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Saturday Selections – Dec. 3, 2022

Wage gap bake sale (4 min)

For a while "wage gap bake sales" were a thing at schools, where men would have to pay more for the baked goods than women. Why? To show them what it was like to be financially discriminated against. But the "wage gap" these sales were meant to highlight wasn't the act of discrimination that the feminist Left made it out to be. This video is a little over the top, but a good overall explanation.

What Kuyper can teach us about managing social media

Do we want the State doing it, or parents stepping in to save our kids from social media scarring? How you answer that will depend on what you expect from the "sphere" of State and "sphere" of family.

I am not my body?

To justify transgenderism, euthanasia, and more, the world subscribes to a dualism of body and self - ie. they say you are not your body. Then that allows them to also say you are not the sex you were born as since you are not your body. Or they can ignore caring for their elderly mother because that's not my mother; the "real her" left long ago. 

Christians would say we are not merely our body; there is more to us, but there isn't less, because our bodies are an integral part of who we are. This is a deeper article, but worth reading even if just to get the gist, because dualism is the worldview behind so much of what the world is promoting.

If Canada’s incoming "assisted dying" rules were there a decade ago, I’d be dead

Andrew Lawson explains how his struggle with depression a decade ago would likely have led to a state-assisted suicide, had that option been available then.

Honoring parents when they don't deserve it

Tim Challies speaks to the 5th commandment to honor our father and mother, and he addresses the hard cases of what that looks like with abusive or otherwise wicked parents.

Overly excited soccer announcer

Maybe you've come across one of these lately...

Assorted, Recent Articles, RP App

Getting used to a new church

The time may come when you must leave the church you grew up in and become a member elsewhere. Let me be clear: I’m not encouraging people to withdraw or change their denomination/federation. I’m referring to church changes that are made because of marriage, affordability of location, employment, or desire to live near loved ones. It’s a huge life change, so I’m offering some suggestions to help you get used to your new place of worship and fellowship. When will I feel at home? It helps a lot to know that you are going to feel weird for the first few Sundays, or possibly the first few months. You knew every nook and corner of your old church, when to stand or sit, and most of the faces were familiar. You had friends there. Suddenly, the rooms, the faces, and maybe even the music are different. After a while, you will adjust to the new situation. You will recognize a few faces, begin to build new friendships, and get used to the differences. One of the benefits of being in a new church is that you come in with a clean slate. Nobody knows about the silly or awful things you did as a teenager or young parent, or pre-judges you because of them. As we mature and grow in grace, we (hopefully) leave behind some of our follies and sins, and learn to treat people with more kindness and patience, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Col 3:13) We progressively learn how to love one another (I John 4:7-8). Sometimes it’s easier to “turn over a new leaf” in a new location. How not to choose a church What characteristics should you consider in a new-to-you church? What if you actually have two to three or more choices? On one of our moves, there were two excellent churches that were exactly 8 miles from our home. Which to choose? There are lots of ways that people make their final decisions about this – and some are better than others! Some folks might want to choose a church based on which one has the nicest facilities. While I have had wishful thinking for a large fellowship hall and useful kitchen, in over 40 years of marriage, those amenities have always been at the churches that we didn’t choose. When my husband enrolled in Westminster Seminary, he had no vehicle, and therefore planned to walk up a fairly steep hill to Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). His dormmate, Leigh, had a crush on a girl who attended a smaller OPC about eight miles away. He offered Dennis a ride, which sounded much better than hiking up the hill – especially in poor weather conditions. Though the ride was important, for Dennis it was a mixture of the pastor’s friendliness and his excellent sermons that kept him attending that small church in Blue Bell PA, and led to my membership as well for over 25 years (most of which were after it became a Canadian/American Reformed congregation). So far, we have seen that great facilities, desire for love, and convenience might be subjective reasons for choosing a particular church. But more should be said about the “friendliness factor.” Friendliness is important, but sometimes it is overrated as a standard for choosing a church. Countless times, people have told me that they didn’t choose Church A or Church B because when they attended 1-2 Sundays, nobody said hello to them. In fact, I have two friends who had opposite experiences within the same church! As the visitor, you will initially feel awkward and out of place and a friendly welcome could help to alleviate that emotion. On the other hand, you shouldn’t judge a church by that. Perhaps there were reasons why no one greeted you. Maybe they were rushing to deal with their children, or frustrated because their car broke down, or ill, or grieving. Maybe the official greeters were greeting someone else when you walked by. Don’t think that they don’t care about you – maybe they just don’t care about you yet. And on this topic, just a word to church members: please do reach out to people you don’t know at church with a welcome and a desire to learn more about who they are! Don’t be so caught up in your own usual group of people that you neglect to include people who want to be an asset to your church! Wouldn’t it be nice to have more people to share all the responsibilities? So, how do you choose? First and foremost, you need to choose a church where you will find the pure preaching of the Word of God, the proper administration of the sacraments, and the appropriate use of church discipline. Not all buildings with the designation of “church” preach the truth, and you need to carefully research before attending. Secondly, consider the location. When you are choosing where to worship, it is best to live close to your church if at all possible. Make living close to other church members a priority when you are house or apartment hunting. Why? Because we have found that visiting other members, and having other members visit us, is much more likely to happen if the distance between us is short. When you live 30-60 minutes away, there will be folks who don’t want to drive to your house. And people are more likely to drop off a meal 5 minutes away than 30-60 minutes away. We all get very busy in our lives, so if you can make fellowship and caring more convenient, why not do so? You don’t want to use “distance” as an excuse to not participate in the life of the church (or the Christian school).  Jump right in The way to feel a part of a new congregation is to get to know people, and the way to get acquainted is to get involved with smaller group meetings/service projects of any sort. In fact, this is probably the best way for introverts, especially, to begin feeling at home. Consider these examples that we have observed: Show up and work hard at a church maintenance day. One couple did this before they even officially joined. What a great opportunity to converse and demonstrate that they were serious about serving the Lord along with us. Attend the Ladies’ and Men’s Bible studies and take your children to youth meetings. Note the requests for meals for new mothers and shut-ins and sign up to help. Join the choir. Attend a baby shower even if you do not know the new mother – it’s a great way to get acquainted, and your attendance and a small gift are always appreciated. Shake the pastor’s hand and tell him who you are. Introduce yourself to one of the elders, or if they have cards in the pews, fill one out and place it in the offering plate. If you don’t want to be called, just give an email or home address. In my lifetime, I have noticed that churches are always happy to gain new members, and some of them will send you information about their church. Send get well or encouragement cards to people who are shut-ins or recovering from surgery. The inspiring Bible verses in them will be uplifting even if they haven’t met you yet. Knowing that someone cares and is praying for them is always appreciated. So what if they don’t know who you are – they will soon! Don’t sit back and wait for everyone to reach out to you. God calls all of us to help and encourage one another. Pray and ask Him to help you see ways to participate in your new church life. In Hebrews 10:24 we read, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Your efforts will bless someone. Conclusion Although you will feel out of place during the first few times you worship in your new location, gradually you will begin to feel at home. Serving the Lord – “Blooming where you are planted” – will bring you into contact with fellow members, and after a while, friendships are likely to form. Following some of these suggestions might just move things along a bit quicker....

