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Saturday Selections - Nov 4, 2017

Sing a little louder

As we approach Remembrance Day, this powerful nine-minute film serves as a reminder that there are battles to be fought today too. It's about a German church during WWII that liked to sing praises to God. What could be wrong with that? Singing God's praises is good, right? While we all know that evil is a temptation, we need to understand our hearts are so deceitful we can use even good deeds to distract ourselves from doing what God is really calling us to (Luke 10:38-42).

Big parts of accepted "Science" aren't scientific

From the article: "Evolutionists have frequently criticized creationism as unscientific because of its basic commitment to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo—that is, 'creation out of nothing.' The idea that God simply called the universe into existence by His own power, without using any preexisting materials, is rejected out of hand by evolutionists since this would involve supernatural action, which is unscientific by definition – that is, by their definition. Yet, evolutionary cosmogonists maintain that the universe evolved itself out of nothing!"

Martin Luther and Jay Adams

Jay Adams has often been called "the Martin Luther of biblical counseling," and in this article the author makes clear why that is such an appropriate comparison.

Suicidal trend in Young Adult/Teen fiction

In the typical public library, the Teen/Young Adult section will feature novels and nonfiction that promote sexual experimentation, make light of suicide, attacks Christianity, and pushes gender confusion. As this Breakpoint piece also emphasizes, parents need to be aware that Young Adult/Teen books are a spiritual battleground!

Wonderful news - extreme poverty has been halved!

Overwhelmed by a constant diet of bad news? Then consider this: God is blessing the world in an enormous way that most aren't even aware of. Over the last 20 years, something unprecedented has happened – extreme poverty has been halved. Even as the population continues to grow, the number of people in extreme poverty decreased from 1.7 billion in 1999 to 0.8 billion in  2013.

The fatal flaw with Assisted Suicide

This video clip highlights the fatal flaw in assisted suicide. Today in Canada, we no longer view death as an enemy to be fought, but a treatment to be offered. And when we start viewing death as mercy, then our "angels of mercy" are going to start pushing death.

As Christians, we understand that while we don't need to fear death - Christ has conquered it! - death is still an enemy. It is gross perversion to portray killing as mercy. Every one of us is made in His Image, and precious, and every life is a gift from God.


Restaurant chain won't compromise on the 4th Commandment

The Chick-fil-A restaurant in the brand-new stadium of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons is going to be closed on all but one of the team’s home games…because they are played on Sundays. The restaurant chain is known both for their good-guy sense of customer service (one Virginia location recently offered its space to a local church that had been suddenly displaced from its worship location) and conservative stand on social issues. The Christian owners of Chick-fil-A have also held a strict line against doing business on Sunday. ESPN commentators bemoaned the decision in August once it came to light, with Bill Plaschke going so far as to call it a “complete shame and a sham.” With its headquarters in Atlanta, Chick-fil-A has long been a part of the food scene at sports venues in the city. Likewise, the Falcons aren’t the only sports team planning to play games in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which was built right next to the soon-to-be-demolished Georgia Dome. However, with the vast majority of NFL games, including the Super Bowl, being played on Sundays, it takes a strong commitment to a principle to leave that much profit on the table in Chick-fil-A’s own hometown. It’s always refreshing to see the Sabbath honored publicly, especially when the day is no longer holy even in the eyes of many believers. Let’s recommit ourselves to being “called out” of the world and use our Sabbaths to look forward to the eternal one. Also, remember the Sabbath has been a blessing to mankind wherever it has been honored -- we love our neighbor best when we encourage a Sabbath rest....


