Friday, May 29, 2020

Sickening Systemic Racism and Heavy Handedness in Our Country By Law Enforcement Has Got to Stop

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: OFFICER WHO MURDERERED GEORGE FLOYD ARRESTED
 
 12-Year-Old gospel singer Keedron Bryant plaintively singing a dirge for himself and his kind above.

THE TRAGIC MURDER OF MR. FLOYD IN MINNEAPOLIS SHOULD BRING ABOUT new  stringent protocols for apprehending black men---and all people actually---and new stronger punishments for law enforcement officers, active or retired, who violate anyone's right to life and  Constitutional Rights for due process of and equal protections under the laws of the United States of America. These kind of incidents MUST stop, for once and for all. And brutal murders no matter what the extenuating circumstances MUST be met with the harshest of consequences.

No question that Mr. Floyd's sadistic killer was a sick and unbalanced man.  But  police protocols need to find and ferret out these sickos before they do such damage to the 98% of good law enforcement men and women. 

May God help and have mercy on us all.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Another Solid Joy: Test of Real Verses Phony Faith


PASTOR JOHN PIPER EXPLAINS HERE. 


Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

Are you eagerly awaiting His return?  Do you pray that those you love to be saved in the meantime?  

ALSO,   The Payout For Patience.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Sunday Devotional With Pastor John Piper: Five Digital Dangers


FOR ME,  THE FIRST AND SECOND ONES  can be issues and temptations though I have drastically cut back on my online time these days.

LISTEN HERE

1) The hook of constant curiosity

Personal computers offer a never-ending possibility for discovery. Even the basic environment of Windows can consume hours and days and weeks of curious punching and experimenting. Color schemes, layouts, screen-savers, short-cuts, icons, file-managing, calculators, clocks, calendars, etc. Then there are the endless software applications consuming weeks of your time as they lure you into their intricacies. All this is very deceptive, giving the illusion of power and effectiveness, but leaving you with a feeling of emptiness and nervousness at the end of the day. RESOLUTION: I will strictly limit my experimental time in the computer and devote myself more to the truth than to technique.

2) The empty world of virtual (un)reality

How sad to see brilliant, creative people pouring hours and days of their lives into creating cities and armies and adventures that have no connection with reality. We have one life to live. All our powers are given to us by the REAL God for the REAL world leading to a REAL heaven and REAL hell. RESOLUTION: I will spend my constructive, creative energy not in the unreality of “virtual reality” but in the reality of the real world.

3) "Personal" relations with PC

Like no other invention, the personal computer comes closest to being like a person. You can play games with it. There are programs that will dialogue with you about your personality. It will talk to you. It will always be there for you. It is smarter than your dog. The great danger here is that we really become comfortable with this manageable electronic “person,” and gradually drift away from the unpredictable, frustrating, sometimes painful dealings with humans persons. RESOLUTION: I will not replace the risk of personal relationships with impersonal electronic safety.

4) The risk of tryst

“Tryst \‘trist\ noun: An agreement (as between lovers) to meet." Sexual affairs begin in private time together, extended conversation, and the sharing of soul. It can now be done in the absolute seclusion of your private email screen name. It can be immediate and “live,” or delayed and “recorded.” You can think that “it’s just nothing”—until she shows up in town. RESOLUTION: I will not cultivate a one-on-one relationship with a person of the opposite sex other than my spouse. If I am single I will not cultivate such a relationship with another person’s spouse.

5) PC Porn

More insidious that X-rated videos, we can now not only watch but join the perversity in the privacy of our own den. Interactive porn will allow you to “do it” or make them “do it” with your mouse. I have never seen it. Nor do I ever intend to. It kills the spirit. It drives God away. It depersonalizes women. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles everything. RESOLUTION: I will never open any program for sexual stimulation nor purchase or download anything pornographic.
On the alert with you and Jesus,
John Piper


Monday, May 11, 2020

Ask Pastor John: What Is Grace, Really?

 IT'S A SOFTBALL QUESTION TO PASTOR JOHN, but it's still worth defining again.

Audio Transcript
What is grace? It seems like a simple question, but the answer has a lot of different angles to it. It is a recent email from a podcast listener named Heather. “Hello, Pastor John! I’m shy to ask this question because I’m embarrassed to admit that I struggle to understand one of the most commonly used words in the church today. That word is ‘grace.’ I often hear it defined as ‘unmerited favor’ or ‘getting what you don’t deserve.’ And I do understand it this way in the context of Ephesians 2:8 NKJV: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.’
“But I don’t understand it in the context of texts like 2 Corinthians 12:9: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Or 1 Corinthians 15:10: ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.’ I don’t understand ‘grace’ in these verses. Can you explain it to me?”

Well, one of the reasons I love this question — and I know I say that a lot because I love what we do here. I love all these questions. Actually, some of them are too hard to love. But this one is a softball to me because those verses that she is troubled by are some of my favorites.

But here’s one of the reasons I love this question: it gives me a chance to say to Heather and to everybody that we’re all really in this together, and I don’t have any special advantage over you in answering these questions except maybe that I’ve had a little more practice. In other words, what I do when I hear a question like this is something Heather could do or anybody could do.

Putting the Pieces Together

I open my Bible and I get my concordance, and I look up all occurrences of grace in the Bible. There are 131 uses of grace in the ESV — 124 in the New Testament, 86 of which are from the apostle Paul, which means two-thirds of all the uses of the word grace in the Bible are in one author: Paul. No wonder he’s called “the apostle of grace.”

So, I say that to encourage Heather (not that she shouldn’t have written in; I’m glad to have the question) and everyone else that there’s nothing magical about holding an office in the church, like pastor, and there’s nothing magical about having a degree and doing scholarship in the academy. We all go about answering questions pretty much the same way. Look at all the Bible has to say, and then do your best to see how it all fits together, all the while being humble and submitting your mind to what the Bible teaches.

