Paul gives two Reasons to Rejoice, even in chains and facing an uncertain future: The certainty of the gospel unchained (Philippians 1:12-26)

When we were young one of the things we had to do after Christmas and our birthdays was sit down and write thank you letters to the various distant relatives who’d sent us a card and some money. They were people we didn’t really know that we’d only seen in old faded black and white photographs or met once or twice or maybe seen at family gathering every other year or four. So I remember asking my mum what do you say after you’ve written the introduction stuff. Dear Auntie Petunia or Uncle Bob, I’m writing to say thank you for the lovely birthday/Christmas present. Thanks, you very much.’ My mom would say well why don’t you tell them about what you are doing, about what year you are in at school, what are your interests and that sort of thing… Let them know what is happening in your life. Which we did, I don’t think there was ever more than a stilted line or two. I know it was never anything profound. The letters never got past just the superficial stuff and I doubt whether they were preserved for posterity.  

In the passage, we had read out to us today Paul after his Christ filled introduction tells the church at Philippi about what is going on in his life. They had sent him a gift to support him in prison and he lets them know what has happened, where he is now and the uncertainty of his future. In this we have a window into Pauls experiences and mind, but also because of who Paul is we are given an example of true Christian living in the face of suffering and uncertainty. A statement of principle to guide all the saints, the church in Philippi way back then and there, and us, as God’s people, here and now.

This winter we are working our way through Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. A letter he wrote to thank them for their support and prayers. A letter that he writes to encourage them to stand firm in the faith in the face of external persecution and false teaching within. A letter that uses the word joy sixteen times and encourages the church to rejoice because of what Jesus Christ has done and is doing and can be trusted to do in the future. That in Christ we can know Joy regardless of the circumstance. In the passage, we are looking at day, Paul gives two reasons he rejoices in the face of suffering: while he is in chains the gospel is unchained, Jesus Christ is being proclaimed, and while his future is uncertain, whether he lives or dies he is certain it is held in Christ.

Paul starts by saying what has happened to him in the past has served to advance the gospel. We know form the book of Acts of the things that Paul has endured and the suffering he has faced, and in those situations the gospel has been advanced. People have heard the gospel message. People have encountered Jesus Christ and become his disciples, there have been many who have been healed and set free in Christ. We know Paul’s journey to imprisonment in Rome. In Acts 21 we see that Paul is arrested in Jerusalem and falsely accused of taking a gentile into the temple. Even as he is being arrested and guarded by roman soldiers he gives his testimony to the crowds gathered. He speaks to the Jewish governing body the Sanhedrin and to the Roman officials. He is a Roman citizen so he makes an appeal to have his case heard by the Emperor, and is transported to Rome. We read of his ship wreck and the founding of the church in Malta as a result. Acts finishes with Paul in house arrest in Rome awaiting his hearing before the Emperor. He can look back at all these things that have happened in the past and see that God has used them to further the gospel

That is the confidence that you and I have as well, that if we serve Christ and are about his business that God can use the ups and downs in our life to further the gospel. The good times and the tough times for the furthering of his Kingdom. When we were in Napier I had a suspicious possibly cancerous lump on my leg removed. I spent about a week in hospital lying on my back unable to move in case I disturbed the skin graft on my leg. I was in a hospital room with four other men and you know in the evenings we had some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with non-Christians about the faith and I got to share the Christian faith with them in a way I don’t think would have been possible in everyday life. They may not have come to faith at that moment but I know that the Holy Spirit gave each of them a nudge in a Christ-ward direction. God can use what has happened in our past both the good and the bad for the sake of the gospel. It can be used for the glory of God.

Then Paul turns to talk of his presentsituation.  In our minds, we think of prison as punishment for wrong doing, but in this case Paul could be said to be on remand awaiting trial. He is waiting to have his case heard before the emperor. He s under house arrest and is chained all the time between two guards, soldiers form the prestigious Praetorian guard. He is not able to leave his place of residence but he is allowed to have visitors, and meets with those whom Acts tell us are with him, like timothy and even Luke, and also people from the fledgling church in Rome and from the end of Acts we see also the local Jews as well. Maybe we are used to the legal system taking a long time and it seems Paul has a two or more year wait for his audience with Caesar.