Media bias and Australia's marriage debate

This month and next Australians are being given the opportunity to have their say on same-sex “marriage.” The Liberal-National (LNP) coalition ran their election campaign last year with a promise to hold a plebiscite on the issue. Like regular elections, this plebiscite would have been compulsory, with every eligible voter required to cast a ballot. However, the LNP does not have a majority in the Senate, and that resulted in the legislation for the plebiscite being blocked (twice) by the other parties. Finally, the LNP decided to undertake a voluntary postal survey – no one is required to vote – and the results are not binding on the government. Ballots have been mailed out with one question: "“Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry? Yes or No." Results are expected to be announced on November 15. The campaigns for both “Yes” and “No” are now fully underway. Much of the Australian news media is unabashedly promoting the “Yes” campaign. Not only are there the usual editorials and opinion pieces, but much of the news reported on the postal survey is slanted towards influencing the “Yes” vote. However, some news outlets have gone further. Following a post on social media of an offensive poster against SSM, some Australian news outlets were reporting that this poster had been "plastered" all over Melbourne. Broadcaster Channel 10 went out in search of the alleged poster, but came up empty. However, they needed a visual for their news story. So they got creative. They took a stock news photo of a European bus shelter and photo-shopped the poster in (see original, and as doctored for Channel 10, in the picture to the right). After being exposed, Channel 10 released a statement in which they stated, “This was not a deliberate attempt to mislead our audience, but a creative error which we regret.” This was followed by less than truthful reporting on a “No” campaign meeting at a Roman Catholic Church in Brisbane. “Yes” campaigners gathered outside the church and succeeded in preventing the meeting from even happening. As a few of the “No” crowd drove away in their vehicles, the “Yes” side tried to block them. Some news reports spoke of a rowdy clash between the sides. Other news reports mentioned a vehicle driving “at nearly full-speed” into the protestors. Queensland Police later confirmed that these reports were completely false. This debate reflects not just differing views on marriage, but a clash between utterly opposite worldviews. In one worldview, truth is something that exists outside of ourselves as public, objective reality. In the other worldview, truth is a subjective thing which can and must be manipulated for your own agenda. The latter is fantasy, the former fact. Christians should be encouraged: the former that will ultimately prevail, no matter the outcome of the postal vote. Dr. Bredenhof blogs at Yinkahdinay and Creation Without Compromise. BOLT: If there's one thing that could make Australians vote against same-sex marriage, it is the bullying. Live now on @SkyNewsAust — The Bolt Report (@theboltreport) August 28, 2017 ...


Saturday selections - Sept 9, 2017

A baker's half dozen worth of articles from Reformed and other sources that were just too good not to share... A new translation of Schilder's Christ and Culture Dr. Bredenhof reviews and details the improvements made in a new translation of Klaas Schilder's influential book Christ and Culture. Christian statement on sexuality The Nashville Statement – endorsed by Reformed Christians such as R.C. Sproul, Kevin DeYoung, Albert Mohler, John Piper, Rosaria Butterfield, D.A. Carson, and dozens of others – takes a strong stand on what godly sexuality entails. Predictably, it has been attacked by mainstream Christians for what it gets right. But a couple of Reformed Christians have also criticized it for who put it out and for conceding the battle. People we should know: Rachel Carson Rachel Carson is sometimes called the "Mother of the Environmental Movement." In that role she spoke of the perceived dangers of DDT, and had a role in getting it banned. Her hyperbole – based out of concern for our planet – lead to the death of millions. Why are top environmental organizations pushing abortion? When key environmental groups support Planned Parenthood it shows that they see Man not as the pinnacle of God's Creation, but as a curse on it. Preparations for a good death Ray Pennings outlines five categories for what makes for a good death. While the article is not explicitly Christian, it is one, that if taken from a Christian perspective, makes good sense. One very good reason to do personal devotions Tim Challies makes an case for personal devotions you've likely never heard before: "If you can’t or won’t do devotions for your own sake, won’t you do it for the sake of others? Won’t you do it for their good, even if not for your own? Some things are getting better From most mainstream media accounts you would never know that materially speaking – as regards life expectancy and fighting poverty – vast improvements have been made in the last century or two.    ...


