an internal battle

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an internal battle

Deuteronomy 5:1 Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Israel, listen to the prescriptions and rules I am proclaiming as you hear them today. Learn and watch them carefully.

Deuteronomy 5:2 Yahveh our God established a covenant with us at Horeb.

Deuteronomy 5:3 Yahveh did not establish this covenant with our fathers, but with all of us who are alive here today.

Deuteronomy 5:4 Yahveh spoke to you face to face from the fire on the mountain.

an internal battle

God would give the Israelites victory over their enemies by empowering them in battle. But Moses urges the people to prepare for an internal battle— in which victory would mean keeping the land, and witnessing to God’s glory within it.

In the same way, the blood of Christ has given us victory over the penalty of our own sins. But we need the Sacred Breath within us for fighting the internal battle we will all face in this life.

Lord, thank you for making our destiny certain, and giving us what we need to fight our internal battles.

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Mr Legality Is A Deadly Fellow

Subtle Unbelief Which Perverts the Gospel of Christ

Here is a powerful analysis we came across the other day.

A new and more powerful proclamation of [God’s Law] is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law.  As it is, they are turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of Mr Legality, which is reported to be very skillful in relieving men of their burdens.

Mr Legality has indeed in our day disguised himself somewhat, but he is the same deceiver as the one of whom Bunyan wrote.  “Making Christ Master” in the life, putting into practice “the principles of Christ” by one’s own efforts–these are the new ways of earning salvation by one’s own obedience to God’s commands.  And they are undertaken because of a lax view of what those commands are.  So it always is: a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace.  [J. Gresham Machen, quoted in Ned B. Stonehouse, J Gresham Machen: a Biographical Memoir (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987], p. 396.]

Our post-Christian world is still awash with people who live in the village of Morality.  want to obey the “Golden Rule” or claim they respect the Ten Commandments.  They will speak of the need to respect parents, of honesty and truth-telling, and of respecting the property of others.  Deep down they harbour a belief that these things will earn them merit and take them beyond the grave and win the approval of God in the Day of Judgement.   They don’t claim to be perfect, or without faults.  But they believe that when the scales are brought forth on the day of judgement the Balance of God will show more righteousness than evil in their lives. 

Against this false view stands the clear, unambiguous statement of God: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” [James 2:10.]   To repeat Machen’s words: “So it always is: a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace.”

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We Are a Christian Nation. We Are Proud to Be Able To Say That.

Hungary Shines Spotlight on Christian Persecution

Budapest Conference Speaks Out

Thomas D. Williams
Breitbart London

Hungary is holding its 2nd International Conference on Christian Persecution 2019 in Budapest this week to keep a bright light shining on the plight of Christians around the world.  Conference participants started filing into Budapest Monday, even though the speeches and events do not officially begin until Tuesday morning, and the patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, led the prayer before lunch in Aramaic.

Keynote speakers for the event include Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán; Nigerian Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah; and Gewargis III, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. Tristan Azbej, Hungary’s state secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, and Rev. Joseph Kassab, head of the Evangelical Community of Syria and Lebanon, are also conference speakers.

The Orbán government has been on the front lines of aid to persecuted Christians around the world, sending financial and logistical assistance so that Christians are not forced to migrate from their lands for economic reasons.

This summer, Mr. Azbej lamented a “wall of silence” that has been erected around the problem of Christian persecution, despite the enormity of the problem on a global scale.

Speaking at the 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC, Azbej explained why Hungary has focused attention on Christian persecution.  The Hungarian government has set up the aid program because “Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world” and “Hungary is a Christian nation,” Mr. Azbej said in his Twitter post.

“My title is State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians. I believe I am the only government official in the world with this title,” Azbej began in his July 16 address to the Ministerial, eliciting spontaneous applause.  “We are a Christian nation. We are proud to say that,” he said. “There are not many European countries where politicians are allowed to say such a thing.”

“Currently in the world Christianity is the most persecuted religion. Eighty percent of the people who are persecuted for their faith in the world are Christians,” he added.  “So, this is why we have set up a program to aid them. But I have to clarify here that we are not only providing direct assistance to Christians; that wouldn’t be very Christian like, would it?” he said. “So, our support for Christians is explicit but not exclusive.”

