Saturday Selections - July 4, 2020
Reformed College ad causes a wonderful fuss When a Reformed college put out the recruitment ad below – starring their small town's newly built washrooms – the town's mayor felt the need to issue an official statement. He wanted everyone to know the ad, touting that there are two distinct genders, didn't represent their little town. But as local pastor Douglas Wilson noted:
That bathroom, for those of you who do not live here in Moscow, is brand, spanking new. It was built on Mayor’s Lambert’s watch. He was the one who built that brand new segregated bathroom, that brand new “girls go this way, boys go that way” bathroom, that brand new Hate Space. He is the one who built that standing affront to Moscow’s world-famous inclusive values.
And then, when the ad spot shows a young man going into the side ASSIGNED TO HIM BY THE CITY OF MOSCOW, and a young lady going into the side ASSIGNED TO HER BY THE CITY OF MOSCOW, our mayor calls US out for our lack of inclusiveness. All we did was indicate — in that endearing little way we have — our agreement with the mayor in having built what he built. We are sorry that he feels bad about what he did now, but there it is.In today's culture wars Christians too often act as if we're actually worried God might lose this thing. We are so angry, annoyed, and fearful about what's going on. The folks at New Saint Andrews College want to show us what it would look like if we were eager to jump into the fray because we understand – because we are certain – that God had already been won. (Another example: their latest ad). Home is underrated For family's that are able to do it, there are many advantages to having mom at home. Big Science needs to repent In a recent Nature article, two dozen scientists joined together in a "manifesto that calls for sweeping changes in the way scientific modeling is done." Though it isn't the Nature article's intention, the manifesto highlights how Science isn't unbiased – there are so many ways that findings can be twisted to fit particular ideologies. And it's only once we understand there is no neutrality that we can best assess the "facts" we are given by viewing them in light of the biases that were involved in their production. 5 things I learned debating a professor who wants to ban homeschooling There are those who want the State to be our "co-parent" and who, despite the State's dismal track record running their own schools, want to make sure no is "allowing some parents to escape" the public system. Pro-life group denounces Peter MacKay, Erin O'Toole as "Trudeau Tories" Canada's Conservative Party leadership race is drawing to a close, and there are 4 candidates on offer, two of whom – Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis – have been endorsed by the pro-life Campaign Life Coalition. The other two have been denounced as "Trudeau Tories" because, like Trudeau, Peter MacKay and Erin O'Toole endorse the greatest evil of our age: the slaughter of unborn babies crafted by God in His very Image. When we consider the outrage over the brutal death of another such image-bearer, George Floyd, were we then to multiply that outrage by 300 – the number of babies murdered each day in Canada – and then consider that this happens to 100,000 babies each year, we would begin to understand how outraged we should be when Justin Trudeau, Peter MacKay and Erin O'Toole say "Unborn lives don't matter." 81% of Canada's COVID deaths were long-term care residents Do we need to rethink old age homes? The wonder of the hummingbird's tongue (3 minutes) While the video doesn't specifically mention God, narrator Paul Nelson notes: "I think in some respects the wonder of a hummingbird almost transcends language.... It's almost like responding to the work of an artist. You just stand there and applaud."
Book Reviews, Children’s picture books
Yellow & Pink
by William Steig 1984 / 32 pages Sometimes one encounters a work of art, a poem, piece of music, figurine or painting which is so simple yet so p...
Are you “blessed” or “privileged”?
They might seem close synonyms but the Devil is in the details **** A couple of years back a viral video showed a large group of older teens getting...
Science - General
Your head is fearfully and wonderfully made
“A little science estranges men from God, but much science leads them back to Him.” – Louis Pasteur or maybe Blaise Pascal or perhaps someone e...
Apologetics 101, Satire
The Triangle Curvature Inclusion Bill
A controversial bill to redefine triangles was presented in the British Parliament this past month. Debate was opened by the Culture Secretary, Valeri...
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews
3 ways of confronting the problem of diminishing attention spans through the Great Books
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews
The Gospel Comes With a House Key: an instructive, inspiring, downright intimidating look at Christian hospitality
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews
BOOK REVIEWS: Two on depression and joy
SPURGEON'S SORROWS: Realistic hope for those who suffer from depression by Zack Eswine 144 pages / 2014 Drawing on over eighty sermons by C. H. S...
