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Saturday Selections – July 31, 2021

Unequal results aren't proof of injustice The impartiality that God calls us to is that of equal treatment (Lev. 19:15, Deut 1:16-17, James 2:1-7) not equal outcomes. Parenting should humble you The opening lines of this article are a real kick in the pants:

“Mom’s the worst sinner in the family,” my 4-year-old repeated to house guests after our previous gospel conversations about repenting of sin. Apparently. And you know what? There was a time in my life that would have been mortifying. Now, I hear it and think, Yup. Sounds about right.

Transgeneria: identifying as a tree The woman said she identified as a tree, and, unbelievably, her doctors thought it was a delusion – they didn't take her claims seriously! Why is it always someone else's fault? The blame game - we all play it. Responding in love (not anger) when your child confesses their porn use "...chances are that your child was already nervous about telling you, and when we react in anger, the usual result is they stop being honest with us when they mess up in the future. It’s important that your reaction be void of anger and full of grace." Why wokeness is a Christian heresy This isn't long, but it's worth reading slowly. Doesn't adaptation prove evolution? (1 min) Does the ability of an animal to adapt to new circumstances disprove that it was designed? Or does it actually show how well it has been crafted?

News

Saturday Selections – July 3, 2021

Insects flying in slow motion (6 min) Kids will enjoy this cool video of 11 different bugs taking off, some elegantly, others not so much: it's great fun to see God's creativity on display! A small caution: elsewhere on his YouTube channel the videographer credits this astonishing creativity to evolution rather than God. How to preach against Critical Race Theory (10-minute read) "In this essay, I’d like to encourage pastors to oppose the errors of CRT, but I’ll suggest what might seem like an unusual approach: pastors should consider preaching against CRT without mentioning CRT at all..." How do you move a whole denomination to reaffirm biblical creation? Be inspired by how God used a grandmother to bring her denomination back to a 6-day understanding of creation. God loves LGBT people more than we do "...many professing Christians are tempted to disagree with what the Bible says about homosexuality and LGBTQ issues.....This is because many professing Christians believe they love LGBTQ people more than God does." "You still have to bake the cake, bigot!" Jack Phillips first got in trouble for not baking a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The day he won a Supreme Court decision on that fight, a transgender guy (male, pretending to be female) called him requesting a cake to celebrate his "sex-change." As before, Phillips didn't want to help someone celebrate their own destruction (in this case, the amputation of their genitals) and so he declined. And back to the courts Phillips was forced to go. Now he's written a book, which Jonathon Van Maren reviews here. When inclusivity becomes incoherence The LGBT movement is making "an ever-growing jumble of contradictory claims about sex, gender, and psychology, all of which lacks any uniting principle other than an opposition to what came before." Conservatives in 5 years... "O’Sullivan’s First Law" states: "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.” Coined by journalist John O'Sullivan in 1989, it described the leftward tilt that we see happen among politicians, parties, and organizations of all sorts whenever they refuse to loudly and clearly establish their conservative bonafides. That same thought is captured in the video below – directed at US Republicans, it is far more broadly applicable. However, while the video is spot on, and O'Sullivan's First Law has proven itself time and again, neither goes deep enough. It is not simply a matter of being right-wing that stops liberal drift – to be rooted a group or an individual needs a firmer foundation than "conservatism." So, let me add an expansion to O'Sullivan, riffing off of Matt. 12:30. Perhaps we can call it O'Dykstra's First Law: "Those who are not unabashedly Christian, will over time – along with the organizations they make up – become unabashedly anti-Christian." God is our only firm foundation, but when we are ashamed in the public square to acknowledge Him as such, then whatever we stand on instead – whether that’s common sense, traditional values, natural law, capitalism, or conservatism – will offer only a sandy footing. It will hold only for a time, before we, unmoored, slide down the slippery slope. Let's remember it doesn't have to be that way. We serve a great God, who is sovereign and mighty and has already won. So why then would we ever be ashamed or afraid to profess His Name? ...

News

Saturday Selections – June 26, 2021

Motorcyclist who identified as a bicyclist sets cycling record (5 min) If the world insists feelings – and not the Father – defines reality, then insanity, and even hilarity, ensues. The burning of the wooden shoes Looking back at how the Christian Reformed Church slid down the slippery slope to liberalism, Chris Gordon issues a warning to other Reformed churches who are focusing on being more culturally relevant. Pro-gay theology invents a new sin This is a short but insightful analysis of textbook Scripture twisting – how clear teaching is muddied and then turned completely around. Confronting misunderstandings about money Jim Newheiser tackles a few common questions including: Is money the root of all evil? Is ministry good and making money bad? Were the early Christians communists or socialists? Is it doubting God to plan for our financial future? How not to debate ideas in the public square Kevin DeYoung offers up 8 ways to discuss things online in the worst way possible. 10 ideas to give your marriage a fresh start There are some good ideas here for couples, whether things are going well right now, or not so. The most effective technology on the planet to block pornography (5 min) That's quite the claim, and Justin Taylor shares the details in that article at the link above, while "Matt" explains it in the video below. ...

News

Saturday Selections - June 19, 2021

Happy Father's Day Rapper Shai Linne pointing his father to our Father. Yes, you can prove God's existence... ....but proof doesn't always persuade. Fatherhood as a vocation in Richard Scarry's The Bunny Book "'What do you want to be when you grow up?' It’s a question we are routinely asked as youngsters, with the more cliché responses ranging from 'fireman' to 'astronaut' to 'explorer.' Yet, as I’ve argued previously, we needn’t limit such contemplations to work outside of the home.... family needn’t be viewed as a 'capstone' to personal achievement, but should instead be seen as a 'cornerstone'" Kids' shows are pushing Pride Month Jonathon Van Maren wants Christians to opt out of a mainstream culture that is explicitly anti-God. But it's harder to opt out when you don't know what to opt into instead. So to help, we've got 243 viewing suggestions here. Canadian gov't to regulate (indirectly) what citizens post online "In its original form, Bill C-10 would not have regulated the speech of ordinary Canadians at all. The bill excluded “programs that are uploaded to… a social media service by a user of the service,” meaning that the CRTC would not have had the power to supervise the content of individual users. However, in April, the heritage committee removed this exception from the bill...." Should singles adopt? Children need a mother and a father, which is why it is selfish for single men and women to, via surrogates or IVF, create a child who will have just one parent. But one parent is infinitely better than none, so for singles considering adoption, rescuing a child is an entirely different thing. A miracle on the frontlines (5 min) While miracles aren't the norm, God will do what God will do. And in frontline ministries, where maybe the need is the greatest, God sometimes makes Himself very evident. ...

News

Erin O'Toole votes against the unborn at his first opportunity

On June 2, Canada’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject restrictions on the murder of unborn baby girls. More specifically, they voted, 248 to 82 against backbench MP Cathay Wagantall’s Private Member’s Bill C-233, which would have made it illegal to abort a baby simply because she is female. The good news? For the first time in more than a decade, Parliament had to debate a bill that would restrict abortion. That got people talking about the unborn, and got their plight some needed public attention. The bill also gave us a public accounting of just how wicked some of our politicians are. This was about as minimally pro-life – as small a step forward – as any pro-life bill could be in that it didn’t necessarily prevent any abortions, but simply ruled out one justification for them: sex-selection. And by protecting unborn girls it also offered as much political cover as any pro-life bill ever could – this was a feminist pro-life bill. Yet 248 still voted against it. These MPs have shown that there is a real depth and commitment to their wickedness. Among those with babies’ blood on their hands are the leaders of the three major parties, including Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole. That he voted against the bill should come as no surprise to anyone since he’s always pledged to support the murder of the unborn as a right. But Christian Heritage Party leader Rod Taylor noted something that was curious: “31 of the 81 Conservatives who supported C-233 also supported the nomination of either Erin O’Toole in 2020, when he ran as a pro-choice (pro-abortion) leadership contestant or Peter Mackay, who was even farther left. When I look at the list of MPs who endorsed O’Toole or Mackay over pro-life MP Derek Sloan, it makes me wonder how they expected that the election of a leader who was actively promoting an anti-life position could ever lead to a good result in the House of Commons. As it is, any likelihood of the weakened and conflicted Conservative Party achieving victory in the next election has vanished. Compromise in the leadership contest in 2020 has guaranteed compromise on moral issues in 2021.”...

News

Saturday Selections - May 22, 2021

When the Pilgrims first landed, how many jobs were there? And how much work? (3 min) The answer is to these two questions are, there were no jobs, but lots of work. There were no employers to hire them, but the Pilgrims could see there was a lot they could productively set their hands to. Christian college president Ben Merkle explains that students who look to university only as a way of getting a job are missing the bigger picture - they should be looking for what work needs to be done. Two opposing types of "justice" (10-minute read) Thomas Sowell contrasts the traditional ideas of justice – where the ideal is to treat everyone equally – with "cosmic" or "social" justice, which is more concerned with equality of situations or outcomes. Sowell takes a Jordan Peterson-type role here, defending the biblical standard of justice, not really as a Christian (maybe he is one, but that's not how he is arguing here), but more as an appreciative outsider. 4 defining moments for young marriages "How newlyweds respond to these moments determines whether they stumble along separately or move forward together." Does democracy need Christianity? (5-minute read) "Democracy is not an ideology. It is a process through which a community gives expression to a vision. If our community is dazed and confused, then democracy will create chaos. "By all means Christians should engage in the democratic process but perhaps their first responsibility and their first desire should be to speak their faith loudly and clearly, live by and help many others to live by the truths and values which their faith embodies." On online privacy, Google, and you being their product You'd expect this article to be biased, as it is from a Google competitor (Duck Duck Go), but there's useful information here on why and how you would want to protect your online privacy. Free film: Does it matter what we believe about Genesis? (20 minutes) In this short film we get to see a man live out his life, from childhood all the way to his deathbed, but in three different ways: first we see him as an atheist who thinks the whole Bible is lies, second as a Christian who thinks only some of the Bible is true, and third as a Christian who understands that all of what God tells in the Bible is true and valuable. While the point here is that there is a strong connection between our beliefs – whether we follow God's truth or the world's lies – and the outcome of our lives, this isn't about earning God's blessings – this isn't the prosperity gospel. It is, instead, about taking seriously what God tells us in the Bible, and having His expressed Word be the guide for our lives.  ...

News

Saturday Selections – May 15, 2021

I forgot my phone (2 min) Seven years old, and still worth sharing: how our phones get in the way. Looking at the RC Sproul biography Wes Bredenhof with his kudos (and a little critique) for the new biography. Making suicide easier makes suicide more "popular" Some people who wouldn't otherwise commit suicide, will when it becomes easier to do. $10 million prize exposes what evolution can't do A $10 million prize is being offered to anyone who can show how an unguided, undesigned process (i.e. chemical evolution) could create an information system. The prize will never be claimed because: "information, like what is stored and communicated in DNA, has only one known source – an intelligent agent. To produce a system like DNA through unguided processes would not only be to do something that’s never been done; it would be to do something never before observed in the history of science." How Facebook lets advertisers be two-faced Exxon has been caught tailoring Facebook ads to people's political sensibilities, saying one thing to Left-leaning folk, and offering a different, almost opposite position, to those on the Right. The lesson? Getting it straight from the horse's mouth is a different sort of thing in a social media age where your collected information lets companies know, before they reach out to you, what you would like them to say. Should Christians always obey the law? Some solid help offered here, even if it might not offer complete clarity... ...

News

Saturday Selections – May 8, 2021

Moms rock! (6 min) An ode, of sorts, to moms everywhere. <span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span> My 3-year-old son is now a girl (4 min) This is some jaw-dropping, hind-quarters-kicking, satire. While these folks are politically conservative (libertarian?) they don't seem Christian. That means, as brilliant as this is in pointing out the craziness, they can't get to the root of it: that in rejecting God, the world is rejecting not just male and female, not just parental authority, but reality itself. This skit isn't on the creator's public YouTube page, presumably because they'd get in trouble for it. But you can view it at the link above on Facebook, and here on their unlisted YouTube page. Free John Piper booklet: Don't waste your cancer A frequent RP contributor, Dr. Wes Bredenhof, recommends this 18-page, free e-book, as being "helpful for anyone dealing with cancer or any other serious life-threatening (or even chronic) illness." How secure is your password?  The linked-to graphic makes the disturbing claim that if you have an 8 character password, even if it is different cases and a mix of numbers, symbols, and letters, it can still be hacked in 8 hours. More disturbing: the graphic is from September 2020, and presumably hackers are only getting faster... Finnish politician facing jail for defending the biblical view of homosexuality Jonathon Van Maren interviews Päivi Räsänen about the charges laid against her. Multiverse myth frees atheists from real science If you have to admit the odds are incomprehensibly stacked against our universe being as finely tuned for life as it is, it isn't an evolutionary save to, on the basis of no evidence, propose there must be countless other universes out there - a multiverse of them - so as to even out those incomprehensible odds. Mark Penninga on the start of ARPA Canada (18 min) The Pro-life Podcast Guys interview ARPA Canada's executive director, Mark Penninga. ...

News

Saturday Selections - May 1, 2021

Metamorphosis (5 min) Something new from Tim Nijenhuis based on Col. 3:1-17... Mosquitos are wonderfully and fearfully made? We might not like how they bite, but they do reflect the brilliance of their Designer! Pixar to introduce first transgender character Your kid's favorite superheroes, movies, TV programs, and book characters are being used to push an agenda on them. Baptism: a personal journey (10-minute read)  Pastor David Robertson, on his journey from a believer's baptism-holding Brethern and then Baptist, to an infant baptism-holding Presbyterian. In California, hundreds of men are transferring to women's prisons This is a sad opportunity for Christians to contrast God's Truth – that He made us male and female – with where the world takes us when we reject His Truth. Tennis trick shots by Mansour Bahrami (8 min) You don't have to be a tennis fan to enjoy this! ...

News

Christian college to replace plaque that calls murderers “savage”

Wheaton College, a US evangelical liberal arts college, has taken down a plaque “dedicated to the glory of God” and “in loving memory of” two martyred alumni, because it used the adjective “savage” to describe their murderers. The plaque was erected in 1957, exactly one year after five missionaries, including the two Wheaton alumni, were killed by the tribe they were trying to reach with the Gospel. But now the plaque is down, with plans to have it reworded and replaced. Wheaton’s president Philip Ryken explained in an email: "Recently, students, faculty, and staff have expressed concern about language on the plaque that is now recognized as offensive. Specifically, the word 'savage' is regarded as pejorative and has been used historically to dehumanize and mistreat indigenous peoples around the world. Any descriptions on our campus of people or people groups should reflect the full dignity of human beings made in the image of God…" But is this a problem of word choice? Did the Class of ’49, who erected the plaque 64 years ago, use a word that they shouldn’t have? Here is the problem passage, in context, (with “savage” highlighted in bold – emphasis mine): Because of the Great Commission Ed and Jim, together with Nathanael Saint, Roger Youderian, and Peter Fleming, went to the mission field, willing for “Anything – anywhere regardless of cost.” They chose the jungles of Ecuador – inhabited by the Auca Indians. For generations all strangers were killed by these savage Indians. After many days of patient preparation and devout prayer the missionaries made the first friendly contact known to history with the Aucas. On January 8, 1956 the five missionaries were brutally slain – martyrs for the love of God. The story of Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Nathanael Saint, Roger Youderian, and Peter Fleming might be best known today for what happened afterward. Two years after their murders, Rachel Saint, sister of Nathanael, and Elisabeth Elliot wife of Jim, went to live with this same tribe, to evangelize to them.  What they did was remarkable, because they were not going to a peace-loving tribe. And the miracle God worked in many tribesmen’s hearts was all the more remarkable precisely because of how savage they had been before – six of the very men who murdered the missionaries later turned to the Lord. So is it wrong to call murderers “savage”? To answer that question we must first establish by what standard are we going to assess what is “offensive” and “pejorative.” Christians should, of course, turn to the Bible for our standard. In the world, many today think feelings – and their feelings in particular – are the measure of all things. Before we roll our eyes and be done with this nonsense, let’s remember there is a biblical command that takes feelings into consideration. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would want done unto you” (Matt. 7:12). And since we wouldn’t want to be called savage, we shouldn’t call others savage, right? As the college president noted, this word has also been used to dehumanize indigenous peoples in the past. So, case closed? Well, no. This “Golden Rule” applies to our own actions: what we should or should not do. Thus if you find “savage” a “pejorative” and needlessly “offensive” word, then you really shouldn’t use it on any plaque you might be planning to erect. But how do we assess the actions of another? By what standard should we judge the word choices of a previous generation? In Matthew 7, just a few verses earlier, Jesus shows us the way here too: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” (7:1-2). So the question we should ask is, how would we want a generation, 64 years from now, to evaluate the words we say today? If there is no offense expressed and no offense intended when we first say them – if there was no sin at the start – would we want them to read in a sin six decades hence? Would we want our bronzed words taken down because they offended the current day's sensibilities? There is, of course, an argument to be made here since, as the Wheaton president noted, some peoples in the past have been written off as "savages," as if that was an irredeemable part of who they were. But that overlooks the completely opposite point this plaque is making: what is being celebrated here was an attempt to bring the message of redemption to the Aucas Indians. The five men who went, and the class that celebrated their efforts, did so because they knew the Word of God was for every tribe and nation, and because they knew that the Aucas were made in the Image of God too. There is no attack on anyone's dignity or any dehumanization being done here. While the word "savage" is a very good adjective for murderers, it is, of course, okay if today's Christians don't want to use it. What's worrisome is when they want to scrub it. If God's people become so sensitive about offense that could be taken, even when no actual offense is committed, that they feel the need to edit bronze, it's hard to imagine how they'd ever have the courage and frankness to speak to the world about such sins – such sensitive issues – as homosexuality, transgenderism, and abortion. This plaque was erected to remember how these five missionaries were willing to risk everything to bring God’s good news to a savage people desperately in need of it. Instead of finding fault where none exists, we should be looking to these missionaries' example, asking, "What are we willing to risk to present His Word to our own savage culture?"...

News

Saturday Selections - March 27, 2021

Greg Bahnsen on presuppositional apologetics and circular reasoning (4 minutes) Lots to chew on in this short 4-minute video. While it isn't for everyone, if you've heard the accusation that presuppositional apologetics is "begging the question" or circular reasoning, then you need to give this a listen. Why does it take so long to explain infant baptism? R. Scott Clark has a 15-episode series explaining infant baptism. But "why does it take so long to explain and defend infant baptism? If it is true, should we not be able to explain and defend it more briefly?" Well, if short is what you are after, Clark also has a 52-word explanation. But, what he explains/argues here is that our understanding of baptism is based on the way we understand the Bible in general... which is why it can be a big topic! What is Critical Race Theory? The folks at Breakpoint Ministries give their best go at a short answer in the linked article above, while James Lindsay digs deeper in a 1-hour presentation here. Why do algae "know" how to deal with rough seas? Single-cell algae have a plan for how to deal with rough seas that might otherwise destroy them. How does this plan get triggered...and where did this plan come from?  This is a bit of a technical read, but it is very short, and well worth the effort. Americans wildly misinformed about Covid dangers A majority of Americans surveyed overestimated the chances of Covid landing the average person in hospital by anywhere from 4 to 10 times the true danger. The study's authors concluded: "The U.S. public is also deeply misinformed about the severity of the virus for the average infected person.” Is it okay to do "x" on Sunday? A great succinct answer, from Sinclair Ferguson... What is your only comfort in life and death? (3 min) The Heidelberg Catechism's first question remains a thought-provoking (and an evangelism-helping?) one even today. ...

News

War on gender leaves BC father in jail

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She had a mommy and a daddy who unfortunately divorced. She lived with her mom, but her dad had contact with her and still loved her. In high school, the girl had emotional difficulties, as many teens do. She was taught BC’s radical sex education, SOGI 123. She was not happy with her life; she wanted change. At age 14, she decided that she wanted to change her gender. People at her school tried to help her, but not by counseling her to be at peace with her existence and gender. Instead, they “helped” her to begin the process of change, including puberty-blockers. When her dad found out, he was alarmed. He wanted the process to be stopped, believing that his daughter was not old enough to make such a life-altering decision. He tried his best and did everything he legally could to truly help his daughter, whom he loved dearly. Unfortunately, this is a true story and it does not have a “happily ever after” ending. Neither is it over. But the father, when he ran out of legal options, decided that he would have to break court orders and speak out about this situation to raise public awareness. Now, he has gone to jail. Normally, an account like this would give more exact details, background, and links to articles and other sources for the points we are trying to make. For the details around this case, we have to be very careful because both Reformed Perspective and my organization, the Christian Heritage Party, being Canadian, are not allowed to publish the father’s name or the name of the doctor who is doing the body-altering surgery on the daughter. The daughter, who now considers herself male, is a minor, so we would not want to publish her name, even if we knew it, but the publication ban on the father’s name is more questionable. You can easily find articles about this (including the father’s and doctor’s names) online using your favorite search engine by entering search terms such as “dad of trans teen breaks court order.” (The publications that use the actual names of the father and doctor are not Canadian-based, and thus not constrained by the court order.) This is an extremely sad account of where our society is at, both morally and legally. On the moral side, our culture has accepted the lie that advising someone not to attempt to change their gender is immoral and unloving; this could be codified in law if Bill C-6 passes. On the legal side, we now have judges and laws that don’t allow a father to truly help his teen in her emotionally difficult teen years. Instead, the easily-influenced and changeable wishes of an immature and inexperienced teen are taken to be better than the wisdom of his/her parent(s). The father, who has gone to jail in BC for his actions, is mourning – less for his own fate than for that of his daughter. She might (and probably will, as others have) come to regret her decision and find out far too late what damage she, with the “help” of “doctors,” has done to her body and future. Many, possibly most, Canadians would be horrified by the depths to which our courts and medical profession have fallen. Due to the publication ban, most Canadians will never know the details of this case. Even without any publication bans, it’s likely Canada’s mainstream news outlets would probably have just buried this story. They are, for the most part, friendly towards the anti-morality of those who are waging a war on gender and trying to “normalize” transgenderism. Time Magazine recently featured a celebrity actress on their cover who had herself surgically altered so as to present and think of herself as male. Earlier, Bruce Jenner had himself altered to appear to be female. These people are given several moments of glowing fame. But afterward, they are left with their decision. Their war on their gender is a war on themselves, and they – and many impressionable youths – are damaged and hurt by this battle against reality. Reality is not always easy. It is not always fair. The burdens that many have to bear are unspeakably difficult. We cannot deny that the struggles young people are facing today – especially in this age of sexual perversion – are more complex and insidious than many previous generations have faced. But that reality should drive us to care for and support them in the difficulties. Children and teens are not helped when their delusions are accepted as reality and acted upon. Believing that you can fly by flapping your arms does not make it possible, no matter what height you jump from. “Helping” someone who thinks he/she can fly to jump from a higher height is not truly helping him/her at all. “Helping” people who think they would be happier as the opposite gender to try to change their gender is not really helping them at all. All the hormones a person may take do not change his/her DNA, and more importantly, they cannot give true satisfaction or meaning to life. A father in BC has gone to jail because he really wants to help his daughter. The war against gender is getting more real. When will it end, and how many lives will it ruin? Even one is a tragedy. Far more will follow if people of goodwill and common-sense don’t speak up and stand for truth. So please take a stand for God-given truth and against the war on gender by speaking up and getting involved. Peter Vogel is the Deputy Leader of the Christian Heritage Party. A version of this article first appeared as a “CHP Communique” on March 23rd which you can find at CHP.ca....

News

Does Canada’s Bill C-7 ignore a dark lesson from history?

Lebensunwertes leben is German for “life unworthy of life.” As a justification for killing, this idea led to the Holocaust. Alarmingly, there is growing acceptance in Canada of lebensunwertes leben. Think of Canada’s Bill C-7 and its expansion of “medical assistance in dying” (a euphemism for physician-assisted suicide, i.e. killing done by doctors). Instead of first helping vulnerable people by providing much-needed medical and social supports – such as top-notch palliative and hospice care for all – the Canadian federal government is pushing Bill C-7, which promotes death. Of course, medical assistance in dying is advertised as a “choice.” But a choice isn’t much of a choice if there are few or no good alternatives. In fact, top-notch palliative and hospice care is not available for most Canadians. Moreover, via this “choice,” C-7 promotes ableism. Ableism is the view that able-bodied people are superior – more worthy of life. C-7 presumes that living with a disability or with a chronic or terminal illness amounts to a life that is less worthy, so assistance in death should be available. And, if Canada’s government has its way, C-7 will offer death to persons suffering solely from mental illnesses. In other words, Bill C-7 encourages death – a “final solution” – for people who are … inferior. Have Canadians become dullards? Have Canadians not learned a dark lesson from 20th-century history? Consider the following observations from Dr. Leo Alexander, a medical advisor at the Nuremberg Trials, trials in which representative Nazis were convicted of crimes against humanity (this passage is from New England Journal of Medicine, July 4, 1949): “Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived.” (Yes, pause and notice that phrase: “life not worthy to be lived.” Reminder:  In German, it’s lebensunwertes leben – and it led to the Holocaust.) Alexander continues: “This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in the category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted, and finally all non-Germans.” Dr. Alexander adds: “But it is important to realize that the infinitely small wedged-in lever from which this entire trend of mind received its impetus was the attitude toward the nonrehabilitatable sick.” Let. That. Sink. In. I don't believe that there is a Nazi Party on Canada's horizon. But there might be something as dark, or darker. What former Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) called the “culture of death” is becoming normal in Canada. Indeed, Bill C-7 “solves” medical and psychological problems by doling out death—and a majority of Canada’s Members of Parliament (mostly Liberal and Bloc Quebecois) approve. Canadians should resist. How? An important first step would be to remind politicians that medical and psychological problems require medical and psychological solutions, not killing. Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. Hendrik’s parents survived the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. He is the author of “Untangling Popular Pro-Choice Arguments: Critical Thinking about Abortion” which is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca....

