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Saturday Selections – July 20, 2024

Reagan's deeply personal argument for a Creator (10 min read / 1 min video)

It was an analogy he returned to frequently, with students at an evangelism camp, and even with the leader of the Soviet Union...

Syphilis is up this year. What can a godless government do?

"Just as smoking a cigar is bad but puffing on a joint is OK, so spreading illnesses by being unvaccinated is evil while spreading disease through sexual indulgence is a mere technical problem."

Christian nationalism is a much discussed topics these days, and while this article doesn't make the case for it, it does highlight the problem with the opposite: a godless government simply isn't able to offer the moral answer needed to stop the spread of a sickness that is caused by immoral choices.

US women to be draft eligible?

US men over 18 have to register for the draft so that, should a war occur, the government will have a list at the ready of fighting-age men. And now they want women to register too, pretending that women are just as capable as men of being mean, green, fighting machines. But when most women failed the required fitness standards, the problem was addressed by lowering the standards. Why does the world cling so desperately to the pretense that men and women are not simply equal, but identical in all abilities?

It's because ability is their basis for equality. We don't normally treat dissimilar things the same – a kid's art is hung up on a fridge, and a Rembrandt is hung up in a museum even though both are art. So on what basis would we treat men and women – obviously dissimilar in many ways – the same? All the world's got is pretending that they are equal in all abilities...even though they are obviously not.

Christians too, believe in an equality of the sexes, but we have a firm foundation for it – one that does not require us to willfully blind ourselves to reality. God made us male and female, and our worth comes not from being identical in ability, but in us all being made in God's Image (Gen. 1:27). Thus, the argument we have to offer against women in the draft is also the evangelistic one: to point people to reality as God defines it. 

Best predictor of happiness? Marriage

More than money, location, or education, the God-given gift of marriage turns out to be the best predictor of happiness.

Archeology shows the Bible was telling the truth

All sorts of experts have critiqued the Bible as not being based in history. And when such a critique is first offered, it might be hard to counter it. But, eventually, the truth comes out: "a recent article in Britain’s The Daily Mail suggested that the prophets Amos and Zechariah may have had something right."

Rachel Holt's heartbreaking pro-life song, "I was gonna be"

This young lady's first big song had a hundred thousand hits this past month.


Saturday Selections – July 6, 2024

How social media keeps you poor (10 min) Though the two commentators here aren't Christian, the warning they offer may help us better resist social media's siren call. Spider silk might be ideal for nerve repairs Spider silk may be a great medium to regrow severed nerves in people, and that's just one of its amazing properties. If Man could make it, he would, but despite all our genius and equipment, we can't duplicate what a spider, with a brain the size of a pin, can make all on its own. Motherhood myth busting Feminists have women fearful of having children, with fertility treated more as a problem to be solved than as a gift (or if they deny God, an ability) specific to women. They look to children from a cost/benefit perspective and don't see how the pleasure derived from children can outweigh the bother. And from that self-absorbed perspective, it will be hard to enjoy any kids you might have. But, "if life has meaning beyond comfort and pleasure, then something can be difficult and worth pursuing at the same time. " Parents' guide to smartphones (10-minute read) The folks at Axis cover the highs and lows. It's a longer read but there is so much helpful material in here that this is a must-read for parents with teens. Communicating about sex in the first years of marriage "How can you have meaningful conversations about sex with your spouse? You should be sure to address wants, worries, ways, and why's..." When the government bets your house Like previous installments in this "Unintended Consequences" series, these are well-intentioned plans going wildly awry. While this is a secular presentation, the lesson being pitched is one Christians can get behind: there is an overall need for humility, because even (especially?) experts can get things really, really wrong. This humility wouldn't simply mean leaders, and the experts they follow, need to double-check their work. What it means is that our leaders and these experts need to admit to not being able to do many of the things they are currently trying to do now.... and they need to stop meddling in them. Just consider if, in the Sri Lankan case presented below, only some of the farmers had tried organic pesticides. Maybe they would have tried it as a marketing effort – get your organic rice from us! It would have been an experiment, but the farmers would have been gambling with their own land, money, and work. That's high stakes for them, but they are betting on themselves, their own smarts, and their efforts. And because it is only some farmers, win or lose, it isn't a high-stakes gamble for the whole country. If they had succeeded, they would have gotten the benefit and they would have been an example for others to learn from and copy. And if they'd failed, then others could also learn and avoid their mistake. However, when the government made the decision to ban inorganic pesticides for everyone, they were gambling with land, money, and work that wasn't theirs. And they were forcing everyone into just the one experiment. If it succeeded, wonderful, but the problem is, were it to fail, they were taking everyone down with them. That makes it a much, much higher stakes gamble. And anyone who has any humility shouldn't even think to bet someone else's house on their best guess. ...


New Brunswick still isn’t banning smartphones in school

According to Paige MacPherson and Alex Whalen of the Fraser Institute, cellphones’ negative impact on students has been especially apparent in New Brunswick. The Maritime province has not banned cellphone in school, and has seen math scores among 15-year-olds plummet between 2003 and 2022. Worse than that, these scores trail the national average significantly. Other provinces, including British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, have introduced, or will introduce, smartphone bans in schools. And surprisingly, a large majority of Canadians seem to favor bans like these (one poll listed it as 54% completely in agreement and 26% somewhat so). Rather than seeing it as a restriction on student freedom, Canadians seem to recognize there is wisdom in taking these devices away during at least part of the day. Maybe that support comes from grown-ups recognizing how hard it is to regulate their own phone use, how difficult it is to resist the urge to look at it after just a few seconds of boredom. Maybe responsible use of phones during focus times isn’t possible, especially when these phones are designed to be used as often as possible. If the world around us is starting to reassess their relationships with their phones, it’s time for us as Christians to be more confident in the boundaries we draw with technology. Especially when young developing minds are concerned. After all, with everything tempting us to use our phones more and more, fighting that temptation will take the support of a community to reduce our dependence – and our children’s dependence – on them. As parents, we will have to agree to be comfortable with phoning the school instead of reaching our children directly. As adults whom children look up to, we’ll have to demonstrate how to handle those moments of boredom. And as a community, we can prioritize face-to-face interactions and social connections in the real world, enough to make the virtual world look much less attractive....


Young men building a home for the Reformed confessions

Some ambitious young men can fix their own vehicles, and others can help frame a home or build an impressive app. But two young men from Southern Alberta, who have impressive tech and video skills, have channeled their energy towards advancing something else entirely – the Reformed confessions, including the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of Dort, and Westminster Standards. The Reformed creeds and confessions aren’t owned by any particular person or church. That is a good thing, but it comes with a challenge for those looking to read and understand them better online. Although there are many sites that list the text of the confessions, or provide commentary on various aspects of these confessions, it can be a dizzying experience. “These documents are at the core of our Reformed faith and yet they have no true home. No location with everything you could want on our confessions,” explain David Visser and Kyle Vasas, the men behind Faith to Film which is working to change this with an impressive new project: Not only does the site include the confessions in an easy-to-navigate layout, it also provides extended commentary and sermon libraries on these confessions. The project is just the latest from Faith to Film. They have also done a documentary on Calvinism and a large video series on the “essential truths” of the Christian faith. As well, they have produced some excellent videos for Reformed Perspective. And this website is just the start of their vision for the Reformed Confessions project. Faith to Film’s next goal is to create a high-quality video series on the Heidelberg Catechism, with one short video introducing each Lord’s Day, utilizing animation and featuring different pastors from different denominations. The two young men behind Faith to Film have the ability and the drive and but rely on others who have the financial means to sponsor these videos. If you are interested in helping, check out or


Saturday Selections – June 29, 2024

Click on the titles below for the linked articles... Presidential debate was between a pro-choice candidate and a pro-abortion one Two US presidents debated each other this past week, both competing for a second term. It was a debate like no other, without a studio audience or even the White House press corp in attendance, and both presidents' mikes were muted when it wasn't their turn to speak. Commerical breaks – not normally a feature of these debates – were also inserted, giving both participants breaks to regroup. It might have been the most managed of all presidential debates. The Christian kids' news site World Watch explains it for kids below. And for a deeper dive, click on the article link above for Jonathon Van Maren's take. Why can't men give birth to puppies? (10-min read) Some folks in India really believe that if they are bitten by a rabid dog, that will impregnate them with little puppies. The only cure? Talk to your local witch doctor who has a 100% success rate. Why are we talking about something so ridiculous? Because our culture needs some clarity about how believing something doesn't make it so. We've fallen for "Man, I feel like a woman" being somehow a transformative belief. But why does that belief transform reality, and not the sincerely held belief that some men have that they are in danger of giving birth to dogs? CRC calls its LGBT-affirming congregations to repent Welcome news from a denomination many readers are familiar with. Its call to repentance was passed by a vote of 134-50. Are we more anxious, or is this term usage being expanded? Or might it be both? There is a general trend in the world to empty words of their meaning. Think of terms like "marriage" and "gender" that have been expanded to mean whatever each individual wants them to mean. The definition of "woman" has become so uncertain that even a US Supreme Court Justice has trouble defining it. This article charts how the terms "anxiety" and "depression" are also undergoing a change, expanding who they each cover. So are new technologies like smartphones really making us more anxious, or have these terms simply been expanded to include people they didn't include before? Or might it be a case of both happening at once? Doctor Who and how bad TV can get When the BBC show Doctor Who first premiered in 1963, it was a cheesy but slightly educational show, as the time-traveling alien could visit all sorts of historical figures. But in recent years the show has gotten almost comically bad, the normalizaiton of the LGBT agenda now its primary raison d'être. And they are not the only ones – a recent Star Wars Tales of the Empire episode had two inquisitors murder a Jedi, but both were careful to call him by his desired "they/them" pronouns. More and more often, "this is the way." Super awkward abortion conversation at Walgreens... (4 min) Pro-life groups are getting more creative about not just who unborn babies are, but what it means to be be an adult male. ...

