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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Means of Grace

Charles H. Spurgeon

From the pen of Charles H. Spurgeon:

Happy is the nation which is blessed with the means of grace. No man was ever saved by the means of grace apart from the Holy Spirit. You may hear the sermons of the man whom God delights to honor; you may select from all your divines the writings of the man whom God did bless with a double portion of his Holy Spirit; you may attend every meeting for prayer; you may turn over the pages of his blessed book; but in all this, there is no life for the soul apart from the breath of the Divine Spirit. Use these means, we exhort you to use them, and use them diligently; but remember that in none of these means is there anything that can benefit you unless God the Holy Spirit shall own and crown them. These are like the conduit pipes of the market place; when the fountain-head flows with the water then they are full, and we do derive a blessing from them; but if the stream is held back, if the fountain head does cease to give forth its current, then these are wells without water, clouds without rain; and you may go to ordinances as an Arab turns to his skin bottle when it is dry, and with your parched lips you may suck the wind and drink the whirlwind, but receive neither comfort, nor blessing, nor instruction, from the means of grace.

It Is Not Politically Correct To Have Best Friends

Jonah Goldberg

From the desk of Jonah Goldberg:

I read a profoundly depressing story in the New York Times about how ‘some educators and other professionals who work with children’ don’t think kids should have best friends. ‘I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,’ said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at a St. Louis day school. ‘We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends. Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,’ she continued. ‘We say he doesn’t need a best friend.’ As a result of this thinking, best friends are broken up. Buddies are put on separate teams, assigned different classes, etc. It’s not quite the sort of thing cult leaders and North Korean prison guards do, but in principle it’s not too far off either. The response from across the ideological spectrum on the Web has mostly been outrage and disgust. … For the record, I think removing best friends from childhood is a barbarous and inhumane act. . . .

Read more here. . . .

All Good Is In Jesus Christ

John Calvin

From John Calvin’s Preface to the French Bible (1539):

“All good which could be thought or desired is to be found in Jesus Christ alone.

For He was humbled to exalt us, He became a slave to free us,

He became poor to enrich us; He was sold to redeem us,

Made captive for our deliverance, condemned for our absolution;

He was made a curse for our blessing, an offering for sin for our righteousness,

He was marred that we might be restored, He died for our life.

So that by Him harshness is softened, anger appeased, darkness made light,

Injustice justified, weakness made strong, dejection consoled,

Sin prevented, scorn despised, fear made sure,

Debt canceled, toil made light, sadness rejoiced,

Misfortune made blessed, difficulty eased, disorder ordered,

Division united, disgrace made noble, rebellion quelled,

Threats threatened, ambushes uncovered, assaults assailed,

Effort weakened, combat combated, war warred against,

Vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned,

Hell held prisoner, death done to death and immortality made immortal.”

Terrorism In Arizona

From a report by Katie Pavlich:

It seems as though illegal immigration advocates will never be satisfied. After Judge Susan Bolton blocked the most controversial parts of SB 1070, essentially taking out all real power from the bill, a group known as “Freedom for Arizona,” committed an act of domestic terrorism by spreading out over 15 tires connected by rope and covered in tar, a banner, brown paint and shards of broken glass across I-19 in Arizona, a busy interstate with a 65 mph speed limit covering approximately 70 miles between Tucson and Nogales. This action not only stopped all traffic flow, but could have killed innocent people in the process.

The goal of the tires, glass and paint was to stop all deportations back to Mexico as well as stopping all capital flow to damage the economy. The banner placed across the interstate read, “Stop All Militarization! The Border is Illegal!”

Continue reading. . . .

Robert Heinlein On Tyranny

Quoting American science fiction writer Robert Heinlein:

“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”

Why The Aims Of The Church Can Become Perverted

E. M. Bounds

One of the devil’s most insidious and successful methods to deceive is to lure the Church toward worldliness while misleading her through a false spirituality. Satan may appear as an angel of light as he leads the soul to death. The strength of the Church lies in its piety, not in numbers and programs. It is popular today, however to call a church strong when its membership is large, when it has social position, financial resources; when the pews are filled by fashion, intelligence, money and influence. The church that defines its strength in such a way is on the highway to apostasy. The strength of the Church does not consist of any of these things. Faith, holiness and zeal are the elements of power in the church. E. M. Bounds writes in his article, “The Devil and the Church,” that:

The devil is too wise, too large in mental grasp, too lordly in ambition, to confine his aims to the individual. He seeks to direct the policy and sway the scepter of nations. In his largest freedom, and in his delirium of passion and success, ‘he goes out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth.’ He is an adept in deception, an expert in all guileful arts. An archangel in execution, he often succeeds in seducing the nations most loyal to Christ, leading them into plans and principles which pervert and render baneful all Christly principles. The Church itself, the bride of Christ, when seduced from her purity, degenerates into a worldly ecclesiasticism.