In a Nutshell, Recent Articles, RP App

Tidbits – November 2022

Chesterton saw it coming… A hundred years ago, in the Aug 14, 1926 edition of the Illustrated London News, G.K. Chesterton wrote a column that could be a commentary on our own time. The extreme skepticism that leads some to reject God was going to lead them to reject ever more of the real world.  “The Declaration of Independence, once the charter of democracy, begins by saying that certain things are self-evident. If we were to trace the history of the American mind from Thomas Jefferson to William James, we should find that fewer and fewer things were self-evident, until at last hardly anything is self-evident. So far from it being self-evident to the modern that men are created equal, it is not self-evident that men are created, or even that men are men. They are sometimes supposed to be monkeys muddling through a transition stage before the Superman. But there is not only doubt about mystical things; not even only about moral things. There is most doubt of all about rational things. I do not mean that I feel these doubts, either rational or mystical; but I mean that a sufficient number of modern people feel them to make unanimity an absurd assumption. Reason was self-evident before Pragmatism. Mathematics were self-evident before Einstein. But this scepticism is throwing thousands into a condition of doubt, not about occult but about obvious things. We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four, in which furious party cries will be raised against anybody who says that cows have horns, in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening a mob with the news that grass is green. Thomas Sowell on those who can’t, critiquing those who do “The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society, except their constant criticisms, can feel both intellectually and morally superior.” Secular isn’t a synonym for neutral “It turns out that, however you might wish otherwise, you eventually wind up wherever it was you were going. If you get on the plane to Chicago, and I would ask you to follow me closely here, you are going to land in Chicago. We are now arriving where a godless education must necessarily go. The public schools in America were not secular, they were godless. The public schools in America were not neutral, they were godless. The public schools in America were not even agnostic, they were godless.” – Douglas Wilson Wit and wisdom of Benjamin Franklin While best known as one of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin was also a printer, postmaster, scientist, diplomat, and inventor. On top of all that, he had quite the reputation as a public wit, spouting such well-known aphorisms as “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead,“ “Fish and visitors stink after three days,“ and “Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.” While he was likely not Christian (he seemed to deny Christ’s deity) many of his common-sense witticisms have some depth to them. Might it be because he was riffing off of the inspired Word? What follows are a few Franklin selections paired with texts that say something similar. Is the connection real or imagined?  “Well done is better than well said.” “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22 “Fools need advice most, but wise men only are the better for it.” “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” – Prov 12:15 “He’s a fool that cannot conceal his wisdom.” “A prudent person conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.” – Prov 12:23 “He that lies down with dogs, shall arise with fleas.” “One who walks with wise people will be wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Prov. 13:20 “Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.” “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” –Philippians 2:3 Lyric of the month This might be an oldie but it is a real goodie from the Newsboys: Real Good Thing Born to sin / and then get caught. All our good deeds / don’t mean squat.  Sell the Volvo / shred the Visa, send the cash to Ma Teresa. Great idea / the only catch is you don’t get saved / on merit badges. Doctor’s coming / looking grim: "Do you have a favorite hymn?"  Check your balance through the years, All accounts are in arrears. Guilt is bitter. / Grace is sweet. Park it here / on the Mercy Seat.  When we don’t get what we deserve, that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve, that’s a real good thing. Why is only the other side quoting the Bible? In US politics one party is still acknowledging God’s Word as authoritative. And it’s not the Republicans. In an October debate with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Democratic challenger Charlie Crist alluded to both Matthew 7:1 and 7:12 to, blasphemously, defend abortion and to justify allowing double mastectomies and other genital mutilations on children. “I believe that we need to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. It’s called the Golden Rule…. we’re all children of God. And that doesn’t mean that you are the one who’s supposed to judge what others are supposed to do, particularly women, with their bodies.” A month earlier, another prominent Democrat, California governor Gavin Newsom, ran billboards in Mississippi and Oklahoma that read: “Need an abortion? California is ready to help.” This offer of abortion was justified with Mark 12:31, included underneath, which reads “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Such mangling of the Bible for political purposes is nothing new of course. In the 2004 presidential campaign, the Democratic contender, John Kerry, called “Honor your Father and your Mother…one of the oldest Commandments” seemingly unaware that God gave all Ten Commandments at the same time. But even as Democrats continue to cite the Bible, it’s worth considering, why does it increasingly seem that the only folks willing to quote God’s Word are the murderers and mutilators? They do so blasphemously, taking God’s Words in vain… but in a strange way they, at least, are treating God’s Word as both relevant and authoritative in the public sphere. Hit back? It is a Christian parent’s repeated role to explain to their pint-size progeny that Jesus did not tell us to“do unto others as they did to us.” But, as Greg Koukl recently pointed out, there can come a time in debate or discussion when that is good advice – you may need to give as good as you got. It is the appropriate response when someone tries to pin you with what’s called the “Kafka Trap.” In his novel The Trial, Franz Kafka presented a Soviet-style interrogation where the denial of something would be presented as proof of guilt. So, for example: I think you have a drug addiction What? I do not! That just proves it – drug addicts always deny it! Today this Trap is most often used to accuse people of racism: if you deny you’re racist, that just proves that you are. When you’re hit with this you’re-hooped-either-way attack, Greg Koukl offers this tactic: do unto them as they’ve done to you ...accept his approach, then turn the Kafka trap back on him. Here’s an example: “I knew you’d say that, and I’m glad you did.” “What! Why?” “Because it proves you’re wrong.” “Huh?” “No one says that unless they’re mistaken. Don’t you see it?” “No.” “That’s even more proof you’re wrong. Sorry.” Or… “Do you know what ‘social justice’ means?” “Of course I do.” “That proves you don’t. No one who really understands social justice thinks he understands it.” Doing to others as they’ve done to you isn’t wrong here because this isn’t about revenge, but rather clarity. You’re exposing them for just how insubstantial their rhetoric really is. Coaches with a parenting tip for us all It’s said that practice makes better… but better at what? A basketball player that practices badly will engrain those bad habits. Then, whatever he might be doing wrong, whether it’s a high dribble, or putting no arc on his shot – he’ll actually get more consistently bad by practicing at it. And parents, the same is true for our children: if they’re mouthing off with regularity, or responding with the right words but the wrong tone, they are practicing being bad. And if that’s left uncorrected then they’ll get really good at being bad… especially when they hit the teen years. So just as it is important to practice basketball the right way, our kids need to not just say the words, but practice saying them the right way… lest they be practicing and reinforcing and engraining the wrong way. Free vs. free “There are constant calls from NDP candidates and MPs for free post-secondary tuition, free childcare, free dental care, free drugs (both pharmaceutical and recreational), free housing, free wifi . . . even free money (Universal Basic Income). The only thing they don’t want free is ‘dom’ . . . (as in freedom). They don’t want a free press. They don’t want free speech. They don’t want parents free to raise their children as they see fit. They don’t want a free conscience. They don’t want free thinkers at universities. – Christian Heritage Party leader Rod Taylor, “Socialism …on the Instalment Plan”...

