Sky Links, 12-15-18

The dark side of the pastorate: being fired (emphasis mine)
Many pastors are being fired this Christmas season.
I know. I see it every year. I deal with it every year.
To be clear, I cannot be certain pastor terminations accelerate at Christmas. Perhaps the numbers seem high since the timing is so insidious. Regardless, these considerations apply regardless of the time of year.
  1. Many pastor firings occur because one or a few malcontents are spreading rumors. Please check the sources of these rumors. Please ask people other than the malcontents and bullies.
  2.  A number of pastor firings occur due to underhanded actions by other staff. I know of one situation where the executive pastor did not like the leadership of the pastor, so he worked in darkness with the personnel committee to get the pastor fired. The personnel committee never asked for the pastor’s side of the conflict.
  3. Many pastors are fired without any explanation. I am surprised how often this reality transpires. Typically, the personnel committee or similar group tells the pastors they will not get a severance if they challenge them or question them.
  4. Very few pastors get adequate severance when they are fired. It typically takes several months for a pastor to find a job. Severance often runs out before then.
  5. Your church is labeled as a “preacher-eating” church. Your church’s reputation and witness are hurt in the community. You will wonder why other pastors decline to interview for the open position. They know. They’ve heard what you did.
  6. If you had been willing to be patient and Christ-like, pastors would likely seek another job without your firing them. If you let pastors know their job is in jeopardy and give them six to nine months to find another position, many will do so. Pastors can always find another church much easier if they have a church. And the church avoids the pain, conflict, and dirtied reputation that comes with firing a pastor.
Six Considerations Before You Fire Your Pastor This Christmas -Thom S. Rainer

The Opioid Epidemic


How long-term pastors can avoid getting in ruts (Karl Vaters)

As someone who celebrates 26 years at the same church this month, here are the top 5 dangers I’m constantly trying to avoid, in no particular order:
1. Getting Stuck In A Rut
2. Getting Stuck In A Rut
3. Getting Stuck In A Rut
4. Getting Stuck In A Rut
5. Getting Stuck In A Rut
Yeah, that’s about it. If you can stay out of that rut, a long-term pastorate is best for everyone. So, how do we avoid getting stuck?
Here are a handful of lessons I keep learning that help me stay fresh, excited and forward-looking after two and a half decades at the same church.

Stay Curious
If the pastor isn’t learning and growing, the congregation will be able to tell. Maybe before we can....

Listen More Than You Talk
 People may get tired of hearing you talk, but they’ll never get tired of having you listen...

Entrust Ministry To Younger Leaders
 The youth are not the church of tomorrow. Tomorrow is too late.
 They’re the church of today....

Encourage Ministry Styles That You Don’t Like
Years ago, I heard a piece of wisdom from a retiring pastor that has stuck with me ever since. In referring to the new songs and instruments being used in the church, he said “I’ve learned to worship Jesus singing songs I don’t like.”...

Be Approachable And Correctable
Is anyone in your church allowed to tell you you’re wrong? Other than your spouse? If not, you and the church are in a dangerous place....

Equip, Equip, Equip 
Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders. They equip God’s people to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) instead of using them to do our bidding...
The 5 Biggest Dangers of a Long-Term Pastorate and How to Avoid Them
-Karl Vaters

Anti Alzheimer's Diet: More Fat Less Sugar! Foods to Help Prevent Dementia 
-Dr. David Perlmutter

Bible Gateway 2018
Out of more than 2 billion pageviews conducted by visitors to Bible Gateway during 2018, the most popular verse for the year was Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

2. John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
3. Philippians 4:13 — I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
4. Romans 8:28 — And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
5. Psalm 23:4 — Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
6. Romans 12:2 — Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
7. Psalm 23:6 — Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
8. Psalm 23:1 — The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
9. Psalm 23:5 — You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
10. Matthew 6:33 — But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Bible Gateway: Year in Review -Jonathan Petersen

YouVersion 2018

The most read verse in the United States:
Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you;do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
The most popular verse in other countries:

ArgentinaJoshua 1:9
AustraliaJeremiah 29:11
BangladeshJohn 3:16
BrazilJoshua 1:9
CanadaJeremiah 29:11
ChileIsaiah 41:10
ChinaProverbs 4:23
ColombiaJoshua 1:9
Egypt1 Peter 5:7
FranceIsaiah 41:10
GermanyJoshua 1:9
GhanaJeremiah 29:11
India1 Peter 5:7
IndonesiaJeremiah 29:11
Iraq1 Peter 5:7
ItalyIsaiah 41:10
JapanJeremiah 29:11
KoreaProverbs 16:9
MexicoJoshua 1:9
NepalJohn 3:16
NetherlandsIsaiah 41:10
NigeriaJeremiah 29:11
PeruIsaiah 41:10
PhilippinesJeremiah 29:11
RussiaProverbs 4:23
Singapore Jeremiah 29:11
South AfricaIsaiah 41:10
SpainIsaiah 41:10
ThailandMatthew 6:33
TurkeyJohn 3:16
UAEJeremiah 29:11
UkraineRomans 8:28
United KingdomJeremiah 29:11
United StatesIsaiah 41:10
VietnamMatthew 6:33

YouVersion 2018 Key Stats 

Pinterest is censoring anti-vaccine pins
The popular image-sharing social media website Pinterest is blocking pins that provide safety information about vaccines, or question whether or not legislation should be passed to mandate vaccines....

The vaccination question is not settled in the medical community

Where do licensed physicians who practice medicine in the U.S. stand today regarding the current vaccine debate to remove informed consent to vaccines? This is one area of the debate where you are not likely to hear both sides in the mainstream media.
Mainstream media, for the most part, is biased in its coverage of the current vaccine debate when it comes to the issue of removing informed consent, and not allowing parents to exempt their children from vaccines. The debate is positioned as parents against doctors, with parents supposedly representing emotional pleas, while doctors are supposedly unified in stating that “the science is settled” regarding vaccines, and universally in favor of mandatory vaccination policy removing parental exemptions.
However, nothing could be further from the truth in the vaccine debate. Doctors are not unified at all on their positions regarding “the science” of vaccines, nor are they unified in the position of removing informed consent to a medical procedure like vaccines.
Pinterest Censoring Anti-Vaccine Doctors and Pins Related to Vaccine Rights
Medical Doctors Opposed to Forced Vaccinations – Should Their Views be Silenced?
-Brian Shilhavy

The Church Is Growing in Syria. Turkey Wants to Kill It.

In the Federation of Northern Syria, new Christians are safe. For now. My good friend Bassam visited one of their churches in Kobane. He reports that the building is already too small for all the souls flocking to Christ. Bassam told me:

I was struggling to control my emotions and hold back tears. I couldn’t believe that I was on Syrian soil attending a legal church service for Kurdish converts to Christianity. This miracle in the heart of the Middle East is possible thanks to the freedom in The Federation to convert and be Christian in all openness. We all know what the Turkish jihadists will do to them (if they are allowed to) and these new Christians do fear that day.
If Turkey defies Donald Trump, and if Trump does not stop Erdogan, these churches will burn; these Christians will die.

 An Assyrian Christian from Tal Nasri said: “If Erdogan is allowed to attack this place, no Christian will remain here.” One Turkish newspaper claims that Turkey plans to occupy 40 kilometers into Syria. That would mean the end of Christianity in North-East Syria, where it has existed since the Apostles. Every Christian Syrian settlement would fall to the Turks.

Trump Warns Erdogan Not to Wipe Out Syrian Christians. Will Turks Defy America? 
-Johannes De Jong


Sky Links, 12-8-18

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
-Matthew 15:8

Chris Pratt talks about Father's love at Disneyland!

Europeans Rejecting Globalist Agenda
NBC attempted to cast the rioters’ rage as class warfare over policies that favor the rich over the poor. ABC told its viewers the riots were caused by a simple “fuel tax”. Neither network dared mention the truth about these riots, which is that they are a backlash against taxes on carbon being imposed thanks to the French government’s commitments made under the Paris Climate Accords.
And guess what? The French are not the only people who are rejecting government efforts to seize their money and property as a fool’s means of “doing something” to fight the nebulous concept of “climate change.”
One of the main reasons why Angela Merkel is stepping down as Chancellor of Germany in the coming months is because the population there has become enraged by the massively higher utility costs imposed on them by Merkel’s Energiewende initiative that attempted to transform the country’s power sector from burning coal to getting electricity from hundreds of thousands of giant windmills.
In Canada, the province of Ontario is suing to halt the imposition of a federal carbon tax that child Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is attempting to impose, a tax that threatens to destroy that country’s economy. Just a few weeks ago, the voters in Washington State resoundingly rejected the Democrat-controlled government’s attempt to impose what would have been the first statewide carbon tax in the United States.
The riots in Paris are just the latest signal that we are coming to a real inflection point in the global climate scam. The Globalist community latched onto what they first called “global warming” and later shifted to “climate change” 30 years ago as their newest rationalization for the imposition of worldwide socialism. It is no accident at all that literally every proposed “solution” to “climate change” for the last three decades involves seizing the money and property of individuals so that the ruling class can “do something” about the “problem,” a problem which constantly evolves and which they can never seem to quite describe in a way the average person can understand.
But despite their increasingly shrill and desperate efforts at brainwashing, the public has never embraced this “climate change” as an issue of major concern. In every poll taken that asks voters to list the issues they are most concerned about, “climate change” always, without exception, ranks at or near the bottom.
The Paris Riots are a Rejection of Climate-Imposed Socialism -David Blackmon

