Theresa May On Song

Britain Will Not ‘Cherry Pick’ Bits of EU Membership

Nick Hallett
Breitbart London

Britain will leave the European Single Market and will not “cherry pick” parts of European Union membership to keep after Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has said.  In an article for French newspaper Le Figaro, Mrs. May said it was important to maintain economic links with the EU, including “access” to the single market, but she added Britain cannot accept a continuation of freedom of movement.

“As we leave the EU, we will seek the greatest possible access to the European single market through a new, comprehensive, bold, ambitious free trade agreement,” Mrs. May wrote.  “This cannot, however, mean retaining membership of the single market.  President Hollande [of France] and other European leaders have been very clear that this would mean accepting the ‘four freedoms’ of goods, capital, services, and people and I respect their position.

Britain understands that EU leaders want to continue with the process of integration. We do not, to borrow the phrase, seek to cherry-pick which bits of membership we desire.”

She also warned in the article against giving Britain a bad Brexit deal as the UK is France’s fifth largest export market.  “UK companies are responsible for an estimated 230,000 jobs in France, and French companies for about 370,000 jobs in the UK,” she said, pointing out that the two countries have bilateral trade of €50 billion per year.”

The article comes as Mrs. May meets French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve for talks in Downing Street.  Earlier this week, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said Britain should not be “punished” for leaving the EU.

“What is the point in punishing a country?” she said. “It is senseless, unless you think the EU is a prison, and you are condemned if you escape. I want to rebuild our damaged relations with the United Kingdom.  A people decides its own destiny. You cannot force a country to do something that is against its own interests, or against the democratic process,” Ms. Le Pen added.
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Daily Devotional

Confessing Sin As a Child

“Father, I have sinned.”  Luke 15:18

Charles H. Spurgeon

It is quite certain that those whom Christ has washed in his precious blood need not make a confession of sin, as culprits or criminals, before God the Judge, for Christ has forever taken away all their sins in a legal sense, so that they no longer stand where they can be condemned, but are once for all accepted in the Beloved; but having become children, and offending as children, ought they not every day to go before their heavenly Father and confess their sin, and acknowledge their iniquity in that character?

Nature teaches that it is the duty of erring children to make a confession to their earthly father, and the grace of God in the heart teaches us that we, as Christians, owe the same duty to our heavenly Father. We daily offend, and ought not to rest without daily pardon. For, supposing that my trespasses against my Father are not at once taken to him to be washed away by the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus, what will be the consequence?

If I have not sought forgiveness and been washed from these offences against my Father, I shall feel at a distance from him; I shall doubt his love to me; I shall tremble at him; I shall be afraid to pray to him: I shall grow like the prodigal, who, although still a child, was yet far off from his father. But if, with a child’s sorrow at offending so gracious and loving a Parent, I go to him and tell him all, and rest not till I realize that I am forgiven, then I shall feel a holy love to my Father, and shall go through my Christian career, not only as saved, but as one enjoying present peace in God through Jesus Christ my Lord.

There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit, and confessing sin as a child. The Father’s bosom is the place for penitent confessions. We have been cleansed once for all, but our feet still need to be washed from the defilement of our daily walk as children of God.
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The Benedict Option, Part I

The Western Church Enters the Long Dark of Moria
Rod Dreher has written a book to prepare Western Christians for the coming Dark Age.  It is entitled The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.  Whilst its particular focus is the United States, it is applicable to the West as a whole.  

A fundamental assertion made by Dreher is that the present post-Christian, pagan world views now gaining not just currency, but regnancy throughout the West, are not a short-term, temporary phenomenon.  Rather, paganism will dominant the West for a thousand years or more.  His concern is to prepare the Western Church for this new, semi-permanent reality

It is refreshing to find someone speaking and thinking in such long time frames.  Most evangelicals in the Western world believe that the Lord is about to return any minute.  Their operating time frame spans little more than a generation in most cases.  Dreher, a professing Roman Catholic–more Catholic than Roman–operates in the biblical time frame, which not infrequently speaks of thousands of generations.

