Daily Meditation

Why We Should Love Our Enemies

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.  (Luke 6:27)

John Piper

There are two main reasons why Christians should love their enemies and do good to them.

One is that it reveals something of the way God is. God is merciful.

“He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

So when Christians live this way, we show something of what God is like.

The second reason is that the hearts of Christians are satisfied with God and are not driven by the craving for revenge or self-exaltation or money or earthly security.

God has become our all-satisfying treasure and so we don’t treat our adversaries out of our own sense of need and insecurity, but out of our own fullness with the satisfying glory of God.

Hebrews 10:34: “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property [that is, without retaliation], since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” What takes away the compulsion of revenge is our deep confidence that this world is not our home, and that God is our utterly sure and all-satisfying reward.

So in both these reasons for loving our enemy we see the main thing: God is shown to be who he really is as a merciful God and as gloriously all-satisfying.

The ultimate reason for being merciful is to glorify God — to make him look great in the eyes of man.
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Making the Most Out of Failure

Propaganda, Faux-Reality, And Truth
In the past few days, the North Korean regime has been snake-oiling prodigiously.  Its propaganda machine has been operating at peak capacity.  It has been trumpeting its universal good-citizenship.  It has decided to destroy forever its underground nuclear testing site.  This surely must “prove” its good faith in the upcoming talks with the United States.  

Sadly, in a regime so out of touch with truth, lying is perpetual.
  Back in October, long before direct talks with America were on the horizon, even whilst Trump was mocking Kim Jong Un with the title, “Rocket Man”, the Japanese authorities released intelligence on the “state” and “performance” of North Korea’s underground nuclear testing facility.

Japanese media are reporting that a new tunnel under construction at North Korea’s Punggye-ri test site collapsed this month, killing up to 200 laborers.  The UK Telegraph notes that outside observers do not know the exact date of the collapse because the North Korean regime is not eager to discuss the incident, but it reportedly occurred after North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test detonation to date on September 3.

According to the Japanese report, the tunnel collapsed and trapped or killed about one hundred laborers who were working on expanding it. Another hundred were killed in a second collapse while attempting to rescue the first group.  As the Telegraph notes, the powerful September 3 blast reportedly collapsed several underground structures near Punggye-ri, as well as causing landslides on the surface.

Japan’s Asahi TV sourced its report to a North Korean official, who said the collapse occurred sometime around October 10. South Korean officials indicated they were aware of the report but could not confirm it.  Newsweek quotes experts who believe further testing in the existing Punggye-ri tunnels would risk a catastrophic collapse, but the Kim regime is unwilling to abandon the site entirely, so it is attempting to dig new tunnels to the north under the Mantapsan mountain. South Korean scientists informed their legislature on Monday that further nuclear tests by North Korea could not only trigger underground collapses, but risk spreading radioactive material into South Korea or China.

Chinese geologists have reportedly warned North Korea that further nuclear tests at Punggye-ri could cause the facility to collapse, although the Chinese Foreign Ministry would not confirm that such warnings have been formally delivered to Pyongyang.  “China cannot sit and wait until the site implodes. Our instruments can detect nuclear fallout when it arrives, but it will be too late by then. There will be public panic and anger at the government for not taking action,” a researcher from Peking University explained. Another researcher expressed fears that fallout from tunnel collapses after another blast could “spread to an entire hemisphere.”  [Breitbart London]

In recent days, we have had the North Korean “spin” on the shutting down of its nuclear test facility:

SEOUL, South Korea—North Korea said Saturday that it would dismantle its nuclear test site in less than two weeks, an event that would set up leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next month.  Pyongyang plans to destroy all of the tunnels at the country’s northeastern testing ground with an explosion and remove observation and research facilities and ground-based guard units, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.  “A ceremony for dismantling the nuclear test ground is now scheduled between May 23 and 25,” depending on weather conditions, the Foreign Ministry’s statement said.

North Korea’s announcement comes days after the U.S. said the historic summit between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump will be held June 12 in Singapore.   North Korea has announced that they will dismantle Nuclear Test Site this month, ahead of the big Summit Meeting on June 12th.  Mr. Trump, in a Saturday evening post on his Twitter account, thanked North Korea for its plan to dismantle the nuclear test site, calling it “a very smart and gracious gesture!”  Mr. Kim had already revealed plans to shut down the test site by the end of May during his summit last month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. 