Saturday selections - Aug 25, 2017

A baker's half dozen of the best articles this week from Reformed and others sources.... Thou shalt not bail How many people are coming to your event? Who can know when a "yes" means "maybe" or "probably not"?  “Bailing is one of the defining acts of the current moment,” David Brooks wrote recently in his column for The New York Times. We are a culture of “ephemeral enthusiasm,” readily and indiscriminately saying yes to invitations because we know we can “back out later.” When cultists come knocking Justin Taylor provides "cheat sheets" - wonderful short summaries - of questions and points to raise with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. How to turn the table on pro-choice arguments The prophet Nathan turned the tables on King David, telling him to, effectively, judge himself by the standard with which he was judging another. Here's how to do this in the abortion debate. On the school performance/grace divide Jay Younts notes that even in Christian schools there is a focus on performance which stands in opposition to grace. How can we address this divide? A pre-nup agreement for "until death do us part" couples? This is from a Catholic writer, but it works for Reformed folk too - a very unusual nuptial agreement specifically for couples who are seeking indissoluable marriages. God gives us William Wilberforces for a reason With the Western world rejecting God, we sometimes forget that doesn't make Him any less powerful. We need to hear about men, like William Wilberforce, who was willing to strive, no matter how insurmountable the odds seemed. And who ended slavery in Britain because God blessed his efforts. But it wasn't only the result that honored God, but the submission - William Wilberforce tried where so many others refused to because they were more concerned with winning than fighting on God's side, on the issues that matter most to Him. Why Ezra Levant's Rebel Media fell Jonathon Van Maren shares how The Rebel Media's flirtation with the alt-right led to their quick downfall, but veteran newsman Ted Byfield (of Alberta Report fame) doesn't agree that the media outlet is down for good....


What if speeding tickets were paid to charities?

As Kuyper said, “There is not one square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’" And that applies to photo radar too. ***** In Colorado efforts are underway to put a very unusual initiative on the ballot that, if passed, would require fines issued by the government no longer go to the government. Instead, if a citizen gets a speeding ticket, a parking ticket, or a fine for smoking, he would pay it by making a donation to any registered charity (though, presumably, he wouldn’t get a charitable receipt). That might have some charities excited, but that’s really beside the point. The ballot initiative’s organizers aren’t as concerned with where the money would go, as they are with where the money wouldn’t go anymore. To say it another way, the goal of the initiative is to take away any incentive the government has to, as’s Jay Stooksberry put it, “fine and collect” rather than “serve and protect.” This initiative comes after the media reported some Colorado municipalities were funding a large part of their budget via fines. The most extreme example was the small town of Mountain View, population 518, whose 10 police officers issued 3,624 traffic tickets in 2014. In 2013 traffic fines raised over $600,000 for the town, which accounted for more than half the municipal budget. It’s hard to find such egregious examples in Canada, but here too this strange incentive is in place. So, for example, Edmonton’s Anthony Henday Drive is a ring road around the city with smooth wide lanes, and no stoplights. The speed limit is 100 kilometers per hour, but even the city’s police chief Rod Knecht thinks the limit could be raised to 110 km/h without any serious safety concerns. So why doesn’t the city do it? We can’t read minds so we don’t know. But the city does have a financial incentive not to raise the limit: the revenue from the thousands of photo radar speeding tickets issued on this stretch of road each year. Some might not see the problem. So what if the city makes a little money from the fines it issues? Do we really think they will be corrupted by such sums? There are two issues here: does such a system encourage corruption, and whether it does or not, how does the public perceive it? Consider what we would think if a judge received the money from all the fines he issued. Every time he found someone guilty, he’d make money, and the bigger the fine, the bigger the judge’s bank account. Would the public perceive such a judge as being impartial? Or would they question his every decision? The judge might still be impartial – such a system doesn’t require corruption, it only encourages it – but that’s not how he would be perceived. The man behind Colorado’s ballot initiative describes himself as a libertarian, and it’s not clear whether he is a Christian. But his proposal lines up well with what we see Paul doing in 2 Cor. 8:20-21. There, the apostle, when he was entrusted with money from the churches to Jerusalem, outlines steps he was taking to prevent even suspicions of wrongdoing. He wanted to ensure that there would be no way his actions could be misperceived. This ballot initiative is a great way of addressing the perception that photo radar, jay walking tickets, red light cameras, and other fines are simply “cash cows” for government. Law enforcement should be about protection and justice, and we should do all we can to ensure that it also perceived that way. That's why such an initiative would help foster respect for our officers and government. Of course, if you and your lead foot have just been caught exceeding the posted limit then there is a very different way you can foster respect for those in authority: you've done the crime so don't complain about the officer issuing the fine. Or, to put it in more biblical terms: you shouldn't concern yourself with any perceived speck in their eyes when you've got that log to deal with in your own....


