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“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” 

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“It is not in our life that God’s help and presence must still be proved, but rather God’s presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ. It is far more important for us to know what God did to Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today. The fact that Jesus died is more important that the fact that I shall die, and the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too shall be raised on the Last Day.”

Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together54.

“One act of obedience is worth a hundred sermons.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Seek God, not happiness  – this is the fundamental rule of all meditation. If you seek God alone, you will gain happiness: that is its promise.” 

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Culture of Death and Growing Totalitarianism

Originally published at Fox News

by Newt Gingrich

The British government’s decisions to allow two critically ill babies to die in two years is a natural reflection of the culture of death and the steady increase in totalitarian tendencies among Western governments.

Last year, the British government ordered life support removed from Charlie Gard, ending his life when he was just 11 months old. Now, Alfie Evans – just 23 months old – has received what amounts to the same death sentence. On Monday, he was removed from life support by court order – against the wishes of his parents.

Then, something remarkable happened. The child confounded his doctors and refused to die.

As of the time I am writing this, Alfie Evans is still alive and is breathing unaided. This is despite the claim made by a medical professional during a court hearing that Alfie would die quickly – possibly in “minutes” – if taken off life support.

But even this display of the power of the human spirit to defy the expectations of the supposedly rational and objective state did nothing to sway the minds of the British courts and state-run medical apparatus.

On Wednesday, another legal appeal by the parents to be allowed to try and save their son’s life was denied. The secular system has asserted its right to define what lives are worth living and is determined to prevent its authority from being questioned. Alfie Evans’ life – like Charlie Gard’s before him – has been determined to be limited by the standards of the secular state – and therefore without value.

These tragic government-imposed death sentences for innocent infants should frighten all of us about increasing secularism in society and the steady shift towards a totalitarian willingness to control our lives – down to and including ending them – on the government’s terms.

This is a direct assault on the core premise of the Declaration of Independence. We Americans asserted that we “are endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In the American Revolution, in our fight against the British crown, we asserted that rights come from God not from government.

However, our secular, liberal culture increasingly dismisses the concept of God and asserts that our rights come from a rational contract enforced by government. In the original American model, we asserted our God-given rights against the power of a potentially tyrannical government. In the emerging left-wing secular order, since there is no God, our rights depend on a secular state controlling itself.

Britain is giving us a vivid, tragic sense of how dangerous and heartless government tyranny can be once God is rejected and there is nothing between us and the government.

Ironically, this latest decision was made the same year Stephen Hawking died 55 years after he was diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and told he had only two years to live. Apparently, the British government learned no lessons from Hawking’s remarkable lifetime of work and achievement, which he pursued despite having to battle an extraordinarily challenging illness. In fact, in 1985, Hawking contracted pneumonia while he was writing A Brief History of Time, and his wife was asked if his life should be terminated. She refused, and Hawking went on to live another 33 years and publish one of the most acclaimed books of the 20th century, which has since sold more than 10 million copies worldwide – all after it had been suggested he be taken off life support.

Hawking should be a permanent reminder that the human spirit is more important than the human body and that the will to live and achieve should not be destroyed by the state.

For the rest of the post…

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” 

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  |   October 2, 2017   |  by Russell Moore

A few hours ago I was on the phone with a friend in Las Vegas. He and his neighbors had just lived through, and will be living through for some time, the trauma of seeing in their own city the worst mass shooting in modern American history. I reflected after that conversation what my friend, a strong Christian and a respected leader, would say when asked by those around him, “Where was God in all of this?” He will have a word for his community, but for many Christians, when disaster or great evil strikes, this is a hard question to answer. Maybe that’s you.

The first thing we must do in the aftermath of this sort of horror is to make sure that we do not take the name of God in vain. After a natural disaster or an act of terror, one will always find someone, often claiming the mantle of Christianity, opining about how this moment was God’s judgment on an individual or a city or a nation for some specified sin. Jesus told us specifically not to do this, after his disciples asked whether a man’s blindness was the result of his or his parents’ sin. Jesus said no to both (Jn. 9:1-12). Those self-appointed prophets who would blame the victims for what befalls them are just that, self-appointed. We should listen to Jesus and to his apostles, not to them. Those killed in a terror attack or in a tsunami or in an epidemic are not more sinful than all of the rest of us.

