Category Archives: Culture

Hollywood, Capitol Hill and the Human Heart

However, only highlighting one or two specific forms of sexual depravity will have the inevitable and undesired result of fueling self-righteousness among those outraged by it. When the media singles out one particular sexual sin, while approving almost all other forms, one who hasn’t fallen into a socially unacceptable form of sexual sin begins to go on a self-righteous rampage about the sin of others while refusing to acknowledge his or her own depravity.

As more women bring to light the heinous sexual misconduct of male celebrities and politicians, it would do us good to remember two all-important truths: First, God’s word testifies to the pervasive depravity of all men and women (Rom. 3:10-18); and, second, Scripture holds out the universal remedy for sinful men and women–namely, Christ and him crucified. To make this observation is in no way whatsoever to downplay the urgent need we have to protect women from sexual predators and to put punitive measures in place to prevent sexual harassment and abuse of all shapes and forms. It is, however, to highlight that there are dangers associated with the media’s fixation on only one or two forms of sexual sin, while neglecting the biblical testimony about the pervasive spiritual depravity of men and women. When depravity is denied, the Gospel is inevitably neglected or rejected. When the Gospel is neglected or rejected, there can be no prospect of forgiveness, cleansing, restoration and renewal–the hope of which Scripture constantly holds forth while bringing indictments against the sin of mankind.

We ought to welcome an exposure of sexual sin in a culture that has celebrated, embraced and fought for every other conceivable form of sexual sin. However, only highlighting one or two specific forms of sexual depravity will have the inevitable and undesired result of fueling self-righteousness among those outraged by it. When the media singles out one particular sexual sin, while approving almost all other forms, one who hasn’t fallen into a socially unacceptable form of sexual sin begins to go on a self-righteous rampage about the sin of others while refusing to acknowledge his or her own depravity.

There is no outrage in the media about the absolutely hellish nature of pornography and the destructive nature it has on marriages, young people and on society as a whole. As our culture rejects the clear teaching of Scripture, and increasingly promotes and defends polyamorous, incestuous and every conceivable form of androgynous and homoerotic act, we are sliding into a veritable pit of sexual depravity. The media would have us believe that the great problem in Hollywood and Capitol Hill is the problem of power structures that allow men to abuse that power in order to gratify sexual desire. The news outlets may shine an occasional spotlight on the female teacher who engaged in inappropriate sexual relations with an underage student; but, it is men in positions of power that are the chief perpetrators. Nevertheless, it is not power structures that lead male politicians and celebrities or female teachers into sexually depraved acts. If we only focus on nurture, to the neglect of nature, we will ultimately bring about nothing lasting.

The Scriptures are clear that the problem in Hollywood and Capitol Hill is the problem of the human heart.

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The post Hollywood, Capitol Hill and the Human Heart appeared first on The Aquila Report.

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27 Thanksgiving Quotes from Very Random but Awesome Authors

Here are 27 of the most random thanksgiving quotes you’ve ever seen from G.K Chesterton to Willie Nelson. But I like it that way. We can all learn from each other, yes?

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson

“Beth ceased to fear him from that moment, and sat there talking to him as cozily as if she had known him all her life, for love casts out fear, and gratitude can conquer pride.” Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.” A.W. Tozer

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” H.A. Ironside

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” Maya Angelou

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” Thomas Merton

“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” Neal A. Maxwell

“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” Ann Voskamp

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.” Irving Berlin

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” Brené Brown

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” Henry Ward Beecher

“The poor man shuddered, overflowed with an angelic joy; he declared in his transport that this would last through life; he said to himself that he really had not suffered enough to deserve such radiant happiness, and he thanked God, in the depths of his soul, for having permitted that he, a miserable man, should be so loved by this innocent being.” Victor HugoLes Misérables

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” G.K. Chesterton

“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.” John Ortberg

“I think that real friendship always makes us feel such sweet gratitude, because the world almost always seems like a very hard desert, and the flowers that grow there seem to grow against such high odds.” Stephen King

“Be happy, noble heart, be blessed for all the good thou hast done and wilt do hereafter, and let my gratitude remain in obscurity like your good deeds.” Alexandre DumasThe Count of Monte Cristo

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thornton Wilder

The post 27 Thanksgiving Quotes from Very Random but Awesome Authors appeared first on ChurchLeaders.