Pro-life - Fostering
7 ways to help a foster family
So you’re not able or ready to plunge into foster care? That doesn’t mean you can’t still be involved! Here are some practice ideas for how to help out a current foster family. Educate yourself Educate yourself on the local foster care system. Educate yourself on trauma and how it affects children. Educate yourself on what “reunification” means, and why we need to have a heart of forgiveness and compassion. Educate others The Church can play a big role in supporting the foster care system in your community. Find your local (Christian) foster care and adoption agencies and give freely, both financially and with your time. In our local church we did a special service offering at Christmas for a local foster care agency. Locally we also have a volunteer-run short-term “House” that is a place where children entering into foster care can spend their first few days before being placed…instead of in a hotel or social worker’s office. Get involved there! Search in your community for worthy organizations that are striving to repair the foster care system, and are Christian-based. Share with others, and pull together as a church to support them! Meals If you know a family that is fostering, chances are they have a houseful of children already, and have a lot of mouths to feed. Whether they’ve taken in a new placement or not, showing support by bringing a meal (or even some snacks to stock up the cupboards) goes a long way. They are likely spending a lot of time communicating with the team of people involved with their child, or helping the child work through trauma, or something along those lines. That’s why food is so appreciated! Items Foster parents in Washington State receive a monthly stipend from the state to cover costs but as you can imagine, the costs involved with becoming licensed, as well as ongoing costs incurred can, at times, exceed the stipend. Sometimes a child comes with nothing but the clothes on their back and suddenly the foster parent is making a trip to the store to get formula, diapers, PJs, toothbrush, shoes, underwear – you name it! In our case, we are licensed for ages 0-10, boys and girls. As you can imagine, it’s impossible to store clothes and items for each age group and gender. Also, as we were becoming licensed, we were required to have certain items available in our home (medicine cabinets that could lock, fire escape ladders, emergency food supplies for 8 people for a full week, as well as a bed available for each age of child, etc. etc.). This did become quite costly, so every little bit we got donated to us really helped. If you know of someone going through the licensing process, ask them what they are in need of, maybe you happen to have it lying around! Childcare Whether it’s offering to take their biological children for a time, or the foster child, it might just be exactly what they need. A date night? Groceries kid-free? Or maybe their foster child has yet another appointment (here in Washington State they’ve required what seems to be an overabundance of doctor and dentist appointments) and they’d love to not take along their other children. Whatever it may be, offer! Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help, but if it’s offered it might just be what they need right at that moment. House, yard, and transportation help This can be so helpful, especially around the time of a new placement entering a home. That’s when all the house and yard work gets moved to the bottom of the importance pile. The family needs time to bond, organize, and have a lot of communication with the new team of people that are now in their life. They need to spend that first critical week loving on that child, attaching and adjusting. Offer to come fold a load of laundry, or weed their gardens, or clean a toilet. Or, maybe they’d love you to run an errand or two for them, or pick their kids up from school, or bring a child to their lessons or practice. Just ask! Prayer Please lift these families, as well as the children they are fostering, up in prayer! Ask them if there are specifics to pray for. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Eph. 6:18...
Parenting, Pro-life - Fostering
Why you should consider fostering
May is Foster Care Awareness Month and I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a little of our journey with the hope and prayer that it will spur you to think about it for yourself. Our road into foster care wasn’t an overnight, or easy, decision. For years we had concerns and questions about it, and convinced ourselves it was not something we could do. Foster care was something that other people did, and good for them, but we could never do that. However, over time God worked in our hearts and opened our eyes to the huge need. We also got answers to our questions/concerns (or, at least most of them) and at the end of the day we really didn’t know why we wouldn’t move forward into foster care. We truly believe foster care is something everyone should consider (though I understand it is not something everyone is in the right stage to do). Why should everyone consider it? Because God is concerned about the orphaned. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” – James 1:27a “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” – Deut. 10:18 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families...” – Psalm 68:5-6a As the church, can’t we do better than what we are currently doing? So is fear of the unknown the only thing holding you back? Then let me share some of our experiences. We have now been licensed for five months and have welcomed 2 baby boys, a 15-month-old girl, and a 7-year-old girl into our home. It’s been hard, it’s been awesome, it’s been every single emotion possible, but through it we have seen the goodness of our awesome Father. It is for His glory that we welcome these orphans into our home and show them an outpouring of love, as He has so generously loved us! We've also felt the communion of saints come around us, both in prayer and practicality. We are so grateful for the baby items, clothes, and meals that have been given to us. Perhaps something we were not prepared for was learning that not only do you welcome a child into your home, but a whole team of people: social workers, child advocates, doctors, and our wonderful foster care agency. In what follows I list some of the fears that we had, and that I now hear from others. I would love to debunk these to help clear the path for you to move forward in faith on the road towards orphan care. “I would get too attached.” Absolutely! You will! And what a beautiful thing that will be for a child who, potentially, has never felt an attachment, or who is going through a tumultuous, trauma-filled life-changing event of being removed from their home. It is a blessing to be able to give that gift to a child, and if you are someone who’s worried about getting too attached, then you’re probably someone who should go into foster care. As Reframing Foster Care author Jason Johnson has said: “Foster care means choosing the pain of a great loss if it means a child has received the gain of a great love.” Isn’t that right there the beautiful gospel message? “It will affect my biological children.” Absolutely! It will! Foster care will teach them things about sin, the world, the brokenness of humanity in such a way that they will learn compassion, kindness and hospitality. They will open their hearts to a child, they will learn flexibility and their hearts will be broken in a way that brings them to their knees. They will see that time heals, that God is in control, and even if a child has left our home we can pray for them forever. These are life long lessons that will, Lord willing, travel with them into adulthood. “I don’t have enough space.” Did you know you don’t need separate rooms for foster kids? The rules might be more flexible than you think. (We live in Washington State and licensing rules might be different where you are). Depending on ages there are some restrictions for who can share with who, but don’t let the space issue hold you back! Last weekend, we had 3 girls in one room. Kids don’t need a big house, or a lot of space - they need love, safety, comfort and someone who will provide that their needs are met. What a gift to be able to provide that to a child in need, in the same way our Heavenly Father provides those things for us, his people! “I couldn’t take a _____ year old into my house.” You have a say as to what age the children will be who you are comfortable with welcoming into your home! If you think you could only handle a child under the age of 2, you can say that! If you only would like to take in teens, you can do that! As time goes on, what you’re comfortable with will change, and you can change your preferences. There are SO many children in need! “Right now is not the right time.” I agree, there are times in life that could be a bad time for your family to take on foster care. (Examples such as financial trouble/hardship, family or marriage hardship, illness). That said, I implore you to dig really deep to discover your motives in waiting for the “right time.” Did Jesus wait for “the right time” to heal those that needed healing? No! We can always look for reasons or excuses to put off doing the right thing. It’s our human nature. I was there, I get it. Approaching this question of “the right time” with prayer and humility is the only way. We are not meant to feel “comfortable” on this earth! We have a heavenly goal and must press on towards it in faith! (Phil. 3:14) Conclusion In Washington State where I live there are approximately 10,000 children in foster care and the need is great everywhere else too. Even if it’s just one child’s life you touch, what a gift you’re giving to them!! I ask you to please pray and consider. Read the book Reframing Foster Care by Jason Johnson. It’s a short, easy, read and well worth it. And if you aren’t led to go into foster care, please consider how you can be a support to those that are. I’ll end with a convicting quote from Jason Johnson. To God be the glory, and it is my prayer that you readers will soon be starting your own foster care journey, with Him as your guide! “You may not see it now – you may not ever see it fully in this lifetime – but what you’re doing is of eternal significance. Fix your eyes there – on eternity – but be faithful here, today... and tomorrow, and then next week, trusting God with the outcome as you experience the beauty and pain and struggle and wonder of walking with Him along the journey. Daily, faithfully keep walking, keep making deposits into their lives, and keep trusting that what’s completely out of your control is absolutely in His. His sovereignty is our sanity ... and our faithfulness is enough.”...
