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In a Nutshell

Tidbits – October 2021

Evolving "facts" When a student visited his old university during a 20-year reunion he discovered that his old Evolutionary Science professor was still working there. He decided to track down the professor and found him in his old classroom grading exam papers. The former student was surprised to see that the questions on the test were the exact same ones he'd answered two decades before. So he asked his professor, "With the tests always the same year to year, aren't you worried that your new students will be able to cheat off tests from your previous classes?" The professor smiled as he answered: "The test questions might stay the same, but the answers are always changing." Wearing your convictions A friend used to visit with the “reproductive rights” group on campus every time they set up a display. He went there to talk to them, and I followed along to grab a copy of all of their pamphlets, which I’d later shred. I knew what I was doing was petty and pathetic, but it still struck me as more useful than what my friend was doing. What good would talking ever do with these people? Except… he reached one of them. It took repeat visits, and I don't know that he changed her mind. But what she said made it clear she did finally hear him: “You really think it’s a baby, don’t you? I always thought you guys just wanted to control women's bodies.” Many on the other side of the abortion debate don’t know anyone pro-life. Or if they do, they don’t know that they do, because the slaughter of the unborn isn't a topic most pro-lifers are eager to raise. But for the unborn’s sake, we must. For the sake of the unborn, we have to start putting our pro-life convictions out there – that our value comes not from our size, abilities, or age, but being made in the Image of God (Gen 1:27, Gen. 9:6) – so that anyone who is open to the truth will know who to talk to. And one way to brand yourself clearly and loudly is by wearing a pro-life shirt. There are lots to pick from online, but some options include: USA LiveAction.org Abort73.com ParacleteTees.com ProlifeShirts.com Canada MarchForLife.ca Sequel to The Screwtape Letters Over the years radio commentator and columnist Paul Harvey (1918-2009) shared a few different versions of a curious column that, like C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters before it, seemed to provide insight from the Enemy’s side. This excerpt is from a 1996 version of his “If I were the Devil” column:

“…I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’ To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square. And the old, I would teach to pray after me, ‘Our Father, which are in Washington …’”

The Christian rooster? You’ve seen them on barns, but did you know rooster weather vanes have a history on churches? The Farmers’ Alamanac says it started with a couple of popes. Gregory I (c 540-604) declared that the rooster – already an emblem for Peter who denied the Lord three times before the rooster crowed – should be the emblem for Christianity. Then, a few hundred years after, Nicholas I (c 800-867) was said to have ordered churches to display a rooster on their buildings. One problem with this account is that the rooster is said by some to be a specifically Protestant symbol. For example, in 2011 a reporter for the Star News asked the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC why they had a rooster topping their steeple. Dr. Ernest T. Thompson explained that in Europe roosters had been used to distinguish Protestant churches from Catholic ones, which were topped with crosses.

“Our rooster reminds us then of our Protestant heritage. It points to the dawning of a new day, and to the joy of the resurrection. The rooster also points to Peter’s threefold denial of Christ ‘before the cock crows,’ and so is a reminder to us not to deny our Lord.”

Here we have the rooster being associated with not just Peter, but the new day’s herald is also said to symbolize the new beginning that we have in Christ’s victory. So if you see a rooster on a church, that’s what it might represent. But if you really want to know, you best ask someone from that church. R.C. Sproul on why public schools have to go Why do we have our own costly Christian schools when a free education can be had at public schools? It’s because, as Dr. Sproul explains, of what the public system is teaching children about God.

“There is no such thing as a neutral education. Every education, every curriculum, has a viewpoint. That viewpoint either considers God in it or does not. To teach children about life and the world in which they live without reference to God is to make a statement about God. It screams a statement. The message is either that there is no God or that God is irrelevant. Either way, the message is the same.”

But if public schools are being used to teach that God is irrelevant – if they are doing the work of the Adversary – why aren't we trying to defund and dismantle them? Is it because we aren’t as concerned as we ought to be about other people’s kids? Or is it because we don't know what to offer as an alternative? Sure, we have our own Christian schools but what’s everyone else going to do? What if they can’t afford their own private schools? One short-term fix is homeschooling, an often inexpensive alternative readily available with loads of online help. Another fix is a voucher system where the government still hands out education dollars, but to parents instead of schools. Then parents can decide what schools they want to support. Of course, so long as the government is paying for things, they'll try to control it. That's why the ultimate goal has to be to get them out of education entirely and return responsibility to parents. That's no small task – it might take generations to take back a role the government had dominated for decades. Not a small task, but as R.C. Sproul makes clear, it is a necessary one. The Amish on smartphones and social media In a recent column, "What we can learn from the Amish," Jonathon Van Maren shares this anecdote:

"...an Amish historian was once giving a lecture to a room full of academics on how the Amish live. To illustrate the Amish mindset, he asked his audience how many of them felt they watched too much TV and thought their lives would be better off without it. Nearly every hand in the room went up. Having admitted this, the historian went on, how many of you will go home and get rid of your TV? And every hand in the room went down. That, the historian explained, is where the Amish differ from the rest of society: they have decided to reject those things that will interrupt or inhibit the sort of lives they wish to live, while most of us remain voluntary slaves to things we know we would be better off without.

Van Maren then applies that to our technological age, to smartphones and social media, and how often we will complain about them, but how few of us are willing to forsake them or even put any sort of limits on them. The challenge the Amish present us is to consider,

"Does this help or hinder the sort of life I should live? And if it does not, why am I allowing it to influence and shape my life for the worse?"

Evolution is a non-starter People can make more people. Dogs and cats can make more dogs and cats. The regularity of it might be why we're not struck by the sheer wonder of this self-replication. That we’re under awed is one reason too many are overly impressed with evolution, which makes the absurd claim that this self-replication arose on its own, with no intent or intelligence behind it. As an exasperated Granville Sewell notes, over at EvolutionNews.org:

"...with all our advanced technology we are still not close to designing any type of self-replicating machine. That is still pure science fiction. So how could we imagine that such a machine could have arisen by pure chance?"