10 Things You Should Know about Thanksgiving

1. Numerous nations celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday.

Many Americans consider Thanksgiving to be the quintessentially American holiday. It marks the beginning of our “holiday season,” a period that lasts into Christmas and through New Year’s Day. But many nations celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday, including Canada, Germany, and Japan. The Canadian Thanksgiving is influenced in many ways by the American version of the holiday.

2. George Washington was the first American president to call for an official Thanksgiving holiday.

Congress called for several days of thanksgiving during the Revolutionary era and the years shortly thereafter. Often, these days also emphasized the need for prayer and “humiliation” (repentance). In 1789, George Washington proclaimed November 26 to be the first official Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. . . but it is deeply rooted in biblical principles.

3. Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an ongoing federal holiday.

1863 was arguably the most important year of the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on the first day of that year and the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg were fought that summer. President Lincoln called for a Thanksgiving holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November, harkening back to Washington’s first Thanksgiving holiday at the same time of year. It has been celebrated annually ever since.

4. Thanksgiving is officially a secular holiday, but it is rooted in biblical principles.

Thanksgiving is a secular holiday that has no specific ties to the Christian liturgical calendar such as Easter and Christmas. However, Thanksgiving is deeply rooted in biblical principles. The Scriptures are replete with references to the place of thanksgiving in worship (Psa. 95:2; 100:4; 105:1-2), commands for believers to give thanks to God (Psa. 106:1; Col. 3:17; Eph. 5:18-20; 1 Thess. 5:18), and reflections on the importance of cultivating a disposition of thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2).

5. The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in America—sort of.

Thanksgiving calls back to an Autumn harvest feast celebrated by the Pilgrims who colonized Plymouth Plantation (now part of Massachusetts) and the local Wampanoag tribe in 1621. The Wampanoag had helped the Pilgrims to survive by sharing food with them during the latter’s first winter in New England.

Squanto, a Patuxet man who lived with the Wampanoag, was as an advocate for the Pilgrims and served as an intermediary between them and the Wampanoag. It’s possible that Squanto was a convert to Christianity and that his faith was partly responsible for his kind disposition to the Pilgrims, even though he had previously been kidnapped and briefly enslaved by other English explorers.

6. How Americans have thought about that first Thanksgiving has changed over time.

As Robert Tracy McKenzie shows in his excellent book The First Thanksgiving the meaning of Thanksgiving has evolved over time. First of all, Americans mostly forgot about the Pilgrim-Wampanoag meal for over 200 years. From the mid-1800s on, Americans looked back to the first Thanksgiving as a defining moment in early American history.

By the early twentieth century, the Pilgrims were considered America’s founders and all sorts of elaborate pageants and traditions emerged to commemorate their first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims themselves became the most important icon for the real meaning of Thanksgiving, even as that meaning developed over time.

7. Every year, the President of the United States issues a Thanksgiving Day proclamation.

Since the Civil War era, every US President has followed the example of Washington and Lincoln by issuing an annual Thanksgiving Day proclamation. A nearly complete list of proclamations is available online. Reading through the proclamations shows how Presidents regularly reinterpreted the Pilgrims as quintessential Americans who offered moral lessons for contemporary citizens in any given year.

8. The President also pardons a turkey every year at Thanksgiving.

There are many stories of Presidents pardoning turkeys in honor of Thanksgiving, dating at least to the Truman Administration. However, Ronald Reagan offered the first official pardon in 1987. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush made the turkey pardoning an annual tradition. Most years, the pardoned turkey is donated to a petting zoo or farm.

9. Americans eat a lot of turkey at Thanksgiving.

According to the website Turkey Facts as much as 88% of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Around 46 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving, which is about twice as much turkey as is eaten at Christmas. Over 730 million pounds of turkey are consumed annually and around 250 million turkeys are raised in the USA in any given year.

10. Americans also love football at Thanksgiving.

Football games have been played at Thanksgiving since the late-1800s. The Detroit Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving Day game almost every year since 1934, with the exception of World War II. The Dallas Cowboys have hosted a game nearly every year since 1966. Numerous college football teams play on or immediately after Thanksgiving, and the long weekend is especially identified with “rivalry games.” Informally, many communities host “Turkey Bowls” where amateurs from schools, churches, or civic groups compete in a football game, often to raise money for charitable causes.

This article is part of our 10 Things You Should Know series.