Here is a summary of Dreher’s thesis, provided by the publisher, Barnes and Noble:

The light of the Christian faith is flickering out all over the West, and only the wilfully blind refuse to see it. From the outside, American churches are beset by challenges to religious liberty in a rapidly secularizing culture. From the inside, they are being hollowed out by the departure of young people and a watered-down pseudo-spirituality. Political solutions have failed, as the triumph of gay marriage and the self-destruction of the Republican Party indicate, and the future of religious freedom has never been in greater doubt. The center is not holding. The West, cut off from its Christian roots, is falling into a new Dark Age.

The bad news is that the roots of religious decline run deeper than most Americans realize. The good news is that the blueprint for a time-tested Christian response to this decline is older still. In The Benedict Option, Dreher calls on traditional Christians to learn from the example of St. Benedict of Nursia, a sixth-century monk who turned from the chaos and decadence of the collapsing Roman Empire, and found a new way to live out the faith in community. For five difficult centuries, Benedict’s monks kept the faith alive through the Dark Ages, and prepared the way for the rebirth of civilization. What do ordinary 21st century Christians — Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox — have to learn from the teaching and example of this great spiritual father? That they must read the signs of the times, abandon hope for a political solution to our civilization’s problems, and turn their attention to creating resilient spiritual centers that can survive the coming storm. Whatever their Christian tradition, they must draw on the secrets of Benedictine wisdom to build up the local church, create countercultural schools based on the classical tradition, rebuild family life, thicken communal bonds, and develop survival strategies for doctors, teachers, and others on the front lines of persecution. [Emphasis, ours.]

Now is a time of testing, when believers will learn the difference between shallow optimism and Christian hope. However dark the shadow falling over the West, the light of Christianity need not flicker out. It will not be easy, but Christians who are brave enough to face the religious decline, reject trendy solutions, and return to ancient traditions will find the strength not only to survive, but to thrive joyfully in the post-Christian West. The Benedict Option shows believers how to build the resistance and resilience to face a hostile modern world with the confidence and fervor of the early church. Christians face a time of choosing, with the fate of Christianity in Western civilization hanging in the balance. In this powerful challenge to the complacency of contemporary Christianity, Dreher shows why those in all churches who fail to take the Benedict Option aren’t going to make it.

Whilst not gainsaying the significance of Benedict of Nursia, we can also point to more recent examples of calls for separation in order to purify, re-build, and then eventually re-conquer our lands.  We have in mind leaders like Abraham Kuyper who called us to believe and accept that every square inch, every atom and sub-atomic particle, belongs to King Jesus.  Therefore, every thought, every intention, every motivation, every task and deed must be brought into submission to the King.  In order to achieve this, said Kuyper, our isolation or our separation is our strength.

Dreher writes frequently about the Benedict Option at the blog The American Conservative.
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The US Version of the Star Chamber

Washington’s Supreme Court Imposes Its Progressive Faith on a Christian Florist

The ruling in Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers should chill First Amendment advocates everywhere.

John French
National Review Online

[A few days ago, we published a piece on how the state in the UK is taking steps in the direction of persecuting those who speak to others about the Christian faith.  Persecution is taking a different form in the United States, but the end result is same.  In the US, some courts are overtly insisting upon submission to the state religion and are beginning to punish non-conformity.  Ed.]  

If you care about the Bill of Rights, the rights of conscience, or even the English language, there’s a chance that this morning you felt a disturbance in the Force — as if the Founders cried out in rage and were suddenly silenced. That disturbance was the Washington Supreme Court’s oppressive ruling in State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, a case holding that a florist was bound by state law to use her artistic talents to design floral arrangements to celebrate what she viewed as an immoral event: a gay wedding.

The pretext for overriding the florist’s rights to free speech and religious liberty was Washington’s so-called “public accommodations law,” which required the owner, Barronelle Stutzman, to provide goods and services to customers “regardless” of their sexual orientation.