Economics, News

Premier Ford calls on the feds to make EV cars more expensive

Ontario’s premier has asked the federal government to impose a 100% tariff on Chinese electric vehicles, which would make these cars twice as expensive as they would otherwise be. Why would Premier Doug Ford want to so strongly discourage consumers from buying these EVs? Aren’t EVs the way of the future? The premier explained he wants the tariff to protect Ontario jobs. Back in April, he announced he was gifting $2.5 billion of Ontario taxpayers’ money to induce Honda to build four EV manufacturing plants in the province. The federal government added in their own $2.5 billion in tax credits. Combined, this $5 billion would create 1,000 jobs, which works out to a cost of $5 million per job. It’s not surprising then, that the premier wants to protect these positions – they were a very expensive purchase. But why are these Chinese cars so cheap? In an interview with the Toronto Sun’s Brian Lilley, the president of Canada’s Automotive Parts Association, Flavio Volpe, raised the possibility of forced labor – slaves – sometimes being involved. That could be a reason to ban sales altogether, not simply penalize them. Another critique is that the Chinese government is heavily subsiding these vehicles. But The Hub has calculated that overall, the federal, Ontario, and Quebec governments have combined to offer $40 billion in subsidies and tax credits to our own EV industry. Or as Kiernan Green noted: “This represents 15 percent more than the companies themselves have put forward for their investments in Canada’s EV sector.” If subsidization is an unfair business practice, then shouldn’t we should stop it ourselves (Matt. 7:12)? And if it isn’t unfair, why are we complaining? There are other issues involved here: as Flavio Volpe noted, the same federal government that is subsidizing Canadian production is also involved in subsidizing foreign EV production too – the Liberals announced a program this past December that could credit EV manufacturers, both domestic and foreign, with as much as a $20,0000 credit per EV car sold. It is more complicated than that, but the short of it is, the government has gotten itself so muddled up in this market that its right hand is actively working against its left hand. Might that be evidence that it should get both hands, and its nose, out of the business sphere? Taxpayers are shouldering a heavy burden for EV cars. And now, if this tariff goes through, Canadians will be asked to shoulder even more, as less expensive Chinese competitors will be tariffed out of the marketplace. There is a broader lesson here, as this is what tariffs always do, protecting local producers at the expense of local consumers. God calls on the government to administer justice, and one of the first principles of justice is impartiality (Lev. 19:15, James 2:8). What we have happening here is an example of the government picking winners and losers, favoring EV producers over EV purchasers (and all of it done at the expensive of taxpayers). Why the one over the other? What business is it of government to show such favoritism? Picture credit: adapted from a photo by Bruce Reeve/ and used under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 license....


Mortgage delinquencies up more than 20%

Increased spending and costs are catching up with Canadian households, according to the latest figures from the credit agency Equifax Canada. Mortgage debt makes up a whopping three quarters (74.4%) of total consumer debt, even though the number of new mortgages hit an all-time low in the first quarter of 2024. More than a third (37.1%) of consumers extended their mortgage amortization as the effects of increased mortgage rates began to take hold. Particularly troubling is the increase in delinquencies, i.e. missed payments. In Ontario, the balance of mortgages in “severe delinquency” – 90 or more days without payment – increased to over $1 billion, or twice the level of severe delinquency before Covid. Rebecca Oakes, VP of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada, explained that “mortgage stress testing,” introduced back in 2016, helped prevent even more delinquencies. This “test” gauged whether or not a borrower would still be able to handle their mortgage payments if rates were to take an unfortunate bounce upward. “ has helped to mitigate against the full effect of sustained high interest rates, but we still saw more than 34,000 consumers missing a payment on their mortgage in Q1, which is up 22.7 per cent compared to 12 months ago.” In recent years our federal government has led the charge in running massive debts, with many provincial governments following suit. Although political parties used to campaign on the promise of balanced budgets, Canadians have rewarded parties who promise increased spending and large deficits. And especially since 2020, Canadians have followed their example, racking up massive debt from both home purchases and other big expenses. A few thousand years ago, a wise teacher taught us that “the borrower is a slave of the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Our government acts as if it is possible to incur debt and not pay for it, but we mustn’t let their example mislead us. Solomon’s ancient warning remains every bit as relevant to today, so take on debt with great caution!...


We aren’t alone! 1,000+ converge in Texas for courageous faith

In  1 Kings 19 we find Elijah lamenting to God that the Israelites had rejected God’s covenant and that he alone was left, and Queen Jezebel was out to kill him too. God informed Elijah that he had it wrong, and that God had reserved a throng of 7,000 others who had not bowed to Baal. I recently assembled with a couple dozen Canadians and over a thousand others in Arlington, Texas for the 2024 Colson Center national conference. Listening to the stories and seeing this throng of believers, it was very evident that God continues to preserve His people through each age, and that He also calls us to stand firm in the face of the Jezebels of our day. As I’ve shared before, the Colson Center equips Christians to apply their faith to the cultural moment where God has placed us. This particular conference was focused on equipping attendees for “courageous faith.” As the organizers explained: “Faithfulness to Christ is not possible when we capitulate to profane cultural narratives, no matter how often or loud they are repeated…. The clash between the sacred and the profane is no longer ‘out there’ and the pressure to compromise is not merely hypothetical.” Courage past and present In the opening session on “courageous citizenship,” the Colson Center’s John Stonestreet interviewed Rod Dreher, the author of the well-known book Live Not by Lies, and also Kamila Bendová, who was featured in Dreher’s book. Dr. Bendová and her family live in the Czech Republic. Along with her late husband Václav Benda, they raised six children while holding underground seminars in opposition to their communist government, all while having their home bugged. Dr. Bendová shared how she didn’t protect her children from their resistance efforts but rather involved them. Now, many decades later, she reflects that all of her children and grandchildren have remained faithful. We can learn from the past, but need to live in the present. Doctor Kristin Collier spoke about the courage to change your mind, recounting how her journey from unbelief to faith in Christ resulted in 180 degree changes to her convictions about contentious issues like abortion. God then forced her to make a choice to follow Him in her public work as well, which came at a cost. She pointed us to Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one,” noting that at the core of courage is listening to and obeying the Word of God. Reverend Calvin Robinson, a broadcaster and commentator from England who himself was cancelled for his faith, challenged participants “we are called to be cancelled for our faith. We should embrace it rather than be afraid of it.” He proceeded to outline how our spiritual enemy is trying to divide and conquer by having Christians look to each other as moral compasses rather than looking to the teachings of Christ. Other speakers bravely and compassionately shared their stories and lessons about critical theory, cultivating a healthy identity, artificial reproduction, transgenderism, palliative care, and encountering suffering, all through the lens of living faithfully for our Lord. Conference connections It is one thing to read articles, listen to podcasts, or watch videos about these matters and another to be physically present with hundreds of other followers of Christ, growing in our walk together. We don’t all get the privilege of doing that at a conference like this, but we do have the ability to gather with our brothers and sisters in church weekly, in addition to Bible studies and fellowship in our homes. Let’s not miss these opportunities to spur each other on to godliness in this present age! If it interests you, the next Colson Center national conference is scheduled for May 30 to June 1, 2025 in Louisville, Kentucky, and we heard that Reformed authors Carl Trueman and Rosaria Butterfield are both scheduled to speak there. Pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf will also be there. You can find out more at Although Canada isn’t blessed with a conference like this, Reformed Perspective hopes to help change this with something similar (though much smaller and simpler) in the years to come. As valuable as a magazine, podcast, newsletter, website, and apps are, there is no substitute to gathering with others to worship God together and spur each other on in our walk. Mark and Jaclyn Penninga were just a couple of the Canadians at the Colson Conference. Other Reformed Christians included Rev. and Mrs. Slomp, and RP contributor Mark Slomp and his wife Jennifer....