“We have seen that there is a neglect, there is a wall of silence built around this problem,” Azbej noted.  “In the international organizations we are trying to raise awareness and at the same time we have started an aid program, a humanitarian and reconstruction program, which has a very unique character of providing aid directly to the communities,” he said.

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the transjordon possessions

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the transjordon possessions

Deuteronomy 4:44-49

Deuteronomy 4:44 This is the instruction Moses placed before the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 4:45 These are the reminders,1 prescriptions, and rules Moses proclaimed to them after they came out of Egypt,

Deuteronomy 4:46 across the Jordan in the valley facing Beth-peor in the land of King Sihon of the Amorites. He lived in Heshbon, and Moses and the Israelites defeated him after they came out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 4:47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two Amorite kings who were across the Jordan to the east,

Deuteronomy 4:48 from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Valley as far as Mount Sion (that is, Hermon)

Deuteronomy 4:49 and all the Arabah on the east side of the Jordan as far as the Dead Sea below the slopes of Pisgah.

the transjordon possessions

There were three sections of land the Israelites took possession of before crossing the Jordon River. Moses oversaw the battles to procure these lands, and their distribution.

I have been thinking about the Israelite possession of the promised land as analogous of the Christian possessing the mind of Christ as a result of sanctification. Is it going too far to suggest that the possession of the transjordon lands might be a reference to what we can learn about God and living righteously through the Old Testament? This comes to mind because the Old Testament was originally divided into three parts.

Whether or not that guess is correct, it was gracious of our Lord to allow Moses a part in the conquest, even if he could not cross the Jordon.

Lord, thank you for the things you allow us to experience.

1עֵדוּת

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Hong Kong and China

Is the Dam Wall Beginning to Crack?

The success of democracy in the recent Hong Kong local authority elections is significant.  It is now clear that the protesters enjoy widespread public support.

Though the district councils’ authority is mostly local, they appoint 117 of the 1,200 members of Hong Kong’s Election Committee. Coupled with the roughly 400 opposition members already sitting on the election committee, the additional seats will give the pro-democracy camp much greater sway when the next chief executive of Hong Kong is selected in 2022. The current chief executive, Carrie Lam, has denounced this year’s protests and remained staunchly on the side of Beijing.

“The result is astonishing. It is a clear sign that a public majority supports the democratic movement and the anti-extradition protests,” says Eric Lai, the vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, a group that has played a key role in organizing the protests. [Daniel Tenreiro, National Review Online.]  

What impact is this election result likely to have  upon the Chinese Government’s Politburo?  Does it bring pressure upon President Xi Jinping, or is it of little or no account to the dictator?
Tenreiro argues that it does bring pressure upon Xi Jinping, even right back in the Politburo itself.

Back on the mainland, Chinese president Xi Jinping, whose reign has been characterized by a strong line toward Hong Kong, will need to recalibrate his strategy: Any move to expand democracy in Hong Kong will weaken the hand of the Chinese Communist Party in the region, but the status quo is no longer tenable. Xi’s intransigence in recent months has added fuel to the protesters’ fire and threatened his grip on the party.

Last month, the Hudson Institute’s William Schneider told National Review that opposition to Xi’s strategy has increased within the Chinese Politburo. In addition to the political crisis in Hong Kong, members of the party leadership have questioned the prudence of Xi’s intransigence on trade with the U.S., as well as his efforts at territorial expansion through the Belt and Road Initiative and his provocative military maneuvers in the South China Sea.

If Xi fails to address the concerns of Hong Kong protesters, such existing discord within the party could increase, and he could find himself on even shakier ground. After all, the strategic importance of Hong Kong to Beijing has always been political first and foremost: If the Chinese state can’t show the strength to get its way in Hong Kong, dissidents on the mainland might be emboldened. And emboldened mainland dissidents would be an existential threat not just to Xi’s leadership but to the party itself.

The horrific persecution of the Uighur minority stands as a curse upon Xi and his supporters within the Politburo. 

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Will The Black Vote in the US Be Guided By Its Wallet?