Let’s be clear, according to the plain language of the law and the undisputed facts of the case, Stutzman did nothing illegal. She had always consistently and joyfully served gay clients, including the man who ultimately decided to bring potentially ruinous legal claims against her. On each of those prior occasions, however, she was not using her artistic talents to help her clients celebrate an occasion she considered immoral.

In other words, she was not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
She was making a decision not to help celebrate an action, a form of expression. She would no more celebrate a gay wedding than she would any form of immorality, gay or straight. To dispense with her argument, the court did what numerous progressive courts have done: It rewrote the law. It rejected what it called the “status/conduct” distinction, and essentially interpreted the word “orientation” to also mean “action.”

To understand how nonsensical and dangerous this is, one need merely apply it to other categories of expression. Is it now racial discrimination to refuse to bake a cake with Confederate flag icing, since the person asking for such a cake will almost always be white? Is it gender discrimination for fashion designers to refuse to “dress” Ivanka or Melania Trump? They’re women, after all.

But this is the sexual revolution we’re talking about, so it’s necessary for the court to make a statement declaring the government’s allegiances. Indeed, late in the opinion its author gave the game away. Picking up on the absurd and historically ignorant comparison of the modern gay-rights movement with the civil-rights movement in the segregationist South, the judge wrote, “This case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.”

What are they talking about? The federal government took the extraordinary step of passing the civil-rights acts to give black Americans access not just to sandwiches but to hotel rooms, jobs, voting rights, and all the other things they were systematically denied as southern states and communities continually and oppressively imposed the “badges and incidents of slavery” on them. In the pre-civil-rights South, black citizens often had trouble finding places to eat or sleep. They couldn’t vote. They couldn’t get justice in state courts. Civil rights was about access, at its most elementary and necessary level.

But that’s not the case any longer. The gay couple in this case had no trouble finding flowers. Stutzman even recommended other florists who would have been happy to help them celebrate their wedding. So, given the absence of any real harm, the court said that the state had a compelling state interest in punishing the “independent social evil” of discrimination toward a “broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace.”

That’s it right there: the state religion. It reserves for itself the exclusive ability to name, define, and eradicate “social evils,” and heaven help the individual citizen who disagrees. There is no need to show a traditional, legally recognized harm. There is no need to prove lack of access to alternative artistic expressions. There is only the need to show that the business owner won’t use her unique talents to help celebrate the sexual revolution.

Finally, if you doubt the court’s malice, look only to its last ruling — that Stutzman can be held personally liable for her allegedly discriminatory act. In other words, the court is willing to pierce the corporate veil to impose individual liability even in the absence of the traditional justifications for that drastic step. Stutzman didn’t commit fraud. She didn’t commingle her personal and corporate funds. She kept her private and professional affairs separate. But she still faces personal financial ruin.

Social-justice warriors will no doubt celebrate the breaking of another egg for their cultural omelet. Meanwhile, Stutzman’s lawyers — my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom — are appealing her case to the Supreme Court. Once again, eyes will be fixed on Justice Kennedy. Will he continue to impose his own version of the state religion, the one he so enthusiastically articulated in Obergefell? Or will he remember that words have meaning, orientation doesn’t mean action, and the state can’t compel citizens to condone what they consider immoral.

It’s time for the Supreme Court to take a deep breath, abandon its revolutionary crusade, and remember the great wisdom of its predecessors:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

What say you, Justice Kennedy? Do those who oppose the sexual revolution forfeit that fundamental protection? I suppose we’ll soon find out.

— David French is a staff writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.

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A Ready Steady Faith… in Light of Future… Hope (Luke 17:20-37)

With all the political changes in the world at the moment, some people are acting like it is the end of the world. Maybe we are in an epoch change, about to step off the edge into the unknown mist covered waters. At the very least we are seeing a major shift in the ebb and flow of the culture wars in westerns society, between the progressive and conservative.

So it is opportune that we’ve come to a point in working through Luke’s account of Jesus Journey to Jerusalem where he is asked about When will the Kingdom of God come? Because it is helpful for us as we face our uncertain times  to hear Jesus correct the thinking of both the Pharisees and his disciples on this matter.

