What’s Left on the Moon?

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The Incredible Testimony as a Former Gymnast Confronts Her Sexual Abuser in Court Justin Taylor

Today former gymnast Rachael Denhollander had 40 minutes to address the court—and her abuser—during the sentencing hearing of Larry Nasser, the former Team USA gymnastics doctor who molested her 16 years ago at his Michigan State University clinic.

What she said directly to the man—who gratified himself off of her innocence and abused countless other girls in a malicious and manipulative way—is an incredible testimony to the grace and justice of Jesus Christ.

(At the 25:40, she addressed Nassar directly and powerfully spoke the gospel into his life. But the previous 25 minutes are essential background for her conclusion, and they contains lessons for all of us, inside and outside the church, to prevent and report sexual abuse.)

You can read the entire transcript at CNN. Here is an excerpt:

You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices repeatedly to feed that selfishness and perversion. You chose to pursue your wickedness no matter what it cost others and the opposite of what you have done is for me to choose to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.

The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well.

Throughout this process, I have clung to a quote by C.S. Lewis, where he says:

My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?

Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.

When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love. Larry, you have shut yourself off from every truly beautiful and good thing in this world that could have and should have brought you joy and fulfillment, and I pity you for it. You could have had everything you pretended to be. Every woman who stood up here truly loved you as an innocent child, real genuine love for you, and it did not satisfy.

I have experienced the soul satisfying joy of a marriage built on sacrificial love and safety and tenderness and care. I have experienced true intimacy in its deepest joys, and it is beautiful and sacred and glorious. And that is a joy you have cut yourself off from ever experiencing, and I pity you for it.

I have been there for young gymnasts and helped them transform from awkward little girls to graceful, beautiful, confident athletes and taken joy in their success because I wanted what was best for them. And this is a joy you have cut yourself off from forever because your desire to help was nothing more than a facade for your desire to harm.

I have lived the deep satisfaction of wrapping my small children up in my arms and making them feel safe and secure because I was safe, and this is a rich joy beyond what I can express, and you have cut yourself off from it, because you were not safe. And I pity you for that.

In losing the ability to call evil what it is without mitigation, without minimization, you have lost the ability to define and enjoy love and goodness. You have fashioned for yourself a prison that is far, far worse than any I could ever put you in, and I pity you for that.

Posted :January 24, 2018




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5 Great Resolutions for Writers and Language Nerds By Kimberly Joki



Lose a few pounds. Quit a bad habit. Get organized. You name it. You’ve vowed it at the beginning of a new year. Perhaps you have been successful with your resolutions. In that case, you need a fresh crop of goals to tackle. If you have fallen short, perhaps your target was too general, too specific, or out of your control. Either way, let’s resolve this year to make an awesome, attainable goal that reflects your love of words and language. Here are five worthwhile resolutions for writers that might make this year the best one yet.

1 Write that thing. You know what it is: the biography of your great aunt Sally, the cookbook of decadent vegan recipes, the poem that expresses all the love you feel for miniature horses. For each person, the dream project is different. Most people have something they fantasize about writing. Obstacles—the perceived lack of time, talent, or resources—might make the goal seem too difficult. This year, identify those barriers. Devise a plan to overcome these challenges or resolve to carry on despite them. Within the year, you can complete or at least make significant progress toward your dream objective.

2 Go on location. You always hear about authors working in a foreign land, an isolated cabin in the woods, or even just a local cafe. It’s time to take it up a notch. If you write about real or fictional characters, this year make it your aim to walk in their shoes. Go to where they live. See the sights; smell the aromas; listen to the noises. Try to experience life as they would. If you are writing nonfiction, you can still visit key locations. For example, if you are writing a book on diamond mines, take a field trip to visit one. If possible, arrange to do the work of a miner for a day. Follow the journey of a diamond from the mine to the jewelry store to the finger of a future bride. Your writing is guaranteed to be more meaningful if you enrich your perspective.