News

UK hospital to get more "gender inclusive"

Pop quiz: if you heard that a hospital was offering “gender inclusion” mid-wifery, what would you expect that to involve? The problem here has to be the gendered mid-wifery term, right? So are the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals planning on swapping that out for “mid-spousery”? Or maybe they’re adding an option for “mid-husbandry.” Of course, husbandry deals with crop and animal care, so that might create some confusion…but who cares about a lack of clarity when we’re fighting for sensitivity? It turns out that the gender inclusion had nothing to do with renaming mid-wifery, but instead had to do with offering pregnant “trans men” – i.e. pregnant women pretending to be men – the option of having their breasts called chests. Why? Because breasts are female body-parts, and that’s a truth that they would desperately like to obscure. To do so they’re embracing a craziness that’s comparable to calling a man’s testes his ovaries, if that’s what he’d prefer. The Times reported that the new “trans-friendly” terms were going to replace the originals. “Midwives have been told to say ‘chestfeeding’ instead of ‘breastfeeding’…. Staff have been instructed that ‘breastmilk’ should be replaced with the phrases ‘human milk,’ ‘breast/chestmilk’ or ‘milk from the feeding mother or parent.’” While that got even some liberal reporters outraged – Piers Morgan called it “nonsense” – these trans terms aren’t actually replacements. They are additions, to be used only with individuals who prefer them. Had Morgan known that, he couldn’t have objected, since he’s previously conceded that men can “transition” to women. That’s nonsense too, but nonsense he’s agreed to spout, so on what basis could he object to a “breast to chest” transition, so long as it’s optional? That means we can’t expect help from the mainstream media; it’s going to be up to Christians to take a lonely stand for sanity. We should do so as Christians, boldly proclaiming that God, and not Man, decides our gender. Once that's established, we can build on that truth by highlighting where denying it leads: to nonsense like pretending breasts can become chests. Or testes can become ovaries. If your conversational partner has gone to just the right sort of public school, he might, at this point, start scratching his chin, seriously considering whether testes can become ovaries. When that happens, borrow a page from The Babylon Bee and demand he start using your “preferred adjectives.” “Here are the adjectives I identify with… ‘cool, witty, handsome, innovative, fun.’ Please use one of these adjectives when describing me.” Then he’ll have to concede that a man’s preferences can’t turn him into what he ain’t...or he’ll have to start using your preferred adjectives. Either you convince him of the truth, or you make his foolishness all the more apparent to everyone who has the eyes to see it....

News

When Big Tech comes after anyone

In early January, when Facebook and Twitter suspended Donald Trump’s accounts it might not have worried most Christians. Yes, these “Big Tech” companies has just cut off a sitting president’s access to the more than 120 million followers who had sought him out on these social media sites. French and German leaders were concerned, with Steffen Seibert, chief spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arguing that while the right to free speech is not unlimited, those limits should be imposed “by law and within the framework defined by the legislature – not according to a corporate decision.”  Still, Big Tech was doing this to a man who’d often been rude and rash on his social media missives, so his suspensions didn’t have implications for the reasonable, responsible rest of us…did it?  It turned out Trump’s deletion was the start of something. Over the course of the next weeks: YouTube shut down a pro-life news channel with its 300,000 followers. LifeSiteNews.com had built up its audience slowly over the last 10 years. They have now transitioned to Rumble where they have 22,000 followers. Amazon Web Services announced it would no longer host the social media site Parler, effectively booting it off the Internet for a month until Parler could find someone else to host them. This came after Google and Apple had already banned Parler from their app stores, making it much more difficult for people to sign up to this social media competitor. When Parler went offline, the Christian satire site Babylon Bee lost access to their 1.2 million Parler followers, and Prager U lost access to its more than 2 million Parler followers. Twitter suspended one of Focus on the Family’s accounts after they tweeted that the new Assistant Education Secretary, “Dr. Levine is a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman." Actor and professing Christian Kevin Sorbo reported that Facebook had deleted his account without explanation. He had over 500,000 followers.  The conservative news outlet Epoch Times was demonetized by YouTube, probably for running stories that disputed the results of the US election. Prager U has also had YouTube videos demonetized. Facebook shut down links to Australian news providers after the Australian government considered a (highly problematic) law that would charge social media sites for carrying such links. Amazon blocked sales, on its site, of Ryan Anderson's When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement. YouTube removed a doctor's testimony about Ivermectin as a Covid treatment, deciding it was misinformation.  So what can we do to counter Big Tech’s influence and power? By no longer relying on them as we do! This can even involve old school tactics – in mid-January this headline popped up on a popular Christian satire site: "To Avoid Tech censorship The Babylon Bee Announces Innovative New Print Edition." What Babylon Bee proposed in jest is what Reformed Perspective is doing in earnest. We’ve started delivering our print magazine in bulk subscriptions to churches, tripling our print numbers in the last year. And as the Bee noted in their article, it is “a technology and distribution method that Big Tech can't touch." We’re also migrating to other social media sites like MeWe, where there seems to be an already growing conservative Reformed presence. We might try Gab, Rumble, and perhaps Parler too. It seems it’s not a matter of if but only when we get kicked off Facebook and today’s other social media favorites. To be prepared we need to build up our own alternatives....

News

Saturday Selections - February 20, 2021

Organ harvesting and more in China (7 min) What China is doing in its various prisons and "re-education" camps is slowly coming out. But why so slowly? Might it be that the evil done is so outrageous as to be almost unbelievable? If so, this video from David Kilgour might be of help – a few years back already, one of Canada's most respected politicians brought his credibility to the charges against China regarding Falun Gong And in the linked article above, the BBC reports on the credible charge of genocide that China is perpetrating on its Muslim Uighurs population. Australian church set to defy gay conversion ban bill "A law before the Victorian parliament seeking to outlaw parental, therapeutic or religious discussions on issues of sexuality and gender is the biggest threat to our democratic freedoms in Australia’s entire legislative history." In response, the Presbyterian Church of Australia is going to "preach the whole counsel of God." Why not cut off more? What's coming after the transgender revolution... Wesley Smith explains that since transgender breast and genital amputations are now being celebrated, the next inevitable step is for delusional people to start lobbying for a right to cut off their limbs. This lobbying is already happening, and after conceding on transgenderism, the world won't be able to marshal a logical argument against this "transablism." But we can. So it is up to us. This is why Christians can't speak someone's "chosen" pronouns, because we can't hurt them by going along with this destructive lie. God made us male and female, and if our minds think we should start cutting off healthy body parts, then it is our mind (and spirit) that needs help, not our body. The Aetherlight: a Christian online video game Our household isn't much for videogames but one game we've been playing – maybe once a month, a few hours at a go, with dad and the kids together – is The Aetherlight. The linked article above shares a lot of helpful specifics, but gives an overall middling grade to the game. I will note, however, that their grade is based on how an experienced gamer would view Aetherlight, and yes, for them it would be quite tame. But for us, with kids 5-9 when we first started playing, that "tameness" is a feature, not a fault. The story is also a Christian allegory though not all that overtly, which might also be a feature. I liked that the bad guys are robots, so there's no ethical problems in beating them up. For my girls, their favorite feature might be the different wardrobe options (all of them modest) that our character can change into. While you can start playing for free, we ended up putting some money down to continue the adventure - I think maybe $15 so far. Not bad for a couple of years' worth of play so far. Christian mom, others, gave up their liberty to protect her daughter A now Christian mom, originally in a lesbian relationship, had to flee the US to keep her child away from the LGBT lifestyle that her former lesbian lover wanted to expose the girl to. More than ten years later, now that her little girl is an adult and free from the threat of court-ordered visitations, her mom has turned herself in to the authorities. Some podcasts be like... (1 minute) https://twitter.com/jogdenUK/status/1346442437376552962?s=20  ...

Culture Clashes, News

The Great Reset: don't let a crisis go to waste

Over the past several months, the phrase The Great Reset has swirled around media headlines and social media. Many Christians are asking, should we support The Great Reset? But a better question would be which Great Reset should we support? We should also consider why any great reset is needed in the first place, and why now might be the time for it. So, why now? So why is there a push for big changes right now? To answer that we can turn to a quote, often attributed to Winston Churchill, which argues we should: “Never waste a good crisis.” Democratic governments normally change course gradually. Since humans are slow to change their minds and admit that they'd been wrong, the political views of an entire population of a country tend to change slowly rather than very quickly. Thus governments’ policies will also tend towards incremental rather than revolutionary change. Thus, during regular times, the window of opportunity for policy change is open only a crack. But a crisis swings this window wide open. When the perspectives of an entire citizenry change rapidly, the revolutionary becomes ordinary. We see this in our country’s response to COVID-10. In the eyes of most Canadian citizens, journalists, and politicians, COVID-19 has triggered a crisis. This social, economic, and health crisis – and the fear that it provoked – have enabled the federal and provincial governments to do the previously unthinkable in an incredibly short time: prohibit international travel restrict religious worship services shutter businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars And this isn’t just the preferred response of politicians and scientific experts foisted on an unwilling public. Public opinion polling throughout the pandemic consistently reports that a significant majority of Canadians support these measures. COVID-19 has thrown the policy window wide open for change. The question is, what sort of change, what sort of great reset, will take advantage of this opportunity before it closes? The Great Liberal Reset The World Economic Forum (WEF) has one proposal to seize this opportunity. The WEF is an international organization aimed at improving partnerships between governments, corporations, and non-profit organizations. With governments unshackled from normal budgetary and policy constraints, the WEF proposed that government use this opportunity to tackle current public policy issues in new ways. The World Economic Forum calls this general plan The Great Reset. The Great Reset was the theme of the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which took place in the last week of January. On their website, the World Economic Forum describes The Great Reset: “The Covid-19 crisis, and the political, economic and social disruptions it has caused, is fundamentally changing the traditional context for decision-making. The inconsistencies, inadequacies, and contradictions of multiple systems – from health and financial to energy and education – are more exposed than ever amidst a global context of concern for lives, livelihoods and the planet. Leaders find themselves at a historic crossroads, managing short-term pressures against medium- and long-term uncertainties. As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons. Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.” More concretely, The Great Reset focuses on strengthening environmental protection against pollution and climate change; encouraging private companies to do more to care for their workers, their communities, and the environment; fostering multilateral cooperation; and promoting a rather left-leaning interpretation of inclusion, justice, and equality. So, let’s call this The Great Liberal Reset. To be clear, this is not a conspiracy by a secret elite. No, this is all out in the open. This is about world leaders (politicians, businessmen, activists, the wealthy) who share a common idea of how the world could be a better place trying to implement their vision through conventional channels – government policy, business decisions, grassroots advocacy, and targeted private investments. They are using the policy window opened by COVID-19 to advance their vision. While there are aspects of this vision we might be able to support, Christians should be cautious about supporting this Great Liberal Reset, as it also includes policies that Christians should oppose. More fundamentally, The Great Reset misdiagnoses what ails the world. That ailment is not COVID-19. The Great Moral Reset? Christians know that sin, not COVID-19, ails the world. Rather than reshaping the world according to a liberal vision (or conservative, or socialist, or libertarian agenda for that matter), we should seek to shape the world according to God’s Word. Christians should support a "Great Moral Reset" of sorts, one in which our government’s policies would be aligned with the morality of God’s Word. COVID-19 has opened the possibility for this sort of change. Our society has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect the lives of those vulnerable to COVID-19. Now we should go to even greater lengths to protect lives vulnerable to abortion and euthanasia, and provide better care for our elders. Many provinces have closed schools or moved classes online in their monolithic education system in their response to COVID-19. Promoting educational diversity, including supporting independent schools, homeschooling, and distributed learning in a decentralized education system where parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children, should be the new priority of provincial governments. The federal government has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into supporting families and businesses through the pandemic. It should continue to defend the vitality of families by upholding a biblical understanding of marriage, gender, and sexuality and uphold the dignity of work. But a Great Moral Reset isn’t enough. The Great Spiritual Reset Ultimately, Canada and the world do not need a Great Liberal Reset or even a Great Moral Reset. It is useless for our country to be a whitewashed tomb on the outside but full of dead bones on the inside. Our society needs a Great Spiritual Reset like the Great Awakenings spurred by George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and Dwight L. Moody. This spiritual reset isn’t the task of governments, businesses, or general non-profit organizations. This spiritual reset is the responsibility of the Church. COVID-19 has opened the window wide open for evangelism. With millions of fellow Canadians searching for hope, worrying about their employment stability, struggling with their mental and physical health, and mourning the passing of loved ones, many more people may be receptive to the Good News right now. As Jesus testifies, the gospel isn’t for those who are healthy and those who think that they have life figured out. The gospel is for those who have realized their brokenness and their need for a Physician. Are all our efforts directed to defending our personal freedoms (even if they are unjustly infringed upon)? Or are we bringing the gospel to our neighbors who need it now more than ever, using both our words and our deeds? Jesus calls us to be the salt and the light of the world, two metaphors that ARPA often draws upon. Christians have taken more seriously their calling to be a salt and a light in the realm of politics and public policy through the COVID-19 pandemic and the infringements on our freedom to worship. Let’s not miss the opportunity to also speak the gospel of life to a suffering world. Let’s not waste this crisis. Levi Minderhoud is the BC Manager for ARPA Canada. For more on the Great Reset, be sure to check out Chris deBoer's Focal Point podcast episode on the same topic which you can download here, or watch below. ...

News

Saturday Selections - January 16, 2021

Sea shanties go viral (7 min) If you have boys who think singing is girly, there's a new viral trend of men singing manly. For more on this sea shanties trend, and the Nathan Evans performance that started things off, click on the link above. 50 countries where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus Every day, 13 Christians are killed, 12 unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and 5 are abducted - so reports the 2021 World Watch List. Our politics are cracking under the weight of a thinning civil society "...agitators, after making their violent intentions clear on social media, successfully incited Trump supporters to mob the Capitol. Still, even the most-crafty agitator can only agitate a crowd that is agitate-able." This flower can "hear" bees Bees' buzzing can actually trigger a flower to increase its nectar output, and the flower's petals function as a type of "ear" to amplify the buzzing. Alternatives to Google Google makes its money by selling users' information. And it gathers that information a lot of different ways! Here's alternative services that can provide some of the same features. Annecdotally, it seems like MeWe is becoming an alternative to Facebook, at least for some Canadian Reformed folk. Is Capitalism all about greed? (5 min) This video is fantastic, even if it doesn't get to the root of the issue. Capitalism stands on property rights, which we find in the Bible as well, when God forbids us from stealing (Ex. 20:15). In contrast, socialism presents it as right, and even just, for me to look over my back fence and covet my rich neighbor's goods (Ex. 20:17). While capitalism has this spiritual benefit (that it can be practiced in a way that aligns with God's Law), this video highlights its material benefit. To give one more perspective, a quote from Walter E. Williams (1936-2020): "Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering, and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man." ...

News

Saturday Selections - January 9, 2021

It ain't not possible to be more wronger For the English teachers out there... Snowflake adoption is wonderful, but it is not the solution "For the most part, we have accepted the destruction of countless lives so that some infertile couples can have a child of their own genetic making. For the most part, many Christians have also accepted this." BC closing churches without clear explanation of why them specifically A secular take for why the government should be offering a better, clearer explanation for why churches are closed and Costco, AA meetings, and more, aren't. Dutch bike culture An intriguing look at a Dutch difference. Mosquito rights right now! There are crazy people everywhere, so does it matter that a few academics are pushing for bee rights? Only in that their argument is consistent with an ethic many more in the world claim to share: that animals are people too. Does the Bible say life begins at first breath? (6 min) Tim Barnett takes on this curious pro-abortion claim. ...

News

Saturday Selections - January 2, 2021

Faster, faster! (5 min) Two friends race down a marble maze - it's some innocent fun for the kids. These buddies also appear in "Don't smash." Top 10 biblical archeological finds of 2020 Even as many and maybe most of the people doing the digging don't believe the Bible is the Word of God, the places, names, and details they uncover often show the Bible to be accurate history. 10 ways to foster gratitude in our kids' hearts Some great tips here for all parents...and to apply to ourselves as well. Seattle considers making it permissible to steal...if you really need to The intent behind the law is to help the desperate. but this should bring to mind the proverb that "the compassion of the wicked is cruel" (Prov. 12:10b). This will drive businesses out of the poorest districts if they can't afford the extra losses, or the cost of extra security, that would come with such a law. Their exist would means a loss of employment, and higher security would mean higher costs for goods for those who can least afford it. Good intentions, without good sense (Prov. 27:14), are not good. Rearrange, Remove, and Ruin – Evolution that isn't evolution at all  This is a fun one, something that mom or dad can read, and then use the illustrations to give their kids an easy-to-understand explanation of evolution's shortcomings. The 7 habits in 7 minutes (some discernment required) Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a very popular self-help book, and like many books of this type, there's a lot of common sense to it. And, as you might expect from a Mormon author who operates from a largely Judeo-Christian worldview, much of what he write lines up with Scripture, particularly what's captured in this 7-minute summary. This summary is actually better than the book, because in the book there's more of a specifically Mormon theology discernible. That's a long way of saying, there's common sense captured in this video that is well worth pondering...but it is valuable only in as far as it does line up with Scripture. ...

News

5 most overlooked article of 2020

Last week we shared our 10 most popular posts of 2020, all of which got thousands of reads. In contrast, the readership for each of our Top-5 "most overlooked" articles numbered only in the hundreds. Sometimes the reason an article is overlooked is obvious – they got stuck with a lousy picture, or the powers-that-be at Facebook wouldn't let us promote it to our audience. Other times, it's more of a mystery: a great article just fails to launch. On this list, we're giving the best of this bunch one last boost. Here, now, are the 5 most overlooked articles of 2020. #5 - The triangle curvature inclusion bill If we've let "compassion" redefine this, that, and the other thing too, why shouldn't the definition of "triangle" be changed too, in favor of something more inclusive? #4 - A conversation on authority Zach and Owen don't agree about what the Church should do in response to government lockdown orders. But they do agree that iron sharpens iron, so they want to talk it out. #3 - Five things Christians should know about Income Inequality  Fighting income inequality is not the same thing as fighting poverty. If you liked this, you might also appreciate another overlooked economics article: How free trade helps even poor countries. #2 - The cost of an old earth: Is it worth it? Short and succinct, Dr. John Byl explains why a belief in a millions-of-years-old earth can't be reconciled with the Bible. #1 - Our kids online...how to keep them safe This was more than just a review of an important documentary that every parent needs to see; it also includes tips and links to other very helpful resources....

News

A great grandma 100 times over…and counting

In mid-October, 92-year-old Elizabeth Vreugdenhil got to meet her namesake Elizabeth Grim – this newborn was her 100th great-grandchild! Getting to hold her Canadian great-granddaughter was a challenge, though, with great-grandma just over the border in Washington State, and the US/Canadian border closed due to COVID restrictions. So if the baby couldn’t crossover into the US, and grandma couldn’t come into Canada, well, then, there was just one thing to do: meet halfway! Just like thousands of others whose families have been split apart by the border shutdown, Canadians and Americans brought their camping chairs along and set them up right along both sides of that borderline. Some umbrellas were also brought along, Grandma Vreugdenhil was comfortably seated, and then the sleeping baby was tucked into her arms for a wonderful photo session. Even the local paper, The Lynden Tribune, came to get some pictures that they later shared on their front page. Psalm 128 speaks of it being a blessing to see our children’s children, so what a blessing it is then to see your children’s children’s children…and one hundred times over! Blessings upon blessings upon blessings! Whether you know this grand lady or not, God’s people can share in her joy! Baby Elizabeth was responsible for evening things up among the great-grandchildren, making it exactly 50 girls, to match the 50 boys, but since then, the girls have taken the lead with great grandchild #101! There's also a near-perfect American/Canadian split, with the Canucks up just one, 51-50. Another fun statistic: Grandma Vreugdenhil has been averaging 5 new great-grandchildren a year since she was gifted with her first one just 20 years ago. And adding to the wonderful family history, baby Elizabeth was baptized in the very same dress that her great grandmother was baptized in 92 years ago. As her dad put it, that dress “has ’seen’ the sign and seal for over 100 years.” Photo by Bryan Grim....

News

Saturday Selections – December 12, 2020

John Piper and Tedashii on the need for Christians to make war Not everyone will love the musical genre, but it's a good match to the message that we should not be complacent about our sins. Endlessly twitterpated? What does real love look like? "A TV drama recently set off my baloney-meter. A character was talking about how he knew he was still in love with his wife by the way his stomach still did flip-flops when she walked in. Hmm. Call me a cynic, or maybe just deprived of that level of marriage, but stay with me..." The sexual revolution's next frontier In the hole created by parents relinquishing their God-given educational role, schools are being used to sexualize childhood. Why the scientific consensus can be unreliable If ten people, with no connections, in isolation from one another, agreed to the facts of a car accident, their consensus would give us good reason to trust what they are saying. But not all consensus is so trustworthy, because it is not so independently arrived. This article details, in Fidel Castro's Cuba, how the Communist Party got overwhelming support at the ballot box each "election" but that was a coerced consensus due to limited choices, and fear. When we hear of a consensus around evolution, it is more the second type of consensus than the first, with those who point out Darwin's deficiencies risking their livelihood to do so. This is an article that rewards the effort invested. How Christianity is the basis for rights, science, and civilization (10-min read) Tim Keller is a mixed bag, but here he gives a fantastic review/summary of Tom Holland's book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, making the case that it is God's Truth that stands as the foundation for so much of what even the secular culture celebrates as good and right in the world. Tim Challies on why his family didn't do sleepovers (6 min) While Challies doesn' think there is any sort of biblical command against sleepovers, he explains why his family decided against them. ...

News

Saturday Selections - December 5, 2020

Living clouds (5 min) How do they do it? Thousands of starlings, flying at speeds of 50 miles per hour, moving in such precision together that they look like living clouds! We can't control COVID (or much of anything else) "How quickly we went from the 'we acknowledge we can’t control this' of the UCSF panel of experts to the 'we absolutely can and will control this' of elected officials. The shift from 'most of us are going to get sick but let’s care for and protect the vulnerable' to 'everyone must avoid getting sick at all costs' is a significant one. Now, if anyone contracts COVID, it’s not because it’s a novel virus we don’t understand, but because someone failed. Practical atheists want control. When control is lost, someone is to blame." A less controversial way to reduce gun deaths? Guns are used to kill, but also to save lives too, so any time a government tries to impliment any form of gun control, it is controversial. But is there a way to reduce gun deaths that would be far less controversial? Blessed are the unoffendable This is an article that will greatly help a great deal of us. 5 biggest little ways to improve your marriage This post is based on a 1992 book, very popular in Christians circles, called The 5 Love Languages, which proposed that there are 5 different ways that people like to be loved and like to express love. While this isn't an idea that should be put on par with biblical revelation, it does have a common-sense appeal: we all know that some folks really like gifts no matter how small, and others who respond to touch, and some who best appreciate words of encouragement. And the Golden Rule, as spelled out in Matthew 7:12, is a biblical grounding for the general underlying principle that just as we would like people to show affection for us in the way we best like to receive it, we should offer the same consideration in how we express love. Thomas Sowell on the difference between conservatives and liberals (4 minutes) While Sowell is not making a specifically Christian argument here, his definition of the conservative understanding – that Man is intrinsically flawed – lines up with what the Bible says about our fallen nature. He also speaks to the very biblical notion (Prov 27:14) that good intentions are not enough, and that utopia is an impossible ideal (so long as we on this side of heaven). That last point might be misunderstood as being apathetic, or an uncaring response to evil, as if he is saying "We can't do anything, so why bother!" But his point is, we can do many things, but we can't do everything, so choices need to be made. And possible good achieved is better than impossible good intended. (To clarify the conservative and liberal labels used here don't reference Canada's political parties, though the Liberal Party does largely align with Liberal values as Thomas Sowell defines them.) ...

News

29-year-old mom gives birth to 27-year-old baby

It’s a headline that seems better suited to National Enquirer, but it gets crazier still. The 29-year-old mother, Tina Gibson, doesn’t have just one baby almost as old as her, but two! The story starts back in 2016, when Tina’s father told her about a news story he’d seen on snowflake adoption – adopting, and implanting an abandoned embryo that has been left in cold storage since being conceived. After months of investigation and prayer, Tina and her husband Ben went forward – Tina was implanted with an embryo that had been frozen since 1992. Then, in November 2017, the Gibsons were able to welcome their daughter Emma Wren to the world. Now, three years later, Tina and Ben have another little girl to take care of, Emma’s biological sister, Molly. She had been frozen at the same time as Emma, and was born in late October, 27 years later. While secular news has covered this as an amusing, sweet story, LifeSiteNews.com shared the damage done to children when they are frozen: 25% don’t survive the unfreezing process, and those that do have a higher risk of genetic abnormalities. For these reasons and more, we should not freeze children. But some parents have inflicted this on their children, to the point that there are hundreds of thousands of frozen babies. That’s a tragedy. But just like God’s adoption of us, “snowflake adoption” is a rescue plan. So what a joy it is that Tina and Ben can reflect our Heavenly Father in bringing these two little girls into their family!...

News

Saturday Selections - November 21, 2020

Can God make a square circle? (5 minutes) Apologist Tim Barnett offers his own great answer in the video below, and if you want a unique alternate take, click on the link above for Rob Slane's answer. Live not by lies: the least we must do When it comes to cultural conversations where God's views are hated (think: abortion, gender, homosexuality, origins, etc), if we don't have the courage to shout the Truth,  can we at least refuse to speak any lies...no matter the pressure? 7 books to help you understand the times Tim Challies weighs in with some fantastic recommendations to better understand all the crazy that's going on. Jay Adams, pioneer of Nouthetic Counseling, dies at 91" "Adams was following in the footsteps of Cornelius Van Til.  Van Til argued that Reformed principles, drawn from Scripture, must be consistently applied in apologetics.  Jay Adams took that approach and applied it to pastoral theology." America's first, brief, socialist experiment went badly As Americans prepare to celebrate their Thanksgiving Day, let's remember that the Plymouth Pilgrims had a number of very bad years at the start of their settlement, and things only improved when they returned to the biblical idea of property rights. Matthew's begats... This is a fun little ditty by Andrew Peterson that your kids may just manage to memorize. ...

