Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

After several years and more than 2000 entries ...

After several years and more than 2000 entries, this blog is coming to an end. With the culture apparently descending into a new dark age and much of a Laodicean church increasingly impotent, Augustine's words after the barbarian conquest and destruction of Rome have a remarkably contemporary ring. In response to the fall of Rome, Augustine began writing "The City of God" which for 1,500 years has been the truth of history in a fallen world.


Timothy George has some words of wisdom and truth for us in this age,


There are two major (and regrettably common) mistakes Augustine wants us to avoid. One is the lure of utopianism. This is the mistake of thinking that we can produce a human society that will solve our problems and bring about the kingdom of God on earth. This was the basic error of both Marxism and 19th-century liberalism.


The other error, equally disastrous, is cynicism. This creeps up on us as we see ever-present evil. We withdraw into our own self-contained circle of contentment, which can just as well be a pious holy huddle as a secular skeptics club.


Fragile World, Strong Faith


How can we avoid such reactions? Perhaps another great Christian of the past, Francis of Assisi, can help. One day when Francis was riding to Assisi, he saw a leper on the road. He reached out to embrace the leper and actually gave him the kiss of peace. While embracing this filthy, diseased outcast, Francis said, he was overcome by a dual sensation. One was nausea. The other was a sense of sweetness and well-being. Like Francis, we need both.


If all we experience is nausea, we will become cynics. We will give up on the world and turn away. But if all we have is sweetness, then our faith will amount to little more than sentimental fluff.
Genuine Christian faith, and true ministry, takes place on the thin line between nausea and sweetness. Feel-good Christianity, so common in our popular culture, actually masks the suffering and pain of the world for which Christ died.


George goes on to remind us that C. S. Lewis spoke at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin at Oxford on October 22, 1939. Less than two months earlier, Hitler invaded Poland and Britain was about to face the demonic Nazi onslaught. This is what Lewis told the assembled students:


It may seem odd for us to carry on classes, to go about our academic routine in the midst of a great war. What is the use of beginning when there is so little chance of finishing? How can we study Latin, geography, algebra in a time like this? Aren't we just fiddling while Rome burns? This impending war has taught us some important things. Life is short. The world is fragile. All of us are vulnerable, but we are here because this is our calling. Our lives are rooted not only in time, but also in eternity, and the life of learning, humbly offered to God, is its own reward. It is one of the appointed approaches to the divine reality and the divine beauty, which we shall hereafter enjoy in heaven and which we are called to display even now amidst the brokenness all around us.


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Amen.


Blessed be the Lord, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city. (Ps 31:21)

Dating Spiritual People


Monday, June 18, 2018

Prominent psychiatrist - 'Demonic possession is real'


A Princeton-and-Yale-educated mainstream psychiatrist believes demonic possession is indeed very real. Read about it here.

With 25 years experience in a private psychiatric practice and as a professor at New York Medical College and Columbia University, Dr Richard Gallagher has a rare vantage point to observe human behavior. And then there is the inhuman.  

He is also a sought-after psychiatrist for discernment, the initial step in determining the need for exorcism. Dr Gallagher has evaluated hundreds of cases of possible possession and, in a wide-ranging and rare interview with the Telegraph, explains why he believes the phenomenon is genuine.

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Earlier I wrote about him here. As I wrote then,

The gospel is light by nature and suppresses the darkness of demonic activity; this is why demonic activity became much rarer in western civilization as the gospel spread (in contrast to pagan geographical regions). But now as the culture largely rejects the gospel and darkness descends like a wet blanket, demonic possession is becoming more widespread particularly as it is fueled by uncontrolled drug use, blase' prevalence of human sacrifice (abortion), rampant growth of the occult, gender identity confusion, skyrocketing homosexuality, escalating sexual immorality and hyper-sexuality.

From the early church writings, we know the early church fathers believed mental illness was distinct from demonic possession. John Chrysostom wrote, “Physicians, when they are kicked, and shamefully handled by the insane, then most of all pity them, and take measures for their perfect cure, knowing that the insult comes of the extremity of their disease …. If we see persons possessed by devils, we weep for them; we do not seek to be ourselves also possessed” (St. John Chrysostom, 1978, p. 127).

As I concluded,

With our culture descending into darkness and once-rare demonic possession becoming widespread, only the true gospel can restore sanity and light. The church is empowered by Christ to free those in demonic bondage, but must be willing to act as needed and use the gospel with love, wisdom, discernment, maturity and above all - faith.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Any evidence that points to special creation will always be refuted or reintepreted


Afforming the Biblical account of creation, a new study on evolution here concludes that 90 percent of animals appeared on the Earth virutally simultaneously and at the same time as humans.

The study's most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.

"This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could," Thaler told AFP.

That reaction is understandable: How does one explain the fact that 90 percent of animal life, genetically speaking, is roughly the same age?


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Most telling is the final statement in the article - "The absence of "in-between" species is something that also perplexed Darwin, he said." Committed evolutionists will always grasp at any straw that refustes creation allowing them to retain their worldview. Evidence that points to special creation will always be refuted or reintepreted.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

500 years ago the same thing happened


Eric Metaxas in his masterful biography on Martin Luther, writes the following,

“So Luther was using the new technology of printing to do an end run around the cultural elites who formed the previously impenetrable wall of ecclesiastical power. Suddenly history—via Gutenberg—had provided options that had not hitherto existed, and Luther would master this new way of reaching the people and fomenting a widespread uprising against the distant, out-of-touch taskmasters.”

Excerpt From: Metaxas, Eric. “Martin Luther.” Penguin Publishing Group, 2017-10-03. iBooks.

It's interesting that 500 years ago the cultural elite of the time were blindsided by the new technology of the printing press which dramatically reduced their control over the people by forging new avenues of communication that could easily bypass those in power.

The same thing is now happening in our lifetime with the advent of the Internet.

Prior to the Internet, the cultural elite controlled the media for the most part, determining what "truth" would reach the common people. And where/when necessary, the "truth" would be modified before dissemination. All that changed in 1998 when the extramarital affair of then-President Bill Clinton was publicly revealed on the Internet. Since then, the Internet has offered access to information heretofore unavailable to the public at large - so much so that the cultural elite are alarmed. Recognizing their loss of authority, we increasingly see proposals for controls over the available information on the web. Of course, the curbs would be designed and implemented by the cultural elite themselves - hopefully returning them to their self-appointed rule.

But it may be too late as the cat is already out of the bag. The Internet has the potential to exert a much more powerful and far-reaching effect on the world than did the invention of the printing press. And that doesn't sit well with those in power who often seek to shield the truth from those they rule over.

Just as the truth set many free 500 years ago with the Reformation, may the same thing happen now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Solzhenitsyn’s Prophecy


Robert George (the brilliant McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University) offers us a powerful and timely reminder here of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's sobering prophecy at Harvard in 1978.

I suspect that some Harvard officials regretted their decision to invite him to speak.

