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Christians in Egypt face unprecedented persecution, report says | World news | The Guardian

Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnap of girls by Islamist extremists intent on forcing them to marry Muslims, a report says.In the past year, Egypt has moved up an annual league table of persecution of Christians compiled by the charity Open Doors. According to its World Watch List, North Korea is still the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a Christian, and Nepal has had the biggest increase in persecution.But Egypt, home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, is of particular worry. Officially about 10% of the 95 million population are Christian, although many believe the figure is significantly higher.The overwhelming majority are Orthodox, with up to 1 million evangelical Christians and 250,000 Catholics. Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas on Sunday amid tight security, days after at least 11 were killed in attacks. The president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, attended midnight mass at a new cathedral 30 miles (45km) east of the capital as tens of thousands of armed soldiers patrolled streets around churches all over Egypt.According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.Last Easter, two church bombings killed 49 people, and another 29 were killed when extremists attacked people travelling to a monastery in May. More than 15 girls in Minya governorate were kidnapped in 2017 to be forced to marry Muslims and convert to Islam, Open Doors said.“Michael Jones”, a Cairo-based businessman and evangelical Christian, told the Guardian there was a gulf between statements from the national leadership regarding the Christian community and actions at a local level.“You hear the president speaking about Christians with a lot of respect and sympathy. Just a few days ago, he made a beautiful, emotional speech when inaugurating our new cathedral. It looked like an amazing affirmation that the state is supporting the church and the Christian community, and doing everything it can to guarantee our welfare,” said Jones, who asked for his real name not to be used.“Then you have have the local authorities in villages and towns – police, judges, business owners – and it’s evident that many of them are infected with a rejection of Christianity. You see this in daily practices – not usually violence, but discrimination.”Jones said Christians were overlooked for jobs or promotion, university students were given bad grades or failed, schoolchildren were made to sit at the back of the class, shop owners were boycotted and hospital patients were not given proper treatment.“There is only a minority of violent extremists, but the culture in Egypt cherishes the perception that Christians are infidels,” he said.The response of the Christian community was one of endurance, prayer and forgiveness, he said. “By forgiving our attackers, we’re not saying they should not be punished but retaliation and revenge is not our response. We don’t want to be part of a cycle of violence.”Jones, who is to address MPs and peers in parliament next week, said many Christians had left Egypt because of discrimination and persecution. “I have thought about leaving many times, but I believe God will take care of me. I don’t want my life defined by fear,” he said.Lisa Pearce of Open Doors said: “Christians in Egypt face a barrage of discrimination and intimidation yet they refuse to give up their faith. It is hard for us … to imagine being defined by our religion every single day in every sphere of life.“In Egypt, as in many other Middle Eastern countries, your religion is stated on your identity card. This makes discrimination and persecution easy – you are overlooked for jobs, planning permits are hard to obtain and you are a target when you go to church.”As well as highlighting persecution of Christians in Egypt, Open Doors said south-east Asia was the next emerging hotspot, fuelled by Islamist extremism in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Maldives.

Source: Christians in Egypt face unprecedented persecution, report says | World news | The Guardian

Mystery deepens over fate of super-secret $1 billion military satellite

 

Very little information has been made public about Zuma, which is presumably a spy satellite, but may have other capabilities.

 

Where is Zuma? What is Zuma? What went wrong with Zuma?

The Pentagon is not saying anything about the fate of the military payload, code-named “Zuma,” that was launched this week and may have crashed soon after, and neither is anyone else.

“I would have to refer you to SpaceX, who conducted the launch,” said Dana White, chief Pentagon spokesperson when questioned about the unexplained mystery Thursday, four days after the satellite did or did not go into orbit, or more likely ended up falling back to Earth and plunging into the ocean.

A reporter for Bloomberg, who was among the first to report that something had gone awry with Sunday’s launch, was aghast that Pentagon briefers were refusing to give even the barest details about the highly-classified mission.

“I’m sorry. This is a billion-dollar satellite. It’s been four days. Was it a success or a failure?” pressed Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio. “And what’s the fate of the satellite?”

“I’m done. We’re not going to be able to give you any more information,” replied Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of operations for the Joint Staff.