Pro-life - Fostering
Our modern Underground Railroad: a case for foster care
Nestled in the sagging seat of her dad’s gigantic green recliner sits a freckled faced 12-year-old girl, with a book almost touching her nose, legs crumpled beneath her, the rhythmic ticking of the wooden family clock above her, all reminiscent of the safe haven of a home she lives in. Yet, for the moment this girl is unaware of her surroundings as she is lost in another world, separated by historical decades. There she sits, the Hiding Place in hand, quixotic with the idea that she too, like Corrie ten Boom, would be a hero of faith. If only she lived during World War II, she would be offering her home to distressed Jews, risking her life for the Lord, enduring prison and suffering with naught a complaint; an altruistic heroine. Another day, another book: Underground Railroad to Canada. This time the adolescent girl is listening to her mother read about enslaved people moving through a secret network of routes and safe houses to escape slavery and reach the free states in the North. Brave, hospitable mothers opening their homes and children to the dangers of hiding slaves. This girl is enraged at the slaveholders for mistreating human beings and believes wholeheartedly that if she lived during that time period she would be well known for fighting against slavery and running a sanctuary for slaves. Two different time periods, two different groups of God’s image bearers needing a place of refuge. A community of God’s people bearing the load and caring for their version of the orphan and widow, the distressed and fatherless, who need the basic necessities of life: food, shelter, and safety. Needs persist today You might be thinking that it is only natural that Christians would be ready and eager to stand as pillars of faith if some national crisis or war should beset us. Yet, there is a crisis, here and now, in our very own backyard, caused by the realities of modern life in this post-Christian world. The Underground Railroad, and the Hiding Places, are still needed today for the most vulnerable holders of God’s image: children. Christians are well aware that abortion is a colossal tragedy happening minute by minute all over our world. Many believers have a well-informed theology and philosophy about the immorality of abortion. Many Christians partake in "walks for life," donate to their local pregnancy center, and take a stance politically. Yet, I ask this question: was disagreeing with Hitler about the value of Jews enough? Was it enough to just not own any slaves in our own households? No. Our brothers and sisters in the past did not stop at disagreeing, or not participating. They took a step further and welcomed the neglected and suffering people into their very homes, and risked their lives doing so. Let us be actively pro-life towards the children who are born. Today's crisis Today there are more than 78,000 children in Canada, and 400,000 in the USA in the foster care system. A foster child is someone who is taken out of his or her birth home due to an environment or relationship that is unsafe for the child. Our postmodern worldview proclaims that the individual – and his or her every changing idea of relative truth – are the most important pieces of life. The result? A sky-rocketing number of marriages ending in divorce because “this just does not make me happy anymore.” This same thinking has adults turning to drugs, causes gender confusion, and can bring financial strain. And that, in turn, leads to a steady flow of broken families, leaving society's most vulnerable citizens neglected, abused, and alone. Foster children are among the orphaned, widowed, fatherless, and distressed image bearers who need radical Christian refuge, despite the risks that accompany them. When a foster child does not have a permanent home – through reunification with birth parents, or legal guardianship, or adoption – then they are placed in a boarding house with other foster youth, called a group home. When they are 18, youth in foster homes or group homes no longer receive these services and they essentially “age-out” of the system. One California based group, the Alliance for Children's Rights, shares that in their state over half of the children who "age out" of foster care end up homeless or get incarcerated. That means that thousands of young people are living in office spaces, on the streets, or moving from home to home. Foster children struggle in school, with relationships, and with self-understanding and worth. As technology is creating ways to study the brain, science is confirming what has been observed for generations: that children cannot develop from one stage to the next without an attachment figure in their life. All it can take is one steady attachment figure and the brain can start to figure out how to continue developing. Unfortunately, when some of these children age-out of the foster care system at the physical age of 18, they may really only be at the developmental age of 12. No one would think that a 12-year-old could live independently, hold a job, or save up for an education. Is it any surprise then that many of the foster youth who age out without an adoptive home get into trouble soon after? In order to prevent a youth from reaching an age where they follow the trajectory outlined above, they need loving homes and a steady attachment figure at a young age. In Los Angeles alone, there are roughly 30,000 children who need beds from safe families, and only 9,000 registered beds available. Cities across Canada and the USA are dealing with similar issues. It is a risk That young starry-eyed girl is now a grown woman and realizes her romantic notions take risk, heartache, and a strong reliance on God’s sovereignty and grace. Risking your life for Jews or slaves, or spending your life helping foster children – these are not easy tasks. Foster care will not bring glory, or make you a hero. In reality, life outside the safe haven of a home is unbearably hard. Welcoming strangers into your home is difficult, and it may take years of heartache before the relational rewards come. Yet, each home is a gift from God and ought to be used to serve his kingdom. Perhaps you hear a small knocking at your door; you open it to find a young, dirty child who tells you with sweet tears that her mother never comes home and she is lonely, hungry, and in need of another mother. That visual reality would be impossible to ignore and I believe you would want to take this young girl into your home and give her food, shelter, and safety, possibly even love. Let that gentle knocking of urgent need cause you to act immediately, with gracious and