From this passage also we can see that Paul’s reception in Rome seems not to have been totally warm from the Church and there are groups within the church who do not regard Paul highly as an apostle, it maybe a case of jealousy, that this big wig has turned up on their patch, we don’t know but this is adding to Paul’s suffering. You see very often in the Psalms of David, that David’s suffering is often amplified by peoples gossiping and speaking ill of him. Maybe you’ve experienced that as people have talked about what you are facing and how you are dealing with it behind your back.

Yet even amidst this waiting period, this period of captivity and inactivity Paul rejoices. While he is in chains the gospel is unchained. He maybe a captive but all day everyday he has a captive audience, who listen to his prayers, his meeting with Christian brothers and sisters and his speaking with the Jews about Christ. Who when they are alone with Paul he speaks with and shares his faith, prays for them and their families. Paul reports that Jesus Christ has become known amongst the whole palace guard. It’s very subversive but those who are tasked with protecting Caesar as Lord are coming to know ‘Jesus as Lord’. God is using Paul’s captivity to reach into a sphere of Roman society that it may well have been impossible to reach any other way.

Paul rejoices that while he is in chains, the gospel is unchained, because of his courage the church around him is encouraged more to speak and share and proclaim Jesus Christ. It’s not the leaders that Paul sees only doing this but rather it is the people who are inspired to talk of their faith. Maybe Paul being in Rome has been a catalyst for people to inquire about the Christian faith. I’ve had a lot of discussions with non-Christians about the faith because of Brian Tamaki. For a while there Brian got lots of stick from the media, when people find out I’m a minister they want to know what I think of him and what really is the heart of Christianity. I’m sure Brian does not like the adverse publicity but its opened doors for the gospel. Yes I know it has hardened a few as well.  Even says Paul those whose motive are wrong, who are wanting to compete with Paul are preaching the gospel.  These are the things that make Paul rejoice.

Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned for many years under the communist and Ceausescu  regime in Romania, he suffered torture, illness, physical and phycological pain. Yet during that time his imprisonment encouraged the church outside to continue and he witnessed to many of the prisoners who were with him in prison, seeing them come to the Lord. AS the regime continued and various factions fell out of favour, Wurmbrand found himself sharing his cell with the people who had tormented him, prosecuted him and even tortured him and was able to speak with them and share Christ’s love.  When he was released he has influenced many Christians by his testimony of God’s grace and love for enemies. In communist China one of the ways in which the gospel spread was through the witness of Christians in prisons and labour camps. They were the only ones the guards could trust to shave them, as they knew they could be trusted not to cut their throats. The Christians would give up their precious eggs a major source of protein to give to the prisoners in the infirmary. Even in Egypt today as Christian face persecution and death at the hands of Islamic extremists, their willingness to forgive their neighbour has meant that young Muslim’s men are seeing Islam killing people and destroying villages and they don’t want that kind of religion and are starting to ask questions of the Christian faith. There is a real challenge for us as well to be prepared to step outside the western ideology of materialism and look at a different way of living and we will see the same thing, but as long as we continue to be chained to the same things as our neighbours they won’t see the gospel unchained.

Finally Paul looks to his uncertain future, not with trepidation but continuing to rejoice.  His case has been on appeal to the emperor and his life is literally in the emperor hand. Will he see Pauls case as a squabble amongst religious factions or will he see it as a threat to the empire, saying Jesus is Lord is a very political statement. It is to claim another king, to claim to be part of a different kingdom. Will he live or will he die? Paul faces that with the certainty of the unchained gospel.

He knows that with the prayers of the saints and the provision of the Holy Spirit that God whatever happens will turn out for his deliverance. The word deliverance can mean that he will be saved from his current predicament. It is the confidence that the God who saved Daniel  from the Lion’s den and who saved Shadrack,  Meshach and Abendigo from the fiery furnace can deliver him from the emperor. The situation is the same their wholehearted devotion to the heavenly king, puts them at odds with the realms of this world.  Pauls certainty is more than just a divine get out of jail free card  it is a certain hope that God has provided for his full salvation. He is forgiven and bought into relationship with God through Christ, it is God’s will that will prevail in this situation. Whether it is death or continuing living he knows it means for him Christ. To die is to go and be with his saviour face to face, to continue living is to know and be known By Christ. To continue living is to continue to work for and with Christ to build up the Church. Either way Paul’s desire is to Glorify God in his body, in death and in life. In that certain future through Paul his death or his life that the gospel will continue to be unchained and do God’s work of redemption and restoration.