“I’m asking you, from an accountability standpoint, this thing went bump in the night somewhere, and nobody knows what happened to it?” Capaccio pressed. “You’re the government, you paid for it, you’re the overseers, and you’re asking us to go to the company who might have been partially responsible for the problem?”

“I understand, and given the classified nature of all this … that’s the answer,” White said.

Very little information has been made public about the Zuma payload, which is presumably a spy satellite of some kind, but may have other capabilities such as the ability to repair other satellites in space.

A video posted on SpaceX’s website, appears to show a picture-perfect launch from Cape Canaveral Sunday night.

But by Monday, various space monitoring sites were reporting the satellite was not in orbit.SpaceX has said its Falcon 9 rocket “did everything correctly” but says it cannot provide any more details because of the classified nature of the payload.

Northrop Grumman built the satellite and, according to published reports, the decoupler as well. It’s not issuing any statements, saying it can’t comment on classified missions.

Some experts speculate that the satellite may have failed to separate from the second stage booster, and rode it back to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere.

One thing is obvious: The Pentagon isn’t planning to clear up the mystery anytime soon. It’s not even clear if the U.S. military was the U.S. government agency that paid for the satellite in the first place.

 

 

Source: Mystery deepens over fate of super-secret $1 billion military satellite

Wisdom Hunters – How to Handle Success With Humility and Wisdom 

Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.  2 John 8

Success is wise stewardship; so do not take it for granted. God has blessed you for a purpose, and success is part of His purpose for you. However, if you do not steward wisely and responsibly the blessing of His success, you may very well lose it. Success means you have the attention of your peers and others in your industry and community. Your success over the years may have even gained the respect of many you have never met. Your family respects you; your church respects you; your friends respect you; your work associates respect you. But success is not designed to lull you into apathetic work and lazy living.

Success is meant to drive you to your knees in gratitude to God. Success is an opportunity to seek God for His wisdom regarding a new set of problems and opportunities. Normally, current issues require different answers from those in the past. The process of solving them may be similar, but the solutions are different. You have fared well until now without a structured board of directors or advisory board, but because of your level of success, one or both of these may be necessary, so you have expert advisors and wise counsel surrounding you.

Accountability and wise counsel are big parts of stewarding success. Also, use fiscal restraint. It may take you five years instead of two years for you to reach certain financial milestones. It is better to extend your goals, and avoid unnecessary leverage. Even if people want to throw debt at you, reject the flattery and “just say no.” This is wise stewardship of success.

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Denison Forum – Could this newly discovered planet support life?

Astronomers have announced the discovery of a nearby planet. Named Ross 128 b, the planet is only eleven light-years away from Earth. It is about the same size as our planet and could have a similar surface temperature.

Could it support life? Scientists believe that water could pool on its surface and radiation from its star would not threaten its environment.

The new find joins a long list of planets discovered in recent years. Humans have always been fascinated with life on other worlds. Perhaps the quest for extraterrestrial life is appealing in part because life on this fallen planet can be so difficult.

It seems we have two options. We can focus on this fallen world as an end in itself, which is reason for great discouragement. Or we can focus on the world to come, using this life as merely a means to an end.

Recently I have been contemplating a third option, one which values both the present world and the world to come.

A different view of life

Consider this statement by C. S. Lewis in The Great Divorce: “Earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, a region of Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.”

Is he right?

John 3:16 famously states that whoever believes in Jesus “should not perish but have eternal life.” Our Lord did not say that the believer “will have” eternal life but that he has such life now. Then, the moment his body dies, he is with his Lord in paradise (Luke 23:43).

By the same token, the lost are destined for separation from God (Matthew 7:23). At death, they move immediately from earth to hell (Luke 16:22–23). Both heaven and hell are permanent (Luke 16:26; Revelation 20:10, 15).

In other words, eternity has already begun for each of us.

Why eternity matters today Continue reading Denison Forum – Could this newly discovered planet support life?

Max Lucado – Do-it-Yourself Christianity

Do-it-yourself Christianity isn’t much encouragement to the done in and worn out!  “Try a little harder” is little encouragement for the abused. At some point we need more than good advice; we need help. Somewhere on this journey we realize that a fifty-fifty proposition is too little.  We need help from the inside out. The kind of help Jesus promised.