Recent Articles, RP App, Science - Environment

7 biblical principles of environmental stewardship

As environmental issues have become centerpieces in recent elections, policy-making, and public discourse, Christians must promote a biblical understanding of what the environment is, what humanity’s relationship with the environment is, and what God’s plan for the environment is. The mandate to care for the planet – including the animals, plants, land, water, and air – is a theme present throughout God’s Word. Christians have a responsibility to articulate these biblical principles and to shape environmental public policy in a way that is consistent with Scripture. Here are seven biblical principles about the environment and how humanity should interact with the non-human creation. These principles form building blocks for a Reformed Christian perspective on public policy concerning environmental care and expose flaws in other environmental perspectives. PRINCIPLE 1 God, the Creator of all things, has commanded mankind to exercise fruitful stewardship over His creation “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”1 Those opening words of Scripture form the foundation of environmental stewardship. Because He created the earth and everything in it, God is the sole proprietor of all creation. All of creation belongs to Him.2 No human can lay ultimate claim over any aspect of creation – land, natural resources, or animals. Nevertheless, God delegated authority over creation to humanity at the very beginning of history. In Genesis 1:28, often called the cultural mandate, God commands mankind to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”3 In Genesis 2:16, He also placed the man “in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Caring for the earth is one of God’s purposes for humanity. The first command in the cultural mandate - be fruitful - can be understood through the Parable of the Talents.4 In this parable, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God, which encompasses all of creation, to a master who entrusts his property to his three servants. The servants understand that the property under their care is not ultimately theirs but belongs to their master. This master will eventually demand an account of how his servants managed his property. The two servants who fruitfully invested their master’s money were rewarded. The third servant, who neglected to fruitfully invest it, was condemned for his unproductivity. If the servant who allowed his master’s property to remain stagnant was condemned, how much worse would it be for a servant who deliberately wastes or ruins his master’s resources? This framework of fruitful stewardship over financial resources can also be applied to mankind’s treatment of the rest of creation. God entrusts the non-human creation to humanity, not necessarily so that humanity can simply preserve it in its natural state, but so that humanity might be fruitful with it.5 This requires mankind to develop and transform the earth’s natural resources, while also preserving ecosystems that provide valuable goods and services to mankind and that declare the glory of God (see Principle 2). Progress and development are implicit commands of God.6 As Dr. Cornelis Van Dam writes: “The divine mandate involves harnessing creation’s resources and making the most of its potential while being careful to use the resources wisely… It is telling that although the world began with a garden it will end with a great and beautiful city.”7 At the end of our lives or at the end of the world, God will reward those who fruitfully managed the creation that He has given to humanity, but will punish those who have not repented from their neglect or active destruction of it. Fruitful stewardship is mandatory. PRINCIPLE 2 All creation is valuable, but humanity, as the image-bearers of God, is the most valuable created being Scripture demonstrates that the whole of creation has intrinsic worth in the sight of God.8 After each day of creation, God declared his creation to be good – day and night, land and sea and air, plants, sea creatures, birds, and all animals.9 He commands the living creatures to “be fruitful and multiply”10 and to “abound on the earth.”11 After the great flood, God covenants with Noah and “every living creature” that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood (Genesis 9:8-17); in this passage, God mentions “every living creature” six times.12 God also covenants with the earth (Genesis 9:13) and the day and the night (Jeremiah 33:19-25). The book of Job and the Psalms abound with descriptions of how God delights in His creation. Matthew 6:25-33 also illustrates God’s care for His creation; He feeds the birds of the air and clothes the grass of the field with glorious lilies. The various parts of creation, in turn, also declare the glory of their Creator.13 The environment also has value to mankind.14 The resources of creation have – food, water, air, stone, wood, metals – nourish us and allow us to improve our standard of living. Creation provides many ongoing services that are indispensable to human flourishing:15 For example, plants use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide into the oxygen required for human respiration. Because creation is valuable both in the sight of God and humanity, God decreed how Israel was to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment in the Old Testament. Humanity was to allow animals to rest on the Sabbath16 and to treat animals well.17 Productive fruit trees were not to be cut down during the siege of a city, so that the productive capacity of the land would not be diminished.18 Even the land itself was supposed to rest fallow every seven years.19 Although these commands were made in the specific context of Old Testament Israel, the underlying principle to be responsible stewards over creation still applies. While God values all of His creation, He uniquely values mankind that He made in His image.20 Although after every day of creation God pronounced His creation to be good, God declared that creation was very good only after His creation of man. Thus, humanity is not merely equal to the animals or some other part of creation. He set humanity to rule over the rest of creation and gave plants21 and later animals22 to humanity as food. God established His original covenant with humanity and made humanity the object of this covenant. And, in Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus says that if God devotes such care for birds and grass, how much more will He care for humanity? Thus, a hierarchy exists in the created order.23 God, the sovereign and providential Creator, presides over both humanity and the other parts of creation. Humanity, the image-bearers of God, is below God but above the rest of creation.24 The non-human creation, although inherently valuable in the sight of God and man, rests at the bottom of this hierarchy. Humanity therefore should not adopt a “biocentric” philosophy that aims to preserve all life, nor an “ecocentric” philosophy that aims to preserve the environment in its natural state, nor an “anthropocentric” view in which nature’s only purpose is to serve humanity. Instead, humanity should adopt a “theocentric” view of both caring for and subduing the rest of creation in a manner prescribed by God.25 PRINCIPLE 3 God commands that humanity exercise both dominion and care over all of creation 26 In the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28, God commands humanity to have dominion over the earth and to subdue it. Theologians point out that the original Hebrew word for subdue (kavash) is a “fairly strong term” that “means to overpower, to conquer, to bring under control.”27 This subduing of the environment includes extracting the natural resources of creation to increase human standards of living (both before and after sin infected the world). For example, God created hills out of which humanity “can dig copper”28 and trees that men could “cut down” for wood.29 Jesus both curses an unfruitful fig tree and suggests that it should be cut down, for “why should it use up the ground?”30 The Mosaic Law prescribed a number of practices to prevent the spread of disease. Unfortunately, our ability to properly exercise dominion over God’s creation is limited by humanity’s finitude and is marred by sin.31 Humanity has the capacity to overconsume, pollute, and destroy as we endeavour to exercise dominion over the non-human creation.32 Focusing only on Genesis 1:28 may lead us to think we have the “right to do anything we want to the earth”33 – that the sole purpose of the environment is to serve as raw materials to fuel human needs and desires.34 We might ignore the health of other living creatures or long-term sustainability. In case humanity is tempted to simply exploit nature, God balances this command to subdue the earth by revealing His purpose for humanity: to keep (ESV), to take care of (NIV), to tend (NKJV), or even to serve(YLT) the garden.35 Exclusive attention to this command in Genesis 2:15 may also lead to an incomplete understanding of environmental stewardship. Under a care-only philosophy, humanity is to preserve the environment the way it is, to never harm or kill animals, or to make conservation the highest calling of humanity. Combining the commands of both of these verses (subdue and serve) may seem contradictory, but a proper Christian understanding of these terms makes them perfectly compatible. Authority and service go hand in hand within families, within government institutions, and within environmental stewardship.36 Christians acknowledge that human beings have an imperfect capacity to exercise responsible stewardship over the rest of creation. This requires humanity to continuously refine and re-evaluate its exercise of dominion and stewardship over the environment. We should study how our activities may threaten animal species, interfere with a nutrient cycle, or pollute a water source. The solution to imperfect stewardship is not to abandon the responsibility of stewardship altogether, but to develop our stewardship techniques. PRINCIPLE 4 God commands humanity to multiply and fill the earth In the cultural mandate, God also commands humanity to multiply and to fill the earth, exercising stewardship – fruitfulness, dominion, and care – as they go.37 Indeed, He scattered humanity when they failed to spread out around the world.38 Humanity’s capacity for multiplying and filling the earth expanded markedly with the Industrial Revolution and modern medicine, prior to which the world population grew much more slowly and numbered only in the hundreds of millions. Earth’s population has multiplied many times over in the past two centuries, reaching approximately 7.8 billion people in 2020. The UN projects that the human population will peak at around 11 billion by the end of the century.39 Although this rapid population growth allows humanity to fulfil God’s command to multiply and fill the earth at a whole new level, this significant growth has come with growing pains. This growth has led to problems such as the overexploitation of natural resources and excessive pollution. However, these problems are the result of specific human choices and habits, such as rampant materialism and consumerism,40 not simply the overall number of people. Although a large and growing population may exacerbate existing problems and even create new challenges, a growing population should be considered inherently good. Indeed, “inquisitive, creative, and resourceful human beings” are “the ultimate resource” in this world.41 Many secular environmentalists fail to recognize this. In their zeal to care for the environment, they oppose both population growth and particular human habits. Some go so far as to claim that humanity is a parasite destroying the environment, worthy of eradication.42 But such a perspective ignores the fact that God has placed humanity as active stewards over His creation. Human multiplication must be considered “a blessing, not a curse.”43 PRINCIPLE 5 Although God allows humanity to suffer the consequences of poor environmental stewardship, the end of history will occur according to God’s sovereign plan A society’s eschatology – their view of how the world will end – will inform its policies on environmental stewardship. Secular environmentalists, ignoring the creation and providence of God, attribute the end of the world to human action or some natural disaster – an asteroid, a virus, or variation in the sun’s rays, for example. The fate of the planet rests in either the hands of humanity or the whims of chance. A biblical worldview, however, understands that all of history, including the end of this world, is directed by God. God “created heaven and earth and everything in them” and continually “upholds and rules them by His eternal counsel and providence.”44 This includes animals, plants, and the physical environment. God upholds His creation in ways we describe as laws of nature (e.g. the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, the law of biogenesis, etc.). Indeed, these laws of nature illustrate the covenant faithfulness of God.45Although humanity may mistakenly ascribe these laws of nature to nature itself, Christians know that these laws are issued by a Supreme Lawgiver. Absolutely nothing in creation occurs without God’s direction or permission. Despite the reality of God’s providence, God also allows humans to suffer the natural consequences of their actions. Adam and Eve’s disobedience and its consequence – the introduction of sin and evil into a good world – profoundly changed creation.46 As a consequence of man’s actions, God said, “Cursed is the ground because of  you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.”47 These thorns and thistles represent how all of creation has been impacted by the Fall. Because of the original human sin, the living creation now naturally experiences suffering, sickness, and death.48 Romans 8:19-23 also speaks about how “creation was subjected to futility,” is in “bondage to corruption,” and is “groaning together in the pains of childbirth.” In the same way humanity must continue to grapple with the environmental effects of sin today. Human activity can cause catastrophic environmental damage (e.g. the Chernobyl nuclear disaster or the Exxon-Valdez oil spill). A basic Christian eschatology does not “guarantee that some form of global or cosmic catastrophe will be averted,” just as we do not believe that any natural catastrophe – a devastating earthquake, hurricane, or volcanic eruption – will be averted because of God’s promise to Noah.49 Although God allows humanity to suffer the environmental consequences of sinful actions or negligence, the fate of the world is in God’s hands, not in human hands. Many prophesy that human activity will cause an environmental apocalypse, while others envision a technological utopia. Christians should reject both visions as unfounded. Although human care and dominion may contribute to the redemption or reconciliation of creation, only God can ultimately fix the sin and brokenness that afflicts this world.50 PRINCIPLE 6 God created the environment to be simultaneously resilient and dynamic 51 God created every individual organism, plant, animal, person, and the wider environment with an astounding resiliency. The human body, for example, can survive weeks without food, can heal cuts to its skin, and can run a marathon. The earth also has positive and negative feedback loops that keep weather patterns predictable, animal populations in check, and nutrients recycling themselves all across the globe. However, the environment is also fragile.52 Microscopic doses of certain natural and man-made drugs are lethal.53 An extra copy of a particular gene on a particular chromosome causes Down syndrome. The eruption of a single volcano – such as the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 – can temporarily lower the world temperature and cause local or global famines. A single virus like COVID-19 can kill millions of people worldwide. The environment is sufficiently resilient to support huge numbers of people, even well beyond the current number, without apocalyptic impacts to our atmosphere, oceans, or critical habitats, if managed well.54This is a comfort to Christians who rest in the sustaining, providential care of God who will bring history to its conclusion in His timing. But the environment is not so resilient that we can do whatever we want without regard for our impact on the environment. The fragility of the environment necessitates the exercise of environmental stewardship by Christians and non-Christians alike so that we do not reap the consequences of our unwise actions.55 PRINCIPLE 7 Although cost-benefit analysis is an important tool to determine the wise use of resources, cost-benefit analysis cannot be completely comprehensive Many attempts to preserve or exploit the environment stem from an incomplete assessment of the value of the environment. Carefully weighing the costs and benefits is required in effective environmental stewardship.56 Of course, the challenge is to account for all the relevant costs and benefits (e.g. monetary, health, and environmental costs and benefits across wide swaths of the human population) as much as is reasonably possible. These costs and benefits cannot be properly estimated by experts in any single field. Although ecologists, biologists, chemists, and atmospheric and environmental scientists may lead the evaluation of the effect on the environment, experts in other fields – economics, political science, law, ethics, sociology, and psychology – must also contribute to developing the best human response. However, much debate exists about how to value the benefits that the environment provides and the cost of disturbing the environment. Some secular environmentalists, immersed in their study of nature, assign almost infinite value to the natural environment. Other professionals and laypersons, ignorant of the existence of many goods and services that the environment provides, assign virtually no value to the environment. Both forms of creation’s value mentioned earlier – its intrinsic value in God’s sight and its utilitarian value to humanity – must be considered when estimating costs and benefits. It is impossible to precisely appraise this value that God places on His creation and plug it into a cost-benefit equation. Instead, Christians should marvel at the handiwork of God, remembering that humanity is a steward of His creation. Even if a forest did not help convert carbon dioxide into oxygen or its trees provide useful timber for construction, it still reflects God’s creativity and praises Him; it should not be destroyed without ample cause, even if humanity cannot assign monetary costs and benefits to it. Thus, although empirical cost-benefit analysis is critically important, the moral component of environmental stewardship must be considered as well. CONCLUSION These seven principles outline a faithful Christian understanding of environmental stewardship that is fundamentally different from a secular understanding of the environment. Christian environmental stewardship recognizes that the environment is the creation of God and properly understands the responsibility of humanity, as the image-bearers of God, to exercise stewardship over the resilient yet fragile environment. Although humanity should carefully consider the consequences of their actions, Christians understand that God – not man – controls the end the world. May each of us be active, biblical stewards of the world that God has entrusted to our care! Levi Minderhoud is the BC Manager for ARPA Canada where he endeavors to bring biblical principles to bear on political issues of all stripes. In his spare time, he enjoys playing hockey, tickling the ivory, sharpening his wits with a good board game, and fellowshipping with friends and family. He and his family reside in Mission, BC, and attend the neighboring Abbotsford United Reformed Church. This is a slightly abbreviated version of a longer article available at ARPACanada.ca. References and Notes 1) Genesis 1:1 2) Psalm 24:1 3) See also Genesis 1:29 and Psalm 115:16 4) Matthew 25:14-30 5) Timothy Bloedow, Environmentalism and the Death of Science (Ontario: Freedom Press Canada Inc., 2008), 41–42. 6) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” in Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition (Grand Rapids, MI: Acton Institute, 2007), 44–45; Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (New York: Random house, 2006). 7) Cornelis Van Dam, God and Government, 178; see also Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, 322. and Timothy Bloedow, Environmentalism and the Death of Science, 43 8) Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 120. 9) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” 35. 10) Genesis 1:22 11) Genesis 8:17 12) Genesis 9:9-10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17; see also Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 92. 13) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” 36. See also Job 38-41; Psalm 19; Psalm 104; Psalm 148; and Psalm 150 14) E. Calvin Beisner, Creation Stewardship: Evaluating Competing Views (The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, 2020), 10. 15) Sandra Diaz et al, “Assessing Nature’s Contribution to People,” Science Magazine 359, no. 6376 (2018): 270–72; W. M. Adams, “The Value of Valuing Nature,” Science Magazine 346, no. 6206 (2014): 549–51; Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 157. 16) Exodus 20:10; 23:12; 34:21 17) Deuteronomy 25:4; Proverbs 12:10 18) Deuteronomy 20:19-20 19) Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25 20) Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, 325; see also Matthew 12:12, 10:31 21) Genesis 1:29 22) Genesis 9:2-3 23) Cornelis Van Dam, God and Government, 173. 24) See Psalm 8 25) Calvin Beisner et al., “A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship,” in Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, n.d., 70; Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 78, 96–98, 112. 26) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” 39. 27) Cornelis Van Dam, God and Government, 176. 28) Deuteronomy 8:9 29) Deuteronomy 19:5 and 2 Kings 6:4 30) Matthew 21:18-22 and Luke 13:6-9 31) James R. Skillen, “Stewardship and the Kingdom of God,” in Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creation Care, ed. David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun (Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College Press, 2019), 102. 32) Calvin Beisner et al., “A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship,” 84. 33) David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun, Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creational Care (Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College Press, 2019), 9, 12–13. 34) David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun, 12–13. 35) Genesis 2:15; for a fuller explanation of how humanity is to “serve” the garden, see Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 64. 36) Steven Bouma-Prediger, “From Stewardship to Earthkeeping: Why We Should Move beyond Stewardship,” in Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creation Care, ed. David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun (Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College Press, 219AD), 81–91. 37) Genesis 1:28 38) Genesis 11:1-9 39) United Nations, “Population,” 2020, https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/population/index.html. 40) Steven Bouma-Prediger, “From Stewardship to Earthkeeping: Why We Should Move Beyond Stewardship,” 71. 41) David VanDrunen, Politics after Christendom: Political Theology in a Fractured World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2020), 243; Robert A. Sirico, “The Ultimate Economic Resource,” Acton Institute, 2010, https://www.acton.org/pub/religion-liberty/volume-8-number-3/ultimate-economic-resource; Julian L. Simon, The Ultimate Resource (United States: Princeton University Press, 1996). 42) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” 51; Timothy Bloedow, Environmentalism and the Death of Science, 31; Cornelis Van Dam, God and Government, 182; Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible. 43) Calvin Beisner et al., “A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship,” 86. 44) Heidelberg Catechism, Question and Answer 26; see also Question and Answer 27 for a definition of providence 45) Arnold E. Sikkema, “Laws of Nature and God’s Word for Creation,” Fideles 2 (2007). 46) Genesis 3; Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 6 47) Genesis 3:17-19 48) Clarence W. Joldersma, “The Responsibility of Earthlings for the Earth: Graciousness, Lament, and the Call for Justice,” 63–64. 49) David Atkinson, “Climate Change and the Gospel: Why We in the Church Need to Treat Climate Change More Urgently” (Operation Noah, 2015), 17–18, http://operationnoah.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Climate-and-Gospel-David-Atkinson-30-01-2015.pdf. 50) Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley, A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, 133; David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun, Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creational Care, 6. 51) Timothy Bloedow, Environmentalism and the Death of Science, 2. 52) Richard A. Swenson, “How Balance Is Displayed in Every Quadrant of the Created Order,” in In Search of Balance (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2010). 53) For example, the lethal ingestion dose of botulinum toxin is 30 nanograms; 39.2 grams of the toxin would “be sufficient to eradicate humankind;” see Ram Kumar Dhaked et al., “Botulinum Toxin: Bioweapon & Magic Drug,” The Indian Journal of Medical Research 132, no. 5 (November 2010): 489–503. 54) Michael Shellenberger, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, Digital Edition (Harper Collins, 2020). 55) David Atkinson, “Climate Change and the Gospel: Why We in the Church Need to Treat Climate Change More Urgently,” 13. 56) Cornwall Alliance, “The Biblical Perspective of Environmental Stewardship: Subduing and Ruling the Earth to the Glory of God and the Benefit of Our Neighbors”; Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, 58; see also Luke 14:28...