You are always bracketing your preconceptions and trying to build your conceptions out of all the pieces of the Bible. It’s like a puzzle, where you’re trying to put the picture together with all the pieces. And you know, because it’s God’s word, that these pieces are going to fit. If they don’t fit in this life, they’re going to fit in the next. But we work on it as much as we can.

Grace as Undeserved Favor

So, to answer her question, let’s just limit ourselves to Paul, whom she quoted, and to the two uses of grace that she saw. On the one hand, grace is called — and I think it’s an absolutely wonderful phrase — undeserved favor.
  • Romans 3:24: “[We] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Grace is what inclines God to give gifts that are free and undeserved by sinners.
  • Romans 5:15: “If many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” So, grace is that quality in God that produces free gifts for guilty sinners in salvation.
  • Romans 11:5–6: “At the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” So, you can’t work to earn grace. It is free and undeserved.
Now, that’s what most of us have in our minds when we say God is a God of grace. And that’s true. It’s wonderful. Our eternal lives depend on it. None of us would be saved if grace were not undeserved favor, and were not a quality in the mind of God, in the heart of God, in the nature of God.

Grace as Power for Living

But then Heather rightly notices another group of passages, also in Paul, where he comes at grace a little differently.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” Now, that seems to picture grace as a power or an influence for obedience.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9: Jesus says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder [that was the effect of grace] than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
In all three of those texts — and they’re not the only ones — grace is not only a disposition or a quality or an inclination in the nature of God, but is an influence or a force or a power or an acting of God that works in us to change our capacities for work and suffering and obedience.

Adjusting Our Categories

So, what I do when I see things like this in the Bible is to adjust my categories in my head. I won’t say, “Oh, well that can’t be, because I’ve got this category in my head.” No, no, no. You fix the categories in your head.

If once I thought of grace only as a character trait or a disposition or an inclination in the nature of God, which moved him to treat sinners better than they deserve — if that was my only conception, once upon a time — now, having seen all the texts, I broaden my understanding of grace as the Bible uses the term. Now I say, “Well, it appears that the word grace in Paul’s use not only refers to God’s character trait or disposition or inclination to treat people better than we deserve, but the word grace also refers to the action or the power or the influence or the force of this disposition, which produces real, practical outcomes in people’s lives, like being sufficient for good deeds or enduring the thorn in the flesh or working harder than everybody else, which Paul says about his own apostolic work.”

Now, that does not mean you have to give up that simple definition of undeserved favor. That’s true. That’s a good definition. It just means that the word also embraces the encouraging truth — at least I love the truth; that’s why these verses are so precious to me — that this favor overflows in powerful, practical helpfulness from God in your daily life where you most need it. That help is also called grace because it’s free and it’s undeserved.

Draw Near with Confidence

So, let me end with a precious verse that we all know and love and maybe have never thought about in this term of grace. Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.” That’s a throne with the quality and the character and the inclination to treat people better than they deserve. That’s the kind of throne we’re coming to. But then it says, “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Or a more literal translation: “that we may find mercy and grace for a well-timed help.”

It is incredibly encouraging that God’s grace is both the inclination of the divine heart to treat us better than we deserve and is the extension of that inclination in practical help.




Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Great Money Advice for New NFL Draftees and All of Us, If Only We'd Listen


By Kathleen Elkins

NFL PLAYER BRYON JONES has some blunt money advice for rookies: ‘Do not live a lavish lifestyle'

(I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ADVICE LIKE THIS!)

The 2020 NFL draft took place virtually on Thursday night. The Cincinnati Bengals selected former LSU standout Joe Burrow with the first pick. The 23-year-old quarterback, who is among a select few to have won the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same season, celebrated from his home in Athens County, Ohio, with his family.

The Washington Redskins selected Ohio State’s Chase Young with the second overall pick. His teammate Jeff Okudah went next, to the Detroit Lions.
Burrow, Young, Okudah and the rest of the first-round picks are about to sign multi-million dollar contracts. Burrow’s deal may come with a $23.9 million signing bonus.

CURRENT NFL PLAYER BRYON JONES, who was drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft and now plays for the Miami Dolphins, took to Twitter to offer some money advice for the incoming rookies through a series of five tweets.

First of all, “do not spend your money,” writes the 27-year-old cornerback. “That number you see on your contract is fake. You will pay roughly 40% to 50% in taxes, agent fees, union dues, 401(k) account and necessary insurance."

He encourages them to think long term. As tempting as it may be, don’t live a lavish life right now. “Although your mom may deserve it, she does not need a $100,000 car,” Jones writes. “She does not need a $1,000,000 house.”

“It is not the time yet,” Jones continues. “If you protect your money early, you can live a comfortable life forever and provide for your family.”

Get educated about money, says Jones. Understand the power of compound interest and put your money to work.

You don’t have to figure it all out on your own, either, Jones says. He recommends they spend time to find a trustworthy advisor. “Interview a few and ask honest, hard questions before you make a decision.”

Jones closes with a final nugget of wisdom from his financially savvy peer,  Marshawn Lynch: “SAVE YO CHICKEN.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Is the Christian's Heart Deceitful?

Greg Morse @ Desiring God---A MARRIAGE MADE IN HELL: How Satan Counsels Christian Couples.    Spoiler Alert: Not politically correct.

By Pastor John Piper,   Article and Audio

IS THE CHRISTIAN'S HEART DECEITFULLY WICKED? You’ve heard that “deceitfully wicked” phrase from the Old Testament, but is such an indictment applicable to the regenerated Christian heart? The question is from a podcast listener named Micah. “Pastor John, hello! I was recently in a debate with a friend over Jeremiah 17:9: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ I applied it to the ongoing sin-blindness in the heart of the Christian. My friend said I was taking a passage about unbelieving hearts and misapplying it to the Christian heart. However, in returning to the bigger context of Jeremiah 17:5–13, I find myself even more convinced verse 9 is equally applicable to believers, especially in light of verses 7 and 8. What do you think? Is Jeremiah 17:9 about believers, unbelievers, or both?” Pastor John, how do you process this text and its context?
 
