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Robert F Kennedy Jr went to Berlin late last week to speak at a rally for personal freedom in the city on Saturday, August 29, 2020:

The rally continued into the night with music:

For several years, Robert F Kennedy Jr has been concerned about the effect of modern vaccines on children and, as a result, founded Children’s Health Defense.

The day before the Berlin rally, he launched Children’s Health Defense Europe:

A press conference was held:

The press release says, in part:

On Friday August 28, 2020, Mr. Kennedy, chair of Children’s Health Defense, held a press conference and met with the leaders of the newly-formed Children’s Health Defense Europe Chapter. In attendance were Senta Depuydt and Tina Choy (board members of CHD Europe), RA Markus Haintz (Querdenken-731 Ulm), and Heiko Schöning (MD, Ärzte für Aufkärung). While in Berlin he will also meet with colleagues from all over Europe to discuss global challenges to health and human rights …

In photo [above], RFK, Jr. is with organizers Dr Heiko Schoening, M.D. and Attorneys Markus Haintz & Rolf Karpenstein in front of Brandenburg Gate where his uncle, President John F Kennedy, gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963.

Kennedy gave an 18-minute speech at the launch:

He spends the first seven minutes discussing vaccines, then moves on to the current coronavirus situation in Western nations.

In those seven minutes, he says that Big Pharma is much larger and much more powerful than Big Oil. Big Pharma is also working with governments all over the world.

After that, he warns us about our compliance with government guidelines on coronavirus.

At 7:54, he says that when Herman Goering was interviewed at the Nuremberg Hearings, he said that the German government created a climate of fear to get people to obey. When pressed further on the nature of the German people, he replied, ‘It wasn’t just Germany’, explaining that any government can successfully create a climate of fear causing people to do all sorts of things they would not normally do.

Kennedy noted that, by contrast, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the American people in that era:

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

He says that present-day Western governments have created a climate of coronavirus fear, using ‘science’ as a weapon. He wants to see the details on ‘Bill Gates’s and Dr Fauci’s “science”‘.

He discusses 5G and Alexa. Those who own an Alexa are allowing spying on them and their households. He says that 5G isn’t there for the benefit of gamers, allowing seconds-long downloads of video games. Rather, it is there to enable phone networks, governments and the private sector to gather vast amounts of information on citizens.

With 5G, Western governments would be able to target individuals who are not obeying the system. They could freeze people’s bank accounts for making notionally unauthorised purchases. (This is already being done in China, with deleterious effects on private citizens. It’s called a ‘social credit score’. Some Chinese have lost not only access to their money but also their jobs and, in some cases, their university places. Their next of kin can be similarly affected: guilt by association.)

He says he does not know whether coronavirus is a ‘plandemic’, as many have said, but understands how one could draw that conclusion.

Therefore, with all of this in mind, we need to be careful about complying with government directives en masse. Kennedy says that it would be very easy for governments to take away our precious civil liberties. He said that his father, the late Attorney General Robert F Kennedy who was assassinated during his run for president, told him as a child:

People in authority will lie to you.

Interestingly, on the day of the rally in Berlin, news emerged that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did an about-face on America’s coronavirus deaths, revising them downwards. They are not the sky-high totals we’ve been shown over the past several months:

The Gateway Pundit reported (emphasis mine):

The CDC silently updated their numbers this week to show that only 6% of all coronavirus deaths were related to the coronavirus aloneThe rest of the deaths pinned to the China coronavirus are attributed to individuals who had other serious issues going on.  Also, most of the deaths are related to very old Americans.

The article also said (emphasis in the original):

So get this straight – based on the recommendation of doctors Fauci and Birx the US shut down the entire economy based on 9,000 American deaths to the China coronavirus …

Earlier this year, after the WHO seeded panic:

Doctors Fauci and Birx were next to push ridiculous and highly exaggerated mortality rates related to the coronavirus:

** Dr. Tony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx used the Imperial College Model to persuade President Trump to lock down the ENTIRE US ECONOMY.
** The fraudulent model predicted 2.2 million American deaths from the coronavirus pandemic
** The authors of the Imperial College Model shared their findings with the White House Coronavirus task force in early March
** Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx then met with President Trump privately and urged him to shut down the US economy and destroy the record Trump economy based on this model

But the Imperial College model Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx pushed was garbage and they recommended the destruction of the US economy using this model.

Today we now have empirical evidence that the WHO, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx were all wrong.  They were charlatans.  They lied.

Robert F Kennedy was right: authorities DO lie.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was also correct. His maxim about fear still holds true today.

Be careful out there with statistics. Question today’s ‘science’. Today’s technology is not there primarily for our benefit, either.

Bible openThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Romans 15:1-3

The Example of Christ

15 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”

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Last week’s reading concluded Paul’s teaching about stronger and weaker brothers with regard to food and drink. Stronger brothers must refrain from discouraging weaker brothers in their faith. They must not cause their weaker church members to suffer pangs of conscience by forcing them to consume things that go against their personal beliefs. Instead, stronger brothers must find food that meets with the weaker brothers’ approval and avoid drink for this reason, if necessary.

Romans 15 builds on the care that stronger brothers must give to the weaker ones in more general terms. These are difficult to read and to hear because they require patience and understanding in practice. Yet, as the heading says, we must follow ‘the example of Christ’.

We must focus on the bigger picture of Christian unity by understanding our weaker brothers and helping them.

John MacArthur puts Paul’s concerns into perspective (emphases mine):

Paul realizes that one of the great dangers to unity in the church is the potential discord between strong and weak Christians. It is of grave concern to him because unity is of such grave concern to him. And we understand why now, don’t we? It is the passionate desire of the heart of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And since this unity is so essential to God, Paul also finds it essential to teach the matter of unity as well. He knows that one of the great potential problems in the church is conflict between weak and strong Christians who can disrupt the unity of the church. So beginning in chapter 14, verse 1 and running all the way through chapter 15, verse 13, that entire section is all devoted to a discussion of the relationship between strong and weak Christians

A strong believer… It’s not talking so much about just spiritual growth, although that’s part of it. A strong believer is a believer who understands his liberty. He understands what he is free to do. For example, in that culture he understands he’s free to eat pork, even though the Mosaic law forbid it because in Christ that law is set aside. He’s free to do whatever he wants to do any day of the week. He isn’t bound by Sabbath law. He no longer has to be controlled and all of his life charted by the course of the tradition of the Jews, or by the Old Testament ritual and ceremonies. He no longer has to observe feasts and new moons and Sabbaths and dietary laws and clothing laws and all those external things. They’re all gone.

If he’s a Gentile, he knows that it doesn’t matter if he eats meat that was once offered to an idol because an idol is nothing anyway. He’s completely free to do that. Anything that is a thing, he is free to use, he is free to be blessed by. Things are not a problem. There’s nothing forbidden anymore in that sense.

So the strong believer, he can have a ham sandwich, he can eat a pork chop, he can eat meat offered to idols, he can take a long hike with his family on the Sabbath and it doesn’t bother his conscience at all. But a weak believer is one who, having come out of those kinds of backgrounds, doesn’t yet feel the liberty to do that. He may be a Jew who doesn’t feel the liberty to violate the Sabbath, he doesn’t feel the liberty to eat certain meats, he doesn’t feel the liberty to break some festival or feast day. Or maybe he’s a Gentile who doesn’t feel the liberty to eat meat that was once offered to an idol and is now sold in the marketplace. He can’t handle that because it conjures up all the past. And so he doesn’t understand that liberty and the problem in the church comes when the strong believers who understand their freedom flaunt that freedom to the abuse of a weak believer who does not yet understand that freedom. And consequently we devastate them, we grieve them, we make them stumble, we forfeit our witness, we pull down the work of God because they go backwards not forward in their spiritual growth when we flaunt our liberty.

