Daily Devotional

Comfort One Another

Charles Spurgeon

“The voice of weeping shall be no more heard.”
Isaiah 65:19

The glorified weep no more, for all outward causes of grief are gone. There are no broken friendships, nor blighted prospects in heaven. Poverty, famine, peril, persecution, and slander, are unknown there. No pain distresses, no thought of death or bereavement saddens. They weep no more, for they are perfectly sanctified. No “evil heart of unbelief” prompts them to depart from the living God; they are without fault before his throne, and are fully conformed to his image. Well may they cease to mourn who have ceased to sin.

They weep no more, because all fear of change is past. They know that they are eternally secure. Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They dwell within a city which shall never be stormed; they bask in a sun which shall never set; they drink of a river which shall never dry; they pluck fruit from a tree which shall never wither. Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity shall not be exhausted, and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessedness shall co-exist with it. They are forever with the Lord.

They weep no more, because every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything which they have not in possession.
Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire, will, all the faculties, are completely satisfied; and imperfect as our present ideas are of the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, yet we know enough, by the revelation of the Spirit, that the saints above are supremely blessed. The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fullness of delight, is in them. They bathe themselves in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite beatitude.

That same joyful rest remains for us. It may not be far distant. Ere long the weeping willow shall be exchanged for the palm-branch of victory, and sorrow’s dewdrops will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss.

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
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Secularism and the Borg

Its  Doom is Sure

Here is yet another case exposing how the Borg-like mind of secularism works.  A couple in New York State who rent the use of their farm for social events, including weddings, is now shutting that part of their business down.  Why?  Aren’t people getting married any more?  Not at all.  Rather–and you know what’s coming next–the couple, Cynthia and Robert Gifford are Christians and they do not want their premises to be used to sanctify homosexual “marriage”.

They were approached by two women who wanted to rent their facilities to mark their faux-marriage.  The Gifford’s refused.  The “couple” complained to New York’s Division of Human Rights, asserting that they had been discriminated against because of their homosexuality.  The judge ruled in their favour.  The Giffords were fined $13,000.  They have been required to teach “classes” of their employees the state’s definition of marriage and non-discrimination.  A nice bit of state imposed re-education.  Shades of 1984.  The Giffords have shut that part of their business down, stating they will no longer hold any wedding ceremonies on their property.

What can we learn from cases such as this?

Firstly, the incidence of such faux discrimination cases will multiply greatly.  The logic of secularism is closed and operates within four windowless walls.  The only operating deity is the state.  Marriage, in this particular idolatry, is defined by the state, legalised by the state, and defended by the state.  Whatever the state says, goes.  If the state says that couples of the same sex can enter marriage, then the Borg has spoken; the hive must obey and think and act as they have been told.  Secularism allows no other view inside its four walls.  Christians, however, will never comply.  Their room is open and answers to the Living God.  The state is but a servant of God–in this case, a rebellious servant.  Christians will traduce the illegalities of the secular state, and suffer the consequences if necessary–as the Gifford’s have done.  It’s called persecution.  It will become increasingly common.

Secondly, the secular state will end in ignominy.  The logic of the Borg is relentless.  If two people of the same sex must be allowed to marry, so must half a dozen people.  Welcome to polygamous “marriages”, polyandrous “marriages”, bestial “marriages”, and the sanctioning of relationships promoted by the “Man-boy Love Association”.  The secular state defines marriage to be a human right–but its definition of human rights embraces whatever someone wants to be and do as a human right.  Since marriage is a coalition of the willing, by definition all who are willing to get married have a human right to get married.   The secular mind is a universal acid: it will progressively burn through everything, including itself.

Thirdly, notice how private is defined by the Borg.  In more Christian days, privacy and what was deemed private was offset against the state.  A private business was one not owned and operated by the state.  The “public” in this context was the state.  Now, no business can be a private business because it sells or trades with others, not itself.  Secularism has re-defined private to be limited to what goes on within one’s head.  As soon as another person is involved, it is a public act and the public authorities–known as the state–can rule and regulate it to its heart’s content.

Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that Liberty Ridge Farm is a public accommodation because it rents its space and regularly collects fees from the public. The judge said the fact that the owners live on the premises does not mean that their business is private in nature. [The Blaze]

Luther used to joke that the only part of the human anatomy not controlled by the Pope was the rear end.  The growing Borg-like secularist tyranny, however, is no joke and its vaunted ambitions to possess and control all things are without bound.  But its overreach, its rebellion against King Jesus, is doomed to failure.