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But know him, because he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).

Note the dwelling place of God…in you. Not near us or above us, but in us! In the hidden recesses of our being dwells, not an angel, not a philosophy, not a genie, but God. Imagine that!

Read more When God Whispers Your Name

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Charles Stanley – God’s Ways: Ordinary and Miraculous

1 Kings 17:2-7

In Isaiah 55:8, God declared, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” And in fact, one of the biggest frustrations of the Christian life stems from a lack of understanding about God’s ways. There are times when we could really use a miracle, but He does not come through for us the way we think He should. Our unmet expectations lead to confusion, disappointment, and even anger. We might think, Why did the Lord let me down?

Some people don’t believe God performs big miracles at all, while others are convinced that if He’s not doing the miraculous every day, then something is wrong with their faith. Neither belief is true. We need a balanced perspective, which we find in the Bible.

God works in both supernatural and ordinary ways, and He determines the method. Elijah ate food miraculously delivered by ravens, but his water supply from a brook was completely natural. When the water dried up, the Lord could have made more spring from the ground, but He didn’t.

Sometimes God uses ordinary means to move us in a new direction. The curtailment of Elijah’s water supply opened the door for his next assignment. When the Lord withholds miraculous intervention and lets your brook dry up, He has something else planned for you.

Seeing the work of God in the miraculous is easy. But He’s just as involved in the everyday aspects of life as He is in any supernatural event. Look for His fingerprint in the day’s mundane activities. He is there, opening and closing doors, drying up one opportunity but initiating another.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 43-45

 

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Wisdom Hunters – Loyal Follower 

 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”    1 Samuel 14:7

Loyal followers are hard to find, but once they are discovered, wise is the leader who values them. They are rare and productive, constantly looking for ways to make the leader successful in his or her God-given mission. They unselfishly serve behind the scenes, tirelessly and tediously. Because of a loyal follower’s sixth sense to anticipate needs, they know how to encourage excellence.

They learn to prod the leader with thorough questioning so the leader’s intuition can be clarified and verified. The loyal follower is an encourager and an implementer. They get things done by converting the leader’s vision into reality. Without the skill and support of these dream enhancers, the visionary leader would drown in their dreams.

Leaders without loyal followers are not effective over the long term. You can beg, bribe, and berate followers into results for a season, but eventually, this type of leadership will drive loyal followers away and leave only the weak ones. The leader may start something, but it is the loyal follower who sustains the new initiative. He or she is comfortable not getting credit, though the wise leader gives it gladly and gratefully. It is no secret that the loyal follower is the engine that keeps the enterprise running smoothly.

Therefore, reward loyalty with loyalty and appreciation or the loyal follower who is taken for granted will remain loyal no more. Paul modeled help for loyal servants of the Lord. “Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel…” (Philippians 4:3a). A wise leader learns to love loyal followers lavishly and unconditionally. Regularly reward those who embody the values of the organization. Thank them with bonuses and unexpected time off.

For followers, loyalty is not an end in itself, but a means to something greater than themselves. They feel called to carry out the God-given mission of the ministry or business. Their loyalty is the fruit of their calling and the result of their respect. They respect because they are respected. Indeed, the respect of the leader toward followers elicits their respect in spades.  When you honor and value your team or family you invite loyalty.

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Charles Stanley –Fellowship With Jesus

 

Luke 10:38-42

Two sisters were busy preparing for Jesus’ visit. Upon His arrival, Mary turned her attention to the Lord. Meanwhile, Martha was distracted by the preparations (Luke 10:40) and became agitated that her sister was no longer helping. We may be thinking Martha was right—if there was still work to be done, her sister should not have been sitting down. Then we hear Jesus’ perspective. Observing that Martha was worried and upset about many things when only one thing was needed, He said Mary had chosen what was better (Luke 10:42).

There are some important lessons to be learned from this story. First, to have fellowship with Jesus, we may have to leave some things undone. Jesus knew how hard the women had been working and how much Martha longed to finish the tasks. But their greatest need was to spend time with Him. The sisters’ focus was to be on listening, learning, and interacting with Him.