Let me walk quickly through the flow of thought from Jeremiah 17:1–9. And I think everybody will be able to see how verse 9 is functioning.

Blessing and a Curse

Jeremiah begins with an indictment of Judah and a warning of destruction. It says, “The sin of Judah is . . . engraved on the tablet of their heart . . . while their children remember their altars and their Asherim” (Jeremiah 17:1–2). Those are other gods. Idolatry is the issue here. “Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your high places for sin” (Jeremiah 17:3). So, he’s going to bring judgment on them for the sin of their heart and the idolatry of their worship.

And then he says what’s beneath that. God says in Jeremiah 17:5–6, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.” That’s the root problem of the idolatry and the sin. The root problem is that they are trusting in man, not in God.

And then he describes what alternatively ought to be: the opposite of this and the benefits that would come if it were the case. “Blessed is the man” — not cursed is the man who trusts in man — “who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7–8).

Every Heart an Idol Factory

Now, that leaves us with this question: If trusting in self results in such misery (no good shall come) and trusting in God results in such fruitfulness (you’re going to prosper), why in the world is a whole nation acting so suicidally in self-trust and sin and idolatry? And his answer is verse 9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” So, the human heart is diseased with sin and in the sway of deceit. And that’s why people act suicidally in preferring self-trust over God-trust.

So, the overall point of the passage seems to be that the root of sin and idolatry is a failure to trust in God rather than self. And the root of that failure is a deceitful and depraved heart. So, I think Jeremiah — indeed, I think all the biblical writers — would say that’s the root problem ever since the fall of man into sin and corruption. All human beings — no exceptions — are born with this kind of fallen, diseased, deceived, self-exalting, God-opposing heart.

What Happens in the New Birth?

So, the question is this: When a person experiences the new birth — becomes a Christian — what happens to that diseased, deceived, self-exalting, God-opposing heart? Here are some verses that describe what happens:
  • Ezekiel 36:26 describes the new covenant like this: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
  • Romans 6:17: “Thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.”
  • Acts 15:9: God “made no distinction between [Jew] and [Gentile], having cleansed their hearts by faith.”
  • John 7:38 may be the most amazing of all: Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Oh, amazing. Oh, I want to be like that, right? I just want to have a kind of new heart that doesn’t just enjoy water — it flows to other people. John 7:39: “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive.”
  • 1 Timothy 1:5: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

Divine DNA Infused

So, my conclusion is that we can say that Jeremiah 17:9 (the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick) is true of the human heart — all of them. But where God is applying the blood-bought purchase of the new covenant, there is a new creation. Sins are forgiven. Holy Spirit is poured in. New nature is brought into being. That newness consists in the presence of the heart-influencing Holy Spirit and in the new nature. You might call it the divine-like DNA that is more and more being conformed to Christ.


  (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Coronavirus and Christ.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Richard Kew Devotional, Second Sunday of Easter

SERMON BY TIM KELLER: Hope in Times of Fear @ The Gospel Coalition

Sunday, April 19, 2020 John 20:19-31

ON THE EVENING of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld." Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


Thought for the Day

 It is the evening of Easter Sunday when Jesus comes to his disciples in the Upper Room. The doors were locked but then there he was in the midst of them and the first thing to do is to show them his hands, feet, and side. By doing this he is saying, "Yes, this really is me - the man who died by crucifixion on Friday is the same man standing among you this evening. Perhaps their mouths were hanging open as realized he really had risen from the dead, something further emphasized a week later when the absent Thomas was given the same opportunity. Then he said to them, "Peace be with you." These words should not be separated from the act of showing his crucifixion wounds. What Jesus is saying is "God's peace is with you because of these wounds and the death that followed them. I truly died that you might be at peace with God, and I rose again to affirm that God's peace is with you. What does this mean? The peace of God, SHALOM in Hebrew, is talked about from early in the Old Testament to the end of the New Testament. In the OT the peace of God is often associated with the coming of the Messiah - and Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. The righteous, sinless Messiah had come and died and risen again so that his followers down through the centuries could know his grace through the Holy Spirit's presence. It is no accident that after this Jesus breathes on them he says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Be made righteous before the Father by the risen Christ dwelling in you through the presence of the third person of the Trinity. It is not anything we do, neither is receiving the Holy Spirit a transaction of some kind - Shalom is given to us through Jesus who died and rose again. Jesus becomes our peace, our shalom, and we become his disciples, his sheep, through his death which was followed by his resurrection from the dead. The cross and resurrection are the start of the process of God reconciling all things to himself and restoring the world. His resurrection from the dead is a demonstration that Jesus is the Lord of all. Here's what the letter to the Hebrews says about all this: "Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Ponder on these words in the light of our gospel reading. Thanksgiving for the Day We praise and give thanks to the God of grace who brought Jesus from the dead assuring us of his righteousness and peace.

Intercession for the  Day

Shalom is a word with a rich meaning and in this devotional we have barely scratched the surface of this. However, let us pray that God in Christ will show us what living in shalom means for our lives. We pray for Africa as it begins to experience the agony of Covid-19, and for their woefully inadequate medical systems as they seek to care for their people.

Collect for the Day

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for the Second Sunday in the Easter Season)

Tim Kelller: Hope in Times of Fear and the History of Human Progress and Secular Hope


A SERMON FOR OUR TIME OF PLAGUE

Source @ The Gospel Coalition

Thursday, April 16, 2020

I'm With John Tamny: Plan to Open Economy By Choosing Adaptive Freedom


BY JOHN TAMNY @ RealClearMarkets

FOR FUN, let's assume a mass declaration of freedom on local, state and national levels. If so, how many readers will immediately revert to the “old way” of doing things, including close-talking, packed bars, sold out movie theaters, washing hands less than several times an hour, and biggest gasp of all, shaking hands?
Just the same, how many businesses wouldn’t change a thing if free to operate again? The ability to adapt to change is such a known driver of long-term commercial success in good times that it’s almost a cliché. Figure that the good businesses nowadays disrupt themselves (think Netflix taking out Blockbuster DVDs by mail, only for Netflix to erase its old model of success for streaming) with survival in mind, so is it unreasonable to suggest that, if free to operate, they wouldn’t oversee all manner of changes meant to please and lead consumers who’ve changed?