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Saturday Selections – Nov 12, 2022

Should Christians use someone's "personal pronouns"? (12 min) J.D Greear, former president of the conservative-learning Southern Baptist Conference, said he would, if asked, refer to a man as "she" and he would do so out of a "generosity of spirit." This is a pitting of truth vs. love, with Greear choosing to side with love. But it is a false contrast. In the same way that it would not be loving to affirm an anorexic in their delusion, it's not loving to affirm a transgender in their lie. As James White notes, some of the Christian confusion here comes from believing there is some sort of moral neutral ground. And some of it comes from not being prepared to pay the cost for standing up for God's Truth. (For more see When Steve wants to be called Sue.) Tim Challies on love covering a multitude of sins "There are as many ways to react badly to sin as there are ways to sin against one another. There are not nearly as many ways to react well to being sinned against. The Bible gives us two: lovingly overlook that sin or lovingly address that sin. The question is, when are we to overlook and when are we to address?" The "knockout punch" syndrome Gary Bates explains "why creationists are sometimes too quick to embrace the latest apparent ‘evidence’ for biblical creation." The problem with declaring a "pandemic amnesty" The problem isn't simply that mistakes were made when we didn't have enough information. The problem was, "when we did not have adequate information to know what was best, interventionist policymakers nevertheless acted as if they did know." Though this isn't a specifically Christian article (it cites a rabbi), it has thoughts on the nature of forgiveness and repentance which aren't far off. The case for kids (10-minute read) Kevin DeYoung: "I do not urge Christian couples to have as many children as possible. But I do urge them to have more children." On the significance of beards The beardless John Piper recommended this article, and I, equally beardless, add my kudos. In an emasculated world, beards can be a bit of a counter-protest and even a signpost. Voddie Baucham on how they're normalizing sin to our children... and us too (10 min) I've been asked why I wear pro-life shirts; do they prompt conversations? And the answer is, no, most often they don't. I either get a thumbs up, or a lady might make a throat clearing, scoffing sound. So, why wear them then? And why put a pro-life sign on your lawn, or an "Adoption, not Abortion" bumpersticker on your car? To, as one friend put it, normalize dissent. In our godless age, God's Truth is so infrequently presented that when it is, it might well be immediately ruled out as the crazy thoughts of some fringe minority. But the unborn's defenders number in the millions; we're no fringe element. We only seem like it because we're being quiet. So, to further the case for the unborn – to get it moved out of the crazy camp to a place where conversations can happen – we need to normalize being pro-life. The video below is on how impactful normalization can be, though the other way around. Consider just how many Christians feel uncomfortable when God's thoughts on homosexuality are shared publicly. That's the culture impacting us. And now, through children's shows, the world is trying to impact our kids: from Peppa Pig and Muppet Babies to Sesame Street and Blue's Clues. They seek to normalize what God condemns. Countering this involves more than just shutting off these shows (though it certainly involves that too). There's really no escaping the pervasiveness of this normalization effort. So we must acquaint our children with both God's truth and how to most winsomely communicate that truth on issues like transgenderism, and homosexuality, the unborn, marriage and more. And we need to hear preaching that isn't embarrassed by God's stand, but highlights how our good God, who loves us, knows what is best for us. ...

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Say what? Insights from the "Devil's Dictionary"

Ambrose Bierce (1842- circa 1914) was an American satirist best known for his Devil’s Dictionary. In it he sought to “improve” on Noah Webster’s famous work by providing definitions that weren’t so much devilish as cynical. And a cynic was, so Bierce defined him, “A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. “ Now God says unbelievers are fools (Ps. 14:1) so it follows they shouldn’t be our go-to source for wisdom. That makes it all the funnier/that-much-more-embarrassing when an unbeliever sees something we’ve missed. It is, for example, quite a shock to the system when Bierce sees through the fundamental flaw in the conservative political position, noting that most who go by this label aren’t principled, but are simply “conserving” whatever it is the liberals pushed through in the years preceding! If even an agnostic – if even a blind man – can see through the folly of unprincipled conservatism, we Christians – who have been gifted God’s illuminating Word – really have no excuse for supporting it. This is a rebuke delivered via the mouth of a donkey. What follows below are a few of the diamonds from Ambrose’s dictionary, sifted out from the dross. Admiration: Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves. Christian: One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. Conservative: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a Liberal who wishes to replace them with others. Education: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. Egotist: A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. Idleness: A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices. Once: Enough. Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. Quotation: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. Radicalism: The conservatism of tomorrow injected into the affairs of today. Referendum: law for submission of proposed legislation to a popular vote to learn the nonsensus of public opinion. Tariff: A scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer. And finally, others have taken up Bierce's diabolical definitions. Two of these selections are often attributed to Bierce, but probably in error. Atheism: The belief that man is god, a god who eventually and invariably takes incarnational shape in the form of the state – Douglas Wilson Classic: A book which people praise but don't read. – Mark Twain Lottery: A tax on people bad at math. – Ambrose Bierce? Racist: Anyone winning an argument with a liberal. Sweater: Garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. – Ambrose Bierce? Transgender: The application of blackface to gender issues. – Douglas Wilson...

