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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 ShepherdPress.com

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 (www.str.org) 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.”

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – December 2023

“You better watch out!” It’s nearing that time of year again, when you might hear the chorus of a familiar Bing Crosby hit. I always thought it sounds a bit like he was talking about God (he's not). My friend's thinking went in a completely different direction, and he wrote his own ending... He knows when you've been sleeping He knows when you're awake He knows if you've been bad or good, We're in a surveillance state! Next issue for the Supreme Court? Despite dying over a hundred years ago poet William Cosmo Monkhouse (1840-1901) has his finger on the pulse of today’s culture. There once was an old man of Lyme Who married three wives at a time. When asked, “Why a third?” He replied, “One’s absurd! And bigamy, sir, is a crime.” Lyrics o’ the month In his song Screen Door, Rich Mullins seemed to be working through James 2:14-26, (and Matthew 7:15-20, Galatians 5:6, Hebrews 6:10, etc.). It's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine Faith without works baby, it just ain't happening One is your left hand, one is your right It'll take two strong arms to hold on tight Some folks cut off their nose, just to spite their face I think you need some works to show for your alleged faith Well there's a difference you know 'Tween having faith and playing make believe One will make you grow, the other one just make you sleep Talk about it but I really think you oughta Take a leap off of the ship before you claim to walk on water Faith without works is like a song you can't sing It's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine Faith comes from God and every word that He breathes He lets you take it to your heart, so you can give it hands and feet It's gotta be active if it's gonna be alive You gotta put it into practice, otherwise… Faith without works is like a song you can't sing It's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine T-shirt Christianity. the best kind Abort73.com sells shirt to direct people to their website, which offers up compelling and comprehensive information on the evils of abortion. You can buy this shirt and many others at Abort73.com here. And if you want to create your own t-shirt design, be sure to check out RP's t-shirt contest. Spurgeon spouting sense on… EVANGELISM: “Every Christian here is either a missionary or an imposter.” BEATING PROCRASTINATION: “The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolving that you will do everything.” FINDING A PERFECT CHURCH: “If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all; and the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.” LOVING GOD’S WORD: “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” Top 10 math jokes • Counting in binary is as easy as 01, 10, 11… • Do you hear about the mathematician who was afraid of negative numbers? He’d stop at nothing to avoid them. This is either funny or educational “There are just two kinds of people in this world: those who believe in false dichotomies, and penguins.” SOURCE: Spotted on a t-shirt  Laundry tips for guys Shirts have to be changed daily; jeans can last forever. No one sees it, and it doesn’t wrinkle anyway – don’t fold your underwear. Stress relieving tip: when buying black socks, make sure all of them are exactly the same. Pairing sports socks wastes time – make sure you've bought just one kind, then dump the mass of them straight into your sock drawer. No one knows how to fold a fitted sheet – don’t try. Washing your shirts in cold will keep your whites from becoming pinks. Only your underwear, towels, sheets, and workout clothes need to be washed in hot. Nothing like a good (or gross) illustration to clear away the confusion While it seems safe to say most Reformed Perspective readers didn't see Fifty Shades of Grey, many professing Christians did. And one of the justifications they used might sound familiar: “I’m not watching it for the sex; I’m watching it for the story.” This is a line that many a Christian has used to justify watching many a film that wouldn't meet with grandma’s approval. "But grandma," we say, "we understand the sex scene is vile, but we’re enduring it to get to all the other good stuff in the film." However, WORLD magazine writer Emily Whitten says Christians are just lying to themselves with this type of justification. She makes use of a simple illustration to help us see through our self-deception. "Here’s a quick reality check as to whether the played a role in your enjoyment: If all the sex in the movie were replaced with long scenes of the characters’ experiencing recurring diarrhea, would you still find the story as endearing or entertaining? Would you be willing to sit through something so disgusting to get to the love story?  If not, then you are seeing it for the sex scenes at some level." SOURCE: Emily Whitten’s “Five myths about Fifty Shades of Grey” I think I get it, therefore I am Rene Decartes walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “Would you like a beer?” Descartes replies, “I think not,” and then promptly disappears. SOURCE: Andy Simmon’s “25 Jokes that make you sound like a genius” in the Sept. 2014 issue of Reader’s Digest The Bible is a miraculous whole In my first-year English class our learned professor told the class that the Bible was most certainly the greatest book ever. He praised it for the excellence found in its many parts – I can still remember the quiet awe that came over him when speaking of the Bible’s poetry. But despite that awe, he wasn’t a Christian. I don’t think he understood how all those excellent parts came together in a remarkable whole. As pastor R.A. Torrey once explained, the unity of the Bible gives evidence of the One Mind behind it all. "The Bible consists of sixty-six books, written by more than thirty different men, extending in the period of its composition over more than fifteen hundred years; written in three different languages, in many different countries, and by men on every plane of social life, from the herdsman and fisherman and cheap politician up to the king upon his throne; written under all sorts of circumstances; yet in all this wonderful conglomeration, we find an absolute unity of thought. "A wonderful thing about it is that this unity does not lie on the surface. On the surface there is oftentimes apparent contradiction, and the unity only comes out after deep and protracted study. "More wonderful yet is the organic character of this unity, beginning in the first book and growing till you come to its culmination in the last book of the Bible. We have first the seed, then the plant, then the bud, then the blossom, then the ripened fruit. "Suppose a vast building were to be erected, the stones for which were brought from the quarries in Rutland, Vermont; Berea, Ohio; Kasota, Minnesota, and Middletown, Connecticut. Each stone was hewn into final shape in the quarry from which it was brought. These stones were of all varieties of shape and size, cubical, rectangular, cylindrical, etc., but when they were brought together every stone fitted into its place, and when put together there rose before you a temple absolutely perfect in every outline, with its domes, sidewalls, buttresses, arches, transepts–not a gap or a flaw anywhere. How would you account for it? You would say: 'Back of these individual workers in the quarries was the master-mind of the architect who planned it all, and gave to each individual worker his specifications for the work.' "So in this marvelous temple of God’s truth which we call the Bible, whose stones have been quarried at periods of time and in places so remote from one another, but where every smallest part fits each other part, we are forced to say that back of the human hands that wrought was the Master-mind that thought."...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – November 2023

Practice makes better I had a friend who makes it a point of pride not to open doors for women because. “Women are just as capable of opening doors as men.” True, but he's missed the point of this little politeness. Gifted with greater strength, men could use their power (and some brutes do) to dominate women. Proper Christian chaps in times past took a stand against this misuse and instead put their strength at women’s disposal, doing so in many different ways: helping with chairs, giving up their seat on the bus, carrying packages, holding the song book at church and, yes, opening doors for the fairer sex. It wasn’t that women were incapable – men were just practicing using their strength to help. They were engraining a habit, and modeling it to others, showing how gentle men behave. And since brutes continue to abound it’s clear that many men still need to practice and model this gentlemanly behavior. Pop Quiz Put your biblical knowledge to the test. Order the following events as they occur in the Bible beginning with “1” for the earliest and “10” for the last. Answers are at the bottom of this page. Daniel in the lions’ den Noah’s ark The giving of the Ten Commandments Elijah and the prophets of Baal Solomon building the Temple Samson and Delilah Jesus feeding the 5,000 Saul’s vision on the Damascus road Joseph and his coat of many colors The martyring of Stephen Nellie: a life worth living (27 min) “I’ll play football in heaven,” says John “Nellie” Nelson (1965-2009) who was born with arthrogryposis and couldn’t move any of his joints from his neck down. He was, nevertheless, an assistant football coach for one of the best football programs in the country. What he did with the little he was given showed these young men what living to God’s glory really meant. I first saw this at a film festival a decade back, and was delighted to discover it is now available for free on YouTube. Marital advice from the unmarried I got married later in life, and in my single days I wrote down some advice for the married me that I hoped would be. It was a few things that I, and some other singles, noticed about the very happiest of our married friends. They make it a priority to hug or kiss their spouses hello and goodbye. That mushy stuff may make the kids groan but it sure seems to keep mom and dad happy. While Dutch folk do have a tendency to tease the ones we love, happy couples are also quick to compliment their spouses (men, see Prov. 31:10-31 for a little inspiration). "Dating” is common – they find ways to regularly spend time alone together. While tonight it may have been your wife’s job to make supper, that’s no reason not to thank her for the wonderful meal! The happiest couples regularly thank each other, even for the ordinary routine work they do for one another every day. And the happiest couples grow spiritually together, not just reading the Bible together, but really studying it and praying together. A punny pastor Pastor John Barach posted this bit to his blog some years back, on pulpit exchanges: TERRY: "So when you have a pulpit exchange, you come here and our pastor goes to another church and that pastor goes to another church... It's kind of a domino effect!" ME: "No, Terry. It's the dominee effect." Fly the silly skies WestJet is a Canadian airline known for its humorous flight attendants. The following are some quips attributed to these flying funsters: "Welcome aboard West Jet Flight 245 to Calgary. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised." "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite." "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. After a very hard landing in Edmonton, the flight attendant came on the intercom: "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault… it was the asphalt." Quote of the month “People should know what they believe and why they believe it, and they should know what they don’t believe and why they don’t believe it.” – Dr. Glen Martin A stolen gift In June street evangelist Ray Comfort's new bicycle was stolen, so he ended up going back to the same bike store to buy the very same bike again. He has already spoken with the store owner about God the last visit, so this time he asked the man about his family, and discovered that while he had two children, and had been with their mom for 15 years, they were not married. And this is what Ray then told him: "I told him that if he loved his girlfriend he would marry her. I talked about her eternal salvation and that he was making her a fornicator. I also told him that the Bible begins with a naked couple being commanded by God to have sex, that sex is a gift from God to humanity.... Then I told him a story of a little boy whose dad had a brand new $100 bill in his wallet that he was going to give him as a gift. Not knowing that, the son snuck into his dad’s room, opened the wallet and stole the money. The $100 was going to be his anyway, but he stole it and made something bad out of something that was going to be good. I said, 'That’s what you’ve done with God’s gift of sex.'" SOURCE: Ray Comfort's Facebook post of June 10, 2014 Anagram arrangements Sometimes the exact same letters can be used to say the same thing in another way, as happens in the anagrams below. Astronomer: Moon starer The eyes: They see The Morse Code: Here come dots Slot Machines: Cash lost in me Snooze Alarms: Alas! No more Z's A decimal point: I'm a dot in place The earthquakes: That queer shake Eleven plus two: Twelve plus one Butterfly: Flutter-by Vacation Times: I'm Not as Active Source: the world wide web Dad joke of the month Two atoms are walking down a road when one says, “Oh no, I’ve lost my electron!” “Are you sure?” asks the second. “Yes,” says the first, “I’m positive!” Source: 3-2-1 Penguins – The Cheating Scales of BullaManka Unromantic… or just thrifty? Rene Gutteridge’s romance novel My Life as a Doormat has a rather creative introduction on being a romantic on the cheap: "I’m practical. Practical people can be romantics. I don’t think the two contradict each other. Sure, I cringe when an insane amount of money is spent on a dozen roses, and as I watch them die their slow deaths despite the Evian and the aspirin tablet, I can’t help but wonder what better use there was for forty dollars. Can the feeling of holding roses really match saving the starving children of the world? I simply pose the question. "I’m getting sidetracked. The fact of the matter is that I just see romance differently. I see it in defined spaces, with reason and structure attached. Romance doesn’t necessarily need spontaneity either. Scheduled romance is certainly a viable option for busy people. There’s no reason why a bottle of wine can’t be sought out days ahead of time, why a horse-drawn carriage can’t be ridden in the off-season to save ten dollars. Practicality is a simple frame of mind that in all honesty offers more perks and functionality than such frivolousness." Bringing the Greek fire! “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” – attributed to Plato Answers for "Pop Quiz" The correct order of events is 2, 9, 3, 6, 5, 4, 1, 7, 10, 8 or Noah’s ark Joseph and his coat of many colors The giving of the Ten Commandments Samson and Delilah Solomon building the Temple Elijah and the prophets of Baal Daniel in the lions’ den Jesus feeding the 5,000 The martyring of Stephen Saul’s vision on the Damascus road ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - October 2023

