Guest Vlog: Joni Eareckson Tada Sings Songs of Suffering

Joni Eareckson Tada was paralyzed from her neck down when she dove into Chesapeake Bat on July 30, 1967 at 17 years old.  While she regained some small usage of her arms, her hand and legs are limp; her pain is constant.  And the accident happened 55 YEARS ago!

This is a recent video of her story as she looks forward to the end of her life on earth, now 72 years old.  She is one of the people with whom I will want to shake hands when I arrive in Heaven (after Noah, Moses, David and John the Baptist 😉).

A friend who will probably watch this vlog is Caz of Invisibly Me.  She, too, is a jewel that deals with chronic pain.  I do not understand why Father has not healed either of these women (among many other nonhealings I don’t understand; and among many, many things I do not understand).

But I trust His heart that He loves these as much as He loves Jesus, His Only Born Son.  And someday, maybe on the other side of the veil that hides the unseen world from our mortal eyes, He will make it all clear.  For now we see in a mirror dimly (a blurred reflection), but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (Amp)

The 13 minute, 15 second video is well worth a quarter hour of your time today.  At about 7:15 she discusses her pain.  “It makes my quadriplegia seem like a walk in the park; I can do quadriplegia, but, whooo, it’s hard to do pain.”

Songs of Suffering by Joni Eareckson Tada:
“Suffering will teach you who you are. It’s a textbook that will show you the stuff of which you are made. And sometimes it’s not very pretty. Suffering will squeeze that out of you. We say we know Christ. The next time you suffer hard, find out what comes out of your mouth. That will show you how much you know Jesus. And in that sense, it’s good, in a strange way.”  Joni

For more on Joni Eareckson Tada see: https://www.amazon.com/Joni-Unforgettable-Story-Eareckson-Tada/dp/0310364191/

Guest Blog: Dr. David Gibbs: Listen to the Voice. A Modern Parable.

Told as a real story, this is a modern parable:

I was in Alaska doing a lawsuit.  We were way out in the Aleutian Islands, getting ready to leave and go back to Anchorage and then home.  And I had a ticket in my pocket to get on an airplane.
A pastor came up and he said, “Listen, I can save you money.”
I said, “How’s that?”
He said, “I flew a small airplane up here and I fly a small airplane, and I can take you in my little airplane, and you can save your ticket.”
And this did not sound – I said, “Gee, thank you so very, very much, but I’ve got this ticket.  We’ll just make our way on home, me and this other lawyer with me.”
He said, “No, no, no.  You gotta do it, you gotta do it.”
And against every better judgement I had, I said, “Okay.”
Well, we went out to the airport.  He took us by this little plane and I looked at it, and I thought, “Well, one good thing, it’s shiny.”

Then he walked around it.  We got in.  He’s on the left front; I’m on the right front; the other lawyer is sitting right behind me, and he started it up.  And it started up just fine.  Well, we taxied out and I said, “Should we pray?”
He said, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.  We normally don’t ”
I said, “Well, this time we’re gonna.”  And I’m telling you I prayed five, eight minutes.  I prayed a long time.  We went and got on the runway.  He starts down the runway.  The plane lifted off ever so gently, and we started climbing, and it’s wonderful; not a problem in the world.  We started climbing and we flew probably three, four minutes, and something happened that will never leave my mind!

The pilot turned to me and he said, “We’re going in the clouds, and I can’t fly in clouds!  They make me pass out.”  I said, “Clouds make you do WHAT!?”  Now, it’s been cloudy all day!  And we go right up into the clouds and you can’t see anything.  And he looks at me, and his eyes roll back in his head, and he starts mumbling and he passes out!  Passed out cold!! 
Now I grabbed him and shook him and I said, “Come on, you got to wake up!… so I can kill you!”
Now we’re in the clouds flying along with no pilot, and my friend in the back seat said, “We’re dead, aren’t we?”
I said, “There’s a very good chance of that, yes.”
He said, “What are we gonna do?”
I said, “I don’t know.”  But there was a radio right there, and I handed him the microphone and I said, “Start asking for help!”

2022-07-09 Into the Clouds

So he’s in the back seat reaching up and he said, “Hello, hello?”  We didn’t know any proper radio etiquette.  All we were saying was, “Hello?”
And somebody answered back, “ ‘Hello, hello?’  Don’t you guys know proper radio etiquette?”
I said, “Give it to me!”  I said, “Tell — We don’t know nothin’!  Tell them, we’re in an airplane with a passed out pilot, and we don’t know how to fly this plane!”
The guy said, “I’m a freighter flying out of Anchorage on the way to Tokyo.”  And he said, “You’re telling me you have nobody who can fly that plane with you!?”
I said, “Tell him, that’s correct.”
Now you gotta understand I was sweating bullets!  He said, “First thing I’m gonna do is start circling so I don’t lose you, because I’ll fly out of range of your radio, and you won’t have me anymore.”  And he said, “I’m gonna get Anchorage Emergency for you, and Anchorage Emergency will be the people that can maybe help you; try to save your lives.”

After about five minutes Anchorage came on and said, “We understand you have a passed out pilot and those of you do not know how to fly that plane.”
And we said, “That’s right.”
They said, “Well, the first thing we gotta do is find you.”
I’ll never forget what this man at Anchorage said.  He said, “My job is to get you home safe.”  He said, “That’s my job.  But,“ he said, “here’s the deal.  If you want me to get you home safe, you gotta promise me you’ll obey my voice.”  He said, “You can’t see me, but I can see you.”  And he said, “If you’re not going to obey my voice, you’re gonna die.”
When you can’t see anything, you have no idea how disoriented you become.
Finally, he said, “Okay, I found you.  Now hear me clear.”  He said, “You’re four minutes from a mountain.”  He said, “You’re gonna crash in that mountain and die.  Follow my voice.”
I never said, “I have to follow your voice?  Is that reasonable?”  You see, I understood without his voice, I had nothing!  And do you understand without God’s voice, you have nothingNOTHING!? 

Finally, he got us turned and he said, “I’m freezing all the traffic in the area.”  He said, “It’s going to take me an hour and a half to get you to Anchorage, and there’s a lot of weather between you and Anchorage.  You’re in for a rough ride.”  And he said, “I want you to hear me.  I don’t want you to look at what’s going on outside.  I don’t want you to pay attention to the storm.  Just MY Voice!”  He said, “If you start watching the storm, you will die!  But I’ll take you through it.”
Now, because they cleared all the traffic, several pilots, those nighttime freighters, those 747s, started talking to us.  They said, “We’re praying or you men.  You’re gonna make it!  But listen to the Voice!  That’s the key.”  They said, “Trust the VOICE.”
Do you realize your head is full of voices?  And everybody in this world wants to talk to you.  And everybody wants to be the controlling voice.  And God says, ”I want you to be a living sacrifice.  I want you to put yourself on the altar and let My VOICE be [the voice you listen to].
Finally we went through the worst of the weather, but there was still more.  And then the Voice came back, and he said, “Now, I’m gonna line you up.”  He said, “I’m gonna bring you in right down the runway, and at the foot of the runway are some lights, and they’re in the form of a cross.”  He said, “Don’t you forget this, The Cross Is The Way Home!”
Finally, he’s bringing us down.  We still can’t see anything, and all he kept saying is, “Stay with me.”

