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News

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.”

News

Saturday Selections - May 16, 2020

What's the Reformed perspective on the UFO videos? (1-hour podcast) Last month the Pentagon declassified three videos of what they termed "unexplained aerial phenomena." The videos had previously been leaked to the Internet back in 2017, so what was newsworthy now was the official confirmation of their authenticity. What should Christians think of claims that we are being visited by alien civilizations? Pastor Jeff Durbin and his crew at Apologia Radio offer a fascinating take. If their 1-hour podcast is a bit too long for you, a Reformed perspective on UFOs can also be found in our review of Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection. The problem with mailed-in ballots With COVID-19 keeping people in, there's been pressure in the US for more States to switch from in-person voting to using mail-in ballots instead. While voting by the post might be more hygienic, it has a downside: mail-in ballots aren't secure. When we go into a voting booth, no one knows what choice we make, so no one can threaten or bribe us to vote as they want us to. But when someone can watch you fill in your ballot, then pressure can come from spouses, parents, friends, careworkers, and others. The false dilemma of Science vs. Faith  Dr. John Byl has a fascinating summary of a debate over Science and Faith that took place in the pages of the Dordt University publication Pro Rege. It began with an explanation as to how "Science vs. Faith" is "the Great False Dichotomy" (because the real battle is not Science vs. Faith, but actually between the Christian worldview and an anti-Christian worldview). and then heated up when Dr. Arnold Sikkema wrote a letter to the editor, against the original article. And then his letter garnered its own reply. 5 ways to protect your kids from pornography The most important way? Talk to your children early – be their first teacher, and therefore their go-to, for this topic. Don't let a video, seen on their friend's phone, be their first exposure to what sex is. Parents: don't shame your kids Tedd Tripp on how we parents have to come alongside our kids as fellow sinners, and not simply as judges. Quarantine stereotypes (10 minutes) The 5 friends at Dude Perfect offer up a slice of quarantine life. ...

News

Saturday Selections - May 9, 2020

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

News

Poll: More Canadians condemn plastic straws than abortion

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

News

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. ...