Pregnant student banned from grad walk - did both sides get it half right, or, in other words, wrong?

Should a pregnant student be allowed to walk with her class at graduation? That wouldn’t even be a question in any secular school, but it became a matter of nationwide debate when a private Christian school in Hagerstown, Maryland – Heritage Academy – decided they wouldn’t allow 18-year-old, former head of the student council, and straight-A student Maddie Runkles to walk with the rest of her class because she had gotten pregnant outside of marriage, a violation of the student code of conduct. In an interview on CBS This Morning Maddie admitted that she knew there would be consequences, but she felt like the punishment was too harsh – she had already publicly confessed her sin to the school body. In another interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) Maddie said she didn't want the debate to become such a far-spread discussion. But she is ready to use this platform to help those going through the same struggles. The pro-life group Students for Life, has defended Maddie Runkles, and challenged the school for shaming a girl who made a courageous decision, saying it sends the wrong message to other students in a similar situation. Their concern is that if students are made to feel like they will be shamed for being pregnant, then they might take the “easier” way out, and secretly abort their children instead. Principal Hobbs responded to the media coverage with a letter stating: “Maddi is being disciplined, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was immoral.” He concluded: “The Board has listened to three appeals from the Runkles family and compromised all three times.” Of course, the board has maintained their decision that she is not allowed to walk at graduation, and this is the source for the fight. In an article she wrote for the Washington Post, Maddie described the how attention from the national media caused the situation to escalate. People who used to be supportive then started telling her to shut-up. Both sides begin to dig in their heels. Maddie seems oblivious to the fact that the journalists on the Washington Post don't really care about her or the school. When the media gives this much attention to a fight like this, they are only doing what the world loves to do: fostering dissension and disharmony among Christians. In this entire debate we see two major issues that need to get across. First, sexual immorality is serious. Second, we are all in need of grace. The school seems to be emphasizing the seriousness of sexual immorality at the expense of grace. Maddie Runkles seems to be emphasizing grace at the expense of the seriousness of sexual immorality. Maybe the school should rethink the way they respond to sexual immorality. They should think about how sin is cultivated among the students and challenge that culture. They could also be providing counseling and training on these issues. Maybe they should even rethink disciplinary methods, of course, without giving them up. Maddie should have accepted the discipline – not being allowed to walk is a big deal, but is it important enough to bring your school, and even your faith into disrepute on a national scale (1 Cor. 6:1-7)?...


Did the Church fathers take Genesis literally?

In this 49-minute lecture, Dr. Todd Wood answers the objection that "scientific creationism" is only a recent phenomenon. As he shows by going to the works of the Church fathers, they thought the opening chapters of the Bible communicated real history, not metaphor. This lecture is one of 60 that made up the "Is Genesis History?" Conference earlier this year, and all 60 can be had for $10 here:


Canada’s conspiracy-proof elections

Controversy over Scheer's leadership win highlights just how blessed we are to have our unimpeachable federal electoral system Days after Andrew Scheer won a close, final-ballot victory for the leadership of Canada’s Conservatives, questions were raised about the vote total. The Conservative Party reported that 141,362 ballots were counted, but in a list sent out to the different leadership candidates’ campaigns, it showed only 133,896 votes. Some from second-place finisher Maxime Bernier’s camp wanted to know, why the big difference? They were troubled because the two vote totals differed by 7,466, which was greater than the 7,049 votes that separated Scheer from Bernier. Then came news that party director Dustin van Vugt has ordered, right after the votes were tallied, that all ballots be destroyed. It was becoming the stuff of conspiracy theories. Fortunately, the answers that were demanded came quickly. Yes, the ballots had been destroyed, but a snapshot of each one still existed. The lower total on the list sent out to the campaigns was due, in part, to a block of about 3,000 votes from polls around Toronto not being entered into the Party database. The remaining difference, of about 4,000, was attributed to human error, as volunteers had to process 140,000 ballots in a very short time. While these answers satisfied most, the Party’s reliance on an electronic record – retaining only a digital snapshot of each ballot instead of keeping the paper ballot itself – was a problem to some. As iPolitics columnist Michael Harris noted, “Have you ever photo-shopped a snapshot? Let’s just say digital images aren’t necessarily the last word in reality.” Harris doesn't seem to like the Conservative Party, so he may be looking for ways to cast doubt on the results. But it's important to note, it’s the Conservative’s reliance on electronic records that allowed Harris to stir up doubt. The need for accountability On June 6 Maxime Bernier tweeted his “unconditional” support for “our new leader Andrew Scheer,” which seems to have quieted the questions. But this controversy highlights how important it is for voters to be able to trust the reported results. An electoral system needs to be as transparent and accountable as possible. Why? Because, everyone, even unbelievers, know that Man is fallen, prone not only to sin, but also to make mistakes. Therefore, how very dangerous it would be to leave the vote counting up to a select unaccountable few. To protect from fraud, and from mistakes, there needs to be accountability. Now, one reason questions about the Conservative leadership election came up is because the party used a complicated means of running the election – their ballot included 14 names. With that complexity came more opportunities for human error. The use of voting machines to count the ballots also raises questions as to transparency – how do we know the machines were working right? One reason some of the questions were quickly answered was because the Conservatives tried to make their system accountable. They involved scrutineers – representatives from all of the campaigns – to monitor the ballot count. While there were some questions from the Bernier camp, other losing candidates were quick to say they had no such doubts. Electronic voting requires us to trust blindly This incident also highlights the strength of Canada’s federal electoral system. Some want to change it, and move to online voting, or electronic voting machines, because these methods are supposed to be easier and faster. But these counting computers also come with a complete lack of transparency. Did the computer count your ballot the right way? Or might there have been some sort of bug or error? How can anyone know? While we can’t be certain as to how many errors occur, we do know they happen. In the US, where these machines are put to regular use it’s easy to find stories of voters who cast a ballot for one candidate but saw it being recorded for the other. There's also the famous example of a precinct in the 2000 election that gave Al Gore a negative 16,022 vote total. This was caught, quickly, but what of the errors that aren’t so obvious? A vote total is only as accurate as the counter, but these electronic counting machines are not open to scrutiny – their computer code is a proprietary secret. So when we make use of them we have to accept, on the basis of trust, that the programmers are both honest and completely error-free. Canada's system doesn't require trust Contrast that with our federal, incredibly simple, entirely transparent, system. No need for trust because everyone is held accountable. You arrive at the poll, you mark your ballot in secret, cast it in front of two witnesses, and then know that it will be counted in front of scrutineers from the competing parties. With that simplicity comes the confidence that your ballot, as it was cast, has been counted. Our system allows us to do what few other countries can: we can verify the official government vote count independently. Because each ballot is counted by hand, in front of scrutineers from the Conservatives, Liberals, and often times the NDP too, that leaves us with as many as four different counts for each riding: the official one, and one from each party. And should there be any notable discrepancy between a party's total and the government total, we can be sure they will let us know! Around the world elections are plagued with accusations of ballot tampering and other shenanigans. Before the latest US presidential election Donald Trump was complaining that the system was rigged. The Democratic Party was accused of rigging their presidential nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton (and against second place finisher Bernie Sanders). It doesn't matter if accusations are justified or completely unfounded – voters' trust will be undermined if there is no way of proving the results reliable. We can see that in the Conservative leadership campaign too; despite all their efforts at transparency, they still had questions raised about the totals. What a blessing it is, then, for Canada to have a federal electoral system that it is so simple, transparent, and accountable, that such accusations are simply unthinkable....


