“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "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 thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the Lord; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even.—Numbers 28:3, 4.
Pause, my soul, over the scriptural account of this solemn transaction! Think how infinitely important in the sight of Jehovah was, and is, that vast sacrifice of the Lamb of God, “slain from the foundation of the world,” which every day, morning and evening, the Lord commanded to be set forth in an offering made by fire. With what exactness the Church observes this daily rite of oblation! How scrupulous were all true Israelites in this service! and how fully did it proclaim to them the doctrine, that “without shedding of blood there was no remission!” Who that reads the solemn precept, and remarks the strictness of Israel in their obedience to it, but must be struck with this conviction? And who can for a moment doubt but that the whole was performed by faith in the Lamb of God, which, in after ages, did away all the penal effects of sin by the sacrifice of himself? Pause again, my soul! Hath this daily sacrifice ceased, as the prophet Daniel declared it should?—Dan. 9:27. Is the lamb of the morning and the lamb of the evening now no more? And wherefore? Because the thing signified being accomplished, the sign is needed to minister no longer; the substance being come, the shadow is for ever done away. And shall not thy morning and thine evening act of faith be expressly exercised upon this one Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world? Did the faithful Israelite, at nine in the morning, and three in the evening, (the hours of those daily sacrifices,) offer the lamb by faith in the promised Redeemer? And shall not the believing followers of the blessed Jesus have their hours of commemoration in spiritual acts of praise and faith, upon the bleeding body of Him who, by the one offering of himself, once offered, hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified? Yes, thou precious Lamb of God! I would pray for grace to see thee in every act of faith, in every offering of prayer, every ordinance, every means of grace, and all the rites of religious worship. I would behold thee through the whole of the Bible as the one thing, the only thing signified. I would trace the sweet, the blessed, the soul-comforting, soul-strengthening, soul-transforming subject, until, from the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, I followed the Lamb whithersoever he went; until I beheld thee, as the beloved Apostle saw thee, the Lamb, as it had been slain, in the midst of the throne, still wearing on thy glorified body the marks of our redemption. And there, precious Jesus, should my eyes fix, and my heart centre all her joys, because also in this exalted state thou art still the Lamb. Thy glory and thy power have made no change of nature, though of place. Thou art the Lamb of God, and the Brother of thy people still. The eternal efficacy of thy blood and righteousness, and the everlasting love in thine heart towards thy redeemed, is the same. As in person, so in office, thou art Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Amen.
“…And rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2
God, You are glorious! Because of who You are, I have hope in what You have promised to do—my future truly is as bright as the light upon Your face that reflects it, as sure as the words upon Your lips that proclaim it, as powerful as the strength of Your right hand that performs it.
I am confident there are desirable things ahead because You are good; there are perfect things ahead because You are without fault; there are abundant things ahead because You are generous; there are undefiled things ahead because You are holy; there are amazing things ahead because You are wondrous, there are huge things ahead because Your heart is so big.
I live in hope and I am happy in hope. I hope in what is true, in what is best, in what is everlasting. My hope is anchored in what a loving, caring God can be to His child.
You bring a hope to my heart that will not be dashed upon the rocks of broken covenants, unintended assurances, or misguided intentions. My hope is secure in the character of Your faithfulness. It will not be disappointed, but will see its final reward.
‘Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’ Romans 5:1-5 NKJV
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” (2 Cor. 2:14.)
GOD gets His greatest victories out of apparent defeats. Very often the enemy seems to triumph for a little, and God lets it be so; but then He comes in and upsets all the work of the enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says, “turns the way of the wicked upside down.” Thus He gives a great deal larger victory than we would have known if He had not allowed the enemy, seemingly, to triumph in the first place.
The story of the three Hebrew children being cast into the fiery furnace is a familiar one. Here was an apparent victory for the enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going to have a terrible defeat. We have all been in places where it seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We can imagine what a complete defeat this looked to be. They fell down into the flames, and their enemies watched them to see them burn up in that awful fire, but were greatly astonished to see them walking around in the fire enjoying themselves. Nebuchadnezzar told them to “come forth out of the midst of the fire.” Not even a hair was singed, nor was the smell of fire on their garments, “because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort.”
This apparent defeat resulted in a marvelous victory.
Suppose that these three men had lost their faith and courage, and had complained, saying, “Why did not God keep us out of the furnace!” They would have been burned, and God would not have been glorified. If there is a great trial in your life today, do not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you more than conqueror, and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. Let us learn that in all the hard places God brings us into, He is making opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His name.
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5
As Christians, we are called to hope. Not wishful thinking, imagining things, or pining for better days. Hope. Hope is not a pipe dream or a fairy tale. It is a strong action instead of a reaction. When we choose to hope we:
H – Heed His Word.
Hang onto encouraging verses in Scripture in times of trouble, stress or doubt. Recall His promises, read, mark and memorize helpful verses, and repeat them often.
O – Obey.