..... Many Americans—particularly young Americans—had lost faith in their country, its institutions, its principles, its culture, its traditions, its way of life. Some proposed communism as a superior system; many suggested what came to be known as “moral equivalency” between American democracy and Soviet communism. By 1978, to suggest such equivalency had become a mark of sophistication—something to distinguish one from the allegedly backward hicks and rubes who believed in the superiority of the American to the Soviet system. There were many such “sophisticated” people at Harvard. And Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn came to Harvard to confront them and others.

..... it was a severe critique—one might even say a prophetic rebuke—and a warning. Of course, Solzhenitsyn did not argue for the moral equivalency, much less the superiority, of the Soviet system. He hated communism in all its dimensions and he loathed the gangsters who ruled the Soviet empire. What he faulted America (and the West more generally) for was its abandonment of its own moral and, especially, spiritual ideals and identity.

He viewed the West’s weakness, including its weakness in truly standing up to Soviet aggression, as the fruit of the materialism, consumerism, self-indulgent individualism, emotivism, and narcissism—in a word, the immorality—into which we had allowed ourselves to sink. Solzhenitsyn, the (by then) legendary human rights activist, warned America and the West that we had become too focused on rights and needed to refocus on obligations. We had come to embrace a false idea of liberty, conceiving of it as doing as one pleases, rather than as the freedom to fulfill one’s human potential and honor one’s conscientious duties to God and neighbor.

At the heart of this moral confusion and collapse, Solzhenitsyn argued, was a loss of faith, and with it the loss of a particular virtue—the virtue of courage.

Here are Solzhenitsyn’s own words:

"A decline in courage may be the most striking feature, which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life."

.... We live at a time of great moral confusion. If anything, our situation is worse today than it was when Solzhenitsyn visited Harvard in 1978. There has been, to borrow a concept from Friedrich Nietzsche, a “transvaluation of values” in many spheres. What is good—such as marriage considered precisely as the conjugal union of husband and wife—has been redefined as bad. What is bad—such as sexual immorality of a wide range of types—has been redefined as good.

..... To speak moral truth to cultural power is to put at risk one’s social standing, one’s educational and employment opportunities, one’s professional advancement; it is to place in jeopardy treasured friendships and sometimes even family relationships. And the more people, in reaction to these threats, acquiesce or go silent, the more dangerous and therefore more difficult it becomes for anyone to speak the truth out loud, even if they know it in their hearts. Anyone who succumbs to the intimidation and bullying—anyone who acquiesces or goes silent out of fear—not only harms his or her own character and fails in his or her Christian duty to bear faithful witness to truth, he or she also makes things harder for others. We owe it not only to ourselves to be courageous, but to our brothers and sisters too. And because we owe it to ourselves and others, we owe it to God.

.... we fall into the profound moral and philosophical error of imagining that the human good consists in the satisfaction of human desires.

.... The Christian story is all about self-giving, self-sacrificial living—and dying. God himself sends his only begotten Son to us, in our sinfulness, to be our Redeemer and Savior by a supreme act of self-sacrificial love. We, as disciples of Jesus, are to model our lives on his, emptying and sacrificing ourselves for others. Bearing witness to truth, no matter the cost.

.... Solzhenitsyn saw a connection between the decline of courage and a loss of faith. Five years after his Harvard address, in a 1983 speech accepting the Templeton Prize in Religion, he stated this in the most explicit terms. The title of the speech could not have made the point more clearly. That title was “Men Have Forgotten God.”

Here is its opening paragraph:

"As a survivor of the Communist Holocaust I am horrified to witness how my beloved America, my adopted country, is gradually being transformed into a secularist and atheistic utopia, where communist ideals are glorified and promoted, while Judeo-Christian values and morality are ridiculed and increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation. Under the decades-long assault and militant radicalism of many so-called “liberal” and “progressive” elites, God has been progressively erased from our public and educational institutions, to be replaced with all manner of delusion, perversion, corruption, violence, decadence, and insanity.
Thirty-five years later, who can deny the truth of Solzhenitsyn’s lament?"

.... According to Solzhenitsyn, the moral decline of the West has behind it the same factor that produced the horrors of communism, namely this: “Men have forgotten God.” People worship themselves, deify their own desires, fall into an idolatry of the self, because they have forgotten that there is something—indeed someone—higher. They have forgotten God.

.... Fear is a powerful emotion—a very powerful emotion indeed. Faith alone can overcome it.

.... What has fallen into decay can be renewed. What has been lost can be rediscovered.

.... By the example of your lives, as well as by the words of your mouths, you must be the salt and light that repairs what is broken and points the way to true freedom for those who have fallen into forms of slavery that are all the more abject for masquerading as liberation.

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Amen! This is a powerful and brilliant exhortation for us today. We may not be able to repair the world-at-large. But we can certainly repair our respective little part of it and point the way to true freedom for those that surround us.

"But this is the broken world we live in"


A father has shared a heartbreaking photo of his son comforting his four-year-old daughter before she passed away from cancer.

Adalynn 'Addy' Sooter, from Rodgers, Arkansas, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) in November 2016 after her parents noticed she was having some difficulty walking.

She underwent 33 bouts of radiation that initially killed the cancerous cells, but they returned. 

The family then tried their luck with an experimental chemotherapy treatment in Mexico, spending more than $200,000 for transportation and medical expenses in Monterrey - but the tumor continued to spread.

In the photo, Sooter's son, six-year-old Jackson, is seen stroking his sister's head and giving her his other hand to hold.

'A little boy should not have to say goodbye to his partner in crime, his playmate, his best friend, his little sister,' Sooter wrote on Facebook. 'This isn't how it's supposed to be. But this is the broken world we live in.'

Story is here.

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He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev 21:4, NIV)

Monday, June 11, 2018

A perfect storm for widespread mental illness and demonic possession


Theologian Chad Ripperger in his book "Introduction to the Science of Mental Health" makes an excellent point. Technology is of course morally neutral; it can be used for either good or evil. Ripperger argues that in a technocratic society - when people tend to abuse and/or overuse technology - it subsequently becomes the prism through which reality is then perceived. In such cases, those individuals often lose the ability to navigate life according to reason.

This is precisely what is happening to so many today (particularly young people.) The recent spate of fatal accidents involving the technologically advanced Tesla car is an example. You have a number of foolish drivers who falsely believe the car can literally drive for them while they do something else (like pay attention to their phone instead of the road.) An increasing number of young people who engage social media too much, cultivate a warped understanding of human relationship. More than few people who interact too much with the virtual world, walk away with the false notion that they can bend reality to their whims. Such dangerous thinking is the seed for mental illness. I've written before on the contemporary explosion of mental illness (i.e., here.) In 2012, Psychology Today recognized the problem here, noting for example that "serious risks to health can also occur when texting goes unregulated day after day." The conjunction of a technocratic culture where technology abuse/overuse is commonplace and combined with exponentially increasing drug abuse - provide a perfect storm for widespread mental illness and demonic possession.

