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News

Saturday Selections – April 17, 2021

In Canada, abortion is legal for all 9 months (1 min) This is a fantastic one to copy and paste to your own social media page... Pasteur was right: life from non-life is impossible! (10-minute read) "Louis Pasteur famously stated the Law of Biogenesis: life begets life. No experiment has ever refuted it. Evolutionists must believe it was violated in the past when life spontaneously originated somehow, somewhere." This is a longer read but a great overview of evolutionary explanations for how life began. For those that just don't have the time, here's the five-word summary: they don't really have any. How the Bible defines anxiety "Jesus knows that no one wants to be anxious, and that most often it feels as if it is happening to us more than we are actively choosing to be anxious. The Word of God first helps us by defining anxiety so that we will understand precisely what we are up against..." Big Tech deciding what the scientific consensus is YouTube recently censored the Florida governor's roundtable COVID discussion because his experts said children don't have to wear masks. "Ironically, the World Health Organisation (WHO) itself advises that children under five should not be required to wear masks and that those between ages six and 11 need only wear masks in areas of 'widespread transmission'." There are no egalitarians when the dog attacks A little boy stepped in front of the dog when it was set to attack his sister. Why? Because he figured, “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.” Thomas Sowell...a Marxist until the facts turned him around (5 min) Thomas Sowell's great strength is that he understands Man is a limited creature, and that our intentions, however noble, can't simply eliminate those limitations. In short, he understands that neither Man, nor government, is God. His weakness? He rarely if ever acknowledges God. So for Christians who have embraced socialism, thinking it compassionate, Sowell can offer only a practical, not biblical, corrective: he won't tell us, "That's not what God intended" but will instead note, "That doesn't work." (If you want to know more about the man, you can see a documentary about him at the link above.)

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

Saturday Selections - March 20, 2021

Gospel patrons: equipping others to spread God's name (7 minutes) Is being a minister or missionary the only way to do God's work? We know it's not, and what this short film shows is the vital role God calls businessmen to.  Businessmen provide for their own families and also create jobs for others. It is also through their efforts as "gospel patrons" that the other "missions" type work can even be done. Businessman Peter Thomas notes, "If you have a business that makes a profit, that's a special thing. That's very useful in God's kingdom." If evolution is true, how can Pepé Le Pew be bad? The Loony Tunes skunk Pepé Le Pew is getting criticized for perpetuating "rape culture" and the general conservative response has been to see this as one more example of "cancel culture." But Gary DeMar gets to the heart of it, asking how can a culture that says we're all animals - all just products of evolution - even object to rape? Ain't that what animals do? Pointing out the world's contradictory thinking is a helpful activity - it is tearing down idols and false arguments (2 Cor. 10:5) - but in our age of tweets and other brief social media posts, there can be a tendency to leave things only half said. So tear down lies, point out hypocrisy and contradiction, but then follow through and point your listeners – your social media followers – to God and the Truth He has to say. Evangelism starts with being able to really talk with people Some folks are natural conversationalists, always knowing just the right questions to ask. The rest of us can use some help, and this article has just what we're looking for! Pornography: you don't beat something with nothing "Naked flesh can’t hold a candle to beauty and curiosity and good music and danger and games and reading and fruitful work you get to sit back and gaze on with pride when you worked hard, you did it well, and you’re finished. The point is, saying 'no' to your children’s sin is necessary, but sort of pathetic. Why not enlist them in the joys and beauties and comedies of life, pushing it all on them so hard that they can’t help themselves as they laugh and sing and wonder at it all? Which gets back to the same thing we quoted from God’s Word yesterday: 'Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good' (Rom. 12:21). Yes, it takes a lot of energy to stop being a lazy dog; and even more energy not to raise a son to be as much of a lazy dog as you are. But souls are at stake." Why sperm donations should be banned  It's recently come out that an infertility doctor used his own sperm to father hundreds of children. His patients are outraged. But as John Stonestreet notes, the outrage should actually be that "Sperm donation intentionally creates fatherless children, treating both men and children as products to serve adult happiness." This isn't how God intended, and the harm that comes is predictable and inevitable, which is why sperm donations should be banned. Are bigger people worth more? (1 minute) Our worth comes, not from what we can do, where we are, or how big we are, but from being made in the very Image of God (Gen. 9:6). ...

News

Saturday Selections - March 13, 2021

Our weird and wonderful brain (4 min) This is what Paul means when he says in Romans 1:20, that God's power and divinity are clearly perceivable in the things that God has made. You don't have to understand everything being said here to be awed by what God has done inside our brains. Christian adoption agency now serving gay couples Bethany's capitulation to cultural pressures is sad. But with 20% of gay couples looking to adopt and only 3% of Christian couples doing so, is one takeaway that the Church must do more for orphans? Are lockdowns one of the most catastrophic policy errors of the century? In many countries, there has been a systematic and mandatory paralysis of worship, schooling, work, leisure, mobility, and hospitality. And of the churches that are now worshipping in person, attendance is down. Water, water, everywhere! Lots to celebrate in this story of how Christians brought water to every village in Liberia! Why just two? What's coming next in the sexual revolution... God designed and defined marriage, and we know His way is best. So it's no wonder then that "children living with a mother and her boyfriend are eleven times more likely to be sexually, physically, or emotionally abused than children living with their married, biological parents." But as REAL Women explain, the push for legal recognition of polyamory is already happening... Cosmic child abuse? (17 minutes) An accusation sometimes leveled against God is that the atonement is an example of "cosmic child abuse" - the Father monstrously taking out his anger on his innocent Son. This excerpt from the excellent documentary American Gospel: Christ Crucified, answers this objection by showing that this isn't simply a child having punishment inflicted on it, but Jesus freely taking this one. And this isn't God inflicting this punishment on someone else, but in Jesus, taking it on Himself. It's worth noting that this "cosmic child abuse" accusation does have application to Jehovah's Witness theology (and maybe Mormons too?) that sees, not eternal God, but a created being taking on other created beings' punishment. You can find out how to rent and stream American Gospel: Christ Crucified here. ...

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 - February 13, 2021

Who was Saint Valentine? The ads might make this day seem to be mostly about earthly love, but the fellow it is named after gained his fame for his love of the Lord. Soft tissue in 180 million-year-old ichthyosaur There is a joke told about a man who was convinced he was dead. No one could convince him otherwise, and so, in desperation, his wife took him to the doctor. The doctor grabbed a small pin and asked the man, "Do dead men bleed?" The man thought about it for a moment before answering, "No, dead men certainly don't bleed." The doctor then pricked his finger with the pin, and when a big red drop formed the man looked down and replied: "Oh doctor, I was entirely wrong - it turns out dead men do bleed!" When soft tissue was first found in dinosaur bones, mainstream scientists ridiculed the find since millions-of-years-old dinosaurs couldn't possibly still have soft tissues. Strangely enough, on that point, both evolutionists and creationists were in agreement. But as more of these soft-tissue finds were unearthed, evolutionists were faced with the choice of either backing down on the fossils actually being millions of years old, or backing down on soft tissues not being able to survive millions of years. They picked the latter. They concluded, in effect, that like dead men, long dead dinosaurs might well bleed. Ravi Zacharias seems guilty as charged An investigation conducted at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries' (RZIM) request has found lots of evidence that their late founder was guilty of sexual misconduct. Ray Comfort weighs in here, and, for those with Facebook, James White has some helpful thoughts here. How to show hospitality I loved the opening experiment, picking which of a dozen faces was a "neutral" expression. The one almost everyone picks is neither mad nor happy, but, as author Nick McDonald notes, how would we feel if someone greeted us with just such a face? Would we feel they were being neutral...or cold? BC gov't requests authority to detain folks who might be planning to go to church "Many politicians have gotten far too comfortable with far-reaching powers over the last year, and this is an extremely unsettling example." A return to multi-generational households This isn't a specifically Christian movement, but it's something Christians can get excited about...particularly as a means of living out the Fifth Commandment. About to start caring again (2 min) With a Democrat president now in office, a Republican congressman finds he's back to caring about the budget deficit once again... ...

News

Saturday Selections - February 6, 2021

The jewels of winter (6 minutes) You might sort-of know how snowflakes are made, but how they are actually made is more amazing than you knew! If $2,000 stimulus checks are good, wouldn't $200,000 be better? (10 min read) We've gotten so used to the government handing out money it no longer seems crazy or outrageous. But what if we took the same logic behind the US $2,000 "stimulus" and used it to argue for $200,000 checks for everyone? To frame this another way, does God encourage us to help the world by spending and consuming? Or by producing? (Eph 4:28, Matthew 25:14-30, Gen. 1:28). Where Salome danced Archeologists make a fascinating find that verifies once again "the Bible is the best-attested book of antiquity, and nothing else comes close." Addictions: a banquet in a graveyard A solid review of an important book looking at addictions from an explicitly biblical perspective. Do as I say, not as I do? An American group has mapped out instances where political leaders have imposed COVID restrictions they haven't then followed. That raises the question of whether these politicians believe in the rules they have imposed. If they find the restriction too strict to be able to follow themselves, shouldn't they ease them for others? The two helmet act In light of the two masks talk... ...