What isn’t helpful however is that this passage and passages like it have been the subject of much speculation and interpretation. People speculating about what will happen in the future. People  taking the events of their time and squeezing them into the apocalyptic passages and images in the bible. I was a mature student at Otago University in 2001. On September 12th , for us in New Zealand, as everyone round the world watched two planes crash into the twin towers in New York, a friend of mine at university, an animal rights activist actually, came looking for me. He wasn’t a Christian but he wanted to Know if the Bible talked about such a sign happening? Was this unprecedented event the sign of a coming apocalypse? Id the Bible like that?

It’s also not helpful that a whole industry has grown up around various interpretations of these kinds of passages. Tim LeHaye’s very lucrative ‘left behind’ series of novels and films is the best known example. Evangelists have used these kinds of things to scare people into faith.

It’s not helpful that how these passages are to be interpreted, how we think about eschatology, the study of the last days, has split the church at various times in its history. You can’ t talk about these things without coming up against someones pet theory.

What is helpful is a comment from bible scholar Daryll Bock that the passages in scripture about the coming of the kingdom of God are designed not so we can prepare charts, about what is going to happen, but to prepare our hearts to face whatever is going to happen. It is not about knowing when the last day will be but faithfully following Jesus in these last days, no matter how long they last. The time between the Kingdoms inauguration in the coming of Jesus and its consummation with the Coming of Jesus again. 

The Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God will come? The Pharisees had a very definite idea of what they meant when they talked of the Kingdom of God. They had studied the scriptures of the Old Testament and their desires and aspirations where shaped by what they read of God restoring Israel as an independent nation, a world power. It meant the overthrowing of the Roman empire that occupied Israel.  They were one of several political religious groups in Jesus day. The zealots were another group, they believed in direct action against the Romans, But the Pharisees believed if they differentiated themselves as God’s people by keeping the law, being pure, that God would send them a messiah to establish this kingdom.

Jesus reply was that the kingdom of God was not quantifiable like that. It wasn’t a place or a time that you could say here it is or there is it. It wasn’t going to be a definable political physical entity.

And the reason for that was that ‘the Kingdom of God was in their midst…’ The Pharisees were looking for God’s reign in this world and they were missing the very fact that God’s messiah, was right there in front of them. When you ask what is the kingdom of God like, the answer has to be, it is like Christ… it is where the poor, both spiritual and physical, receive good news, the broken hearted healing, the blind receive sight, the prisoners and the oppressed are set free.  It is where the acceptable year of the Lord is declared, that refers of course to the year of jubilee in Leviticus 25, which talks of a time when debts will be cancelled and land and wealth justly redistributed.

Jesus turns and speak to his own disciples as well, there was the same expectation amongst them, that Jesus journey to Jerusalem was going to end in him being recognised as the messiah and made king. You can see that sort of thinking in places like  Matthew’s gospel where John and James Mother asks Jesus if her boys can be in the cabinet when Jesus comes into his kingdom. Not only that but in the early church that Luke was writing to there was an expectation that with Jesus death and his resurrection that Christ would return very soon and people were becoming disheartened because it was not happening. Jesus corrects this thinking.

He talks of a longing to see the “the days of the Son of Man” but not seeing them. As the Pharisees had missed seeing Jesus as the messiah in their midst, the disciples also might miss the days of the son of man because they didn’t recognise what God was doing in Jesus Christ. Jesus would have to suffer and be rejected by this generation. The kingdom of God was not going to be established by political will or military might, but by the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ for the world. The Kingdom of God was not going to be this political military victory rather it would come into being through the sacrificial love of God’s chosen king, Jesus, and his disciples following his example. Because of that there is temptation to be lead astray to false messiahs. Maybe like the Pharisees it would be this political expression or hopes or that specific time and place, and we are very good at doing that aren’t we, “those were the days” or this religious figure or strong leader. The reality is that they would not miss the coming day of the son of man, because it would be like lightening in the sky, they will know it when they see it. It will be universal and unmissable.