In his latest column, the Wall Street Journal’s excellent Holman Jenkins refers either sarcastically or critically to the “mythical ‘do nothing’ strategy” in response to the coronavirus, but it’s nice to imagine that he sarcastically means there’s literally no such thing as “do nothing.” There isn’t simply because humans have evolved as a species presumably because it’s in their DNA to do that which elongates their existence. And as evidenced by the copious savings that individuals and businesses are able to draw on in order to innovate, we humans are careful people. To varying degrees we save for the possibility of a “rainy day” without coercion, which is just more evidence that in a broad sense we the people get it. We don’t need a law to do what's in our interest.

To which some will key on the “in a broad sense” line to point out that not everyone is as wise as the Covid-obsessed are, which means everyone must endure draconian, economy and freedom-crushing rules so that the few who need handholding can get it. But that’s not serious. As is, all-too-many of us will not limit ourselves to the mood-altering substances that politicians 'allow' us to consume, some of us are only interested in surfing and skiing when conditions are most life-threatening, and some us can’t stand the thought of not hugging, shaking hands, or missing the excitement of a loud – and very packed – party, bar, stadium or arena.

Just the same, some businesses won’t change either. Frustrating as they are, some will never rid bathrooms of the hand dryers that are said to spread germs, some will never demand that their customers maintain distance from other customers, or demand that they wait outside altogether, and some will refuse to refuse customers even if it means people aren't SIX FEET APART.

What cannot be stressed enough is that if the goal is figuring out the best way to combat a virus with no known cure, those who don’t follow norms are as crucial producers of information that will enable cures as those who do. Precisely because they don’t follow the unwritten societal rules, their contracting of the virus (or not), their sickness (or not) from ignoring broad convention, and their death rates relative to the Covid-obsessed will hopefully give those searching for solutions exponentially more to work with
.
What applies to individual decisions also applies to businesses. At this point they really don’t know what customers want, and will want in the future. Trite as it sounds, and is, we’ll hear a lot now and in the future about how “Covid-19 changed everything.” Absolutely. And because it will, or did, it’s essential that there be a “do nothing” approach from politicians given the certainty that free businesses will do all manner of things in order to win back customers either shell-shocked a little, a lot, or not at all by the past. Some will perhaps even give the finger to illiterate rules against “price gouging” such that they institute surge-pricing at their businesses as a way of controlling crowds via market signals.

Stating what should be obvious, the one-size-fits-all lockdowns imposed on Americans by politicians are blinding those same Americans to the information necessary to successfully beat an unknown. Freedom isn’t some feel-good, amorphous chant. It’s in fact pro-life and pro-growth simply because free people acting without forced limits show us through their successes and failures how to get by, and thrive, in life.
Looking at all of this nationally, President Trump said about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that he’s been “calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility…” Trump has a point, when he’s not making nonsensical claims about “absolute” power. “Do-nothing” on the state level is a myth too, and so long as we empower the federal government to oversee handouts, we needlessly install power centrally with those who think they have absolute power right at a time when cities and states should be innovating; their innovations including “doing nothing.” Lest we forget, Texas has a lower Covid death rate than California, even though it began its unfortunate lockdowns two weeks after the Golden State
.
And while libertarians make compelling claims that states rule versus federal oversight in times like this, the simple truth is that local and state politicians have arrogated to themselves the power to take businesses and the right to work away from business owners and workers. Considering all this, do libertarians really believe the Constitution is wholly toothless against the local and state taking of so much property? Seeking an answer to this question, let’s at least have discussions, and hopefully lawsuits. Shouldn’t the Trump administration at least file lawsuits against cities and states who think so little of individual and property rights? We need more information right now, not less.

The biggest producer of information meant to beat the virus is freedom, including freedom from a government “plan to open the economy” that the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page is calling for. No. Plans just produce darkness. We need Jenkins’s “do nothing” so that we can see.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, Vice President at FreedomWorks, and a senior economic adviser to Toreador Research and Trading (www.trtadvisors.com). His new book is titled They're Both Wrong: A Policy Guide for America's Frustrated Independent Thinkers. Other books by Tamny include The End of Work, about the exciting growth of jobs more and more of us love, Who Needs the Fed? and Popular Economics. He can be reached at jtamny@realclearmarkets.com.  

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Andrew Latimer, Grace Church Greenwich---The Supernatural Resurrection: Jesus Shows Back Up


 LISTEN HERE


MATTHEW 28

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

King James Version (KJV)

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Montana Physician Discusses Covid-19 and Best Guess, Often Inaccurate Death Certificates

MUST SEE VIDEO GIVING PERSPECTIVE TO THIS CRAZY GLOBAL PANIC WE'RE LIVING THROUGH, thanks to My Bad Influence:
 
 Watch to the end and see how inaccurate and scary death certificates may and can contribute to medical and political fake news,  terrorism and loss of individual liberties. We need to be aware.

Sure,  there is a new virus which is contagious and scary and needs to be taken prudently and seriously..  But the numbers of people who actually die from it may v ery well be vastly over-inflated.   And even in this,  the deaths, inflated or not, are vastly lower than originally forecast.  