So the injunction comes to the strong believer to set aside his liberty and bear with the weakness of the weak. And do so with love as a privilege. Now we know there are no religious taboos, we know that, we don’t have to fear that. We don’t have to pay any attention to old religious ceremonies. But some people are still bound by that. And we need to be patient until they can grow away from those taboos. And this is the attitude of consideration of others. And this is the first attitude that we must have if we are going to please someone else. We consider them before ourselves.

Therefore, Paul says we are obliged to ‘bear with’ the ‘failings of the weak’ rather than please ourselves (verse 1).

‘Bear with’ means more than ‘put up with’ or ‘tolerate’, as Matthew Henry’s commentary explains:

We must consider these; not trample upon them, but encourage them, and bear with their infirmities. If through weakness they judge and censure us, and speak evil of us, we must bear with them, pity them, and not have our affections alienated from them. Alas! it is their weakness, they cannot help it. Thus Christ bore with his weak disciples, and apologised for them. But there is more in it; we must also bear their infirmities by sympathizing with them, concerning ourselves for them, ministering strength to them, as there is occasion. This is bearing one another’s burdens.

It is hard to do. It also requires seemingly endless patience. I have failed on many occasions and will likely fail on many more.

Paul exhorts us to build our neighbour up for his good (verse 2). That means to encourage him in good purposes, not sinful ones. This also means putting aside our own desires, which would be a much easier path to follow.

Henry says:

Christians should study to be pleasing. As we must not please ourselves in the use of our Christian liberty (which was allowed us, not for our own pleasure, but for the glory of God and the profit and edification of others), so we must please our neighbour … Please his neighbour, not in every thing, it is not an unlimited rule; but for his good, especially for the good of his soul: not please him by serving his wicked wills, and humouring him in a sinful way, or consenting to his enticements, or suffering sin upon him; this is a base way of pleasing our neighbour to the ruin of his soul: if we thus please men, we are not the servants of Christ; but please him for his good; not for our own secular good, or to make a prey of him, but for his spiritual good.–To edification, that is, not only for his profit, but for the profit of others, to edify the body of Christ, by studying to oblige one another. The closer the stones lie, and the better they are squared to fit one another, the stronger is the building.

That allegorical last sentence puts it all together nicely: the strength of the Church as a body of people is based on unity, its members being like closely fitting stones.

Paul goes on to say that Christ did not please Himself but suffered reproaches, which He bore willingly (verse 3).

That verse paraphrases Psalm 69:9:

For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.

There David is speaking about reproaches against God which have fallen on him. David is seen as a type of Christ. John 2:17 paraphrases the same verse in reference to Christ.

However, that verse also prophesies Christ, as MacArthur explains:

this is a Messianic Psalm. Much of it touches on the Messiah and His agony. Back in verse 4, “They that hate Me without a cause,” no doubt speaks of the hatred of the Lord Jesus Christ. “A stranger to My brethren,” verse 8 and “an alien to My mother’s children.” “He came unto His own and His own received Him not,” and so forth. It speaks about even the betrayal of Christ in this particular passage. It talks about His agony. It talks about, I believe, His trial in the garden, verse 16 down through maybe verse 20 or so. It talks in verse 21, they gave Me vinegar for My food and in My thirst…gall for My food and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink. Now there were… There are many aspects of the Messiah here.

But one of them in verse 9 is that the reproaches that were given to God are also fallen on Him. In other words, in pleasing the Father, Christ receives reproach. That is slander, that is false accusation. That is to suffer insults. And He suffered the same insults God suffered because He represented God. Because men hate God, they hated the one who revealed God. Because they hated the holiness of God, they hated the holiness of Jesus Christ.

Now this willingness to please God even though it meant reproach and suffering and insult and slander and death is the key to the Christian’s attitude. Christ was willing to endure all of this, even the reproaches that fell on God Himself. He bore those reproaches for the sake of doing the Father’s will. He was really indifferent to His own deprivation. He was indifferent to His own pain. He was indifferent to His own agony. And He who bears all of this pain for the sake of pleasing the Father is our example. Rather than running out to please ourselves, we should follow the pattern of Christ and be willing to suffer anything in pleasing another. He set aside all of His divine rights to be subject to the Father and to suffer for the sake of sinners to bring us to God. Can we do less for a fellow Christian? Back to 1 John 2:6, “If we say we abide in Him, we ought to walk as He walked.” If you say you’re a Christian, you ought to have the attitude Christ had.

So, the right motives then are consideration for others, disregard of self and conformity to Christ

There is a lot of theology in these three verses.

Furthermore, there is a difficult instruction to obey in setting aside our own desires, always thinking of the next person. It’s a tall order.

Matthew Henry says that Scripture study and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit can help us, however:

What David had said in his own person Paul had just now applied to Christ. Now lest this should look like a straining of the scripture, he gives us this excellent rule in general, that all the scriptures of the Old Testament (much more those of the New) were written for our learning, and are not to be looked upon as of private interpretation. What happened to the Old-Testament saint happened to them for ensample; and the scriptures of the Old Testament have many fulfillings. The scriptures are left for a standing rule to us: they are written, that they might remain for our use and benefit. First, For our learning. There are many things to be learned out of the scriptures; and that is the best learning which is drawn from these fountains. Those are the most learned that are most mighty in the scriptures. We must therefore labour, not only to understand the literal meaning of the scripture, but to learn out of it that which will do us good; and we have need of help therefore not only to roll away the stone, but to draw out the water, for in many places the well is deep. Practical observations are more necessary than critical expositions. Secondly, That we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. That hope which hath eternal life for its object is here proposed as the end of scripture-learning. The scripture was written that we might know what to hope for from God, and upon what grounds, and in what way. This should recommend the scripture to us that it is a special friend to Christian hope. Now the way of attaining this hope is through patience and comfort of the scripture. Patience and comfort suppose trouble and sorrow; such is the lot of the saints in this world; and, were it not so, we should have no occasion for patience and comfort. But both these befriend that hope which is the life of our souls. Patience works experience, and experience hope, which maketh not ashamed, Romans 5:3-5. The more patience we exercise under troubles the more hopefully we may look through our troubles; nothing more destructive to hope than impatience. And the comfort of the scriptures, that comfort which springs from the word of God (that is the surest and sweetest comfort) is likewise a great stay to hope, as it is an earnest in hand of the good hoped for. The Spirit, as a comforter, is the earnest of our inheritance.

MacArthur says the same thing:

In this brief justification for using the Old Testament Psalm, Paul gives the value of the Scripture, the value of the Scripture. Whatever things were written in earlier times is a reference to the Old Testament. “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” and so forth. You know it in 2 Peter 1:21, the Old Testament. Whatever was written in the Old Testament was written for our learning. Now listen carefully. Old Testament scripture was written for New Testament people. It is not a dead book. It is a book that is written for our learning. First Corinthians 10 verses 6 and 11 say it is to provide examples for us, examples for us, patterns for us. Paul said to Timothy, “All Scripture,” and he referred to the Old Testament, “is given by inspiration of God and is profitable.” And he listed some of the things it profits for, “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.”

