our responsibility to teach

alphabet class conceptual cube

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Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only be careful and diligently watch your throats,1 or else2 you will forget the things your eyes have seen and they will slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.

Deuteronomy 4:10 The day you stood before Yahveh your God at Horeb, Yahveh said to me, ‘Collect3 the people before me, and I will let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days they live on the land and may instruct their children.’

our responsibility to teach

Every Israelite was to be a teacher— passing on the word of God to his children and their children. This was a solemn responsibility. The Lord knew his people were prone to be distracted, so he reminded them to stay on task.

Preachers and evangelists are a wonderful gift from God to their congregations. But their presence does not absolve us of the responsibility to train the next generations individually.

Lord may my readers know the joy of teaching their children and grandchildren about Jesus.

1נֶפֶשׁ

2פֵּן

3קהל

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Australian Bush Fires A Man-Made Catastrophe

Too Much Fuel Causes Extreme Bush Fires, Not Climate Change

Jo Nova

What was Australia’s Environment Minister thinking?

Melissa Price succumbs to pagan witchcraft: 

“There’s no doubt that there’s many people who have suffered over this summer. We talk about the Victorian bushfires; (in) my home state of Western Australia we’ve also got fires there,” [Melissa Price] told Sky News this morning. “There’s no doubt that climate change is having an impact on us. There’s no denying that.”

Western Australia, State Map.

Western Australia, State Map.

Let’s look at her home state. After 67 years of fire management in the giant, hot, dry state of WA, the trend is clear — the more prescribed area we burn, the less wildfire does.  In the graph below the prescribed burns declined for forty years and wildfires increased for thirty. After the Dwellingup Fire in 1961 the state ramped up the preventative burns, and reduced wildfires.

As the BushFireFront team say:

“We can’t control the weather but we can control the fuel loads“

Avoiding Megafires in Australia

Large wildfires can only occur when there is a combination, at the same time, of three things:

  • an ignition source,
  • severe fire weather and,
  • a large contiguous accumulation of fuel.

Remove any of these three and you cannot have a large wildfire (= megafire).

We obviously can’t control the weather, nor can we hope to eliminate all possible avenues of ignition. The only factor we can control is the large contiguous accumulations of fuel. Therefore, broadscale fuel reduction burning is the only defence we have against large wildfires. This will not prevent fires occurring, but it will ensure fires are less intense, are easier and safer to control and will do less damage.

Does it work? Yes it does, as has been shown many times, over many years, by the experience of Western Australian forest managers. The “proof of the pudding” is the incidence of large wildfires in Western Australian forests over the last 50 years.

Or we could put up some windmills and solar panels to “stop the flames”.

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the purpose of obedience

 

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Deuteronomy 4:5-8

Deuteronomy 4:5 Look, I have taught you prescriptions and rules as Yahveh my God has commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of.

Deuteronomy 4:6 Be careful and do them, because this will show your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. When they hear about all these prescriptions, they will say, ‘This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.’

Deuteronomy 4:7 For what great nation is there that has a god near to it like Yahveh our God is to us whenever we call to him?

Deuteronomy 4:8 And what great nation has righteous prescriptions and rules like this entire instruction I set before you today?

the purpose of obedience

Israel was to demonstrate obedience to God, and that obedience was to show their connection to him, and their wisdom and understanding. That obedience was to draw the nations to God, which was the mission of the Mosaic covenant!

Christian, have you considered the commands of Christ? Our obedience to his commands is to be how we draw people to him. If we are genuinely obedient to the commands Jesus gave us, the nations around us will sit up and take notice.

Lord, give us the wisdom to reflect your commands by our actions.

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A Necessary and Welcome Move

Checks and Balances
We are pleased to see that a formal process will be put in place to review criminal convictions in New Zealand which are subsequently seen as being shonky.  Our small country lost a vital judicial safeguard, cross-check, and balance when rights of appeal to the Privy Council in the UK were removed.  

Now a review of suspect judicial decisions will be available. 

An important safety valve has been added to New Zealand’s criminal justice system with the third reading of the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill today.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) will investigate claimed miscarriages of justice.

