no is enough

smoking not allowed warning

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Deuteronomy 3:23-26

Deuteronomy 3:23 “At that time I begged Yahveh, and this is what I said:

Deuteronomy 3:24 Yahveh God, you have begun to show your greatness and your strong hand to your servant, because what god is there in the sky or on the land who can perform deeds and mighty acts like yours?

Deuteronomy 3:25 Please let me cross over and see the beautiful land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.

Deuteronomy 3:26 “But Yahveh was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. Yahveh said to me, ‘That’s enough! Do not speak to me again about this matter.

no is enough

If anyone ever had a truly personal relationship with God, Moses did. Yet that personal relationship with God did not guarantee that Moses would always want what God wants. Moses wanted to see the land that he had been leading the Israelites to. God didn’t want that. God didn’t even want Moses to keep praying for that.

The Bible does encourage believers to keep storming heaven with our prayers. We should always pray and never give up. But if God has his reasons for not giving us what we want, we need to respect that. Paul fervently prayed for removal of his thorn in the flesh. But God said no. Paul learned to glory in that weakness.

Lord, we trust you. When you say no, that is enough for us.


“All is Relative, Except This Statement”

Self Destroying Contradictions
John Gray, in his gem of a book entitled Seven Types of Atheism, has a very clear view of the special pleading that is rife amongst so-called atheists.  The bottom line–as Gray demonstrates repeatedly–is that such atheists always end up engaged in special pleading for someone or something that escapes the mental scythe of atheism.  In other words, they are atheists except for “x” which is above the inevitable nihilistic world-view.  The “x” is the grand exception.  

Gray is honest enough to cite C. S. Lewis, a Christian philosopher/teacher, as an example of a clear-minded critic of atheism who understood that atheism was effectively a smokescreen by which its advocates sought to deny the truth claims of anything and everything, except itself except the particular cocktail of atheism which they were advocating or pushing.

He writes:

If progress means a ‘more advanced’ version of the human species, how do we know what is more or less advanced?  This question was the subject of The Abolition of Man, a prescient little book by the linguist, theologian, and writer of science fiction C. S. Lewis, first given as a lecture and published in 1943. Lewis argued that progressive thinkers who wanted to reshape society, and eventually the human species itself, had no way of deciding what progress meant. 

For many it involved increasing human power and using it to make Nature serve human ends.  But the power of human kind over Nature, Lewis pointed out,  means in practice the power of some human beings over others.  If society is planned so as to maximize power of Nature, other human valued will be crowded out.  Anyone who cherishes these values will be on the receiving end of power, not exercising it. 

The progressive thinkers of Lewis’s day thought little of the average run of human beings.  Like Trotsky, they believed they could design a better version of the human animal.  After all, if most human beings are not just backward but obstacles, what is the point of them?  Surely it would be better to sideline these inferior specimens.  The future belonged to the post-human species.  As Lewis wrote, “Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of man.”  [Seven Types of Atheism (London: Allen Lane/Penguin, 2018), p. 65f.]


UN Moves to Make Gender a “Social Construct”

General Assembly Inches Toward Redefining Gender as Social Construct

By Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
Centre for Family and Human Rights

NEW YORK, November 8 (C-Fam) Nations clashed over a proposed UN treaty on crimes against humanity at UN headquarters last week. If adopted, the new treaty would change the definition of gender in international law to include more than 100 genders.

“While the term ‘sex’ is used to refer to biological attributes, ‘gender’ is now more expansively used in recognition of the variety of gender identities and expressions—man or woman, both or neither—which may or may not align with the gender typically or socially associated with a person’s sex,” said the delegate of Canada, expressing gratitude for the decision of the International Law Commission to scrap the definition of “gender” as it appears in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The International Law Commission proposed a draft treaty on the investigation and prosecution of crimes against humanity that drops the definition of gender from the Rome Statue. The 1998 treaty defined gender as “man and woman in the context of society.” The General Assembly must now decide if they want to adopt the treaty, and whether to modify it or not.

Nordic countries praised the decision to drop the definition of gender as man and woman in international law. Others, mostly from Africa, opposed the change and some were adamant that abandoning the definition of gender would prevent their accession to the treaty.