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

Saturday Selections – December 26, 2020

Do college kids know the difference between men and women? (4 min) It takes a lot of education to get things this wrong (and this is even from 4 years ago!). Physics and free will "Materialists have long insisted, because they kind of have to, that human actions and decisions are determined, not free." It's another example of how the real world doesn't fit with the atheists' theories. Co-parenting by contract and design? "Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. Disconnecting sex from childbearing gave us abortion and abandonment. Disconnecting childbearing from marriage gave us a generation of fatherless children. The idea that we can have children without sex gave us rented wombs and robbing them of either a mom or a dad. That children should be created out of contractual arrangements without the burden of mutual love is also a bad idea. Once again, the victims are children." A tribute to economist Walter Williams (1936-2020) In this tribute, Bill Muehlenberg compiles a number of "best of" quotes from the economist, including: "...for those of us who are Christians, I’m very sure that when God gave Moses the commandment Thou Shalt Not Steal, he did not mean …unless you get a majority vote in Congress.” Speak the truth in love Sometimes we need to be encouraged to speak truth in love rather than in exasperation. Other times, as in this article, the encouragement is to speak truth in love – if we love our neighbor, child, friend, we will actually speak the truth to them rather than leave them in their destructive sin. The great chicken war...or how tariffs hurt innocent consumers To protest the way that European countries' tariffs were hurting US chicken farmers, the US decided to hurt European truck manufacturers and hurt US truck buyers. Tariffs shelter a country's producers by making goods more expensive for that country's consumers. That's the logic of tariffs: favoring one group at the expense of another. If we don't think the government should make it their business to make our favorite goods and services more expensive, then we shouldn't ask them to do so even when it might be to our company's benefit (Matt. 7:12). ...

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2020's Top 10 articles

It's not surprising that three of 2020's top articles addressed the coronavirus and governments' responses to it. But, in a blast from the past, C.S. Lewis also takes up a couple of spots. Other than that, the year's most popular articles are as different as different could be, united only in recognizing that God is working through it all. Without further adieu, here are Reformed Perspective's top articles for 2020, starting at…. #10 - The hidden meaning of "The Chronicles of Narnia" It's been recently discovered that C.S. Lewis, seemingly just for his own private entertainment, linked each of his famous Narnia books to one of the 7 planets as medieval cosmology understood them. #9 - Netflix’s “The Baby-Sitters Club” sells transgenderism to its preteen/teen audience The streaming giant brought a much-loved pre-teen/teen girls' book series to the small screen but "updated" it with transgenderism. #8 - The Regulative Principle and church lockdowns Is live-streaming the equivalent of in-person worship of God? What does the Regulative Principle tell us about that? And if it is not the equivalent, how should that impact our interactions with our elected leaders, and the message we would want to communicate to them? #7 - C.S. Lewis's Apologetics: a Reformed assessment C.S. Lewis's second entry on our Top 10, this time we're examining his approach to apologetics from a Reformed and presuppositional perspective. #6 - 3 ways of confronting the problems of diminishing attention spans through the reading of the Great Books Like even this article title, the Great Books stretch us. If you want to give reading "the Great Books" a try, this article includes a listing of 50 of them to choose from (with links to download a half dozen for free). #5 - Solomon on smartphones and the pull of pornography King Solomon didn't know smartphones but had insights into the power and pull of sexual temptation, which he shares with young men in Proverbs 7. Older men, and young and older women, can also benefit from the wisdom shared here. #4 - Twice a Sunday needs to happen Chris deBoer encourages a more creative approach to getting people back in the pews and singing God's praises together: if the government restricts church attendance to 50%, then let's double our services! Or let's come out with some other, similarly creative, way to come together again, twice each Sunday. #3 - TikTok passes 2 billion downloads A social media platform that was already big in 2019 became enormous in 2020... and parents who wanted the basics were checking out this primer. #2 - Calvinism in the time of coronavirus Written at the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, it reminded us that we can be comforted knowing that, no matter what craziness might be going on out in the world, our Lord remains in control! #1 - A great-grandma 100 times over...and counting Our top article of 2020 is a short but sweet story about God's abundant blessings – 100 times over! – to this grand great-grandma....

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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.) ...

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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!...

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Equality found in the Bible, not on the football field

After COVID quarantines eliminated their other kickers, the Vanderbilt Commodores football team turned to Sarah Fuller. The starting goalkeeper for the university’s women’s soccer team, Fuller was already used to kicking a ball pretty far. But when she came on the field in the second half of the Nov. 28 competition against the Missouri Tigers, the coach didn’t ask her to blast it. Instead, the designed play was for her to hit a squib – a low bouncing kick that is hard to return. And that’s what happened: she booted it 30-yards, and the receiver fell on it for a return of zero yards. That was Fuller’s only action, with the punting handled by a teammate, and Vanderbilt never getting close enough for her to attempt a field goal. While a handful of women have kicked for other lower-level college teams, Fuller became the first woman to officially take the field in a major conference football game. That is an understandable reason for interest, but from the play-by-play announcers on up to major media networks, this was treated as a cause for celebration. One of the game’s announcers described it this way, as Fuller was lining up the kick: History is on the field in Columbia, Missouri, as Sarah Fuller is about to put her right foot into a football, speaking volumes to women around the world. Fuller’s appearance won her the SEC “special teams co-player of the week” honors. That she had just the one kick – solid but not amazing – meant this wasn’t about athletic prowess. An ESPN headline framed it as: “Vanderbilt kicker breaks barriers…” But what sort of barrier was it that the Vanderbilt kicker broke? This was treated as if it was a blow for women’s equality. However, if anything, it was the opposite. Why? Well, there are two very different grounds for women's and men’s equality. The first is the declaration in Genesis 1:27 that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” It is in this sense that male and female (as well as every ethnic group, the unborn and children and adults too) are the same – we are all made in the Image of God. But for a culture that rejects God, another grounding for equality is needed, and another “sameness” needs to be found. The best the world has been able to do is an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-too basis of equality. It’s on this basis that Fuller is being celebrated: because she showed that just like men, women can play football too. But that an exceptional woman athlete can fill in, in a non-contact appearance, for a COVID-devastated, winless football team in a meaningless game that they lost 41-0 doesn’t prove women can do football just like the boys. Under ordinary circumstances, Fuller would never have taken the field. It’s here that things take a nasty turn: if we stick with the world’s anything-you-can-co-I-can-do-too basis for equality, then if women can’t play football that would mean they aren’t men’s equals.  While biblical headship is often blamed for chauvinism, this abilities-focused basis for equality is the true culprit. As hard as the world tries to obscure them, the physical differences between men and women are obvious to all. So if our worth is determined by what we can do, then a man who sees he can lift twice what a woman can will come to a chauvinist conclusion. And this issue is bigger than women’s rights, impacting both the unborn and aged too. That the unborn can’t do much yet is why they can be killed. That the elderly and the disabled can’t do all that we can do is why euthanasia is offered to them. They are deemed as being worth less because they can do less. To counter that argument, we don’t need to show how much the unborn, or the elderly, or the disabled can do. We don’t need to show that women can play football too. And we don’t need to point to jobs and tasks that women are able to do better than men. To fight chauvinism, and abortion, and euthanasia, we need to acquaint people with the true basis for our worth and our equality: our Maker, who made us all in His very Image....

