News, Recent Articles, RP App
Saturday Selections – October 1, 2022
On Sept 3, in New York, abortion defenders showed up at a pro-life protest. And this gentleman saw it as an opportunity to speak truth to people who need to hear it.
This US article is an alert to all parents to understand that marijuana is more dangerous than is commonly presented. It also shows a way that Christians in Canada and wherever marijuana is already legal can still help their neighbors by pushing for limits on the THC potency of the marijuana being sold. REAL Women of Canada has also detailed some of the problems.
"When a loved one says their sexual sins are an intrinsic part of who they are, they’re suggesting that if we do not love their homosexuality or transgenderism—then we do not love them. That is a powerful, manipulative argument that many parents, siblings, and friends do not have courage or integrity to resist."
Giorgia Meloni is being denounced by the West's mainstream media as "far-right" and "facist" for saying things like this:
“Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology, yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death.... Chesterton wrote more than a century ago: ‘Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer.’ That time has arrived. We are ready. Thank you.”
Christian supporters of "complementarianism" will often use that term to distinguish themselves from "patriarchy." But as DeYoung notes, many in the world would regard complementarianism as synonymous with patriarchy since both espouse male leadership in the church and home.
John Beeson offers up "nine practical ways to battle lust in our lives..."
Socialism is a violation of the 10th commandment and runs up against the 8th too, so we shouldn't be surprised that it doesn't bear good fruit. That's evidenced in this PragerU video about the Venezuelan government's socialist turn.
Current Issue, Magazine, RP App
Sept/Oct 2022 issue
WHAT’S INSIDE: A Valley of Conquerors: God’s work in one Reformed community to set prisoners free from their bondage to sexual sin / "Enjoying God...
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Watch for free
The Master Designer: The Song
Documentary 2014 / 76 minutes RATING: 8/10 What I most appreciated about The Master Designer was this nature documentary's patience, showing us ...
News, RP App
Saturday Selections – September 24, 2022
Cephalopods are super cool Cephalopods include both octopus and the "Flamboyant Cuttlefish" highlighted below, which can change its color in waves. A...
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....
Envy dressed up as equality
A few weeks ago two of my daughters were fighting over a stuffed animal, both insisting it was theirs. I wanted to stop the fight but this struck me a...
Drama, Movie Reviews
Black and White / War / Drama 107 minutes / 1942 RATING: 7/10 Ronald Reagan and Errol Flynn are two members of an Allied bombing crew assigned a ...
Family, Movie Reviews
The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit
Family / Romance 113 minutes / 1968 Rating: 7/10 Horses, humor, and a little romance will make this one a favorite among the preteen girls in you...
Family, Movie Reviews
Free film: The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry
Family / Drama 96 minutes; 2008 RATING: 6/10 In the summer of 1970 three boys develop a friendship with an elderly man, Jonathan Sperry, who teac...
Family, Movie Reviews
Family / Comedy 2010 / 107 minutes Rating: 8/10 The producers bill this as "High School Musical meets Napoleon Dynamite" but I'll have to take t...
