Daily Archives: July 21, 2020

July 21 You and Your Money

 

Don’t trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God.
(1 Timothy 6:17)

Is God tapping you on the shoulder to remind you of a few important facts? First, command those who are rich not to be haughty! It is amazing what a little prosperity will do to some people. When I was growing up in Belfast, a family on our street suddenly came into money, bought a new car, added an indoor toilet, and promptly stopped speaking to the rest of us! My mom, with a touch of dry wit, remarked, “Same cat, just different whiskers!”

Whether you’re “old money,” “new money,” or “no money,” listen: Don’t trust in uncertain riches but in the living God who gives us all things richly to enjoy. God wants you to succeed, and He wants you to enjoy everything He has given you. All He asks is that you remember who gave it to you and show some gratitude! By the way, He also said that when you have more than enough to meet your own needs, “be ready to give and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).

 

Today, someone who is needy will walk across your path. Be ready to give.[1]

 

[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 202). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

President Trump White House COVID-19 Taskforce Briefing – 5:00pm Livestream… — The Last Refuge

President Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and the COVID-19 taskforce hold a press briefing from the White House. Anticipated start time 5:00pm ET

White House LivestreamFox News LivestreamAlternate Livestream

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via President Trump White House COVID-19 Taskforce Briefing – 5:00pm Livestream… — The Last Refuge

THE COVID CHRONICLES: Five Battles We Cannot Afford to Lose — Absolute Truth from the Word of God

International best-selling author, Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA, describes how we can fight against masks, media lies, lockdowns, social distancing and the disappearance of cash. For more unbiased information about other important issues, please visit http://www.vernoncoleman.com The transcripts of the videos YouTube banned are also on the website (click on the ‘Health’ button and see top of page). Thank you for all your support and encouragement. Please feel free to share this video.

Five Battles We Cannot Afford to Lose

HOW CAN I BE SAVED?

via THE COVID CHRONICLES: Five Battles We Cannot Afford to Lose — Absolute Truth from the Word of God

Corona Alarmists: Get Your Knee Off My Neck — CultureWatch

Today it is mandatory mask-wearing. What will it be tomorrow?

‘I can’t breathe!’ As of tomorrow that may well become true for some folks with Victoria’s latest tough lockdown measure being implemented: mandatory mask wearing – or a $200 fine. Many have already said they would rather pay the fine.

So how far will Andrews and his Labor government take this? Will the fines be raised to $1000, or to $10,000, if too many recaclitrants refuse to bend the knee? Will jail terms be next? Just what sort of draconian punishments will we see, all in the name of keeping us safe?

I have stated repeatedly that there certainly can be some measures taken by the state to protect the people in times of a public health crisis – but within limits. So let’s remind ourselves of a few basic truths. In terms of the notion of quarantine, the normal definition has always been this: “a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.”

Today plenty of governments are reversing this, as they quarantine perfectly healthy people. When healthy folks are so treated, we have moved from sensible health measures to statism and tyranny. The only thing more frightening than what so many governments are getting away with here is the sheeple themselves – the millions of submissive souls who question nothing and simply do whatever their benevolent overlords tell them to do.

Another thing to bear in mind is how past epidemics panned out and the actual numbers. In the two decades that the Bubonic Plague ravaged so much of the world in the 1300s, perhaps as many as 200 million people died. In the two years that the Spanish Flu occurred earlier last century around 50 million people died.

In the 7 months that Covid-19 has so far been active, some 600,000 lives have been lost. Compare that with annual flu deaths, which we do have vaccines for. The World Health Organization says that “up to 650 000 people die of respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year.” Yet the whole world does not go into lockdown every year to deal with influenza.

Getting back to mandatory masks, one friend on the social media asked what the problem is: if they offer just a one per cent improvement in our chances of being protected, then why not? Several things can be said. Scientists themselves keep differing massively on this matter, and some have even said masks might make things worse. See here for more on this: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/07/17/would-jesus-wear-a-face-mask/

Also, the issue of freedom must be raised. Maybe you think that being forced to wear a mask is no big deal. But the real question is this: where will such mandatory state-enforced measures end? If we must have masks today, what about tomorrow? Will mandatory vaccines be next? Will mandatory chip implants be next? Will mandatory indefinite house arrests be next?

Consider just one recent news item: “A Kentucky couple was fitted with ankle monitors and placed on house arrest after the wife tested positive for coronavirus but refused to sign self-quarantine documents.” fox6now.com/2020/07/19/kentucky-couple-fit-with-ankle-monitors-placed-on-house-arrest-for-refusing-to-sign-quarantine-documents/

Let me appeal to three other voices on this matter of mandatory mask wearing in particular, and Big Brother statism in general. One anonymous piece making the rounds on the social media raises some very good points:

That woman you shamed in the grocery store, because she wasn’t wearing a mask? She already feels enough shame because she was raped. Having something over her nose & mouth triggers her PTSD, and causes her to relive that trauma. That man at the Quickee Mart who you called selfish? He’s a volunteer firefighter, and just came from the ER, after being treated for smoke inhalation. He removed his air mask, in order to help a child breathe fresh air, instead of thick smoke.

That elderly lady who you screamed at to put a mask on, or shop when it’s her turn? Her husband of 60 years just passed away. She’s doing her best to learn to live alone. Every breath is physically painful, due to her grief. That little boy you lectured about removing his mask? He’s autistic. He doesn’t understand. He simply wants it off of his face.

That little girl who screams when somebody tries to mask her? She’s claustrophobic. She came from an abusive home, where she was confined to a closet. There are all sorts of reasons for not wearing a mask. Not all are lung, or immune system related. How many of you are among those shaming, name calling, and berating complete strangers, or worse, family members? How many of you are against bullying?

If you are among the first group, and align with the second, you may want to pump the brakes, and check yourself… you have become the bully you claim to be against. Wearing a mask does not make you a kind person. You are either a kind person, or you aren’t. A piece of cloth does not determine that trait.

On the flipside, not wearing a mask does not make a person selfish, or inconsiderate. It simply means that, there may be an unseen reason why they cannot wear one. You don’t know their story, and, to be quite honest, it’s none of your business.

Secondly, this from a piece in yesterday’s Australian:

The latest harbinger of doom is said to be the surge in infections in some US states and in Victoria, which typically are reported without context about the much younger age of those being infected and the collapse in death rates. At the same time as parts of an often weakened traditional media fight for attention, a shrieking social media has made it easier for biased stories to spread, and much harder for leaders to make the tough decisions they once would have. When any death becomes their fault in the court of public opinion, you can be sure the temptation to use other people’s money to try to stop it will be irresistible.

And God, or rather a declining faith in Him, may explain much as well. If a less religious population is more fearful of dying, it naturally wants to devote more resources to living longer. Indicators of religious belief are much lower now than during the last pandemics.

Rather, coronavirus restrictions, which have little or any scientific basis, have taken on a religious hue. Public health officials have become the high priests bringing down arbitrary rules, sometimes with little basis in science. Scientists have long debated the efficacy of lockdowns and masks, for instance, although you wouldn’t realise that from some of the media. Meanwhile, those who are increasingly being dubbed “Karens”, the sort of folk who centuries ago hunted out “witches”, gleefully shame those who don’t comply to the nth degree.

Since the pandemic erupted this year, understandably generating extreme fear that justified caution, the flow of analysis has largely been good. On every measure the virus has proved less lethal than first thought.