Friday, April 10, 2020

Psalm 22---Song of Jesus On the Cross, Starting in Agony and Abandonment, Ending In Praise

SERMON GRACE CHURCH GREENWICH  LONDON:  Andrew Latimer---Psalm 22, The Crucifixion

A SONG OF DAVID, Written 1,000 Years Before the Crucifixion of Christ

1 MY GOD, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.
10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.
11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations.
29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

King James Version (KJV)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

New Bench Design For the Times


MERCI A MON FILS!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Holy Week, Pastor John Piper Re-Releases An Old Sermon Made At Angola Maximum Security Prison: Plan For Something Greater


AS CHRISTIANS OVER THE WORLD BEGIN HOLY WEEK WITH SUFFERING AND DEATH ALL AROUND,  PASTOR JOHN PIPER brings out an old sermon he preached at Angola Maximum Security Prison in 2009 to inmates on death row and lifers. It's for anyone who fears and faces death sooner or later---which is all of us.. This is a message of hope in the midst of hardened hearts, death and life sentences. These men are truly poor in spirit.  It's a sermon for Holy Week and Easter about why Jesus came to earth to suffer and die and be raised from the dead.  He now gives the free gift of eternal life to anyone who'll receive it:

Audio sermon  here.

Text and link:

The last chapter of life is not retirement. No, something greater is to come. We need to start planning for something far beyond the reach of our 401(k) plans. It’s a suitable word from John Piper to upper-class Americans, and to prisoners serving life sentences at Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the US.

That’s the setting for today’s clip: Angola, a Louisiana maximum-security prison home to 6,300 inmates — “only murderers, rapists, armed robbers, and habitual felons. The average sentence is 88 years, with 3,200 people in one place serving life sentences. Ninety percent of the inmates will die here” (Decision Magazine, “Violence to Peace”).

John Piper traveled to Louisiana and preached in Angola’s chapel on November 19, 2009. About eight hundred prisoners packed in to hear a message on John 6, on Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand and his walk on water. “I preached with all my heart to those who could fit in the chapel,” Piper recounted later. “I pulled no punches.” Hundreds of other prisoners heard the sermon through closed-circuit television, including those on death row, like Gerald Bordelon, a convicted rapist and child murderer we met in episode 1445.
 
Piper pulled no punches. And the result is one of my all-time favorite sermons. Here’s a closing clip from that Angola sermon, and Pastor John’s final spoken pleas to Gerald. Have a listen.
 
Let me just say a word about John 6:27. It’s so important. The Father has set his seal on Jesus. I think that means God sent Jesus into the world. He ordained for Jesus to live a spotless life — no sin. He sent his Son to the cross to die for our sins. He raised him from the dead and vindicated that perfect work of substitution and redemption. He raised him to his right hand. He’s going to send him again. In that great redemptive work, by which our sins are covered and we’re clothed with Christ’s righteousness, God sealed his Son as the Son of Man and the only qualified Mediator between God and man who can give eternal life.

So, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, gives eternal life, because the Father said, “That’s who he is. That’s my Son. I sent him for that. He accomplished it perfectly.”

Labor of Faith

Secondly, John 6:27 says, in the second phrase there, “Work . . . for the food that endures to eternal life.” Labor for the food that endures to eternal life. That sounds terrible. Why does that sound terrible? You can’t labor for eternal life; it’s a gift!

Well, what does Jesus mean? When you read the Gospel of John, you bump into things like this all the time — Jesus seems to say the opposite of what he means. But he doesn’t leave you in doubt very long. You just keep reading. So let’s keep reading.

The answer is given in John 6:28–29. After he said, “Work . . . for the food that endures to eternal life,” the crowd responds: “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’” (John 6:28).
In essence, the people are saying, “So you’re telling us to labor. Tell us what works to do.” This is classic salvation by works — false. They’re asking, “Okay, you said, ‘Labor for the food that endures to eternal life.’ We’re asking you, just like the rich young ruler when he came, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus now gives the answer in verse 29: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” He turned the table upside down. They were working and working and working to seek him, have him, because he was useful to them. To make a point, he says, “Don’t seek me that way. You want to seek me in labor for bread? Labor for the bread that endures to eternal life.” He hooks them with that, and they say, “Okay, what’s the labor?” And he says, “The labor is faith. The labor is stop laboring. The labor is stop working and trust me.”

It’s like, “I’m standing here as the bread of life.” This is Jesus talking. “I’m standing here as the bread of life freely offering myself to you. I’m going to lay down my flesh for the world.” Jesus says that later in verse 51. “I’m standing here as the bread of life. I’m standing here as gold, and silver, and treasure, everything you’ve ever needed. I am for you, and I’m free.” And they’re saying, “What do we have to do? What do we have to do? What’s the deed we have to do to have you

He would say, I think, “If I don’t look to you as a treasure” — are you listening, Gerald? “If I don’t look to you as a treasure, if you don’t see me as a treasure, no amount of work is going to make me precious to you.”

Next Stop: Heaven

Paul said, “I count everything as loss” (Philippians 3:8). Now, you guys have lost so much. You’ve got such a head start here, if God would just grip you with this. Paul says,
I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . . that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8, 10–11)
Next stop after Angola: heaven — if he’s precious, if he’s precious beyond anything in this world that you’ve already had to lose. When you eat of the bread of life, you get eternal life — that is, a new chapter is added to your life. Angola is not the last chapter. It’s the next-to-last chapter. Eternity is the last chapter, and it lasts forever, and it is infinitely happy.

So many Americans work their fingers to the bone to have twenty years of so-called “retirement,” thinking retirement is the last chapter. It isn’t. It’s the next-to-last chapter. Too many of us have this little, puny, fragile hope that as an old, wrinkled, aching, aged person you’re going to go golf somewhere for twenty years or go fish somewhere for twenty years. But instead, you can have absolute certainty — all of us — of an everlasting cabin by the lake with Jesus, an everlasting ocean cruise with Jesus, an everlasting evening by the fire with a good book and Jesus.

Now, you men don’t dream that way like most Americans or even the people in my church, and that’s very good. I hope all that dreaming that you thought you might have one day shifts onto the last chapter. I’m going there real quick. Mary, in my church, will be there in two weeks maybe, and Gerald, you’ll be there soon too.

