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Saturday Selections – June 10, 2023
The astonishing giraffe neck
Did you know a giraffe doesn't need its neck muscles to hold its neck up, but rather to bend it down? As a ruminant (an animal that chews its cud) the giraffe has to be able to bring food back up its neck to chew again. It also has to have an enormous heart to create enough pressure to get the blood up to its head. And then it has to have shut-off valves of a sort, to relieve the pressure when it bends its head down to drink, otherwise the blood pressure would cause it to blow out its own brain.
The article linked above has more on giraffes' amazing design, as does the video below, though since it is a giraffe dissection (though bloodless one), it might be a bit much for some kids.
Population is collapsing and the world has no answers
In the not too distant future there will be more grandparents than grandkids, and that's a problem. This downward population trend is happening in Western atheistic countries and Middle Eastern Muslim ones too. How can it be reversed? Different countries have tried child-care subsidies, education, and immigration, all to no avail.
What they haven't tried is repentance. When a nation turns to God, then they'll treasure children as the blessing that God says they are (Ps. 127:3-5, Gen. 1:28, Ps. 128:3) and want more of them. But, of course, how can they know they should repent unless we tell them (Rom. 10:14)?
While no one knows how many kids anyone else should have, the Church is following the world's downward population trend, with smaller families each generation. So we, collectively, seem to have some repenting to do too.
What makes for a good law? Thoughts on Uganda's homosexuality bill
Our society has been celebrating homosexuality for so long that even Christians may find the idea of legislating against it shocking. Samuel Sey has some thoughts above about Uganda's controversial law, as does Albert Mohler.
The cult of the presidency (and prime ministership) must end
This American article's point applies to Canada too (where the Prime Minister arguably has even more power than the US President): a change of government shouldn't have such a huge impact on our lives, and the only way the impact can be lessened is to have less government.
Big Tech won't protect our kids: parents must
10 years ago if a depressed teen quit social media that'd quite likely be a big help. But as John Stonestreet notes, that's in part because 10 years ago there were still a lot of teens who weren't on social media. In other words, if the teen left the pressures of the digital world, there was a real world of people they could meet and interact with.
But today parents are leery of taking away their teen's phone because it's the contact point between them and all their friends. But at the same time, we can see these phones are a problem. So what's a parent to do?
A question will shut them down... or move the discussion forward
In the New Testament Jesus asked more questions than He gave answers. Was it because He didn't have answers? Nope, that wasn't it. Perhaps it was because a good question can bring us right to the heart of an issue. Some of His clarifying questions include:
- Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? (Matt 6:27)
- Which of you who has a sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath will not take hold of it and lift it out? (Matt 12:11)
- What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life and what can one give in exchange for his life? (Matt 16:26)
Today, a simple question is still effective. We've seen how just asking "What is a woman?" can cause the other side conniptions. In the clip below we have someone complaining about privilege. If she has some examples, great, because specific complaints can then be addressed and hopefully fixed. But if they are simply assertions without any justifications, then asking her for more information is a great way of exposing her empty rhetoric. Either way, the question gets us moving forward. Other great clarifying questions Christians should ask more often include: When does life begin? Where does our worth come from? In what sense would you say men and women are equal? (See Genesis 1:27. Gen 9:6).
— Davy Jones (@itsNTBmedia) June 6, 2023
People we should know
Elon Musk and visions of the future
“These human space flight missions were a beacon of hope to me and to millions over the past two years as our world has been going through one of th...
Sooners seize opportunity to glorify God
Doesn’t matter if you like sports or not, you’re going to enjoy hearing about this team. The Oklahoma Sooners won their third straight Women’s C...
Articles, Book Reviews
A plea to read
...or, the story of a boy, a repairman, and the Truth **** In the title I promised you a story. Actually that was mainly to draw you in. I figured stories sell more magazines. But it’s not entirely untrue. I want to start with a couple of stories. They happen to be autobiographical. The first story starts at about grade 3, around the age of 8. You may think that my qualification for making a “plea to read” is my current calling as pastor, or my (excessive) years of education before this. But that’s not really it. That’s not really why I agreed to share this article about reading. Instead, the story begins, once upon a time, when I was 8. That was the year I discovered reading, or at least my passion for reading. In the years that followed it became my number one activity. I was almost always reading, probably at an unhealthy level. You want to know why I say that? Well, my parents would often ignore my lengthy birthday or Sinter Klaas lists and buy me things I didn’t ask for and, truth be told, I didn’t necessarily want. I asked for the next book in a series; they bought me a hockey stick. I asked for the first book in a new series; they bought me a Lego set. Actually, we used to have a cartoon on our fridge. I think it was from Punch Comics. One of my siblings stumbled across it, cut it out, and posted it there. It’s a sketch of a family gathered around a television set in the living room. Two ladies on the couch are talking to each other and looking rather concerned about the boy in the foreground who’s curled up in a chair reading a book, oblivious to the rest of the family. The caption at the bottom reads, “We’re rather worried about William.” I kid you not. That was the name. Google it if you don’t believe me. It doesn’t quite work because we never had a TV in the house, but you get the picture, I think. So that’s where this story begins. My plea to read is in part a plea for you to join me in the best hobby there is. A dog-eared copy of Reformed Dogmatics But that’s not a terribly convincing appeal. That comes in the next story (I hope). We have to jump forward about twenty years to what was one of my more embarrassing moments in recent years, which for some reason I’m sharing publicly with you all. You have to try to imagine the scene with me. I was in first year at the seminary at the time. And you have to know that first year seminary is that stage where you feel like you know everything. You have an opinion on everything. And you want to fight about everything. Things change after four years. Thankfully… and by the grace of God. Well, we were back home in Richmond Hill for the weekend. We got invited to my wife Diane’s Opa and Oma Kampen’s for dinner (don’t tell them I told you this story) and we were sitting around waiting for dinner to be ready and chatting and what not. Now, before I continue, I have to give a quick character sketch. Opa Kampen is retired now, but he was an appliance repairman all of his years in Canada. I’m not sure when his education stopped, but he definitely didn’t have anything like the years of education that I had at that point. So, anyway, we’re talking together about one thing or another, and suddenly the conversation shifts. I don’t remember why anymore, but rather unexpectedly Opa asked me whether I favoured Infralapsarianism or Supralapsarianism. Remember, I was the first year seminary student and he was the appliance repairman. I don’t remember why it came up, but I definitely remember my reaction. Vividly. I started sweating. I had heard those words before, but I had almost no idea at that point what they meant, let alone which one I leaned towards. I thought, here we go, Opa’s about to expose me as a complete fraud. My education has meant nothing! I was tempted to slip out quickly to the bathroom so that I could Google it, but there was no time. I actually don’t even know what happened in the end, but that moment of panic has stuck with me. So why am I sharing this story? Well, to me it illustrates a change over the years in terms of our investment into reading and educating ourselves in Reformed doctrine. Gone are the days when your appliance repairman read through Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, in Dutch or in English. Gone are the days when you can expect men nominated as elders or deacons to have invested significant time into studying Reformed doctrine over and above their catechism instruction as young people. Now, before you get up in arms, I’m not saying there are none of these. I’m just saying that with the younger generations this breed is not as common. And I’m indicting myself with this too. I was a deacon before coming to seminary. Well, if that’s the case with those being put up for church leadership, then how about the other people in the pew? Before I continue, I should add a disclaimer. My comments here are completely unscientific. My doctoral supervisor would never forgive me for my poor research. I haven’t crunched any numbers or done any surveys. I’m basing this on my experiences as an office-bearer, both before and after I went through seminary. If you have a more positive outlook, I’d love for you to convince me. But right now, this is my article, so you’ll have to bear with me. So why should we care? Why should I make this plea for us to read more widely and more deeply today, in the 21st century? Let me devote the next half of this article to exploring an answer to that question. Theologians should read (and we’re all theologians) Well, first of all, everyone is a theologian. (If you’re on Twitter, you might want to tweet that, although I certainly can’t take credit for coining the phrase, so don’t quote me). Everyone is a theologian. Even the atheist is a theologian. That’s because theology is, essentially, thoughts or words about God. And the atheist has thoughts about God. Now, his thought happens to be that God doesn’t exist – and he happens to be wrong – but that still makes him a theologian. So, if we’re all theologians then the important question is what kind of theologians are we going to be? You see, the problem with the atheist isn’t that he’s a theologian, it’s that his theology is coming from the wrong source. If we don’t study theology from the right sources – if we don’t allow our thoughts and words about God to be shaped by the right sources – then our theology is going to be shaped by the wrong sources. If we don’t consciously do theology – that is, if we don’t consciously train our minds in the knowledge of God – we’re going to end up basing our theology either on our own experiences and our own feelings or on whatever else we happen to be taking in. Because we are reading. Maybe some of us – and I’m talking especially about my generation and younger – are reading more than ever. I’m thinking of social media. Don’t tell me you’re not a reader if you’re on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe those who only use Instagram, which focuses on pictures, can have a legitimate claim not to be readers, but the other social media users can’t. But the problem with only reading online, and not engaging in books, is that by its very nature the online world tends towards the superficial. Let’s think specifically of theology – of the study of God. If your thoughts are shaped by your reading of little quotes that someone decided to share, taken out of context, written by who knows who, or if all you read are the musings of someone who is just “feeling philosophical” (as the Facebook status often says) then you can’t expect anything but superficial knowledge. That, I think, is the biggest danger with losing our interest in reading deeply and studying deeply the doctrines of God found in his Word. We end up with an overall superficiality in terms of our theology, what we know about God. Worse, we can rely more on our subjective experiences than the objective truth we find in God’s Word. Feelings aren’t reliable…but there is a book that can be trusted Let me explain that. What is subjective is based on our own experiences, our feelings, our emotions. We can’t really call it truth – although as postmoderns we might want to – because we aren’t reliable sources of truth. Our sinful, fallen nature means that we can’t be trusted to process things correctly, understand things properly. We can’t be trusted to theologize helpfully on our own. General revelation can only go so far (Rom. 1:19-23). We need objective truth. We need something to build our lives on that is absolutely rock solid, unshakeable. We find that foundation in the Word of God alone. Because it’s a revelation from outside of us, from outside of this fallen world. It’s special revelation from the unshakeable source of truth, God himself. That’s why we’re called to pore over Scripture, to internalize it, to let it light our path, to let it shape our thoughts, to let it cut deeply into our hearts. And we have to trust that the Spirit works transformation through the Word. We have to believe that. And then live like we believe it. But we also don’t read Scriptures alone. We read them with the church of all times and places. That’s why we guide and inform our reading with creeds and confessions. That’s also why we supplement our reading of Scripture with studying good theology, with reading solid literature. Because it all helps ground us further in the objective truth of God’s Word. When we’re deeply grounded in the truth of God’s Word, then we are better able to process our subjective feelings and emotions. The psalms in Scripture provide us with great examples of what that looks like. But let me explain what I mean by what I think is the most powerful and poignant illustration of this, where the believer directs his experience of reality by the truth that he knows from God’s revelation. It lies at the very center of the most tragic book in the Bible, Lamentations, traditionally understood to be written by Jeremiah. The prophet is lamenting over the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. His world, the world of God’s own people, has completely fallen apart. He finds himself sitting in the ashes and ruins of the holy city. Many of the people of God have died in the Babylonian invasion. Many others have been deported to far away Babylon. The whole poem is centred around the question: how could God allow this to happen to his chosen people? The prophet’s present experience is of pain, disillusionment, disappointment. Almost the entire book is a long cry of deepest despair. But then, at the very heart of the poem, in the middle of “the wormwood and the gall” (3:19), we get this incredible confession of faith, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness” (3:22-23). One Bible teacher suggests that we imagine ourselves sitting in the ashes of the World Trade Center in New York City after 9/11 and speaking these words to ourselves. That’s what I mean by looking at our experiences and filtering our emotions through our objective knowledge of God… our theology. The prophet, sitting among the ashes, knows this truth because God has spoken it, and so he applies this truth to his troubled soul and to his experiences, which appear to contradict it. Like the prophet, it’s our knowledge of the objective truths of God’s Word that gives us the wherewithal to process our experiences and feelings. Not vice versa. Then our theology lets us speak truth to our souls when our experience doesn’t seem to line up with our knowledge. That’s part of why we read. That’s part of why we pursue a deeper and deeper knowledge of God, above all through his Word, but also through reading deeply and widely with the church. How can we encourage reading? I want to explore the answer to one last question before I let you go: what should we do? I don’t have space to pay much attention to this, but let me make a start by saying what we shouldn’t do: we shouldn’t do nothing. We shouldn’t finish reading this article, muse about it for a few moments, and then just move on, mildly annoyed at the fact that this wasn’t a story like it was advertised to be, but otherwise untouched. We shouldn’t do nothing. So what should we do? Well, let me issue a plea to all of you reading this to do something. What that something is will depend on who you are and what you do. Are you a parent or grandparent? Stimulate the love for reading good books in your kids and grandkids. Do that by modeling it for them and by giving them the right resources for it. And if you can’t stimulate a love for it, then at least impress on them their responsibility to keep educating themselves in the doctrines of the Word of God. Are you an elder or deacon or pastor? First of all, create a culture of “professional development” within your church council and consistory. Secondly, stimulate that same love and that same sense of responsibility for reading in the sheep under your care. Are you a member of the body of Christ? Develop your own desire to grow in the doctrines of the Word of God, in sinking the objective truths of Scripture into your hearts and minds. And then make it your mission to share that love with your fellow members. Start with the people closest to you, your friends within the church. Buy them books – good books, mind you – and then talk about them. Start with easier (but not easy) reads and then make your way into heavier ones. Stretch yourself and stretch them too. Plan book review nights where you get together with your friends and you all share thoughts and insights from the books you happen to be reading at present. It doesn’t have to be formal or complicated. Just talk. And when you’re done your book (and it’s a good one), pass it along to someone else. Don’t let it collect dust on your shelf. In all this, though, never forget that studying theology ought to be an act of worship. We can’t let our reading become an end in itself. We can’t become obsessed with theology for the sake of theology. We do theology because we exist to glorify God and because we were created to know Him. So as you read and discuss, do it with a conscious posture of worship. Let your increase of knowledge lead to an increase of worship. Soli Deo Gloria! Endnotes For this point, see Aimee Byrd’s No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God, page 202. Dr. William den Hollander is Professor of the New Testament at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. This article was originally delivered as a speech at the December 8, 2017 Reformed Perspective fundraising dinner at the Aldergrove Canadian Reformed Church....
People we should know
Elon Musk’s highs and lows
Elon Musk might be best known for a brilliant bit of marketing he did back in 2018 for two of his companies: he launched his own Tesla electric roadster into space on one of his SpaceX rockets. Images of his red sportscar, blue Earth in the background, were carried by papers around the globe. More recently his SpaceX company made news for providing their Starlink satellite internet service to Ukraine when invading Russian forces destroyed much of the country’s online access. Richest Musk has also earned fame by, at times, being the richest man on the planet. Back in February, stock market gains gave him a net worth of $187 billion regaining him the title, at least briefly – he has some competition. He’d probably have had a firmer grip on the title if not for his 2022 Twitter purchase, which cost him $44 billion. Free speech defender Since that purchase Musk has been making headlines for the conservatives and/or Christians that he’s “unbanned” from the social media giant, including Jordan Peterson, Project Veritas, and the Christian satire site Babylon Bee. The Bee ran into trouble with Twitter in 2022 when they awarded US Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine their “Man of the Year Award.” Levine is transgender – a guy pretending to be a girl – and the pre-Musk Twitter would cancel your account if you didn’t play along with this sort of delusion. But within a month of Musk finalizing his purchase, the Babylon Bee, Peterson, and others, could tweet again. Unafraid of the social media mob Musk had gained admirers for being willing to tweet common sense takes that too many others are scared to say. An April 14 example: “Any parent or doctor who sterilizes a child before they are a consenting adult should go to prison for life.” Debunking overpopulation Musk’s 100+ million Twitter followers allow him to debunk lies like few others can, and he’s been using his influence to takedown the myth of overpopulation. He’s brought attention to the fact that the world’s population isn’t exploding but is, in fact, facing a coming collapse. At the government trough While Musk has shown entrepreneurial initiative a good chunk of his wealth has come via the public trough. He’s received billions in subsidies from various levels of government around the world to build factories. And he’s made billions through government programs that allow his electric car company Tesla, to make more from selling climate credits than from selling cars. The government awards Tesla these climate credits because their electric cars are said to be more friendly for the planet. Tesla can then sell these credits to other companies that aren’t meeting their climate targets. Is a moral liberal In addition to endorsing homosexuality, and euthanasia, Musk has had a less than exemplary family life, having his 9 children with 3 different women and via surrogacy. And while he is against “transitioning” children, his company Tesla has touted it has helped its adult employees “transition.” Apathetic about God Finally, Musk’s influence is troubling particularly when it comes to God. His obvious smarts make his agnosticism seem almost respectable, which is turn may give others the idea that doubt is not something to wrestle with, but is simply a place to land. Conclusion Much more could be shared; we haven’t even touched on Musk’s “Boring Company” tunnelling projects, or the 20,000 flamethrowers he’s sold, or his connection to PayPal. But even this short overview shows him to be a man of many interests, and consequently, a pretty intriguing fellow. But might his one million interests be a distraction for him from considering his Creator?...