Listen, the Old Testament is profitable, it is for our learning. And what does it teach us? That we through endurance, hupomon, endurance and encouragement from the Scriptures might have what? Hope. Hope. I believe that man needs hope more than he needs anything else. The goal of the Scripture is to give hope, hope for the future, hope for life eternal, hope for forgiveness from sin, meaning to life. God is called in Jeremiah 14:8 “The hope of Israel.” God is the giver of hope. Psalm 119 says at least three times, “I have hope in Thy Word.” Psalm 130, verse 5, the same thing, “I have hope in Thy Word.” The reason we have hope is because of what the Bible reveals. Is that not so? Would you have hope in life to come if you’d never read the Scripture? Would you have hope? No, no hope at all. That’s why in Ephesians 4 it says the Gentiles who have not the Scripture are without hope in the world. They are without hope in the world. Hope comes from the Word of God. Without it we have no hope. We don’t know about heaven. We don’t know about Christ and His Kingdom. We don’t know about the glorious reward that lies ahead. We don’t know that without the Scripture. There’s no revelation of that apart from Scripture.

But Scripture gives us hope. And this comes to us through two great spiritual realities, endurance and encouragement. Scripture tells us that we can endure any trial, that we can make it through any difficulty, any vicissitude, any struggle, any anxiety. And James, you remember chapter 5 there, verses 7 to 11, “Be patient therefore, brethren,” or be enduring, brethren, “to the coming of the Lord.” And he goes on to talk about the farmer waiting for the precious fruit of the earth has long patience for it until he received the early, latter rain, be also enduring, establish your hearts, the coming of the Lord is near. Now that comes from the confidence of the Scripture. Scripture tells us that we have a hope and that we have the power to endure. The teaching of the Word of God allows us to patiently endure in this life, waiting for the hope that is set before us. We could not patiently endure the trials of life if we didn’t know…if we had no word from God about how to endure, about how to be secure. If we didn’t know that we were secure, every time a trouble came along we might think we were thrown out of God’s kingdom. But Scripture tells us we’re secure and Scripture tells us we have the power to endure and Scripture tells us why we are to endure, to be strengthened, to develop patience so that patience, James 1 says, can have a perfecting work so that we can be more useful to God and more effective in winning others. So Scripture gives us endurance to the hope.

He mentions the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete:

And then along the way also encouragement, he says, paraklsis which is paraclete, one who comes alongside to encourage. It is the Word of God that not only tells us how to endure, but encourages us in the process.

So, the Scripture teaches endurance and the Scripture teaches patience. And those two things lead us to hold fast the hope that is in God and in Christ. We have that hope and that hope is anchored in the Word of God.

And Paul’s point here is simply that we need to learn from the Scriptures. We need to learn from the Scriptures. I think this is one thing that we can draw right into our little outline here and say that a biblical mindset is the key to right behavior to the weaker brother. We need to know that everything written in the Scripture is written for our learning. It’s all part of teaching us endurance and encouragement. Let me tell you something. One part of learning patience and encouragement is learning to tolerate weaker brothers. Those words are chosen carefully. We learn through that to be patient. We learn through that the encouragement of one who has to wait. And that’s what the Word of God provides.

Paul packed a lot of theology into three verses of instruction. He gives us much upon which to reflect during the week ahead.

Next time — Romans 15:14-21

Below are the readings for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, August 30, 2020.

These are for Year A in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two options for the First Reading and Psalm.

Emphases below are mine.

First Reading and Psalm — Option One

Last Sunday, readings about the life of Moses began. In this reading about the burning bush on Mount Horeb, God calls Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses was 80 years old at the time.

Exodus 3:1-15

3:1 Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

3:2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.

3:3 Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”

3:4 When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

3:5 Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

3:6 He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

3:7 Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings,

3:8 and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

3:9 The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.

3:10 So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

3:12 He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

3:13 But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

3:15 God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.

In this Psalm, which details God’s many blessings to His faithful, we find a reference to Moses.

Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45b

105:1 O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.

105:2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.

105:3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

105:4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.

105:5 Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

105:6 O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

105:23 Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.

105:24 And the LORD made his people very fruitful, and made them stronger than their foes,

105:25 whose hearts he then turned to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.

105:26 He sent his servant Moses, and Aaron whom he had chosen.

105:45b Praise the LORD!

First Reading and Psalm — Option Two

Jeremiah is disconsolate over God’s judgement on His chosen people, but the Lord assures him that He will protect him during this time.

Jeremiah 15:15-21

15:15 O LORD, you know; remember me and visit me, and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance do not take me away; know that on your account I suffer insult.

15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.

15:17 I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation.

15:18 Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.

15:19 Therefore thus says the LORD: If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them.

15:20 And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the LORD.

15:21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

The Psalm ties in well with the reading.

Psalm 26:1-8

26:1 Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.

26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and mind.

26:3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you.

26:4 I do not sit with the worthless, nor do I consort with hypocrites;

26:5 I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.

26:6 I wash my hands in innocence, and go around your altar, O LORD,

26:7 singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all your wondrous deeds.

26:8 O LORD, I love the house in which you dwell, and the place where your glory abides.

Epistle

Paul exhorts the Romans to live in love and harmony with each other, overcoming evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

12:9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;

12:10 Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

12:11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.

12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

12:16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.

12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

12:18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

12:20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”

12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Gospel

Readings from Matthew continue. In last week’s, Simon Peter boldly stated that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. In today’s reading, he wants to protect Jesus from harm, but Jesus rebukes him. Peter and the disciples did not understand what Jesus came to Earth to accomplish for humanity.

Matthew 16:21-28

16:21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

16:22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

16:25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

16:26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

16:27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.

16:28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Matthew Henry says that verse 28 refers to the establishment of the Church after the destruction of the temple. Many of the disciples lived to see that happen.

Henry adds that, where the Church is established, we should bear our sufferings more lightly in optimism: better days lie ahead.

The 2020 Republican National Convention is the best television I’ve ever watched outside of certain food show competitions.

I have so many tweets to share that I have linked to several in addition to posting them below.

Changes had to be made to the format because of coronavirus restrictions. At the weekend, I had doubts as to how interesting it would be. I am pleased to say that I was wrong.

There were no comperes (MCs) introducing each speaker at the Andrew W Mellon Auditorium, just speakers walking out in a dignified manner on the stage and addressing Americans at home with powerful messages, some of which were very personal.

There were no music acts outside of the outstanding renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner on Days 1 and 3 as well as a closing act on Day 4. Good.

I thought I’d miss the crowd of delegates and other attendees, but it was enough to see the former at the roll call on Day 1.

The Andrew W Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC, is magnificent. I’d not seen it before, but it made the perfect setting for the dozens of speakers who told their personal stories.

And the flags that served as the backdrop in the auditorium were beautiful, made from the finest fabric. They added greatly to an already spectacular atmosphere.

I watched proceedings on C-SPAN, which has a video for each day. Below that are lists of individual speakers and their videos. This enables the viewer to watch either in full or in part. There are also tabs at the top of the page for each individual day’s videos.

Because of the time difference, I haven’t been able to watch Day 4 in its entirety but have covered it here for the sake of completion.

Highlights follow.

That said, every speech was excellent.

Background

The Democratic National Convention was held last week in Joe Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, as well as other locations, because of coronavirus restrictions.