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The Regulative Principle and church lockdowns

Returning to gathered worship is of vital importance *** “All of Manitoba moves to CRITICAL (RED) on #restartMB pandemic response system” So declares a press statement from the Government of Manitoba. With those twelve words, Christians in Manitoba are once again being plunged into the murky realm of “virtual worship.” For several months in early 2020 a full lockdown was mandated in the province and churches there were forbidden to open their doors. Now, once again, “religious and cultural gatherings must close or be provided virtually only,” states the government release. The dark, cold months of winter promise only a long, exhausting lockdown for our fellow believers in that province. British Columbia even more recently followed suit, with their provincial health officer declaring:  “In-person religious gatherings and worship services are suspended under the order.” By every indication, the rest of the country may not be far behind. The COVID-19 crisis has created a tension between principles. We know we are called to love our neighbor and submit to the government on the one hand, but on the other, we know that we are also called to gather together for worship, and called to provide spiritual, physical, and mental care for our neighbor. I can’t think of a recent issue affecting the Church that has brought such polarized responses from within the Reformed community, and within individual congregations themselves. Christians raise their children on stories of the brave martyrs who gave their lives to worship the one true God. Were the State to say, “you may not hold services because of your religious beliefs,” Christians would be unanimous in agreeing that we should disobey such a regulation – it would be unjust and unbiblical. Were the State to raise up a golden calf and call on us to bow down, we would be similarly clear and decisive. How then should we live in a time of pandemic? What is the relationship between the Church and the State in a time of pandemic? The answer doesn’t seem to be as simple today. Questions we need answered Theological issues and questions raised only in church history class have now become everyday considerations. Manitoba’s “Critical Red” stage is forcing churches to close. British Columbia has now enacted policies curbing social interaction outside of households and suspended in-person worship services. Each provincial government, and even every municipal government, has different regulations: mask bylaws, maximum church gathering limits, bans on singing in church, restrictions on the sacraments, restrictions on the life of the church and its work through catechism classes, youth groups, men’s and women’s societies, Bible studies, ministries to the poor, to the elderly and more. Never in my lifetime has the hand of the State reached so far into the life of the Church. The Regulative Principle of Worship In the face of the COVID-19 lockdowns, many have chosen to hold corporate worship via some sort of online live-streaming video. In most provinces, this means a skeleton crew is present in the church. This might include the pastor, a sound and video technician, and either someone playing music or a recording to facilitate singing. The rest of the congregation is at home, either alone, or with their family watching this service. So what should we think of this form of worship service? To best answer that question we should look back at what, historically, we have understood worship to be. Along with some other Protestant denominations, Reformed churches have held to some form of the “Regulative Principle of Worship.” That principle extends from an interpretation of the second commandment and it stipulates that only those things prescribed in God’s Word are to be part of worship. The Bible explicitly calls Christians to worship and to gather physically for worship services (Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 3:16; Acts 2:1; Acts 4:31; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 5:4; 1 Corinthians 11:18–34). Worship is to include singing, the reading of the Word of God, sacraments, the preaching of the gospel, and corporate prayers. The principle also stipulates that things not prescribed are not permitted. This is distinct from the way many other denominations worship, both Catholic and many mainline Protestant churches. For them, anything that has not been forbidden in Scripture may be permissible, particularly as it relates to church tradition. This Regulative Principle extends from the following statements of faith: Belgic Confession: “… we reject all human inventions, and all laws which man would introduce into the worship of God, thereby to bind and compel the conscience in any manner whatever. Therefore, we admit only of that which tends to nourish and preserve concord and unity, and to keep all men in obedience to God” (Art. 32). Heidelberg Catechism: “Q: What does God require in the second commandment? A: That we in no wise make any image of God, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded us in his Word.” (Q&A 96) Westminster Confession: “But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited to his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture” (21.1). The Reformed understanding of Scripture has historically been opposed to worship services that include an aspect of “performance.” In response to the Reformation and the “priesthood of all believers,” Reformed denominations have tended to resist musical presentations, choirs, bands, and more. The focus has always been on facilitating worship for the corporate body. The congregation is there to partake, to engage in all the acts of worship, not just to sit by and observe. In fact, Reformed liturgy is commonly laid out in the form of a conversation between God and His people. God gives a blessing, the people respond with singing, God’s Word is read, the people respond in prayer, the offering is taken, and so on. Two possible responses So, if we consider the Regulative Principle, how should we evaluate COVID-caused online worship? The response from Reformed churches, so far, seems to fall into two camps: those who see virtual worship services as an acceptable replacement for corporate worship, and those who do not. Response 1: Virtual worship is valid corporate worship One could argue that live-streaming is better than nothing. Due to the emergency lockdown, it is simply not possible to hold corporate worship, and the believers cannot gather together, and yet via live-streaming we are praying and hearing the Word of God preached. We can gather as families and sing at the same time as the many other families in our congregation. We can give our offerings via email transfer. Many Reformed churches have provided church telephone and live-stream accessibility options for decades. Those beloved members who are subject to disability or the impact of old age can still join us in hearing the Word preached, and partake in aspects of the service they would otherwise have no access to. These technologies are a blessing that the church hasn’t had before, and we should be thankful. Response 2: Live-streams are not the same as corporate worship While this technology is a blessing to those who are unable to attend church, as well as a means to provide excellent content online, there are reasons why joining church via live-stream was never considered the same as attending in person. Those reasons remain even in the midst of a pandemic. Worshiping in this manner allows believers to avoid the sometimes-messy reality of church family: the coming together of people of all ages and types, in a shared bond of faith in Christ. It also removes the accountability of membership. And it raises all sorts of questions. What message does virtual worship give our church members about the value of being present in person? Couldn’t members join from a vacation spot in the future, or from home if they don’t want to drive in to church? Can someone be part of the worship service by watching it three hours later? Or is it only in watching simultaneously? What if there’s a 30-second lag, and each individual device buffers differently as there is? We’re certainly not all singing together in unison! Can someone in Europe join our services weekly by live-stream? If so, can they become a member of the church? The Regulative Principle that teaches us puppet shows are not a substitute for opening the Word also teaches us that virtual services are no substitute for corporate worship. The in-person (embodied) nature of worship The passage at the heart of many of the COVID-19 related discussions is Hebrews 10:24-25. “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.” Being “together” is the essential element of the author’s directive here. Stirring one another up to love and good works and encouraging one another is an aspect of being together. The physical gathering of the church together is connected to the doctrine of the resurrection. Around the time I first drafted this article in April, the Ezra Institute released an excellent article that raised this point that I want to quote here: It is an unscriptural theology of creation and incarnation that believes the body of Christ can exist and function equally well in an abstract digital world, reducing the Lord’s Table to relative unimportance, and the preached Word to a “talk” just as effectively delivered digitally via pre-recorded video or live feed. Such an idea is a modern form of Docetism, the heretical belief that Christ merely took on the appearance of humanity, and that his human form was an illusion. If these things were even partially true, Jesus’ suffering, death, and bodily resurrection would be unnecessary and meaningless, and person-to-person contact where believers are gathered in Christ’s name would become optional for Christians. I fear that, in readily accepting the validity of virtual worship, we are releasing hold on a central tenet of the Christian faith. The idea of eternal disembodied spirits living forever is not unique. The Romans, Greeks, Chinese, Arabs, Midianites, Cushites – in fact almost every people group throughout history – have shared this belief. The Egyptians built their massive pyramids thousands of years ago based on this belief. What is stunningly radical about the Christian faith is the embodied, physical resurrection of Christ from the tomb. This is the wonder, and the counter-cultural nature of our faith. We worship our risen Lord each Sunday morning! We do not worship a disembodied soul. Crucially then, we are not called to worship as disembodied congregations – no, we worship Him in body and in spirit! And we will for eternity. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection from the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 12-14 Practically, this has implications for the liturgy and sacraments of worship. The direct result of misunderstanding this biblical truth by choosing to not be physically present means we cannot partake in the Lord’s supper, baptism, offering of tithes, the ordination of elders and deacons and more. Disembodied “virtual worship” must not be viewed as a valid replacement for in-person corporate worship. Implications for political action There are more questions for us to consider. If we cannot return to church for months, what happens to the congregation in the meantime? Can the church remain intact after a long period apart? How does the church leadership maintain the faithfulness of the body if corporate worship is banned? The central concern I am trying to raise is this: in becoming comfortable with the technological means, have we been giving too much leeway to the State to dictate what may or may not be done in worship? Through the months of lockdown, here in Ontario, we became used to live-stream services. We watched our pastor on a flat screen, and he couldn’t see back. Indeed, the statistics show that many churches became so comfortable they have never returned from virtual services even when restrictions eased – their buildings remain closed and empty. If instead, we believe that total lockdown means the end of corporate worship, how would that change our response? If we recognize that corporate worship cannot be done virtually, there will be a higher urgency to our interaction with the State. Could we then continue complying without concern? I believe that if total lockdowns return our way, as they are in Manitoba and BC, then political action in response to our government is necessary. The time has come for us to engage with our governments. We need to act to show that we will not sit by when it comes to the restriction of embodied worship of our risen, embodied Saviour. If we view our gathering together as essential to corporate worship, then it is not a matter of convenience where technology can substitute at any time. Corporate worship is essential. We can’t expect our secular governments to understand that – we are the ones who must tell them. And, like the widow of Luke 18:1-8, we must do so insistently. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)...

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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. ...

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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....