The second lesson is that our choice to forgo an activity may be misunderstood. Martha certainly didn’t comprehend her sister’s decision. What’s more, if we fail to take time with the Lord, there may be unpleasant consequences. We see this in the way Martha’s distraction led to worry and agitation. Jesus invited her to choose the better way—namely, to be with Him.

Establishing a habit of communing with God is essential to our spiritual health. Even in our daily work, we can learn how to maintain an awareness of Him. So aim to choose the better way, as Mary did. Connecting with Jesus regularly will sharpen your focus on what is most important and help you distinguish what is good from what is truly the Lord’s best.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 7-9

 

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Never Too Busy

“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.” (John 9:1)

Have you ever wanted to talk to people, and found they were just too busy? Megan experienced that this past Christmas. The whole family was planning to meet at Grandma’s house for the holiday. This was the one time of the year where every uncle, aunt, and cousin got together. Megan was especially excited about it, because her older cousin Audrey was going to be there.

Megan had always looked up to Audrey. Audrey was the oldest cousin, the coolest cousin, and also the first cousin to go to college. Even though Megan was only in 6th grade, she still could hardly wait to hear all about college life.

The day finally came when Megan’s family loaded up the car and headed to Grandma’s house. Megan’s family was the first to arrive. One by one, the other families came, until finally Audrey’s family came. Megan ran out the door and into the snow without even bothering to put on her coat. As she ran up, she saw someone in the car that she did not recognize. Audrey climbed out of the car and gave Megan a big hug. “Hey, Megan! How are you doing?” Audrey said. “I want you to meet a friend of mine; his name is Derrick.”

It turned out that Derrick was Audrey’s boyfriend. Since he was new to the family reunion, the whole family wanted to talk with him and Audrey. Every time Megan tried to talk to Audrey, someone else would want to be introduced to Derrick. Even when Megan tried to get Audrey to go snow-tubing, she was too busy! Megan finally gave up and went tubing all by herself.

When the time came for everyone to cram back into their cars and head to their own homes, Audrey found Megan. “Megan, I know we didn’t get to spend much time together this year. I am very sorry.” Megan said that it was all right, but deep down she was really disappointed.

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Our Daily Bread — His Wonderful Face

 

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:8–27

Bible in a Year: Joshua 16–18; Luke 2:1–24

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. —1 Chronicles 16:11

My four-year-old son is full of questions, and chatters constantly. I love talking with him, but he’s developed an unfortunate habit of talking to me even when his back is turned. I often find myself saying, “I can’t hear you—please look at me when you’re talking.”

Sometimes I think God wants to say the same thing to us—not because He can’t hear us, but because we can tend to talk to Him without really “looking” at Him. We pray, but we remain caught up in our own questions and focused on ourselves, forgetting the character of the One we’re praying to. Like my son, we ask questions without paying attention to the person we’re talking to.

Many of our concerns are best addressed by reminding ourselves of who God is and what He has done. By simply refocusing, we find comfort in what we know of His character: that He is loving, forgiving, sovereign, graceful.

The psalmist believed we ought to seek God’s face continually (Ps. 105:4). When David appointed leaders for worship and prayer, he encouraged the people to praise God’s character and tell stories of His past faithfulness (1 Chron. 16:8-27).

When we turn our eyes toward the beautiful face of God, we can find strength and comfort that sustain us even in the midst of unanswered questions. —Amy Peterson

Lord, let the light of Your face shine upon us.

Seeking the face of God can strengthen our faith.

INSIGHT: The Israelites worshiped the Lord around the ark of the covenant. To commemorate the ark’s return, David composed a song of worship for the occasion. This song exalts God’s power and celebrates His presence. David calls on the people to “seek his face always” (1 Chron. 16:11) and to fear and worship Him (vv. 25, 29-30). What does it mean for you “to seek his face always”? Sim Kay Tee

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Scandal and Mystery

As a young man growing up in Scotland, like many others, I was exposed to Christianity and the symbol of the cross. However, it was a point of confusion, a mystery at best, and at worst, an object of scorn and disgust. I did not know what it meant or why religious people thought it important, but I knew I wanted nothing to do with it.