BBC Parliament broadcast the last day of the convention on Sunday, August 23. I watched it while doing other things.

Wow. I have never seen a more boring and a more stilted political convention. It sounded as if everything had been scripted at the last minute and no one had time to rehearse their lines. Even a Teleprompter could not help. Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld fame presented. Her scripted jokes fell flat and her delivery was dreadful. Mike Bloomberg’s speech also had jokes in it; his delivery was equally dire.

The theme, as one would expect from Democrats, was, once again, Change. I thought that eight years of Obama was supposed to be the ‘change Americans can believe in’. Apparently not. Democrats say that President Trump built on his predecessor’s success. Okay. In that case, we don’t need further change, right?

Not exactly.

Joe Biden said in his acceptance speech that he wants to ‘change’ America ‘for decades to come’. Hmm. Interesting.

He wants to raise taxes of all Americans to the tune of $3 trillion. That’s a lot of change right there.

He wants every American to wear a mask until October ‘at least’ to curb coronavirus. Imagine if this guy gets in. What a disaster. I have a lot of Biden material to share with you. That will come in the latter stages of the presidential campaign, all being well.

Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, said that the ongoing protests, which have been running for nearly 100 days now, ‘are not going to stop, nor should they’. What? Even if she and Biden win the election? She must know they will lose in November:

This is what the protesters want. As I said in 2016, they want a revolution. They’re Bolsheviks:

Hillary says that Joe Biden should not concede the election, even if he loses. She, too, must think he doesn’t have a chance, even though it’s only August.

Note Hillary’s appearance. It seems to change. Weird. I’ve included a tweet with other photos of her:

Joe Biden did not get the usual post-convention bounce in the polls, which is telling:

Day 1 — Monday, August 24

Every day opened with a convocation prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, including the words ‘under God’, which the Democrats omitted last week.

This is the only day where there is a morning session. It was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Only delegates and party officials were in attendance. Ronna Romney McDaniel (Mitt’s niece) presided, as Chair of the Republican National Committee. She did an excellent job.

It was a sea change from the 2016 convention, which was riven on the morning of the first day by never-Trumpers who did not want him nominated.

This year, every state’s delegates unanimously voted for President Trump’s renomination.

Ronna McDaniel proceeded with the roll call, as voted for by the delegates, but stopped after Minnesota, concluding with remarks from former governor Scott Walker for Wisconsin. She formally announced the nomination of President Trump, who then gave a speech:

He spoke for 52 minutes, during which time he expressed his deep concern about postal votes. He is right to be concerned. It has produced fraudulent results in the past. There is no reason to think it won’t happen again this year.

He is also mostly right in saying that this is the most important election in American history. I might just modify that to ‘since 1860’, when coincidentally, the first Republican — Abraham Lincoln — was elected:

That evening, speeches began from the unbelievably stately Andrew W Mellon Auditorium in Washington.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivered his opening prayer from New York City with the Statue of Liberty in the background:

Cancer survivor Natalie Harp talked about the film It’s a Wonderful Life where James Stewart’s character George Bailey did so much good by saving Bedford Falls from becoming Pottersville. She said Pottersville would have been what would have happened to the US under Hillary. There are similarities between George Bailey and Donald Trump. I have often thought about that over the past four years and was delighted that she brought it up:

Maximo Alvarez, the founder and president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors in Florida, warned that Americans must not allow their country to move towards communism. He said that his father emigrated from Spain to Cuba, then from Cuba to the United States. His father told him that America was the last possible refuge for people who love freedom. If America is destroyed, there is no other place to go:

Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina closed the evening with a measured speech on race relations and the current protests. He said that he was elected to represent a majority-white district where, he said, paraphrasing Dr Martin Luther King, voters judged him on his character, not the colour of his skin. He eloquently dismantled all the Democrats’ radical arguments:

The Federalist‘s Sean Davis, a Trump supporter, tweeted:

Democrats rang C-SPAN afterwards to give their views.

Rick from Lorain, Ohio, said he was switching from the Democrats to Republicans, because the Republicans focussed on God whereas the Democrats left God out of their convention:

More Democrats rang in during the subsequent days to say they had switched parties.

C-SPAN’s ratings for the RNC were much higher than for the DNC. The New York Post has more on the story.

Day 2 — Tuesday, August 25

The theme of Day 2 was Land of Opportunity.

The Revd Norma Urrabazo gave a stirring opening prayer:

Myron Lizer, Navajo Nation Vice President, was the first to speak. He spoke from Shiprock, New Mexico. He said that President Trump has done more than previous administrations to listen to and act on the needs of Native Americans:

Next was the story of the president’s pardon of Jon Ponder, who founded an organisation, Hope for Prisoners, with rehabilitation programmes for former prisoners:

It’s an amazing story. Ponder, a committed Christian, is best friends with the FBI agent who arrested him.

Cris Peterson, a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, explained how fewer government regulations and more help to farmers enabled her family’s Four Cubs Farm to purchase state of the art milking equipment. Fascinating video:

The Democrat mayor of Eveleth, Minnesota, said he is supporting President Trump this year. He says that the Democrats have become too radical and that their ecological policies would ruin the prosperity of his town:

Nick Sandmann, who was accosted in 2019 at the Lincoln Memorial, spoke of that day and how he refuses to be cancelled. His lawyer Lin Wood won a huge payout for him against the Washington Post. Nick plans to go on to law school after finishing university:

Some of the stories came from President Lincoln’s boyhood home in Spencer County, Indiana. Mike Pence narrated this sequence:

There was a naturalisation ceremony, filmed earlier, which President Trump attended:

There were many more outstanding speeches, including those from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump.

The evening ended with a long speech at the White House from Melania Trump, who was dressed in quasi-military designer attire:

These are the YouTube ratings for Day 2:

Day 3 — Wednesday, August 26

The theme of Day 3 was Land of Heroes and included people from various walks of life, from the military to first responders to lorry drivers keeping goods on the move during the coronavirus pandemic.

This rabbi’s prayer was perfect, as was his delivery:

A disabled veteran movingly recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Governor Kristi Noem from South Dakota was the first to speak. She spoke of her state’s success during the pandemic — no lockdown and very low case/death figures:

Noem rightly criticised the unchecked lawlessness going on in Democrat-run American cities:

MSNBC was none too happy, but it’s the truth:

President Trump’s newish press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, a young wife and mother, told her moving story of breast cancer and subsequent breast reconstruction. She also spoke of the admiration she has for Trump’s pro-life stance:

Madison Cawthorne is a disabled man (injured in a car accident) who is running for US Congress in North Carolina. He gave a spirited speech about America’s Founding Fathers, especially James Madison:

When he finished his speech, two friends came on stage to help him stand up. At 6’3″, he said he misses being able to stand up and see over the crowd.

A PBS journalist was unimpressed by his standing up. WHY? Look at the idiotic reasoning:

My favourite speech of the week came from Sister Deirdre Byrne, MD, of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts, a medically-oriented religious order for women.

Sister Deirdre entered the order in 2002. Prior to that, she had a career as a physician and is a retired US Army Colonel!

She spoke of her admiration of President Trump’s love of the unborn. She said that a Biden presidency would put an end to the safeguards of the unborn. The Biden-Harris ticket approves of abortion at the point of birth, essentially, infanticide:

Lara Trump, Eric’s wife, spoke.

