Christian Hymn Becomes Anthem of Hong Kong Protests

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Here’s an interesting article explaining how a “hymn sung by Christian groups participating in the ongoing anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong has caught on and become the quasi anthem of the movement.”

Alarmed by reports of police brutality, many church groups galvanized to participate in peace protests, calling on the authorities to stop the violence.

Their presence on the front lines of the protests were helpful in making the demonstrations look more like an outdoor worship service rather than the “organized riots” the government said it had to crack down on to bring back law and order.

Modern Example of an Imprecatory Prayer in Illinois

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In our church Sunday School class, we’ve been going through a great book looking at what are called the imprecatory psalms - those psalms in which the psalmist prayed for God’s justice to come against the wicked.

Here is an example of a pastor who just prayed such a prayer in the state of Illinois’ House of Representatives:

“God, we have made our appeals to the leaders of Illinois this week on behalf of those innocent babies who do not yet have a voice. We have been a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves as You have commanded us,” Musgrave stated. “Those appeals were denied, but we have one final appeal left and that is to the courts of Heaven.”

“God Almighty, I make an appeal to Heaven today, to You the perfect judge, the One who presides over Heaven’s court. I ask you to rise up, O God, and judge Illinois for the sanctioned destruction of the innocent unborn,” he said. “For when Your judgments are in this state, the inhabitants of Illinois learn righteousness.”

HT: https://www.christiandailyreporter.com

UK Gov't Report Finds Christians Most Persecuted, Approaching Genocide

A UK government report finds that “Christians are the most persecuted religious group.”

“In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”

The issue has been avoided by the government “partly because of political correctness.”

HT: https://www.christiandailyreporter.com

Give God the Best of Your Days, Your Youth

From Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “The Duty of Hearkening to God’s Voice”:

The most assured Christians are commonly those that turned to God in their youth; they find, as it were, a heaven upon earth. They have the pleasure of thinking that they, for their parts, have given God the best of their days, their youth, their strength, the bloom of their life, and have for God’s sake resisted the temptations of youth, and those violent lusts and temptations which are most powerful then, of any time. This is an acceptable sacrifice to God, and he graciously rewards it with abundance of joy and comfort, and much assurance–which late converts seldom attain to, but rather travail all their lives’ time with bitter reflections on their having given the best of their days to the devil. (Yale Works, vol. 10, p. 447)

Job Is Every Man

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From Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Nakedness of Job”:

Almost every man will doubtless say that, if they knew they should lose all their great estate and be deprived entirely of all their outward prosperity, as Job was, they would entertain no thought of striving and laying themselves out for a great estate in the world, seeing they must certainly in this manner be deprived of it, and they know not how soon….

Perhaps, when you read the history of Job, you read it as a strange thing that happened but once in the world; but, for the time to come, read it as a thing that happens daily, and frequently, for every man at death is as much deprived of all his worldly goods as Job was. The great men in the world, as kings, princes, and lords, when they die are as much deprived of all their outward prosperity as Job was: ‘tis lost at once, and gone forever, never to be possessed more. Job’s losses came indeed sudden, and in a little time one messenger came after another in a very strange manner, but the dying man is deprived of all his external prosperity and world good at once, at one breath, even his last breath. This history of Job is only a shadow of death; it is no more than happens to every man in the world. (Yale Works, vol. 10, pp. 403-404)

The Wonders of Divine Grace Are the Greatest of All Wonders

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From Jonathan Edwards’ great sermon, “Glorious Grace” (when he was only 19!):

The mercy of God is that attribute which we, the fallen, sinful race of Adam, stand in greatest need of, and God has been pleased, according to our needs, more gloriously to manifest this attribute than any other. The wonders of divine grace are the greatest of all wonders. The wonders of divine power and wisdom in the making of this great world are marvelous; other wonders of his justice in punishing sin are wonderful; many wonderful things have happened since the creation of the world, but none like the wonders of grace. “Grace, grace!” is the sound that the gospel rings with, “Grace, grace!” will be that shout which will ring in heaven forever; and perhaps what the angels sung at the birth of Christ, of God’s good will towards men, is the highest theme that ever they entered upon…

No less than salvation and eternal glory are the fruits of this grace of the gospel; adoption, union with Christ, communion with God, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the heavenly happiness, the pleasure of the eternal paradise, the new Jerusalem, the glorious and triumphant resurrection of the body, and an everlasting reign with Christ in the height of glory, and pleasure and happiness: no less than these are the effects of this marvelous grace. (Yale Works, vol. 10, pp. 390, 396)

Death Hastens Towards Us

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From Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Importance of a Future State”:

Death hastens on towards us and we hasten towards that, and it cannot be long before we shall meet: every breath we draw and every step we take, brings us nearer to eternity; we are carried towards eternity irresistibly, and cannot stop one moment if we never so much desire it. We cannot cause the glass of time to stop, do whatever we can, but it will continue to run.