“We’ve seen how our justice system can very occasionally get things spectacularly wrong, even with rights of appeals, and there needs to be a chance for the innocent on the right grounds to seek a final review of their case. The CCRC is an important mechanism to enhance the independence, timeliness, quality and fairness of investigations into miscarriages of justice,” Justice Minister Andrew Little says.  “If the Commission finds there is a miscarriage they will refer the case back to the Court of Appeal to reconsider whether the convictions should stand or fall.  

It will be interesting to see who will sit on the Commission and whether it will have sufficient information gathering powers.
  The brute reality is that in any such review the reputations of justices and judicial authorities will be “on the line”.  We fear that it has been too much of a temptation in the past for judicial authorities to close ranks and support each other.  That is why the right of appeal to the (thoroughly independent) Privy Council was so important. 

The CCRC will have important information gathering powers, including the ability to apply for a court order to access privileged information in a narrow range of circumstances.

“Access to the necessary information will be vital for the CCRC to perform its function most effectively. It is anticipated that the Commission will be able to access most of the information it needs through consent and cooperation, but it is important to have this power to ensure the Commission has access to all relevant information required to investigate and review convictions and sentences,” says Andrew Little. 

We shall see.

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life or death quest

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Deuteronomy 4:1-4

Deuteronomy 4:1 “Now, Israel, listen to the prescriptions1 and rules I am teaching you to follow, so that you may stay alive,2 enter, and take possession of the land Yahveh, the God of your fathers, is giving you.

Deuteronomy 4:2 You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may watch the commands of Yahveh your God I am giving you.

Deuteronomy 4:3 Your eyes have seen what Yahveh did at Baal-peor, for Yahveh your God exterminated every one of you who followed Baal of Peor.

Deuteronomy 4:4 But you who have remained faithful to Yahveh your God are all alive today.

life or death quest

For the Israelites, accomplishing God’s mission meant more than just being successful at what they did. It was literally a life or death quest. If they didn’t follow God’s commands and take possession of the land, they would not stay alive. The rebels who fell at Baal-peor were a visual reminder of that fact.

Oh, Christian, if we could only regard our mission with such reverence! If we made the task of making disciples of all nations a life or death quest, it would not be so easy to get sidetracked.

Lord, teach us to revere our mission.

1חק

2חָיָה

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Bill English Will Be Proved Right

Why I Oppose the End of Life Choice Bill, in Plain English

Bill English
Stuff

Later today, our MPs will cast their final vote on the End of Life Choice Bill. It all comes down to deciding whether the bill, with its changes, will ultimately deliver what it says.

My position on euthanasia is well known. I have spoken many times about why I am opposed in principle. But to my former colleagues I say, even if you agree in principle, this is not the bill to deliver euthanasia and assisted suicide to New Zealanders.

This bill, if it passes, will make New Zealand a less safe place for the old, the vulnerable, the depressed and the disabled, and here are five reasons why.

Firstly, it does not provide real protection from coercion. Talk to any doctor and they will tell you it is virtually impossible to detect subtle emotional coercion, and even overt coercion, at the best of times. Yet many people will be “signed off” by medical practitioners with little or no understanding of the patient’s family or social history, let alone medical history. The law requires doctors only to “do their best” – hardly an adequate measure of robust clinical care standards.

Secondly, I know that many MPs will be finely tuned to the “hard cases”. However, for all the talk about narrowing the legislation down, this bill is much broader than the new Victorian law, as well as those states in the United States where only assisted suicide is available. We know that, when euthanasia is included, the numbers accessing it are at least 10 times greater. This bill is “overkill” – if the argument was really about the hard cases, then it would be a much tighter bill.

Thirdly, there is the contentious and vexed question of the relationship between suicide rates and assisted dying. As 21 mental health practitioners and academics recently argued, there is mounting statistical evidence from Oregon, Belgium and the Netherlands to suggest that, as the numbers using assisted dying rise, so too do suicide rates. The onus is on David Seymour and the likes to prove it is safe, and he cannot do this. Until then, given our suicide epidemic, sensible and caring thinking says it is too risky to proceed.

Fourthly, the review system does not include access to patient records, as is the case in the Netherlands. So it is a much weaker law in that regard. Even then, after nearly 20 years, up to 23 per cent of euthanasia deaths are not being reported there. We can only guess what it would be like here with a less robust system.