Keynes might have changed his mind with the facts but governments and their catastrophist cheer squad, typically in comfortable employment, unfortunately have not. The French prime minister this month ruled out another national lockdown in a “second wave”, citing the massive economic and social costs. Norway will not lockdown again as it did. It’s all too late now, and diagnosing the explanation offers little hope for a better response next time. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/look-were-pretty-safe-from-covid19-lets-not-kill-our-economy/news-story/175cf8ac22854008b7651b606b77f839

Lastly, the harm being done to our children because of corona alarmism and fear-mongering needs to be addressed. As one American mother explains:

The North Carolina governor has issued a decree that all students returning to school in the fall must wear a mask and social distance. This, despite the fact that 99.9 percent of children who get COVID don’t die from it and most don’t even have symptoms. Comparably, more children K–12 die from various other forms of the flu than from COVID, yet we are perpetuating a culture of fear among children in a form of politicized mass hysteria that treats COVID as if it were the Black Plague, which had a 100 percent mortality rate in its respiratory form across ALL demographics.

I have to ask, What are we doing to our children? Some would say we’re protecting them. Others would add that we’re protecting any vulnerable adults they might come in contact with—despite growing evidence that young children are not contagious because the virus does not hang onto them like it does older people. We are also getting more evidence that people are not as contagious when they’re asymptomatic, as once believed, which means that standard protocol for any sickness would be sufficient—stay at home if you’re sick or if you’re immuno-compromised.

Instead of using common sense, we’re covering our young children and enshrouding them in an environment of fear, all the while calling it “kindness to others.” This could have damaging long-term effects on our children that far outweigh any threat from COVID. Children are extremely vulnerable psychologically and emotionally, especially when their brains are still developing and behaviors imprint on neurological connections that can cause disruptions to normal development.

They are also in the tender years of developing socially, when they learn how to be both strong individuals yet responsible within a group, when they learn to be independent and distinct from the collective, yet aware of social responsibilities and relationships that interplay with their personal responsibilities and healthy self-interest. Yet, this panic over COVID is disrupting these stages of development and can have dangerous consequences for them as adults and for society at large.

She concludes:

Some might think forcing children to wear masks lies within that balance, but this is not the case given the context. Masks aren’t necessary to protect children—not in the case of COVID. Again, one death in a million doesn’t justify face coverings that generate false fear and trauma in children who should be learning to socialize properly, engage in a free educational environment, and enjoy the wonder of growing up while at the same time having a proper and healthy fear of what is REAL.

If we are going to follow the logic of forced COVID face coverings for children, we can’t deny the conclusion that they must be worn all the time, in every season, and forever. Again, more children die of the flu. You never know when a child might be exposed. If you’re wanting to save “just one,” then mandatory mask-wearing should be the state of existence from now on—for all time. The danger of deadly viruses is lurking around every corner.

If your thought is that children are protecting adults who are vulnerable, this can be handled by quarantining the very small number of vulnerable elderly who are at risk. This is a much wiser solution than masking children, separating them from their peers, creating emotional trauma, and generating a collective mindset that’s neither helpful nor healthy.

The best thing we can do for our children is to let them live their lives with all the risk that entails, educating them about the threats of life while still properly protecting them, empowering them to face death as part of life, and to teaching them to be sensitive to the feelings of others without becoming their slaves. romansone.com/editorial/what-are-we-doing-to-our-children

via Corona Alarmists: Get Your Knee Off My Neck — CultureWatch

July 21 Absolute Love

 

Proverbs 5:18

Rejoice with the wife of your youth.

How do you recover a lost love? Go back to the beginning of the relationship and ask yourself, “What was I doing then that I’m not doing now?” and do it. Take her some flowers. I guarantee she will like it. She’ll feel better because you did it, and you’ll feel better too.

If you aren’t all the way gone, if it’s not too late for you, if there’s any hope at all, you’ll discover all kinds of things that you feel better for doing. The love that should be in your heart toward the woman who is your wife will begin to develop according to your loving activities. We husbands are responsible to be the leaders in love in our families. That’s what it means to be the head. We are to be like Christ.

When we try to love our marriage partners realistically, sacrificially, purposefully, willingly, and absolutely, we begin to come into God’s plan, and without thinking of it or planning for it, we find our own needs being met too. Our realistic, sacrificial, purposeful, willing, absolute love comes back to us from our partners, and that is the payoff. Even though Christ has not promised us lives of ease without struggle or pain, He has promised us joy.[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 212). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

From the Head to the Heart: The Motivation Behind Obedience — The Master’s Seminary Blog

The benefit of a bridge is often taken for granted. Consider the state of Michigan—two masses of land separated by enormous lakes (which some would even venture to call “great”). The Mackinac Bridge connects these two land masses and enables people to travel between them. Without the bridge, to get around Lake Michigan would require swimming, boating, or driving the hours-long trip around. The connecting bridge is simple and often over-looked, but it would be hard to overstate its consequence.

There is meant to be a similar connection in the Christian life between the sadly distant realms of hearing and doing. Christians often struggle to take what we read or hear and put it into practice. Why? Because many of us are missing the bridge that links hearing and doing.

I’ve always loved James 1:22–25 and the distinction James draws between being a “doer” of the Word and a “hearer only.” This illustration comes in the midst of the larger section of 1:19–27 that addresses our relationship to God’s Word. James explains that we are to have a disposition of meekness (1:21) as we hear the Word. But it is not enough to receive the Word of God with meekness.


The doing of the Word completes the hearing of the Word.
Receiving requires acting


But this is where most of us falter. We are skilled consumers of information. It’s what we do almost all day every day, and Sundays are an extension of this routine. We are expert listeners to sermons. We know how to tune in and out as relevance fluctuates. But information flows into our heads and rarely, if ever, moves us into action (unless of course, by action, we mean clicking like and sharing on social media).

In order to be faithful doers of the Word, we need to think more deeply about the biblical nature of ethical instruction and how to cross the bridge from hearing to doing. Recognizing the bridge that connects our listening and acting will help those of us who read the Bible daily, listen to sermons weekly (or more), and even those who preach on a regular basis move from hearing to acting.

The Motivation

We need first to understand why it’s so hard to pass from hearing to doing. Many answers could be given to this question, but fundamentally we must grasp the Augustinian reality that our motivations, or “loves,” move us to action. Biographer Peter Brown summarizes Augustine’s understanding of human action in this way:

“Delight” is the only possible source of action, nothing else can move the will. Therefore, a man can act only if he can mobilize his feelings, only if he is “affected” by an object of delight.1

When the human will remains inert and deprived of “delight,” a person will remain a “hearer only.” Obviously, as the Creator and Designer of human nature, God understands “delight” as the necessary bridge between hearing and doing, and the God-breathed New Testament reflects this reality.

Anyone who has read the Bible realizes that there are moral demands placed upon us. In other words, there are actions that we must take and principles we must apply because the Bible says so. However, we often fail to move from understanding to implementing these ethical requirements because we are not tuned into the way the Bible motivates action. We try to jump from hearing to doing without an awareness of the biblical bridge that connects them.

Dr. J. De Waal Dryden describes what differentiates ethical systems: “Where ethical systems diverge is in how they contextualize and motivate moral actions.”2 Many cultures and religions have similar ethical requirements, but what distinguishes these systems is the reason why these requirements should be lived-out. A Hindu or Muslim may perform some of the same actions as a believer in Christ, but the motivational core behind those actions will be different.

However, we can’t reduce Christian ethics to a simple matter of motivation. One may have the best intentions and still behave immorally. We often struggle to put our faith into practice because we are not aware of the why behind the what. Dryden is again helpful:

What gives the NT its particular significance as an ethical system is how it contextualizes and motivates virtues of love, fidelity, compassion, humility, and righteousness by grounding them in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.3

The Implications

So, what does this mean for the common Christian practices of reading and preaching the Bible?

First, the daily Bible reader must actively search out the why behind the commands in the text. For example, the book of James begins with the command to count it all joy as we enter various trials (1:2). At face value, this command seems ludicrous, if not impossible. But as the passage continues, James builds the motivational structure that makes this action possible, even desirable. Testing cultivates the virtue of steadfastness, and steadfastness ultimately leads to wholeness and maturity (1:3–4). The reader cannot casually pass over this promise. James motivates the endurance by giving the result of God’s work: wholeness and maturity. To hope in wholeness and maturity crosses the bridge from simply hearing that we should find joy in trials, to actively seeking it out and allowing steadfastness to do its work.