Absurd Facebook censorship
Censorship on Facebook has reached a level of absurdity. Even seemingly innocuous Christmas images are considered too graphic for sensitive users.
A post with over 11,000 shares dating back to 2015 was given a blackout covering, with the words over it, “This photo may show violent or graphic content.” But instead of a gory image or a disturbing picture underneath it, there was a painting of Santa Claus kneeling at the manger, worshiping the infant Jesus. When the photo was uncovered, the caption read, “This photo was automatically covered so you can decide if you want to see it.”

Facebook censors Santa kneeling in front of baby Jesus as 'violent' -Corinne Weaver

Why we aren't ready for revival, in North America (Chuck Lawless)
Here’s why I wonder if the North American church will experience revival:
  1. We’re not really desperate for God. We may use that kind of “desperation” terminology, but the words don’t always reflect our heart. It’s been some time since I’ve seen a congregation that pleads for God’s presence.
  2. We tend to speak about the sin of others rather than deal with our own sin. We preach strongly against sins that we sometimes tolerate under our own roof. Few people are so broken over personal sin that they can only cry out to God.
  3. We find happiness in our stuff. Sure, we know it’s all fleeting, but we treat it as if it weren’t. The more stuff we have, the “happier” we feel and the less we need God – and we often have much more stuff than people around the world do.
  4. We know little of the Word of God and often less about church history. We don’t know enough about the stories of God’s miraculous intervention and powerful displays to long to see the same. Our general lack of knowledge equates to a corresponding lack of burden.
  5. We have too few persevering, patient, persistent prayer warriors. Our praying is usually reactionary; that is, we pray only when we must. Not many of us lie on our faces pleading with God to fall on us with His power.
  6. We can grow churches without the power of God. That growth may not be the result of non-believers gloriously transformed by the grace of God, but it still results in increased numbers. And, churches that show any record of growth seldom begin praying for revival.
  7. We’re probably not ready to pay the cost of revival. When God falls on us in His power, the result must be a brokenness that leads to repentance from sin and weeping over lostness. It means calling the church to holiness and dealing appropriately with members who choose to live in rebellion. Revival often wounds first before it heals – and I’m simply not convinced the North American church is ready for that.

What are your thoughts?
I’d say just the opposite. Richard Lovelace in his book Dynamics of Spiritual Life, says that over the past 300 years in the British Isles and USA, whenever the Church was as sick and impotent as It is today, there has ALWAYS been a widespread awakening. -Dave MacCarthy
I couldn’t agree more with the assessment of the current condition of the North American Church. Fortunately God has usually not waited for the right conditions but responded to the hearts of a remnant crying out in desperation for Him to visit His people again. -Alec Rowlands
I don’t think I disagree with anything you write here. This is what drives me to my knees. It is a large part of why I preach. Call me foolish, but I think there is perhaps a remnant of His people in North America that want to see revival. May our sovereign God be gracious and send revival.
“Come, and let us return to the Lord” – Hosea 6:1 -Heath Lloyd
As for #4, God’s miraculous interventions include Purim and Passover/Exodus which are rarely mentioned in Evangelicalism. Even though they happened long ago, they are times when God acted and everyone knew it. -Mark
Thank you for this bold and truthful post. I wonder if a local church may experience revival even if revival doesn’t sweep a region or nation. Could these missing preludes to revival be present in a local church but not the wider church? -Scotty
Why the North American Church is Unlikely to See Revival -Chuck Lawless