Eric passed make-up brushes to her as she was getting ready:

In her speech, she said that one mustn’t believe all one reads in the media and that this applied very much to the Trump family. She wasn’t sure what her future in-laws would be like when Eric first introduced them to her. She said that she was given a very warm welcome from the start. She says she admires their values of hard work and determination, with which she was also raised:

Clarence Henderson told about his experiences as a young man growing up in the segregated South. He recited the pro-voting and pro-civil rights amendments, all of which Republicans were responsible for passing, not Democrats. Well worth a listen. This man knows of what he speaks:

Former Acting Director of Intelligence Richard Grenell spoke. I hope his words lead to something big:

President Trump watched from the sidelines:

Mike Pence rounded off the evening with a long speech from Fort McHenry in Baltimore. The Star-Spangled Banner tells the story of the battle between America and the British in 1814 which took place there:

Well said:

Afterwards, ex-Democrat Helen from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, rang C-SPAN to say that she had switched parties and that she loved Melania Trump’s speech. She also deeply admires President Trump and will be voting for him this year:

Carol from Charleston, South Carolina, called to say that she finds Melania Trump ‘classy’ and ‘so intelligent’. Carol said she was a Hillary voter four years ago but has been surprised by what President Trump has accomplished since his election. She says she will ‘trust’ Melania and will vote for Trump:

Here are the ratings:

Day 4 — Thursday, August 27

Earlier in the day, NASA announced that the first black, female astronaut is scheduled to be on next year’s mission to the International Space Station:

C-SPAN posted their Day 4 video on YouTube:

The theme was A Land of Greatness.

The final night is, of course, the biggest one of the convention. Although President Trump spoke at length on Day 1 after receiving a unanimous vote from the delegates, Day 4 was when he gave what is considered his formal — and second (final) — acceptance speech.

These proceedings are about an hour longer than those from the previous days.

The Revd Franklin Graham (Billy’s son) gave a heartfelt prayer, asking for help for those affected by tropical storm Laura, for healing with regard to the protests, for protection of the Trumps and the Pences as well as continued guidance:

A young brother and sister from a military family recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Beautiful.

Ja’Ron Smith, Deputy Assistant to the President, spoke of his working class upbringing, his parents’ American values and of President Trump. He said that, growing up, he believed all the anti-Republican clichés. As he got to know more Republicans, he changed his mind. He never dreamt that he would be working for a president. He says that no one has done more for black interests than President Trump:

The people interviewed below head up their respective housing associations in New York City. They do not like Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy of putting illegal immigrants into public housing before native New Yorkers, some of whom have been on waiting lists for ten years. They greatly appreciate what Dr Ben Carson has been doing as head of HUD (Housing and Urban Development), which has helped identify and fix anomalies in public housing:

Alice Johnson spoke of her gratitude for President Trump’s First Step Act from 2018, which has to do with prison reform. That year, Trump commuted Johnson’s life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drugs offence and granted her a full pardon today (Friday):

Ivanka Trump spoke of her father’s commitment to the American people:

President Trump spoke of the greatness of America and her people …

… while emphasising that the United States has clear internal enemies:

I fully agree with this:

The programme of events ended with a magnificent fireworks display, which was much better than the Democrats’ in Wilmington the Thursday before:

Unfortunately, as the guests left the White House, protesters awaited them:

Congressman Brian Mast, below, who is black, even got harassed by protesters. He politely answered their questions. They did not like his answers about pursuing ‘due process’ where necessary:

I can’t help but admire a husband who carries his wife’s shoes!

On the downside, when that couple reached their hotel, The Willard, the doors were locked. Even an employee outside couldn’t help them. They had to walk all the way around to the parking garage entrance and get in from there. All the while, they were harassed by protesters, who addressed the man as ‘Mr Anger’. The couple remained resolute and silent, with neutral expressions on their faces. I bet those were two of the longest minutes in their lives.

But that was nothing compared to the treatment that Brandon Straka, the ex-Democrat who founded the #WalkAway movement, received. Terrible.

Remember, the group attacking him is for gay rights. Maybe that doesn’t matter when a gay supports President Trump:

At least the police were nearby for Senator Rand Paul (Ron’s son) and his wife:

This morning (Friday), Rand Paul told Fox News what a traumatic several minutes that was for him and his wife, even with the police. He said the mob kept on growing. He also said that they had picked the wrong man, because he was one of the senators who supported the abolition of no-knock police raids, one of which was responsible for the death of Brionna Taylor. He said ‘the irony of that was lost’ on the protesters:

Meanwhile, this is what Joe Biden thought of the president’s speech:

I am not sure what planet Joe is on to say that, but it might not matter too much because he’s collapsed in the polls:

If you hear the media once again say that the Republicans’ message was ‘dark’, as they did in 2016, don’t believe them for a moment.

This was the finest convention I’ve ever seen, even better than 2016’s.

Kudos to everyone who organised it and who spoke. A lot of hard work went into those four days, spread across four locations as well as some people’s homes.

I’ve never seen such a professional production with so much sincerity and hope.

In 2016, President Trump made promises. From his election to now, he has fulfilled those promises. Promises made. Promises kept.

Onwards and upwards! MAGA 2020!

In the mid-1970s, I met a family from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

They were very nice, responsible, middle class people.

Kenosha, although I’ve not been there, has been a pleasant, respectable town in which to live.

In my youth, I would have called it ‘boring’, but as an adult, I am grateful for every place that is like Kenosha used to be until a few days ago.

My heart grieves to see what is going on there now.

The tweets below explain how the violence there began:

This is the current status of the perpetrator:

Kenosha is located between Milwaukee and Chicago.

On August 26, ZeroHedge reported that police think that rioters protesting the police treatment of the perpetrator could be coming in from those two cities, Chicago in particular:

On Tuesday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “The Story,” Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) stated that local law enforcement in Kenosha, WI are “very concerned large numbers of people are coming up from Chicago and trying to disrupt the public safety in the community of Kenosha,” in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake.

The shooting took place last weekend.

A car dealership was set ablaze:

A TownHall reporter has a very long thread on what happened in Kenosha:

The protesters also marched through residential neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile, in the centre of town:

This is the reason Americans own guns. When seconds count, police are only minutes away. That isn’t a dig at the police, but they do have to travel to the scene of the crime:

My heart goes out to the people of Kenosha:

Insurance doesn’t always pay for every loss. Premiums go up as a result, as the furniture store owner explained to Julio Rosas:

The owners of the B & L Office Furniture, Scott Carpenter and his mother Linda, told Townhall they had been in business for over 40 years and were extremely disheartened to see the store being torched …

Linda said they’ll try to keep working.

“It’s not justifiable,” Scott said. “We have insurance, yeah, but the insurance isn’t there so somebody can destroy your things…we pay for it. It causes insurance rates to go up. It’s basically theft. Whoever did this stole from us.”

Yes, it is theft.

You can see that the furniture store has been gutted. That will take a long time to rebuild:

A rioter attempted to set fire to another car dealership but was shot — by an armed civilian:

The aforementioned ZeroHedge article states:

… left-wing pundits are already trying to frame the shooting as an act of white supremacist violence even though both the shooter and his victims were armed, and white.