Sometimes we have to do things simply because someone in authority says so. If we can trust God and obey, then in hindsight we may look back and see more clearly why He told us.
P – Pray.
Instead of fretting, if we can drop to our knees and lay it at the cross we will find an inner peace which, as Paul states, surpasses our understanding. Much better than jogging in a hamster wheel of worry and churning it over and over in our minds. Pray, lay it down, walk away.
E – Expect.
The more we rely on God’s promises and His timing, then experience will show us things work out for the best when we “let go and let God” handle it.
So pry your fingers off the situation and relax. Have faith that God will see you through it, and claim that promise.
Father God, let us always choose to hope in You instead of fretting, or getting stressed over things we have no control over. Replace our qualms with quiet, our fears with faith, and our worries with wisdom. Amen.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness at the start for ever and ever.—Daniel 12:3.
HOW empty and short-lived are the glory and the pride of this world! If we are wise, we will live for God and eternity; we will get outside of ourselves, and will care nothing for the honor and glory of this world. In Proverbs we read: “He that winneth souls is wise.” If any man, woman, or child by a godly life and example can win one soul to God, their life will not have been a failure. They will have outshone all the mighty men of their day, because they will have set a stream in motion that will flow on and on forever and ever.
It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether.
(Ray Yungen) The current popularity with meditative contemplative mysticism presents a very perplexing challenge for evangelical Christianity. We are now encountering the New Age or Aquarian Christian. This term describes someone who remains in his or her home church and professes the Christian faith but has also incorporated various aspects of the New Age or Aquarian mindset into his or her life….
New Age author David Spangler was very optimistic about the possibility of this integration when he wrote, “The point is that the New Age is here . . . it builds itself and forms itself in the midst of the old.”1
What has fueled the momentum of this trend is the buffet-style dining approach that has become a hallmark of American religious sensibilities in the last thirty years—you take what you want and leave the rest. Americans are picking and blending religions as if they were ordering espressos: pick your espresso blend, but you still get coffee—pick your spiritual path, but you still get God. Whatever suits your spiritual tastes, you bring together. The result is hybrid New Age spirituality. View article →
Of all the articles I have written for Christian Today – this is the one that I am most concerned about – not just because of the inevitable reaction (which I do not seek) but because I hope, more than in any other article, that in this one I am wrong. I see something happening which is profoundly disturbing. It would be good if my sight was wrong. Feel free to let me know what you think…
Climate change is real. Human beings contribute to climate change. There are other factors involved with climate change. Human beings can do something about the human aspect but nothing about the rest. We don’t control the winds, waves, the sun or the temperature.
It seems strange that even in Christian circles there are those who consider it almost blasphemous to make this last point. Just as strange as those who think that looking after the planet is somehow anti-Christian!
The BBC and St David
I suspect that in 2020 we are going to be hearing even more about climate change than we heard about transgender issues in 2019. The BBC have announced that 2020 is going to be their year of climate change and to kick us off they started with their former director, Sir David Attenborough, headlining the news with his apocalyptic warnings that the end is nigh.
For all the heresy hunters out there I am not a ‘denier’, but I hope I am allowed to question St David. His statements at time are treated as Holy writ, even though he is not a climate scientist. His statement about Australia was for example simplistic and inaccurate. The current bushfires we are experiencing are made worse by climate change but they have not been caused solely by it. The major reason is the Indian Ocean Diploe, which may or may not have been affected by man made climate change.
Mind you, he did point out the elephant in the room – China. If Australia could miraculously become carbon neutral tomorrow, in worldwide terms China would make up for that in less than three months with it’s new coal power plants and continued industrial development.
I suspect that what we will NOT get from the BBC in 2020 is a year of balanced reporting on the climate and the different views that people hold. If you question the current climate change doctrine you will be labeled a heretic and banned. Welcome to Climate Pravda.
I am using the religious language deliberately because one of the things that greatly bothers me is the way that this whole debate has been moved away from science into the realms of philosophical and even religious belief. The extremist approach taken ironically means that the ‘cry wolf’ approach could easily result in the wolf being let in the door. We’ve been here before. I’ve lived long enough to remember that we were going to run out of food in 1975; in the 1980s, we were promised the next ice age; in the 1990s, we were told that many nations would be under water by 2010; and who can forget Al Gore solemnly telling us that the Arctic would be ice-free by 2013?!
But this current climate scare is much more serious – not just because I suspect that this time there is more truth to it – but also because of the reaction, which in some quarters has become hysterical to cultish proportions. In fact, I am seriously beginning to fear that a significant number of humans (especially our young) are in danger of being sucked into what could be described as the climate change cult.
How do Cults Work?
Religious cults tend to attract the young, well-educated middle class. I’ve yet to meet a working-class Moonie! The cults use a process of indoctrination (which they, of course, call education) and coercive persuasion to reform our thinking and practice. What the education system in the West is turning into (and what the BBC is promising) is exactly this process, where no alternatives are allowed.