Fall in Love with Jesus

This life is very short, brothers, very short. It may seem long. It’s short. And eternity, it’s really long. It’s really long, and it’s really good — ten thousand times will you be rewarded for every kind deed you ever do, every act of faith that ever comes forth from you.
I think my closing admonition, brothers, is this: it’s free. Christ died in our place. He rose again from the dead. He lived a life of perfect righteousness. He stands freely available to everyone who will have him and stop working for him, and to everyone who will start eating the bread of heaven, and finding him to be more precious.

I said to Gerald this afternoon, who won’t live out next year probably, “What I would like you to do is to open your Bible, but not because reading your Bible saves you. We’re not into working here. Open your Bible to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and just get to know Jesus better every day, so that when you meet him, there won’t be too many surprises. Fall in love with him, Gerald. Fall in love with him now. You need to love him now, know him now, trust him now.”

And I would say that to all of you. I’d say it to me. My task on this planet is to eat the bread of heaven and be satisfied and overflow for others.

So moving. Pastor John promised to write follow-up letters, and he did, two sent in December 2009.
“O Gerald, I want to see you in heaven with Jesus,” Piper wrote. “I want to see his glorious grace magnified in your salvation. It does not depend on your merit. Or your worth. Or your good deeds. Or the quality of your piety. It depends on whether you see Jesus as what you need and want more than anything and freely receive him. It is possible, because of Jesus, that in the very moment you die at the warden’s side you will be in the presence of Jesus. But it is also possible that you will be in hell. The difference will not be whether you are guilty of sin and crime. The difference will be whether you received Jesus as your guilt-bearer. He suffered immensely as the Son of God so that your crimes could be wiped out. He lived a perfect life so that his perfection could be counted as yours. Be amazed at this. I love you and plead with you to turn to Jesus every day. Not just once. Turn to him every day. . . . I want to see you in heaven. It won’t be long till I get there. Affectionately, John Piper.”
In the next letter, Pastor John said, “You shed innocent blood. That’s true. And that is why God shed the infinitely precious innocent blood of his Son Jesus — so that you and I could be forgiven. Gerald, I love you and want to see you again with Jesus in heaven. Trust him. Trust him.”
Is Gerald in heaven or hell? It’s not clear. What we do know is seven weeks after Piper’s sermon, Bordelon was executed. On January 7, 2010, he was led into Angola’s lethal injection chamber wearing a white T-shirt and a gold cross necklace from his daughter. Witnesses say Bordelon’s eyes were red-rimmed from crying, as he haltingly said his final words: “I’d like to apologize to my family and tell them that I love them.” He was strapped down and IVs were inserted in his arms. Three drugs put him to sleep, stopped his breathing, and stopped his heart. All quickly. A moment later, Warden Cain said, “We now pronounce Gerald Bordelon dead. We’ve sent his soul for final judgment.” To this day, Bordelon remains the last prisoner to be executed in Louisiana.











Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Why Wash Your Hands With ANY Soap For 20 Seconds?

SHORT, SWEET, IMPORTANT.   Let's get this thing handled. VIA My Bad Influence

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Dr. David Jeremiah: Is the Coronvirus A Sign of the End Times? What Does It Mean?

VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING SERMON FOR OUR CURRENT TURBULENT TIMES FROM A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW. I am not a big rapture believer but I think this is nevertheless a precious teaching. I do not think anything stands in the way of Christ's Second Coming at this point. What I do know is Christ has come to bring salvation to everyone who repents and believes and Christ will come again to judge our world in truth and righteousness at the End of the Age whenever that is. Still there is a sense of urgency...

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Joe Carter: Nine Things You Should Know About the 1918 Pandemic




I'D READ MUCH OF THIS BEFORE, YET THINK IT BEARS REPEATING.  Joe Carter @ The Gospel Coalition  says it  with clarity and succinctness....In spite of the extremely contagious and lethal 1918 pandemic and catastrophic predictions for Covid19,  I personally do not think this virus will come close to the severity of the one a hundred years ago for many reasons though our fear is probably greater.  I don't mean to be cavalier however.  Read on---including Joe's important Addendum---and decide for yourself: 

THE DISCOVERY AND SPREAD OF A NOVEL CORONAVIRUS disease in 2019 and 2020 (COVID-19) has led to a plethora of comparisons to the deadly pandemic that occurred a century earlier—the 1918 influenza pandemic, known colloquially as the “Spanish flu.”

Here is what you should know about the 1918 pandemic that became one of the largest public health crises in modern history.

1. This 1918 influenza pandemic, caused by the Influenza A virus subtype H1N1, produced the greatest influenza (flu) death toll in recorded history. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States (in comparison, the total number of deaths of World War I was around 20 million). From 1917 to 1920, the virus infected one-third of the Earth’s population, which at the time was about 500 million people. If the same ratio of infections were to happen today, it would be the equivalent of 2.5 billion. That would roughly be the equivalent today of every man, woman, and child in Africa, Europe, and North America becoming infected.

2. The pandemic was commonly known in the United States and Europe as the “Spanish Flu” or the “Spanish Lady.” This was a misnomer, though, as the disease is unlikely to have originated in Spain. The nickname was the result of a widespread misunderstanding caused by wartime news blackouts. To avoid affecting morale, both Allied and Central Powers nations suppressed news about the flu. But because Spain remained neutral during World War I, the Spanish media was free to cover the story. “Since nations undergoing a media blackout could only read in depth accounts from Spanish news sources, they naturally assumed that the country was the pandemic’s ground zero,” says Evan Andrews of History.com. “The Spanish, meanwhile, believed the virus had spread to them from France, so they took to calling it the ‘French Flu.’”