News

Jay Adams, father of modern biblical counseling movement, dies

Dr. Jay Edward Adams (1929-2020) died on Nov. 14 at the age of 91. For those who don’t already know his name, Adams could be described as the “Martin Luther of biblical counseling” for the reformation he started in that movement. In 1963, as a new instructor at Westminster Theological Seminary, one of his assigned courses involved a component on pastoral counseling. With only limited counseling experience himself, he ended up teaching the unit using the notes left him by the previous instructor. But as Donn Arms writes: He found no theological substance in what he had been handed and determined to study and do better before he would have to teach the course again the next year. As he studied, however, he found nothing to help him. He pored over everything he could find written from a Christian perspective and found only Freudian and Rogerian dogma. What Sigmund Freud, Carl Rogers, B.F. Skinner and other secular psychologists were doing was based on their ideas of what Man's nature amounted to. But their ideas about who we are, and what we are really like, didn’t line up with the fallen, yet accountable image-bearer of God that we are described as in Scripture. What Adams discovered is that while some Christians were trying to integrate these secular theories with the Bible, what they were doing was little more than sprinkling biblical texts on top of deeply unbiblical ideas. One example was the self-love movement – still big today but even more so in the 70s and 80s – that proposed one of Man’s biggest problems was low self-esteem. Christian counselors took hold of this idea, and then “baptized” it with Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). After integrating the two they concluded Jesus wants us to focus on loving ourselves, because how else can we love our neighbor as ourselves? In his book The Biblical View of Self-Esteem, Self-Love, and Self-Image, Adams pointed out that this turned Jesus’ command on its head, from being outward-focused to now focusing on the self. The problem, he argued was that even when Christian counselors were consulting God’s Word, it was only after they’d relied on secular counseling theories to set the course. So Adams called Christians pastors and counselors back to the Bible because it is there we find out who we are, and what our biggest problem is, and what God has done for us to fix that problem. Adams had his Christian critics, including those who critiqued his insights by testing them against God’s Word. But, significantly, it was because of Adams’ pioneering, reforming work that such a group – Christians testing counseling ideas against God’s Word – even existed. He had a leading role in the creation of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (BiblicalCounseling.com), the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF.org), and the Institute for Nouthetic Studies (Nouthetic.org). God used Adams as the spark to start this particular reformation, and like Luther before him, Adams’ key insights were then tested, refined, and built upon by the next generation. Counselors like Ed Welch, Heath Lambert, Wayne Mack, Paul Tripp, and David Powlison all stand on Adams' shoulders. ***** While the Church has lost a giant, God has so arranged things that in recent years most of Adams' 100+ books have been put back in print. We can still benefit from this man's godly wisdom via his written output, available at Amazon and INSbookstore.com. While his best-known book is his first, Competent to Counsel, his three most accessible have to be Greg Dawson and the Psychology Class, Together for Good, and The Case of the “Hopeless Marriage.” At roughly 150 pages each, they are short, and what makes them so intriguing is they are counseling textbooks disguised as novels. Adams wrote these as fiction so he could use protagonist/pastor/counselor Greg Dawson to “show rather than tell” what biblical counseling is all about. The one to start with would be Greg Dawson and the Psychology Class, where the pastor meets students from a Christian university who are taking an essentially secular psychology course. Their conversations give Adams the opportunity to compare and contrast his approach with that of Christian counselors' “baptized” secular counseling. In addition to these three, Adams has a wonderful devotional, Day by Day Along the Way. Among his 100+ titles, he also tackles aging (which my father-in-law appreciated), eschatology, and even how to listen to a sermon. My personal favorite is his commentary on Proverbs, which, is just recently back in print. Pictures are courtesy of Donn Arms...

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Saturday Selections - November 14, 2020

Flash mob singing Handel's Messiah (5-min) We're going back ten years to one of the first flash mob performances, with a chorus of 100 surprising Christmas shoppers with the Hallelujah Chorus. Tim Keller, John Piper, & Donald Trump (10-minute read) With the voting done (even if the counting isn't) this isn't so much about Donald Trump as it is about Tim Keller, social justice, and conservative churches' theological drift. The representative paragraph below is on one way the world suppresses truth (Romans 1:18-23): by pretending simple things are complicated. "When my eldest son, Michael, was a student at Yale Law School a few years ago, he says that Yale inculcated a specific progressive strategy for the deconstruction of otherwise simple moral issues like, say, abortion or the oxymoronic notion of “gay marriage.” They even had a term for it: “complexify.” In other words, obscure the issue at hand with data, highly selective science, and emotion to such a degree that your opponent no longer feels competent to adjudicate the issue." A year of living safely Andy Wilson reviews a book being much discussed, The Price of Panic, about the mostly uncounted costs – in money and lives – that resulted, not from COVID, but from governmental responses to it. What about when the life of the mother is in danger?  Being pro-life doesn't mean valuing babies' lives over mothers' lives. It means recognizing that there are two people. The unscientific roots of conversion therapy bans "There are many and varied reasons why same-sex attracted people want to move away from homosexuality. There is evidence that they can do so, often incurring significant benefits with no serious evidence of harm." Jeff Durbin confronts the Woke Church Jeff Durbin wants to wake up the Woke Church. And in this clip he uses strong language to confront them...but it is language that reflects and mirrors language that the Bible itself uses in a similar fashion, for a similar purpose. It is language that might confront churches, and members, that while not Woke, are starting to drift with the cultural current. This, then, will be a slap to the face, and a call to start fighting, to God's glory. The clip below is just 6 minutes, but you can see the full presentation on what Durbin calls "Van Tillian kill shots" by clicking on the title above. ...

News

Twice a Sunday needs to happen!

With the battle raging, we may not neglect coming together “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” – Hebrews 10:24-25 **** Churches face many challenges, and some are more significant than COVID’s potential impact on our physical health. There is a spiritual battle going on and the devil has no qualms with using any and all means available to try and deceive and attack the Body of Christ. And he can even use COVID. The devil has, long ago, learned that the Church can actually grow via the spilt blood of martyrs. So, rather than stir up passions via persecution, he will sometimes try the very opposite tactic, lulling the church into complacency and apathy. Beyond temporary During the initial uncertainty of COVID, many churches were mandated by the government to stop gathering together. After a few weeks, permissions were granted to have maybe five or six people in the building, and that made it possible for congregations to watch their pastors lead a service via livestream. Other congregations were encouraged to watch other church services online. Then, as restrictions were loosened, a group of fifty, or groups of fifty in different cohorts, could gather in the building for worship – some had restrictions on singing, others could sing with full voice! While these temporary restrictions to formal gatherings for worship might have been an acceptable measure while COVID was novel, now, months into it, we must ask, how long we can practice these temporary measures? Is it time to start making plans for the longer-term so that we can ably equip the saints for the battles we must wage? Worship services are essential One of the greatest training grounds for preparing saints for spiritual warfare is the formal worship services held on a weekly basis. In the Church Order of many continental Reformed churches we express the importance of formal worship services: “The consistory shall call the congregation together for worship twice on the LORD’s Day. The consistory shall ensure that, as a rule, once every Sunday the doctrine of God’s Word as summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism is proclaimed” (Church Order of the Canadian Reformed Churches, Article 52). The reason why at least one service focuses on the doctrine of God’s Word as summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism is to ensure that the congregation knows core doctrines well. Such knowledge equips the saints for the battles raging. In Canada, many of our church members were managing to worship in their buildings with about half the congregation once per Sunday. While this is better than not meeting, it does not meet the normative standard set out by the Church Order, to meet twice per Sunday. Worship with the communion of saints is special. Church attendance promotes fellowship and encouragement (cf. Act. 2:42; Heb. 10:24, 25). As the Psalmist says, “we used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng” (Psalm 55:14). The Holy Spirit works through the preaching of the Word (1 Cor. 2:4, 13; 1 Thess. 1:5) for the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). This weapon of offense, this Word, is powerful. Hebrews 4:12 teaches us that the “word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…” The Word, accompanied by the power of the Spirit, is effective for changing lives. The preaching of that word is crucial for the saints, as they seek to maintain their engagement with each other and with the world around them. Formal worship services are centred around the preaching of the Word. But of course, formal worship is more than just a listening exercise; indeed, if that is all we needed to consider, then virtual worship would be virtually the same as corporate worship. We can hear great speeches, sermons, and elucidations on God’s Word anytime online. But Christians are not just concerned about an academic learning, but about developing and nurturing both their vertical relationship with God (the greatest commandment), and also the horizontal relationships (the second commandment to love one another). A worship service includes hearing the promises of God’s blessing, singing praises to God with the saints, active listening to the living preaching of God’s Word to a specific congregation of the Lord, etc. A worship service truly addresses both aspects of our walk of faith in a congregationally specific manner Where there is a will, there is a way It is time to refocus our efforts to worshipping together twice per Sunday. The principled position articulated in the Church Order needs to be reignited before apathy sets in, if it hasn’t already. It is apathy that the devil uses to infiltrate a laziness in the church. He sows the seeds of doubt through apathy when we start to wonder: do we really need to go to church twice? Why can’t we just stay home this morning? I think we’ll take a nap this afternoon and catch the service via livestream, etc. We must not let the devil get a foothold in the churches of Christ. We need to get back to corporate worship again! If we take the threat of the devil seriously, we will do all that we can to combat his attacks by any biblical means available. Practically speaking, this means that the consistory could call each half of the congregation to worship twice per Sunday. Yes, that means four services in the building. Some churches would need to have the elders lead one or two of the services per Sunday. It might be wise to have the same half meet together consistently for a period of time. This would allow that half of the congregation to get to know each other better and to increasingly function as a body of believers, encouraging each other to love and good works. However it happens, the normative practice of gathering in worship twice on Sunday needs to be restored as soon as possible. People have started feeling guilty coming to church twice because the one time was not technically their turn. Others have stopped feeling guilty altogether when they choose to skip going to church, or even skip watching the service online. Because we love the Lord and His saints, we need to reinstate the call to worship twice every Lord’s Day. In so doing, the Holy Spirit will continue to work mightily in the lives of God’s people so that we are increasingly equipped to fight the good fight of faith and to live according to God’s commands to love him with our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbour as ourself. Since originally writing this article, further worship restrictions have been implemented in many regions. Brothers and sisters, let us do all that we can to gather together as often and willingly as possible. Formal worship is essential to the life of the local congregation – let us ensure we do what we can to keep the congregation alive and active before it may need to go on life support....

News

Saturday Selections – October 24, 2020

Is Canada systematically discriminatory? The Christian Heritage Party's Vicki Gunn gives an answer to that question that you might not have been expecting? Chinese Calvinist revival? (10 minute read) "...There is even diversity in the Chinese Calvinist movement. Some are nearly identical to Stephen Tong’s approach, combining neo-Calvinism with evangelicalism, whilst others such as the Wenzhou Reformed churches led by Zhou Dawei are far more similar to the fundamentalist orthodox Reformed churches in the Netherlands, banning television and practising exclusive psalmody (only singing hymns found in the Book of Psalms, a practice foreign to China)...." Porn is a tempation for women too It once was primiarily a temtptation for men, but with our porn-saturated culture, and instant access to it in everyone's backpocket, we need to realize that it a problem for women too. "One recent study indicated that 73% of women between the ages of 18 and 35 used pornography in the previous six months." 11 reasons Christians don't vote, and why they're wrong Gary DeMar dismantles these 11 objections to voting. The Night Watch brought to life The Dutch Rijksmuseum closed in 2003 for what would turn out to be a ten-year renovation. When they re-opened again in 2013, they celebrated with a live "re-enactment" of one of the museum's most famous works, Rembrandt’s 1642 The Night Watch. (If you understand Dutch you may enjoy a behind-the-scenes video at the link above.) ...

News

Saturday Selections – October 17, 2020

What color is the balloon? (2 min) "The funny things about truth is, it's true...whether you believe it or not." Teens did surprisingly well in the COVID lockdown (10-minute read) Many adults have struggled during the COVID lockdown, whether because of job loss, or fears of death. Surprisingly teens's mental health has seen improvement over this same period. But why? "More sleep and family time – and less social media – may have made the difference." Life on Venus? Why "settled science" is so often hot air. It's in the interests of the media, and scientists, to hype up their findings. Car seats as contraceptives? By one estimate, US child safety seats save 60 children a year. Some economists are arguing they may also lead to 8,000 fewer births a year. How so? Only two of these seats fit in a car, so for parents to have a third child they'll need a new, bigger vehicle, raising the cost of that third child considerably. That might force some families to delay growing their family, and those delays can lead to smaller families over all. As the article author writes: "The point of this is not to launch a campaign to do away with child safety. It is to remind us that laws made with the best of intentions have unexpected consequences. Legislators need to bear this in mind when they impose restrictions which are simply 'common sense.' This has an obvious application to the Covid-19 lockdowns." A psalm for every day When Lindsey Tollesfson was 8 weeks pregnant, the doctor gave her a devastating diagnosis for her unborn son. "A verse kept ringing through my head: 'Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds' (James 1:2). How could I count it joy that my doctor told me my son would soon die? James wasn’t just saying 'rejoice despite your trial'; he was saying 'rejoice because of your trial.' Where could I turn to help me obey this command from the heart? I turned to the Psalms for comfort and wisdom, and I invite all who are walking through difficult circumstances to do the same..." Good news you probably haven't heard (5 min) It might not seem like it, but even this year there are positive global trends making life better in dramatic ways. While the video below is a secular presentation that credits the Englightenment for the progress being made, these improvements are a fruit of biblical principles like property rights and the free market, freedom of speech, stewardship, recognition of the Imago Dei, and doing to others as we would want done to us. ...

News

Saturday Selections – October 10, 2020

3.5 billion miles of DNA in just little ol' you (6 min) We each have enough linear length of DNA in us to stretch to the sun and back again more than 18 times. Wow! Evolution examples are just examples of world's brokeness... Christians sometimes think that because evolutionists believe in natural selection, we shouldn't. The truth is, creationists also hold to natural selection, but what we don't hold to is the idea that mutation + natural selection = the path up from molecules to man. In the examples examined here we see instance after instance of a mutation that, while helping the creature in some fashion, is actually a loss of function. This might start a road from man down to molecules but could never explain the upward trend. How to love the co-worker you just can't stand C.S. Lewis has some helpful advice... Social isolation is damaging a generation of children Titles are often overwrought and that is the case here too, but were we to rephrase this as a question it would be well worth considering, is social isolation damaging a generation of children? Dutch euthanasia doctor warns the British against...euthanasia Dutch doctor Bert Keizer was euthanizing patients 20 years before it was legal. Now he's warning Britain about the slippery slope that comes with legalized euthanasia. Tim Challies on the problem with "love languages" (3 min) ...

News

No, looting is not defensible

The first week after Vicky Osterweil’s book In Defense of Looting was published, its initial media coverage was positive, via an interview with US public broadcaster NPR. There the author made it clear that the title was not hyperbole, but accurately summed up the book’s message. Osterweil told NPR’s Natalie Escobar that looting was valuable because: Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police. It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. ….in terms of potential crimes that people can commit against the state, it's basically nonviolent. You're mass shoplifting. Most stores are insured; it's just hurting insurance companies on some level. It's just money. It's just property. It's not actually hurting any people. Vicky is clearly confused about what happens to a business’s insurance rates after an insurance payout is made – that money has to come from somewhere. (Vicky’s confusion also extends to gender, as until recently he went by “Willie.”) That he was defending both theft and wanton property destruction is why, even as the NPR interview was generally positive coverage, most of the media storm that followed was not. Still, many Americans share Osterweil's confusion. In a poll taken shortly after George Floyd's death, after rioters had burned down the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct (where the four officers involved in his death worked), 17 percent of respondents said actions taken by protesters, including the burning, were "fully justified." How representative the poll was is hard to guess, but we need only look at the number of people holding "No Justice; No Peace" signs to know many do believe that two wrongs can make a right. So what's the best rebuttal to this sort of thinking? Might it simply be to put a spin on Matt. 7:12 and ask them if they'd be willing to have done to them what they are encouraging be done to others? Christian apologist Tim Barnett noted how Osterweil denounces property rights as “innately, structurally white supremacist” – property is racist! – but his book begins with the standard publisher warning against any unauthorized “scanning, uploading, and distribution” because it’s “a theft of the author’s intellectual property.” Why is Osterweil working with a publisher that makes such racist assertions? Then, even as he celebrates theft and denounces property rights, he’s also offering his own property on Amazon for $28 a pop.  This isn’t simply ironic. It highlights how unChristian worldviews are unworkable, with proponents unwilling or unable to apply to themselves the standards they've proposed for everyone else. ...

News

Saturday Selections - September 12, 2020

Who has measured the heavens with His fingers? (2 minutes) This video unpacks what's contained in an area of space that you can cover with just the tip of your finger. God's universe is bigger than big! &lt;span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"&gt;&lt;/span&gt; Why Bibles given to slaves omitted most of the Old Testament While the Bible teaches we should be in submission to God – slaves even – His Word is all about freedom too, which seems to be why slaves that were given the Bible were given an abridged version. You need to know what your kids are listening to (10-minute read) The lyrics of the mega-hit WAP celebrate promiscuous, loveless sex in a ruder, cruder form than anything Madonna ever managed... and it is the #1 song in the world right now. So what are your kids listening to? Is it ethical to use data from Nazi medical experiments? The Nazis performed research on imprisoned Jews, and today we do research using the remains of aborted children. The justification given for this experimentation, in both cases, is that the subjects weren't fully human. If that is a reason not to use cruelly-derived  Nazi research – which is universally condemned and unlikely to ever be otherwise – isn't there all the more reason to steer clear of the results of experimentation on aborted fetuses? After all, abortion is an evil still with us. This is an especially relevant question today considering that some of the COVID vaccines in the works are being developed with the remains of aborted children. "Respectable sins" of the Reformed world "Respectable sins" are the ones that we justify and might even defend...if we talked about them at all. Tim Challies lists several specific to the Reformed world, including suspicion, gossip, and slander. The OT chapter Jews don't read: Isaiah 53 (10 minutes) Christians think Isaiah 53 is about Christ. But what do Jews think? This is a wonderful video, with the interviewer, a Jewish "Ray Comfort," sharing the chapter with Jews, and then lovingly confronting them with their sins and need for the Saviour. ...

News

Saturday Selections - September 5, 2020

Well-intentioned racism is racism still (5 minutes) Uncle Tom is a new documentary about how American black conservatives are ridiculed as being traitors to their race. Why? Because they don't think as the Left say they should think. Telling blacks how they should think is, of course, racist, but the irony is lost on the Left. What this deleted scene shows is that racism can come in all sorts of flavors, including a compassionate patronization. In biblical justice, there is a distinction between equality and equity "1 Kings 3:16-27 provides an excellent example of the biblical distinction between equality and equity. One woman wanted equality whereas the other woman wanted equity. King Solomon judged with equity, not equality, which meant that one of the women went home without a baby. Biblical justice is a matter of equity, not equality. Yes, there is a difference—and it’s not an insignificant one." Slavery was everywhere in the world. A white Christian man abolished it. "Every society on Earth in all of history had slavery. Every single one. The Europeans/ Americans had slavery. The Arabs had slavery, massive slavery. The word for black person in Arabic is “abeed” which means slave. That’s how common slavery was. Slavery in Asia, obviously. Slavery in Black Africa. Black Africans had Black Africans as slaves. Indigenous Native Americans had slaves. Every society in history had slavery. So the only question that is honest is not 'who had slavery?' It’s 'who abolished slavery?'" Was Jesus a socialist? The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared "Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind." And many a Christian seems to agree... "Transitioning" doesn't seem to improve mental health after all The study, as it was first reported, showed that transgender folk who get surgeries feel better about themselves. And this got a lot of media coverage. Now a closer look at the data shows no such mental health benefit. And that is not getting the same coverage. Darwin's impact on society in under 3 minutes Sometimes apologetics is simply about clarifying the difference between what God tells us is true, and what the world says is true. Here we see how, in contrast to God's grace and sacrificial love, Darwin offers only meaningless. ...

News

Saturday Selections - August 29, 2020

50 Christians around the world sing Amazing Grace together This is something special, a glimpse of what it might sound like when "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages" (Rev. 7:9) God's Church gathers to sing His praises. Spurgeon vs. Marx Karl Marx and Charles Spurgeon lived in the same city at the same time, engaged in "an epic battle for the souls of men in 19th century London." We must not become useful idiots for Erin O'Toole While the new leader of the Conservative Party, Erin O'Toole, is pro-choice he's said he'll allow pro-life members to bring forward bills. But as CHP leader Rod Taylor argues, that may not mean much. "In 2008, MP Ken Epp presented the Unborn Victims of Violence Bill, intended to protect pre-born babies from violent assaults perpetrated against their mothers. In 2010, MP Rod Bruinooge tabled his anti-coercion bill, Roxanne’s Law, meant to protect women from violent and abusive pressure to abort against their wills. In 2012, MP Stephen Woodworth presented Motion-312, his Personhood Motion, asking Parliament to establish a committee to explore when human life begins. Every one of these was defeated by a Conservative Prime Minister and a Conservative Government. When former MP Mark Warawa (now deceased) attempted to pass Motion-408, protecting babies from sex-selective abortion, his motion was deemed “non-votable” by the hand-picked committee. When a party leader or Prime Minister is not in favour of a bill, the chances of it passing are slim indeed." O'Toole's motivation for allowing pro-life bills is to secure pro-lifers' votes; that's what he gets out of this relationship. But what are we actually getting from him? If the answer is nothing, or next to it, then we are simply "useful idiots" helping O'Toole achieve his ends. Christians involved in the Conservative Party need to consider if – and then how – their involvement can further God's ends. No Christianity? Then no human rights There is no foundation for human rights apart from us all being made in the image of God. Have you heard of QAnon? (15-minute read) QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy theory, built around posts by an anonymous Q figure, which his expanding group of followers then pass along. Some of these posts have a Christian veneer, attracting Christians who know that there are indeed lies being spread by the mainstream media, whether that be transgenderism, evolution, socialism, or the denial of the personhood of the unborn. But that the media lies is not some great insight, and that a shadowy figure says it too doesn't make him credible. One appeal of conspiracy theories is that they are right about there being a malevolent force working behind the scenes. But it's not simply the Russians, or the bankers, or the Deep State; the real hidden force is the Devil...and of course our own rebellious hearts. And while the Devil might like to stir up conflict, is his agenda primarily world-domination? Or to get everyone vaccinated? 5G implementation? Or would he be happier still to have people worried about maybes, supposedlys, and possiblys, even as we ignore the actual tasks God has given us to do? The more credible overarching conspiracy might well be a devilish desire to distract us with things outside our control, rather than contend with our own envy, impatience, gossiping, and other sins. Joe Carter also weighs in on QAnon here. Can a short white guy be a tall Chinese woman? "It shouldn't be hard to tell a 5'9" white guy he's not a 6'5" Chinese woman..." ...

News

Saturday Selections - August 22, 2020

Stirring up trouble on behalf of the unborn (20 seconds) This week a pro-life group flew a "Black Lives Matter" banner over the site of the 2020 Democratic National Convention showing a giant picture of an aborted black fetus. A spokesman explained that sharing "victim photography" has long been a way of fighting evil and, since newspapers and other media won't allow them to share the graphic image, this group took to the skies. Two takes on masks and whether Christians need to wear them Both articles are intense, gracious, and biblically-grounded. In the first ARPA Canada's André Schutten answers a dozen mask-related questions, tackling topics like sphere sovereignty, Romans 13, and a Christian way of disagreeing with the government. In the second, one Reformed pastor and elder, Joseph Bayly and Brian Bailey, address the anti-mask arguments by another Reformed pastor, Douglas Wilson. This one is a little like coming in halfways on a conversation so at the start it is a bit hard to figure out what's going on. But the insight offered is worth the effort required. Socialism is force “'Why not socialism?' It’s force, pure and simple. If it were voluntary, it wouldn’t be socialism. It would be capitalism." On the art of dying well One of the ways Christians can be a light to the world is by dying differently. While the world hopes for a quick death, our goal can be a holy death. Our kids seem less safe but appearances are deceiving... Our children are a blessing from the Lord, and so we treat them as such. But there is a reason for moderation, even in protecting them. Bubble-wrapping them before they head out the door brings with its own harms: that we will raise fearful children who jump at every noise, shy away from every shadow, and are so risk-averse that they don't dare ask out that special girl, or start that company, or apply for that position...or venture out of the house at all. While this article is from a time before COVID, what it highlights – that our parental fears may not be a proportionate match with reality – is particularly relevant right now. Captain Literally When people misuse the word "literally" this superhero is here to save the day! And if you liked Captain Literally, you may also appreciate Captain Irony and the whole Grammar League. ...

News

Saturday Selections - July 25, 2020

Don't agree with me? I know why! It must be because you want people to die!  When the economy was shuttered it was presented as being about lives vs. money, and anyone who had a problem with the closure must have wanted people to die. Or maybe there was more to it. What follows is a humorous appeal for everyone to tone it down and use reasons rather than empty rhetoric. The Left continues to eat its own The bisexual, pro-choice Bari Weiss, and homosexual Andrew Sullivan (one of the most vocal voices in favor of gay "marriage") both recently felt the need to resign from the Left-leaning New York Times. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood – the world's largest abortion network – is scrubbing the name of its founder, Margaret Sanger from their New York clinic. It's shades of 2 Chronicles 20. Defund the police? I do not think that word means what you think it means The battle in our culture is in some ways a battle over the dictionary, and what words actually mean. As Calgary's Chief Constable Mark Neufeld recently noted, "everyone has a different idea of what defunding police means. 'For some, this is about diverting money, for some this is about dismantling police and for others, it’s about disarming police...'" Counting the cost of COVID ARPA Canada's Levi Minderhoud has written a thought-provoking series on the Canadian government's response to COVID-19. You can find the four parts here: A Christian introduction Comparing to past crises Evaluating Canada's current deficit Forecasting our financial future John MacArthur on defying church closure requirements, and Keith Mathison on submitting to mask-wearing mandates  When do we submit to the government, and when do we have to defy it? To find out we need to go to the Bible, and that's what these two Reformed leaders do. While on first read they might seem to be totally opposing each other, it's important to understand they are talking about two different situations: church closures and the wearing of masks. Environmentalist: Sorry for the hysteria! (10-minute read) Michael Shellenberger was named one of TIME magazine's 2008 "Heroes of the Environment," and is now issuing an apology on behalf of environmentalists as a whole, for their tendency to hype the dangers of climate change. He's not Christian and a logical question to ask is, why should we believe this environmentalist over the ones prophesying doom and gloom? He's more credible because his perspective gets one thing right that the other environmentalists regularly don't: he is measuring proposals first and foremost for what they would do for people. He recognizes that Man is special, and that has him evaluating how best to preserve the environment in a very different way than those who view Man as being a curse on the planet. Should we bake the cake? An Ontario videographer is in trouble for being unwilling to video a same-sex "marriage." Why she declined is unclear, but, from a Christian perspective, are there good reasons to decline to participate in a gay "marriage"? Yes, as the video below notes (one warning: there are a couple of brief visual depictions of Jesus). John Piper also weighs in here. ...