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – June 2024

Good parenting is time-consuming In The New Tolerance, authors Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler recall the method one dad used to teach his teenage son to see through the messages being presented in pop music. The son was allowed to buy any album he wanted so long as his dad listened to it beforehand. "If dad approved not only of the language but of the more subtle messages in the music, fine; if not... dad would always explain his decisions." At one point this father rejected three straight albums, which didn't leave his son all that happy. And it wasn't so easy on the dad either; he had to spend a long time listening to some lousy music. Nowadays parents might go song by song instead. But either way, by investing "quantity time" with his son – by slogging through track after tracj – this dad was able to equip his son to know and appreciate what was praiseworthy, and to see through what was shameful and unworthy. No biggie, right? "As my friend Terence McKenna used to say, 'Modern Science is based on the principle, Give us one free miracle and while explain the rest.' And the one free miracle is the appearance of all the matter and energy in the universe and all the laws that govern it from nothing, in a single instant." – Rupert Sheldrake A tip to talk to your kids about God by Jay Younts In Matthew 16, Jesus presents his disciples with a two-part question. It is a masterful question and one that parents can use with great benefit. Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” When the disciples finish giving their answers, Jesus makes the question personal. He asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter quickly proclaims that Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This question revealed the content of Peter’s heart. You can use this two-part question effectively to help you understand your children’s thoughts. For example: “Hey kids, what do you friends say is causing all of the damaging weather the country has been having?” “What do you think has been causing this weather?” or: “What do your teammates say about major league stars using performance enhancing drugs?” “What do you think about PED’s?” There are many, many possible situations that this two-part question can help you better understand your children. For this to be effective, your concern and questions must genuine.  They should flow out of normal conversations. This is a tool to help you gather data. If you want to use this more than once, then don’t immediately correct an answer that you think is wrong. You are asking for their opinion, don’t penalize children for doing what you asked. Rather, use the answers you receive to help plan positive ways address your children’s thoughts and correct them if needed. It is always a good idea to follow Christ’s example in interacting with people. SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from Good News vs. good advice What's the difference between good news and good advice? Douglas Wilson gives the illustration of a teacher who, at the beginning of the term tells students to take careful notes, study hard, and listen with attention. That is all good advice. However when exam day comes the teachers notices one student who is staring, just staring, at his blank test sheet - he's written nothing. The teacher could give some more tips: relax, clear your head, take some deep breathes. Those would all be good advice. But if the teacher says, "Scoot over - I'll take the test for you," that there is Good News! Socialist says something smart! "I'd rather vote for what I want, and not get it, than vote for what I don't want and get it." – Eugene V. Debs, Socialist candidate for President in the 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920 American elections. Weighing words "There are two kinds of people who don’t say much – those who are quiet, and those who talk a lot." – Unknown (but pretty in accord with Eccl. 5:2, 9:17, Prov. 10:19, Prov. 18:2 & Prov. 29:20) G.K. Chesterton on dragons and monsters Chesterton valued reading fantastical fiction to children, or at least the sort where good triumphs. He wrote: “Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of . What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of . The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.” A common Bible-reading blunder Some of people’s favorite Bible verses are actually misleading because they are isolated from their broader context. In the movie Soul Surfer, after Bethany Hamilton loses an arm to a shark attack, she grabs hold of Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – as an assurance that she will again return to surfing. But when we look to the broader context in which this verse appears we see it is not about being able to do everything but rather about the author, the apostle Paul, being able to endure anything through Christ. In the January 2015 issue of Solid Ground ( Greg Koukl succinctly summarizes what’s going wrong here: "A host of popular verses have been consistently misunderstood by well-meaning Christians because of a simple mistake they’d never make with other writings. Here’s their blunder: They think there are verses in the Bible. What I mean is, the numbers creating individual verses give the false impression that sentences or phrases stand on their own as spiritual truths. But they almost never do. When you ask, “How does this verse apply to my life?” you may be assuming it has significance – and therefore, application – disconnected from the larger narrative or flow of thought. That’s the problem. Most people would be surprised to discover there actually are no verses in God’s inspired Word. They were added 1500 years later. As a result, some of the most popular passages have been consistently misread by believers because the numbers got in the way." Evangelism is vital, but why? "Mission is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Mission exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man." – John Piper Bible reading blunder II As incendiary blog post titles go, this one was scorching: “The One Page of the Bible I’d Like to Rip Out.” But this truly was addition by subtraction: Chad Bird wants to rip out a page that is “blank except for three words: ‘The New Testament.’” As he explained: …it’s more than a page; it’s really a mind-set that this page represents. It’s the wrongheaded assumption that a radical separation exists between the Old Testament and the New Testament. This way of thinking dams up the waters of the first part of the Bible from the last part of the Bible. In reality, yes, the biblical stream flows deeply and freely from Malachi to Matthew, but too many Christians don’t see it that way. They see two, very distinct, often even opposing, bodies of water. They look to the left and see the “river of law” in the OT; and to the right they view the “river of Gospel” in the NT…. Rather than confessing that the writings of Moses and the prophets are Christian scripture, they treat them as Jewish scripture from which Christians might learn a few things. So you see, it’s not so much that I want to rip the page out of the Bible that divorces the OT from the NT, but that I want to rip that mindset out of the heads of modern Christians. Those forgiving privateers Spotted on a T-shirt: “To err is human; to ‘arr!’ is pirate.” Pierre vs. Justin on abortion Back in 2014 Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau announced that anyone running for his party in the next election would be expected to vote against any limits to abortion. In response pro-life Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott shared an old newspaper quote to contrast Justin Trudeau's views on abortion – as an unquestionable and absolute right – with that of his father, Pierre. Though the former prime minister eliminated most of the unborn’s legal protections he was against the unfettered access his son supports. In a May 25, 1972 article the then Prime Minister Trudeau was quoted in The Montreal Star saying: You know, at some point you are killing life in the foetus in self-defense – of what? Of the mother’s health or her happiness or of her social rights or her privilege as a human being? I think she should have to answer for it and explain. Now, whether it should be to three doctors or one doctor or to a priest or a bishop or to her mother-in-law is a question you might want to argue…. You do have a right over your own body – it is your body. But the foetus is not your body; it’s someone else’s body. And if you kill it, you’ll have to explain. It’s hard to determine which Trudeau’s position is the more detestable: the father who admitted that another body – another somebody – was involved and still wanted abortion to be allowed in many circumstances, or the son who has never made such an admission, but wants abortion allowed in every circumstance. Answering a fool In Proverbs 26:4-5 God says we shouldn’t argue with fools…except when we should. Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. The danger in responding to fools is in coming off looking like them. So if a fool is just hurling insults in an online flame wars we shouldn't engage with that kind of folly, because we’ll be likely to come off like just another angry fool. But when a fool offers an argument, then we can answer his folly by showing where his argument will logically take him. So, in an online forum an abortion advocate wrote: I don't get why a human that lives 80 years with modern medicine is more important than a tree that lives 500 years. Long-living trees are more important than short-living humans? We can expose the folly here by following it to its logical end. And we will glorify God when we contrast this foolishness with the wisdom of what God says. Our response might look something like this: God says that man is the pinnacle of creation, but you place us somewhere behind trees. Do you live your life consistent with that belief? Do you read books? (You do know what those are made of, don’t you?) Have you sat around a campfire and enjoyed watching the flames dance over countless wooden carcasses? What is your home made out of? Your coffee filters? Do you use toilet paper? If you’re participating in the slaughter of trees your lifestyle shows even you don’t believe trees rate above humans. So reject your lie and explore what God has to say about his creation, and how Man is to care for it. And that begins with caring for the littlest and the weakest who are made in His image right from conception. One reason we want really smart cops In his book, The Notes, Ronald Reagan offered one very good reason why extra smart officers would be ideal. He shared a quip about a rookie cop who was asked, in an exam, how he would go about breaking up a crowd. The officer replied, “I’d take up a collection.”...