3 Read a book that changed the course of history. The Bible holds the Guinness world record as the best-selling book of all time, at over 5 billion copies. The Little Prince, a French literary work by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is available in 253 languages. Other books have changed the course of individual lives. How many of these literary giants have you read from cover to cover? Consult a book list, find out the favorite book of your role model, or ask your family and friends to recommend books that impacted their ideas and actions. By selecting your next read carefully, you can open up a new world of possibilities for the coming year.

4 Learn a different language. How each culture expresses ideas is intrinsically linked to the language. You will find it a refreshing challenge to learn the nuances of foreign phrases. What language grabs your fancy?

5 Do an in-depth study of your writing. Gather materials as far back in your writing history as possible. From preschool scribbles to college essays, each thing that you write reveals a little about your personality and personal growth. You may notice trends of repeated errors. You may see multiple instances of commendation on the same skill. If you consistently make the same mistakes, research how you can correct them or consult a writing coach. If you find that you excel in a particular area, explore ways to build upon your talent in your next writing task.

One of the best ways to ensure that you accomplish a goal is to visualize the results of your success. How will you feel this time next year if you can converse in another language? What opportunities will speaking another language open up for you? Think about how you will feel if you finally complete a writing project that has occupied your imagination for years. Consider how much your writing will improve if you analyze your previous writing successes and failures. Why not take a moment now and set a goal for the new year?



Posted:January 3 ,2018

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Civilization’s ‘Darkest Hour’ Review by Victor Davis Hanson

Civilization's 'Darkest Hour'


The new film “Darkest Hour” offers the diplomatic side to the recent action movie “Dunkirk.”

The story unfolds with the drama of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill assuming power during the Nazi invasion of France in May 1940. Churchill’s predecessor, the sickly Neville Chamberlain, had lost confidence of the English people and the British government. His appeasement of Adolf Hitler and the disastrous first nine months of World War II seemed to have all but lost Britain the war.

Churchill was asked to become prime minister on the very day that Hitler invaded France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The armies of all three democracies — together larger than Germany’s invading forces — collapsed within days or a few weeks.

About a third of a million British soldiers stranded in a doomed France were miraculously saved by Churchill’s bold decision to risk evacuating them by sea from Dunkirk, France, where most of what was left of the British Expeditionary Force had retreated.

Churchill’s greatest problem was not just saving the British army, but confronting the reality that with the German conquest of Europe, the British Empire now had no allies.

The Soviet Union had all but joined Hitler’s Germany under their infamous non-aggression pact of August 1939.

The United States was determined at all costs to remain neutral. Just how neutral is emphasized in “Darkest Hour” by Churchill’s sad phone call with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR cleverly assures Churchill that in theory he wants to help while in fact he can do nothing.

Within days of Churchill taking office, all of what is now the European Union either would be in Hitler’s hands or could be considered pro-Nazi “neutral.”

“Darkest Hour” gets its title from the understandable depression that had spread throughout the British government. Members of Churchill’s new War Cabinet wanted to sue for peace. Chamberlain and senior conservative politician Edward Wood both considered Churchill unhinged for believing Britain could survive.

Both appeasers dreamed that thuggish Italian dictator Benito Mussolini might be persuaded to beg Hitler to call off his planned invasion of Great Britain. They dreamed Mussolini could save a shred of English dignity through an arranged British surrender.

Not Churchill.

In one of the few historical lapses in an otherwise superb film, Churchill is wrongly portrayed as seriously conflicted and about to consider the deal with Mussolini — until he takes a subway ride and rediscovers the defiance of the average Londoner. The subway scene is pure fantasy.

The movie also sometimes portrays Churchill as less than robust, when in fact he was the most traveled and physically daring of all World War II leaders.

Alone, Churchill saw a pathway to victory against overwhelming odds. As the film notes, Hitler may have had the world’s greatest army in the spring of 1940, but he still had no way of transporting it across the British “moat” of the English Channel, given overwhelming British naval mastery.

The German Luftwaffe never could defeat the Royal Air Force.

Churchill assumed that if Britain and its overseas Empire could hold out, then a frustrated Hitler might turn elsewhere — and thereby gain new enemies (and new British allies).