Obviously, I have had a change of mind. Why? I’ll explain as we proceed, but first, some helpful voices. Alister McGrath, Professor of theology, ministry, and education at King’s College, London, writes: “Just as God has humbled himself in making himself known ‘in the humility and shame of the cross,’ we must humble ourselves if we are to encounter him. We must humble ourselves by being prepared to be told where to look to find God, rather than trusting in our own insights and speculative abilities. In effect, we are forced to turn our eyes from contemplation of where we would like to see God revealed, and to turn them instead upon a place which is not of our choosing, but which is given to us.”(1)

In other words, nothing in one’s history, experience, or knowledge can prepare us for God’s means of drawing near. At the cross, something we are not expecting is revealed, something scandalous unveiled, something we could never have articulated or asked for is given to us. Philip Yancey, the renowned author, offers more on this: “Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who take his cloak, who prays for those who deceitfully use him. The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to Kingdom, nor is it even the way to the Kingdom; it is the Kingdom come.”(2)

I have come to realize that wrong ideas and images are responsible for much misery and disaster in our lives. And I think many of us have significantly distorted ideas about the purpose and meaning of the cross. When many people think of “sin” or the human condition before God, what comes to mind is perhaps something like the image of a child caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Such an image might well be understood as disobedience or maybe even naughtiness, but is it really that important? It is certainly not bad enough to justify extreme reactions. As a result of such a metaphor, our moral reflections on sin tend to foster incredulity or disgust. The response seems totally out of proportion to the offense.

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Joyce Meyer – Positive Minds

Jesus said, Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.…—Matthew 8:13

Sometimes when I stand behind the pulpit, and before I speak, I pause and my gaze sweeps across the audience. I look at the faces of the people. I love to see the bright smiles and expressions of anticipation, but there are always a few who look downtrodden and discouraged. I don’t know anything about them and I don’t want to judge them, but their faces look sad. They look as if they have lost hope and expect nothing positive to happen—and too often, they get exactly what they expect.

I understand those discouraged people; I was once one of them.

Here’s a simple fact I’ve learned: Positive minds produce positive lives, but negative minds produce negative lives. The New Testament tells the story of a Roman soldier whose servant was sick, and the soldier wanted Jesus to heal him. That wasn’t uncommon—many wanted Jesus to heal them or their loved ones in those days. But this soldier, instead of asking Jesus to come to his servant, expressed his belief that if Jesus would just speak the word, his servant would be healed (see Matthew 8:8). Jesus marveled at his faith and sent out His word to heal the servant. The soldier’s positive mindset—his faith—brought positive results. He expected healing, and that’s exactly what happened.

Too often, we cry to Jesus to heal us, to take care of our finances, or to deliver us from problems, but we don’t fully expect the good things to happen. We allow our minds to focus on the negative aspects. Doubt and unbelief war against our minds and steal our faith if we allow it.

As I wrote in my book Battlefield of the Mind, many years ago I was extremely negative. I used to say that if I had two positive thoughts in a row, my mind would get in a cramp. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but that’s how I saw myself. I lived with the same philosophy that other people have: If we don’t expect anything good to happen, we won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t.

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Our Daily Bread — Loving Perfectly

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4–8

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 1–2; Mark 10:1–31

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.—1 Corinthians 13:7–8

Her voice shook as she shared the problems she was having with her daughter. Worried about her teenager’s questionable friends, this concerned mum confiscated her daughter’s mobile phone and chaperoned her everywhere. Their relationship seemed only to go from bad to worse.

When I spoke with the daughter, I discovered that she loves her mum dearly but is suffocating under a smothering love. She longs to break free.

As imperfect beings, we all struggle in our relationships. Whether we are a parent or child, single or married, we grapple with expressing love the right way, saying and doing the right thing at the right time. We grow in love throughout our lifetime.

