The Top 10 articles of 2019
It's said that the Internet is causing people to have shorter attention spans. If that's true, you can't look to our most popular articles of 2019 for proof, as many are among the longer articles we published.
You'll quickly notice there are 11 articles on this "Top 10" list, and we want to assure you that's not a matter of bad math, but interesting statistics. The difference between 10 and 11 is so close, that they are repeatedly swapping spots. So, rather than have to update the list as they swap spots yet again, we're including both, as 10a and 10b.
Now, what got thousands of folks reading each of these articles? Maybe it was the diversity. One of the fun things about a magazine that writes about all that God is up to is that we get to tackle all that God is up to!
Without further ado, here is our Top 10 countdown for 2019.
Harma-Mae Smit contributed an article that takes some effort but amply rewards it. We know Luther for his rediscovery of the Doctrine of Justification - that it is not by our works, but by faith in Jesus that we are justified.
But Luther's understanding of our sinfulness was every bit as important.
Keller is a much-respected writer because when he gets it right – when he treats God's Word as authoritative – he gets it really right. But when he gets it wrong, as he does in his treatment of the opening chapters of the Genesis, he gets it really and horribly wrong.
E. Calvin Beisner read about a young man who was wealthy and felt guilty about it. Should we feel guilty when we are blessed? Or should we feel gratitude? A series of accompanying questions make this a great one for discussions on socialism, the 10th Commandment, social justice and more.
This article got no attention when it was first posted a year or two ago. But when it was reposted this year, thousands checked it out. Why? Maybe it's because we now recognize that even as pornography-use remains the sin that Christian men don't own up to, it is that much the harder for Christian women to look for and get help in this battle.
Sharon Bratcher tells RP readers about this online forum created specifically for Reformed singles. What a great idea!
It was big news when Josh Harris turned his back on God, and was almost as big when a prominent Christian musician went public with his doubts. So what's a Christian to do when they have doubts?
It takes all kinds to make up the Body of Christ. But we are the same Body, and that means that some type of togetherness is a must.
The chair challenge is a fun craze circulating the Internet which most women can do, and most men can't. It's fun, but it's also significant, living as we do in an age that denies there are two genders and that even if there are, denies they are different.
In December 2018 Kanye West was featured on a song with XXXTentacion singing vulgar lyrics. Less than a year later he released his album Jesus is King and Rev. Wes Bredenhof had a listen...and liked what he heard.
On the 137th anniversary of Darwin's death, Christine Farenhorst shared how the Christian world honored him.
In the past cremation has been done as an act of rebellion. But is that what it has to symbolize? Or might this be an area of Christian liberty?
Saturday Selections - December 21, 2019
Worldview 101 (4 minutes) Chuck Colson on why worldview matters – it's only by understanding our own Christian worldview that we can compare and co...
Saturday Selections - December 14, 2019
Hummingbirds are way cooler than you knew... (3 minutes) Did you know their tongues aren't straws so much as skinny unfurling claws? This is freaky c...
Saturday Selections - December 7, 2019
FREE E-BOOK: Why sex is the best argument for creation The folks behind the fantastic documentary Is Genesis History have created a short 115-page e...
Saturday Selections - November 23, 2019
The power of words One of the greatest challenges of marriage is how you speak to your spouse. Science says Adam and Eve are impossible...or does it? Science is often portrayed as entirely unbiased and indisputable. So when scientists say that mankind's genetic diversity couldn't have come from a single original couple – when they say they've disproven Adam and Eve – many, Christians among them, will treat that as the final word. But this ignores the assumptions that underly scientists' conclusions. Science doesn't make pronouncements; some scientists based on their assumptions make pronouncements that other scientists might well dispute. Recently two Intelligent Design (ID) proponents used their own starting assumptions and discovered – voila! – that the data can be made to fit easily enough with an original starting couple. Their findings still don't fit with a recent creation – they put the date for this common couple as being half a million to two million years ago – but, of course, ID proponents and creationists also operate from different starting assumptions. Christians have to remember and remind the world that there is a huge difference between unchangeable, unassailable truth, and what some scientists conclude based on their data and starting assumptions. The most politically incorrect Bible passage Alan Shelmon nominates 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 and explains why politically incorrect is also powerfully correct. Greg Koukl lays out his "Inside Out" tactic This 10-minute read is well worth your time, as apologist Greg Koukl demonstrates how we can use truths people already know – God's law written on their hearts (Romans 2:15) – to point them to God. When there are no more volunteers In showing how Christians can, in their volunteer roles, be a light to the surrounding community, John Stonestreet is inadvertently making the case for single-income families – after all, it's hard to volunteer when both mom and dad are busy with their day and maybe night jobs. So is this an attack against families who have to have both mom and dad working full time? No, parents need to provide, and if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes. But, the thing is, for many that isn't what it takes and yet we still do it. Why? Part of it might be because the world judges worth by the size of a person's paycheck, or by the status of their career. Thus many women are influenced to then choose to work full time outside the home to prove their worth. Part of it is due to our young men settling, early on, for jobs that might well provide a plush income for a single man, but won't be nearly enough for a family man, which then necessitate double incomes. If we want to be a community of volunteers, part of it will involve being a community in which young men are taught they should start businesses or seek out jobs and careers that will provide for all the financial needs of their family. That often isn't possible. But when it is, it opens up possibilities..like letting our light shine through volunteering. How do transgender activists view sex and gender? (5 minutes) If "man" and "woman" have no set meaning, then how can transgender advocates argue that a man can feel like, and actually be, a woman? ...