Second, those who preach the Bible must not only read with an eye toward the why, but highlight the motivational core of the text as they preach. Faithful preaching cannot be done without persuasion.


We must persuade people that Jesus is better, and that obedience is worth it


God has built the proper motivations into the text, and faithful preaching will find those motivations, draw attention to them, and press them on listeners with a holy passion.

Find the Bridges

Bridges come in all forms and sizes. From the Mackinac Bridge, which spans five miles across the Great Lakes, to the wooden bridge over the creek near your house. We must be faithful to recognize the motivational bridges throughout the Scriptures. Only then can we successfully move from only hearing to faithfully doing.


1. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (London: Faber and Faber, 1975), 154–55.

2. J. De Waal Dryden, A Hermeneutic of Wisdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018), 54.

3. Dryden, 54.

via From the Head to the Heart: The Motivation Behind Obedience — The Master’s Seminary Blog

July 21, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

28:6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. This affirmation of Jesus’ prediction of his resurrection picks up the three passion predictions in 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:17–19, each of which mentions Jesus’ resurrection.[1]


Ver. 6.—He is not here. He is not in this tomb; his bodily presence is removed from this his whilom resting-place. St. Matthew’s account is greatly condensed, and omits many details which harmonists try to fit into our text. The attempt is not to be commended, for it really involves greater confusion, and, after all, is forced and only conjectural. For he is risen, as he said. If they had believed Christ’s often-repeated announcement, they would not have come seeking the living among the dead. (For Christ’s predictions concerning his resurrection, see ch. 12:40; 16:21; 17:23; 20:19.). On this simple, but pregnant sentence “He is risen,” depends the phenomenon of Christianity, in its origin, existence, continuance, extension, and moral power. “Death began with woman; and to women the first announcement is made of resurrection” (Hilary, quoted by Wordsworth, in loc.). Come, see the place where the Lord lay. The angel invites them to satisfy themselves that Christ’s body was no longer in its resting-place. That Jesus was designated as “the Lord,” ὁ Κύριος, by the disciples is obvious (see John 20:18; 21:7, etc.), but it is doubtful whether the words are genuine here, though they are found in many good manuscripts and in the Vulgate. They are omitted by א, B, 33, etc., and by Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort in their editions. Regarding them as genuine, Bengel calls them “gloriosa appellatio,” which indeed it is, for it is equivalent to “Jehovah.” Harmonists suppose that the angel was at first not seen by the women; that Mary Magdalene, observing the stone removed, at once hurried to the city to tell Peter and John; that, the rest of the women remaining, the angel made himself visible to them and bade them enter the sepulchre; and that, doing so, they beheld another angel sitting on the right side of the recess. Thus, it is conjectured, the accounts in Mark and John may be harmonized with that in our text. (See also Westcott on John 20, where is given a provisional arrangement of the facts of the first Easter Day.)[2]


The fulfilled predictions (28:6)

The note of fulfilment has been prominent in this Gospel and it is prominent at the end. Three times in the Gospel account Jesus had predicted that he would rise again on the third day. This chapter shows the fulfilment of that prophecy. The chief priests and Pharisees had a shrewd idea that his disciples might attempt to fake a resurrection. That is why they had approached Pilate on the Sabbath for a guard on the tomb (27:64). And the angel underlined it again: ‘He is not here; he has risen, just as he said’ (6). The other Gospels suggest some hints of the resurrection in the Old Testament Scriptures. There is very little foreshadowing of it in the Old Testament; certainly not enough for anyone to have set out from those predictions and postulated a resurrection to fulfil them. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quotes Psalm 16:8–11 and 110:1. But Matthew does not quote them. He emphasizes the fulfilment of the words of the new Moses. Fulfilled prophecy is hard to gainsay.[3]


Vers. 6, 7. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said.

The open sepulchre a seal of redemption:

  1. The place which the angel bade the women come and see was an open, empty tomb. Earth is the place of tombs. There is no tomb in heaven; no silent grave in hell. Every grave of earth will yet be empty.
  2. Momentous truths were uttered from the open, empty tomb where the Lord had lain. 1. The first voice proclaims the evil and the power of sin. Sin dug for Death all his graves. Sin has slain the Beloved of the Lord. 2. The second voice proclaims redemption from sin. The open grave of Christ is a three-fold sign of (1) acceptance; (2) liberty; and (3) life.

III. There are some holy lessons which men may learn as they linger by the Redeemer’s open, empty tomb. 1. Come and see the place where the Lord lay, and learn a lesson of penitence for sin. 2. Come and see the place where the Lord lay, and learn a lesson of love to Him. The grave of loved ones has a strange fascination. 3. Come and see the place where the Lord lay, and realize your union with Him and nearness to Him. 4. Come and be in alliance with those who honour Christ. 5. Behold He is alive for evermore. (D. Rose, M.A.)

Easter morning:—1. Standing where the Lord lay I am impressed with the fact that mortuary honours cannot atone for wrongs to the living. 2. That floral and sculptural ornamentation are appropriate for the place of the dead. Christ was buried in a garden. 3. I am impressed with the dignity of private and unpretending obsequies. Funeral pageantry is not necessary. 4. I am impressed with the fact that you cannot keep the dead down. The seal of the Sanhedrin, soldiers, cannot keep Christ in the crypt. (Dr. Talmage.)

The great argument of the resurrection:—1. The resurrection of Christ considered in relation to Himself as the promised Saviour of men. 2. The resurrection of Christ in relation to the comfort and service of His immediate friends and disciples. 3. The resurrection of Christ from the dead viewed in relation to the enemies of our Lord. 4. The resurrection of Christ considered in its relation to the religious life and experience of believers. 5. The resurrection of our Lord considered in relation to the thoughts and feelings of Christians when contemplating death. (T. Lloyd.)

The resurrection of our Lord—the fact and its consequences:

  1. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead we affirm to be a fact. 1. Were the apostles deceived? 2. If not deceived, did they wilfully proclaim a falsehood?
  2. Note some of its consequences. 1. The resurrection furnishes the only positive proof of our immortality. 2. It also assures us of our redemption, and this gives definite hope for the future. 3. It assures us of the redemption of the body. (H. Ward.)

The risen Saviour:

  1. This declaration proclaims the actual resurrection of Christ. A fact established by the clearest evidence.
  2. This language expresses several fundamental truths. 1. The humiliation of Christ. 2. The infinite love of God. 3. The Divine faithfulness. 4. The Divine sovereignty. 5. Christ’s triumph over all His enemies and ours. 6. The certain and glorious pledge of the perfecting of salvation. (Pulpit Themes.)

Watching for the resurrection:—As the flowers wait for the spring, and the yellow corn waits for the summer, and the stars wait for the morning, and as Lazarus waited in sweet silence for the voice of Jesus to awake him out of sleep, so do the blessed dead wait for the resurrection. (G. W. M’Cree.)

The proofs of the resurrection of Christ:

  1. Presumptive or circumstantial evidence. 1. The precaution of the Jews. 2. The departure of Jesus from the sepulchre. 3. The change which took place in the apostles after this event.
  2. The testimony of credible witnesses. 1. The sufficiency of evidence depends upon the number of the witnesses, their qualifications, and their information. 2. Their competency being established, now examine their credibility. Their testimony was honest, prominent, explicit, and constant.

III. Divine testimony. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Christ’s resurrection. 1. By the predictions of the prophets. 2. By the miracles of the apostles. 3. By the success of the gospel. (T. Gibson. M.A.)