Family, Movie Reviews
Pride and Prejudice (2003)
Romance/Comedy 104 min / 2003 Rating: 8/10 When a book is adapted for the screen, readers want it to be as close to the book as possible. So let's begin this review with a heads up: that did not happen here. The central plot remains the same – these are women "in need of a husband" – but the setting has been updated to the modern-day USA, with five girlfriends all sharing a house just off-campus. Other departures include how the first love interest, Charles Bingley, came by his wealth: selling classical music CDs for dogs, and marketing them via late-night TV infomercials. And he drives a motor scooter. Oh, and Mr. Collins' proposal now has him make the compelling argument: "Elizabeth, we've been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth." So if you aren't up for a light, silly treatment of your favorite book, this is not for you. That said, I do think it is for most everyone else. And if you've ever wished that someone today could make something like Pride and Prejudice, well, this is something like it indeed. This version also adds an element glaringly absent from the book and every film version: car chases! Caution There aren't many cautions to offer because, as it turns out, this was made by Mormons. There's no sex happening onscreen or off (though the villain of the piece, Wickham, jokes at one point about being “relatively disease-free”). The only problematic element is a self-help dating guide called the “Pink Bible.” We had to explain to our kids that it was a “bible” only in the sense that it was purporting to be the final word on that subject – dating – as the Mechanics Bible would say it is for car repair. We also had to explain to our girls that this boy-crazy guide and the "religious" way that the youngest two girls, Kitty and Lydia, followed it, was meant to be a comic warning and not an example. Conclusion This is not a faithful retelling of Pride and Prejudice. and yet it is a very good one, keeping remarkably close to the spirit of the book. That makes it the perfect date night movie for mom and dad, and a pretty good one for the whole family. The pacing is quick, the romance is sweet, and the humor is sprinkled liberally throughout. Of the 50 or so people I’ve watched it with, or loaned it to, somewhere near 90% have given it a thumbs up. There are so many Pride and Prejudice films that if you want to find this one you should search for the title along with the year, or the title along with the word “Mormon." That’ll help you track it down. I share the trailer below with some misgivings – the film is a lot better than this makes it seem. ...
Love is a mostly misunderstood word – it’s mistaken for sex, for sentimentality, for some sort of chemical thing that just happens, or doesn’t, and either lasts forever, or doesn’t. Some think it’s effortless. Some even think it can be bought for money. Christians too, are confused. We know love is more than sex, more than sentimentality, and more than chemistry, but most of us are still trying to figure out whether love is a feeling or an action! So what is love then? God tells us that love is… sacrificial “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). Some misunderstand love as a math formula, where things are supposed to work out even on both sides of the equation: if you give a friend a thoughtful present, you should be able to count on getting one in return; if you give your spouse a backrub, they should get up and make you coffee; tit for tat, back and forth, even-steven. But Christ demonstrated the complete inequity of real love – He loved us, so He gave himself up for us, even though, in return, we can offer him nothing. Loving is giving with no thought of getting. something you do “Let us not love in word or in tongue but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Love is more than a feeling, more than an attraction, more than arousal or sentimentality. Love is expressed in what we do for one another. We can say we love our brother, but if we won’t visit him when he’s lonely or help him when he is troubled, there is no love. Love is an action. not a duty to be performed “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3). Doing is not enough – it’s not enough to give to the poor, go to church twice each Sunday and read the Bible regularly if we are not doing this out of our love for God. A daughter can take her aging father to medical appointments, help him with his shopping and pop by regularly for a cup of coffee, but this, by itself, isn’t love – the very same tasks could be done by hired staff. Love is more than just a verb. A husband can play the part of a loving spouse – he can do all the right things, but love is more than just action, more than just duty. It is an attitude... Love is a feeling. not God “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). The Beatles got it backwards when they sang, “All you need is love.” All we need is God, and while God is indeed love, that doesn’t make the reverse true – love isn’t God. The Beatles aren’t the only ones to get it backwards though. Our society is in love with love – they insist it's the only way to bring meaning to our lives so it must be pursued no matter what the cost. Affairs, naturally, have become commonplace; if love is god, nothing should stand in the way of it, not vows, not spouses, not family. Instead of pursuing the God who is love, our society pursues love itself had has made an idol of it. But love is not God. from God “In this is love, not that we loved God, but the He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). God commands us to love our neighbor, and it’s a command most of us find easy to do. Or at least easy to do with old Mrs. Todd, our next-door neighbor who bakes cookies for us every Thanksgiving. But this command isn’t as easy to obey with that neighbor two doors down, who always steals our parking spot. Or the guy right next door who leaves beer cans on our lawn. Love these guys? Maybe we would if they were only a bit more lovable. But of course, the love God is commanding here is of a more godly sort – the love that comes from Him. We need to humbly remember that we love, only because God loved us first. He, after all, didn’t love us because we had first in some way earned or prompted his love. No, He loved us first, sending his Son to die for us even while we were his enemies. And it is because He loved us first, that we can now love Him, and our neighbor. Love comes from God....