Brad Trost's missed opportunity is ours too

Conservative Party leadership candidate Brad Trost caught some heat recently, from the party's interim leader Rona Ambrose, after he sent out an email to his leadership campaign supporter promising he would never walk in a gay pride parade. Ambrose responded the next day, saying she was upset at his comments, and she was proud to be the first Conservative Party leader to walk in such a parade. Now, Trost’s email got people talking, but it was also a missed opportunity because it was so very brief. It gave no explanation as to why it isn't a good thing to march in these parades. Of course, we know the reason he didn't go into detail. He really couldn't explain further unless he was willing to talk about sin, which would have gotten him into even more trouble. But there really are only two reasons to oppose gay pride parades. The first is because they take pride in something God condemns – homosexual activity. They celebrate sin. And since sin separates us from God, this is not something we should be putting our stamp of approval on – we are hurting homosexuals when we do so. There are also the right-now consequences of homosexual activity that shorten lifespans, lead to far higher rates of suicide, and result in higher rates of cancer, depression, drug use and an array of other health concerns. So the first reason to oppose gay pride parades is out of love for the participants. The second is bigotry. This is the "they're different than us – ewwwh!" response. It's not attractive, and with good reason. This treats homosexuals not as fellow Image-bearers of God, who share our same need for redemption, but rather as something lesser. We should acknowledge Trost's courage in taking a stand that no other politician seems willing to do anymore. But we shouldn't overlook the manner in which he has taken this stand. Here's his complete email message: In 2009, when a former Minister of the Conservative Government announced $400,000 in funding for Toronto's "gay pride" week, I led the Conservative Caucus in opposing this announcement and went on the record with my opposition to any such funding. I have not marched in any "gay pride" parade. Further, I will NOT march in any "gay pride" parade as Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, nor will I march in or FUND any “gay pride” event of any kind as Prime Minister. Then, in a follow-up, a Trost staffer, Mike Patton, released a video via Twitter (which seemed to have been taken down but is now back up here) which he began by saying: “In case you haven’t noticed, Brad’s not entirely comfortable with the whole gay thing.” Patton noted that while Trost is "not a big fan of the gay lifestyle" his problem here was the tax dollars going to these parades, and that they weren't living up to community standards. So how does this come off? Does it come off as concerned and loving? Or does it sound more like reason #2? Now here’s our key question: why doesn’t it sound good? It’s what God wants. It’s the right answer. So why – even in our ears – does it sound so wrong? Because it is standing there on its lonesome, with no real support and no justification. Tax dollars wasted? Well, when we consider the number of people involved at the parade, and how we spend money on events that have far smaller attendance, why is this such a big deal? And violating community standards? Can we even argue that's true nowadays? So it seems like Trost’s opinion and nothing more. While liberal politicians will reference God – last month California governor Jerry Brown argued it wasn’t Christian to build a wall on the border – we seem scared to do so. But something inevitable happens when we try to defend a biblical position without presenting biblical reasons. Then, because we have no firm foundation, we really have no firm argument. We’ve seen this happen in the gender debate, where Christians are more eager to talk about bathrooms than that God created two genders. In the abortion debate, rather than talking about the humanity of the unborn – how they like all of us are made in God’s image – Christians find themselves defending the right to free speech. Instead of arguing for the unborn, we’ll get distracted into arguing that we should be allowed to argue for the unborn. Then, when the attacks come, we’re not being attacked for defending God’s Word, and His position. No, we’re attacked for all sorts of side issues that don’t really matter. And when we’re attacked for bigotry, it's because we’ve presented God’s thoughts as if they are only our own personal opinions. Of course, getting attacked for bigotry is likely to happen no matter what we say. But how much better it would be if this attack came while we were being winsome and loving, rather than while we were keeping close-mouthed about what God has to say. Brad Trost is a remarkable man. He has spoken up for the unborn when others Leadership candidates have not dared do so. Trost has helped get the plight of the unborn back in the public eye, and in doing so has forced even some of the pro-abortion candidates to make some small concessions that could help the unborn. So my point here is not to beat up on Brad Trost. He has more courage than 10 ordinary men. But on this issue, he has taken a stand but offered no real defense. We can hardly fault the media for portraying this as simple bigotry – this is the only narrative they know, and Trost hasn’t given them any other. So why criticize a brave man? Only because this type of partial stand – standing for God’s Truth without saying His Name – is a failing we all share. And in seeing how Trost’s public stand has been received, we can see how any defense of God’s truth that doesn’t actually stand on God as its foundation, is going to come off as far from godly and far from good. The fact is we all need to be braver. The world doesn’t want to hear from God, but they need to. So we all need to speak about Him more, not less. We need to offer a clear witness to the world, not just in politics but over the back fence. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? – Psalm 56:3-4...