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – April 2021

Richer than you knew Today's complaints about "income inequality" mask the fact that, in the West, anyone who can afford a smartphone is richer than the richest oil baron or railroad tycoon of one hundred years ago. Just consider all the features our phones have on them that people of that time could never have dreamed of. We have in our back pocket: instant access to newspapers, stock reports, and a library larger than any building could hold all the music we own, and the ability to hear tons more our very own personal GPS - try explaining that one to a 1920s tycoon our own video recorder all of our photos carried along with us at all times our own TV, radio, camera, calculator, alarm clock, and calendar That doesn't even get into what all our apps can do. And just to underscore just how rich we are, let's mention a big one that, admittedly, isn't phone-related, but is appreciated by all: indoor plumbing – once a luxury item, now, thankfully standard issue! If some today want to focus on how much more Jeff Bezo, Bill Gates, or Elon Musk have compared to the rest of us, we should instead remember how richly God has blessed us! Is God a gentleman? – an Arminian standard If you’ve ever discussed God’s sovereignty and Man’s free will with an Arminian friend, you may have heard them say: “God is a gentleman, so He would never force Himself on us.” How should we answer this claim? First, it’s good to note that your friend may think this a positive portrayal of God – after all, when has being called a gentleman ever been an insult? But there is a problem: if the debate is framed this way, then the Calvinist understanding of God is truly horrific because if God were not to act the part of a gentleman, if He was to “force Himself on us,” then what is God being likened to? However, unintended, this treats the Calvinist position on God’s sovereignty as God the rapist. How, then, can we answer this charge? By going to Scripture. Do we find God as a gentleman there? No – He reveals Himself as a parent – God is our Father. As a parent myself, I know that sometimes my love is expressed by forcing my will on a child: they will go to bed, eat their vegetables, do their homework, and more, whether they want to or not. My dad tells a story about when he was a kid out biking in the Netherlands with his own father. They were on the top of a hill with a major road below and my dad pointed his bike down the hill and started pedaling when, suddenly, his chain fell off. On this kind of bike that was the only brake so now he was flying faster and faster towards a major highway with no way to stop – he was heading towards certain death. My grandfather yelled at him to tip his bike to wipe out because as much as that would hurt it was better than getting killed. But he was just a kid and not thinking logically, so he wouldn’t do it. My grandfather raced after him, caught up to him just in time, and then pitched both of their bikes over just short of the highway. It hurt a lot but saved his life. My grandfather forced his will on his child...because he loved him. God is not a gentleman; He is our Father and He will turn His children back towards Him.  Just checking… There’s a custom, still in use in many weddings, for the bride to come down the aisle with her face covered by a veil. The groom will then, right before the vows, lift the veil over her head. One interesting theory (impossible to prove) for the origins and timing of this veil flip is that it may be a response to Jacob’s marriage to Leah where the groom didn’t realize who he was marrying until it was too late (Gen. 29:22-25). Thus the veil flip – in the thousands of years since, no man has wanted to make that same mistake! Why didn’t Samson get sick? Most guys hold to the 5-second rule: should I drop food on the ground but pick it up before 5 seconds pass, it is safe to eat. The rule has some wrinkles: for something truly delicious there are provisions for an extension of even 3 or 4 seconds more. Some criticize this rule, pointing to studies that say bacteria can latch onto fallen food in an instant. But while such studies have done little to dissuade dads from brushing the grass off a fallen hotdog or hamburger patty,  we know there are limits. Even the manliest man isn’t going to pick something up off of the slaughterhouse floor. So what was Samson thinking when he ate honey out of a rotting lion carcass? This wasn’t after just 5 seconds either, so why didn’t he get sick? The answer lies in the amazing properties of honey. Pots of it have been found in Egyptian tombs, thousands of years old and still unspoiled. How many other foods can do that? What gives it not only this long life but the sort of anti-bacterial properties that allowed Samson to eat it out of a carcass? There are a few things, including a lack of water, and a degree of acidity (with a pH of 3 to 4.5), but the secret ingredient is…bee spit! Their stomach acid breaks down the nectar they ingest, creating a by-product of hydrogen peroxide. That isn’t something we’d normally want to ingest, but it is tiny and just enough to help prevent spoilage. It is also just enough to give honey medicinal properties that benefit us too, like being a low-cost, readily available treatment for burns – it reduces scarring and even offers some pain relief. While we prefer to get our honey from non-carcass sources, this is why Samson could chow down, and share it with his parents, without any digestive consequences. Because even honey is fearfully and wonderfully made! Ready for bigger things While Covid has closed schools, that hasn’t squelched some kids’ creativity. On January 25 @ChrisArnoldInc tweeted: “My wife is a teacher and apparently one kid has been changing his name to 'Reconnecting' during the Zoom lessons so that he doesn't get asked any questions. Been doing it for weeks. The lad doesn't need to worry about his education, he's already a bona fide genius.”  Good intentions don’t make the minimum wage good President Biden’s administration seems intent on more than doubling the US federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. The intent of this minimum wage hike (and minimum wage laws generally) is to help the country’s poorest, by giving an instant boost to their income. But what the late Walter Williams (1936-2020) wanted to know was, what will happen to the worker who doesn’t already have the skills to produce at least $15 an hour worth of value to their employer? “A lot of people will say, ‘The minimum wage is an anti-poverty device.’ That is utter nonsense. For kids who grew up in broken homes, who’ve gone to rotten schools ... if they’re going to learn anything that will make them a more valuable worker in the future, they’re not going to learn it in their neighborhoods, they’re not going to learn it in their schools. So they have to learn it on the job. And what the minimum wage law does, it nixes that learning.” The wit and wisdom of C.H. Spurgeon “…idle men tempt the devil to tempt them.” “…they are always talking about their rights; I wish they would give an eye to their own wrongs…” “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” “Is there nothing to sing about today? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be. Is this world dreary? Then think of the next.” “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” A Christian case for Free Speech The Christians case for freedom of speech is based on knowing: Truth is real Man is fallen That there is a Truth to be found gives Christians a reason to permit even very offensive speech, to allow truth and lies to battle it out under the bright lights. We wouldn’t want an atheist banned from questioning God’s existence because to do so is going to make it impossible for him to get answers. But Christian support for free speech is not absolute. We should censor some sorts of “speech” – pornography, slander, yelling “fire” in a crowded theater – because of the great harm these lies cause.  But the fallen nature of Man is why we would only restrain speech in the most extreme circumstances, as Douglas Wilson explains: “The foundational reason for insisting on free speech has to do with the Christian doctrine of the nature of man. Every restriction that is placed on men is a restriction that must be enforced by men. And the men who enforce are almost always a greater hazard to our liberties than the man in the street who wants to pop off about something. The men who enforce any restrictions on free speech have the same problem of sin that the general populace does, and in their case this sinfulness is combined with political power. This means that if you grant the authorities the power to punish the one who would yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater, which they need to have, they will be tempted to use that power to punish citizens who are critical of them…. I do not want to defend free speech because each of us is so wise that we all must be given our chance to contribute our wisdom. No. Rather, I maintain that we are a fallen race, and cannot be trusted to police certain things. To the extent that the authorities have any power to regulate speech, that power must be carefully balanced and held in check…” Tyranny of the busybody “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his may at some point be satiated; but 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, God in the Dock...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – March 2021