Interesting Times

Black voters in the US have long supported the Democratic Party.  Yet, given the strong domestic economic growth the US has enjoyed under Trump, it was always going to be intriguing as to whether the black vote would start to swing towards the Republican Party. 

According to Breitbart, a couple of recent polls give a hint that the swing may have started.  Yes, it is true that one swallow does not a summer make.  The two polls may be outliers.  It is too early to tell. But . . .

The Trump Campaign emphatically claims that the tide is turning and that Trump will win support from a majority of black voters in 2020. 

The Trump campaign celebrated the news.  “It might shock Democrats that support for President Trump is rising with Black Americans but it shouldn’t,” Trump campaign Principal Deputy Communications Director Erin Perrine said to Breitbart News. “Blacks are more prosperous than ever because of President Trump with record-low unemployment and rising paychecks.”

Charles Spiering writes:

A pair of recent polls show that 34 percent of black likely voters approve of President Donald Trump’s presidency, a stunning development that could have a massive impact on his re-election campaign in 2020.  A Rasmussen poll released Friday showed black likely voter approval of Trump at 34 percent. An Emerson Poll showed 34.5 percent approval by the same demographic.

We will see, as the prophet said. 

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respect for life

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respect for life

Deuteronomy 4:41-43

Deuteronomy 4:41 Then Moses separated1 three cities across the Jordan to the east.

Deuteronomy 4:42 Someone could flee there who committed manslaughter, killing his neighbor accidentally without previously hating him. He could flee to one of these cities and stay alive:

Deuteronomy 4:43 Bezer in the open country on the plateau land, belonging to the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead, belonging to the Gadites; or Golan in Bashan,

respect for life

What strikes me as I ponder the instructions about the cities of refuge is that they reflect a deep respect for human life. Even those who accidentally kill someone else will have their lives interrupted by relocation. The life of the victims had to be respected even if their deaths were accidental.

But this respect for the lives of the victims did not justify vengeance killing. If someone was found guilty of murder, their punishment would not be at the hands of a vengeful mob.

Lord, instill in us a respect for all life, as divine gift from you.

1בּדל

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The Signature of the Father of Lies

Weird . . . On A Grand Scale

Douglas Wilson has written a superb piece at the Blog and Mablog site, titled Idiocracy

Our generation is dumber than a sackful of hammers.  The ignorance is self-caused and self-willed.

Wilson gives us three examples of the trope:

The rich and the poor. 

. . . But here is the central chicanery, the legerdemain, the conjuring trick. There is a difference between statistical categories and actual people. There is a stark difference between a statistical underclass and a permanent underclass. A generation ago, a bunch of the student couples below the poverty line—the Smiths, Murphys, Talcotts, and Peabodys—are now in the upper middle class. And some of the people in the upper middle class have drifted downward out of it.

In a society that contains as much upward mobility as ours does (which is to say, a great deal), to compare income disparity between statistical groups a generation ago and statistical groups now, as though we were talking about the same people, is the height of absurdity.

Climate change.

. . . But a weather system has millions of variables, not one, and climate might be understood as a “weather system” of weather systems. How many variables are we talking about? How many inputs into the system? How complicated is the question? Do we even know what we are talking about?

The Transexual Phantasmagorithon

. . .  A dude can have trillions of cells with XY chromosomes in his body, with each one of those cells testifying to the fact that this is fact a dude, and yet, if he applies some bright red XX lipstick to his XY lips, this somehow changes everything.

Read the complete piece.  It is a doozy.

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The US President Is Still Breathing

Victor Davis Hanson’s “Take” On the Trump Presidency

What was the upshot of the animus toward Trump I’ve catalogued in this series? In the first two years of his presidency, Trump has not resigned. He has not been impeached. He has not been indicted. He has not died or been declared non compos mentis. Trump did not govern as a liberal, as some of his Never Trump critics predicted. He had not been driven to seclusion by lurid exposés of his past womanizing a decade earlier as a Manhattan television celebrity. Predictions of all that and more were no more accurate than earlier prognostications that Trump would never be nominated and certainly never elected.