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Source: 10 Things You Should Know about Thanksgiving

What Does Russell Moore and These Leftist God-Haters Have in Common? More Than You Might Expect…

According to Pulpit & Pen News:

Vice, which is among the top one hundred websites in America, ran an article about “The Woke Young People Trying to Make Christianity Cool Again.”  The term, Woke, is urban slang originating with the pop-culture film, The Matrix, and refers to someone who has been awakened to the important cultural realities around them (for those of you not hip enough to dig their jive). Highlighted in the article are five up-and-coming “Christian” leaders who are breaking stereotypes about evangelicals not being bleeding heart, gay-affirming, environmentalist Marxists.

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Source: What Does Russell Moore and These Leftist God-Haters Have in Common? More Than You Might Expect…

What You Need to Tell Your Local Public School Officials About Children and Mindfulness Meditation

From Berean Research:

In a piece we posted by Pam Frost titled  The Interface of Medieval Mysticism and Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation we wrote in the intro:

What is the goal of mysticism? According to [Pam] Frost, “the goal is ‘to alter one’s perception of reality, redefining the self, the world, and the Divine according to mystical intuitions of Universal Consciousness as Ultimate Reality. Thus mysticism serves as the basis for a collective spirituality that transcends religious distinctions and is therefore the force behind the growing interfaith movement in which ‘Christian’ mysticism plays an important role.”

Research shows that there are dangers associated with mindfulness and meditation. We’re posting a piece by Lighthouse Trails (LHT) that includes a list of some of those dangers. Now to the obvious question: Why are public schools teaching children to do something that can cause them harm? Two examples are visual hallucinations and psychotic depression — and there are many more dangers listed.

LHT has put together an outline of how to address this issue with school officials:

Today we received a call from a concerned woman who found out that a local public school was about to introduce mindfulness meditation to children at the school. She called the school and has been granted a 5-minute time slot at an upcoming school meeting to explain why the school should not teach mindfulness meditation to children. During our phone conversation with the concerned woman, we developed a short outline of how to address this issue with school officials. Meditation (and Yoga) will soon be practiced in most public schools in America. …

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Source: What You Need to Tell Your Local Public School Officials About Children and Mindfulness Meditation

Prosperity Gospel Huckster Paula White Is Now Chief Spiritual Advisor To The Trump Administration

paula-white-false-teacher-president-trump-spiritual-advisor-nteb

Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has called her a “charlatan,” conservative Christian writer Erick Erickson has said she’s a “Trinity-denying heretic,” and Christian rapper Shai Linne named her a “false teacher” in one of his songs.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3,4 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: False teacher Paula White is a shameless Laodicean gospel pimp who has never yet met a scripture she could twist into making her a dollar. The entire Prosperity Gospel movement is a star of our Laodicean church age, and White can hold her own with the heavy-hitting frauds like Kenneth CopelandRodney Howard Browne and all the others. So it’s not an accident that she has attached herself to our billionaire president as his “spiritual advisor”. Last year word got out that Trump had prayed to receive Jesus Christ, which was exciting news until it was discovered that it was Paula White who did the “leading”. Not much chance of that encounter having much if anything to do with Paul’s gospel. Please continue to pray for our president’s salvation, and for protection from his spiritual advisor Paula White. He’s gonna need it. 

It was an early afternoon in late July, and Paula White was holding court before an audience of about 25 Southern Baptist ministers in an ornate diplomatic reception room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The televangelist was recounting one of her favorite stories — about when Donald Trump reached out to her in 2011 for guidance on a possible White House run. “Would you bring some people around me to pray?” she said he asked her. “I really want to hear from God.” White recalled that she and another pastor gathered about 30 ministers from different evangelical Christian traditions at Trump Tower in Manhattan. After the prayer session, when Trump asked her what she thought, she responded: “I don’t feel it’s the right timing.”

He listened, she continued, and the two talked and prayed about the matter over the next four years. When White again gathered religious leaders at Trump Tower in September 2015, she backed the decision he’d already made to run. Videos on YouTube of that event show her standing on his right, head down, laying hands on him as she prayed.

Paula White Goes ‘Easter Pimpin’ For Your Generous Gift Of A Thousand Dollars Or More :

This video shows you just how crooked and perverse the “theology” of false teacher Paula White truly is. If you are reading this via email, click here to watch video now. 

