tension between Jesus and his family, the famous words of Jesus about discipleship involving the cost of one’s family (Matt. 10:34–39) can be seen as reflective of his own personal experience (see also Luke 12:49–53). That is, Jesus can call others to sacrifice because he too has had to sacrifice to follow God’s call.

It is remarkable that this somewhat negative treatment of Jesus’ family survived, in view of the veneration of the mother of Jesus and the general high respect for his family in later church tradition. In the Roman Catholic tradition there is a special difficulty with the references to Jesus’ family because of the official dogma that Mary remained perpetually a virgin and thus did not have children other than Jesus (see note). Of course, this information about Jesus and his family was not preserved for curiosity’s sake but to demonstrate by Jesus’ example the cost of discipleship and—by Jesus’ words in 3:35—its reward.[4]

3:35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. There are two emphases here. First, “the will of God” is a central theme in the New Testament for true discipleship (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 5:17; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:18; 1 Pet. 4:2). This means that in every area of life the Christian seeks to live as God wants; the principles for doing so are encapsulated in his revealed word. Second, we must “do” God’s will or, as in James 1:22–25, be “doers” of the word and not mere “hearers.”[5]

33–35. He answered and said to them, Who is my mother and (who are) my brothers? And looking around at those who were sitting in a circle about him he said, Here are my mother and my brothers. Although the relation between Jesus and his mother was one of tender concern, as has been shown in connection with verse 21, he never permitted her to divert him from doing what he knew that his heavenly Father wanted him to do, as has also been indicated. See above, on verse 21, under “As to d.” Neither did he permit his brothers to sidetrack him. See John 7:2 ff. By saying, “Who is my mother and (who are) my brothers?” he teaches that what holds for himself holds for all: all must strive to do the will of God. Cf. Matt. 10:37; Luke 14:26. In this connection physical ties are not nearly as important as are spiritual.

Mark relates that when Jesus answered his own question he was looking around at those who were sitting—all were probably in a house—in a circle about him. Matthew adds that he was stretching out his hand toward and over his disciples. It was with this meaningful look and gesture that the Master remarked, “Here are my mother and my brothers.” This “brothers” must not be interpreted as if Jesus recognized only males as members of his spiritual family. He probably said, “my mother and my brothers” to correspond with “your mother and your brothers are looking for you.” That people are not excluded from Christ’s family because of sex is clear from the words that immediately follow, namely, For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. In all probability the words and the gesture of gracious inclusion were directed first of all to The Twelve (though in a favorable sense they could hardly have applied to Judas Iscariot). In all likelihood they were sitting closest to Jesus. Having immediately responded to Christ’s call, regardless of the sacrifice this implied (Matt. 19:27–29; Luke 5:28; 9:58; 14:26), they had shown that it was indeed their basic intention to carry out the will of God for their lives. It is not surprising, therefore, that Jesus points to them and publicly acknowledges that they are included in his spiritual family. And, since the word “whoever” is very broad, “disciples” other than The Twelve were certainly also included.

As to Mary, though her affectionate solicitude should be recognized, it must also be admitted that she erred. She was in a sense repeating that sinful interference manifested also on an earlier occasion (John 2:3). If, therefore, in connection with Mark 3:31–35 we are justified in speaking about an atmosphere of “tension,” it was this effort of sinful interference—not Mary’s and Jesus’ brothers’ alleged opinion that Jesus was out of his mind—that brought about this tension. But just as on that earlier occasion Mary quickly saw her mistake and was strengthened in her faith (see John 2:5) by the very word of tender and earnest reproof which Jesus addressed to her (John 2:4), may we not believe that also in the present instance the Savior’s word (Mark 3:33–35) had the same wholesome effect on her? There is no reason to believe that Mary’s faith, which comes to beautiful expression in Luke 1:38; 1:46–55; 2:19; and 2:51, did not, by God’s grace, triumph over all temporary set-backs. That it was victorious is clear from Acts 1:14. Jesus’ brothers shared in this victory (same passage).

The generous nature of Christ’s declaration (Mark 3:33–35) is evident from the fact that those whom he thus honored had by no means reached the pinnacle of spiritual perfection. For example, The Twelve were, and remained for a long time, men of “little faith.” See above, on verses 16–19. Yet he was not ashamed to acknowledge them as his “brothers” (Heb. 2:11).

Note the inclusiveness of this “whoever” (does the will of God). It means black and white, red, brown, and yellow; male and female; old and young; rich and poor; bond and free; educated and unlettered; Jew and Gentile. But note also the exclusiveness: those and those alone who do God’s will are included. The substance of what God requires is readily learned by examining the following passages of Mark’s Gospel: 4:9, 20, 21, 24; 5:19, 34; 6:31, 37; 8:34–38; 9:23, 35–37, 41; 10:9, 14, 29–31, 42–45; 11:22–26; 12:17, 29–31, 41–44; 13:5, 10, 11, 13, 23, 28, 29, 37; 14:6–9, 22–26, 38; 16:6, 7, 15.

It must be emphasized, however, that no one is able to “do the will of God” except by the power and sovereign grace of God. This is not only Pauline doctrine (Eph. 2:8; Phil. 2:12, 13). It is also definitely the teaching of Christ. According to that teaching, as reported by Mark, God—one can also say Jesus Christ—is the great Enabler (1:17). It is the power of God (10:27) and the substitutionary, atoning sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ (10:45; 14:24) that saves. In the final analysis man is helpless in himself. He is completely dependent upon the mercy and compassion of the Lord (5:19; 6:34; 8:2). Is it not this fact that accounts for the emphasis, in the teaching of Christ as reflected by Mark, on the necessity of genuine faith and persevering prayer (1:35; 5:36; 9:23, 29; 11:22–24)?[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2015). Mark 1–8 (pp. 185–188). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Wessel, W. W., & Strauss, M. L. (2010). Mark. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 748–749). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Lane, W. L. (1974). The Gospel of Mark (pp. 147–148). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Hurtado, L. W. (2011). Mark (pp. 66–67). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Osborne, G. R. (2014). Mark. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 63). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Vol. 10, pp. 141–143). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.