Daily Devotional

Jesus Will Trample All Our Enemies

John Piper

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:24)

How far does the reign of Christ extend?

Verse 25 says, “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” The word ALL tells us the extent.

So does the word EVERY in verse 24: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”

There is no disease, no addiction, no demon, no bad habit, no fault, no vice, no weakness, no temper, no moodiness, no pride, no self-pity, no strife, no jealousy, no perversion, no greed, no laziness that Christ does not aim to overcome as the enemy of his honor.

And the encouragement in that promise is that when you set yourself to do battle with the enemies of your faith and your holiness, you will not fight alone.  Jesus Christ is now, in this age, putting all his enemies under his feet. Every rule and every authority and every power will be conquered.

So, remember that the extent of Christ’s reign reaches to the smallest and biggest enemy of his glory. It will be defeated.

For more about John Piper’s ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org. 
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Seven Easy Steps

The Islamic Caliphate

In 2005, Jordanian journalist and researcher, Fouad Hussen published a piece entitled al-Zarqawi – al-Qaida’s Second Generation. A synopsis of his book was published in Der Spiegel in August 2005.  The introduction to the synopsis read:

There must be something particularly trustworthy about the Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein. After all, he has managed to get some of the the most sought after terrorists to open up to him. Maybe it helped that they spent time together in prison many years ago — when Hussein was a political prisoner he successfully negotiated for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to be released from solitary confinement. Or is it because of the honest and direct way in which he puts his ideas onto paper?

Fouad Hussein had spent time with key terrorist figures, including al-Zarqawi, who has now been killed by a US drone strike.  Prison conversations amongst prison comrades are often truthful.  What is there to lose?  In any event, Hussein has outlined the “Seven Steps” set out by the idealogues of an Islamic Caliphate to take over the world.  Back in 2005, it may have sounded wacky stuff to Western ears.  Now, maybe, not so much.  (Remember, as you read below, this was published in Der Spiegel in 2005; the resemblances to what is now unfolding in Iraq and Syria are striking.  Back in 2005, it must have seemed pretentious and boastful–which the Der Spiegel article reflects.)

An Islamic Caliphate in Seven Easy Steps

In the introduction, the Jordanian journalist writes, “I interviewed a whole range of al-Qaida members with different ideologies to get an idea of how the war between the terrorists and Washington would develop in the future.” What he then describes between pages 202 and 213 is a scenario, proof both of the terrorists’ blindness as well as their brutal single-mindedness. In seven phases the terror network hopes to establish an Islamic caliphate which the West will then be too weak to fight.

  • The First Phase Known as “the awakening” — this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby “awakening” Muslims. “The first phase was judged by the strategists and masterminds behind al-Qaida as very successful,” writes Hussein. “The battle field was opened up and the Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target.” The terrorist network is also reported as being satisfied that its message can now be heard “everywhere.”
  • The Second Phase “Opening Eyes” is, according to Hussein’s definition, the period we are now in and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the “Islamic community.” Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaida wants an organization to develop into a movement. The network is banking on recruiting young men during this period. Iraq should become the center for all global operations, with an “army” set up there and bases established in other Arabic states.
  • The Third Phase This is described as “Arising and Standing Up” and should last from 2007 to 2010. “There will be a focus on Syria,” prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and — even more explosive — in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaida’s masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.
  • The Fourth Phase Between 2010 and 2013, Hussein writes that al-Qaida will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments. The estimate is that “the creeping loss of the regimes’ power will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaida.” At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism.
  • The Fifth Phase This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.
  • The Sixth Phase Hussein believes that from 2016 onwards there will a period of “total confrontation.” As soon as the caliphate has been declared the “Islamic army” it will instigate the “fight between the believers and the non-believers” which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.
  • The Seventh Phase This final stage is described as “definitive victory.” Hussein writes that in the terrorists’ eyes, because the rest of the world will be so beaten down by the “one-and-a-half billion Muslims,” the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn’t last longer than two years.

The Der Spiegel article went on to weigh up how seriously this ought to have been taken.  The author of the piece, Yassin Musharbash was generally sceptical.  After all, Al Qaeda was fragmented and had largely appeared to have disintegrated.