News, Theology

More birds than believers in church

This past Sunday I had the privilege of leading worship in my home congregation just outside of Hamilton, Ontario. I arrived about ten minutes before the service began. Everyone was already in church … all three of them! One elder, one brother taking care of sound and video, and one sister playing the piano. No more fellow believers joined us in the church building, although with a congregation of some 450 members, many were joining us from their homes via a livestream connection. Alas, we have been living with this reality for about ten Sundays in a row here in Ontario. It is much the same in many other – but not all – places. To curb the spread of COVID-19, governments around the world have restricted large public gatherings. In Ontario (at the time of writing), no more than five are permitted to gather publicly. That is why there were only four of us in church. But what about the birds? As I entered the building, one brother cheerfully quipped, “You have competition this morning. The birds are back.” You see, at present our congregation worships in a gymnasium. Resourceful feathered creatures somehow discovered a little gap somewhere up there in the roof. Are you also thinking of Psalm 84 in the Book of Praise? The sparrow finds a home to rest The swallow builds herself a nest By the volume of sound coming from that avian choir in the rafters, I would hazard an uneducated guess that there were more birds than believers in church this past Sunday. In Article 27 of the Belgic Confession, we affirm that the church is “a holy congregation and assembly of the true Christian believers.” When more birds than believers have assembled in a church building on Sunday, we have reason to grieve. Caught between commands? At least three divine commandments intersect in this circumstance. 4th Commandment As part of the fourth commandment, we confess that we must “diligently attend the church of God to hear God’s Word, to use the sacraments, to call publicly upon the Lord, and to give Christian offerings to the poor” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 38). So long as you have a good Internet connection and your local congregation has livestreaming equipment, you can still see the preacher and hear the preaching quite well. Similarly, the minister can still lead us in public prayer, and by sending an e-transfer we can still give Christian alms. All of this is not nothing. But so much is missing as well. In places where the restrictions are more severe, it is well nigh impossible to administer the sacraments. We sing psalms and hymns in our homes, but it does not even come close to the uplifting experience of singing together with hundreds of fellow believers in a building that is acoustically alive. In short, did we “attend the church of God”? Well, sort of but not really. Psalm 122 rings in our ears and weighs down our hearts: “I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord,” not stay in our own houses. 5th Commandment At the same time, in the fifth commandment, the Lord requires us to respect and obey our governing officials. Consider the words of Romans 13:1-2 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities…. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Those words are both blunt and inspired. This command still applies when governing authorities are unjust or unwise. The apostle Peter wrote, “Be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust” (1 Pet 2:18). But there is a limit to this, as well, for the same apostle said to the Sanhedrin, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Do we have to break the fifth commandment and contravene the restrictions on public gatherings in order to keep the fourth commandment and assemble in church to worship God? 6th Commandment Answering that question is already complex, but now add the sixth commandment. This command not only prohibits murder but also calls us to “protect from harm as much as we can” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 40). What now? If we fulfill the fourth commandment and attend the church of God, do we (potentially) break the sixth commandment by putting fellow believers, and by extension others with whom they may have contact, in harm’s way? We feel caught between the commands. Our consciences are hung up on the horns of a three-way dilemma. What is a sincere Christian to do? Some historical perspective As the Preacher teaches us, nothing is new under the sun (Eccl 1:10). Serious pandemics have afflicted the world before. For the sake of public health, governments have shut down church buildings before. For example, between 1576 and 1578, during the plague of Milan, fifteen percent of that city’s population died. At the peak of the infection curve, the city closed all “non-essential shops” and put into effect a “general quarantine,” which also meant that public worship services were not permitted.1 Sound familiar? The archbishop, a certain Carlo Borromeo, co-operated with local officials and organized the publication of booklets containing penitential Bible passages, prayers, and songs. These were then distributed, free of charge, to the citizens. At set times, when the church bell rang, everyone was to come to the doors and windows of their homes. Together the city recited prayers and sang songs. The cobbled streets of Milan, rather than the marbled nave of its cathedral, resounded with congregational singing. Can you imagine? Similarly, in the fall of 1918 the so-called Spanish flu ravaged Philadelphia. On October 3, the city officials closed all schools. On October 4, they closed all saloons, theaters, and churches as well. For the balance of the month, everyone lived through a complete lockdown, other than doing what was necessary to feed their families and care for the sick, the dying, and the dead. By the end of the month, though, the infection rate subsided and things opened up again. As a sure sign of a different era, “the first step in removing the ban allowed churches and synagogues to open,” although, at least in the case of the churches, “…without Sunday school.”2 History is interesting and instructive. We are certainly not the first generation to live through times like these. Still, history is not authoritative. The question remains: in the sight of our God, what are sincere Christians to do? Do not subdivide the commands Difficult circumstances can either push us apart or pull us together. Let us earnestly pray that it would be the latter. It is hard, though, to keep our minds simultaneously focussed on all the commands involved. One believer quickly zeroes in on the fourth commandment: God calls us to assemble for worship, therefore, we must assemble for worship. The heart of the next child of God, though, is gripped by the truth of the fifth commandment. God warns that if we resist the authorities he has put in place, we will incur judgment. Surely we need to take that seriously, don’t we? Then, yet another brother or sister in the Lord feels the burden of the sixth commandment, being concerned that he or she might seriously endanger someone else’s health. Asymptomatic transmission is a reality, after all. Different people emphasize different commands, and if they do it too aggressively, they may inadvertently push us apart from each other. We will need to have patience with each other and be mindful of each other’s consciences. Beyond that, though, be assured that there is no three-way dilemma in the Word of our God. Just as surely as Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35), it cannot be sub-divided either. The whole law is fulfilled in one key word: love (Matt. 22:37-40; Gal. 5:14; Lord’s Day 2). Intertwined love for God and our neighbour will provide the unifying departure point for us all. Walk forward in love “I love the Lord” (Ps 116) and “I love your saints” (Ps 16) are the twin-engines of holy desire that propel us out of bed, into our cars, and on toward our church buildings twice a Sunday. Right? But that plush recliner in my family room is more comfortable than the oak pew in church, isn’t it? And an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning is rather nice, too, isn’t it? The Lord can, and will, use the COVID-19 pandemic to refine our love-filled loyalty to him and burn away all dross of custom, superstition, or hypocrisy in our obedience of the fourth commandment. If our souls are yearning to be back in the courts of our God with our fellow believers (Ps 63), then our God is fulfilling his promise to take evil and turn it to our benefit. Next, holding the fourth and sixth commandments together is already familiar territory for us. I long to attend the church of God, but if I’m seriously sick with an infectious disease I’ll have to stay home or take other significant precautions so that I don’t harm others. In such a case I am not breaking the fourth commandment in order to keep the sixth. Why not? Because in God’s law love for him and love for the neighbour do not compete; instead, they complement. For example, in the OT when some of his own people had serious diseases, God himself quarantined them “outside the camp,” thereby also keeping them away from public worship (Lev. 13, 14). To be sure, these laws were more than a public health matter. They also involved other, deeper, spiritual lessons. But as a loving Father, our God also ensured that public worship gatherings would not become seedbeds for the spread of serious sickness. Under certain circumstances, then, loving both God and our neighbour means we may need to stay away from public worship. These biblical principles also apply as we deal with COVID-19. On the one hand, excessive fear of viruses should not stop us from assembling for worship. The Holy Spirit teaches us that the wise man will not be immobilized by unwarranted fear of lions on the road or, by extension, of viruses in the pews (Prov. 26:13). On the other hand, love for the neighbour and for our heavenly Father who upholds our neighbour’s health will compel us to exercise all due caution. In short, love and wisdom pave a path that holds the fourth and sixth commandments in harmony. Fulfilling the fifth commandment in these present circumstances is more challenging but not impossible. In the final words of his Institutes, John Calvin reminds us that government officials may well have to correct some of their fellow officials when they act unjustly or unwisely (Institutes 4.20.31). Faced with the double affliction of both plague and persecution, Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor, also recommended working through the “lower magistrates” in order to redirect “higher magistrates,” who may fail to uphold what is right and wise in the eyes of God. This approach fits well with Romans 13. In verses 1–2, we read how the Lord instituted “governing authorities,” not authority. The plural noun is significant. Not one single person in authority embodies all the wisdom required to rule, especially in challenging circumstances like COVID-19. If some governing officials are acting unwisely or unfairly toward the church, even if their intentions are noble, then believers can work with and through other officials in order to promote the necessary corrective re-balancing. In this way, we honour all the authorities in their God-given calling and in doing so, honour God himself. Again, love for the neighbour and love for God cohere rather than conflict. Thankfully, in some areas, we even have members of our Reformed congregation serving as government officials in town councils, provincial, and federal parliaments. Without denying the value of other efforts and initiatives, let us earnestly support and spur on these fellow believers, as well as any other elected representatives who will lend a sympathetic ear. The goal will be that, under the Lord’s blessing, as soon as it is safe to increase the size of public gatherings, the church will be the first in line to benefit, not the last. This approach also holds together the fourth and fifth and sixth commandments. May our God swiftly bring the day when the believers again far outnumber the birds in church. And may our chorus of congregational praise soon drown out their beautiful little chirps with a mighty sound that shakes the ground (Psalm 150, Book of Praise)! Endnotes 1) Chiu, Remi. “Singing on the Street and in the Home in Times of Pestilence: Lessons from the 1576–78 Plague of Milan,” in Domestic Devotions in Early Modern Italy, ed. Corry, Maya (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 28. 2) Stetler, Christina M. “The 1918 Spanish Influenza: Three Months of Horror in Philadelphia.” Pennsylvania History 84, no. 4 (2017): 477.  Dr. Jason Van Vliet is Principal and Professor of Dogmatics at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Ontario. This article first appeared in Clarion and is reprinted here with permission.  ...

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Saturday Selections – July 18, 2010

Andrew Peterson's Is He Worthy (5 minutes) When the words and music are perfectly paired... Learn how to defend the unborn (15-minute read) Apologist Greg Koukl shows us how to get the abortion debate down to just one question: What is the unborn? This is an incredibly valuable article that'll equip you to speak up for the unborn. One other question should also be asked: Where does our worth come from? While the biblical answer can be found in places like Gen. 1:26-27 and Gen. 9:6, the world doesn't have an adequate answer. Tim Bayly (and John Piper) on calling sodomy by any other name... With there now being a movement of Christians self-describing themselves as gay (though celibate) it is worth questioning the particular word choice of gay vs. sodomite. We don't use the latter because it seems overly harsh. But when we use the former it leads to people naming and claiming it as integral to their identity. In this article Pastor Tim Bayly explains why he started using the term sodomy. "The word sodomy …still carries the stigma of shamefulness. Those who love people with same-sex attraction should want to preserve the stigma of shameful practices which destroy them — just as we should try to preserve the stigma of stealing and perjury and kidnapping, and fornication, and adultery. It is a gracious thing when a culture puts signs in front of destructive behaviors that read: Don’t go there; it is shameful." Best example of evolution happening is evolution in a death spiral (10-min read) If you ask for the very best evidence of evolution in action today, the example that's most likely to be raised is Richard Lenski's decades-long experiment with E. coli in which the bacterium was said to have evolved a new ability. But as Michael Behe explains, this example of evolution doesn't start to explain how gains in complexity could occur, as this new function was accompanied by a general loss of fitness. Sexual difficulties in marriage (15-minute read) "What did God create sex for? ....Many couples say, 'Okay, sex is not with someone of your same gender: Check. Sex is not with someone who is not your spouse: Check. Sex is not pornography: Check. Okay, I seem to have gotten all this right, so why is this so hard? Why do we continue to struggle? Why does this continue to be a significant place of tension in our relationship?'” This is written specifically to biblical counselors, but the insights are useful to all. The astonishing walking, self-planting seed (5 minutes) That we can orate, salivate, masticate, matriculate and replicate is a wonder that we really understate. But when a plant can ambulate? Then, once again, we recognize the hand of the Ultimate! ...

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Saturday Selections - July 11, 2020

Miracles happen... John Barros has been walking back and forth outside an Orlando abortion clinic, reaching out to the mothers, long enough to wear a mark in the concrete. In this video Barros shares how God used him to reach a Spanish-speaking couple, even though he was speaking English. The devil's favorite punctuation mark Where God puts an exclamation mark, the Devil puts a question mark: "Did God really say...?" REAL Women endorse two/reject two in Conservative Party leadership race Canada's Conservative Party leadership race is using a preferential ballot. What that means is that if your top choice is eliminated after the first round of counting, then your vote will shifted to your second choice, and so on. What this also means is that there is no strategic reason not to vote for the best candidate, even if they might not seem to have a good chance of winning. Make him your top choice, and if he does indeed lose, then your vote will shift to your second choice and still be counted. Why then are some Christians considering voting for the pro-choice Erin O'Toole? Because he is more likely to beat Trudeau than either of the pro-life candidates, Leslyn Lewis or Derek Sloan? That prompts a question: why is it even important to beat Trudeau? He might be bad for business and the economy, but is that the real problem with Trudeau? Canada's national psalm, Ps. 72, from where we get our motto "From sea to sea," provides a job description of sorts for a ruler. He is to: ...deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. What makes Trudeau evil is not his handling of the economy but his support for the slaughter of "the afflicted who have no one to help." So what improvement is it to replace him with another who supports this same evil? Another reason given to support O'Toole is because he has promised to let all voices be heard. But is he going to award prominent positions to boldly pro-life MPs? Is he going to welcome the media storm that'll result each time they do speak up for the unborn? Or is he going to relegate loud pro-life Conservatives to the backbenches where, as one of 337 other MPs, they will seldom be heard? It doesn't take a prophet to know that any pro-life MP who is given prominence in an O'Toole government will be under intense pressure to act as if the death of 100,000 unborn children a year isn't worth making a fuss over. And certainly not worth losing a cabinet position over! What a blessing it is, then, that we have two pro-life candidates to choose from in Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis. What parenting style works best? A secular study defined 4 broad parenting styles as Disengaged - neither demanding nor responsive Permissive - responsive but not demanding Authoritarian - demanding but unresponsive Authoritative - demanding and responsive It is this fourth approach that most clearly matches up with God's call on parents in verses like: a) Ps. 127:3 - "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward." b) Prov. 29:15 - "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." c) Col. 3:21 - "Fathers do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." It not surprising then, that it is this fourth approach that most lines up with what even the world recognizes as the best results. God loves us, and His commandments are a help and protection for us when we listen...and in parenting too. "95 million-year-old" octopus's ink used for self-portrait Here's a fun story. The "preservation of an octopus as a fossil is about as unlikely as finding a fossil sneeze" and yet one such fossil is so well preserved that ink from the octopus's ink sac was used to draw a portrait of the animal. The ultimate Rube Goldberg Machine...aka the 3-minute-long basketball shot! A fun one to watch with the kids that might serve as inspiration too! ...

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Saturday Selections - June 13, 2020

Dandelions: more amazing than you knew! (4 minutes) I've shown this to all my kids - same reaction from all of them: "Wow!" When someone says "There is no truth..." As Greg Koukl explains, uttering the statement, “There is no truth,” in itself establishes the truth of at least 17 different things. So when we meet radical skeptics – those who doubt everything – we should challenge them to be "intellectually honest skeptics." "...we must be as skeptical about our skepticism as we are about our knowledge. We should take the burden of proof to defend our skepticism instead of simply asserting our skepticism. Anyone can assert disbelief. Whether they can make sense out of it is a different thing." This is how we do it here With so many wanting just to tear down and destroy, here is an example to inspire: this is a town where police, churches, and Black Lives Matters protesters marched together. Why the media is biased, even when they don't mean to be It's the nature of the business for journalists to give more coverage to scandal, failure, and conflict, than for success, calmness, and competency. And what they cover, they encourage. Pursuing godly manhood "Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with beards, flannels, bonfires, work boots, pocket knives, pickup trucks, or hatchet throwing. In fact, it might do some of us a lot of good to put our phones down and spend some time in the woods. Nevertheless, God’s Word is more concerned with character than charisma..." On the age and origin of Pluto (11 min) While working as an engineer for the US military space program, Spike Psarris examined the stars and planets. The evidence drove him to first become a creationist, and then a Christian. To share his findings, he crafted a series of 3 DVDs that explore Astronomy and the creation of the universe. While he is a soft-spoken man, his facts pack quite the wallop. And now he has turned his gaze to Pluto: "I am in the process of updating my Solar System DVD. One of the major topics that needed updating was Pluto; my DVD was published several years before the New Horizons probe visited Pluto, and that spacecraft made many fascinating discoveries....This chapter is now finished, and you can watch it online for free here" "Just Thinking" Instagram goodies Are they devotionals, or doodles, or a wonderful combination thereof? For the last few years now, Reformed artist Jason Bouwman has been sharing thought-provoking pictures like the one below, and you can find hundreds more on his Instagram page. ...

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"Black lives matter" isn't always about black lives

On May 25 a Minneapolis black man, George Floyd, died in handcuffs while three police officers kneeled on him, including one, Derek Chauvin, who was kneeling on his neck. In the weeks that followed protests erupted in cities across the US and the world, and protesters also made their feelings known on social media, many using the #blacklivesmatter hashtag. Christians nodded their agreement, but some wondered at the emphasis on blacks. After all, we know that all of us are just one race, and wouldn’t furthering that understanding be the best way to counter racism? So many well-meaning Christian noted that “all lives matter” because, of course, they do. But what this overlooked is the specific charge being made: protesters are saying that many black lives are not being treated like they matter. One clarifying analogy shared around social media about the “all lives matter” slogan told of a husband speaking at his wife’s funeral about how much she mattered to him only to have someone take the mike and share that “all wives matter.” This is a true statement, but at this time and place would be understood as entirely missing the point. So let’s be done with “all lives matter.” Does that mean we should embrace the “black lives matter” (BLM) slogan? The problem with doing so is that there is more to BLM than just the slogan; there is also a Black Lives Matter movement. While the movement is loosely knit, some of its key leaders are as interested in promoting homosexuality and transgenderism as they are in fighting racism. In a 2015 interview with MSNBC, one of the founders, Patrisse Cullors, noted that the hashtag #blacklivesmatter: “...was created by two black queer women, myself and Alicia, and one Nigerian-American woman, Opal Tometi…” It doesn’t take much digging to find abortion-promoting work as well. So the slogan speaks to one matter, but the organization is taking on many more, much of it in direct opposition to God’s will. There have been a couple of suggestions on how Christians might modify the BLM slogan to, on the one hand, acknowledge the grievance being made, and, on the other, distance us from the BLM organization. “All black lives matter” is a pro-life suggestion, meant to highlight how blacks are disproportionately victims of abortion. But, unfortunately, the BLM organization is already using this slogan, with the “all,” in their case, referring to transgender, gay, and lesbian blacks. Another possibility: “Black lives matter too.” This acknowledges the grievance, but in a way that is more unifying, and less an us vs. them statement. And it also takes us a step away from what the BLM organization is doing. Whatever slogan we use, what’s most significantly missing here is God’s perspective. The biggest contribution God’s people can make to this discussion might be to add just a few select biblical words. We can note that George Floyd, an image-bearer of God (Gen. 1:27), was killed. When we put his death in that context then it becomes clear what needs to be done and what should not be done. By making it about God, and His standards, then we understand Floyd’s life was precious for the very same reason that our lives are. We’ll know that justice needs to be done. It will also be clear that our calls for justice can’t be accompanied by evil. How can we demand God’s justice for one image-bearer, even as we throw bricks or insults at other such image-bearers? #ImagebearerOfGod might not make for an effective hashtag, but it is the beginning of an explicitly Christian, God-acknowledging message, which is what our world most needs to hear....

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Dutch scientists find Gouda, Edam may help fight COVID-19

This is the sort of headline to have you checking whether it isn’t April 1 today. But the report is genuine. As The Guardian’s Daniel Boffey reported: “Patients who have died or been admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 have been found to be deficient in a vitamin found in spinach, eggs, and hard and blue cheese…” The study took place at a hospital in Nijmegen, and the missing vitamin is K. Vitamin K is crucial for the production of proteins regulating blood clotting, and the hope is that intake of K may help combat the problems COVID-19 causes with blood clotting. So far no clinical trials have been run, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if subsequent findings conflict with these early reports. In the meantime, one of the project researchers, Dr. Rob Janssen, advised Vitamin K supplements because whether it helps with COVID or not, “it is good for your blood vessels bones…” The vitamin K1 can be found in blueberries and green vegetables, but, according to Dr. Janssen, it is K2 that “is better absorbed by the body.” Where can K2 be found? “It is in Dutch cheese, I have to say, and French cheese as well.”...

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Saturday Selections - June 6, 2020

Stepping up by stepping away Warren Barfield was once best known for his songs The Time is Now, and the one below, Love Is Not a Fight. But then, in 2017, the Christian singer, songwriter, and public speaker stepped away from the spotlight because, in his words, he didn't want to: "...be out building a career and wealth while my wife and kids built memories and a life without me. With my wife’s full support I walked away from the promise of material success, to pursue something priceless with her, a life.... Bottom line, I’m more interested in being an intentional husband and father and a good man rather than just playing one on stage or social media." And for three years now that's the last we've heard of him. Is there a settled scientific consensus about wearing masks? Should everyone in public wear a mask? Even as some call it "settled" science that we should, other experts disagree. While that tells us very little about the effectiveness of masks, it does tell us something about those who proclaim things settled when they aren't. Keep the good from the COVID quarantine Being forced to stay at home has brought with it some positives. When it is all over, will we be able to take those with us? Focus on the Family offering free movies/audiobooks Focus on the Family has produced some fun family-friendly material like a dramatized audio version of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, the Last Chance Detectives films, and the Adventures in Odyssey radio series. And they are now offering a lot of this content for free, with the only requirement being your name and email address. Parents should note that this Christian group, though conservative, is not Reformed and on occasion Arminian tones will pop up in their materials. Frontal lobotomies: a Darwinian mental health holocaust (15-minute read) Before the procedure was discredited, as many as 35,000 were subjected to frontal lobotomies. This "psychosurgery" was based on evolutionary beliefs, and it was those beliefs that led to harmful conclusions. There is a relevance to today because many secular psychologists are also evolutionists, and if they don't understand who we actually are and why we are here, that will have implications for how they try to restore us. Why Christians shouldn’t jump on bandwagon of progressive groups like Black Lives Matter "I can say, heartily, that black lives matter....however, I cannot support the organization Black Lives Matter. As I’ve noted before, their guiding principles include the promotion of the LGBT agenda and new and radical interpretations of gender (they want to “dismantle cis-gender privilege,” for example.) Their leaders are, without exception, radically pro-abortion..." What an NBA reporter's tweet reveals about Christianity (6 min) On May 25 a Minneapolis police officer killed an African American suspect, George Floyd, by placing a knee on the handcuffed Floyd's neck for more than 8 minutes. Some protests in bigger cities turned into riots, with police vehicles and businesses being set on fire. On May 29, the officer, Derek Chauvin was charged with murder. In this video, Whaddo You Meme's Jon McCray looks at what one reporter's reaction to the riots reveals about how if God were to judge us by even just our own standards, we would never measure up. ...

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Saturday Selections - May 9, 2020

A whale of an evolution tale (10 minutes) The evolution of whales has been touted as "one of the best examples of an evolutionary transition." This short, very amusing, animated presentation, uses evolutionists' own findings to ask "if this is one of the best evidences for evolution what does that mean for their other evidence that's not as good?" ‘My 15-year-old transgender son is going through menopause’ Christians need to hear and pass along stories like this, stacking them on the biblical foundation that God made us male and female: "The lunacy of allowing a child – a 15-year-old is still a child who cannot drive or vote – to destroy her capacity for bringing new life into the world suggests that we are witnessing a crisis of parenting, not necessarily a crisis of gender identity." A creationist responds to Plandemic (23 minutes) Creation.com's Dr. Robert Carter takes on what was this week's popping-up-everwhere excerpt from an upcoming documentary, Plandemic. That excerpt pitches a collection of claims about COVID-19 (as well as claims about other sort-of, but-not-entirely, related things). Plandemic is being shared widely and is being, if not wholly believed by many, at least seriously considered by many, including those who don't normally pass along these types of conspiratorial claims. That's because Plandemic looks good – this is professionally produced. And it is compelling, in large part because it makes lots of points, even as it leaves viewers with little time to evaluate each claim made. In critiquing this video, Dr. Carter is not trying to argue that everything said is untrue. His point is more limited: simply that this is not a reliable source. If you haven't already seen the Plandemic excerpt, you might no longer be able to – YouTube and Facebook have been actively taking down the video, in a paternalistic approach that will only, and ironically, feed the documentary's conspiratorial narrative. Abstaining from everything during the pandemic, except...promescuity? COVID-19 is transmissible via human contact so our governments shut down...everything. But when it comes to sexually-transmitted diseases, these same governments won't encourage abstinence. In fact, they often won't share the real risks, encouraging children to continue in risky behaviors that are sure to leave them with one STD or another. Michael Moore's new documentary knocks the halo off the environmental movement In a surprising twist, Michael Moore's new (and free) documentary takes on environmentalism. But while Planet of the Humans sees through the hypocrisy of the Green movement, the solution it offers is far from insightful.  The film pitches people, not carbon, as the problem. But this people-are-a-plague-on-the-planet perspective is the same anti-Christian, overpopulation-hype we've been hearing since Thomas Malthus and Paul Ehrlich. Dutch Supreme Court allows euthanasia for people with dementia Euthanasia is supposedly a person choosing for themselves when they are going to die. The idea that our lives are ours to dispose of as we wish stands in contrast to recognizing that God, as the giver of life, is in charge of it. It is on this Christian basis that we can tell the suicidal man that his desire is wrong – his life is not his to dispose of. But on what basis could those who worship autonomy condemn his wish? What the Dutch Supreme Court has approved now, is the killing of patients who have previously requested euthanasia but who presently lack the capacity to make that request. The case in question involved an elderly woman in advanced stages of dementia who had previously requested euthanasia but who, when the killers in white coats came, actively fought their attempts. So they held her down and injected poison into her veins...all in the name of self-determination. This isn't simply irony – this is a false god, autonomy, now being exposed as a sham and a lie. The world might not want to hear God's Truth, but if we are going to offer them genuine help, then we need to share that it is He, and not we, who owns our lives. What good does it do to merely expose the lie? There are any number of lies to follow, so if we leave it that then the world can simply switch from following one lie to following another. However, when we lead with God's Truth, and then expose the lie of autonomy, those who have ears to hear will know in Whose direction they should turn. Fear no one - a short documentary (7 min) On May 5, 1945, the whole country of the Netherlands was finally completely free. This year and this month mark the 75th anniversary of that final liberation. In the video below we are introduced to Jake who lived through it all and wants to give glory to the God he knew he could trust in the most trying of times. ...