Speaking through Norway, Nordic countries said the change reflected “the current realities and content of international law” and “the social construction of gender, and the accompanying roles, behaviors, activities and attributes assigned to women and men, boys and girls.”

Norway explained that they preferred an explicit definition of gender stating that it is a social construct. Nevertheless, they counted the omission of a definition of gender altogether as a victory because “this allows the term to be applied for the purposes of the present draft articles based on an evolving understanding as to its meaning.”

Other delegations similarly praised the move, including the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Estonia, and Argentina.

New Zealand said the absence of a definition “reflects the diversity of concepts of gender identity across the world.” [Emphasis, ours.]

Several delegations expressed their objections also.

A delegate from Senegal characterized the “suppression” of the definition of gender as “one of the major obstacles in the elaboration of the convention.”

The Egyptian delegate said dropping the definition of gender was a “violation of the terms of reference” of the International Law Commission, which had promised the General Assembly it would not change any of the definitions of the Rome Statute.

A delegate from Belarus suggested it would be best “to use internationally agreed-upon wording to ensure the universality of a future convention.” Another delegate, from Uzbekistan, also made this point about unanimity, as did the delegation from Togo.

The Holy See said the definition of gender from the Rome Statute “is an integral part of the definition of the crimes as agreed during the Rome Conference.”

The General Assembly debated also the process that would lead to adopting the new treaty. Countries seemed to lean in favor of a conference of parties to negotiate and adopt the treaty. The United States proposed waiting until the year 2021 before taking up the treaty and assigning a “working group” of states for this purpose. A smaller number of nations, including China, maintained the treaty was not necessary.


Seeing his imprint

footprint on sand

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Deuteronomy 3:21-22 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 3:21 “I commanded Joshua at that time, and this is what I said: Your own eyes have seen everything Yahveh your God has done to these two kings. Yahveh will do the same to all the kingdoms you are about to enter.

Deuteronomy 3:22 Don’t be afraid of them, because Yahveh your God fights for you.

Seeing his imprint

Moses had been given the task of strengthening Joshua. Part of the task was training him to register what he had seen with his own eyes. Faith for Joshua began when he dared to believe that God was fighting for him. It was not so much seeing what was not there as it was recognizing what was. The defeat of Sihon and Og was either luck or God. Moses taught Joshua to see God’s imprint.

Lord, you are at work in our lives. Open our eyes so that we can see your imprint.


Maoist Concentration Camps

Uyghurs in London Protest Communist China’s Concentration Camps

Kurt Zindulka
Breitbart London

In the ongoing struggle for the human rights of the Uyghur people of Xinjiang, activists gathered outside the Chinese embassy in London to condemn the mass internment of Uyghurs in communist “re-education” concentration camps. 

The Chinese Communist Party has interned between one and three million Uyghur Muslim people in the western region of Xinjiang, sometimes referred to as Sinkiang or Chinese Turkestan. Uyghurs, alongside Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and even some Christians and other religious minorities, are subject to systematic torture, disappearances and executions in the name of communist indoctrination.

One Uyghur woman described the situation in her homeland to Breitbart London, saying: “Torture, lack of food, no hygiene, and people are forced to take unknown medicines, women are forced to be sterilised. There are women who have been there for over one year, they said they didn’t have periods, young women, because they are forced to take some unknown medication.”

“Widespread rape has been reported, naked searches every other day, so the women have to be stripped naked and they have to sit up in front of many officials… and that is very humiliating, it’s against the complete humanity in this 21st century [sic]” she added.

“The people in the camps, including the very elderly, are forced to speak Chinese, forced to recite the Chinese ‘Red Songs’, Chinese propaganda, basically they have no rights,” she concluded.

Both women who spoke to Breitbart London said that they have cut all communication with their families back in Xinjiang out of fear of retribution from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  One woman said: “Since 2015 we cut our contacts with our relatives who live in East Turkestan [Xinjiang]. The last time we called them, they said please don’t call, [the CCP] threatened us.”

Earlier this week Breitbart News reported that China is sending Han Chinese men, the majority ethnic group of China, into the homes of Uyghur women while their husbands are in the re-education camps. The men are said to “regularly” sleep in the same bed as the women they are tasked with monitoring. 