Nevertheless, there is no way the scenario he depicts can be seen as a plan which al-Qaida can follow step by step. The terrorist network just doesn’t work like that anymore. The significance of the central leadership has diminished and its direct commands have lost a great deal of importance. The supposed master plan for the years 2000 to 2020 reads in parts more like a group of ideas cobbled together in retrospect, than something planned and presented in advance. And not to mention the terrorist agenda is simply unworkable: the idea that al-Qaida could set up a caliphate in the entire Islamic world is absurd. The 20-year plan is based mainly on religious ideas. It hardly has anything to do with reality — especially phases four to seven. [Emphasis, ours.]

Note in passing the epistemological dichotomy presented in the above quotation: the 20-year plan was largely based upon religious ideas. Therefore, it can have hardly anything to do with reality.  Thus, the blindness of the Western mind when it comes to evaluating what it unfolding in the Middle East.  Religious ideas–to the blinded Western mind–can have no correspondence with reality, which, as all Westerners know, consists of matter, and matter alone.  Religions are figments of imagination and have no metaphysical reality whatsoever.

Consistent, fervent Islam is a religion and its beliefs shape reality.  Consistent, fervent Western materialism is equally religious; its beliefs also shape reality for its devotees.  Both alike are false beliefs, and will fall in the long run.  But in the meantime, they can exert enormous influence and shape human history.  Western materialism clearly has done so.  Islamic jihadism is currently doing so in the Middle East.  The Caliphate is the latest manifestation of the Islamic narrative.

According to the seven steps, we are now in the fifth: a caliphate has been declared, right on schedule, moreover.  The true believers think that the Western powers are weak, divided, already defeated, and the pathway is open to a new world order.  We are now, according to the plan, entering the period of “total confrontation” between belief and unbelief, between Islam and the infidels (that is, the West).

Are the jihadis being realistic, or have they lost touch with things as they really are?  Clearly the latter.  But that is not evident to them–yet.  They are speaking and acting as if they were calling the shots on a world stage.  They boast, they brag, and they think that beheading non-combatant Americans will eviscerate the West’s will to fight.  They also believe that millions upon millions of Islamic jihadis from around the world will rise up and come to join them, for the last great battle.  These ideas are fervently believed as absolute truth to them.  They will live and act accordingly. Anyone in the West who expects anything different has also lost touch with reality.

And when they are inevitably defeated in battle, will that end it?  Not at all–no more than secularism would be ended when it failed spectacularly.  The ideologues of both camps will simply go back, lick their wounds, and plan to fight for the longer term.  Christians know that neither will succeed.  Both armies alike hate the one and only Lord of humanity, the King who has been established on Mount Zion, and to whom all authority in heaven and upon earth has already been given.  (Matthew 28: 18)

The West is clearly the much stronger militarily.  However, its key weakness is its persistent failure to recognise its own religious bias and pre-commitments.  Because it is blind to itself, it cannot see its enemy clearly.  It cannot comprehend how the Islamic mind functions.  It deliberately and persistently distorts the truth about Islam–for its own comfort.  Take the most obvious example: when the planes flew into the towers, Western leaders immediately developed a narrative about Islam which was deliberately deceptive and misleading, yet one which they fervently hoped was true.  “Islam”, they told everyone, including themselves, meant peace.  Islam was a religion of peace: therefore, Al Qaeda and its collaboraters, were un-Islamic.  The jihadis were a foreign element; they were not true to the faith.

The Western Commentariat deliberately and wilfully misinterpreted what “peace” meant in Islam.  The word “Islam”, of course, means submission.  The peace of Islam means subjugation or the death of those who will not be subjugated.  Consequently, the jihadis simply laughed at the stupid, weak Western world for such an addiction to untruth, distortion, and its own false comfort.   Herein lies the Achilles heel of the pagan West: it believes its own false press.  Secularism is a paper tiger.  The jihadis believe this to be the case and in many ways they are not far from the truth.