On mundane faithfulness… “Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help mum do the dishes." - P. J. O’Rourke  Francis Schaeffer on being a cobelligerent, not an ally Francis Schaeffer made an interesting distinction between allies and cobelligerents that any Christians involved in any sort of political movement needs to understand: "Christians must realize that there is a difference between being a cobelligerent and an ally. At times we will seem to be saying exactly the same thing as those without a Christian base are saying. If there is social injustice, say there is social injustice. If we need order, say we need order. In these cases, and at these specific points, we would be cobelligerents. But we must not align ourselves as though we are in any camp built on a non-Christian base. We are an ally of no such camp. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is different – totally different; it rests on the absolutes given to us in Scripture. “My observation of many is this: suddenly they are confronted by some two camps and they are told, “Choose, choose, choose.” By God’s grace they must say, ‘I will not choose between these two. I stand alone with God, the God who has spoken in the Scripture, the God who is the infinite-personal God, and neither of your two sides is standing there. So if I seem to be saying the same thing at one point, understand that I am a cobelligerent at this particular place, but I am not an ally. “The danger is that the older will forget this distinction and become an ally of an establishment elite, and at the same time his son or daughter will forget this distinction and become an ally of some ‘leftish’ elite. We must say what the Bible says when it causes us to seem to be saying what others are saying, such as ‘Justice!’ or ‘Stop the meaningless bombings!’ But we must never forget that this is only a passing cobelligerency and not an alliance." – A Christian View of the Church Forgetting this distinction is where some Christians went off the rails with Donald Trump, excusing his evident sins (pride, arrogance, advocacy for homosexuality) because they thought he was our ally, and not just, at times, a cobelligerent. Canada’s Conservative Party under the pro-choice Erin O’Toole, presents another such dilemma/temptation: if we can use it – if we can treat it as a cobelligerent on some issues – wonderful, but Christians must not mistake it for an ally. “But the Bible promotes slavery!” C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity gave guidance on how we should approach people who ridicule the Bible by taking a small bit of it out of context. He was specifically addressing ridicule directed at the thought of people playing harps in heaven (Rev. 14:2) but his point can be applied broadly to any instances – tolerance, judging, slavery, homosexuality, gender roles, etc. – where people know only a scant verse or two, but feel knowledgeable enough to mock the Bible: “The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.” Psalm One Hundred and Sixty-Six Anyone who knows anything about Corrie Ten Boom knows that this was a woman of great faith – she hid Jews in World War II because she trusted the Lord would take care of her, no matter what might happen. In her autobiography The Hiding Place she also shows herself to be a woman of great humor, recounting a version of this joke/riddle from those days. Do you know how Psalm One Hundred and Sixty-Six begins? But there is no Psalm One Hundred and Sixty-Six! It goes only to 150. Shall I recite it for you? Please do! “Shout for joy!” Ah, but that’s only the beginning of Psalm One Hundred! And Sixty-Six too! Inerrancy: a small huge difference In his book Everyone’s a Theologian, R.C. Sproul notes how two very different positions on inerrancy can seem quite similar at first glance. He writes: ...note the difference in the following two statements: The Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. The Bible is infallible only when it speaks of faith and practice. The two statements sound similar, but they are radically different. In the first statement, the term only sets Scripture apart as the one infallible source with authoritative capacity. In other words, Scripture is the rule of our faith, which has to do with all that we believe, and it is the rule of our practice, which has to do with all that we do. These words change their orientation in the second statement. Here the word only restricts a portion of the Bible itself, saying that it is infallible only when it speaks of faith and practice. This is a view called “limited inerrancy,” and this way of viewing Scripture has become popular in our day. The terms faith and practice capture the whole of the Christian life, but in this second statement, “faith and practice” are reduced to a portion of the teaching of Scripture, leaving out what the Bible says about history, science, and cultural matters. In other words, the Bible is authoritative only when it speaks of religious faith; its teachings on anything else are considered fallible. Say it out loud An Albertan, a Quebecer, a Spaniard, and a German were all on a Zoom call with their boss, who asked, “Can everyone see me?” to which they responded “Yup,” “Oui,” “Si,” “Ja.” (h/t to Al Siebring) Lyric of the month: “Chasing after the wind” In the remarkable Christian film The Song (reviewed here,) singer Jed King learns life’s big lessons the hard way, much like King Solomon. He realizes, as Solomon teaches in the book of Ecclesiastes, that success apart from God is empty, a “Chasing after the wind.” Why have everything? You’re leaving here with nothing. Can't take anything, because you have to move on. You were the wise one, putting your disguise on. Lying to pretend, you're chasing after wind. Why should you be, if no one's there to see? All your deeds are like raindrops in the sea. What do we mean, if nothing has meaning, If in the end we’re chasing after wind? I have everything; that don't leave me anything. I have my plans crumbling in the sand. Now I understand, I was born a natural man, racing to the end, chasing after wind. Why should I be, if nothing has made me? All that I've done, will flame out with the sun. Why should I sing, if nothing has meaning? SOURCE: Written by Richard Ramsey and performed by Alan Powell Jesus never said homosexuality was sinful? In a guest appearance on the Piers Morgan Live talk show that used to run on CNN, the host asked Dr. Michael Brown about Jesus’ thoughts on homosexuality. PIERS MORGAN: Can you point to a single public utterance by Jesus Christ – the Christ in Christianity – about gay people or about a gay lifestyle? Can you name one single thing? MICHAEL BROWN I’ll name you three for you Piers. Number one, in Matthew 5 Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the Torah but to fulfill. He takes the central morals of the Torah to a higher level. In Matthew 15 he says that all sexual acts committed outside of marriage defile a human being, and in Matthew 19 He says marriage as God intended is the union of one man and one woman for life. Look, Jesus did not address wife-beating or heroin-shooting, but we don’t use that argument of silence .... We should love our neighbor as ourself, but that doesn’t mean that we approve of everything of our neighbor....