Being Gay for Jesus, or, homosexuality above the Bible
The Rev. Dr. Mel White was raised in an evangelical household and his father was an evangelical pastor. White ended up getting theologically trained and also became an evangelical pastor. He was extremely gifted in communications and helped to produce evangelical video documentaries and “ghost-wrote” books for famous Christian leaders such as Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. From the outside he appeared to be an exemplary Christian leader, advancing the cause of conservative Christianity. However, he was secretly struggling with homosexual tendencies. Ultimately, those homosexual tendencies won out. He divorced his wife and began living in a homosexual relationship with a man. I do what I like, and God loves it Not content to fade away from conservative Christianity, White decided to go on a campaign against the “antigay” teachings of conservative churches. He wants to straighten out all those Christians who think homosexuality is incompatible with the Bible. According to him, as he states in his book Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right (2006), “the real problem” homosexuals have today is “the antigay religious teachings and actions that support intolerance and discrimination.” White’s agenda is to “dialogue” with conservative Christians to show them that the traditional Christian view of homosexuality is based on lies, half-truths and caricatures. If Christians would look at the real truth, they would see that “Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a sin.” After being brought up in an evangelical household, White had to learn this for himself. Now he understands that “God created me a gay man and loves me exactly as I am.” In fact, he claims that “homosexual intimacy” is “another of God’s loving gifts.” God doesn’t just accept homosexuality, He thinks it’s great! Referring to living with his gay lover, White is confident that “God not only approves of our relationship, God celebrates it. God blesses it. God informs and inspires it.” Conservative Christians who read those statements will likely be puzzled. Doesn’t the Bible clearly condemn homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments? Particular verses from Leviticus and Romans come to mind. Don’t be so foolish, Mel White would reply, the historic Christian view of homosexuality is simply based “on a few isolated verses from the writings of Paul and Moses, who knew a lot about God and nothing about sexual orientation.” Paul and Moses didn’t know anything about homosexuality! Really? Or is it that you can’t accept what they say about it? White continues: “America’s preeminent Bible scholars demonstrate clearly that the biblical authors knew nothing and therefore say nothing about homosexuality in either the Hebrew or Greek testaments. The Bible literally is silent about homosexual orientation as we understand it today.” Science as infallible guide So, he argued, the Bible alone cannot provide the basis for a Christian view of homosexuality. But that doesn’t mean we have nothing to go on. There are plenty of other sources for reliable information. Multiple disciplines together provide a coherent view that everyone should embrace. In sum, White declared, the: “…latest scientific, psychological, historic, pastoral, and biblical evidence that homosexuality is neither sickness nor sin but another of God’s mysterious gifts.” Now, don’t get hung-up on what appears to be some very obvious Old Testament verses to the contrary, because scholars “assure us that the author of Leviticus says nothing about homosexual relationships as we understand them today.” According to White, the little reliable information about homosexuality that we find in the Bible is actually quite positive. In Luke 7:1-10 there’s an account of Jesus healing the servant of a Roman centurion. That servant was the centurion’s homosexual lover. The centurion wanted his lover to be healed by Jesus, but he realized that if Jesus actually came to his house he would be “outed” as a homosexual and then be ostracized. So he asked Jesus to heal the servant without coming into his house. White writes that, “Jesus must have smiled to himself knowing that the centurion and his lover had no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed. He knew why they hid their loving relationship from the local religious authorities and the gossips on the street, but they had no reason to hide their relationship from God, who created them and loved them exactly as they were. Instead of taking that risk, Jesus healed the outcast lover on the spot.” Isn’t that interesting? Jesus doesn’t have anything against homosexuality. In fact, he accommodated the centurion so that he would not get ostracized by the religious authorities. If you haven’t seen all the gay-positive passages of the Bible, perhaps it’s because of faulty translation. White claims that “Our GLBT Bible stories have been taken from us by homophobic translators, and it’s time we take them back.” According to him, a proper translation of John 13:23 reveals the following interesting information: “The ‘beloved disciple’ was either in Jesus’ lap looking up at him or lying between his legs leaning up against his chest, or if Jesus was reclined on one elbow, the disciple could have used Jesus as a pillow.” White claims that this reveals, “that Jesus is not afraid of intimate physical contact with another man.” Get it? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. If you find this interpretation compelling, you’re probably not a regular reader of Reformed Perspective. Errant, fallible and definitely not literal Mel White sees conservative Christianity as the great obstacle to the widespread acceptance of homosexuality in society. Or, as he puts it, fundamentalist Christianity is “the real problem.” So the way to overcome this problem is to undermine the conservative Christian view of the Bible and the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. He claims that conservative Christians have adopted an “excessive commitment to a literal Bible” which has resulted in a particular form of idolatry, “bibliolatry.” “The Bible becomes a dead idol when we call the words between its covers inerrant, infallible, to be taken literally.” So it is neither inerrant, nor infallible, nor to be taken literally. And we need the liberal “scholars” to tell us what it means. Here is White’s argument in a nutshell: The Bible contains errors and it is fallible. Therefore it is unreliable. Besides, when read “correctly” – that is, through the eyes of liberal “scholars” – the Bible presents a positive view of homosexuality. Thus the whole foundation for “antigay” views is undermined. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to oppose homosexuality. Case closed. Truth is quite different It sounds simple enough but it’s not true. White was raised within a Christian household and no doubt imbibed a Christian worldview. But since his homosexual desires overwhelmed him, he needs to justify himself in light of that worldview. Basically, homosexuality and Biblical Christianity are incompatible – one of them has to go. It’s like in the old Westerns where a gunslinger would tell his rival, “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” So White shoots Biblical Christianity. But he’s shooting blanks. As White’s own examples demonstrate, the pro-gay interpretation of the Bible is clearly grasping at straws. Declaring that Moses and Paul didn’t know anything about homosexuality, and twisting some verses to say Jesus approves of homosexuality, just goes to show how far people will go to justify their sin. Being unwilling to admit the obvious – that the Bible condemns homosexuality – White wants to convince people that the Bible has been misunderstood and that its real meaning is supportive of homosexuality and gay rights. In other words, White has put politics above the Bible. Homosexuality and the extension of homosexual rights are more important to him than the Bible. Therefore the Bible has to be reinterpreted to suit his goals. Rather than change his lifestyle to conform to the Bible, he’ll change the Bible to conform it to his lifestyle. He accuses conservative Christians of idolatry, but the real idolatry is right here. Mel White’s god is homosexuality, and he wants Christianity to bow down to that god....
Saturday Selections – May 27, 2023
Too young to smoke, but not too young for an abortion (4 min) Sometimes the Devil makes his presence pretty obvious (sharing this one from Rumble, because it seems to have been pulled or banned on YouTube). Euthanasia for the poor? In Canada, we are already euthanizing people to alleviate their poverty. Shocking? Well, when death becomes a "treatment" for suffering, on what basis can it be withheld from anyone who is suffering? The antithesis here is between the world's lie that some lives are not worth living, and the God-given reality that all life is a gift from our Maker, ours to stewards, but never ours to destroy. That's the choice, and it is our calling and our privilege to boldly present this other side – God's Truth – to a world that is in such desperate need of hearing it. Green activists refuse to discuss the true cost of their initiatives Rare metals needed for batteries are being mined in dangerous conditions. America has no recycling plants for electric vehicle batteries, so where will they go? Turbine blades are enormous and seem destined for landfills. And etc... Tim Keller (1950-2023) on courage Pastor Tim Keller passed away this week. He was the author of many brilliant books including Counterfeit Gods, Prodigal God, Prayer, Forgive, and Preaching, but was also a leading proponent of theistic evolution. 7 arguments against female pastors This is a concise 10-minute read, addressing the issue in the context of the push for female pastors that's going on in American Southern Baptist churches. The "evolution" of the electric eel (4 min) Did you know electric eels have electric "muscles"? ...
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews
How in the world did we get here?
by Jim Witteveen 2022 / 183 pages Ten years back, anyone who’d said that cultural forces already in play would soon have our public schools teac...
Saturday Selections – May 20, 2023
Defending the unborn: when they bring up cases of rape When a young Canadian recently challenged the prime minister about abortion, Trudeau brought up the issue of rape. The young man had no answer... but Tim Barnett does! Darwin’s Arch collapses … and joins a growing collection Two years ago, a world-famous tourist attraction collapsed, and there was some irony to the fall of Darwin's Arch. The rate at which such arches disintegrate worldwide gives evidence that Darwin's old earth presumptions were wrong, as after millions of years such arches shouldn't still exist. The (fake) battle between parental and children's rights "Understood correctly, human rights are fundamentally the right to be fully human. This requires knowing, to some degree, how we were made and what we are for, especially if these things were, to any degree, built into reality." A parent's guide to money The folks at AXIS have created short guides - this one is 18 half pages - for parents as a sort of cheat sheet for discussions with their teens. They offer a conservative Christian perspective, and in this one cover topics like: should your child take out a college loan? Should they be interested in a side hustle? What should they think about debt and saving? and much more. Why I will work until the day I die Hugh Whelchel knows he likely doesn't have long to live. So why would he spend what might be his last days working? Some good news about a great revolt 85% of Anglican leaders have rejected the Archbishop of Canterbury's blessings for same-sex couplings. Archbishop Justin Welby is the leader of the denomination, which is the third largest in the world, so this is big news. An April gathering of Anglican leaders declared: “Since the Lord does not bless same-sex unions, it is pastorally deceptive and blasphemous to craft prayers that invoke blessing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” This revolt is characterized as an "excommunication from below," with African churches leading the way in rejecting Welby as their head. Politics in 20 seconds Thomas Sowell said: "The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics." This is what that looks like on the campaign trail. ...