The ‘gates of hell shall not prevail’ against the Church. This promise of our Lord stands against every Satanic device and assault: But this immutable word as to the glorious outcome does not protect the Church from the devil’s stratagems which may, and often do, pervert the aims of the Church and postpone the day of its final triumph.

The devil is a hydra-headed monster, but he is hydra-headed in plans and wisdom as well as in monstrosities. His master and supreme effort is to get control of the Church, not to destroy its organization, but to abate and pervert its Divine ends. This he does in the most insidious way, seemingly innocent, no startling change, nothing to shock nor to alarm. Sometimes the revolutionizing and destructive change is introduced under the disguise of a greater zeal for Christ’s glory. Introduced by some one high in church honor, often it occurs that the advocate of these measures is totally ignorant of the fact that the tendency is subversive.

Muslim Justice

When not complaining about ”Islamophobia’, the Muslim community busies itself with racking up dead Christians. Two weeks ago, a young family was beaten to death by an Islamic mob in Pakistan. Last week, a Pentecostal pastor was gunned down in Russia. Christian children were hacked to death in Nigeria over the weekend. And, on Monday, two Christian brothers falsely accused of blasphemy were murdered while in handcuffs outside a courtroom (pictured).

Find out more here. . . .

Are The Children Of Illegal Aliens Born In The USA Really US Citizens?

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce

From the desk of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce:

The 14th Amendment states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This clause was added specifically for the purpose of ensuring that the children of freed slaves would receive American citizenship.

The drafters of this Amendment made it very clear that this was not intended for illegal aliens. One of the Amendment’s proponents, Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan, stated that the Citizenship Clause:

“will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, explained that:

“The provision is, that ‘all persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.’ That means ‘subject to the complete jurisdiction thereof.’ … What do we mean by ‘subject to the jurisdiction of the United States?’ Not owing allegiance to anybody else. That is what it means.”

The fact that illegal aliens come here in spite of our laws and fly Mexican flags in protest is a pretty sure sign that they do not owe sole allegiance to this country and should not be covered by the 14th Amendment for the purpose of citizenship.

In 1898, the Supreme Court ruled that the Citizenship Clause applied to children of legal immigrants awaiting US Citizenship. They have not, however, ruled that the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship for everyone.

Read more. . . .

The Highest Value

Augustine

Quoting Augustine:

“Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all.”

Ronald Reagan On The American Dream

Quoting President Ronald Reagan

“The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”

James Madison On Effectual Precautions

James Madison

Quoting James Madison:

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.”

Selfishness And Self-Denial

Richard Baxter

Self-denial is not a frequent topic of discussion in Christian circles these days. It is also not a very welcome topic in our culture at large. Nevertheless, the low status that has been given this discipline is the enemy of our souls. We are quickly deceived by selfish desires. Of all the other vices it is the hardest to cure. Richard Baxter writes:

You hear ministers tell you of the odiousness and danger and sad effects of sin; but of all the sins that you ever heard of, there is scarce any more odious and dangerous than selfishness, and yet I doubt there are many that never were much troubled at it, nor sensible of its malignity. My principal request therefore to you is, that as ever you would prove Christians indeed, and be saved from sin and the damnation which follows it, take heed of this deadly sin of selfishness, and be sure you are possessed with true self-denial; and if you have, see that you use and live upon it.