Halloween in a small American town I live in a delightful and occasionally comical small town where the church-attending Christians make up a solid majority of the population. This is such a Christian town that when Halloween comes around, one of the local churches will set up a hot chocolate stand for our area, and you'll see a dad or two dressed up as a monkish Martin Luther, tonsure and all. When I first moved here Halloween fell on a Sunday, and I was impressed to see most of the kids did their trick-or-treating on Saturday instead. Then I was quite surprised when one of the trick-or-treaters at my door – a little princess – told me "my brother is the devil." Sure enough, there he came toddling up the path, a two-year-old dressed in a bright red satin, forked tail wagging behind. Lynden: it's a town where trick or treating on Sunday is verboten, but dressing up as Satan ain't no big thing. “The free market is a bathroom scale” “The free market is simply a measurement. The free market tells us what people are willing to pay for a given thing at a given moment. That’s all the free market does. The free market is a bathroom scale. We may not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale, but we can’t pass a law making ourselves weigh 165. Liberals and leftists think we can.” – P.J O’Rourke Are you wearing anything ten years or older? About ten years back, Christian Courier's editor Angela Bick shared that her friends were surprised to learn that they weren’t wearing anything as much as ten years old. The surprise was probably prompted by the realization that 40 years ago the situation would have been quite different. Kids’ clothing in particular was treated differently then, with patches (and patches upon patches) being far more common. Darning socks was more common, and the resoling of shoes too. Whenever one generation decides to do something differently than the previous, it is worth a moment’s reflection - if you aren’t wearing anything from a decade ago, why might that be? Is it a result of shoddy manufacturing and living in a throw-away culture? Are clothes simply not made to last like they once were? Are we financially blessed, to the point that we don’t need to wear worn out clothes? Are we financially irresponsible, spending money on clothes when that money could be put to better use? Is it a matter of clothes being less expensive to replace than they once were? Might it mean we are overly concerned with keeping up with the latest fashions? The way it was… and could be? In the 1940s, in the Netherlands, most men worked six days a week at physically-taxing jobs. So, come Sunday it could be quite a struggle for these men to stay attentive through the church service, especially when it came time to pray and eyes were shut and heads were bowed. And to make it harder still, the prayers were quite often fifteen minutes long. In his wartime biography The Way It Was, author Sid Baron notes that to help these men stay awake it was the practice then to allow the option of standing during prayer. So throughout the church, as most bowed their head to pray, many farmers and laborers would rise. This practice is no longer common anywhere in Reformed churches, most likely because ministers no longer tax their congregation’s attention with fifteen-minute prayers, and because far fewer members do heavy physical labor. Still, it might be a practice worth reviving for some particularly sleep-deprived folk: the mothers and fathers of newborns! Brother, can you spare a dime? by Gregory Koukl You can't help having mixed feelings when people beg for food on the street. Your heart goes out to them, but you have reservations too. Is there a real need here, or is this just laziness disguised? Here's a simple solution. Give food to the poor by helping fill the cupboards of your local church feeding program. If your church doesn't have one, find a Christian facility that does. They make sure food goes to people with a genuine need, and the Gospel goes out along with it. Another alternative is to make up a couple of bags of food and keep them in your trunk. Include the kinds of things that can be opened without tools and eaten without cooking. Include plastic silverware that's sealed together with a napkin that you get from take-out food places. Then give it in Jesus' name. Welfare is not God's answer to the needs of the poor. Instead, He asks for charitable, responsible, obedient giving. Don't give money to someone begging in the street. Instead, send your money to a reputable Christian agency in your area, or give food in prepackaged parcels. You'll have the peaceful confidence you've really done something for the poor and homeless. SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from www.str.org Biblical, musical ABCs Jamie Soles is well known among conservative Reformed churches in Canada, but for those that don’t know of him, below are the lyrics of a song from one of his children’s albums “The Way My Story Goes” which is available (along with more info) on the artist’s website SolMusic.ca. “These Are They” Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures For in these, you say, your life will never end, Don’t be misled; the life you’re looking for Is found in Me, for I am found in them. And… "These are they, these are they, These are they which speak of Me.” Adam, Abel, Abraham, Aaron, Ammon, Amnon, Andrew, Abishai, Abishag, Abigail, Ahab, tell the world of Me. Ahaziah, Amaziah, Ahimaaz, Ahasuerus, Ahithophel, Abiathar, Ahitub, too, Asahel and Absalom, Abner and Abednego, Asa and Amasa, just to name a few. Now… These are they.... Boaz, Balaam, Barzillai, Balak, Barak, Baal, Babel, Baasha, Baruch, Benjamin, all tell the world of Me. Barnabas and Bethel, Bezalel and Bilhah, Benaiah, Belial, and Bashan, too, Bethlehem and Ben-Hadad, Beelzebub and Babylon, The Bible bubbles over with Me; how ‘bout you? Now… These are they.... Caesar, Caleb, Caiaphas, Canaan, Cain, and Chedorlaomer, Cushi, Chloe, Claudius, all tell the world of Me. Corinthians, Cyrenians, Cyrus and the Cretans, Cornelius, Capernaum, and Chimham, see? These are only part of it This is but the start of it Stories are your biblical ABCs! Now… All these stories, they show My glories These are they which speak of Me. Top 10 verses: important omission BibleGateway.com is a website that includes dozens of different translations of the Bible. It gets more than 8 million visitors each month, and back in 2011. when they listed their site’s most-searched for verses of the Bible, Collin Hansen at TheGospelCoalition.org noticed a startling omission among them. While the top ten includes verses that are often emblazoned on shirts, or are held up on signs at sports events (John 3:16 was the #1 verse) none of the top ten most-searched-for-verses talked about sin! It isn’t until verse #19 that sin is mentioned: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” It’s not surprising that talking about sin is unpopular. But the Good News of the Gospel only makes sense after we understand our own sinfulness, and God’s hatred of sin. Then it is good news indeed that God has sent us a Savior and Mediator! So it isn’t a surprising omission, but it is a glaring one. It should be polite to ask a woman’s age Our culture worships youth, so it’s no wonder they think it’s rude to make mention of someone’s age. But why do we think it’s rude? After all, the Bible speaks quite highly of the elderly, as it is with age that wisdom can come (at least among the righteous). That’s why Proverbs 20:29 notes that “gray hair is the splendor of the old” and Prov. 16:31 tells us: “the silver-haired head is a crown of glory.” Among Christians old should be excellent! 30% of Gen Z Americans would welcome gov’t monitoring inside their homes Nearly a third of Americans under 30 would welcome a government surveillance device in their homes, in the name of reducing spousal and child abuse. Clearly they haven’t been taught about the surveillance states of the past, like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. And they must not know about China’s current “social credit system,” where citizens are constantly monitored and granted freedoms based on how obliging they’ve been to their government’s every requirement. And they haven’t read 1984 or any other dystopian fiction. That a third of American young people trust the government to watch their every move isn’t an endorsement of our political leadership’s trustworthiness, but is instead an indicator of how badly they are educating our youth in their public schools. Now Christians might think that if we aren’t doing anything wrong what does it matter if we are being watched? But do you spank your children? Might some government official somewhere want to recast as abuse what you know to be appropriate and measured? Do you teach your children that God made us male and female? Do you insist that marriage is between one man and one woman? What might the government think about that? To be constantly monitored is to be constantly assessed. And knowing, as we do, that our governments don’t measure right and wrong by God’s standards, we should fear the prospect....