Adult fiction, Book Reviews
The Man in the Dark
by Douglas Wilson 258 pages / 2019 Some books only merit a quick read, others should be slowly savored, and a select few are so good you just have to read them out loud to your wife. This is that third sort! Savannah Westmoreland, a self-assured school teacher, finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. Except that it wouldn't be accurate to call what the town's biggest businessman feels for her love. Desire...hunger...lust. But not love. And while the church's newly arrived pastor is interested, and seems a worthy sort, he can't get past the walls Savannah has set up. But events – and friends – conspire against Savannah, putting her repeatedly in the pastor's company. And even as he uses these moments to make a good case for his marriable merits, Savannah is still actively discouraging him. Why? Something from her past still has a hold on her. The pastor is trying to get around this obstacle, but the businessman is trying to discover exactly what her secret is so he can use it to control her. This is Douglas Wilson's third novel, but first romance. It is the second of his books that I've read out loud to my wife, the other being Flags out Front. That's really the highest praise I can give a book. But lest you think Wilson is only a two-hit wonder, I'll share that his other novel, Evangellyfish, won Christianity Today's 2012 best fiction award. This man knows how to tell a story. As you might suspect of a book written by a Reformed pastor, there is a lot of theology, from the dinner table conversations to the metaphor underlying the whole story. But conversations about God are a great way to learn about God, and even though the book has a pastor right in the mix, this is not a sermon disguised as a story. This is, instead, great fiction telling something true. And if you think the ending a tad contrived, I might agree with you. But I'd also invite you to consider what the author is saying about this God of wonders that we serve. And speaking of truth-telling, I should own up that as much as I enjoyed reading this out loud to my wife, she didn't get to hear the whole story. That's because when she fell asleep I just had to keep reading. ...
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Religion - Mormons, Watch for free
The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon
Documentary 66 minutes Rating: 8/10 Which is the true sacred text: the Book of Mormon, or the Bible? That's quite the question, and this is quite the documentary, with narrator Joel Kramer tracking down experts, Christian and Mormon, to compare and contrast the two books. Kramer and his partner in this effort, Scott Johnson, are members of the Living Hope Christian Fellowship in Brigham City, Utah which has made a concerted effort to reach out to the Mormons all around them. They attempt to do so here by showing how the Bible is backed by history in a way that the Book of Mormon simply is not. The Book of Mormon is said to be a translation of ancient Egyptian, as it was set down on golden plates. It has different books in it, with the main narrative about ancient Israelites who ended up in the Americas before Christ, and were later visited by Him after his resurrection. These Israelites were divided into two groups, the Lamanites and the Nephites, who fought one another. That is a historical claim, but in contrast to the abundant archeological evidence for the historicity of the Bible, there isn't the same to back the Mormon account of ancient Israelites in the Americas. Now, a Mormon might note that absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence – just because we haven't found anything yet isn't definitive proof that we never will. That's true enough. However, the sheer weight of evidence – literally tons of it – on the biblical side still stands in stark contrast to the lack thereof for the Book of Mormon. If you like this film, you'll also appreciate this same group's documentaries DNA vs. the Book of Mormon, and The Bible vs. Joseph Smith, which you can purchase on DVD at Sourceflix.com. This one, though, you can watch for free, below. ...
Religion, Religion - Mormons
Mormons and Masons have their secrets. We don’t.