So here she was in the summer of 2017 at the head of a long table in the Executive Office Building, a huge French-Empire structure just steps from the White House, addressing a group of religious leaders who had been invited to Washington by the president’s evangelical advisory council. With her blond hair, scarlet Oscar de la Renta sheath dress and matching patent leather stilettos, she was a bright bird among the forest of dark-suited clergymen — and, she made it clear, the one with the access to Trump. “The president says hello,” she told them. “I was with him first thing this morning.”

Because of White, evangelicals have “an unprecedented opportunity to have our voice and say heard” in the Oval Office, Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, informed the assembled pastors. “God has placed Paula in a unique place for such a time as this.”

Not all Christians, including evangelicals, are fans of the wealthy, thrice-married White, who has long been associated with the prosperity gospel, a set of beliefs that says God will reward faith, and very generous giving, with financial blessings. Detractors point to a congressional investigation of her former church’s finances and accusations that she has taken advantage of her mostly African American parishioners through her fundraising. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has called her a “charlatan,” conservative Christian writer Erick Erickson has said she’s a “Trinity-denying heretic,” and Christian rapper Shai Linne named her a “false teacher” in one of his songs.

false-teacher-paula-white-anointed-prayer-cloth-lazarus-seed-scam-nteb

FALSE TEACHER PAULA WHITE WANTS YOU TO SOW YOUR ‘LAZARUS SEED’ OF $1,144, SHE’LL SEND HANDKERCHIEF BACK

But since the election, White’s star has soared. She offered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration (becoming the first clergywoman in history in such a role). She sat by the president at a private dinner for evangelical leaders on the eve of the National Day of Prayer. She has hovered close by during prayer sessions in the Oval Office. She was present when Trump met with advisers to discuss the nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, she told me, she has turned many of her duties as a pastor of a large church in Apopka, Fla., over to associates as she jets to the White House an average of once a week. (The Trump White House does not release visitor logs, so it’s difficult to confirm how often White is there.)

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THE CHARISMATIC PROSPERITY MOVEMENT IS NOTHING MORE THAN A ‘CHRISTIAN’ CULT

Paula White has no title and no official position at the White House but plays several roles. After helping to put together an evangelical council for Trump during the campaign, she is now, she explains to me, the convener and de facto head of a group of about 35 evangelical pastors, activists and heads of Christian organizations who advise Trump. (The White House would not release a list of members, but other names associated with this group include Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., conservative political activist Ralph Reed and Dallas-based pastor Robert Jeffress.) She also acts as pastor to the president. And in the words of Johnnie Moore, the evangelical advisory council’s unofficial spokesman and White’s publicist, she serves as “part life coach, part pastor” for White House staff. source

Source: Prosperity Gospel Huckster Paula White Is Now Chief Spiritual Advisor To The Trump Administration

ABC, NBC, CBS Confronted with ‘Alarming’ Proof of Bias by House Media Fairness Caucus

CNSNews reports:

The Media Research Center-documented “depth of bias” by broadcast networks is putting the nation’s very democracy at risk, the leaders of the House Media Fairness Caucus said in letters to the presidents of ABC, CBS and NBC News Thursday, rebuking their lack of coverage of the Russian Uranium One scandal.

In their letter, Caucus co-chairmen Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Alex Mooney (R-WV) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) detail how “The Hill reported that Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, a role critical to the sale of Uranium One to the Russian state-controlled firm Rosatom. The House Intelligence Committee, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, opened an investigation into this deal.”

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Source: ABC, NBC, CBS Confronted with ‘Alarming’ Proof of Bias by House Media Fairness Caucus

CultureWatch: Socialism, Social Justice and the Church

There is nothing wrong with being concerned about the wellbeing of your neighbour. But there is plenty wrong in thinking that more Big Government is the answer. Plenty of the social justice warriors (SJWs) on the Left never lift a finger to actually help their neighbour – but they are more than happy to vote for more government handouts.

Of course that means a bigger government, and higher taxes. And less economic growth. But it is economic growth which has proven to be the best means of helping the poor. More government programs have NOT been the answer. Yet sadly plenty of Christians have bought into the idea that confiscatory state welfare programs are somehow the thing Jesus would urge.

Um, no. The Bible throughout urges God’s people to take personal responsibility to help the poor and needy. It nowhere demands a growing state bureaucracy or socialist confiscation policies. It puts the responsibility where it belongs.

But lefty SJWs always manage to mangle Scripture as they baptise socialist economics and Big Government “solutions” to our social and economic problems. Now, is there a place for government help here? Of course. God created the institution of the state and it certainly has a role to play here.