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Poll: More Canadians condemn plastic straws than abortion

An Angus Reid poll, conducted in January of this year, asked 1,528 Canadians for their moral perspectives on a wide variety of issues. Among the findings: while 46% thought that sharing someone’s streaming account without paying is always or usually morally wrong, only 20% thought the same of “doctor-assisted dying” and just 26% for abortion. Canadians are rejecting God’s Law and like the Pharisees of old, they are creating their own substitutes in an attempt to justify themselves (Luke 18:9-14). Sure, I may have just had my elderly mother euthanized, and had my unborn baby aborted, but I’m a good person because I always use a bamboo, not plastic, straw. I’m doing my part! What are some of Canada’s replacement commandments? In varying percentages, Canadians think it always or usually wrong to: eat meat: 7% fly for recreation: 11%, or business: 12% buy a gas-guzzling SUV: 41% use single-use plastics like straws and cutlery: 51% have a Death Penalty: 57% spank a child: 60% do scientific testing on animals: 64% Almost half of Canadians think watching pornography is always or usually morally acceptable (45%) even as 47% say having a handgun in the house isn’t. 44% disapprove of buying a fur coat, but just 19% condemn gambling. In a twist, a few real sins are recognized as such. A majority of respondents still thought it always or usually wrong to buy sex (59%), not declare income to avoid paying taxes (84%), or have an affair (89%). The overall lawless trend this poll reveals presents Christians with a curious opportunity: if we’re up for it, God’s people have the opportunity to contrast the sandy underpinnings of the world’s moral code with the Solid Rock (Ps. 18:2) undergirding our own. However, to seize this opportunity we have to make sure our feet are firmly planted. We can’t fall for our culture’s manufactured morals. That means, when a vegan friend looks down their nose at our steak, we shouldn’t feel guilty. We can be confident about eating meat, no matter what our friend thinks, because we know God permits it (Gen 9:3) and that settles it. Likewise, even when 99% tell us otherwise, we can be confident it is still a sin to covet our billionaire neighbor’s goods. How do we know? Because God forbids it (Ex. 20:17). To seize this opportunity we also have to be fearless. A poll like this might tempt us to despair, what is our country coming to? But if we’re confident that Christ has already won, then we should be able to say with David, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can Man do to me?” (Ps. 27:1, Heb. 13:5-6). With that assurance, we can step into the fray and challenge the world’s misplaced convictions. So, for example, we can challenge them on the conviction that doing scientific research on animals is wrong. Is that so? Our secular culture says Man is just one more product of evolution, and if so why should any moral code apply to us? What other creature is condemned for its conduct? When a lion eats a gazelle, do we wag a disapproving finger? Or do we instead think it unremarkable when one animal takes advantage of another? Why should Man be treated any differently? Once we’ve exposed the empty space supporting their conviction, we can explain our own. Christians know that Man is indeed different, special because we alone are made in God’s Image (Gen. 1:27, 9:6). And because we are special, it is much better to first test a drug on a rat, or a pig, or a dog, before we would ever test it on a boy. God’s Law vs. the world’s manufactured morals – has the contrast ever been clearer? May God’s people take full advantage of this time and opportunity, and may God bless our efforts, using us to bring many to Him!...

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Saturday Selections – May 2, 2020

An unborn baby kicking up a storm (30 seconds) Our value doesn't come from what we can do – it comes from in Whose Image we are made – but for those who say otherwise, this clip of a baby doing all sorts of things that newborn babies also do makes it hard for them to deny that this is, in fact, a baby. This active, energetic (mom is going to feel that!) unborn and unprotected child is busy showing off his or her many abilities! A podcast about John Calvin dealing with disease (10-minutes) While the two hosts of this podcast are likely not Reformed, their discussion on how "epidemics tore through John Calvin's Geneva five times" is interesting. The interview is just 10 minutes long, followed by 5 minutes of dated news that you can give a miss. Harvard prof wants a "presumptive ban" homeschooling An interview critiquing homeschooling portrayed the poor homeschooling student imprisoned inside a house built out of, among other books, a Bible. As Forbes' Mike McShane noted, it was as if the article's author and editors had never met homeschoolers. After all, it is not home schools, but public schools, some complete with metal detectors, that most look like prisons. Then there was the irony that the presumably public-school-educated editors didn't notice that another of the books imprisoning the child had a misspelled "arithmatic" on its spine. But these were only symptoms of the interview's underlying flaw – as John Stonestreet shared, the arguments were "ideology dressed up as advocacy." What skeptical scholars admit about the Resurrection (10-minute read) Even the skeptics acknowledge that something special must have happened. Psalms 101: congregational psalm-singing for those in withdrawal If the quarantine has you missing the sound of congregational singing, this site has 16 psalms as sung by various congregations around the world. The site also has a vast array of other psalms-related materials, including choral performances too. And if you want a strictly instrumental version of the 150 psalms, perhaps to sing along with, check out Dr. Ernst Stolz's YouTube channel here. (H/T to Marlene VanRootselaar and Thea Dora.) Is space travel our destiny? In his book and documentary, Privileged Planet, Guillermo Gonzalez argued that the Earth was not only uniquely suited for life but unusually suited to explore the rest of our Universe. In this article, he reflects on two recent studies that make the point that Earth is quite unusual in how our Sun is the right size, and our planet the right size, to allow for rocket travel. Some might call this a long string of coincidences, but Christians would be right to wonder if these might simply be preparations, with God so positioning us that we could, one day, go into the great beyond and explore even more of His amazing Creation. Why are fossil footprints curious evidence for the Flood? (3 minutes) The folks who brought you Is Genesis History? share how fossil footprints are evidence for Noah's Flood. ...

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Saturday Selections - April 25, 2020

Earth Day? Nah. (2 min) It was Earth Day this past Wednesday and once again the world celebrated creation even as it denied the Creator. Dr. Gordon Wilson encourages Christians not to hitch our wagon to the environmental movement and to, instead celebrate the Creator, not the creature. When a vaccine arrives, will it be ethical? ...or will it be developed using the cells of aborted fetuses? A defense of infant baptism (10-minute read) There's a lot of confusion in the debate over adult-only versus adults-and-babies baptism. In this 10-minute primer, Dr. Guy M. Richard clears a number of them away. Coronavirus and Christ: a poem by John Piper The Bible gives buckets of answers about COVID-19. You may not like them. Time magazine recently published an article by N.T. Wright with the title: "Christianity offers no answers about the coronavirus. It's not supposed to." Dan Phillips offers this corrective. Why Christian parents need to be extra careful about what shows their kids watch in quarantine Jonathon Van Maren highlights how Disney and others really are trying to corrupt our children. Is corporate worship "essential"? ARPA Canada weighs in with some biblical considerations for churches, as well as points to raise with our elected leaders. What's inside a caterpillar "cocoon"? (3.5 min) Did you know butterflies might be able to remember things they learned when they were caterpillars? ...

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The “religious ghost” behind Tim Tebow joining the Philippine national baseball team

Heisman-winning former college quarterback and now minor league baseball player Tim Tebow has accepted an invitation to play for the Philippine national team. Like every other sporting event, this year’s qualifying games for the 2021 World Baseball Classic have now been put on indefinite hold but this story is still worth a closer look for how the mainstream media reported it. Tebow is as well known for his public Christian faith as he is for his athletic exploits, but God is not popular among secular reporters. That's why there is, in this story, what GetReligion.org’s Terry Mattingly calls, a “religious ghost.” These are obvious angles in stories that reporters leave unexplored because they don’t like where they lead: to some sort of acknowledgment of God. In this instance, every reporter has to explain how it is that this well-known American athlete can play for a Philippine team. But that doesn’t mean they have to give a full answer. So a WCTV account gives as explanation that Tebow was born in the Philippines, and leaves it at that. Two ESPN.com stories do a little better, noting that the reason he was in the Philippines was because his parents were serving there as missionaries. A third ESPN story did even a titch better, sharing that “Tebow has spent a considerable amount of time in the country of his birth and has even been engaged in philanthropic activities in Davao.” But only MLB.com dared flesh out what was a ghost (there, but insubstantial) in the other accounts. In digging further into Tebow’s religious motivations, Anthony DiComo gave readers a good understanding of why Tebow would want to represent the Philippines. He…returned frequently to the Philippines as he became active in missionary work himself, spending at least three weeks there annually for nearly 15 years in a row…. In 2014, Tebow opened the Tebow CURE Hospital in Davao City to “meet the physical needs and provide spiritual healing for deserving children in the Philippines who could not otherwise afford care,” according to the hospital’s website…..“I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been back,” Tebow said, noting that his parents still have a ministry in the Philippines. For covering the obvious religious angle, Mattingly gives "kudos to MLB.com," noting: "It’s not that hard to get the faith details right. It just takes a little bit of journalism." Picture credit: Keeton Gale/Shutterstock.com...

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Saturday Selections - April 11, 2020

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra: quarantine edition In this rousing, at-home rendition, the RPO plays Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," better known to many by the lyrics Henry van Dyke wrote for it in 1907: "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee." Freud the fraud He is one of the most influential figures of the modern age. But this past month a secular science magazine headline asked, "Was Freud right about anything?" The answer given? A decided, "No." So why did so many buy what he was selling? Was it because of the materialistic – the atheistic – worldview that came with it? Might it be, as Chesterton has sometimes been credited with saying, that, "When men stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing. They believe in anything"? Martin Luther on the coronavirus (20-minute read) The bubonic plague hit Wittenberg in the fall of 1527. It was highly contagious, painful, and in an earlier 1347 outbreak, might have killed as much as 60% of Europe’s population. While they didn’t, at the time, know what caused it, they were aware it involved being around sick people. So when the plague struck, healthy people would flee. But Luther did not. When another pastor asked him "whether it is proper for a Christians to run away from a deadly plague,“ Luther wrote a letter in reply, titled “Whether one may flee from a deadly plague,” that is applicable to our own situation. While the whole letter is worth reading, one excerpt, in particular, has been making its way around the Internet: "I shall ask God to mercifully protect us. Then I will fumigate, purify the air, administer medicine, and take medicine. I shall avoid places and persons where my person is not needed in order not to become contaminated, and thus perchance inflict and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God shall wish to take me, He shall surely find me. But, I have done what He has expected of me, and so I am not responsible either for my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but shall go freely. This is a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy, and does not tempt God." Should we outlaw child labor? Before you answer... The article title is, "When good intentions harm children" but the lesson it preaches is one that can be applied more broadly: everything comes with tradeoffs, so before we make any big decision, we should find out what the possible downsides are – we should count the cost (Luke 14:25-33). What I didn't learn in business school... "What I didn’t learn in business school is that good business principles didn’t originate in the halls of academia; they are in fact biblical principles." How can I explain sin to an unbeliever (1 minute) Sometimes sinners will dispute the obvious, and before we reply we need to hear Proverbs 26:4, where God warns: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him." If we treat a foolish question with respect, acting as if it really is a legitimate concern, then to onlookers we can look as foolish as the questioner. For example, if someone were to say, "Prove to me gravity exists!" the exact wrong sort of response would be, "That's a really good question - let me think about that." In this clip, Dr. RC Sproul is asked how to explain to a sinner that sin really exists. That fact sin exists is written on this unbeliever's heart (Romans 2:15) so he knows better and this is a question along the lines of "Prove to me gravity exists." Then RC Sproul shows how not to answer a fool in his folly – his answer treats the questions with the amount of respect that it is due. Brilliant! ...

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The TP we need in the COVID crisis: Trust & Perspective

Toilet paper (TP) has become a hot commodity. It’s hard to find. Just mention Charmin and it evokes a wide range of emotions: frustration, greed, and anger just to name a few. So much for enhancing our soft side. All the TP in the world won’t give us comfort. Perhaps some physical comfort but that’s about it. What we need is real comfort. Spiritual comfort. A better TP. We need trust and perspective. Satan hurls a lot of flaming darts at us. One of those darts is doubt. He loves it when we doubt God’s word. “You surely won’t die,” he said to Eve. “If you are the Son of God,” he taunted as he tempted Jesus. And he sows seeds of doubt in us when we don’t seem to have the right answers in the midst of calamity and suffering. We’re vulnerable. So, he tells us lies. He’s good at that. He’s the greatest at that. He’s the great deceiver. Trust... The psalms remind God’s people of the need to put their trust in Him and His name. “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Ps. 9:8, 10). “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Ps. 20:6-7). “In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name” (Ps. 33:20-21). In this COVID crisis, believers may and should put their trust in the Lord. We can trust Him to do that which is good. We can trust Him to turn all things for our good. Trust in God is key to Christian living: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land find safe pasture” (Ps. 37:3). and perspective… We need this Biblical perspective. Life is full of blessings, action, work, charity, faith, and relationships. Life is full of hopes, dreams, changes, and experiences. Life can be full of sorrow and regrets. Life can be full of confusion, disappointment, discouragement, and questions. The word of God brings us to our knees and gives us the proper perspective and reminds us what life really is. It reminds us of Who life really is. In moments of despair, grief, fear, and sensationalism God’s word comes alive. Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life. Jesus is life! In this time of the COVID crisis, we need to re-cultivate an eternal perspective in our thinking. Stocking up the shelves for the long term won’t cut it. Let alone loading up on TP.  From a Christian’s perspective there is sickness and death in this world. God has overcome that. He comforts us in times of trouble. He is still watching us 24-7 in all our comings and goings. ...open up opportunities As people of God, we have a clear perspective. A hopeful perspective. Life is about opportunity. Opportunity to love God. Opportunity to love people. Opportunity to serve God. Opportunity to serve people. And we do so because Jesus is our life. He is our only comfort in life and in death. And it’s this perspective that we need to present to our communities and to our civil authorities. We’ve got the real TP that our society needs to load up on! Trust and perspective. Ed Hoogerdyk is the Alberta Manager of the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada....

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Saturday Selections – April 4, 2020

3 things to remember when you're feeling anxious (3 min) "It's striking that the most frequent command in the entire Bible is to not be afraid. Don't fear. Don't be anxious. And it's a very unusual command because it doesn't say, 'Repent,' or 'Try harder.' It's a command, but then the next thing said is a promise: 'I will be with you. Don't be afraid.'" – David Powlison New free Christian streaming service Looking for some good Christian viewing? Vision Video and the Christian History Institute have just started a new, free (donor-supported) streaming service (H/T Tim Challies). You have to give your name and email, and then you are good to go. A lot of it is middling content, some is Roman Catholic, but there are some gems worth checking out including a great children's film... Storm and Luther's Forbidden Letter  ...5 biographical dramas (I've ordered them from best to not bad)... C.S. Lewis Onstage Martin Luther Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace  John Hus - A Journey of No Return God's Outlaw: The Story of William Tyndale ... and, for the even more studious, a classic apologetics series from Schaeffer, and a series from James Kennedy... Francis Schaeffer's "How Should We Then Live" James Kennedy's "What if Jesus had never been born?" There's also the Torchlighter animated biographies, where some episodes are quite good (like the Martin Luther one). But despite being animated, these are not all-ages viewing - The Jim Elliot Story, for example, includes a brief depiction of his death by spearing. So, as always, parents should preview. We can't spend our way to prosperity This is not a Christian article but it makes a Christian point: it is not spending, but investment, that grows an economy. We see in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30) the lazy servant is taken to task for not investing his talent, while the two others are congratulated for making more out of what their Master gave them. The idea of "stimulus spending" flips this on its head, calling on us not to create more, but to spend what we have. To be clear, this article isn't critiquing aid to those in need – that's a different discussion. What's being critiqued here is sending cheques out with the goal of getting people spending. As the author notes, this has been tried repeatedly, and it has failed repeatedly: "More spending is a consequence of economic growth, not the trigger for economic growth." Fear of dying There's nothing like a pandemic to bring our mortality close to home. Lou Priolo lists 6 common reasons we're afraid of dying and lays out a "brief biblical remedy for each of them. Christian Psychology: an introduction & biblical analysis (15-minute read) This is a helpful article, highlighting the differences between secular psychology and two types of Christian psychology. It's not a quick or easy read, but it is an informative one. A Christian and a feminist almost agree (5 min) The world can often be spot on about what the problem is, and still be completely wrong about what the solution is. And unless someone tells them God's answer, they aren't going to figure it out on their own. ...

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Saturday Selections - March 14, 2020

The only question that matters in the abortion debate Greg Koukl shows how to simplify the abortion debate Christian myths and other famous quips (26-minute podcast) In this episode of the Abounding Grace Radio, Pastor Chris Gordon addresses three Christian myths: God helps those who help themselves God will never give you more than you can handle God is a gentleman who would never force Himself on anyone How to make your marriage blossom Ray Comfort, evangelist and closet comedian too, has 7 great tips. Coronavirus may lead to a mass homeschooling experiment? With school years being disrupted all over, will parents find out they don't need the government to teach their kids? Polyamory and the Overton Window How did homosexuality start getting "normalized" in evangelical Christian circles? With Christian leaders muddying what homosexuality entailed, giving them the opportunity, then, to condemn it only in part (the physical act itself), even as they praised what they called other aspects of it. Now we can see this same approach being used with polyamory. Don't be fooled! (Since posting this, it has been noted there has been some back and forth dialogue going on online. The article linked to in the title, by Denny Burke, critiqued this one by Preston Sprinkle and Branson Parler. And now Sprinkle and Parler have responded to Burke and other critics here. And one of the critics they respond to, Douglas Wilson, responds to their response here. Lots to read, but it is well worth the time invested - this is the newest front.) C.S. Lewis on the Coronavirus "Lewis never faced the coronavirus, of course, but in the late 1940s, the world was coming to grips with another threat..." Are women more important for business than family?  Joseph Backholm went to the Women's March to ask, do businesses need to have both men and women on their boards, and "is it equally important for men and women to be represented in the lives of children?" (ie. do kids need a mom and dad). His interviewees thought equal representation was important in only one of those situations. ...

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Saturday Selections – March 7, 2020

Caterpillars feed on exploding seed pods! (3 minutes) Wait for it....wait for it..... Don't leave kids to their own devices Should we trust kids with online privacy? No, says Breakpoint Ministries' John Stonestreet: "the least loving thing you can do as a parent is to leave your kids to their own devices on the Internet." How J.K. Rowling outsmarted the LGBT mob when it came after her The Harry Potter author simply stood her ground unapologetically... Euthanasia is increasing organ donations. What should we do? "'Medically assisted death' comes down to people at their most vulnerable trying to hold on to a sense of control. Organ donation gives one more illusion of control: the illusion that this apparent altruism will give your life and death a meaning it otherwise would not have. This illusion further masks the inherent dignity each human being has as an image-bearer of God – the God who, in health or sickness, is in control." University: to go or not go? One consideration Is college worth it, financially? There are many things to consider, and here is just one. US college students graduate with an average of $30,000 in debt. This article argues that, if instead of having to pay that off over the next ten years, they could instead be investing in the Stock Market each of those years at just a minimal amount of $3,648 per year, they could end up with almost a million dollars more in their retirement bank account. The lesson? Invest early (Albert Einstein called compound interest the "eighth wonder of the world") and consider only going to college or university if you have goals that require it. What is a worldview? (5 minutes) Everyone has one. But what is it? And why does it matter? ...

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Saturday Selections – February 29, 2020

Could giraffes fit on the ark? Answers in Genesis has made a 30-second commercial for their Ark Encounter in Kentucky. It's based on all the children's bible storybooks that depict Noah's Ark with giraffes that have to stick their necks out a window. As the Giraffe family discovers, those pictures don't capture the true scale of things. If you've ever thought of visiting the Ark Encounter this might be the year to go – in 2020 kids 10 and under are free. Catholic mass to be offered to Protestants in Calvin's Cathedral today As Adam Ford noted, this is something that should not only get Protestants angry but even Catholics. There are real differences between us about who God is and what He has done for us. Rather than addressing those differences, this pretends that the truth of the matter is inconsequential. So this isn't Catholic theology sneaking into a Protestant church; this is relativism and apathy showing they already run the place. Christian atheists? Though they won't worship God, some prominent atheists still recognize that Christianity is good for the world. Is Transhumanism uncomfortably tempting? Is Transhumanism – the idea that we can use technology to reshape ourselves – the next thing coming? Transhumanism includes things as minimal as a pair of high-tech glasses that access the Internet. It can also be much more radical, involving the replacement of body parts with cybernetics. Artificial limbs designed to help those who have lost their own arms or legs via accident or disease might be grafted onto people who want to substitute their healthy arm for a bionic one. Inconceivable? Not in a world in which men are being told that they can become women, and vice versa. What is the Christian response? Denyse O'Leary provides a partial answer. Reformed sermon site has 1,500+ TheSeed.info has collected 1,679 sermons from pastors in the Canadian and American Reformed Churches and their sister denominations. It can be searched by biblical text (with at least one sermon available for every book of the bible except, somewhat mysteriously, 1 Chronicles) so it's a great study resource and quite the source of reading sermons. All Bob's money.... (3 min) Now that Bernie Sanders is the Democratic presidential front runner, this spoof of the Beatles' "All my loving" is making the rounds again. Sanders has spoken of banning billionaires, not for any specific evil they've done but simply because they have more money than he thinks they should have. This is what breaking the 1oth Commandment looks like at a governmental level – he's peeking over the back fence at what the billionaires have, and he's coveting. But is that the only Commandment that Sanders is breaking? If you have libertarian friends you may have heard one claim that "all taxation is theft." Libertarians believe the government derives its authority from the people, and thus only has the same powers that we as individuals have. And since we can't force people to give us money – that would be stealing – it's still theft even when the government does it. In contrast, Christians know that governments are put in place by God, and derive their authority from Him. They can tax us because, as Roman 13:6-7 shows, God has given them the authority to do so. So, no, not all taxation is theft. But where Christians can go wrong is in believing that since the government is allowed to tax that means taxation is never theft. However, when King Ahab wanted his neighbor Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21) he couldn't simply take it, even though he was the king – even though he was the government – because that would have been a violation of the 8th Commandment, Do not Steal. So he found a couple of men to bear false witness against Naboth, accusing him of blasphemy, and then had him stoned to death, and only afterward took his vineyard. Do we imagine, as Douglas Wilson recently asked, that "if Ahab has done what he did to Naboth via a program of land reform, or eminent domain, or zone redistricting Elijah would have nodded to himself saying, 'That's more like it'?" Whether we think Sanders' billionaire ban violates the 8th Commandment or not, it breaks the 10th. God made Abraham wealthy, and Jacob, and Solomon too. While Jesus warned that wealth comes with temptations (Matt. 19:24), being rich is a responsibility that God gives, and is not an injustice the government must correct. ...

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Dawkins on eugenics: evil uncloaked

Richard Dawkins has been called one of the “Four horsemen of atheism” and is famed, as well, for being one of Charles Darwin’s most ardent defenders. In February he got himself into trouble for this tweet: “It’s one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It’s quite another to conclude that it wouldn’t work in practice. Of course it would. It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses. Why on earth wouldn’t it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology." While eugenics – controlled human breeding – has been popular in the past, its best-known proponents were the Nazis, and that’s an association no one wants. That’s why Dawkins’ atheist and evolutionist cohorts didn’t like his endorsement of eugenics’ practical possibilities – it made them all look bad. And they jumped on him. But on what grounds could they attack him? As Dawkins made clear in follow up tweets, he thinks eugenics immoral. “For those determined to miss the point, I deplore the idea of a eugenic policy. I simply said deploring it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work. Just as we breed cows to yield more milk, we could breed humans to run faster or jump higher. But heaven forbid that we should do it.” “A eugenic policy would be bad. I’m combating the illogical step from ‘X would be bad’ to ‘So X is impossible’. It would work in the same sense as it works for cows. Let’s fight it on moral grounds….” But there is a problem with an atheist evolutionist taking a moral stand against eugenics. As Dawkins highlighted in his 1994 book, River out of Eden: A Darwinian view of life, his worldview doesn’t allow for a wrong and right. "The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference." If there really were no good, no evil, and nothing but pitiless indifference, then on what moral basis can we stand against eugenics? One fellow scientist, Dave Curtis, took a different tack, making the case that eugenics wouldn’t practically work, what with human being’s “long generational times and small numbers of offspring.” But this practical objection to eugenics doesn’t make atheist evolutionists look any better. Since when do we object to evil on the basis of how difficult it is to successfully pull off? What would we say of a man who objects to murder on the basis of how hard it is to dispose of the body? While his fellow atheists and evolutionists might not appreciate how Dawkins is sidling up to der Fuhrer, we can be grateful for the illumination he provided. As Discrn.com’s Peter Heck noted: "It's one thing for Christians like myself to offer hypothetical illustrations to the world showing what happens to human ethics apart from God's moral authority. It is another for Richard Dawkins to actually demonstrate them personally."...

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Is the human population getting colder?

The average normal temperature for a human being is supposed to be 37°C (or 98.6°F) but did you know that figure is based on 150-year-old data? In 1868 Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich popularized that figure based on his study of one million temperature readings taken from 25,000 patients. But now, as The Wall Street Journal’s Jo Craven McGinty reported, a new study of 189,338 individuals, and 677,423 temperatures – taken from the Civil War era until today – suggests that humans’ average temperature has been steadily dropping. According to Dr. Julie Parsonnet and her research partners, the new norm seems to be 36.4°C or 97.5°F – a drop of one degree Fahrenheit. A 2017 study in England, analyzing 250,000 temperature readings, noted a similar, though slightly smaller, drop of approximately 0.75°F. So why might mankind be cooling off? “We as human beings have evolved over time – physiologically changed," Parsonnet told Live Science. Is she attributing it to evolution? Well, yes, though this is the kind of change over time that creationists also think regularly happens. We know, for example, that the many different dog species we have today came from just one, or maybe a few, dog “kinds” on Noah’s Ark. To get Chihuahuas, Saint Bernards, and everything in between involved a lot of change over time, though, like this temperature drop, it never involved one species turning into another. As Parsonnet noted we are taller, and heavier, living longer, and have less infectious diseases than we did 150 years ago, so it really wouldn’t be that surprising if mankind’s average temperature has changed. Evolution, yes, but not the molecules-to-man type that Darwin proposed. This is more like the adaptability inherent in a special creation that has been fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:44)....