“My sheep,” the Bible says, “hear My VOICE and they follow Me.”

2022-07-09 The Cross Is The Way Home
Finally, just a couple hundred feet off the ground, we saw the cross.  I landed the plane.  In fact, I landed it seven times!  Finally, it all came to a stop, and the minute we stopped the pilot woke up.
The voice said, “Thanx for listening.  I watch them crash and burn all the time because they won’t follow my Voice.  They don’t understand I’m the one who can see them even though they can’t see me.  But they get the voices in their head and they kill themselves.  They self-destruct.  Thanx for listening to the Voice.”

Then they put us in a motel room, and about four in the morning, Knock, knock, knock, knock.  A knock at my door, and I opened the door and a man was standing there.  He said, ”Hello, David.”
I said, You’re the Voice!  You’re the one who got me home!”
He said, “I am.”
Do you understand one day you’re going to stand before Him and say, “YOU were the VOICE!  You’re the VOICE that brought…me…Home!”
If you’re not on that altar as a living sacrifice, your head’s full of voices.  And then we wonder why kids crash and burn?  We wonder why marriages are shattered?
And the Lord is saying, “ I AM the One who [is] the VOICE.”

All I can remember is that Voice saying, “Stay with me… Stay with me… Don’t listen to what’s going on in your head and don’t watch the storm.  Stay…with…Me, and I’ll take you through.”
Tonight you have a God who has promised to take you through.  A living sacrifice.  Holy.

My closing thought: Consider what you are listening for; what noises crowd out the Voice that you need to hear?  https://capost2k.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/what-are-you-listening-for/

Who Will Take My Place? – The John Chau Story

June 29 is the Day of the Christian Martyr.  More than 4000 Christ-followers are killed every year (11 every day), not because they cause trouble, but simply because they claim Jesus as their Lord.  We who live in luxury and comfort need to be aware that the freedom we now have to share the gospel could disappear overnight.  Are we ready? … But that is a question for another blog.
John Chau was part of my blog on December 03, 2018.  Here is the “the rest of the story” as told by the editors of The Voice of the Martyrs.  For the sake of my shorter blogs, this is an abbreviated account.  The full original article is available HERE.  And well worth reading!

Who Will Take My Place? – The John Chau Story

2022-06-18 John Chau Title Pic

A LIFE OF PREPARATION
John spent almost a decade preparing to take the gospel to the Sentinelese, one of the last uncontacted people groups. His journey began in 2008, the year he turned 17, when he became what he described as “an apprentice to Jesus.”

2022-06-18 North Sentinel MapAfter taking his first missions trip the following year, he began to pray about spending his life serving as a missionary. “I know that God used that time to mark my life,” he later said. In his prayers, John asked God where He wanted him to go, echoing Isaiah’s affirmation – “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Soon after making that prayerful commitment, John found information online about the Sentinelese people, who live on an isolated island and have never heard the gospel. He sensed that God was calling him to go to North Sentinel Island to share God’s love with them.

“Once I said yes to Jesus,” he said in a video for a church that sponsored his work, “I was committed. I was all in.”

Every decision John made for the next nine years was in preparation for going to North Sentinel Island, living among the Sentinelese and sharing the gospel with them. “He had conditioned his body, his mind, his spirit,” said a former representative from the student missions office at Oral Roberts University (ORU), the school John attended in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “He was one of the most prepared men I’ve ever met.”

Since little is known about the Sentinelese language, he took a linguistics course through a branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators hoping it would help him communicate with the islanders. In addition, he undertook medical training and became certified as a wilderness EMT (emergency medical technician) so he could provide the Sentinelese with basic health care, knowing their immune systems would be vulnerable to imported Western viruses, and he underwent laser eye surgery so he wouldn’t have to worry about keeping his contacts clean.

2022-06-18 North Sentinel PictureJohn was so focused on preparing to serve on the island – an arial view of North Sentinel hung on his dorm-room wall – that he needed a reminder to keep serving in the here and now. An outreach leader at ORU challenged John not to wait, but to start immediately serving and reaching out in the name of Jesus. And John took the challenge to heart.

Because of his love for soccer, John became involved with a ministry that ran a soccer program for immigrants from Myanmar. He was not the most high-profile leader, standing in the spotlight or preaching a sermon, but his love for people and his bedrock faith began to shine through.  “Coach Chau” became a friend, mentor and coach, taking every opportunity to point young men to Christ.

When John reached out to the ministry, All Nations, which had overseen one of his college mission trips, a member of the executive leadership, Pam Arland, took notice that John’s email was the second mention of the Sentinelese people she had seen in a week. And prior to that, she had never even heard of them. Was God at work to reach this unreached island, she wondered.

Pam invited a coworker to sit in on a call with John and help determine whether he was the right person for such a dangerous mission trip.  “John is actually one of the most well prepared and intentional missionaries I have ever met,” said Mary Ho, executive leader of All Nations in a VOM radio interview (VOMRadio.net/JohnChau). “He would call us and say, ‘How do I prepare myself to know more about cultural anthropology?’ We would say, ‘OK, here are 10 [or] 20 books on the subject.’ He would say, ‘Oh, I have read half of them.’ Literally two weeks later he would be like, ‘I have finished reading them. What’s next?’”

A SOLO MISSION
In 2015, John took the first of four scouting trips to the Andaman Islands, a union territory of India located so far east in the Bay of Bengal that it’s much closer to Bangkok than Bangalore.  As he flew out of Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and the Nicobar Islands, John gazed out at the blue ocean below and saw an island come into view that he recognized immediately: It was the same island he had stared at on his dorm-room wall all through college.

“A sense of clarity and peace came upon me,” John said later, “A sense of knowing that I’m going to be going there one day. I took that as confirmation. I’ve only had that sense of clarity and deep sense of knowing a few other times in my life, and each time I can say it was definitely God that was speaking to me.”

John had a natural inclination toward planning, and it was now in full flower. He planned what to take with him, sorting and re-sorting his gear, then deciding how much would fit in the cases he planned to cache on the island before he met the islanders. He wrote plans for the first day, for his early goals and even a contingency plan in case things didn’t go well.

Plan A was to make contact with the islanders and live among them for as long as it took to learn the language and culture. Then he would tell them about the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. John knew it would take years and maybe decades. His meticulous planning also included a Plan B, the possibility that tribes would not welcome him and might even kill him, just as they had two fishermen who drifted ashore on North Sentinel in 2006.