But God also created the institution of the church, and he expects believers to also play a big role here. Simply absolving ourselves of any personal responsibility – whether as individual believers or as the church – and thinking an ever-expanding state should do all this is not a case of “What Would Jesus Do?”

But I have made this case often enough elsewhere. See for example these three pieces for starters:

http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2011/08/08/social-justice-part-one/
http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2011/08/08/social-justice-part-two/
http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2013/01/06/on-social-justice/

But since so many Christians especially get this so very wrong, it is worth spending more time on. In the minds of many believers the “Christian” thing to do is simply to vote more high-taxing, big-spending, entitlement politicians and parties into office, be they Democrats in the US or Labor and the Greens in Australia.

They may not lift a finger to actually help the poor themselves, but they think that voting socialists into power fulfils their Christian duties here. Oh, and they may go to some rock concert that throws around platitudes of helping the poor, thinking they have done their Christian bit.

But helping the poor is far different than that, biblically speaking. Here I want to draw upon the insights found in two recent articles on all this. Regis Nicoll of the Colson Center first penned “The Injustice of Social Justice” which is well worth quoting from.

He begins with a brief definition: “Justice is about fair play, giving people what is owed them without bias or favoritism. An employee is owed a fair wage by his employer, an accused criminal is owed a fair trial by the court, a child is owed the protection and care of his parents.”

He then looks at the biblical picture, as well as lessons from church history:

To be sure, God has special concern for those on the margins of society. Scripture is full of warnings about injustices to the poor and disenfranchised. But contrary to the Gospel of Liberation, God’s foremost concern is not emancipating us from political and economic oppression; it is redeeming us from sin. This is not to diminish the importance of giving people what they need. To the contrary, meeting the needs of others has been at the heart of Christian action from the beginning.
In the first century, Christians took such comprehensive care of their own that St. Luke remarked, “there were no needy persons among them.” During the plagues in the second and third century, Christians attended the needs of the sick and dying who had been abandoned by their pagan physicians and civil leaders. The Christian community went on to establish the first hospitals and orphanages such that, by the fourth century, the scope of their compassion attracted both the notice and ire of the Caesars.
Frustrated over the social conditions in the Roman Empire, Flavius Julian called it a scandal that Christians “care not only for their poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.” The effectiveness of charity among the early Christians is attributed to something ignored in the modern discussion on social justice.

What Jesus had in mind is a far cry from what the SJWs have in mind:

When Jesus taught about charity and compassion, he was not speaking to Roman consuls about their governmental duties; he was speaking to individuals about their moral duties. That’s because in the biblical division of responsibility, the Church, not the state, is the instrument of compassion.
As divinely ordained, the duties of the state are limited to restraining evil, executing justice, and securing social order. The state fulfills that high calling by protecting the rights of its citizens: first and foremost, their “natural rights” which include the freedoms of speech, thought, and religion; and secondarily, their legal rights, such as the right to vote and drive a car.

It is time to put the focus back on the church, not the state:

To achieve real social justice, the state must decrease and the Church increase in the area of compassion. Is that a realistic expectation? Many folks would say, no.
But given the inefficiencies and impersonal nature of the state welfare system and the fact that Christians make up over 70 percent of the tax base, the Church could take over the compassion business, efficiently and effectively, with only a fraction of the cost of state-run programs.
I have no misgivings. Such a transition could not happen over night. Even with the political will of the electorate and the moral will of the Church, it would take years, if not decades, to shrink government and prepare the Church (individual Christians, churches, and faith-based organizations) to recover its biblical role in compassion services.

In a follow-up article entitled “Has Government Become Too Big?” he continues this discussion:

Thomas Jefferson is said to have quipped, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.” While history does not support the Jeffersonian attribution, it does support the conclusion—witness Soviet Russia, Communist China, and North Korea.
But how big is too big? At what point does the size of government become an obstacle to effective governance and the common good? Plainly, government needs to be large enough to protect the governed and their property, but not so large that it becomes a threat to those ends. Of course when a country spends over $0.5 trillion each year more than it takes in, it is safe to say it has reached beyond what it can effectively govern.