3. While the sources of the flu is still unknown (avian and swine origins have been proposed), the first outbreaks appeared in the United States. On March 4, 1918, a U.S. Army private reported to the hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, complaining of sore throat, fever, and headache. By noon, more than 100 of his fellow soldiers had reported similar symptoms. Other outbreaks soon appeared in Army camps and prisons in various regions of the country. The disease soon spread to Europe with the American soldiers traveling to the battlefields of France. (In the two months after the outbreak at Fort Riley, 202,000 U.S. troops traveled by ship to Europe.)

4. The pandemic occurred in several waves that spread across the globe. The first wave occurred in North America from March through May 1918, and from May through July 1918 in Europe. The second wave—which caused the greatest number of deaths—began in August 1918 and spread across the globe over the next five months. By the end of summer 1918, numerous cases had been reported in China, India, New Zealand, Japan, North Africa, the Philippines, and Russia. A third pandemic wave began in early 1919, just 10 months after the first wave. Some historians also claim that a fourth wave occurred in early 1920.

5. The pandemic was exacerbated by poor sanitation, overcrowding, and limited health services during World War I. Many U.S. soldiers with immune systems that has never been exposed to the flu were crowded into hastily built camps and ships. Each day in summer 1918, an average of 10,000 U.S. soldiers crammed onto ships bound for France, and 45,000 soldiers were corralled into camps built to accommodate 36,000. As a result, in 1918 more American troops died from flu than they did on the battlefield
.
6. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an unusual characteristic of this virus was the high death rate it caused among healthy adults 15 to 34 years of age. The pandemic lowered the average life expectancy in the United States by more than 12 years. The estimated case fatality rate was 1.7 percent. A comparable death rate has not been observed during any of the known flu seasons or pandemics that have occurred either prior to or following the 1918 pandemic. (The death rate from seasonal flu is typically around 0.1 percent in the United States.) The rate of death was likely higher because, at the time, there were no flu vaccines, antiviral drugs, antibiotics, or mechanical ventilators. About one-third of doctors and nurses from the United States were also serving in the war, making treatment in the United States less available.

7. Because there was no coordinated effort by the U.S. government to implement mitigation efforts, local communities implemented their own measures. For instance, the health commission of New York City attempted to slow the transmission of the flu by ordering businesses to open and close on staggered shifts to avoid overcrowding on the subways. At the time, 43 U.S. cities had a population of more than 100,000. Cities that implemented measures such as school closures, bans on public gatherings, and isolation or quarantine orders experienced delayed and reduced peak death rates compared with cities that implemented interventions later.

8. During the pandemic, restrictions on public gatherings affected churches. In Washington, D.C., a group of Protestant ministers “voted unanimously to accede to the request of the District Commissioners that churches be closed in the city.” Churches were also closed in cities such as Dallas, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and Seattle, yet remained open in Chicago and San Francisco. But, much like today, such measures weren’t always popular. A Baptist pastor in Murray, Kentucky, held services on January 26, 1919 in violation of the state’s ban and was arrested in his pulpit at the evening service. A Catholic priest in St. Louis was allegedly turned in to police after 200 parishioners were seen at the church. The priest told police the people snuck in through the church’s side windows ,and he didn’t see them. No charges were pressed.

9. Since 1918, there have been several other influenza pandemics. A flu pandemic from 1957 to 1958 killed around 2 million people worldwide, including some 70,000 people in the United States, and a pandemic from 1968 to 1969 killed approximately 1 million people, including some 34,000 Americans. More than 12,000 Americans perished during the H1N1 (or “swine flu”) pandemic that occurred from 2009 to 2010. 

But the 1918 influenza pandemic has remained not only the deadliest flu of the modern age, but also one of the most lethal virus-borne diseases, killing more people than all subsequent flu pandemics, yellow fever (late 1800s), the Cholera 6 outbreak (1817-1923), SARS (2002-2003), Ebola (2014-2016), and HIV/AIDS (1981–present) combined.


Addendum: While there are several similarities between the 1918 flu pandemic and COVID-19 (short for novel coronavirus 2019), they are different in numerous and significant ways. COVID-19 is not a strain of flu, but rather a disease caused by a strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). What we call “flu” is several different types and strains of influenza viruses. Coronaviruses are a different and distinct type of virus.

The key reason COVID-19 is currently more dangerous than common strains of flu is because we have no protection against it (NB: the 1918 flu was an uncommon strain). For all of us alive today, strains of the flu have existed our entire life. Almost everyone gets the flu at some stage of life and are therefore able to build up immunity. We also have vaccines created each year that protect people from new strains. Despite these immunities, we still have 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide from the flu each year.

SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of coronavirus for which we haven’t built up an immunity. Also, unlike many influenza strains, we have no vaccines to protect us against the virus. Additionally, SARS-CoV-2 is believed to be about seven- to ten-times more lethal than the average strain of influenza. Because of these factors, COVID-19 has the potential to kill many more times as many people as are killed by the annual strains of flu. The COVID-19 infections also have to be treated in addition to the hospitalizations and deaths that occur from influenza. Our health-care system already becomes strained each year during flu season, so adding tens or hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases at one time will stretch our system to the breaking point (as it has already done in Italy).

Sunday, March 22, 2020

How To Survive A Life Like Yours: Why Self-Help is Never Enough For Permanently Solving Our Life Problems

Article by


IT MADE FOR A SENSATIONAL VIRAL VIDEO. Jordan Peterson, the bestselling psychology professor and life guru, sat on a panel during convocation at Liberty University. Suddenly, someone in the large audience, apparently a student, rushed the stage. In the seconds before the security team closed in around him, the student cried out through tears, “I need help! I just wanted to meet you. I need help.”

Though the event would continue after an impromptu prayer and escorting of the student off stage, the words “I need help” seemed to linger like a specter in the building.

