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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, Theology

A conversation on authority

It was the type of conversation that, in other circumstances, the two friends might have had at a quiet pub, over a couple of beers. But with the pub closed, and travel restricted, Zach and Owen were making do: beers from the fridge, a couple of comfortable office chairs, and a Skype call to bridge the distance between them. Zach was the one who had suggested the chat. One of his go-to verses, Proverbs 27:17, spoke of how, like iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another, so he was grateful that Owen had been up for it. After some opening how’s-the-weather small talk, Owen got them right to the topic at hand: “Okay, Zach, how about you start us off by defining the two sides of the debate as you see them?” The two sides? “Sure, I can give that a go. There are all sorts of related issues, but I’m most concerned with the government-ordered church lockdowns. I think we’d agree that we don’t like them – the government shouldn’t be treating the church as “non-essential” or, as is happening in some places, closing churches while leaving bars and strip clubs open. But the real question is, how should we respond to that order? The two stands I’m hearing are: Churches should listen because we should submit to the government. Churches shouldn’t listen because the government doesn’t have the authority to close churches. “I think I fall in with the first group, and from what you’ve been posting on social media, you seem to be in the second.” “I do probably fall on a different side of this than you,” Owen agreed, “ but I’d define the two sides differently. I think a lot of people are framing it just the way you did, but defining the sides that way also defines away any possibility of common ground: either a person is for listening, or he’s against it. What if it wasn’t two entirely opposing sides, but instead was two different emphases? God calls his people to submit to authority. Not every order is an authoritative order. “Like you, I believe we are called to submission. And when I argue against church lockdowns, I’m not rejecting God’s call to submission – that’s not where we differ. What I’m arguing is that the order isn’t legitimate. If my son ignores what you order him to do, that isn’t a rejection of parental authority. He just doesn’t believe that your orders have parental authority for him. I think this is the same type of thing.” Two reasons to obey: submission and agreement Zach nodded slowly: “I appreciate that clarification. Your approach – seeking out the common ground – makes me want to take a step back and see where else we might agree.” “Sounds good. Why don’t you start us off with why we should submit?” Zach clicked on his mouse to pull up a document he’d written earlier: “The big reason has to be because in passages like Romans 13:1-6, 1 Peter 2:11-20, Titus 3:1, and Deut. 5:16, God makes it a command. He’s telling us to submit to the authorities that He has put in place, so children should submit to parents; a wife to her husband; the congregation to the elders; slaves to their masters; and citizens should submit to their rulers.” “Right, and let me offer a second reason: agreement. This might seem to go without saying, but Christians who don’t believe we have to submit to a lockdown order might still want to suspend their church services if members comes down with COVID. I don’t think the government has the authority to issue that order, but I wouldn’t want my congregation to ignore it just for the sake of ignoring it. Listening might be the sensible thing to do.” One reason to disobey: obeying God rather than Man “Okay, Owen, we basically agree on those points, but now we’re back to when and why it would ever be right to defy a government order. I can start us off with one ‘reason to defy,’ but I’ll add I don’t think it applies to these lockdowns.” “Okay, go ahead Zach.” “In Acts 4-5, Peter and John are commanded by the authorities to stop talking about Jesus, and their response is, ‘we must obey God rather than Man.’ I guess this would be related to what you were saying about not every order being authoritative. All authority comes from God, so if some lower authority issues orders that conflict with God’s own orders, then we should listen to God, and can, in good conscience, ignore the orders from Man.” “Can you give me an example outside the Bible of that happening?” Zach smiled: “I’m not going to say the church lockdown but…” “Go on.” “Well, I’ve heard some people pointing to church closures in China. The government there is ordering some churches to close permanently, and when members defy those orders and continue meeting in secret, I think that’s a case of obeying God rather than Man. But I don’t think you can link that to what’s happening here in the West. China’s church closures are because the State there is deliberately attacking the Church. Our church