Making hospitality easier: how onion dip changed the world
Everyone has likely tasted onion dip and millions of homemakers have made it. The recipe is incredibly simple: mix dried onion soup mix with 2 cups of sour cream – voilà you are done! Place it in a bowl and surround it with chips, crackers, celery and carrot sticks, and any other veggies you think your guests will enjoy. Be suave and call it crudités! I still remember the first time I tasted it, at a Tupperware party in the early 80s (though it has been around since 1954!). I tentatively took a tiny beige blob and placed it on my plate. After tasting it with a ruffled potato chip, I eagerly returned for more. I was fascinated to observe a display about homemaking through the decades in a museum that showed a 1950s-type kitchen and mentioned onion dip (also known as French onion dip, and originally known as California dip, where an unknown homemaker first created it). Their interpretation was that this “California dip” totally changed hospitality throughout America and Canada. Previously, if one was going to entertain, a full dinner would be expected, perhaps with intricate hors d’oeuvres beforehand. Remember, you couldn’t run into Costco or Walmart’s frozen section and grab mini quiche or ready-to-cook breaded shrimp back then. After the recipe was printed in a newspaper, the Lipton Company got hold of it and began advertising it on the popular Arthur Godfrey Show on television. The California dip usage spread like wildfire and Lipton’s onion soup mix flew off the shelves. Pictures were shown of a host and hostess cheerfully serving chips and dip and veggies to their guests. This was so easy to prepare that people began inviting friends over more often, because the workload had lessened significantly. Not only did it become incredibly popular in the 50s, it has remained so ever since. Don’t let pride get in the way Onion dip probably didn’t “change the world” in a big way, but by providing an easier way to entertain, it did promote friendship and fellowship. It was a step in the right direction. How often have you heard someone say that they don’t have the time, energy, money, or nice enough house to provide hospitality to others? With an attitude that “We cannot do it unless we reach a certain level of perfection,” we actually may fall into pride and ignore God’s Word that calls us to care for one another. Rosaria Butterfield in her book The Gospel Comes With a House Key says: “God calls Christians to practice hospitality in order to build loving Christian communities, to build nightly table fellowship with fellow image bearers, to ease the pain of orphanhood, widowhood, and prison, to be qualified as elders in the church, and to be good and faithful stewards of what God has given to us in the person, work, example, obedience, and suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ…. God calls us to practice hospitality as a daily way of life, not as an occasional activity when time and finance allow…. God promises to put the lonely in families (Ps 68:6) and he intends to use your house as living proof.” If we only think about our own family and relatives and do not reach out to others, we miss the opportunity to build up one another in our churches. Instead, by inviting others to our imperfect home for some basic food and company, we make time to listen to one another. We learn that Joe just lost his job and we might have a connection that could help him. We find out that Sally is an expert seamstress, and maybe she can help us understand how to make the shirt we were confused about. We learn that Janet has a book group that meets monthly at her home and Jed can no longer cut his lawn because of his back trouble. Myrtle just found out she has cancer and she is frightened, and Darius is worried sick about his teenaged son. We pray together. We sing hymns or psalms together. We show love, and we rack our brains to think of what else we can do to help. We follow Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Or, alternatively, we say that we are tired or too poor, and we always stay home alone and watch television or plug ourselves into our phones or computers. Sports and movies and funny videos are way more interesting, and even easier than serving onion dip. Some people say that they need all day Sunday to spend time with their immediate family because they work and have other activities on the other six days. Consider the fact that showing hospitality is a family activity that your kids will learn from. And if you only use two to three hours, you will still have time left over to interact as family. The amount of hospitality shown will vary from family to family. But every adult should be exhibiting some, even if they just have a small apartment – they might invite two people over for coffee and discussion. It’s the time together that counts far more than the fare that is served or the furniture and house that it’s served in. Simplify Fellowship doesn’t have to include a meal! Invite someone for chatting, singing, praying, and/or talking about what God taught you in the sermon, and serve nothing, or only coffee and store-bought cookies or coffee cake. There’s no need to one-up someone else. As mentioned, onion dip, chips, and veggies have been one way that people can easily show hospitality to others. You could meet in a park on a beautiful day, as well. Other easy ways might include: Serve hors d’oeuvres from the frozen section, heated in your oven for a short while. Have a meal of soup and buns, as has been the tradition for years. If you cannot manage homemade soup, canned soup as is or “doctored up” (such as adding leftover chicken and carbs to the basic soup) is fine. Homemade bread or biscuits are great, but store-bought Italian bread (available for a low cost at Walmart) can suffice as well. Pre-made frozen meatballs, heated with marinara or sweet and sour sauce are always good. Buy the sauce or make an easy one by mixing one jar of chili sauce (found in the same grocery aisle as the ketchup) and one jar of grape jam/jelly; heat, thicken if necessary, and pour over the meatballs. Cookies, cake, pudding, ice cream, or pie, whether homemade or store-bought are a good option. Fruit is a healthy choice. If you don’t have time to make a fruit salad, just serve sliced watermelon, bunches of grapes, orange slices, or strawberries. Make a practice of inviting people over regularly, perhaps once or twice a month to get started. Take an interest in them. And don’t just invite the same family and friends – work your way through your church directory and invite people that you barely know. The point is to get to know them better so you can build one another up in the Lord. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - May 2023
Get ready to be reviled "Pastors need to teach their people about how to handle with grace being looked down on more than ever before. I heard of John Stott reflecting that as a young man at Cambridge when people said 'O, he's a Christian,' what they meant was that he was a goody-two-shoes. But now to be called a Christian means that you are viewed as a morally-deficient person, because you have not swallowed the gay agenda." - Dr. John E Benton, Managing Editor of Evangelicals Now in the July 2012 issue on how the world will change as gay marriage becomes the norm. Do you think God can't use you? When we reflect back on the mistakes we've made, the sins we've commited, the struggles we have, and the weaknesses that plague us, we might think there is no way that God could use us. But we would be wrong. As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 1:27-28 "God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.... so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." Consider who God has used in the past: Abraham was near dead, Jacob a deceiver, Gideon afraid, Rahab was a prostitute, Jonah ran away from God, David was an adulterer and murderer, Job was ill and impoverished, the Samaritan woman was divorced, Peter denied God (three times!) and Lazarus was dead for three days! Yes, we are too weak, broken, and sinful to do anything for God... in our own strength. But we're just the sort of folk that God has chosen to use for His own glory. SOURCE: Inspired by a post on Eddie Eddings' Calvinistic Cartoons Were there TULIPS on the Ark? Cartoonist Eddie Eddings makes a pretty compelling theological point. Martin Luther on sanctification "This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness; not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way; the process is not yet finished, but it has begun; this is not the goal, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.” The cleanest windshield... The focus of Greg Dutcher's Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology From the Inside is about how Calvinists can make their doctrine – though it is the true-est, and most biblical – unattractive to other Christians. Part of the problem, as he sees it, is that we sometimes fall in love with our theology for its own sake, rather than for Who it allows us to see: "I am concerned that many Calvinists today do little more than celebrate how wonderfully clear their theological windshield is. But like a windshield, Reformed theology is not an end in itself. It is simply a window to the awe-inspiring universe of God’s truth, filled with glory, beauty, and grace. Do we need something like a metaphorical windshield of clear, biblical truth to look through as we hope to marvel at God’s glory? Absolutely. But we must make sure that we know the difference between staring at a windshield and staring through one. Idle hands... “The idle man tempts the Devil to tempt him.” - C. H. Spurgeon Watch your language Christians have their own vocabulary – we have our own jargon – which can be downright confusing to unbelievers. Think of the word faith. In his September 2012 newsletter, Christian apologist Greg Koukl noted that when Christians say we have faith, we mean we are confident that God – Who has already shown Himself trustworthy – will fulfill his promises. The world, however, understands this same term as some "kind of useful fantasy, a 'blind' 'leap of' religious wishful thinking.'" To clear away some of the confusion, Koukl suggests finding and using "substitute words – synonyms for religious terminology – to brighten" and improve our communication. "For example, instead of quoting 'the Bible' or 'the Word of God' (both easily dismissed), why not cite 'Jesus of Nazareth,' or 'those Jesus trained to communicate His message after Him' (the Apostles), or 'the ancient Hebrew prophets'? These substitute phrases mean the same thing, but have a completely different feel. It’s much easier to dismiss a religious book than the words of respected religious figures. When referring to the Gospels, try citing 'the primary source historical documents for the life of Jesus of Nazareth.' That’s the way historians see them, after all. "Avoid the word 'faith.' Substitute 'trust' for the exercise of faith ('I have placed my trust in Jesus') – which is the precise meaning of the original biblical term, anyway – and 'convictions' for the content of faith (i.e., 'These are my Christian convictions'). "For the same reason, don't talk about your 'beliefs.' It's too easy to misunderstand this word as a reference to mere beliefs, subjective 'true for me' preferences. Rather say, 'This is what I think is true,' or 'These are my spiritual convictions.' "I’ve even found myself avoiding the word 'sin' lately, not out of timidity about the topic, but because the term doesn’t deliver anymore. Instead, I talk about our moral crimes against God, or our acts of rebellion or sedition against our Sovereign. By contrast, abandon 'blown it' and 'messed up.' They don’t capture the gravity of our offenses." We want to communicate effectively, and when words start to lose their saltiness it is time to find a new way of communicating God's Truth. We need to, as Koukl writes, "watch our language." SOURCE: The Page, September 2012 "A simple communication tip" by Greg Koukl, www.STR.org. No such thing as an Arminian prayer Douglas Wilson passed along a great quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the