President Trump was focussing on the Republican National Convention, taking place this week. That said, he still had time for Kenosha, as ZeroHedge explains (emphases mine):

Of course, nobody wants to mention the fact that Wisconsin Gov Tony Evers turned down the White House’s latest offer of assistance.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows blasted Evers for his decision to turn down federal help and instead Meadows said that earlier in the day, he received a call from some members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation “really just pleading for help, said that the local sheriff and mayor and police chief need some additional assistance. So, I got on the phone right away and called the governor and offered assistance in the form of additional National Guard help. As you know, they’re going to have some additional National Guard there tonight. But you’ve got to, as a governor, and as elected officials, you’ve got to either ignore the problem — which, a lot of liberal governors are doing exactly that, they’re ignoring the problem — or you have to deal with it. … The president was on the phone with the governor today as well. We have National Guard standing by that, if the general for the National Guard needs additional help, we’re there to do it. But today, that request was denied by the governor.”

Here’s the president:

Here’s more about the shooting from the Daily Caller:

The man who was fatally shot — and had a police record — was actually asking to be shot:

The shooter was a young man from Illinois:

Things might not end well for him, regardless of the fact that the man who was shot was taunting civilians protecting property:

Breitbart has more:

Seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the shooting deaths of two people during the Tuesday night riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Insider.com reports that Rittenhouse is from Antioch, Illinois, and was allegedly armed with an AR-15 Tuesday night. He allegedly “crossed state lines to stand guard outside businesses during unrest stemming from the… [August 23, 2020] police shooting of Jacob Blake.”

Rittenhouse allegedly shot three people Tuesday night, two of whom succumbed to their wounds. The incident was captured on amateur cell phone footage and quickly went viral …

ABC 30 reports that Rittenhouse “is being held at a juvenile facility in Illinois.”

According to a USA Today reporter, Rittenhouse’s hearing is tomorrow, Friday, August 28:

A reporter from The Blaze spoke with Rittenhouse, who said he was there to protect property:

Top lawyer Lin Wood is offering Rittenhouse legal help:

A curfew continues to be in place:

My word. I can’t believe this is happening in Kenosha.

Earlier this year, radicals did say they had a long, hot summer planned around the time of the Democratic and Republican conventions.

However, they started rioting after the Minneapolis shooting took place and haven’t let up since, especially in Portland.

Speaking of Minneapolis, here’s the latest development:

When is this ever going to stop?

On the positive side, these riots are unintentional campaigns to re-elect President Trump, that’s for sure.

Linguists have found that young adults are triggered by the full stop (‘period’ to my American readers).

You could not make this up.

On August 23, The Telegraph, along with many other news outlets, published an article about it: ‘Generation Z feels intimidated by full stops, experts find’.

It says (emphases mine):

Full stops have become the latest casualty of youthful sensitivity as experts say they can be “intimidating”.

As teenagers and those in their early twenties, Generation Z, have grown up with phones in their hands, using short messages to communicate with one another, and the punctuation mark has fallen out of fashion and become a symbol of curt passive-aggression.

Linguists have been debating the use of the full stop and why some young people interpret a correctly punctuated text as a sign of annoyance.

Some argued that the full stop had become redundant, as a text was now ended simply by sending it, and the sentence did not need to be finished with a punctuation mark.

Linguist Dr Lauren Fonteyn tweeted “If you send a text message without a full stop, it’s already obvious that you’ve concluded the message. So if you add that additional marker for completion, they will read something into it and it tends to be a falling intonation or negative tone.”

What if you accidentally send a message before you’ve finished it, Dr Fonteyn?

This extends to more than texts. Another linguist says it also applies to emails:

Owen McArdle, a linguist at the ­University of Cambridge, said: “I’m not sure I agree about emails. I guess it ­depends how formal they are.

“But full stops are, in my experience, very much the exception and not the norm in [young people’s] instant messages, and have a new role in signifying an abrupt or angry tone of voice.”

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

However, in linguistic circles, a debate has been going on about the full stop since 2015! Get this:

Prof David Crystal, one of the world’s leading language experts, thinks the use of the punctuation mark is being “revised in a really fundamental way”.

In his 2015 book, Making a Point, he explains that instead of its original purpose, signifying the end of a sentence, it has become an “emotion marker”, signifying anger or annoyance.

He said: “You look at the internet or any instant messaging exchange – anything that is a fast dialogue taking place. People simply do not put full stops in, unless they want to make a point

This is also backed up by science. A 2015 study by Binghamton University in New York, involving 126 undergraduates, found that they perceived text messages ending in a full stop as being less sincere than the same message without a full stop.

Researchers also found that exclamation points did the opposite of full stops, making people seem more sincere and engaged.

Well, there you have it!

Most of us were taught to reserve our use of exclamation points. Too frequent a use undermines one’s written credibility.

I cannot imagine anyone being triggered by a full stop, especially university students.

In the words of the musical: ‘Stop the world — I want to get off’. This is too much.

Last week, I ran a series on the Revd John MacArthur and the court battle involving his Grace Community Church regarding indoor worship in Los Angeles County.

It seems as if John MacArthur is an outlier, with no support from clergy from other churches.

Last week ended on an optimistic note: ‘A court win for John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church’.

One of my readers, H E, sent in the following comment concerning religious and other restrictions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Some time ago, H E gave me permission to repost his comments, and I am happy to do so now. This is excellent (emphases mine below):

Thank you for your series of articles about Pastor John MacArthur and his court fight to permit his church to hold indoor services.

I concur with John Cheshire that it is disappointing that mainstream church bodies generally have not supported Pastor MacArthur’s efforts.

I live in the US. In elementary school, I was taught that the rights enumerated in the US Constitution (freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, etc) are inalienable, natural rights given by God (teachers could say ‘God’ in those days) which pre-exist and supersede civil law.

What troubles me is that governors and mayors in the US issued dictates that forbade a citizen from exercising his God-given rights, despite the fact that, at their inauguration, these officials swore to uphold the Constitution which guarantees free exercise of such rights. I live in the state of New Jersey. Our governor, Philip Murphy, stated on television that he had not considered the effect of his restrictive executive orders on the Bill of Rights. In that interview he stated “the Bill of Rights is above my pay grade.”

(As a sidebar, there have been no calls for the removal of Governor Murphy on the basis that either he lied when he swore to uphold the Constitution or he is incompetent. On the contrary, his approval rating is about 70%).

Policemen are sworn to uphold the law. Implicit in this oath is the understanding that a policeman should not enforce an illegal law. Nonetheless, policemen in New Jersey, acting on an executive order from the Governor, walked into a Jewish religious service, arrested the Rabbi, put him in handcuffs, and hauled him off to jail because he had the temerity to hold a religious service that violated the Governor’s dictates.

For the police to disrupt a religious service and arrest the person leading the service is appalling to me and unheard of in the US, in my personal experience. This is something I would expect to see in China. The legal system in the US is normally reluctant to interfere with religious activities and arrest religious leaders. (I understand that this is a reaction to the shameful way the courts and the police treated Mormons in the 1830s and 1840s). In fact, all one needs to do is to call himself ‘Reverend’ and establish a ‘church’ and he pretty much can do what he wishes. As an example, see Al Sharpton who for decades has been a political rabble rouser, but somehow is untouchable by the courts and the police.

It’s good that the court ruled in Pastor MacArthur’s favor. But what if it hadn’t? Would this mean that Pastor MacArthur’s inalienable right to assemble and worship God is void? How can this be? How can the exercise of one’s God-given, inalienable rights be dependent upon a decision of a local court judge, whose normal job duty is to adjudicate parking tickets?