University demands trigger warnings for pro-life display. But why?

“The event conducted just beyond this sign may contain triggering and/or sensitive material. Right to life and or Pro-life messages and imagery are some of the topics included within this event. If you feel triggered, please know that there are resources to support you…” Welcome to the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV)’s Student Union Building. The above excerpt is the exact wording of signs that were taped to doors and walls near our “Value of Life art display” this February. How did it come to this? Some context is required. Several years ago, some Reformed students began a pro-life club called “UFV Life Link” at the UFV in Abbotsford, BC. It has had between two and two dozen members of diverse backgrounds, with current membership sitting at around a dozen. Our club goals are to initiate discussion, increase awareness, and facilitate learning about life issues. Last year, we planted 10,000 pink and blue flags on the campus green, representing the 100,000 abortions that happen every year in Canada. The event was successful, yet controversial: virtually everyone on campus saw the display, some asked questions, protestors were respectful and we garnered coverage (albeit critical) in the school paper. However, some students were vehemently upset that we had been allowed to have such a provocative display in the center of the campus. They used words like “triggering,” “offensive,” and “upsetting.” Fast forward one year and the university did not want a repeat. Apparently, bad press and student outrage unnerved the administration enough to drive them to seriously limit the scope of Life Link’s outreach. When Life Link proposed an art display, the university immediately demanded it be set up behind closed doors with “trigger warnings” at the entrance. We obliged – an art display behind closed doors is better than no art display at all, and we recognized that images can have an immense impact upon students, regardless of the university’s attempts to censor their viewing. We didn’t see the trigger warnings until the day of the display and when we did we were staggered – both by the number of them and by their pernicious tone. Though the display itself was limited to an unimposing corner of the Student Union Building, all the entrances had warnings posted. Look at the pieces of art for yourself - you can see three examples with this post. There was nothing graphic. Meanwhile, this past September the university allowed a display about the persecution the Falun Gong face in China that had images of torture and organ harvesting. It was held with open doors and no trigger warnings. This is not simply a debate over free speech (though it is that too). Rather, it is a debate about whether we are going to protect the basic rights of the weakest members of our society. If abortion is not ending a human life, there is no debate, and we would have no reason to stop abortions. However, there is truth in the pro-life message, and deep down, the other side knows it. That’s why they want the discussion far away from them; they don’t want to stumble upon it, or entertain discussion. The truth upsets them, and it does so because... confronting your own sins is always painful ordeal. To acknowledge your own support for a decades long crime as brutal as the mass killing of the most vulnerable would be unbearable. That's why they want to hide the truth away. We need to have this debate, but we can’t be consumed by hatred or frustration in propelling our message. We need to speak the truth in love and in a respectful manner. There are many people who suffer because of abortion, both distant and close to home. We often don’t know the context or the circumstances, and can therefore only endeavor to show the humanity of the unborn and to implore those who oppose us to delve deeper. As Christians, we cannot stop striving to initiate discussion – this debate is best done one-on-one in conversation, and there are countless resources to aid you in the discussion. Let’s shape our culture positively. Let’s not stay silent....