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - February 2021

Sign seen on a… Whatever your business, there’s a pun for you. Here are some signs that probably never were but definitely should be… IRS building: “It’s better to give than deceive!” Lumberyard fence: “Come see. Come saw.” Locksmith shop: “Let me help you out…or in” Electric company van: “Power to the People!” Blood bank: “Don’t let us be caught with our pints down!” Home security store: “Been burglarized? Get alarmed!” High-rise condominium elevator wall: “Do under others as you would have them do under you.” SOURCE: Collected from Art. Moger’s The Complete Pun Book The leaders we should look for “We are perpetually being told that what is wanted is a strong man who will do things. What is really wanted is a strong man who will undo things; and that will be the real test of strength….We do not need to get good laws to restrain bad people. We need to get good people to restrain us from bad laws.” - G.K. Chesterton God comes to us “…if we are really to know anything about God it will probably be because God has chosen to tell it to us. Many persons seem to go on a very different assumption. They seem to think that if they are to know anything about God they must discover God for themselves. “That assumption seems to me to be extremely unlikely. Just supposing for the sake of the argument that there is a being of such a kind as that He may with any propriety be called 'God,' it does seem antecedently very improbable that weak and limited creatures of a day, such as we are, should discover Him by our own efforts without any will on His part to make Himself known to us. At least, I think we can say that a god who could be discovered in that way would hardly be worth discovering. A mere passive subject of human investigation is certainly not a living God who can satisfy the longing of our souls. “A divine being that could be discovered by my efforts, apart from His gracious will to reveal Himself to me and to others, would be either a mere name for a certain aspect of man's own nature, a God that we could find within us, or else at best a mere passive thing that would be subject to investigation like the substances that are analyzed in a laboratory. “I think we ought to stick to that principle rather firmly. I think we ought to be rather sure that we cannot know God unless God has been pleased to reveal Himself to us.” – J. Gresham Machen, Is the Bible Inspired?  A fearsome pun Three creatures – a hawk, lion, and skunk - were arguing about which was the most feared. The hawk insisted that his ability to swoop in suddenly, from above, had everyone scared of him. The lion said his loud roar and scary teeth were far more frightening. The skunk made the case that his spray could keep anything and everything at bay, so he must be the most feared. But as the three were arguing a grizzly bear showed up and, with just one bite, swallowed them, hawk, lion and stinker. SOURCE: Adapted from Art. Moger’s The Complete Pun Book  It won’t ever happen, but when it does… Back in 2013 commentator Rod Dreher coined the “law of merited impossibility” (LMI) to describe what was going to happen with gay “marriage.” He defined his law thusly: “It is best summed up by the phrase, ‘It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of gay rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.’” So it is that the very same folk who asked then “How does letting gays marry hurt you?” now want to fine photographers, and bakers who don’t want to celebrate these “nuptials.” In our current context it's not hard to see the LMI's application to conversion therapy bans: it is impossible that Christians would ever be fined for speaking the gospel to homosexuals…but if they are, it’s because they have it coming! The transgender debate too: “Me being transgender has no impact on you, but if you won’t use my new pronouns you deserve to get fired.” Dreher’s LMI is a helpful warning. Those who reject God’s Word aren’t going to abide with Romans 12:18 either and live peaceably with others in as far as it is possible for them. They are after capitulation. So how exactly is that helpful to know? Well, if you’ve ever been tempted to compromise your Christian convictions for the sake of keeping the peace, keeping friends, or keeping your career, then it is a peculiar and emboldening blessing to know that such peace can’t be had. God is making it all the easier for us to take up the battle, by eliminating any options for retreat. Now that’s punny! Is a minister, busy rehearsing his sermon, practicing what he preaches? SOURCE: Art. Moger’s The Complete Pun Book Flies’ eyes Flies don’t have eyelids but they do still need something to help keep the dirt and water away from their peepers. So God has given some the equivalent of a Teflon non-stick coating for their eyeballs, to repel the water. This anti-adhesive coating has gotten scientists’ and engineers’ attention because, as Dr. Margaret Helder notes in the Winter 2020 Creation Science Dialogue, it is “highly versatile, stable and eco-friendly” which are improvements on the industrial coatings we currently have. Looking to nature for design inspiration is a field of study called biomimcry, and other examples include investigating how geckos defy gravity while climbing across ceilings, and, going years back, turning to birds to figure out how to fly. There’s another lesson to be learned here. When creatures exhibit design that is more fantastic than the best Man can produce, even using the smartest brains, biggest labs, and most powerful computers, is a clear indicator that an even greater Designer is at work here. The sin of omission If Margaret E. Sangster’s (1838-1912) poem is in need of an addendum it would be only this: when we repent Jesus can wash us clean of this sin too. It isn't the thing you do, dear, It's the thing you leave undone That gives you a bit of a heartache At setting of the sun. The tender work forgotten, The letter you did not write, The flowers you did not send, dear, Are your haunting ghosts at night. The stone you might have lifted Out of a brother's way; The bit of heartsome counsel You were hurried too much to say; The loving touch of the hand, dear, The gentle, winning tone Which you had no time nor thought for With troubles enough of your own. Those little acts of kindness So easily out of mind, Those chances to be angels Which we poor mortals find - They come in night and silence, Each sad, reproachful wraith, When hope is faint and flagging, And a chill has fallen on faith. For life is all too short, dear, And sorrow is all to great, To suffer our slow compassion That tarries until too late: And it isn't the thing you do, dear, It's the thing you leave undone Which gives you a bit of heartache At the setting of the sun.   Did you know? Did you know that the word “incorrectly” is spelled incorrectly in every single English dictionary?  And the word "wrong" is spelled wrong! Thankfully at least the word “correctly” is spelled correctly. “You are that man…” I once heard RC Sproul Jr. lay out a useful, but unusual tool to help a reader better understand the point of a Scripture passage. The key, as he explained it, was that when you’re reading the Bible and you come across someone doing something very stupid, you should not say “How could they be so dumb?!” Instead, you should ask, “How am I doing something stupid just like that?” Or, as the prophet Nathan put it to David in 2 Samuel 12, “You are that man!” No doctor in this house A young theologian named Fiddle Refused to accept his degree. He said, “It’s bad enough being Fiddle, Without being ‘Fiddle D.D.’” SOURCE: Art. Moger’s The Complete Pun Book...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - January 2021

Silent Cal speaks American president Calvin Coolidge was so close-lipped his nickname was “Silent Cal.” A popular joke told about him had an attractive young lady approach the president to explain that she had made a bet with her friend that she could get him to say more than two words. "You lose," the president replied. But while he didn’t say much, when he did speak up, it was worth hearing. Here are some of the best quotes from Silent Cal. "Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." "No man ever listened himself out of a job." "No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." "Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped." "Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business." “I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant.” History majors can be wise before they're gray “History maketh a young man to be old, without either wrinkles or gray hairs; privileging him with the experience of age, without either the infirmities or inconveniences thereof.” – Thomas Fuller It is scientific to say the Sun goes around the Earth Some Bible critics say that Joshua 10:12-14 can be used to show that the Bible is not trustworthy when it comes to scientific matters. Here we read that at Joshua’s command the Sun stood still, and yet as we all know, it is the Earth that moves, not the Sun. So this passage gets it wrong, right? Not so fast! Even today, we talk about the Sun as if it moves – setting and rising – and no one complains that we’re unscientific when we do so, or doubts our ability to be clear about other matters. When a house builder says his latest building project will be done in six days, we won’t assume he actually meant six million years just because we also heard him talk about seeing the sun rise that morning. Days still mean days even when someone talks about the sun rising. But let’s pick nits for the moment and consider if there is any way at all we can find fault with Joshua’s statement. Sure, it makes sense in common terminology, but it still doesn’t make sense scientifically speaking, right? Not so fast! It turns out it is perfectly valid, scientifically speaking, to talk of the Sun being in motion around the Earth. Why? Because all motion is relative – i.e., it is measured compared to some other object. Most of the time, the other object we are comparing our motion to is not explicitly stated – when we go driving, running, or even biking, we measure our motion relative to the ground, but we never actually state that. So when we say a train is traveling 20 miles an hour east, it would be more scientifically precise to say it is traveling 20 miles/hr. east relative to the ground. But the ground isn’t the only frame of reference we use – we can choose to use another. If a fellow was on this train and walking 10 miles an hour towards the back (westward), we could say he was traveling 10 miles an hour eastward, relative to the ground, or we could say he was moving 10 miles an hour westward relative to the train. When it comes to our Solar System, we most commonly – because it has the strongest gravitational pull – speak of motion compared to, or relative to, the Sun. And relative to the Sun, it is the Earth that is doing all the moving. But we could choose a different frame of reference. Relative to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, the Sun is moving too! From this vantage, the Earth isn't simply orbiting the Sun, but spiraling around it...and have you ever heard someone describe it like that? Now, if we chose the Earth as our frame of reference (a logical choice, since this is our vantage point) and described all motion relative to the Earth, then we could say, scientifically and accurately, that it is the Sun that goes around the Earth! And that’s the reference point that Joshua chose to use. So Joshua 10:12-14 can’t be used to undermine the clarity of the clear six-day creation account in Genesis 1 and 2. In fact, if you find someone trying to do just that, we should instead understand this attempt as undermining the critic’s credibility – they have no interest in being fair. The wit and wisdom of Winston Churchill “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” “Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.” “Everyone remembers the remark of the old man at the point of death: that his life had been full of troubles most of which had never happened.” Words that mean their opposite (or close to) Stylist to customer: I can clip your hair, certainly, but would you like me to clip it off or together? The sales manager was tired of his job and wanted to resign. But the money was too good, so instead, he decided to resign, this time with a four-year contract. Giving the very forgetful Fred oversight of the packing led to many oversights. The UN gave us sanction to impose sanctions on Iran. C.S. Lewis on humans' historic, hopeless quest for happiness apart from God “The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first – wanting to be the center – wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake... What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – Mere Christianity...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - August 2020