subject of Arminian prayer. Spurgeon said: "You have heard a great many an Arminian sermon, but never once heard an Arminian prayer. You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say, but you have never heard an Arminian prayer, for the saints in prayer, appear as one in word and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot prayer about free will. There is no room for it." Headline haiku He didn't see it, the melting mutt's drooping tail. Thus, "HOT DOG BITES MAN" English - more important than you knew! Students always want to know "Why are we studying _____ anyway?" When it comes to English, the answer is as simple as the old joke below: our littlest word choices (James 3:3-12), and even the way we emphasize what we say, can have an enormous impact on the message we send. Now ignore the punctuation, and consider the different messages we can send simply by stressing a different word each time: Let's eat grandpa – we want to eat grandpa instead of grandma Let's eat grandpa – we want to eat grandpa rather than, say, hug him Let us eat grandpa – we want to eat him rather than let someone else Let's eat grandpa – we want to eat him even though someone disagreed Same words; very different meanings communicated. That's a silly example so here's one more: I said I was sorry! I said I was so sorry. Two very similar sentences, but one sentence all about sorrow and repentance, and the other very much not so. We all know which is which, but the stubborn child offering up the first might not. He doesn't understand that while he might have said the right words, he didn't deliver the right message. So there's quite some power in the way we use words, and the ones we choose. And isn't that power worth studying, so we can best put it to use? We are all religious "Religion has no place in the schools," secularists declare, so they certainly won't admit to being religious themselves. But this is only smoke and mirrors - as Bob Dylan famously sung, all of us are "gonna have to serve somebody." In his book Leaving God Behind, Michael Wagner notes that back in 1963, political philosopher George Grant made this point while he discussed the definition of “religion”: "The origin of the word is, of course, shrouded in uncertainty, but the most likely account is that it arises from the Latin 'to bind together.' It is in this sense that I intend to use it. That is, as that system of belief (whether true or false) which binds together the life of individuals and gives to those lives whatever consistency of purpose they may have. Such use implies that I would describe liberal humanists or Marxists as religious people; indeed that I would say that all persons (in so far as they are rational beings) are religious…. It will, of course, seem unfair to the exponents of secularism that I have called what they advocate a religion…. all men are inevitably religious…. "Indeed the present controversy is not concerned with whether religion should be taught in the schools, but rather with what should be the content of the religion that is so taught. It is perfectly clear that in all North American state schools religion is already taught in the form of what may best be called 'the religion of democracy.' That the teaching about the virtues of democracy is religion and not political philosophy is clearly seen from the fact that the young people are expected to accept this on faith and cannot possibly at their age be able to prove the superiority of democracy to other forms of government (if indeed this can be done). The fact that those liberals who most object to any teaching about the deity are generally most insistent that the virtues of democracy be taught, should make us aware that what is at issue is not religion in general, but the content of the religion to be taught." All schools will teach students to worship and the only question is, who will be worshipped? 4 words which should exist Inventing words can be fun. Got any good ones? Arghument – assertions back by vehemence, not evidence Heil’d – Damned with faint praise, particularly by noting that he/she probably isn’t a Nazi Questian – someone in search of their next cause Squarcle – a square circle, synonym to “gay marriage” or "preferred pronouns" ...
People we should know
Francis Schaeffer: Intellectual leader of the Christian Right
During the late 1970s and early 1980s many conservative Protestants in the United States became involved in social and political activism for the first time. The movement emerging out of this activism is often referred to as the "Religious Right" or "Christian Right." While a number of factors combined to produce this phenomenon, one of the most important was a theological shift. Conservative Christians who had previously avoided any form of activism came to believe that they had a duty to speak out on behalf of Biblical positions regarding social issues. More than any other individual, a Presbyterian pastor named Francis Schaeffer was responsible for this shift. A recent book by Barry Hankins, Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America (Eerdmans, 2008) provides a good overview of Schaeffer’s life, work and influence. Reformed foundation Francis Schaeffer was born in 1912 to a nominally Christian family in Pennsylvania. As a young man he converted to Biblical Christianity as a result of hearing an evangelist. After completing college he enrolled in Westminster Theological Seminary in 1935. In 1937 Westminster Theological Seminary split, and a number of professors and students left to form Faith Theological Seminary. Mirroring this split, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church had a rupture, with a number of people leaving to form the Bible Presbyterian Church. There were a number of issues involved, one of the most important being eschatology. Those who formed the new seminary and new denomination were premilleniallists, and Schaeffer was among them. After completing seminary, Schaeffer became a very effective Bible Presbyterian pastor in St. Louis. In 1948 he moved with his family to Switzerland as a missionary under the auspices of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM). To make a long story short, Schaeffer's relationship with both the Bible Presbyterian Church and the IBPFM deteriorated. He left both organizations. (Ultimately he joined the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod which merged with the Presbyterian Church in America in 1982.) Come and question! In 1955 Schaeffer formed his own mission group called L'Abri, the French word for shelter. It was basically a small community in Switzerland that would receive guests who had questions about Christianity and life in general. L'Abri was very effective and gradually emerged as an influential evangelical organization. People came from all over the world to learn about Christianity from Francis Schaeffer. Many people became Christians in this way, while many who were already Christians had their lives and careers paths changed in a positive direction. Schaeffer’s ministry focus was on demonstrating that only Christianity provided an answer to life’s questions and problems. Schaeffer could explain why the popular philosophical movements of the mid-twentieth century were deficient. Doing so provided an avenue for presenting the Gospel. As Barry Hankins writes, “Apologetics had two purposes for Schaeffer: the first was defense of the faith, and the second was to communicate Christianity in a way that a given generation can understand the message.” L’Abri, however, was not just about providing intellectual answers from a Christian perspective. It also provided shelter and care for people who were having personal problems. The love and care provided by his ministry substantially increased Schaeffer’s credibility and his esteem among believers and unbelievers alike. Hankins notes, “Schaeffer taught that the ‘final apologetic’ for the Christian faith was the fulfillment of Jesus’ command that Christians love one another.” A wider audience Schaeffer would speak to people individually about their questions and concerns, but he would also lecture regularly. By the end of the 1950s, many of the lectures were being taped. Gradually, an audience for these taped lectures spread throughout the world. “By 1968, there were Schaeffer listening groups across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Taiwan, Japan, India, South Africa, France, New Zealand, Australia, and nations in South America” Even before 1968, however, Schaeffer’s influence was being noticed. Hankins records that, “His growing popularity was noted in a 1960 issue of Time magazine.” As a result of his increasing notoriety, Schaeffer began lecturing tours, first in Britain and later in the USA. These lectures were very popular. Many were subsequently published in book form and this caused his fame and influence to spread even further. Schaeffer was teaching evangelicals about modern philosophical trends and how they related to Biblical Christianity. This had not really been done before, so Schaeffer was on the cutting edge of Christian cultural analysis for English-speaking conservative Protestants. “To whatever extent evangelicals by the mid to late 1970s were analyzing culture instead of rejecting it, Schaeffer was largely responsible,” Hankins argues. By the mid-1970s Schaeffer was so well-known that he became acquainted with some American politicians and was even hosted at the White House by President Gerald Ford. Pivotal books In 1973 the US Supreme Court ruled in the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that women had a right to abortion. This was a momentous decision and Schaeffer began to speak out increasingly for the pro-life cause. Actually, he was the most prominent evangelical leader promoting the pro-life cause because so many evangelicals during the early to mid-1970s were ambivalent about this issue. In 1976 Schaeffer (with substantial help from his son Franky) produced a book and film series called How Should We Then Live? that described the decline of Western Civilization due to the rise of secular humanism. It was an effective combination, introducing many conservative Christians to worldview thinking for the first time. Then in 1979, he produced another book and film series called Whatever Happened to the Human Race? that presented the Biblical position on abortion and other life issues. This book and series had a major impact in activating evangelicals into the pro-life cause. Schaeffer's influence continued to increase. In 1981 he wrote a book called The Christian Manifesto, demonstrating that secular humanism was replacing Christianity as the basis of the United States. If Christians did not resist this trend, he argued, it would only get worse. This book is arguably one of the most important ever produced by the Christian Right. Then in 1984, he wrote The Great Evangelical Disaster, which criticized a trend among some evangelical leaders to question the inerrancy of the Bible. If these men continued in that direction, Schaeffer warned, they would soon be embracing theological liberalism. He called on conservative Protestants to continue to defend the Bible as God's inspired and inerrant Word as his last message to the church. In the same year this book appeared, he died of cancer. No coincidence he was Reformed Hankins notes that Schaeffer’s “attempt to alert Christians to the need for intentionally and self-consciously forming a Christian worldview based on solid Christian presuppositions was the central part of his intellectual project.” This continues to be a major component of his legacy. It’s important to recognize that Schaeffer’s theological background provided him with the intellectual tools to confront popular culture from a Biblical perspective. “His training within the Reformed branch of American fundamentalism by scholars such as J. Gresham Machen and Cornelius Van Til served him well in this regard.” Reformed theology provides the most robust Christian challenge to our modern secular culture and it was foundational to Schaeffer’s own ministry and success as an apologist. Photo by Dr. Gary Lee Todd, taken sometime in 1981 (Flickr.com/public domain)....