closures are in response to a health crisis. And our closures are temporary – however long that temporary had been – or only partial, and we can still hear the preaching of the Word via technological means.” “Can you think of that kind of obeying-God-rather-than-man situation happening closer to home?” Owen asked. Zach considered the question for a few moments before shaking his head. “No. But it seems like you’ve got something.” “I do. It’s actually what’s happening on the home front that has me almost happy about these hard conversations that we’ve been forced to have right now. It’s stressful and it's been divisive, but the silver lining – one of the ways I can see God turning this to our good (Rom. 8:28) – is that these are conversations churches and Christians in the West need to have. In the past, submission was our unthinking default. And, I guess, it should still be our default now – I heard one pastor put it this way: when the Church does have to defy the government, our reputation for honoring and respecting the authorities should be such that the government’s response is ‘What? You guys?’ But trouble is coming, and we need to understand the limits of our governments’ authority if we’re going to be ready for it.” Zach leaned forward: “Okay, you’ve got my attention.” “The most recent example,” Owen continued, “of a government order that runs right up against God’s commands is the conversion therapy ban that’s been passed in different Canadian municipalities. The gist of it is that pastors and Christian counselors could get in legal trouble for pointing homosexuals and transsexuals to God and trying to help them turn away from their sinful lifestyles. This ban looks like it’ll pass federally too. The government would be telling us to leave these troubled individuals alone. But we’d have to defy that order because our Greater Authority has told us to love our neighbors. Another example might be the Canadian government’s ban on corporal punishment for children under two. God has specifically given us a tool for nurturing and disciplining our children, and the government has specifically said that we can’t use it for the first two years.” “You want to spank newborns?” Owen put both of his hands up, and though he was smiling, his voice took on an insistent edge: “I’m not saying that, and I don’t remember when we first spanked our kids. But I am certain that at, say, 18 months, they sure benefited from it. But now, following God’s instructions on this point, we would risk having the State take our kids. That’s scary!” “Okay, good point. And bad joke on my part. I don’t have kids yet, so I haven’t really thought through spanking, but I think I’m mostly on board with what you’re saying here. I’ve answered a few of your questions, so let me ask you one: do you think there are other reasons we can disobey the government?” Another reason: the authority isn’t actually in authority “I do,” Owen said, “I gave the example before that it isn’t insubordinate for my son to ignore orders from you. He has to listen to orders from his parents, but that doesn’t mean he has to listen to orders from any and every parent. It’d be the same sort of situation if the Premier of Alberta started ordering around folks in Newfoundland. They wouldn’t listen, not because they are rebelling, but simply because the Premier of Alberta has no authority over them. Sometimes an authority isn’t actually in a position of authority…no matter what they might be claiming.” Zach nodded: “Okay, I’m with you so far.” “So let me ask you a question: in what ways is a government’s authority limited?” “Well, with your Premier of Alberta example, you’re showing that their authority can be limited by geography – it doesn’t go beyond their boundaries.” “Anything else?” Owen asked. “Well, I guess their authority is also limited by things like constitutions and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I’ve been reading about how John Carpay’s Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is appealing to the Charter to argue that the Alberta government exceeded its authority in their latest round of COVID restrictions. In the US, some churches are appealing to their country’s constitution to argue governors don’t have the authority to shut down church services. But while they’re winning some of those cases, they’re losing others.” “Sure,” Owen agreed, “but for our purposes here, what’s relevant is that Man’s authority can be limited by Man himself. We can write up laws that restrict what the government can do. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the countries that put the tightest restrictions on their government are ones with a Christian heritage. We remember Samuel’s warning about kings (1 Sam 8:10-22).” Spheres vs. chain of command “But,” he continued, “there’s another sort of restriction on government authority that we haven’t talked about yet. A Dutch theologian, Abraham Kuyper, called it Sphere Sovereignty, and it’s the idea that God gave authority, not just to government, but to the family, and to the Church too. When John MacArthur’s church started meeting regularly again, in defiance of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s closure orders, the church issued a statement that appealed to this divvied-up notion of authority. Let me read you something from that statement: Insofar as government authorities do not attempt to assert ecclesiastical authority or issue orders that forbid our obedience to God’s law, their authority is to be obeyed whether we agree with their rulings or not. In other words, Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 still bind the consciences of individual Christians. We are to obey our civil authorities as powers that God Himself has ordained. However, while civil government is invested with divine authority to rule the state, neither of those texts (nor any other) grants civic rulers jurisdiction over the church. God has established three institutions within human society: the family, the state, and the church. Each institution has a sphere of authority with jurisdictional limits that must be respected. A father’s authority is limited to his own family. Church leaders’ authority (which is delegated to them by Christ) is limited to church matters. And government is specifically tasked with the oversight and protection of civic peace and well-being within the boundaries of a nation or community. God has not granted civic rulers authority over the doctrine, practice, or polity of the church. The biblical framework limits the authority of each institution to its specific jurisdiction. The church does not have the right to meddle in the affairs of individual families and ignore parental authority. Parents do not have authority to manage civil matters while circumventing government officials. And similarly, government officials have no right to interfere in ecclesiastical matters in a way that undermines or disregards the God-given authority of pastors and elders. When any one of the three institutions exceeds the bounds of its jurisdiction it is the duty of the other institutions to curtail that overreach. Therefore, when any government official issues orders regulating worship (such as bans on singing, caps on attendance, or prohibitions against gatherings and services), he steps outside the legitimate bounds of his God-ordained authority… (Matthew 16:18-19; 2 Timothy 3:16-4:2).” “That’s a lot to take in,” Zach commented. “It is. But the gist of it is that the Grace Community Church was saying they weren’t actually defying the governor. They were arguing that whether the church opens or closes is under Church, and not State, authority.” “I think I get it,” Zach said. “They were saying that the authority that comes from God isn’t a chain of command with the State at the top and the Church and family somewhere underneath.” “Right. And while I think Grace Community is right, I’ll add that the Bible doesn’t make clear where exactly one sphere of authority ends and another begins. I think we’d both agree the State shouldn’t be dictating doctrine to a church, but do they have an interest in public health? And if so, would that give them the authority to close a church in pandemic circumstances? That’s what muddies things: these spheres of authority overlap. To give a different sort of example, it’s a family’s business to raise and educate their children, but if they were to abuse any of those children, then the State’s responsibility over justice would give them authority to intervene.” Charity Zach gave one last long draw on his beer before continuing. “I appreciate our conversation, but I’m not sure if it clarified or complicated things for me. So, let me put it to you plain: does a church have the authority to keep its doors open when the State orders them shut?” Owen gave a tug on his chin. “Would you be satisfied with an ‘I think so’?” “I guess I’ll have to be. But maybe I can finish us off with something I am sure about, and which I know we can both agree on?” When Owen gave a nod, Zach continued. “In all of this, we want to honor God, and if we’re less certain about how to do that in some ways, we know exactly how to do it in others. We know what God meant when He commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to do unto others as we would want done to us. In our COVID/lockdown discussions, it means working at producing more light than heat by assuming the best of, and listening carefully and charitably to, brothers and sisters we might disagree with, just like we’re hoping to get the same back from them. That’s how we can have fruitful ‘sharpening’ discussions. ‘Doing unto others’ also means having patience with the authorities. Most don’t have God’s Word as their guide, so on the one hand, it’s no wonder they’re acting fearfully, and on the other, that might even be a reason for more, and not less charity towards them…even when they are overreaching.” To that, all Owen could add was a heartfelt, “Amen!”...