The lesson for Christians and the Church?  Keep faithful.  Keep on one’s knees.  Refining through suffering first begins with the household of God.  Our sins and unfaithfulness are great.  How appropriate that our willingness to cede false honour to the secularist state has resulted in the Borg attempting to colonise us.  Resist we must and shall.  Here we stand.  We can do no other.  The victory and the honour belong to Christ.  He is a jealous God, and will brook no rivals.  The secularist state and its mind-eating Borg will eventually be broken asunder.

Luther, at this point, is the wisest of counsellors:

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

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Letter From Iraq (About the Caliphate’s Pogrom)

Canon Andrew White (Frrme.org)
Canon Andrew White (Frrme.org)

‘They’re So Evil’

Pastor Serving in Iraq Says Islamic State’s Murderous Rampage Like Nothing ‘Seen Since the Days of the Holocaust’

Aug. 26, 2014 


Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Anglican church in Baghdad, and his organization, the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, have been on the front lines of helping displaced Iraqis survive in the midst of the Islamic State’s violent assault on the region.

White recently told TheBlaze that the conditions on the ground in Iraq are “absolutely horrendous,” noting that 250,000 Christians have been displaced from their homes in Mosul, Nineveh and other locations; this figure, he said, doesn’t include Yazidis, another minority group.
“They are sheltering in the north and the mountains. They have nothing,” White said. “They have lost their homes, they have lost their future. We are providing them with as much food as we can, as much help as we can.”

White, who continues to speak out about the plight of Christians and Yazidis in the region, said that the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation, a group he founded and runs, has staff on the ground in northern Iraq working to ensure people have what they need to survive.

As of Friday, he said his organization, which has 150 total staff members, including doctors, dentists and relief workers, had raised about a half million pounds (approximately $828,540) toward these efforts — money that had predominately come from British churches.

They’re so evil. You cannot talk to them. You cannot win them over,” he said. “That is a terrible thing. How do we cope in this horrendous situation? How do we move forward?”

White went on to describe what the Islamic State — a group known for its violent and murderous tendencies — has done to Iraqi minorities aside from pushing them out of their homes.

White said that there’s no reasoning with the Islamic State, describing its members as “evil.”  “You cannot deal with these people. They’re so evil. You cannot talk to them. You cannot win them over,” he said. “That is a terrible thing. How do we cope in this horrendous situation? How do we move forward?”

These are the very questions that the international community has been faced with as the United States and other nations consider the best path forward to halt the terror group’s advances.  As for White, he said it is paramount that the international community find a way to assist the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been forced from their homes with nowhere to go.

Canon Andrew White Tells TheBlaze About the Islamic States Assault on Christians
This image posted by the Raqqa Media Center shows fighters from the Islamic State group on top of a military vehicle with anti-aircraft guns in Raqqa, Syria, Thursday, Aug 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center)

The faith leader also called on Christians around the world to take action to stem ”the biggest threat and persecution of Christians ever” by praying, donating and coming together.  “I would say that at this time — this terribly discord time — we need Christians to stand together around the world. I would not just say Christians, but all people of faith,” White said. “What we’re seeing now is like nothing that has been seen since the days of the Holocaust.”

White, who moved to Iraq in 1998, initially supported the U.S.-led war back in 2003, but now says that he was wrong. While he felt that Saddam Hussein was evil and needed to be removed, the resulting years have brought with them pain and suffering previously unforeseen under the dictator’s control.

I would say that at this time — this terribly discord time — we need Christians to stand together around the world.

“The problem is the U.S. was clearly responsible for Iraq pouring into hell. We didn’t have any of these problems before,” he said. “We did not live with these daily bombings and massacres and killings on the street.”  According to White, preparations weren’t made to properly train and engage with religious leaders in Iraq after the U.S. invasion — something he said would and should have been essential.

Canon Andrew White Tells TheBlaze About the Islamic States Assault on Christians
This image posted by the Raqqa Media Center shows a fighter from the Islamic State group inspecting a military truck in Raqqa, Syria, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center)

“When religion goes wrong, it goes very wrong,” he said. “And what happened after the war was religion went really, really wrong.”

As for the most recent U.S. airstrikes, White said he isn’t sure where he stands. If the assaults stop the Islamic State’s advances, he said that they are beneficial, but he expressed skepticism that the radical group will be stopped without some sort of plan on the ground to stem extremism.