John was at peace either way. He had committed his life to seeing the Sentinelese people worship Jesus Christ as their Savior. Either he would live on the island as a guest and a light for Christ, or he would give his life on the island and enter eternity. Like Paul, he knew that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

“ADVENTURE BRO”
In case the world did hear John’s name, he had done his best to protect Christian friends in the islands and make sure any publicity would not hinder further efforts to reach the Sentinelese with the gospel. His Instagram feed is filled with adventure images from far off places. He blogged about traveling the world, climbing, kayaking and diving with great white sharks. If John’s name became known, anyone searching the images and blogspots would simply think he was an “adventure bro” who stepped too far off the beaten path and paid with his life.

After John’s death, a friend posted some thoughts that John had shared before the trip. “Death is inevitable,” John had said. “I can die in a car crash, [from] snakebite, [from] cancers. There are many ways we can die. I’m going to the islands this November and I don’t know what is going to happen, but I’m ready. I’m ready to lay my down life down for the gospel.”

In August 2018, the Indian government removed the requirement – in place since 1963 – that foreigners visiting 29 of the Andaman and Nicobar islands first apply for and receive a Restricted Area Permit. Media reports listed islands that no longer required a permit to visit – including North Sentinel Island. The change was designed to promote tourism, but also eliminated one obstacle to John’s mission.

FINAL PREP AND FIRST CONTACT
As the time approached for John’s trip to the island, Mary Ho received a four word e-mail from another member of the All Nations executive team: “Mary, are you sure?” Her response was equally to the point, from Romans 10:14: “How are they to hear without someone preaching?”

On the afternoon of November 14, before boarding a fishing boat and heading toward the island, John wrote this prayer in his journal: “Thank you, Father, for using me, for shaping me and molding me to be your ambassador. … Holy Spirit, please open the hearts of the tribe to receive me and by receiving me, to receive You. May Your kingdom, Your rule and reign come now to North Sentinel Island. My life is in Your hands, O father, so into Your hands I commit my spirit.”

The next morning he kayaked along the shore, hoping to show his good intentions by delivering fish and other gifts to the Islanders. “My name is John,” he called out. “I love you and Jesus loves you.”

2022-06-18 John at the Island

The first islanders to appear carried their bows with unstrung arrows. Later, when they strung arrows in their bows, John paddled out of range and back to the boat. He approached again that afternoon, delivering more gifts and getting close to an islander before a young Sentinelese launched an arrow that lodged firmly in the waterproof Bible he was carrying.

The tip of the arrow stopped on a page that ended with the first two verses of Isaiah 65: “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am’ to a nation that was not called by My name. I spread out My hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices.”

On that second contact attempt, John got out of the kayak, hoping to appear less threatening. But when the islanders, one with a bamboo knife, got between him and the kayak, he had to leave it behind – with his US passport inside – and swam back to the boat. After that eventful day, he poured out his heart in the pages of his journal, which the fishermen later delivered to Christian friends.

2022-06-18 Journal Entry 1

Later that evening, John added another entry.

2022-06-18 Journal Entry 2

According to his notes, John planned for the fishermen to drop him ashore the next morning. John hoped he would seem less threatening without the boat waiting offshore. And he also hoped to protect the fisherman: “If it goes badly on foot, the fisherman won’t have to bear witness to my death,” he wrote. John closed most of his journal entries as well as letters to friends and family with the Latin phrase Solo Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone).

ON THE BEACH
On November 16, 2018, John went ashore on North Sentinel Island for the last time. When the fisherman returned the next day, according to the police report, they saw “a dead person being buried at the shore which from the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances appear to be the body of John Allen Chau.”

Following his death, a storm of vitriol was unleashed on John, his family, All Nations and, at times, anyone who would dare to think of sharing the gospel with another human being. The fisherman who took John to the island were arrested, as were other Christians who had spoken with John in the Andaman islands. Their trial began in November 2021.

The story of John the adventure bro quickly turned to John the misguided missionary, the colonizer, the thoughtless disease spreader. The mocking memes on social media and criticism in a variety of media came in waves. Some comedians even used the story of John’s murder in their acts.

More concerning was the criticism from Christians who attacked John’s [mis]perceived lack of preparation and insensitivity to the culture. Some even questioned whether the Great Commission might be outdated in 2018; perhaps they posed, it does not apply to tribes that have no contact with the outside world.

NOT THE END OF THE STORY
“I believe the measure of success in the Kingdom of God is obedience,” John said a few months before his death. “I want my life to reflect obedience to Christ and to live in obedience to him. I think that Jesus is worth it. He’s worth everything.”

John followed in the footsteps of faithful Christians throughout history, beginning with the martyrdom of all but one of the original 12 apostles. In the 1800s, only one in four missionaries survived his first term in the Congo (see From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker). In 1866, Robert Thomas died on a riverbank outside Pyongyang while trying to take the gospel to Korea. Five men were speared to death in 1956 while trying to share the love of Christ with the “Auca” (now called the Huaorani) tribesmen. A willingness to “die trying” has always been a requirement for taking the gospel to places it’s never been heard.

The end of John’s life on earth should not be viewed as the end of the whole story; we know how that story ends. In one of John’s last journal entries, he wrote “The eternal lives of this tribe are at hand. And I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelation 7:9–10 states. Every tribe, every people, every language, worshiping King Jesus together.” John longed for the day when he would introduce his Sentinelese brothers and sisters to other members of the body of Christ.

Perhaps in eternity, we will see John standing among the Sentinelese gathered around the throne, crying out in a loud voice with them, “Salvation belongs to our God!” Those who knew John well on earth will expect a toothy grin on his face, a twinkle in his eye and a thumb raised in his trademark “It’s all good” gesture.

2022-06-18 John Chau Thumbs Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNksqCzMKkk&t=206s

https://www.persecution.com/martyr/?_source_code=WEBI19E2

https://www.persecution.com/free-magazine/

Guest Blog by PK Adams: The Digital Revolution IS Coming! What Will You Do?

Paula Adams covers this territory very well with excellent research and a conservative Christ-honoring perspective.  I will have more to say on this theme soon, but this is enough to get you started thinking about what YOU will do when the government can track EVERY transaction by way of digital money.  China is already rolling out a digital yuan in select cities.  This was Paula’s March 17 blog:

When I wrote this post about biometrics and the mark of the beast, I was still a little unsure what the dangers were with this idea of ‘digital identity’. I knew that it seemed dangerous for some reason, but I couldn’t put it into words yet.

Now that governments and banks are putting out more propaganda of how having an ‘identity’ is a human right and will be so wonderful and convenient, I think I can see the plan more clearly. This has been in the works for long time and is part of the digital transformation.