Advice for young women … from A to Z

The late teens and early twenties are an exciting time for young women, but with so many opportunities to be considered, and big decisions to be made, they can also be unsettling. How can young women live wisely now? How can they best prepare for their future when that future may feel very unknown? As I discussed these questions with family members one Sunday afternoon, I was intrigued by my relatives’ different thoughts and perspectives. And I wondered what kinds of responses I’d get if I extended the same questions to a wider group of Reformed women. So I asked for thoughts from the women in my own congregation, and also reached out to colleagues, friends, and extended family members near and far, some of whom then shared or discussed these questions with others. I asked things like, If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Are there things you’re glad you did at that age, or wish you’d done differently? In the end I received responses from a broad cross-section of Reformed women of different ages and life experiences – and on a wonderful variety of topics. What came through beautifully, again and again, was the reality of God’s Fatherly hand in their lives – guiding, teaching, sustaining – and the wisdom they’d gleaned from lifetimes of studying and applying God’s Word. What follows is an A-to-Z collection of advice and encouragement that these women wanted to share with their young sisters in Christ, on everything from inner beauty to good habits, relationships to prayer. ASPIRATIONS “Choose your occupation with your heart in mind. A job may pay well but may not be what you are looking for. Family businesses are great, but may not be where you want to be.” “Now I look back and wish I had thought more about what I would love to do as a job and getting paid for what I love to do.” BEAUTY “Measure your beauty not in pounds or compliments (which fluctuate, fade and are false) but through small acts like smiles and joyful eyes, through kind words and becoming humble and quiet in spirit. These are what make a woman beautiful, for beauty is found within.” “A beautiful heart rooted in God is more beautiful and lasting than a beautiful body.” COURAGE “Have courage to do difficult things and to grow as an adult – such as moving away from your parents. It is incredible what growth awaits – and how much you realize the extent of love and care your parents provided!” “Be open-minded. Go explore and travel and make friends instead of always doing what's easy or comfortable.” “Needing to do things out of your comfort zone is a life-long reality, so start practicing now. At middle age, I still often need to take a deep breath before I make that phone call or strike up that conversation. Difficult things are often necessary and also worthwhile, so be brave!” DATING “When looking for a boyfriend/husband, keep doing the things you love to do and keep running the race for Jesus. As you are running this race, you will (hopefully) look beside you and see that someone is also running the same race and has the same priorities and goals.” “I was once told about a father who said this to his children: ‘When entering the dating scene and seeking a life partner, find someone who loves Jesus more than he/she loves you.’ Very wise words for generations to come.” “Romance is exciting but one cannot be hopelessly in love and also wise. So become wise first in knowing who you are through God's eyes, how He loves and cares for you, before you enter into any relationship. If you have a solid relationship with the Lord, a beautiful relationship can be nourished with another human being.” “Be obedient to and focused on God first before 'looking for' a husband, and make sure the potential Mr. Right is doing the same.” “It’s far better to be single than to be with the wrong person (especially someone who isn’t truly a spiritual ‘soulmate’). Don’t settle!” “There is not a perfect age to get married. Don’t set an age goal to be married by. Be content with God’s timing. If you are waiting to meet that special person in your life, perhaps to settle down with and hopefully start a family together, remember that should not be your main goal in life. Some marry in their 30s, 40s, 50s and even for the first time in their 60s. Some missed the opportunity to have children because they married later in life; some were not blessed with children no matter what age they married at. But their marriages are still blessed with the love they have for each other and the time they can devote to extended family, church family, community and kingdom opportunities. Some never marry and are quite content with their single life which gives them other opportunities to serve. (Think of the Apostle Paul). Seek God’s will for your life. Pray for God’s guidance. Be content.” EDUCATION “Develop the talents that God has given – you have them for a reason. Getting some training now will give you options down the road. Whether it’s an academic degree or practical training, if you have the opportunity, take it!” “Some people love to learn and continue to do so. There are so many expectations around this now, though. If you find a job you love, it's not always about continuing your education. You can learn as you go! On the flip side, with the cost of living now, we highly encourage our girls to seek jobs that may allow them to work from home or have flexible hours as they may need to help support their family.” “If you have college plans, try to avoid student debt! Apply for bursaries; work part-time (consider taking fewer courses per semester, even if it takes you an extra year to finish); and commit to living frugally. (That can be hard when all your friends are working and have money to go out, but think long-term!)” “When I was heading into my twenties, part of the reason I chose the nursing program was that while I hoped to get married and have a family, I didn't actually know if and when that would happen, so I wanted to prepare for the possibility of being single for a long time or for life. It seemed like an interesting and worthwhile career, and I knew I would earn enough to support myself. Even though I didn't actually do that career for very long, I don't feel it was wasted or have any regrets. The years I spent at university and the four years I spent as an RN were valuable ones for me, helping me grow in many ways. I was also able to be a blessing for numerous people in those years through that job. I think I would follow the same line of thinking if I had to do it again.” “I didn’t know if my degree (English and creative writing) would lead to a career, but I was prepared to do something else for my job and do my writing on the side if needed, so it still seemed worthwhile. I was able to live at home during college, work part-time, and avoid debt, which was also a factor; it wouldn’t have felt responsible or stewardly to go deeply into debt for an uncertain outcome. You have to think all these things through, and find that right balance of being practical while still pursuing what’s important to you. So be wise, but don’t be too quick to dismiss a dream either!” “Even if you are in a serious relationship, I would recommend still getting some education as you will never regret it. I never did finish my degree, and always wish I had as it's so much harder to do when you are older.” “If at all possible, I’d encourage women to get a post-secondary education, whether that be a degree, diploma or a trade. There may come a time you will need to supplement your husband’s income or you may not get married or you may marry much later in life. An education often gives you an opportunity to work in a field that you love and enjoy before, after or during the child-rearing stage in life.” FAMILY “Maintain a good relationship with your parents, as they are the ones who love you, and want what is best for you. They have the wisdom of life experience. They are not ‘old-fashioned.’” “Spend time with your grandparents. Ask them questions about their younger lives.” “If God blesses you with children, plan to make the job of nurturing and teaching your children a priority. From personal experience, I have no regrets being a stay-at-home mom. When we had our first child, we considered the cost of me going back to work (childcare, transportation, clothes, convenient meals) and concluded it really wasn’t financially worth the added stress and busyness it would add to our lives. Plus, I wanted to be the main influencer in our children’s upbringing.” GOOD HABITS “Eat breakfast!” “Be at home by 10:30. Asleep by 11.” “Cultivate the habits that will keep you healthy – physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Moving toward independence means you (not your parents) are responsible for you not skipping breakfast… or Bible study.” HELP “It is ok to not be ok. Seek help, accept offered help, and take it to the Lord in prayer.” “‘Keeping up appearances’ – We’re all tempted to do it, and there’s even a British sitcom with that title! Be real! Be genuine! Be honest. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Ask for help and guidance if you need it.” “Life is hard. Accept this and work through the challenges. Ask for help when you need it (so many struggle in silence). And remember, God will carry you through.” “What comes easy to one, may not to another. Help out where you can. It's okay to say NO to things now and then, you don't have to do everything.” IDENTITY “Consider your identity! First and foremost you are a child of God! Your identity is in Christ. So often we are introduced as so-and-so’s wife, the daughter of _____ & _____, or so-and-so’s mom. Growing spiritually and closer to God in every season of our life is key to all our other relationships. Focus on the vertical relationship with God first and then horizontally with all other relationships.” JOY “The world promises happiness and pleasure and excitement without God, but don’t be fooled. True joy comes in living with Him and for Him.” KINDNESS “Be thoughtful, be kind. Don’t just focus on yourself. Everyone you meet is struggling with something; everyone could use a smile or a kind word.” LIVING WELL NOW “Don't wait for your life to ‘really start’ once you graduate, or start working, or get married, or have children. Those are all exciting prospects. But our God is sovereign and has a purpose for our lives exactly where He has placed us in this moment. Consider how you can live as a daughter of God right here and now. Don't put your life on pause until everything is perfect. It never will be until the New Creation. But God does great work with us, despite our imperfection and our imperfect circumstances. And in so doing, all the more glory goes to Him.” “Pray continually for God to guide your steps and then do the work He has before you, in whatever capacity that is, whether you are busy developing a career, a relationship, or raising children. The Lord is shaping your heart, your character, and the talents you have. Honor Him by not continually looking at the future, but instead put your hand to the task at hand and trust that God will answer your prayer and guide and direct your life.” “Work on your character, and daily habits. Continually seek God in prayer. He loves you, and you are very worthy to Him, and He will grant you all things you need.” MONEY “Give joyfully what is rightfully the Lord's when it comes to tithing.” “Make relationships, not stuff your priority. Don’t bemoan what you can’t afford; take pleasure and be content with what the Lord has blessed you with.” “Save your money when you are young, and don't waste it on frivolous things. Don't focus on materialistic things, or things that don't really matter.” “Simply put, live within your means. Never look at the ‘minimum balance’ on a credit card; always pay it in full. If you can’t pay your credit card then you can’t afford what you put on there.” “With finances, I used to make sure bills were paid before I would write my check for church (giving back to God), and there was always a shortfall. Only when the first fruits were given to the Lord, followed by bill payments, groceries, etc., it was then that there seemed to be a little extra at the end of the month.” “Practice good stewardship with finances but also with your time, talents, possessions…. All belong to Him. It’s good to re-evaluate how we are doing as stewards.” NOURISHING YOUR BODY, MIND & SOUL “Be deliberate about the media (music, movies, books, online content) you ingest; these things affect you more than you realize. Choose options that are good for your mind and soul. Philippians 4:8: ‘Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.’” “One thing I wished I had done differently was pursued sports or a hobby or done something more often with friends. After I married, my husband’s job entailed many long hours, often leaving me at home to deal with children on my own for breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. Even more time was spent away when he served as an elder. In hindsight, we should have discussed how we could have carved out some time for me to exercise and socialize.” OPPORTUNITIES “Now is the time in your life when you have energy, you are generally not too ‘tied down’ by commitments – so take advantage of this time! It’s a season with its own unique blessings from God, so accept and use these blessings to His glory. When you look back, you won’t regret taking the chance to go on that mission trip, explore/develop a talent He’s given you, or take opportunities to stretch yourself and grow!” “I did not always have the job I loved. I would have put some more thought to it, now looking back. I did learn that eventually when I would be looking for work and all the ads would want experience, during interviews I would say that I would never get any experience if no employer would take a chance on me, and ask them to allow me to learn the job and guarantee them that I was eager, willing, trustworthy, and would rarely take a day off. You have to learn to communicate the attributes of your personality and strong will to learn to achieve the goal of getting the job. It has worked for me for getting a number of jobs over the years.” PRAYER “Pray, pray, pray. I started praying in the car when driving and I found it remarkable how much I would be able to pray about in that 15-20 minute time of quiet in the car, just me and the Lord. I still do it!” “After profession of faith, your faith will be tested. Be on your guard. Stand firm, read your Bible daily, make prayer your first point of action in the day, and your last at night. Go to Him in everything.” “Ask for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart, and to direct your steps. He will open and close doors throughout your young adult life, so don't be too distracted by non-stop outside entertainment, such as movies, scrolling on social media, etc.” “Do your devotions earlier in the day, even when you’re busy. It’s a way of trustingly giving God the ‘first fruits’ of your time. I struggle with this, especially when I have a lot to do, but it’s a much better way to start my day.” QUESTIONS “As you mature, you should be finding yourself asking fewer ‘How can I get…” questions, and more ‘How can I give/help/serve’ ones.” “You don't have to have everything for your life figured out – you have more time than you think and things tend to fall into place.” RELATIONSHIPS “Surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable and challenge you. There was a (thankfully very short) time in my life where my group of friends and I went to bars/clubs. It took a good friend to call me out on this, and I'm so thankful she did.” “When you are having a girls’ night, challenge yourselves to not gossip. Make a pact before the evening starts that no one will gossip, and call each other out if someone does.” “Spend time alone, as well as with your friends/family, and talk about deep and meaningful things sometimes too, not only shallow talk, or gossip.” “Your spouse (if you marry) should be your friend, but not your only friend. Christian friends, for both you and your spouse, are treasures along life’s journey. Some will be in your life for only a season; others may be lifelong friends. Take time to nurture friendships, whether you are single or in a romantic relationship.” STRESS “A super helpful thing for me during the middle of the day or during a stressful moment is to take three deep, slow breaths and thank God for something(s). It helps me relax, acknowledge I’m not alone in anything, and that while my ‘problem’ may be important it's not the most important thing in the grand scheme of it all.” “Don’t add stress by expecting perfection from yourself. Not everything has to be done absolutely perfectly every time. You are not God who alone makes all things perfect.” “Give yourself grace as you would others.” TRUST “As I reflect at this age, I realize that in my journey with all of its highs and lows, God was leading me. My God sought to strengthen me in my faith and trust Him in all things, whether that be hardship, sorrow, happiness or joy.” “Times of waiting and uncertainty are hard, but God can use them to build patience and trust. Don’t get discouraged!” “We don't always see the tougher roads on life's journey as a lesson from the Lord until much later in life, as age brings with it reflection on one's life. I wish I would have had the strong faith I now have as an 18-year-old. But then I think of how all the mountains and valleys traversed throughout my life strengthened my trust and faith in the Lord.” “Be content and enjoy each stage that you are in! Doors open to new roles and opportunities throughout life! When I was at home with my young kiddos I was busy – with being a mom and volunteering for church/school. I enjoyed it (most days! :) ). I didn't have much education so didn't know what would come ‘next.’ I could never have predicted the wonderful new tasks that the Lord has opened up for me for the stage I am in now. Looking back I see that many of the skills I have now are from my role as a stay-at-home mom. I am now called to tasks that would not have been right for me years ago. Trust God and His calling, timing and leading in your life!” “Above all, always trust the Lord. He has your life in His hands and will not lead you astray. You will be tested over and over on your life's journey; the devil works overtime seeking the souls of those committed to God. Be wary of the pitfalls. Always ‘let go and let God.’” “Our Oma would often say, ‘What the Lord does is good.’ She would say that in good times and hard times, and I still find myself saying it as well no matter the situation.” “Be confident in the Lord. I went through a period in my dating years where I was just so unsure. I did pray a lot but didn’t quite trust the ways in which the Lord was leading me. It took a few years to be filled with that certainty. But those years, as well, ended up being so beneficial. Think of what the Lord wants for His children, who He is and how He wants to be served. It can be easy to focus on ourselves so much that we forget the big picture.” UNIQUENESS “Base your self-esteem on your worth in God’s eyes. The world prizes certain traits over others, and sometimes we wish we were more outgoing or capable or attractive, but God didn’t make a mistake when He made unique you! He will use you and work for your good and the good of others, even through your weaknesses.” VALUE “Don’t undervalue the role of wife and mother! Society tells us that we should focus on personal fulfillment, and that children are a burden that stop us from doing more ‘important’ things, but God tells us the opposite.” WALKING WITH GOD “Spend time in the Word every day.” “Think more eternally. Remember Who you belong to, and act with the promise and call of your baptism in mind.” “Always continue to read and learn, especially your Bible, and be devoted to a close relationship with God, as He directs your life.” “Pray always, sing praises all day long. Never be reserved about being a Christian and sharing the message of salvation.” YOUTH “As someone wiser than me has said, ‘Remember your Creator in the days of your youth’!” ZEAL “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.”...