Jesus goes on to talk of his coming being like in the day of Noah and Lot in the book of Genesis, both examples of God’s judgment. The flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus is preparing his disciples to face difficulties in their future epoch changing events, many scholars point to Jesus talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD by the Romans, the Pharisees thought they were going to defeat the Romans but the reality was the opposite and the followers of Jesus had to be ready for this.  They were unexpected events that happened suddenly…And like those times things will carry on as normal right up until the end. Eating and drinking, births and marriages, business as usual, and they needed to have a ready steady faith now and that would see them through.

Jesus is warning them that the day when the son of man is revealed will be like that. That when it comes there will be no time to go down and get your possessions it will be swift and sudden. He warns them about Lots wife who when fleeing from Sodom and Gomorrah stops and looks back longing for the things she has left behind and finds herself get caught up in God’s judgment. He tells them if they want to hold on to their lives they will lose it. This is the central warning and teaching for Jesus disciples, that they are not to be caught up in the things of this world, when the day of the son of man comes they will be caught looking backwards. They will be torn between the things of this world and the things of the Kingdom of God.   The time to make a choice about what you will do is

Jesus goes on to talk of a series of people going about everyday life and one will be taken and one left behind. Know this has often been a passage that is referenced by people when they talk about what is called the rapture. The idea that there will come a time when Jesus followers will be taken up to be with him. This is the left behind bit… right… Different understanding of eschatology argue over when this would be… some say it is before there is a time of tribulation others say after. But I actually think they’ve missed what is being said here when they do that.

F

irstly Jesus is speaking in a very Jewish way. The important bit is in the middle of Jesus paragraph here the warning about holding on to life and losing it and on either side of that are two passages which are saying the same thing in a different way. Before the warning it is that there will be not time to go back to get anything. This week in Christchurch and Australia this has been made very real for us with people being told to flee as wild fire had drawn close to their houses, and we’ve seen the distress of not being able to go and grab anything if they were to get to safety.  The second section says that it will come so suddenly that people will be going about their business and one will be taken and the other will be spread. I understand it because of the way a school acquaintance of mine was killed. He was in a motor vehicle which was hit by a bolder that came down the mountainside. He was in the passenger seat and was killed instantly while his mate right next to him survived without a scratch.

The warning from Jesus is to live ready, in the long haul in the midst of the mundaness of life to have a ready and steady faith, to live faithfully in light of our future hope.

How does that work out in our lives.

We are always tempted to see the kingdom of God associated with the victory of our way of thinking and living in the world, but the Kingdom of God is in our midst, in the form of Jesus, present physically like he was with his first disciples, or with us by his spirit, the Kingdom of God looks like Jesus, God’s son. Sadly we can think the kingdom of God is like the empire, or the Pharisees, we can equate it with a way of thinking or a political expression or political structure and get lead astray. Christian Europe is a good example of that, what we call Christendom, when people thought Christianity had conquered the known world, but there was need for reform and renewal and even revolution. Like with Francis of Assisi, whose renewed knowing of Jesus lead him away from the power structures of his day to live with and serve the poor. To look like Jesus…The reformation, Martin Luther’s reiteration of the grace of God in light of the churches excesses of selling indulgences to build a cathedral. To look like Jesus.  Today when Christians identify with the political agendas of either the conservative right and the progressive left, and equate hem with the Kingdom of God there is a need to be reminded that the Kingdom of God is neither but looks like Jesus and we need the renewal and reform that goes with that.

Secondly, Jesus teaching here points us to the fact that God’s purposes and plans are being worked out in human history. History is not just moving inevitably on ad infinitum, but God is working out his plans and that will come to fulfillment. We are called to live in these days in the light of that day. How we live our priorities, our vision are to be shaped by the Kingdom of God established in Jesus Christ and awaiting its consummation.