He spends some time on the claim that we just need to raise taxes and get the rich to pay their “fair share” and then writes:

The bottom line is that we can’t tax our way out of the deficit, much less the federal debt (currently, a staggering $20 trillion and rising). That means getting our fiscal house in order will largely depend on reducing spending by trimming the girth of government.
In 1789, the federal government consisted of about 50 employees in three departments: State, Treasury, and War. Today there are 4.4 million federal employees working in hundreds of departments, organizations and agencies. Although an exact figure is hard to pin down, estimates vary anywhere between 200 and 500 federal entities with duplication of effort, overlap, and inefficiency, rife.

He takes us back to what the American Founding Fathers believed:

The U.S. government is currently running at about 36 percent of the GDP with the biggest area of growth over the last 100 years in “entitlement programs” (Medicare, Medicaid, social security, welfare, food stamps, etc.). Those programs, which amount to nearly one-half of the total, were virtually non-existent prior to the twentieth century. It reflects the thinking of the Founding Fathers that, as James Madison put it, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of government.”
It seems that the Founders understood what our modern leaders have forgotten, or dismissed: in the area of compassion, services to the needy are best administered by those closest to the problem—that is, local and regional organizations, like churches, faith-based institutions, civic groups, and volunteer associations. In fact, for the first nineteen hundred years of its existence, the Church took the lead in social work, establishing hospitals, orphanages, food distribution systems, and houses for the poor and aged.

And speaks more to the vital role of the church:

As I have noted previously, when Jesus taught about the duty to the poor, he was not speaking to Roman consuls about their duties; he was speaking to private citizens about theirs. Until the modern era, Christians accepted the biblical division of responsibility, by which the Church, not the state, is the instrument of charity.
That is not to say that the state has no responsibility to alleviate human need in the wake of widespread emergencies (e.g., the Great Depression, Dust Bowl, hurricane Irma). Rather, it is a reminder that the state’s involvement should be limited and temporary—augmenting, not usurping, the responsibilities of the Church and other mediating organizations established to serve the common good.
To starve the leviathan, the Church must reclaim its biblical role. In partnership with other mediating groups, the Church must be a compassion supplier that progressively reduces the demand for state involvement in social service.

As he mentioned, this will not be easy. Far too many Christians have abandoned their biblical responsibilities here, and have simply looked to Big Government as their saviour. And no state ever willingly likes to relinquish power and control. The bigger it grows, the more it demands. And the growing pool of those getting government handouts continues to spiral out of control.

So between unbiblical Christians who have forsaken Scriptural counsel, an ever-expanding welfare state, and a growing percentage of those living on entitlements, this will never be an easy task. But if we really want to help those in need, and if we really want to do things by the book – the Good Book – then it is time to start rethinking all of this before such change becomes impossible.

Ronald Reagan certainly had it right when he said, “Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.” Let me finish with a humorous take on the psalms from a few years ago. It does indeed help make my case:

The State is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
It makes me lie down in federally owned pastures.
It leads me beside quiet waters in banned fishing areas.
It restores my soul through its control.
It guides me in the path of dependency for its namesake.
Even though our nation plunges into the valley of the shadow of debt,
I will fear no evil,
For Barack will be with me.
The Affordable Care Act and food stamps,
They comfort me.
You prepare a table of Michelle Obama approved foods before me in the presence of my Conservative and Libertarian enemies.
You anoint my head with hemp oil;
My government regulated 16-ounce cup overflows.
Surely mediocrity and an entitlement mentality will follow me
All the days of my life,
And I will dwell in a low-rent HUD home forever and ever.
Amen.
Psalm 666

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/injustice-social-justice
http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/government-become-big

Source: Socialism, Social Justice and the Church

CultureWatch: Marxism, Mass Murder, and Historical Amnesia

When Santayana told us to never ignore the lessons of history lest we repeat its mistakes, he could not have been more correct. And those who do study history see his advice being played out – that is, ignored – all the time: historical mistakes are being replicated constantly for the very reason that we do NOT study history and learn from it.

One of the most frightening examples of this is our historical amnesia when it comes to communism. A century of communism should confirm to everyone that this has been one of the worst, bloodiest and most deplorable political ideologies ever.

Yet plenty of folks who should know better (such as university students, etc) are utterly clueless. Certainly most Western young people seem totally unaware of recent history, and are therefore heading over the cliff in repeating its mistakes.