In my opinion, the issue here is that there should never have been orders by local officials to close church services. They simply don’t have the legal authority to do this. And policemen should never have obeyed orders to enforce such unlawful directives.

The problem we face is that our society has devolved to the point where God-given, inalienable rights have been reduced to the level of municipal ordinances, subject to the whims of petty public officials.

How do we get our rights restored? Through the courts? I don’t see this as likely since the courts are an arm of the state and work to uphold the interests of the state against the citizens. Elect new representatives? We elected Donald Trump as President and the Deep State has blocked nearly every action he has tried to take. I don’t know what the answer is.

I replied:

I don’t have an answer, either …

I am not surprised, though, that other churches aren’t openly supporting John MacArthur, although, no doubt, they’ll gladly take any benefits accruing from a court decision in Grace Community Church’s favour.

First, most pastors in established denoms are left-wing. Secondly, the last thing they want to do is stick their heads above the parapet. A lot of those denominations have hierarchies, too, therefore, individual pastors cannot take those sorts of decisions independently.

The independent Evangelical pastors probably want a quiet life but will gladly let MacArthur do the heavy lifting and then reap the rewards any wins bring.

Today, by chance, I came across an article at LifeNews.com:

‘Judge Fines Church $3,000 for Holding Worship Service, But Abortion Clinics Can Kill Babies’ chronicles the stories of two other California churches that have fallen foul of the law recently. One is in Ventura County. The other is in Santa Clara County:

California Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks appeared before Judge Vincent O’Neill in Superior Court of Ventura County on Friday, August 21 and was held in contempt of court.  Godspeak Calvary Chapel was fined $500 per three services, for two Sundays, or a total of $3,000.

Pastor McCoy received an order from a Ventura state judge on Friday, August 7, banning the church’s in-person services. Superior Court Judge Matthew Guasco issued a temporary restraining order to Pastor Rob McCoy, the Church, and Does 1-1000, along with anyone “acting in concert with them” who might attend worship in the future. Governor Gavin Newsom ordered no singing or chanting, and then ordered no worship, even in private homes with anyone who does not live in the home.

Godspeak Calvary Chapel (Church) held three worship services on Sunday, August 9 and August 16. An evidentiary hearing is set for Aug. 31.

North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California was also fined $5,000 for singing in each of the two worship services yesterday, although social distancing was practiced. The four-page letter posted on the front door of the church said, “North Valley Baptist is failing to prevent those attending, performing and speaking at North Valley Baptist’s services from singing. This activity is unlawful. The county understands that singing is an intimate and meaningful component of religious worship. However, public health experts have also determined that singing together in close proximity and without face coverings transmits virus particles further in the air than breathing or speaking quietly. The county demands that North Valley Baptist immediately cease the activities listed above and fully comply with the Risk Reduction Order, the Gatherings Directive, the State July 13 Order and the State guidance. Failure to do so will result in enforcement action by the county.”

Santa Clara County had North Valley Baptist Church under surveillance:

Santa Clara County acknowledged in its cease and desist letter they had been sending agents into the church to spy on the congregation during worship services.

In his defence, the church’s pastor pointed to the Bible:

Pastor Jack Trieber said, “You can’t have any law against assembling in God’s house. None. I know we have a Constitutional right to worship, but we have a Higher Power that we answer to. I have a biblical mandate. We have obeyed authority in this church. We’ve always obeyed authority. But when local authority begins to disregard this authority, we go with this book right here,” he said pointing at the Bible.

This is the crazy situation that Newsom has created during the coronavirus outbreak. You can meet in church for anything except worship:

Gov. Newsom’s orders allow the church to feed, shelter, and provide social services, but the same people in the same building cannot worship. In order words, non-religious services are acceptable but religious services are banned. People can receive food, but not take communion. People can be housed overnight, but cannot hold a short worship service, Bible study, or meet for prayer. People can receive counseling to find work but cannot be counseled on finding eternal life.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The same governor who encourages mass protests, bans all worship and is now fining churches for their right to assemble and worship. The same governor who says the church can meet for secular services, bans the church from having religious worship. This unconstitutional hostility against religious worship must end.”

Absolutely. I could not agree more.

Thank you, H E, for another excellent comment. The quotes from LifeNews.com reinforce your salient and important points on this topic.

It is cruel that, during a time when church becomes even more important during a life and death health situation, California’s governor forbids his residents from seeking communal solace in God and in Jesus Christ.

One of my readers, formerdem, left a comment last week on my post ‘The one positive out of coronavirus’, which is worth sharing with everyone.

Formerdem kindly gave me permission to post it:

Churchmouse, here are my silver linings: home schooling is up, peer pressure is down, gardens are up, nursing homes are down, authoritarian politicians are outed, plastic bags are out, supply chains coming home, tax base of authoritarian states is about to plummet, personal skill w/IT is up, obesity is now seen as life threatening, gyms are down, online exercise is up, supply chains coming home, we now know who are our friends in real life actually are, national staycations will foster all kinds of odd little out of the way things, expensive colleges are on the way out, privacy and borders of all kinds are up.

Outside of plastic bags being out (in the UK, they are very much ‘in’ during the pandemic), if this is the new normal, bring it on.

Thanks, formerdem, for the insights — greatly appreciated.

bible-wornThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Romans 14:20-23

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.[a] 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.[b]

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Last week’s reading concerned Paul’s advice to stronger Christians about serving certain foods to weaker converts in case the latter had a pang of conscience and perhaps lost their faith as a result.

John MacArthur explains it in the context of that era (emphases mine):

In 1 Corinthians … chapter 8 and verse 10, we have a very similar passage. Paul writing to the Corinthians, verse 8 says, “Food commends us not to God, neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse.” The whole issue here is meat offered to idols. As I mentioned earlier, a person would come to worship a pagan idol, put the meat on the altar. The priest would eat some of the meat, take the meat he didn’t need to eat, go back out the door of the temple and sell it on the marketplace. Some person comes along, buys it because it’s cheaper than anywhere else, serves it for dinner to a new Gentile convert who’s just come out of that pagan religion. He sits down, he says, “Hey, this is great meat, where did you buy it?” “Well, I bought it at the butcher shop of the temple of Diana.” And he is plunged into devastation, almost gags on the meat because all that does is remind him of all the vile orgiastic worship that went on in that pagan system, and he sees that meat as having been offered to an idol, tainted with the demonic reality that once was a portion of his life. He is greatly offended.

Now the real issue of meat is no issue at all. Meat is not the issue. It doesn’t matter to God if we eat it. It doesn’t matter to God if we don’t eat it. We’re no better if we do; we’re no better if we don’t. It’s a non-issue; but not to that person. So he says in verse 9, “Take heed, lest by any means this liberty of yours” you’re free to eat it “will become a stumbling block to them that are weak, for if any man see thee who hast knowledge “you’re a strong believer, you understand your freedom “sitting at the table in the idol’s temple,” and there may have been even a freedom to…, they may have had a snack bar in the back of the idol’s temple for all I know, “shall not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?”