 The times when the church has lost the understanding of Eschatology in its true sense; not an idol curiosity about the future, but a trust that God is working out his purposes in the world, has been the time when the church has simply fallen asleep. When it has become an institution, simply holding on to past gains. It has lost its life because it has been afraid to lose that. When it has been aware of the presence of God with it and the call of God to be about its master’s purpose and plan for salvation, personal and on a societal level it has been a movement with the vitality and vision that allow it to face both suffering and tragedy, and the mind numbing sameness and challenges of everyday life.

The civil rights movement in America in the 1960’s is a great illustration. One of it’s catch cries was “keep your eyes on the prize”. Keep your eyes on the prize”. For them it was a very Kingdom of God vision of equality and justice and receiving the rights they were promised under the constitution of the United States, that kept them going, kept them persevering under opposition and oppression, that meant when they were met with violence they could take it and not be put off. But it was a saying that came from an old gospel spiritual, keep your eyes on the prize and keep your hand to the plough. It summarised the words of Hebrews 12 let us throw off everything that would hold us back, every sin that would bind and let us run the race set before us, with our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Lastly, How do we face the uncertain times, the times when it feel likes it the end of the world … It is with a ready steady faith that seek to put the presence of the Kingdom of God with us  a priority in our life…I’m drawn back to the image on the screen, because when I see it I can’t help but thing of the Irish monks in the navigato of St Brendan, one of the most ancient European pieces of literature. Who knelt to pray on the shore of their beloved land and then were willing to venture out onto the wild waves and uncertainty of time and seemingly at the mercy of tides and currents, storms and lulls the in search of the Kingdom of God. The image behind me is not some far off Irish coastal scene by the way it was taken at Ambury farm Park, it’s the moody Manukau, its right in the middle of suburban Auckland, I had to frame the shot to not get all those houses up in Hillsborough in frame, if you turn round from here you can see One tree Hill and the High Rises of the City. That is where we are called to set sail, with a ready steady faith, on the adventure of seeking the kingdom of God,  trusting Jesus is in the boat with us.


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Daily Meditation

On Comfort

C. S. Lewis


Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.

From A Grief Observed
Compiled in Words to Live ByA Grief Observed. Copyright © 1961 by N. W. Clerk, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Preface by Douglas H. Gresham copyright © 1994 by Douglas H. Gresham. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers
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Fragrant Grease

Far Greater Risks Than “Buyer Beware”

China, over many generations, has believed deeply in the pragmatic virtues of  “fragrant grease”.  The bribe facilitates all.

When Taiwanese visit the mainland they often report about the role of the bribe in mainland China.

They noted that mainlanders are not conscientious in their work, that officials live well and demand bribes from the poor, that anything including admission to schools may be had for a bribe, and that “lack of sincerity”, cheating, and extortion are prevalent.  They noted that “many long-haired jobless youth loiter about, and some rob people” and that there has been a general decline in traditional Chinese virtues.  It takes no special sophistication for a traveler to see that everything is for sale, from immunity for one’s self to the ruin of one’s enemies.  [Angelo M. Codevilla, The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997),  p.143.]

Let anyone doing business in China beware.  It’s not just that the payment of fragrant grease is expected by local officials in order for them to facilitate and permit one’s company to operate.  It’s also the reality that one’s  “enemies”–commercial competitors–can bribe in the opposite direction, leading not just to one’s own commercial loss, but to one’s company managers and directors being hauled into prison.
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the ruined retreat

marmsky-devotions-pics-february-2017-21

PLAN FOR REST, BUT BE FLEXIBLE

Luke 9:10-11

Luk 9:10 When the missionaries returned, they told Jesus everything they had accomplished. Then he took them with him and they had a private retreat at a town called Bethsaida.
Luk 9:11 But when the crowds found out, they followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing.

the ruined retreat

The Bethsaida retreat was a chance for the twelve to rest, reflect and report on their recent ministry activity. But the crowds found them, and so it became something else. That happens often in ministry. Many times, what you plan has to give way to what occurs. Rather than let it ruin you, you need to be flexible. The older I get, the more time I take off for rest and recreation. Sometimes my plans don’t work out, but usually they do. It’s not a matter of putting ministry first. No, your ministry is not the most important thing. Your relationship with God is the most important thing. Your health matters to him, so it should matter to you. In fact, the more you structure rest and renewal into your schedule, the better it will be when the urgent requires your attention, as it did for Jesus and the twelve in Bethsaida.