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – September 2023

Season your words "Every day, our words could write a book of 50-60 pages (cited by John MacArthur in his sermon 'Exposing the Truth About Men’s Hearts'). As you consider the book that might be made of your words, what would it look like? Would it be a book you would like to give away as a birthday present? Would it be a book you could read to the grandkids? More importantly, would it be a book you would be content to sit down and read with the Lord?" – Rev. Andrew de Vries, in his article "Talk the talk" in the May 2013 edition of Faith in Focus Willpower! "I can't even imagine the self control required to work at a bubble wrap factory." – attributed to Bill Murray Technically true can be completely false Proberbs 18:17 tells us how important it is to hear both sides of a story: "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him." In his book, How to know God exists, Ray Comfort recounts a story, that while not true, shows what can happen if you are stuck with hearing a story from just one source. "The story is told of a symbolic foot race that took place between Russia and the U.S. during the Cold War. The very best athlete from each country compete to see who was superior. The Amerian runner won. The next day, the Soviet newspaper headline read: 'Russia comes in second in big race; US comes in next to last.'" Best bumper stickers As seen on the back bumpers of cars all over... What if there were no hypothetical questions? Eschew obfuscation If you can read this, I can hit my brakes and sue you. If you ate pasta and antipasta, would you still be hungry? How is it possible to have a civil war? A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. Five out of four people have trouble with fractions Evolution is a non-starter "Survival of the fittest doesn't explain the arrival of the fittest." – Dr. Donald Batten, explaining in the documentary Evolution's Achilles' Heels, that while the process of natural selection can whittle down the a species to only the fittest few, it isn't a creative force – it pares things down, but can't explain the orgin of anything new. Host as you are Have you ever said, We'll start asking people over when... we tidy up the house, our kids our older our kids are better behaved we move into a larger place we get a proper dining room table we have time to shop for/cook a special meal But blogger Jack King encourages us to do away with the excuses and consider offering our guests "scruffy hospitality." He explains: "Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together. Don’t allow a to-do list to disqualify you from an evening with people you’re called to love in friendship..... We tell our guests 'come as you are,' perhaps we should tell ourselves 'host as you are.' ....What does it look like to welcome people into my humility rather than my standard of excellence? The playroom may not be tidy. Our kids, who are lovely and enjoyable, may become noisy and cranky around 7 pm. Dinners may be sponsored entirely by Trader Joe's frozen section.... But why would I withhold an invitation simply because I can’t make dinner from scratch?" On reading children dramatic works  "Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” – C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature   Jesus' impact on our culture today Twenty years ago Preysbyterian pastor D. James Kennedy wrote a book exploring the question What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? As Kennedy noted, Christ's influence has been such that the whole world counts times as Before Christ (B.C.) and Anno Domini (A.D.) which is Latin for "in the year of the Lord." It is an irony, Kennedy writes, "that the most vitriolic atheist writing a propagandistic letter to a friend must acknowledge Christ when he dates that letter." But the irony doesn't stop there. The very same people who shake their fist at God benefit from Christ's influence. The following is a short list of some of the very best features of our culture and civilization that can be attributed, as Kennedy does, to Jesus' lasting impact: hospitals were started back in the Middle Ages by Christians slavery was abolished by Christians most universities were begun by Christians literacy for the masses was begun so that even peasants could read the Bible modern science was developed by Christians to investigate the wonders God has wrought we owe the seperation of powers in government to the Christian understanding of man's corrupt nature - if we can't be ruled by angels, then let us at least ensure no one devil gets his hands on all the power Capitalism and free enterprise are based on property rights found in the Bible the common man was elevated, and we began to have a higher regard for human life, based on the understanding all of mankind is made in God's image Henry VIII to Pope: "Go away, but the title can stay " For almost 500 years now, to this present day, British monarchs have gone by the title "Defender of the Faith." We were until last year ruled by Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith. The current King Charles is no longer officially known as "defender of the faith" in Canada, but retained the title as Great Britain's king. This title finds its origin back in 1521, when as a reward for service rendered, the Pope gave the English king this "Defender of the Faith" designation. What did Henry VIII do to warrant such an impressive title? He wrote a pamphlet titled, Declaration of the Seven Sacreaments Against Martin Luther. In it Henry defended the Pope and attacked Luther. But a scant nine years later this Roman Catholic "Defender of the Faith" broke with Rome, and started the Anglican church. In response the Pope revoked his title, but the English Parliament later restored it. So the official head of the Anglican church bears a title first awarded to the very first Anglican King by none other than the Pope. Photo credit: Shutterstock/ Michael Tubi...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - April 2023

Media-created news If you feel a need to know all that’s going on in the world around you, it’s important to understand how little the media account may actually represent reality. Jonathon Van Maren makes that point in his article “Malcolm Muggeridge on Christ and the Media”: In his slim 1977 volume Christ and the Media, Malcolm Muggeridge describes a scene instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with political protest in our TV age. He was in Washington, D.C. working as a correspondent and came across a group of protestors moping about, holding slackened signs, chatting. Bored police were also present. What were they waiting for? The cameras, as it turned out. Once they showed up – action! “Whereupon placards were lifted, slogans shouted, fists clenched; a few demonstrators were arrested and pitched into the police van, and a few cops kicked until, ‘Cut!’” Moments later, the streets were again silent. On TV that evening, it all looked very impressive. “On the television screen,” revolutionary Jerry Rubin once observed, “news is not so much reported as created.” Reasons to read “A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.” – C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory If Dad told only dinosaur jokes As you might expect with dinosaur jokes, all of these are oldies. And some of them are even goodies. What do you call a dinosaur that never gives up? Try-try-try-ceratops What dinosaur makes a good police officer? Tricera-cops. What did the dinosaur call her blouse shop? Try Sarah’s Tops. Why don’t dinosaurs drive cars? Too many Tyrannosaurus wrecks. What do you call a T-rex in a cowboy hat? Tyrannosaurus Tex How do you invite a dinosaur to a cafe? “Tea, Rex?” Where does the T-rex spend its money? At a dino-store What do you call a sleeping T-rex? A dino-snore What do you get when a dinosaur scores a touchdown? A dino-score What did the dinosaur use to build his house? A dino-saw Why did the dinosaur wear a bandage? It had a dino-sore SOURCE: Charles Keller’s Colossal Fossils: Dinosaur Riddles, and the world wide web A need for the outrageous? There’s a fellow I read occasionally because he has some unique insights into our culture. But I rarely quote him, because the way he talks is generally outside the bounds of what even Christians find acceptable. I’m not talking about truly offensive speech, but more that he’ll call spades spades right when everyone else is avoiding mention of dirt-moving equipment altogether. He explained: “…I personally decided to say things that are outside the Overton Window, knowing that this came with risks. My bet was that the good I could do was likely to outweigh the possible negative outcomes. You might make similar choices. The idea then is not to live in fear, but to be smartly and strategically courageous.” The “Overton Window” is a term to describe the range (window) of acceptable discourse – what makes for polite conversation. And this Window can be shifted. For example, publicly stating that homosexuality is sinful fell inside this Window when I was kid, but it doesn’t anymore. Why did things shift? Because some on the outside were willing to publicly state outrageous things like “homosexuality is good!” By repeatedly making these “out of bounds” statements they normalized the thought, and started pulling the Window in their direction. The eventual result was that what they were saying wasn’t viewed as outrageous any more. This Christian writer has taken that lesson, and decided to state his positions baldly, even when they fall well outside the Overton Window. He’s doing so in an attempt to pull that Window back where it belongs. The problem with his approach is that he’ll sometimes sound rude and crude, even to the Christians who agree with him. I’ve had a different approach, generally trying to make my case in as winsome a manner as possible. I want to frame what are becoming outrageous positions – that euthanasia is murder, the unborn are as valuable as you and me, etc. – as if they actually fall within the Overton Window, as they obviously should. But the problem with my approach is that no matter how reasonably I might present something today, unless God brings our country to repentance, it’s only a matter of time (only a matter of weeks?) before what was once acceptable is deemed bigoted. And then I’ll either have to be okay with being outrageous, or I’ll have to take back what I’d previously said. So whose approach is better? Well, when saying “what is a woman?” will get you in trouble, then the time might be now for all of us to get comfortable with being outrageous. Don’t go it alone "In more than a decade of pastoral ministry, I've never met a Christian who was healthier, more mature, and more active in ministry by being apart from the church. But I have found the opposite to be invariably true. The weakest Christians are those least connected to the body. And the less involved you are, the more disconnected those following you will be. The man who attempts Christianity without the church shoots himself in the foot, shoots his children in the leg, and shoots his grandchildren in the heart." -- Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness A turn of a phrase “Paraprosdokians” take a common figure of speech and put a twist on the ending. Comedian Groucho Marx (“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it”) was a master, but the authorship of the very best examples is hard to track down. And what makes the very best good too, is that they are in fact true, the proof being in how they parallel Scripture. Don’t argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience. (Prov. 26:4) – Mark Twain? When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water. (Prov. 15:1) – unknown Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak. (Prov. 17:28) – attributed, probably incorrectly, to Einstein Truth is hate to those who hate truth. (Prov. 9:7-8) – unknown The Andy Griffith Show on children "choosing" their gender In a Nov. 13, 1961 episode of The Andy Griffith Show titled “Opie’s Hobo Friend,” Sheriff Andy Taylor is concerned with the influence a hobo is having on his son. So he decides to have a talk with the man, David Browne. Browne wonders why the boy, Opie, can’t just figure things out on his own. BROWNE: “Who’s to say that the boy would be happier your way than mine. Why not let him decide?” SHERIFF TAYLOR: "Nah, I'm afraid it don't work that way. You can't let a young’un decide for himself. He'll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it. Then, when he finds out there's a hook in it, it's too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter that it's hard to convince ‘em that other things might be better in the long run. All a parent can do is say 'wait' and 'trust me' and try to keep temptation away." I almost titled this, “More sense in the 60s” but realized this wasn’t an example of things being better and people being smarter back in the day. Instead, it was the opposite, showing that they were wrestling with similar problems then too. Maybe that’s one reason why Solomon warns us “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions” (Eccl. 7:10). We won’t appreciate the blessings of today, nor the courage of our parents, if we keep imagining that yesteryear was so much better. Gary North on breaking your TV habit Gary North (1942-2022) was a Christian economist and such a prolific writer he must have followed the advice he offers here and entirely kicked his TV habit. “Put a piggy bank next to the couch where you watch TV. Every time you watch a one-hour show, put $2 into the piggy bank. If someone else watches, and you're a free rider, have that person put in $2. Then break the piggy bank – or at least empty it – in the last week of December. Put the money in your bank account. Then write a check for this amount. Send it to a charity. In short, put a price on your time. Pay the price. Economics teaches: ‘When the price rises, less is demanded.’ You will cut your TV habit by 50%. If not, make it $3.” Source: Gary North’s Tip of the Week, January 3, 2015...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - March 2023

