Today’s Sermon

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The sermon for July 30th 2017 is now available on the New Life web-site.

In this sermon, which is based on Matthew 13:31-35, 44-51 and Isaiah 60, I talk about God’s decisive victory. I refer to some graphs and other data taken from http://worldrevivalnetwork.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-you-have-been-duped-into-believing.html

Click here to listen in your browser, here to download the mp3

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Inclusiveness Seems To Run Only One Way

From Andrew Bolt, a disturbing development in Queensland schools.

The Left’s hatred of Christianity is suicidal and deeply intolerant.

So is its hatred of free speech:

Talking about Jesus, exchanging Christmas cards and encouraging Christianity have been targeted under an unofficial policy from education bureaucrats that takes aim at junior evangelists in Queensland primary school yards.

Christian groups and free-speech advocates have expressed alarm at the recent edict from the Queensland Department of Education and Training contained within its latest review into religious instruction materials and warning that principals were expected to take action against students caught evangelising to their peers.

“While not explicitly prohibited by the (legislation), nor referenced in the Religious Instruction (RI) policy, the department expects schools to take appropriate action if aware that students participating in RI are evangelising to students who do not,” says the department’s ­report into the GodSpace ­religious instruction materials, released earlier this year.

“This could adversely affect the school’s ability to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive ­environment.”

Departmental policy defines “evangelising” as “preaching or advocating a cause or religion with the object of making converts to Christianity”.

Examples of evangelising cited in the review, as well as two earlier reviews into religious ­instruction providers, include sharing Christmas cards that refer to Jesus’s birth, creating Christmas tree decorations to give away and making beaded bracelets to give to friends “as a way of sharing the good news about Jesus”.

How can Leftist bureaucrats claim to want a “safe, supportive and inclusive ­environment” when they ban, discriminate and persecute?

Is there a similar schoolyard ban on students discussing green ethics, global warming evangelism, animal rights, Buddhism, Islam or the new tribalism – all of them far more troubling ethically than Christianity?

This is not just an attack on the free speech of students. It is also an attack on a faith that is life-affirming and preaches a system of ethics that actually underpin this “safe, supportive and inclusive” culture of ours.

These Leftist educationalists are in fact waging a suicidal war on the faith that best guarantees the freedoms and values these hypocrites claim to uphold.

Andrew Bolt: ABC’s Source Says ABC Was Not Fair

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Andrew Bolt has been doing a fantastic job of defending the church from the ABC’s lies and misrepresentations about Domestic Violence. Now one of Julia Baird’s main sources for her report claiming that evangelical christians have the highest rates of Domestic Violence has spoken up.

ABC’S SOURCE: ABC WAS NOT FAIR IN SMEARING CHRISTIANITY

The ABC falsely claimed our worst wife beaters were evangelical Christians who went to church sporadically.

The academic whose work the ABC cherry-picked, Professor Bradford Wilcox, says the ABC anti-Christian series of reports that relied on that central – and false – claim “fails the basic journalistic test of fairness“:

On the one hand, the church is charged with “both enabling and concealing (domestic violence)”…

But it also states: “Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically.” Here, they are draw­ing on my research on religion and American marriages (they neither contacted me nor mentioned me in the story, even though they relied heavily on my empirical findings). They speculate that it’s the kind of men “who are often on the periphery (of church life), in other words, who sometimes float between par­ishes or sit in the back pews”, who are most likely to abuse. That’s not the full story, if they are basing this claim on my research. In my study of the nominal evangelical husbands who were most abusive, I found that it was evangelical Protestant men who infrequently or never attended church who were most violent.

How do you blame Australian churches for a big domestic violence problem if it is men who ­infrequently or never attend church who have the highest likelihood of being violent? How would bad Christian preaching, teaching or counselling be a major factor in spousal abuse if the worst abusers are rarely or never in the pews? It doesn’t follow.

Indeed, what may be happening in the real world is that churches and religious institutions actually reduce the odds that husbands or wives abuse one ­another. On average, messages about love, forgiveness and fidelity may actually make for better husbands and wives, especially when they are reinforced by a community of believers that is struggling to live out values and virtues generally supportive of strong marriages.

Indeed, in the US, the evidence suggests relig­ious attendance ­reduces the odds of domestic violence. Work by University of Texas sociologist Christopher ­Ellison shows that husbands and wives are less likely to report they are abusive if they attend weekly; they are also less likely to report they have been abused if they are part of a church community. My research indicates couples report significantly higher quality relation­ships if they attend church together.