The resurrection of Christ:

  1. Let us look at it as a fact established by reliable evidence. “He is risen.” 1. In order to a true resurrection we must first have it clearly established that at the time of His burial He was really dead. The soldiers found Jesus already dead. He was buried in a new tomb; hence no other body could have been substituted for that of our Lord. Nicodemus, Joseph of Aremathæa, and the women who assisted at His burial are witnesses of His death. 2. The testimony of those who saw our Lord alive after His resurrection. II. But passing from the fact itself, let us consider its relation to the Saviour’s former utterances, “He is risen, as He said” (John 2:18–21; Matt. 12:40; Matt. 16:21; Matt. 17:22). Christ perilled His whole Deity and Messiahship on His resurrection. There is a three-fold attestation in this wondrous event. 1. It proved Him to be a prophet, a miracle-worker, and it threw back its authenticating light on everything said and done by Him during His earthly ministry. Thus we learn to view the resurrection of our Lord as the foundation of our faith. Take this chapter out of the gospel and all others are worthless. Two influences—1. Hope through life—“God hath begotten us unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 2. An influence of comfort in bereavement and death coming from this theme. (W. M. Taylor, D.D.)

A living hope awakened by the resurrection of Christ:—Mark the expression a “lively” or living hope. The expectation of perfected salvation which the believer cherishes is not contented with indifference or inactivity. It is a living, not a dying or dead thing, and it animates him to most earnest efforts after the attainment of the object to which it looks. A ship’s crew have been forced to leave a sinking vessel and commit themselves in an open and frail boat to the mercy of the ocean. They do not know that they shall be picked up, but they have an intense desire to be delivered and a vague hope that they shall be. Day passes after day. Their scanty stock of provisions is almost exhausted, the water is entirely spent, and hope in them is all but dead, so that every energy within them is paralyzed. But lo! far away on the dim horizon a sail appears, and in a moment the hope that seemed ready to expire is quickened into activity. First they raise a faint but thankful cheer; then they uplift any sort of a flag they can extemporize as a signal of distress; then they take to the oars and summon up the remnant of their strength, if by any means they may near the vessel’s course, and attract the attention of those who man her. What a difference one short hour has made in those worn and haggard men! A little while ago they were ready to perish, but now they are all activity, for the sight of that far-off sail has begotten them to a “living hope.” So Christ’s resurrection brings living hope to the sinner’s heart. (Ibid.)

Come see the place where the Lord lay:—I. And be assured that He is risen from the dead. II. And behold the completion of human redemption. III. And view it with penitential grief. IV. Ye who love Him, learn to view without fear your own final resting-place, and rejoice in the assurance that His resurrection is the pledge and type of your own. Adore Him for the love which led him to sleep in the sepulchre that you might rise and partake of His glory for ever. (J. Johnson, M.A.)

The empty sepulchre:—“Come and see the place where the Lord lay.” 1. It is a garden. 2. It is a garden with a grave in it. The world has no unmingled cup of sweet to offer. Because that tomb is empty and Christ is risen there need be no blight without a blessing, no sorrow without a joy, &c. 3. It is a new tomb where never man was laid. 4. You can see by its size, its position, its adornments, that it belongs to a family possessed of wealth—it is a grave of the rich. Fulfilment of prophecy—Isa. 53:9. 5. The heavy stone, which brawny arms had rolled against its entrance, making it fast, and setting a seal on it, is rolled away. The finger of God touches the mighty incubus and it moves. 6. And find the sepulchre empty. Christ is risen! (1) The seal of truth is put upon all He said and did. God would have never raised a pretender. (2) The offering of Jesus for the sins of men is hereby accepted. (3) He has Divine life in Himself, and the same Spirit that raised up Jesus from death and the dark can raise up dead souls. This is the true power of His resurrection. Are we risen with Christ? (4) A pledge of His power and purpose to raise again from the dominion of the grave the bodies of the race He hath redeemed. Comfort for the bereaved. (5) Then He hath also ascended up into glory, He hath taken possession of His inheritance, and is the forerunner of the saints. “Opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.” Think of departed loved ones emerged from the ruins of the tomb, &c. (6) Then He lives to-day to be our Friend and Guide and Helper. How much we need Him, &c. Christian, gird up your loins afresh! Yours is a living faith in a living Saviour. Sinner! He is risen. What then? Then He is that man whom God hath ordained to judge the world. (J. J. Wray.)

A new tomb where never man was yet laid:—Why? For this reason: The fact of Christ’s resurrection is at the basis of Christianity. Our whole religion must stand or fall with the coming to life again of the Man Jesus. “If Christ be not risen from the dead, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” God hath therefore hedged it round with special tokens, evidences which may well hush the doubter and strike the sceptic dumb. In the Old Testament we read that contact with the sacred dust of the Prophet Elisha did once raise a man to life; and a Jewish superstition invested the bones of their holier heroes with a similar power. Had this been an old and much-used grave, the enemies of Jesus would have been quick to suggest that as the cause of the resurrection. So Providence provides a new tomb, where never man was laid. Again, old tombs and ancient sepulchres often had secret passages, subterranean avenues, and connections with each other and the outer world. How ready would the unbelievers have been to suggest that by such secret means the body had been carried off by His disciples and interred elsewhere! Hence it is a new tomb, cut in the face of the solid rock, one only means of entrance and of exit, watched and tended by the Roman guard. (Ibid.)

The place where the Lord lay is:—I. A place of instruction. 1. The fact of His resurrection. 2. What is the significance of the fact? It means that the atonement is complete. II. A place of life. Christ’s life assures us of life for the body and soul of man. III. A place of comfort—“Fear not ye.” IV. A place of hope. (D. Merson, B.D.)

Jesus has lighted up the grave:—It is said that the Romans had a practice of lighting up their tombs. In Essex a tomb was once opened, when a lamp was found in the corner, and a chair near it indicating the rank of the tomb-tenant; and it is recorded that fifteen hundred years after the death of Tullia, Cicero’s daughter, her tomb, which was accidentally opened, was found illuminated with a lamp. It was but a glimmering light, the rays of which were confined to the catacomb walls. But the light Christ sheds upon the grave falls upon the vista of eternity. You can now stoop, look in, and see immortality beyond. (Blacket’s “Young Men’s Class.”)

Death and resurrection of Christ:—Lend me your imaginations for a minute, while I endeavour to picture a scene. Christ had paid the price—the full price: that price was presented before the Father’s judgment-seat. He looked at it, and was content. But as it was a solemn matter, it was not hurried over. Three days were taken, that the ransom-price might be counted out; and its value fully estimated. The angels looked, and admired. The “spirits of the just” came and examined it, and wondered, and were delighted. The very devils in hell could only express their satisfaction by biting their iron bonds, and sullenly keeping silence, because they had not a word to speak against the sacrifice of Christ. The three days passed away, and the atonement was fully accepted. Then the angel came from heaven—swift as the lightning flash—he descended from the spheres of the blessed, into this lower earth, and he came into the prison-house, in which the Saviour’s body slept; for, mark, His body had been kept in the prison till God ratified His atonement and accepted it—He was lying there a hostage for His people. The angel came, and spake to the keeper of the prison, one called Grim Death, and said to him, “Let that captive go free.” Death was sitting on his throne of skulls, with a huge iron key at his girdle of iron: and he laughed, and said, “Aha! thousands and thousands of the race of Adam have passed the portals of this prison-house; but none of them have ever been delivered. That key has been once turned in its wards by destiny; and no mortal power can ever turn it back again, and draw the bolts from their resting-places.” Then the angel showed to him Heaven’s own warrant, and Death turned pale. The angel grasped the key—unlocked the prison door, and stepped in. There slept the Royal Captive—the Divine hostage. And the angel cried, “Arise, Thou Sleeper! Put off Thy garments of death. Shake Thyself from the dust, and put on Thy beautiful garments.” The Master arose. He unwound the napkin, and laid it by itself. He took off His graveclothes and laid them by themselves, to show He was in no hurry, that all was done legally, and therefore orderly. He did not dash His prison-walls aside to come out; but came out by legal process, just as He had entered in. He seemed to express Himself as Paul did, “No, verily, let them come themselves, and fetch Me out.” So was the Master set at liberty—by heaven’s own officer, who came from heaven to give Him just liberty—God’s proof that He had done all that was necessary. Thou Lamb of God! I see Thee rising from Thy tomb in splendour ineffable, dazzling the eyes of the guards and making them flee away in terror. And when I see Thee risen from the dead, I see myself accepted, and all Thy dying redeemed people fully delivered. (C. H. Spurgeon.)[4]


5, 6. The angel, answering, said to the women, Don’t you be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. Luke 24:2 and John 20:12 speak of “two” angels; Matthew and Mark, of only one. Why this difference? Some answer, “Although two angels were actually present, one alone was the speaker.” But this will hardly do, for according to Luke both of the “two men in dazzling apparel” addressed the women. So do also the two “angels” in John’s account. The reason for the difference has not been revealed to us. There is, of course, no contradiction, for neither Matthew nor Mark states that there was only one angel.

