Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 22

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

How faith grows

Faith does not work automatically … you have to apply it. Faith does not grow automatically either; we must learn to talk to our faith and to ourselves…. Do you remember how the Psalmist puts it in Psalm 42? Look at him turning to himself and saying, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?’ That is the way to make faith grow. You must talk to yourself about your faith. You must question yourself as to what is the matter with your faith. You must ask your soul why it is cast down, and wake it up! … Your faith does not grow mechanically, you have to attend to it. To use our Lord’s analogy, you have to dig round and about it, and pay attention to it. Then you will find it will grow.

… a large part of faith … consists of just refusing anxious thoughts .. . refusing to think about worrying things, refusing to think of the future in that wrong sense. The devil and all adverse circumstances will do their utmost to make me do so, but having faith means that I shall say: ‘No; I refuse to be worried. I have done my reasonable service; I have done what I believed to be right and legitimate, and beyond that I will not think at all.’ That is faith, and it is particularly true with regard to the future. When the devil comes with his insinuations, injecting them into you—all the fiery darts of the evil one—say, ‘No; I am not interested. The God whom I am trusting for today, I will trust for tomorrow. I refuse to listen; I will not think your thoughts.’ Faith is refusing to be burdened because we have cast our burden upon the Lord. May He, in His infinite grace, give us wisdom and grace to implement these simple principles and thereby rejoice in Him day by day.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, pp. 156–7

“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”
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European Progress

Breathing the Free Air

At this blog, we are all free-traders.  If Johnny Appleseed wants to sell his apples to customers in the Orange Free State, the respective states have no warrant to interfere with the property rights of Johnny nor his customers.  Secondly, free trade has a long history of demonstrating that, whilst economic dislocation might initially occur, in the longer term the population of poorer countries benefit from the opportunity to export to wealthier nations.  Free trade is one of the most effective modes of “foreign aid” ever seen–much more effective than dumping lashings of money upon less developed countries in some top-down, bureaucratic, government driven “we know best” model. Thirdly, free mutual trade is one of the most effective inoculations against the deadly virus of nationalism. 

To this end, we are heartened that finally the European Common Agricultural Policy (“CAP”) is having its last rites read.  This from the NZ Herald:

Big changes lie ahead for the international dairy trade when the European Union (EU) dismantles its 30-year-old quota system next year.  Quotas, introduced in 1984 to tackle overproduction, are due to come off next April, which will mean each of the 28 EU member states will be free to produce as much dairy product as they want.

As a result, Fonterra expects EU dairy production to increase by 1.5 to 2 per cent over time, but the co-operative’s chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini said it was a welcome move.  “We obviously welcome free trade agreements and free trade in general. Therefore we support the elimination of quotas,” said Paravicini, who joined Fonterra last year after 22 years with Nestle.

Please note: the CAP is being dismantled because it has not worked.  It has been successful, however, in wasting a huge amount of money, in creating a wealthy redundant farmer class who were paid for doing nothing (that is, not producing).  It has also had stellar success in generating inefficient economic dislocations in Europe. 

When countries liberalise their economies and remove impediments to citizens trading with the rest of the world a virtuous circle often emerges.  The economies exposed to competitive imports under de-regulation become ardent supporters of moves to encourage other nations to remove their respective restrictions on imports. 

Agriculture,however, is usually the last sector to be thus deregulated, which is a great shame since the economies of most poorer countries rely upon agricultural production as a critical core of their economies.  The moves by the EU to liberalise and de-regulate the region’s agricultural industries will help build momentum to include agriculture in free trade agreements around the world.  Ultimately that will be a boon to poorer nations.  It is one of the most effective modes of international aid.   
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Letter From the UK (About Australia)

17 Jul 2014, 
Breitbart UK

Australia has become the first country in the world to abolish its hated carbon tax – in fulfillment of an electoral “pledge in blood” by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The tax was introduced by the Labor-Greens coalition in mid-2012, despite earlier promises to the contrary by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  Prime Minister Abbott described the tax – estimated to have cost every Australian household $550 per year – as “useless and destructive.” It has now been repealed, after much wrangling – and only on the third attempt – by the Australian senate.