This is the joy filled  attitude that Paul demonstrates for the Church to follow, the church in Philippi that they can find joy in Christ trusting him to complete his work in them. This is the attitude he offers them that in whatever circumstance they face they can have a certain hope, confidence in Christ.

This is the joy filled attitude that Paul models for you and I as well. We can rejoice in the face of past suffering, present challenges and sorrow and future uncertainty because of the certainty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That he who started a good work in us will bring it to completion in the day of the Lord as Paul had told the church in his prayer of thanksgiving for them in Philippians 1:6. The certainty he showed them in his own life, facing an uncertain future.  

This is the joy filled  hope we have that whatever chains us up and tried to hold us down, the gospel is unchained. It is able to achieve what God desires. Illness, age, social standing, the things from the past that try and hold on to us and drag us down, our own internal dialogue, that image we see of ourselves, real life persecution and opposition that try and chain us, none of them can chain the gospel down to do its work in us, to do Christ’s work through us… The gospel is unchained. It will continue to bear fruit, and we can rejoice in that.

This is the Joy filled challenge to you and I , that in all the circumstances we find ourselves in we would follow Paul’s example and desire that Christ might be glorified in our body. That brings it down to a very practical level, in hands that reach out with Christ’s love, feet that are willing to go to the places God calls us to, hearts open enough to a world God loves,  the places of ease and the places where we face constraints and uncertainty, a voice that speaks and tells of what we know. In how we live and in how we die, both to ourselves as we allow The things of this world to fade in comparison to the great joy of knowing Jesus Christ and as we give our lives in service to him. That the thank you letter we write with our lives to Christ might be full of rejoicing that Christ proclaimed.


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Avoiding Trouble . . .

Latent Anti-Semitism?

The intellectual chattering classes throughout Europe and the English speaking world have moved over recent decades towards anti-semitism.  There are a number of reasons or causes–all of them either specious or evil.

One cannot help but wonder what was really going on amongst the bureaucrats at the Wellington City Council.  It’s actions and words imply, either latent anti-semitism, or a fear of retribution from (unknown) anti-semites.  Here is the story:

Israel Spat for Wellington’s Children’s Festival Artsplash

NZ Herald

Wellington City Council has been forced to apologise to multi-award winning lyricist Sir Tim Rice, after the word “Israel” was removed from his work being used for a children’s festival.  Lyrics from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat were being used as part of Wellington’s annual children’s festival, Artsplash.

But the song sheets soon sparked controversy, after the line “Children of Israel” was changed to “Children of Kindness”.  Questions were raised on Twitter by Kate Dowling, who asked why it was done.  That tweet prompted a response from Rice himself, who warned he hadn’t given permission for any changes.  He described the “totally unauthorised” change of lyrics as “a terribly drippy and meaningless alteration”.  Wellington City Council moved quickly to fix the mess, apologising and telling Rice they loved his work.  “A community coordinator made an error in judgement which we will rectify before the schoolkids perform in Sept. Sorry, we love your work.”  [Wellington City Council–Artsplash]

So far, so good.  People make mistakes, right?
  But what followed is more noisome: the Artsplash folk removed the song from the programme altogether.  What was so significant about the phrase “Children of Israel” that it had to be stricken out by a censor’s pen?

Artsplash Coordinator Mary Prichard told Fairfax the change was made to “keep life simple” at a festival for primary school children.  After the complaints about the lyric changes, organisers decided to remove the song from its programme entirely, rather than change them back.  Prichard said it wasn’t worth it to go “looking for trouble”.

Trouble from whom?   The United Nations Human Rights Council perhaps? Or, is it that Prichard has friends who detest the nation of Israel, and by implication, the Jewish people?  No?  Well, trouble from whom, then?

At its most benign, the actions of the Council might reflect supine “political correctness”; at worst, it may represent an attempt to placate the anti-Semites amongst us.  Either way, something smells.