That is exactly what happened in 1941. A blundering and frustrated Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. Later, he would declare war on the United States. By December 1941, Germany was at war against the world’s largest economy (American), largest navy (British) and largest army (Soviet) all at once.

Germany and its allies could never win such a global war.

“Darkest Hour” takes place almost exclusively indoors during Parliament sessions, private meetings and scenes between Churchill and his equally brilliant wife, Clementine. But the dialogue is riveting, the acting superb.

Actor Gary Oldman’s masterful Churchill should be a sure Academy Award-winning performance. Oldman reminds a generation of amnesiac global youth that nearly 80 years ago, the dogged defiance of a 66-year-old Victorian Englishman — portly and not much over 5-foot-6 — saved Western civilization from Nazi barbarism.

Americans should watch “Darkest Hour” for reasons beside its engaging acting and plot. We rightly believe that American industry and Soviet manpower won World War II. Yet too often, Americans forget the critical third allied ingredient: British leadership, courage and military professionalism.

Churchill led the only major nation to have fought Hitler alone. Only Britain fought from the first day to the last of World War II. It alone entered the war without attacking a country or being attacked, but simply on the principle of helping an independent Poland.

The world as we know it today owes its second chance to Winston Churchill and the United Kingdom. Without them, civilization would have been lost in the darkest hours of May 1940.



Posted; December 28, 2017

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Celebrating the Sanctity of Life

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Another New Year Knocks Where to Take Your Anxiety About Tomorrow by Marshall Segal

Why does Christmas joy turn so quickly into new-year anxiety?

Often, it’s because what felt like joy at Christmas was not anchored very deeply in Christ after all. He was invited and welcome, on our terms, as we were trying to wrap our fears in paper, hide our trials under the tree, and drown our sorrows in eggnog. We thought it was all about baby Jesus, but we were merely covering our burdens for a couple weeks with lights and garlands and activity. We were too afraid to really trust him and cast our anxieties on him.

Then January 1 comes knocking again — responsibilities to resume, decisions to be made, resolutions to be made and kept, procrastination to be forsaken. Anxiety suddenly casts a dark shadow on our joy, and our hearts struggle to withstand it.

The reason many of us feel so insecure and anxious at the end of another year is that we’ve taken gifts meant to lead us to God, and looked to them for the strength, hope, clarity, and purpose only God can give.

Earnestly I Seek You

When King David found himself with a dry and anxious soul, he knew where to go:

My soul thirsts for you like a parched land. (Psalm 143:6)

At his lowest moments, when the future looked bleak and shaky, David didn’t stuff his anxieties under a new gym membership, fad diet, or another short-lived resolution. He crawled to the only well that had ever truly satisfied, looking to drink deeply of living water. He let suffering and opposition and heartache carry him on a stretcher of weakness to God.

If we let our anxieties and thirsts lead us to God himself, he will graciously provide what we truly need at the beginning of another new year. As David testifies in the rest of the psalm, God will give us strength, but not our own; hope, but at great cost; clarity, but not control; and glory, but not for ourselves.

Strength for the Weary

It may feel like the strength we need most today is measured in meals consumed or minutes slept, but the strength we need most will always be a spiritual power and resolve to persevere through trials and war against sin and temptation.

The enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you. (Psalm 143:3–6)

When David ran out of his own resources — worn out by fear and opposition — he didn’t dig deeper in himself. He stretched out his empty hands to the one who had worked and fought for him so many times before.

Hope for the Sinful

David knows he is not merely a victim of sin committed against him, but that he himself deserves God’s anger — not compassion or support — because of sins he has committed.

Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust. (Psalm 143:7–8)

The secret ingredient to David’s joy is his awareness that a sinful man like him should never get to experience this kind of happiness. God would be righteous to turn away from David, but he delights instead to shower David with steadfast love.

Clarity for the Future

David faced a hundred impossible decisions every day, for sure while he was king, but perhaps even more while on the run. He had to exercise wisdom and discernment at all times, and under incredible pressure in the most dangerous situations.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul. . . .
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground! (Psalm 143:8, 10)

The clarity we need to make difficult decisions today, especially as we enter another year, comes not mainly from meticulous planning or budgeting or scheduling, but from lifting our eyes up to God — knowing him more through what he says (in his word), waiting on him in prayer, deepening our joy in him.