The point is not to suggest that abuse is not present in the church in Australia, or that lay and clerical leaders have not made big mistakes in addressing abuse. Abuse, and failures to adequately address it, can be found throughout the nation — including the church.

But it is to suggest that the ABC story completely ignores the possibility that churches and ­religious institutions may be having some positive role in ­reducing the prevalence of domestic violence among their active adherents. Instead, the story fails the basic journalistic test of fairness by presenting an almost completely negative picture of Christian approaches to domestic abuse, one that does not square with the evidence that church­going couples, in America at least, appear to be less likely to suffer domestic violence and more likely to enjoy happy marriages.

The ABC reports that this article was based on a year-long investigation. So they had a year to get this right.

But the truth conflicted with the agenda, you see, and once again the agenda won. Christianity must be portrayed as malevolent.

Bill Muehlenberg: Christians Are To Be Different

Bill Miehlenberg nails it again- to be a follower of Jesus means we are to be different from the people who are not following Him. Not weird or super-spiritual but holy, loving, compassionate.

Yes, Christians Are To Be Different

Jul 25, 2017

Here is my thesis, short and sweet: if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but you are living just like everyone in the world is, then chances may be good that you really are not a Christian at all. I do not say this by my own authority of course, but by the authority of the Word of God.

Everywhere Scripture highlights how God’s people are to be living lives radically different from those who are not God’s people. Thus if the life you live is indistinguishable from what any non-Christian lives, then it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions.

And when I say different, I don’t mean in a superficial or nominal way. Some Christians are different all right, but mainly because they are just plain weird. It is not that they are holy and Christlike, just odd and perhaps too religious. They may have all sorts of man-made taboos, habits and things they run with, but they demonstrate no real godliness or Holy Ghost spirituality.

differentBut the born-again Christian will think differently, act differently and relate to others differently. I will explain what this looks like in more detail in a moment. But let me first mention why this article has come about. There have been two main reasons for writing this piece.

The first is something I just caught a glimpse of on TV, while the second is an author I have been reading through of late. The first can be covered quite quickly: it turns out to have been a UK documentary on cam girls. The 60 seconds or so that I saw was enough to leave me all rather gobsmacked.

One moment it was showing what this gal was doing for her paid customers, and the next minute it showed her with her flatmate at the dinner table praying. (Was it perhaps her lesbian partner? I did not stay around to find out.) But it showed them before the meal praying together, asking God’s blessing on all they did.

As I say, I was just floored. Here we had sleaze and sexual sin at its most blatant, yet the folks involved actually seemed to consider themselves Christians with whom God was perfectly happy. Um, yes, we can speak about God’s pleasure and blessing on an ex-cam girl, or an ex-prostitute, or an ex-sex-worker, or an ex-murderer, etc., but not on those still proudly living in known, overt sin.

I thought this was just so utterly bizarre, and reflected on it for a few moments. It occurred to me that there are likely millions of people who live just like the world, or live just like the devil, who have convinced themselves that they are nonetheless just peachy Christians whom God is perfectly happy with. This is deception of the highest order.

The other thing I was doing at the time offered a very nice counter piece to all this. I was reading some of John Stott’s writings. He was terrific in almost everything he wrote, and was such a champion of biblical Christianity. See my introductory article on him here:billmuehlenberg.com/2011/07/28/notable-christians-john-stott/

I have around 25 of his books, and they are always worth pulling off the shelves and rereading. So I was looking at his short but really excellent 1978 commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Of interest, he subtitled the book,Christian Counter-Culture.

Of course that is a concept I am fully familiar with. I was part of the original secular counter-culture of the late 60s and early 70s. We radical lefties, hippies, druggies and peaceniks really did think we could set up a counter-culture to replace what we considered to be the corrupt, authoritarian, violent, patriarchal, hung-up middle class America.

Stott picks up on this theme and argues that the real message of the Sermon on the Mount is that we Christians are to be a genuine counter-cultural force. We are to be different. That is the major emphasis of these three chapters. Let me offer some lengthy quotes from the opening pages of this excellent commentary.