What would King Solomon do? A policeman arrested two men and confiscated a pair of loaded dice. In court, each man accused the other of owning the dice. “Constable,” said the magistrate, “did you take these dice without a warrant?” The policeman nodded sheepishly. “You had no right to,” said the magistrate. “Give them back immediately.” One culprit stuck out his hand to retrieve the dice. The magistrate promptly sentenced him to three months and freed the other. SOURCE: Based on a joke from "The Bedside Book of Laughter, with jokes selected from Reader’s Digest" Why parents have to be teachers Our grandparents never had to be taught that homosexuality was wrong, or that there are just two genders. Now those two points are cultural battlegrounds. But are we, as parents, actively engaged in this fight? Two telling quotes, below, illustrate why we need to teach our children what God has said on these subjects, and more, and not simply assume they understand. “One generation believes something. The next assumes it. And the third will forget and deny it.” – D.A. Carson “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” – commonly attributed to John Wesley Penguins are super cool! Did you know Emperor Penguins can hold their breath for as long as 18 minutes, and fast for up to 115 days waiting for their eggs to hatch? The devil in stocking feet A friend recently shared an expression his grandfather used to say: in a compromising Christian school “the devil walks around in stocking feet” while in the public school “he walks around in wooden shoes.” His point? The public school's dismissal of God is a heresy easy to spot, but a compromised Christian school might cover over their errors with out-of-context Bible verses, making them hard to discern. That had this gentleman more worried about children being sent to that sort of "Christian" school than to the obviously unchristian public school. Thankfully, many of us have option #3: an uncompromisingly Christian school. Pops top profs “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” – George Herbert C.S. Lewis on being far too easily pleased “If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. "You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. “The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and to nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. “If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and to earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I suggest that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – “The Weight of Glory” in the Weight of Glory An original sin Three-year-old Linda watched excitedly as her visiting aunt unpacked her suitcase. The little girl was waiting eagerly for the present she knew was coming. At long last two bouncy balls were produced, one green, the other yellow. “One is for you, and one for your brother Timmy,” her aunt explained. “Which would you like?” Quick as a wink Linda replied, “I want Timmy’s” SOURCE: Based on a joke from "The Bedside Book of Laughter, with jokes selected from Reader’s Digest"...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – July 2020

Translation that busts a gut “During my time of study in Amsterdam several decades ago, I personally experienced this challenge of translation. One day I walked downstairs and happened to meet the landlady. She looked at me quizzically, as if to ask what I was doing. “I’m taking a break from my studies,” I tried to say in Dutch. Unfortunately, “taking a break” does not translate well, so I changed the word for “break” to paus. And, apparently, I didn’t pronounce it well. What I actually said to my Dutch friend was, “The pope has a hernia.” A big fan of the pontiff, she was very concerned.” – R.C. Sproul (in What’s in the Bible) A Christian take on art and riots too… When it comes to all the various subjects taught in our Christian schools, there are a few where the question is more often asked, “How do Christians teach this subject any differently than non-Christians?” While Math might be at the top of that list, Art is another that might follow somewhere soon after. But as Rev. Carl Vermuelen noted in the June issue of Una Sancta, there is not only a distinctly Christian way to teach art, but a pressing need to do so. He points readers to Nancy Pearcey’s excellent book, Saving Leonardo, where the Pearcey describes how, as the West moved away from its Christian roots, its art changed too. Before, no matter how artists might have differed, all agreed that we had purpose and life had meaning, and that truth was discoverable. But, “By the time of the impressionists, people no longer hoped to achieve the expression of an ideal universal order … or universal knowledge.” She documents the development of these ideas through impressionism, Picasso’s cubism and geometric abstractionism, as well as through the pantheism of Van Gogh, and Kadinsky’s art infused with spiritualism. The ideas of these artists and others in their thought world developed further into secular materialism, as well as pantheism and postmodernism. The vicious attacks on Western civilization we see today are the direct result of these ideas. Many of the artists she discusses as she describes this revolutionary change in society (Mondriaan, Kandinsky, Monet, Van Gogh, Warhol, Picasso), are included in the list of recommended artists to be studied in the arts curriculum at our . That means the art teachers have a wonderful opportunity to show the children from the earliest grades the big narrative that has been shaping our society. What artists like Van Gogh, Picasso and the Fauvres thought and expressed in their art is what we are seeing in action on the streets today. This is what our children need to understand. Then we won’t want them to paint like Picasso, but we will want them to understand why Picasso painted like he did. In this way, we will help them make sense of the George Floyd riots, the burning police cars and the looting. A dad joke QUESTION: What two body parts are able to both run and smell? ANSWER: Your nose and your feet! Kevin DeYoung (and John Frame) on birth control… “You don’t have to be a fertility maximalist to recognize that children are always lauded as a blessing in the Bible. Maybe on another occasion, I’ll write about the triumph of birth control in the 20th century and how it happened with little theological reflection from the church, but for now let me at least nudge you in the direction of John Frame: ‘It seems to me that birth control is permissible in many situations, but it bears a high burden of proof. It can be a responsible choice, but is probably overused.’” SOURCE: It's Time for a New Culture War Strategy  Did he see the transgender debate coming? “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” – G.K. Chesterton, in the Illustrated London News Mainstream and social media's flaws These three quotes are all from a time before the Internet but seem applicable to Twitter and Facebook too. “Everything you read in newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge.” –  Edward Knoll, sharing what has been called “Knoll’s Law of Media Accuracy.” His point was that when we see a story we know about we’ll be able to spot the faults in the reporting. But when it a story is about an event we don’t know anything about, we’ll often forget the errors in the previous account, and take this one as if it is fully reliable. “If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” – commonly attributed to Mark Twain, though he seemingly didn’t say it, which is a lesson in itself. "You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well.... you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know." – Michael Crichton on the "Gell-Mann Amnesia effect" as named after his friend Creating their own commandments It is no coincidence that a society that ignores all God’s commandments will create their own, easier to obey, moral code. They might take God’s name in vain, violate the Sabbath, covet their rich neighbor’s good, teach kids how to fornicate, and even proclaim the murder of the unborn a right, but because they use paper, rather than plastic, straws they can still feel righteous. As one quote, purportedly from a Winifred Egan, put it: “What an irony that a society confronted with plastic bags filled with the remains of aborted babies should be more concerned about the problem of recycling the plastic.”...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - June 2020