A recommended book for pastors with depression 
At about 200 pages, this book functioned as a kind of litmus test for me. Am I well enough to give the time and energy to read a book on this when it is for me? I know there have been days and seasons where a book this thorough would have scared me away. Some days, I wouldn’t have had the strength or motivation to even pick it up. Don’t be surprised if you say that it’s too technical (it’s not all stories), that it takes too much energy (it’s not a pamphlet), or that it’s too much to bear (it engages the reader personally).
Meynell’s book is set apart from others in another particular way. Without forsaking biblical instruction, wise counsel, and clear thinking, Meynell offers freedom to shamelessly engage depression more than other books. I’m thinking of other incredible books like Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd Jones, Depression by Ed Welch, When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper, and How Long, O Lord? by D. A. Carson. Each of these books offers priceless counsel and consolation. Pastors should read them carefully and be trained by them! But I think Meynell connects more immediately to a pastor who is suffering depression today.
Reading this book is like having a seasoned counselor put his arm around your shoulder and say, “Let’s talk. I’ll tell you my story first.” Meynell is a friend who offers wise and pointed counsel. Simply put, this book isn’t meant to equip pastors for pastoral ministry to a depressed world. It’s a book for pastors who wrestle with depression themselves. What joy to know such a book exists!
Book Review: When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend, by Mark Meynell -Nathan Loudin

Lessons for would be missionaries from John Chau's murder
The recent killing of a 26-year-old U.S. missionary, John Allen Chau, on a remote island in India has raised many questions about global evangelical Protestant missions.
Chau was on a personal mission to convert the Sentinelese, a protected tribe who have avoided contact with the rest of the world. Indian ships monitor the waters to stop outsiders from approaching them. Chau, however, is reported to have asked fishermen to take him illegally to the island where the Sentinelese live. The Sentinelese are reported to have shot and killed him with arrows.
As my research on missionaries shows, this often unwise haste to evangelize the world was the founding characteristic of evangelical missions in the late 19th century.
John Chau may have been influenced by past evangelical missions and their belief in power of faith -William Cameron Townsend

Kevin DeYoung was wrong when he cheeped, "One of the acceptable idolatries among evangelical Christians is the idolatry of the family"
Pastor DeYoung is solid theologically and in most areas of orthopraxy, but the question still remains: Is family one of the acceptable idols among evangelicals today?

How do we determine if this statement is true? The answer is a rather simple one...we examine the evidence. We take a look at the claim made and the facts that are used to support it then determine whether that claim is valid or a strawman. Unfortunately, Pastor DeYoung does not provide tangible evidence in his short article. But this is understandable since it was meant to clarify his tweet and not qualify it.

The problem though is that this is not really something we can gather evidence from without a research survey of sorts. The only survey of recent that might shed light on this is from The State of Theology. Statement number 20 words it this way: "Worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church". 58% of respondents agreed with this statement while 30% disagreed. Could this be the lone smoking gun to claim the family is an idol? Not really!

First, the assumption of the question presupposes that a proper view of church membership is understood. The phrase "attending church" comes with a lot of baggage that assumes simply being in the location where the local assembly meets to worship is actually worship itself. Notice as well that worship is only referenced in regards to doing so with one's family and not with the local church. A better way of stating this would have been to contend the two locations of worship (at home with your family v. the location where your local church meets) against one another. While some may believe this is implied, as one who has taken countless workplace surveys in the military I can assure you that precise wording is key to precise results.

Are there stories of families that have weighed church "attendance" against their family events and fallen in favor of the latter? Yes, just like there are some who have favored against attending church so they can....well...just fill in the blank. Live in an earlier timezone and the game is one right when services are supposed to start? Had a long workweek with more overtime than you can bear and Sunday is your only day off? Lots of studying for those mid-terms that kick off on Monday? You can literally come up with just about any reasoning that someone would use to excuse themselves from corporate worship on the Lord's Day corporate.

Of course, absenteeism on the Lord's Day for the sake of family isn't the only issue Pastor DeYoung highlights but none can be offered with tangible evidence as to their validity or substantiation as to why they qualify his tweet. Perhaps what he tweeted was truly more out of frustration from what he has personally seen in recent times in his own pastoring but that alone is not enough. In fact, I would propose that the evidence proves that the opposite is true of what Pastor DeYoung claims. The family isn't an accepted idol because most just simply don't care about the family either way.

Why Kevin DeYoung is wrong about the family idol -Adam Gray

The Law of Freedom and Living in Mercy

Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
-James 2:12-13

5 or 6 years ago, I got a revelation from God that in the future, we would live in mercy.  I posted this on facebook, got a little bit of positive feedback; and went on.  But I thought about mercy.  It is an important word in the Bible.