radical advocacy. Foster care and adoption can seem quite intimidating and disruptive to your own family. That is an understandable and reasonable fear. I have a dream that church communities can take on this mission together. A program can be developed where families join together to care for these children. Many families feel that pull in their hearts, and that ache to help, but are overwhelmed by what is required. If each family who does foster care is paired with two other families who will devote themselves to providing a meal and free babysitting once a week, that community support will help those on the fence to commit, and provide others with a task that is equally as important to the process. My pastor has a dream that if Roe vs. Wade is reversed, every Christian family would adopt one child to show to the watching world that we take seriously the command to welcome the stranger. When a community rises up together with a common goal, the impossible becomes possible. There are also many options for helping these children if you do not have a home to offer. Below is a list of possibilities: Foster-to-adopt: If you are clear about your intention to adopt, agencies will place you with children who are least likely to be taken away. Foster care: To help grow and develop a child as he/she waits for reunification with family members. Respite care: A service where one family supports another foster family for a short amount of time (one day, or up to a week) as the original family takes time for self-care or family emergencies. Emergency shelter care: A temporary short-term home for children (1-21 days) as social workers find placement in a more permanent home. Foster child mentor: Mentorship programs that train individuals to meet once a month with a foster child to build relationships. Volunteer guilds: Ask your local foster care and adoption agency how you can join a group and help organize events for the foster children (i.e. Get everyone in your office to commit to serving at a meal that raises funds for foster children). Court-appointed special advocate: Volunteer to be a court advocate for an abused or needy child, with the goal of guiding them out of the foster system. Conclusion God chose us out of this world to be adopted into his heavenly family. He paid the greatest price, sending his own son to die on the cross for us, so that we might have eternal life, and have it abundantly. Will you take up your cross and follow him? If you’d like to join me in this kingdom-dream, I’d love to hear from you via the comments on this website, or you can reach me via the editor. Jesus said, “Suffer the children to come unto me.” This is one way. Evelyn Kruis works part-time in a foster and adoption agency and has an MA in Family Counseling. November is National Adoption Month in the United States. **** Postscript: Do Foster Care Agencies Want Christians? While it is becoming difficult in some regions for Christians to foster that isn't the case everywhere. A significant roadblock that causes agencies to turn away Christians is when the agency tries to dictate what Christians can or cannot teach about morality in their home. This can happen with many issues, but the main one has to do with the LGBTQ community. Agencies turn Christians away because they fear public scorn for supporting someone who is a “bigot” against those who identify as LGBTQ. This happens in both Canada and the United States. Many agencies do not make rules about what is taught in the home, but just want Christians to mark that they would not reject a child or youth who identifies as LGBTQ. This is a separate issue. Agreeing that you would accept an LGBTQ youth in your home does not come with the requirement of what you need to teach in the home, thus Christians can be consistent with their Christian faith and bring all types of children into a home that teaches a Christ-centered life. For those that plan to foster children under the age of 10, this is rarely even an issue. One way to avoid these issues is to find a non-profit or Christian foster care and adoption agency....
Editor’s note: When Dr. Adams turned 90 this year, his colleague, Donn Arms, was reminded of a prayer Adams had written back in 1978 for a book titl...
Aging in hope!
I am 68 years of age and retired, so I suppose I am considered old. In our politically correct times, I am called either a “senior citizen" or "chr...
Older women have much to give
Our church has a sizable number of older women. Why? What task would the Lord give these sisters in His church? Like the older men, the older women of...
Pro-life - Abortion, Pro-life - Adoption
Should all adoption records be unsealed? A pro-life perspective
Some years back the Costco Connection asked its readers: "Should it be mandatory to give adult adoptees full access to their birth records if they want it?" Arguing the “Yes” side, April Dinwoodie said it came down to the best interests of the child. While noting that in the US 95% of recent adoptions are already voluntarily open, she insists all should be. "…adopted persons…are left without potentially lifesaving family medical history…Most importantly, we are denying this class of people a right that every other human being currently enjoys: the right to know the truth of their origins." The next month the results were in and an overwhelming 92% of responding readers agreed with Dinwoodie. But there is one important point Dinwoodie never mentioned: in our day and age parents with an unwanted child don’t have to choose adoption – they can also choose abortion. So the question could also be reframed from their perspective: "Should birth parents who may be debating between giving up their child for adoption or killing him via abortion be denied the option of an anonymous adoption?" That puts a different spin on "the best interests of the child," doesn't it? It's no given that a unwanted child will be given up for adoption. If we want to give these unwanted children their very best chance at being carried to term, and delivered, then we need to do everything we can to make adoption look as attractive to the parents as possible. Then we'll want to take away anything that might make these parents hesitate, or consider their other "option." If that means giving parents involved in a crisis pregnancy the option of anonymity, wouldn't we want to do that? Better a living child without roots, than an aborted one with the "right to know the truth of their origins." A version of this article first appeared in the February 2016 issue of Reformed Perspective. ...
Pro-life - Adoption
The Christian case for adoption
We are all adopted.¹ ¹ Rom. 8:15-23, Eph. 1:3-5, Gal. 3:26-4:7, etc....