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trouble in the land

 

marmsky-devotions-pics-june-2017-21devotional post # 2054

Luke 21:20-24

Luk 21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then realize that its devastation has come near.
Luk 21:21 Then let those who are in Judea disappear into the mountains, and let those who are inside the city go away, and let not those who are out in the countryside enter it,
Luk 21:22 for these are days of punishment, to fulfill all that is written.
Luk 21:23 It will be terrible for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Because there will be massive trouble in the land and wrath against this people.
Luk 21:24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive amid all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

trouble in the land

Jesus continues to describe the terrible time that Jerusalem will face in the not too distant future from his prediction. God judged the land and people of Israel for their having rejected Christ as the Messiah. But Jesus warned believers that since this time of trouble was coming to the land, they had better hide, because the punishment would affect everyone there.

When God begins to punish a people, even his true believers will feel the effects of it.

LORD, when we are in the midst of trouble in our land, we trust you to limit your judgment so that some of us survive.

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Real Integrity With Respect to Islam

Jesuit Scholar: Islamic Extremists Are the True Muslims

Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
BreitbartLondon

Islamic extremists who carry out acts of terror are simply applying what their faith requires of them, according to Jesuit Father Henri Boulad, an Islamic scholar of the Egyptian Greek Melkite rite.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Boulad said that “Islam is an open-ended declaration of war against non-Muslims” and those who carry out violent jihad are true Muslims who are applying exactly what their creed demands.
Those who fail to recognize the real threat posed by Islam are naïve and ignorant of history, he said, and unfortunately many in the Church fall into this category.
Citing a letter he wrote last August to Pope Francis, Father Boulad said that “on the pretext of openness, tolerance and Christian charity — the Catholic Church has fallen into the trap of the liberal left ideology which is destroying the West.”
“Anything that does not espouse this ideology is immediately stigmatized in the name of ‘political correctness,’” he said.  The priest went so far as to chastise Pope Francis himself—a fellow Jesuit—suggesting that he has fallen into this trap as well.  “Many think that a certain number of your positions are aligned with this ideology and that, from complacency, you go from concessions to concessions and compromises in compromises at the expense of the truth,” the priest wrote to Francis.
Christians in the West and in the East, he wrote the Pope, “are expecting something from you other than vague and harmless declarations that may obscure reality.  It is high time to emerge from a shameful and embarrassed silence in the face of this Islamism that attacks the West and the rest of the world. A systematically conciliatory attitude is interpreted by the majority of Muslims as a sign of fear and weakness,” he said.
“If Jesus said to us: Blessed are the peacemakers, he did not say to us: Blessed are the pacifists. Peace is peace at any cost, at any price. Such an attitude is a pure and simple betrayal of truth,” he said.
The priest also stated his belief that the West is in an ethical and moral debacle, and its defense of Islam is a denial of truth.  “By defending at all costs Islam and seeking to exonerate it from the horrors committed every day in its name, one ends up betraying the truth,” he wrote.
To back up his argument, Father Boulad enumerated a number of texts from the Koran that call on Muslims to employ violence in their conquest of the world for Allah.  The many passages he cited included: “Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them” (Koran 2:191), “Make war on the infidels living in your neighbourhood” (Koran 9:123), “When opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you catch them” (Koran 9:5), “Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam” (Koran 5:33), “Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin and bellies” (Koran 22:19), and “Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an” Koran 8:12.
Father Boulad is not the first Jesuit scholar to criticize the West for its naivete in dealing with Islam. Last year, Georgetown scholar Father James V. Schall contended that decades of students have been given a “sanitized education” that systematically excludes an honest portrayal of the history and theology of Islam, which limits their ability to assess what is going on in the world.
In his essay titled “Realism and Islam,” Father Schall argued that Islam “is actually and potentially violent throughout its entire history” and the basic reason for this method is religious in nature: “obedience to the Law of Allah.”
Therefore, he wrote, the Western tendency to simply call Muslim violence “terrorism” is insulting to believing Muslims who “see themselves carrying out the will of Allah, even sometimes to their own death in doing so.” Rather than terrorism, he insists, Muslims see their violence as “a religious endeavor to conquer the world,” which they understand to be “an act of piety.”
Because of this gaping educational void, “most citizens are simply not equipped to face the forces now reappearing in the world,” he wrote.  “And while it may be politically incorrect to state these things, they need to be stated and are in fact the truth—things that both Muslims and non-Muslims need to hear and consider,” he said.

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Daily Meditation

What Kind of Prayer Pleases God?

“This is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

The first mark of the upright heart is that it trembles at the Word of the Lord.