Mercy occurs 112 times in my CSB translation.  56 times in both the OT and NT.

I looked up Mercy in the Theopedia:
The term mercy may designate both character and actions that emerge as a consequence of that character. As a part of character, mercy is demonstrated most clearly by such qualities as compassion and forbearance. With respect to action an act of mercy issues from compassion and forbearance; in a legal sense mercy may involve such acts as pardon, forgiveness, or the mitigation of penalties.^ [1]^ In each case mercy is experienced and exercised by a person who has another person in his power, or under his authority, or from whom no kindness can be claimed. Thus God may show mercy toward human beings, who are all ultimately within his power, even though they have no direct claim, in terms of their behavior, to attitudes or actions of mercy. And a human being may be merciful another, to whom neither compassion nor forbearance is due, by free act of though toward that person.^ [2]^
From a theological perspective the characteristic of mercy is rooted in God and experienced in relation to God, from whom it may be acquired as a Christian virtue and exercised in relation to fellow human beings.^[3]^ In the Bible a variety of Hebrew and Greek words are used which fall within the general semantic range of the English word "mercy." They include such terms as "lovingkindness" (Heb. ?esed), "to be merciful" (Heb. ??nan), "to have compassion" (Heb. ri?am), and "grace" (Gr. charis).^[4]^
In the OT, mercy (in the sense of lovingkindness) is a central theme; the very existence of the covenant between God and Israel was an example of mercy, being granted to Israel freely and without prior obligation on the part of God (Ps. 79:8-9; Isa. 63:7). Insofar as the covenant was rooted in divine love, mercy was an ever-present quality of the relationship it expressed; the law, which formed a central part of the covenant relationship, cam with the promise of forgiveness and mercy, contingent upon repentance, for the breaking of that law.^[5]^ Yet the divine mercy extended beyond the obligations of the covenant, so that even when Israel's sin had exhausted the covenantal category of mercy, still the loving mercy of God reached beyond the broken covenant in its promise and compassion to Israel.^[6]^
With the new covenant the mercy of God is seen in the death of Jesus Christ; the sacrificial death is in itself a merciful act, demonstrating the divine compassion and making possible the forgiveness of sins. From this fundamental gospel there follows the requirement for all Christians, who are by definition the recipients of mercy, to exercise mercy and compassion toward fellow human beings (Matt. 5:7; James 2:13).^[7]^
Throughout Christian history the awareness of the continuing human need for divine mercy has remained as a central part of Christian worship. The kyrie eleison of the ancient church has continued to be used in many liturgical forms of worship: "Lord, have mercy upon us; Christ, have mercy upon us; Lord have mercy upon us." And from the prayer emploed in worship for God's mercy, there must follow the practice of mercy in life.^[8]^
  1. Rudolf Bultmann, "Mercy" Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1964), 2:477-87.
  2. Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961).
  3. Colin Brown, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1975), 2:593-601.
  4.  Ibid.
  5. H. Köster, "Compassion" Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1964), 7:548-59.
  6. Nelson Glueck, Hesed in the Bible, (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1967).
  7. W. L. Reed, Journal of Biblical Literature, (Chico, Calif.: Scholar's Press, 1881), 23:35-41.
  8. Norman H. Snaith, The Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, (New York: Schocken Books, 1964).

Yesterday, I came across a sermon that Mike Bickle preached right after Donald Trump won the election, two years ago, titled, Responding after the election of Donald Trump.

In his sermon, he makes two big points:

  1. The transforming power of God's mercy
  2. Above all things, express love, grace, and mercy

Mike's first verse, to support his message, is James 2:13, "Mercy triumphs over judgement".

Mike says this means, "Mercy triumphs over judgement  -spiritually, emotionally, relationally, economically, physically, etc.", and that, "In this verse, judgement speaks of unhelpful criticism, accusation, uncovering faults, whispering, etc."

Mike addressed the anger and hate on both sides and said that what we need is mercy.  Mike said (I am paraphrasing) that while Trump was not ideal, for many Christians, that it was God's mercy that Hillary Clinton was not elected.

The point Mike made, when preaching on James 2:13, in the first part of his sermon, is that, in this time,  showing mercy, instead of judgmentalism, is what is called for.