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Saturday Selections - January 25, 2020

The Gospel vs. Sorcery in Papua New Guinea (30 minutes) In Papua New Guinea the fear of  "sanguma" – sorcery – is such that it leads people to stone and kill supposed witches. What is the answer to such fear? We know Jesus can defeat demons both supposed and real. But how can the people of Papua New Guinea know unless someone tells them? In this half-hour video, we get to follow along as seven men squeeze themselves into one Land Cruiser and, over the course of one week, take the Gospel to thousands who show up and listen in the marketplaces. As Pastor Ryan Dejonge notes at one point, "We have this window of opportunity in Papua New Guinea. You can't do this in Australia...you can't do this in Canada. You would just get people fighting you – you're not going to get people hearing the Gospel . God has given us a window of opportunity. He's given us this open door. And we've realized this is a real and a useful way to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ....Our moment is now." (The link below might look broken but give it a click because it does work.) If you won the lottery, would you be at work tomorrow? Most people, if they came into a fortune, would quit their job instantly. But what about Christians? Harvard study shows the dangers of early school enrollment The Foundation for Economic Education's most popular article this decade wasn't about economics. Instead it asked: "Are ADHD rates rising because we send children to school at younger ages?" Man to "woman" to "non-binary" and back again James Shupe declared himself a woman, then declared himself non-binary, but has now asked to be legally recognized once again as the man he is. The Darwin Dictionary Seemingly inspired by Ambroise Bierce's Devil's Dictionary, Keaton Halley has crafted his own Darwin's Dictionary to highlight the creative ways evolutionists employ language. Here are a couple of examples: Abiogenesis, n. – Rocks begetting life, in violation of the most basic, observed law of biology. Big bang, n. – The logic-bending theory that everything was produced when nothing at all exploded. Each entry includes a link to a great article explaining the creationist perspective. How does the Women's March define what a woman is? (3 minutes) Joseph Backholm has a history of asking questions the Left can't, or won't, answer. A few years back he hit a college campus asking "Am I a 6-foot-5 Chinese woman?" This time around he went to the 2020 Women's March in Washington D.C. to ask the marchers three things: How would you define what a woman is? Are there any innate differences between men and women today? Do you think anyone can be a woman? They found these tricky questions. Why? Because the modern feminist movement celebrates women as something special, even as it holds that men and women are identical which means there has been a longstanding conflict between the answers feminists give to questions 1 and 2. Question 3 only exasperates the problem: if men can now become women, it makes it all but impossible to celebrate the distinctly feminine. In fact, when there are no differences between men and women, and men can become women, then the term woman is rendered meaningless – a word that can mean anything at all means nothing at all. There's one other reason his interviewees were reluctant to chat. I think, on some level, they were worried about the question that would come next: this white male asking them, "Can I be a woman?" And what could they answer to that? (WARNING: One of the marchers in this video takes God's name in vain.) ...

News

Trump speaks up for the unborn at the March for Life

On January 24, Donald Trump became the first US president to attend the March for Life in Washington, DC. As the New York Times noted: No president has personally attended the march in its 47-year history. Past Republican presidents might have been inclined to attend, but either on the advice of staff or their own instincts saw it as a step too far… Historically, no matter how many hundreds of thousands came, the March for Life was always ignored by the mainstream media. That changed when Trump, after taking office, decided his administration was going to take an active part in it. In 2017 Mike Pence became the first sitting vice-president to address the crowds. Then in 2018 and 2019, Donald Trump spoke to the marchers via live video from the White House. This year he came in person. His actions have forced the media to acknowledge this massive event. In this year's speech, the president made three main points. He highlighted his administration’s pro-life advances: “During my first week in office, I and we issued a landmark pro-life rule to govern the use of Title X taxpayer funding. I notified Congress that I would veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policy or that encourages the destruction of human life. At the United Nations, I made clear that global bureaucrats have no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that protect innocent life. Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House…..We are preserving faith-based adoption and to uphold our founding documents, we have appointed 187 federal judges, who apply the Constitution as written, including two phenomenal supreme court justices – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.” He also reminded listeners of what the Democrats want to do to the unborn: “When it comes to abortion – and you know this, you’ve seen what’s happened – Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions taken and seen in this country for years and decades, and you can even say, for centuries. Nearly every top Democrat in Congress now supports taxpayer-funded abortion all the way up until the moment of birth. Last year, lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb right up until delivery. Then, we had the case of the Democrat governor in the state of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia. And we love the Commonwealth of Virginia, but what is going on in Virginia? What is going on? The governor stated that he would execute a baby after birth. You remember that. Senate Democrats even blocked legislation that would give medical care to babies who survive attempted abortions.” Thirdly, the president spoke to the humanity of the unborn: “All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life. When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God's creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family…. As the Bible tells us, each person is wonderfully made…. We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve, the dreams they will imagine, the masterpieces they will create, the discoveries they will make. But we know this: every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting. And above all, we know that every human soul is divine and every human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of Almighty God. Together, we will defend this truth all across our magnificent land.” It was a rousing, encouraging presentation. It is also a speech that many will say was given for political reasons. This is, after all, a president under impeachment, currently being tried in the Senate, and already convicted in the press. So was his appearance at the March for Life simply a move to win back wavering evangelical supporters? Adam Ford doesn’t care one way or the other. In his January 24 newsletter he wrote: “So what? George W. Bush only didn’t go for political reasons. Is that any better?” While we don’t know what may or may not have been going on behind the scenes, what happened on that stage is something we can thank God for. Our Heavenly Father so steered things that one of the most powerful and famous people on the planet used his influence to speak up for the unborn. Amazing! You can watch the full 13-minute speech below. ...

News

Sanctuary cities for the unborn?

In a brilliant twist, small American towns are taking a tactic, popular among the Left, and using it to defend the unborn. In June 2019, Waskom, Texas became one of the first to declare itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn," banning all abortion within city limits. While the town council’s unanimous vote was largely symbolic – there are no abortion clinics within city limits – it was a symbol covered by the media across the US, and even on the other side of the world. This was a small town speaking up as loudly as it could about the plight of the unborn. Since then other towns, mostly in Texas, have followed Waskom’s example, with two more in January voting in similar ordinances. As LifeSiteNews.com’s Calvin Freiburger reported: In addition to the declarations on abortion (which do not exempt abortions due to rape or incest), the measures empower families of post-abortive women the ability to sue abortionists for emotional distress, and the Colorado City version would also prohibit the sale of the contraceptive Plan B, which can also function as an abortifacient. While these laws may not stand up to legal challenges, the attempt is a way to send a message. Some other towns that have considered such legislation have since backed away from fears they would get sued, but towns like Waskom, Naples, Joaquin, Tenaha, Gilmer and now Rusk and Colorado City have decided to take a stand, even if it might come with a cost. The term “sanctuary city” was first popularized in the US in the 1980s, but back then it wasn’t about defending the unborn but, rather, about sheltering illegal immigrants. Since then sanctuary cities have largely been used by the political Left with hundreds of cities pledging to do what they can to obstruct the federal government’s deportations of illegal immigrants. Whatever we might think about the issue of illegal immigration, we can recognize the genius in using this tool of the Left to defend the unborn from them. The Left will push back, but when they do their own sanctuary city initiatives will make it difficult for them to argue that lower levels of government must always listen to the higher levels. Of course, we know that no matter what a state or federal government might say, or a court too, it will always be wrong to murder unborn babies. Let’s pray that many other towns follow Waskom’s lead and create their own opportunities to loudly defend the unborn. You can learn more about this movement at SanctuaryCitiesForTheUnborn.com....

News

Saturday Selections - December 28, 2019

John Piper: You are not addicted to pornography (5 minutes) "The fact is 99 percent of those who give way to lust in pornography or fornication or adultery are not decisively controlled by their sexual desire. They are decisively controlled by what they believe..." Building friendships with your young children This article shares eight ways we can foster friendship with our children (and none of them involve being a pushover). The inner workings of your cell are as complicated as a city! (10-minute read) We need DNA to make proteins and proteins to make DNA. So which came first? Ann Gauger gives a fascinating overview of just how brilliantly even our cells have been designed. Conservatives face off: should we ban porn? (10-minute read) Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could ban pornography? Strangely, some conservatives don't think so, worried that if we impose our morality on others, the Left will try to impose theirs on us. Jonathon Van Maren lays out the contrasting conservative positions here, and it is certainly worth reading. But what we don't hear is an explicitly Christian position: that we shouldn't impose our morality, but God's. We get our morality from God, so that might not seem all that different. But consider this: when Christians try to impose God's morals without making mention of God, then we seem to be doing exactly what the Left does. We seem to be imposing our arbitrary standards – merely our own opinions – on everyone else. So we have to stop presenting God's standards as if they are simply our own, or simply a good practical approach – we need to argue for God's standards as God's standards, which is the reason they are applicable to all of His creation. Pornography is, of course, a health issue – flouting God's Law often results in bad health consequences (ex. drunkenness, promiscuity, homosexuality, all lead to health issues). But it is first and foremost a sin issue. If we lead with the health aspect, we're not standing on God's solid foundation, and then we shouldn't be surprised when we find we're on shaky ground. One example: pornography might result in some health issues, but frequent users have been found to be more tolerant of "alternative lifestyles" like homosexuality and transgenderism. So, from a secular perspective, sure, it might have downsides, but this upside too! The key then is that we need to address this issue (and all others) not as conservatives, but as Christians. In this case, that means speaking of why God created sexuality, and how He has made each one of us in His very Image, and how, when we depart from our Maker’s plans for us, it is to our own hurt. That’s a harder conversation to be had than: “Porn use leads to erectile dysfunction!” But it is the conversation that brings honor to God in a way that trying to impose Christian morals via non-Christians conservative reasons doesn’t. And only then are we addressing the heart of the issue: rebellion against God. Does that mean we have to start quoting chapter and verse when the speak to this issue? No. But it does mean that we need to lead with God, our Solid Rock. That might look like this: "God says that sex is something special, saved for marriage, and a private act. That's why social science also shows that sex, in that setting, binds hearts closer together, helps keep families intact, and ensures the children that may result will be born with a mom and dad. Pornography treats sex as cheap, dirty, and a throwaway. And that leads to promiscuity, disease, unexpected pregnancies,  erectile dysfunction, addiction, and so much more. God made us, so He knows what's best for us. And pornography is just so very harmful..." How I was (temporarily) deceived There's a lot of impressive-seeming "scholarship" out there that attacks God's Truth, and as a young man Dr. Wes Bredenhof got stymied by one bit of it – the Documentary Hypothesis. He soon discovered, though, that there are answers to be found for the Bible's many critics...if we'll look for them. How long does it take to read each book of the New Testament? Sometimes it might seem like reading the Bible front to back is an intimidating task. But would we dive in more eagerly if we understood just how little time it takes to dig in deep? For the full chart click on the link above or the picture below. And for a number of different Bible reading plans (from Ligonier Ministries) click here. ...

News

The Top 10 articles of 2019

It's said that the Internet is causing people to have shorter attention spans. If that's true, you can't look to our most popular articles of 2019 for proof, as many are among the longer articles we published. You'll quickly notice there are 11 articles on this "Top 10" list, and we want to assure you that's not a matter of bad math, but interesting statistics. The difference between 10 and 11 is so close, that they are repeatedly swapping spots. So, rather than have to update the list as they swap spots yet again, we're including both, as 10a and 10b. Now, what got thousands of folks reading each of these articles? Maybe it was the diversity. One of the fun things about a magazine that writes about all that God is up to is that we get to tackle all that God is up to! Without further ado, here is our Top 10 countdown for 2019. 10b. Original Sin: Luther's other life-changing doctrine (15 minutes) Harma-Mae Smit contributed an article that takes some effort but amply rewards it. We know Luther for his rediscovery of the Doctrine of Justification - that it is not by our works, but by faith in Jesus that we are justified. But Luther's understanding of our sinfulness was every bit as important. 10a. Countering Tim Keller's case for evolution (15 min) Keller is a much-respected writer because when he gets it right – when he treats God's Word as authoritative – he gets it really right. But when he gets it wrong, as he does in his treatment of the opening chapters of the Genesis, he gets it really and horribly wrong. 9. A sad tale of a wealthy millennial's moral confusion (8 min) E. Calvin Beisner read about a young man who was wealthy and felt guilty about it. Should we feel guilty when we are blessed? Or should we feel gratitude? A series of accompanying questions make this a great one for discussions on socialism, the 10th Commandment, social justice and more. 8. Porn addiction isn't just a guy thing (8 min) This article got no attention when it was first posted a year or two ago. But when it was reposted this year, thousands checked it out. Why? Maybe it's because we now recognize that even as pornography-use remains the sin that Christian men don't own up to, it is that much the harder for Christian women to look for and get help in this battle. 7. Reformed Harmony: a new tool promotes friendship...and sometimes marriage (10 min) Sharon Bratcher tells RP readers about this online forum created specifically for Reformed singles. What a great idea! 6. Public doubt: Josh Harris abandons God, and Hillsong's Marty Sampson struggles (5 min) It was big news when Josh Harris turned his back on God, and was almost as big when a prominent Christian musician went public with his doubts. So what's a Christian to do when they have doubts? 5. Should introverts be expected to act like Extroverts? (5 min) It takes all kinds to make up the Body of Christ. But we are the same Body, and that means that some type of togetherness is a must. 4. #chairchallenge highlights male/female divide (2 min) The chair challenge is a fun craze circulating the Internet which most women can do, and most men can't. It's fun, but it's also significant, living as we do in an age that denies there are two genders and that even if there are, denies they are different. 3. That morning I listened to Kanye West (8 min) In December 2018 Kanye West was featured on a song with XXXTentacion singing vulgar lyrics. Less than a year later he released his album Jesus is King and Rev. Wes Bredenhof had a listen...and liked what he heard. 2. Charles Darwin's grave mistake (12 min) On the 137th anniversary of Darwin's death, Christine Farenhorst shared how the Christian world honored him. 1. Cremation: why and why not? (8 min) In the past cremation has been done as an act of rebellion. But is that what it has to symbolize? Or might this be an area of Christian liberty?...

News

Saturday Selections - December 21, 2019

Worldview 101 (4 minutes) Chuck Colson on why worldview matters – it's only by understanding our own Christian worldview that we can compare and contrast God's Truth with the lies that others believe. So to be a light in the world, we need to understand the world as God has really made it – we need to view the world rightly. Psychoanalyst suggests atheists comfort their kids by lying to them Trusting in God is a comfort, so one psychoanalyst has suggested atheist parents teach their children to believe in life after death. But "as C. S. Lewis observes in The Screwtape Letters, the Creator of the universe will not be used as a convenience: 'Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest .'” The origin story of Handel's Messiah We refer to it as "Handel's Messiah" but he thought of it as Charles Jennens'. 9 out of top 10 of the world's wealthiest are self-made In the past, many of the wealthiest people in the world were "conquerors or political rulers" who gained their wealth by pillaging and taxing. In other words, they gained their wealth by taking it from others. Today's advocates of "wealth redistribution" and those who say "billionaires shouldn't exist" act as if our generation's wealthiest have kept up the pillaging. They treat it as self-evident – no proof needed – that the only way the top 1% could have become so rich is by oppressing the poor. However, 9 out of the top 10 richest people in the world made their money by selling something others wanted. That's significant because whenever any sale is voluntarily made, it only happens because both parties think the trade benefits them – I'll only give up $10 for a book if it is worth more than $10 to me, and likewise, the merchant will take $10 for it only if he values the money is worth more to him than the book. In a very real way, any voluntary exchange makes both parties to it wealthier. And thus an entrepreneur who gains his wealth via many millions of such exchanges has made many millions of others wealthier. That's the very opposite of oppressing. So when you hear someone saying "Down with the 1%" – when the only accusation mentioned is that of being rich – understand that they are attacking people who might have gained their billions by giving others even more. Why sexual morality may be more important than you ever thought (15-minute read) This is a fascinating look at how a 1930s researcher, J.D. Uwin, found that societies that hold to monogamy and sexual restraint – those that hold to a Christian outworking of sex and marriage (though the researcher doesn't draw that connection) – flourish, well those that don't, don't. As the article's author, Kirk Durston, puts it: "...it has been my thinking that God’s moral laws are not simply a bunch of arbitrary rules given to restrict mankind's freedom. Instead, they are like operating instructions designed to spare people from suffering while maximizing human flourishing. Unwin’s and Eberstadt’s research provides strong rational justification for the inference that God’s moral laws pertaining to our sexuality, although they may restrain us from some immediate pleasure, protect us from enormous long-term suffering while maximizing our long term flourishing." Laura Klassen: it's time to get more intense (2 minutes) Laura Klassen, she of the fabulous Magic Birth Canal video, sees a need for pro-lifers to be more explicit about what abortion is: killing, child sacrifice, murder. And she's seeing how the truth, clearly told, is helping many children and their mothers. ...

News

Saturday Selections - December 14, 2019

Hummingbirds are way cooler than you knew... (3 minutes) Did you know their tongues aren't straws so much as skinny unfurling claws? This is freaky cool stuff designed and crafted by our great God! Was Christ actually born on December 25? (10-minute read) You may have heard that Dec. 25 was originally a pagan sun-worshipping festival marking the winter solstice, and then the Church co-opted it to celebrate a very different Son. But Dr. William J. Tighe argues that while it is highly unlikely the 25th is actually when Christ was born, the Christmas celebration came before the pagan one – Christmas was the original, and the co-option was actually a pagan attempt to subvert the Christian celebration, not the other way around. World's first "detransition" conference (3-minute read) Feminists organized a conference of medical and health personal, and women who have used surgery and drugs to attempt to become men. The conference included testimony from some of the women about how cutting off their breasts and taking puberty blockers only led to later regrets. And yet even at this conference some expressed more, and others expressed less, regret – confusion remained because no one was pointing attendees to Christ, where they can find their identity as forgiven, as worshippers, and as male and female made in God's very Image. Smartphones for the kiddies this Christmas? Weighing the pros and cons (5-minute read) The subtitle for this one is: "Reasons to wait." Reports of the apostrophe's death have been greatly exaggerated Few seem to know when it should be "its" versus "it's." And that's why the Apostrophe Protection Society was born. But science says... (2 minutes) If you're older than 40 you'll remember a time when butter was bad and then good for you, red meat was hazardous and then became a key part of paleolithic diets, and, as Dr. Wells shares below, eggs were good and then bad for you, and then not so bad for you. Why does this matter? Because we need to understand that, despite acting like their pronouncements are beyond question, scientific experts get things wrong all the time. So, for example, prior to 2012 we were told that 98.5% of the human genome was junk and that this demonstrated the messy haphazard nature of our evolutionary origins. As Richard Dawkins wrote in his 2009 book The Greatest Show on Earth: The evidence for Evolution:  “it is a remarkable fact that the greater part (95% percent in the case of humans) of the genome might as well be not there for the difference it makes.” Just a few years later the ENCODE project discovered this “junk DNA” was anything but. It was getting transcribed into RNA, and may have a role in regulating protein production. The "experts" were, once again, wrong. So when experts dispute the  Bible, we don't need to be worried – this is the infallible Word of God versus the very fallible word of folks who, time after time, end up with "egg on their face."  ...

News

Saturday Selections - November 16, 2019

How do starlings flock in murmurations? (4 minutes) These living clouds are jaw-droppingly astonishing. God is awesome! Rosaria Butterfield on "gay Christianity" (25-minute podcast) This past summer Abounding Grace Radio interviewed Rosaria Butterfield about her life story – from unbelieving homosexual advocate to Reformed Christian writer – but also on the issue of whether one can identify as a "gay Christian." The interview was wonderful but only caused a stir when, this past week, a pastor tweeted out a couple of sentences from it. “Gay Christianity is a different religion. I’m not standing in the same forest with Greg Johnson and Wes Hill and Nate Collins looking at different angles of the trees, I’m in a different forest altogether.” This quote was Rosaria calling out a number of Christians who, on the one hand, say that homosexual sex is sin, but who, on the other hand, are promoting the idea that one can be a "gay Christian." This is a somewhat subtle error, but the problem is more obvious when we try the same approach with other temptations. Should someone identify as an "angry Christian" or "adulterous Christian"? Clearly not – a Christian shouldn't identify with their anger or wandering eye. This podcast is an important one, spelling out a current controversy happening even in conservative Churches over how we should fight homosexual temptation. Keith Getty: The modern worship movement is "utterly dangerous" “Over 75 percent of what are called the great hymns of the faith talk about eternity, Heaven, Hell, and the fact that we have peace with God. Yet, less than 5 percent of modern worship songs talk about eternity.” Biblical Edom unearthed Secular archeologists treat the Bible as just another ancient book. But the Bible isn't just another ancient book – this is real history – leaving archeologists repeatedly surprised when findings verify aspects of the biblical account. How to make your Gillette Mach 3 (or any other expensive) razor last 6 months Gary North shows how some olive oil and an old pair of jeans can save you a lot of money in replacement razor blades. A helpful tip for family Bible reading (2 minutes) Dr. Calvin Beisner speaks of why he would read passages of the Bible with his family even when he didn't feel fully capable of explaining them to his children: it was because he was convinced that God uses His Word. Parents will fall short (which isn't to say we shouldn't study) but we can trust God will act through His Word. ...

Humor, News

Tearing down tyranny, one joke a time...

November 9 marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, for 28 years, divided socialist East Germany from the free West. To mark the anniversary some old East German jokes gained new life. What sort of jokes? Jokes that mocked the State for its incompetence and vindictive pettiness. Jokes that could get an East German arrested back then if the police found out he'd shared them. But if jokes could land you in jail, why did people risk telling them? Because every punchline was an act of resistance. A government that couldn't take a joke was a government that had overstepped its bounds and this became a small way of pushing back. So to mark the anniversary here are a few of the more popular jests from 30 years ago. Why do Stasi (East German secret police) officers make such good taxi drivers? – You get in the car and they already know your name and where you live. The five rules of socialism: Don’t think. If you think, don’t speak. If you think and speak, don’t write. If you think, speak and write, don’t sign it. If you think, speak, write and sign it, don’t be surprised. What would happen if the desert became a socialist country? Sand would become scarce. Three East German political prisoners were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “My watch always ran ahead, and I would always arrive at work early, so they said I must be spying.” The second fellow shared, “My watch always ran slow, so I was always late for work, so they said I was guilty of sabotage.” Then the third fellow said, “I was always exactly on time for work so they said my watch much be from the West.” Asking, how could it happen here? We mark this anniversary as a tribute to those brave and wise souls who fought tyranny in the past. But we also mark it so we can learn from the past to hopefully avoid the same sort of mistakes going forward. When we see the trouble Big Brother brought the East Germans, we'll be motivated to pre-empt the same sort of government over-reach here... before it gets to the point where we're arrested for telling jokes. With that in mind, here are a few jokes worth telling while we still can. Three Americans businessmen were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “I charged more for my goods than anyone else. So they convicted me of price gouging.” The second fellow shared, “I charged less than anyone else for my product, so they convicted me of anti-competitive dumping.” Then the third fellow said, “I charged the same for my product as everyone else, so they convicted me of price-fixing.” Here's a switch worth making: let's treat convicted murderers like we've treated the unborn and let them be executed, and treat the unborn like we've treated convicted murderers and give them life. A cheap Albertan fellow heard that women drivers get better insurance rates so he phoned up his insurance company and asked, "If I identify as a safer driver, can I get this cheaper rate too?" "I'm sorry sir," the insurance rep replied, "You can't simply identify as a safer driver and expect us to take that seriously." "Okay," he said, "but what if I identify as a woman - can I get the better rate then?" To which the insurance rep replied, "Of course ma'am. What do you think we are – a bunch of transphobic bigots?" What should a Christian think of mocking humor? Some Christians argue that humor, and particularly biting humor, has no place in Christian dialogue. Passages will be cited such as 1 Peter 3:15 and Proverbs 15:1: "...give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." But this "absolutely no mocking" understanding overlooks that God Himself mocks foolishness, with one of the funnier examples occurring in Isaiah 44:14b-17: "He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, 'Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!' And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, 'Deliver me, for you are my god!'” During His time on Earth, Christ had a biting way with words as evidenced repeatedly in Matt. 23 in thrusts like these: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean" (vs. 27). "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (vs. 24). Ah, you might say, it's one thing for God to do something and quite another for us to do the same. There is truth to that, but let's also remember that we are called to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1, 1 Cor. 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21). And let's remember, too, how others in the Bible have used humor or in other ways shown approval for mockery. For example, Luke evidenced a dry wit in Acts 17:21, poking fun at the Athenians: "Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new." Solomon wasn't pulling any punches when he compared beautiful women without discretion as being "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout" (Prov. 11:22).  David in Ps. 52:6-7 spoke of how the "righteous will...laugh at" the foolish fellow who "trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others." More texts could be cited, but this last one is a must – in 2 Cor 10:5 we are told to "tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God." It takes wisdom to know when to tear down arguments and when to answer more gently, but one general (and certainly not absolute) rule is that the broader the audience, the more pointed we can be. And vice versa. So if one of our coworkers is bald, bearded, and loves wearing his summer dress even into the depths of fall, we won't want to start a conversation by making fun of his fashion sense. But when politicians and judges and celebrities start insisting that men should be allowed to compete as women, that is an idea that must be mocked – to treat it as anything less than insane is to give it too much credit (Prov 26:4). So as we mark the Berlin Wall's demise some 30 years ago, we can remember that humor has been used as a weapon for a lot longer than that, by both God and man. To learn more about the godly use of pointed humor, a great small book on the subject is Douglas Wilson's "A Serrated Edge."...

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Saturday Selections - November 9, 2019

Humans don't earn their value In this video, Amy Hall makes the vital point that our value is not earned. But she pulls up just short of the finish line when, at the end of the video, she bases our worth on us all being human. But that begs a question: why is being human more valuable than being an animal? The world has no answer to that question: why would we treat one creature any more special than any other? But God tells us we have a special value that comes from being made in His Image (Gen. 1:26, Gen 9:6, James 3:9). This is not only an argument for the unborn's worth but the only basis for equality. Humans come in different shapes, sizes, colors and have vastly different abilities and interests, so in what sense are any of us "equal"? Only this: we are all made in God's Image. Even as Christian and non-Christian alike believe in equality – God's law seems to have written that on our hearts (Rom 2:15) – it is only the Christian who has an explanation for it. Hall would have done better to clearly base her argument on God's Word. As would we. How evangelicals ended slavery all over the world...and in Canada While God allows slavery in the Bible, He forbids the dehumanizing slavery as we have known it in North America and around the world. Just consider these passages: “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.” - Ex. 21:16 “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.” - Deut. 23:15-16 "...but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant..." - Ex. 20:10b That bears very little resemblance to the way the slave trade was run in the Western world. And no wonder then that Christians – those who read God's Word and took it seriously – lead the fight against that form of slavery based, as it was, on a denial that blacks were also made in the very Image of God. Phillip E. Johnson (1940-2019), the man who put Darwin on trial "In many ways, Phillip Johnson was a Luther-like reformer....Johnson, who passed away peacefully in his home over the weekend, is widely considered the godfather of the modern Intelligent Design movement. His 1991 book Darwin on Trial revealed how Darwinian evolution was plagued by worldview-level problems: most importantly, its reliance on philosophical naturalism." Prominent abortion photographed with placard reading “Even on my worst days, I’m killing it” Do abortionists know that what they are doing is murder? Very often, the answer is yes. The power of touch Cuddling on the couch, sitting close together at church, holding hands on a walk – all of them are wonderful ways to connect with your better half. And yet many couples shy away from this regular physical contact, in part because one spouse might hope this physical contact leads to another sort, and maybe the other fears it will lead to the other sort. But what if physical touching was just that and nothing more? Here are 25 suggestions for increasing the physical contact in your marriage in ways that will bind you together even if they don't lead to anything more. Dusty Marshall on the American Holocaust There's a lot of Christians artists using rap to make powerful statements. American Holocaust is a call out to be both those killing babies and those sitting on the sidelines to change their ways. ...