Secularism is boldly courageous when it comes to killing an unborn infant in the womb, but pathetically compliant when its own life is at stake.  Secularism has no doctrine of an afterlife, and Final Judgment.  All it has is material existence–and since that is all it has, it will desperately cling to its own life.  At root, secularism is cowardice in motion.  That is why suicide bombers, jihadi martyrs, and relentless Islamic brutalities alarm and terrify.  Secularism has no-one to serve, no-one for whom to lay down its life.  Consequently, it will eventually end up losing everything.  Jihadis know this. 
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Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

What Became of the Witty Pirate Then

Douglas Wilson
September 6, 2014
Because taxes can be a form of theft, and because taxes need not be theft at all, a reasonable question to ask is how we can tell the difference.

The baseline, the starting point, is that property belongs to the individual. He is the one that Thou shalt not steal applies to. He is the one with the house, the vineyard, the lawn mower, the wallet, the smart phone, and so on. Whenever the Bible talks about property, it always talks about it two categories. The first is God’s absolute ownership of all things (Dt. 10:14), and the second is the relative ownership that you and your neighbor enjoy (Dt. 8:18). When we talk about the state possessing things, this possession is derivative. The state extracts value from the taxpayer, the appointed steward of God’s wealth, and this extraction can also be divided into two categories. This value can be extracted lawfully, or the state can play the role of the thief. So how are we to tell the difference?

We know that taxation can be done right because the Bible talks about paying taxes to the one to whom it is due (Rom. 13:7). These are taxes that we owe, and are not to be considered theft at all. We should no more chafe at paying our legitimate taxes than we do paying our bill for satellite television. There are taxes we do not owe, but ought to pay anyway, having more important things to do. This is the meaning of what Jesus teaches Peter — we don’t owe it, but go ahead and pay it (Matt. 17:24-27). And then there are other circumstances where the illegitimate taxes have become so onerous, and the justification for them so outlandish, and tax courts have beclowned themselves to such an extent, that the Lord raises up a left-handed means for the children of Israel to pay their tribute (Judges 3:15-19).

Now I am not issuing any kind of call to action, other than the action of understanding what the heck occurreth. It is long past time for us to be sons of Issachar, understanding the times and knowing what Israel should do (1 Chron. 12:32). In our circumstance, deliverance would be ours if most of us came to the simple recognition that our ruling elites are governing unlawfully. They are illegitimate.

So this brings us back to the question raised at the top. How do we tell what kind of taxation is challenging the law of God as opposed to the taxation that is in line with the law of God? There are three basic criteria.

First, the level of taxation must not rival God (1 Sam. 8:15). God claims a tithe, and if that is all God needs, and if God is a jealous God, then we ought to see any attempt on the part of civil government to go past ten percent as an aspiration to Deity. This is the perennial temptation for fallen man (Gen. 3:5), particularly for rulers of all kinds (Is. 14:13), and so that temptation must not be funded. Cutting off the government at 9% is like refusing a third Scotch to a wobbly tavern-goer at 1 am. Shouldn’t be controversial.

Second, the taxes need to be levied, in the main, so that the rulers can perform the functions that God requires them to perform. Coercion is a big deal, and so the government must only be allowed to exercise it when they have express warrant for what they are doing. If they have express warrant to hunt down murderers, and they do, then they have express warrant to collect money to pay for the men to do this. They are God’s deacon of justice, and the deacon of justice needs to be paid just like the rest of us (Rom. 13:4). They are not allowed to collect fees to pay for activities that are prohibited to them. If they are not allowed to do it in the first place, they are not allowed to tax us to pay for it. To do so would be theft.

Third, the taxes must be lawful and in accordance with the established constitution of the people. Arbitary and capricious government, when the constitution outlaws arbitrary and capricous government is hypocritical. It sits in judgment upon us in points of law, and contrary to the law commands us to be struck. Since I have no particular person in mind, I may feel free to echo Paul’s sentiment about this without overstepping any personal boundaries — the men who do this are a whited wall (Acts 23:3).

If a tax bill originates in the Senate, nobody needs to pay it. If a resident of North Dakota receives a tax bill from the state of Maryland, he may feel free to round file it, and to do so with a serene conscience. If a man is taxed by a body in which he has no representation, then it is an illegal tax, and it doesn’t really matter how many judges or congressmen were complicit in the illegality.