If you don’t know anything about this topic, I suggest listening to this podcast or watching the video.  Or you can watch this video from ID2020. Actually, I urge you to watch both videos. They are very informative.

The main selling point for these biometric identity systems are that they will help the poor participate in the economy. A secondary selling point is that digital identity is necessary to prevent fraud in the increasing digitally connected world. And also important they say is that we need identity so we can have easy access to government services. On the surface the arguments for these IDs sound reasonable.

But let us ask ourselves, how have humans managed to function all these 5,000 years or so without them? James Corbett says that people used their reputations to do business before the invention of birth certificates and social security cards. Many people were born at home and had no legal birth certificate before industrial times.

According to the American Bar Association, birth certificates arrived around the end of the 19th century. “The idea that a government should also record this vital information is a relatively modern development. The United Kingdom was the first country to mandate collection of birth data at the national level in 1853. The United States began collecting birth data at the national level in 1902, via the U.S. Census.”

But even now, though many people do have drivers licenses and social security cards or other type of identity cards, many people do NOT, and they still EXIST and live their lives. Proof of identity is provided by the fact that you are alive and interacting with someone else, not a card or digital record.

And really, why does anyone need to know who you are if you buying and selling? The relevant information is your payment which could be cash, credit, digital currency, or even bartering. When I go to Walmart and pay cash, no one cares who I am. When I sell something on Marketplace or eBay, I do not ask for ID!

In my mind, the only reason to provide ID when transacting business is to keep a record of it for tax purposes or to provide proof of ownership. But in the past this has been accomplished fairly easily with a signed receipt or bill of sale or other contract. To make the claim that people cannot do business without a digital ID is nonsense. I’m sure the people in developing countries would agree.

My point is that a digital identity RECORD does not create your IDENTITY. Humans have life, dignity and worth apart from any assigned number from the state.

Second question, why does everyone need easy access to government services? Obviously they intend for government to play an even bigger roll in our lives in the future. Cradle to grave control.

I think many of my friends and followers will easily see the dangers of digital identity system. You are the same people who instantly saw the dangers of the Covid passport, mandatory vaccines, and forced lockdowns. It started with a ‘state of emergency’ and continues under the guise of ‘public health’, which will continue to be an excuse for increasing control. Governments should not have this much power over our lives.

The idea of a digital identity system that we are told is absolutely an essential human right because people can’t buy or sell in the marketplace should set off some warning bells if you know your Bible.

In the prophecies about the time period before Jesus returns to judge the world, which is called the End Times, the Last Times, the Tribulation or ‘that day’, and is interpreted differently by different people, there is a verse that says that when the Anti-Christ comes into power, people who do not worship him will not be able to buy or sell unless they have the ‘mark of the beast‘ and they will be killed. These same prophecies also discuss the immensity of the global market during this time and the fact that people are still being sold as slaves.

In my opinion, it’s not biometrics per se that are the mark of the beast, it is the digital identity system itself. And I believe that fingerprints, selfies, and retinal scans are only the beginning. In fact, I am starting to wonder if the ‘beast’ will actually be a computer or Artificial Intelligence that is used to control over the whole economy. Have you heard of algorithmic trading?

My guess is that eventually everyone’s genetic information will be part of their digital record and your data will be somehow attached or implanted or tattooed to your skin. This will be needed to buy, sell, go to school, conduct any kind of government business, travel, communicate, you name it. There is already a problem with people using masks to thwart facial recognition and crooks can cut off your finger to use it for fingerprint ID systems. So, oh well, I guess we will have to have a sample of your DNA!

What is the problem with giving them this information? Why should I care if the government can not only track my every move, but also send me helpful reminders to get my vaccines, and make sure that I have everything I need? Isn’t the government just trying to help me have a better life? If you have to ask that question, I will assume that you have never had to deal with bureaucrats or pay taxes or noticed the immense corruption in every level of government. Lucky you!

What could happen if you do not agree with something the government says to do? I think having a digital ID will seem very convenient and safe and logical to most of the public, until one day, the trap is sprung. By then it will be too late to take back the DNA that you freely handed over or have the chip implant removed or find alternative ways of doing business. And what is the ultimate goal? To make you worship the beast. No mark? You will be beheaded.

If this all sounds too sci-fi for you, I hope you’ll do your own research, and do some thinking about what could happen when you give up your right to privacy. One of the claims these digital ID people love to make is that your ‘privacy’ will be protected. Hahaha! From who? Not from them. Privacy means something very different to them.

You have nothing to hide, you say? Neither do I, yet. But if these eager economic/tech/medical/NGO/UN-funded/one world government types get their way, the world is going to be very different in the future. Your personal goals, moral values and religious beliefs will have to be realigned with what’s ‘best for the world’.

I think someone in power has noticed that not everyone is excited about this idea because the IRS website has at least temporarily changed it’s plans to require ID.me to use their website. But they are not going to stop with this. Billions are being invested in digital identity in all kinds of industries. But this is a sign that protesting can make a difference.

Educate your friends and family if you agree with me that digital identity is a bad idea. Send them to the www.corbettreport.com. Let’s all open our eyes so we can see the world of illusion being built before it’s too late.

And while you’re busy fact-checking, have a look at this video https://rumble.com/vwxxi8-ukraine-on-fire.html and this one. Remember that the beast hates God’s people, especially Jews.

For Paula’s blog and other great reading, you can go here: https://blueskiesandgreenpastures.com/2022/03/17/digital-identity-dangers/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01UjW_ogmLw

Good News Comes Too Rarely These Days

2022-03-31 Päivi Räsänen Religious Freedom Victory

But here is one story of a victory for freedom of speech in Finland that arrived in my email, but keep Finland and Dr. Räsänen in your prayers as the story may not be Finished (pun intended 😉):

Press release 30.3.2022
Member of Parliament, Dr. Päivi Räsänen: 

The Helsinki District Court has acquitted me of all the three charges

The Helsinki District Court has today acquitted me of all the three charges. The ruling of the court was unanimous. I am relieved, happy and grateful to God and to all the people that have supported me. The ruling was what I expected – Not for a second did I believe that I had committed anything illegal in my writings and statements.

The bishop of the Mission Diocese, Juhana Pohjola, was prosecuted because he was responsible for publishing and making my pamphlet accessible on the internet. I am thankful that the court acquitted him also.

I am grateful for having had this chance to stand up for freedom of speech, which is an essential right in a democratic country. This has been my honor. I greatly appreciate that the court recognized in its ruling the importance of free speech. I hope that this ruling will help prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal.

This court process and the decision are historical with regard to freedom of speech and religion. The court has had to for the first time to take a stand on whether it is legal or not to cite the Bible and to agree with it. The judges have had to weigh the relations between the fundamental rights and the criminal law and the interrelationship between different fundamental freedoms.