Why is so much Christian fiction bad? Back in the June 30, 2007 issue of WORLD magazine, Marvin Olasky “interviewed” the long-departed novelist Flannery O’Connor by asking her questions he then answered with excerpts from O’Connor’s book Mystery and Manners. Most interesting was O’Connor’s thoughts on Christian fiction: OLASKY: Why do you call lots of religious novels “sorry”? O’CONNOR: The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that because of his belief, he is somehow dispensed from the obligation to penetrate concrete reality. He will think that the eyes of the Church or of the Bible or of his particular theology have already done the seeing for him, and that his business is to rearrange this essential vision into satisfying patterns… by beginning with Christian principles and finding the life that will illustrate them…. The result is another addition to that large body of pious trash for which we have so long been famous. The 3 ways Hollywood gets truth wrong While reviewing 2011's Water for Elephants, WorldNetDaily.com’s Drew Zahn exposed the flaw underlying most Hollywood fare. Zahn noted that for “more than a century now four very distinct worldviews have been competing to answer one critical question: ‘What is truth, and how can you know it?’” The four worldviews include the one right one, and three that deny God is the source of all truth. From first to worst they are: Truth is from God: “Reality is revealed by Divine Truth (John 14:6)” so it is through God’s Word that we may know Truth Truth is defined by our reason: “The idea that God would define truth was eventually challenged by another notion, that man – in all his scientific, progressive wisdom – could determine truth on his own. This gave rise to the second competitor, rationalism, which argues that what we reason to be true must be true.” Truth is what you feel: “Yet a third worldview agreed that man defines truth, but insists it is a matter of the heart, not the mind. Sometimes called romanticism, this worldview argues what we feel to be true is true.” There is no truth: Finally, we have the notion of Relativism – that there is no truth at all Zahn notes that while the various worldviews have been debated among philosophers and theologians, “average Joes” all subscribe to the same one: “When push comes to shove, most folks eventually do what… feels right (romanticism). What we really, really want to be true, we usually insist is true, then stretch all bounds of reason and theology to prove it is true. In the end, romanticism usually wins.” In Water for Elephants this romanticism is evident in the central plot, when a young man connects with an older married woman, and the audience is expected to cheer this illicit affair because, well, the two of them just seem so right for each other! But if Water isn’t any better than typical Hollywood fare, one good thing can still be said about this film: it spawned Zahn’s insightful review! In need of laughing gas I haven't been to a dentist in a couple of decades. This joke had me rethinking that decision. Dentist: It’s a very good thing you came to see me. You’ve got the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen – the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen! Patient: I can hear you Doc, no need to repeat it! Dentist: I didn’t – that was an echo! SOURCE: A joke a day keeps the doctor away by Bob Phillips A musical Matthew 7:2 moment... As much as she tries not to, my daughter can't help but smile every time I hit a false note. So this one spoke to me. On our way home from church my young son asked me about Mr. Smith, a man sitting behind us during the service: “He can’t sing very well, can he?” It was true, but I didn’t want my son critiquing everyone’s singing so I explained to him: “Son, Mr. Smith sings from his heart, and that’s what makes it good.” Several days later my son and I were singing along to the car radio, when he stopped, turned to me, and said: “Daddy, you sing from your heart, don't you?" SOURCE: Adapted from a joke making its way around the Internet Can’t do better than the Bible… In the last couple of decades atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have hit the top of the bestsellers list with their attacks on the existence of God. These prominent atheists were hoping to make doubters of us all. But Philip Yancey has a ready answer. Yancey may be staunchly Arminian, but he’s struggled with doubt for years and has a couple of insights worth sharing. He offers doubting Christians this bit of advice: “Learn to question your doubts just as much as you question your faith.” After all, atheists and the doubts they raise and the arguments they make are nothing new. Yancey sees their disciples on every campus he visits, but they don’t bother him. “When I speak on college campuses I like to choose the most skeptical, the most rebellious people - the kids who are reading newspapers instead of listening – and speak to them. And I tell them this, ‘I challenge you to find a single argument against God from the great atheists – David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, people like that – that is not already included in the Bible!… I can find every argument – in the book of Job for example – that these great philosophers have used against God.” SOURCE: When God is hiding: A candid conversation with best-selling author Philip Yancey Red and yellow, black and white… Creationist Ken Ham has a solution to the problem of racism. All we have to do is make people understand their true origins: “ says all people are descendants of one man and one woman, Adam and Eve. That means there’s only one race of people… I remember after talking on this once a man told me, ‘When I filled out my census form and it said, “What race are you?” I wrote down “Adam’s.”’” SOURCE: DVD entitled Genesis: The Key to Reclaiming the Culture Curing the postmodern disease During the two years that RC Sproul's son taught university freshman English it became clear that many of his students had succumbed to the sickness of postmodernism. But Sproul Jr. was ready with a cure for their disease. In a 2006 speech he recounted how he administered the cure to one student: “ student in the back blurted out, ‘There’s no such thing as objective truth.’ Just like that. “And I said to him ‘you get an F in this class for this semester’ and then I went back to the conversation we were having. And, of course, in the corner of my eye, I could see his blood pressure rising, and his face getting redder and redder. And he’s holding his hand up. “‘Yes what is it?’ “What do you think he said? ‘That’s not fair!’ “I strung him along a little longer. I said, ‘I’m sorry. You must have misunderstood me. I’m not giving you the F because anybody stupid enough to say there’s no such thing as objective truth obviously deserves an F. That’s not my thinking at all! You misunderstood. No, I’m just giving you the F because I want to.’ And then I went back to the rest of the class. “He got madder. By now some of the students had figured it out. Some of them hadn’t, including that one. And he said, ‘I’ll tell the administration!’ “Finally I had pity on him and I said, ‘What are you going to tell them? Are you going to tell them I have failed to measure up to some external, objective, transcendent standard of what’s right and wrong? Because you told me there is no such thing!’ “‘Oh… okay. Well… I guess there is.’ “‘Welcome back to the human race,’ and then we went on with our business.” Quote of the month For your next road trip If you’ve gotten tired of the old favorite “99 bottles,” or thought it weird to hear your kids singing endlessly about consuming vast sums of a beverage they aren't even allowed to drink yet (some parents make it "99 bottles of pop" but that has its own problems), there is another song to drive you mad on your family expeditions. It's also an oldie, first being sung way back in the ’60s on The Shari Lewis Show. This is the song that never ends Oh it goes on and on my friends Some people started singing it Not knowing what it was And they’ll continue singing it forever just because This is the song that never ends…...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – February 2023