Ain’t spin a wunnerful thing!
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Coming to the light

marmsky May (16)

Coming to the light

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2383

John 3:16-21

Joh 3:16 Because God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone believing in him will not be destroyed but have permanent life.

Joh 3:17 Because God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Joh 3:18 Anyone believing in him is not condemned, but anyone not believing is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.

Joh 3:19 This is the condemnation: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Joh 3:20 Because everyone doing worthless things hates the light and avoids it, so that his works may not be exposed.

Joh 3:21 But anyone doing the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be worked by God.”

Coming to the light

Early in his Gospel, John revealed that Jesus’ life would be the light for humanity (1:4).1 But he does not immediately unpack that statement theologically. He begins to do so here in chapter 3. Nicodemus, who is a theologian, comes to Jesus at night for a conversation on spiritual matters. At that point in his life, Nicodemus could be called a success. He probably felt that he had as good a chance as anyone of getting on God’s good side – and earning his salvation, simply as a result of his theological knowledge. But Jesus tells him that he cannot be part of God’s coming kingdom without coming to the light – Jesus himself.

Jesus had already explained that the Holy Spirit was giving birth to a new people for God. He appeals to Nicodemus to accept God’s only Son, and only way to salvation. “Good” works are not an alternative to Jesus. Those really doing good works come to Jesus, the light, so that those good works may be exposed as God’s works. All “good” works apart from Christ are worthless things.

LORD, help us to reach people like Nicodemus, who are doing “good” things, but have not come to the light.

1ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶϛ τῶν ἀνθρώπων·

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What Genocide Really Looks Like

China’s New Gulag

The mass incarceration of a minority people

Jay Nordlinger
National Review Online

In the April 30 issue of this magazine, we published a piece about Jerome A. Cohen, a veteran American scholar of China. He told me that he was consumed, at present, by one thing above all: the mass incarceration of the Uyghur people, with no due process whatsoever. It reminded him of Austria and Germany, where some 40 of his relatives were murdered.

Jerry Cohen is a judicious and experienced man, not the kind given to alarms. So, when he talks this way, you listen. He further said that the Uyghurs were getting precious little attention from the world press. We will give them a little here.

What attention there is, is mainly coming from Radio Free Asia. This is a sister organization to RFE/RL (a combination of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty). RFA has a Uyghur service, the only one outside of China (and therefore the only honest one). It is staffed by Uyghur Americans — who pay a terrible price. So do their families, trapped in China. Relatives of six staffers have been rounded up, in retaliation for the work done by the staffers. Gulchehra Hoja is one of these staffers. A full 24 of her relatives have been rounded up.

For the Chinese government, this is standard operating procedure.
They punish the families of journalists, critics, and human-rights advocates abroad. Consider Rebiya Kadeer, the brave lady known as “the Mother of the Uyghurs.” She has been in exile since 2005. Thirty-seven of her relatives have been rounded up: including her children, grandchildren, and siblings. When Uyghurs are rounded up — taken away — they are often “disappeared.” Their loved ones don’t know where they are, or whether they are dead or alive.

We should pause for some basic facts. Who are the Uyghurs (also spelled “Uighurs” and “Uygurs,” and pronounced, essentially, “WEE-ghurs”)? They are a Turkic people, mainly Sunni Muslim, living in the XUAR. Those letters stand for “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.” The word “autonomous” is a joke. The region is ruled with an iron fist by Beijing. Uyghurs themselves don’t use the name “Xinjiang,” though Chinese do: It means “new territory,” “new dominion,” or “new frontier.” In other words, “It’s ours,” China’s. Uyghurs themselves call their region “East Turkestan.”

By the way, if you say “East Turkestan” in East Turkestan, you may be punished severely.

In order to make the region more Chinese and less Turkic, the Chinese government moved millions of ethnic Chinese people in. They did the same to Tibet, of course. And the Soviets did the same to the Baltic countries (Russifying them).

How many Uyghurs are there? The numbers are very hard to come by, as the Chinese government manipulates them. Officially, there are 10 million Uyghurs. Unofficially, there may be 15 million. And in exile? Possibly as many as 6 million, in a vast diaspora, stretching from the -stans of Central Asia to Europe and the U.K. to the United States to Australia.

For decades, there has been Uyghur resistance to Sinification. Beijing has subjected the Uyghurs to “strike hard” campaigns (i.e., crackdowns). A small number of Uyghurs have become militant, taking up arms. This has given Beijing an excuse to label East Turkestan a terrorist region and respond accordingly. The Burmese government has done just this to the Rohingya people.