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Aging in hope!

I am 68 years of age and retired, so I suppose I am considered old. In our politically correct times, I am called either a “senior citizen" or "chronologically gifted." What is aging? How do we react to it? These questions are no longer academic for me. When I was in my teens, I thought that people in their fifties were old. At this juncture in my life, a fifty-year-old seems relatively youthful. So aging is ambiguous. Bernard Nash describes aging as a paradox: "Does it not strike you that we all want to live longer but none of us want to grow old?" Throughout our lives we think other people grow older until we gradually realize that we ourselves have aged. Some say that aging can be compared with the fall season when the fruits ripen and the leaves fall; others claim that the moment of aging has arrived when the sum total of memories has become greater than our expectations. Aging, says the American gerontologist Howel, "is not a simple slope which everyone slides down at the same speed. It is a flight of irregular stairs down which some journey more quickly than others." To grow old also means to lose acquaintances and lifelong friends to distance, illness, and death. Obituaries testify that life is the process of aging, and aging is the steady progress of dying within us. Every moment we are alive, we are aging. Life and death are intimately linked. The day is coming when all our earthly possessions will be swept away, including our ability to enjoy them. This is not a morbid view of life – it is simply reality. As the 17th century poet Robert Herrick wrote, Gather ye rose-buds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying. And this same flower, that smile today, Tomorrow will be dying. So how do we cope with aging? We live in a society that has shown little understanding of growing old, and valued it even less. The Christian literature on aging seems sparse, with far more attention paid to child-rearing. Too little attention has been given to caring for aged parents. DENIAL CAN'T LAST It’s seems the fear of aging has contributed to a denial of reality – if we don’t talk about it, maybe it won’t happen to us, right? This sort of denial is why some find visiting a nursing home a burden. They can't imagine themselves ever being there. They don’t want the reminder of their own mortality. Our society views frankness about death as deviant, a subject not to be discussed in polite company. For many death is the last taboo in Western culture; for others it has become an exploited sentimentality: people don't attend funerals anymore, but instead “celebrations of a life lived.” And when they do talk about death, it is to make light of it, with styrofoam tombstones on the front yard on All Hallows’ Eve. But their atheistic naturalism leaves them unable to face the brute finality of death. And because they are unwilling to return to a biblical perspective, a new generation puts their faith in reports of out-of-body experiences and in New Age mysticism. Still, try as it might, the world cannot keep death out of sight and mind. The moment we are born, we begin to die. PERPETUAL TEENAGERS The world’s death denial is evident, too, in how it is now a common goal among the aged to stay young. Or, rather, not just stay young, but stay immature. Whereas in the past becoming an adult was the ideal, today the older generation wants to look as young as possible, with some trying to camouflage their age by dressing like teenagers. In his own inimitable and not very flattering way, British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge reported on a month he spent at a resort in Florida. He said that everything was done to make senior citizens feel that they were not really aged, but still full of zest and expectations; if not teenagers, then keenagers. These seniors, he said, had withered bodies arrayed in dazzling summer wear, hollow eyes glaring out of garish caps, skulls plastered with cosmetics, lean shanks tanned a rich brown, bony buttocks encased in scarlet trousers. Muggeridge's description may be exaggerated, but it does say something about the affect contemporary youth culture has on our society. It has a negative and morbid view of aging. FOREVER ON EARTH? The advertisement industry contributes to this mood. Wherever we look, there are ads for anti-aging creams, yoga routines, nutritional programs, and medical interventions. Growing old is seen not so much as part of the human condition but rather as a solvable medical and scientific problem. Hence, doctors and scientists search for a solution to the "problem of old age." What are the chances that scientific advance will find a way to extend life indefinitely? A number of investors have paid large sums to have their bodies frozen at death by means of cryogenics, which is used to freeze beef and vegetables, as well as people. But as Dr. Russell points out in his secular work Good News About Aging, those who cherish dreams of being defrosted and living forever some time hence are probably cherishing an implausible dream because freezing destroys human body cells. He adds: "…even if we can overcome this and other problems, no scientific evidence suggests that we can expect to eliminate death now or in the future because all things break down over time." And what if we could live forever? In our fallen world, would we really want to? In his 1922 play The Makropulos Secret, Karel Capek probes this issue with the 337-year-old character Emilia, who notes: "… no one can love for three hundred years – it cannot last. And then everything tires one. It tires one to be good, it tires one to be bad. The whole earth tires one. And then you find out there is nothing at all: no sin, no pain, no earth, nothing." What a hideous future! To be given an everlasting longevity without being regenerated by the Holy Spirit, without hope to be with the Lord in the new heaven and earth, is a dismal prospect. It is to live under a curse. If we could live on in this world with all its pain, conflicts, without solving the immense human problems, a medically-expanded life would simply set the stage for more of same human conflicts and social injustices. IMPATIENCE INSTEAD OF HONOR Death denial is also evident in our youth’s treatment of the elderly. Aging frustrates modern youth – it interferes with their desire "to get things done." Have you ever noticed the impatience shown in a lineup at the bank when a senior is trying to carry out a transaction? Their slower pace often exasperates the clerk and the younger customers waiting for their turn. These young people can’t imagine ever being in the same situation. Sure, other people age…but not them. The conflict between the generations is a subject of much discussion. Many seem to view aging as a process to endure and suffer through, rather than as a temporally contingent gift from God to be approached with gratitude. The Canadian philosopher George Grant observed that old age is more and more seen as an unalleviated disaster, not only for those outside of it but by those people who are old themselves. And he noted that we do not see age as that time when the eternal can be realized, and we therefore pity the aged as coming to the end of historic existence. Sociologists even refer to ageism, which can be defined as a general distaste for the elderly in our culture – equivalent to racial prejudice, but in this case unfair generalizations are made about any who are old: “all elderly people are forgetful," "all elderly people are ill-tempered," "all elderly people suffer from depression,” or “mental impairment is endemic to aging.” Contrary to the myth about aging, seniors do not necessarily decline in intelligence or lose their decision-making abilities. History gives us countless examples of creative, active, and productive seniors. At 71, Michelangelo (1475-1564) was appointed the chief architect of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. After he was 63 years old, Joost Van den Vondel (1587-1679), Holland's greatest poet, wrote Jephta, Lucifer and Adam in ballingschap (Adam in exile). George Bernhard Shaw (1856-1679), Irish dramatist and author, wrote Farfetched Fables at 93. Polish-born Arthur Rubinstein (1888-1982) gave a stunning performance at Carnegie Hall at the age of 90. Like these famous people, there are millions of elderly people who are still productive and active in their own way and want to remain so. Ageism seems to comes about because people know little about old age, and because what they know is based on myth and fear. People even talk about generational wars. In recent years, the conflict between the generations has become most noticeable due to the decreasing ability of government to pay for health and pension benefits. The pinch is already provoking generational conflict in the ambitious welfare states of Northern Europe, where birthrates and immigration rates are lower than in the United States and where the elderly wield considerable political clout. Young Europeans are complaining about the high cost of healthcare for the elderly, and are resentful of fees that are eroding the tradition of free university education. One German youth leader gained notoriety by suggesting that old folks should use crutches rather than seek expensive hip replacements. Unfortunately, this generational conflict is also seen in churches today. Seniors don't like to call their dominee “pastor Jack” and they certainly don’t like his casual appearance when he comes visiting. But when a vacant church thinks of calling a pastor there is a strong emphasis on youth. It seems that some search committees look for a twenty-five-year-old man with thirty years of experience. A CHRISTIAN ALTERNATIVE The differences between the generations don't need to lead to conflicts. Christians can offer alternative understandings of aging. The Bible views the conflict between generations as abnormal. Yes, youth is a wonderful thing, but it is not the only thing. It is a blessing in many ways, but it can, on some occasions even be a curse. When Isaiah pronounced judgment on Jerusalem and Judah, he said, "I will make boys their officials; mere children will govern them" (Isa.3:4). Young and old can come to mutual understanding and appreciation of each other. In the Kingdom of God, "Children's children are a crown of the aged, and parents are the pride of their children" (Prov. 17:6). Old men dream dreams and young men see visions (Joel 2:28; cf. Acts 2:17). And God promises that He will be with His people of every age bracket. "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you" (Isa. 46:4). So how do we face the twilight years of life? With feelings of dread… or of hope? Let’s delve further into God’s Word and see. AGING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT In the Old Testament we find that God regards great age as the supreme reward of virtue. The aged were shown respect and honor. Old age is a blessing and not a curse. Scripture says, "Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God" (Lev.19-32). The psalmist testifies to growing old in hope. He says, "The righteous ... will still bear fruit in old age; They will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him" (Ps. 92:14-15). Growing old became a symbol of blessing, wisdom, and righteousness – an honorable process by which God rewarded those who were obedient, for example, in honoring their own parents: "Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you" (Ex. 20:12). In Proverbs readers are essentially promised a long life if their hearts will but, “keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they give you" (3:1-2). The very display of gray hair itself, a sure sign of growing old throughout the centuries, becomes in Scripture "a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life" (Prov. 16:31). By pushing the elderly aside to fringes of society, we diminish them and make our society the poorer through the loss of their experience and maturity. When Moses was 80 years old, God called him to lead His people to the Promised Land. At that greatly advance age, Moses became the historian, leader, and statesman of Israel. At about 85 years of age, Joshua was divinely commissioned to succeed Moses. At his death at 110 years of age, he was deeply mourned and his eminent service widely acknowledged (Josh. 24:29-31). A NEW TESTAMENT BLESSING TOO In the New Testament the attitude towards aging is no different from that in the Old Testament. Those who reached an advanced age were honored and esteemed in the community. Aged saints have a significant role in the opening chapter of Luke's Gospel. The first characters to appear on the stage are the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, who were both "advanced in years" (Luke 1:7). They are the instruments of God's purposes and the first interpreters of God's saving acts. Simeon and Anna are the prophetic chorus welcoming the child Jesus on the occasion of his purification in the Temple (Luke 2:22-38). The remarkable thing is that the aged Simeon dies in the beginning of the Gospel account. His eyes are fixed in hope on the one newly born, in whose life, death, and resurrection the world will know peace. He has long been hoping for "the consolation of Israel," and has been promised by the Holy Spirit that he will not die before he has seen the Lord's Messiah. Anna – an eighty-four-year-old prophetess who frequents the Temple to worship and pray night and day – recognizes Jesus, gives thanks to God, and declares the news about him "to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (2:38). As people who have clung to God's promises over many years, they embody the virtues of long-suffering patience and trust in God's ultimate faithfulness. They also exemplify faith and hope, even when circumstances seem hopeless. Aging was not seen by the early Christians as a "problem" to which some sort of religious solution was required. In the entire New Testament, particularly in the Pastoral Epistles, the respect due to older members of the community is emphasized. The exhortations imply and speak explicitly of dutifully caring for widows, honoring the elderly, imitating their faith, and faithfulness. For example, "Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as you would a father." Here we find also specific directives that the community should provide assistance to widows over age of sixty, and that women recognized by the Church as widows should devote their energies to prayer, hospitality, and to service to the afflicted (1 Tim.5: 3-16). In our youth obsessed culture, the elderly are strongly tempted to act youthful. They are expected to get a workout to remain in shape, get beauty treatments to rejuvenate themselves, and to dress in youth fashions. Should seniors long to be young again? I don't think so. For Christians old age is not a dead-end street. As we age, we can still grow spiritually. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians "Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). He said to the Ephesians that we can progressively succeed in putting off the old self and putting on the new self and "be made new in the attitude of our minds." This renewal through the Holy Spirit impacts our mental attitude, state of mind, and disposition with respect to God and His world throughout our life. In other words, we continue to develop our walk with God (Eph. 4:22-24). NEVER TO OLD TO SERVE THE LORD Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, who suffered unspeakable horror in Nazi concentration camps, says that there is no reason to pity old people. And he adds this remarkable statement, "Instead, young people should envy them." Why? Because seniors have something young people don't possess. Frankl says that seniors have realities in the past – the potentialities they have actualized, the values they have realized – and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past. In Book X of his Confessions, Augustine (354-430) calls memory a "vast court" or "great receptacle." The elderly have a rich storehouse of memories, and inner landscape to explore: times lost in idleness, opportunities well used, a fulfilling career, children grown up, and suffering gone through with dignity and courage. What an opportunity for our youth to tap into the memories of their grandparents! Covenantal obligations never cease. The Christian faith is passed on from one generation to the next. It depends on that transmission. That’s why there must always be a most intimate relationship between the present and the coming generation if there is to be a future generation of Christians. The Church cannot be the Church without the elderly. They are the embodiment of the Church's story. Of course, we do not expect that all the elderly will be able to express the "wisdom of their years." But there can be no substitute for some old people in the Church passing on their wisdom to the younger generation. The youth simply cannot do without the older generation. In our culture, for a few years young adults may pretend (egged on by social and cultural forces) that they can live forever as autonomous, self-reliant, self-fulfilling beings. The pretense, however, collapses soon enough. The presence of the visible vulnerable elderly is a reminder that we are not our own creators. All of us will age; dark and blond hair will turn grey. Consequently, young Christians need the elderly so they will not take their lives for granted. I will say it again: the Church cannot be the Church without the elderly. That's why throughout history the Church has frowned on separating the young from the old through conducting youth services. I have even read about a Church where no older people were expected to attend. But according to Scripture old and young belong together. They are all part of the great family of God. Our covenant youth need to hear from their grandparents and seniors in the Church what it means to be a Christian. Grandparents know the family traditions and values. They can tell the story of their wartime experiences, their immigration with its hardship and adventures, and the reasons for leaving the country of their birth. Seniors can give to the youth the lessons and spiritual resources that have been harvested over a lifetime. Our times are so confusing and threatening for our young people. Why not explain to them that the Christian faith is for all of life: hence the founding of Christian schools, colleges, universities, a Christian labor association, Christian magazines and bi-weeklies, and a Christian political party? Why not tell them that doing good works is doing your work well? Why not testify to them how the Lord's promise "Surely I am with you always" (Matt.28:20) is a reality and not a myth? The lessons learned from godly grandparents and other Christian seniors are often long remembered. HOPE IN CHRIST As we age, we become more aware of the swift passing of years. We can either let the fear of death put a mental stranglehold on us or we can look to the future with hope. Let’s remember, the best is yet to come! Jesus Christ, the risen and ascended Lord is the ground of our hope and the promise of our deliverance. The hope of the resurrection lies at the heart of the way in which Christians embody the practices of growing old. We serve a faithful God who will never forget us! We are strangers and pilgrims on earth, the older we become the nearer we are to our eternal home. This truth encourages even the oldest individual to cherish each moment of life while preparing to relinquish it. Each day is a gift from God. We look to Him for our daily bread while making sure that we seek first the kingdom of God rather than squandering our time and energy on secondary concerns. With the prospect of a glorious future for all who are in Christ, we can identify with Martin Luther's suggestions that "in the purpose of God, this world is only a preparation and a scaffolding for the world to come." I also think of John Calvin's teaching in his Geneva Catechism that we are "to learn to pass through this world as though it is a foreign country, treating all things lightly and declining to set our hearts on them." We all face death some time or another. When we are old, it is more of a reality than in the days of our youth. I pray that our attitude toward death may resemble that of Lutheran pastor, scholar, and resistance leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who with shining face in joyful expectation, said to the two Nazi guards who had to come to take him to be executed, "For you it is the end, for me the beginning." Rev. Johan Tangelder (1936-2009) wrote for Reformed Perspective for 13 years and many of his articles have been collected at ReformedReflections.ca. This is an edited version of a two-part article that first appeared in the 2004 November and December issues. ...