Parenting, Pro-life - Adoption
Why Reformed churches should be full of adopted children
When it comes to adoption rates, our Reformed churches aren't unusual. While Canadian statistics are hard to come by, in the US it appears about 1% of families adopt an orphan. Our congregations may be a bit above that average, but not remarkably so. Why is that? There are practical considerations of course. Couples may not be able to afford the $20,000 (and more) it costs to complete an overseas adoption. They may worry about how adopted children will deal with sticking out in our church communities, where we may have a variety of hair colors, but some congregations are pretty limited in the variety of skin color. Other considerations could be mentioned, but the expense and the potential difficulties wouldn't explain our churches' tepid attitude to adoption. For example, Christian schooling is also costly, and it can be more than a little difficult, and yet we as churches have embraced it because we understand how God thinks about this issue. We've been taught off the pulpit and in home visits, and been encouraged by family and friends, to understand the importance of educating our children to know and love the Lord (Proverbs 22:6, Deut. 6:7). We know this is what God calls us to do, so we're willing to pay what it costs, and to struggle through whatever difficulties we might face. So I don't believe it's the practical concerns that are holding us back when it comes to adoption. I wonder if it's simply that we don't talk about it. Why we are so quiet There's a reason you likely haven't heard your elders, or pastor, or parents or friends talking about adoption. It's probably the same reason I haven't written much about it: it seems downright hypocritical for someone without adopted children to encourage others to adopt. Your elder can ask teach you about the importance of a godly education for your children – no hypocrisy there, because he's been a board member, three of his children are enrolled and the fourth just graduated. But if he doesn't have adopted children, wouldn't it be strange if during the course of a home visit, he asked you whether you've considered adoption? The reason we don't talk about adoption, the reason we don't teach and preach about it, is because we don't do it. It seems wrong to preach what we don't practice. So we're quiet instead. What God thinks about adoption While silence saves us from hypocrisy it also leaves us ignorant. It leaves us thinking adoption is only for those struggling with infertility. Silence has some still believing there are theological objections to adoption. Silence fosters our lukewarm approach to adoption. But God isn't lukewarm about adoption. We read that before Man even fell into sin God already had a plan to use adoption to bring us back to Him: "In love He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will..." (Ephesians 1:5). Theological objections to adoption? What trouble we would be in if that were so! Who are we, if not the adopted sons and daughters of God? God doesn't just love adoption, He invented it! If not for it, we would have remained God's enemies. But instead, through the "Spirit of adoption" we can cry out to God and call Him, "Abba, Father." It is through adoption that we have become children of God (Romans 8:15-16). Imitators of God In Psalm 68 David describes God as "a father to the fatherless" (vs. 5) who "sets the lonely in families" (vs. 6). In James 1:27 we're told that, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." Consider Ephesians 5:1-2: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. We are to be imitators of God, because we are his children! Can we think of a better way to imitate our heavenly Father than to also be a father to the fatherless? Does that then mean we should all adopt? No, it does not; while all Christian parents are called to teach their children the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Deut. 6:7, Ephesians 6:4), there is no similarly universal command to adopt. God doesn't call all couples to it. And He doesn't equip us all for it. But a lot more of us may be equipped than we realize. We're adopting at a rate that is comparable to the world, and yet our churches should be full of adopted children. Why? Because they already are! We are all adopted – by the grace of God we have been made His sons and daughters – so we, so much more so than the world, should be eager to go and do likewise. Silent no more How can we fill our churches with adopted children? It begins with teaching and preaching God's thoughts on adoption and encouraging one another to have the conversation. While it might seem hypocritical for a pastor, or elder (or magazine editor) who has no adopted children to encourage others to adopt, it really isn't – there's no need for him to preach what he hasn't practiced. Instead he can encourage others to do what he has done (or what he now recognizes he should have done), which is to seriously and prayerfully consider it. Bringing an orphan child into your home may be difficult, costly, even scary, but it is above all godly. Will you consider it? ***** John Piper on adoption: It may be difficult but... "The pain of adopting and rearing children is sure. It will come in one form or the other. Should that stop us from having children or adopting children? No. The self-centered world “cuts their losses” by having few or no children. (And there is way too much of that thinking in the church.) In one sense we may be very glad that such people don’t tend to have children or at least not many children. Because it means that breed of selfish person will die out more quickly since they don’t replace themselves. But on the other hand, we grieve, hoping that they will see that the grace of God is sufficient for every new day no matter how difficult, and that there is more true joy in walking with God through fire, than walking on beaches without him." - Piper, in an excerpt from his sermon, "Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory" which can be found online at www.DesiringGod.org....
The limits of the “two-books” metaphor
There is an idea, common among Christians, that God has revealed Himself to us via “two books”: Scripture and the book of Nature. The Belgic Confession, Article 2 puts it this way: "We know by two means: "First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most beautiful book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many letters leading us to perceive clearly God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature, as the apostle Paul says in Rom 1:20. All these things are sufficient to convict men and leave them without excuse. "Second, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word as far as is necessary for us in this life, to His glory and our salvation." But what happens when these two “books” seem to conflict? This happens in the Creation/Evolution debate, where the plain reading of Genesis 1 and 2 conflicts with the evolutionary account of our origins. So, as Jason Lisle notes, that has some Christians thinking that since: “…the book of Nature clearly reveals that all life has evolved from a common ancestor….we must take Genesis as a metaphor…. we must interpret the days of Genesis as long ages, not ordinary days.” Analogies have their limits But that's getting things backwards. While the Belgic Confession does speak of Creation as being like a book, metaphors and analogies have their limits. For example, In Matt. 23:37 God is compared to a hen who "gathers her chicks under her wings" – this analogy applies to the loving, protective nature of a hen, and should not be understood to reveal that God is feminine. That's not what it is about. Clearly Nature is not a book – the universe is not made up of pages and text, and it's not enclosed in a cover or held together by a spine. The Belgic Confession is making a specific, very limited, point of comparison when it likens God's creation to a book. How exactly is it like a book? In how it proclaims "God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature." It does so with book-like clarity, "so that people are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). But in the Creation/Evolution debate some Christians extend this book analogy in a completely different, and entirely inaccurate, direction. It has been taken to mean that Creation can teach us about our origins with book-like clarity. This misunderstanding then presents us with a dilemma: if we have one book saying we were created in just six days, and another saying it took millions of years, and both are equally clear on this matter, then what should we believe? We need to understand that this dilemma is entirely of our own making. Creation is not like a book when it comes to teaching us about our origins. As Dr. Lisle has noted, it does not speak with that kind of clarity on this topic. Only one actual book here In contrast, the Bible is not merely like a book, it actually is one! It is there, and only there, that we get bookish clarity on how we, and the world around us, came to be. So, yes, the two-book analogy remains helpful when it is used to illustrate the clarity with which God shows "his eternal power and divine nature" to everyone on the planet. But when it comes to the Creation/Evolution debate, the way the two-book analogy is being used is indeed fallacious. God's creation simply does not speak with book-like clarity regarding our origins. We can be thankful, then, that his Word does! Jon Dykstra also blogs on Creation at CreationWithoutCompromise.com....