White’s comments were made as the Islamic State continues its rampage in parts of Syria and Iraq, declaring a caliphate in the areas it has conquered.
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Daily Devotional

Pleased to Praise

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67:3, 5)

John Piper

Why does God demand we must praise God?

C.S. Lewis:

Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?”

The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

There is the solution! We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak of what we value and celebrate what we love and praise what we admire, our joy could not be full.

So if God loves us enough to make our joy full, he must not only give us himself; he must also win from us the praise of our hearts — not because he needs to shore up some weakness in himself or compensate for some deficiency, but because he loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy that can be found only in knowing and praising him, the most magnificent of all beings.

If he is truly for us, he must be for himself! God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimately loving act. For him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things “for the praise of his glory,” he preserves for us and offers to us the only thing in all the world that can satisfy our longings.

God is for us! And the foundation of this love is that God has been, is now, and always will be for himself.
For more about John Piper’s ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.
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Ignominious Multi-culturalism

Rotten Fruit

Multi-culturalism is at first glance an empty, anodyne proposition.  Because it ostensibly embraces all cultures, regarding them all as equally valid and good, it has nothing meaningful or helpful to say about any culture.  (To be fair, in reality multi-culturalists are usually marked by a deep loathing for their own culture, but that’s a personal failing, not one of the ethic of multi-culuralism per se.)

Discrimination is a necessary aspect of critical and rational discourse.  Proposition A is “sound” or “unsound”; conclusion C is “invalid” or “valid”.  Action D is “ethical” or “unethical”.  The scale of “good”, “better” and “best” is always useful for critical discernment.  But multi-culturalism requires a pre-commitment that no culture or cultural group shall be subject to such critical analysis or discrimination.  When the Apostle Paul wrote, “one of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’  This testimony is true.”  (Titus 1: 12, 13) he was violating the ethic and principles of secular multi-culturalism, which requires that we do not say anything bad or negative about any culture.  The endless, relentless positive sentiment of multi-culturalism is nothing more than a Pollyannaish anodyne gush.

But it produces, say the multi-culturalist Pharisees, peace, tolerance and harmony in society.  Everybody tolerates every other group.  Being critical of a culture is a manifestation of intolerance, discrimination and hate speech.  Actually, on the contrary, multi-culturalism foments, encourages and empowers evil.  Society X practises cliterodectomy.  No problem. Who are we to judge another culture.  It has significance and meaning, harmony and purpose in its own context, drones the card-carrying multi-culturalist.

An horrific illustration of what we are describing has come to light in the UK.  Fourteen hundred children have been sexually abused in one area because the entrenched secular ethic of multi-culturalism forbad focusing upon an ethnic group perpetrating the crimes.  This from the NZ Herald:

A new report concluded that some 1,400 children were sexually exploited in one northern England town– a damning account of the collective failure by authorities to prevent children as young as 11 from being beaten, raped and trafficked. . . .  The independent report came after a series of convictions of sex offenders in the region and ground-breaking reports in the Times of London that prompted the local council to launch an inquiry.

“The collective failures of political and officer leadership were blatant,” said Jay, a former chief social work adviser to the Scottish government. “From the beginning, there was growing evidence that child sexual exploitation was a serious problem in Rotherham.”  Attention first fell on Rotherham in 2010 when five men received lengthy jail terms after convictions of grooming teens for sex. Later, investigations began into why authorities failed to act even after frontline social workers suggested things were amiss.

Why were the authorities turning a blind eye to this systematic gross abuse of young people and those that preyed upon them?  Because of the ethic and dominance of multi-culturalism.  It turns out the perpetrators were all of one ethnicity, and such things shall not be identified or spoken of.  

Even more damming was the fact that victims described the perpetrators as “Asian” and yet the council failed to engage with the town’s Pakistani community.  “Some councilors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away” Jay said. “Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.”  Jay cited examples of “children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and threatened they would be next.” [Emphasis, ours]

Since it was not politically correct to focus upon an ethnic group as the perpetrators of a criminal acts,  officials and politicians just hoped it would go away. 

James Delingpole describes the multi-culturalist mindset that led to this debacle:

Q: When is the sexual abuse of children culturally, socially and politically acceptable?

A: When it’s committed with industrial efficiency by organised gangs of mainly Pakistani men in English Northern towns like Burnley, Oldham and Rotherham, of course.