And for your help herein, I shall tell you how your self-denial must be tried. I shall only tell you in a few words, how the least measure of true self-denial may be known. And in one word that is thus: Wherever the interest of carnal self is stronger and more predominant habitually than the interest of God, of Christ, of everlasting life, there is no true self-denial or saving grace; but where God’s interest is strongest, there self-denial is sincere. If you further ask me how this may be known, briefly thus:

1. What is it that you live for? What is that good which your mind is principally set to obtain? And what is that end which you principally design and endeavor to obtain, and which you set your heart on, and lay out your hopes upon? Is it the pleasing and glorifying of God, and the everlasting fruition of Him? Or is it the pleasing of your fleshly mind in the fruition of any inferior thing? Know this, and you may know whether self or God have the greatest interest in you. For that is your God which you love most, and please best, and would do most for.

2. Which do you set most by, the means of your salvation and of the glory of God, or the means of providing for self and flesh? Do you set more by Christ and holiness, which are the way to God; or by riches, honor, and pleasures, which gratify the flesh? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.

3. If you are truly self-denying, you are ordinarily ruled by God, and His Word and Spirit, and not by the carnal self. Which is the rule and master of your lives? Whose word and will is it ordinarily that prevails? When God draws, and self draws, which do you follow in the tenor of your life? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.

Running Away From The Plantation

Pray That You May Be Kept From Error

6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16)

In the words of Bishop J. C. Ryle:

In these days, when we are especially called upon to cleave firmly to the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, let us be careful that our zeal for Protestantism does not puff us up, and make us proud. Let us never say in our self-conceit, “I shall never fall into the errors . . . [of] any New Theology. Those views will never suit me.” Let us remember that many have begun well and run well for a season, and yet afterwards turned aside out of the right way. Let us be careful that we are spiritual men as well as Protestants, and real friends of Christ as well as enemies of antichrist. Let us pray that we may be kept from error, and never forget that the twelve Apostles themselves were the men to whom the Great Head of the Church addressed these words: “Be careful and be on your guard.”

The danger of which He warns them is false doctrine. He says nothing about the sword of persecution, or the love of money, or the love of pleasure. All these things no doubt were perils and snares to which the souls of the Apostles were exposed; but against these things our Lord raises no warning voice here. His warning is confined to one single point: “The yeast of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” We are not left to conjecture what our Lord meant by that word “yeast.” The Holy Spirit, a few verses after the very text on which I am now dwelling, tells us plainly that by yeast was meant the “doctrine” of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Do We Need One Great Leader?

Written by Bojidar Marinov:

The personality cult, the One Great Leader Who Leads the Masses has never been a Conservative value. It certainly has never been a Christian value. The very idea of Conservatism—and especially the American type Christian Conservatism—has always been suspicious toward a system where one person focuses the hopes and the expectations of the movement and leads them according to his will or goals. Christianity has always been firm that there is only one legitimate Leader—Jesus Christ—and He leads through His Holy Spirit. All human leaders are by default imperfect, fallible, and all of them need to be under close scrutiny and healthy criticism by the very people they lead into battle.

It is by no coincidence that we in America don’t have One Great Founding Father. Although we honor George Washington somewhat above the others, we talk about our Founding Fathers, many Fathers. It wasn’t one person that organized and led the First American Revolution, it was a constellation of local leaders who inspired, taught, encouraged their countrymen to fight against tyranny. They all contributed their share, and even though they weren’t always in agreement with each other, or sometimes even disliked one another personally, they were able to work together for the common cause, and they worked and fought like one man, with only Jesus Christ being their Leader and Captain. Compared to other revolutions in other nations, America did not have its Napoleon, nor its Bismarck, nor its Lenin, or Stalin, or Mao, or Atatürk, or Hussein. It was a collective effort of free individuals, each one educated and competent and committed, and willing to contribute their talents and effort to the victory over tyranny.

Even more than that, while we talk today about those political leaders as our Founding Fathers, in reality the real leadership was in the hands of the multitude of Presbyterian, Baptist, and Congregationalist preachers and ministers in the small villages and the coastal cities of the colonies. George Washington’s army did not almost freeze to death at Valley Forge for the sheer fear or worship of him as a military hero—he was still to prove as one. The peasant boys and young craftsmen’s apprentices were motivated by a call to a higher purpose in life; and such a call could come only from their pastors, for no politician can ever promise higher purpose in life. It was the “black regiment” of preachers who made it possible, and today we don’t even remember most of the names of those preachers who made America possible.

No, there wasn’t one person, One Leader who did it all. There was a generation of leaders with one purpose and one vision.

Continue reading. . . .

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