Is this love? How can a parent help put a daughter’s crushes in the right context? How can we help her view this boy with discerning eyes? Diane Stark shared her approach in the March 2015 issue of Thriving Family. First she pointed her daughter to 1 Corinthians 13:4-6: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Then she asked her daughter to replace the word “love” in this passage with the boy’s name, to see if it fit. As in “Timmy is patient and kind; he does not envy or boast. Timmy is not arrogant or rude…” What her daughter found is that the boy she was interested in wasn’t all that loving to many of their classmates. Seen in this biblical light, this prince wasn’t quite so charming. Stark wasn’t done. Next she asked her daughter to insert her own name in this passage to see how well it fit. Though the Stark didn’t share her daughter’s self-evaluation it is safe to say this passage exposed her own room for improvement – this passage exposes us all, and shows us all our need to ask God to continue His transforming work on us, so we can become more and more like Him. Exegeting God’s other book “Imagine if we’d let atheists translate all our Bibles? Imagine if we did that, and so the Bible now says, ‘There is no God’ ‘Everything is chaotic and meaningless’ and ‘You are just a piece of shrapnel’ and yet we keep using them. And then we’re shocked that we lose people? …. we’ve let natural revelation be exegeted, extrapolated, and taught and all the ‘catechisms’ are made by people who hate it, and hate the One who made it. And they hate the people who love the One who made it.“ – N.D. Wilson, director of the Riot and the Dance, on why there is a pressing need for Christians making nature documentaries A Dutch joke inspired by my neighbor’s cat… LITTLE GIRL: “Look auntie, this is our new kitten Pepper!” AUNT: “So is your other kitten named Salt?” LITTLE GIRL: “No Auntie, that wouldn’t make sense, because Pepper is actually short for Peppermint.” AUNT: “So what is your other kitten’s name?” LITTLE GIRL: “Double Salt!” Sometimes I Wonder... Sometimes I wonder, My Lord, why Did you create us with our eye? Unlike the worm or mole made blind Who labour in earth's soil, yet find Their tasks both noble, right and true In ink-black solitude, praise You. Eyes prove the window of our soul But, do they help us see Truth's goal? Did, what Eve saw corrupt her heart? Can we keep wrong from right apart? Was Achan not by wealth impressed? Eyes, led him to sin, he confessed. And David? Whom the Lord loved so? That sordid tale! So we might know, Our eyes are to our soul, the key, What does that mean for you and me? Were it not better, we were maimed And blessed with blindness, than be shamed? Are we not given to despise? Job covenanted both his eyes Not, to be overcome with lust, But in these things in God to trust, For, does our God not see our ways? Lord, shield our eyes, yes, all our days. – Aart Blokhuis Feb. 29/20  Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020) The well-known apologist Ravi Zacharias passed away on May 19 of cancer at the age of 74. While his family was Anglican, he didn’t believe until, at age 17, an attempt at suicide landed him in a hospital and while there someone brought his mother a Bible and told her to read John 14 to him. Zacharias said God used verse 19 to turn him: “Because I live, you will also live.” Later, in his book Jesus among other Gods, he summed up that conversion experience this way: “I came to Him because I did not know which way to turn. I remained with Him because there is no other way I wish to turn. I came to Him longing for something I did not have. I remain with Him because I have something I will not trade. I came to Him as a stranger. I remain with Him in the most intimate of friendships. I came to Him unsure about the future. I remain with Him certain about my destiny.” Called to business Even in Reformed circles there can be the feeling that ministry is a calling and business is not. But can we glorify God in providing for our families, in creating jobs that allow others to do the same, and in supporting ministries that, without such support, simply couldn’t exist? Yes, ministers and missionaries are vital, but as the Rev. Dick Lucas noted, to reach the ends of the earth with God’s Word we also need those who make it possible for them to do their work: “You have to have a generation of people raised up to proclaim the Gospel but you also have to have a generation who are prepared to support the Gospel to a sacrificial extent.” Red and yellow, black and white… Creationist Ken Ham has a response to racism: he wants us to help 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.”’” On public education “I think we ought to be plain about this – that unless we preserve the principles of liberty in this department there is no use in trying to preserve them anywhere else. If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might as well give them everything else as well.” – Presbyterian professor J. Gresham Machen, testifying before Congress in 1926, speaking against the formation of a federal Department of Education and the further involvement of the government in education....

In a Nutshell

Tidbits- May 2020

Graphic Pictures... The image is outrageous, but the act itself's okay? That picture's met with fury... But, the killing is okay? Imagine our sheer terror, when assailed with gun or knife But, since no laws are broken, you can take a pre-born's life? And therein lies the horror! Does the truth of this appall? You're incensed at that picture, but at murder? Not at all? You think you're acting civilized and raise the 'hue and cry' Yet, you'll not lift a finger while one-hundred-thousand die? Yes, this figure is repeated in our country year by year, Should reflecting on God's wrath, not invade our hearts with fear? Let us, call-out to our authorities and hold them to account! May Truth yet change the hearts of men, as these small corpses mount. And that's the greater tragedy, when folks like you resolve, This holocaust's not happening, plus, it's not mine to solve Yet, all must face His judgment in the fullness of our days And pay a price much heavier if we don't mend our ways. Proverbs 24:11,12, Deuteronomy 30:19b Aart Blokhuis Nov. 22/19 The quotable G.K. Chesterton At 6’4” and 286 pounds, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) had the body of a defensive lineman. But more notable was his massive mind – Chesterton was never short of wisdom and wit. What follows are four of his quippiest quotes. To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it. Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance. Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable. The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. What did the Sadducees believe? Pop quiz: what did the Sadducees believe? Don’t know? You’re not alone – 9 out of 10 North American kidney bean farmers can’t recall any of the key beliefs of this ancient Jewish sect. And when a control group of lawnmower repairmen was told that the Sadducees denied the existence of angels and the eternal soul and even life after death, these mechanics couldn’t recall any of those facts just minutes later. So what can we do to retain this information? Can anything be done? Yes, help can be found! Pastor William Pols, of the Orthodox Reformed Church of Edmonton, offered a stunningly simple solution for this vexing problem – a memorable definition of the sect’s beliefs: “Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they were sad, you see.” Once heard, can that ever be forgotten? What lurks on library shelves? It might not surprise you to know that in the teen section of your local library there lurks all sorts of books you don’t want your kids reading – sexually-charged anime books, books promoting homosexuality, and books with horrendous titles like: Sex: an uncensored introduction What if I’m an atheist? Zombies vs. unicorns 100% Official Justin Bieber. What may surprise you is what can be found amongst the picture books in the children’s section. My Princess Boy is about a cross-dressing four-year-old boy who likes to wear a pink dress to school. This made its way into our house because, at first glance, its pink cover looks like just another girl book. We don’t censor what our children grab too rigorously while we’re still in the library, in part because they are grabbing them by the dozens, and we can always nix them later on (our daughters know that mom or dad may deem a book they picked out “too silly to read”). But after our oldest daughter had already poured over the pictures of this one, mom thought it would be best to read it together. She used the opportunity to teach how God made boys and girls different from each other. “Should a boy dress like a girl?” That was an easy question to answer. As was the follow up: “Should we laugh at a boy who is acting strange?” No, they know better than that. So a very perverse book was put to instructive use because my wife was there, doing the reading. I already knew there was some odd stuff in the kids’ section – books about bratty children, and “Captain Underpants,” and other rude, peculiar material – but I didn’t realize that anything so starkly anti-Christian was lurking there amongst the picture books. My oldest will be able to read on her own in a few months and it was an eye-opener to realize that even in our conservative, church-going, small town, the public library is not to be trusted. We need to be aware of what our children are reading. “You should have seen the one…” A man gazed incredulously at a huge mounted fish. Finally, he said: “The man who caught that fish is a liar!” SOURCE: The Bedside Book of Laughter, with jokes selected from Reader’s Digest A president's prayer Ronald Reagan hated flying with such a passion that for decades he would traverse the country only by train, even traveling all the way from California to Washington D.C. by rail. But, eventually, the demands of his public office forced him to regularly use planes. Even then he was only able to deal with his fear by praying every time the plane took off and every time it landed. His daughter Patti asked him about these prayers: “Do you pray that the plane won’t crash,” I asked him assuming that would be a logical thing for which to pray. “No,” he answered, “I pray that whatever God’s will is, I’ll be able to accept it with grace, and faith in His wisdom. We’re always in God’s hands. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that, so I pray that He’ll help me just to trust His will.”… What my father had communicated to me, through his words, and between them, was that he believed God was in charge of his fate and the fate of everyone on the plane. He had told me once before that when we die is God’s business. So it wasn’t his place to second-guess God, or try to sell him a particular agenda by praying, “Please don’t let the plane crash.” And I thought of this, too: If I were falling through the sky, falling toward my death, would I want my last moments to be spent screaming at God for not obeying my wishes, or would I want to exit this earth in a moment of silent communion, a prayer for grace and acceptance? Of course, it isn’t wrong to ask God to keep our plane safe, or, if it were falling, to ask Him to bring it back under control. But what Reagan understood is that God is in control and we can trust Him. SOURCE: Paul Kengor’s God and Ronald Reagan A little respect… Twenty years ago talk show host Charles J. Sykes penned a memorable newspaper column on “Some rules kids won’t learn in school.” Number seven is as good today as it was then: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom. SOURCE Sykes’ column appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on Sept. 19, 1996 My brothers would have laughed I grew up in a house full of boys, and while I feel very blessed with my house full of girls I am, every now and again, struck by how very outnumbered I am. For example, at breakfast I noticed we had genuine maple syrup on our table so I took it as an opportunity to teach my kids how it was made. "It's basically tree blood," I told them. No one thought that was cool. Sigh…....