But obviously you’re not allowed to admit this or you might sound racist. That’s why, for example, in today’s BBC report into the fact that at least 1400 children were subjected to “appalling” sexual abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, you have to wade 20 paragraphs in before finally you discover the ethnic identity of the perpetrators.

And even then, the embarrassing fact slips out only with the most blushing mealy-mouthedness:

By far the majority of perpetrators of abuse were described as “Asian” by victims.

Well hang on, a second. What this phrase seems to be hinting at is the possibility that the men involved weren’t “Asian” (note to US readers: Asian is UK PC-speak for Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, not orientals) but that the victims mistakenly took them to be so. Is that actually the case or not?

Let’s have a look at the names of the Rotherham men found guilty by Sheffield Crown Court in 2010 of raping or sexually abusing girls as young as 12 shall we. Maybe that’ll help.

  • Zafran Ramzan
  • Razwan Razaq
  • Umar Razaq
  • Adil Hussain
  • Mohsin Khan

Nope. Absolutely no clues there, then…

It turns out the authorities knew exactly what was going on–both that large numbers of children were being systematically abused, and who the perpetrators were, but they decided that a greater good would be achieved if the authorities refrained from any appearance of racism and a transgression of multi-culturalism.

The local authorities, in other words, knew exactly what was going on. Yet still they did nothing. Why?  Well we’ve already answered that, pretty much. It’s because the kind of politically correct, left-leaning and basically rather thick people that local authorities like Rotherham Council tend to have working for them are so paralysed by modish concerns about cultural sensitivity that they have made an obscene judgement call: better to allow at least 1400 kids to be hideously abused than to be thought guilty of the far greater crimes of being thought a bit racist or accidentally offending someone.

(And this isn’t an incident confined to Rotherham by the way. The same thing happened recently in Oxford, again involving men with decidedly un-Anglo-Saxon names, again over a long period of time because all the relevant authorities were scared of sounding the alarm in case they came across as racist)

Yep, these people really are that thick and warped. They’ve had it drilled into them – probably on courses like this one, organised by Common Purpose – that they must celebrate “diversity” at every opportunity. And if that means letting a few Pakistani men rape kids, douse them with petrol and threaten them with guns, well who are we to judge? Quite possibly it’s one of those vital cultural differences that we’ll be trained better to understand when we attend our next Common Purpose course with some title like Embracing The Other: Leadership Strategies For Multicultural Community Development. Till then, let’s not be quick to cast the first stone, eh? After all, there may be aspects of our culture that they find equally alien and troubling. The rule of law say; respect for women; children’s rights; trendy Western liberal crap like that…

The reality lies here: a finite point has no ultimate meaning unless it is seen in relation to the infinite.  Remove the infinite, eternal and unchangeable God from one’s world-view, and nothing has any real significance or meaning.  Multi-culturalism is an attempt to institutionalise this vacuum, by making all cultures equally valid, equally insignificant.  But its necessary ethical accompaniment is that no culture, no ethnicity may be singled out, identified, or discussed negatively.  Better to tolerate everything, even the grossly criminal.

Multi-culturalism is a rotten fruit of the West’s regnant atheism. 
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Monday quote

You don’t avoid tyranny by putting a king with no bloodlust on the throne. You avoid it by removing the throne’s ability to extract blood.

Hans Fiene
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Letter From New Zealand (About Gaza and Israel)

Progressive Hypocrisy

Chris Trotter
The Christchurch Press
26th August, 2014

Where are the impassioned streams of citizens flooding our nation’s streets to protest against the actions of the Islamic State?

The righteous wrath stirred up by the Israeli assault upon Gaza has been plain to see. But the barbaric punishment meted out to Christians, captive Iraqi soldiers, Shia Muslims and followers of the ancient Yazidi faith has yet to inspire anyone to apply paint to placard.

Given the chorus of rage currently directed at the “Zionist Entity”, why are those who profess “progressive” sympathies so silent when it comes to the outrages perpetrated by the self-proclaimed caliphate?  The latest of these, the beheading of an American journalist, has generated a wave of revulsion around the world. Not least on account of the perpetrators’ cynical (but effective) use of social media to publicise their medieval celebration of cruelty and death.