In 1 Corinthians 13 the apostle Paul outlines what perfect love looks like. His standard sounds wonderful, but putting that love into practice can be absolutely daunting. Thankfully, we have Jesus as our example. As He interacted with people with varying needs and issues, He showed us what perfect love looks like in action. As we walk with Him, keeping ourselves in His love and steeping our mind in His Word, we’ll reflect more and more of His likeness. We’ll still make mistakes, but God is able to redeem them and cause good to come out of every situation, for His love “always protects” and it “never fails” (vv. 7-8). —Poh Fang Chia

Lord, our intentions are good but we fail each other in so many ways. Thank You for being our model in showing us how to live and love.

To show His love, Jesus died for us; to show our love, we live for Him.

INSIGHT: Do you ever find yourself hurting those you love, and maybe even forgetting in the emotion of the moment how much you really do care about them? If so, keep in mind that long before Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 he was an angry man who was mindlessly hurting the God he thought he knew and loved (Acts 9:1-6). So what brought about Paul’s change? First he needed to see how wrong he’d been about Jesus. He also needed to see that knowing the law is not the same as keeping it—and that he himself needed not only mercy but also the help of the Spirit of God to love others as God loved him. The Spirit who brought him from law to grace now invites and leads us into the loving patience and kindness that our Lord wants to express in and through us. Mart DeHaan

 

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Denison Forum – What Princess Leia says about us

Carrie Fisher’s death shocked the world yesterday. After she died, I spent some time learning about her life. What I found surprised me.

Fisher was an unlikely candidate for Star Wars fame. She was chosen over Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Jane Seymour, and several other famous actresses. Star Wars was her first movie; she was only twenty when it made her an international film star.

Surprisingly, she did not consider herself a good actress and hated her costumes, hair style, and dialogue in the Star Wars movies. At one point George Lucas nearly cut her from the script. She once said that she would have turned down the role of Princess Leia if she had known it would lead to such celebrity. In her memoir, Wishful Drinking, she tells her readers, “George Lucas ruined my life.”

It’s ironic that Princess Leia was so challenging to the actress who played her, yet the character became a global icon. What does her enduring popularity say about us?

We applaud self-sufficient heroes, especially when they are women. Audiences cheered when Princess Leia shot Imperial stormtroopers, stood up to Han Solo, and helped defeat the evil Empire. Think about our most popular fictional characters—how many of them overcame enormous odds to prevail against powerful foes?

In Poetics, Aristotle discusses the cathartic effect of drama, noting that when we watch a play, we feel what the actors feel. Their pain is our suffering, their victories our triumphs. When Princess Leia strangles Jabba the Hutt, we feel liberated from whatever enemy has enslaved us.

But then the movie ends, and we step from the darkened theater into the even darker world.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Into the Waste Land

“April is the cruellest month…” begins the first line of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. The poem is thought to be a portrayal of universal despair, where we lie in wait between the unrelenting force of spring and the dead contrast of winter, and the casualty of the warring seasons is eventually hope. In the bold display of life’s unending, futile circles, one can be left to wonder at the point of it all. Does everything simply fade into a waste land? Is death the last, desperate word? Perhaps it was somewhere between the war of winter and spring when the prophet reeled over life’s abrupt and senseless end. “In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years? For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise. The living, the living—they praise you as I am doing today.”(1)

Though differing in degree and conclusions, literature is unapologetically full of a sense of this deep irony, at times expressing itself in futility. Euripides, writing in the fifth century, remarks:

“…and so we are sick for life, and cling

On earth to this nameless and shining thing.

For other life is a fountain sealed,

And the deeps below us are unrevealed

And we drift on legends for ever.”(2)

Shakespeare, on the lips of Macbeth, is struck by the monotonous beat of time and the futile story it adds up to tell:

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Streams in the Desert for Kids – God’s Secrets

 

Psalm 25:14

Paleontologists study prehistoric life—that is, life that came before recorded history. They labor under harsh conditions, digging up ancient bones and fossils that help scientists understand more about God’s amazing diversity of creatures. This work isn’t easy: paleontologists work in the dust and the heat, digging slowly and carefully so they won’t damage any specimens. Because of this painstaking work, we have learned a great deal about life that came before us.

There are wonders and mysteries about God that we only get to know by being determined to learn about him. Those who fear God, dig deep into study about him, and pray and listen for his voice are the ones who get to know those secret mysteries and wonders. It’s like uncovering ancient bones or fossils that we didn’t even know existed until we started searching for them. Often people learn the most about God in hard times. What would you like to know about God and his great love?