There’s nothing esoteric about the Christian faith. There is no secret mystery into which you must become initiated in order to be admitted. It’s not like the Gnostic sects where one had to become an initiate for years before he became a full member. Jesus spoke to this issue plainly when He said in John 18:19: "I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues, or in the temple court, where all the Jews assemble, and I didn’t teach anything secretly." Christianity isn’t Masonry, or Mormonism, where you take vows “never to reveal and always to conceal” rituals that you are required to perform in a Lodge meeting or in a “temple” ceremony. It has always been completely aboveboard about its beliefs and practices. Indeed, as Jesus said, He always spoke “openly.” If an organization – or pseudo church – has anything worthwhile to offer, let it be open to examination. How can anyone vow to never reveal something before he knows what it is? That is one form of what the Bible calls a rash vow (Prov. 20:25, Eccl. 5:2-7, Judges 11:29-40). It is sinful to make a vow that one doesn’t know whether or not he ought to keep before he knows what it is he is vowing to keep secret. Suppose, after taking a vow, one were to realize that he must expose the error or sinfulness of what he learns – he’d then find himself in an intolerable position. On the one hand, he’d be obligated to expose it; on the other hand he would have vowed not to do so. That is an unacceptable dilemma, one into which one must never allow himself to be inveigled. One more thought – if a group of any sort has something worth becoming a part of, it has no right to conceal it from anyone; but like our Lord said, it is something that should be proclaimed “openly to the world.” If it’s worthwhile, spread it abroad. Why would you selfishly cling to it as private truth? If it’s not something worthwhile, then don’t get into it in the first place. On every score, then, no Christian should ever become involved in a secret society. A fundamental principle of our faith is to preach the message of salvation to all the world. We have nothing to hide. Dr. Jay Adams is Dean of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies and the author of more than 100 books. This post first appeared on his blog at www.nouthetic.org and is reprinted here with permission....
Apologetics 101, RP App, Sexuality
10 tales to help us clear away transgender confusion
We live in a time when the obvious is not so. How exactly can we explain to someone who doesn’t get it, that saying you’re a woman doesn’t make you one? Three thousand years ago the prophet Nathan faced the same sort of problem – how to effectively explain the obvious. Anyone who has heard the Ten Commandments knows that murder and adultery are sins and yet King David had done both and remained entirely unrepentant. So in comes Nathan, with a story about a rich man who’d stolen and eaten his poor neighbor’s only sheep (2 Sam. 12). David, blind to his own sins, condemned the rich man to death for actions that paled in comparison to his own. That’s when Nathan connected the dots for him: if you think sheep stealing is bad, then what should you think about wife stealing? “You are the man!” he thundered. And David’s eyes were opened. Transgenders and their allies need their eyes opened too. To help clear away their confusion, here are 10 news items and other illustrations. They can be used in back-fence conversations or in letters to the editor or to our elected officials, and come in three broad groupings: A. We shouldn’t encourage people to harm themselves B. People can be wrong about their own bodies C. Wishing doesn’t make it so These analogies are like warning signs that tell us “Turn around!” “Hazardous!” and “Do not go any further!” That’s helpful, but a “Wrong way” sign only tells us what not to do. It doesn’t really point us in the right direction. So it’s important to understand that while these analogies can expose the transgender lie, they don’t do much to point people to the truth. For that we need to share God’s thoughts on gender, that He created us male and female (Gen. 5:2), and that when we deny this reality bad stuff happens – then we arrive at a point where the cruel and the sadly comical are celebrated and encouraged. What follows are examples of where this reality-denying path leads. A. WE SHOULDN’T ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO HARM THEMSELVES The majority of transsexuals don’t undergo surgery, but many do. This involves cutting pieces of their body off. Why are we encouraging this self-harm? Lonely man wants to be a parrot Ted Richards likes parrots, and in an effort to look more like his pets he has had the whites of his eyes inked, feathers tattooed on his face, horns inserted into his skull, and his ears cut off. He has also recently changed his name to Ted Parrotman. One article had him saying he had only two friends. His loneliness comes out in other ways too – he has no regrets about changing his surname because: “I’ve not had any contact with my mother and father for years because we didn’t really get on – I don’t even know if they’re dead or alive, and I also don’t talk to my siblings anymore – so I felt no connection to having a family name.” When he appeared on The Jeremy Kyle Show the crowd applauded when the