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Saturday Selections - Nov 7, 2020

What cobras can teach us about incentives Prov. 27:14  teaches that good intentions are not enough. And yet many a government policy is implemented, not because it has been shown to be effective – not because of evidence – but simply because the policy's drafters mean well. But, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with such good intentions. Operation Manna - a story for Remembrance Day In the winter of 1944-1945, the northern Netherlands were facing starvation. And they were still occupied by the Nazis so the Allies couldn't reach them with relief supplies. In episode of the History.icu podcast we get to hear how "manna" of a sort was delivered from the skies. "Born this way" is old science During her US Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Amy Coney Barrett used the term "sexual preference" instead of "sexual orientation" and in what seemed a response (it happened the very next day) Merriam Webster changed their definition for that term to now describe it as an offensive term. Why the fuss? Well, as Senator Mazie Hirono declared at the confirmation hearing, “Sexual preference is an offensive and outdated term…used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice—it is not.” Except that newer science says preference is probably the better word choice after all. How an affair really begins "One of the great misconceptions about affairs is that they begin with sex. Affairs do not begin with sex.... Instead, it is a culminating decision in a long list of terrible, self-centered decisions." A sensible and compassionate anti-COVID strategy What's most striking about this article is its calm tone. But calm doesn't mean insignifigant, as it highlight the importance of correcting a lockdown strategy that the UN estimates might lead to 130 million more deaths by starvation this year. Biblical vs. Christian counseling: What’s the difference? (3 minutes) Dr. Heath Lambert provides a brief, general overview of the difference between Biblical counseling and Christian counseling. ...

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Dutch mayor threatens church’s rented space over “conversion therapy”

Many churches around the world rent a space for their weekly worship services. But are rented spaces going to become a new front in persecution of Christians? A disturbing recent event in the Netherlands suggests this is where we are heading. In September, the Mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, proposed having a “serious conversation” with the landlord of the local Hillsong Church congregation based on unsubstantiated claims that the church engaged in “gay conversion therapy.” Mayor Halsema had not discussed the issue with the church’s leadership directly and she also did not initially indicate any interest in doing so. Gay conversion therapy is currently not illegal in the Netherlands. Thus, Mayor Halsema was proposing using her office to strip a church of its rented building for something that – if they did it – would be entirely legal. Hillsong Church, which originated in Australia, is best known for holding rock-concert style services and for attracting celebrity members like Justin Bieber. Within the Christian world, Hillsong’s theology is not regarded as particularly orthodox. However, it appears that any association with Christianity is grounds for suspicion. The Mayor’s comments came during a city council meeting September 17 to discuss recent incidents of violence against LGBTQ residents of Amsterdam. The role of churches in promoting the “inequality” of gays came up in the course of the meeting. Mayor Halsema said: “If there are any signs that churches are preaching or offering gay healing, we get in touch to let them know that we don't like it. We state that we have no powers, but that does not prevent us from having a serious conversation, for example with the landlord of Hillsong.” Hillsong Church NL rents its worship space from a large theatre. The theatre is also currently hosting a musical called Anne about the life of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who kept a diary of her life in hiding from the Nazis and subsequently died in the Holocaust. Mayor Halsema stated in the council meeting that it would be a “tragic irony” if the same stage where Anne is performed was also used to promote intolerance. Mayor Halsema’s comments sparked a backlash though, unfortunately, most of it was focused on the fact that Hillsong does not engage in gay conversion therapy. That is not really the point; Mayor Halsema’s tactics should be the primary concern. Hillsong Church NL’s leadership sent an open letter to the Mayor which did note “This is an attack on freedom of religion and freedom of speech” but most of the letter was devoted to refuting the allegation: “We are troubled that this false accusation has been disseminated by various media outlets and that the good name of our church, our leadership and the thousands of members of our congregation has been maligned” In response to the outcry, Mayor Halsema finally had a phone call with Hillsong Church NL’s leadership. They reassured her that they do not engage in gay conversion therapy. However, she did not apologize for her initial comments. Moreover, she says that during the phone call “we agreed the church would enter into dialogue with representatives of the rainbow community to remove any possible concern in this area.” In other words, even though Hillsong has done nothing wrong, they need to make atonement. She also wrote, “The city council has put representatives of the rainbow community in touch with the landlord.” Thus, the threat of losing their weekly worship space has not fully passed. Hillsong Church NL is a large congregation with significant resources. They were able to rally popular support to stand up to Mayor Halsema. But how would smaller, less famous congregations fare if they were the ones to be targeted? That question should be deeply troubling to all churches, particularly those that rent a building....

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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) ...

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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. ...

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Saturday Selections – October 3, 2020

What is hate speech, and why should we be leery of banning it? (5 minutes) Most everyone agrees that some sorts of speech need to be limited, with the obvious example being threatening speech. But there's a real danger in demanding that government – or social media platforms – regulate what can and can't be said. For a secular take, see the video below, and for a Christian perspective, click on the link above. FREE: A parent's guide to "Cancel Culture" Axis is a generally conservative Christian group trying help parents keep up with teen culture. They do so by writing short 10-20 pages guides – cheat sheets – to get us up to speed on everything from social media apps, to hit TV shows, the latest pop bands, trending teen books, or even topics like helping teens deal with failure. The guides go for $4 US, but they also give some of them out for free. To get their cheat sheet on Cancel Culture, click on the title link above. To check out their other guides go to Axis.org. Money in the first years of marriage "Many marriages have been ripped apart over riches. Many newly married couples don’t know how to handle their finances in a way that honors God. I don’t want you to be one of them. I don’t want you to be caught off guard." Man drops battle to force salons to wax his nether regions Common sense does sometimes beat craziness...especially when you have a good lawyer in your corner. If the future belongs to the fertile, we might not have one On average every women needs to have two children to keep the population stable from one generation to the next. Ten years ago New Zealand's birth rate was averaging 2.18 children for every woman, but today it is just 1.69. And the same type of drop is happening the world over. In a pandemic, dogmatism is the real enemy What does the science tell us about how to respond to COVID-19? John Jalsevac argues that if we think there is a clear scientific answer then we don't really understand how science works. Even as we can benefit from doing careful, cautious science, to look to it as the the one clear guide is to fall for scientism. Dismantled: new documentary shows how "the evolutionary model is getting more biblical" (2 minutes) A new documentary debuting in a week's time looks like it is going to be a good one. Dismantled shares new discoveries that highlight how even mainstream science is having to move towards the biblical model. There is a free one-time premiere Oct. 9-11 that you should plan for, available via the link above. ...

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Vancouver ads presume big families hurt the planet

Ads popping up around Vancouver, BC encourage couples to reconsider any plans for having a big or even medium-sized family. Some of the ads read: “The most loving gift you can give your first child is to not have another” “Traffic congestion begins at conception” “We chose one!” “Climate crisis? Think small.” The group behind the ads is the US-based non-profit “World Population Balance” which believes the planet is threatened by an overpopulation crisis. Their “One Planet, One Child” campaign features ads that go even further, celebrating “childfree” living. One Vancouver news outlet framed this as a freedom issue, with the interviewed passersby seemingly unanimous in their insistence that family size is nobody’s business but the couple’s. News 1130’s Kelvin Gawley went deeper, interviewing a disabled Vancouver writer, Gabrielle Peters, who put the campaign in a historical context. “By blaming overpopulation for climate change and environmental degradation, said the billboards revive a debunked theory known as Malthusianism, named for an 18th Century reverend, Thomas Robert Malthus, who warned humanity would soon outgrow its food supply. His dire predictions never came to pass, but that didn’t stop others – including Nazi eugenicists and the author of The Overpopulation Bomb, a bestselling 1968 book – from remixing Malthus’s ideas to bolster their beliefs, Peters said. “‘It’s based on bunk and it invariably leads into dark places,’ she said.” “Peters said that the theory of scarcity is especially alarming to disabled people, who ‘may not be highly productive in the eyes of capitalism’ while consuming medical and other resources. “This thinking has led some modern academics to call for forced birth control and government-mandated licensing for parenthood, she said. “But Peters said her fear of this philosophy backstopping real-world action aren’t merely hypothetical. She cited a new “frailty scale” used to determine eligibility for health-care services in Ontario.” That was some deep perspective for a secular news source, but there is deeper still we can go by highlighting the biblical truth these ads attack. God speaks of children as blessings (Gen. 1:28, Ps. 113:9, 139:13-16, 127:3-5, Prov. 17:6, etc.) while World Population Balance says the fewer the better. So how has that worked out where it's been tried? For decades China had a mandatory one-child policy and that's meant many a Chinese couple will be caring for two sets of parents, and four sets of grandparents without any siblings or any cousins to help them. As the Christian Heritage Party’s Peter Vogel put it in his article about the ad campaign: “Imagine there’s no uncles…no aunts, no cousins too. No siblings either. This is what young people today are being told to imagine for their grandchildren.“ While human beings' value isn’t based on what we can do (but rather on being made in the image of God – Gen. 1:27, Gen. 9:6), more kids does mean more hands at the ready, and imagine how helpful those extra hands could be in caring for aging parents! More children also means more creative thinking. Want to figure out cold-fusion, or safer fission? The more brains the merrier, right? Those family relationships, those extra hands to lighten the load, the multiplying impact on ingenuity that results when heads are put together – those are the blessing we’d forgo if we all did as these ads encourage. But what of the climate crisis that World Population Balance is afraid of? Their “solution” isn't one, so can we conclude the same is true of their problem? That doesn’t necessarily follow; that a group is wrong on one point gives us reason to question them in other areas, but we can’t rely on the foolish to be consistently so. We can't count on them to always get everything wrong. So when it comes to the supposed climate crisis, here is what we can know for sure: if children are a blessing (and they are) and each one comes with their own carbon footprint (which they currently do), then either that carbon footprint isn’t the problem it’s being made out to be or children don’t have to be accompanied by a carbon footprint. And what we can know for sure is that children are a blessing we will never have to reject for the sake of our planet....