And when we die, there is but two places to go: heaven or hell, and to one or the other of them we must all go. We cannot, when we die, slide away privately to some by-place and not be taken notice of, but we must come before our Judge and be judged to either happiness or misery. (Yale Works, vol. 10. p. 372)

Jonathan Edwards' Postmillenial Hope

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From Edwards’ sermon, “Value of Salvation.”

There is a time coming that there will be a very great change in the world: those nations which now are covered with the darkness of heathenism and idolatry, or other false religions, shall be enlightened with the truth, and there shall be a more extraordinary appearance of the power of godliness amongst those that profess it, when God’s spirit shall be poured out on old and young, and the knowledge of God shall cover the earth “as the waters cover the seas” (Is. 11:9); “When they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know him, from the least to the greatest”; “When the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in and all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:25-26). These, and suchlike expressions, signify the all nations shall be Christianized and be visibly holy, and that multitudes–great multitudes all over the face of the earth–shall be brought to the saving knowledge of God.

Their Happiness Shall Endure As Long As God Endures

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From Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “The Value of Salvation.”

So great is the happiness of the saved soul. They shall be delivered from all manner of sin, temptation, trouble and affliction, and shall live in the palace which God has built and where he himself doth dwell, and there shall enjoy everything they wish for. They shall enjoy the company of prophets, apostles, martyrs, angels and archangels; they shall see the man Christ Jesus, and even Jehovah himself, the Eternal Three in One, and shall be intimately united to him, and this happiness of theirs shall endure as long as God endures. How precious, then, must the salvation of that soul be in whose salvation is so much happiness.

These Are The Pleasures That Are Worthy Of So Noble A Creature As A Man Is

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From Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Christian Happiness.”

Doctrine: “A good man is a happy man, whatever his outward circumstances are.”

The good man is exalted out of the reach of all worldly evils; they cannot send forth their baneful influences so high as to touch him, and all the hurt they can do him is but a sharp medicine. Although it be bitter, yet it takes away those diseases that would in the end, if they were let alone, be a thousand times more painful and troublesome to him….

And is there any man here present that would be at all afraid of the pain of the prick of a pin for a minute, if he knew that after it he should enjoy a life of–suppose–seventy years of the greatest prosperity imaginable, without the least molestation? No more reason to fear a short life of seventy years filled up with trouble and affliction, when he knows that, at the end of it, he shall enjoy an eternity of the highest happiness….

You now are invited to the excellent and noble satisfactions of religion; you are invited to such a happiness as is the happiness of angels, and happiness that will be able to satisfy your desires. Be persuaded, then, to taste and see how good it is; keep no longer grovelling in the dirt and feeding on husks with hogs….

Don’t exercise yourselves any longer in acting below yourselves, in pleasing and tickling yourselves any longer, and thinking yourselves happy in wallowing and rolling yourselves in the mire. You perhaps think yourselves mighty happy in enjoying your hateful and abominable lusts, and so are the beasts ten times as happy as you are in the same things: those be not the pleasures of a man. The pleasures of loving and obeying, loving and adoring, blessing and praising the Infinite Being, the Best of Beings, the Eternal Jehovah; the pleasures of trusting in Jesus Christ, in contemplating his beauties, excellencies, and glories; in contemplating his love to mankind and to us, in contemplating his infinite goodness and astonishing loving-kindness; the pleasures of the communion of the Holy Ghost in conversing with God, the maker and governor of the world; the pleasure that results from the doing of our duty, in acting worthily and excellently: these, these are the pleasures that are worthy of so noble a creature as a man is.

Adam & Eve's Blame-Game (and Our Own) Inescapably Leads to Poverty

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When God examined Adam & Eve about their rebellion in the Garden (Gen. 3:12-13), Adam blamed Eve and the circumstances God had placed him in; Eve blamed the serpent and (by implication) the circumstances God had placed her in. According to George Grant’s very perceptive insight, such a blame-exchanging, responsibility-avoiding attitude necessarily leads to poverty.