Isaiah 66 deals with the problem of some who worship in a way that pleases God and some who worship in a way that doesn’t. Verse 3 describes the wicked who bring their sacrifices: “He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man; and he who sacrifices a lamb, like him who breaks a dog’s neck.” Their sacrifices are an abomination to God — on a par with murder. Why?

In verse 4 God explains: “When I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen.” Their sacrifices were abominations to God because the people were deaf to his voice. But what about those whose prayers God heard? God says in verse 2, “This is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

I conclude from this that the first mark of the upright, whose prayers are a delight to God, is that they tremble at God’s Word. These are the people to whom the Lord will look.

So the prayer of the upright that delights God comes from a heart that at first feels precarious in the presence of God. It trembles at the hearing of God’s Word, because it feels so far from God’s ideal and so vulnerable to his judgment and so helpless and so sorry for its failings.

This is just what David said in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” The first thing that makes a prayer acceptable to God is the brokenness and humility of the one who prays.
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The Great Debate: Burke Vs Paine, Part IV

Human Freedom

Every political party, every social organization has a particular view of human nature and what is intrinsic to being human.  Most of us never stop to think what those respective views might be–so we end up accepting a view without thought.  Alternatively, we wander round in a confused haze.

Tom Paine represents the world view of human nature as atomised.  We come into this world without obligations being foisted upon us, or imputed to us.  We come into this world as tabula rasa, a blank slate.  This, according to Paine, represents true human freedom.

Burke, on the other hand, argued that we come into this world as a slate upon which a great deal has already been written and laid down, long before we were born.  Human nature is shaped and controlled by spiritual and societal and natural forces which, in effect, we inherit (for good or evil).

The role of consent in this view of society is secondary at best.  Social relations flow out of natural relations, and consent is assumed where it cannot be expressed, not because the individual chooses to accept his obligations, but because the consent of every rational creature is assumed to be in line with “the predisposed order of things.”  This vision of society begins with the family–not the individual–and moves up toward society.  [Yuval Levin, The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine and the Birth of Right and Left (New York: Basic Books, 2014),  p. 103.]

It’s worthwhile pausing and addressing a question to you, dear reader: Which view do you believe is right?
 If you side with Paine, you consequently would hold no fixed view of what constitutes human nature and human society, except the fixed belief that there is no fixed view.   You would believe, then, that a human being can be anything he or she wants to be.  He/she can change gender at will, can change race or ethnicity on a dime.  It’s all up to the atomised will of the individual.  The role of a free society is to accept, endorse, ratify, and support such iterations in every possible way.

Whilst it is true that Tom Paine never went that far in his social and political philosophy, it’s only because he never had the chance.  Mortality caught up with him.  But the logic of his tabula rasa view of human nature would eventually drive his ideological descendants to advocate and claim such “freedoms” to be fundamental human rights.  Rachel Dolezal claims that her ethnicity is what she chooses it to be; trans-genderists claim that their gender is whatever they choose it to be.  This is all a consistent outworking of an atomised view of human nature being the essence of freedom.

Burke’s view, on the other hand, is warranted and certified as true and correct by Holy Writ.  Burke’s view of human nature captures the Christian position–at least in part.  Man is not born as an autonomous, atomised individual, but as a creature shaped and controlled and socialised by inheritance, genes, family, and social conditioning.  These are ultimately the choices and determinations of the All Conditioning Conditioner–the Living God Himself–who loves us and calls us to enjoy His abundant life.

It is not for nothing that the tabula rasa revolutionaries focus upon tearing down the family, thereby striking out at the most powerful conditioning and social institution.  Burke, on the other hand, acknowledges and accepts the sovereign role of the family and acknowledges it to be a fundamental component of human existence.

Paine and the radical revolutionaries would attempt to break the family down because it is the primary obstacle to free choice.  Burke, however, saw human freedom as a duty to care for and protect the social relationships that emerge out of the immediate and extended family.

Whence does human freedom come: from the atomised sovereign choices of man, or from accepting and working within the obligations and relations which we have inherited, and making our own sovereign choices within that context?  Does it come from adherence to duty, or from atomised, unconstrained choice?