“Don’t you—very emphatic in the original—be afraid,” says the angel. In other words, “Don’t you be like others who were scattered in every direction, and some of whom you may even have met.” Why do not these women need to be afraid? Why must they stop their weeping and rejoice instead? The angel answers, “for I know that you are looking for Jesus the crucified.” In other words, “You have no reason to fear, for you are the loyal friends of Jesus. Yes, you have remained loyal to him even though the world despised and crucified him. It was to show that loyalty that you came here this morning.”

We might have expected a different message, for example, a stern rebuke, in view of the fact that these women showed by their action that they had not taken seriously enough Jesus’ prediction of rising on the third day. But no, all this is passed by—though not completely. A mercifully veiled rebuke—better, a gentle admonition, a loving reminder—comes at the very end of the angel’s message: He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. “Just as he said.” The angel does not even say, “just as he said again and again and again.” See above p. 9. It is as if the angel is saying, “In view of your marvelous courage and loyalty, your lack of sufficient faith is hereby forgiven.” Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the heavenly messenger did not create this message. It was given to him, as a comparison between verses 5 and 10 clearly shows. Reassuringly, the angel adds, Come, see the place where he lay. According to Mark 16:5, by this time the women were already inside the tomb. But the angel bids them come even closer, so that they may see whatever there is to be seen; for example, not only the empty tomb—“He is not here”—but also “the linen bandages lying there, and the sweatband not lying with the linen bandages but folded up in a place by itself” (John 20:7). They must convince themselves that everything is orderly in this tomb. No disciple has been here to remove the body, nor has an enemy pillaged the tomb. In either case the bandages would no longer have been present. The women—just like Peter and John that same morning—must see that the Lord, restored from death to life, had himself removed the bandages and the sweatband, had provided for himself a garment such as is worn by the living, had calmly and majestically put everything in its place in the tomb, and had then departed from the tomb gloriously alive.

For the church to believe that Jesus rose from the dead is fine, but it is not enough. It should also consider what kind of Savior it was who rose from the dead. Is he still the same loving Redeemer who before he died healed the sick, cleansed the leper, raised the dead, comforted the mourning, pardoned and died for the sinner who accepts him by a living faith? Careful study of the resurrection account answers this question with a thunderous affirmative.[5]


[1] Brown, J. K. (2015). Matthew. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 317). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 2, pp. 640–641). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[3] Green, M. (2001). The message of Matthew: the kingdom of heaven (p. 316). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[4] Exell, J. S. (1952). The Biblical Illustrator: Matthew (pp. 669–672). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[5] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 990–991). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

The Enneagram — Michelle Lesley

Why am I seeing this? Click here.


If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

 

This article is what I call a “clearinghouse article”. It is a collection of articles written by others on the teacher, ministry, or unbiblical trend named below. Either I have not had the time to write a full blown article on it myself, or I felt that the articles listed did a fine job of explaining the biblical issues and there was no need to reinvent the wheel.

Disclaimer: I did not write most of the articles below, and I am not thoroughly familiar with all of the websites used in my clearinghouse articles. I do not endorse anything on these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Here are the  biblical criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a teacher, ministry, etc.:

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, author, or ministry, he/she/it has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor, teacher, or ministry cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I recommend against any teacher or ministry who violates one or more of these biblical tenets.

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


The Enneagram
Not Recommended

 

 

Top 7 Reasons the Enneagram is Unbiblical at A Word Fitly Spoken

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Todd Friel on Rick Warren, Enneagram, Should I stay or should I go?…)

Girl, What’s Your Number- The Enneagram Episode at Sheologians

The New Age & Quack Spirituality Origins of the Enneagram at Fighting for the Faith

Enneagram Articles at Berean Research

Why the Enneagram is a dangerous new age tool with Doreen Virtue and Marcia Montenegro

via The Enneagram — Michelle Lesley

July—21 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

 

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.—Job 19:25–27.

What sublimity is in these words! and what blessed, glorious truths do they contain! Here is Job’s creed. My soul, see if it be thine. Job did not say, that he had heard of a Redeemer, and that he hoped it was true, and he gave credit to it; but he saith, he knoweth it. And observe who this Redeemer is. Job calls him his Goel, his kinsman-Redeemer. For the right of redemption belonged to the nearest of kin, and he might redeem. (Levit. 25:25.) We have lost our inheritance, forfeited our possessions, and are poor indeed, both in person, and in substance. Now as Christ, by virtue of his being our nearest of kin, is the one, the blessed one, the only one to whom the right of redemption belongs, and may redeem both our persons and our mortgaged inheritance, so we find Christ hath done both. Job therefore exults: I know, saith he, that my Kinsman, “my Redeemer, liveth.” Oh, how blessed the thought! how precious the assurance! But we must not stop here. This kinsman-Redeemer “will stand at the latter day upon the earth.” Yes, saith this scripture, Jehovah hath given assurance to all men of this, “in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31.) Neither is this all, Job’s creed goes on. “Though,” saith he, “this body of mine be destroyed by worms, yet in this flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold for myself and not another for me.” Sweet thought! Jesus hath secured the resurrection of his people, and, by his own, hath confirmed theirs. As sure as he arose, so sure must they; for he is the first-fruits, and, by their union with him, they are the after-harvest. As Jesus arose perfectly and substantially the very same body that died on the cross, so must their redeemed bodies arise the very same. The hand that now writes, and the eye that now reads, if a part of Christ’s mystical body by regeneration, must be interested in his resurrection also, and must arise not only precisely the same identical body, but every member of that body the same; for this is essential to identity. Were God to raise another body, it would make another person. This might indeed be done by God’s power; but then it would be a new creation, and not a resurrection of the old body. I must be the who I am now, and the same as I am now, as to identity, in order to constitute a resurrection. “This corruptible” (saith Paul) “must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”—Pause, my soul, over these sweet, but solemn truths, and say, are they blessed to thy meditation? Dost thou feel a joy, an interest in them? Oh! the unspeakable felicity of knowing that we have a kinsman-Redeemer, and that he liveth, and that we live in him! Precious, precious Jesus! though all nations die, Jesus liveth; and because he liveth, I shall live also! Lie down, my soul, this night, with this blessed assurance, saying, Hallelujah! Amen.[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 219–220). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

Rapid Response: Science Can Explain the Origin of Life Without God — Cold Case Christianity

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following claim: “Christians say that God is the creator of life, but science has demonstrated that God is not necessary for life to originate in the universe.” How would you respond to such a statement? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

“Detectives ask the classic investigative questions when conducting an investigation. You know, the whatwherewhenhow, and why questions.  If you ask those same questions about how life began in the universe, you’ll discover a number of serious problems when trying to account for the origin of life in our universe unless, of course, we concede an intelligent creator.

For example, if you ask, “Where could life have originated?” you’ll find that no one seems to agree. Scientists have tried to imagine scenarios in the oceans, or on land, or in the atmosphere, or under the tectonic plates, or even in space.  Every one of these locations is inadequate to host the origin of life, largely because there’s a “chicken-and-egg problem.”