What Darwin didn’t know Darwin, ignorant of the inner workings of the cell, could imagine them to be simple. But the more we learn of the cell today, the more we discover there is to learn, and thus explain. And that’s a growing problem for evolution. It isn’t as if the more we learn, the more we begin to understand how life could have evolved – it’s the very opposite! As David Berlinski put it: “The cell is an unbelievably complex bit of machinery, unfathomably complex. And we haven't understood its complexity at all. Every time we look there seems to be an additional layer of evocative complexity that needs to be factored into our theories. Don't forget the eternal goal is to explain the emergence of this complexity, and if we're continually behind the curve because the complexity is increasing every time we look that eternal goal is also receding from view, not approaching. It's receding; it's becoming more and more difficult to construct a theory for that.” A granddad joke Grandpa always said “when one door closes, another one opens.” He was a great man, my grandpa, but a horrible cabinet maker. Wit and wisdom of Thomas Sowell While it’s not clear whether American economist Thomas Sowell is Christian – he almost never talks about God – his understanding of human nature certainly lines up with what the Bible says about our fallen state. Here are a few of his pithier quotes, along with a comment or two, “Fair” is one of the most dangerous concepts in politics. Since no two people are likely to agree on what is “fair,” this means that there must be some third party with power – the government – to impose its will. The road to despotism is paved with “fairness.”When there is no submission to God, His standards, and His definitions – whether of fairness, life, marriage, gender, and more – then there is no justice exercised, only power. There are three questions that would destroy most arguments of the Left. The first is – compared to what? The second is – at what cost? And the third is – what hard evidence do you have?Continuing from the point above, we can add one more – by what standard? When you want to help people you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” – Prov. 27:6 One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous, time and again.“…there is nothing new under the sun.” Eccl. 1:9b The strongest argument for socialism is that it sounds good. The strongest argument against socialism is that it doesn’t work. But those who live by words will always have a soft spot in their hearts for socialism because it sounds so good.“…with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” – 2 Tim. 4:3b-4 Fixing democracy in 1 step Every ballot needs a "none of the above" option. Then, if the “nones” won, the election would be run again with an entirely new slate of candidates – all of the original candidates would be disqualified. Questions for you and your kids I ran across a book by Les Christie, What if….?, which offered up 450 discussion starters for parents to tackle with their teens. The idea is great, the book only okay, because of the inclusion of some troubling questions. But what follows are some of the best. You and your teen can both try to answer them, either working through all the possible answers (including what the Bible might have to say) or just running through them quickly and then making up some questions of your own. So, what if: you could speak to the prime minister for 1 minute? you inherited a million dollars? the Internet went down? you could be your parent for a day? you could only read 10 books from now on? a store clerk accidentally gave you back $10 extra in change? a flood meant you could only save 3 things from your room? you could begin one new tradition in your family? you had to name three of your heroes? you had to pick a slogan to describe your life? Identifying as right In the recent online abortion debate between conservative commentator Michael Knowles and online “influencer” Brontë Remsik, a clever defense of the unborn also ended up highlighting why Christians can’t adopt “inclusive” language. Just short of the half-hour mark, the third-year medical student Remsik took Knowles to task for refusing to use terms like “pregnant people” rather than “pregnant women.” Brontë Remsik: It's interesting, you come into this conversation trying to hold this moral superiority, but when I use inclusive language – which it only takes a couple extra syllables to use inclusive language… Michael Knowles: To include who? BR: To include people who don’t identify as women but can become pregnant. MK: So, like a person who is born a woman and then identifies as a man and is pregnant. So, you’re telling me that to be a moral person I need to accept the idea that someone who is born a man can really become a woman. That’s a prerequisite of my being a moral person. BR: Yes, to me it is. Because if you are trying to deny someone of their identity and deny what their life experience is then that doesn’t seem like a moral stance to me. I want to be accepting and I want to respect people's life experiences. And I want to respect how they identify, and respect how they want to present themselves to the world. MK: I would like to identify, I do identify actually, as the correct person on this issue of abortion. I identify as being correct, and more correct than you on this issue. And I would just ask that you accept and affirm my identity. Do you? BR: You are not a medical professional, and abortion and pregnancy is a medical concern. MK: I’m just sharing my identity. BR: That’s not your identity. MK: That is my identity. I promise you that is my identity. Remsik understood that if she had accepted Knowles’ identity, she would have conceded the debate. The same is every bit as true in the gender debate where one side recognizes that God determines our gender, and the other insists that we do. Requests to address a man with female pronouns might be positioned as a matter of politeness, but such an act would, in fact, concede the argument. It would be to identify him as correct about being a her. Electric cars aren’t green “Let’s clear something up… Electricity is not a power source, it is a delivery mechanism. Electricity will never be a power source. So it is inappropriate and inaccurate to say ‘electric cars are green.’ The cars themselves are not green, they are the color of the fuel used to create electricity. Electric cars are only as green as the electricity they consume. And infrastructure they require, and storage they rely on.” – David Salch C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and a whole bunch of t-shirts take down socialism My wife gave me a t-shirt screen printer for Christmas and since then I’ve been looking for some quotes worthy of being emblazoned across my chest. I’ve also been on an economics fix for the last year, so in keeping an eye out, I’ve seen a lot of t-shirts with pretty good socialism take downs. I also added a couple of longer quotes – from Chesterton and Lewis – that are either simply too long, or would necessitate me doing a few thousand push-ups or so, before my chest would be a wide enough canvas. But hey, maybe that’s just the motivation I need. “…those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C.S. Lewis in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology Don’t ask the government to fix problems they caused Nothing the government gives you is “free” Capitalism makes. Socialism takes. The F in Communism stands for Food Trust God. Not government. The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money Conservatives are such elitists: they think they can run their lives better than the government “Individual ambition serves the common good.” – Adam Smith Socialism: the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, the gospel of envy Child of God. Not of the State. “It may be said of Socialism, therefore, that its friends recommended it as increasing equality, while its foes resisted it as decreasing liberty…. The compromise eventually made was one of the most interesting and even curious cases in history. It was decided to do everything that had ever been denounced in Socialism, and nothing that had ever been desired in it…we proceeded to prove that it was possible to sacrifice liberty without gaining equality…. In short, people decided that it was impossible to achieve any of the good of Socialism, but they comforted themselves by achieving all the bad.” – G.K. Chesterton in Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State Ideas to improve sports: basketball Basketball needs to eliminate free throws. When a defender fouls, the offense should get a point and keep the ball. Fouls on a shot would have the basket count if it goes in, and the offense would still keep the ball. There’d no longer be any “strategic” reason to foul, even late in a game. Bye-bye boring free throws! Two bodies involved Jeff Durbin is a Reformed Baptist pastor who, along with his church members, regularly witnesses in front of their local abortion clinic. In an exchange captured on their Apologia Studios YouTube channel, he had an opportunity to drive home the point that there are two bodies involved in any pregnancy. Man: What’s wrong with them being able to choose? Durbin: Who being able to choose? Man: Whoever. People should be able to do what they want with their bodies. Durbin: So, can I rape a woman? Man: No, you shouldn’t do that. Durbin: So I can’t do what I want with my own body, can I? Man: You can do what you want with your body. You just can’t do anything with anyone else’s body. Durbin: So, let me try this. A person should be able to do what they want with their own bodies. We shouldn’t be allowed to just abuse other people’s bodies. Man: Absolutely. Durbin: So, in the case of what’s happening inside there right now, the woman’s body is not dying. It’s another body, biologically distinct inside of her, that is being killed. I’m all for women doing what they want with their bodies. I’m in agreement with you actually, fundamentally, that we shouldn’t be able to harm other people’s bodies, which is precisely what’s happening in there. I’m glad you joined us. ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – December 2022