Asked why the Chinese are doing this to the Uyghur people, one woman said: “The Chinese Communist Party says that they are ‘re-educating’ the people because of religious pressures but I think that’s all excuses, the real reason is to exterminate the whole nation… they want it all to be like Chinese, everyone the same.”

Some at the embassy were also protesting the Chinese communist regime’s practise of live organ harvesting from political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, particularly Falun Gong practitioners.


“Not Your Typical 51 Year Old”

Deacon With Down Syndrome Follows God’s Call

By Scott Patton

As pastors, we love to lean on the adage of “He doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.”

I’m reminded of 1 Pet. 5:10 “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

God’s calling is unique, but the one constant is we never know who and how he will call his servants. I had been praying that the Holy Spirit would call one or possibly two men to serve as deacons in our church. I had made the petition public and had spoken to several men about possibly becoming deacons.

One day during a church fellowship meal, a church member approached me with a private issue he wanted to discuss outside.  This is not uncommon for pastors, but the person wanting to speak with me in private is unique.  Barry Asenap is not your typical 51-year-old.  He has been living with Down Syndrome. Although he is 51, you would mistake his appearance to be much younger.


Despite his outward disability, Barry is an absolute mainstay in our congregation.
Barry and his mother Margala have embraced the stalwarts of servanthood. When you see Barry, you see Jesus, and when you hug him you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. To say Barry is beloved in our congregation is an understatement.

When we stepped outside for our private conversation, I could see in Barry’s eyes that he had an extremely heavy heart, and he was anxious.  He grabbed my hand and said, “You have been asking people to be deacons. I prayed. I will be your deacon.”

At first, I didn’t completely understand him.  And I asked for clarification.  Barry said, “Like Jay Dee (one of our current deacons), Jesus told me to be a deacon.”

I was moved and touched, to say the least. Many thoughts went through my mind like “Maybe we make him an honorary deacon” or “What would people think?” or “Is this making a mockery of deaconship, or are we making a mockery of Barry?”

Then the Holy Spirit slapped me on the head and said, “Seriously, who are you to question My call? Barry meets the requirements of 1 Timothy better than you!”

The same Holy Spirit that called Barry to be a deacon is the same Holy Spirit that called me to preach; and the same Holy Spirit that called Moses to walk into Pharaoh’s court and say “Let my people go.” He is the same Holy Spirit that said, “Go build an Ark, Noah.”

The church’s response was overwhelming. We had an ordination council. Barry brought his testimony before the church. After a moving service, he was affirmed unanimously.  Barry’s call to servanthood through the deaconship is just getting started.  He also serves as our church sergeant of the arms, assists with the small group attendance sheets, and he helped launch our “Whose Your One” campaign with a social media commercial.

Every year, Indiahoma, First celebrates Barry with a “Birthday Bash.” The celebration this year raised more than $1,500 for scholarships for students to attend summer camp at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center.  In September, he helped the church raise more than $1,500 for Falls Creek Scholarships, during the annual Barry’s Birthday Bash.

God created and shaped Barry for His purpose and strategically placed him at Indiahoma, First, and we are so blessed to have him.


sacrificing for your brothers

standing family near fireplace

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Deuteronomy 3:18-20 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 3:18 “I commanded you at that time: and this is what I said: Yahveh your God has given you this land to take possession of. All your militarily qualified sons1 will cross over in battle formation ahead of your brothers the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 3:19 But your wives, dependents, and livestock – I know that you have a lot of livestock – will stay in the cities I have given you

Deuteronomy 3:20 until Yahveh gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land Yahveh your God is giving them across the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession that I have given you.

sacrificing for your brothers

At this stage, there was already considerable land and several cities which had been conquered. But Yahveh did not want the young men who were qualified to fight to stay behind in that territory. He wanted them to keep fighting so that their brothers would also have some of the land God had promised. This meant that they would have to temporarily leave their wives, children, and possessions. They were being challenged to sacrifice for the benefit of their brothers.

God has not called us to obtain land, but to make disciples in every land. It is fitting as we consider this new mission for us to ask how we can best secure a place in the kingdom for our brothers and sisters who are not yet in it. We should take those best qualified for missionary service, and send them to the field. Such service requires sacrifice on the part of the missionaries, and their senders.

Lord, give us the courage to send our best qualified to enlarge your kingdom.