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Saturday Selections - November 2, 2019

Male and females are different (6 minutes) The Bible tells us that God created us male and female (Gen. 1:27) and gave us different roles (Eph 5:24-33, Genesis 2:18, Titus 2:3-5) so the world, of course, says the opposite: men and women are actually identical. But that's hard to believe for anyone with eyes....including John Stossel. How the creator of the ‘Magical Birth Canal’ viral video is saving unborn babies Laura Klassen punctures pro-choice arguments with biting wit and a bright pink wig. In this article and accompanying podcast, we get a chance to meet one of the unborn's most creative defenders. This Cartoon Shows How the Minimum Wage Works If hamburger was $4/pound and sirloin $8/pound, what would happen to hamburger and sirloin sales if the government mandated a "minimum beef price" of $8/pound? Would anyone buy the now $8/pound hamburger? Or would we all instead get the $8 sirloin? What does this have to do with minimum wage laws? Click on the link to find out. The Reformation's African roots Long before Luther, reforming forces were already at work. Mom, is Kanye a Christian? Kanye West has come up with a gospel album, and our kids might have questions. This article contains some explicit language, as it shares Kanye West's lyrics from previous albums, but it also contains some great advice for how to deal with the title question. If we want to get our kids thinking we should consider answering their question with some of our own. Real men fail well...by learning from failure The only way you can avoid failing is by never trying. So real men are going to fail. But when we understand that Jesus covers our failures with his sacrifice, and when we understand that God calls on us to develop our talents, and wants us to be both bold and courageous, then we won't be so fearful as to run from the possibility of failure. ...

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Christians now forced to stand on the Bible, not the dictionary

“Ain’t” is in the dictionary, and something else you might not expect is now too. In September, the US’s oldest dictionary publisher, Merriam-Webster, announced they were adding in a “nonbinary” definition for the word “they.” According to the new entry, “they” can be “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” In other words, if a guy who thinks he isn’t a guy wants us to call him “they,” he’s now got the dictionary backing him. But lest this depress, there is a shiny silver lining to this story. With the addition of this definition, God has taken away one of the worst arguments Christians might otherwise be tempted to use: an appeal to the dictionary. But that was never an authority we should have stood on. We don’t know we’re male and female because the dictionary says so, but rather because God says so (Gen. 1:27, Mark 10:6). Our stand isn’t based on the authority of the dictionary but on the authority of God’s Word! And now that’s all we’ve got. We can thank God, then, for giving us all that we need, and thank Him also for taking away a red herring that might otherwise tempt or distract us from standing on His Truth....

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Saturday Selections – Oct. 12, 2019

Why not give in to peer pressure? After all, everybody's doing it. (2.5 min) This is an old commercial on the power of peer pressure. There is such a thing as positive peer pressure – an example is God's call to encourage one another (1 Thess 4:18, 5:11). But we should recognize how liable we are to just go with the flow...even when it turns us right around in the wrong direction (Rom 12:2, Prov. 13:20). Envy is the root of many modern evils Envy, along with covetousness, are still generally condemned, even as specific instances are embraced. Society rails against income inequality (rather than poverty) and speaks of the 1% as being self-evidently wicked. Bernie Sanders went so far as to tweet that "billionaires should not exist" while proposing to tax, not simply their income, but their overall net worth. Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren is planning on doing the same. Misguided Christians, impacted by the rhetoric, and not familiar enough with the Tenth Commandment, and the rest of God's Word, are swayed into thinking that covetousness and envy can somehow be portrayed as noble. But as Lawerence Reed shows, it ain't so. 6 year old asks mom for a shirt that says "I will be your friend" If one of your children has come home from school sad because no one played with them during recess, then you know just how precious it would be to have a boy like this in their classroom. Even better: if our child had aspirations to be like this boy and help others! More dinosaur soft tissue found There is an old joke told of a man who thought he was dead. His doctor tried everything to convince him otherwise, finally resorting to a medical textbook on the circulatory system. After they studied it together the doctor asked the man, "Would you agree dead men don't bleed?" “ I do,” the man replied. The doctor then took out a needle and poked the man's thumb. Out came a drop of blood. The doctor pointed to the blood and said, "See, you were wrong" to which the man replied, "I was wrong – dead men do bleed!" When dinosaur soft tissue was first discovered, secular scientists discounted it, because everyone knows soft tissue can't survive 60 million years. Creationists agreed, but noted that it might survive a few thousand. But as evidence of dinosaur soft tissue keeps increasing, secular scientists have changed their tune. They now say dinosaur soft tissues can survive 60 million years. Yes, and dead men do bleed. 50 years of failed climate predictions It's understandable why a 16-year-old like Greta Thunburg would be very worried about the climate. She's taking her teachers at their word and they're telling her the world is coming to an end. But for those who are maybe 50 and up, what we know that she doesn't, is that sometimes people speak with a lot more certainty than is warranted. As this article demonstrates, folks have been predicting climate apocalypse for quite some time now, and they've gotten it wrong for just as long. More significantly, some of those making the doom and gloom predictions now, are the very same folks who have gotten it wrong before. Real men offer forgiveness to all, but only give it to the repentant As young men turn to Jordan Peterson for advice, David Murray is trying to offer them better – because it is biblically-grounded – direction via his Christian Man Academy. ...

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Saturday Selections - Oct. 5, 2019

Man embraces woman who killed his brother, urges her to give life to Christ The brother of Botham Jean – a man killed by his neighbor in what she's says was a tragic mistake — extended forgiveness to his brother’s killer. And to add to the wonder, the judge then went on to give the killer a bible. Research into happiness echoes what the Bible has always said  Randy Alcorn shares how research into happiness has discovered 8 factors that are also found in God's Word. BC pays for euthanasia but not full homecare This is what happens "when euthanasia is legal and the money runs out" – the BC government recently forced a man to choose between being institutionalized or being killed. He chose death. Why isn't there online voting in Canada's federal election? How do you make an electronic vote both anonymous and verifiable? How can our ballot be secret, and yet still leave a trail to preclude fraud and errors? To say this is a tough problem understates it. Might the security and anonymity that is easy to do with paper be simply impossible to do online? The title link is to an in-depth look, while a briefer case for paper is made here. 40 lessons we tried to teach our children You only have them for a little while - what do you want to teach your children? Snopes.com fact-checks Christian satire site Babylon Bee's jokes (5 min) Snopes.com is the go-to fact-checker for many online, so it's important Christians understand they too have their biases and glaring blind spots. ...

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University rejects Christian group for not wanting to be LGBT group

Duke University’s student government has rejected a Christian student group’s request for official status. They turned down Young Life because, while the group allows homosexuals to their events, it doesn’t allow homosexuals to hold leadership positions. And that, the student government contends, amounts to discrimination. Other Duke student groups are organized around race, religion, and sexual beliefs, but these groups have so structured their constitutions as to say they will allow anyone in. So, for example, the Muslim Student Association’s constitution promises: “all undergraduate and graduate students at Duke University are eligible for membership” and “any member of the Duke Muslim Student Association can become an officer.” Near identical wording can be found in the constitutions of the Black Student Alliance and the Native American Student Alliance. These constitutions allow for curious possibilities. If, say, enough Christians were so inclined, they could take over the Muslim Student Association. A bunch of white, or Asian, or Latino students could do the same to the Black Student Alliance. But, interestingly, this same trick probably couldn’t be pulled on the campus LGBT group, Blue Devils United, whose constitution allows for the removal of students “found in violation of our mission” to promote “intersectionality.” Christians need not apply here. That’s why if Young Life were to sue, it seems likely they would win. In February a federal judge found in favor of a University of Iowa student group, Business Leaders in Christ, which had been stripped of its registered status. They also wouldn’t allow a homosexual student to hold a leadership position. The judge noted that other campus groups were allowed to limit their membership, basing it on race, religion, or view of homosexuality. It was clear then that the University of Iowa was unfairly penalizing Business Leaders for limiting their leadership to Christians....

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News or fake news: third of Brits have dinner in silence?   

In September, at least five of the United Kingdom’s online newspapers shared the results of a study claiming one-third of Brits eat their dinners in complete silence (we linked to just the one paper because the others are sleazy). They reported the study was commissioned by Old El Paso, the Tex Mex food producer, and involved 2,500 British parents.  Other  findings include: 4 in 10 parents don’t eat at the same time as their children most days only 20% of families eat dinner together every day of the week 44% of respondents admit to staring at their phones well eating Apparently more and more families don’t have the energy or intimacy to know how to interact with one another. That’s sad, if true. But this has a whiff of fake news about it. How so? The original study is untraceable – we’re told it was commissioned by Old El Paso, but we aren’t told what polling organization did it. No further information can be found on the company website or social media pages. Also, while the news articles have a few different titles, most were authored by just one reporter, Rob Knight (a few others were unattributed, and some were shorter abridgments). So even as it seemed this story was coming from lots of different sources, it actually amounted to just one. What we’re left with is one reporter telling us about a study that can’t be traced, which was published by a company that hasn’t publicized it on their website or social media. None of that means its fake. It does give us reason for healthy skepticism. For Christians, how many Brits talk during dinner isn’t as important as that we know how to handle such news stories. We’re all news outlets now, what with our social media accounts, so the question we have to ask is, are we going to be reliable or unreliable reporters? This is a big deal. After all, we worship a God-man who died and came back to life, which is already a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1:23). We don’t want to blow our credibility where it hardly matters by passing along trivia that doesn’t turn out to be true. Instead we want to be careful in the small things, so that we will be seen as trustworthy when we talk about what, or rather Who, really matters....

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New study: Universe may be younger (or older) than scientists previously thought

The Associated Press headline read, "Study finds universe might be 2 billion years younger." While that wasn’t a complete come-to-creationism capitulation – even running with the new estimate would leave secular science more than 11 billion years off the biblical timescale – it seemed an encouraging development. Hey, they’re moving in the right direction! But it turns out the headline, while technically accurate, should have had the “might” underlined, italicized and bolded since there was quite the margin of error. Yes, Inh Jee and his team from the Max Plank Institute in Germany think the universe might be 11.4 billion years, which is down 2 billion from the conventionally held 13.7.  But her margin of error is so large that the upper range of her team’s estimate would actually make the universe even older. Shucks. What’s still noteworthy, though, is simply that the age of the universe is still being debated. Did you know that was happening? Secular science is represented in the press and classrooms as having it all figured out. But this is another instance in which they’ve been left looking for their erasers, readying themselves for another correction to their ever-changing textbooks. In contrast Christians can be grateful for, and confident in, the unchanging source of truth God has given us in his Word....

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Saturday Selections - Sept 14, 2019

The lie of realism (10 minutes) "The reason I write fantasy novels is because I am a realist." - Nate Wilson explaining how God's Creation is magical, and anything that depicts it as otherwise simply isn't realistic. The talk below is the 10-minute version, but you can click above for a 53-minute version. Teens Who Hold Off On Dating Have Better Social Skills, Less Depressed One study is just one study, but this is an interesting result. Why might non-dating teens have less depression and better social and leadership skills? We can only speculate (that article doesn't get into it), but can do so as Reformed folks might. So we can note, as Calvin did, that the human heart is an idol-factory, and we may be able to recall how, in those teen years, we or others made having a boyfriend or girlfriend an idol of sorts. When our prom date becomes our god, we're sure to be let down. And it's no wonder, then, that we might not be as happy as teens who aren't worshipping false gods. The curse of a godly wife "I have seen him far too often. He is the man who rarely takes the lead in his home. He is the man who almost never calls the family together for devotions. He is the man who feels dumb when asking his wife if he can pray for her, or when asking if she would like to sit and read the Bible with him. He is the one who seems almost afraid of being godly. "Why is he like this? In many cases it is because his wife is godlier—godlier than he is. She may have been a Christian for longer. She may have a deeper knowledge of the Bible. She may have read more books and listened to more sermons. She may be the one who loves to study the Bible and whose heart goes pitter-pat when she adds a new term to her theological lexicon. And when he compares himself to her, he feels inadequate." 4 Catastrophic Climate Predictions that Never Came True One way to spot a bad prophet is if what he speaks doesn't come true (Deut 18:22). Therein lies a general principle that can be drawn to predictors of all sorts – if what they predict doesn't come true, then we have good reason to doubt their next prediction. This article looks at the track record of Catastrophic Climate Predictions, and how doomsday warnings of the past have led to millions of deaths via abortions. Why blue collar work is glorious Gage Arnold speaks to how garbage men can be more vital than politicians, and looks at Lean manufacturing through a Christian lens. Life in 6 words: the Gospel (5 minutes) Rap artist Propaganda uses a six-letter acrostic to present the Gospel truth. ...

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Saturday Selections - Sept 7, 2019

Is college worth it? (5 min) If you want to be a nurse or architect, college is vital. But if you don't know why you're going – if you're not going in with a plan – then this fellow below argues that it isn't a good investment of your time or money. The dollar figures are US, but on both sides of the border, the investment of time is always considerable. If the link above and the video below are about why not to go (or why to wait) here's a link to help make it possible. There should be something to help everyone here: 68 ways to save money in college Facebook experimenting with removing "Like" counts? The social media giant shared that it has been experimenting with removing Like counts on Instagram posts and is considering it for Facebook too. Gun violence: Prov. 18:17 and the other sides to the story... Mass shootings south of the border fill the news, and each time one happens there are calls to ban guns. Most of those proposed bans are directed at military-looking rifles, but as the Daily Wire's Ryan Saavedra noted this past week, the number of homocides by rifle is comparatively low. What he shares below are the average number of deaths per day in US caused by: Abortion: 2,408 Heart disease: 1,773 Cancer: 1,641 Medical error: 685 Accidents: 401 Stroke: 401 Alzheimer's: 332 Diabetes: 228 Flu: 150 Suicide: 128 Opioids: 115 Drunk driving: 28 Underage drinking: 11 Teen texting-and-driving: 8 All Rifles: 1 This additional information is in keeping with Prov. 18:17, where we learn that to discern the Truth it helps to hear the two sides questioning each other. So, still in keeping with this verse, it's worth noting that Saavedra didn't share the overall number of gun-related deaths per day – those that involve not just rifles, but handguns and other guns as well – which gives us a considerably higher number: 30 per day. That's comparable to drunk-driving (though far less than abortion) so if gun bans could lower those numbers, shouldn't we try? Well, to go all Prov.18:17 again, another important side of this discussion is to consider how effective previous gun control legislation has been (can the gov't even do what it is attempting to do?), and how often do people use guns to defend themselves (how many lives are saved by guns)? When trying to track down those numbers Prov. 18:17 needs to be our guide once again because the different sides of this debate provide very different numbers that have to be questioned to get any sort of understanding of them. Female soccer player says she could definitely play in the NFL. No, she could not. Just because your three-year-old knows it doesn't mean adults don't need to hear the Truth stated clearly. Matt Walsh helps out here by explaining women cannot play football at the NFL level for the it-should-have-been-obvious reason that men and women are different. Faithfulness is not theologically complicated (10 minute read) Confused Christians don't know what to think about abortion, marriage, gender, homosexuality, and Jesus' exclusive claims because they aren't looking to Scripture. But, as Greg Koukl shares here, in His Word God is very clear on all these issues. Is sex assigned at birth? – what would you say? (4 min) The Colson Center is a conservative Judeo-Christian think tank (with some Reformed influences to it) that's probably best known for their daily audio Breakpoint commentaries on 1,200 radio stations across North America. Now they're expanding into video, with short "PragerU" type videos tackling controversial issues under the theme: "What would you say?". So far they have three videos, with this one tackling the topic of gender fluidity. As good as this video is, it would best be characterized as a secular presentation because God is never mentioned, which is a strange omission for a professedly Christian think tank. So watch the video, but when you share it be sure to add what they missed: that even when the activists, celebrities, politicians, and scientists are confused, we can turn to God's Word for the unchanging Truth. And when it comes to gender, the Truth is God made us male and female (Gen. 1:27). ...

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Saturday Selections - August 10, 2019

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Jane Goodall have a plan to save the planet Once again key figures in the environmental movement are treating children as a curse that needs to be avoided, rather than as the blessing that God says they are. Modesty at the pool (18-minute podcast) What women should wear at the beach and the pool is a hot topic in Christian circles, and one that can easily tip into either a pharisaical legalism, or an uncaring lawlessness. Martha Peace and Heath Lambert tried to guide us down the center path in this podcast episode. How fathers influence their daughters' romantic relationships One big influence: when a girl sees her father is committed to her mother, that influences what she looks for in a potential spouse. Disability and the body of Christ Joni Eareckson Tada speaks to the valuable place the disabled hold in the body of the Church. Today I hate foster care There are big problems with the foster care system. But that's not a reason to abandon it or the children in it. "We can't just opt out." The secret to family togetherness? (3 min) It's not radical; it just seems that way. ...

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Saturday Selections - August 3, 2019

A very unique way to share the Gospel (5 min) Here's an inventive way that one church is reaching into its community. Josh Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, renounces God David French weighs in on Harris's Instagram announcement, and on the purity culture that Harris fostered. Reformation Wall in Geneva vandalized Europe's Christian heritage is being vandalized, including statutes of Calvin, Farel, Bèze and Knox that were recently covered in a rainbow of paint colors. The United Nations is still pushing the overpopulation myth "World Population Day ....instituted by the United Nations in 1989 to bring attention to high population growth. ts original purpose is now largely irrelevant – though you might not think so from some media reports." How Alberta became the gambling capital of Canada Is the Alberta government addicted to gambling? It's now getting more revenue from gambling than it gets from Natural Gas royalties. X-Men flub Evolution – mutations don't build anything new (8 min) In this Intelligent Design presentation, we see how Evolution's key instrument for change – mutation – doesn't do what they say it does. ...

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Saturday Selections - July 27, 2019

Seal bearing name that appears in the Bible was discovered (3 min) It's tiny, but it's big – this recent archeological find is a seal is from the same time period as its namesake and includes a title that would likely match as well. How Matthew Vines turned "you will know them by their fruits" into a justification for homosexuality  When Matthew Vines' book God and the Gay Christian came out in 2014, it didn't seem all that significant – the arguments weren't too different from any liberal Christian text: we need to radically revise what the Church has always agreed on, in this case, homosexuality. But the book has had a big impact in evangelical circles – in circles where folks say they take the Bible as authoritative – convincing many to completely flip their position. So it's worth looking at one of the key arguments in the book, where Vines appeals to what Jesus said in Matt. 7:15-20 about trees bearing bad and good fruit. How kids change dad Science is discovering that after a man has children, his body and brain changes in very different ways than his wife's, which underscores how God really did make us male and female (Gen. 1:27). So, "as Ryan Anderson is fond of saying, there is no such thing as 'parenting.' There’s only mothering and fathering." Defy culture: invite them to your wedding Have you thought about how many of your non-Christian friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives you can invite to your wedding? Weddings are an opportunity to glorify God and evangelize by reflecting the coming marriage feast. Why it's important to read to our kids Reading with your children regularly sets up an opportunity for cuddling and, equally important, conversations. Chemist's challenge: “Show Me the Chemistry” of the origins of life. “It’s Not There.” (50 min) How did life first come to be? The impression is often given that Darwin answered this question, but he hardly touched it, only offering that it must have happened somehow in "some warm little pond" that had all the right compounds readily available. But there is no evidence for the spontaneous generation that Darwin's theory needs to start things off. As James Tours shows in this, brilliant, often hilarious, and frequently complicated (don't fret if you don't get it all) lecture, what Darwin thought could happen by chance can't even be planned by the most brilliant scientists, with the most fantastic equipment. This hour-long lecture isn't for everyone, but if this is an area of interest, or if you know an arrogant evolutionist or two, then this will be a treat and an encouragement. Presenter James Tours follows the typical Intelligent Design approach of keeping God out of the conversation, and instead adopts the secularist's own worldview ("Science is god") to blow it up ("but your god can't explain the origin of life"). The problem with this approach is that it doesn't take us past the point where we kill their god. Our purpose on Earth isn't to rob false god's of their glory, but rather to give glory to the one true God...and we can't do that if we won't say His Name. That said, James Tour is very clear where he is coming from, and points listeners to God in an indirect way. ...

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Saturday Selections - July 20, 2019

The programmer? (6 min) Our DNA is more remarkable than any man-made computer program. So who programmed it? When your kids complain, "That's not fair!" Two children plus one toy equals trouble. Or is it an opportunity? Arguments Creationists shouldn't use While it's important we hold to the biblical truth of a six-day creation tightly, we can hold to individual creationist hypotheses loosely. Why I wish we hadn't lived together before getting married A 34-year-old reflects on what she might have told the 18-year-old version of herself. The gift of accepting help There's a word for thinking we can do it all ourselves, better than anyone else: pride. 1984 is happening in China (11 min) The BBC reports on how the Chinese government is interning a million of its citizens, mostly Muslim, for thought crimes. That's why some are calling China "freedom's greatest threat." ...

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Saturday Selections - June 15, 2019

Bigger than big! (5 minutes) God has crafted our universe on the grandest of grand scales! Pinterest permanently bans investigative pro-life group Live Action and American Life League have both been kicked off of Pinterest. Unplanned is coming to Canada The biographical film Unplanned, about abortion clinic director turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson, couldn't find a distributor in Canada. But now it may start hitting some Canadian cities starting in July. Boycotts, both theirs and ours This past week 180 companies took out a New York Times ad endorsing abortion. Here are some helpful thoughts on how, whether, and why Christians should get involved in boycotts. Dying to donate The idea of killing volunteers to get their organs is gaining popularity. This "death by organ donation" is the logical extension of euthanasia and if it happens Christians are going to have to ensure any organs they receive don't come from "Medical Assistance in Dying." David Powilson (1949-2019) (10-minute read / 6-minute video) David Powilson was a convert in his mid-twenties, and a pivotal figure in the biblical counseling movement. He passed away this past week, and this wonderful biographical article presents a chance to know him better. ...

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Saturday Selections – June 8, 2019

Dude Perfect's does more than bottle flips If you and your family don't already know about Dude Perfect, these guys provide some good clean and free fun with their creative videos. FREE COMMENTARY ON JAMES We haven’t read this commentary, but others in this commentary series have been well worth recommending. The ebook of Sam Allberry's James For You is free all June (but you do have to give them your email address). The theological legacy of Rachel Held Evans The popular blogger made it easier for people to express their doubts. But she didn't help them find answers. How to talk to your children about climate change This article highlights two important points we need to pass on to our children: wishing doesn't make it so, and the government does not have God-like expertise. Young people calling on the government to fix things need to understand that even the US's best-known proponent for government-directed environmental intervention, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, doesn't know what sort of change is needed, or possible, or at what costs. Eve was just like Adam, except completely different This is a fun short piece on the meaning of the Hebrew word kenegdo, translated as "suitable" in Genesis 2:18–21, but which more literally means "like" and "opposite." So, when this passage speaks of Eve as a "suitable" partner for Adam, we can understand it as saying she's a "similar" but "opposite" partner for him. And isn't that a great description of what spouses are in a good marriage: like-minded, yet completely different? Rent control is a feel-good policy that does bad (5 min) Christians will sometimes support rent control – the government legislating whether and how much rents can increase – thinking that it is a compassionate way to provide affordable housing for poor people. But rent control means that the government wrests control of these rental properties from their owners and decides for them what they are worth. If that's not what we'd like the government to do with our own property (our house, our car, our business, etc.), then, as Jesus instructs in Luke 6:31, we shouldn't ask the government to do that to others. And what this video shows is that "compassion" like this actually hurts the poor. That brings to mind another lesser known passage: "...but the mercy of the wicked is cruel" (Proverbs 12:10b) – politicians may continue to back it, even understanding the harm it does, because it makes them seem compassionate. ...

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Saturday Selections - June 1, 2019

Six ways not to read the Bible (4 min) Dr. Dane Ortlund shares 6 ways that we do, but shouldn't, read the Bible. When GMO children have children In crafting genetically modified children, are we thinking of the lasting repercussions of this human experimentation? What makes people have babies? The link between cultural values and fertility rates (10 min read) Women need to average 2.1 babies each to maintain a stable population, one to replace her, one to replace her husband, and that .1 to address the sad reality that not all children survive to adulthood. But in the US last year the average total fertility rate dropped to just 1.728 babies per woman. Why so low? Some were blaming the economy in years past, but it has improved now. The doom and gloom message of the environmentalists, that portray children as a curse on the planet rather than as the blessing God says they are (Ps. 127:3-5, Prov. 17:6, Ps. 113:9, etc.), might be part of it. This article provides additional reasons. The foundation of the abortion debate "There is no way to guarantee, as some pro-life people seem to want us to do, a world safe for the unborn child that is also a world of total sexual and economic autonomy. In any world in which autonomy is the highest ideal, the child — that incarnate sign of our dependence and existential poverty — must go." A parent's guide to failure (9-page e-booklet) We've all learned some lessons from failure, so are we as parents hurting our children when we shelter them from failure? Monopoly is not a realistic game (3 min) It might be one of the most popular games in the world, but Monopoly perpetuates a faulty understanding of economics: the fixed pie fallacy. This fallacy says there is only so much wealth to go around (a fixed pie)  so the rich can only increase their wealth at other people's expense. But as this video explains, it's not true – the pie can grow! ...