Did YouTube ban a video because of this one sentence?
A couple of years ago The Daily Signal published a video by Dr. Michelle Cretella on transgenderism. It was titled “I’m a Pediatrician. Here’s What I Did When a Little Boy Patient Said He Was a Girl.” While the video was successfully posted to YouTube, some months ago Daily Signal discovered the video had been removed for violating YouTube policies. In a November 5 article, editor-in-chief Katrina Trinko reported that they discussed the matter with YouTube and learned the tech giant took issue with one specific sentence, labeling it as “hate speech.” In the offending line Dr. Cretella stated: “…if you want to cut off a leg or an arm you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender…” We’re only hearing from The Daily Signal’s side of the story here, and maybe YouTube has a very different take (I did reach out to YouTube last week but haven’t heard back and don’t know when or whether I should expect to). But if they’re banning videos for factual statements, then all of us using the site need to evaluate how dependent we are on YouTube for keeping us informed. Fortunately, these days there’s more than one way to get a message out – this same video has been viewed on Facebook more than 70 million times....though in July it was briefly dropped by Facebook too....
Saturday Selections - November 16, 2019
How do starlings flock in murmurations? (4 minutes) These living clouds are jaw-droppingly astonishing. God is awesome! Rosaria Butterfield on "gay Christianity" (25-minute podcast) This past summer Abounding Grace Radio interviewed Rosaria Butterfield about her life story – from unbelieving homosexual advocate to Reformed Christian writer – but also on the issue of whether one can identify as a "gay Christian." The interview was wonderful but only caused a stir when, this past week, a pastor tweeted out a couple of sentences from it. “Gay Christianity is a different religion. I’m not standing in the same forest with Greg Johnson and Wes Hill and Nate Collins looking at different angles of the trees, I’m in a different forest altogether.” This quote was Rosaria calling out a number of Christians who, on the one hand, say that homosexual sex is sin, but who, on the other hand, are promoting the idea that one can be a "gay Christian." This is a somewhat subtle error, but the problem is more obvious when we try the same approach with other temptations. Should someone identify as an "angry Christian" or "adulterous Christian"? Clearly not – a Christian shouldn't identify with their anger or wandering eye. This podcast is an important one, spelling out a current controversy happening even in conservative Churches over how we should fight homosexual temptation. Keith Getty: The modern worship movement is "utterly dangerous" “Over 75 percent of what are called the great hymns of the faith talk about eternity, Heaven, Hell, and the fact that we have peace with God. Yet, less than 5 percent of modern worship songs talk about eternity.” Biblical Edom unearthed Secular archeologists treat the Bible as just another ancient book. But the Bible isn't just another ancient book – this is real history – leaving archeologists repeatedly surprised when findings verify aspects of the biblical account. How to make your Gillette Mach 3 (or any other expensive) razor last 6 months Gary North shows how some olive oil and an old pair of jeans can save you a lot of money in replacement razor blades. A helpful tip for family Bible reading (2 minutes) Dr. Calvin Beisner speaks of why he would read passages of the Bible with his family even when he didn't feel fully capable of explaining them to his children: it was because he was convinced that God uses His Word. Parents will fall short (which isn't to say we shouldn't study) but we can trust God will act through His Word. ...