And children are useful frontline troops for those who seek influence and power. How can you criticize an earnest teenage autistic Swedish girl without appearing to be nasty? From the Queen to the Pope, everyone feels obliged to praise ‘the courageous, inspirational’ young people. But there is enormous danger in using children to do adults’ work. The little Green Brigades, led and fed by their teachers and the media, could end up being as harmful as Mao’s little Red Brigades.
Cults tend to be apocalyptic. They instil fear, what Jonathan Haidt calls ‘catastrophising’. The media love stories about Australia burning, koalas dying and tennis stars being choked by smoke. But today in NSW we had significant rain – I doubt that that will make the headlines unless it results in floods. All of this suits those who are bearing their 21st century equivalent of the old street doomsday preacher’s placard, ‘the end is nigh’!
If the belief on which you base your life is that the end is nigh, then when evidence suggests that might not be the case, it’s in your self-interest to ignore or dismiss that evidence. There was a small but interesting example of this kind of thinking in an article this week in the Sydney Morning Herald. Instead of rejoicing in the fact that much needed rain had arrived, the article lamented that this would lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Why? Because the grass would grow, cattle would get fed instead of being killed, and therefore there would be more greenhouse gas! To the catastrophists – we are doomed if we don’t get rain, we are doomed if we do. The only thing that can save us from doom is when we buy into their ideology and of course buy their products. There’s money in ideology.
Cults have an unshakeable faith in their own doctrines and never allow them to be questioned. Those who dare to so will soon find themselves disfellowshiped and ostracized from public society. I know that even in writing this article I will be subject to a storm of abuse and threats. Cults of course can be based on truth but they turn complex issues into simplistic memes, laced with fundamentalist certainty.
Because of this apocalyptic certainty, cults often justify and encourage extreme action. With the climate cult there is the danger that this will go mainstream. I’ve just finished watching the Netflix series, ‘Occupied’, which has as its disappointing ending (spoiler alert) the former Norwegian Prime minister urging people to, for the sake of the planet, “attack the energy companies, forget democracy, do what you have to”.
Eco terrorism will become a thing in the next few years. The New Zealand Mosque shooter, as well as being anti-Islam, also had some ‘Green’ motivations. Describing himself as an ‘eco-fascist’, he wrote in his manifesto; “Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation, save the environment”, “the natural environment is [currently] industrialized, pulverized and commoditized”, “green nationalism is the only true nationalism”.
If you think this is a joke, consider this message posted today:
” I honestly and truly believe that if all humans were removed from the planet it would look after its self very well thank you. Let Mother Nature do her thing.” It’s not a large leap to go from ‘human beings are the problem’ to ‘let’s get rid of “excess” human beings’!
Cults are, of course, anti-democratic and anti–freedom.A letter in the Sydney Morning Herald this week, headlined ‘The Revolution Begins Here’, argued that now was the time for a benevolent dictatorship in order to deal with climate change. In the years to come, I suspect democracy will be disabled and authoritarianism enabled in the name of ‘saving the planet’.
Cults tend to benefit the rich and powerful – those who do the controlling, rather than the controlled. Rebecca Long- Bailey in her message seeking support for her bid to become leader of the Labour party stated that she wanted to take power from the rich and powerful. One of my greatest fears is that the climate change debate will result in precisely the opposite. It is the poor who will bear the brunt of carbon taxes and lost jobs the most – not the rich. It is the corporations who will make themselves richer and more powerful. As with all cults, follow the money and you will get to the heart of the matter.
The Whole Truth
Not all those who believe that climate change is affected by human behaviour, and that we should do something about it, belong to the climate change cult – but many do. We should no more allow our belief in climate change to cause us to accept the apolcalyptic climate change cult than we would allow our belief in Christianity to accept any of the various cult spin-offs from Christianity.
A little truth is a dangerous thing. We need the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Which is why I look to the One who is The Truth – and not to any current zeitgeist ideology. Sometimes those who say they trust in God are mocked. The mockers think that such faith leads to inaction and fatalism. It is precisely the opposite. It is because we trust in God and believe his promises that we do what we can to look after His creation. That’s why Christians of all people should take climate change, with all its complexities, seriously. Far better the life of faith and hope, than the life of fear, misery and anger that the catastrophists seek to impose upon us.
Imagine facial recognition technology to get into a house of worship and surveillance cameras inside.
Or a “social score” system that awards points for good citizenship — and deducts them for sharing one’s faith, leading to penalties such as limiting where parents can send their children to school.
It’s not the plot of a blockbuster dystopian film or “Left Behind” novel.
It’s the dawning reality for people of faith in China as described by David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA.
This year, the Christian watchdog organization is highlighting the “rise of the surveillance state” and its impact on Christians and Muslims in China along with its 2019 World Watch List, released Wednesday (Jan. 15).
That’s because it could have “wide implications for the future,” Curry said.