Saturday Selections – May 13, 2023
Burning Ember (8 min) Steve Bell and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra may just give you the shivers – this is wonderful! Are Proverbs an ancien...
Canada replaces the cross with a snowflake
On the same day that the world’s attention was fixed on the coronation of Charles III, Canada’s federal government took the opportunity to show of...
Al Siebring: councillor & Christian
How one municipal politician brings God’s Word to bear on taxes, government budgets and private citizens’ property rights ***** This appeared in...
Economics - Home Finances
Can you afford a home? – some practical suggestions
If you’re wondering if you can afford a home, this would be a good time to look carefully at your monthly expenditures. Christians are called to be wise stewards of what God has entrusted to us, and He has blessed us with so much! Yet if we are not careful, we can so easily fritter away our funds, and end up not being able to take care of obligations or move ahead with good goals like home ownership. In Luke 14, Jesus gave a parable about the cost of being one of his disciples, and used the analogy of a builder considering his expenditures before tackling a project: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Don’t just think about it A tool to help in deciding whether or not one can afford a home is a monthly budget. Most people hate budgeting; it can be such a tedious task! But it is also an excellent discipline that will make an enormous impact on your ability to manage your income and expenses, and over time will result in you being able to be even more generous to charitable causes, and to help others along your path. How do you start? Like any journey, it always begins with the first step. Take a notebook, or open a new spreadsheet, and for 60 days, write down and categorize every time you spend money. You can download your banking transactions into financial software as a shortcut, but it is more effective the “old fashioned” way – making you more conscious of your spending patterns. Categorize your spending into different categories as follows: charity, savings, groceries, mortgage or rent, insurance, home maintenance, education, property taxes, entertainment, dining out, utilities, transportation, clothing, medical/health, and personal care. After 60 days of tracking your expenses, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where your money is going, and you can set goals in these categories that will help you decrease your spending where it is not important, and increase your savings. A sample budget This graph shows what a typical household might set as goals for spending in these different categories (these may be quite different for you depending on where you live, and your stage of life): Charity: 10% (Make this your first expenditure, not your last!) Savings: 10% Mortgage/Rent: 25% Education: 10% (Depends greatly on what stage of life you are at!) Groceries/household: 10% Utilities: 6% Insurance monthly: 5% Property tax monthly: 5% Transportation / gas / savings for repairs: 5% Home maintenance / savings for maintenance: 5% Clothing: 2% Personal care: 2% Medical / Dental / Health: 2% Gifts: 1% Entertainment / Recreation: 1% Eating away from home: 1% Many financial planners recommend that you not take on a mortgage that would result in more than 30% of your monthly expenditures going to your home (including property tax, home insurance, and monthly payments). As you develop your own budget, you’ll be able to see if that “rule of thumb” works for you. The “Freedom Fund” Sometimes our budgets go astray when we have bills for an unplanned car repair, or when our annual home insurance premium comes due. Financial planners have recommended a concept called the “Freedom Fund,” and it can be a huge help. For expenses that are regular and planned (like an insurance bill, or property taxes), one can divide the total expected expense in 12, and then set aside that amount every month into a dedicated savings account. For expenses that are not regular, but that we can expect will come up, like a car repair bill, or major appliance replacement, one can set aside a reasonable amount (as low as $50 per month, or as high as you might think prudent) into another savings account. (Many banks and credit unions allow members to create “sub accounts” connected to their savings account, and even allow you to name them online!) These savings accounts, labeled for their intended purpose (like “Car Repair” or “Home Repair” or “Insurance”), become your “Freedom Funds,” so named because they can free you of the stress of sudden bills or non regular expenses. It’s a really simple concept, but if you follow the suggestion, you will find yourself in better control of your finances! Cash is the answer! One more incredibly effective way to stretch your money further is to begin paying for most of your purchases with cash. Yes, it’s old-fashioned; no, it’s not as convenient as plastic, but you may be absolutely certain that you will spend less, and will be better able to stick to your budget, if you change to cash as your payment system for every one of the categories that you can do so. At the beginning of each week, or perhaps after each paycheck, take out cash for each category for which you are responsible. (You can use envelopes to differentiate each category, or you can buy an organizer wallet that has three or four different compartments.) When the funds for a category are empty, that’s it for spending for that period! People laugh when they hear this suggestion – it’s so simple – how can it work? But it really does have a powerful effect on overall spending. There’s something about having to take cash out of a wallet that is more of a deliberate spending choice than simply swiping or inserting a credit or debit card. Try it! You have nothing to lose except a little bit of convenience....
What I learned from my Oma
Solomon tells us the first step to learning wisdom is to pursue it (Prov. 4:7), so I recently sat down with my Oma and listened to her share her immigration story. Leny Bosveld (nee Plug) was born Dec. 18, 1937 on the coast of Holland, the 4th child out of 8. Her father originally was a fisherman, but gave up his trade to sell coal and oil. He prospered in his new role of businessman and owned a three-story house that included a shower and toilets, which was a luxury in those days and not common to most households. Though prospering himself, Leny’s father did not think there would be enough work in Holland for his sons, so in 1950 the family made plans to immigrate to Australia. So it was, a mere 73 years ago, while Europe was still recovering from World War II, my Oma moved from a life of wealth to a life of poverty; her story is much like any pioneer or immigrant in history past. Years in nothing but a tent Oma's temporary post-tent makeshift house After a four-week boat ride, the family landed in Albany, Western Australia, and for the next three months lived in their moving container, and slept in a large army tent which was shared with their oma and two uncles. You were only allowed to bring a certain amount of money along when you immigrated, and even though Leny’s dad had his fishing boat, he did not know how to fish in Australia and was not able to make a steady income. After 3 months, Leny’s family moved to Fremantle, and set up the tent in the bush. Living in the tent was a hard life for Leny’s mom, and at one time she said, “If the sea was not between Australia and Holland I would crawl back home.” There was no water and no electricity. To get water the children had to walk far and carry buckets of water uphill, so that by the time it got to their living area much of it had splashed out. Cooking was done with a kerosene cooker, and later with a stove over an open fire outside. Their refrigerator was a small cupboard that held a block of ice, which was changed twice a week by an ice man. There was a big copper pot outside to boil the water in. There were containers and a board for washing laundry. The toilet was outside in a big bucket, and the boys had to dig a hole and bury everything every two days. Once a week the children took turns washing in a tub. This was normal life for the children and did not bother them, though my Oma does remember getting made fun of at school for their poor life. After two years in Fremantle the tent seam broke, and a temporary house was made from timber and the remains of the tent. Eventually the family bought a house that included a proper outside toilet. More families followed The wedding of Leny and Johan in Dec. 1957. While Leny’s family were the first Dutch immigrants to the Albany area, eventually more families came and the immigrants could meet for church together. Leny and Johan met at church, though Leny was shy and avoided contact with him after her mother told her not to chase boys. But Johan liked Leny and asked her father to be her boyfriend. The pair dated for 4 years, seeing one another just once a week. Johan asked to marry Leny when she was only 20 and was told to wait until she was 21, so they got married on her 21st birthday! They had a simple wedding in a courthouse, then went to church for a blessing. Johan worked hard and as their 10 children came along they moved into bigger houses together and were not in want of the necessities of life. Contentment in wealth and poverty My Oma mentioned how living with wealth, as we do today, can be harder than poverty. Having everything can be a curse when we buy and are not satisfied. She said they were satisfied when they got a handkerchief from a lady next door. Comfort became less important for her as it became less available, and trusting God to provide was taught to her at a young age. Not only was my Oma poor, she was also a foreigner in a new land, learning English and navigating how to be in the world but not of it. As our world becomes more hostile to Christians, as inflation and housing prices shift the kind of wealth the next generation may have, I was reminded not to fear or despair. Oma’s life helped me reevaluate what is a need versus what is merely a want that I have elevated to a “need” status. Oma also reminded me not to focus on what kind of life to have in comparison to others, or to worry over deciding what comforts to hold onto and how many children fit or do not fit into a certain plan. Children are a blessing, and I needed the reminder to self-examine what I am keeping “busy” with, and to instead be praying, “Your will be done.” Home life does not need to be fancy; living simply and faithfully for God are what I am called to. Older saints help us reconsider what does and does not matter. My Oma helped me see that the plague of ideas and expectations sprouting from our phones cannot overtake the faithful day of small things (Zec. 4:9-10). It is a lesson that I know I will need to be reminded of over and over again, and spending time with elderly saints is one way God continues to challenge me in that. Growing in sanctification Even though this is a brief snapshot into my Oma’s story, it testifies to God’s covenant faithfulness being handed down from generation to generation. My Oma and Opa have 10 children, 50 grandchildren, and 57 and counting great-grandchildren. Perhaps the greatest gift to learn from my Oma is her example of self-forgetfulness; she is not looking to be an Instagram image, but an Image Bearer who points away from herself to her God. The stories and examples of the elderly give us encouragement that we too are heading there in our sanctification, towards a deeper relationship with God where the need and drive for our own glory fades, as His glory more and more becomes the focal point of our thoughts and actions....