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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..." ...

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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. ...

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Saturday Selections - August 15, 2020

Thomas Sowell on the benefit of the 10th Commandment While Thomas Sowell doesn't mention the Bible, the point he makes here is a biblical one. Correcting "income inequality" requires us to do as the 10th Commandment forbids - it makes a virtue out of looking over the back fence and making plans for what our neighbor has. It's only when we forget about redistributing his wealth that we are free to mind our own business, and use and invest and grow what God has entrusted to us for our own good, and the good of 4 principles for talking to your kids about sex (3-minute read) Talk positively, talk often, talk freely, and talk soon... Netherlands contemplating assisted suicide for any over 75 who are "tired of living" While there probably isn't enough time to pass the bill before the next election, it is significant that there is now a push for euthanasia of the healthy. And once it is allowable for those over 75 what reason would there be to refuse it to those under 75? What reason is there for any limits once we ignore that life is created by God, and is not ours take? Morally speaking, not all COVID vaccines will be alike Some of the perspective offered in the article is specifically Roman Catholic, but the problem it points out – that some vaccines are being developed using cells from aborted children – should concern us all. 3 questions to ask before we fill up the family schedule again The summer break, along with COVID craziness, have cut into family busyness: we aren't running from soccer practice to piano recital to playdate pickups like many a family is when the school season is on us. So before all the busyness arrives once again Lauren Miller has 3 questions for us to consider before we add an activity on to our weekly schedule. Even cell death is amazingly designed! (10-minute read) Over the course of 7-10 years, every cell in your body gets replaced. That's amazing, but it also presents a problem: what to do with all the dead cells that are being replaced? Well, it turns out, your body has an amazing recycling system! While this is a somewhat technical read, even just skimming it over will give you a deeper appreciation for God's brilliance. Upcoming documentary on the Red Sea crossing This looks like it will be really interesting. The team behind this film has made three others about Israel's time in Egypt, and in an interesting wrinkle, a secular expert they consulted in the first film, who thought the Bible a great archeological text, in this film thinks the Red Sea crossing must have happened somewhere shallow because he assumes it must have occurred via natural (even if unusual) circumstances. He rules out miracles because he has ruled out God...even as he knows the Bible to be validated by archeology time and again, and believes, therefore, that Israel's crossing did happen. But what happens when we go searching where only a miracle could have permitted the crossing? The trailer seems to show there is evidence of chariots on the seafloor.  ...

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Saturday Selections - August 8, 2020

Our Kids Online: Porn, Predators & How to Keep Them Safe A new documentary making the rounds is an eye-opener and can be rented for $5 US at the link above. Read our review here. What do you believe? The value of knowing...in words "You say one picture is worth a thousand words? Well, let’s see about that. You give me one thousand words and I’ll give you the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm; and the Hippocratic Oath; and a sonnet by Shakespeare; and the Preamble to the Constitution; and Lincoln’s Gettysburg address; and I’ll still have enough words left over for just about all of the Boy Scout oath. And I wouldn’t trade you those things for any picture on earth." Why science and atheism don't mix "Science proceeds on the basis of the assumption that the universe is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to the human mind. No science can be done without the scientist believing this, so it is important to ask for grounds for this belief. Atheism gives us none, since it posits a mindless, unguided origin of the universe’s life and consciousness." While John Lennox is not a six-day creationist he does solid work here pointing out this gaping hole in atheistic evolutionary thinking. Two fantastic responses to racism Black conservatives are frequent targets of racism. These two Christians show how to respond with grace and power. The most frightening text in the Bible? Michael Kelly weighs in on Matthew 7:21-23, and the Church's role in addressing self-deception. When they say "Assisted Suicide is compassionate" (6 min) Why is suicide wrong? For the same reason that murder is: because we are taking the life of an image-bearer of God, and that is His, and not ours to take. This video overlooks this Christian foundation, and lists four practical problems that often result when a nation accepts Assisted Suicide. The four points are fantastic, and the video important viewing. But when we miss out on the Christian foundation, then any arguments we build won't have a firm footing. If it is only practical problems that prevent us from supporting Assisted Suicide, then that is where the debate will be had, and the other side will offer practical solutions. So, for example, if "sometimes a terminal diagnosis is wrong" there is an easy solution to that: a second opinion (or even a third, and fourth). Practical problem solved! Why won't such a practical solution actually work? Because once we think life something that is ours to take, then we won't value it enough to protect it this adamantly. The core problem is not a practical one, but whether we are going to treat life as given by God. When we understand that is the core issue, then we can point out the practical problems that result from seeing life as anything short of sacred. But those practical arguments will only stand if they rest on a foundation of Rock (Ps. 78:35). This post has been edit to correct a wrong link for the Michael Kelly article, which in its original mistaken form, took readers to what seems to be a cult's page. So, yeah, not the intended destination. Our thanks to the reader who caught this mistake - it is now fixed!...

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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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Even heroes carved in marble will have feet of clay

This afternoon I was driving my son home from his work at a garden center. His job is ½ hour away from where we live but we have been more than willing to make the drive twice every day as many of the jobs high school students normally fill during our hot Ontario summers are not easy to come by in this post-COVID world. As we sped past farmland filled with newly planted crops we listened to CBC as the host fielded calls from Ontario listeners.  The topic under discussion was the question of whether or not we should change the names of cities and streets if the current names had been adopted from those in history who might have had a shady record when it came to slavery. The callers were passionate in their feedback, ranging from deep affront that our current society would disregard the past and in effect try to erase it, to emotional pleas from parents who, because of the color of their skin, found the memorializing of these names to be hurtful in the extreme and impossible to explain to their children.  The host did her best, but it was clear she was not sufficient for navigating such tempestuous waters. The callers’ responses led, in turn, to a compelling discussion between my son and me. Searching for a hero What was most remarkable in the entire radio discussion was how disappointed everyone was to "discover" that their heroes were flawed; to learn that the men and women of the past had sticky records, with bad decisions and reprehensible viewpoints dotting their lives. My son noticed that there seemed to be more than disappointment in the voices of the callers, many were just plain outraged. Why? Why are we shocked when the sins of our heroes materialize and besmirch what we believed were impeccable records? Why are we almost personally offended when we unearth brokenness in the lives of past men and women? Could it be that we are angry because we have placed our trust in cracked vessels, and now these men and women are failing the faith we have put in them?  It appears that many of us are in an ongoing search for a truly great hero, for one who will not disappoint. Perhaps the callers on the radio show were simply expressing a longing deep within every human heart. That we would find one who will not let us down. One who will not only measure up to every impossible standard that we set for others, (never for ourselves because we, of course, need grace), but one who will far surpass those expectations. The good news is that there is a hero who shines through the mists of history, One who is truly faultless.  And the true beauty of this One lies in the fact that our expectations of Him will never be enough; He is utterly and incandescently lovely, and our hearts will never be disappointed when they rest in Him.  Every time we think He cannot possibly be as heroic as our hearts long for, He will prove Himself to be more so. The answer to the question of when to tear down statues or when to stand behind street names is complex, requiring both wisdom and determination. To his credit, the biblical Gideon tore down the high places his family members had built, being willing to shoulder their outrage rather than disobey God.  And yet, to his fault, he later made an ephod in an effort to memorialize the triumph over Midian with the result that all Israel worshipped it – causing them to give honor to something detestable instead of what was true. Grateful There are not always easy answers when we try to unravel what to do with the tangle of sin threaded through the lives of the various characters that line history’s wall. But just as we have been thankful for the work that was provided for our son this summer, we can be even more thankful for the work that was accomplished by another Son thousands of summers ago. A work that covers the snarl of sin that is present not only in the lives of others but is also found starkly in our own broken hearts.  And the work of that Son will never disappoint, for He will never fail. His name is Jesus Christ....