“What they’re doing is creating a roadmap of persecution. This is a blueprint that they will sell and use in other countries,” he said.
The organization’s report notes that an estimated 1 million Uighur Muslims have been detained in China.
And while it seems impossible for the country to detain its 90 million Christians, the report said, it could monitor them using developing technology, going digital with religious persecution. Already, there are areas in China installing cameras and facial-recognition technology in state-controlled Three Self Patriotic Movement churches and testing a Social Credit System.
Still, China is not among the top 10 in Open Doors’ ranking of the countries where Christians faced the most persecution for their faith in 2019. It’s ranked No. 23.
North Korea leads the organization’s annual World Watch List for the 18th straight year, “because they, of course, control every element of life and church, and Christians are the number one enemy of the state,” Curry said.
The rest of the lineup remains largely unchanged from last year, with Eritrea and Sudan flip-flopping spots.
Those 10 countries where Open Doors reports Christians are most persecuted include:
The spread of Islamic extremism, one of the main trends Open Doors noted in the report accompanying its watch list, has held many of those countries in place, according to Curry.
Did anyone notice the recent column in the Washington Post extolling the virtues of America’s intelligence community? Well, if you missed it, then you missed a comical attempt to cast opposition to Donald Trump as virtue.
From the Washington Post:“It is a hoary cliche, but no less true, that the function of the intelligence community is to speak truth to power, regardless of how unpalatable the truth may be. If analysts fear they may come under criminal investigation for judgments the president does not like, our nation will be less safe.”
Everyone knows that most of the intelligence community are hard workers doing a good job. However, there are a few bad apples. And one shouldn’t forget that the intelligence community has its own unique worldview—and agenda. In fact, no less a person than America’s greatest diplomat tells us that.
Henry Kissinger warned that the intelligence community tends to err on the side of the Washington Establishment. In other words, they tell the elites what the elites want to hear.
In his White House Years Kissinger writes, “CIA analyses were not, however, infallible. Far from being the hawkish band of international adventurers so facilely portrayed by its critics, the Agency usually erred on the side of the interpretation fashionable in the Washington Establishment.”
So, if it is fashionable to say Orange Man Bad, well, there will no doubt be a few in any Washington agency willing to echo that sentiment.
And while intelligence workers try their best, they often are guilty of group think. Again, we turn to Kissinger for a vivid account of one such example—way back in 1973. Kissinger writes in Diplomacy, “In 1973, Egypt and Syria went to war against Israel. Both Israel and the United States were taken completely by surprise, demonstrating how preconceptions often shape intelligence assessments. The American assessment was so dominated by the belief in vast Israeli superiority that all Arab warnings had been dismissed as bluff.”
And one last little tidbit from Kissinger about both the State Department and the CIA. Of Richard Nixon, Kissinger wrote, “Even more than the State Department, Nixon considered the CIA a refuge of Ivy League intellectuals opposed to him.”
This problem of the Washington Elite fighting a president is nothing new. It grew out of the sense of moral superiority of the Anti-War Movement of liberals in the 1960s. It continues today, in an even more open form against Donald Trump. What Evangelical Christian voters should know is history—that the establishment fought Nixon’s efforts to settle the Vietnam War with honor. Today, the Washington Establishment battles Trump on everything from Culture War issues of religious liberty to foreign policy.
That’s what Christians must know about intelligence and politics—it is all political.
“Walking worship” is what the pastor calls it. After the Chinese government destroyed his underground church in Beijing, the congregation resorted to a new thing.
“Without any place to worship, because any place we gather is not safe,” Xiang En told Baptist Press Wednesday (Jan. 15), “we used a kind of unique form of worship in the church history. We call it ‘walking worship,’ WW.” The church multimedia team records a weekly audio file of an entire service, from the call to worship to the benediction, and safely distributes it to congregation members.
“When we were walking on the street, the park, even in the wilderness, actually we were listening to an audio record of our Sunday service … in that one-hour audio file,” Xiang said. “We just listen, we cannot speak out loud, we cannot sing out loud, and we cannot gather in outdoor spaces to worship because any organized gathering in public space will be seen as a threat to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) in China.”
“Xiang” is a pseudonym for the pastor who moved to the United States in January 2019, after China closed his church. He spoke to BP by phone in an interview arranged by international religious freedom advocate Open Doors upon the release of the 2020 World Watch List of the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians to live. China ranks 23.
In closing Xiang’s church, China employed technological surveillance, included in a method Open Doors identified Wednesday as a growing trend in religious persecution.
“In March 2018, the government officers … wanted to install facial recognition cameras inside our sanctuary on the pulpit to watch our congregation,” Xiang said. “Of course, we refused that unreasonable demand, but they still installed a facial recognition camera in the lobby of our church building, because we rented a whole floor of an office building.”
The floor was formerly a nightclub, Xiang said, but the church transformed it into a sanctuary to worship God.