Just ain’t the same “Watching church on a livestream is like watching a fireplace on TV: you can see everything with no warmth.” – Charlie Kirk Patriotism vs. nationalism: a useful distinction? In their column, “Should Christians be nationalists?” John Stonestreet and Timothy Padgett noted that the term “Christian nationalism” is being used by different people in very different ways. Some see it as “conflating the cross of Christ with the stars and stripes” while others equate it to white racism “dressed up in religious garb.” Still others, Reformed folk among them, are using the term to stake a claim for Christianity in the civic public square – they’d say they are simply denying that Christianity is something people should practice only in private, and that so long as we have nations,, we should seek for them to be Christian ones.  When a term is being used to describe ideologies that range from the outrageous to the orthodox, that's more than a little confusing. So might it be useful to find an alternative? Sometimes we do have to fight for a term, like “marriage” and “woman,” because they have God-given definitions. Attempts to redefine here are rebellion against God, and the reality He has crafted. But not every word has to be a battleground; it's okay to never take back "gay." Of course, we shouldn't be naive about the fact that whatever terms we use, they'll be attacked too. We might not think of the dictionary as a key front in the culture wars, but the Devil is all about twisting definitions whether it's love, tolerance, family, and more. Thus, that a word is being twisted, isn't a reason to give up on it.  But does the term “nationalism” have the same sort of importance? And might its historical associations with the Nazis (national socialists that they were) be reason enough to let this one go? I’m going to pitch patriotism and Christian patriotism as alternatives. They can and will be twisted too, but there is at least a little history that has already made a distinction between patriotism, and the nasty sort of nationalism. "’My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’" – G.K. Chesterton, in The Defendant “Patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them.” – attributed to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn “Patriotism isn't the same as nationalism. The former is a healthy love and respect for your country, but the latter is blind, total, and unrestricted support for any and all legislation, policies, or activities of a nation. Nationalism is the extreme, whereas patriotism is the goal, because good patriots know when to challenge their political leaders, laws, and policies when they become unjust or immoral.”  – Fr. John Triglio Jr. and Fr. Kenneth Brighenti So, is it wrong to use the term “Christian nationalism”? No, but I am questioning whether it is smart. And the suggestion I’m making is that at this time and in this place, patriotism might be the less confusing term. Dad joke refresher There's a lot of pressure being a dad, first and foremost the expectation that we'll always have a joke at the ready. So dads, here's a helping hand, with some jokes worthy of you. Did you realize that incorrectly when spelled correctly is still spelled incorrectly? What has four letters, sometimes has nine, never has five, but always has six.  Did you know that adding "ic" turns metal into its adjective metallic, but it doesn't work for iron? Isn't that ironic?  If April showers bring may flowers, do you know what May flowers bring? Pilgrims! Did you hear I got a job offer to teach an English class in prison? Now I just have to consider the prose and cons. Did you ever read that, back in his day, the ladies thought that Samuel Morse was a dashing young man? My son asked me for a book mark. I told him, "Surely. Here's The Hobbit, and my name's Brian." He replied, "Thanks dad, but don't call me Shirley." I'm so proud. SOURCE: Hat tip to Al Siebring who was a source for some, and an inspiration for all, of these! A story you may have heard Garrison Keillor once told a story of a Saudi prince who badly needed a transfusion, but was of such a rare blood type that he was having trouble finding a match anywhere in the world. His doctors finally found a willing Dutch-Canadian who would do. (Keillor says it was a Scotsman, but I have a reliable source who says otherwise.) Grateful for this lifesaving gift, the Saudi prince bought the Dutchman a house on a hill overlooking the Fraser Valley and gave him a million dollars. But it wasn’t long before the prince needed another pint. This time he gave the man a bottle of Advocaat and a thank-you card. Because now he had Dutch blood in him. SOURCE: Adapted from Garrison Keillor, as told on “A Prairie Home Companion.” And with a hat tip to Sharon Bratcher Pro-life memes traveling the ‘Net Even since the overturn, earlier this year, of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade US Supreme Court decision that had legalized abortion in that country, pro-lifers have gotten a lot louder. And it is wonderful! Here are a few of the highlights We are unashamed of our narrow-minded opposition to killing human beings Killing a person on the basis of their size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency is as arbitrary and immoral as killing a person on the basis of their skin color. Our society hasn’t progressed. We’ve just shifted our violence to a more vulnerable victim. “Abortion is not health care because pregnancy is not a disease.” – Dr. Haywood Robinson, former abortionist “If abortion is healthcare, slavery is job creation.” – Darrell B. Harrison Death is not a solution to foster care. Death is not a solution to abuse. Death is not a solution to rape. Death is not a solution to being unloved. Death is not a solution to suffering. Killing a child in the womb because they have the potential to suffer is not compassion A deeper pro-life proof “Abortion is a Christological heresy too. It would posit that Christ, in the womb, was at some point fully God but not fully human…” – “G.K. Chesterposting” on Twitter When the Church marries the science of the day “Moderns have been taught to regard the Galileo battle as a battle between faith and science. And science won out, three cheers, yay! Because the bigoted theologians were sticking to their guns and they wouldn’t listen to Galileo who was the purveyor of new knowledge, new wisdom. “But it was actually a clash between the old science and the new science. So the problem that the Church faced was that the people who were resistant to Galileo were churchmen who married their theology to Aristotle. They had married the teaching of the Bible to the best science of the day when they were going through seminary. And then Galileo came along disruptively. The lesson urged upon us is, always believe science over faith. But the lesson ought to be actually, don’t let your faith get co-opted by the current science because he who marries the science of the day is going to be a widow tomorrow.” – Douglas Wilson Dec. 1, on The Renaissance of Men podcast https://youtu.be/kT8Vrz96RFc A business tip for parents In his business The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni has some advice that I thought my kids should hear. I read them a bit on what Lencioni called the fundamental attribution error (FAE). This is “the tendency of human beings to attribute the negative…behavior of their colleagues to their intentions and personalities while attributing their own negative…behaviors to environmental factors.” That way that translates from the business world to the home front wasn’t immediately obvious to my littles, so I explained that if one little bumps another, an FAE might lead the bumped to accuse the bumper of doing that “on purpose!” even as the bumper might point to how narrow the hallway was, or how much mom was asking them to carry, to show how “it totally wasn’t my fault.” It is the victim accusing the bumper of malice aforethought, and the bumper pointing this way and that to everything except their own carelessness. We went on to have a fun little chat about how God wants us to “attribute to others as you would like others to attribute to you” (Matt. 7:12). Hollywood wisdom “You just have to believe man! You just have to trust it will all turn out right.” That’s a common sentiment found in many a movie, and not just the Christian sort, but even the Hollywood variety. In fact, it might be more prevalent there, found in everything from Polar Express to the trailer of the newest Indiana Jones film. It's there Indy explains: “I’ve come to believe that it’s not so much what you believe as how hard you believe it.” But as John Tweedy noted in a Facebook post, “The idea is always presented as wisdom, but it is really very, very stupid.” That Indy is expressing this sentiment is particularly ironic, he notes, because Indy “…has spent a whole franchise shooting, stabbing, crushing, and burning people because those people intensely believed wrong things. I’m pretty sure those Nazis believe in Arian supremacy. I’m pretty sure those cultists believed in Kali Ma. I’m pretty sure those Soviets believed in Communism. And they were all bad guys, not because they didn’t believe hard enough, but because they believed wrong…. Intensity does not redeem error. It makes error more damaging.” SOURCE: With a hat tip to Cap Stewart...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - April 2022

Treasure your parents, pastors, and good teachers “You don’t live long enough to learn from experience.” – Jewish proverb “We frequently know more, not because we have moved ahead by our own natural ability, but because we are supported by the mental strength of others, and possess riches that we have inherited from our forefathers. Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to puny dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.” – John of Salisbury Against a mob mentality In a recent conversation on the Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson podcast, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel made this interesting observation on a crowd’s wisdom: THIEL: I think the Judeo-Christian is always extremely skeptical. For a biblical scholar I would ask the question, is there a single incidence in which the unanimity of the crowd is right? I think it’s always wrong. Joseph is right, his brothers are wrong. The Tower of Babel – everybody, the global crowd is completely wrong. Christ is abandoned… ROBINSON: Pilate begs the crowd for Christ to be freed… THIEL: The crowd always gets it wrong. So somehow reason tells to believe in the wisdom of the crowds, Revelation tells us to be skeptical. Thiel argues there is good reason to question the prevailing narrative. But can we think of a time in the Bible when the crowd was right? The only example that comes to my mind is that many shouted “Hosanna” for Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Mark 11... though it was only a short time later that the crowd was shouting for Jesus’ death. So, the case for skepticism remains, but it’s worth noting that the crowd isn’t so reliably wrong that we can just automatically go with the opposite of what they're shouting. It’s also worth noting that God does speak to the wisdom of consulting others (Prov. 11:14, 12:15, 15:22, etc.). But with what we know about Man’s rebellious heart, we shouldn’t expect wisdom from the mob. The Church and the coming Metaverse... Many of us worship in churches with limited technology: Bibles in the pews, rather than the text projected overhead, and not a fog machine to be seen. But even our churches haven’t escaped the impact of technology. as Ian Harber and Patrick Miller explain in a recent article: “Henry Ford didn’t set out to create megachurches. But before the advent of the personal vehicle, most Christians seeking a church faced a simple denominational decision: do you attend the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Catholic church around the corner? With a vehicle, Christians could suddenly attend whichever church had the best children’s ministry programming, youth activities, and rock ’n’ roll Sunday morning worship – as long as it was within 10 to 30 minutes of driving. We became consumers because we could be consumers.” They were urging the Church to get ready for the Metaverse – the online world that Facebook is trying to create – but also noted we have some time, as it is probably years away from really coming together. But, like the car, the Internet, and the smartphone before it, this new tech will probably present us with both new opportunities, and new temptations to deal with. English oddities In her book Highly Irregular, Arika Okrent shares a 140-year-old poem that deserves to be remembered today. I saw a version of it titled somewhere as: “I wrote it in my jolonel”: “There was a brave soldier, a Colonel, Who swore in a way most infolonel; But he never once thought As a Christian man ought He imperiled his own life etolonel.” SOURCE: Arika Okrent’s Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme and other oddities of the English Language (H/T Douglas Wilson)  First-date questions In Dating with Discernment, author Sam Andreades has an appendix full of 40 “first date questions.” He offers them as a way to calm the nerves, if you can’t think of something to talk about, so many of them are lighthearted: What animals would you like to be? SciFi or RomCom? Deep down, do you think Pluto should be recognized as a planet? But he includes others that could be categorized as “time savers.” There are issues that divide us, and if your date thinks one way, and you know it has to be the other, you might be able to save you both a lot of time by finding that out quickly. That doesn’t mean the question can’t still be fun. It just means it isn’t just fun. So here are a few of his more pointed queries: Tell me about your family? Are you close with them? What is the most wonderful feeling in the world for you? What is the biggest need you see in the Church? What was a time when you couldn’t stop laughing? Can Christians believe in aliens? When is Jesus coming back? What was the subject of your last prayer? What do you think God has been trying to teach you recently? Are you learning it? Women in combat “Here’s the problem: in opening combat roles to women, we send out messages to both sexes that are either untrue, offensive or both. We are telling women that they are functionally equal to men, which everyone knows is false. And we’re telling men that the social goal of gender neutrality is more important than their own security, which is offensive and demoralizing.” - Barbara Kay Cheesy Jokes Edam is the only type of cheese that is made backward Never believe what your cheese is saying when it’s too gouda to be true! What did the photographer tell the Monterey Jack? “Say ‘People’!” What did the Mozzarella say when someone threw tomato sauce at him? “You wanna pizza me?” Train up your kids in the Internet usage they should follow “You need to put off foolishness and embrace responsibility. Today we are handing our children power tools and then acting shocked when they cut off their hands. This is absurd, and we should expect that our children will make serious mistakes if we do not guide them. So parent, you don’t need only to educate yourself, but also your children. You need to have a plan for introducing new technologies to your children and for monitoring them as they use them. This is your responsibility – the responsibility of having a plan.” – Tim Challies, “Parenting well in a digital world” Forgiving vs. excusing “I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality…asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says 'Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology. I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.' But excusing says 'I see that you couldn't help it or didn't mean it; you weren't really to blame.' If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense, forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites....When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.” – C.S. Lewis  The Weight of Glory 10 tips to make your life (or the world!) better On Jan. 1, 2000, and then again on the first day of 2022, the British paper The Guardian, published an article with 100 tips on “improving your life” or “making the world a better place.” Out of those 200 offerings, here's a Top 10: On the fence about a purchase? Wait 72 hours before you buy it. Keep a book in your bag to avoid the temptation to doomscroll. Nap. Keep your keys in the same place. Be polite to rude strangers – it’s oddly thrilling. Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher. If you buy something from a charity shop, consider paying double. Stop yourself saying “I.” Volunteer at your church or Christian school Paint the outside of your house for the pleasure of those walking past (not just the inside for you). ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – March 2022