How to get married younger 

If your upbringing was filled with scenes of large families bustling into church, children in the pew ahead coloring over the church bulletin, and babies here and there serenading the sermon with their discontented cries, then, you probably see marriage as a very good thing. And if you’ve seen twenty-somethings making silly and sinful decisions because there are too few expectations on them and too little responsibility weighing them down, then you understand the problems that come with a prolonged adolescence and delaying marriage. Of course, marriage isn’t the fix for all things wrong in the world, and it does not encompass the entirety of life's pursuits. But marriage is a reflection of a most important truth. In Ephesians 5:25-27, we find a profound analogy where Christ, embodying the ultimate Bridegroom, exhibits sacrificial and unconditional love toward His Bride, the Church, portraying marriage as a sacred covenant reflecting this divine union. Marriage is also an answer to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, as well as a means to grow His Church. Get married, then, is a worthy aspiration for God’s people. So why the delay? However, the average age of marriage in Canada is now around 30 for both men and women, up from 25 for men and 22 for women back in the 1970s. Christians too, may be delaying marriage, perhaps due to economic challenges. Within urban churches it's quite common to see many working professionals aged 25 and above who are unmarried. With inflation on the rise and the cost of living increasing, supporting oneself is a challenge, let alone supporting a whole family. Kevin DeYoung's book, Just Do Something, highlights a very different reason for delay: society's struggle with an overabundance of choices. In past generations, it was common for individuals to remain in the same town, work the same job as their parents, and marry someone from their community. Their course was, in large part, set out for them. Today, however, there is an overwhelming array of opportunities. Upon high school graduation, young people must decide whether to enter the workforce, attend college, or pursue other paths. They may choose to stay at home or move across the country. This plethora of choices can lead to a fear of commitment and a reluctance to settle down, as individuals worry about making the wrong decision. As DeYoung notes, "In many ways, our preoccupation with the will of God is a Western, middle-class phenomenon of the last fifty years." When it comes to discerning God's will for our lives – whether in work, education, or marriage – DeYoung argues against “spiritualizing” our indecision. When you are looking for guidance on what job to pursue, whether to get an education, and who you should date, don’t just sit on your hands waiting on a sign from God. DeYoung instead advocates for committing to a local church community and relying on the discerning wisdom imparted by Christ to you and the wise family members, friends, elders, and pastors, He has put in place to shepherd you. Married while in school One reason I would like to get married some day is because of what I’ve witnessed with my parents, who married young and have celebrated 33 years together. Peter and Jen Ellison crossed paths through a mutual friend while pursuing their studies at the University of Victoria. Despite a six-year age gap – my mom was 22 and my dad 28 when they walked down the aisle – they were relatively young compared to today’s norms. They were still completing their education, and not at all "established" when it came to their careers, which is why some family members suggested they wait longer. But they didn’t. As my mom explained: “I loved getting married young because we really didn’t have much, but we were able to build everything together.” She added that it definitely wasn't easy but, “you need to go into marriage honestly and realistically, realizing that your union is of two sinners both in need of a perfect Savior.” My mom thought that nowadays the value of marriage is seemingly taken lightly rather than seen as the making a covenant with God. She says that after 33 years of marriage: “In hindsight the most difficult times of our marriage were when our personal relationship with God was suffering. Rather than running from the relationship we needed to run to the cross of Jesus again and again and actively seek Him.” Figuring it out together In the many conversations I’ve had with Dutch friends from more rural communities, I've noticed young marriages do continue to happen there. Within these close-knit rural settings, traditional values, economic considerations, and strong community support networks play pivotal roles in shaping the decisions of young individuals regarding marriage. Gianna Vanderwoude's story exemplifies this trend. She met her husband Devon in Carman, Manitoba where they had attended the same school and church. Over the years, their shared experiences fostered a strong friendship. They began dating at the age of 16, became engaged at 18, and ultimately married at 19. Vanderwoude reflects a prevailing sentiment among young couples in such settings – that there's a unique excitement in marrying young and embarking on the journey of building a life together. She shared: “I feel like that's one of the benefits almost, because you can begin wherever you are, instead of having to meet in the middle. You just are where you are; you just go from there. And you make decisions based on what works for both of you. With regards to money, Manitoba is a little bit cheaper, but we both worked quite a bit during high school and we're pretty smart in that sense, but it's still challenging.” Married for about a year now, they have already encountered challenges along the way, particularly with her husband undergoing a career change and enrolling in pilot training. However, the Vanderwoudes find that "it's kind of fun to learn how to navigate that together. We also recently moved away from our families to pursue this training. So, while it's hard, it's also really fulfilling to grow and learn together in new and different environments." When you graduate from high school, your schedule undergoes a significant shift, whether you choose to attend university or enter the workforce directly. You become accustomed to not seeing your friends every day, as you once did. Vanderwoude suggests that marrying young can serve as a remedy for the loneliness often experienced in one's early twenties. “I feel like your early twenties can be a little bit lonely because you go from being in high school and university and college and then all sudden, you're off on your own. And if you move you've got to make new friends. So, it's kind of nice to have someone there to grow with. Like a guaranteed best friend.” Vanderwoude's advice for young Christians is similar to what DeYoung says in one of the final chapters of his book. She notes: “I think people can get super stressed about what God's will is and who the one is for them. When, in reality, there are so many different people out there for you.” DeYoung agrees that, although it might sound unromantic, “Don’t think that there is only one person on the whole planet to whom you could be happily married.” The problem with this idea of "the one" is that it presupposes that affection alone sustains a marriage – you have to find that one special match, because it is that perfect match that will make your marriage work – whereas in reality, it is your commitment to the marriage that preserves the affection. This underscores just how important it is to test everything against Scripture, especially when you’re in a relationship with ambitions for marriage. Vanderwoude emphasized that point: "Just really test everything against God's Word. And if you're dating someone, make sure that they align with what God calls us to in His Word, as a partner. Don’t just think, 'They make me laugh.' It's important to ensure that there will be a good fit, especially for a woman seeking a husband, a strong spiritual leader who can guide your family." How are people meeting? So how are people meeting today? I found out that singles are still getting set up by mutual friends, Christian conferences are a way to meet like-minded young people, and technology has created some new options. 1. Dating apps and websites With the emergence of the internet, and online dating apps, the dating market has become astronomically larger, providing the unmarried with access to others singles from all around the world. That can be a good thing, but as DeYoung noted, that can also leave many overwhelmed by these choices, tempted to indecision in the fear of making anything less than the best pick. While we all know someone who has found success through dating apps, there are issues. These apps may allow a user to swipe through all sorts of potential candidates in short order, but these are people you don’t really know. In most cases all you’ll see is a few photos and a short description. Even as Christians, there is lots of room for temptation and lack of accountability here. Using these apps can lead to many uncomfortable dates, and even unsafe situations if you are not careful. That being said, I don’t think that we need to avoid online dating sites altogether. Reformed Perspectivehas, for example, featured different online Reformed dating platforms like Sovereign Grace Singles or Tulip Singles. A feature of these websites is that there is an accountability factor. For example, on Tulip Singles, in their “About Us” section they specifically state that “We require our members to provide the name of their church and pastor,” further stating that, “We respect our member’s privacy and do NOT contact a member’s pastor unless they need to be held accountable for inappropriate behavior on the website.” 2. Wingmen still have a role, even online And, even outside of niche Reformed Christian dating platforms, connections online can happen in the most unexpected of ways. If you’re connected to the online world of Reformed Twitter, you may have heard of Zoe Miller – she's a freelance journalist and is also the co-host of her own “Presbygirls” podcast. I met Zoe in the spring of 2022 in Sioux Center, Iowa while we were both attending the WORLD Journalism Institute, a two-and-a-half week intensive training program for Christian journalism students. During this time, Zoe was ecstatic to talk about a single PCA youth pastor she had recently connected with. After long nights of writing, and reporting all day in the small town of Sioux Center, we would come back to the dorms at Dordt University and you could catch Zoe walking through the halls on the phone with her future husband. I reconnected recently with Zoe, and her now-husband Seth, and asked her how they first met. “I have this very niche little podcast called Presbygirls that I do with a pastor's wife who is a friend of mine and she and I hosted a show where Rosaria Butterfield was the guest. She was talking about human sexuality issues, which are really popular to talk about in the PCA, which is the denomination that our church is in. And Seth, all the way down in Texas, along with his PCA session, ended up listening to the podcast episode that we did with Rosaria Butterfield because it was relevant to the discussions that were going on.” During the episode – because they were talking about human sexuality and the theology of singleness – Butterfield asked Zoe if she was single. And Zoe replied “Yes.” Seth had seen Zoe’s posts on Twitter before and became curious about her after listening to this episode. He also talked with one of his friends, a pastor named Mark, about Zoe. Shortly afterwards Mark attended the Gospel Reformation Network, a conference for confessional Presbyterians. Zoe happened to know many people at the conference because of her podcasting work. Zoe explained what happened next: “During the conference, and some of the social times Mark was going around telling people ‘Oh, yeah, you know, we got this youth pastor down there at Redeemer in Texas that's got a crush on one of the Presbygirls.’ So I got messages from people that I knew at the conference ‘Oh, there's this youth pastor who has a crush on you.’” Zoe is part of an online group chat where they talk about “nerdy Presbyterian stuff.” She ended up mentioning how she was having people reach out to her about Seth. As church connections happen, one of the guys in this group chat said that he went to seminary with Seth and that they would have a lot of things in common. He then proceeded to send Zoe a bunch of YouTube videos of Seth preaching. As Zoe shared, it was love at first sight: “So I watched the YouTube videos, and I was like, oh, yeah, it's over. It was pretty much over for me at that point.” This mutual friend then set up a group chat on Discord with Seth and Zoe – she describes him as “a good wingman” because as soon as he saw Zoe and Seth getting along, he left the chat. This led to Zoe and Seth forming a friendship, and then came the phone calls – they were continually calling each other up. As June approached, both had plans to attend the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) General Assembly in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to General Assembly, Zoe and Seth had a conversation asking “What are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?” Zoe said, “Well, I guess what I think we're doing is eliciting marital compatibility.” Then, the time had finally come in late June for Zoe and Seth to meet in-person. And as Seth shared, like any first date, there were some nerves. “You hear all the horror stories about meeting somebody online, and as a real person, you don't know what they're really like, you only see some pictures. There was some fear and trembling before we actually met the first time because it's like, ‘what is this person really like?’ So we actually met at the General Assembly of the PCA…” During the weekend they were able to talk a lot, as well as have Zoe’s dad and the two pastors Seth was working with “vet” them. “From that point on,” Zoe said, “it wasn't really awkward to try to figure out, ‘Where are we going to go from here?’ We got engaged in October of that year. And we got married in March of the next year.” Zoe mentioned she used to find it frustrating when married couples were asked, “How did you know you were supposed to marry your spouse?” and they’d reply with, “When you know, you know.” She said: “That's not a real good answer. But at this point, they were 100% correct. It's really difficult to convey that to somebody who doesn't actually have that knowledge by experience, but I'm finding out that they were right.” Zoe spoke about how, when she first went to college, she had visions of graduating and being a single young professional. But she had a perspective change in seeing many smart women in her church get married and start families young. “I kind of conceived of that as something you did if you didn't have any other options, but… I learned that just getting married young is not a waste of time.” When it comes to advice for young Christians who want to get married, Seth says to get really involved in the local church. “These years in your early 20s are a great time to really cement your standing as a Christian, really grow a lot, and get involved in the life of the church. When you're focusing on growing as a Christian, focusing on serving in the church, and being a part of the church, a lot of those things just kind of come together on their own.” 3. Wingmen in the offline world While your church is often an ideal place to meet people, what if there aren't many options within your local congregation? What if you're searching for someone with specific theological interests but options are limited in your city or town? Keith Davis, a pastor at Bethel United Reformed Church (URC) in Calgary, Alberta, is also the founder of Summit Reformed Youth Conference ( This conference, held twice a year in February and August, caters to Reformed singles aged 18-30. Originally from Michigan, Davis met his wife while serving at a summer ministry internship in Toronto. She was sending letters to people who were serving in the ministry away from home. Davis was grateful to get a letter. “You know, as a young man receiving a letter from a young lady from church, you're like, 'Wow, you thought of me.' So, I wrote her back, and we established a bit of a relationship like that. When I got back, I thought she was head over heels in love already. But then I found out that she wrote everybody, and every man who received a letter fell in love with Laura. But I was the one, so we got married quite young.” Davis was 22, and his wife was 19. “We love the Lord. We served Him, and what really brought us together was our faith. We had a lot in common; we had many conversations that flowed effortlessly. You know when you speak with someone, and it just feels natural, with no awkwardness? It's what is really needed.” After serving as a pastor for many years in various churches in the US, he then moved to Calgary and discovered that there were no nearby conferences for youth to attend. They had been attending a conference in Lynnwood, but it ended up costing the church a lot of money. After meeting with the elders of the church, Davis says he began making phone calls to see how he could start their own conference. They launched the first conference in 2016 and have since hosted conferences almost every year. Their inaugural event attracted 150 young adults, but now they have so many interested individuals that they have to cap attendance at 450 people. Davis is quick to emphasize that “we’re not a camp; we’re a conference.” The summer conference runs from Monday to Friday, featuring speakers and worship sessions throughout the week. Attendees typically arrive on Monday, with many flying in from both the East and West. Some even travel from as far as Prince Edward Island. In addition to receiving scriptural messages that impart profound truths, attendees also have ample time for building relationships. Davis observes that within the diverse age range of attendees, older individuals often emerge as leaders and mentors for the younger participants. This fostering of friendships among like-minded individuals also creates opportunities for potential marriages to develop. “It's definitely about bringing like-minded Christians together in an environment where there's a sense of safety. They don't have to worry too much about whether the other person knows the Lord. There's usually a common commitment there,” he said. “So, that might be one barrier that's removed. Ultimately, though, they still have to discover their own convictions, but we're bringing young people into proximity with each other. If it works out, it works out." And it has been working. How often? Davis doesn’t know. “Every church I go to preach, there are those in attendance who tell me they met at Summit and they got married. They come up to me and say, ‘Have you kept track?’ I'm like, ‘No, I don't ever want to keep track.’ I want to protect us from pride because I think it's a natural thing to say, ‘Oh, look what we've done.’ I think that the Lord is pleased to use this conference to many ends; if that's one of them, Amen. The greatest end is that these young people will come to commit their lives to the Lord.” Some practical pastoral dating advice Mike Chhangur, a pastor at the PCA’s Christ Church Halifax, got married to his wife in his early twenties. They originally met through a youth ministry in Texas but reconnected a few years later through Facebook. Chhangur shared some of the complexities that arose from getting married while not being “established.” His wife had just finished university, and he was still completing nursing school. Chhangur says they moved many times to find the cheapest rent, securing sublets to “save a couple of hundred bucks a month.” At one point, they even shared a two-bedroom apartment with another person “We've only ever had one income. When I was in school, Brittany was working more than me. And then when she got pregnant and had our first daughter, Annie, I started working full-time. There's only ever been one person working, and so that's been helpful for us in the sense that we've never bitten off more than we can chew in terms of mortgage or car loans or, whatever.” 1. Make the most of opportunities to connect When it comes to encouraging Christian singles to marriage, Chhangur says they need a point for connection. For him and his wife Brittany, Facebook provided that touchpoint for them to connect after losing touch. So, as a pastor, Chhanguer says he wants to be able to help with those connections: "One practical way, as a pastor, I'm attempting to create connections among Christians is by hosting events…” 2. Date like a Christian In addition to forming opportunities for connections, Chhangur emphasizes the need for Christians to date in a way that is God-honoring. “I think I've just encountered over and over again, where people don't know how to date Christianly. They have no idea what this looks like; they have grown up in an age of Tinder. A lot of people in our experience have started coming to our church while they were still living with a girlfriend or a boyfriend, and have had to figure out, ‘What does it mean to follow Christ in this particular area? What does the Bible have to say about dating and relationships?’” He continued, “As a pastor, I’m teaching new stories of what it means to treat a younger woman as a sister with all purity. We don't progress in the Christian life from treating somebody like our wife emotionally and physically, and then only later asking them to be our wife.” 3. Men, don’t make an idol out of your ego Fear of rejection is a significant concern, particularly when there's often an emphasis on men in the church to initiate romantic pursuits. Using a basketball analogy, Chhangur offers advice to young men who may fear rejection for asking a girl out to coffee. “Eventually you're going to shoot your shot. If you live life avoiding pain, or avoiding rejection at all costs, you're going to have a pretty miserable life. Some of that is this understanding of who you are in Christ, and making that a priority more than being accepted by people. It’ll be sad if you airball the coffee, but that's just life.” 4. Be the godly person a godly someone would want to date Ultimately, if you are looking for a spouse who loves the Lord, Chhangur says you need to check yourself first. “A couple of pieces of advice would be if you want a godly wife, someone who hears God and loves the Lord Jesus, you have to be a godly man. A godly woman is attracted to godly men, and vice versa. So I would make sure that your first love is Christ.” Conclusion To close, I think some of the most practical guidance given to me was from a young woman who has been married for a couple of years and shared the following when I asked “What advice do you have for single Christian men and women who want to be married?” Ensure your heart is in the right place in desiring marriage. It is a good thing, but even good things can become idols. Prepare yourself. Don't wait for someone to show up and then start getting your act together. Be prudent with the time given now to continue growing — in habits, in skills, and in discipline, all of which are beneficial to marriage. Be ready. Surround yourself with those who have similar values as you. If you desire marriage, keep company with those who value it, whether already married or single. Serve God where you are. You're not in a holding room before getting to the real part of life. This is real life right now – live it all for Him! Or to keep things simple, “Just Do Something.”...