As Phillip Hutchings reports at Watts Up With That?, the tax was indeed a total waste of time and money.
Among the reasons it was so misbegotten are:

The sanctimoniousness of such a tax in Australia is breathtaking. We are an energy heavy-weight, the world’s largest exporter of coal. Soon we will also be the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. At the same time as our Labor prime ministers were being successively culled by infighting over the carbon tax, the world’s biggest oil & gas companies were directing more than two-thirds of global investment in LNG production into Australia, the biggest investment boom ever in this country.

We are an economy built on the world’s hunger for fossil fuels. Yet with our gas and coal sources being either offshore or in remote locations, these vital export industries are mostly hidden from Australian voters.

The carbon tax itself was a lightweight. The theory underlying a carbon tax is to provide a long term price signal to drive a change in the industrial and consumer behaviour. On this score, the Australian tax was doomed to failure. After all, politically it had to appeal to the latte-sipping lefties, but without affecting their wallets.

To minimise the economic fall-out, the Labor-Green Government limited the carbon tax to large industrial emitters (more than 25,000 CO2e/yr). Road transport and agriculture was exempt. Put together, that meant only about 185 companies in Australia’s US$ 1.5 trillion economy had to comply. And even those few were only lightly touched.

Industries which are “trade exposed” such as cement or aluminium smelting were mostly excused. They got either 66% or 94.5% of their carbon cost covered by the award of free units.

Just over one-third of Australia’s carbon emissions come from coal-fired electricity generators. And the dirtiest electricity comes from the aging brown-coal plants in Victoria – with almost double the emissions of modern gas-fired plants. Yet being located in a Labor-voting union heartland, they too got off lightly with the first half of their emissions effectively carbon- tax free. Nice.

3. It did little, if anything, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Guardian, of course, claims otherwise. But this is greenie wishful thinking. As Hutchings notes, though greenhouse emissions in Australia have been declining for almost eight years (long before the carbon tax was introduced) this has much more to do with the doubling of electricity prices, which caused consumers to cut back drastically on their consumption. This is exactly what the carbon tax was supposed to do (drive up prices; change consumer habits) but it had already happened naturally so the tax was pointless.

Other countries to have experimented with either a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme (which instead of taxing carbon dioxide directly, imposes a ceiling on CO2 production through tradeable permits) include the European Union member states, Japan and Korea.  

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Monday quote

A huge part of intellectual honesty is meaning the same thing when you use a term twice.

Cameron Harwick
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Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 21

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Not I … but Christ in me

‘God hath not given us the spirit of fear.’ What, then, is the spirit He has given us? … ‘… but of power.’ … We have a task, we know our own weakness. Yes, but here is a power even for weaklings, and it means power in the most comprehensive sense conceivable. Are you afraid that you will not be able to live the Christian life?

The answer is: ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do.’ The fear and the trembling remain … but you are enabled to work by the power ‘that worketh in you both to will and to do’… it means also power to endure, power to go on whatever the condition, whatever the circumstances, power to hold on and to hold out… it means that the most timorous person can be given power in all things, even to die. You see it in the apostles, you see it in a man like Peter who was afraid of death, afraid to die. He even denied his Lord because of that fear…. But look at him afterwards…. The spirit of power had entered into him and now he is ready to die. He will face the authorities, he will face anybody….

I never tire of telling Christians to read the stories of the martyrs and the Confessors and the Protestant Fathers, of the Puritans and the Covenanters. Read their stories, and you will find not only strong, courageous men, you will find weak women and girls and even little children dying gloriously for Christ’s sake. They could not in and of themselves, but they were given the spirit of power… [Paul] says to Timothy… ‘God has given you the spirit of power. Go forward. He will be with you. You won’t know yourself; you will be amazed at yourself. And even though it may mean facing death, you will rejoice that you have been accounted worthy to suffer shame and even death for His glorious Name’s sake.’ Power! It is given.