The truth is that every year millions of Americans admit they need help, and many do so by running to self-help gurus. The self-help genre is one of the most reliable, most lucrative genres in publishing. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is merely one of the latest phenomena: over three million copies have sold since 2018. Meanwhile, self-help literature colonizes the bestseller lists year after year, decade after decade, from newer authors such as Jen Sincero, Rachel Hollis, and Eckhart Tolle, to old standbys Dale Carenegie, Tony Robbins, and Norman Vincent Peale.

Though these authors are diverse in their language, method, and perspective, one thing unites them all: they want to fix your problems, and they’ve each discovered the best way to do it.

The Craving for Wisdom

It’s easy for evangelicals to sneer at the self-help genre. That’s been the dominant attitude I’ve encountered in gospel-centered Christian circles toward the books. In many ways, the cynicism is warranted. There’s something deeply deceptive in the majority of self-help lit: a middle-class prosperity gospel of expressive individualism.
Yet we err if we only go so far as to critique. It’s better to ask whether we as Christians can learn anything about ourselves or our world from the success of the self-help genre.

Self-help lit flourishes because human beings crave wisdom. Without a conscious recognition that life is hard and confusing and we need more help than is within ourselves, self-help and motivational lit would sell nothing. For believers, the question is not whether we should be trying to gain wisdom for life. The question is what kind of wisdom we need.

The majority of self-help lit answers that question with overtly middle-class appeals to new methods, inspirational mantras, and (most importantly) buying as much of the guru’s product as possible. It also tends to pit the complex realities of life against one another, as if doggedly holding on to one’s sense of self-esteem in the face of hardship or criticism can make the facts of failure and brokenness disappear.
While some self-help writing really does offer helpful habits or bring us back to common sense, it almost always does so with a blind eye toward the many areas of life where the guru’s wisdom cannot go.

Inspired Wisdom Literature

There is an alternative. Rather than, on one hand, mocking readers eager for self-improvement or, on the other, conceding the arena of truth to secular soothsayers, we can turn elsewhere for an inexhaustible fountain of real-life insight, whole-person help, and ever-present grace: biblical wisdom literature.

Unfortunately, many evangelicals would likely struggle to even identify which books of the Bible classify as “wisdom.” The scope and significance of biblical wisdom is often lost on us. We may mine Proverbs for Tweetable nuggets. We mutter at Job’s sufferings something about God’s being absolutely sovereign. We avoid Ecclesiastes altogether! No wonder secular gurus flood the cavity left by our missing the richness of the Creator’s wisdom.

Biblical wisdom literature is more than punchy insights into trusting God or poetic flourishes on the meaning (or lack thereof) in life. It’s also more than a hurdle for preachers to leap over in their beeline to the gospel. Rather, biblical wisdom is a coherent and illuminated rule of life that reveals the true nature of everything: God, humans, the universe itself.

The Soft Glow of Self-Help

The best self-help books are the ones that, perhaps despite themselves, really do help us see reality as it is. Amid the wreckage of misguided inspirationalism, effective self-help lit brings to mind something obvious that we tend to miss: attitude matters; people respond to kindness far better than harshness; clean your room.
But even the best, most natural-law-cognizant self-help lit is like a glowstick in a dark room. It can cast a light, but not far and not for long. Biblical wisdom, on the other hand, is like a brilliant chandelier, majestically illuminating everything from high above.

Because secular self-help lit starts with me — my felt needs, my sense of self — it is fatally limited. Biblical wisdom, on the other hand, starts with God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Biblical wisdom has a cosmic perspective, not merely an individual one.

The Fresh Air of Revelation

The book of Job, a masterpiece of literature even by secular standards, is an astonishing illustration of this. Like much self-help lit, Job is focused on suffering. But unlike all self-help lit, Job gives a heavenly perspective, a point of view that sees the spiritual warfare and divine providence over earthly existence.
We learn from Job that suffering tends to exceed our understanding; we cannot fully “get” cancer, or the death of children, or a fiery helicopter crash. There’s no amount of therapeutic work that can help us make sense of a universe that is “red in tooth and claw.” Instead, there is the reality of God — his presence, his right to reign, and his care over his creation. This awareness enables far more than mere positivity. It enables the worship that will both unleash the peace that passes all understanding, and ultimately result in our resurrection and redemption from all death.

Biblical wisdom also illuminates the world as it really is. Every generation tends to have a skewed vision of reality. We turn our attention to cultural gurus who either affirm the spirit of the age (self-actualization at all costs) or make waves for standing against it (make sacrifices; lose yourself in commitment to something). The wisdom in Scripture corrects both of our errors.

True wisdom reveals that hard work is often rewarded, but not every time (Proverbs 13:23). It pushes us toward making the most of life, while making sure we never forget about our imminent death (Ecclesiastes 3:19). Biblical wisdom reminds us that it is good to earn, but also that earning will never satisfy (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

If you’re looking for myopic perspectives or simplistic clichés, pass on by. If you’re looking for divine realism that enables you to receive and live in the world as it truly is, come and see.

We Need More Than Motivation

But the highest point at which biblical wisdom differs from self-help is its offer of grace. Neither the most rah-rah motivational alpha male nor the most spirited “you go girl” cheerleader can compete with the grace that God’s wisdom offers.
Why? Because this wisdom calls out to the simple. Biblical wisdom is utterly unique: It is for the foolish, not the wise. It is for the needy, not the clever. Hear the call of wisdom:
Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” (Proverbs 1:20–23)
Biblical wisdom can make the foolish wise. That is good news for weak-willed people like me who need more than motivation. We need forgiveness. It’s not enough to be assured that I can do it. I have to know that I’m safe and secure even at the end of the days where I didn’t do it. That’s the promise of Wisdom incarnate: Jesus, “who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
It’s not too late for us to commit to putting ourselves in the way of God’s wisdom, meditating on it day and night as we grow strong and nourished like a tree in a riverbank (Psalm 1:1–3). Find the help you need to see clearly in a dark world, and the grace you need to get back up when you stumble, in the pages of God’s perfect, gracious, all-sufficient wisdom.