In a piece for the New York Times, James A. Millward, a China scholar at Georgetown University, quoted a Chinese official: “You can’t uproot all the weeds hidden among the crops in the field one by one — you need to spray chemicals to kill them all.”

Nury A. Turkel is a Uyghur-American lawyer, working in Washington, D.C. He is also the chairman of the board of the Uyghur Human Rights Project. He points out that the Chinese authorities have suppressed Uyghur religion and culture for years. They have burned the Koran, banned traditional clothing, etc. But such repression is a very light affliction in comparison with the current horror.

The authorities are still taking anti-Muslim measures, of course: closing down mosques, making it illegal to fast during Ramadan, requiring Uyghur stores to sell alcohol. These are nasty little measures, to be sure. But the current horror is a gulag. Even cool professionals — China hands who have seen it all — have a hard time talking about this, so horrific is the subject.

How many Uyghurs have been thrown into this gulag, an archipelago of “reeducation” camps? It is hard to know for sure. The government does not even acknowledge the existence of the camps. Estimates range from half a million to a million people. Almost every household in the region has been affected. In one county, Moyu, 40 percent of the adults have disappeared.

Who is targeted? Everyone? Potentially, yes, but certain Uyghurs are most vulnerable. People who are religious or political (“politically incorrect,” in the words of the government). People who have traveled abroad, or who have received a phone call from abroad. Teachers and intellectuals. I’m reminded of Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge went after people who wore glasses.

In East Turkestan, the young are especially targeted — people under 40. A report from RFA quotes a village security official, who says, “People born in the 1980s and 1990s have been categorized as part of a violent generation — many of whom have been taken into reeducation under this category.” I’m reminded of Cuba, where many have been arrested on the charge of “pre-criminal social dangerousness.”

With so many adults in the camps, the orphanages are overflowing. Some children have been sent to provinces far away. Nury Turkel notes a creepy and sinister fact: At the time of the Chinese New Year, in February, Chinese men arrived at Uyghur homes without heads of household — without husbands and fathers. These men had been hand-picked by officials. They lived with the Uyghur families for a while, imposing themselves.

Countless ordinary people have been rounded up, of course, and well-known ones, too. An Islamic scholar, Muhammad Salih Hajim, was taken away. He died in custody 40 days later (from torture, surely). A soccer star, Erfan Hezim, 19 years old, went abroad to train and play matches. When he got back, he was hauled off.

Chinese authorities have always harassed and hounded the Uyghurs, but the new horror began only a year ago. Why? Apparently, because there is a new sheriff in town, a new governor of the region, a new Gauleiter, as the Nazis called them: Chen Quanguo, who was Beijing’s man in Tibet. In 2011, he was sent to subdue that proud and rebellious country, and he did a very good job of it. So he was sent to do the same to the Uyghurs.

He has set up a police state to make even Orwell gasp. Xinjiang, or East Turkestan, might be the most tightly policed area in the world. Professor Millward has written about this in detail. So have Sarah Cook of Freedom House and Megha Rajagopalan, a correspondent for BuzzFeed. In the region, there are police checkpoints on virtually every block. The entire population is DNA-sampled. Biometrics are wielded against the people. Communications are closely monitored. Privacy has almost been eliminated. People fear to talk to one another, or to go out. Normal towns have been turned into ghost towns.

Chen Quanguo has married Maoist fantasies of control with state-of-the-art technology. Ceausescu, the late dictator of Romania, wired his entire country, and he was brutally effective. But he was dealing with now-antique technology, and with the latest, he could have done even worse.

An archipelago of reeducation camps was not in place and ready to go when Chen arrived. Factories, hospitals, and schools have been converted into camps — the flax factory in the city of Ghulja, for example. One camp is called the “Lovingkindness School,” a classic Chinese Communist touch.

A word about process: When they haul you off, they put a black hood over your head. Often, they come in the middle of the night. Megha Rajagopalan talked to a man who had been able to escape East Turkestan with his family. She described his routine, before they left: “Every evening he placed an overcoat and a pair of thick winter trousers near the door so he could pull them on quickly if the police came for him — the weather was warm but he was afraid he could be held into the winter months.” That is exactly what Soviet citizens did during the Terror. (Shostakovich, the great composer, slept next to the door with a suitcase packed.)