One of the Greats, Especially For Christians

‘Shawshank’ Still Preaches, 25 Years Later

Tim Briggs
The Gospel Coalition

This fall marks the 25th anniversary of the release of The Shawshank Redemption. Twenty-five years later, it’s hard to believe this beloved movie, directed by Frank Darabont (The Green Mile), was a box-office flop in 1994. Today it resides atop many “best movie ever” lists—including mine.

There’s a lot to love about Shawshank. I could write endless pages about the acting, music, cinematography, direction, and so on. But while these are all worthy topics, I’m most interested in the film’s Christian symbolism. From start to finish, intended or unintended, it is saturated with Christian imagery and themes.

With “redemption” in its very title, the film seems to invite a Christian interpretation. And though in general we should be cautious about stretching for theological parallels and “Christ figures” in movies, it’s also worth celebrating when a movie reminds us of the beauty of the Christian narrative. And that’s exactly the sort of beauty I see in Shawshank.

Red’s Testimony

Consider how the “redemption” drama of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) reflects certain aspects of Jesus’s story.

Andy enters the world of Shawshank Prison as an outsider. Red (Morgan Freeman), who becomes Andy’s friend, observes of Andy: “He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn’t normal around here. He strolled like a man in a park without a care or worry. Like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place.” The whole story is told through Red’s point of view and becomes his testimony about Andy.

Andy is quickly adopted into Red’s friend group, and he begins discipling Red and the gang. Andy teaches them there’s something much better than their bleak surroundings. One especially powerful example finds Andy broadcasting Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” over the PA system to the whole prison. Describing this moment, Red reflects: “I tell you, those voices soared. Higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free.”

Of course, Andy’s ministry to the prisoners is not without danger.
Early on, he is harassed by the demonic Bogs (Mark Rolston). The pharisaical warden (Bob Gunton) refuses to see Andy for who he is, and seeks to use him for his own personal benefit. Even in the face of opposition, Andy teaches his disciples to embrace hope. Andy’s training culminates later in the story when he writes to Red: “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

As the story progresses, we learn Andy has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. When circumstances reach their grimmest, Andy “dies” (so to speak), descending to the depths of the sewer pipes, before resurrecting on the other side as a free man (as Peter Stevens). Red, the warden, and the guards visit Andy’s cell, expecting to find a dead body. Instead they find an empty cell. This prompts a guard to cry, “Oh my holy God!” Andy’s apparent defeat of death gives renewed hope to the prisoners, and it prompts Red to finally repent of his sins in front of the parole board, resulting in his freedom. In the final scene we see Red next to the Pacific Ocean—a place where sins are remembered no more—and Andy is there too, welcoming him into paradise.

Living Hope

I first saw Shawshank when I was 12 and immediately liked it. I enjoyed it for its pure entertainment value, but also observed that it had a deeper meaning. At 12, I was quite proud of myself that I knew this movie was not just about a prison break; it was about hope. But even then I knew “hope” is rather vague and rudderless without something firm to be grounded in. It wasn’t until college that I discovered the sort of sturdy hope Scripture describes: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Pet. 1:3–4).

With each subsequent viewing of Shawshank, I’m reminded of this living hope—recalling both the prison of my sin and also the prospect of freedom found in my Savior.

I’m not a “cryer,” but I well up every time at the end of this film. As the dramatic music gently crescendos, Red says:

I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. . . . I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. . . . I hope.

I love how Morgan Freeman delivers these lines. There’s a longing in Red’s voice. He certainly wishes for these things to be true. Yet, there’s also a confidence. He ends by saying, “I hope.” It’s not merely an aspiration; it’s a declaration.

The next time you watch Shawshank, let it preach. Let its magnificent redemption story point you to the ultimate redemption story of the resurrected Christ—the greatest prison break of all time.

Tim Briggs is the community groups pastor at New City Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s also the creator of a guild of church musicians called Folk Hymnal. You can follow him on Twitter.


there will be giants

architecture clouds countryside electricity

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Deuteronomy 3:8-11 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 3:8 “At that time we took the land from the two Amorite kings across the Jordan, from the Arnon Valley as far as Mount Hermon,

Deuteronomy 3:9 which the Sidonians call Sirion, but the Amorites call Senir,

Deuteronomy 3:10 all the cities of the plateau, Gilead, and Bashan as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of Og’s kingdom in Bashan.