The interest in this case rises from the concern that if this kind of questioning of free speech is possible in a country like Finland, which has a good reputation regarding free speech internationally, the same is possible anywhere. In the latest Rule of Law Index, Finland ranked 3rd. It is alarming that in a country that ranked so high in the Rule of Law Index, I have been criminally charged for voicing my deeply held beliefs that are based on classical Christianity.

This process has been long, it has lasted for three years, and it has not only consumed time and resources on my part, but also of the police and the court. On the other hand, I have felt joy about being able to speak about the Gospel and the atonement of Jesus during these couple of years.

I had hoped that the prosecutor would have settled for this ruling, but today afternoon I heard that the prosecutors will very likely appeal to the Court of Appeal. I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, also in the European Court of Human Rights. I want to encourage others to use these basic rights also.

Päivi Räsänen
paivi.rasanen@eduskunta.fi

Evamaria Kyllästinen
Ryhmäavustaja, Assistant to MP
Kristillisdemokraattinen eduskuntaryhmä, Christian Democratic Parliamentary Group
00102 Eduskunta
Tel. 050 574 1675|09 432 4065

For more on this story, see The Daily Signal’s report here:

Finnish Court Clears Christian Politician, Bishop of ‘Hate Speech’ Charges

Guest Blog by Thompson Lengels

Personal Meditation on Death and Dying
by ThompsonLengels / March 19, 2022
(with minor edits for spelling, syntax and references)

Fear of Death

Satan has a season when he loves to prick the saint’s conscience — their dying day!  Alas, he comes with all those failing spots to which the saint has succumbed! (Psalm 90:7-8)

When he comes, we may as well say to him:  It is true, Satan. I have failed often, more so, broken asunder to despair and despondency.  But also, listen.  Christ accepted me in my wicked state; died for me while a whore, a swearer, a guiler, an idolater, adulterer, a fornicator, and all the filthy exercises about which you think.  I say Christ died for me in all this mud of sin (Romans 5:8).  All that is good in me is but by His unmerited grace, undeserved mercy.

Death, to a Christian, is a doorway to glory.  To live in Christ is to keep in step with Christ.  So also, he that would die well must never put off the inevitability of death — he must live as a dying man.  The Christian’s death is the ending of his troubling sins, an entrance to a land where sin and sorrow are no more.  We must look at death as a thing we must meet, and look upon ourselves as a thing with which we must part.

It is never too soon to make friendship with death.  We never get what we think we want because God always gives us what we need.  One day our need will be death.

SkullDeath is gain; freedom from doubt and unbelief.  In Heaven our faith will be turned into sight.  Here the best are liable to doubt about their personal piety, and often experience many an anxious hour in reference to this point.  In Heaven doubt will be known no more.

Death is the grave of all temptations.  A Christian’s death delivers them from the second death.  Put another way, a Christian dies natural to live eternal.  In Heaven there are no graves, but eternal grace.

After our death, we will be met by our believing loved ones who went ahead of us to be with Christ.  O beloved Christian, why fear death?  It is natural to fear death, but we may meet it with faith in Christ.

Time PassingWhen death knocks at your door, don’t murmur and grumble about it.  Rejoice, you are going Home at last!  Does the prisoner, long confined in a dungeon, dread the hour which is to open his prison, and permit him to return to his family and friends?  Does the man in a foreign land, long an exile, dread the hour when he shall embark on the ocean [or the sky] to be conveyed to where he may embrace the friends of his youth?  Does the sick man dread the hour which restores him to health; the afflicted, the hour of comfort?  The wanderer at night, the cheering light of returning day?

And why, then, should the Christian dread the hour which will restore him to immortal vigor?  Which shall remove all his sorrows?  Which shall introduce him to everlasting day?  Smile at death when your time draws nigh.

Death is an awful reality to men who have made this world their only home and the things of this world their only possessions.  Do not waste any unnecessary time below here.  Let us live as diligent laborers in a field full of harvest, harvesting men to Christ Jesus.

Live as men who appreciate the world, but let us live like men who are more in love with the world to come, the world of Christ Jesus.  To die and be with Christ is the final pilgrimage of the wounded saint.  The saint finally meets with Eternal Rest and Blessed Felicity.

The door of death is inscribed thus: “Prepare to meet your God!”  Christ is best!

Death is sleep. “The girl is not dead but sleeping.” (Luke 8:52)  The natural man is tempted to laugh.  You’re wise and know how to apply.  Death will very soon reveal the children of God and the devil.

We must have our heart and mind in Heaven if we are to look at death with courage in Christ.  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).  So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Beware of head-knowledge in the face of death!  It will not comfort you.  How is your heart and way of life instructed by your accumulated knowledge on the things of God?  Do you know God, or things about God?  That’s the question!  Be honest with yourself!

I’ve observed humble men die well.  Improve life by dying daily to self and enrich the soul by being alive in Christ.  I am homesick for Heaven.

You’re not too young to die.  Make peace with God.  This old fellow knows his time is nigh.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  Make no permanent nest in this world.  Death is a golden carriage that lifts the soul to a golden city, a celestial city.  Fellow mortal, cease playing Immortal.

Cemetery at GettysburgThe whole world is a big cemetery of dead men walking.  Those that resolve to repent tomorrow intend to be wicked today.  A delay of repentance breastfeeds and strengthens our sin — and the wages of sin is death!  (Romans 6:23)

The conversion of the thief at the cross is not a canon that all of us are guaranteed conversion to Christ at our death-bed.

We read in the Holy Scriptures of men who were called at their infancy such as Jeremiah, Samuel and John the Baptist.  Some were chosen in their prime age of youth like the four Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel.  Others were called in their advanced adulthood such as the disciples, John, James, Peter, and Andrew.  Other were called while carrying out their business of the day as Matthew, the tax-collector and Luke, the physician.  Others were called while in their sin-business as the forgiven harlot and the woman at Jacob’s well.  Others while gazing at a fig tree or climbing a sycamore as Nathanael and Zacchaeus.  Still others were called in their old age as Joseph of Arimathea and the Jewish scholar, Nicodemus.  And last of all, at their death-bed — the thief at the cross!

Dead TreeThere’s no such thing as purgatory and indulgences.  When you die, you are dead!  And all must die!  If not now, tomorrow.  If not tomorrow, the next day.  If not the next day, then, the following day.  If not the following day, … then the next!

We can only sing, “Death has lost its sting,” (Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:55) if we truly understand what the cross of Christ accomplished for us.

Rest In Peace

Death laughs at bags of gold.  Death is a level ground where the rich and poor; proud and humble; high and low; prince and peasant, all lay and become wholesome meal for the worm. (Job 21:23-26)  A man’s life, however great it was, is always summarized by this little word — Death!

Jesus Christ not only died.  He conquered death by death itself!  Christ stung death to death!
He is our resurrection!