Only the light of the gospel shared by a Spirit-empowered church can drive back the darkness and restore sanity. Everything else is futile.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The first step towards Islamization


John Stonestreet at Breakpoint calls out the truth here in his posting entitled "Life, Safety, and the TSA: Where Do We Draw the Line?"

Americans have decided to trade liberty for security. Well, at least we think we have. As one CNN reporter, who was “patted down” wrote in an open letter to TSA, America is not safer because TSA grabs women’s private parts.

In fact, the failure rate of the TSA is stunningly high. During random tests, government agents posing as passengers have been able to sneak weapons through security successfully anywhere from 80 to 95 percent of the time.

Americans are spending literally billions of dollars—and foregoing our 4th Amendment freedom from unreasonable search and seizure—for the illusion of safety.


It’s an illusion Chuck Colson predicted long ago to which Americans would consent. Government’s legitimate, God-given authority to promote order has overstepped into the individual’s God-given and constitutionally guaranteed rights.


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The Israeli's properly regard TSA security as a joke. Instead of catching would-be terrorists, the TSA routinely does stuff like this. Political correctness prevents the implementation of the kind of effective security employed at Tel-Aviv airport. The terrorists got what they wanted all along as the first step towards Islamization - the curtailment of American liberty. Amil Imani lays out the Muslim authoritarian mentality here.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The rich and powerful have adopted the LGBT agenda as their most beloved cause


Theologian RR Reno posted a thought-provoking essay online this week here entitled "The Supreme Court Punts".

Only an ignorant person could fail to see that over the last half-dozen years it is the opponents of sexual liberation who have become the outcasts. The rich and powerful have adopted the LGBT agenda as their most beloved cause. Corporate America lends its wealth and power. Higher education does as well. Just days before the Supreme Court handed down its decision, the FBI and CIA announced June 2018 as “LGBT Pride Month.”

This triumph has given the most ardent advocates license to express punitive sentiments toward the unrepentant rabble on the “wrong side of history”—the deplorables. In advance of what he assumed was Hillary Clinton’s inevitable victory, Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet speculated about “how to deal with the losers” in the battles over sex. He recommended taking “a hard line”—which he noted had been a winning strategy with defeated Nazis after 1945.

.... It was inevitable that the institutionalization of the sexual revolution would be carried forward by appeals to the postwar anti-discrimination tradition. And that tradition is loaded with explosive moral condemnation of any who dissent.

.... As Charlotte Allen has documented in our pages, the LGBT anti-discrimination skirmishes are very different from the battles of the 1950s and 1960s, when powerless black Americans fought against powerful interests to gain their rights. Now, those claiming discrimination are almost always well-to-do, well-educated, white-collar white men and women. Those who they claim discriminate against them are lower down the social ladder. In today’s anti-discrimination battles, the great and the good bring their power to bear on the little people who haven’t gotten the progressive memo.

.... That two gay men in Denver can bring to bear the full power of the state against a baker who does not wish to bake them a wedding cake is the height of absurdity. The gay couple do not belong to a vulnerable class of Americans. IRS data show that male-male married couples filing jointly have dramatically higher family incomes than other married couples, to say nothing of the disintegrating working-class families who don’t enjoy the benefits of marriage. Empowering a segment of the upper class to beat up on those who don’t approve of their sex lives is a recipe for social fragmentation.

How To Be An Atheist


Friday, June 8, 2018

It Never Ends


In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1, ESV)

With predictable regularity, NASA is again trumpeting the discovery of apparent signs of alien life (see here).

The "building blocks" for life have been discovered in 3-billion-year-old organic matter on Mars, NASA scientists announced Thursday.

Researchers cannot yet say whether their discovery stems from life or a more mundane geological process.  However, “we’re in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life,"  said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a NASA biogeochemist and lead author of a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

 For some historical perspective see what I wrote here a year ago.

In my lifetime, I've seen multiple claims to have finally "proven" the existence of extraterrestrial life. All of which were front-page news. And all of which were ultimately quietly proven false or rejected by the mainstream scientific community.

.... This raises the most interesting question - why is there a seemingly desperate frenzy within most of the scientific community to prove the existence of alien life?

There is an obvious and simple explanation - because the majority of them subscribe to evolutionary theory and reject special creation. The existence of alien life would validate their cherished belief that life can (and did) arise spontaneously by itself here on Earth. And if it happened here, then it must have also happened elsewhere in this seemingly infinite universe given the 14 billion years they currently consign as the age of the cosmos.

But what if we are alone in the cosmos and there is no alien life elsewhere? It is the death knell for their theory of origins and leaves only one other option that is devastating to their worldview - special creation by an omnipotent Creator. Thus, the stampede with ever increasing urgency to find alien life which in their minds would finally vindicate their position and prove the fallacy of a creator God.


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Ignoring the indisputable proof that "alien" life really did visit our planet some 2000 years ago in the Person of Jesus Christ who had some mind-blowing truth to reveal to us, they foolishly and futilely look for something that I seriously doubt they will ever find.

Dilbert on Climate Change


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Wolves in Sheep Clothing - The joys of taqiyya


Bruce Bawer writes here about the Muslim practice of deception (taqiyya) that I've written on several times before.

Lying to infidels, of course, has a name in Arabic – taqiyya – and it is one of the chief weapons of Islam in its eternal conflict with non-believers. Among its more celebrated practitioners is “Euro-Islam” proponent, Oxford professor, accused serial rapist, and current jailbird Tariq Ramadan, who is known to routinely say one thing to Western audiences in French or English and another to Muslim audiences n Arabic. Indeed, Caroline Fourest's book about him is entitled Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan. To employ taqiyya, as Musse appears to have done, is to demonstrate definitively that one is not on the side of the West but that one is a double agent – a partisan, a person whose true loyalty lies, shall we say, elsewhere.

Within a few hours of being caught dead to rights on NRK as a practitioner of doublespeak, Musse made an announcement. Did he resign? Of course not. He declared that NRK had represented him to the Norwegian public as a liar and, what's more, had painted an unflattering picture of Somalia.  Accordingly, he had contacted a lawyer, Arild Humlen, to ascertain what legal rights he had in the matter. 

What makes this story important, needless to say, is that Musse is not an outlier. Far from it. Increasingly, all over the West, Muslims hold elected positions, some of them at a very high level. It is considered to be racist, or at the very least to be in terribly bad taste, to question whether they can be loyal at once to their totalizing, all-encompassing religion and to their officially secular country and its (still) mostly non-Muslim inhabitants. Once those poiticians are caught engaging in taqiyya, of course, there is no further reason for doubt on this score.

How To Be A Social Justice Warrior


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Should churches require members to sign Covenants when they join?


Some churches require members to sign Covenants when they join - a practice that was very popular among the Shepherding and Discipleship movement during the 1970s. I am increasingly uncomfortable with the practice. Why would a verbal commitment be considered insufficient? If a verbal commitment of repentance to Christ is sufficient, why should one be required to sign a commitment to join His church?