Science - Creation/Evolution
Deep Time - the god of our age
Throughout history, human beings have had the tendency to reject their Creator, and replace Him in their lives with gods of their own making. From the Greek and Roman pantheons, to the Egyptian sun-god, people would rather worship a god that they create than the God who created them. Such false gods always have the following characteristics: They are attributed one or more characteristics or powers that belong only to the Living God, especially a power over some aspect of nature. They are given allegiance, worship, or reverence above God in at least some way. They are created either physically or conceptually by man. They are not the Living God, the Creator of all things. In our modern “educated” world, people often look back at the silliness of the Greek, Roman, or Babylonian gods, as if we are far too sophisticated for such primitive nonsense. But that just isn’t the case. There are many false gods in our modern world; entities that are revered by people above God, and attributed powers that they cannot literally possess. Whether it is the worship of concepts like nature, or power, or physical entities like money, such things should not be respected above God, and they cannot do what God alone can do. One false god that stands out But one false god stands out among others today; this god is worshipped and reverenced as the ultimate god of our culture. Many books have been written about him, and dedicated to him. He is the foundation of most modern philosophy and education. What is the ultimate false god of our age? Is it Evolution? No, Evolution is certainly a popular god. But many people doubt Evolution. And in any case, Evolution answers to a higher god – a god who is far more popular and powerful than Evolution: the god Deep Time. Deep Time is the concept of vast ages of pre-history: the notion that the Earth and universe are billions of years old. It is a popular belief today, and is considered by many people to be the mainstream “scientific” position. Disciples of Deep Time would probably object to the notion that he is a god, or that he is even a person at all. They might say that Deep Time is an academic concept, the conclusion of scientific reasoning – not a person with power. However, by their actions, Deep Time disciples do indeed imbue him with personal characteristics and powers that only a conscious being can possess. Students of logic will recognize this as a reification fallacy. Nonetheless, for this article, we shall honor their beliefs and refer to their god as their actions suggest that we should. Deep Time, as he is commonly followed today, does indeed fit the characteristics of a false god. 1) They attribute to Deep Time a power that belongs only to the Living God Deep Time has characteristics and powers that belong to God alone. In fact, the parallels are truly amazing! For example, Deep Time has the power of creation. According to His followers, he has made stars, planets, and galaxies. He has made canyons, and mountains. Deep Time separated the continents and oceans. He has made all living creatures through his servant – Evolution. Indeed, Deep Time took the elements of this world, and from that dust he made man. These are all powers and actions that are rightly reserved for God alone (Nehemiah 9:6, Psalm 33:6, Job 38:4, Psalm 104:5-8, Genesis 1:9-10, Genesis 1:20-25, Genesis 2:7). But it doesn’t end there. Deep Time is also said to have tremendous power to direct the course of events in the universe. Deep Time creates and destroys species and civilizations at a whim. He gives life and takes it away. He continually shapes the earth as he sees fit – changing deserts to lush gardens, and gardens to deserts. Deep Time existed long before man, and will continue long after man, or so we are told. Again, these are characteristics that are rightly attributed only to God (Acts 17:26, Job 42:2, Isaiah 46:10, Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Acts 17:25, 1 Timothy 6:13, Job 1:21, Isaiah 51:3, 43:19-20, Genesis 13:10, Deuteronomy 29:23, Genesis 17:1, Deuteronomy 33:27, Isaiah 43:10, Revelation 22:13). But according to his disciples, nothing is too difficult for Deep Time! He is able to do any miracle! Consider this famous quote from Dr. George Wald: Time is the hero of the plot. … Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible, the possible becomes probable, the probable becomes virtually certain. One only has to wait; time itself performs the miracles. Yes, the gradual evolution of dust into people may seem impossible. But with Deep Time, all things are possible! He is the “hero of the plot!” Compare this with the characteristics associated with the biblical God (Matthew 19:26, Jeremiah 32:17). 2) Disciples of Deep Time worship him with reverence and awe They may deny this with their words, but their actions indicate that they do cherish this god above all others. This makes sense: if indeed Deep Time does have the powers and abilities that his disciples attribute to him, then he should be worshiped. Such worship takes place in the schools and universities, where Deep Time’s wonderful works are praised all the day long. The worship of Deep Time is found in many a science textbook too. Sandwiched in between the discussions of science will be stories about the amazing feats of Deep Time. A little science here, and an amazing story there. Although Deep Time has nothing to do with science, often the science and the stories are interleaved such that it can be difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends! The mixture makes for an entertaining, though deceptive read. Devotees take their religion very seriously. Deep Time must not be questioned. That would be sacrilege! Those who fail to worship at the altar of Deep Time are ridiculed, and face being expelled from the classroom. Textbooks that fail to acknowledge the supreme lordship of Deep Time are not likely to be used, or even published. Those who wish to work as professors must swear allegiance to Deep Time and His servant Evolution if they want to be hired. 