Tearing down tyranny, one joke a time...
November 9 marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, for 28 years, divided socialist East Germany from the free West. To mark the anniversary some old East German jokes gained new life. What sort of jokes? Jokes that mocked the State for its incompetence and vindictive pettiness. Jokes that could get an East German arrested back then if the police found out he'd shared them. But if jokes could land you in jail, why did people risk telling them? Because every punchline was an act of resistance. A government that couldn't take a joke was a government that had overstepped its bounds and this became a small way of pushing back. So to mark the anniversary here are a few of the more popular jests from 30 years ago. Why do Stasi (East German secret police) officers make such good taxi drivers? – You get in the car and they already know your name and where you live. The five rules of socialism: Don’t think. If you think, don’t speak. If you think and speak, don’t write. If you think, speak and write, don’t sign it. If you think, speak, write and sign it, don’t be surprised. What would happen if the desert became a socialist country? Sand would become scarce. Three East German political prisoners were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “My watch always ran ahead, and I would always arrive at work early, so they said I must be spying.” The second fellow shared, “My watch always ran slow, so I was always late for work, so they said I was guilty of sabotage.” Then the third fellow said, “I was always exactly on time for work so they said my watch much be from the West.” Asking, how could it happen here? We mark this anniversary as a tribute to those brave and wise souls who fought tyranny in the past. But we also mark it so we can learn from the past to hopefully avoid the same sort of mistakes going forward. When we see the trouble Big Brother brought the East Germans, we'll be motivated to pre-empt the same sort of government over-reach here... before it gets to the point where we're arrested for telling jokes. With that in mind, here are a few jokes worth telling while we still can. Three Americans businessmen were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “I charged more for my goods than anyone else. So they convicted me of price gouging.” The second fellow shared, “I charged less than anyone else for my product, so they convicted me of anti-competitive dumping.” Then the third fellow said, “I charged the same for my product as everyone else, so they convicted me of price-fixing.” Here's a switch worth making: let's treat convicted murderers like we've treated the unborn and let them be executed, and treat the unborn like we've treated convicted murderers and give them life. A cheap Albertan fellow heard that women drivers get better insurance rates so he phoned up his insurance company and asked, "If I identify as a safer driver, can I get this cheaper rate too?" "I'm sorry sir," the insurance rep replied, "You can't simply identify as a safer driver and expect us to take that seriously." "Okay," he said, "but what if I identify as a woman - can I get the better rate then?" To which the insurance rep replied, "Of course ma'am. What do you think we are – a bunch of transphobic bigots?" What should a Christian think of mocking humor? Some Christians argue that humor, and particularly biting humor, has no place in Christian dialogue. Passages will be cited such as 1 Peter 3:15 and Proverbs 15:1: "...give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." But this "absolutely no mocking" understanding overlooks that God Himself mocks foolishness, with one of the funnier examples occurring in Isaiah 44:14b-17: "He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, 'Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!' And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, 'Deliver me, for you are my god!'” During His time on Earth, Christ had a biting way with words as evidenced repeatedly in Matt. 23 in thrusts like these: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean" (vs. 27). "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (vs. 24). Ah, you might say, it's one thing for God to do something and quite another for us to do the same. There is truth to that, but let's also remember that we are called to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1, 1 Cor. 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21). And let's remember, too, how others in the Bible have used humor or in other ways shown approval for mockery. For example, Luke evidenced a dry wit in Acts 17:21, poking fun at the Athenians: "Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new." Solomon wasn't pulling any punches when he compared beautiful women without discretion as being "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout" (Prov. 11:22). David in Ps. 52:6-7 spoke of how the "righteous will...laugh at" the foolish fellow who "trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others." More texts could be cited, but this last one is a must – in 2 Cor 10:5 we are told to "tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God." It takes wisdom to know when to tear down arguments and when to answer more gently, but one general (and certainly not absolute) rule is that the broader the audience, the more pointed we can be. And vice versa. So if one of our coworkers is bald, bearded, and loves wearing his summer dress even into the depths of fall, we won't want to start a conversation by making fun of his fashion sense. But when politicians and judges and celebrities start insisting that men should be allowed to compete as women, that is an idea that must be mocked – to treat it as anything less than insane is to give it too much credit (Prov 26:4). So as we mark the Berlin Wall's demise some 30 years ago, we can remember that humor has been used as a weapon for a lot longer than that, by both God and man. To learn more about the godly use of pointed humor, a great small book on the subject is Douglas Wilson's "A Serrated Edge."...