"Mercy triumphs over judgement", does not mean some sort of universalism, where God forgives sinners, without their repentance.  What it does mean is that believers choose to live in mercy, rather than judgement.

The Bible says, "Judge not", which means "Don't condemn".  When you step on my toes or steal something from me, or when someone hurts people, or does terrible things to children, we definitely judge them, want them to stop, to be judged, as in have authorities deal with them.

When someone runs a red light and puts other cars and pedestrians in jeopardy, we can judge them as not only foolish, but wrong.  And there are many things people do, that we can say, "That's evil", and not be judgemental.

But when that person runs the red light and we think or say, "Jackass!", of something worse, we are judging wrongly.

My dad's best friend, Gus Solomon, wrote and recorded a song, called "Weeping for the mugger", in the 1970's or early 80's, that no one was interested in.

The chorus goes like this:
Oh they're weeping for the mugger. with sympathy profound
They say that he's the only victim, not the fellow on on the ground  
There is something called "Unsanctified mercy", where our mercy extends beyond God's and it is wrong.  This is how someone defined it, on a Bible forum board:
The way I understand it, 'unsanctified mercy' refers to dealing out 'mercy' when discipline or judgement is required by God.
For example, in 1 Samuel 15, King Saul is commanded by God to attack the Amalekites and completely destroy them, sparing no one, man or beast (v.3). God says to do it because he is going to 'punish them for what they to Israel when they waylaid them as they were coming up from Egypt' (v3)
However, Saul spares the king, Agag, and the best of his cattle - the unsanctified mercy. For his sin, God rejects Saul as King of Israel. Saul confesses his sin, and then carries out the Lord's judgement on Agag.
So 'undeserved' has nothing to do with it - no one deserves mercy. It is when an unrepentant individual who has willfully sinned is shown mercy when God has said that they must be disciplined.
So say Hitler was pardoned for his war crimes, even though he was given many chances to back down. That would be unsanctified mercy. Or say a brother in the church willfully continues in an adulterous relationship and refuses to repent. Biblically, he should be asked to leave the church. Unsanctified mercy would be to pardon him, though he does not repent.
Charlie Shelf wrote an article, in which he gives examples of unsanctified mercy, that some Christians embrace today:
Unsanctified mercy leads the church down pathways of compromise, irrelevance and ineffective witness. Here are some of the ways compassion is fogging the vision of well-meaning believers:
Sexual ethics and identity: ...we must promote celibacy for singles and fidelity for heterosexual, monogamous marriage, even when it is hard and unpopular.
Economic justice: So many well-meaning believers fall into soft socialist and redistributionist ideologies in the name of fairness, ignoring the factors that lead to human flourishing. ...(See the new award-winning Acton Institute feature presentation, “Poverty Inc.” as well as the video series)... Personal virtue and private property, the rule of law and access to markets are the structural changes that will liberate the creativity and prosperity God’s intends for his creation. Crony capitalism is the great weakness of both conservative and progressive political powers, with local business owners and workers left in the dust. Reparations are just a slogan without accountability and stewardship. Welfare without work dehumanizes recipients. 
Climate change and ecological policies: The science is not settled and thoughtful believers should “follow the money and power” as globalists attempt to extract more wealth from the West for the rest with no participation from the Chinese, Indian and Russian empires.  ...Somewhere between unbridled exploitation and elitist global governance is true stewardship. The Body of Christ must point the way.
Racial Reconciliation: ...We must exchange suspicion for openness and anger for humility. When someone speaks about morality, work ethics and personal responsibility, it is not always “code” for racism. Conversely, those in power must understand the institutional injustices and social barriers keeping many from flourishing. I commend the irenic works of Anthony Bradley and Chris Brooks for ways forward that get past the polemics.
Now back to the book of James.   Remember that the two broad themes of James are (1):
  • Now that you are a Christian, you have a lot of problems.
  • How to live as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The context of the text. "Mercy triumphs over justice.", is the previous verse: "Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy.".

The verse 13 (Mercy triumphs...") is a comment on the previous verse.

These two verses, that end a section of James letter, convey two thoughts:
  1. The Christian lives under the law of freedom, and it is by this law of freedom that he will be judged.
  2. The Christian must always live, by the rule that, only as mercy is given, will mercy be had.
Now, what does this mean?  Unlike pre-Christian Jews, who seek to please God, we are not governed by an external law, imposed on us.  We instead are governed by the love of Christ, which leads us to love God and then to love people.  We are not governed externally, by fear of punishment or failure.  But we are governed by the love of Christ in our hearts that compels us. 