You need microscopic, molecular machines called “ribosomes” to build proteins from amino acids, but these biological machines themselves are built from proteins. Which came first? The Ribosome machine required to build proteins, or the proteins that built the ribosome machine? There’s a chicken-and-egg problem at the most foundational level of life.

But there’s also a when problem. When did life first emerge?

Even scientists who reject a Creator in favor of some combination of evolutionary process admit that life appears very early on planet earth, and then inexplicably explodes in diversity at the Cambrian Explosion. There simply isn’t enough time, unless a Creator intervenes, for life to emerge on earth in the complex way that it has.

There’s also a problem with the how question.

It turns out that the origin of life is driven less by physics and chemistry than it is by information.  The information in the genome provides a complex set of instructions that guides the formation of proteins used to build the micro-machines found in living organisms. That’s right, DNA contains information, and that poses a problem for those who deny the existence of a Creator. As Dr. Stephen C. Meyer observes, there isn’t a single example anywhere in the history of science (or the history of the universe for that matter) in which information comes from anything other than an intelligent source.

So, while scientists have been asking the whatwherewhenhow, and why questions without discovering satisfying answers, the one question they seem unwilling to ask is the who question.  A who, however, is the answer they’ve been missing all along: a Divine Mind who is the source of information in DNA and the creator of life in our universe.”


A ‘who,’ however, is the answer they’ve been missing all along: a Divine Mind who is the source of information in DNA and the creator of life in our universe
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This brief answer was modified from my interview with Bobby Conway. To learn more and watch many other short answers to difficult questions, please visit the One-Minute Apologist website.

For more information about the scientific and philosophical evidence pointing to a Divine Creator, please read God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. This book employs a simple crime scene strategy to investigate eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine the most reasonable explanation. The book is accompanied by an eight-session God’s Crime Scene DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

via Rapid Response: Science Can Explain the Origin of Life Without God — Cold Case Christianity

Barna: 1 in 3 Christians Stopped Attending Church After Pandemic — ChurchLeaders

recent study from Barna has surprised researchers by revealing that one in three practicing Christians stopped attending church after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Among other key findings, the data showed declining church attendance was linked to respondents’ age and their emotional well-being.

“These trends highlight the importance of churches continuing to reach out to and disciple the next generation, especially those who are seemingly falling away during the pandemic,” says Barna. “Churchgoers, even those who have stopped regularly attending worship services during the pandemic, want support from a church community.”

New Barna Research Finds Surprising Trends

The new research is part of Barna’s State of the Church project, a comprehensive and in-depth look at American attitudes toward attending church. The study evaluated the online church attendance habits of “practicing Christians” over a four-week period in April and early May. Barna defines “practicing Christians” as people “who identify as Christian, agree strongly that faith is very important in their lives and attend church at least monthly (prior to COVID-19).”

Barna observed that because some time has passed since researchers collected this data, the findings might already have changed. But because researchers collected their information while state lockdowns were in full swing, the discoveries are still likely to benefit church leaders as the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. again rises and various states retighten their restrictions.

The study found that practicing Christians fell into three main groups: those who continued “attending” their original church by watching it online, those who started watching a different church service online, and those who stopped engaging with any church service whatsoever.

During lockdown, 53 percent of the respondents continued attending their original churches via online streaming, and some of those people added other church services as well. Thirty-five percent of the respondents stuck to their original churches without adding a service from a different church. Researchers found that those who continued attending their original church were “significantly more likely” to attend on a weekly basis compared to people who had opted for a different church.

Around a third of the respondents (34 percent) digitally church hopped by streaming a service from a different church, but only 14 percent of those polled actually left their original church for another. “It is more likely for a Christian to have stopped attending church altogether during the pandemic,” says Barna. “In fact, 32 percent of practicing Christians have done just that.”

Barna has noted elsewhere that this finding is surprising for a few reasons, most notably that many pastors observed online church attendance to increase during the pandemic. Other reasons this finding is unexpected are that on-demand online services are common and people’s weekend schedules are likely to be freer than they were before the pandemic.

Declining Attendance Tied to Age and Mental Health

“A profile of these groups of online churchgoers reveals a strong generational pattern,” say the researchers. The younger people are, the more likely it is that they stopped attending church during lockdown. This is notable because most would expect younger people to be more comfortable than older people in digital spaces. But 50 percent of Millennials said they had not attended church in the past four weeks. Thirty-five percent of Gen Xers and 26 percent of Boomers said the same.

Another key finding from the study is there is a correlation between declining church attendance and the level of anxiety people reported experiencing. Says Barna, “Respondents who have stopped attending church during COVID-19 are less likely than their peers who are still attending the same church during the pandemic to agree with the statement ‘I am not anxious about my life, as I have an inner peace from God’ (76% vs. 87%).” Researchers also found that people who stopped attending church during the pandemic reported higher levels of boredom and insecurity.

“We can’t determine the exact cause or direction of these correlations—and certainly, during a pandemic, the factors impacting well-being are many,” says Barna, “but these are at least indications of a more challenging emotional climate for those who are not presently part of a church community.”

via Barna: 1 in 3 Christians Stopped Attending Church After Pandemic — ChurchLeaders

July 21st The D. L. Moody Year Book

 

He must increase, but I must decrease.—John 3:30.

DOCTOR BONAR once remarked that he could tell when a Christian was growing. In proportion to his growth in grace he would elevate his Master, talk less of what he was doing, and become smaller and smaller in his own esteem, until, like the morning star, he faded away before the rising sun. Jonathan was willing to decrease that David might increase; and John the Baptist showed the same spirit of humility.[1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (pp. 123–124). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

Here We Go: Christian Seminaries Are Welcoming Openly Transgender Students — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

PCUSA clergy join the Rev. Alex Patchin McNeill, front center, for a group photo following McNeill’s ordination at First Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina, on Oct. 11, 2019. Photo by Liz Williams

(RNS) — When Austen Hartke arrived at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, he knew it was the only Lutheran seminary that didn’t participate in his denomination’s LGBTQ+ welcoming program. But as his awareness grew that he was transgender, so did his conviction that Luther was the right place for him.

Hartke, who had come out as bisexual years before applying to seminary, had specifically picked the school, he said in a recent interview, so he would learn to navigate his identity and ministry while being exposed to “the Midwestern attitudes I lived with every day.”

Still, said Hartke, who today runs the Transmission Ministry Collective, a community that supports transgender and other nonbinary Christians, “I didn’t come out as trans until I was holding my diploma, because I didn’t know what would happen.”

Hartke is one of a growing number of openly transgender students graduating from mainline and non-denominational Christian seminaries, many of which have made strides over the past decade toward welcoming them to explore their spirituality. But even as the mainline denominations have largely come to welcome LGBTQ individuals, transgender seminarians are still encountering hurdles to ordination and being called to a church, challenging liberal church attitudes about acceptance and often finding new paths for service.

“Queer and trans folks are really helping to lead this next stage of the reformation,” said the Rev. Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, an LGBTQ education and advocacy group, “reforming what ministry can be and what worship can look like.”

Mainline U.S. denominations, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Episcopal Church, began striking down prohibitions against the ordination of LGBTQ candidates more than a decade ago, but, as in other sectors, the acceptance of transgender people has lagged behind that of gay and lesbian clergy.

“We have a church still grappling with how limiting the binary is,” said McNeill. “It wasn’t until 2018 that we had the first overture passed by the General Assembly that specifically named trans and non-binary folks as beloved by God, as worth advocating for in the public square.” In 2019, McNeill and the Rev. Jess Cook, who also works for More Light Presbyterians, were the first two openly transgender ministers ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, transgender identities weren’t discussed in the denomination’s 2009 statement on sexuality that affirmed lesbian and gay priests, noted Amanda Gerken-Nelson, executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a pro-LGBTQ group. No explicit affirmation followed, even after the ELCA ordained an openly transgender person, Asher O’Callaghan, in 2015.