Saturday Selections - November 9, 2019
Humans don't earn their value In this video, Amy Hall makes the vital point that our value is not earned. But she pulls up just short of the finish l...
Saturday Selections - November 2, 2019
Male and females are different (6 minutes) The Bible tells us that God created us male and female (Gen. 1:27) and gave us different roles (Eph 5:24-3...
That morning I listened to Kanye West
I’ve never been a Kanye West fan. About a year ago, I was flipping through the radio channels while driving. I came across a station playing one of ...
Saturday Selections – October 19, 2019
Beauty, Darwin, and design (8 min) "Charles Darwin once wrote that the sight of a male peacock’s tail made him physically ill." Why did its beauty make Evolution's father ill? "Because he knew that the gratuitous beauty so prevalent throughout the living world points unmistakably to intelligent design, foresight, and plan." Be sure to check this stunning video out! How to overcome our digital addiction This secular piece doesn't mention the need for repentance or prayer. But it is quite the eye-opener, and for a Christian committed to change, the strategies offered could be helpful. Free Tim Keller commentary on Judges This freebie is being passed along sight unseen and with this notable caution: Keller doesn't hold to a six-day creation, so you wouldn't want to turn to him for a commentary on Genesis. But he also tends to treat the rest of the Bible with the respect it deserves so this could be fantastic. You do have to give your email address to access the free e-book, but they won't spam you. Strategies for fighting depression well A good read for those who suffer with depression, as well as for all who want to be a help for them. How to homeschool...for those of us who will never homeschool Not all Christians are homeschoolers, but all Christian homes should be schools. Here's how to create teaching opportunities with your kids. How the government made us fat Note a problem in the world and someone's sure to ask: "What's the government going to do about it?" What this overlooks is that the government is neither all-knowing nor all-powerful, and when we expect it to solve all the world's problems, we are setting it up as a false god. And false gods always disappoint. Also, the government "solves" things on a grand scale - millions are impacted. So when they get it wrong, millions are hurt. This is another example of how the government did damage when it tried to do something we should never have looked to it to do. ...
News, Pro-life - Abortion
Jagmeet Singh, abortion, and illogic
The topic of abortion came up at the Canadian federal leaders’ debate (October 7, 2019), and logic took a beating. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh stated the following: “A man has no place in a discussion around a woman’s right to choose. Let’s be very clear on that.” Apparently, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Green leader Elizabeth May agreed with Singh, whereas Conservative leader Andrew Scheer didn't. Because of the poor format of the debate—and poor moderation—I didn't get clear on what the other leaders thought. So let’s (at least) be very clear on Mr. Singh's claim. There are two logical problems — serious logical problems. Problem 1 - the Ad Hominem Fallacy Mr. Singh commits the ad hominem fallacy, the mistake in reasoning which occurs when an arguer is attacked instead of his/her arguments. Some instances of the ad hominem fallacy are easy to spot. Consider the following: “Einstein is Jewish, therefore his theory of relativity should be rejected.” “Your doctor is a woman, therefore don’t believe what she says about prostate cancer.” Clearly, in the above arguments, the premise (i.e., the bit before “therefore”) is not relevant to the conclusion (the bit after “therefore”). But some instances of the ad hominem fallacy are not so easy to spot. Consider (again) Mr. Singh's claim: “A man has no place in a discussion around a woman’s right to choose .” Significantly, Singh is dismissing as illegitimate all arguments that men might present on the topic of abortion merely because the arguer is a man. That is, Singh is dismissing a view because of a characteristic of the arguer (i.e., his sex) rather than via a careful examination of the arguer’s argument (i.e., its merits or lack thereof). But this is to attack the messenger instead of the message, which is a logical sin — the ad hominem fallacy. Problem 2 - Self-Refuting Mr. Singh’s claim is also self-refuting. A self-refuting claim includes itself in its field of reference but fails to satisfy its own criteria of truthfulness or rational acceptability. Here is an example: “There are no truths.” Hmmm. If it's true, then it's not true. It self-refutes. Another example (spoken by me): “I cannot speak a word of English.” Get the picture? Back to our NDP leader. According to Mr. Singh, “A man has no place in a discussion around a woman’s right to choose .” Let's think: a MAN is saying that a MAN’s voice doesn’t count on an issue, i.e., the issue HE is talking about. Well, if this is true, then Mr. Singh—a man—has no place in this discussion, and so his claim should be dismissed. I like Mr. Singh and I intend no disrespect to him. Nevertheless, I think his claim is deeply problematic from the perspective of logic—and I hope that my pointing this out will help elevate the quality of reasoning in the public discussion about abortion. I hope, too, that pro-life MPs will get elected. Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor (Providence University College) who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba. This article first appeared on his blog and is reprinted here with permission. Picture credit: Art Babych / Shutterstock.com...