Spiritual Depression, pp. 101–2

“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”
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The Good News Garden: Isaiah 61′s promise of Good News fufilled in Jesus (Isaiah 61, Luke 4:14-21)

Central to the passage we are looking at today is a metaphor, a mind picture…The metaphor of a healthy tree. I wonder what picture comes to mind for you when you heard that metaphor. Is there a specific tree or trees that come to mind?  Perhaps a childhood memory… my wife Kris thought of the plumb tree in her back yard, where she would sit to read a book, the branch where she sat worn smooth from hours of use… or somewhere special in your life, in the past or now.

For me when I think of Oaks, the tree mentioned in Isaiah 61 two pictures come to mind…So real  the sound of the wind rustling leaves plays through my head like a soundtrack. I envisage the oak trees at the Hunua Falls Camp: The one behind the cook house and the ones along the bank of the Hunua River. I even see Ralph Blair holding on to one of the trunks for support as he laughs so hard, at people falling into the water off some dastardly contraption he had made for group building games.

The other is the oak that provides the backdrop to McLaurin chapel’s reading room. In spring and summer it too fills the chapel with the sound of wind rustling through leaves, so much so that the ever present sound of central city traffic can be banished for a brief moment. It filters dappled light into the building. As autumn comes you have to be careful walking up the hill to the back of the chapel because you can easy roll your ankle on all the acorns it drops. It reminds me of beauty for ashes, as its branches criss-cross over each other in the middle, at some stage it was damaged and broken but it has been lovingly cared for and now is a wonderfully beautiful and healthy tree, that misshapenness accentuates its uniqueness.

The passage we had read out to us today in Isaiah 61 is a prophecy which has as a central metaphor trees…Oak trees that because they are healthy and strong produce good seeds that cause seedlings to grow up round them. They are the hope filled starting point of the recreation of a garden, of a reforestation of the nations. The trees that are mentioned are planted by the LORD and called into being by the ministry of one filled by the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD and anointed by God, a figure whose ministry Jesus says he fulfils: Jesus who pictures his life and death as a single seed falling to the ground and dying to produce new life.

We are working our way through the E100 essential Jesus Bible reading Challenge, and at the end of this week we’ll be a quarter of the way through. In fact by the end of this week we will have finished the Old Testament section.  My hope is that as we are doing this that it isn’t simply an exercise of leafing through a book, but that as we open ourselves up to the scripture narrative that there is that rustling of leaves sound as the spirit wind blows a fresh through us.

The use of the tree metaphor which seems to book end Isaiah reminds me of growing up in Titirangi. Way before my time the hills used to be covered by forests of mighty kauri trees. As a child I often went to a friend’s house to play. He lived on the slopes of Mt Atkinson and in the bush down the back of his section was a huge log of a kauri tree that we used to climb up and run along. It was massive and it seemed sad that there were no trees like this standing. Years later I got a holiday job doing some gardening for people who lived across the road from that house. Down their back boundary was a whole gully full of adolescent Kauri trees. It seems there as a fire there at the beginning of the twentieth century and the ultra-hard Kauri seeds germinated in the burned soil. There is hope that again the hills will be crowned by these majestic trees.

The first forty chapters of the book is a book of judgment, and deals with Judah and Jerusalem going into exile because they had continually and repeatedly refuse to live in a way that reflects their covenant relationship with God. Isaiah’s opening oracle finishes with the metaphor of an Oak tree, in Isaiah 1:30-31 the prophet says Judah is like an oak tree whose leaves had started to fade, that was in a garden without water. It is an unhealthy tree, in not paying attention to their relationship with God they had cut themselves off from the very thing that gave them life and vitality and while throughout the first part of Isaiah there is mention of God tending his garden there comes a time when the old tree needs to be taken out and burned to make way for something new and healthy. What does Kauri die back say about the health of the environment?  And you know that tree removal can be  a painful process.

In chapter 40 the tenure of the book changes so much so scholars wonder if this isn’t a different Isaiah writing, it becomes a book of comfort for the exiles a promise that God will restore and rebuild, bring back and renew. It’s a book that picks up the tree image and says that again God will plant his people like oaks that they will be a reason for praise and righteousness to rise up like seedlings from the nations.