3) Deep Time is manmade The concept of vast ages of prehistory is not something that has been revealed to us by the Living God, nor recorded by the history books of men. Rather, it is an invention of man to account for the characteristics of our present world without invoking biblical history. The modern version of Deep Time can be traced back to James Hutton – a medical doctor who lived in the 18th century. His ideas were further popularized by Charles Lyell in the early 19th century. However, this is merely a re-imagining of a much older idea. A number of ancient cultures believed that the Earth was significantly older than the biblical timescale. 4) Deep Time is not the Living God Deep Time is not an aspect of God, a creation of God, or an ally of God. Deep Time exists only as a concept, created by the mind of men. He has no literal existence. Although his disciples ascribe to him many of the characteristics of the biblical God, it is clear that Deep Time is fundamentally different than the God of the Bible. The biblical God is love (1 John 4:8). The biblical God is righteous, just, and merciful. He made a perfect world with no pain or death, a world that was corrupted by Adam’s sinful actions. God punishes evil, as any good judge will do. However, God is so full of love and mercy that He has extended forgiveness to all who will trust in Him. He has paid the penalty for their treason by dying on a cross in their place, and will undo the curse of death by resurrecting everyone. But Deep Time is a cruel, uncaring creator. He creates billions of organisms, only to slaughter them off at a whim. He does not care about justice or love, and is merciless and arbitrary in his judgments. He creates using death and pain, and does not listen to the cries of anguish of his creations. He punishes the innocent along with the guilty, and rewards evil and good alike. There is no forgiveness or mercy to be found in Deep Time – only the certainty of death. This last characteristic deserves special attention. For the biblical God, death is an enemy that was introduced by Adam’s sin: an enemy that God Himself will destroy (1 Corinthians 15:21, 25-26). But death is Deep Time’s ally and servant. Evolution works through death. Progress is made incrementally by the slaughtering of billions of creatures, so that one may gain a slight improvement. What a sadistic and inefficient process that Deep Time has chosen! I can only say that I’m grateful to the Living God that Deep Time doesn’t actually exist. What a horrible god he would be! “You shall have no other gods before Me” Since Deep Time is so contrary in nature and actions to the God of Scripture, it is disappointing that many Christians attempt to honor and serve both of them. There are those who teach that God used Deep Time to create the universe, in stark contrast to God’s own revelation of creation. They claim that God used billions of years of death and suffering to get the world to be the way He wanted it (apparently unaware that death is an enemy of God, and one that was introduced as a punishment for Adam’s sin.) It’s not that modern Christians want to give up the True God. Rather, they simply want to add another god, one who is contrary in nature and actions to the Living God. Unfortunately, this type of syncretism has been a common failing in God’s people. Consider the Israelites. Their main struggle was not with giving up God completely, but with adding other gods. They wanted to merge their beliefs with the pagan practices of the day, and worshiped and served the gods of Canaan. This was totally inappropriate, not only because the Canaanite gods are fictitious inventions of the mind, but because God alone deserves our worship and does not tolerate idolatry. In the First Commandment, God states that, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The phrase translated “before Me” has the meaning of “in my presence.” Scripture is clear: God alone is to be worshiped as God (e.g. Matthew 4:9-10). Remember reading of Baal? Baal was the Canaanite god of weather and thunder. The Israelites often fell into Baal worship, in violation of the First Commandment. Elijah pointed out their absurd inconsistency in 1 Kings 18:21, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” It was illogical for the Israelites to attempt to serve two contrary gods (and immoral). Are we any different today when we try to add other gods to Christianity? No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Those Christians who want to believe in Deep Time along with the biblical God are being dreadfully inconsistent. They may claim that they serve the Lord alone, but by their actions they reveal that Deep Time is their primary god, and the Lord is secondary. We can tell this by the way they handle Scripture. For the Deep-Time-Christian, all Scripture is interpreted in light of the dictates of Deep Time. Thus, Deep Time is primary, and the Scriptures are secondary. Indeed, if the Scriptures were primary, then the individual would have to reject Deep Time as a false god (Exodus 20:3, Isaiah 45:5-6) and fictitious concept (Exodus 20:11) It can be discouraging to see so many Christians attempting to serve the pagan god Deep Time. It often feels like the Christians who truly stand on God’s Word are so very few. But we should remember that Elijah was discouraged as well. In a time when he was afraid for his life, and thinking that he was the last faithful believer he cried out to God (1 Kings 19:14). But the Lord responded: “Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18). Think of this the next time you are discouraged about the rampant compromise within the Church. How many more Christians has the Lord kept for Himself who have not bowed the knee to Deep Time? This article was first published on JasonLisle.com and is reprinted here with the permission. Dr. Jason Lisle is the founder of the Bible Science Institute....
Science - Creation/Evolution
ON THE ORIGIN OF ARTICLES: You thought this article was designed? How unscientific of you!