So then, in summary, taxes are theft when the government is aspiring to be god in the lives of its subjects, when the government is refusing to do what the real God requires of them and is doing something else instead, usually something very expensive, and when the government is not obeying its own legitimate processes for levying taxes.

Last point. Note that I am not arguing for any action other than the simple action of recognition. Our government is a thief, but the government is a thief that cares deeply and profoundly about respectability. They not only want to pillage with immunity, they want to do it with legitimacy. Sorry. It is not as though there is a certain number of pirate ships that magically reach the quorum of a nation state.

When you get lots of pirate ships, what do you have? This is not a trick question. You have a pirate fleet. You have lots of pirates.

Augustine records a time when a pirate was captured and brought before Alexander the Great. The pirate asked why he was styled a pirate for doing to ships what Alexander was doing to countries, and, despite this, Alexander was styled a great emperor.

History is silent as to what became of the witty pirate then, but his question did have a certain resonance. Secular man, with covetous loins, hands and brains, has not yet been able to answer it. There is,  however, a stiff fine for raising it in inappropriate ways.
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Daily Devotional

The Weed of Unbelief

Charles Spurgeon

“How long will it be ere they believe me?”
Numbers 14:11

Strive with all diligence to keep out that monster unbelief. It so dishonours Christ, that he will withdraw his visible presence if we insult him by indulging it. It is true it is a weed, the seeds of which we can never entirely extract from the soil, but we must aim at its root with zeal and perseverance. Among hateful things it is the most to be abhorred.

Its injurious nature is so venomous that he that exerciseth it and he upon whom it is exercised are both hurt thereby. In thy case, O believer! it is most wicked, for the mercies of thy Lord in the past, increase thy guilt in doubting him now. When thou dost distrust the Lord Jesus, he may well cry out, “Behold I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.” This is crowning his head with thorns of the sharpest kind. It is very cruel for a well-beloved wife to mistrust a kind and faithful husband. The sin is needless, foolish, and unwarranted.

Jesus has never given the slightest ground for suspicion, and it is hard to be doubted by those to whom our conduct is uniformly affectionate and true. Jesus is the Son of the Highest, and has unbounded wealth; it is shameful to doubt Omnipotence and distrust all-sufficiency. The cattle on a thousand hills will suffice for our most hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating.

If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust his fulness, but who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their supplies from him, and not one of them has murmured at the scantiness of his resources. Away, then, with this lying traitor unbelief, for his only errand is to cut the bonds of communion and make us mourn an absent Saviour.  

Bunyan tells us that unbelief has “as many lives as a cat:” if so, let us kill one life now, and continue the work till the whole nine are gone. Down with thee, thou traitor, my heart abhors thee.

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Monday quote

It is often the case that when someone says, “Thank God!” they actually mean, “Finally, I’m getting what I deserve.” So instead of humble thankfulness, this phrase indicates bitter entitlement.

Scott Jamieson.
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Talking Heads

The Sixth Opinion

The jokes about economists are legion.  It’s all in good fun, but as with most jibes, there is usually a bit of truth in each.  Economics has not been called the “dismal science” for nothing.  Was it not Winston Churchill who growled one day, “if you laid all the economists in the world face down, head to tail . . . well, that would be a good thing to do”?  And was it not Winnie who also grumbled that he would give half his kingdom to meet a “one-handed economist”? And some long forgotten sage observed that if you meet two economists you will always be blessed by at least three opinions.

So, we are regaled by the pronouncements of one Shamubeel Eaqub, rated as one of the country’s top economists.  Entering into the spirit of the discipline of economics, we wish to give him the two handed salute.

On the one hand, Shamubeel Eaqub hit the nail right on the head when he opined recently on the state of politics in this current election season:

“What scares me are the policies that we see in the fringes and the fringe parties and they scare me a great deal because a few of them, quite frankly, are quite mad,” he said. “So when you vote on the 20th of September, you’re not voting for National or Labour, you’re trying to keep out the influence of some of those crazy policies.”  Eaqub said he did not want to go into the parties or policies he was most concerned about. “I don’t want to get into bad-mouthing particular political parties. Most of the small parties are not pursuing policies that are good for New Zealand – they are pursuing policies that are good for a small constituency.”