“People are solid on gay and lesbian issues but not on trans,” said the Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw, senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa, Florida.

Beyond official declarations are barriers that technically disqualify transgender candidates. The ELCA, PCUSA and Episcopal Church all require anyone seeking ordination to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Sometimes these evaluations describe being transgender as a form of sexual deviancy.

Facing a psychiatric evaluation shortly after arriving at Vanderbilt, Adrian White, a Presbyterian and a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee, decided it would be simpler not to identify as transgender to the evaluator. “I let him assume whatever he needed to for me to get through it,” said White. “I didn’t misidentify myself, but he used the wrong pronouns in the report and I let my (Commission on Preparation for Ministry) team know he used the wrong pronouns and to ignore them.

“There’s this disconnect between what it means to be affirming and inclusive on paper versus what it means to actually recognize and embrace the full humanity and gifts of trans people on a practical, real-life relational level,” said White.

Clinical Pastoral Education, another typical requirement for seminarians for ordination, commonly involves a field placement as a hospital chaplain. Hospitals, however, have strict dress codes or simply prefer those who fit traditional gender expectations and are often quick to dismiss transgender applicants.

Those who make it through to ordination still face the most daunting barrier: finding a pulpit. “Every job I’ve had in the church, from my field placements to the job I have now, has had an extra interview to talk about gender,” said one seminary graduate who preferred to remain anonymous. “Usually it’s a series of invasive and probably illegal discriminatory questions about my gender and my life and how is this going to affect my ministry.”

“What we’re finding is LGBTQIA folks are being assigned back to their home synod,” or regional body, said Gerken-Nelson, using the acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, “because no synod felt like any of those open calls would take an LGBTQIA person.”

Desi Hall, a Black transgender woman from Alabama who attends Vanderbilt’s divinity school, explained that discrimination against transgender clergy is compounded by race. As a result, minority transgender seminary graduates are forging their own way in ministry outside the traditional church environment.

“A lot of us are not looking to be accepted into these cis het church spaces, because we know that’s not life-giving for our community,” she said. “Many people I’m in community with are trying to figure out how to recreate new sacred spaces and how do we fund sacred spaces.” While still in school Hall co-founded the Frances Thompson Education Foundation, which raises funds for college scholarships to Black trans and non-binary students. On graduation she plans to continue as co-executive director full time.

“The way we’ve done church for some time now has been a way to avoid life and the world,” said Cook, of More Light Presbyterians, of their fellow transgender Christians. “People are tired of that and want something more.”

The expectations for change are being raised at the seminaries themselves. Welcoming programs are not restricted to the traditionally liberal, coastal schools, such as Union Theological Seminary in New York and Pacific School of Religion in California — which Hero-Shaw, a 2009 graduate, called “the most welcoming and accepting place I had ever experienced.”

Lyndsey Godwin is assistant director for the Carpenter Program on Religion, Gender and Sexuality at Vanderbilt, which leads trainings in creating trans-affirming spaces. In the early 2000s it partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to fund scholar-activists for LGBTQ issues.

But for the past decade or so, she said, the school has “been really recognizing where we’re falling short in serving our trans students and have been actively working to rectify that.” Today Vanderbilt makes a point of sending its admissions reps to social justice conferences, where they hand out swag like pronoun buttons, to actively recruit transgender applicants.

Many seminaries, even those governed by denominations with inclusive policies, have yet to welcome transgender students fully, and systemic racial barriers to admission make seminaries less accessible to Black transgender applicants.

But even Duke Divinity School, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, which has yet to approve ordination for openly gay people, has recently added a queer theology course.

Last year, Luther Seminary invited Hartke, who has written a book on transgender Christians, to return to campus as a guest speaker in chapel. “I got to preach on the story of Jesus raising Lazarus, the idea of coming out and being unbound. And there was a really good reaction to that,” said Hartke.

Source: Religion News Service

via Here We Go: Christian Seminaries Are Welcoming Openly Transgender Students — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

The New England Journal of Medicine and Masks — Istoria Ministries Blog

I’ll keep this short and to the point.

I’m for people wearing masks.

I will never wear a mask myself, except out of respect for the elderly and the vulnerable, but I’m for you wearing one if you choose. If a business requires me to wear a mask, I will always be respectful, but I will most likely go somewhere else that doesn’t require a mask.

If there is a civil order for me to wear a mask in my home or my private business, I will defy the civil order.

In my research, I’ve determined that masks outside of a hospital environment may actually help spread infections and do not prevent infections.

You see, I agree with the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

They are the experts, and they’ve studied masks.

In their May 2020 online release of a peer-reviewed scientific study on the use of universal masks outside of hospitals, the New England Journal of Medicine comes to a few startling conclusions.

Please read the entire article for yourself, but I will highlight a few:

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.

The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal.

In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

First and foremost, a mask is a core component of the personal protective equipment (PPE) clinicians need when caring for symptomatic patients with respiratory viral infections, in conjunction with gown, gloves, and eye protection.

Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals. Although such reactions may not be strictly logical, we are all subject to fear and anxiety, especially during times of crisis. One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask.

I respect that you choose to wear a mask. Because I choose to not wear a mask, please refrain from saying of me:

1. You don’t know the science behind wearing a mask.
2. You don’t care for other people.
3. You are only being political.

On the contrary, I know the science, I do care for people, and I care not what party, President, or platform supports mandatory masks.

I do not agree.

That’s liberty.

And I’ll fight for your freedom as much as my own.

via The New England Journal of Medicine and Masks — Istoria Ministries Blog

Mid-Day Snapshot · July 21, 2020

Mid-Day Snapshot · July 21, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press. It is however, the prostituted companion of liberty, and somehow or other, we know not how, its efficient auxiliary.” —Fisher Ames (1807)

The Leftmedia’s Very Effective ‘Systemic Racism’ Narrative

The Left has made significant gains convincing too many Americans to hate America.


Black Privilege in the Media

Several Leftmedia outlets have announced they’ll capitalize the “B” in black.


A Shameful Prosecution in St. Louis

The McCloskey case should serve as a warning for law-abiding Patriots everywhere.


What Would Biden and the Democrats Do if They Win?

A needed reminder of the policies and plans that are at stake in November.


The FBI’s Eternal Shame

Newly released notes confirm the deep-state corruption that we’d long suspected.


Why We Need the Bonhomme Richard

The amphibious assault ship has a valuable role within the U.S. Navy’s fleet.


Boy Saves Sister From Charging Dog

Six-year-old boy gets mauled by dog but prevents his sister from getting hurt.


Video: Portland Mayor Blames BLM Riots on Trump

“The words and actions from President Trump … is an attack on our democracy.”


Video: If We Lose John Locke, We Lose America

Most of us learned the key ideas of the Declaration of Independence in school. Where did these revolutionary ideas come from?



TODAY’S OPINION

GARY BAUER
Anarchy in the Pacific Northwest
RICH LOWRY
The Disgrace of Portland
DENNIS PRAGER
The Dehumanization of Blacks
CAL THOMAS
Spending as if There Is No Tomorrow
HANS VON SPAKOVSKY
DACA Rescission 2.0 Is Good Policy. Amnesty Is Not.
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Tuesday Executive Summary

Violence in Portland, payroll tax cut, the “euphemism treadmill,” and more.


Tuesday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Peter Heck, Bette Midler, Maxine Waters, and more.



TODAY’S MEME

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

TODAY’S CARTOON

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

“The Patriot Post” (https://patriotpost.us)

Study Finds Most People Just Wearing Masks To Avoid Sea Of Judgmental Glares — The Babylon Bee

U.S.—A new study found that the primary reason people are wearing masks in public now is not to stop COVID-19 but rather to avoid the sea of judgmental stares.

92% of Americans surveyed said they’re wearing the masks not to stop the spread of the virus but just so they aren’t publicly shamed.

“Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the ‘rona, but I just want to get in and out and pick up a few groceries without getting glared at like I’m a serial killer who personally murdered hundreds of thousands of Americans,” said Bob Cristoff as he went into a Safeway. “I just need some eggs, please don’t beat me to death.”

The science is unsure on how effective masks are at stopping the coronavirus, but the science all agrees that they do stop people from screaming at you that you want grandma to die.

“Yeah, they might stop some transmission,” said one medical expert, “but the important thing is that you conform and not make things awkward as everybody glares at you for just walking around and doing your thing like you’re a normal person. That is one thing we must stop with as many judgmental looks as possible.”

via Study Finds Most People Just Wearing Masks To Avoid Sea Of Judgmental Glares — The Babylon Bee

Snapshot of Today’s Intellectual Climate — Reflections

The extraordinary events of 2020 have left many people wondering if we are living in a new era. Times of change and conflict like this often provoke people to ask philosophical questions.

So, as we consider this present time in which we live, I would invite you to consider two probing questions:

If our time is indeed distinct, how would you describe it? In other words, what significant ideas, beliefs, and values uniquely reflect our present cultural climate?

Interestingly, the Germans have a special philosophical term for such reflection: zeitgeist. It means “the spirit of the age.” Drawn from the German words zeit, meaning “time,” and geist, meaning “spirit,” it references what philosophers call the general intellectual, moral, and cultural atmosphere of a given time period.

One person who I think has good insight on the zeitgeist of our age is Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. I heard George give a lecture at Trinity Law School in Southern California a number of years ago. It was an honor to hear him lecture and get to ask him questions personally. In a time filled with diverse opinions and perspectives, I recommend him as a reliable scholar who writes carefully and candidly about cultural issues from a historic Christian worldview perspective.

What follows are three of George’s provocative insights on education, culture, and human nature that I think capture important aspects of today’s intellectual climate and debate. I then offer some brief clarifying comments. As you read these quotes see if you think whether George has put his finger on the key issues happening today. As well, ask yourself what your thoughts are on these subjects. I’ve used these engaging remarks to spark substantive philosophical discussion, especially on social media.

  1. Does college provide education or indoctrination?

“Why can’t people understand the difference—and the importance of the difference—between education (good) and indoctrination (bad)? This is NOT hard. It is not a ‘fine line.’ Teaching young people HOW to think (carefully, critically) is different from telling them WHAT to think.”1

Education is the pursuit and discovery of knowledge, truth, and wisdom through critical analysis. The goal of education is for the student to develop the ability to form an independent, reasonable judgment of the topics studied.

Indoctrination, on the other hand, can mean mere instruction in a given topic, but it often carries the pejorative meaning of instilling ideas in an uncritical manner. Indoctrination stands closer to propaganda than to education.

As George notes, a good education teaches students how to think rather than telling them what to think. Much of the debate in our culture today about identity politics (the controversial topics relating to race, sex, and class) stems from college campuses. But, generally speaking, are colleges today educating or indoctrinating?

An acceptable approach to learning acknowledges the challenge of human prejudice and bias and seeks to promote a reasonable open-mindedness, an evenhandedness, and a basic fairness when considering topics. But discovering genuine knowledge and truth about life and the world is seldom without controversy and disagreement among people. So when topics are divided between viable positions, a sound model of education exposes students to a fair-minded discussion of both sides (including pros and cons) of a controversial issue. Unfortunately, propaganda tends to be manipulatively one-sided in perspective.

2. What mentality characterizes this present cultural age?

“If the medieval period was ‘the Age of Faith,’ and the Enlightenment was ‘the Age of Reason,’ we live in ‘the Age of Feeling.’”2

Today’s zeitgeist generally places a heavy emphasis on how people feel about things. Some even define reality according to how something affects their emotional state (called “post-truth”). This feelings-oriented mindset is common in educational institutions today, such as where George teaches in the Ivy League’s Princeton University, which in turn influences the larger societal conversation.

Yet, while emotions are an important and healthy part of our humanity, subjective feelings must be tested by objective facts and reason.

  1. How is human depravity to be explained?

“Even if I didn’t believe in God, I would believe in Satan and hell. There is no word to describe the trafficking of children—thousands of them—into prostitution except ‘satanic.’ And surely hell awaits the people responsible for so damnable a crime.”3

While secularism appears to be growing, especially in the academic institutions of the Western world, there’s still a foundational biblical principle that is virtually impossible to deny. It is the moral depravity of humankind. The genuine evil encountered in the world and in humans means we live in a moral universe that cries out for justice. While the problem of evil has traditionally been seen as an argument against God’s existence, it may actually be powerful evidence for a God who demands justice.

Whether you accept or reject George’s perspectives, I think he has identified and explored some of the key issues that reflect our current cultural climate.

Reflections: Your Turn

What ideas do you think characterize our present cultural moment?

Endnotes

  1. Robert P. George Tweet, @McCormickProf, 03/22/18.
  2. Robert P. George Tweet,‏ @McCormickProf, 09/10/17.
  3. Robert P. George Tweet, @McCormickProf, 06/09/19.

via Snapshot of Today’s Intellectual Climate — Reflections

FBI notes reveal doubts about Steele dossier promoted by news media leftists

WINTERY KNIGHT

Left to right: Comey, Lynch, Clinton, McCabe Left to right: Comey, Lynch, Clinton, McCabe

The mainstream media is being silent about revelations that the FBI had major doubts about the Steele dossier. So, let’s take a look at the newly-released FBI notes.

Here’s the latest from the Wall Street Journal:

A Senate committee released newly declassified documents that showed the Federal Bureau of Investigation was wary in early 2017 of a dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele that helped stir a narrative, later debunked, that the Trump campaign had close ties to Russian intelligence.

The documents released Friday by the Senate Judiciary Committee included FBI notes from three days of interviews with a primary source of Mr. Steele who cast doubt on some of the dossier’s contents. FBI notes from the interview in early 2017 indicated that Mr. Steele’s source had told him information about Mr. Trump’s alleged sexual escapades was “rumor and speculation” that…

View original post 840 more words

Forced masking of America paving the way for Bill Gates’ ‘Final Solution’ — Christian Research Network

“The left is always intolerant of opposing opinions and skilled in the use of coercive tactics. Hence, they have mounted a Twitter campaign to shame any company not requiring masks while bombarding these companies with high-pressure calls, emails and in-person visits, some threatening to sue if the company doesn’t bow to their demands.”

(Leo Hohmann)  The politicization of facemasks is growing more acute by the day, squeezing non-mask wearers out of stores and offices and casting them aside like collateral damage destined for the societal Dumpster.

We should not be surprised.

Bill Gates informed us early on in the pandemic that we would not be allowed to “return to normal until the entire world is vaccinated.” Adoring news reporters quoted him saying this as though they were talking to God himself.

Now, they are pushing the mask to ensure that their god’s prophecy comes true. No normalcy allowed. The vaccine is not yet ready!  View article →

via Forced masking of America paving the way for Bill Gates’ ‘Final Solution’ — Christian Research Network

July 21 Life-Changing Moments With God

 

What is the profit of circumcision?

Lord, to You there is much in every way! So I circumcise myself to You, Lord, and take away the foreskin of my heart. If my uncircumcised heart is humbled, and I accept my guilt—then You, Lord God, will remember Your covenant with Jacob, and Your covenant with Isaac and Your covenant with Abraham You will remember.

Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for Your truth, Lord God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers. In Him I was circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ. I, being dead in my trespasses and the uncircumcision of my flesh, God has made alive together with Him, having forgiven me all trespasses.

I put off, concerning my former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and I am renewed in the spirit of my mind, and I put on the new man which You created, Lord God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Lord God, thank You for sending Jesus who circumcised my heart and made me new in Him.

Romans 3:1; Romans 3:2; Jeremiah 4:4; Leviticus 26:41–42; Romans 15:8; Colossians 2:11; Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 4:22–24[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 220). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.