Guest Blog about the Ukraine Crisis

This is a guest blog from Christianity Today; always good reading and accurate information.
As Russia Invades Ukraine, Pastors Stay to Serve, Pray … and Resist

(UPDATED February 24, 2022 01:55 PM) Prayer requests from Donetsk: “First, to stop the aggressor. But then for peace of mind, to respond with Christian character and not from human hate.”
by Jayson Casper

2022-02-26 Death in Ukraine

As Russia invaded Ukraine today, pressing near even to the capital of Kyiv, a Baptist home was destroyed and a seminary shaken by nearby blasts. Local sources told CT, however, that no churches or Christian buildings had been attacked so far. Top of Form

President Vladimir Putin announced his forces were targeting only military installations. He also asserted that Ukraine does not truly exist as a nation.

Igor Bandura, vice president of the Baptist Union, the largest Protestant body in Ukraine, heard about collateral damage to the home of a Baptist in Donetsk during a Zoom call with his 25 regional superintendents. Minus one. On the front lines of the eastern Donbas region, the Baptist leader from the occupied territory of Luhansk was unable to join.

But from the town of Chasov Yor on the front lines in neighboring Donetsk — in an area then still under Ukrainian government control — Bandura learned the local assessment.

He was told, “People don’t want to be under Russian control. But they feel helpless. What can ordinary people do? Pray and remain calm.”

This was the message put out by the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO), a day after its appeal to Putin went unanswered. Ukraine’s chief rabbi invited Christian leaders to recite Psalm 31 together.

The UCCRO stated, “We urge you to remain calm, not to give in to panic, and to comply with the orders of the Ukrainian state and military authorities. The truth and the international community are on the Ukrainian side. We believe that good will prevail, with God’s help.”

Thousands of Ukrainians fled west as Russian missiles hit targets throughout the nation. Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs reported hundreds of instances of shelling.

President Volodymyr Zelensky announced by video shortly after midnight that 137 Ukrainians died during the invasion’s first day. “They are killing people and transforming peaceful cities into military targets. That’s villainous and will never be forgiven,”  he said, according to The New York Times.

Valentin Siniy, president of Traviski Christian Institute (TCI) in Kherson, about 50 miles from Crimea, had to evacuate his seminary along with a team of Bible translators as Russian helicopters attacked local targets.

He told CT, “The majority of old pastors of the churches stayed in the cities. Youth leaders started evacuating young people. We managed to purchase a van with 20 seats in order to evacuate people. About 30 people are in a safe place now, in western Ukraine. There are about 40 more people driving west [in] vehicles that are in bad condition.” Meanwhile his church has opened its basement to shelter neighbors living in multi-story buildings from bombings.

Yuriy Kulakevych, foreign affairs director of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church said, “I and all ministers stay in Kyiv. We continue our intercessory prayers, talk to people to reduce panic, and help those in need.”

In Kamyanka, 145 miles south, Vadym Kulynchenko of Our Legacy Ukraine reported that his church had already started to receive refugees from the east. Temporary shelter will be provided, and the main needs are food, medicine, fuel, hygiene products, and air mattresses. Bombs hit three infrastructure centers in his city.

Kulynchenko asked, “Please pray for disciple-making in the country, safety for our people, and generosity in the midst of war, and also for discernment, as there is a lot of fake news.”

Kyiv Theological Seminary (KTS) had earlier issued a general warning. A communications professor wrote on Tuesday, “Generating panic through the spread of manipulative false information is exactly what the enemy seeks. This war is not as much for our territories, as it is for our soul and our mind.” On Thurs, KTS cited Isaiah 41:10 as it urged its Facebook audience “not to panic, but to remember how many times God in His Word says ‘don’t be afraid.’” The seminary noted that fear equals paralysis, while prayer, trust in God, and love of neighbor all give strength.

With a “leaden heart,” Taras Dyatlik. the Overseas Council regional director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, wrote to supporters of theological education of the many prayer needs currently facing his fellow church and seminary leaders in Ukraine — including receiving refugees into their dorms. “Many of them are thinking about evacuation of their workers and faculty and students within Ukraine, and some do not have any possibility to evacuate.” He asked for prayer for families, including his own, as Ukraine’s announcement of total mobilization “means many students, graduates, faculty will be called for military duty to serve in the army and participate in the combats.” And he requested prayer for the spouses of male leaders. Since all men ages 18 to 60 are no longer allowed to leave the country, he said many wives are staying as well. “Today I talked to [my wife] about evacuation out of Ukraine. She immediately refused and said: ‘I will be with you to the very end.’”

Students at Ukraine Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS) outside Kyiv were instructed to shelter in place as military battled at a nearby airport, according to the school’s director of English language services, Josh Tokar. Those on campus are scared but not panicked, he said. The seminary president sent out a message from Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?”

Bandura did not resonate with the call for calm. He said of Putin’s rhetoric, “Who are you to say our nation doesn’t exist? The truth is with us, and God is with us. We want to live in peace, but if Russia wants to take this from us, let us fight.”

While some Ukrainians favor Russia, he said, half the population is ready to personally defend their nation. Pictures have circulated of grandmothers with guns. A recent CNN poll, meanwhile, found 13 percent of Ukrainians in favor of Russia’s use of force to reunite the two nations. Only 36 percent of Russians were in favor. (73 percent and 43 percent disagreed, respectively.)

The Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA) conveyed its support for the UCCRO appeal for peacemaking initiatives. Vladimir Vlasenko, REA general secretary stated, “All evangelical Christians pray every day and ask the Almighty to give wisdom to all, to preserve the fragile peace and not to plunge our countries into fratricidal conflict.”

“We see no justification for these actions and are deeply distressed by the death, destruction, chaos, and misery that will result,” stated Thomas Bucher, secretary general of the European Evangelical Alliance, according to Evangelical Focus. He stated, “The invasion of Ukraine is both unjustified and unprovoked. It has been claimed that the attack is necessary to protect ethnic Russians within Ukraine and to stop Ukraine from threatening Russia. These claims are untrue. This disaster has been provoked into being by President Putin for wider geopolitical purposes.”

In Rivne in western Ukraine, local officials directed all churches to remain open, with church leaders staying in touch with residents to help coordinate aid as well as military equipment as needed. Many in Ukraine are showing resilience.

Siniy said, “Our prayer today is that God’s will spreads on Earth as it is in Heaven. I encourage my staff and other Christian leaders that the mission stays the same even if we have to change geography.”

Staff at New Life Radio in Odessa, on the Black Sea coast, watched missiles fly past their homes. They told Evangelical Focus they are taking actions to hide equipment and preserve broadcasting, in case the station is raided in the near future.

Vasyl Ostryi, a pastor at Irpin Bible Church 18 miles northwest of Kyiv and a KTS professor of youth ministry, has also decided to stay. He wrote for The Gospel Coalition, “When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians have responded in their time of need. We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.”