host declared, “There’s nothing wrong with being different.” No, but there is something wrong with cheering on self-destructive behavior. Abled bodied man cuts off one arm In 2015 the National Post profiled “One Hand Jason,” a man who cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool.” According to the Post: His goal was to become disabled. People like Jason have been classified as “transabled” – feeling like imposters in their bodies, their arms and legs in full working order. Like the transgendered, transabled people feel they have been born in the wrong bodies, but instead of objecting to their genitalia, the transabled object to their limbs, or their hearing, or even their lack of paralysis. And like the transgendered, some seek to address this discomfort by cutting bits of themselves off. Woman blinds herself Jewel Shuping wanted to be blind ever since she was a girl. She bought herself a white cane at 18 and learned Braille by 20, and then, at 23, paid a psychologist to pour drain cleaner in her eyes. She told the British Tabloid The Sun: “I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth.” B. PEOPLE CAN BE WRONG ABOUT THEIR OWN BODIES The previous three examples could also fall into this category, but Kevin DeYoung’s illustration that follows is especially good. Girl’s anorexia is affirmed In A Transgender Thought Experiment, Kevin DeYoung tells the fictional story of a young woman who at just 95 pounds still thinks of herself as fat. She asks her counselor for help and he reveals himself to be an affirming sort. Rather than address her anorexia the counselor tells her: “If you tell me you’re fat, I’m not going to stand in the way of you accepting that identity….You are fat. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s who you are.… No one can tell you what’s right or wrong with your body. After all, it’s your body…. it’s okay if you don’t eat much for lunch. Weight is only a social construct. Fat is a feeling, not a fact.” C. WISHING DOESN’T MAKE IT SO Four of the examples that follow are actual people, but the best illustration is probably the last one in this grouping, where Joseph Backholm asks a series of hypothetical questions to university students. And if people don’t believe the hypothetical could ever become actual, real examples are plentiful. Woman says she is another race The Afro-wearing, dark-skinned Rachel Dolezal was the president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 2014 until June of 2015 when she resigned after it was revealed that both her biological parents were white. She later stated that she was “biologically born white to white parents, but I identify as black.” Man says he is another age Paul Wolscht is a heavy-set, six-foot tall, 52-year-old who wants to be a six-year-old girl named Stefoknee. In a video interview with the gay news site The Daily Xtra Wolscht explained that he has “an adopted mommy and daddy who are totally comfortable with me being a little girl. And their children and grandchildren are totally supportive.” “It’s liberated me from the hurt. Because if I’m six years old, I don’t have to think about adult stuff…I have access to really pretty clothes and I don’t have to act my age. By not acting my age I don’t have to deal with the reality that was my past because it hurt…” Wolscht has abandoned his wife of more than 20 years and his seven children, deciding that playing the part of a six-year-old girl is more to his liking than his role of husband and father. However, Wolscht has not abandoned caffeine or his car: “I still drink coffee and drive a car, right, even my tractor, but still I drive the tractor as a little kid. I drive my car as a little kid.” But, of course, six-year-olds really shouldn’t drink coffee, and driving is out of the question. So whether six or 52, Wolscht is not acting his age. One more thought to consider – Wolscht’s childish claims have been treated with respect by The Daily Xtra but what would they think of the reverse? As one of my teenage nieces put it: “Can I identify as a 22-year-old and order a drink at a bar? Can I identify as a 16-year-old and get my license?” Teens to get seniors’ discount? In April of 2016, the American department store chain Target announced that they would “welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” In May that same year, the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee came out with an item about how the store would now allow “grant a 10% senior discount to any person who self-identifies as age 60 or older.” Woman says she another species Nano, a Norweigan woman claims she is a cat. She wears cloth ears and will, on occasion, crawl around on her hands and knees and meow at people. In a video interview with reporter Silje Ese she says she was 16 when she first realized she was a cat trapped in a human’s body. She distinguished her situation from that of her friend Svein, who, she says, is a human with a cat personality in his head (one of several personalities he exhibits), whereas she was born a cat. They both claimed to be able to communicate to each other in “cat language,” a claim which the reporter did not, of course, put to the test. Man says he is “mythical beast” Richard Hernandez has had his scales tattooed onto his face, arms and body, his ears removed, his eye whites dyed green, and