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Saturday Selections - July 4, 2020

Reformed College ad causes a wonderful fuss When a Reformed college put out the recruitment ad below – starring their small town's newly built washrooms – the town's mayor felt the need to issue an official statement. He wanted everyone to know the ad, touting that there are two distinct genders, didn't represent their little town. But as local pastor Douglas Wilson noted: That bathroom, for those of you who do not live here in Moscow, is brand, spanking new. It was built on Mayor’s Lambert’s watch. He was the one who built that brand new segregated bathroom, that brand new “girls go this way, boys go that way” bathroom, that brand new Hate Space. He is the one who built that standing affront to Moscow’s world-famous inclusive values. And then, when the ad spot shows a young man going into the side ASSIGNED TO HIM BY THE CITY OF MOSCOW, and a young lady going into the side ASSIGNED TO HER BY THE CITY OF MOSCOW, our mayor calls US out for our lack of inclusiveness. All we did was indicate — in that endearing little way we have — our agreement with the mayor in having built what he built. We are sorry that he feels bad about what he did now, but there it is. In today's culture wars Christians too often act as if we're actually worried God might lose this thing. We are so angry, annoyed, and fearful about what's going on. The folks at New Saint Andrews College want to show us what it would look like if we were eager to jump into the fray because we understand – because we are certain – that God had already been won. (Another example: their latest ad "Why All Black Lives Matter"). Home is underrated For family's that are able to do it, there are many advantages to having mom at home. Big Science needs to repent In a recent Nature article, two dozen scientists joined together in a "manifesto that calls for sweeping changes in the way scientific modeling is done." Though it isn't the Nature article's intention, the manifesto highlights how Science isn't unbiased – there are so many ways that findings can be twisted to fit particular ideologies. And it's only once we understand there is no neutrality that we can best assess the "facts" we are given by viewing them in light of the biases that were involved in their production. 5 things I learned debating a professor who wants to ban homeschooling There are those who want the State to be our "co-parent" and who, despite the State's dismal track record running their own schools, want to make sure no is "allowing some parents to escape" the public system. Pro-life group denounces Peter MacKay, Erin O'Toole as "Trudeau Tories" Canada's Conservative Party leadership race is drawing to a close, and there are 4 candidates on offer, two of whom – Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis – have been endorsed by the pro-life Campaign Life Coalition. The other two have been denounced as "Trudeau Tories" because, like Trudeau, Peter MacKay and Erin O'Toole endorse the greatest evil of our age: the slaughter of unborn babies crafted by God in His very Image. When we consider the outrage over the brutal death of another such image-bearer, George Floyd, were we then to multiply that outrage by 300 – the number of babies murdered each day in Canada – and then consider that this happens to 100,000 babies each year, we would begin to understand how outraged we should be when Justin Trudeau, Peter MacKay and Erin O'Toole say "Unborn lives don't matter." 81% of Canada's COVID deaths were long-term care residents Do we need to rethink old age homes? The wonder of the hummingbird's tongue (3 minutes) While the video doesn't specifically mention God, narrator Paul Nelson notes: "I think in some respects the wonder of a hummingbird almost transcends language.... It's almost like responding to the work of an artist. You just stand there and applaud." ...

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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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Racism is wrong…

Racism is wrong. The Minneapolis police officer, holding his knee on George Floyd’s neck for a lengthy period of time, may have been motivated racially, or by pride, or by hatred, etc. I do not know. If the police officers involved behave as racists or as “judge, jury, and executioner,” they deserve to be punished.  We can empathize with protests demanding justice in this way; some may even participate. Christians in Minnesota should be writing to their newspapers, political leaders, and law enforcement personnel, encouraging everyone to fight for justice, but to do so in a godly way. Action can be taken throughout our various countries, but our action needs to be in step with who we are as Christians and it must respect the dignity of all others. Racism is wrong. And the root cause of racism is sin. …because we are all made in God’s image Racism is wrong. Anyone holding to a solid biblical worldview cannot help but arrive at that conclusion. We know that all people are created in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). Originally, being created in God’s image, man: “was adorned in his mind with true and wholesome knowledge of his Creator and of all spiritual things; his will was upright, all his affections pure, and therefore man was completely holy.” – Canons of Dort, Chapter 3/4, Art. 1 However, man fell from this glorious state of being as we rebelled against God in paradise. Nevertheless, we confess that man’s fall did not make him like the animals, but that a light of nature remains in mankind after the fall: “whereby he retains some notions about God, about natural things, and about the difference between what is honourable and shameful, and show some regard for virtue and outward order. But so far is he from arriving at the saving knowledge of God and true conversion through this light of nature that he does not even use it properly in natural and civil matters… man wholly pollutes it in various ways and suppresses it by his wickedness.” – Canons of Dort, Chapter 3/4, Art. 4 All of mankind share in this new fallen state of being. There is no alternative until the Holy Spirit changes our hearts and minds, making us alive again in Christ, and the image of God is being renewed in us. …because diversity was always God's intention Racism is wrong. We are reminded of the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. This story tells us of one united nation that did not want to fulfill the cultural mandate of Genesis 1 in filling the earth. Man’s rebellion against God increases exponentially when there is a united purpose against him and his revealed plan for mankind. At the Tower of Babel God decides to create new cultures through confusing the languages of the people there. This confusion drives the people apart and the earth begins to be filled. Physical, racial, and cultural diversity develops. This mosaic of diversity is a result of sin, but is not sin in itself – God wanted mankind to develop culturally and spread throughout the earth and He will not let his plans be manipulated. …because the Gospel is for all Racism is wrong. When Abram was addressed by God to leave his home country he was encouraged by the promise that God would make of him a great nation and that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). God develops a nation through Abraham, a special distinct nation in all the earth, as he works out his plan of salvation for his people from all tribes, languages, and nations. Racism is wrong. When our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross he fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament, also the promises to Abraham. Christ gives his disciples the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). Much of the New Testament scriptures are about taking the gospel of Jesus Christ and spreading that message indiscriminately among the nations! There is no room for racism in Christianity. Where racism is evident, together with any and all examples of injustice, Christians should be engaged in various Godly activities to provide a witness to the truth and to fight the injustices as they are able. …because it is what’s inside that counts Racism is wrong. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Racism looks at the color of one’s skin and makes a judgement ignorant of the content of that person’s character. Racists look at the outside of a person, make an unjust judgement, and so reveal the depravity of their own heart and mind. Those who love and defend the just cause of their neighbour because God has loved them reveal a heart that is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, while those who hate their neighbour, who judge them falsely or on the basis of skin colour, still live in darkness and delusion. …but not all disagreement is racism Racism is wrong. But not all that is called racism is racism. In this context we can think of disagreements between the worldview of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity. Christians who argue that the Islamic religion is false and dangerous, are not behaving in a racist fashion. Although most Muslims are from the Middle East, this does not mean that Christians are racist against Middle Eastern citizens when we express the implications of the cultural battles that exist between these two significantly different worldviews. When Christians tell Judaists and Muslims that the promise given to father Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, we are not making a racist comment but the very opposite – we are inviting them to accept Christ as Saviour and so be our brothers and sisters in Christ! Godly mission work directed towards individuals of other faiths or those who profess no faith is not driven by a cultural or racist superiority rooted in idolatry, but in a love for our neighbours, fellow image bearers who also need the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved from meaninglessness in this life and eternal punishment in the life to come. …but riots are not the answer Racism is wrong. Christians need to fight against this form of injustice wherever it rears its ugly head. But Christians do not riot. The evil evident in the riots over the past weeks demonstrate an unchristian worldview bearing fruit. Evil begets evil. These riots are not being indiscriminately condemned: a number of actors are contributing to a "protester bail fund," including Steve Carrell, Janelle Monae, Seth Rogen, Ben Schwartz, and Halsey. Justin Timberlake is also encouraging people to donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund which is raising funds to bail out protesters. But which protesters? In the larger cities, many among the protesters are not fighting against injustice; they are perpetrating it! Stores and much property of black citizens, and others, are being destroyed by "protesters." The violence and damage will do nothing to address injustice or racism. It is an unchristian and an inhumane response. Love is not the overriding principle, idolatry is. Unbelievers are developing (or have created) a worldview that has no foundation and the idol of self is at the centre. Justice for George Floyd is not the goal of those rioting – it is the excuse for open “acceptable” rebellion. …and the Gospel is the answer Racism is wrong. The solution, despite opinion to the contrary, is the gospel rightly understood and applied. May the Lord, the king over all the earth, so work by his word and spirit so that justice is restored in this world. In the meantime, we are busy fighting for justice in a godly way. We are also praying that the Lord will usher in his kingdom in all its glory so that his people from all tribes, tongues, races, and languages can be gathered together in one united kingdom to praise our King! ...