US VP loves his wife - people outraged!

When The Washington Post recently ran a profile of US Vice-President Mike Pence, one line caused a twitter-storm of controversy. Author Ashley Parker wrote: In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either. This is controversial? Yes, in today's world it is. Pence was said to be sexist, because this arrangement would limit opportunities for women working with him. He was said to be sexualizing women, supposing them all to be potential affairs, rather than seeing them as real people. Pence was likened to “Muslim Brotherhood officials” or people from the Dark Ages. As Atlantic writer Anand Giridharadas put it in a tweet: This is a medieval vision of every man as an incorrigible adulterer or rapist, lest he be restrained by his wife's presence by his side. It's hard to take this seriously. But there is an opportunity in the midst of this furor. When common sense is seen as crazy, it’s much easier to show the contrast between God’s wisdom and the world’s. So, for example, the Christian satire site Babylon Bee ran this headline: Bill Clinton Calls Mike Pence’s Strict Marital Practices ‘Excessive’ And The Stream asked: Ladies, Would You Rather Be Married to Mike Pence, or Anthony Weiner? (Wiener is an ironically named former Congressman known for his complete lack of sexual self-control.) The Pences’ arrangement is sensible for two reasons: We are sexual beings so sex can be a powerful temptation - The same media outlets lambasting the Pences are the same ones documenting what happens when others couples don't put a guard around their marriage – they dish about entertainers and politicians' affairs, divorces and third marriages As the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg put it: “It’s a very strange place we’ve found ourselves in when elites say we have no right to judge adultery, but we have every right to judge couples who take steps to avoid it.” And it’s also these same media types who editorialize about how we can’t expect abstinence from kids, because when it comes to sex, expecting self-control is just unrealistic. Misunderstandings, and false accusations do happen. What do you think would happen if a TMZ, or National Enquirer got photos of Pence dining alone with a woman other than his wife? What a story they could make out of it! Or imagine Pence dined with a woman who accused him of acting improper. It wouldn’t matter that he was innocent. It would be his word against hers, and the damage to his reputation would be done. So whether Pence is avoiding temptation, or simply protecting his reputation, this arrangement is just a matter of common sense. Or, rather, increasingly uncommon sense....


Still want to win the lottery?

“The next Lotto 6/49 jackpot is an estimated 16 million dollars.” When you hear something like that, the temptation is to imagine how that sum could solve all your problems. The temptation is to disregard God’s Word in passages like 1 Timothy 6:9-10: But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. It’s taught in God’s Word, but even some unbelievers come close to recognizing its truth. Ask Jane Park. This Scottish young woman won $1.6 million in the EuroMillions lottery in 2013 – when she was just 17 years old. Today she’s 21 and says it ruined her life. The shopping and spending quickly got old. She says, “I have material things, but apart from that my life is empty. What is my purpose in life?” Moreover, she claims to be desperately lonely. Any time a man shows interest in her, she can’t be sure whether it’s her he’s after or just her money. Strangely, she blames her problems on the lottery itself and the fact that British law allows a 17-year-old to win when, if they do win, they will not be capable of handling it. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus described the seed sown among the thorns as those who hear the word, “but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things enter in and choke out the word…” (Mark 4:19). Jesus said that riches lie to us, and those lies make the hearing of God’s Word unfruitful for us. Riches lie – for example, telling us that we will be happier if we just have a little more. The problem is when we believe the lie. Instead, we should listen to God’s truth. It’s like the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs put it: “Contentment does not come from addition, but from subtraction. Contentment comes from subtracting our sinful desires for more.” You see, the problem is not really the lottery, but the sinful, covetous desires of the human heart. Sadly, Jane Park doesn’t get that. Do you?...

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