This leads us to point 2, which echoes Jesus words in the beatitudes: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7).  Jesus further says that if we forgive others, our Father will forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15), and on judgments Jesus says not to judge and if we do, we will be judged under the same scrutiny (Matthew 7:1-2).

In the context of the harsh Roman Empire and Herodian political environment, and added to that the persecution of Christ's followers by fellow Jews, Jesus says to his followers, "Have mercy", and "Don't judge".  And James is echoing that and building upon it here.

And recall Jesus parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18.  Jesus says that the person who refuses to forgive gets handed over to the torturers.  To say, "That is unforgivable", is not in the Christian's vocabulary.

When people are arrested, for crimes, it is mercy; because it gives them another chance at redemption.

When soldiers are on the battlefield, they have to kill those who are trying to kill them.  But capture is an option when the enemy is disarmed or surrenders.  Then, redemption or rehabilitation can occur.

Incarceration or penalties, including death, are not the final judgement, but opportunities for redemption, before the final judgement.

James echoes what Jesus said, "be merciful and find mercy".  In other words, if you don't show mercy, you won't get mercy.  So to live in mercy, you must be merciful.

People, Christians, who don't live by mercy and don't give mercy, will not get mercy.  They are ruining their own salvation, ruining their lives, their living.

If you are not merciful, if you don't show or give mercy; you are saying you are not a Christian.  If you are not merciful, all of you or a part of you needs salvation, mercy, forgiveness, and transformation.

Revival is when dead comes to life.  Dead believers are unmerciful.  We will rediscover mercy, be merciful.

And mercy is the gospel of the kingdom and the kingdom of the Christ.

Mercy is in the Bible 112 times.  It's important to God.  Mercy is part of God's character.  God's children are merciful.  We live under mercy, by mercy, and in mercy.

1. God's Epic Adventure, Winn Griffin

James, William Barclay

Photo above taken from here.

Sky Links, 12-1-18

Christmastime is here
h/t @RealJamesWoods

h/t @juanitamoutlaw

It is worse to be evil than to do evil.  It is worse when a liar tells the truth than when a lover of truth lies, worse when a person who hates humanity practices neighborly love than when a loving person once falls victim to hatred.  The lie is better than truth in the mouth of a liar, as hatred is better than neighborly acts by a misanthrope. (It is better when a truthful person lies than when a liar speaks the truth- paradoxically expressed!  So also with service to his neighbor.)
-Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Works, Vol 6, 2005, p. 77

Social Justice
The deepest reason for ethical confusion [in Germany today] has much more to do with the fact that the greatest injustice, as it is embodied in the Nationalist Socialist regime, was able to clothe itself in the garb of relative historical and social justice...[so that] only a small remnant was able to perceive, precisely here [in Hitler], Satan in the form of an angel of light. (DBW 16 [2/11]:538); see 2 Cor. 11:14: "Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." -A response to William Patton's book The Church and the New Order; Bonhoeffer, 1941; ibid.

Ethics for Paul is ultimately a theological issue pure and simple. Everything has to do with God and with what God is about in Christ and the Spirit. Thus:
(1) the purpose(or basis) of Christian ethics is the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31);
(2) the pattern for such ethics is Christ (11:1);
(3) the principle is love, precisely because it alone reflects God’s character (8:2-3; 13:1-8); and
(4) the power is the Spirit (6:11, 19).”
-Toward a Theology of 1 Corinthians, Gordon Fee, Society of Biblical Literature, Pauline Theology, Vol. 2; 1 and 2 Corinthians, pp. 51, 53

h/t @Jason50405349

Larry Schweikart's analysis of the past two years:

In a two year retrospective, it now seems Trump was way, way ahead of everyone including @kausmickey and those of us who wanted either the "Deep State" investigated or immediate shut-down-the-government-over-the-wall.
I'm talkin' "here come da judges." Trump apparently instinctively (because almost everything Trump does is instinctive--best instincts since Ronald Reagan) that there would be a successful leftist/Swamp reaction to his policies.
It now seems clear that he realized immediately that the ONE area where he would have full cooperation from Yertle was with judges, and that THAT area could not (likely) be stopped by DemoKKKrats in 2018's elections.
It now seems clear that he realized immediately that the ONE area where he would have full cooperation from Yertle was with judges, and that THAT area could not (likely) be stopped by DemoKKKrats in 2018's elections.
Trump grasped that these would be permanent changes with extremely long-lasting effects, that in most cases over time they would validate most of MAGA, and that the left had no control over an army of judges.
Instinctively, Trump understood that MAGA's best chance of surviving the Deep State and whackadoodle DemoKKKrats would be to have an impervious network of judicial "#1 draft picks" coming onto his team.  Just speculating, but this would explain why he "went along" with . .the Mulehead investigation, knowing (as I said from the outset) that Presidential capital---even for the most popular---is limited and transitory. As I said in early 2016, "you can have Trump's agenda, or you can have Cankles in jail, but not both".
So far, this has been my best prediction to date: the struggle and infighting that would have come from a full assault on the Deep State would have possibly met with LIMITED success, but to the detriment of every single other Trump agenda item.

h/t @Neville_Garnham

h/t @Jordan_Sather_

John Solomon:
We journalists have more freedom, more reach, and more ability to inform today than ever before. But with those advantages comes an even greater responsibility to the public, one I fear is being denigrated by journalists who substitute opinion for facts and emotion for dispassion.
Beyond the killings, the threats, and the vitriol, what most threatens journalism today is the behavior of its own practitioners.
We have become too full of our own opinions, too enthralled with our own celebrity, too emotionally offended by warranted and unwarranted criticism, and too astray from the neutral, factual voice our teachers in journalism school insisted we practice. …
And it was that relentless but emotionally detached commitment to truth, context and fairness — even when enemies sought to discredit us — that exposed such wrongs as Watergate, the Tuskegee experiments and the deplorable treatments at Walter Reed Hospital.
The traits that have made journalism great and respected and impactful for most of the past century are sorely lacking in many of today’s practitioners.
Instead of facts, many journalists today trade in supposition and opinion. Instead of dispassionate neutral coverage, many have offered emotional rants that border on disrespect. Instead of covering all sides of the story, entire news organizations have chosen to pick one side over another. And Donald Trump’s broadsides have only forced reporters to hunker down even more with these harmful practices.

The greatest threat to American journalism: the loss of neutral reporting -John Solomon

Almost blue California
On Nov. 6, the Democrats returned 44% of the absentee ballots. The Republicans, 31% These statistics come from PDI. That 13 point difference equaled 580,000 votes. But that is not the issue. In 2016 AB 1921 was signed by Governor Brown—members of the Assembly and State Senate voted for it—or against it. The governor signed it. Yet, the Democrats got a massive number of absentee ballots presented on election day because they had a plan to go door to door to “harvest” the ballots. As best as I can tell, no GOP candidate had such a plan or project.
“AB 1921 would allow anybody to walk into an elections office and hand over truckloads of vote by mail envelopes with ballots inside, no questions asked, no verified records kept. It amounts to an open invitation to large-scale vote buying, voter coercion, “granny farming”, and automated forgery. AB 1921 solves no problem that a simple stamp can’t solve.”
Did Unlimited Ballot Harvesting Kill The GOP on Nov. 6? -Stephen Frank

The next-gen gap: why younger leaders prefer new churches (Thom Rainer, 2014)

(Millennial = age 19 to 36)
1. Millennials perceive established churches to have values that are entrenched in non-missional traditions. Millennials have values that focus on community, cooperation, and service to others. They see established churches as barriers to those values, institutions that are more concerned about maintaining the status quo rather than making a missional difference.
2. They perceive that much time in established churches is wasted catering to members’ personal preferences. For a number of Millennials, the established church feels more like a religious country club rather than an outwardly-focused organization. Budgets, ministries, and activities seem to be focused on preferences of members rather than reaching out to others.
3. Many established churches are denominationally loyal; but many Millennials see denominations as antiquated organizations. If a church is affiliated with a denomination, this younger generation views both the church and the denomination as anachronisms. They don’t see either as effective or relevant.
4. Millennials don’t see established churches as community-centric.The men and women of this generation typically have a heart for their community. Many have become key to the revitalization of urban communities and other locales. But they see most established churches with a minimal focus at best on the community in which they are located.
5. Millennials see church planting as a far superior alternative. To use a well-worn phrase, they would rather have babies than raise the dead. They see futility in wasting precious resources of people, time, and money on churches that will not likely budge or change.
5 Reasons Why Millenials Do Not Want to be Pastors or Staff at Established Churches

Have you switched to Duck Duck Go yet?

Here's how