We live in a fallen world, where awful, incomprehensible things happen. When an obvious and egregious injustice such as this one is done, we should stand where God does and see this as real evil, not as an illusion of evil. This means that our response to such should not be some sort of Stoic resignation but instead a lament with those around us who are hurting.

Christians sometimes suppose that our non-Christian friends and neighbors want to hear a detailed explanation, to justify God in light of such horror. The Bible doesn’t give us easy answers. The Word of God instead speaks of the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7). When tragedy fell upon Job, an ancient follower of God, and asked why such happened to him, God did not fully answer him. God instead spoke of his own power and his own presence. That’s exactly what we should do.

We do not know why God does not intervene and stop some tragedies when he does stop others. What we do know, though, is that God stands against evil and violence. We know that God is present for those who are hurting. And we know that God will ultimately call all evil to a halt, in the ushering in of his kingdom. We know that God is, in the words of the hymn, both “merciful and mighty.”

When my wife and I were going through a difficult time, years ago, a friend stopped by, a respected theologian who spoke often and well of God’s sovereign providence. I expected him to speak to us of how God was working in this tragedy we were facing. He didn’t. He cried with us. He sat with us. He prayed with us. And as he left, he turned and said, “Russell, I don’t know why God permitted this to happen to you, but I know this: Jesus loves you, and Jesus is alive and present right now in your life.” I’ve never forgotten those words.

Our neighbors do not need us to provide easy answers to what is, this side of the eschaton, unexplainable. What they need, though, is a reminder for us that life is not the meaningless chaos it seems to be. There is a loving Presence at work in the universe.

For the rest of the post…

crying woman's eye, black and white image, low key, selective focus Richard Baxter, in A Christian Directory (Ligonier, 1990), page 140, lists seven benefits of looking by faith to the Lord, as to no other, for our deepest delight.  Updating the language a little:

1.  Delight in God will prove that we know him and love him and that we are prepared for his kingdom, for all who delight in him shall enjoy him.

2.  Prosperity, that is, the small addition of earthly things, will not easily corrupt us or transport us.

3.  Adversity, that is, the withholding of earthly delights, will not excessively grieve us or easily deject us.

4.  We will receive more profit from a sermon or book or conversation that we delight in than other people, who don’t delight in them, will receive from many such opportunities.

5.  All our service will be sweet to ourselves and acceptable to God; if we delight in him, he certainly delights in us.

6.  We will have a continual feast within, to sweeten all the crosses of our lives and to provide us with joy greater than our sorrow in our saddest condition.

For the rest of the post…

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” 

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A lot of debate has swirled around the similarity (or dissimilarity) of Christianity and Islam lately. What do people think? |

Christianity and Islam: Evangelicals and Americans Are Not on the Same Page About the "Same God"

Just a few months ago, in October, LifeWay Research published a good amount of data on how Americans, pastors, self-identified evangelicals, and religious service attendees see Christianity and Islam. Today, I wanted to share just a bit of data with you regarding how similar or dissimilar these groups of people see the two most popular monotheistic faiths in the world.

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the “Same God?”

In the last week or so, the debate about whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the “same god” has been stirred up due to a controversial situation at Wheaton College, about which I wrote last week. (Full disclosure, I’ve written on several occasions that Muslims and Christians do not pray to the same god and saying so is not helpful.)

Perhaps the reason for the controversy around such “same god” issues is that the country is split, though you would think that country overwhelmingly believes they do worship the same god based on the responses.

But, the nation is actually split down the middle.

Forty-six percent of Americans agree Christians and Muslims pray to the same God, 47% disagree, 8% are not sure.

Of course, we look for statistically different sub-groups of people who believe differently about this issue. Interestingly, they include:

  • Northeasterners (56%) are more likely to Agree than Southerners (40%) and Westerners (44%)
  • Those age 25-34 (56%) are more likely to Agree than those 35-44 (42%), 45-54 (40%), 55-64 (44%), and 65+ (41%)
  • Those age 18-24 (52%) are more likely to Agree than those 45-54 (40%).
  • Nonreligious (56%) are more likely to Agree than Christians (41%).
  • Catholics (52%) are more likely to Agree than Protestants (38%).
  • Self-identified evangelical Protestants are less likely to Agree (35% v 50%).
  • Those attending a religious service at least about once a week (34%) are the least likely to Agree.
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