Often the real unspoken reason that a church requires a written commitment is that it reduces the church's exposure to legal liability. Shouldn't such a request be a red flag to a new member at the beginning of their relationship with a new church? As a layperson, would the knowledge that a group of attorneys crafted the church membership document (as is almost always the case) that you were about to sign give you some pause? A manipulator will often abuse such commitments to his advantage; this of course was very true of the Shepherding/Discipleship movement of the 70s.

In an ideal situation when church leadership is morally well qualified and legitimate, a written covenant might function well. But in this fallen world, no local church is ideal. (Paul had to publicly confront and rebuke the apostle Peter for his treatment of Gentiles [Gal 2:11-14].) What if church leaders are lacking in true moral character?

Make no mistake: whichever term is used for the ‘agreement’ or ‘affirmation’, these signed documents are contracts. Some of these legal documents appear quite innocent. Others make you sign away certain rights and/or force you into making specific promises. These promises are usually related to (1) the church’s authority structure (specifically, your commitment to obeying the leaders), and (2) finances (in particular the flow of money from you to the church.)

In chapter 10 of his book, Fraudulent Authority: Pastors Who Seek To Rule Over Others [ Kindle edition], Wade Burleson gives five reasons why Christians should say no to a church covenant.
  1. A church covenant makes the Holy Spirit irrelevant in my life
  2. A church covenant replaces my one true Mediator with inferior mediators
  3. A church covenant makes the institutional church equivalent to the Kingdom of God
  4. A church covenant by its nature is designed to protect an authoritarian structure.
  5. A church covenant requires something more than a simple “Yes” or “No.
– Source: Wade Burleson, Fraudulent Authority: Pastors Who Seek To Rule Over Others, Chapter 10.

Ultimately, the requirement to sign a formal written covenant prior to joining a local church should raise red flags.

The Greatest Generation Of Our Time


On the anniversary of the D-Day invasion on the Normandy coast, we pause to remember with gratitude the greatest generation of our time. A generation that is unfortunately largely ignored, all-but-forgotten and even reshaped to conform to the revisionist-history, fantasy worldview of modern progressive elites. In stark contrast to today's narcissistic, pampered spoon-fed, entitled generation - they truly were the greatest generation of our time. I was named for an uncle, Robert Bruce Sherman, who was killed in 1943 at the tender age of 18 fighting in the Pacific theater during WW2.



Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, ESV)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel (Prov 12:10, ESV)


The Smell of Death


Theologian RR Reno has brilliant analysis here of the ongoing societal meltdown. Entitled "The Smell of Death", he correctly diagnoses the root causes and the true architects of our culture of death.

The culture that formed the young men who have killed so many in mass shootings—or who kill themselves with drugs, alcohol, and guns to the head—cannot be blamed on the usual suspects, the “bigots” of flyover country and the “religious right.” On the contrary, it is institutions such as Harvard, Google, and the Ford Foundation that determine the mainstream. Their priorities set the tone, with the buzzwords of “multiculturalism,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” and other omnibus terms for a post-traditional way of life. With their vast wealth and prestige, our elites sponsor attacks on the usual bugbears: heteronormativity, patriarchy, logocentrism, and racism. Today’s culture is the result of a more than fifty-year effort of deregulation, rejection of traditional norms, and denigration of commonplace pieties.

At every level, our elites oppose traditional regulation of behavior based on clear moral norms, preferring a therapeutic and bureaucratic approach. They seek to decriminalize marijuana. They have deconstructed male and female roles for children. They correct anyone who speaks of “sex,” preferring to speak of “gender,” which they insist is “socially constructed.” They have ushered in a view of free speech that makes it impossible to prevent middle school boys from watching pornography on their smart phones. They insist upon a political correctness that rejects moral correctness.

The upshot is American culture circa 2018. Our ideal is a liquid world of self-definition, characterized by plenary acceptance and mutual affirmation. In practice, the children of our elites are fortunate: Their families and schools carefully socialize them into the disciplines of twenty-first-century meritocratic success while preaching openness, inclusion, and diversity. But the rest are not so fortunate. Most Americans gasp for air as they tread water. More and more drown .....

.... In the last half-century, liberalism has focused on deregulating personal life. This, too, has been an elite priority. It makes options available to those with the resources to exploit them. But it has created a world in which disordered souls kill themselves with drugs and alcohol—and in which those harboring murderous thoughts feel free to act upon them.

It’s time for us to wake up. The Ford Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Organization for Women, Harvard and Stanford Universities: These are the pillars of today’s establishment, and the architects of our culture of death.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The College Scam


Earlier, I opined that college is often a colossal waste of time and money for most people (i.e., see here.) I'm not the only one. While college is necessary for some professions - i.e., medical fields, engineering, seminary, etc. - it's a scam for most others.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Rabbis: The End of the Left-Wing Signals the Beginnings of Messiah


According to two prominent Jewish rabbis, the political conflict between the left-wing and the right-wing is a mystical war that has Biblical roots. They see hidden clues in the Bible indicating that the Left-Wing will be defeated this year as a precursor to the Messiah. Story is here.

While I'm not sure how much stock I put in them, there is no question there is escalating conflict between conservatives and progressive leftists. While their predictions focus on the nation of Israel, there is now a similar conflict in most of western civilization.

The "Disney-fication" of the Church


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

To grow we must learn that our perceptions and desires do not always align with reality


Breakpoint has a powerful editorial here entitled "Learning to Dance to the Master’s Song". It's much needed wisdom for today where so many expect reality to bend to their every whim no matter how capricious or ridiculous. Such thinking is the seed for mental illness.

Our society thinks that we can dance to the rhythm of our own drum, but the lessons of childhood remind us that gracefulness comes by cooperating with the external world and learning from experts how best to sail across the stage.

One of the hallmarks of becoming a mature, respectable human being is realizing your limitations. It’s not a crass matter of resigning yourself to your fate, but there is an element to becoming a “grown up” in accepting that wanting isn’t getting. We recognize this in raising our children, that part of our job as parents is to help them to learn the importance of patience and self-discipline, of not eating what we want but eating what we need, of respecting that our bodies can’t always do what we want them to do. To grow we must learn that our perceptions and desires do not always align with reality ...

.... Following God’s law isn’t like obeying the diktats of a tyrant. It’s following the lead of an all-knowing teacher granting us insight or a coach showing how to play the game of life with skill. When we listen to His voice, we aren’t hearing the words of someone who craves only our obedience but the guidance of someone who longs for us to thrive. He knows that without Him, we cannot thrive, but with Him, with His Fatherly instruction, we can move from childish crawling and stumbling onto the stage of His world and soar. When God calls us in His word to follow His ways, He’s not leading us to a life of drudgery but of dance.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Televangelists are the modern day equivalent of indulgence hawkers


There is an outrageous story here of a popular televangelist seeking $54 million from his faithful followers to buy a business jet, despite owning three previous models.