You might think that someone wrote this article. But of course, you would be mistaken. Articles are not written by people. They are the result of chance. Every intelligent person knows it. There might be some people who want you to think that articles are written by people. But this view is totally unscientific. After all, we cannot see the person who allegedly wrote the article. We cannot detect him or her in any way. The claim that this article has an author cannot be empirically verified, and therefore it must be rejected. All we have is the article itself, and we must find a scientific explanation for its origin. IT JUST SEEMS DESIGNED Since no intelligent source can be empirically detected within this article, empirical science must look to the chance processes of nature for its formation. In other words, we must not allow ourselves to think that this article came about from a mind; for this would be unscientific. Since it is not the result of a mind, it follows logically that this article is the result of chance. The article has not been designed – it is not the result of some unseen conscious forethought. Naysayers might suggest that this article bears evidence of design. They might point out that it has a logical flow, that its sentences are coherent, and that it contains creative information. True enough. But this is only evidence of apparent design at best. We must certainly grant that many articles appear designed, as if they had been planned by a mind and written with creative forethought. But to assume that the design came from some unseen, undetectable author would be unscientific. ALL THIS GENIUS IS JUST GLITCHES What then is the true origin of articles? We know that articles can be copied. Articles on paper can be duplicated using a Xerox machine, and electronic articles can be copied from one computer to another. We also know that errors can occur in this duplication process. A simple glitch in the computer can result in a letter being changed, or a sentence or paragraph being duplicated or removed. Most of these random changes would make the article less readable than the original. But such variations would not be copied. (Who would bother to Xerox a bad article?) And so eventually they would be lost. We must assume that occasionally, very rarely, a mistake in the copy would actually improve the quality of the article – making it more readable and more interesting. In such cases, the improved article would be much more likely to be copied than the original. In this fashion, articles gradually improve, often growing in length, complexity, and interest. It stands to reason, therefore, that all articles started out as a simple word, or perhaps even a single letter, which was gradually changed as it was duplicated due to errors in the duplication process and selection of the more readable variations. COMMON ORIGINAL ARTICLE It is also sensible to conclude that all articles have diverged from a common original article which itself consisted of nothing more than a single word. This is obvious by virtue of the fact that all articles have certain things in common. For example, all articles use words. And in all cases these words are organized into sentences. Many of the words used in many articles are exactly the same! For example, the word “the” appears very commonly in almost all articles. Are we to believe that this is just a coincidence? Clearly not. It is evidence that these articles share a common source. They have each diverged from a common article in the distant past. Naysayers argue that articles are written by people. But would people use the very same words in different articles? The common words, common grammar, and common sentence structure clearly point to a common origin for articles. It is reasonable to conclude that articles which share more common words and sentences are more closely related than those that have fewer common words and sentences. Clearly this extends to larger works of literature – books for example. Books are the most advanced form of literary diversification, and so they must also be the most recent. WE HAVEN'T SEEN IT HAPPEN BUT... Critics of our position (“authorists”) might object that we have never seen one article transform into a completely different article. In other words, all observed changes have been only minor transformations. But is this really surprising? After all, it would take a very long time for an article to have accumulated enough changes to be classified as a completely different article. And people simply don’t live long enough for this to happen within our lifetime. But the fact that all articles share common words is positive evidence that it has happened, even though the process is too slow to see it in its entirety today. We do see minor transformations today. And it is reasonable to conclude that these minor changes will add up to major changes over long periods of time. Some readers might be bothered by the fact that we do not have a complete record of how the simpler articles diversified into the wide variety of complex articles in our present world. But this does not in any way disqualify our basic thesis that articles do share a common original source. After all, considering the trillions of variations that must have existed and been destroyed in the vast time necessary for this process, we would expect that the record of links in the chain would be fragmentary at best. And we do know of some links. For example, there are several minor variations of the book The Hobbit. These are known to exist, and it is obvious they stem from a common original. So it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that all works of literature share a common source. THIS WOULD TAKE A LONG TIME Given the slowness of the diversification of articles, it is reasonable to conclude that articles are far older than “authorists” assume. The process of an article becoming longer and more interesting likely takes millions of years – perhaps even hundreds of millions of years. It may even happen in spurts, rapid diversification followed by long periods of relative stasis. This may account for the fact that we find so few intermediate forms in ancient libraries. NO IRREDUCIBLE SENTENCES One objection to our position is the idea that some sentences in some articles contain a degree of “irreducible complexity.” This is to say that even a minor change of any kind would make the sentence unclear or unreadable. However, this notion fails to consider that multiple simultaneous changes – though rare – can occur in the process of time. The fact that we cannot conceptualize an intermediate sentence does not actually prove that no such intermediate is possible. The process by which articles diversify from a common source is still being studied, and so we do not have the answers to every detail yet. But this does not mean that such answers will not be forthcoming in the process of time. The formation and diversification of articles from a common source is a scientific fact and well supported by the evidence even though some of the details are not yet understood. BELIEVING IN AN AUTHOR IS BLIND FAITH To assume that articles have an author is a faith position. It is a belief in something that cannot be perceived with the senses. As such, it is unscientific and should be rejected. If some people feel that they must believe in an author, that’s okay, but please remember that your view is religious and not scientific. Please don’t force it on others or teach it in school. Just think about it. This very article which you are now reading is the result of countless copying errors which gradually increased its length and complexity over time. How amazing that such a process of nature has resulted in so many wonderful works of literature! Such literature is not the result of some mysterious, unseen, undetectable “author.” It is simply the inevitable result of the mindless duplication process working over unimaginable periods of time. This article was first published on JasonLisle.com and is reprinted here with the permission. Dr. Jason Lisle is the founder of the Bible Science Institute. QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION How do you go about telling the difference between an object formed by chance and one that has been designed? What distinguishes the designed object? How can you know this article was designed? Do we seem like the sum total of countless copying errors over millions of years? Or do we seem “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14)? Why might even non-Christians agree? Evolutionists see common elements of design – like the fact that many animals have four limbs (or like the word “the” that appears in this article and many others) – as evidence of a common origin. How would a creationist respond? Creationists and evolutionists both agree that “copying errors” (mutations) can cause changes within a species. But if we agree that mutations can cause minor variations, why don’t we believe they can, over millions of years, turn molecules into Man? What is irreducible complexity and why is it a problem for evolution? Is it more reasonable to think this article was designed, or crafted by chance? Which position requires blind faith? ...