That, as they say, is the question.
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permanent protection

marmsky-devotions-pics-june-2017-20

devotional post # 2053

Luke 21:12-19

Luk 21:12 But before all these things they will brutalise you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.
Luk 21:13 This will turn out to be your opportunity to testify.
Luk 21:14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to prepare beforehand how to defend yourself,
Luk 21:15 because I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your confronters will be able to withstand or contradict.
Luk 21:16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.
Luk 21:17 You will be hated by everyone because of my name.
Luk 21:18 But not a hair of your head will be lost.
Luk 21:19 By your endurance you will get your souls.

permanent protection

Jesus is warning believers of an intense period of persecution that will take place within the generation before the destruction of the temple. He warns that some will suffer the ultimate persecution and be put to death during this time. Others will be beaten severely, others imprisoned. But Jesus encourages his listeners to look beyond this tough time and remember his promise of permanent protection. In the end, not even a hair on their heads will be lost — even if those heads roll. By their faithful endurance in testifying to who he is, these Christians going through a tough time will get their souls — they will be delivered at his return.

As I right this, I am going through a very tough time. My promise from Jesus is that he will rescue me. It may not be in the way I want. It may not be what I expect. But, ultimately, I have his promise of permanent protection. And while this is happening, I have an opportunity to testify about Christ. I can endure this tough time because of the faithfulness of the One who has promised me permanent protection.

LORD, your faithfulness inspires us to be faithful — no matter what.

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Disturbing Trends

Violence Is No Respecter of Persons

Is the Left prone to violence in its propagation of its ideology?  Clearly there are millions of left-wing folk who detest violence and eschew it to the depths of their being.  Clearly there are plenty of left-wing politicians who speak against attempting to promote their ideology by deploying force.  Nonetheless there is now a disturbing trend (it would seem) for some left wing folk to resort to aggressive behaviour, if not outright violence.

The latest example is James ‘Tom’ Hodgkinson, a left-wing protagonist who “shot congressman Steve Scalise during an attack on a Republican congressional baseball practice session on Wednesday, was a leftwing political activist with a record of domestic violence.”  [The Guardian]

In this undated file photo, James Hodgkinson holds a sign during a protest outside of a United States Post Office in Belleville, Illinois.
James Hodgkinson

But this is not an isolated occurrence.
 The Daily Caller has provided a list of leftist violence and intimidation breaking out in the United States over the past twelve months.

A wave of liberal rage has marked the last 11 months since the rise and subsequent election of President Donald Trump.  Antifa protestors clad in black masks shut down college campuses, destroy property and indiscriminately attack those they disagree with, whether women or the elderly. Meanwhile, CNN fires Kathy Griffin for taking photos with a bloody replica of the president’s decapitated head.

Amid this backdrop, The Huffington Post publishes an article calling for the execution of Trump and “everyone assisting his agenda.”  Then, shots ring out as a man gorged on media hysteria attempts to slaughter Republican congressmen while they practice for a charity baseball game.

The extremists of the right wing are well known from Timothy McVeigh through to the KKK.  But there is another list which, sadly, appears to be getting longer.  Evil, it seems, is not limited, nor proscribed by political party or ideology.

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Daily Meditation

Blessed Redeemer

“Thy Redeemer.”  Isaiah 54:5

Charles H. Spurgeon

Jesus, the Redeemer, is altogether ours and ours forever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate him as ours under that name as much as under any other. The shepherd’s staff, the father’s rod, the captain’s sword, the priest’s mitre, the prince’s sceptre, the prophet’s mantle, all are ours. Jesus hath no dignity which he will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which he will not exercise for our defence. His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible treasure-house.

His manhood also, which he took upon him for us, is ours in all its perfection. To us our gracious Lord communicates the spotless virtue of a stainless character; to us he gives the meritorious efficacy of a devoted life; on us he bestows the reward procured by obedient submission and incessant service. He makes the unsullied garment of his life our covering beauty; the glittering virtues of his character our ornaments and jewels; and the superhuman meekness of his death our boast and glory.

He bequeaths us his manger, from which to learn how God came down to man; and his Cross to teach us how man may go up to God. All his thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions, were for us. He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and hath made over to us as his heavenly legacy the full results of all the labours of his life. He is now as much ours as heretofore; and he blushes not to acknowledge himself “our Lord Jesus Christ,” though he is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ, forever and ever most richly to enjoy. O my soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit! call him “thy Redeemer.”
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Monday quote

The evidence is not responsible for satisfying the biases of the historian; rather, the historian is responsible for setting aside his biases and considering the evidence.

Michael Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus.
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