Jesse Duplantis, 68, a Christian minister based in Destrehan, about 25 miles east of New Orleans, says his ministry has paid cash for three private jets.

“You know I’ve owned three different jets in my life and used them and used them and just burning them up for the Lord,” Duplantis says in a video posted to his ministries’ website.

Duplantis is now reportedly seeking the funds for a Dassault Falcon 7X, worth $54 million.

The problem with the previous jets, he says, is that they require multiple stops to refuel. But flying the Falcon 7X, Duplantis says, will allow him to save money and not pay “those exorbitant prices with jet fuel all over the world.”  

“I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the earth today, he wouldn’t be riding a donkey,” Duplantis says in the video, “He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world.”

Duplantis’ video comes after another televangelist, Kenneth Copeland in Texas, purchased the Gulfstream V jet for $36 million.


Both televangelists defended their use of private jets during a joint appearance on Copeland’s program [video is below], saying that commercial airlines filled with “a bunch of demons” that get in the way of their busy schedules.



*******

Duplantis reportedly lives in a 35,000-square-foot plantation home built in the late ’00s at a cost of $3 million. His net worth has been estimated at $50 million. Duplantis is the modern-day-equivalent-scourge of indulgence hawkers that preyed on the gullible during the Middle Ages. It was the antics of the king of them all - one Johannes Tetzel - that outraged Martin Luther and sparked the reformation. Eric Metaxas relates the following account in his outstanding biography of Luther:

According to Luther, after Tetzel had received a substantial amount of money at Leipzig, a nobleman asked him if it were possible to receive a letter of indulgence for a future sin. Tetzel quickly answered in the affirmative, insisting that the payment had to be made at once. The nobleman did so and received thereupon letter and seal from Tetzel.

When Tetzel left Leipzig the nobleman attacked him along the way, gave him a thorough beating, and sent him back empty-handed to Leipzig with the comment that it was the future sin which he had in mind. Duke George at first was quite furious about the incident, but when he heard the whole story, he let it go without punishing the nobleman.

We can only hope that televangelists like Copeland and Duplantis who prey on the weak-of-faith and gullible will spark another much badly-needed reformation.

Hosanna


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Life & Death


Last words of Westley Allan Dodd before his execution


"I was once asked by somebody, I don't remember who, if there was any way sex offenders could be stopped. I said, 'No.' I was wrong. I was wrong when I said there was no hope, no peace. There is hope. There is peace. I found both in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Look to the Lord, and you will find peace."

These are the last words of Westley Allan Dodd before his execution by hanging at 12:05 a.m. on January 5, 1993 at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Dodd was an American serial killer and child molester. His execution (which was performed at his own request) on January 5, 1993, was the first legal hanging in the United States since 1965.

Last words can be very powerful as the prospect of imminent death almost always causes what's deep in the heart to surface.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Al Mohler - Judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention


Al Mohler opines here that God's judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention. It's must teading in entirety.

We thought this was a Roman Catholic problem. The unbiblical requirement of priestly celibacy and the organized conspiracy of silence within the hierarchy helped to explain the cesspool of child sex abuse that has robbed the Roman Catholic Church of so much of its moral authority. When people said that Evangelicals had a similar crisis coming, it didn’t seem plausible — even to me. I have been president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twenty-five years. I did not see this coming.

I was wrong. The judgment of God has come.


Judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention. The terrible swift sword of public humiliation has come with a vengeance. There can be no doubt that this story is not over .....

Once again, the truth is inconvenient


Earlier I posted here about the disturbing tendency for alleged "victims" to falsely claim racial injustice. As I said,

This is yet another consequence of the moral relativism infecting the culture. People feel the "right" to create their own version of "truth", no matter how divorced it is from reality. The tendency to refuse to conform one's intellect and will to reality (truth) and instead try and reshape reality to one's will, is the seed for mental illness. Thus, the cascading explosion of mental illness (with often deadly consequences like the recent school shootings) now enveloping our culture like a plague.

On a related note, a woman arrested for DUI in Texas claimed the arresting officer sexually violated and threatened her. She obviously didn't know he was wearing a body cam. Subsequent to her public allegations, the District Attorney released a video of the incident almost 2 hours long ... that clearly shows nothing inappropriate happened. Read about it and watch the video here. So convincing is the video that the woman's lawyer immediately apologized and distanced himself from her. Dixon-Cole has since hidden or deleted her Facebook account. Filing a false police report is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, according to Section 37.08 of the Texas Penal Code.

I have no doubt that some will refuse to believe the truth and will continue to side with the woman's obviously false story. I'm sure there will be firmly delusional conspiracy theorists who will figuratively pull rabbits out of hats.

Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips (Jer 7:28, ESV)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

This might help us figure out how to reduce the number of school shooting victims


(List is courtesy of Ann Coulter)

-- May 3, 2017, Arlington, Texas: James Jones went to the Zona Caliente sports bar and began yelling incoherently. When the manager, Cesar Perez, went to talk to him and calm him down, Jones pulled out a gun and shot Perez dead, then started shooting wildly at patrons. Luckily, a concealed carry holder happened to be having dinner at Zona Caliente with his wife that night. He shot Jones dead before anyone else was hurt.

-- Aug. 7, 2016, Linndale, Ohio: Two men getting into their car in a Dollar Store parking lot were held up by a masked armed robber. As the gunman, Varshaun Stephen Dukes, was rifling through one of the men's pockets, the other pulled out his concealed handgun and told him to stop. The robber fired at the man but missed. The concealed carry permit holder shot back, putting a .45 bullet in the robber's brain. (Naturally, he survived.) All of this was captured on the Dollar Store's surveillance camera, so no charges were brought against the armed citizen.

-- June 26, 2016, Lyman, South Carolina: Jody Ray Thompson opened fire in the crowded Playoffz nightclub, injuring three. But before he could kill anyone, he was shot in the leg by a club patron with a concealed carry license. Police arrested Thompson without further incident and no one died.

-- May 31, 2015, Conyers, Georgia: After arguing with a liquor store clerk, Jeffrey Scott Pitts returned with a gun and began shooting at everyone in the store, killing two. Todd Scott, who was there to buy a six-pack, returned fire. The crazed gunman fled, went home and shot his parents. "He was very surprised that he was not the only one in the store with a gun," Scott said. Apart from the two people killed in Pitts' opening barrage, no one died. Scott saved the lives of everyone else in that store.

-- July 24, 2014, Darby, Pennsylvania: Felon and psychiatric patient Richard Plotts pulled out a gun at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, murdered his caseworker and wounded his psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman. He would have kept shooting -- Plotts had 39 more bullets -- but the doctor pulled out his own gun and fired back, in violation of the hospital's no-guns rule. No one else died.