Fifthly, there is growing evidence from Canada and the US that people are choosing euthanasia or assisted suicide because of a lack of access to proper end-of-life care – in other words because of a lack of real choice. To me that is unacceptable, especially when it is most likely to affect people in lower socio-economic areas. No-one can rightly claim that as a compassionate choice.

Five reasons why this bill will not deliver compassion. Five reasons to vote “No”.

* Former prime minister Sir Bill English has opposed the End of Life Choice Bill since its first reading.

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More Good News From the US

Mitch McConnell Pulls Funding Bill Containing Shaheen Pro-Abortion Amendment

Dr  Susan Berry
Breitbart News

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) withdrew an overseas spending bill last week that would have provided $665 million for “family planning and reproductive health care” overseas and funds for the pro-abortion U.N. Population Fund.

C-Fam and the Eagle Forum reported McConnell withdrew the State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) bill after New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen inserted an amendment into the bill to provide support to groups that promote abortions overseas – a move that would have clearly undermined the Trump administration’s pro-life policies.

A coalition of 44 national pro-life leaders sent a letter in October to McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) voicing their vehement opposition to the Shaheen amendment.  Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), chairman of the Senate pro-life caucus, joined with these leaders in asking McConnell to amend the bill before it advanced.  “It’s our duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society,” Daines said, according to C-Fam. “I am deeply concerned about how this amendment undermines pro-life policies abroad and I will continue to work to defeat it.”

SFOPs was part of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement reached by Congress and the White House in July. The agreement clearly stipulated, “[T]here will be no poison pills, additional new riders…unless agreed to on a bipartisan basis by the four leaders with the approval of the President.”

C-Fam reported Shaheen’s longstanding attempts to force American taxpayers to fund promoting abortion overseas:

Shaheen, a longtime member of the subcommittee tasked with funding overseas diplomacy, development and humanitarian assistance, annually proposes an amendment that undermines U.S. funding restrictions on abortion and abortion-related activities and increases funding to family planning groups abroad that are known to promote abortion.  The Shaheen amendment routinely passes due to support from two Republican senators who promote abortion—Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

In addition, Shaheen introduced this year in her amendment a non-discrimination policy, reported C-Fam, that bars “discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity.”  Thus, the amendment would have not only promoted abortion overseas, but the radical LGBT agenda.

Eunie Smith, president of the Eagle Forum, said in a statement sent to Breitbart News the Shaheen amendment would have undercut the pro-life initiatives of the Trump administration:

Through the adoption of the Mexico City Policy, or the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) policy, the United States has successfully prevented foreign organizations from using tax-payer money for abortion services. However, PLGHA does not prevent funds from being used by domestic organizations working overseas.

“The Senate majority proved that they are not willing to compromise on life by rejecting the Shaheen amendment which allocated these overseas-based American organizations $665 million dollars to continue their atrocious life-ending work,” she added.

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No, yes, yes

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Deuteronomy 3:27-29 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 3:27 Go to the top of Pisgah and look to the west, north, south, and east, and see it with your own eyes, because you will not cross the Jordan.

Deuteronomy 3:28 But command Joshua and make him strong and tough, because he will cross over ahead of the people and enable them to inherit this land that you will see.’

Deuteronomy 3:29 So we stayed in the valley facing Beth-peor.

No, yes, yes

Moses got three answers to his prayer. He had prayed that he could see the promised land, and God’s answer was definitely no. But God did allow him the mountain-top experience of viewing it on Pisgah.

God’s third answer to Moses’ prayer was to give him a final mission. Training Joshua was to be his reward in this life.

Lord, teach us to find our joy in accomplishing your mission.

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Doubtless Peters Now Wishes He Had Stayed Mum

Integrity Shot to Pieces

The following piece by Tim Murphy reflects upon a court case long in the making and waiting.  It is parochial insofar as it deals with New Zealand political actors.  No-one outside our shores could be the slightest bit interested.  But here, in NZ it is a significant matter.

Winston Peters (presently the country’s deputy Prime Minister) has for years told lies.  At least that is what it emerging in a current court case.  Peters is claiming damages for certain actions taken against him (by word and deed).  The claims are emerging from the swamp as having no credibility. 