Dear Lord, As I grow up, I want to know more about you. Please share your secrets, mysteries, and wonders with me. Amen.

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Salt-Block Christians

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 20-22

““In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

In the final paragraph of Revelation, John records these words of Jesus Christ: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (22:17). Here is a threefold invitation given by the Holy Spirit speaking through the Word of God; by the bride of Christ, His church; and by those who have already responded to Christ. To whom is this invitation given? To all who are thirsty.

When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, my dad would scatter large blocks of salt in the pasture where the milk cows grazed. Apparently, these cows needed salt that was not in their grain and hay. Shortly after the cow went to the salt lick, she would head for the water tank. And that is exactly what Jesus Christ wants for His people. If we are salt in the world, the way we live and the words we say should make the nonChristians around us thirsty for God.

I recall a family who wanted to lead one of their friends to Christ. They did all the usual things, even taking him to hear the gospel preached. One week they invited the guy over for dinner. The family did nothing special, just went about as they normally did. The kids were friendly and talkative at the meal, the father led in a prayer of thanksgiving for the food, the kids helped with the dishes, did their homework, and scurried off to bed.

Later that week, the man called and said he had become a Christian. The way the family lived had convinced him of his need for Christ.

Prayer

Lord, help me to be salt in the world, creating thirst for the Living Water. Amen.

To Ponder

My home, my lifestyle, and my responses to the difficulties of life affect how nonChristians perceive their need for Christ.

 

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – A Right View of Self

“Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6).

True confession involves a proper understanding of oneself.

The supreme goal pursued by many in our narcissistic culture is a “healthy” self-esteem. Even Christians have jumped on the self-esteem bandwagon, misconstruing Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 19:19) as a mandate for self-love. But the Bible nowhere commands us to pursue self-esteem; instead, it commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). In Psalm 51, David gives three reasons why holiness is imperative in the life of every Christian.

First, because of unbelievers. David knew he could be a witness for God only if his life was holy. In verse 13 he noted that it was only after God forgave him that he could “teach transgressors [God’s] ways” and see “sinners . . . converted to [Him].” “You are a chosen race,” Peter agrees, “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Nothing shuts a Christian’s mouth so tightly as guilt over unconfessed sin.

Second, because of God. In verse 14 David acknowledged that only when his life was pure could he praise God. He prayed, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness.” In verses 16-17 David attested that God desires holiness of life, not conformity to external ritual, in His children. When believers lead holy lives, God is pleased; when they sin, He is dishonored (2 Sam. 12:14).

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – A Right View of Self

BreakPoint –  The Dictatorship of Relativism: Absurdity Reigns–For Now

Does it kind of feel like folks have lost their minds?  That we’ve taken a collective walk through the looking glass and nothing is logical, nothing really makes sense? That you can look people square in the eye, assert a scientific, biological fact such as “if you have an x and a y chromosome and you have male sexual organs, then you are not a woman,” only to have them accuse you of being a hater or on the wrong side of history?

Or take abortion. Even some of the staunchest abortion supporters admit a fetus is a baby is a human being. But that doesn’t matter, because a woman has a right to do what she wants “with her own body.”

It’s sort of kooky. How have we reached this level of absurdity?

Well, as I explain in a recent article at Intercollegiate Review, welcome to “the dictatorship of relativism,” which, as Pope Benedict said, “does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”

As I explain in the article, I first encountered this kind of pervasive relativism as an undergraduate at Yale. I came from a working-class background, I actually believed in the truth, that it was beautiful, and worth living for and even dying for.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at Yale (whose motto is “Lux et Veritas”—Latin for “light and truth”), to find out that much of the faculty and student body didn’t believe in Truth with a capital “T”. No, there were many truths, which of course told me that there was really no truth at all.

Chuck Colson said to test the validity of a worldview, follow it to its logical conclusion. The logical conclusion of relativism is absurdity. Non-sense. A worldview that undermines its own premises.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  The Dictatorship of Relativism: Absurdity Reigns–For Now

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