But where are the Hollywood movie stars emoting to camera over the ritual killing of their defenceless compatriot? Where are the protest crowds of outraged progressives demanding justice for James Foley?
Does nobody else think it odd that the gunning down of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, can spark days of passionate protest, but the agonising decapitation of a helpless journalist elicits condemnation only from “mainstream” politicians and the equally despised “mainstream” media? Did progressives maintain a similar silence when images of a terrified Palestinian boy, caught in a deadly crossfire of Israeli bullets, appeared on the world’s television screens? No, they did not.

More and more, it seems to me, we are being presented with what some commentators are calling “good dead” and “bad dead”.

The Palestinian mother and child who die under Israeli bombs; the Dutch tourist who dies when a missile destroys Flight MH17 over Donetsk; these are the “good dead”. We may mourn their loss openly and loudly, and angrily condemn their killers.  But the women and children killed by Ukrainian jets and artillery, or by the missiles fired into Israel from Gaza, these are “bad dead”: to be passed over in silence.

Now, you may say that it was ever thus: that people around the world have always been encouraged to hate who their leaders hate and mourn the dead of their valiant allies. But this has never been the position of those who described themselves as progressive.

People on the Left of politics used to condemn cruel and unusual punishment wherever it occurred. Racial discrimination, religious persecution and the subjugation of women were likewise held up as unequivocally bad practices.

Not any more.

It always struck me as extraordinary that Western progressives were willing to put their bodies (and even their lives) on the line for the sake of racial equality and democratic freedom in South Africa, but that there was no equivalent international mobilisation against the vicious repression of women in the Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan.

The universalism of the 20th century had, by the early years of the 21st, given way to an empty ethical relativism. Today, it would seem, progressives are free to pick and choose who they deem to be right and wrong. Raging unceasingly against the Israeli “apartheid” state, while maintaining an ambiguous silence in the face of the caliphate’s atrocities.

So, for those who chant “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea!” I would counsel this little thought experiment.

Suppose in October 1973, Syria’s Russian-equipped armoured divisions had broken through Israel’s northern defences and that Ariel Sharon’s tanks had not outmanoeuvred Egypt’s in the Sinai. What do you suppose would have been the response of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)?

Would it have demanded a ceasefire, pending the creation of a secular and democratic Palestinian state? Or, would they have driven every Jew living east of the River Jordan into the sea?

If you were to ask 100 Israelis that question, I’m pretty sure how 95 of them would respond. They would tell you that from the moment of its formation in 1964, the PLO wagered everything on Egypt and Syria (with Soviet backing) being militarily capable of doing what it, alone, could never do: destroy the Israeli state.  When it lost that bet the PLO adopted a dual-track strategy: officially recognising Israel’s right to exist while unofficially sanctioning a long and deadly asymmetric struggle against the Israeli people. Using terror not to defeat the Israeli state, but to reshape it in the terrorists’ own murderous likeness.

Having transformed Israel into a monster, the Palestinians could then implore the world to come to their rescue. Of course, for this strategy to succeed, Israel had to be constantly goaded into unleashing ever more murderous attacks.

Morally, there is little to distinguish the Palestinian leadership’s conduct from that of the caliphate’s. Because no good end ever came from such evil means.

Progressives knew that . . . once.
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Video: “Discussing Divine Command Theory” Special Guest: Matthew Flannagan

Last week I was invited to be part of a discussion on divine command ethics in Google hangouts. The full discussion is now on-line as episode 22 of Ode to Dialogue: “Discussing Divine Command Theory.” Enjoy.

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Ode to Dialogue EP 22: “Discussing Divine Command Theory.” Special Guest: Matthew Flannagan

Last week I was invited to be part of a discussion on divine command ethics in Google hangouts. The full discussion is now on-line as episode 22 of Ode to Dialogue : “Discussing Divine Command Theory.” Enjoy.

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Daily Devotional

An Unshakably Happy God

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

John Piper
Sourced from BibleGateway

God is absolutely sovereign.

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Therefore he is not frustrated. He rejoices in all his works when he contemplates them as colors of the magnificent mosaic of redemptive history. He is an unshakably happy God.

His happiness is the delight he has in himself. Before creation, he rejoiced in the image of his glory in the person of his Son. Then the joy of God “went public” in the works of creation and redemption.

These works delight the heart of God because they reflect his glory. He does everything he does to preserve and display that glory, for in this his soul rejoices.

All the works of God culminate in the praises of his redeemed people. The climax of his happiness is the delight he takes in the echoes of his excellence in the praises of the saints. This praise is the consummation of our own joy in God.

Therefore, God’s pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in him are the same pursuit. This is the great gospel!

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