Christians now forced to stand on the Bible, not the dictionary
“Ain’t” is in the dictionary, and something else you might not expect is now too. In September, the US’s oldest dictionary publisher, Merriam-Webster, announced they were adding in a “nonbinary” definition for the word “they.” According to the new entry, “they” can be “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” In other words, if a guy who thinks he isn’t a guy wants us to call him “they,” he’s now got the dictionary backing him. But lest this depress, there is a shiny silver lining to this story. With the addition of this definition, God has taken away one of the worst arguments Christians might otherwise be tempted to use: an appeal to the dictionary. But that was never an authority we should have stood on. We don’t know we’re male and female because the dictionary says so, but rather because God says so (Gen. 1:27, Mark 10:6). Our stand isn’t based on the authority of the dictionary but on the authority of God’s Word! And now that’s all we’ve got. We can thank God, then, for giving us all that we need, and thank Him also for taking away a red herring that might otherwise tempt or distract us from standing on His Truth....
Saturday Selections – Oct. 12, 2019
Why not give in to peer pressure? After all, everybody's doing it. (2.5 min) This is an old commercial on the power of peer pressure. There is such a thing as positive peer pressure – an example is God's call to encourage one another (1 Thess 4:18, 5:11). But we should recognize how liable we are to just go with the flow...even when it turns us right around in the wrong direction (Rom 12:2, Prov. 13:20). Envy is the root of many modern evils Envy, along with covetousness, are still generally condemned, even as specific instances are embraced. Society rails against income inequality (rather than poverty) and speaks of the 1% as being self-evidently wicked. Bernie Sanders went so far as to tweet that "billionaires should not exist" while proposing to tax, not simply their income, but their overall net worth. Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren is planning on doing the same. Misguided Christians, impacted by the rhetoric, and not familiar enough with the Tenth Commandment, and the rest of God's Word, are swayed into thinking that covetousness and envy can somehow be portrayed as noble. But as Lawerence Reed shows, it ain't so. 6 year old asks mom for a shirt that says "I will be your friend" If one of your children has come home from school sad because no one played with them during recess, then you know just how precious it would be to have a boy like this in their classroom. Even better: if our child had aspirations to be like this boy and help others! More dinosaur soft tissue found There is an old joke told of a man who thought he was dead. His doctor tried everything to convince him otherwise, finally resorting to a medical textbook on the circulatory system. After they studied it together the doctor asked the man, "Would you agree dead men don't bleed?" “ I do,” the man replied. The doctor then took out a needle and poked the man's thumb. Out came a drop of blood. The doctor pointed to the blood and said, "See, you were wrong" to which the man replied, "I was wrong – dead men do bleed!" When dinosaur soft tissue was first discovered, secular scientists discounted it, because everyone knows soft tissue can't survive 60 million years. Creationists agreed, but noted that it might survive a few thousand. But as evidence of dinosaur soft tissue keeps increasing, secular scientists have changed their tune. They now say dinosaur soft tissues can survive 60 million years. Yes, and dead men do bleed. 50 years of failed climate predictions It's understandable why a 16-year-old like Greta Thunburg would be very worried about the climate. She's taking her teachers at their word and they're telling her the world is coming to an end. But for those who are maybe 50 and up, what we know that she doesn't, is that sometimes people speak with a lot more certainty than is warranted. As this article demonstrates, folks have been predicting climate apocalypse for quite some time now, and they've gotten it wrong for just as long. More significantly, some of those making the doom and gloom predictions now, are the very same folks who have gotten it wrong before. Real men offer forgiveness to all, but only give it to the repentant As young men turn to Jordan Peterson for advice, David Murray is trying to offer them better – because it is biblically-grounded – direction via his Christian Man Academy. ...