Glory for the Father

The most freeing part of David’s joy in God is that it is not ultimately about him. Part of what makes happiness so elusive is that we’re always tempted to try and put ourselves at the center of it. The deepest human happiness, though, has been liberated from that temptation, and loves instead to hide in and behind the living God.

For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant. (Psalm 143:11–12)

Make your name great through me. Show the world how merciful and generous and powerful you can be. Even when David pleads for deliverance and safety, he wants God, not David, to be glorified. He wants his people (and his enemies) to see that God did it. Do you regularly ask God to move in your life — your relationships, your neighborhood, your ministry, your work — in ways that magnify him, and not you? If his greatest glory is our greatest joy, we’ll begin to pray more like David prays.

The end of the year is a great time to remember why we exist, and to re-center our lives practically around that one great purpose. If you’ve found yourself drifting away from God and an appetite for his glory, it’s even more of a joy problem than a discipline problem. Ask what treasures have robbed you of the deeper joy of living for his name’s sake. And as you restore and grow your joy in God — your soul’s thirst for him like a parched land — let it lead you through trials, away from sin, into wisdom and discernment, all for his glory.


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The Story of “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” By Dr. Jeff Sanders

I have loved singing this song at Christmas time.  The tune is slow and majestic and “haunting” and thrilling.  The theology of the words is impeccable.  The song is ancient. . . . and the author is unknown.  We have no idea who wrote this.  Just some monk sometime before 800 A.D.  A time in history we often call “the Dark Ages.”  Civilization, it seemed, had broken down and mankind was sliding backwards into more chaos, ignorance, pestilence, and unending warfare.  But someone, somewhere in a monastery in Europe, penned a song that would reach across the ages to encourage and thrill millions even in the 21st century.  Who knew?

During those “Dark Ages” the Bible was inaccessible for most people.   But the monk who composed this song must have had a full and rich knowledge of Scripture.  The song displays a wealth of phrases from Old Testament prophecies that speak of the coming of the Messiah.  He is “the rod of Jesse,” the “Dayspring from on high,” the “Key of David,” and “Wisdom from on high.”  For the people of the Medieval world who did not have a Bible to read, this was a teaching tool, expressing the hope and truth of Christmas— the fulfillment of ancient prophecies in the birth of Christ.

But how did this tune become so popular worldwide?  In the early 19th century an Anglican priest named John Mason Neale was reading through an ancient book of hymns called the “Psalteroium Cantionum Catholicarum.”  (Some people golf for relaxation; Fr. Neale read ancient hymns I suppose.)  Rev. Neale was a brilliant, but frail gentleman.  He could write and speak over twenty languages (!), and should have been a leading scholar/preacher of the Anglican church.  Apparently many were jealous of his intellectual prowess, and so through political chicanery he was shunted off to labor in some forgotten church in the Madeira islands near Africa.

But he did not despair.

On a paltry salary he established an orphanage, a school for girls, and a ministry to evangelize and reclaim prostitutes.  And while he was tirelessly educating and evangelizing, Rev. Neale came across this hymn of faith in a Latin text.  The tune that went with the text was from a 15th century French Franciscan convent of nuns ministering in Portugal.  Rev. Neale easily translated the Latin into English and gave the world a song.  Soon his translation made it to England, and from there “across the pond” to America and around the world.

A gift was penned by unnamed monks over 1200 years ago.  Given a tune by nuns in an obscure convent.  Rediscovered by a forgotten evangelist off the coast of Africa.   The song of Emmanuel— “God with us.”  Hidden for centuries but now enjoyed by millions worldwide.  No one does it alone.  God is the One who orchestrates history.  And the theme of His song is “Emmanuel.”

O Come Thou Dayspring come and cheer/ our spirits by Thine Advent here;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night/ and death’s dark shadows put to flight;

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011, 08:33 AM



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