-- Jan. 11, 2014, Portland, Oregon: After being turned away from a strip club in Portland, repeat felon Thomas Elliott Hjelmeland came back, wearing a clown mask, guns blazing. He hit a waitress, a security guard and a patron before a bouncer, concealed carry permit holder Jonathan Baer, returned fire and ended the attack. No one died.

-- Dec. 16, 2012, San Antonio, Texas: Jesus Manuel Garcia began shooting at the Santikos Mayan Palace movie theater from a nearby restaurant and continued shooting as he walked toward the theater. An armed off-duty cop shot Garcia four times, stopping the attack. No one died.

-- March 25, 2018, Boiling Springs, South Carolina: Jesse Gates kicked in a side door of the Southside Freewill Baptist Church during services, raised his gun to shoot -- but was grabbed and held at gunpoint by the reverend's grandson, a concealed carry permit holder. No one was hurt. Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said, "I like the fact that a concealed weapons permit holder was prepared to protect the worshipers."

-- In 2001, 15-year-old Charles Williams tried to shoot up his high school in Santee, California, but luckily, an off-duty cop happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day. He ended Williams' rampage with his own gun, holding him until more police arrived. Two fatalities.

-- In 1998, a 14-year-old student began shooting up a school dance being held at a restaurant in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. The restaurant owner pulled out a shotgun, keeping the death toll to one.

-- In 1997, a student shot several people at his high school in Pearl, Mississippi, killing two, and was headed to the junior high, until assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a .45 pistol from his car and pointed it at the gunman's head. Another massacre averted.

-- In 1993, student Mark Duong pulled out a gun during his disciplinary hearing at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, wounding three people, including the police officer, who, luckily, had been asked to attend the hearing. The officer immediately shot the psychotic student dead, saving the lives of everyone in the room.

The Return of Islam


Bernard Lewis was an historian and acknowledged expert on the Middle East. He recently died at age 101. In 1976, he published an eerily-predictive analysis here entitled "The Return of Islam". He warned,

Islam from its inception is a religion of power, and in the Muslim world view it is right and proper that power should be wielded by Muslims and Muslims alone. Others may receive the tolerance, even the benevolence, of the Muslim state, provided that they clearly recognize Muslim supremacy. That Muslims should rule over non-Muslims is right and normal ....... Here again, it must be recalled that Islam is not conceived as a religion in the limited Western sense but as a community, a loyalty, and a way of life—and that the Islamic community is still recovering from the traumatic era when Muslim governments and empires were overthrown and Muslim peoples forcibly subjected to alien, infidel rule.

An article here noting his passing observed,

Lewis was the English-speaking world’s most eminent modern scholar of the Middle East. His prose, while it didn’t exactly leap off the page, drew on decades of archival research and a deep grounding in historical method. His analysis was measured, and his conclusions were thoughtful. He said that the Arabs were the authors of their own misery, and that the ‘return of Islam’ meant that unhappy Islamists were going to share their misery with the rest of the world. No doubt his death is being quietly celebrated in departments of Middle Eastern Studies the world over.


*******

Current events have proven Lewis correct in his analysis of Islam. Unfortunately, very few of the West's ruling elite grasp the true nature of Islam and the serious threat it poses to western civilization. Throughout the Scriptures, God urges people to accept the truth. But when people reject Him and spurn His message, then—and not until then—God hardens them and turns them over to a deluded mind to wallow in their sin ... and suffer the consequences. This is precisely what is collectively happening now to our culture.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The bizarre lengths evolutionists will go to in order to avoid Creation


There's an enlightening article here entitled "Are octopuses alien? New theory argues Earth was ‘seeded’ by interstellar genetic code". It demonstrates the bizarre lengths science will go to in order to avoid Creation.

OCTOPUSES are weird. This is not just because they look odd. It’s not because they’re disturbingly smart. It’s because they have a strange power. The ability to edit their own bodies. This has biologists scratching their heads. Evolution doesn’t work that way. It’s supposed to be spurred by genetic mutations — a change in DNA — that proves to be beneficial to the host.

So how could a creature evolve in such a way as to allow them to rebuild themselves?

Now a new train of thought has emerged. They didn’t. At least, not here. Instead — it’s an advanced biological ability that came from outer space ....

*******

There is no disharmony between true science and Scripture. However false science is forced to frantically cast about for increasingly bizarre theories that support their foundational worldview of evolution - theories that are usually subsequently presented as established truth. As the foundation for evolution crumbles with every new discovery, its proponents reach further and further into fantasyland in a desperate attempt to avoid the truth that is staring them in the face.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Playing the Black Card


And here is a classic example of someone playing the Black Card. An NAACP Chapter President (and pastor) alleged racial profiling by a policeman during a routine traffic stop. The pastor obviously didn't realize the encounter was being videotaped and the cop's bodycam footage was subsequently released to reveal the truth. As noted here, the pastor needs to brush up on commandment #8.

Incredibly, some in the black community refuse to accept the truth despite overwhelming evidence.

“We don’t condone the wrong that a person has done, we just don’t believe he would have told a lie about something of that magnitude. We’re not saying a person is incapable of lying. Just from his character we don’t think he would have lied about something like that,” said NAACP officers Kenneth McAllister and Henry James Dixon in a statement.

The pastor is declining further comment. No wonder.

*******

This is yet another consequence of the moral relativism infecting the culture. People feel the "right" to create their own version of "truth", no matter how divorced it is from reality. The tendency to refuse to conform one's intellect and will to reality (truth) and instead try and reshape reality to one's will, is the seed for mental illness. Thus, the cascading explosion of mental illness (with often deadly consequences like the recent school shootings) now enveloping our culture like a plague.

Monday, May 21, 2018

These are the times that try men's souls.


Theologian RR Reno has a powerful essay here in the June edition of First Things, addressing the weakening of the "three anchors of social existence": church, political community and family.

We are living in a time of unprecedented erosion of marital fidelity and family stability—while the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page inveighs against even the most modest policy proposals to counter these trends, labeling them “conservative social engineering.” A libertarian sentiment underwrites a broad retreat from the defense of moral decency.

The political strategy? Wink at social conservatives like me through coded words such as “federalism.” The political principle is sound, but in truth it was used to signal opposition to gay marriage without the inconvenience of taking a stand. Religious freedom can be used in this way, too. Instead of confronting transgender ideology, Republican leaders are likely to pledge to defend our “right to be wrong.”

Recently, former Speaker of the House and Republican John Boehner went into the pay of the marijuana industry, accepting a position on the board of a weed-growing company. In all likelihood, he will use his political connections to promote drug legalization. This epitomizes our circumstances.

... Our failure to affirm transgression becomes an implicit denigration of the choices of others.