Deuteronomy 3:11 (Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Notice his bed was made of iron. Isn’t it in Rabbah of the Ammonites? It is nine cubits1 long and four cubits2 wide by a standard measure.)

there will be giants

The Rephaim were a race of giants who populated the lands destined to be occupied by Israel. Og was a descendant of this race. No doubt he was a frightening sight in battle. But the Israelites had learned that no one can stand in their way when they were going God’s way.

Christians will also face giants as they pursue the mission of spreading the gospel to the nations. One by one these giants will appear, and one by one they must be defeated by the reality of God’s truth.

What giants are you facing? Don’t be afraid of them. God has put them in your way because he wants the glory when you push through them.

Lord, bring on the giants. When we are going your way, we are invincible.

113 1/2 feet

26 feet


Sodom and Gomorrah Take Shape Once Again

Opinion: The Democratic Party’s abortion fanaticism is demonic

When Democrat presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard publicly announced her compromising stance on abortion-on-demand, specifically saying that she favored an approach that kept abortion legal, but also worked to make it rare and “unnecessary,” she was pilloried amongst what has become mainstream liberalism.
Combine that reality with a spate of recent jaw-dropping events, and an extremely unnerving conclusion emerges: the driving ideology behind the Democratic Party in America has evolved from a tacit approval and defense of legalized child killing to a macabre celebration of the ritual.
Start with notorious late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart, a folk hero to pro-abortion activists and a champion to Planned Parenthood apologists. Carhart, who has repulsively compared full-term babies in the womb to “meat in a crockpot,” was photographed celebrating his birthday with a desk placard that read, “Even on my worst days, I’m killing it.”

Offensive to be sure, but the placard reveals something very instructive about Carhart and his defenders. You can’t “kill” a non-living blob of tissue. You can’t “kill” a mere part of a woman’s body. The semantical defense of abortion that rests on the premise that it’s “terminating a pregnancy” not “killing a baby” is completely undone right here on Carhart’s own desk. You can only “kill” living things, and that living “thing” is decidedly human. While Carhart himself admits that what he destroys for profit are “babies,” his defenders persist in futile denial.
Meanwhile, though modern feminists have long recoiled and objected to any characterization that they revel in abortion as primitive, pagan cultures once danced and caroused as they sacrificed their children to false gods, this horrifying Halloween spectacle from a pro-abortion drag queen strongly suggests otherwise (Warning: this video is extremely graphic and disturbing):
That’s simply demonic. May God have pity on that possessed soul, and may He have mercy on those of us who abide it as part of any morally tenable and ethically justifiable opposition. This ghoulish display does, at least, provide one public service. It emphatically repudiates any pretense that abortion exists as a private and painful choice. Not in 2019, not in our modern era of medical technology, not in a scientifically enlightened culture that understands fetal development and medical ethics.
Abortion fanaticism can no longer be attributed to a misunderstanding or confusion over its nature. No, what we are witnessing here is the logical evolution of a pop culture worldview divorced from any moral authority beyond its own sinful, self-serving impulses. Whether it manifests in the unrivaled bloodlust of a man like Carhart, or in the self-focused choice to place personal convenience over the life of one’s child, the result is tragic.
There is a better way, of course. It comes in first recognizing the humanity of every living being dwelling in the sanctuary of a mother’s womb. And secondly, assigning intrinsic value to that being not for crossing some arbitrary boundary of consciousness, wantedness, or development, but for bearing the inviolable image of its Creator.
Unfortunately, for the price of votes and power, the Democratic Party in America has sold its soul to a wicked ideology that views the miscarriage of life in the womb not as a tragedy to be mourned, but a “mess on a napkin” to be trashed and forgotten.
Willful association with any such political organization by candidates or voters should raise immediate red flags for all morally discerning individuals. That doesn’t mean unfettered support for all Republican opposition, of course, particularly given that party’s persistent willingness to compromise on such an important issue.
But apart from a collective consensus that this kind of grotesque celebration of massacred human babies is an intolerable abomination, we hold at best a tenuous grasp on our claim of being a civilized society.