So, he says, “Hey, he can do that, so I’ll go over to the idol temple and have a snack.” And through that act, the weaker brother is devastated for whom Christ died. And he adds that line there, the same line in Romans chapter 14. It’s simply to point up that Christ went to great lengths to save this individual, how can you treat one whom Christ died to save with indifference? The implication here is if Christ loved that person enough to die for them, you ought to love them enough to be cautious about how you exercise your liberty in front of them. So, it’s the same issue there

Don’t devastate your brother. Don’t plunge them into deep spiritual loss. “Stumbling” seems to mean a sort of momentary stumble, a momentary fall. “Grieving” is the grief over a guilty conscience. But this one is a devastating thing, where the person very likely could be plunged right back into the whole milieu of pagan worship.

Therefore, Paul says that we are not to destroy God’s work (verse 20). God brought that person to believe that Christ is Lord, so we are not to destroy that person’s faith by serving something that goes against his beliefs, right or wrong. Present day examples include Seventh-Day Adventists — vegetarians — and Christians who do not eat pork because they view pigs as unclean. Those are strong personal beliefs and it would be inhospitable for us to offend our guests.

As such, Paul says that we should not eat meat or drink things that would offend our weaker brothers and sisters (verse 21). This is because we are united in the love we have for Christ and for each other. We need to continue building up our mutual faith, without food or drink standing in the way.

MacArthur tells us:

So, Paul says then, build up your brother, build him up in love. How? By not causing him to stumble, not causing him to grieve, and not causing him to be devastated by falling into sin because you’ve exercised your liberty in front of him and he cannot experience that without sin and a guilty conscience.

Paul advises stronger Christians to keep their beliefs about freedom to choose what to eat and drink to themselves in case they offend a weaker Christian (verse 22). We should be above reproach in that regard and not cause weaker guests of ours to feel forced to consume something they find offensive or dangerous (e.g. alcohol).

Paul concludes by saying that if we force our guests to eat or drink something that offends them, then we have sinned against them and God (verse 23).

Matthew Henry offers this commentary:

Paul had faith in these things: I am persuaded that there is nothing unclean of itself; but he had it to himself, so as not to use his liberty to the offence of others. How happy were it for the church if those that have a clearness in disputable things would be satisfied to have it to themselves before God, and not impose those things upon others, and make them terms of communions, than which nothing is more opposite to Christian liberty, nor more destructive both to the peace of churches and the peace of consciences. That healing method is not the less excellent for being common: in things necessary let there be unity, things unnecessary let there be liberty, and in both let there be charity, then all will be well quickly.–Have it to thyself before God. The end of such knowledge is that, being satisfied in our liberty, we may have a conscience void of offence towards God, and let that content us. That is the true comfort which we have before God. Those are right indeed that are so in God’s sight.

MacArthur says this is about setting our minds on higher — heavenly — things:

We want to fight about so many silly things and people who want to maintain their freedom don’t care what anyone else says and as a result of that, we miss the whole point of the kingdom. The kingdom is not meat and drink, the kingdom is not the things that you can do or not do, the discretionary things. The kingdom is — watch this one — righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Frankly, in those three elements you have a comprehensive summary of the Christian life. You want to know what the Christian life is all about? You want to know what it’s like to be in the kingdom? First of all, it’s righteousness. The issue is righteous living, righteous living, holy living, a holy, obedient, God-honoring life conformed to God’s wonderful will. You see, my concern is not liberty, my concern is holiness. My concern is not my right to eat, my right to drink, my right to do this and do that and do the other thing, my concern is righteousness, holiness, integrity. And that’s what the watching world is looking for, that I might be filled with the fruits of righteousness, that I might have on the breastplate of righteousness, practical godliness.

Secondly, peace; the kingdom is all about demonstrating the tranquil relationships between people and God and people and people. It is our loving caring. It is our oneness. It is the tranquility of our relationships that have such a profound testimony. It is when the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, is manifest that the watching world sees something that they would like to possess. The essence of the kingdom is not our freedom to do this and do that and offend if we wish. The essence is holy living and tranquil relations with fellow believers. And righteousness means I seek to honor God, and peace means I seek to have harmony with my brother.

And then joy, joy comes to one who is right with God and at peace with his brother. Wouldn’t you say? Joy is the personal joy of knowing God, experiencing forgiveness, grace and mercy and love. It is the blessed, happy life of salvation, which rejoices in everything.

What we want the watching world to see is people who are righteous, people who are at peace and people whose lives are filled with joy. And that kind of environment is created by self-sacrificing love that does not necessarily exercise its liberty no matter how it offends somebody else. And what I’m saying to you is a message to the strong believers because most of you would fit into that category, to say this, we must move down to the weak brother and sister and honor and respect that weakness until we can by love nurture it to strength. And so there are things we are perfectly free to do that we choose not to do in order that we might demonstrate to a watching world that the kingdom is not a celebration of our rights, but it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And when the world sees our lives marked by righteousness, when they see a person with real integrity, a person with real honesty, a person who speaks the truth, who is good and fair and just and virtuous, that is a loud testimony to the reality of Christianity because even in the fallenness of man there is enough of the imago Dei, the image of God residual in that mind to long for that which is unattainable to them. And when the world sees relationships of peace, it is so utterly foreign to them. Can you understand that? Because they live in a world of chaos. And when the world sees deep profound joy in the Holy Spirit, a settled happiness, they see the real heart of kingdom living. And that is the attractiveness that can bring them to Christ.

The theme of building each other up in our shared love of Christ continues next time.

Next time — Romans 15:1-3

Below are the readings for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, August 23, 2020.

These are for Year A in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two options for the First Reading and Psalm.

Emphases below are mine.

First Reading and Psalm — Option One

Readings about Abraham’s descendants conclude. The beginning of the Book of Exodus below transitions from Joseph to Moses. Egypt has a new — and nasty — Pharaoh who did not know Joseph. Hence, the fortunes of the Israelites take a dramatic turn.

Exodus 1:8-2:10

1:8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

1:9 He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we.

1:10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

1:11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh.

1:12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.

1:13 The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites,

1:14 and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

1:15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah,

1:16 “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.”

1:17 But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.

1:18 So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?”

1:19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”

1:20 So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong.

1:21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

1:22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

2:1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.

2:2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months.

2:3 When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.

2:4 His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

2:5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it.

2:6 When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said.

2:7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”

2:8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother.

2:9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it.

2:10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

It is thought that David wrote the following Psalm after God delivered him and his people from what could have been a very bad situation, one that is left to speculation.

Psalm 124

124:1 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side — let Israel now say —

124:2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,

124:3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;

124:4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;

124:5 then over us would have gone the raging waters.

124:6 Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.

124:7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

First Reading and Psalm — Option Two

The Lord promises comfort and salvation to all who believe in Him.

Isaiah 51:1-6

51:1 Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the LORD. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.

51:2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many.

51:3 For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

51:4 Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples.

51:5 I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope.

51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.

This is a beautiful Psalm of thanksgiving to God for all His blessings.

Psalm 138

138:1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;

138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.

138:3 On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.

138:4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth.

138:5 They shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.

138:6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away.

138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me.

138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Epistle

Paul exhorts the Romans to be united as one in their faith. This is a beautiful reading about the Church.

Romans 12:1-8

12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.

12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

12:4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function,

12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

12:6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith;

12:7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching;

12:8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Gospel

Readings from Matthew’s Gospel continue. Here Simon Peter boldly states that Jesus is the Messiah. Verse 18 is one to memorise and take to heart.

Matthew 16:13-20

16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

16:14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

16:17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.

16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

16:20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

There are any number of sermons that one could write about the Epistle and the Gospel, both of which are rich in content and meaning. They are worth rereading throughout the week ahead.

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