“Through that camera, the government officers can collect private data of our church members, where they’re working, where their children [are] going to school, where the elders are going to hospital, where they’re living, every private data they can collect,” Xiang said. “And then they can hunt down every single church member to threaten them, to intimidate them and to prevent them from going to our church.
“On Sept. 9, 2018,” Xiang said, “hundreds of policemen raided our church, smashed our church building and put our fulltime ministers, our senior pastor under custody, and took away all of our church property and shut down the church.”
While China’s house church system is modeled after early churches in Rome, Xiang said, walking worship is emerging as perhaps a better option in the midst of current persecution.
“Probably the more reputable question the Chinese churches should ask is, ‘Could we do even better than the early church, with the church model?’” Xiang told BP. “We need to be brave, but at the same time we need to be innovative. We need courage, but at the same time we really need wisdom to face the persecution, the situation nowadays.”
Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, opened Defend 2020 at NOBTS by sharing keys to effective apologetics. Dew encouraged participants to approach apologetic conversations with non-believers with love, humility and civility. NOBTS photo
Top apologists from around the world, including John Lennox and Alister McGrath, addressed a crowd of 400 gathered at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for the annual Defend the Faith event Jan. 6-10.
“Because we’re living in a post-Christian culture that is rapidly becoming an anti-Christian culture, anybody engaged in Christian ministry needs training in Christian apologetics,” said Robert Stewart, director of the NOBTS apologetics program. “More than ever, believers must be able not only to explain their faith to a lost world but also defend the Christian worldview.”
The week-long conference featured resurrection scholar Gary Habermas and noted speakers and apologists Douglas Groothuis, Tim McGrew, Craig Hazen, Lisa Fields, Frank Turek and others. More than 120 breakout sessions focused on questions asked by today’s culture.
Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College, welcomed participants and urged them to conduct every apologetic encounter with virtue and common sense. An effective apologist must first abide in Christ as taught in John 15:5, Dew said, and approach people with love, humility and civility. Common sense guidelines in conversation include listening more than talking, discern the openness of the person to the Gospel, and finding “as much common ground as possible” when engaging another worldview.
The work of an apologist takes time, Dew said.
“Apologetics is hard work,” Dew said, adding that there is no “silver bullet” or statement that answers objections. “Ultimately, what people need from us is an investment, not a quick, one-off conversation.”
Topics covered in the breakouts ranged from world religions, science and faith issues, engaging the college campus and philosophical topics.
Science and Faith
Speaking via live video, Oxford University professor John Lennox told listeners that there is no conflict between science and faith.
Lennox, who teaches mathematics and authored “Can Science Explain Everything?”, explained that people reject caricatures and human inventions of God, rather than the true God, and that science and faith complement each other rather than conflict.
“True scientific understanding of the universe no more competes with God as an explanation than the law of internal combustion competes with Henry Ford as an explanation of the motor car,” Lennox said.
7 The “righteous” (ṣaddîq) God loves those who do righteous acts (ṣedāqôt; NIV, “justice”; cf. Isa 33:15–16). He who sees and examines all people promises that only the “upright” (yāšār) of heart (cf. v. 2) will see him (cf. 17:15; 63:2; Mt 5:8; 1 Jn 3:2; Rev 22:4). To see the face of God is an expression of deliverance from adversity, of close communion, and of the reality of God’s blessed presence (cf. 23:6; 63:2) in this world and in the world to come (cf. Dahood, 1:71)
For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face (v. 7). How differently God will act towards the righteous! He himself is righteous and he loves justice, i.e. the righteous deeds done by his people. The phrase ‘loves justice’ could mean that God loves to do righteous deeds, but this is less likely in the context. The final outcome is that the upright in heart will see God’s presence manifested in his saving deliverance of them. It is possible that the vision of God here is the ultimate vision of him that every believer will have after death (see the two important passages for this concept, Psalm 17:15; Job 19:26–27). The psalmist returns at the end of the psalm to the same confession he made at the beginning.
11:7 / Upright men will see his face: Two Hb. words cause difficulty here. Hb. pānêmô should usually be construed as “their face,” but who is the antecedent to “their”? GKC (p. 302) notes, however, that there appear to be other ot instances where this Hb. suffix should be rendered, “his face.” The ancient versions support this reading. Hb. yāšār is a singular adjective (“upright”), though according to BDB it can function as a noun (“the right,” “the upright one”), even a collective noun (“the upright ones”). We should observe, however, that Hb. yōšer is the normal form for the singular noun and Hb. yešārîm for the collective noun (as in v. 2). In addition, it is unclear which of these two Hb. words is the subject of the pl. verb and which is the object (sing., collective nouns can be combined with pl. verbs, as in 74:18). There are thus three possibilities: “His face will see the right” (a claim consistent with the rest of the v., so lxx), “His face will see the upright one” (a claim consistent with vv. 4–5), and “The upright ones will see his face” (cf. 17:15).