Junior knows best? In a recent review, Roman Catholic film critic Steven D. Greydanus argues that we’re seeing an expansion of the old doofus/domineering dad cliché to now include moms too. Pixar’s new Turning Red is the latest example of an increasing shift to overbearing maternal figures, from young Mirabel’s and Miguel’s domineering abuelas in Encanto and Coco to middle-aged Joe Gardner’s loving but controlling mom in Soul. Antecedents for this trend of mothers as functional antagonists include Merida’s demanding mother Queen Elinor in Brave and Tangled’s actually villainous Mother Gothel…. In Turning Red, Meilin “Mei Mei” Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl living in Toronto in 2002, comes from a long line of tightly controlled and controlling maternal figures, including her tiger mom Ming and her grandmother as well as a half dozen aunts. When both parents are portrayed as problems to overcome rather than guides to turn to, this leads to what Greydanus calls the “Junior knows best” trope: the kid himself is the smartest person in the room. Don’t confuse this with the dead or otherwise absent parents trend that’s also common on the screen and in many a kid’s book – that exists only because if parents aren’t absent, they’d deal with the danger themselves, and the children wouldn’t even have an adventure. There’s a difference between a kid relying on his own smarts because missing parents leave him with no other option, and a child relying on himself because his parents are idiots. If you spot a “Junior knows best” moment, why not hit the pause button and discuss it with your children? You can ask them to look up Proverbs 1:8 – “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” – and flip to Isaiah 3 too, which in verse 4 talks of God cursing Jerusalem and Judah by placing children in leadership positions. Spell out for them the difference between what this film is preaching and what God says.  The call to pro-life witness Deut. 21:1-9 has interesting implications for us today. Here God gives instructions for what to do when a murder victim is found in a field, and no one knows who did it. Then the elders of the nearest town are supposed to come, sacrifice a heifer, and declare they had nothing to do with it. With this sacrifice and public declaration, they then would have “purged from yourselves the guilt of shedding innocent blood…” What relevance might that have for Christians today? Confronted as we are, with 200+ legally sanctioned murders per day in Canada, could we understand the principle behind this text as being an encouragement – a call even – for us to publicly dissociate ourselves from our nation’s abortion guilt? Were we to publicly declare that we have no part in these unborn children’s deaths, we would uphold the wickedness of this crime, and ensure that it is not normalized or ignored as inconsequential. How can we make such a public pro-life witness? In addition to public protests – flag displays like ARPA Canada has done, or March for Life events – we can also buy or make pro-life t-shirts, using slogans like: Fetus is not a species…” – Albany Rose Every unwanted child a dead child. Doesn’t sound so nice anymore, does it? Former fetus If you don’t believe in miracles, perhaps you’ve forgotten you are one. My size does not affect my worth Abortion is the death penalty for someone else’s actions I will shut up about abortion when it has been abolished I have my own DNA – I’m a person Speak for the weak If abortion isn’t wrong, then nothing is wrong Did you get all your deductions? In a 2012 article, Christian economist Gary North wrote about just how complicated the US tax was already then 4 times the length of all Shakespeare’s works combined, and US taxpayers were spending 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements (that doesn’t even include the hours needed to fulfill state requirements). And even the experts couldn’t agree on how to understanded it: “Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result…. In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.” As of 2016, Canada’s tax code has only just over a million words, which, at a quarter of the US length, might seem downright simplistic. But, the country’s auditor general found that it was too complicated for even the Canada Revenue Agency, which was giving the wrong answer to queries from the public 30 percent of the time. Only Earth has rainbows Life on Earth requires a lot of “fine tuning,” with our planet just the right distance from the Sun to allow freezing and melting, and the planetary axis tilted just so for seasons, a moon for tides to circulate and cleanse shores and oceans, an atmosphere to distribute heat (otherwise the sun-side would cook as the night-side froze), and a magnetic field that contributes to our protection from harmful solar radiation. That all these needs were met (and many more) is all a big coninkydink for evolutionists – we just lucked out and got exactly what we needed. But we didn’t need rainbows. And yet, as Guillermo Gonzalez recently noted, we’re on the only planet in the Solar System to get them. What’s needed for a rainbow is: “suspended water droplets in the atmosphere and the direct sunlight that results from the sun being between the horizon and 42 degrees altitude. This typically occurs just after a thunderstorm has passed and small droplets are still in the atmosphere, and the sky is clearing in front of the sun. Seems like a simple setup. This must be a common phenomenon in the cosmos, right?” But it isn’t so simple. Our moon doesn’t have the atmosphere. Mars doesn’t have the moisture. Venus has too thick an atmosphere and as we head further out, the other planets don’t have liquid water. So the only planet to have rainbows is the only one with people on it to see them. To evolutionists that’s just one more coinkydink. To God’s people, just another example of His love and care. (For another fun "coininkydink" check out this article on how we're the only planet with a moon just the right size to allow us to study the sun). Puntastic The editing tool Grammarly regularly passes on puns and other wordplay jokes. Here’s a few of their best, with few thrown in from the Indian Hills Community Sign too: It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs, because they always take things literally I was walking past a farm, and a sign read: “Duck, eggs!” I thought, “That’s an unnecessary comma.” Then it hit me. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. A word in this sentence is misspelled. I have an irrational fear of overly intricate clusters of commercial buildings. It’s a complex complex complex. Irony is the opposite of wrinkly Puns about communism aren’t funny unless everyone gets them. To be frank I’d have to change my name. What do you give a man who has everything? Antibiotics! It’s only rock and roll “It's so funny being a Christian musician. It always scares me when people think so highly of Christian music, Contemporary Christian music especially. Because I kinda go, I know a lot of us, and we don't know jack about anything. Not that I don't want you to buy our records and come to our concerts. I sure do. But you should come for entertainment. If you really want spiritual nourishment, you should go to church...you should read the Scriptures.” - Rich Mullins , July 19, 1997 Sass, or not sass? by Sharon L. Bratcher How do you talk to your children? Do you always speak to these little Image-bearers as you, yourself would like to be spoken to? Recently an acquaintance told me about how he often tells his 5-year-old, "Hurry up, we have to go, I can't wait all day." Then, the other day as his wife was changing their 3-year-old, the child said, "I can't wait all day." We both laughed, and the dad said something about his child's “sass.” But was it really sass? I don’t think it was. The child had learned from his father what to say when he is impatient and wants to move along to another activity. Was it sass when the dad said it to his 5-year-old? If not, then it wasn't sass when his child copied him. How could a little child even know it wasn't something that ought to be said? If we don't want them saying certain words or phrases anymore, then we must stop doing it ourselves. As in this case, it really wasn’t accomplishing the dad’s desired goal anyway! It’s too easy to rationalize showing disrespect to our own children. We might assume that they won’t even catch it, but eventually they will. And then we’ll hear them sounding just like us. Stress reliever Before I overhype this tip, I’ll note that while it does seem to work for everyone, that isn’t to say it does a lot for everyone. Still, a little relief is better than none, right? This is from Andrew Huberman, billed as a “Stanford Neuroscientist” during an appearance on the Kevin Rose podcast. “This is the fastest way that I’m aware of that’s anchored in real known biology to calm oneself down and the cool thing is it works the first time, and it works every time, and it takes about a second…. It’s an inhale through the nose, and then it’s another inhale at the top, and then a long exhale. That’s the fastest way to slower your heart and calm down.” Just a breath in, and before you exhale, another breath in – a “double inhale” – then a slow exhale. I’ve tried it, and found it helpful, and instantly, though, of course, only partially. Still, a nice tool to have in the toolbox when the going gets tough. A better way of getting rich “Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.” – Walter E. Williams (1936-2020)...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – January 2022