Take a bouquet and a bow.  Now, on the other hand . . .

Eaqub also said the Reserve Bank was “stuck in the 80s” in its preoccupation with inflation control and shouldn’t be raising interest rates in the current economic environment.  The central bank has lifted the OCR by one percentage point to 3.5 per cent this year.  “When you look at the companies you invest in, how many are increasing margins rapidly? How many of those businesses are raising prices? New Zealand is not in a strong growth, high-inflation period,” Eaqub said.

What misplaced rubbish.  Firstly, in defence of the RB, it is subject to the law and the law says it must focus almost exclusively on controlling inflation.  In this vital point, it is different from most other quasi-independent central banks, who are also charged with maintaining employment, and stimulating economic growth, which sets them conflicting objectives oftentimes.  In the bad old days, the New Zealand currency and interest rates used to be manipulated by rogue Prime Ministers who would pick up the phone in the dead of night and order up a rise or decline in interest rates, usually to ensure favourable public opinion just before an election.  New Zealand’s economy used to be more centrally controlled than East Germany’s.

It was to prevent this perfidy that the Reserve Bank Act legislatively created the independence of the central bank from such craven political “interventions”.  It also deliberately made the mandate of the bank more narrow by law, which meant that would not be subject to political interference, and the bumbling uncertainty that comes from many opinionated economists, Mr Eaqub notwithstanding.  Any changes to this Act would have to be done publicly and after due process, usually legislative process, via the parliament.

Secondly, New Zealand is a very small economy and subject to all kinds of distortions.  One of these is a volatile housing market, easily exposed to rampant speculation.  Much of the problem lies with a lack of housing supply, which, in turn, is highly priced, due in no small measure to the stifling regulatory blanket choking new housing development.  The costs to get local government approval to build a house are rapidly becoming one of the most significant imposts.  Approval comes at the price of tens of housands dollars spent satiating the appetites of the highway robbers that masquerade as local councils.  The ultimate blame should likely be laid at the feet of the nation’s greenists who are pathologically opposed to any human economic activity.  Long ago it was construed to be destructive to the “natural” environment.

Therefore, it is no surprise that at the first signs of economic recovery out of the most recent recession, the housing market rapidly became speculative and banks returned to high-risk lending.  The inefficient, highly regulated, tightly controlled, supply delimited housing market controls the inflation cycle in New Zealand.  The RB has focused most recently upon killing that goose off before its fools-gold eggs were laid.  It’s been a near run thing, and it’s not over yet.  Shamubeel Eaqub should know better.

It is the speculative market in housing which produces so much fools-gold and which, in turn, restrains New Zealand companies trading in other sectors from growing their earnings sustainably.  But, no problem. Without doubt another economist would have a sixth opinion on the matter.

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How are Anglicans Different from Catholics?

No, Anglicans are not basically Catholics. So what’s the difference?
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elemental narraphors- Earth… the parable of the field (Luke 8:4-15)

You may be good gardeners… you may have a passion for it… I’m not a good gardener and I don’t like gardening.  My dad was a great gardener. When I was growing up He spent most of his weekends out the back in his vege patch. We lived off the veges he grew… summer lunch was the freshest sweet corn dripping with butter, breakfasts came from our grapefruit tree … Desserts were often topped by bottled peaches, apples  and fejoa from our backyard… salads at dinner were made from the lettuce, cabbage and tomatoes from the garden and there always seemed to be beans

Years after my father had died Kris and I moved back to Auckland from Tauranga and lived just down the road from where my family home had been. We tried to start a garden and it was back breaking work in good old Waitakere clay. I came to appreciate what my father had achieved. He had spent a lot of time and energy in caring for the soil… he would leave a quarter of the garden fallow each year, planting lupines there to fix the nitrogen in the soil.  When spring came the compost bin would be dug out, sieved and spread out and dug in. Crops were rotated so you only had the same thing grown in the same place every four years.  

Jesus used the image of soil and trying to grow food to talk about how people would respond to his teaching, to teach us how to listen to the word of God… so it could do its work in us of producing good things.

It’s a very helpful parable because the gospels also record Jesus explaining it for his disciples. The sower is Jesus preaching, he was preaching to large crowds but the number who responded and followed seemed small. The seed is the word of God and those who listened are the various soil types.