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Saturday Selections - May 30, 2020

Dolphin sonar is incredibly designed! (4 min) The many different components of dolphins' echolocation system allows it such a level of precision it can tell the difference between a golf ball and a ping pong ball. The closer we look at God's creation, the more we have to praise Him about! This is an excerpt from the fantastic documentary Living Waters. How David Livingstone's brave publicity stunt helped end slavery (15-minute read) John Piper writes about how David Livingstone's famed expedition, supposedly to find the headwaters of the Nile, actually had a very different purpose – Livingstone wanted to bring British attention to the horrors of the Slave Trade. Are purebred dogs ethical? God calls us to be stewards of creation, and that includes the creatures in it. When we breed a creature for a particular look, knowing that this look also leads to specific health problems – as happens with many purebred dogs – aren't we being bad stewards? Cessationism: what it is, and the case for it, in just 10 minutes While most Reformed folk hold to cessationism – the belief that the gifts of tongues, and prophecy, and miraculous healing have passed (even as we acknowledge that miraculous healing itself has not) – but don't know why. Professor Robert Rothwell lays out the cessationism case here. Scientists often lie Every time we read another headline about "millions of years," or this evolving into that, conservative Christians are reminded once again of how mainstream science can be very, very wrong. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, some are encouraging us to "Just trust Science" and we know that's more than a little naive. Is Science now our infallible guide? There's good reason to be grateful for the guidance scientists can offer (Prov. 11:14, Prov. 15:22), but if we treat them as our one sure guide (ignoring, for example, the input of economists) – if we treat them as if they were God – then they are sure to disappoint. On the other hand, we shouldn't forget why we can be so certain scientists are wrong in some cases, and yet not be as certain in others. We can know they got it wrong when scientists' conclusions run right up against the Bible as they do on the subject of origins. Then we have God's infallible Word vs. fallible Man and it shouldn't be hard to know who to believe. But when scientists make declarations about things that God hasn't spoken to directly – like how harmful COVID-19 actually is – we might still have reasons to doubt what is said but not with the same degree of certainty. This is not what Man says versus what God says, but rather one group of experts vs. another. BC pastors appeal to government to free Christians to worship Occasional RP contributor Rev. Rob Schouten was one of those behind an open letter to BC Premier John Horgan asking for churches to receive attention as to when they can start to safely worship together once again. The letter is considerate, and well-argued, asking only for the same sort of accommodation as is being given to businesses and others. So far 85 churches have given their support to the letter. If you want to find out how you can too, or if you live outside BC and want to see a wonderful example of calm, winsome, yet persistent interaction with the authorities, then be sure to check out the website: ExpandBCWorshipServices.ca. The man behind Ravi (15 min) On May 19, the well-known apologist Ravi Zacharias died of cancer. God used him to "tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor. 10:5) via public events, often times on university campuses, around the world. God used Ravi in a big public way, but in this wonderful, tear-jerking (God is so amazing!) short film we get a glimpse at the "man behind the man," D.D. Davis, who God also called, but to work behind the scenes to equip and encourage Ravi. Few of us are called to be on the stage, in front of the mike, but all of us can be "Gospel patrons" – equippers, encouragers, and in smaller ways too, proclaimers – who can help those called to lead. ...

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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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Joe Biden and the unworkable, unbiblical (but I repeat myself) "believe all women" standard

The presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, was accused of sexual assault in late March, and most of the mainstream media, and a key member of the #MeToo movement, doesn't want to hold him to the same standard he has proposed for others. It was only two years ago that the former vice president supported a "believe all women" standard. When the Trump-nominated candidate for the US Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, was publicly accused of sexually assaulting a woman, Biden told reporters: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time. But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron.” But now it's Biden in the crosshairs. In a podcast released March 24, one of Joe Biden's former Senate staffers, Tara Reade, accused him of sexual assault. It is a case of she said/he said, with no corroborating witnesses to the alleged event. Biden has, through his campaign spokeswoman, denied the charge, but, of course, that's what accused men do. So the obvious question is, why should we believe this man when this man has otherwise insisted we should believe women? One of Biden's defenders, actress Alyssa Milano, has been a public face for the #MeToo movement. But as ArcDigital.media's Cathy Young pointed out, when it was Republican nominee Kavanaugh being accused, Milano held to the same "believe all women" standard Biden was backing. Milano tweeted at the time: You can’t pretend to be the party of the American people and then not support a woman who comes forward with her #MeToo story. However, now that it's Biden being accused, Milano wants to modify that position: #BelieveWomen does not mean everyone gets to accuse anyone of anything and that’s that. It means that our societal mindset and default reaction shouldn’t be that women are lying. Theirs hasn't been the only hypocrisy evidenced. The mainstream media was slow to cover the accusation, with most waiting a couple of weeks or more before writing anything. If the lack of coverage had been due to them holding to a very different standard than the former vice president – if they believed that a reputable news organization can't simply pass along every unsubstantiated accusation they hear – then their lack of coverage would have been understandable. But as commentators on both the Right and Left have noted, that hasn't been the media's standard in the past. The same CNN that took more than two weeks to mention Reade's charges, reported the accusations against Kavanaugh immediately. The Christian satire site Babylon Bee summed up the extent of CNN's early coverage with their headline: "Cricket In CNN Newsroom Gives Detailed Report On Biden Allegations." But there something more noteworthy than the hypocrisy going on here. The #MeToo movement sprang to life in late 2017 when a number of women came forward to accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Though Weinstein's behavior had been an open secret for years he hadn't faced this kind of negative attention before, because most of his encounters had involved just himself and the victim – like the accusation against Biden, they were mostly she said/he said situations. So, previously, victims hadn't come forward because these women weren't confident that they'd be believed when it was just one person's word versus another's. So how can we help women who are victimized in circumstances in which there are no other witnesses? The #MeToo movement proposed one sort of "solution" to this problem: always believe the women. The shortcoming to this approach was clear from the start though it took the Left until now, with their own guy getting accused, to finally realize it: women don't always tell the truth. There was always another solution available but, based as it is on biblical principles, it wasn't their go-to. God says in Deut. 19:15: One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. If we, instead of pretending there is some way of picking one witness's testimony over another, acknowledge that it can't be done, we'll be on our way to recognizing the risk that comes with one-on-one situations. And when we acknowledge that risk, then it'll become clear, too, how to minimize it. The only way to protect a woman from victimization in one-on-one circumstance is to so craft our culture that it is unacceptable to suggest such private pairings. Hollywood agents who send their young starlets off to see a powerful Hollywood mogul alone in his suite should be understood to be encouraging sexual predation. And any US senator who went off with his young intern for alone-time would be publicly condemned for creepy behavior. If we want to protect women from being victimized in one-on-one situations, we seem to have just the two choices. We either: Don't believe a man Don't have a man alone with a woman (other than his wife). This second approach is, of course, the much-mocked "Billy Graham Rule." Now that the Biden accusations have even the Left acknowledging the unworkability of the first approach, will they recognize the merits of the second? And if they don't, what alternative can they offer? Picture is cropped from the original by Michael Stokes and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license....

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Saturday Selections – April 18, 2020

Are you tolerant? (4 minutes) This is as funny as it is informative! Environmentalism has killed its millions Earth Day, April 22, is upon us once again, and while it may have a different feel this year we can be sure all things environmental are still going to be celebrated by the secular media. However, there as an important aspect of environmentalism that is not praiseworthy: placing the interests of plants and animals either alongside or above those of people. This is a difference that distinguishes environmentalism from biblical stewardship, where we are entrusted with the responsibility of caring for creation (Gen. 1:28) but are also the pinnacle of it (Gen. 1:26-27, Ps. 8:3-9).  This article highlights the enormous damage done when that is forgotten. How long does it take to read each book in the Old Testament? (infographic) Would we dive into our Bibles more eagerly if we understood just how little time it takes to dig deep? Click for the full chart. Babylon Bee encourages us to hold our medical opinions with humility... The Christian satire site, in their own unique way, made their point with the headline: "Facebook to award everyone printable medical degree." FREE MAGAZINE: Ezra Institute's Jubilee Looking for a good deep read? The articles in Jubilee, a conservative Reformed publication, often require some investment but diligent readers will be rewarded. And while the print subscription is $25 a year, past digital issues can be enjoyed for free. As always, readers should practice discernment. Is opposing same-sex marriage like opposing interracial marriage? (4 minutes) You're in a conversation about marriage, and someone says, "The Church opposing same-sex marriage is like how the Church used to oppose interracial marriage" How would you respond? ...