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - December 2019

Darwin’s theory and Kipling’s Just So Stories Brett Miller is a cartoonist for the website Creation-Evolution Headlines (CrEv.info). While his other cartooning efforts are great, this one below, titled “Leap of Faith,” (which he’s graciously shared with us) is my favorite. He’s packed so much in here, with the rainbow made up of key explanations that evolution is missing, and directly underneath all the “weasel words” that evolutionary accounts so often employ. And then, further down, a reference to how evolutionary accounts resemble a particular type of fiction: Just-So Stories. In 1902 Rudyard Kipling published his book Just So Stories with short chapters on topics like: how the elephant got its trunk, how the leopard got its spots, how the camel got its hump, and how this animal and that got their peculiar features. While evolutionists wouldn’t appreciate the comparison, often times their evolutionary explanations bear more than a passing resemblance to Just So Stories. Kipling tells us that the elephant got its long trunk because a crocodile stretched it. Evolutionists tell us that giraffes got their long neck because long necks help them reach high enough to get the leaves on the highest branches. Is one idea more scientific than the other? Were either observed or can either be proven by repeatable experimentation? No, no, and no. Both make for interesting stories…and that’s all they are. So keep Miller’s comic in mind the next time you hear a report about some new evolutionary discovery, and ask whether evidence is being offered, or simply a clever story. Factoids about your favorite Christmas songs Did you know… The text (though not the tune) of O Come, O Come Emmanuel has roots that could go as far back as the 6thcentury Isaac Watts based Joy to the World on the second half of Psalm 98, 96:11-12 and Genesis 3:17–18. Jingle Bells was not originally intended as a Christmas song, but was probably written for Thanksgiving celebrations. In 1700 While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Night became one of the very first hymns authorized to be sung by the Anglican Church (before 1700 only Psalms could be sung). Oh Canada! How do you get a mob of Canadians to disperse? You say, “Please disperse.” What do Canadians students get on their tests? Straight eh's. How do you get a Canadian to apologize? Step on his foot. 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: "Genesis: The Key to Reclaiming the Culture" DVD For sale, cheap: New Kids on the Block collection In a speech some years ago in British Columbia, Pastor Douglas Wilson laid out a way of evaluating music. He compared different types of music to different types of plates. Some music, he said, is like your grandmother’s fine china: it takes some effort to use, but it will last for generations. This is classical music like Bach or Beethoven. Other music is more like CorningWare – it isn’t quite as refined but might be more popular and it can be passed on from one generation to the next. Wilson thought this was like folk music. Finally, one type of music is more like paper plates. It is designed to be used and thrown away. We consume it, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to use, and we don’t hand it on. Into this category Wilson slotted pop music. So one of the easiest questions to ask when evaluating music is whether you’d pass it on to your kids. And if, in five or ten years, you’ll be embarrassed to own up to owning it, why are you listening to it now? The wit and wisdom of Winston Churchill Churchill had a way with words, inspiring his island nation in their darkest hours with just the right turn of a phrase. His most famous speech was given on June 4, 1940, after the British had been forced to flee the mainland. This was a massive defeat, but an even bigger miracle. More than 300,000 Allied troops were able to evade what seemed certain capture when, with the help of hundreds of private watercraft owned and operated by British citizens, they were able to retreat across the Channel to England. It was then that Churchill rallied his nation promising that should the Nazis come: “…we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” And that’s far from the only memorable sound-bite the man uttered. Here’s ten of his very best quotes: A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is - the strong horse that pulls the whole cart. The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me. A trick question When did Moses enter the Promised Land? Ah, you say, but that trick question isn’t all that tricky: everyone knows Moses never entered the Promised Land. God told him to speak to the rock at Meribah (Numbers 20) and water would come out, but instead Moses struck the rock twice, and for this disobedience God told Moses he would not lead Israel across the Jordan. He showed Moses the Promised Land from high atop Mount Nebo (Deut. 34:4-5) and then Moses died, never stepping a foot in it. But while it is true Moses died before entering, it turns out he probably did still visit the Promised Land. In Matthew 17 we read that Peter, James, and John went up with Jesus to the top of a high mountain where Jesus was then transfigured, “his face shone like the sun,” and his garments became “as white as light.” And then two people appeared next to Jesus and began talking with him: Elijah and Moses! So how’s that for a fun trick answer? But as trick questions go, the answer to this one isn’t as clear as we might like, because it’s not certain that this mountain (which isn’t named in the Scriptures) was actually in the Promised Land. Two hypothesized locations (and there are others) are Mount Tabor, which is within the boundaries, and Mount Hermon, which is not. So, maybe the better trick question is, when might Moses have entered the Promised Land?...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - November 2019

On breaking your TV habit Want to cut down on your TV watching but find it a battle? Gary North has an idea he put in place more than 40 years ago: “Put a price on your time.” He suggests putting a piggy bank next to your couch and whenever you watch a show you have to put in $1 for a half-hour show, and $2 for an hour show. If someone else is already watching something (and has already paid the price) you can join in for free (TV watching together is a step up from watching by yourself). Then at year’s end you count up all the money and send a check for that amount to your favorite 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 Luther and Aristotle on the need for balance and moderation I’ve read that in Martin Luther’s first year at Wittenberg he had to regularly lecture on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. And while Luther didn’t seem a fan of the Greek philosopher, one of Luther’s more famous quotes is an echo of sorts to a passage in Ethics. Martin Luther once said: “Human nature is like a drunk peasant. Lift him into the saddle on one side, over he topples on the other side.” Long before, Aristotle spoke of the need for balance, and that there are two equal and opposite ways of getting things wrong: “….the man who flies from and fears everything and does not stand his ground against anything becomes a coward, and the man who fears nothing at all but goes to meet every danger becomes rash; and similarly the man who indulges in every pleasure and abstains from none becomes self- indulgent, while the man who shuns every pleasure, as boors do, becomes in a way insensible; temperance and courage, then, are destroyed by excess and defect, and preserved by the mean.” Of course, that a Greek philosopher said something doesn’t mean it is biblical. So is the need for balance a biblical idea? It can indeed be, and alcohol is an example. On the one hand God forbids drunkenness, but on the other, doesn’t require us to completely abstain – instead He calls for moderation. Another example might be sexuality and dress. On the one hand, we are called to modesty so lascivious or scandalous dress is forbidden, but we don’t all have to go around wearing burkas. There is a balance point between perverse and prudish. The key then is to act as God commands us, and not simply react against one way the Devil is trying to lure us. Reagan on Big Government “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” – Ronald Reagan as quoted in The Reagan Wit by Bill Adler Doubters should question their doubts too “Some believers spend too much time doubting their faith, and not enough time doubting their doubts. Yes, there are some reasonable questions that thoughtful people have always raised about the Christian faith. But there are also some very good questions that faithful people should raise about their spiritual doubts: Have I studied what God has to say on this question, or have I been listening mainly to his detractors? Am I well aware of how this doubt has been addressed in the history of Christian theology, or has my thinking been relatively superficial? Have I been compromising with sin in ways that make it harder for me to hear God’s voice and diminish my desire for the purity of his truth? Is this a doubt that I have offered sincerely to God in prayer, or am I waiting to see if God measures up to my standards before I ask for his help?” - Phil Ryken, in Loving Jesus More  Udderly marvelous Back in 2013 Vince Rozmiarek got put in charge of his small town’s community center message board, and soon after starting posting puns to the big 6” by 4” outdoor sign. Now the two puns he posts each week are seen by the many driving by, and by the 84,000 folks who have signed up for the Indian Hills Community Sign Facebook page. While his puns tackle all sorts of topics, he can’t “steer” clear of farm jokes. Cows have hooves because they lactose. If a cow doesn’t produce mill is it a milk dud or an udder failure? Ban pre-shredded cheese. Make America grate again. Cheerful cowboys make jolly ranchers Amish banks have cash cows The pregnant cow soon became decalfinated Award-winning cow. Outstanding in field. I called my horse mayo, and sometimes mayo neighs. Man assaults his neighbor with milk and cheese. How dairy?!? If pigs could fly, imagine how good their wings would taste. Only God’s Word makes sense of it all "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen — not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis, in Is Theology Poetry...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - October 2019