CD Review, Music, Recent Articles

Why you, too, should listen to Jamie Soles

I like Jamie Soles! From his music telling Bible stories for kids to his versifications of the Psalms, there is something for every Christian in his repertoire. As his website, SolMusic.ca, says, "If you love how the whole Bible testifies of Jesus, you will love this music!" A bit of history We've been listening to Jamie Soles for a long time. Our boys grew up on his Bible stories from albums like The Way My Story Goes and Fun and Prophets. To give you a bit of a taste of some of my favorites, I’ll share some excerpts. My son Isaac and I once performed “Chariots” from Fun and Prophets. Imagine these words sung in a lovely, boyish treble. I won my heart's desire when a chariot of fire And a horse named Blaze took my master away. Imagine my delight to behold such a sight Of Elijah in flight on the wind. Soles turned stories about lists of kings and apostles and repeated sacrifices by Jewish tribal representatives into memorable and singable songs that prompted questions and looking up of Bible passages. We are indebted to him for helping us to teach our children the Bible because, as he put it in “These Are They,” "stories are your biblical A-B-Cs." These are only part of it, This is but the start of it, Stories are your biblical ABCs! Now… All these stories, they show My glories. These are they which speak of Me. I think we were introduced to Jamie Soles back when we lived in the Hamilton area. I played violin at our church and was teaching music to one of our pastor's daughters. We visited with their family a lot, and on one visit the children came to me and excitedly asked me to listen to "This is the Sign," which is about the covenant significance of circumcision. It begins with God explaining his covenant to Abraham: Ninety and nine seems a long time But I have been waiting longer than you have To give you My Word that you’ve become Mine The father of kings and nations... I remember thinking, "Wow! That's not something most people write a song about." I've been hooked ever since. We took our boys years later to one of Jamie's concerts, and met up with him at Ontario Christian Home Educators’ Connection conferences as well. His music is still a part of our lives and I find myself humming tunes like "These are the Prophets" and "Jesus to the Rescue" on a fairly regular basis. I've even purchased his albums as gifts for friends on more than one occasion. Why I'm telling you about this Music is a big deal! It's an important way to teach your children about God's word. It's also an important way to help fill your heart with scripture and worship. Music is obviously an essential aspect of corporate worship on Sundays as well. The thing is, Christian music should be skillfully done and it should be theologically sound. Jamie Soles delivers on both counts. You can't go wrong with teaching his songs to your kids, and you can't go wrong with walking around humming them yourself either. Until my family was introduced to Jamie Soles, the music that often played in my head when reading scripture came from the libretto of Handel’s “Messiah” or Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” not to mention the songs of Michael Card. But now, as I read through Numbers 23 I hear the sounds of “Dust of Jacob.” Jamie’s songs will be with my family and me for the rest of our lives, and we’re thankful. Soles' music is very difficult to categorize. It ranges from what sounds a bit like folk to songs that are more akin to rock and roll. But his music and his words always suit each other and he seems to always have a fresh take on a biblical theme or a little-known Bible story. It doesn't hurt that his wife and his children have often been a part of his albums and their contributions make many of his recordings that much better. I highly recommend Jamie Soles' music. You can find all of his albums on Spotify and you can purchase them as CDs or MP3 downloads at SolMusic.ca. I want to leave you with one song that I especially love. In “Gates of Nain” Soles' wife Valerie sings the poignant story of Luke 7:11-17 from the perspective of the widow whose only son has died. My sons call me a softy, but this never fails to bring me to tears, mainly because of the widow's realization that this man is the great prophet whom God has finally sent to Israel. Through my tears I see the crowd has grown A Man approaches with compassion shown He says, "Do not weep." And our march of death and time stands still Nothing could prepare me for this What could have prepared me for this.... He spoke to my son, my dead son, my only son And He told him to arise, and he did!...