What takes place in the camps, actually? Some testimony has leaked out. They put a prison uniform on you. In some cases, at least, they shave your head. They subject you to intense “patriotic education,” i.e., political indoctrination. They try to force you to abandon your erroneous Uyghur ways and become a good Chinese Communist. Some prisoners comply, or seem to, and get released. Others who are more resistant are tortured, sometimes to death.

Many are driven insane. RFE/RL reported on one man, Kayrat Samarkan, who considered suicide, in despair. “He started beating his head against the wall to convince his captors he was psychologically unwell.” He made it out, to tell his tale.

Uyghurs in exile are crying as loud as they can. In late April, some 2,600 of them, from all over, rallied in Brussels, seat of the European Union. They were simply trying to call attention to the horror.

Jerry Cohen, the veteran China scholar, can’t help thinking of the Third Reich. Mass killing has not yet happened in East Turkestan, as he points out — but the situation smells of the pre-genocidal. Many experts, not to mention ordinary Uyghurs, have detected this smell. I put a blunt question to Alim Seytoff, the director of Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur service: “Will they kill them?” He answers, softly, “I have no idea, honestly.”

The media cannot cover the fall of every sparrow, of course. There are many unfortunate sparrows in the world. Yet Uyghurs in exile are frustrated that the media have paid so little attention to East Turkestan, where there is something like an emergency going on. They have a hard time masking the desperation in their voices. One can understand them.
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Daily Meditation

At the Bottom of It All

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:5)

John Piper

The experience of Charles Spurgeon is not beyond the ability of any ordinary Christian.  Spurgeon (1834–1892) was a contemporary of George Mueller. He served the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London for over thirty years as the most famous pastor of his day.

His preaching was so powerful that people were converted to Christ every week. His sermons are still in print today and he is held up by many as a model soul–winner.

He recalls an experience when he was sixteen that shaped his life and ministry for the rest of his days.

When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this.

I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths [the doctrine of election] in my own soul — when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man — that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, that clue to the truth of God.

One week–night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it.

The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment — I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so?

Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”

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The Glory of the Saviour Uncloaked

‘These Bombs Led Me to Christ’

The “Napalm Girl” from a famous Vietnam War photo tells her story of coming to faith.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi

‘These Bombs Led Me to Christ’

You have seen my picture a thousand times. It’s a picture that made the world gasp—a picture that defined my life. I am nine years old, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier, arms outstretched, naked, shrieking in pain and fear, the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance.

My own people, the South Vietnamese, had been bombing trade routes used by the Viet Cong rebels. I had not been targeted, of course. I had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those bombs have brought me immeasurable pain. Even now, some 40 years later, I am still receiving treatment for burns that cover my arms, back, and neck.
The emotional and spiritual pain was even harder to endure.  And yet, looking back at the past five decades, I realize that those same bombs that brought so much suffering also brought great healing. Those bombs led me to Christ.

Mountain of Rage

As a child, I was raised in the religion of Cao Dai (pronounced cow-die). My grandparents were important leaders within the religion, and they enjoyed respect from our entire community. Following in their footsteps, my parents, who had grown up knowing no religion except Cao Dai, also devoted themselves to its beliefs, as did all of my siblings.

Cao Dai is universalist in nature. According to a description on CaoDai.org, it recognizes all religions as having “one same divine origin, which is God, or Allah, or the Tao, or the Nothingness,” or pretty much any other deity you could imagine. “You are god, and god is you”—we had this mantra ingrained in us. We were equal-opportunity worshipers, giving every god a shot.

Looking back, I see my family’s religion as something of a charm bracelet slung around my wrist, each dangling bauble representing yet another possibility of divine assistance. When troubles came along—and every day, it seemed, they did—I was encouraged to rub those charms in hopes that help would arrive.  For years, I prayed to the gods of Cao Dai for healing and peace. But as one prayer after another went unanswered, it became clear that either they were nonexistent or they did not care to lend a hand.

And so I continued to bear the crippling weight of anger, bitterness, and resentment toward those who caused my suffering—the searing fire that penetrated my body; the ensuing burn baths; the dry and itchy skin; the inability to sweat, which turned my flesh into an oven in Vietnam’s sweltering heat. I craved relief that never would come. And yet, despite every last external circumstance that threatened to overtake me—mind, body, and soul—the most agonizing pain I suffered during that season of life dwelled in my heart.

I was as alone as a person can be. I could not turn to a friend, for nobody wished to befriend me. I was toxic, and everyone knew it. To be near me was to be near hardship. Wise people stayed far away. I was alone, atop a mountain of rage. Why was I made to wear these awful scars?