11:7he loves justice; the upright will see his face. The first clause draws a contrast between the Lord—indeed, his character—who “loves justice,” and the wicked, who “love violence” (11:5). In the Old Testament human beings are forbidden to see Yahweh’s face (Gen. 32:30; Exod. 33:11, 20), which is a metaphor for admission into God’s presence and an Old Testament precursor of the final state of redemption in Jesus Christ (Rev. 22:4). See statement at the beginning of the “Understanding the Text” section.
The Ultimate Hope of Trusting God: Beholding His Face (11:7b)
11:7b. By contrast, the ultimate hope of the upright is to behold His face. This is a unique (and perhaps the greatest) hope for believers, looking forward not simply to worshiping an eternally transcendent God, but enjoying intimate fellowship with Him (see the comments on Gn 1:26; 2:7; 3:8). In seeing God’s face, His person and presence are revealed. Jesus Himself referred to this same idea in the sixth beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart (synonymous with the Hb. term here translated upright), for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).
7. The psalm ends, as it began, with the Lord, whose character as righteous answers all the fear of 3a and the frustration of 3b. ‘The foundations’ of righteousness are none other than his nature and will: what he is and what he loves (7). And if the first line of the psalm showed where the believer’s safety lies, the last line shows where his heart should be. God as ‘refuge’ may be sought from motives that are all too self-regarding; but to behold his face is a goal in which only love has any interest. The psalmists knew the experience of seeing God with the inward eye in worship (e.g. 27:4; 63:2); but there is little doubt that they were led to look beyond this to an unmediated vision when they would be ransomed and awakened from death ‘to behold (his) face in righteousness’ (cf. 16:8–11; 17:15; 23:6; 49:15; 73:23ff.; 139:18).
Ver. 7. The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.—The righteous God and righteousness:—
“Righteousness” may be taken as but another word for “rightness”, equity, justice, the being and rendering what is right. Here it describes God. It is the quality which binds and blends into a perfect unity all His Divine perfections. We feel instinctively that righteousness is essential to Divine perfection. Show how this statement that God is a righteous God bears on matters of faith and practice. God, because He is the righteous Lord, loveth righteousness.
This will explain a peculiarity in the redemption accomplished for us through the atoning death of Christ. The problem to be solved was, how can the love of God be manifested, and righteousness be at the same time upheld in all the majesty of its eternal rectitude?
There is much which is mysterious, perplexing, and inexplicable in God’s providential dealings. But throw on all these mysterious providences the light of this statement, that “the Lord is righteous and loveth righteousness,” and you calm the troubled spirit to patience and submission. Then with entire trustfulness you would leave yourselves in God’s hands. In the conviction of His righteousness, let us face the problems and perplexities which confront us in the world. Now see how this statement bears on all the business of life between man and man. “His countenance doth behold the upright”: beholds them, that is, with special favour and approval, because He sees reflected in them, however imperfectly, the lineaments of His own Divine image. (R. Allen, M.A.).
Verse 7.—The Lord possesses righteousness as a personal attribute, loves it in the abstract, and blesses those who practise it.
 VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 164). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has gotten the constitutional law exactly backwards. It said that the “faithful execution of the law” – the Impoundment Control Act- “does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those congress has enacted into law .”
Yes, it does – when it comes to foreign policy.
The Constitution allocates to the president sole authority over foreign policy (short of declaring war or signing a treaty). It does not permit Congress to substitute its foreign policy preferences for those of the president.
To the extent that the statute at issue constrains the power of the president to conduct foreign policy, it is unconstitutional.
Consider the following hypothetical situation: Congress allocates funds to Cuba (or Iran or Venezuela). The president says that is inconsistent with his foreign policy and refuses to release the funds. Surely the president would be within his constitutional authority. Or consider the actual situation that former President Barack Obama created when he unilaterally made the Iran deal and sent that enemy of America billions of dollars without congressional approval. I do not recall the GAO complaining about that presidential decision, despite the reality that the Iran deal was, in effect, a treaty that should require senate approval that was never given.
Whatever one may think about the substantive merits of what President Donald Trump did or did not do with regard to the Ukrainian money— which was eventually sent without strings —he certainly had the authority to delay sending the funds. The GAO was simply wrong in alleging that he violated the law, which includes the Constitution, by doing so.
To be sure, the statute requires notification to Congress, but if such notification significantly delays the president from implementing his foreign policy at a time of his choice, that too would raise serious constitutional issues.
Why then would a nonpartisan agency get it so wrong as a matter of constitutional law.
There are two obvious answers:
In the age of Trump there is no such thing as nonpartisan. The political world is largely divided into people who hate and people who love President Trump. This is as true of long term civil servants as it is of partisan politicians. We have seen this with regard to the FBI, the CIA, the Fed and other government agencies that are supposed to be nonpartisan. There are of course exceptions such as the inspector general of the Department of Justice who seems genuinely non-partisan. But most civil servants share the nationwide trend of picking sides. The GAO does not seem immune to this divisiveness.