He talked of seed falling on the road. The seeds would be unable to penetrate and be trampled or picked off by birds. He likened that to Satan being able to come along and take it away. We are not that comfortable about talking of Satan these days as the enemy of our soul, and there are others who simply talk too much about that and give him too much power. Jesus only mentions him once in this parable amongst so many other adverse conditions to good crop production.

The seeds take root in the other soil types. But one is rocky. In Judah much of the land is simply top soil over a hard limestone base and even though the seed germinates and starts to grow it cannot put its roots down far enough to get the nutrients it needs so when the hot weather of persecution or opposition comes it withers away.  Other areas are full of weeds, which grow up and compete with the plant for sunlight and water and stop it maturing. Jesus talks of life’s worries and the pursuit of wealth and pleasure as things that will do that in the lives of the listener. Finally he talks of the good soil, the soil that has been prepared to receive the seed and is able to sustain it till it produces a bountiful crop. Jesus says these are the people who hear the word retain it and patiently persevere with it.

What crop is produced I hear you say? Well this is one of a series of parables in Luke of the kingdom of God. The crop of the seeds of the word will look a lot like Jesus. Paul paints a picture of what that might look like in our lives when in Galatians 5:22 he talks about the fruit that walking in step with the spirit of God produces in our lives… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control: Character traits that reflect Jesus.

One of the great thing about parables is they are open ended invitations to continue reflecting and journeying.  We are using Leonard Sweets word narraphors to express this…They are metaphors to think with and narratives; stories that can shape our own life story. Here are a few of my reflections on how this parable connects with our lives today….

Firstly, This parable shows that Jesus was aware that different people would react to his message in different ways. That just because Jesus is God’s chosen agent did not mean people would respond to him automatically. It’s helpful when you work and minister with people to be reminded of this. During the week I had a conversation with a minister who had settled here from South Africa who said sharing the gospel with Kiwi’s was hard… it was like seed on hard ground. He had found many of the recent migrant groups to New Zealand more open to the Christian message. One of the reasons I don’t like gardening is that we’ve moved so much it invariably involves lots of breaking up hard ground, that’s hard work. We as a church are actually working in a field that is hard ground. It’s not easy work… we tend to have to do the hard years to see fruit.

Secondly, I don’t know about you but I’ve always thought that the different soil types actually referred to different people, and they do and I don’t really relate to any particular one of them . I’m sort of a mix, they all relate to me in some way. When I was at Bible College a visiting lecture invited us to reflect on this parable in a different way. He called it the parable of the field. We focus on the sower or the soil and maybe we can’t see the big picture that a sower would be working in a field that was a mix of these soil types. There would be the paths round the outside, some areas which had heaps of weeds and weed seeds, others that were rocky and thankfully others that were good, and in one way we could look at our lives like that field. To be productive we needed to work on the soil types in our field, our life just like my father worked on the good old Waitakere clay to make it productive.

How is our life like a road… The word road isn’t that helpful in our four lane asphalt world. In Jesus day it would have been well-worn walking tracks so the various farmers who lived in the villages and towns could get to their allotted fields. In my mind I couldn’t help but think about well used paths in our own life. The places we are very set in our ways… and it is difficult for the word of God to take root and bring fruit there. Some of those most resistant to Jesus message were the religious leaders of Jesus time. They were very set in their ways, they kept to certain paths and were very certain that was the right way. So when Jesus came along even though he was the fulfilment of all they were hoping for and believed they missed it. Maybe to allow the word of God to take root in those areas of our life, we need to do some spade work. This year as a parish council we’ve wanted to give people some encouragement to grow their devotional life, to try something different… not because we don’t think people develop their devotional life, but hopefully in doing a things differently like the E100 Jesus challenge and coming to church for an hour during the week to pray and even being part of a small group will help in that process. They are small invitations to take even a small step off the beaten track .