Economics - Home Finances

Frugalship: 37 ways to save a buck

Frugal: to be careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to; using money or supplies in a very careful way; not wasteful. Synonym: thrifty ***** One of my sons commented that while many people he knew would boast about how much they spent on an item, I would boast about the great bargains I scored. It comes from growing up in a family that, though we were not “poor,” had to carefully consider every purchase. If you had a jacket, you didn’t need another jacket. One can of tuna made six sandwiches. And thrift stores made it much easier for me to clothe six kids. We also enjoy it when we can spend less than expected. It comes from wanting to stay within our means, and we believe that spending less today means that there will still be money left for tomorrow. Or if not, then at least we tried our best! We think of it as “good stewardship.” We are certainly given examples in Scripture that we should prepare bread in summer and gather food in harvest (Prov. 6:6-8), provide for our relatives (I Tim. 5:8) and plan our ventures carefully (Luke 14:28-29). Going to Scripture Besides being told to manage it well (Luke 12:42-43; Prov. 13:22, 21:20), the Bible also has this to say about money: Realize it is a gift from God (Lev. 27:30) Be content with what we have (1 Tim. 6:7-8) Don’t put our trust in it (1 Tim. 6:17-19) Don’t worry about it (Matt. 6:25-34) Don’t steal it (Ex. 20:15) Don’t love it or be covetous (Eccl. 5:10) Don’t hoard it (Matt. 6:19-21) Give it to others in need (Prov. 28:27) Give to the Lord (Mal. 3:10) Even in our attempts to be “frugal” we need to keep an eye on our attitudes and motives. We get so used to planning for our own needs and desires, that it can come as a surprise when we read Ephesians 4:28: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” What does God say is the purpose of working? So that we can give to those in need, and so that we can give to the Lord. Being thrifty and getting a good deal ought to lead us to give more as well. As we read in Luke 12:15: “And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” That’s true even of the possessions earned through thrift! Eat, drink, and be frugal Since many of us do appreciate being thrifty, below are some ideas for ways to spend less money in our households, and even when purchasing vehicles or homes. Eat and drink at home. The most wonderful sandwich, burger, or steak at a restaurant can be duplicated at home for a fraction of the cost. It has become fashionable to buy coffee from vendors, but you’ll save a bundle by making it at home. You can pack an awesome sandwich, chips, dessert, and beverage for your lunch instead of eating out. Pre-shop the flyers. Check the ads and purchase items that are on sale. Having the app for your local store can provide information as well as coupons. Cook for several meals at once. You can save on energy and time by baking 8 chicken breasts or two large roasts, or frying 4 pounds of ground beef all at once. Then you will use them in varying ways the next 2-3 days or freeze the cooked meat. Bake enough potatoes or make enough rice or noodles for 2-3 meals. Google ideas for using “plan-over” food to make other meals. Check out the discount rack for expiring food; use ripe bananas for banana bread, wrinkled apples for baking or applesauce, and day-old croissants to make ham and cheese sandwiches in the oven. Buy “seconds” for strawberries in season and freeze them in flattened bags. Use these to make jam throughout the year. Make your own dressing by adding ingredients to the last of the mayonnaise in a jar and shaking it all together. Seek recipes or get creative. Use a rubber spatula to limit waste. Mix a buttery spread: Mix 1 pound of butter, 1 pound of margarine, and 1 cup of water. Mix on high until well-blended to create a spread that tastes like butter. Leftover Surprise Soup is a winner. Collect scraps of leftover meat or vegetables in a covered container in the freezer. When it’s getting full, use it as the base for homemade soup. Bake your own hostess gifts. Homemade bread, muffins, or candy make a wonderful hostess gift, and they are less expensive than wine. Create your own cleaning agents. Wipe down counters with a homemade spray made of water, a bit of bleach, and a drop or two of dish soap instead of buying expensive cleaning agents. Shop later in the day when meat and produce are being discounted. Freeze the meat immediately. Keep easy-meal items on hand. On a tiring day, when you are nearly out of food, or when you get surprise company – always have the ingredients for a quick nourishing meal. This will keep you from having to order out or run to the store. Examples: Chicken alfredo: canned chicken breast/alfredo sauce/noodles/frozen peas. Tuna noodle salad: Canned tuna/macaroni/Miracle Whip/chopped veggies. Taco soup: ground beef, green beans, corn, creamed corn, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and a packet of taco seasoning. Non-food items Of course, our expenses go beyond just food and drink… Consider assigning separate household budgets. One can be used to plan for groceries, gifts, gas, and home décor. Another for hobbies or sports. By managing them well, there may be more money available to switch to another category as desired. No one likes surprise invoices or fluctuating amounts at the end of the month. Combine errands or carpool when possible to save on gasoline. Keep your tires filled and your car serviced to provide the best gas mileage and to make the vehicle last longer. Watch for sales and compare prices for home goods, gardening, and home improvement. Scratch and dent. Discover whether stores near you have “scratch and dent” appliances that work as well as new ones. Purchase second hand if you know the items are from a reliable source. Make your own greeting cards, perhaps with the kids’ or grandkids’ help. Or, you might locate stores that charge less for them, and keep a stack of birthday, get well, and sympathy cards on hand. Combine gift lists. Go shopping once for 3 or 4 upcoming birthdays. Swap kid-sitting with friends or family; staying home alone without your children with a great meal and a movie and no one to wake you up in the morning can be as refreshing as paying for a hotel and dinner out. And the kids will love being with their friends. Shop at thrift stores and yard sales. With a good eye for quality, you can find amazing bargains for your house, your clothing, and sometimes even for gifts. Example: At a thrift store, I discovered an expensive glass vase with an eagle etched on it along with Isaiah 40:31; it was worth at least $50, but it made a new bride very happy and I only spent $12. Years ago I bought a new-looking sweatshirt and fabric painted a super hero logo on it, delighting a 4-year-boy for only $3. When buying a vehicle Sometimes we think about saving a dollar at the grocery store, or twenty-five cents per liter/gallon on gas, but we may neglect the amount of money we might save on larger items such as cars or houses. Here are a few ideas to consider when you need to purchase a vehicle. There is no set amount at a dealership, and negotiating is actually expected. If you aren’t very good at negotiating, find a relative or friend to go with you to assist in making the deal. Purchase a one-year-old vehicle. A nearly-new vehicle with 10,000-40,000 kilometers can still come with a warranty, but cost you thousands of dollars less, and still have that new car smell and security. Buy an older used car. If possible, have your mechanic look it over first. Also, put in the research to learn whether that particular model has a good reputation. Selling a home I spoke with Ashley Wright, a local realtor, who shared 7 essential tips for selling. Hire an agent whom you love and trust, who is hard-working, and knowledgeable about your area. Interview several before you sign – don’t just use a friend/relative’s buddy whom you may end up clashing with. Price your home correctly. The best price will keep your home from looking like a loser by sitting on the market for a long time. Sell at the peak of the market. Even if it still needs some work, it’s best to sell at peak time and lower the price a bit if necessary. Stage your home so that it is uncluttered, spacious, totally clean, and generic so the buyers can imagine themselves living there. Store family photos and some of your furniture if necessary. Get professional photography and videography so it will attract people. Bake cookies before a showing to provide a winsome aroma. Leave bottled water and the fresh cookies on the counter for the “lookers.” Close the deal as soon as possible. Keep away from rent-back and contingent offers if you can. Buying a home Wright had 7 tips for buying a home too. Hire an agent whom you love and trust, who is hard-working, and knowledgeable about your area. Shop around for interest rates for your mortgage. Having the highest credit score will lead you to the lowest debt. Sometimes it’s better to pay your debt to improve your score, but other times it’s better to hold on to your cash and buy down your interest rate. Be pre-approved by a lender, not just pre-qualified. Keep your options open. Don’t be too picky – there is almost always a good deal out there, even in a hot seller’s market. An ugly home with poor pictures could provide you an excellent deal, and you can use the savings to improve it later. Offer less, and ask for a quick answer, 1 day if possible, but include an escalation clause (for example: “I will pay $1000 more than someone else’s bid up to $X amount”). Close the deal as soon as possible, which might be between 30 and 45 days. Move on if necessary: if your agent isn’t working hard for you, you can quit them and hire someone else, even if you have signed an agreement. On the other hand One last thought to remember is that the laborer is worthy of his hire. Therefore, if we are hiring a relative or a brother/sister in Christ to do work or service for us, or buying their goods, we should pay them a full amount and not expect a discount. They have families and bills as well, and though we do love our bargains, this might not be the most loving place to press for one. It’s a good feeling when we can learn to be happy with our brother’s or sister’s gain and not just think about ourselves. Let us always remember that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully . . . for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Save more so you can give more! Sharon L. Bratcher is the author of a collection of 45 RP articles entitled: “Soup and Buns: Nourishment from God’s Word for Your Daily Struggles.” To purchase this book, contact her at [email protected]....


Saturday Selections – June 1, 2024

If there is a common theme to this week's edition it might be government overreach. For Christians, who know God has set up different governments for different purposes – Family, Church, Civil – we understand that our elected leaders should only rule in a limited realm. But leaders who reject there is a God above them seem increasingly eager to step into His unlimited role. They want to expand their impact... but that they aren't doing so well with the areas already under their influence only underscores the importance of God's limits. Minimum wage up to $20 in California (6 min) Minimum wage laws are put in place by governments that run a deficit every year. If they can't mind their own business, why would they think they can run everyone else's (Matt. 7:3-5)? And it gets worse – as John Stossel notes below, some US minimum wage laws were originally put in place to discriminate against blacks. Raw sewage in the Thames: an actual environmental ill we can fix Some of the political leaders promising they can adjust the world's weather are having problems with more local matters – there is raw sewage hitting the Thames (Luke 16:10, Luke 19:17). "More people will die from real environmental problems than from the climate in 2050, whether it’s warmer or colder. We need to move beyond attention-grabbing headlines about distant imaginary threats and focus on actual ones." South Korea down to just 0.72 children a woman To keep its population stable, South Korea would need to triple its birth rate. Canada, in comparison, is at 1.33 children per woman (as of 2022) or about two-thirds of the 2.1 children per woman we'd need to keep our population stable. Canada was last at the 2.1 figure way back in 1971 (that so shocked me, I tripled-checked, but I think I have it right) and has masked its declining birth rate with massive levels of immigration. South Korea is not interested in that approach and is instead looking to government programs for the fix, but to this point throwing money at the problem hasn't really helped anywhere else in the world. Why not? Well, maybe it's because having kids is always a leap of faith, and the secular world is without hope. Christians are still having kids though; we have a God worthy of our faith. Another reason is the communion of saints that He provides can help lighten the load. June 1 is Dinosaur Day! Everyone loves dinosaurs, but there are some tall tales being told about them. So here are some fun facts to counter the fake news. Click on the title above for an entire chapter on dinosaurs – something for the serious reader – and for something shorter see below: Did dinosaurs fit on Noah's Ark? Is there scientific proof dinosaur fossils aren't millions of years old? Is there evidence dinosaurs died in the flood? Is there cultural evidence dinosaurs lived at the same time as Man? Yes, NBC, homosexuality is "natural" but so are... Just in time for Pride Month, NBC is broadcasting a series called "Queer Planet" to show that homosexuality exists among animals. True enough... but so does rape, slavery, necrophilia, and cannibalism, so "natural" hardly means right. As Kurt Mahlburg notes, we can aspire to act better than animals, because we are different from them, made in the very image of God. Jordan Peterson and whether euthanasia victims are drowning to death Euthanasia was sold to Canadians as a means of providing near-death patients some mercy and autonomy. But where is the mercy and autonomy for 49-year-old Roger Foley? When he admitted to medical staff that despair was driving him to have suicidal thoughts, he wasn't helped, but was encouraged in that direction. And, he says, since euthanasia has been put in place, his care has suffered. Perhaps that's because he's now seen as a patient who is stubbornly refusing "treatment." In the article linked above, Jordan Peterson is involved in a discussion about how the drugs Canadian doctors use to "mercifully" murder their patients may, effectively, cause them to die via drowning, with a paralytic drug preventing them from crying out. The neglectful care for Foley, and the possibility that euthanasia victims are dying slow drowning deaths, are both horrific. But the issue here isn't how euthanasia is being offered, or how it is being administered. (If it were, then we could be satisfied if only it were offered and administered better.) The real debate – the real battle – is over whose life is it? and who owns our life? The Christian answer to both questions is, God. He says, do not murder, even ourselves. The contrast we need to present then, is how following His ways leads to true compassion and mercy, and a culture of life, while following the culture of death, and its lies of autonomy, leads to where "even the mercy of the wicked is cruel" (Prov. 12:10b). ...

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