Even if the GAO were non-partisan in the sense of preferring one political party over the other, it is partial to Congress over the president. The GAO is a congressional body. It is part of the legislative, not executive, branch. As such, it favors congressional prerogatives over executive power. It is not surprising therefore that it would elevate the authority of Congress to enact legislation over that of the president to conduct foreign policy.
In any event, even if the GAO were correct in its legal conclusion — which it is not— the alleged violation would be neither a crime nor an impeachable offense. It would be a civil violation subject to a civil remedy, as were the numerous violations alleged by the GAO with regard to other presidents. Those alleged violations were barely noted by the media. But in the hyper-partisan impeachment atmosphere, this report received breathless “breaking news” coverage and a demand for inclusion among the articles of impeachment.
If Congress and its GAO truly believe that President Trump violated the law, let them go to court and seek the civil remedy provided by the law. But let us not continue to water down the constitutional criteria for impeachment by including highly questionable, and on my view wrongheaded, views about violations of an unconstitutional civil law.
The $45 million Planned Parenthood has pledged for 2020 candidates who back their initiative would be better spent towards health care for low-income women, former Planned Parenthood Director and pro-life advocate Abby Johnson said Saturday.
As unsettling changes take place in your Christian environment, you might find yourself in this scenario:
In my Christian reading, I get a gritty feeling about a phrase here or a teaching there. Then . . .
I sense that new meanings are being applied to established Christian terms. Then . . .
I find outright heresy in books and/or sermons.
I notice certain names repeated in those sermons or in the endnotes of books.
I voice concern to my minister, but he’s dismissive: “Now, now, we can’t all agree on everything.”
I see acceptance of practices that I’ve discovered are misleading: Eastern wellness techniques . . .
and contemplative prayer . . .
But I also wonder if I’m missing out, if I’m not as spiritual as others who are having “experiences.”
I come to realize that I can’t blindly follow authorities; they may be losing their grasp of the Scriptures. I’ll get into the Word for myself, stay connected to the church [the body of Christ] and to the real Jesus.
That gritty feeling
A phrase or idea sounds “off” in a seemingly solid book: “the Christ-thing which has no name.” (John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted); “Our souls are those sacred centers where all is one.” (Henri Nouwen, Bread for theJourney); “There is nothing wrong . . . with eroticism in worship.” (Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point)
Same vocabulary, different dictionary
Terms that have traditionally been associated with the church have been infused with new meaning, like: Christ, God, atonement, kingdom, silence, spirituality, meditation, incarnational . . .
Outright false teaching on foundational doctrines
Rob Bell on the virgin birth, Jesus’ deity, truth of Scripture: If “Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time,” Bell says, we wouldn’t lose any significant part of our faith, since it’s more about how we live. (Velvet Elvis, p. 26)
Brian McLarenon salvation: “I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts.” (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 260)
Alan Joneson the atonement: “The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end . . . [because of] . . . the vindictive God behind it.” (Reimagining Christianity, p. 68.)
Among those who promote mysticism (some inadvertently) is a pattern in the sources being quoted. Learn to check the endnotes in popular books. Some key names: Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila,Desert Fathers, John of the Cross, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence, Madame Guyon . . .
Dismissive leaders in the local church
The response to your concerns/research: “Well, I haven’t heard about this, so you must be wrong.” Or “That’s a brilliant scholar you’re criticizing!”
Eastern wellness techniques
Yoga(union with the divine), reiki(spirit energy), and mindfulnessare brought into our culture from paganism, often somewhat sanitized and/or billed as non-religious. Compare manifestations ofkundalini(coiled) yoga and the Toronto Blessing/IHOP movement. Catholic writer Philip St. Romain equates kundalini serpent power to the power of the Holy Spirit.
An integral part of “spiritual formation” disciplines, contemplative prayer (aka centering prayer, abiding prayer, breath prayer, prayer of the heart, Jesus prayer) is described by Richard Foster as: wordless (no content), not for the novice (exclusive), unmediated, and dangerous. Thomas Merton gives the dangers: you could lose your faith, contact a demon, be led into false belief by your own imagination, feel a dread sense that God has abandoned you, or have a mental breakdown. No Scripture prescribes the following ritual to achieve union with the divine: sit quietly, use measured breathing, repeat a phrase over and over for 20 minutes until your mind is empty. Is this altered mental state really the one way to achieve union with God, as mystics claim? . . . Aren’t Christians already covered with the blood of Jesus and indwelled with the Holy Spirit?
One Christian blogger expressed what thousands of proclaiming Christians are coming to believe about meditation: “The ridiculous theological squabblings between adherents of different faiths disappear when the thoughts that produce all that dissension are stilled. Call it centering prayer; call it mantra meditation. The practice is the same, and it brings mystics together under the sheltering tent of wordless reality.”