He begins by speaking about the great tragedy of the church conforming to the world. He says this:

No comment could be more hurtful to the Christian than the words, ‘But you are no different from anybody else.’ For the essential theme of the whole Bible from beginning to end is that God’s historical purpose is to call out a people for himself; that this people is a ‘holy’ people, set apart from the world to belong to him and to obey him; and that its vocation is to be true to its identity, that is, to be ‘holy’ or ‘different’ in all its outlook and behaviour.

He notes how this was certainly the case with the people of Israel: they “were his special people,” they “were to be different from everybody else. They were to follow his commandments and not take their lead from the standards of those around them.”

But sadly they did not do what was demanded of them, and soon enough they were saying, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world” (Ezekiel 20:32). Stott continues:

All this is an essential background to any understanding of the Sermon on the Mount. . . . It portrays the repentance (metanoia, the complete change of mind) and the righteousness which belong to the kingdom. That is, it describes what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God.
And what do they look like? Different! Jesus emphasized that his true followers, the citizens of God’s kingdom were to be entirely different from others. They were not to take their cue from the people around them, but from him, and so prove to be genuine children of their heavenly father. To me the key text of the Sermon on the Mount is 6:8: ‘Do not be like them.’ It is immediately reminiscent of God’s word to Israel in olden days: ‘You shall not do as they do’ (Leviticus 18:3). It is the same call to be different. And right through the Sermon on the Mount this theme is elaborated.
Their character was to be completely distinct from that admired by the world (the beatitudes). They were to shine like lights in the prevailing darkness. Their righteousness was to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, both in ethical behavior and in religious devotion, while their love was to be greater and their ambition nobler than those of their pagan neighbors.
There is no single paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount in which this contrast between Christian and non-Christian standards is not drawn. It is the underlying and uniting theme of the Sermon; everything else is a variation of it.…
Thus the followers of Jesus are to be different – different from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and the irreligious. The Sermon on the Mount is the most complete delineation anywhere in the New Testament of the Christian counter-culture. Here is a Christian value system, ethical standard, religious devotion, attitude to money, ambition, life-style and network of relationships – all of which are totally at variance with those of the non-Christian world. And this Christian counter-culture is the life of the kingdom of God, a fully human life indeed but lived out under the divine rule.

This my friends is the normal Christian life. But we do not hear this sort of teaching anymore, so it sounds strange, harsh, austere and even unChristlike. We think we can live any way we like and God is fully happy with us. We even think we can strip and gyrate before lustful men as a cam girl and still ask God for his blessings.

As I said above, if you are living just like anyone in the world is living, you may be in desperate need of a spiritual check-up. It is time we all get back on our faces before God and seek him afresh. Reading the Sermon on the Mount while on our knees in an attitude of humility, brokenness and penitence would be a good way to begin.

 

Full article here

Amazing: Plants Adapting to Increased CO2

The CSIRO has found that plants around the world are absorbing more CO2 and doing it more efficiently than ever before. As the concentration of CO2 rises in the atmosphere all kinds of plants are growing faster, but using relatively less water to do so.

This confirms the satellite images showing that the world is greening.

Rising carbon dioxide is making the world’s plants more water-wise

Land plants are absorbing 17% more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere now than 30 years ago, our research published today shows. Equally extraordinarily, our study also shows that the vegetation is hardly using any extra water to do it, suggesting that global change is causing the world’s plants to grow in a more water-efficient way.

Water is the most precious resource needed for plants to grow, and our research suggests that vegetation is becoming much better at using it in a world in which CO₂ levels continue to rise.

The ratio of carbon uptake to water loss by ecosystems is what we call “water use efficiency”, and it is one of the most important variables when studying these ecosystems.

Our confirmation of a global trend of increasing water use efficiency is a rare piece of good news when it comes to the consequences of global environmental change. It will strengthen plants’ vital role as global carbon sinks, improve food production, and might boost water availability for the well-being of society and the natural world.

Read the full article here

Polish March For Freedom

People send me stuff. This one is quite good.

Poland has suffered many invasions over the years, but it has also been at the forefront of massive revolutions for  freedom, especially in the 1980’s when it was the catalyst for the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

In this march in 2015, millions of Poles demonstrated against radical islamism. In the coming decline of Western civilisation, which I now believe is almost inevitable, Poland could be the one hope in Europe for a renaissance of Christianity and civility. In the Dark Ages, it was Irish monks who kept the flames of faith and knowledge burning. In the coming dark age it could be Polish Christians who stand firm.