Economics - Home Finances
Home ownership for Christians: how it happened in the past, and how it might now
As home prices have risen in most of Canada, young people may be wondering if they will ever be able to afford to own their own home In BC’s Fraser Valley, and in the golden triangle of southern Ontario, prices have fallen recently, but a rise in interest rates have kept mortgage payments at a rate that are unaffordable for many. Is a house with a white picket fence to call one’s own an impossible dream today? How should Christians approach the concept of home ownership, and are there ways that we can be of service to one another in this important part of our lives? I interviewed young couples, homeowners, renters, realtors, and others to get some insight into how Christians view real estate ownership, and to provide helpful advice for those who are wondering what the best course of action is for their family. SOME BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES We turn first to Scripture for some general principles on home and land ownership. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it!” Christians know from God’s Word that all of creation belongs to our God: He made it all, and He owns every square inch. Because we acknowledge God’s ownership of every bit of creation, Christians view our “ownership” of a home, or a business differently. We acknowledge that the Lord calls us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us, and that He expects us to “be fruitful, to fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). The Lord gave wise laws through Moses that emphasized a family’s ownership of land. One who was in financial difficulty could lend his land to another, but this was not to be a permanent change in ownership: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land you shall allow a redemption of the land.” (Leviticus 25:23-24) Further in Leviticus 25, Moses draws a distinction between agricultural land, and houses in “walled cities.” “If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year, he shall have the right of redemption. If it is not redeemed with a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong in perpetuity to the buyer throughout his generations.” (vs. 29-30). Homes attached to farmland were treated differently; they did return to the family who originally owned them. Since many of us now live in “walled cities” – that is, we do not depend on the fruit of the land for our income – it makes sense that these two types of properties were treated differently. More than 2,000 years later, we may look at the principles laid out in Scripture for guidance as we consider real estate and home ownership. We no longer live in God’s promised land, with guidelines for generational ownership, yet we observe that the Lord commanded His people to care for the land He entrusted to them, and that He blessed Israel as they did so faithfully, from generation to generation. THE CANADIAN DREAM Home ownership has long been part of the Canadian dream. For many in the Reformed community, our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents emigrated from the Netherlands with the hope of better economic opportunities, and a desire to buy their own farm, homestead, or family home… which may have been out of reach in the old country. Then, as now, a house was a costly purchase, and required diligent saving for a down payment, and prudent money management to make the monthly mortgage payments. Despite the challenges, most families in decades past found ways to get into home ownership, and by living below their means, and perhaps doing without some of the non-necessities, they were able to make their mortgage payments. It was not uncommon among our immigrant community for a couple to make do with one car for the family, and it was likely not a brand new vehicle but one that was purchased at least a few years old. THEN VERSUS NOW These condo apartments in the Niagara area went for $130,000 ten years ago, and are now listing for almost $400,000. And even as prices have recently dipped a little, that’s been countered by a rise in mortgage rates. (Photo: Danyse Van Dam) We are accustomed these days to inexpensive electronic devices, and to Wi-Fi access throughout or homes. A generation or two ago, a television was a costly appliance, and many families did without these: having a screen for everyone in the house was not considered a necessity! Another area that families did without was luxurious vacations. Although a trip to Mexico or Europe would be wonderful, many decided that camping at a lake, or making a road trip to cottage country would be a great way to make memories with their children. From 2003 to 2018, prices for free-standing houses increased up to 330% in parts of Canada. Especially in greater Vancouver and southern Ontario, supply and demand drove prices up to levels that seem unimaginable to those who considered home expensive already decades ago. Immigration to Canada from all over the world drove part of the demand side of this equation: in the last two years, more than 830,000 immigrants have moved into the Great White North, and many of these people have moved to areas that already had booming real estate prices. Construction costs for newly built homes have also ballooned. Higher wages for construction workers, increased costs for materials, and more and more red tape from local government all contributed to the costs that builders incurred, and passed on to new home buyers. At the same time, the earning power of workers has grown exponentially. The average salary of a Canadian wage earner increased 2.45% each year the past twenty years, with large spikes in the past two years (including over 10% in 2020). This is slightly lower than the 3.8% overall inflation rate in Canada over the same time period, but not outrageously different. WISDOM FROM GOD’S PEOPLE Given all of the above, what wisdom can we offer a young Christian couple today? We all have different gifts and abilities; we live in different parts of the country, with different real estate pricing: what Scriptural principles can we apply to our lives today to honor the Lord in all aspects of life? I talked to several couples and families in different stages of their earthly journey, seeking wisdom for God’s people today. Bert and Linda Vane are members of the Aldergrove Canadian Reformed Church in BC, and are parents of eleven children. Bert began his career as an entrepreneur in landscaping, employing many young people in landscape maintenance and new construction. As the Lord blessed them, the Vanes also invested in agricultural businesses, in real estate, and other opportunities. Bert believes that God gives all His creatures the obligation to work, and gives us stewardship of different pieces of life on earth. “God grants us the right to ‘own’ a piece of His creation, to provide shelter and food for our families. He gives us the responsibility to provide for our families, and home ownership is a part of this calling.” Bert believes without a doubt that ownership of one’s own house is a Godly desire, that ownership of property grants many blessings in the course of one’s life. These blessings include financial increase, but also add the stability granted to families when they are able to remain rooted in a location where they can be a dependable part of a church community. MORTGAGE HELPERS Since owning a home has become increasingly expensive, renting our primary residence has become another reasonable choice for Christians. Especially for young couples, needing only a one or two-bedroom home or suite in their first years of marriage, renting can be a wise decision for a period of time. This is most often not a wise choice for the long term (longer than 18 months), since ultimately costs for a rental unit are based on real estate prices, which change with time, and in the 21st century, mostly increase at or above the level of inflation. When we were newly married, way back in the day, my wife Faith and I returned from our honeymoon to a one-bedroom suite in the basement of brother and sister-in-law, Ken and Christine VanderPloeg. I never thought to ask at the time, but I’m sure that our meager monthly rental payments were appreciated in Ken and Christine’s financial journey as they used that suite as a “mortgage helper,” and raised six children in that same home. We lived in that basement suite for a bit less than two years, when we were blessed to be able to buy our own home. It was also in Surrey, BC, and also contained a basement suite that was our own mortgage helper in the following years. I can recall a few sleepless nights as Faith and I wondered whether or not it was the right thing to do, to buy our own home, especially as the purchase price seemed so impossibly high, more than ten times our annual earnings back in 1993. With good council from parents and in-laws, we went forward in faith, and bought our first home. We had enough funds for a good-sized down payment, thanks to my wife’s diligent savings, and we were able to borrow from family instead of the bank for the remainder, at a favorable interest rate. Later I learned that my parents-in-law, Henk and Jennie Schoen, had been able to offer similar assistance to all of their nine children, a result of their own stewardly financial management, and a generous spirit that was a blessing to all of us. Thanks Dad and Mom (since departed to glory)! Readers may glean a few principles from the example above. First, living in less than ideal circumstances, with a suite as a mortgage helper, or a partnership arrangement of some kind, can be a great stepping stone to home ownership. And second, when parents or family are able to help financially or otherwise, they can be a huge blessing to a young couple that otherwise might not be able to afford a house of their own. A FEW CURRENT EXAMPLES Sean and Lauren Stel have been able to buy a house by doing so with Lauren’s brother Ben Ravensbergen. Younger readers might be forgiven for scoffing at my own example of getting into the real estate market: “That’s well and good for you, old timer, but things have changed today! Prices are so high compared to your day!” That is certainly true: real estate prices are far higher today, but income levels are also much higher than past generations. Further, thriftiness as our parents and grandparents practiced, creative solutions like basement suites or partnerships, and tapping into the generous spirit of family and friends, are all still enormous opportunities today just as they were in previous generations. Sean Stel is a software engineer working for L3Harris Wescam; he and his wife Lauren have two children. The Stels have been shopping for the right real estate deal for some time in the Smithville, Ontario area. Sean and Lauren brought Lauren’s brother Ben Ravensbergen into the buying process, and are together on the cusp of buying a home together. Ben works in construction, and hopes to be able to build a suite in the home for his own use. Sean and Lauren are very thankful for the opportunity to make this work, and hope to be able to live in their new home for many years. Sean shared the good advice that he received from family and friends: “Write down whatever you agree to, so that you don’t have any forgetfulness or misunderstanding down the road!” Especially as property values fluctuate, and as life circumstances change, this is indeed good counsel for anyone who buys a home with a partner. Ben and Meagan den Boer are Australian immigrants living in the Fraser Valley of BC. Ben is a teacher at Credo Christian High School, and Meagan, a former nurse in Australia, is a stay-at-home mom. Right now, the den Boers can’t see a way to buying a home in the Fraser Valley. With a teacher’s salary, with home prices as high as they are, and with most family connections being back home in Australia, it doesn’t seem to make sense for the young couple. The den Boers are very grateful for their current living space, as they rent a two-bedroom apartment (mortgage helper) at a reasonable rent. Meagan stated that none of her friends in BC have been able to buy a home yet at this point, and many are renting basement suites or apartments from family and acquaintances. Ben and Meagan do already own a home back in Australia, and are glad they did not sell it upon their move to Canada. Ben and Meagan den Boer, along with their little guy Micaiah. Like many young couples in BC’s Fraser Valley, they