Saturday Selections - Oct. 5, 2019
Man embraces woman who killed his brother, urges her to give life to Christ The brother of Botham Jean – a man killed by his neighbor in what she's...
Saturday Selections – Sept. 28, 2019
South of Royal: You remain faithful While their indie-synth-pop stylings might not be to everyone's tastes, South of Royal's lyrical, biblical depth ...
Saturday Selections - Sept. 21, 2019
Real men know when to cover an offense (4 minutes) When we're sinned against, we have two options: to lovingly confront the sinner, or, to loving "cover" or overlook the offense. In this video, David Murray looks at when to overlook an offense, including how we can tell whether our "overlooking" is not about love, but laziness or being too uncaring to confront a loved one who really needs to be confronted. (For a transcript of the video, see the link above.) British government fights genital mutilation among Muslims, encourages it among others The British government is setting up support centers for victims of female genital mutilation, a practice done in some Muslim-majority countries that can involve cutting off a woman's clitoris. But even as the government is, in this limited way, discouraging one form of genital mutilation, it is encouraging it in another: funding irreversible "transgender" surgeries that involve cutting off men or women's genitals in an attempt to make them what they can never be: the other gender. They are lying to us In 2002 Jonathan Wells published Icons of Evolution in which he asked why evolutionists continued to use certain arguments and evidences even after they'd been discredited. He showed how decades afterward "proofs" like the Miller–Urey experiment would still be taught in school textbooks, though the experts themselves knew better. In this short article by philosopher J. Budziszewski, he gives an answer: they know better, but they know they can fool folks who don't know better. And they've come up with ethical justifications for fooling them. Seeing through a university prof's attack A university professor can confound a student by asking them one question after another. But that you don't know every answer to every challenge to God's truth doesn't make that truth any less true. The Cobra Effect – Big government brings with it a lot of unintended consequences (10-minute read) An Indian government intended to curtail cobra infestations, but their bounty on cobra tails incentivized citizens to start raising cobras to collect on the bounty, leaving the region with even more cobras than before. This scenario – a good-intentioned government incentivizing harm – is so oft-occurring it's been given a name: "the cobra effect." This article explores historic examples of this effect, and makes the point (as does Proverbs 27:14) that good intentions are not enough. It argues that, since unintended consequences are so hard to anticipate, governments should approach the creating of legislation with great humility and restraint – meaning well doesn't mean you will do well, so don't make a law unless it is vitally necessary. Hard as it is to believe, hummingbirds actually get cooler in slow motion Hummingbirds must be why super slow motion film was invented. At full speed they are jaw-droppingly amazing – watching these little zipsters is prayer-inducing. And then seeing them in slow motion offers a whole other appreciation of what God has packed into these littlest of the beasties. Wow! Just wow! ...
Public doubt: Josh Harris abandons God, and Hillsong’s Marty Sampson struggles
In July, Josh Harris, the author of the 1990s Christian bestseller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, declared he was kissing his wife and his God goodbye. He made the announcements on Instagram where, shortly thereafter, the former pastor shared a picture of himself as a participant in this year’s Vancouver Pride Parade. In mid August another public figure used Instagram to announce a crisis of faith. One of Hillsong Church’s worship leaders, Marty Sampson, told his followers: “I’m genuinely losing my faith… and it doesn’t bother me…. I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.“ He then laid out some of the questions that had been troubling him: “How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people. But it’s not for me.” The post has since been deleted, and Sampson has since clarified that he hasn’t renounced God, but that his faith is on “incredibly shaky ground.” This public apostasy of Josh Harris, and the equally public struggle of Marty Sampson were met by all sorts of reactions. Among the constructive ones, was a Facebook post by John Cooper, the leader singer of the Christian rock band Skillet who, while never mentioning either by name, was clearly writing about both Harris and Sampson. He began by questioning why Harris continues to act as a public figure: “I am stunned that the seemingly most important thing for these leaders who have lost their faith is to make such a bold new stance. Basically saying, ‘I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it…therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people in to my next truth.’ I’m perplexed why they aren’t embarrassed? Humbled? Ashamed, fearful, confused? Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?” Then he addressed Sampson, not mentioning him by name, but responding to a question in Sampson’s post: “…there is a common thread running through these leaders/influencers that basically says that ‘no one else is talking about the REAL stuff.’ This is just flatly false. I just read today in a renown worship leader’s statement, ‘How could a God of love send people to hell? No one talks about it.’ As if he is the first person to ask this? Brother, you are not that unique. The church has wrestled with this for 1500 years. Literally. Everybody talks about it. Children talk about it in Sunday school. There’s like a billion books written on the topic. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean that we are unwilling to wrestle with it. We wrestle with scripture until we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Breakpoint Ministries’ John Stonestreet saw Sampson’s struggle as revealing “a failure on the part of the church to take the difficult but essential task of faith formation seriously enough.” In his August 10 column, he noted that the faith Sampson felt himself falling away from was an emotion-driven, uncritical and uneducated faith that discouraged questions because it couldn’t stand up to them. But this is not Christianity. This is not the faith of David, or Habakkuk, or Solomon, who all came to God in despair, asking questions in doubt. God is not scared of our questions…though as we see with Job, He doesn’t always give us the exact answer we were asking for. But He invites inquiry – honest questions, not simply scoffing (Prov. 3:34) – because He wants us to love Him with not only our heart, but also our mind (Matt. 22:37). So, as Stonestreet notes, it isn’t wrong to admit to doubt. But that a worship leader feels that no one is talking about these things reveals a congregation that isn’t interacting with the Psalms, or preaching on Habakkuk, and Job, and Ecclesiastes. As Stonestreet puts it, his church failed him. In 1 Cor. 10: 1-12, Paul tells us to take it as a warning when we see the problems others face. So, in our Reformed churches, how are we dealing with these types of questions? How do we address the doubts that are common to many a Christian? Are our churches a place where honest inquiries are welcomed? Or, if Robert Sampson were in our midst, would he feel that here too, “no one talks about it”?...
News or fake news: third of Brits have dinner in silence?
In September, at least five of the United Kingdom’s online newspapers shared the results of a study claiming one-third of Brits eat their dinners in complete silence (we linked to just the one paper because the others are sleazy). They reported the study was commissioned by Old El Paso, the Tex Mex food producer, and involved 2,500 British parents. Other findings include: 4 in 10 parents don’t eat at the same time as their children most days only 20% of families eat dinner together every day of the week 44% of respondents admit to staring at their phones well eating Apparently more and more families don’t have the energy or intimacy to know how to interact with one another. That’s sad, if true. But this has a whiff of fake news about it. How so? The original study is untraceable – we’re told it was commissioned by Old El Paso, but we aren’t told what polling organization did it. No further information can be found on the company website or social media pages. Also, while the news articles have a few different titles, most were authored by just one reporter, Rob Knight (a few others were unattributed, and some were shorter abridgments). So even as it seemed this story was coming from lots of different sources, it actually amounted to just one. What we’re left with is one reporter telling us about a study that can’t be traced, which was published by a company that hasn’t publicized it on their website or social media. None of that means its fake. It does give us reason for healthy skepticism. For Christians, how many Brits talk during dinner isn’t as important as that we know how to handle such news stories. We’re all news outlets now, what with our social media accounts, so the question we have to ask is, are we going to be reliable or unreliable reporters? This is a big deal. After all, we worship a God-man who died and came back to life, which is already a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1:23). We don’t want to blow our credibility where it hardly matters by passing along trivia that doesn’t turn out to be true. Instead we want to be careful in the small things, so that we will be seen as trustworthy when we talk about what, or rather Who, really matters....
New study: Universe may be younger (or older) than scientists previously thought
The Associated Press headline read, "Study finds universe might be 2 billion years younger." While that wasn’t a complete come-to-creationism capitulation – even running with the new estimate would leave secular science more than 11 billion years off the biblical timescale – it seemed an encouraging development. Hey, they’re moving in the right direction! But it turns out the headline, while technically accurate, should have had the “might” underlined, italicized and bolded since there was quite the margin of error. Yes, Inh Jee and his team from the Max Plank Institute in Germany think the universe might be 11.4 billion years, which is down 2 billion from the conventionally held 13.7. But her margin of error is so large that the upper range of her team’s estimate would actually make the universe even older. Shucks. What’s still noteworthy, though, is simply that the age of the universe is still being debated. Did you know that was happening? Secular science is represented in the press and classrooms as having it all figured out. But this is another instance in which they’ve been left looking for their erasers, readying themselves for another correction to their ever-changing textbooks. In contrast Christians can be grateful for, and confident in, the unchanging source of truth God has given us in his Word....