News

States, cities, reverse course on plastic bag bans

In 2007, San Francisco was the first city to ban regular single-use plastic bags, directing businesses to use compostable plastic bags, paper, or, preferably, reusable bags. In the years since, more than 120 other cities, and some states have followed their lead. But now the city is reversing direction, at least in part. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the city's Department of Health issued a new guideline: people were not permitted "to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home" to coffee shops, grocers, and other stores. An April 9 Wall Street Journal editorial noted: "The department was responding to fears that the reusable bags are more prone to carry coronavirus than the disposable bags that were standard before the 2007 ban." San Francisco isn't the only government changing course. Massachusetts, Oregon, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire, and other locales across the US are responding to the coronavirus by discouraging or prohibiting reusable bags, and often times suspending or delaying the implementation of single-use plastic bag bans. While the coronavirus has brought increased attention to the health risks that can come with reusable bags, those risks have always existed. An earlier March 16 WSJ editorial shared that when researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University randomly tested grocery shopper's reusable bags they found, “Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half.” The same researchers also discovered the reason why: most shoppers either rarely or never washed their reusable bags. One of the key benefits of all sorts of disposable plastics has been hygiene. As the Fraser Institute's Ross McKitrick wrote: We used to get our meat the way we still get most of our vegetables – from open counters. But people grew uncomfortable with the exposure of meat to insects and germs, not to mention the problem if people handle raw meat in one aisle then touch products in other aisles, so stores responded with those little Styrofoam trays with absorbent liners and clear plastic wrap, to which we all soon grew accustomed. Lots of things got wrapped in cellophane to avoid being touched by other customers. Would you want to buy a toothbrush from a bin that a hundred people rummaged through? As for disposable plastic water bottles, this is surely one of the great public health inventions of the modern age. They are remarkably cheap and they save us the ordeal of shared public water fountains. So the question might be asked, why does anyone have a problem with these plastics? What was motivating these bans? Part of the answer is probably related to plastics being produced from oil. But even in a world obsessed with global-warming, this doesn't make them worse than paper, which seems to have the higher carbon footprint. The real issue is pollution. Environmentalists point to the amount of plastic being ingested by animals, particularly marine animals. You may have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or one of the other ocean garbage patches where the currents collect plastics into large islands, meters deep in some places. While this pollution is a problem, it is not a Western problem. Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, in their article "Plastic Pollution" published on OurWorldinData.org make the case that as of 2010 Canada and the US combined accounted for less than a percent of the "global total mismanaged plastic waste." They define this as "the sum of littered or inadequately disposed of waste...that could eventually enter the ocean..." The big polluters are China (28%), Indonesia (10%), the Philippines and Vietnam (both at 6%). These four, together, amount to just under 50% of all such mismanaged plastic. This is due in large part to inadequate or non-existent garbage disposal, with waste flowing directly into key rivers, and then out into the ocean. This isn't to dispute that there are plastic bags littering North American streets. That is a problem. But it a much smaller problem. And it is a problem that is eradicated by creating other problems: ban single-use plastics, and their replacements might well make us sick. Those who reject God will often look to the government as a replacement, turning to it to solve all their problems. In contrast, Christians, understand the government can't address every problem and shouldn't try – God has assigned them a limited role because they are made up of limited people. Our government should legislate with restraint because we live in a broken world and, consequently, any "solution" politicians settle on is going to come with tradeoffs – any benefit will come with a cost. One cost common to all government action is a loss of freedom for citizens to make choices for ourselves. It is, after all, the government that demands we do things their way or else. That "or else" might amount to fines, or jail time, or the loss of a business's license, but whatever the punishment might be, the ability to mete this out to dissenters is a fearsome power and one that, therefore, should be used with restraint. Another reason for restraint is simple humility – an acknowledgment of our finite abilities. If reasonable, informed, intelligent people can disagree about what approach might be best, the government should be hesitant about stepping in and deciding for everyone. With bag ban reversals highlighting how politicians missed something in their original deliberations, will they take the lesson and act with restraint going forward?...

News

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

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

News

Saturday Selections - April 11, 2020

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

News

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....