News

A great grandma 100 times over…and counting

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

News

Saturday Selections – December 12, 2020

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

News

Saturday Selections - December 5, 2020

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

News

Dutch make it easier to kill patients with advanced dementia

Like many countries around the world, the Netherlands has been imposing shutdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19, a virus that is particularly dangerous to the elderly. Thus, it is ironic that the Dutch have simultaneously issued new euthanasia guidelines making it much easier to kill the elderly. Last year, Dutch doctor Marinou Arends was prosecuted for giving euthanasia to a 74-year-old woman in 2016. The patient’s Alzheimers had become so advanced that she no longer recognized her own face in the mirror. One of the aspects of the case that attracted the most criticism was the fact that Arends began by secretly adding a sedative to the woman’s coffee. Thus, the woman had no idea she was about to be put to death. However, she awakened when the lethal drugs were added to her IV and began to struggle. Her husband and daughter restrained her so Arends could finish. The Dutch media nicknamed the case “the coffee euthanization.” Arends was found “not guilty” of breaking the euthanasia law and we are now seeing the impact of that verdict. The Dutch committee that oversees the practice of euthanasia has issued new guidelines for dementia patients in line with the verdict. And it is basically anything goes – the committee has given explicit permission to doctors to secretly administer sedatives ahead of a lethal injection if they believe the patient may become restless or aggressive. A person can write a legal declaration requesting euthanasia should they develop advanced dementia in the future. Under the old guidelines, even if a patient had a legal declaration, a doctor had to get a final verbal affirmation that the patient still wished to die. Arends had failed to obtain this from the patient she euthanized, and that is part of the reason why she was prosecuted. The committee’s new guidelines allow doctors to skip the verbal affirmation if a dementia patient is no longer able to give it. The new guidelines also give doctors more room to interpret a legal declaration. In the Arends case, the patient had written that she wanted to die “when I am still somewhat mentally competent and I decide the time is right.” Arends had not honored this part of the legal declaration because the patient was no longer mentally competent when she was put to death. Because Arends was acquitted, doctors will now be permitted to ignore these types of stipulations. Under Dutch law, even if a patient has a legal declaration requesting euthanasia, a doctor must determine the patient is “suffering unbearably with no prospect of improvement” before administering a lethal injection. In its new guidelines, the oversight committee indicates it will never question any doctor’s determination that a dementia patient is suffering unbearably. Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the committees that oversee euthanasia, explained the new standard in an interview with Dutch media: “The doctor does not have to worry about us as oversight committee and the court should stay at arm’s length on the question of unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement. This is a medical-professional judgment by the doctor. The court and the oversight committee cannot stand in the place of the doctor. The question is: has this doctor acted reasonably in this situation?” Up to now, euthanasia for dementia patients had been extremely rare in the Netherlands, and it was very controversial. Even some euthanasia supporters were opposed because advanced dementia patients are unable to give consent. In 2018, ethicist Berna van Baarsen resigned from her position on the oversight committee over this issue. “That’s my boundary, based on ten years of reflection and reading dossiers,” she said at the time. The new guidelines brush aside those concerns. Euthanasia for advanced dementia is likely to become much more common now that it is much easier to obtain. Perhaps euthanasia supporters like van Baarsen will stop and ask, “Where does this end?” ...

News

Saturday Selections - November 21, 2020

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

News

Jay Adams, father of modern biblical counseling movement, dies

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

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Saturday Selections - November 14, 2020

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

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Saturday Selections - October 31, 2020

Robot hummingbird spies on half-billion butterflies (3 min) How do you get the inside scoop on 500 million wintering Monarch Butterflies? Send in a very small spy. How to have more fun with your kids: 10 suggestions There'll be something in this list that any parent will enjoy doing with their kids. Making progress: Intelligent Design paper passes peer review  Mainstream science has rejected, for decades, that God's creation gives evidence of having been designed. This rejection was not due to any lack of evidence, but due instead to Science's a priori commitment to materialism, the belief that matter is all there is and that, therefore, a non-material Creator must not be. However, Materialism can't be proven, and is actually disproven any time scientists use the non-material rules of logic to drawn their conclusions. So it is a step forward that now – finally – an Intelligent Design paper has made it past peer review and been published in a major journal. Poll: 30% of US women under 25 now identifying as other than heterosexual? Any shocking poll should be taken with a grain of salt. And yet this is far from unbelievable. Do not repay racism with racism "God doesn’t instruct us to repay evil for evil or racism for racism. God doesn’t instruct black people to assume the worst of white people because some white people assume the worst of black people...." Why Atheism can't account for morality (5 minutes) Jeff Durbin breaks down the 3 explanations atheism gives for morality. Generally speaking they are: 1) preference 2) societal convention 3) the desire to survive and flourish ...

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Saturday Selections – October 24, 2020

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

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Saturday Selections – October 17, 2020

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

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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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