Tim Murphy, co-editor of Newsroom, has been writing about the court case.  We will cut to the chase and allow him to lead us down the vacuous winding paths taken by Peters to a Bridge-Too-Far. 

Words Matter to These Civil Servants, Mr Peters

Tim Murphy
Newsroom

Journalists and opposing politicians seldom have the opportunity to precisely fact-check – with access to his documents – claims made by Winston Peters. But one government department has done it.

A Winston Peters interview on RNZ in August 2017 has featured repeatedly in his High Court privacy case.

Peters had denied, to RNZ, a report by Newsroom that he was billed $18,000 by the Ministry of Social Development for the seven-year overpayment, in an interview that also ran in a story on the Stuff website on August 28, 2017.

The MP said he repaid “way less” than $18,000 and then said it again:

“To say I repaid $18,000 is demonstrably false.”

It was a claim that was near impossible for RNZ, Stuff or anyone else to explore one way or the other, given the privacy issues involved between the two parties.

But the Ministry of Social Development knew the right answer.  And when Peters sued the ministry, with its chief executive, the State Services Commissioner and two former National cabinet ministers, over the leak of his superannuation issue, the ministry had its chance to fact-check him.

Fact-check it did.
In a way that possibly only a substantial arm of the state with meticulous record-keeping could.  He didn’t pay back $18,000. The court heard, first from Peters on day one and then repeatedly from others, that he repaid $17,936.43.  It was court evidence so is accepted as demonstrably true rather than his claim of “demonstrably false”.

In the same Stuff story, Peters made the following claims, all fact-checked by MSD in preparing for its officers’ time in the court-room. This interview was after he had looked into the problem, had it explained to him and received and paid the invoice for the debt he owed:

– Peters claimed the overpayment likely started in 2013/14. MSD staff and Peters confirmed in court it started on April 12, 2010, the day he applied for it.

– Peters said he had asked in 2017 to speak to the person who dealt with his case in 2010 but that person no longer worked there so couldn’t act as a witness. MSD witnesses told the court the staff member worked in 2017 at the same office, in the same role, and does so until this day. She gave evidence for MSD to defend Peters’ claim. An MSD witness denied Peters had asked her in 2017 if he could speak to that original case manager.

– Peters had said about his repayment: “The reality is a payment like that also attracts interest.” An MSD witness told the court she had seen this claim by Peters and it was wrong. The ministry never charged interest on debts it wanted repaid and no issue of financial penalties would arise unless fraud had been involved, which was not the case for Peters.

– Another MSD witness told the court she had seen in a media report in 2017 that Peters had claimed he had not received the full superannuation because his payment had been “abated”. She said no such abatement existed and the records back to 2010 showed he had been paid the full rate.

– Evidence from the official who dealt with Peters in 2017 said: “I remember reading in the media that Mr Peters was saying MSD had been unable to resolve how the mistake happened. That is not correct. It was very clear to me, which I communicated to Mr Peters in our meeting, that he had been paid the incorrect rate of superannuation as a result of his declaring at question 26 that he was in a relationship and completing the partner details accordingly. He had been paid in accordance with his declaration – as a single person.”

– A regional official said she was aware of Peters’ evidence that his application form was incomplete because he had not ticked a box on his current relationship status. “Based on all my service experience I do not consider the form is incomplete and I am not surprised it was processed in the form. The key information needed to determine Mr Peters’ relationship status was provided, i.e that he was separated.”

– Another official also challenged the claim MSD had made the original mistake. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist at times,” the case manager he dealt with in 2010 told the court. “It was hard to hear that I had made a mistake. I was upset because I knew this was not correct, but I had no way to defend myself.”

– Further, she said media reported Peters saying there appeared to have been an alteration on his application form and no one knew how it had been made. “Categorically, we do not alter forms,” she said.

– Two MSD officials recalled Peters having told media he had dealt, in 2010, with a “very senior” MSD official. The woman concerned told the court: “He referred to me as a very senior person at MSD. I definitely do not consider myself a very senior person at MSD. Case manager is hardly what I call very senior.”