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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 28, 2020

John MacArthur on the coronavirus crisis (17 minutes) While the coronavirus quarantine led to the canceling of the Ligonier conference, it freed up some time for one of the featured speakers to address how Christians can respond to this crisis and use it as an opportunity to witness to how the Gospel is good news to us, as well as to any who respond to Christ in faith. Tips for talking to your kids about sex I once heard a pastor share what he called "The Law of First Explanations" – that one reason parents have to be the first to talk about sex with their kids (and be the first to talk with them about any other important topics) is because our kids will sift all subsequent information they get on that topic through the filter of the first explanation they get. Parents will often notice the impact of this law when they come in second (or third, or fourth...) because now, whatever we have to say, is going to be tested against the filter of "But my teacher said..." or "But my friends all think..." But it works in our favor too, when we act early. Or, as the article author puts it, "Better a year too early than five minutes too late.” In addition to the article above, a helpful book series – one you can read along with your daughter or son, with different books for different ages – is the "Learning about sex for the Christian family" series put about by Concordia Publishing House. Getting creative... When government restrictions made it impossible to gather inside our church buildings, one congregation came up with a creative way of still meeting together at their usual time. This past Sunday, the Christ Community Church in Blaine, WA met outside, singing and listening to the sermon from inside their cars, assembled in their parking lot. Teaching our kids how to manage their devices Tim Challies titled this article "When Parents Feel Like We Are Mostly Failing Most of the Time" because, when it comes to helping out kids figure out how to use their phones, tablets, and computers to best effect, we know we aren't doing it right. There's plenty of reasons for it, not the least of which is as trailblazers in this area (this is not something our parents could teach us how to teach our kids) we are bound to get it wrong. But that also means there is plenty of ways to improve. So, for the love of our kids, let's be the parents and take that leadership role. And Challies has some wonderful help to offer. How the coronavirus has revealed what's core to Roman Catholicism An Italian pastor explains how the Catholic Church's response to the coronavirus is revealing what's core (and consequently what's deficient) in their doctrine. In related news, the Pope has said that, due to the crisis, Catholics can confess their sins directly to God...at least until they can reach a priest once again. Choice42 with another tool for the pro-life toolbox (1 minute) There is a truth about the unborn that needs to be shared – that they are every bit as valuable as you and I because, just like you and I, they are made in the very Image of God (Gen 1:26-27, 9:6). And there are also lies that need to be knocked down – many, many lies. And as she shows here once again, Laura Klassen, and her crew down at Choice42, are among the very best at knocking down those lies. ...

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An update on Conversion Therapy Bans in Canada

To fulfill an election promise, the federal Liberal government has introduced a bill to criminally ban conversion therapy. As I noted in my Nov/Dec article, “What is conversion therapy and why does it matter?” the provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and many municipalities in Alberta have already banned conversion therapy. This federal bill would ban conversion therapy across the entire country with the threat of criminal sanction, including jail time, a penalty not available to provinces and municipalities. The entire legislation hinges on the definition of conversion therapy. A main recommendation in ARPA Canada’s policy report on conversion therapy was that conversion therapy only include “coercive and aversive therapies” and specifically clarify that body-affirming counseling and spiritual counsel are not conversion therapy. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation – Bill C-8 – has a broad and biased definition of conversion therapy. It bans both harmful therapies as well as beneficial counseling. It bans efforts to change someone’s sexual attraction – which is psychological and based in the mind – and also bans attempts to change someone’s sexual behavior. This means this legislation would forbid Christian counselors from trying to help gay men address their same-sex attraction, and also forbid them from counseling gay men not to engage in same-sex sexual activity. Ironically, this legislation only bans attempts to draw someone away from same-sex attraction or a transgender identity. The legislation says nothing about attempts to draw someone into same-sex-attraction or a transgender identity. Thus, this legislation bans God-glorifying counseling but permits seductions into sinful lifestyles and identities. As one pastor commented, “If a man in my congregation confesses to me that he’s been cheating on his wife, I can reprimand him and tell him to repent. But if his affair is with another man, then I’m prohibited from saying anything at all.” The legislation also is riddled with contradictions. The preamble notes that it is a myth that gender identity can change. Yet, queer theory says that gender is quite fluid, changing all the time. Further, the definition of conversion therapy explicitly “clarifies” that services to support a person’s gender transition are not to be considered conversion therapy. But if a gender can’t change, how can one transition to another gender? Federal Justice Minister David Lametti, who introduced the bill, reveals his moral worldview on this topic, saying, “Conversion therapy is premised on a lie, that being homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or trans is wrong and in need of fixing. Not only is that false, it sends a demeaning and a degrading message that undermines the dignity of individuals.” Christians recognize that virtually everything in that quotation is false. Acting on same-sex attraction or deliberately undermining one’s biological sex is sinful and wrong. Sin always needs fixing. Human dignity is not based on following our own impulses; it is based on being the male and female image-bearers of God. Justice Minister Lametti boasts that the proposed conversion therapy ban will be the “most progressive and comprehensive in the world.” But Christians know that true progress cannot be based on man’s view of right and wrong. True progress must be based on God’s standards of right and wrong. Bill C-8 must be amended. The definition of conversion therapy requires greater clarity and should not include body-affirming counseling or spiritual counseling or teaching on sexual behavior. ARPA is already working to have the definition changed but will need the support of many Christians across the country to also speak up. May we continue to labor and pray that God’s perfect will, not man’s fallen will, be done here on earth as it is in heaven, also on the issue of conversion therapy. Levi Minderhoud is the ARPA Canada BC manager. You can read ARPA Canada’s Policy Report on Conversion Therapy here....

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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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Saturday Selections - February 22, 2020

Roe vs. Wade trailer Coming soon, a film about the politics, ignorance, and deception behind the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision (this is the court ruling most responsible for abortion in the US). Based on this trailer it looks like it could be as impactful as Gosnell. "I have three minutes to live!" Witnessing to cults Ray Comfort has an interesting response for cultists when they come knocking at his door. "I warmly ask for their names, and then say, ‘Someone stabbed me in the back. I am dying and have only three minutes to live. What do I need to do to enter heaven/paradise/the kingdom of God?’” Is evolutionary tail-telling affecting Bible translation? In Job 40:15-18 the Lord describes a beast with a tail that "sways like a cedar." What sort of creature might that be? Would you believe some translators rendered is as a hippopotamus? Why would they do that? Might a compromise with evolutionary thinking have blinded them to a more likely possibility? The euthanasia slippery slope is real Once killing patients is deemed medicine, then on what basis are we going to withhold this "treatment"? It turns out that once we give up on all life being precious – given as it is by God – then any subsequent lines we draw are arbitrary, and it is a simple matter to erase and redraw them further down the slope...again and again. Biblical history in broken pots "Stop me if this sounds familiar: Archaeologists digging in Israel discover artifacts buried for about three millennia. Upon close examination, their find either confirms the biblical narrative or at least undermines a long-accepted dismissal of a biblical claim. Okay, don’t stop me. After all, it won’t matter if you try, because I never get tired of telling stories like these...." My 3-year-old son is a girl now "Who am I to question my three-year-old?" ...

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Saturday Selections - February 15, 2020

Newsies learn to clickbait (4 minutes) Who knew that fake news could be so toe-tapping? Canadians waiting longer to receive healthcare Free healthcare comes with a cost, and it isn't just the taxes we pay – when the government is the only provider, then there is no competition to push innovation or efficiencies. It shouldn't surprise us, then, that by the Fraser Institute's estimates, Canadian wait times to receive healthcare have more than doubled since 1993. You can see the infographic at the link above, or the longer Fraser Institute report here. Yes, you can trust the gospels...even when they seem to conflict (10-minute read) Some scholars argue that the gospel writers didn't care about the facts, but were just trying to send a message. Christian philosopher Lydia McGrew explains the message only has meaning if it is factual, and shows a way how alleged discrepancies can be resolved. 5 ways you are probably not a Calvinist Dr. Wes Bredenhof lays out 5 views that John Calvin held that most Reformed folk probably don't... Follow your passion? The Christian vision of work We've been telling young people to "follow your passion," but is that a biblical view of calling? Separating Church and State? (3 minutes) The Devil is all about twisting truth right around so that what is good and right is then used for evil. So it is with the separation of Church and State. As Dr. Michael Wagner explains here, Church and State should be separate. But it is a very different thing to say that the government should be separated from Christian beliefs. Of course, the Devil would like God's truth silenced. And our godless government doesn't want Christians shining their reflected light in the halls of Parliament. That's what they're after when they speak about the separation of Church and State. However, by their own standards, they have no basis on which to shut us up. We don't ask anyone else to abandon their beliefs when they pursue political office, so why should Christians be expected to? Everyone hates double standards (Matt. 7:2). ...