An administrative state, swamp, deep state, call it what you wish, was wrong about Trump’s nomination, his election, and his governance.
It was right only in its warnings that he could be crude and profane, with a lurid past and an ethical necropolis of skeletons in his closet — a fact long ago factored and baked into his supporters’ votes.

At each stage, the erroneous predictions of the deep state prompted ever greater animus at a target that it could not quite understand, much less derail, and so far has not been able to destroy. By autumn 2018, the repetitive nightly predictions of cable-news pundits that the latest presidential controversy was a “bombshell,” or marked a “turning-point,” or offered proof that “the walls were closing in,” or ensured that “impeachment was looming on the horizon” had amounted to little more than monotonous and scripted groupthink.

Never before in the history of the presidency had a commander-in-chief earned the antipathy of the vast majority of the media, much of the career establishments of both political parties, the majority of the holders of the nation’s accumulated personal wealth, and the permanent federal bureaucracy.

And lived to tell the tale.

National Review Online contributor VICTOR DAVIS HANSON is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump. @vdhanson

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Apologetics in practise: Lessons from my laundromat

The local dogs tonight taught me a lesson in apologetics.

I was taking a walk in the evening. Plenty of shops are open and pedestrians are walking around at 8:30 in my Chiang Mai neighbourhood, and there was a bright full moon. At the doorway of the laundromat lay three or four dogs, resting. I see plenty of dogs here. I hear that they are more or less free, but they often act like guard dogs. I always take care not to look funny at them or linger near them. But I think I looked funny at a spotty one by accident once, and my theory is that he has a grudge against me. That would explain why, while I was still a couple of shops away, he got up and came up to me, barking, and bringing his friends with him.

Normally, I ignore barking dogs, and they eventually lose interest. But I like that laundromat. I wash my clothes there every week. I wouldn’t hit dogs with a broom like the laundromat cleaning lady does. But I jolly well like to sit there, and I decided I would do so right then, right in front of those overzealous guard dogs.

I walked toward the laundromat, ignoring their continued crowding and barking. They sniffed me as well. I took a seat near the washing machines. They kept up the crowding and barking a bit, with some growling thrown in, but also stopped to sniff more thoroughly. I let them have a good sniff while I looked at my phone. I guess they got comfortable (or bored) with me, because they lay back down and dozed again. When they had dozed a few minutes, I walked out.

I was halfway down the road when Spot realised I was gone. ‘Woof,’ he said, ‘Woof! Yeah, you better leave! And don’t come back!’ But neither he nor his friends followed me.

The experience got me thinking about apologetics. Whether we are Christians, atheists, or whatever, when we disagree with people, sometimes we feel like barking at them – taking up a debating posture. Barking is a way to give warning that a hostile person is near, or that a line has been crossed. But sometimes, barking is rude and unnecessary. When people rudely bark at you (debate at you in a rude way), you could sign off and move on. But another option is to take a seat, exercise your right to be present (if indeed you do have a solid right to be present), and give them a chance to ‘sniff you’ – to get to know you. You should neither cower nor shout; either of those may escalate the rudeness. Meanwhile, you will get to know them, too, and (probably) find out that they don’t bite. Afterwards, they may make a pose of winning the debate or looking down on you. But the reality is, you both shared the same space for a while, and maybe learned something from it.

Postcript: Some dogs sniffed me again a while later, and since then I have not been barked at.

I still reflect that on the experience. Real malice is out there. It can also lurk inside, in our hearts and our manners, and we need to deal with that. As for malice out there, in some atheists and various people who naysay the faith — it is understandable to be cautious of those who, say, use a lot of bombast or ad hominem arguments. There is a time to just avoid unconstructive stuff. But, on the other hand, as people who have received grace, we should have the grace to give people a chance, the charity to think the best of them, and some healthy confidence. After (or during!) their heated tirade or coarse and provoking language, someone might just settle down to getting to know you.

Luke Williamson is studying a Master in Linguistics at Payap University in Chiang Mai. When in his hometown of Hamilton, he helped run Thinking Matters events there (Mining for Truth). He combines his passion for apologetics with elements from his background including linguistics, literature, children’s ministry and evangelism.

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