Throughout the week of evidence, MSD officials or the Crown’s lawyer, Victoria Casey QC, challenged Peters’ version of events.  [Read the rest, here.]

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Socialists’ Generosity With Other People’s Money

Pike River a Black Hole for Public Money

Martin van Beynen
Stuff

Pike River families have stood for the first time at the wall that separates them from the men they lost in the coal mine nine years ago.
OPINION: Any discussion of the effort to re-enter the Pike River Mine, where 29 miners lost their lives on November 19, 2010, is going to be fraught.

Who could quibble with the wishes of the families of those killed to retrieve the remains of their loved ones and get answers to some of the pressing questions about the accident?

Perhaps the prospect of accountability is now a forlorn hope but who knows what will be found in the depths of the mine.  No-one would want to deprive the families of the finality they seek except for one thing.

That is, of course, cost and the opportunities and benefits lost by spending large amounts of taxpayer money on Pike River rather than something else.  Many good reasons, apart from the obvious benefits to the families connected to the mine, can be cited for spending the money.

Although blame goes far and wide, in many ways the state failed to monitor the mine properly and allowed dodgy practices to continue unheeded.
It therefore owes a responsibility to the victims and their families, especially those who lost their main breadwinners.

Lessons learned from the recovery effort could lead to safety improvements and save lives in the future both in New Zealand and overseas.

The recovery is pumping money back into the West Coast economy and, if successful, will satisfy a national interest about what happened.  Some worthy counter-arguments can also be noted.

Not all the Pike River families wholeheartedly support the effort.  For instance Marion Curtin, the mother of dead miner Richard Holling, told our reporter Michael Wright she finds the idea abhorrent.  “I don’t understand [the pro-re-entry] view. To me it’s an irrational one. Why they think there are bodies to bring out just beggars belief as far as I’m concerned. The amount of money that’s been spent I think is disgusting. To me it’s just sacrilege. It’s like grave-robbing. It’s awful.”

It could certainly be argued the miners are buried together in a mass grave that could be marked appropriately and provide the touchstone the families need.  The rest of the debate then comes down to money.

One of the problems is the open-ended task of the Pike River Recovery Agency.

Getting under way in early 2018, the agency was initially funded at about $22 million for three years. Its allocated funding increased to $36m last year and to the end of June this year the agency has spent about $18m. It expects to spend another $12m up to June 30, 2020 but it’s a good bet its work won’t be done by then.

Progress, as you would expect with intolerance of any risk, has been painfully slow. Miners broke through the 30 metres seal and re-entered the drift on May 21 and work is now under way on another seal 170m into the drift. On completion the drift will be tidied up for access by mining vehicles and equipment.

The agency wants to install a remote ventilation plug at the end of the drift to maintain a barrier between the atmosphere over the roof fall and the fresh air in which drift recovery and forensic examination work will take place.

On September 13 the agency provided a copy of the final execution plan for re-entry and recovery of the drift to WorkSafe for review.  The plan sounds expensive and it probably will be although agency chief executive Dave Gawn says it’s been costed in the latest estimates.

Estimates are one thing, and as anyone building a house will know, estimates, even if they allow for contingencies, are rarely generous enough.  And that is really the problem. The Government has committed to an ambitious project without knowing how much it will cost. It has already spent too much to pull back and must carry on whatever the cost because it can’t let the spending to date be wasted.

The agency is no doubt staffed by dedicated and skilled people who want to complete their mission but at the moment they essentially have a blank cheque.  That’s why I think the decision to re-enter was ill-considered and driven partly by an emotional Labour Party tie to its roots with the miners of the West Coast. That’s all fine, but it should not have used taxpayer money to indulge its sentimentality.

A compensation payment to the Pike River families and a finite sum given to the West Coast in memory of the miners who died at Pike River would have been a more fitting and wiser use of the money.

This idea will not please people like the admirable Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse, who have fought valiantly for re-entry. Their stories are heart-rending but should not determine distributions from the public purse, nor be allowed to dominate the unquestioning media coverage.

Pike River minister Andrew Little, in a statement stronger on emotion than reason, says the recovery of the Pike River mine drift is a “simple, necessary and long overdue act of justice”.  It is also a potential black hole for public money. 

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