haven’t found a home purchase that makes sense for them. OWNING VERSUS RENTING Tim Bratcher and Brian Bratcher are twin brothers, and immigrants to Canada from Pennsylvania. Tim and Brian were born and raised as members of the Blue Bell American Reformed Church; both brothers married Canadian spouses, and both ended up living in southern Ontario with their families. Brian and his wife Alicia bought a home in Dunnville about seven years ago. Although the purchase price was high compared to house prices in other parts of the U.S.A. or Canada where they could have moved, Brian and Alicia were able to borrow funds from relatives that made the purchase work. Seven years later, their home is worth more than double what they paid for it, and they have been able to put down roots in Dunnville. Tim and his wife Amanda have not been able to make that same leap into the market, but have been able to rent a home that has worked for their family. Tim and Amanda moved out of Guelph to Welland, where rents are more affordable. Tim has strong opinions on real estate and landlords, and believes that a part of the increase in housing prices has been small investors who buy homes to rent them out. “I’d advise against buying a $500,000 home as a rental income property, if you know that you’ll have to charge at or above the current going rate. It just bumps that average higher, and each new unit will ‘snap’ to that new rate.” HELP FOR THE NEXT GENERATION Reformed Christians in 21st century Canada have been tremendously blessed in so many ways by our God. This includes incredible financial blessings! On average, “baby boomers” (born between 1946 and 1964) are considered the wealthiest people ever in the history of the world, and members of “Generation X” (born from 1965 to 1982) are not far behind, perhaps on a trajectory to surpass their parents in wealth. How might we use what God has entrusted to us for the good of God’s Kingdom? God calls us to recognize His ownership of everything on earth: even while we think about “our” wealth, or “our” savings, we do well to remember that ultimately it is all the Lord’s. Might we be able to take part of our long-term savings or investments and have it be a blessing for our brothers and sisters, as well as for ourselves? Here are a few ways that family can help younger people get into home ownership: 1. Celebrate the wedding, help with the house! We’ve all seen wedding celebrations that become ostentatious displays, with lavish and unnecessary spending on things that mean very little in the long run. Are there ways that we as parents and grandparents and friends can encourage our children to appropriately celebrate their wedding with family and friends, while not digging a financial hole at the very start of their married life? When young couples are presented with the huge consequences of putting $15,000 towards the down payment on a house, and $10,000 towards a wedding celebration, versus $25,000 towards the wedding, we can help them make decisions that will be of huge benefit to them in the long term. (Hint: no one remembers what kind of napkins you had at your wedding, or what kind of food was served, but everyone remembers the speeches and the gezelligheid!) 2. Sharing our homes Many of us still live in the homes in which we raised our families, and no longer need all the room that we have. Yet, it might not make economic sense for us to move because of the cost of moving, or we might just enjoy the home in which we live. Could we find a way to accommodate our married children in our homes for a few years while they get established? This may be for a few months; it may be for a few years, but however it is accomplished, it can be a huge savings for a young family. 3. Lending funds at a low interest rate, or co-signing a loan With mortgage rates much higher than they were three years ago, interest has become a much larger component of buyers’ monthly payments. Could you lend your relatives or friends some of your savings at a lower rate than the bank would lend to them? Or could you lend them a portion of the down payment at low or no interest? Co-signing a loan, while potentially risky for the co-signer, is also an avenue to helping a young couple to establish credibility with a bank. (Co-signers need to be aware that they are responsible for continued payments on loans, even when things get messy!) 4. Lending funds as a shared investment Many economists believe that real estate prices in Canada will continue to rise well above the rate of inflation. For your long-term savings, could you find a way to invest in real estate with your children or grandchildren, providing part of the capital required in exchange for a percentage of the increase in value? This concept requires careful documentation so that all parties are aware of how increases or losses in value are shared, but may be a good investment for the older generation, as well as a huge helper for the younger generation. CONCLUSION From the examples above, and from our own experience, we can observe that home ownership has been an enormous blessing for generations of Canadian Christians. In the long term, owning one’s own home is foundational to financial stability and good stewardship of the resources the Lord has entrusted to us. May the Lord give wisdom to young couples considering how they may become homeowners, and may He give a spirit of generosity to older generations wishing to help their children and grandchildren in this good and Godly goal....
Christian education as violation of children’s “human rights”
Two topics that are commonly discussed in Reformed Perspective are Christian education and the modern notion of “human rights.” Christian education is a good thing, of course, and its supporters need to be encouraged. On the other hand, the phrase “human rights” is too frequently used as a cover for anti-Christian positions on abortion and homosexuality. Now what happens when Christian education and “human rights” are thrown together? An outcome that is bad for Christians, that’s what. Christian education and the modern notion of “human rights” don’t fit well together. Diminishing parents The clash of so-called “human rights” and Christian education is discussed by American law professor Martha Albertson Fineman in an article entitled “Taking Children’s Interests Seriously.” She is a “children’s rights” proponent. But children are too immature to exercise their rights, so “children’s rights” are commonly used to empower government officials at the expense of parental rights. From a Christian perspective, we know parental rights should be paramount in education. But Fineman certainly doesn’t think so. She says that an emphasis on parental rights in education can be an obstacle to children’s best interests. For example, it is assumed by many that parents are in the best position to determine which school subjects and methods of preparation are most likely to prepare their children for the future. But that assumption is flawed, according to Fineman. As she sees it, that “type of expertise is almost certainly within the province of certified teachers and school boards, not parents." In fact, having parents making decisions is seen as a problem: “Certain parental decisions can create handicaps and inhibit a child’s entry into the secular and complex world in which she or he must live and function as an adult.” In her view, it makes much more sense for educational decisions to be made by public education professionals. Parents don’t really know very much, after all. Why allow them to make the important decisions? Besides, the parents are clearly up to no good, at least those who send their children to Christian schools: "Parents in these contexts are often part of a larger religious or ideological community, a community with an independent interest in and intent to indoctrinate children. Such communities conspire with member parents to separate their children from diverse secular, and therefore competing and dangerous, alternatives." So, those of you reading this who send your children to a Christian school are, in her view, conspiring with church leaders against secular society. Mandatory public education? To fix this situation, Fineman thinks that “human rights” rather than parental rights should be the paramount consideration in educational decision-making. Her perspective reflects that of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which, in a 2006 ruling, upheld a decision by authorities in Germany to prevent a Christian couple from home schooling their children. The ECHR said that home schooling would violate the children’s right to education. Fineman warmly welcomed this decision, noting that the "approach of the ECHR provides a competing framework for making decisions regarding the educational and social welfare of the child: that of the best interests of the child, as evaluated through the paradigm of human rights." In this view, educational decisions must be made in light of “the child’s interest in the diversity and independence-conferring potential of a secular and public education.” By allowing parents the option of selecting private Christian education for their children, the children’s interests are being neglected, according to Fineman: “Indeed, the long-term consequences for the child of being home schooled or sent to a private school cannot be overstated.” Think of the specific consequences for female students, for example. Fineman cites one notable study which: "has exposed the ways in which private Christian schools instill sexist beliefs into children and pressure young girls into traditional patriarchal roles rather than professional careers." That’s right. Girls in Christian schools are taught that being wives and mothers is a worthy and meaningful role in life. They are encouraged in this direction rather than being steered towards rewarding professional or business careers. But what about their “human rights”? Who’s watching out for the interests of these girls? Clearly it’s not their parents, who are allowing them to be guided towards the demeaning and worthless roles of wives and mothers. What should be done about this? Well, the choice is obvious for Fineman. In her view, the solution “for our current educational dilemma is that public education should be mandatory and universal.” What she is demanding comes down to this: secular humanism is the truth, with its various permutations of feminism and “diversity” (read: homosexuality) therefore all children should go to schools where the truth is taught, namely, public schools. In this way the children’s interests and “human rights” will be protected. When two worldviews collide Of course, what she calls “human rights” sounds more like “might makes right” to a Christian. A secular humanist government should (in Fineman’s view) force all children to learn secular humanism in its schools. This is not really a case of “human rights” versus oppression, but an issue of one worldview versus another. From a Christian perspective, using the power of the state to force all children to attend secular humanist public schools does not advance “human rights” one bit; quite the contrary, in fact. Fineman opposes the Christian worldview and wants to ensure that children from Christian homes are taught her worldview instead. This is what’s really involved in her proposal. She would not see it this way because for her, secular humanism is the one true religion and she wants everyone to believe it. I don’t say that to demean her — everyone has a religious perspective they consider to be true. But she doesn’t seem to be self-conscious of this or the implications. Conclusion Originally, human rights involved protecting people from the state. In recent decades a new perspective of “human rights” has arisen that involves using the power of the state for social engineering. This is Fineman’s conception of human rights. So when the issues of Christian education and “human rights” are mixed together, the outcome is bad for Christians. For those with a social-engineering view of “human rights,” Christianity is oppressive and Christian children need the “independence-conferring potential of a secular and public education” as Fineman puts it. If academics like Fineman continue to promote this agenda, it may be that Christians will need to defend their schools from accusations of “human rights” violations. This first appeared in the November 2012 issue under the title "For the sake of the children?"...