I grew up hearing the proverb “A tree wants to be alone, but the wind always whips it here and there.” That was me: a wind-whipped tree. And I feared I would never stand upright again.

In 1982, I found myself crouched inside Saigon’s central library, pulling Vietnamese books of religion off the shelves one by one. The stack in front of me included books on Bahá’í, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Cao Dai. It also contained a copy of the New Testament. I thumbed through several books before pulling the New Testament into my lap. An hour later, I had picked my way through the Gospels, and at least two themes had become abundantly clear.

First, despite all that I had learned through Cao Dai—that there were many gods, that there were many paths to holiness, that the burden of “success” in religion rested atop my own weary, slumped shoulders—Jesus presented himself as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). His entire ministry, it seemed, pointed to one straightforward claim: “I am the way you get to God; there is no other way but me.” Second, this Jesus had suffered in defense of his claim. He had been mocked, tortured, and killed. Why would he endure these things, I wondered, if he were not, in fact, God?

I had never been exposed to this side of Jesus—the wounded one, the one who bore scars. I turned over this new information in my mind as a gem in my hand, relishing the light that was cast from all sides. The more I read, the more I came to believe that he really was who he said he was, that he really had done what he said he had done, and that—most important to me—he really would do all that he had promised in his Word.

Perhaps he could help me make sense of my pain and at last come to terms with my scars.

Finally at Peace

My salvation experience happened, fittingly enough, on Christmas Eve. It was 1982, and I was attending a special worship service at a small church in Saigon.  The pastor spoke about how Christmas is not about the gifts we give to each other, so much as it is about one gift in particular: the gift of Jesus Christ. As I listened to this message, I knew that something was shifting inside me.

How desperately I needed peace. How ready I was for love and joy. I had so much hatred in my heart—so much bitterness. I wanted to let go of all my pain. I wanted to pursue life instead of holding fast to fantasies of death. I wanted this Jesus.

So when the pastor finished speaking, I stood up, stepped out into the aisle, and made my way to the front of the sanctuary to say yes to Jesus Christ.

And there, in a small church in Vietnam, mere miles from the street where my journey had begun amid the chaos of war—on the night before the world would celebrate the birth of the Messiah—I invited Jesus into my heart.  When I woke up that Christmas morning, I experienced the kind of healing that can only come from God. I was finally at peace.

Nearly half a century has passed since I found myself running—frightened, naked, and in pain—down that road in Vietnam. I will never forget the horrors of that day—the bombs, the fire, the shrieks, the fear. Nor will I forget the years of trial and torment that followed. But when I think about how far I have come—the freedom and peace that comes from faith in Jesus—I realize there is nothing greater or more powerful than the love of our blessed Savior.

My faith in Jesus has enabled me to forgive those who have hurt and scarred me. It has enabled me to pray for my enemies rather than curse them. And it has enabled me not just to tolerate them but truly to love them.

I will forever bear the scars of that day, and that picture will always serve as a reminder of the unspeakable evil of which humanity is capable. That picture defined my life. In the end, it gave me a mission, a ministry, a cause.

Today, I thank God for that picture. Today, I thank God for everything—even for that road. Especially for that road.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi is the author of Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace (Tyndale). She is the founder of the Kim Foundation International in Ontario, Canada, and a UNESCO Goodwill ambassador.
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Worldly things and supernatural things

marmsky May (15)

Worldly things and supernatural things

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2382

John 3:9-15

Joh 3:9 “How can these things be?” answered Nicodemus.

Joh 3:10 “Are you a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things?” Jesus replied.

Joh 3:11 “Sincerely I am telling you, we are speaking what we know and we are testifying to what we have seen, but you are not receiving our testimony.

Joh 3:12 If I have told you about worldly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about supernatural things?

Joh 3:13 No one has ascended into the sky except the one who descended from the sky– the Son of Man.

Joh 3:14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

Joh 3:15 so that everyone who is believing in him may have permanent life.

Worldly things and supernatural things

What were the worldly things that Jesus had mentioned to Nicodemus? I think he must have been referring to what he said about the wind in verse 8. He was comparing the fact that the wind does what it does invisibly, causing a visible result. He had been talking about being birthed from above by the Holy Spirit.

Now Jesus is preparing to talk about other supernatural things (τὰ ἐπουράνια). So, he offers another comparison. He compares God’s plan for saving humanity through Christ with God’s plan for dealing with the snake infestation of Numbers 21:4-9.