But the new tree is not planted so much through spade work but voice work, it is proclaimed into life. The first three verses of Isaiah 61 are spoken in the first person. It is the voice of the person who is called to do the work of restoration. It’s a voice that seems out of place with the preceding chapter, some have thought that it is the prophet themselves speaking of their call to

ministry, but that does not totally fit the setting. In the second half of Isaiah there is a person who is referred to as the servant of the LORD, we know them from the servant songs like the suffering servant song in Isaiah 53, that we use of Jesus most Good Fridays. The servant of the LORD is the one who brings about the restoration of God’s people, and that fits what the voice is saying here. The speaker talks of God’ Spirit and anointing being on them to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom and release to the captives,  to comfort those who mourn, to give beauty for ashes and bring praise in the replace of despair. Their ministry is to bring about wholeness and newness for God’s people.

Wholeness and newness both on a personal level and also on a societal level. The year of the lord’s favour invokes the year of jubilee spoken of in Leviticus 25 and Ezekiel 46, a time when all debt will be forgiven and wealth redistributed so that there will be no needy in Israel. It is a picture of God restoring the righteous and just society that Israel was supposed to produce in response to God calling them to be his people. Such a different way of living that the nations would come and see that God is good and so worship him and be transformed as well. Those wondrous oaks that were so healthy they would spread seed and new trees into the nations. A new creation of God’s garden.

In verses 7-8 of Isaiah 61 we have God speaking, and proclaiming that this ministry and restoration and new life are a result of God’s character that God indeed indorses the speaker, that God will restore and release and comfort and bring back and make new because God loves justice and hates injustice. We often think of a just God in terms of punishment, but here it is about renewing and restoring, having to remove the diseased trees to make room for a healthy tree. While this passage can be seen to be fulfilled partially in the return of the people of Israel from exile, the scope of the hope of a new tree a new community that displays the righteousness of God seems to look for a future fulfilment.

In the narrative of Luke’s gospel right after Jesus baptism, where John the Baptist had seen the Spirit of God descend on Jesus and had heard him called “my beloved son” an affirmation of his being anointed as  heir, Luke tells us Jesus was invited to read the scripture at his home town synagogue, and he gets up and reads from the scroll of Isaiah. The very passage we had read to us today, and after Jesus had read the first three verses he sits down and says “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your sight.”

Jesus uses this passage at the beginning of his ministry almost like a mission statement, he claims to be the anointed one which is what messiah means, filled by the spirit of God to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind and to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.  Jesus mission is to bring about that renew, that wholeness that Isaiah had talked about. To set free those who are held captive, not in this case by the Babylonians, but like the original tree in Isaiah by their brokenness and sin. To plant a new tree that would show the righteousness of God, that would see a new creation rise up in the nations.  

The passage in Isaiah finds in fulfilment in Jesus. In Jesus there is good news to the poor, both as in Matthews Sermon on the Mount, good news to the poor of spirit that theirs is the kingdom of God, and in Luke’s sermon on the plain that the poor are blessed theirs is the kingdom of God. It’s interesting that this Good News message has been spiritualised to mean Good News to the poor and marginalised that they can receive salvation and new life in Jesus. But in the Isaiah passage it also points to the fact that they should receive justice that it is a redistribution of wealth as well. The summary of the early church as a community filled by God’s spirit in Acts 2 emphasises that as it says they willingly shared what they had, they held all things in common, being prepared to sell possessions so it was said that none of them were in need. The wholeness and restoration Jesus brings is not just at a personal level but a societal one as well, we are called to live in the Kingdom of God, to show to the nations the righteousness of God.

What for us today from this passage.

First is the offer of newness and wholeness in Christ, there is Good News, there is comfort, there is restoration in Christ, there is new life, there is sight and hope. Some have thought that Jesus applying this passage only referred to his ministry of teaching and proclamation of the Kingdom of God. But in the midst of this oracle of God re-establishing a good news garden there is another tree. The one who proclaimed liberty and good news lived that out and made it possible for us to know this by dying on a tree, on the cross, in that we can have that wholeness and renewal. Today do you need to hear that and see the seed of that new life be planted in your lives. Where does God need to bring that new life, good news restoration comfort and liberty? 