LORD, give us the wisdom to plan, and the strength to be flexible.

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Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

The Hot Politics of the Moment

Douglas Wilson
Blog&Mablog

So now would be a good time for all of us to listen to Rand Paul on big data security concerns. And here is why.

Michael Flynn has just stepped down as the president’s National Security Advisor. My concern is not whether he was wise or foolish in his interaction with the Russians, or whether he completely misrepresented himself to the vice-president or not, or whether the president was right to seek his resignation or not. My concern is not with the decisions that have been made, but how it came about that a decision had to be made.

Before he was part of the government, before he was sworn in, his phone conversations with foreigners were recorded. Those conversations were then subsequently leaked and the controversy ensued.

What this means is that someone in the intelligence community, with access to the surveillance data that is routinely collected, released some of that data in the interests of a political agenda. It does not matter for my purposes if that political agenda is wise or foolish. It is simply that this information was released for political purposes, and the person who released it is not in jail. This is all we really need to know.

When we have had our debates about big data collection, and some of us have worried about the illicit weaponization of such information, the reassurances come back. That doesn’t happen. There are protections. We have firewalls. Yeah, right. Where are they in this instance?

So when the “protections” are violated, as they manifestly have been in this situation, the hot politics of the moment overwhelm any and all process concerns. The person who leaked from the big data reservoir is an honorable “whistle-blower.” The politics of taking down Trump a few notches overshadow the glaringly obvious fact that the government is in control of information that it will never be able to handle responsibly.

We have an example of a case of abuse, sitting right in front of us, kind of on fire, and it is the kind of abuse some of us predicted just a few months ago, and fans of the surveillance state said no, no, no, it doesn’t work that way, and now here we are. What are you going to do? What are you going to say?

Not only do the advocates of the deep state shrug, but so also the general population shrugs. But there is only one way to keep this reservoir of data from leaking in this way, and that is to make sure that the only data in the reservoir is there because someone obtained a warrant after showing probable cause.

If you protest that national security requires megadata collection, I ask if megadata collection itself presents any threat to national security. If you tell me that our intelligence agencies are honorable and would never do anything like this, then I will wonder (out loud) why they just did do something like this. And I will wonder further why there has not been an arrest. You have data on Michael Flynn but have no data on the person or persons unknown who took him out at the knees? Maybe you guys are watching the wrong people.
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Daily Meditation

The Kind of Cold That Kills

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. (Psalm 147:15)

John Piper

Tonight it will be 40 degrees warmer in our kitchen freezer than it is outside here in Minneapolis. The high temperature tomorrow will be five degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). We receive this from the Lord’s hand.

He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
(Psalm 147:15–18)

This is the kind of cold you do not play with. It kills.

When I came to Minnesota from South Carolina, I dressed for it. But I did not prepare life-saving support in my car in case of a break down.  One Sunday night on the way home from church, in this kind of cold, my car died. This was before cell phones. I had two small children in the car.

There was no one on this road. I suddenly realized, this is dangerous.  Soon it was very dangerous. No one came.

I saw in the distance through a fence a house. I am the father. This is my job. I climbed the fence and ran to the house and knocked on the door. They were home. I explained that I had a wife and two small children in the car, and asked if they would let us in. They did.

This is a kind of cold you do not play with.

It is one more way God says, “Whether hot or cold, high or deep, sharp or blunt, loud or quiet, bright or dark . . . don’t toy with me. I am God. I made all these things. They speak of me, just like the warm summer breezes do, and the gentle rains, and the soft moonlit nights, and the lapping of the lakeside, and lilies of the field and the birds of the air.”

There is a word for us in this cold. May the Lord give us skin to feel and ears to hear.
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