News, Recent Articles, RP App

Saturday Selections – October 15, 2022

Perfect timing Here's a fun one for the whole fam that's sure to inspire some imitation... Scientists revive 100 million-year-old bacteria? For anything to be alive that long is, of course, impossible... unless it's actually much younger. Vaping tax led to an increase in cigarette usage... The practical case for government being small is simply that they are fallible. One of the latest illustrations of that fallibility is a tax on vaping that was intended to discourage use. But instead it prompted a turn to even more harmful cigarettes. As the article asks, "How many times do their efforts have to backfire before bureaucrats and politicians learn the limits of their abilities?" Fossil fuels: still essential to human flourishing In his new book, Alex Epstein notes that there is still a pressing need for the poor to get access to fossil fuels. As this review notes: "One example of the suffering which energy poverty imposes is the fact that almost 800 million people have no access to electricity, while around 2.4 billion people still rely on wood and animal dung to cook and heat their homes...." By using "human flourishing" as his measure for environmental policies Epstein is, whether intentionally or not, placing Man at the pinacle of creation just as God has done. Tips for homeschooling when you have a toddler in tow When mom is teaching the olders but has a little one toddling about the juggling act can get hectic. This article, and its two sequels, offer some tips on keeping that toddler busy so you can have time to help with lessons. Public schooled! In the video below a student discovers that government schools teach that whatever the problem, government is the answer. As Douglas Wilson has noted, why would parents be surprised that their kids are indoctrinated in socialism when they've sent them to what is a socialist school system? Similarly, Voddie Baucham wrote, "We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.” ...

News, Recent Articles, RP App

ENJOYING GOD! RP's photo contest, the adult entries

Whether it was on a road trip, or closer to home, RP’s readers showed they know how to experience joy in the Lord. This summer we asked you to send in photos showing you enjoying your Creator, and we got a fantastic response back. We got dozens of entries, and so many that we just couldn't fit them all in the magazine. But what we couldn't do in print, we can now share online. What follows are all the entries – beginning with the winner and the runner-up – for the adult category. Take a look and enjoy their enjoyment of who our God is, and what He has done! And then be sure to check under the under 18 entries too. ***** WINNER "Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds" (Ps 36:5) Rachel V.   RUNNER-UP  This is a Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) sipping nectar with its proboscis from some purple phlox. In Psalm 104 we are reminded that God lovingly cares for the creatures He has made. "These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When You give it to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand, they are filled with good things." If He so cares for the butterflies of the field, He will also surely keep us in His Fatherly hand. Burke V.   We enjoy God when we look and see the unexpected when we’re out and about. I love how grass and dandelions have cropped up between the planks of this dock. Mrs. Lee B.   We enjoy God when we go down the road less travelled and are treated to a gorgeous, peaceful scene on which to feast our eyes! Mrs. Lee B.   It was the day of my sister-in-law's wedding and we were on our way home from the reception, reflecting on the day and the union we had witnessed. Had to capture this - God's latest painting. Arianne D.   This photo was taken on a rare summer date night. Pulled out our bikes for the first time this year and rode along the river just to enjoy being outside in God's creation, and get some fresh air and exercise :) Arianne D.   After a summer thunderstorm, God painted this masterpiece in the sky. Arianne D.   This photo was taken yesterday in one of the fields of the farm my husband has managed for 34 years. We started leaving patches of milkweed till the end of September so the butterflies could use them. A simple thing to do for a beautiful species. Carrie J.   The tree stump, although rotten on the inside is made beautiful on the inside and spilling outward by the flowers. A walk along a gravel lane made this a striking image with newly cut wheat in the background. Dianne D.   Being active and enjoying God's creation. Cathy K.   Think Summer. Hans S.   The beauty of a quiet lake, surrounded by mountains and blue skies, is a wonderful way to enjoy God’s majestic creation - dog included 😊 psalm 8. May God keep our land glorious and free! Rose W.   Our son is enjoying the strength of the human body; every muscle tight, mind focused on the activity before him. Yet there is vulnerability in the midst of the vastness of the blue sky above, the depth of the water under him, the intensity of the hot sun, the expanse of the lake surrounding him. Who are we compared to God's power, splendor, and majesty? We are the crown of His creation and we are called to trust in his strength and Enjoy Him forever. Jean D.   Here the visual picture created by God speaks His written truth - the Lord is my Light (Ps 27). It is a picture that shares His glory and reminds me of His glorious promise to enter into my darkness, because even darkness is light to Him (Ps 139). Kristen A.   "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Ps 19:1) Rachel V.   Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! I have always been fascinated by God’s power in a storm. The ever-changing dark clouds are a majestic scene. They unleash its fury of wind and torrents of rain driven to the ground. John V.   A beautiful rainbow adorns the sky reminding us of God’s promise of long ago that still speaks to us today. John V.   “Enjoying God” in Letchworth State Park. Renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East” we could see evidence of the Genesis Flood through the same sedimentary layers as we had previously found in canyons in Arizona and quarries in Ontario. Not only did we find evidence of this great judgement, but also how God brings life out of death through the beautiful scenery and the 3 waterfalls. Our God is a God of Life! Andre T.   The heavens declare the glory of God!💕 Cathy K.   The sun is going down as I fly over the Fraser Valley in a small Cessna Airplane. How amazing is God’s handiwork. Jason K.   The Straight and Crooked. A lot of the time we take our Lord God for granted. There are many uses for rail lines. When I first came across this landscape, I was immediately reminded about the straight and narrow paths mentioned in Matthew 7:13&14. After a bit of contemplating, train tracks have a lot of use, such as transporting natural gas and raw materials across the whole country and sometimes continent. And yet, train tracks are not thought of on a daily basis. We rely on things to come to our doorstep and don't even bother to think how it got there. Tara D.   Water is a common symbol in the Bible. It signifies the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Ps 105: 41 came to mind when I took this shot. How God allowed Moses to "tear open a rock and out gushed out, flowing like a river." He calms the raging waters. Knowing this, the sound of water gives one a sense of peace. I still find a river that I can listen to when I am tired, just to hear the babbling of brooks so that His peace can wash over me. Tara D.   Three happy girls, enjoying each other in the Dominican Republic. Jason K.   Two of our daughters are enjoying nature's breath-taking beauty as they silently paddle their boards on Babine Lake, All is calm, colourful, and pristine; God's artistry is being revealed, reflected and enjoyed in all its splendour. Jean D.   Our son's wakeboard skillfully cuts through the still waters of Babine Lake; our boat loudly breaks the peaceful silence of mid-day, God is giving us enjoyment in the midst of His artistry with the toys he allows man to make. How small and insignificant are the playthings of this world compared to the vastness and beauty surrounding them, but how privileged we are to enjoy Him by receiving pleasure in both at the same time. Jean D.   Michelle H.   Michelle H.   Michelle H.   “God’s abundant grace” it depicts a storm over an area and bright blue sky all around it. James V.   Foxglove bloom in my garden. Carrie J.   Cedar Waxwing is eating serviceberry this past June. Carrie J.   This large balancing rock on the coast of Long Island, NS is a striking testament of God's creative power. Rachel V.   While on vacation, early every morning, our granddaughter asked me to walk with her to the beach. Walking hand in hand we would go to the beach, and I would sit and watch her. While she played in the sand, I was reminded of my own prayers that the Lord would lead me and watch over me throughout the day. Many times, I had this picture in my mind of walking with him hand in hand. John V.   “Enjoying God” on the ocean floor. During low tide we hiked the Tidal Pools in Bar Harbour, Maine. We found and inspected fucus, crab, shrimp, starfish and clams. We were amazed by the creativity of our Creator and the might of our Almighty God! Andre T.   Enjoying God's blessings through the generations! Cathy K.   When I saw His picturesque creation, in the form of a delicate apple blossom, I was reminded yet again that the Lord has a plan for us each in our own time. He made the minute insects that survive from the falling flower. In this photo we see how intricate God's hands are when He is carefully guiding this bee to be sheltered under the pedals. When we stop to gaze upon the beauty that Yahweh has created we can easily see the meticulous detail He has given us to enjoy. Tara D.   Jason K. A beautiful ending to a beautiful day in The Netherlands....