The comparison is not exact. Jesus points out that Moses’ bronze snake only allowed the Israelites to resume their temporary life. But Jesus death on the cross will allow the one believing in him (ὁ πιστεύων ⸂ἐν αὐτῷ) to have permanent life (ζωὴν αἰώνιον).

LORD, thank you for your divine plan, making it possible for us to live forever.

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Too Good To Be True

Saudi Church-Building Deal Dismissed as “Fake news”

The Barnabas Fund

Claims that Saudi Arabia had agreed with the Vatican to allow the building of churches for the first time in its history were dismissed as “fake news” this week. News reports in the Egyptian press claimed on 4 May that Saudi Arabia had made a deal with the Vatican to construct churches for “Christian citizens”.

But the Vatican later denied any such deal had been made, and the Egypt Independent, the original source of the story, removed the article from its website.

The paper had originally stated that the Muslim World League, an organisation funded by the Saudi Government and which promotes Islamic teachings, had signed the deal with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

The report did not state whether any churches would potentially be built in Saudi Arabia itself.

The country follows a strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and it is impossible for anyone living in the country to openly practise Christianity. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians from other nations, such as the Philippines, other parts of Asia, or African countries, who are living and working in Saudi Arabia. But they must meet in private homes to worship, and risk harassment, arrest and deportation if they are caught doing so.

The number of Saudi citizens who are Christians is known only to God. As converts from Islam they are liable to execution for apostasy, and therefore most are secret believers.

The Kingdom’s administrative laws state that its constitution is the “The Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah (traditions)”, and the judicial system operates on a strict interpretation of sharia law, which officially carries the death penalty for any Muslim citizen who converts to Christianity. Adult males and females are both subject to the death penalty for apostasy from Islam under the Sunni Hanbali form of sharia law practised in Saudi Arabia.

So, if the deal had really been, as reported, that Saudi Arabia would allow church buildings for “Christian citizens”, the question would have arisen as to whether any such Christian Saudi citizens would make themselves known.

The original report also stated that a joint committee for the Vatican and the Muslim World League would meet every two years, which suggests if any agreement had been signed between the parties it would have been a notional one rather than having any immediate effect.

During his visit to Riyad, Cardinal Tauran was said to have met with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. However, it is unlikely that the Crown Prince would go so far as to consider church building within Saudi Arabia, where any such moves are likely to cause uproar among its Muslim citizens who widely adhere to hadith teachings (the tradition of reporting what Muhammad said or did).  One of these reports that Muhammad planned to make the Arabian Peninsula a region that was 100% Muslim.

“It has been narrated by ‘Umar b. al-Khattib that he heard the Messenger of Allah say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim.” (Sahih Muslim Book 19, Hadith 4366).
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Monday quote

The question isn’t “If God is perfectly loving, why would he allow all those people to die?”. Rather, we should marvel at the amazing love of God to save anyone, especially when the price was the death of the Son of God.
Lita Cosner.
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Daily Meditation

We Inherit All of Christ with Him

Joint heirs with Christ. Romans 8:17

Charles H. Spurgeon

The boundless realms of his Father’s universe are Christ’s by prescriptive right. As “heir of all things,” he is the sole proprietor of the vast creation of God, and he has admitted us to claim the whole as ours, by virtue of that deed of joint-heirship which the Lord hath ratified with his chosen people.

The golden streets of paradise, the pearly gates, the river of life, the transcendent bliss, and the unutterable glory, are, by our blessed Lord, made over to us for our everlasting possession. All that he has he shares with his people. The crown royal he has placed upon the head of his Church, appointing her a kingdom, and calling her sons a royal priesthood, a generation of priests and kings. He uncrowned himself that we might have a coronation of glory; he would not sit upon his own throne until he had procured a place upon it for all who overcome by his blood. Crown the head and the whole body shares the honour. Behold here the reward of every Christian conqueror!

Christ’s throne, crown, sceptre, palace, treasure, robes, heritage, are yours. Far superior to the jealousy, selfishness, and greed, which admit of no participation of their advantages, Christ deems his happiness completed by his people sharing it. “The glory which thou gavest me have I given them.” “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The smiles of his Father are all the sweeter to him, because his people share them. The honours of his kingdom are more pleasing, because his people appear with him in glory.

More valuable to him are his conquests, since they have taught his people to overcome. He delights in his throne, because on it there is a place for them. He rejoices in his royal robes, since over them his skirts are spread. He delights the more in his joy, because he calls them to enter into it.
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