On books “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx When we ask, “Why Lord?” Scottish preacher Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) was well acquainted with suffering: he lost his wife to a lingering illness, and lost two children during the same period. He had to endure frequent sickness, and was persecuted because of his faithful preaching of the Word, eventually being sent into exile. Why did this steadfast servant have to endure so much hardship? Rutherford saw God’s plan in it all: “If God told me some time ago that He was about to make me as happy as I could be in this world, and then had told me that He should begin by crippling me in all my limbs, and removing me from all my usual sources of enjoyment, I should have thought it a very strange mode of accomplishing His purpose. And yet, how is His wisdom manifest even in this! For if you should see a man shut up in a darkened room, idolizing a set of lamps and rejoicing in their light, and you wished to make him truly happy, you would begin by blowing out all his lamps; and then throw open the shutters to let in the light of heaven.” When we are devastated by loss, will we respond as faithfully? Can we continue to praise God even when we are laid low? John Piper (1946- ) responded to Rutherford’s example by turning to the LORD and asking Him for help: “Oh how I pray that when God, in His mercy, begins to blow out my lamps, I will not curse the wind.” World’s toughest riddle Here's a riddle that 99 percent of adults won't be able to answer in 5 minutes, but most children can. Can you? I turn pink flamingos white and I will make you cry. I make elephants hum and girls comb their hair. I make celebrities look silly and normal people look like celebrities. I turn cookies brown and make your soft drinks bubble. If you squeeze me, I'll pop. If you look at me, you'll pop. Can you guess the riddle? Scroll to the bottom of the page for the answer the kids give. T-shirt truth I'm Canadian, but know enough about US politics to dismiss most anything a Democrat says – they are, after all, the party that brought in gay marriage, that supports partial-birth abortion, that supports “artistic” pornography, and that insists more government – and lots of it – is the answer to any problems the nation encounter. So when I saw a T-shirt that, in big bold letters on the front, blurted, “God is not a Republican...” it just seemed a silly Democrat jab. But there's something to this slogan. The Democrats may be the Devil's own party, but that they are so very bad doesn’t mean God is a Republican. It seems almost silly when we say it out loud, but Christians in the Republican Party do make the mistake of thinking God is on their side. However, as God makes clear in Joshua 5:13-14a, He’s not on anyone’s side: When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord…” God doesn’t pick sides; what’s important, instead, is that we pick His side! God is not a Republican, and American Christians should never make the mistake of blindly supporting a party that has not declared itself to be on His side. So that T-shirt spoke truth... and it turns out, the back side was even more profound. In even bigger block letters the reverse shouted, “…but He’s definitely not a Democrat!” 6 do's and don't for raising a reader In Gladys Hunt's Honey for a Child's Heart, she lists a half dozen ways to keep your offspring illiterate... Schedule your children for every activity you can think of so they won’t be bored. Never talk about ideas while eating meals. Keep your house neat – no books or literary magazines in sight. Never read stories out loud past age two. Keep the lights low – buy only 40-watt light bulbs. Absolutely no reading in bed! ...and another half dozen to get them reading. Restrict television watching drastically. Keep the computer usage under control. Don’t allow too many hours on pointless computer games or in chat rooms. Have books and other good reading materials within easy reach. Let your children see you reading. Talk about books together; play games together. Visit the library often, and listen to books-on-tape when traveling. Experience times 27 CBS’s The View is one of the last places you’d expect to see a common-sense defense of spanking. But some years back, when Rose Rocks, a mother of 10 and foster mother of 17 appeared on the morning show and started talking about her approach to discipline, no one was going to question her qualifications. In raising her 27 children she has made a restrained use of spanking because she found a momentary smack on the bum was far less painful, and left less scarring than yelling at children. Spanking and yelling are not the only two options for disciplining children, but if parents refuse to ever do the former they may find themselves doing a lot of the latter. Self-referent humor I was thinking about promising that you’ll enjoy the self-referent quips that follow but I never make predictions. Never have and never will. Some of the quotes that follow are anonymous; others are by people I don’t know. - It's like déjà vu all over again –Yogi Berra - Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. - Repeat after me. We are all individuals. - Graham Chapman - There are 10 types of people: those who understand binary and those who don't. - I've felt like a goat, ever since I was a kid - James Demastus - I want to join the Optimist's Club, but they probably won't accept me. - David Cervera - Aibohphobia: the fear of palindromes - The two rules for success are: 1. Never tell them everything you know. The insanity of assisted-suicide I was looking through my old files and came across this, a May 12, 2008 article in The Guardian that showed just how heartless assisted suicide is. It was about how documentary filmmaker Jon Ronson had originally set out to make a movie advocating for assisted suicide, but after following around “right-to-die” advocate George Exoo for several years, Ronson changed his mind.  The incident that had the biggest impact on Ronson happened when he got to meet Exoo’s new assistant who was being trained to take over Exoo’s role. “Susan lived alone, a middle-aged lady with a collection of plastic lizards. While we waited I asked her how they met. ‘I was bitten by a brown recluse spider in 1993,’ she replied. ‘It was so painful I wanted to die.’ She said she called the official right-to-die groups, ‘but they wouldn't help me.’ ‘Because you weren't terminally ill?’ ‘Yeah, they rejected me,’ she said. ‘But then somebody said, “You might want to call George.” Kind of like under the counter.’ Susan said she would have killed herself with Exoo's help – he was perfectly willing – but she couldn't find anyone to look after her pet snake. Eventually, they got talking. If she wasn't going to be his client, perhaps she should be his assistant.” Susan once wanted to die, but then found a reason – a very perverse reason – to go on. She wanted to commit an irrevocable act to end her own life, but then changed her mind. And yet she is now traveling the world helping people kill themselves. It’s ironic and it’s insane. May God open their eyes. Quote of the month “I dream of a better tomorrow, when chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.” – Author unknown Kindergartener's answer to the world's toughest riddle The answer that children will give to the question "Can you answer this riddle?" is a very quick "no,” which is the only right answer for this otherwise unsolvable riddle. Meanwhile, adults will keep puzzling over it to the point that they don't give an answer in the allotted five minutes (adapted from a riddle making the Internet rounds)....

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – December 2021

Seasonal dad joke When a hotel sponsored a chess tournament they held it in their main lobby. That was a mistake, as it turned out the players did a lot of loud trash-talking, and no one really likes "chess nuts boasting in an open foyer." – adapted from a joke winding its way around the Internet I guess fossils do bleed There once was a man who was convinced he was dead. His doctor tried everything to convince him otherwise, but the man remained sure that he was dead. Then the doctor had an idea. He asked, "Do dead men bleed?" The man pondered the question for a few moments. "Well doctor, dead men haven't got any circulation so they could hardly bleed now, could they?" The doctor then pulled out a pin and pricked the man's finger. "You're bleeding - what do you have to say about that?" The astonished man looked down at his finger and exclaimed: "Well what do you know? I guess dead men do bleed!" It's an old joke, breathed new life when, in 1997, scientist Mary Schweitzer discovered what seemed to be red blood cells in inside a fossilized T. Rex leg bone that had been dated as 68 million years old. Creationists celebrated the find and evolutionary paleontologists tried to discredit it, both, for the same reason. The two sides agreed that 68 million year old dinosaur bones simply don't "bleed" – all such soft tissue would have been long ago degraded if the bones were really that old. Creationists knew this was evidence that dinosaurs roamed the Earth mere thousands of years ago, not millions, and that's why these red cells had survived. Evolutionists, trying to discredit the find, speculated that the cells were from a recent contamination of the fossil, that they were part of a biofilm that had grown on it recently. But further research by Schweitzer, published in 2012, has made it harder and harder to deny that traces of soft tissue can be found in dinosaur fossils. So are evolutionists ready to concede the fossils aren't as old as they claim? Not at all. Instead, Mary Schweitzer has many of her critics now saying, "Well what do you know? I guess 68 million-year-old dino bones do bleed!" The Apostle Paul on pretty Blogger Wil Ramsey on the shallowness of us menfolk: “Sometimes when people tell me how pretty their girlfriends are, I think I kinda know what Paul felt like when he was talking about tongues. I'm like, ‘Dude, not only is pretty the lowest of gifts a girl can have, and not only is she not as pretty as she is kind and compassionate and selfless and other things that are important, but my girlfriend is still better looking than yours.’” On using words “Telepathy in marriage doesn’t work any better than it does anywhere else” – Douglas Wilson in For a Glory and a Covering ...and that's theistic evolution Three geologists were standing at the foot of Mount Rushmore staring upwards. "The faces we see here of these four US Presidents certainly must be the work of a Master Sculptor!" said the first. To this, the second geologist sneered: "You call yourself a geologist? We investigate how natural causes form mountains and rocks – causes like volcanoes, plate movement, and erosion from water and wind. That's science. So let's get to work and figure out how these faces were formed through the forces of geophysics." The third geologist nodded in agreement. "Of course, you're right. That's the only way to do good science." Then he turned to the first geologist and added, "Clearly no Master Sculptor carved these faces, but I'm sure He enjoyed watching what the wind and water could do." –  adapted from a joke winding its way around the Internet. Dat is Dutch? A Canadian lass who married a Dutchman and is now living in the Netherlands has had some fun getting acquainted with Dutch culture. She is using her blog to both celebrate and mock "Stuff Dutch People Like." Of the 60+ items she lists some are predictable – bicycles, hagelslag, the color orange – but there was also a handful of items that don't seem particularly Dutch...except upon reflection. #4 Directness – Apparently in some cultures they don't like being told when they "couldn't be wronger." #10 Birthday congratulations –  Is it really only the Dutch who congratulate the birthday boy's brother, or the birthday girl's aunt? #18 Bringing your own cake – We're accused of being cheap, but no one else brings treats to work for their birthday. #24 Dairy + #41 Being tall – The Dutch are among the tallest people on earth, and among the most avid consumers of dairy. Coincidence? #25: Going camping – There's a reason everyone you know loves camping. #34: "Dat kan niet" – This is negative, opinionated and popular phrase is used to end discussions in the Netherlands. There is no equivalent phrase in North America, but the attitude behind it does seem familiar. #37: The Birthday Calendar – A handy little device that is unknown in other cultures, but now been co-opted by Facebook. Stranger danger “My family has an unwritten rule: if you wouldn’t spend time with someone in real life, then don’t let them into your living room via the television set either. It seems simple, but these days we’re not just letting these people into our living rooms, we’re letting them right into our kids’ bedrooms.” – Glenn Beck Good point G.K. Chesteton once wrote: “The word ‘good’ has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his mother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.” Pop is pretty important Randy Patten believes you can’t overstate the importance of the father’s role in raising good kids. At an Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) conference some years ago, the pastor illustrated this point by telling his audience about an initiative a greeting card company tried at a prison near their printing plant. They offered inmates a choice of cards to send to their mothers for Mother’s Day. The cards would be free and the greeting card company would even pay the postage. The response from the inmates was so enthusiastic the company representative had to go back to the plant to get more cards. This success prompted the company to make the same offer for Father’s Day. But this time they didn’t get even a single response – no one took them up on the offer. Almost to a man these inmates loved their mothers but none of them seemed to have any sort of positive relationship with their fathers....

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