his nostrils trimmed. Why? So he can become a female dragon. On one of his many blogs he describes himself as: “…the Dragon Lady…in the process of morphing into a human dragon, becoming a reptoid as I shed my human skin and my physical appearance and my life as a whole leaving my humanness behind and embracing my most natural self awareness as a mythical beast.” Guy says he is another height, gender, race and age In a popular YouTube video called College Kids Say the Darndest Things: On Identity, the short, very white, Joseph Backholm asked Washington University students if he could be a tall Chinese first-grader. They told him to go for it. CONCLUSION These are fantastic illustrations of the insanity that results when we deny that it’s God who gets to define reality and not us. But the better the illustration, the stronger the temptation to rely on the story to do all the work for us. But like the prophet Nathan before us, after telling these tales we’ll need to spell out the transgender connection for our listening audience. What that might look like? Maybe a bit like this: Christian: Have you heard about the guy who cut off his arm because he felt like he should have been born disabled? Secular Sue: That is crazy! Someone needed to help that poor guy. He needed some counseling or something. Chris: I agree. But I got a question for you – some guys will cut off a significant bit of themselves because they think they should have been born girls. Do you think that’s crazy too? Sue: I think that’s different – gender is just a social construct, so if someone feel they are the wrong gender, then maybe surgery like that can help. Chris: So it’s crazy to cut off your arm but okay to cut off your…? Sue: Well…. Chris: Why the hesitation? Sue: Because when you put it like that it doesn’t sound quite right. Chris: That’s because it isn’t right. Self-mutilation is wrong. There’s a guy who was on a talk show about how, to become more like his parrots, he’d cut off his ears. The crowd applauded. Sue: Oh, that’s awful. Chris: I agree. But isn’t this just the logical end to encouraging transgenderism? If gender is changeable, what isn’t? And if all is changeable, how can we discourage anyone from trying to do just that? To each their own and all that. But Christians know that God made us male and female; we know He gets to define reality and we don’t; and we know that when we defy His reality, bad stuff results. Like people cutting off their ears to the approval of the clapping crowd. We’re not going to convince everyone, no matter how brilliant the analogy, so that mustn’t be our measure for success. Instead, we want to ask is, are we bringing clarity? Are eyes being opened? Is the world being presented with the choice they need to make? Do they realize they can either choose for God, male and female, and reality as He has defined it… or they choose chaos? This first appeared in the June 2016 issue. ...
Feminists vs. transgenders? Why the Left is turning on itself.
In Judges 7 Israel is faced with a fearsome foe, and God decides to use that foe's strength against it. Gideon and his 300 get to watch as "the Lord set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army." Might God have something similar in mind for today's liberal Left? Consider the case of Gabrielle Bouchard. This past December, Bouchard made news, and drew the ire of a small number of vocal feminists, when he became head of Québec’s largest feminist group. Bouchard is a man who identifies as a woman, and the group he now heads, the Fédération des Femmes du Québec (FFQ) has the typical feminist stands: abortion is good, capitalism is exploitive, the patriarchy is evil. It's on this last point – men running too much of the world - that the FFQ is getting attacked. Diane Guilbault, the head of a rival feminist group, told the National Post that she doesn't appreciate a man being in charge of a feminist group because: “the experience of a woman who is born a woman is completely different from the experience of a man who decides one day to present himself as a woman.” While the protest against Bouchard has been limited, it has garnered some favorable coverage from a mainstream press that isn’t sure which side they should pick when one leftwing group takes on another. A month earlier a similar sort of conflict occurred south of the border. An American white man, Ja Du, publicly identified as a Filipina woman and the mainstream press didn’t know how to handle that either. The liberal Huffington Post decided to accept he was a woman, but wasn’t yet ready to do the same for his transracial claims. Their headline read: “Filipinos aren’t happy with this white woman claiming to be a Filipina.” Their hesitancy is puzzling: once you grant a man can become a woman, what logic prevents us from acknowledging a white man can become an Asian woman? Why is that a bigger leap? Of course we knew it wasn't going to be long before "transracialism" was going to be embraced too, and this past week the National Post's Barbara Kay reported that the State of Delaware is going to allow students to self-identify not only their gender, but their race too. But the more the Left embraces this craziness, the sooner the infighting is going to get serious. The conflicts we see here – one feminist group vs. the transgender head of