I wonder what rocks sit right under the surface of our lives as well. How deep have we let the word of God take root.  Rwanda was known as the most Christianised country in Africa, yet in  1994 it was the scene of one of the worst genocides. The gospel was very widly spread but very thin, it was a veneer over seething racial hatred. I have a friend who has been involved with church leaders in Rwanda since then  helping them working through reconciliation and seeing the gospel go deep to help people understanding a Christian way of seeing others; that we are all made in God’s image and we are called to love our enemies. That may seem a bit extreme but we like them are blind to our own cultural conditioning. At the moment I am reading a book which is wrestling with the fact that much of what is taught as Church leadership today has more to do with our western understanding of success and achievement rather than emulating the life of Christ. It kicks up some rocky ground for all of us…How much of the way we see what we want out of life is shaped in the same way. Is it a Jesus shaped vision or a culturally shaped one? Often breaking up that ground takes time.  The nurture of the soul and the pursuit of Long range spiritual development and ministry gets second place.

When I mention weeds If you are like me then you’ve probably got a list as long as mine of things that are keeping you up at night, that compete with our faith for space and light and energy. I have to admit I’ve found myself focusing on the weeds in my life recently. Not to pull them out but the way they are getting on top of me, many have to do with the future of the church here. On Friday in the e100 essential Jesus we had the reading from John about Jesus raising Lazarus back to life… It was like a seed germinated… I was focusing on the doom and gloom of the tomb, not on the resurrection power of Jesus Christ… I had to pray the words of Martha “Jesus, I believe that you are the messiah, sent from God” and reaffirm my faith in Jesus. It has actually loosened up those weeds hold. It’s a step in the process of weeding them out.

What does good soil look like? Thursday started out a good day this week, U2 released a new studio album after five years… and what made it even better was that it was free. If you are a U2 fan you’ve got two weeks to download it from iTunes for free. AS usual its full of good tunes and profound lyrics… One of the songs spoke to me as I was thinking about what good soil looked like… It said ‘the only heart that is open is a heart that is broken’. Now I don’t think that means we should walk around with all the wounds and hurts we’ve suffered in the past not healed, I actually believe Jesus wants us to find wholeness and health in relationship with him… But in those words I couldn’t help but hear the invitation in the beatitudes that those who will be blessed are those who are aware they are poor, who are aware of their need for God, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who seek peace with a single mindedness. 

I’m not a good gardener but my heavenly father is a great gardener… the encouragement to us as we work through all this is that we have a God who has dirt under his finger nails. Who is willing to get his hands dirty in our lives to see the seed of his word take root and grow and produce fruit. In genesis we see God forming humans out of earth and breathing life into that form. In Isaiah we see Israel as God’s vineyard, which he goes about tending, lavishing his care on… that is picked up by Jesus in the New Testament as he encourages us to abide in him, I am the vine he says in John 15 and my father is the gardener. In Jeremiah 18 there is the vision of God as the potter shaping his people into a beautiful earthen vessel.  We have god who has dirt under his finger nails… Our heavenly Father is a great gardener. We need to let him tend the field that is our life… to make it more fruitful.

I want to invite you to take a moment or two just to focus on the soil we’ve given you and maybe as you do use it as a way of looking at various soil types in your life. Then as I close that off in prayer I want to invite you to plant a seed… it’s a seed of a plant we can plant out later in our garden out the back. It’s a sunflower seed and as we started the service by sayng sunflowers area great parable as they follow the sun through life.

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Letter From the UK (About Consequences of Perverse Multi-cultualism)

Islamic Rape Gangs

Rotherham is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

James Delingpole
7th September 2014

If you haven’t yet listened to the latest Radio Free Delingpole podcast I urge you to do so: but first you’ll need a strong stomach.

In it, I talk to George Igler of the Discourse Institute who has been following the Rotherham child rape gang story closely for the last three years. The full story is more shocking than you can possibly imagine, not just because of the ugliness of the abuse itself (redolent of that horrible scene from the movie Taken where smack-addled girls are serially abused in a filthy dive by countless grubby men) but also because of the extent of the cover-up by the left-liberal establishment of social workers, local government officers, child welfare charities, diversity co-ordinators, not to mention the regional police forces and even imams.

Truly this is one of the biggest scandals of our time. And it’s going to get bigger.  Here are some of the disturbing revelations in the podcast.