Because if we are not to blame for our actions, then we are not responsible agents able to make changes in our lives. If the fault is our circumstances and not ourselves, then we will not view ourselves sovereign over our circumstances but them sovereign over us (and harsh taskmasters they be). And we will be stuck in a world of poverty.

This sort of [blame-exchanging, responsibility-avoiding] argument is the essence of sinful rebellion. Wherever it exists, there can be no escape from the downward spiral of want. If we refuse to regard ourselves as responsible agents before God, if we refuse to see our environment and circumstances as resources to be transformed by righteous labor, thrift, and planning for the future, then poverty of body and soul is our inescapable lot. If, like Adam and Eve, we insists that somebody else is responsible for our condition, then we will always be impoverished in one way, shape, form, or another. (In the Shadow of Plenty, 12)

Of course, the solution then is to take responsibility for our actions before God and view our circumstances as ‘resources to be transformed.’ Take responsibility!

First Lesson Learned From Recent Criticisms Over Abortion

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First, an introduction. Our church invited a guest speaker to come and give a lecture about introducing legal restrictions on abortions in Canada. (According to an Ipsos Reid survey, the majority of Canadians agree that there ought to be at least some legal restrictions on abortions.) We then advertised that event on Facebook. We understand that some people are upset by the very idea of legal restrictions, but the language of the ad was not inflammatory. Some of the criticism we received of the ad was civil, but much was not. This is the first post in which I hope to respond to some of those criticisms.

I was talking to a friend the other day about the guest lecture and she told me that of the women she knows who’ve had an abortion, each one wanted to keep the child but the father applied intense pressure on her to have an abortion. The women gave in to that pressure and had abortions. (I hope to address the issue of the fathers in a later post.) I can’t even begin to imagine how that woman must feel after having given in to the pressure to abort her own son or daughter.

Many years ago, I was holding a one-year-old boy. We bumped into a toy and it began to fall over. Instinctively, I reached out to steady the toy but as my hand stretched out, the boy slipped from my grasp and fell to the living room floor and hit his head. There was a bit of blood and lots of crying. My first thoughts were, “Oh no! I hope he’s ok. I hope there’s no permanent damage.”

And after a while he settled down. But for a number of years after that, if ever his development was a little bit later than his friends, I wondered if it was a result of that fall he had when I dropped him and he hit his head. It haunted my conscience for years. “What have I done to him?”

But there was no permanent damage; he’s fine. But if something like a fall and a bit of blood could haunt my conscience, I can’t imagine how a mother must feel after aborting her own baby. How that thought must torment her.

And perhaps all that rage we received in the comments to the ad was the result of haunted and guilty consciences pleading, “It was no crime! I’ve done nothing wrong! It’s my right!”

I would want these women to know that claiming, “It’s my right to have an abortion,” will never truly exorcise the ghost of your haunted conscience. It cannot mend your wound. But there is a medicine that can truly heal.

Did you know that many of the heroes and heroines of the Bible had blood on their own hands and committed other great crimes? David, the great Poet-King who wrote many of the Psalms murdered a man to cover up his own adultery; the Apostle Paul supervised the killing of many; Rahab, an ancestor of Jesus, was a prostitute. And the list could go on indefinitely.

But all these women and men had the blood on their hands and stains on their souls cleansed and their guilt removed by the shedding of Jesus’ own blood on the cross for sins. Jesus, His love, and forgiveness are the only medicine that can truly heal, truly deal with our sins, truly exorcise the ghosts from our haunted consciences.

Come to Jesus – He who stands up for women and forgives much those who have sinned much (see Luke 7:36-50). And those who come to Him, He will never drive away (John 6:37). If you have a Christian friend who goes to an evangelical church, ask her about forgiveness. Check out her church to learn more about Jesus Christ who “came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Pioneer Church Planting & Demonology

John Livingston Nevius (1829-1893)

John Livingston Nevius (1829-1893)

While we were in Madagascar and living in a culture dominated by African Traditional Religion, one of the authors that influenced our thinking and work there was John Livingston Nevius. He believed that the goal of missions was not churches dependent on workers and dollars from the West, but “self-propagating, self-governing, and self-supporting indigenous churches.” That goal and his methodology worked great in Korea. It was hijacked by the Communist Party in China. For a nice little intro to Nevius and especially his work on demonology, check out this article by Bruce Baugus.