Given these circumstances, I welcome the crisis in the Republican party. Republicans caved on gay marriage, at least at the national level. The party leaders ran (and still run) for cover as soon as incoming mortar fire from the Human Rights Campaign hits anywhere in their neighborhoods. Republican bigwigs worked to block protections of religious freedom in Arizona in 2014. They put their tails between their legs in 2015 when corporate America launched its shock and awe campaign against a similar effort in Indiana. By 2016, after another retreat in Georgia, I was convinced that establishment Republicans would not spend political capital to protect our religious liberty. Even the supposed leaders of the conservative movement continue to wring their hands, preaching judicial restraint (another coded way to signal they’re on our side without actually taking the risk of being on our side)—ready to reconcile themselves to the next wave of progressive victories. As I said, multiculturalism lite.

But I worry. Getting rid of the leaders taking us in the wrong direction is no guarantee we’re heading in the right one. Donald Trump is an enema for our political system. He removes the blockage of a failed leadership. But he lacks the credibility, and perhaps the desire, to frame a program of renewal that addresses the profound moral and cultural decay that fuels the crisis of solidarity ..... It’s time for religious and social conservatives like us to lead rather than be led.

....  The institution of marriage stabilizes male-female relations. But the divine power of eros requires “folding” by soul-shaping norms. Attacks on these norms over the last three generations have deformed the intimate lives of our fellow citizens. This has a great deal to do with our political crises, far more than we realize. It’s not just that rich girls face a chaotic sexual culture at expensive universities, or that more and more working-class women have illegitimate children. Grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Thirty-year-old men live like adolescents. Women wonder if they’ll ever get married. These unanticipated responsibilities—and unprecedented possibilities of life without responsibilities—erode the most fundamental and intimate forms of solidarity.

.... We also need creative thinking about how to repair the delicate (and always imperfect) choreography of men and women. Required ballroom dancing in high schools will help. [emphasis is mine :-)] Learning to play complementary roles prepares the imagination of the young for the difficult covenantal project of sharing the most intimate facets of one’s life with another.

... To pray, to savor the Word of God, to venture the solution to a mathematical puzzle, to put your children to bed at night, to do your job with integrity, to offer a kind word to a stranger—these are far more important than our involvement in politics. As the prophet Jeremiah reminds us, however, we have a duty to seek the good of the city where God has placed us in this time of exile, before the return of his Son in glory.


*******

He is absolutely correct that the current generation of political leadership at the national level has lost its way and is now leading us into a morally-barren wilderness. He is also correct that two choices lay before us:  (1) be led into moral apostasy and collectively suffer the consequences, or (2) take the reins and lead by example no matter the cost.

One example of the cost of moral apostasy is the "Incel Movement", chronicled here.

On April 23, 2018, a van allegedly driven by Alek Minassian, drove onto a sidewalk in downtown Toronto, killing ten people and wounding eighteen others. Many, I admit myself included, had the initial thought that the motivation for this attack had something to do with ISIS or radical Islam. But the truth turned out different, and in some ways more disturbing.

On his Facebook page, Minassian pledged allegiance, not to ISIS, but to the “Incel Rebellion.” “Incel” stands for “involuntarily celibate.” As Vox.com explains, the “rebellion” is “not an organized militant group but rather an ideal developed by . . . an online community of men united by their inability to convince women to have [intimate relations] with them.”

This sounds like the stuff of a Saturday Night Live skit until you remember the bodies on the ground in Toronto. And not just there: In 2014, Elliot Rodger, before killing six people in Santa Barbara, California, made an “explanatory video” whose principal complaint was that attractive women wouldn’t sleep with him.

In the same post in which Minassian pledged allegiance to the “Incel Rebellion,” he hailed Rodger as the “Supreme Gentleman.”  And he wasn’t Rodger’s only fan: Alleged Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz is said to have written “Elliot Rodger will not be forgotten” in response to Rodger’s video.

That’s at least thirty-two deaths that can be linked at least in some way to young men’s frustration over “their inability to convince women to have [intimate relations] with them.”

.... This reality, plus the lethal violence in Toronto and Santa Barbara, led George Mason University economist Robin Hanson to muse that “One might plausibly argue that those with much less access to sex suffer to a similar degree as those with low income, and might similarly hope to gain from organizing around this identity, to lobby (and I’m not making this up) for redistribution” of the benefits of the sexual revolution.

What? That’s insane! What on earth would “redistribution” entail?

But it’s no more insane than telling young men that sex is everything, exposing them to countless hours of pornography, and then being shocked when these young men feel “cheated.”

As we say, ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims.

*******

"These are the times that try men's souls." At the time Paine wrote those words in 1776, it looked like we would lose the American Revolution, and some people were walking away because times were getting tough. By saying "These are the times that try [or test] men's souls," he was saying "This is how we'll see what your spirit is really made of." Do you leave when things look bad, or do you have the courage to stand up for what you believe in?

As Reno says, "They wanted us to shut up and stop spoiling things with our moralizing concerns". Now is the time to take a stand for truth. It's the only way out of the moral abyss.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

THE defining characteristic of the true church


I've heard messages that elaborate on the characteristics of good (true) churches - i.e., faith, hope, love, prayer, fellowship, etc. And yes, all of those should be present in true churches. But none of them are THE defining characteristic of a good and true church. In fact, some false churches exhibit some/most of those characteristics to a greater degree than many true churches. Mormonism is a classic example.

I teach a Sunday School class of young professionals in one of the largest evangelical churches in the city. This morning I asked if any knew what today is on the church calendar, the liturgical calendar. Nobody knew. I said it was Pentecost Sunday and asked what that meant. Once again, nobody knew. What a tragic indictment of many evangelical churches on the subject of the Holy Spirit.

Earlier I wrote here about the attitude towards the Holy Spirit that many evangelical churches display. Today of all days - when the church was birthed with God's empowering presence (Acts 2) - is when the church should publicly acknowledge the importance of and their crucial dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit. Instead, the silence is deafening. One must ask themselves what Christ meant when He said all manner of insult against Him personally would be forgiven, but the one unforgiveable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:31-32).

The indwelling Holy Spirit is in fact THE defining characteristic of all good and true churches - indeed, it is the defining characteristic of the true church. No false church, no matter how many admirable traits are manifest, has the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Dan Wallace's (Research Professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary) article from 24 years ago is tragically even more valid today. The church does a great disservice when it fails to acknowledge the very source of its power.

And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2, ESV)

And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49, ESV)

To Know Muhammad Is to Know Islam


Amil Imani has a relevant post here on American Thinker entitled "To Know Muhammad Is to Know Islam".

To faithful Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad is a role model, and they must follow his Sunnah and learn how to implement its precepts and practices in their lives.  So to understand the Prophet Muhammad is to understand Islam.

Fortunately, for both Muslims and non-Muslims, Muhammad is not around so that we can personally observe his conduct and be tempted to emulate him.  What is possible, however, is to go to authentic Islamic records and discern what Muhammad did during his life and judge it for ourselves ......

The vast majority of Muslims are willfully ignorant of the true history of Muhammad. Their faith is built on fantasy.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The umbilical cord to truth is now virtually severed


John Davidson has a brilliant essay here entitled "The West Isn’t Committing Suicide, It’s Dying Of Natural Causes".