Secondly, when we think of the good news as a means of bringing new life we hold in our minds the image of a seedling or a fresh sprout growing up out of the soil from the seed that has fallen to the ground and died. But the passage Jesus quoted finishes with the image of trees planted by the LORD. Not just fresh shoots but big mature strong and stable trees. The tree for the desert people was a symbol of life a symbol of a stable and steady water source, as in Psalm 1.The image behind me is of a st Jude pine, which starts it new growth with a cross just before Easter.. The Good News Jesus brings, the wholeness he speaks into our lives is not a one off rejuvenation but that process of growing to maturity. It is the life long process of growing following Jesus of trusting God through times of pruning and seasons of growth and fruit and also of barrenness and seeming no life. I wonder if today what ways is the wind of the spirit blowing through your leaves and calling you to continue and grow on that journey.

Thirdly, the tree in Isaiah 61 was to be a source of reflecting the righteousness of God: To show the splendour and justice of God.  Trees in the ancient near east were places of shade from the harsh life sapping sun, We use them as shelter belts from the buffeting storms. I wonder today where are you being invited to display the good new you’ve received… where are called to provide shelter, to be part of God planting new seeds?

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False Prophets

A Prescient Judge Points the Way

A judge in Downunder has caused discombobulation and outrage at his suggestion that there is nothing principially wrong with incest.  That incest should be advocated from the bench ought not be surprising to Christians.  When secular humanism becomes the regnant religion, anything that can be done will be done–and will likely be endorsed and approved.  The reason is that the ethic of secular humanism runs, “I am the master of my fate; man is the measure of all things; nothing human is foreign or absolutely wrong.” 

When this ethic is applied consistently to sexual mores nothing is implicitly forbidden.  Explicit prohibitions are ignorant, primitive, time-bound prejudices and subject to change by the next more-enlightened generation.  We are in the middle of just such a sea change.

The secularists are actively pushing the boundaries.  But The Daily Telegraph in the land of Oz has been so outraged, it has called for a judge to be sacked. Why?  Because the judge has suggested that there is nothing wrong with incest, only sexual and physical mechanics which can easily be controlled.

BEYOND their role as legal arbiters, judges are supposed to offer a form of moral framework around the laws they work with. Their remarks from the bench are a broader guide to society’s proper functioning.  That is the intention. District Court Judge Garry Neilson’s comments on incest, however, run contrary to any civilised moral code.

Here is what Neilson had to say, during an April trial that has only recently been reported: “A jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men and was now available.”

Neilson said the “only reason” incest is still a crime is because of the risk of genetic abnormalities: “But even that falls away to an extent (because) there is such ease of contraception and ready access to abortion.” In almost any context, these comments are utterly indefensible. Neilson’s remarks were made during the case of a man ­alleged to have repeatedly raped his younger sister in the 1980s.

To say that Neilson has stepped outside the accepted boundaries of a judge’s role would be to severely understate matters. There is no possibility of explaining away or rationalising these comments. He should be stood down immediately.

The paper charges Neilson with breaching “civilised moral codes”.  What, we inquire is a “civilised” moral code?  Does it prohibit abortion?  No, of course not.  That’s perfectly acceptable.  Does it proscribe no-fault divorce?  Not at all.  A civilised moral code protects the “right” to abort, and permits and facilitates divorce on grounds as frivolous as both parties mutually deciding to split apart. Why should incest be so sacrosanct, since both abortion and divorce trade upon human volition and doctrines of made-up-human rights. If humans want anything, in principle it’s OK, because “nothing human is foreign or alien to us”.

Rather than breaching any civilised moral code, abortion on-demand and divorce on-demand are regarded as the hallmarks of civilisation today.  Why then the umbrage taken over incest?  The reality is that within the secularist world-view “civilised moral codes” are perfectly circular entities.  Whatever the law code endorses is “civilised” by its presence in the code.

But if the paper is appealing to some overarching moral code that holds all humanity to account and before which we will all be judged when the editors condemn such perversions, pray tell us what it is.  Where can this code be found and what are its precepts?  Secular humanists and evolutionists–the high priestly cast of our society–have none, at least none that are arguable or defensible.

Rather, the prevailing culture of secularist Unbelief rightly should lionise Neilson and promote him, if secularism is to be consistent and taken seriously.  And in the end it will.  Judge Neilson is true believer, an apostle of the established religion of the day, an enlightened and principled man.