another, and the liberal media picking transgenders over transracials – might not seem to matter. But the problems these groups have with one another are only going to grow. Why? Because at their core, feminist, transgender, and transracial views contradict. And it's only a matter of time before these unnatural allies turn on one another. Are the differences real or not? The divide between feminists and transgenders comes down to how each answers this question: are the differences between the sexes real? The typical feminist is going to answer with a "no." They'll acknowledge reproductive differences only because those are impossible to overlook. But when asked why there are far fewer female CEOs, or why the overall average wage for women is lower than that for men, the standard feminist line attributes the difference to discrimination. It is most certainly not a result of men and women having different interests, or different strengths and capabilities – after all, anything a man can do a woman can do too! To put it another way, the predominant feminist take is that the differences between men and women are only outward and insignificant - we look different, but we aren't actually different. Meanwhile when a man like Gabrielle Bouchard claims that, despite how he looks, he feels like a woman then he is, unavoidably, attacking the feminist position. After all, he's implying that there is something, outside of the outward appearance, that makes a woman different than a man. In making his claim to be the other gender, Bouchard is acknowledging that there are differences between the genders that are both real and significant. What exactly those differences are, isn't generally discussed. That's where Christians need to press the issue and ask: what does it mean to feel like a woman? What does that feeling involve? Imagine if a man said he knew he was actually a woman because he felt more sensitive and emotional, liked dresses and the color pink, and felt so very nurturing. What would feminists think of that? It doesn't really matter what differences a transgender might point to, feminists are going to either deny the differences are real, or that they are important. So we can see the rupture already starting. We can tear it wide open if we press that question: what exactly does being female or male mean? Are the groups fixed or not? When it comes to transracialism, it might seem surprising that even a liberal-leaning publication like the Huffington Post is slow to embrace the idea. Why would any on the Left have a problem with accepting that a person can swap ethnic identities? Maybe it's because, on some level, the Left understands that transracialism (along with transgenderism) undermines identity politics: minority groups pressing for preferential treatment to compensate for past wrongs (real or supposed) done to their group. After all, what happens to identity politics when it becomes possible to switch groups? What happens to demands for preferential treatment when a white man can be acknowledged as black and female? What happens to hiring quotas when an applicant can choose to identify as whatever combination of special identities a company is looking to check off? It becomes hard to pit one group against another when the lines between them are being erased. The tipping point Christians might be discouraged at just how fast our culture is embracing ideas that, only a few short years ago, would have been dismissed as crazy by just about everyone. But there is a bright side to the speed at which the Left is adopting one incoherent idea after another: the more craziness they stack on their shaky foundation, the sooner the whole mess is going to tip over. We can hasten that tipping point by asking questions that highlight that incoherence, like: Are the differences between the genders real and significant? What does it mean to feel like a woman, or feel like a man? What does it mean to be of a different race? And if I can be a different race, can I be a different age? Or a different height? How about a different weight? Or socio-economic status? Why, or why not? We can also point our culture to the one worldview that's built on a firm foundation. We can begin by teaching them that God made us male and female, and that can't be changed (though our feelings about our gender can be). We can share that gender-based differences do exist and they are significant, but they aren't scary, and don't have to be ignored or diminished. We can explain that acknowledging men are physically stronger than women isn't an attack on women's worth, because our worth doesn't come from our muscle size, or any other ability. We can point out that there is only one way in which we are all equal, and so, only one basis for any claim to equality: we are all made in God's image. We can clarify that while there are all sorts of ethnicities and cultures, there is just one race – the human race – and the denial of that truth has led to untold discrimination and persecution. And we can explain that the reason this all makes sense in a way that their secular worldview just doesn't, is because it is God's truth, and it is trustworthy because He is. Ryan T. Anderson has a similar, longer take, titled "Transgender ideology is riddled with contradictions. Here are the big ones." available here....