Lewis’s larger argument in “The Abolition of Man” is that man’s conquest of nature is chimerical; it ends with nature’s conquest of man. Having debunked all tradition and morality through the wonders of applied science, having succeeded in reducing all of human life to mere biological functions that can be precisely manipulated, mankind will “be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be.”

But therein lies the problem, says Lewis. Without any standards by which to judge what man ought to be, this new species of mankind will be reduced to following the mere whims of pleasure and instinct: “When all that says ‘it is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want’ remains.” In an entirely conditioned society, even those who do the conditioning will be slaves—ruled by nature, not reason.

In the unleashing of our animal desires and irrational impulses, nature will have its final victory over man at the very moment of our supposed triumph. “All Nature’s apparent reverses have been but tactical withdrawals,” writes Lewis. “We thought we were beating her back when she was luring us on. What looked to us like hands held up in surrender was really the opening of arms to enfold us for ever.”

...... But a large part of the reason is that the liberal order itself has robbed us of our ability to articulate what constitutes human happiness. We have freedom, we have immense wealth, but we have nothing to tell us what we should do with it, nothing to tell us what is good.

...... The liberal order has given us much, but it has come at a great cost, and we are just now beginning to see that something is terribly wrong.


*******

CS Lewis recognized long before almost anyone else where we were headed. "The Abolition of Man" was first given as a series of lectures in 1943. The lectures dealt largely with the dangers of moral relativism – a subject that increasingly was to occupy Lewis’ mind as he noted the destructive trends emerging in the modern world-view. Lewis argues that there is a universal moral law (truth) and that the value of education lies in cultivating true and just sentiment towards this transcendent truth. Past generations largely operated within the perimeters of this truth, although they might distort it. Lewis's generation was steadily cutting away at their heritage by beginning to deny elements of the truth altogether. Some 75 years later, the West has accelerated the process to the degree that its' umbilical cord to truth is now virtually severed.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity


Hanlon's razor is an aphorism expressed in various ways, including: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.".

The video above is of highly risky behavior - extreme low-level flight in a high performance turboprop in Croatia. The pilot flies just a few feet above the ground in places, at a calculated 260mph (420kmh, 225knots). In addition to 90-degree-plus bank angles, flying between trees, and buzzing traffic on the roads, he (at the end) flies underneath the Mirna road bridge (in Western Croatia). There is no margin for error. The slightest mistake or unforeseen event (like a bird strike) or an unseen wire will have inevitable tragic consequences.

A lot of people live their life in a similarly reckless manner. They may not be cutting grass with a $5 million high-performance turboprop, but their life choices mirror the foolhardy pilot above. People who would never dare to take risks like the pilot above often live even more dangerously, playing with moral fire so-to-speak. Proverbs has multiple warnings about sexually immoral behavior and the inevitable consequences.

In a hyper-sexualized culture where virtually anything is increasingly acceptable, the outcome is predictable: carnage and devastation, both mental and physical. One of Mark Shea’s memorable quotes is “Sin Makes You Stupid.” He's echoing the wisdom of Romans 1. Sin indeed has a nasty way of blinding us to truth. As a nation we are collectively blind and stupid because the explosion of sin over the past 50 years makes us stupid. Throughout the course of human history, one prevailing truth about man's ability to reason is consistent: Sin makes us stupid.

... and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin ... (Prov 5:11-14, ESV)

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? (Prov 6:27, NIV)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Despite the warning signs, most will "play through" even as the horizon is darkened by impending judgment.


There's a saying that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. The picture above is of golfers in Hawaii with the Kilauea volcano erupting in the background. Without passing judgment on the wisdom of the golfers, this is a good illustration of how many people bury their heads in the sand so-to-speak and go about as usual when disaster in imminent or even unfolding.

Such will be the case at the end of the age. Jesus warned time and again not to be caught off guard by His return which would be prefaced by certains signs to warn us.

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. (1 Thess 5:2-4, ESV)

Despite the warning signs though, most will "play through" even as the horizon is darkened by impending judgment.

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  (Matt 24:37-39, ESV)

Lesson learned.

The Suicide of Europe


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"The question I’m here to try to answer is a scary one: How do we want to finish our lives?"


“I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.”

At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells.

Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.”

–John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2003), 45–6

*******

There is a sobering article here about “The Villages” (in the video above), a hugely, popular retirement center in central Florida – and a tragic microcosm of probably most of American culture today. It sadly depicts a truly meaningless way to spend one’s final years in what is termed as "Disneyland for adults." Warning for vulgar language.

“ The question I’m here to try to answer is a scary one: How do we want to finish our lives?

..... I start thinking about my own end. What scares me the most? It’s not the darkness or the ceasing to be while the world moves on. It’s not being forgotten, either — that’s inevitable. What scares me most is the moment, just before it happens, when you know this is it. That your life, all of it, is now behind you.

It seems to me that moment is hurtling toward Ray and he’s resigned himself to waiting for it. I imagine that Mr. Fitzgerald had just watched his wife stare that down, too. I hate myself for going there. I’ve been trying for days to think about what I want the end of my life to be. How do I want to spend those final years?

I pack my bags and walk to a bar. I sit alone and watch these people who are all hurtling toward their ultimate moment. They’ve fought their fights and now all they want is to drink and **** and play pickleball and hang out."

A more explicit article here details that "Life in the Villages is "a merry-go-round of one-night stands and drunken debauchery that would shame most teenagers."

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John Piper authored an excellent booklet here entitled "Don't Waste Your Life". In his other book "Rethinking Retirement" here, Piper "challenges fellow Baby Boomers to forgo the American Dream of retirement and live out their golden years with a far greater purpose in mind. They say it’s a person’s reward for all those years of labor. “Turn in your time card and trade in your IRAs. Let travel plans and golf-course leisure lead the way.” But is retirement really the ideal? Or is it a series of poor options that ignore a greater purpose — and will kill a person more quickly than old age?"

John Piper responds: “Lord, spare me this curse!” And his resounding message is for anyone who believes there’s far more to the golden years than accumulating comforts. It’s for readers who long to finish better than they started, persevere for the right reasons (and without fear), experience true security, value what lies beyond their cravings, and live dangerously for the One who gave his life in his prime. With this brief book, Piper is sure to spur fellow Baby Boomers in their resolve to invest themselves in the sacrifices of love — and to grow old with godly zeal.

The obvious question is why so many people would be attracted to a "Villages" kind of end-of-life scenario. The answer is just as obvious. A life build on sand instead of bedrock demands endless distractions and hedonism in a futile attempt to avoid confronting approaching death and eternity. I echo Piper's plea - don't fall for the American fantasy of carefree retirement. As Piper says,

“Finishing life to the glory of Christ means finishing life in a way that makes Christ look glorious. It means living and dying in a way that shows Christ to be the all-satisfying Treasure that he is.”

Amen.

Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish (Prov 31:6, NIV)