In truth, however, those who sow to the secularist wind, will inherit the divine whirlwind, and thus progressively destructive tornadoes are sweeping across our culture and civilisation.  God is giving up our particularly perverse “civilisation”.   He will not be mocked–thankfully.  
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Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

When the Bricks Start to Fall

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
Sunday, July 13, 2014

It is worthy noting that the Lord Jesus describes one of the features of hypocrisy as being manifested in an inability to read the culture.
“Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?” (Luke 12:56).

A hypocrite does not know what is coming down because it does not suit him to know what is coming down. It is always handy to say, when things are comparatively calm, “well, that’s not my interpretation.”

But this simply reveals the narcissism of our age — as though our interpretations were in any way authoritative! Yes, yes, we know your interpretation, but is it correct?

When God shakes down a culture, He does it so that the things that cannot be shaken may remain (Heb. 12:27). This means that when the earthquake starts, and the bricks start to fall out of the building you are in, you have a moral responsibility to know where the shelters are.

True shelters are those congregations of God’s people that are not hypocritical, where the Word is faithfully proclaimed (not just taught), where the sacraments are faithfully administered, where discipline is faithfully practiced. In fact, it would be a good idea to start attending such shelters now.

Call it disaster preparedness.

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Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

July 19

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

The test of our humility

… these Beatitudes as they proceed become increasingly difficult … what we are now considering is more searching, more difficult, more humbling and even more humiliating…. The first Beatitude asks us to realize our own weakness and our own inability… it makes us feel we have nothing— But here, I say, is something which is still more searching—’Blessed are the meek.’

Now why is this? Because here we are reaching a point at which we begin to be concerned about other people. Let me put it like this, I can see my own utter nothingness and helplessness face to face with the demands of the gospel and the law of God. I am aware, when I am honest with myself, of the sin and the evil that are within me, and that drag me down. And I am ready to face both these things. But how much more difficult it is to allow other people to say things like that about me! I instinctively resent it. We all of us prefer to condemn ourselves than to allow somebody else to condemn us. I say of myself that I am a sinner, but instinctively I do not like anybody else to say that I am a sinner…. So far, I myself have been looking at myself. Now, other people are looking at me, and I am in a relationship to them, and they are doing certain things to me. How do I react to that? That is the matter which is dealt with at this point. I think you will agree that this is more humbling and more humiliating than everything that has gone before. It is to allow other people to put the searchlight upon me instead of my doing it myself.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, i, pp. 64–5

“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”
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Civilian casualties in the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict

During a previous Israeli/ Palestinian conflict I wrote on civilian deaths in war. One cannot solely tally the number of deaths, one needs to consider intention.

Intention is important. One can argue whether or not an army deliberately targeting civilians is legitimate in war. The West generally condemns this action as morally wrong. While I am in general agreement with this, one could make an argument that it may be dependant on the choices “enemy” civilians make. But if we accept that intentional targeting of civilians is immoral then those who do so carry the guilt even if they are unsuccessful in their intent. That is, if they miss the target or strike the target but it has been evacuated such that no one is killed, the intent and attempt at civilian death is present. They should be thought of and treated similarly to any other group which accomplishes intentional civilian massacre. The lack of achievement of their goals does not remove their culpability.

Addressing civilian deaths in the current conflict,

Both [UN Secretary-General] Ban and the Obama administration took Israel to task for the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza.

This is misguided. This is a superficial approach looking at actual deaths and not intent.

Israel targets Hamas rockets thus minimising civilian death of its own population. It also uses various strategies to decrease Palestinian civilian casualties such as warning to stay out on an area, announcing targets ahead of time, using accurate targeting, agreeing to ceasefires for aid.

Hamas policy is to target civilian areas without warning thus attempting to maximise Israeli civilian death. It has also conducted military action in ways that are likely to increase Palestinian civilian casualties or encourage the use of human shields.

The greater number of Palestinian civilian casualties is due to more effective Israeli defence and their greater firepower. Israel is attempting to minimise civilian casualties on both sides and Hamas is attempting to increase civilian casualties on both sides. Ban and the Obama administration’s complaints are directed toward the wrong side.
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