As but one really sad example, consider this recent poll from the US. It is a shocker:

Nearly half of American millennials (44 percent) would rather live in a socialist society than a capitalist one, according to a report from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) which relied on YouGov polling data. Even so, there’s widespread ignorance among millennials about socialism and communism — only 71 percent of the millennials surveyed could properly identify what communism is and many often conflated the two economic systems.
This ignorance among millennials isn’t surprising, as a 2016 CBS/New York Times survey found that only 16 percent of millennials could accurately define what socialism is. The VOC survey also found that 23 percent of those between the ages of 21-29 said Joseph Stalin was a “hero.” As leader of the Soviet Union, Stalin oversaw the death of millions and the infamous “gulag archipelago” of deathly work camps for political dissenters. An equal number of 20-somethings described North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, who has imprisoned an unknown number of political dissidents in labor camps while thousands of his people starve, as a “hero.”

Wow, if these folks are our future, we are in bad shape. Obviously all this is timely because it was 100 years ago that the Bolshevik Revolution occurred, and we have now had a century of history to see just how communism works in practice.

And it is an ugly picture indeed. I have spoken to this often, and I have often referred to the very vital 1999 volume, The Black Book of Communism (first published in French in 1997). In nearly 900 pages this book carefully documents the true toll of godless communism and how it slaughtered some 100 million people.

Yet millions of people today have no understanding whatsoever as to what this ideology has unleashed in its bloody outworking. Thankfully not everyone is blind to the lessons of history. A number of commentators have recently discussed this century of terror, and a few of them are well worth quoting from here.

Let me begin with the words of Bryan MacDonald:

This Tuesday sees the 100th anniversary of the 1917 “October Revolution” (Russians were on the Julian calendar then). A period where an armed insurrection in St Petersburg (then Petrograd) saw Lenin’s Bolshevik movement overthrow the moderate “provisional government,” which had itself replaced Tsar Nicholas II’s regime only eight months earlier….
And the numbers are staggering. The Russian Civil War – which followed “Red October” – was the most destructive internal conflict in history, with around the deaths of 1.5 million soldiers and some 8 million civilians the result. But, amazingly, the Bolsheviks were only getting started, with either policy failures or forced genocide, or both, creating a disastrous famine that wiped out around 7 million people, most of them in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, in the early 1930s. This followed the similar Povolzhye famine (1921-22), which had seen in the region of 5 million, almost all Russians, starve to death.
Later, in the middle of the 1930s, Stalin launched the Great Purge, in which hundreds of thousands were executed. And we can’t forget the Gulags, where around a million perished from 1934 to 1953. And this doesn’t include the many lives ruined by forced imprisonment in the camps.

Bradford Richardson opens his piece with a good summary statement:

Over the past 100 years, communism has blazed a trail of dead and broken bodies stretched around the globe in its relentless, benighted march toward the ash heap of history. From the frozen gulags of Siberia to the killing fields of Cambodia and the jungles of Nicaragua, communists have massacred more than 100 million people in service to an ideology that promised freedom and equality but delivered only tyranny and scarcity.

He too refers to the Black Book:

Their tally puts the number at 94 million: 65 million in the People’s Republic of China, 20 million in the Soviet Union, 2 million in Cambodia, 2 million in North Korea, 1.7 million in Ethiopia, 1.5 million in Afghanistan, 1 million in the Eastern Bloc, 1 million in Vietnam, and hundreds of thousands in Latin America. More recent estimates have pushed that figure north of the 100 million mark.

Of course such massive numbers can easily go over our heads. We need to put human faces to these figures. Telling the stories of individuals is therefore of great value as well. Worth quoting in this regard is Ryan Fazio. His tragic tale could be multiplied millions of times over. He writes:

On February 9, 1940, seven-year-old Witold Rybicki and his family awoke in the middle of the night to banging on the door of their home in Lida, Poland (modern Belarus). Outside was an officer of the Soviet secret police, then called the NKVD, who gave his father orders: “Do not run away. Your house is surrounded by soldiers. You have an hour to pack your personal belongings. Do not worry about bringing much. Everything you need will be at your destination.”
The Rybickis were never informed of charges against them, evidence of wrongdoing, a sentence, or their destination. Witold, his parents, and four of his siblings were taken from their home to a train station, where they were loaded into a cattle car about 15 meters long by five meters wide along with about 40 other people. The car was completely bare otherwise, with just a hole in the middle of the floor for a toilet. For nearly a month, the train traversed Eastern Europe and Russia toward Siberia….
A few months later, the Rybickis were moved even farther east, by train to the last city on the tracks, then by foot to another nondescript set of barracks in the middle of the Siberian taiga. It was a new labor settlement, where they would stay for three years.
In the Rybickis’ settlement, able-bodied prisoners above the age of 12 worked felling trees, preparing lumber, and collecting sap in weather that would sometimes fall to 50 below zero degrees Celsius. The laboring prisoners were given a ration of 400g of bread daily, roughly 1,200 calories, while non-working prisoners were given 200g, a measly 600 calories. Sometimes food shipments would get delayed to the camps, and prisoners like the Rybickis would go days without eating.
“We were practically starving to death,” Witold recalls. Some prisoners had “swollen, huge bellies” from hunger. Prisoners were “dying like flies all around” from hunger, disease, or being worked to death. There was a makeshift cemetery by the settlement where “hundreds and hundreds were buried.”

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Finally, Srdja Trifkovic writes about a “grim centennial”. He notes the profoundly anti-Christian agenda of the communists. He begins:

Exactly one hundred years ago—in the early hours of November 7, 1917—the Bolsheviks staged a successful coup d’etat in Petrograd…. A massive bloodbath duly followed. One remarkable characteristic of the Bolshevik terror during the Civil War (1918-22) and in the ensuing decades was its morbid anti-Christian zeal. The effect on Europe and the world has been profound. It instilled in generations of leftist Western intellectuals the messianic sense that their lives had meaning, that dialectical materialism had the capacity to transform and redeem a fallen world. At the other end of the spectrum, it prompted the rise of fascism and national socialism….
According to the reliable OUP World Christian Encyclopedia (2001), there have been many more Christian martyrs in the 20th century—over 45 million–than in all of the preceding 19 centuries of Christianity. Of that number, some 32 million were killed by “atheists” and over 9 million by Muslims. “Atheists” indicates, overwhelmingly, Bolsheviks and their disciples, cohorts and satellites.…
There is no doubt that Christians were targeted with particular ferocity for the very reason of their faith. The Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian confessions—notably Eastern Rite Catholics—were subjected to systematic destruction on a titanic scale. In 20 years (1918-38) the number of churches that remained open in Russia was reduced from 54,000 to under 500, to less than one percent of the pre-Bolshevik total. In all some 600 bishops, 40,000 priests, 120,000 monks and nuns, and millions of laypeople were martyred in Russia in the half-century after 1918.

And yet a quarter of American millennials think Stalin was a good guy. God help us all! George Orwell certainly had it right when he said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

http://thefederalist.com/2017/11/01/study-nearly-half-millennials-prefer-socialism-capitalism/
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/409027-red-october-russian-revolution/
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/8/communism-victims-remembered-on-bolshevik-revoluti/
http://thefederalist.com/2017/11/09/communists-family-soviet-gulags/#.WgS-jt2B56k.facebook
https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/a-grim-centennial/

Source: “Christian Abortionists”: They Are of Their Father, the Devil

Two Men Who Identify as Women Elected to Government Offices as Days Grow Darker

Christian News reports:

Democrat Daniel “Danica” Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates

Two men who identify as women were elected by voters on Tuesday, one running for city council in Minnesota and another seeking to serve in Virginia’s House of Delegates.

Andrea Jenkins, whose birth name has not been cited in reports, was elected to the Minneapolis City Council with 73 percent of the vote. Jenkins began presenting as a female 26 years ago at age 30, and has been working as the senior policy aide for Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden for the past 12 years.

He also is active as a poet and a transgender activist, working with the Transgender Oral History Project (TOHP) at the University of Minnesota.

View article →

Source: Two Men Who Identify as Women Elected to Government Offices as Days Grow Darker

Albert Mohler Blog: “Tragedy in Texas: Christian Testimony in the Face of Evil”

In this essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. reflects on the recent tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Mohler writes:

“Christians have learned that sometimes we have to wait for an answer, and sometimes that wait goes beyond any answer we can get in this life. Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher of the 19th century in London stated this beautifully: ‘When we cannot trace God’s hand, we are simply to trust his heart.'”

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Barna Update | How Faith Influences Military Service

As Americans prepare to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces on Veterans Day (November 11), new Barna data explores the presence of faith in the military. The study, in partnership with American Bible Society, reveals a military made up of men and women who think positively of Christians, welcome the Bible’s influence and are shaped by their profession.

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