News, Theology

Calvinism in the time of coronavirus

When I was about nine or ten, at the height of worldwide panic about AIDS, I stumbled across a newspaper article that outlined the symptoms of the dreaded disease. I can still recall reading, to my horror, that one of the telltale signs was “thick, white matting on the tongue.” You see, I had a few small but obvious patches of white matter on my tongue. And my ten-year-old self became utterly convinced: I had AIDS. The fact that I was in the world’s lowest-risk category didn’t matter, nor did the fact that I was asthmatic and regularly took large doses of medication that left white deposits on my tongue. For at least a week, I was convinced that my end had come. In my early 20s, it was a brain tumor. After all, I had a few really bad headaches on the way to university one week; what else could it be?! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become slightly more sanguine, but I’m still highly susceptible to fear setting in. Honestly, I feel like I’m tempting fate (even though I totally don’t believe in “tempting fate”) by even writing this piece. I am a card-carrying hypochondriac. So you can imagine how the last few weeks have made me feel. I’ve had to dig in and battle hard to not give in to the paralyzing fear of the coronavirus that’s been sweeping the globe. How have I fought this battle? I’ve armed my household with facts, vitamins, soap, and statistics (but no, not with extra toilet paper as yet – I live in New Zealand, not Australia). I’ve chewed off my wife’s ear about how the media is blowing it out of proportion, mostly preaching to myself in the process. But underneath all those strategies, I’ve fallen back on one simple, underlying reality: God is completely sovereign. I’ve always found it slightly surprising that Christians find the notion that God is completely sovereign (sometimes called “Calvinism,” after theologian John Calvin) to be so controversial or complex. Maybe it’s the way Calvinism was initially taught to me when I was a young Christian. It was totally plausible, and just seemed the obvious, inevitable conclusion that anyone should reach from studying the Scriptures: God is completely in charge of everything, and nothing takes him by surprise. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not belittling anyone who finds it hard to grapple with the many thorny issues that this topic raises. Far from it. A high view of God’s sovereignty doesn’t numb the pain of real-life or provide cheap, easy answers. We should all sympathize with the Psalmists who bring their laments to God and cry out, “How Long, O Lord?” But the basic concept itself has (thanks be to God) always just seemed obvious to me. Can I really conceive of the God who spoke the universe into existence now sitting fretfully on the edge of his throne, desperately hoping that everything will pan out? Can I picture the God who raised Jesus from the dead muttering, “That wasn’t supposed to happen! Oh well, I guess I’ll try again tomorrow”? But more than that, I’ve also struggled to understand why some people see this as an obscure, irrelevant question – a topic for the “ivory tower – rather than as a real-life game-changer. As I was once told, there is nothing as practical as good theology. The sovereignty of God has been an enormous comfort to me again and again and again in my life. So while we may be tempted to think that the panic-inducing Covid-19 is no time to get all theological, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s moments like these where we need the deep realities about God to sustain us. If, like me, you’re even slightly given to extra nervousness at a time like this, it might be worth stepping back and planting your flag on some simple yet marvelous truths about our great, sovereign God. Remember, there is no such thing as "luck" – even moments that seem totally random are controlled by God (Proverbs 16:33). Remember, not even a tiny, insignificant sparrow falls to the ground without God’s say-so – and you are worth more than many sparrows (Matt 10:29-31). Remember, God shapes the decisions and the fate of the world’s most powerful people (Proverbs 21:1). Remember, whether or not your plans for tomorrow come to fruition depends far more on God than on you (James 4:13-15). Remember, God can do all things (that’s a lot of things) and no purpose of his can be thwarted (Job 42:2). Remember, God works all things (which, again, really is a lot of things) according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11). Remember, God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask him to do and all we think He can do (Ephesians 3:20). Next time you get sick, remember that God never faints or grows weary, not even for a second (Isaiah 40:28). Remember, God never sleeps or slumbers; He never takes a day off (Psalm 121:3-4). Remember, even the very faith that you place in Jesus is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and God is in charge of the fruitful spread of the gospel (Mark 4:14-25). Remember, God forms the light and creates the darkness; He makes well-being and He creates calamity (Isaiah 45:7). And even if some things – including coronavirus – remain a mystery to us, we can trust that He’s using his sovereign power for our ultimate good. For He didn’t even withhold his own Son from us; we shouldn’t doubt that He’ll also give us the other good things we need. (Romans 5:6-8; Romans 8:32) Remember, the days God formed for you were written in his book before you lived even one of them (Psalm 139:16). When the whole world is in a panic, when people are inexplicably hoarding in a desperate attempt to calm their fears, when our neighbors fear that the sky is falling, it’s easy to join them and give in to anxiety. But it’s unnecessary. And it’s wrong. One of the best ways for Christians to love one another, love our neighbors and honor the Lord during this time is simply to “be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9) That promise was to Joshua, but we have even more reason than Joshua to be sure that those words apply to us. We have the gospel of Jesus. We have a Savior who has promised to be with us, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). We have a loving God who is not far away, but who is near to all who call on him, and who is mighty to save. Knowing all this, we are invited to entrust ourselves to God: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) Trust the sovereign Lord of the ages who is working out his plans and purposes for the world, and for you, moment by moment, even (especially) when things are scary or unknown. Tell your children that God can be trusted more than hand-sanitizer. Boldly bear witness to a frightened world – a world that’s having the deceptive veil of safety and security pulled back before its very eyes – that there is a genuine, lasting source of security and peace. Take your stand on the Bible’s great truths about our sovereign God, now and forever. And try not to touch your face. This article first appeared at GeoffRobson.com and it is reprinted here with permission....

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Saturday Selections - March 14, 2020

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

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Saturday Selections – March 7, 2020

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

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Saturday Selections – February 29, 2020

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

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