Do these terms mean “doing benevolent work with people of other faiths” or “blending religions”? We’re hearing about Chrislam, Christian Zen, Buddhist Catholics, and demon-invoking ceremonies in churches. Also adopted from paganism and moving into the church are labyrinths, rosaries, monks and monasteries, enforced celibacy, extreme asceticism, visualization, consulting the dead, channeling, and goddess worship.
Missing out on something?
You may begin to question your own faith. Others are having spiritual experiences—seeing lights or spiritual beings, visualizing Jesus for a personal message, feeling an ecstatic unity with all mankind and the universe—all of which can subtly begin to take precedence over the authority of God’s Word and the Lord Jesus.
Perhaps you haven’t felt the need to question Christian study materials until recently. But how are destructive heresies secretly introduced? Why are doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3) associated with asceticism, and how is the church exposed to them? How could demonic doctrines be so clever that the elect [the whosoevers] could be deceived?
Who is “the Christ-thing which has no name”? Would God refer to his Son in that way? What are the implications of “eroticism in worship”? When confronted with several wrongly translated texts in The Message Bible, someone from the publisher dismissed the problem by asking, “Does anyone really know what any of the Bible really means anyway?”
Ironically, a couple of insightful Western Buddhists seem to see the problem better than we do, probably because they understand pagan doctrine. From a Buddhist’s review (2008) of Rob Bell’s popular book: “Velvet Elvis contains enough inconsistencies of logic and violations of orthodox Christian theology to raise the hairs on the back of any well-read and deep-thinking Christian’s neck.” And from a Buddhist blogger to his student on how to convert Christians to Buddhism: “If this information [Merton’s teachings, for example] could be taught in the Seminaries it might start to impact the various preachers 10 or 20 years down the road. This is the angle I’m working. If the preachers are inwardly ‘Buddhists’ in their hearts, then you don’t need to beat your head against the wall dealing with ignorant congregants.”
Watch out that no one deceives you.
This article is from Lynn Lusby Pratt’s blog. Used with permission. Click here to see the source page and also if you want to download the above article and an expanded version of it. Lynn is the author of two Lighthouse Trails booklets.
(photo from 2 bigstockphoto.com photos; used with permission)
“If you are the one making such a claim, you must be prepared to defend your claim. If you are going to tell others that God is speaking to you, you must give us a reason to believe it. No one should expect to make the incredible claim that God is speaking to them without being willing and open to showing us why they believe such an event occurred.”
(Ed Dingess – Reformation Charlotte) “God spoke to me.” “God gave me a dream.” “The Holy Spirit led me.” All these represent claims that I hear just about every time I am around other Christians. Rare is the modern Christian that does not make these claims. Rarer still are those that dare to question such claims. And most rare of all are those that dare to reject such claims in preference for, not just a theological, but a practice view of the sufficiency of Scripture. Why is that?
The proposition that “God spoke to me” is not the same as the proposition, “God spoke to Moses.” It is not even the same as the proposition, “God spoke to men and women in Scripture.” There are a few things we can point out about the experiences revealed in Scripture and the modern claim that God is still speaking to people.
First, the nature of the experience in Scripture is remarkable. When God spoke in Scripture, it was a miraculous event. God spoke directly to men, audibly in Scripture. There was no possibility of confusing God’s voice with a voice in my head, my own psychological self-conscious dialectic. View article →
The judgement of history on the Trump impeachment is going to be that a group of scoundrels in control of the U.S. House of Representatives placed partisan interests above the country, undermined the Constitution, weakened America in the world, and lied about the duly elected president of the United States.
The international financial watchdog earlier estimated the recent trade rows had already cost the world economy about $700 billion or an 0.8 percent slump in global GDP, outlining the data in a soon-to-be-published annual report by the IMF.
Mrs. Obama’s wildly unpopular federal school lunch program was widely disliked.
So, Trump decided to take a hammer to the program. According to The Hill Newspaper, the current administration announced plans to roll back school lunch standards on vegetables and fruits that Mrs. Obama had vehemently promoted.
The Trump Administration said the Obama lunch plan put too many restrictions on districts, and that the schools should have more power to make their own rules since “they know their children best.”
“Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals. We listened and now we’re getting to work,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement.
“The proposed rules build on previous steps taken by the Trump administration to unwind the controversial school lunch rules championed by Obama as part of her “Let’s Move!” healthy living campaign. Those rules were implemented through an executive order signed by former President Obama.”
He went on to say, “Under the new rules, schools would be allowed to reduce the number of fruits and vegetables required at each meal. The latest change follows a 2019 rollback of restrictions on milk and sodium content in school lunches. Critics said the change will pave the way for greasier, more unhealthy foods such as pizza, french fries and burgers.”
“[It] would create a huge loophole in school nutrition guidelines, paving the way for children to choose pizza, burgers, french fries and other foods high in calories, saturated fat or sodium in place of balanced school meals every day,” Center for Science in the Public Interest’s deputy director of legislative affairs, Colin Schwartz, said in a statement Friday.