  • The rape gang phenomenon has existed in the UK for at least 25 years, the first recorded instance being of a trial in Birmingham in 1989. But – typical, this, of what was to come – the defendants were not Muslim rapists. They were the Sikh fathers of abused daughters who had tried to attack the perpetrators of the crime only to end up being arrested themselves while the police turned a blind eye to the sex crime.
  • It exists not just in impoverished, racially-divided, working class Northern towns by also in places as white and genteel as Henley-on-Thames
  • The rape gang phenomenon has existed in the UK for at least 25 years, the first recorded instance being of a trial in Birmingham in 1989.

  • It begins like this: a “Romeo” targets the girls, wins their affections, pretends to be in love with them, makes them feel grown-up with presents, treats, drink, drugs. Then the trapdoor shuts. Next thing they know these girls are being plied with booze and heroin, shut in a room with strangers – often related: cousins; brothers; etc – who serially rape them, with the whole business being filmed. The video footage is used to blackmail the girls, who in any case, generally feel too ashamed to report the crime to the authorities. Most of them become addicted to the heroin whose purpose is first to make them resist less and secondly to make them keep coming back for more, despite their better judgement.
  • These practices have long been widely known to the police, to social workers, to child-care charities and local councils. All found an excuse to absolve the rape gangs of criminal behaviour by claiming that these sexual activities were consensual – ie that these girls, some as young as 11, were sluts who had it coming to them.
  • Each child is worth about £200,000 (around $300,000) a year to the gangs – which makes them even more lucrative than the drugs trade.
  • Money is also one of the reasons for the complicity of so many local councils. At a time of general spending cutbacks, money can always be found for jobs in the all-important “Diversity” industry. On salaries as high as £100,000 a year, senior council workers have a vested interest in not rocking the boat. Better to cover up these scandals and preserve the illusion of community cohesion then to have unwelcome public attention drawn to these unsavoury goings-on.
  • Rotherham – with 1400 girls abused – is just the tip of the iceberg. This has been going on, largely unchecked, all over Britain for a period of 25 years.
  • Does the broader local Muslim community know what’s going on? Of course. Remember, the 200 prosecutions so far have been brought mainly against the gang organizers – not against the many thousands of men who have participated in these rape parties.
  • Also, the Muslim community has deliberately exploited white liberal squeamishness by threatening race riots and by warning off police that if they try to take the matter further they will report them for “racism.”
  • Why haven’t more people in authority lost their jobs? Because time and again they deploy a formulaic excuse which they may well have learned at diversity workshops organised by groups like Common Purpose: yes there has been a scandal; it may be worse than we think; but only we have the training and experience to deal with it, which is why it is vital that we keep our jobs.
  • Why wasn’t this reported earlier? It was. But often the people protesting were members of the BNP or the EDL whose “far-right” taint meant that their complaints could safely be dismissed by the left-liberal Establishment as racially motivated and dishonest. The same “racism” accusation was levelled against anyone brave enough to speak out such as Labour MP Ann Cryer. Most people therefore found it more convenient to look the other way.
  • Rotherham – with 1400 girls abused – is just the tip of the iceberg. This has been going on, largely unchecked, all over Britain for a period of 25 years. And, if people take apologists like this woman seriously, it may well go on largely unchecked for some time to come….

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Daily Devotional

Shadows and Streams

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. (Psalm 104:31–34)

John Piper

God rejoices in the works of creation because they point us beyond themselves to God himself.
God means for us to be stunned and awed by his work of creation. But not for its own sake. He means for us to look at his creation and say: If the mere work of his fingers (just his fingers! Psalm 8:3) is so full of wisdom and power and grandeur and majesty and beauty, what must this God be like in himself!

These are but the backside of his glory, as it were, darkly seen through a glass. What will it be to see the Creator himself! Not his works! A billion galaxies will not satisfy the human soul. God and God alone is the soul’s end.

Jonathan Edwards expressed it like this:

The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. . . . [These] are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the ocean.

This is why Psalm 104 (verses 31–34) comes to a close like this, with a focus on God himself. In the end it will not be the seas or the mountains or the canyons or the water spiders or the clouds or the great galaxies that fill our hearts to breaking with wonder and fill our mouths with eternal praise. It will be God.

For more about John Piper’s ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.
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