YouVersion noted a spike among Ukrainian and Russian users of its popular Bible App over the past three weeks: searches for “fear” increased 11 percent; searches for “peace” increased 44 percent. People are praying in city streets.

2022-02-26 Ukrainians Praying in the Street

“We printed Bibles for 2022 and we are now in second month of the year and the stock in our warehouse is almost gone,” Anatoliy Raychynets, deputy general secretary of the Ukrainian Bible Society, told Eternity News shortly before the invasion. “In our churches — whether it is Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, or Evangelical churches — there are more new people. Not only on Sundays or Saturdays, but also during the week,” he told the Australian Bible Society news service. “On evenings when we have a Bible study, new people are coming. They want to pray, to hear something that brings hope or comfort.”

Rick Perhai, director of advanced degrees at KTS, said the international church he pastors in Kyiv has several leaders recommending the congregation continue its worship this coming Sunday. Some of their expat members have fled; others want to stay and join the fight. He laments that the enemy is seeking to destroy Ukraine as its Christians grow more and more poised to carry the gospel to surrounding nations. Nonetheless, he is praying for the Russians, asking for God to grant them repentance.

But his petition is also imprecatory. He said, “Pray that the nation of Russia would tire of their tyrant’s rantings at home and abroad and that they would remove him.”

Dyatlik also requested prayer for “the truth,” citing all the “perspectives” in the media. “We did not invite the war. The Kremlin and Vladimir Putin brought it to Ukraine. … There is moral evaluation of the acts of aggression like this,” wrote the theological educator. “These acts have biblical definition and biblical evaluation. Please pray for the spiritual discernment about these things.” Dyatlik closed his prayer letter with requests for believers on both sides of the conflict:

“Please pray about Russian Christians that they would raise their prayers and voice toward Russian government to stop the aggression; [that they] would not keep silent; please pray for the Western governments, of the US and European Union.

“Finally, please pray about Ukrainian Christians, that we will serve and live as the community of hope in a full sense of this term; that during these terrible times we would invite more and more people to the relationships with God and His children, to the relationships of love, hope, encouragement, support; that our minds and characters would continue to transform into the character of Jesus Christ.”

Western nations have roundly condemned Putin, and readied sanctions. Reports circulated of Russians lining up at ATMs to withdraw their cash, fearful the nation would be cut off from the international banking system.

Meanwhile in Donetsk, where 25 missionary teams have been working to establish churches, gas lines require a wait of hours for a rationed supply of five gallons. Grocery stories suffer empty shelves, as Ukrainians stock up on emergency food and water.

Bandura conveys his supervisor’s two main prayer requests: “First, to stop the aggressor. But then for peace of mind, to respond with Christian character and not from human hate.”

Law vs. Grace – An Artificial Dichotomy? A Guest Blog by John Leonard

With minor edits this is an excellent balancing article about accurately assessing law versus grace.
by humble Theology | January 5, 2022

2022-02-05 Law vs GraceWhen reading the Bible most Christ-followers hear the word “law” and immediately have a negative connotation form in their mind as being conditioned on the premise that we are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14). The argument goes something like this: Christians, being under grace, no longer need to obey God’s law. This is a false conclusion for a few reasons, but to get started, we need a bit deeper understanding of what the law even is, and how many ways it can be taken to mean.

First is the law as the moral character of God. When we talk about God being a God of love, we are also saying that He is therefore necessarily a God of law (Matthew 5:48). Love and law are predicated upon one another in any covenant relationship (John 14:15). We see this as the summary of the law is to love God and neighbor, and in the marriage/bride illustrations within Scripture. A bride both loves the groom, and as such willingly submits to laws that typify the exclusivities of marriage. For example, a bride does not seek other lovers any more than someone who loves God goes after idols. This perfection of character is both of the nature of God, and perfectly displayed in the person and life of Christ.

As we are to be a reflection of God’s glory to the world, and take Christ as our example, we are no less expected to love than to follow the laws that God expresses (John 6:38). Some may say that the Christian law is to love, and yet we see what that law looks and acts like in the Ten Commandments (as well as some of other laws of Exodus and Leviticus) (1 John 2:3, 1 John 5:2). There are three uses of this moral law. Within many Presbyterian, Calvinist, and/or Reformed circles the moral law is found to have three main uses.

  1. The first is that the law shows us our sin, and thus the need for grace. Because the law is the perfect reflection of God’s righteousness, we see (as in a mirror) that we do not meet that standard.
  2. The second use is that of a civic standard for law and order. The law cannot change the heart, but its threats can have a restraining effect upon all who are subject to it.
  3. Third, the law is a guide for the Christian (as already mentioned) that shows us the perfect will of our Father. These laws, commands and such direct us as His kids, as to what pleases Him, and what we can do to glorify Him. We do not and cannot do so for any merit, but we submit to them in gratitude.

Second, the law is also seen as civil code. Throughout scripture there are laws by which civic order is established and wrongs can be righted. These are not salvific in nature, that is they do not earn salvation, but are meant to preserve the common peace of the community so far as sinners can submit to them. These are the rules of the land and can be as simple as the “golden rule” (Matthew 7:12). Christians, so far as they are a dual citizen of Heaven and their land, are to observe the national rules/laws, so far as they do not conflict with God’s laws (Acts 5:29).

Third, law in Scripture is understood as ceremonial practice. There were many ceremonial laws prescribed to Israel as a theocracy and under the rule of kings. These have passed with time, and yet the things they foreshadowed in practice are still shown with greater clarity in the New Testament practices (like Communion and Baptism). Although fewer in number, and salvation is by grace through faith, these practices extend and show salvation visually, as expressly confirmed by the Word. Ceremonies do not save, but they are the sign and seal of God upon His people to show that they have been called according to His Word and such ceremonies are the outward exhibits of faith (Colossians 2:11-12).

Law is not salvific, that is, effective for our salvation. The law does not and cannot save. Even under the covenant of works, the main premise was not law keeping, but for Adam to love God to such a degree that to obey would be a daily joyful act of gratitude, not a chore. Think of a marriage where the two do not reflect on their legal obligations to each other nor the prohibitions against seeking love in another. They simply love one another and seek each other’s happiness and welfare.

Scripture proposes that the law is opposed to grace when it is incorrectly taken from its moral sense and used or interpreted to suggest that following the law is effective for man’s salvation before a Holy God. In these instances, as in Romans 6:14, Paul can say, as should we, that we are not under the law as a system of salvation, but under the covenant of grace, as our rest for salvation. This does not free us to be disobedient children, as we still have our Father’s rules to follow, but we are not following them, as if some sense of merit accompanied them.