Documentary, Internet, Recent Articles, RP App, Sexuality

Fund a film about fighting sexual temptation

"Into the Light" will equip God’s people to fight the pull of pornography This is an overview of an episode of Lucas Holvlüwer and Tyler Vanderwoudes’ Real Talk podcast. Real Talk is a podcast of Reformed Perspective featuring great conversations on everything from propaganda to mental health, and if you haven't checked it out already, you really should. And you really can, at www.RealTalkPodcast.ca. ***** On this, their 50th episode, Real Talk’s Lucas and Tyler invited filmmakers Jake Valk and John-Michael Bout to talk about pornography, its devastating effects on Christians, and how the Lord’s people can fight against this terrible pervasive sin. Bout began by describing in a very real and personal way his own decade-long struggle with pornography – the feelings of guilt at what he knew was sinful, difficulties with anger brought on by his own hypocrisy, and his gradual drift away from the Lord with a conscience made dull over time. Bout described how grateful he is that God led other Christians on his path who had turned away from porn by the Lord’s grace, and dedicated themselves to helping others with this pervasive, insidious sin. A providential conversation So what made the two of them think about creating a documentary? Jake Valk shared a story of having coffee with Christian author Tim Challies, whose book Sexual Detox was of great help. Not (yet) knowing that Valk was a filmmaker, Challies wondered if books were the best means to address the problem of pornography: wouldn’t video be a better medium to reach those caught up in that cycle? This suggestion fanned a spark into a flame: why not make a documentary that would inspire people to take the steps to get out of the grip of pornography? And that is just what Valk and Bout did. Their new film, to be called Into the Light introduces six speakers with expertise in Christian responses to porn, not just in understanding that porn is sinful and wrong, but with real and practical suggestions for how to stop sinful habits, from the perspective of both those struggling with the sin, and those trying to help “the struggler.” Valk explained: “(One of our speakers) is Deepak Reju; he wrote the book Rescue Plan. He and Jonathan Holmes wrote a pair of books that are really good. One of the things he talks about is the philosophy of locking down a phone: how to cut off all access, and he walks you through that process from the vantage point of someone who is struggling with porn, but also if you’re helping someone who is struggling, and understand how they would be tempted to get out of the full lockdown of a phone, and so you can be extra alert to make sure that you really are shutting down a device for all it’s worth.  So you can kind of take everything that our speakers talk about in the film from two different angles – the struggler, and the (one helping the struggler).” Valk and Bout want the film to be made available for no cost to churches, organizations, and individuals, to be a resource to as many people as possible. To make this work, they’ve been fundraising through a Christian crowdfunding site with a target of $85,000. You can find out how to donate at their page GiveSendGo.com/IntoTheLight, and you can watch the trailer below. It’s not about stopping the bad, but embracing the One Who is Good Bout emphasized that freeing people from porn is not the end goal: the real goal is to help people find Jesus Christ, and to have Him be the foundation of their new life. “There are other methods to get free from pornography that don’t involve God – there are many secular programs… but if you get free of porn and still lose your soul, what’s the point?” Valk stated emphatically that a documentary can never take the place of a program like Life Renewal, with accountability, personal connections, and a thorough teaching program. “Life Renewal is way better than what we can make. 100 percent! Life Renewal is so thorough; they really walk through the process and do it over a year. That’s way better than this!” But there’s also a place for a film like Into the Light to help get conversations started, and to push a struggling sinner to seek help through a program like Life Renewal and other Christian resources. “If you find this film, and you’re uncovering sin, and you’re bringing it into the light, and you’re really building your relationship with God, and you want to go to something like Life Renewal which will take you way, way deeper, please do! They do a phenomenal job.” First, stop the bleeding So what else is in the film? Bout summarized a section that deals with “triage” “Deepak Reju gets into the radical practical measures of cutting off access (to porn)… if you walked into a hospital with an open wound, you’re not going to be getting asked ‘oh, so what are your symptoms, what are some things you need?’ The first thing they do is they take you in and stitch up the gaping bleeding wound so that they can have the healing take place, and to use that analogy, when you’re dealing with pornography it’s not legalism to say we have to start by cutting off access… cutting off total access.” Valk remembered asking one of the speakers, Heath Lambert, when it was OK to introduce the internet or social media back into someone’s life. “Heath gave a really thoughtful response to that, a large part of it being that you’re not necessarily the best person to make that choice, so having good community in your life saying, hey brother, you know it’s been two months since you last fell into pornography, you’re displaying good devotional habits, you’re really walking with the Lord, I can see that in your life. If you enjoy Instagram, I think it’s reasonable you can have it back, let’s see how that goes… So other people in your life can give you an opportunity to have a better perspective.” Bout followed up on his own story: “There are a lot of things that I cut out, and there’s (just) a couple of things I’ve reintroduced back. I never had to go as radical as going to a flip phone – actually, that may have been a good thing to do; I really respect people who do that. So for myself, I’ve actually kept most of the (guards) that I put in place, and just because I know I would so much rather live with the inconvenience than deal with the temptation or the potential relapse.” What about relapse? Speaker Ellen Mary Dykas is highlighted in one of the chapters in the film called “Endurance,” dealing with the reality of sinners struggling with a relapse, or a step backwards. Bout stated that it is very rare that one is able to “change instantly, although that is not beyond the Lord’s power. Your inadequacies, your failures do not mean that God is not able or willing to change you.” Valk summarized some of what Dykas taught: “Your identity is not your track record. You are not your success last week, your success yesterday, the pattern of sin… even if you do really well, that’s still not your identity. Your identity has to be as a Christian, as a loved, cherished child of God, because that’s where you find your root in fighting in the first place.” The last section of the film is presented by Garrett Kell, and reminds viewers of the hope that we have in Jesus’ saving work. Valk summarized: No matter what our sinful tendencies are today, “one day all of this sin, that darkness, like what you did last night, all that’s going to be gone if you’re a Christian… God’s going to do away with this sin nature that we have, and that’s going to be incredible, and then there’s going to be (forever) of being porn free… I won’t have to shed another tear, an angry, frustrated tear (at my sins)… There is hope beyond this (life) where there are no tears anymore!” You can download this and other episodes of “Real Talk” at www.RealTalkPodcast.ca, on your favorite podcast app, or through the ReformedPerspective.ca home page. You can also watch the YouTube version of the 50th episode below. For more information on “Into the Light,” go to IntoTheLightDocumentary.com.  ...

Conferences, Recent Articles

RP Conversations

Our hope is that our articles will start people talking. And in hopes of furthering those consultations among the communion of saints, RP hopes to host some key conversations online. First up, we're going to be having a conversation with Bill DeVries on what God has been doing in the Bulkley Valley. If you would like to meet Bill DeVries to learn more, ask questions, and discuss the issue with others, join us for a special video conversation from the comfort of your own home. HOW: we aim to have a sign up form shortly, but in the mean time you can simply email [email protected] to register. All you need to participate is a phone, tablet, or computer to connect to the conversation. WHEN: Likely late October. If you register, we will update you with the date and time. WHEN: Date still to be determined, but some time in October so sign up to be notified. COST: Free Please spread the word and invite family, friends, or church members to this important 60-90 minute conversation....

Internet, Recent Articles, RP App

We can't save the world, and that's OK

What if our insatiable interest in the world’s injustices is really just an Edenic desire to be gods ourselves? ***** We are weary. Gloom and malaise are the shadows of the moment, inescapable beneath the blazing ball of stressors that blinds our eyes to what is true and hinders our feeble attempts at faithful living. Why? Why do weariness and anxiety trail us wherever we walk or however fast we try to run? There are, of course, any number of reasons that an individual person may feel weary or sad or anxious. But there is reason I believe that our collective sense of dread is at least partially self-inflicted. We are weary because in an attempt to image our Savior we may actually be trying to be him. The paralysis of information Our parasitic relationship with the social Internet leads us to see a literal world of burdens and deceives us into believing we must bear them all. This isn’t a new phenomenon: in Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman traced it all the way back to the advent of the telegraph: "The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except for offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing. "Prior to the age of telegraphy, the information-action ratio was sufficiently close so that most people had a sense of being able to control some of the contingencies in their lives. What people knew had some action-value." We feel burdened by the events of the world because we consume information in such a way that we could never meaningfully act on the information we consume. This isn’t just a practical problem or a mental health problem. This is a spiritual problem. Bearing burdens or being gods? In Galatians 6:2 Paul tells us to: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” To live as a faithful follower of Christ in our own daily lives is difficult in its own right. But to bear others’ burdens, like those of our family, friends, or church family, is what we are called to do in this verse. Bearing one another’s burdens is important! It is one of the ways we most clearly image Christ to the world. But I think it is fair to say Paul is not calling us to bear the burdens of the world, a destructive calling to which many of us believe we have been called simply because of our ever-increasing awareness of world events. How can we possibly faithfully follow Jesus while also attempting to bear the countless burdens highlighted by our Twitter feeds? We can’t. And we should stop trying. This is not to say we shouldn’t care for and pray for the global church or the state of humanity in general. Of course we should approach our God on behalf of others who may be suffering any variety of plight around the world. My call is not a call to global ignorance but local faithfulness. One of my concerns is that our rightful concern for the vast brokenness and injustice around the world distracts us from faithfulness in our neighborhoods and churches. Beyond that, though, the constant gnawing we feel as we scroll through pictures of poverty and clips of corruption on our thousand-dollar smartphones may be a God-given conviction toward justice and righteousness … but it also may not be. What if our insatiable interest in the world’s injustices is really just an Edenic desire to be gods ourselves? The social Internet becomes a virtual tree of knowledge of good and evil – it opens our eyes to the harsh realities of a world fractured by sin and fools us into bearing the burden of the world’s brokenness. Our convictional awareness of the world’s problems may actually be a modern manifestation of our most ancient transgression: our desire to be gods rather than trust God. Wearying ourselves with public injustices in front of a watching world is more appealing than quietly advocating for justice in our communities because it makes us feel like gods, and gods receive praise. Good friends and neighbors usually don’t. To bear the burdens of others is to fulfill the law of Christ and to image Christ to the world. To want to save the world is to attempt to be Christ and reap the praise he alone is due.  The measure of the world Reflecting on the cultural power of the nightly news broadcast in 1985, Postman wrote: “It has not yet been demonstrated whether a culture can survive if it takes the measure of the world in twenty-two minutes.” Indeed, one may say that it has not yet been demonstrated whether a culture can survive if it takes the measure of the world in a brief scroll of Twitter, but the forecast is, well, a bit gloomy. Perhaps we, and our communities of faith or proximity, would be better served if we attempt to bear the burdens of our neighbors rather than feeling as though we have to bear the burdens of the world. Everyone’s problems are not all of our problems. Yes, we are called to bear one another’s burdens, but not everyone’s burdens. Christ alone can bear the burdens of the world. Our feeble attempts to do this are the roots of our gloom and malaise. Being a Savior is exhausting and it’s not who we were made to be. This originally appeared in Chris Martin’s "Terms of Service" newsletter and is reprinted here with permission. “Terms of Service” looks at the social internet from a Christian perspective, and you can sign up at www.termsofservice.social. His book, also called “Terms of Service,” is available at online retailers....

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