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New York Times takes dads to task about housework

When will men stop shirking their share of the housework? That was the question a recent New York Times article asked, and the answer it gave was, if it happens it will be some time between 75 years from now and never. According to the author, Dr. Darcy Lockman: The amount of child care men performed rose throughout the 1980s and ’90s, but then began to level off without ever reaching parity. Mothers still shoulder 65 percent of child-care work. The rest of the article explored why this inequity still exists, even among “progressive couples…who thought had made a prenatal commitment to equal parenting.” Interestingly, the article puts the blame on innate male and female differences: men are supposedly more comfortable than women with “getting away with something.” So why do men do less than women? Dr. Lockman thinks at least part of it is because they don’t feel guilty about shirking while women do. FEE.org’s Jon Miltimore points out another possibility: maybe men do less child care and work inside the home because they are busying putting in more hours outside the home. According to the Pew Research Center, women do more inside the home – 32 hours, compared to men’s 18 – but dads average more hours of work overall. When child care, housework, and paid work is all added up, dads spend 61 hours each week working, while moms average 57. It turns out that moms and dads don’t split any of the work exactly 50/50. The same Pew data showed that dads in 1965 used to spend just 2.5 hours a week caring for their kids. By 2016 that had increased to 8 hours, and we can be thankful for the change. Nothing in marriage and parenting is ever going to be 50/50 because God made men and women with different roles, interests, abilities and weaknesses too. Then He told us to pair up so we could compliment – not duplicate – one another. Christians can echo the French with a rousing “Vive la différence!” but we should never forget that our kids need not only their mom but their dad too....

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Saturday Selections - May 11, 2019

The world is rated R (50 minutes) It is a parental impulse to shelter our children. But is our end goal to give our children comfortable lives? Or do we want children who can take a hit, who'll talk smack with giants (1 Sam 17:45-47), who'll demolish inflated opinions (2 Cor. 10:5), and who'll just generally be itching to get out there and glorify God no matter how many bruises will result? How to say "This is cr-p" in different cultures If you can overlook the crudity in the article's title, it offers an insight useful to "plain-spoken" Dutchmen who are surprised when folks from other cultures find us brusque or rude. Rachel Held Evans (1981-2019) This article has been pulled, so an additional item has been added below. How the government might take your children This is not a clickbait headline. "Imagine if tomorrow, a judge in the most liberal state in the country announced children no longer belong to their parents... From henceforth, says the decree, kids belong to the state. Outraged parents would take to the streets! Angry and refusing to capitulate. "Well, that’s not how it goes. Instead, parental rights are taken a little at a time." McDonald's and the minimum wage Unskilled workers used to always be able to find a job at the fast food giant. But after the US government mandated increased benefits and salaries for McD's workers, the restaurant chain has had to get more out of each employee to pay for those increases. That's meant turning to automation. And that's meant a dramatic drop in the number of McDonald's employees. Christian: If evolution is true, life is meaningless Evolutionist: How dare you sir! Eric Metaxas recently said, "If you actually believe we evolved out of the primordial soup and through happenstance got here, by accident, then our lives literally have no meaning.” In response, a prominent evolutionist said that was a "crock" and that he had hundreds of people giving him responses explaining the meaning and purpose they find in their lives. But a look at those responses makes Metaxas's point. A wonderful example of getting the unborn heard! When New York State passed a law increasing access to late-term abortions the question for pro-lifers was, how can we protest as loudly as possible? Focus on the Family responded by broadcasting a live ultrasound in the world's busiest intersection, Times Square. They called the event "Alive from New York." https://twitter.com/FocusFamily/status/1124798996818612225...

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Saturday Selections – May 4, 2019

The 16 most amazing nests built by birds The amazing tailorbird crafts camouflage for its nest by using grass or spider silk as thread, and then it actually sews leaves together. But that's not the only crafty bird God has made – here's 15 more with the unique nests they build or borrow. In 2018 at least 1.12% of deaths in Canada were due to euthanasia "According to the latest figures, about 3,000 Canadians were euthanized in 2018." 6 biological evidences for a young earth Here are 6 very fun, very quick, evidences that point to a young age for the earth. Sabbath rest: not just for grown-ups (10-minute read) Our kids need to understand that we aren't saved by our output. 18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day 2019's Earth Day has come and gone, and in the lead-up to it we heard dire predictions like this one from congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez: "...The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change..." This 12 year figure is being batted about so it's important that we: Mark their words. They are prophesying, and the way to tell a false prophet from a real one is whether their words come true. Remember – as the linked article does – all the false prophesies of the past. FREE FILM: The Fool – the true "banana man" story (65 minutes) This is the true story of how evangelist Ray Comfort was mocked and ridiculed by atheists the world over for a silly joke he made that fell flat. But even as Ray was brought low, God was using Ray's humiliation: these same atheists started inviting Ray onto their shows, podcasts, and stages sand they let him say anything he wanted. So he used these forums to share the Gospel with hundreds and even thousands of atheists at a time. Some atheists even took Ray's books and read through them on their YouTube channels, all in attempt to mock him. But the end result was they themselves read out a Gospel presentation to their listeners. As Ray asks, "Who but God could take atheists and not only have them listen to the Gospel, but have them proclaim it?" ...

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SI’s swimsuit edition: from barely-there to burkinis

The annual Sports Illustrated (SI) swimsuit edition is best known for the next-to-nothing that models wear. So why would this year’s issue feature a model who’s covered up from head to ankles? It doesn’t seem to fit the swimsuit issue’s long history. Most of the year SI is a magazine that could be found without controversy on the coffee table of a sports-minded pastor. But in a bid to boost sales it has been featuring an annual swimsuit issue since 1964. Each year again editors try to figure out how they can display as much skin as possible, while still giving its mostly male readership some means of denying that what they have in their hands is mere smut. That’s why the models almost always wear something, though it’s the sort of something that leaves nothing to the imagination – body paint, fishnets, strategically placed hands, floss. Again, why has an annual issue devoted to ogling decided to include a model wearing a swimsuit that has more material than everyone else’s combined? Halima Aden is Muslim, and the swimsuit she wears is a  “burkini” – an ankle-to-wrist wetsuit combined with a head-covering hijab, its name a combination of “bikini” and “burqa.”  As SI shared and hundreds of mainstream media outlets passed along, this was a “historic first” – the very first time SI has featured a burkini-wearing model in its pages. The magazine has touted other “historic firsts” in the past: the first African American to be featured on the cover, the first plus-size (ie. regular-size) model, and the first amputee. But while they might have been innovations, a barely clad black, or disabled, or regular-sized woman remains a barely-clad woman, and all fit with the issue’s objectifying theme. A covered up woman doesn’t. So what’s going on this year? SI editor MJ Day offered an explanation of sorts, saying that her and model Halima Aden: “both believe the ideal of beauty is so vast and subjective….Whether you feel your most beautiful and confident in a burkini or a bikini, YOU ARE WORTHY.” But what if you aren’t wild about either sort of swimsuit? SI has embraced these two choices, but their issue won’t show any others. If this was really about diversity then SI would get inspired by and follow through on Babylon Bee’s satiric headline: “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Features First-Ever Baptist Model In Floor-Length Denim Skirt” It’s clear then that this was more publicity stunt than anything else. From a Christian perspective what’s interesting is how both Aden’s burkinis and everyone else’s buck-nakedness share something in common. They might be polar opposites but both are rejections of God’s Truth. The one type of rebellion is obvious: you only have to get three chapters into the Bible to know God doesn’t want fallen woman and man displaying all He gave us for any and all to see. God’s design for sexuality involves modesty. SI’s swimsuit issue does not. The problem with the burkini is that in addition to modesty and charity, God also calls us to self-control (Prov. 25:28, Titus 2:6). The burkini – and the burqa it is based on – cover up women in a way that no man is required to dress because this style of dress presumes women have self-control and men really don’t. Thus women have to cover up to save us males from acting on our animalistic instincts. Sadly this man-as-a-Cro-Magnon view is echoed in some Christian circles when lustful thoughts are excused as the unavoidable offshoot of fashion that trends towards tighter and curvier. But make no mistake men, we are called to control ourselves and there is no putting off that responsibility on others. From a worldly perspective, the latest SI swimsuit issue doesn’t make sense. It’s an incoherent muddle, celebrating both brazen and repressed sexuality. But the incomprehensible becomes understandable when we view it through a Christian lens. When we know there is a God-given Truth, and there is an Adversary trying frantically to undermine it, then it’s no surprise when we see him, in desperation, launching attacks from two opposite directions at once. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw2W3qfhEfJ/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet...

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Donald Trump, the pro-life rabble-rouser?

In April the president of the United States made headlines for a movie he didn’t watch, and didn’t comment on. So what was all the fuss about? He let an “anti-abortion” film be shown in his home. In the days leading up to the April 12 screening, mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic let their readership know that Gosnell, was going to be shown at the White House. Gosnell is the true-life story of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist who in 2013 was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for babies he killed after they were born. At the time both the prosecutor and the mainstream media emphasized that the case wasn’t about abortion, but about the murder of born babies. But what makes the film a powerful pro-life argument is the defense offered by Gosnell’s attorney: he argued that what Gosnell did to these babies after birth was not significantly different from what other abortionists were, with the law’s blessing, doing to babies before birth. It wasn’t enough to get his client off, but the argument is sound, and for any of the undecided in the viewing audience his reasoning could be convicting. President Trump didn’t watch the film, but in the lead-up to the screening he received a lot of criticism. So why did he let Gosnell be shown in the White House? The cynic might say this was a mostly-pain-free way to appease his Christian base – it excited them, and even though it got widespread negative coverage in the mainstream media, that negative coverage was over quite quickly. But there is another plausible explanation: maybe the former pro-choice Democrat has taken a genuine pro-life turn. If so, then this screening was the president making the deliberate choice to take some heat so an important film could get some much-needed publicity. To bolster that case, consider two other examples of presidential pro-life agitation from earlier this year. In January he once again spoke, via video, to the tens of thousands attending the Washington DC March for Life. Then in February, in his State of the Union address, he responded pointedly to a just-passed New York abortion bill. He told the millions watching: There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days.  Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth.  These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.  And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth. To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb. Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.  And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth:  all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God. This last line is remarkable – it gets at the very core of where our value comes from, and why our worth doesn’t differ, no matter our size, location, or level of development. Our worth doesn’t come from what we can do, but from in Whose Image we are made. Though this is the issue in the abortion debate, it’s almost never heard. We’re all very aware of this president’s faults, so it is not his body of work we are praising here. And we don’t even need to be convinced Trump is sincerely pro-life to see how his provocative, courageous, and sometimes downright insightful advocacy for the unborn is an example well worth imitating. He is loud. May we be so too. Check out our review of Gosnell here. ...

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Saturday Selections - April 6, 2019

5 ways dads can encourage our daughters This isn't all that long but it's worth reading through slowly and considering how to put these into practice with your daughters. RC Sproul on "Are there contradictions in the Bible?" This is a short, succinct, and entertaining answer from a very special teacher. Teaching our kids not to be bystanders to bullying "Bystanders don’t need to do what their name implies: stand by. They can stand up and do something.... One kid can make a huge difference. Really. Just one." Free commentary on Ephesians We haven't read this commentary, but others in this commentary series have been well worth recommending. The ebook of Richard Coekin's Ephesians For You is free all April but you do have to give them your email address. May same-sex attracted Christians have exclusive relationships? Sam Alberry is writing to Christians struggling with homosexual temptation but his reminder is a good one for all: friendship can be intimate, but it isn't exclusive. Are we starting to see through environmental tokenism? The difference between biblical stewardship and secular environmentalism comes down to the type of worship offered. God despises virtue-signaling and blasts pharisaical worship (Luke 18:9-14) so He expects us to use our talents to do real good. But environmentalism's false gods – whether that's trees, the ocean, the planet, or the public – can't tell the difference between doing good and merely looking good. That's why the world's environmentalism often amounts to tokenism. Two examples: the recycling programs that have been rampant in cities across North America for decades, and the recent straw bans that have been put in place by Seattle and other cities. ...

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Male rapper “breaks” women’s weightlifting record

For a world increasingly confused about gender, February was an illuminating month with not one, but two well-publicized examples of how it is God, and not our feelings, that makes us male and female (Gen. 1:27). In the first instance two boys identifying as girls placed first and second in the girls’ 55-meter dash at Connecticut’s state indoor championship. One competitor dared protest, telling the Associated Press: “We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing.” While the two boys are the best “girls” in their state, they aren’t even in the top five nationally. So the ridiculousness of having boys – albeit not especially speedy boys – running against girls was lost on some. But two weeks later British rapper Zuby offered up his own helpful bit of clarity when he decided to break the British women’s weightlifting records. First up was the deadlift record. Though only a self-described “recreational lifter” Zuby bested the British women’s record by a “wide margin.” Then he tackled the squat record, and finally bested the women’s bench press record too. Afterward, he posted short videos of his efforts to Twitter, assuring viewers it was all okay because he was “identifying as a woman at the time.” When someone pointed out his women’s records weren’t official because Zuby hadn’t demonstrated his level of male testosterone was “below 10 nanomoles per litre” (as apparently international competition standards require men to do when they want to compete as women) Zuby had the perfect PC response: “Stop questioning my lived experience.” Or, in other words, what was this detractor doing, bringing in objective measurable standards when the world has already concluded feelings trump reality. If being a woman is simply a state of mind, if a person’s genitalia and genetics don’t matter, then why should “nanomoles”? Or as Zuby put it, “Stop being a bigot.” The best supportive tweet? A Steve Green shared he was setting some records of his own: “I broke the Olympic men’s record because my 2 kg dumbbell identifies as a 400 kg weight.”...

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Career over kids: South Korean women aren’t having babies

A new report has South Korea population beginning to decline in just ten years’ time. Statistics Korea reported in late February that the country’s fertility rate dropped to 0.98, or less than one child per woman. To put this in context, women need to be having at least 2 children each to keep the population stable: one to replace her, and one to replace her husband (the exact figure is even a bit higher – more like 2.1 – to account for infant mortality). This less-than-1 rate means that South Korea’s population is headed for a precipitous drop. Statistics Korea numbers released a month later bore that out. This year, for the first time, the country expects more people to die than be born, with an estimate of 309,000 births, and 314,000 deaths. Immigrants will keep the population stable for a few more years, but starting in 2029 the country’s population is expected to take a sharp (and irrevocable?) downward turn. The country’s coming decline seems to be caused by both women and men devaluing marriage and motherhood. The government has tried to encourage couples to have more children by extending maternity leave and expanding State daycare. But these measures don’t get at the fundamental issue – is being a mother honorable? When a culture values women only for the career they have outside the home, then women aren’t going to want to do anything to impede their progress in that career. Maternity leave – especially longer maternity leave – can’t help but slow a woman’s career progress (it’s hard to get noticed by the bosses when you aren’t there). And while easier access to daycare will mean it's possible to juggle having kids and a career, if career comes first, why even bother with the juggling? As a Church we need to show the world a different way, making it clear we understand children are the blessing (Prov. 17:6, Ps. 113:9, 127:3-5), and the priority (Gen. 1:28, Prov. 22:6) that God says they are. Whether that’s mom sacrificing career opportunities, or dad doing the same by picking a job near a good Church and Christian school, or the two of them giving up nights with the gang, or the pair of them forgoing “me time,” we know parenting is our priority…and our privilege....

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Bad news for PP is good news for unborn babies!

If something makes Planned Parenthood sad, then it’s likely there’s something for the unborn and their advocates to celebrate. That was certainly true when the abortion giant issued their press release “New Data on abortion bans show alarming spike” at the end of March. The report gave reason for pro-lifers to thank God for what progress is being made. So what’s the good new? In the first four months of 2019 we’ve seen: “250 bills restricting abortion have been filed in…state legislatures” 41 states have seen some abortion-restricting bill proposed “Seven states have proposed total bans on abortion” “Six states are down to one abortion provider” While most pro-life bills aren't successful, this is the path William Wilberforce took to end slavery in Britain. He proposed unsuccessful bills and kept on proposing them again and again until finally one of his bills wasn’t unsuccessful after all. In the same way, these 250 bills in 2019 are keeping the plight of the unborn in the public eye. We can hope and pray that God will bless these efforts to change hearts and provide these little ones the protection they need. You can download John Piper's short 77-page biography of William Wilberforce here for free....

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Saturday Selections – Feb. 23, 2019

Doing Jordan Peterson one better   Jordan Peterson has inspired many a young man struggling with aimlessness. But Peterson isn't Christian, so his answers can only go so far. While Peterson can't answer life's biggest questions, God can, so David Murray has created the Christian Man Academy, to share God's thoughts on what it means to be a man. Learn more at the link above, and below you can get a sampling of what's offered, this one tackling the subject of "Real men repent." Practical thoughts on raising selfless children Are we raising our children to be good future husbands and wives? Or are we raising them to think that their recreational schedules should dictate parents' schedules and that while others need to sacrifice for them they don't need to sacrifice for others? (Prov. 22:6)? What does Paul mean when he says ‘let a woman learn quietly?’ (10-minute read) Some thoughts on 1 Timothy 2:8–14 and women teaching in the Church. The Empty Planet – under not overpopulation the real concern Two points worth noting about overpopulation fears: They were always unbiblical. God describes children as a blessing, not the curse that overpopulationists have treated them as. But Christians were largely swayed by the "experts" and their fearmongering, and started having smaller families too, and didn't speak out as loudly as we could have. But, now, as this article shows, it's becoming evident to everyone that "population bombs" were mere hysteria. We blew it by not loudly and aggressively fighting the overpopulation hype and it meant millions died, as this hype was used to push abortion worldwide.  Now, when scientific experts are telling us that carbon is deadly, will we learn from our previous mistake? Every new child comes with its very own carbon footprint, so there is pressure once again to minimize the population. You don't need a philosophy of education to home-school If there are no good Christian schools nearby, don't worry - you can homeschool. Sure, it might seem intimidating, what with all the different curriculum choices out there. "Choices are great, but when they become too overwhelming, we need to be reminded of simplicity....All you really need to homeschool is a Bible, a library card, and a math book.” The Moses Controversy trailer This trailer almost makes it look like an attack on the Bible, but these guys are on the right side. Could be very interesting... ...

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Saturday Selections - Feb. 16, 2019

The Top 10 Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution (20-minute read) This is a long but fascinating introduction to the enormous problems with evolutionary theory. This is an Intelligent Design (ID) perspective that creationists will appreciate too. 7 questions to ask your daughter's boyfriend Dad, is the fellow dating your daughter ready and willing to answer questions like: How did God save you? What does following Christ look like now? Do you struggle with pornography? What do you like about her? 3 ways not to love your children Parents, love is not self-seeking, easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. Assisted suicide turned homicide? Dutch results scare even liberals In the US 2.5% of deaths are "induced" – that means the person died at his or someone else’s hand, not of by illness or accident. In the Netherlands it has reached 25%...and even liberals are wondering if it has gone too far. Cancer and God's sovereignty "My view of God’s sovereignty went from theoretical to critical with one phone call....Everything changed when I received a cancer diagnosis on the day before my thirty-fourth birthday. Are our kids ready to respond to these pro-abortion arguments? Normally any video shared in Saturday Selections would be generally positive, or even explicitly Christian. This video is the opposite. It is from the co-founder of a "Shout Your Abortion" campaign that is trying to normalize abortion. We're sharing it because it is this sort of "nodding, smiling, everyday evil" that we parents need to teach our children how to refute. Stand to Reason shows how, first with the linked article above, and then with this pro-life crash course here. So get yourself prepared by checking out the links, then grab your teens and work through this video together. This is the battle we're in – we need to make sure our children are prepared for the fight. ...

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Saturday Selections - Feb. 9, 2019

Unplanned trailer This one looks interesting: Unplanned is the true story how Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson ended up defending the unborn. It'll be in theaters March 29. The 7 pitfalls of Christian schools "If things start to wobble in a Christian school, where might the wobble start?" This is your brain not on Facebook (10-minute read) Researchers paid folks to stay of Facebook for a month. And like bad-tasting medicine, while participants didn't like it, it did them good. Why Christian movies are so terrible What would a good Christian movie even look like? And would it get ridiculed too? A 2,000-year history of the abortion wars (15-minute read) Ours is not the first generation to battle abortion. And we can learn a lot from history. Folds in the rock Were these sandstone deposits formed under dry millions of years long conditions, or wet, quick conditions during the Flood. ...

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Saturday Selections – Feb. 2, 2019

New government regulations shut down church program feeding the homeless Everyone understands that because government laws impact thousands and even millions, the government won't be able to anticipate all the consequences their laws will have...like shutting down a mission that fed homeless people. But why don't we see those unforeseen consequences – those unanticipated harms – as a reason for the government not to make many laws? Homeschooling parents in Germany lose right to educate their children Parental rights aren't just fragile in Germany (and Alberta and BC, etc.). Many attacks are government-led, but this past month a social media campaign was begun to #ExposeChristianSchools, asking people to share their horrible experiences in Christian schools. However, as WORLD magazine's Laura Edghill shares, Christians took the opportunity to "expose" the wonderful and caring education they received. Reformed seminary president is now NFL coach Many are happy that a sincere, Reformed, and very public, Christian is now the coach of the Indianapolis Colts. But this former Reformed seminary president is also very publicly working on Sunday, and what message does that send? When your child is disobedient... When a child sins, parents often deal with just the immediate act. But sin is a process and parents need to deal with how our child got there in the first place. Here's how to tell if scientists are exaggerating If they can't explain simpler things, then we have no reason to believe scientists when they say they've got something far more complicated all figured out. What is money? (1 hour) If you've ever wondered what money is, and how it gets its value, this 1-hour documentary will be intriguing. It is funded by Steve Forbes, a gold-standard proponent, and while it allows opponents to be heard, that bias does come out. You can watch the trailer below, and the whole documentary here. ...

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26 richest people own as much as the world's poorest 3.75 billion

The 26 richest people on the planet hold as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the world’s population. So says the Oxfam Inequality Report 2019 released this January. That quite the statistic – it’s a disparity that will surprise and stun many. But why is Oxfam sharing it? To foster covetousness. Of course, that’s not how they present their case. They speak of fairness. They think it obviously unfair that the 26 people at the top have as much as the 3.75 billion on the bottom. But what the report doesn’t detail is how these 26 got their wealth. No accusations of theft are made. We know God hates for the powerful to oppress the poor (Prov. 22:16, 22-23) but Oxfam doesn’t even try to make the case that this is how the rich gained their money. The report details the dire circumstances the poor face around the world, but no linkage is made between their poverty and wickedness done by the rich. Still, isn’t it obviously wrong that so few have so much, when so many have so little? To answer that question properly, we need to view things biblically. In Scripture we find God repeatedly calling on us to help the poor (Prov. 28:27, 31:9, etc.). And at the very same time in the 10thCommandment – Do not covet – He makes it clear He doesn’t want us concerned with what the rich have. Poverty is a problem to be tackled, but the God who made Solomon wealthier than any before him nowhere speaks of “fixing” wealth inequality. How can the God who wants us to help the poor also tell us not to concern ourselves with the wealth of the rich? Aren’t the two related? No. That’s the lesson the Oxfam needs to learn. Abraham prospered, but his increased wealth didn’t come at the expense of anyone else (Genesis 14:23). Similarly, a successful businessman doesn't become rich by taking from the poor. Unless he steals, the only way he can become wealthy is by making others wealthier too. He can only sell us his $10 widget if we think he’s delivering more than $10 worth of value. After all, if we don’t think it's worth more than the asking price, why would we trade our money for it? If we do make that exchange, not only is the widget-maker wealthier (he’s up $10!) we're wealthier too because we now own a widget that’s worth much more than $10 to us! The Oxfam Report laments the wealth of the super-rich. They see it as representing good that could be, but isn't being, done – they see it as good withheld. What they don't understand is that this wealth represents enormous good already done – every dollar representing more than a dollar’s worth of wealth given to their customers. (And we haven't even touched on how these 26 people’s wealth is tied up in companies that bring further benefits by employing millions.) There will always be a temptation to look over our back fence at what our rich neighbor has. But when God calls on us to help the poor, He's calling on us to help the poor....

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Saturday Selections - January 19

Defending the unborn can be as simple as asking the other side to explain themselves   Marie Kondo and her "life-changing magic"  Marie Kondo and her book, The life-changing magic of tidying up, has taken over the Internet and inspired many to throw out and simplify. But like every other secular "life-changing formula" it is so very incomplete. “Unborn Child” – remembering a musical plea for life John Stonestreet tells the story of the pro-life song below, that came out just one year after Roe vs. Wade. UNBORN CHILDOh little baby, you'll never cry, nor will you hear a sweet lullabye. Oh unborn child, if you only knew just what your momma was plannin' to do. You're still a-clingin' to the tree of life, but soon you'll be cut off before you get ripe. Oh unborn child, beginning to grow inside your momma, but you'll never know. Oh tiny bud, that grows in the womb, only to be crushed before you can bloom. Mama stop! Turn around, go back, think it over. Now stop, turn around, go back, think it over. Stop, turn around, go back think it over. Oh no momma, just let it be. You'll never regret it, just wait and see. Think of all the great ones who gave everything That we might have life here, so please bear the pain. Mama stop! Turn around, go back, think it over. Now stop, turn around, go back, think it over. Stop, turn around, go back think it over. The new taboo: More people regret sex change and want to "detransition" The National Post carried a story that few other media outlets are willing to cover... Going Dutch: Netherlands imports Nashville Statement controversy The US evangelical document on LGBT issues has divided the Dutch Bible Belt. "Seek Social Justice" - a free six-session course available This course features Albert Mohler, Marvin Olasky, Chuck Colson, and you can access it at the link above (and you can watch the trailer below).   ...

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Who do you want to know better?

In a holiday ad (for Spanish speakers) the furniture giant IKEA gathered several families, seating each clan around a large table where a holiday feast was prepared with all the trimmings. Then a quiz started: if a person answered the question correctly they could stay and keep eating, but if they got something wrong they had to leave. Initially, everyone found the quiz easy, correctly answering questions like: What animal filters can you find on Instagram stories? Can you demonstrate the “swish swish” (or “floss”) dance? What is the latest Instagram feature? Can you finish a lyric from this current song? What does this text message abbreviation mean? How did this celebrity couple meet? But when the questions became more personal the answers stopped coming: How did your parents meet? What exactly is your dad’s job? What degrees does your grandma have? What’s your son’s favorite group? What’s your wife’s dream? What has your mother been studying recently? Some family members tried to guess the right answer, but one after another, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, grandparents too, had to get up and leave. Finally, there was one solitary figure remaining, a lonely grandpa. A teen daughter summed up the embarrassment everyone felt: “What I’ve discovered is that I don’t know as much about my family as I do about some celebrities.” There was a happy ending. Everyone was invited back to the table, but this time smartphones were placed in a box in the middle of the table and the lid was firmly affixed....