The law is always a good thing, when used lawfully (Romans 7:7-12). Paul, as well as Jesus, criticized many of the religious leaders of their time because they missed grace and had made the law into something it is not. So, we have to understand that condemnation of the wrongful use of the law, is not the same as condemning the Law as given by God. When Jesus says that He has come to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17), then it can hardly be said that there is anything wrong with it (as Jesus becomes its fulfillment). Yet if taken from that context and used as any type of merit system, even if combined with grace (penance), it is to be condemned as not a true and accurate use of the law.

Law was part of the Covenant of Works. Certainly, there are commands within the Covenant of Works, under which Adam was directly told to be fruitful and multiply, and was commanded not to eat of the tree in the center of the garden. The law was to be followed, not for the sake of earning something, but out of love, reverence, and awe of God, he was to keep the relationship going. Adam was already created good, and so enjoyed a harmonious relationship with God. Yet with the option to sin, Adam fell from this original estate by not only breaking the law, but also refuting his love for God. Those not “in Christ” by His grace, die and go to an eternal hell based upon the results of this covenant breach of Adam, imputed to all. It is this breach and all other actual sins of believers only, that are atoned for on the cross. Jesus took the penalty they must exact upon Himself.

2022-02-05 Law And GraceLaw remains in the Covenant of Grace (New Covenant). Since the fall, and now, man is only ever saved by grace, whereas our performance to keep the law is not a factor. But law keeping is a factor of our salvation (James 1:22). Jesus kept the law on our behalf in two senses. First in a passive sense, Jesus kept the law to prove He was the spotless lamb of God, able to bear the sins of sinners on the cross. Actively Jesus kept the law throughout His life so to have accomplished what Adam did not do, thus earning the righteousness which He gives freely to us. If Jesus just forgave sins, we would be back at square one like Adam, and we would have to maintain our relationship with God, by our love and works. But because Jesus imputes to us His righteousness, there are no other works that can be added to His own to earn any other higher standard of relationship with the Father.

So, the Law is not a merit system for getting into heaven; it cannot and does not function that way. Those that try to make it salvific (effective for salvation) are condemned in the Bible for their abuses of the law, and forsaking grace. Yet, the Christian (in grace) should always strive to keep the commands of God, in gratitude, as those actions we know please our Father and bring Him glory. 

Guest Blog: Biden Administration Making Lists of Religious Vaccine Objectors – And So It Begins

According to Aaron M. Renn’s analysis of contemporary evangelicalism as he reported in “The Three Worlds of Evangelicalism,” there have been three distinct stages in the secularization of American culture.  Views on Christianity and, I believe, religion in general have followed the culture.

  •       Positive World View of devout religionists (Pre-1994): Society at large retained a mostly positive view of Christianity.  Publicly being a Christian was a status-enhancer both for business and political aspirations.  Christian moral norms were the basic moral norms of society and violating them resulted in negative consequences.
  •       Neutral World View (1994–2014): In the late 1990s, society began to take a neutral stance toward Christianity.  Being a good, church-going person no longer held privileged status, but it was not particularly disfavored.  Being known as a Christian had neither a positive nor a negative impact on one’s social or political status.  Christian moral norms retained some residual effect, but were considered along side of other moral norms for other religions and atheists.
  •       Negative World View (2014–Present): However, by 2014 American society developed a negative view of Christianity.  Being known as a Christian has now become a social negative across large swaths of the country, particularly in the elite domains of ­society.  Christian morality is expressly repudiated in main stream media, in universities and across almost all grades of education.  A Christian is seen as bigoted, closed-minded and a threat to the public good and the new public moral order.  Subscribing to Christian moral views or repudiating the secular moral order can have significant negative consequences, from job loss, dis-invitation to speaking venues, failure to get elected or even subjected to vandalism or attack without consequences for the perpetrator, similar to what happened to Jews in Germany just prior to WW2.

So now we are on the cusp of such severe negative views of Christianity that it is being targeted by government agencies for identification as to who claims exemption from government mandates based on religious convictions.  While this discrimination may apply to many religious views, Christianity is being carved out as a special case of resistance to ‘normal moral orders.’
___________________
And So It Begins:  Guest blog by Sarah Parshall Perry  & GianCarlo Canaparo
@SarahPPerry / @GCanaparo / January 11, 2022

2022-01-15 Vaccine Registration

The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”

A tiny administrative agency in the District of Columbia announced a new policy Tuesday that will likely serve as a model for a whole-of-government push to assemble lists of Americans who object on religious grounds to a Covid-19 vaccine.

The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia — a federal independent entity that assists officers in the District of Columbia courts in formulating release recommendations and providing supervision and services to defendants awaiting trial — announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”

The announcement does not explain why the agency needs to create this list except to say that it will “assist the Agency in the collecting, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information collected and maintained by the Agency.” In other words, the list will help the agency make a list.

The announcement also does not say what the agency will do with this information after it has decided an employee’s religious accommodation request. And neither does the announcement explain why the Biden administration chose to test this policy in an agency with a majority-black staff, who are both more religious and less vaccinated than other groups. So much for the president’s commitment to “racial equity.”

We are starting to suspect that President Joe Biden is not keeping his promise to have the most transparent administration in history.

What is really going on with this announcement at this tiny agency? Likely, the Biden administration is using it to stealth test a policy it intends to roll out across the whole government. Almost nobody has ever heard of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, and very few people pay close attention to it or are covered by its policies. Indeed, at of the time of publication of this article, the announcement has been viewed only 16 times.

However, had Biden announced, for example, that the Department of Labor intended to adopt this policy, it would be big news. The Federal Register where announcements like this are made would be flooded with comments that the department would have to address. That would, of course, delay the policy’s rollout. With the Pretrial Services Agency, Biden likely expected that the policy would land quickly and without a splash. As it is, the notice of a new announcement provides less than 30 days for public comment. Biden may not be winning points for transparency, but he is doing his best to win first place in subjecting Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs to differential treatment.

Take the Department of Defense, for example — which has failed to grant a single religious exemption on behalf of any service members requesting one for the federal vaccine mandate. A group of Navy SEALS was recently successful in its federal lawsuit against the Biden administration on claims that its conscience rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were violated.

From the outset of his administration, Biden voiced support for passage of the patently faith-hostile Equality Act — a bill that would gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act entirely when it intersects with LGBTQ+ protections and entitlements in public accommodations.

The president also swiftly revoked the Mexico City policy that had been reinstated by former President Donald Trump, thereby ensuring that religious Americans would be forced to fund abortions overseas by way of their tax dollars, despite their religious objections to the act.

While employers, employment agencies, or unions with 100 employees or more are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from engaging in disparate treatment and from maintaining policies or practices that result in unjustified disparate impact based on religion, this administration does not seem to have received the memo.

That, at the bottom, is what this policy is about.

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Sarah Parshall Perry and GianCarlo Canaparo are legal fellows in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

An update on January 15 revealed that 18 other agencies in the US government are also tracking people who maintain religious objections to covid vaccinations.  These include the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Treasury, to name only a few.