Doing homework on Sunday? “When I was in college and seminary, I made what was a bold decision at the time and committed, along with a friend, that we would not do homework on Sundays. No reading assignments. No papers.  No studying for tests. It meant rethinking my Saturdays, which meant being more thoughtful about my Friday evenings. I couldn't sleep till noon on Saturday, watch football, hang out with my friends all day, and go out to a social event at night and then play catch-up on Sunday. I had to make pretty drastic changes. “But I never regretted the commitment. Setting aside Sunday was a habit that served me well throughout all my studies. Sunday became my favorite day of the week. I was freed up to go to church more than once. I could go on a long walk or read a book or take a nap. The day became an island of get-to in an ocean of have-to. “How many of us think, ‘You know what?  Life is a little underwhelming.  I'm not very busy.  I wish the days could be more crowded.  I wish life could be more hectic.’ Very few people think that way. So don't you want a day where you can say no to many of the oughts in your head? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a day of freedom, one day in seven where the other six days have no claim on you?” – Kevin DeYoung, in The 10 Commandments (h/t to Dr. Wes Bredenhof) Gotta serve somebody “So many political and theological liberals need a cause to substitute for their moral obtuseness on such issues as abortion and homosexual behavior. They’ve found it in the worship of animals and plants. “ - Cal Thomas A better sort of straw I've been pricing things out, and as near as I can figure: Plastic straws cost 4-5 cents each but they are becoming harder to find, and if you use one people think you are Hitler. Paper straws cost something similar or even cheaper...but they are paper straws. Enough said. Bamboo straws are 10-15 cents each and they still aren't as good as plastic. Meanwhile, you can buy a pack of Twizzlers for 2.99 at Wal-Mart with 60 pieces in it, which works out to 5 cents each. Nip off the top and bottom and you have not only a straw that works way better than paper, and is cheaper than bamboo, but it's even better than plastic in that you can eat it afterward. And it keeps getting better: turns out Twizzlers are even a "low fat" straw. More consistent inconsistency “Gender is constructed, but an individual who desires gender re-assignment surgery is to be unarguably considered a man trapped in a woman's body (or vice versa). The fact that both of these cannot logically be true, simultaneously, is just ignored.” – Jordan Peterson Atheism doesn't have answers On his website ProofThatGodExists.org, apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate has a collection of more than 50 of his favorite quotes. If you like these four, be sure to check out his website for more. “The atheist can’t find God for the same reason that a thief can’t find a policeman.” – Author Unknown “The theory that thought is merely a movement in the brain is, in my opinion, nonsense; for if so, that theory itself would be merely a movement, an event among atoms, which may have speed and direction but of which it would be meaningless to use the words ‘true’ or ‘false’.” – C.S. Lewis “Someone once said that if you sat a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don’t wonder whether it came from chance and monkeys. Why then does the atheist use that incredibly improbable explanation for the universe? Clearly, because it is his only chance of remaining an atheist. At this point we need a psychological explanation of the atheist rather than a logical explanation of the universe.” – Peter Kreeft “If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true, but rather because of a series of chemical reactions…. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else.” – Douglas Wilson ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – July 2019

Doubt your doubts… “We don’t just need answers for people’s difficult questions. We need questions for people’s easy answers.” – Andrew Wilson (as seen at Challies.com) Long term planning Reader’s Digest has a number of columns in which readers can send in their true, humorous stories. This one came from an obstetrician: “I sometimes see unusual tattoos when working in labor and delivery. One patient had some type of fish tattoo on her abdomen. ‘That sure is a pretty whale,’ I commented. “With a smile, she replied, ‘It used to be a dolphin.’” SOURCE: Laughter the best medicine II Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics It’s not clear whether Robert Conquest (1917-2015) ever stated the “Three Laws of Politics” commonly attributed to him. But whether he did or didn’t, someone should have because there’s insight here worth sharing, particularly in his second law: 2. Any organization not explicitly conservative will, sooner or later, become liberal. That’s quite the claim, but history bears it out. How many of our universities were founded by godly men, but how welcome are Christians on these campuses today? Hospitals begun by churches now kill their patients upon request. Amnesty International went from being an advocate for political prisoners to advocating for legalized abortion. Closer to home, Reformed denominations that stopped teaching their confessions have started ignoring and opposing them. But why do things flow in just the one direction? Why don’t we ever see an abortion-loving, man-hating feminist organization drift from their founders’ feelings and decide that, hey, unborn babies and men aren’t so bad after all? Why couldn’t they take a conservative or even Christian turn? It doesn’t ever happen like that, but why doesn’t it? It comes down to this: getting things wrong is always easier than getting them right. There’s no end of ways to raise our children wrong, or do our taxes wrong, or assemble IKEA furniture wrong, but there’s only one Truth, and only a narrow path to it. This has implications. Unless we are actively heading in the right direction, we are heading in the wrong direction. That’s true in politics, certainly, but it’s just as true when we are charting the direction for other organizations in our circles. Business leaders, school board, pastors and church consistories can’t let themselves drift. We mustn’t be quiet about what we know and believe. If we don’t actively hang on to God’s Truth, both energetically and loudly, then drift is inevitable. Or, as Jesus described in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matt. 7:24-27) if we don’t build on a solid foundation, we will be swept away. That sounds scary and it would be if we had to chart the right course on our own. But God has given us His Word. Now all we need is the courage to follow Him both loudly and proudly…and we can ask Him for that. Consistently inconsistent “Gender is a social construct but I am woman hear me roar but anyone can be a woman but not uterus no opinion but transwomen are women but I demand women’s rights but men are women but men are scum but drag queens are beautiful but appropriation is evil.” - Matt Walsh in a May 14 tweet 4 things you didn’t know about the Bible? How big is the Bible? At almost one million words, it is as long as 10 typical thrillers, or 15 mystery novels. The word Bible comes biblia, which is Greek for “books.” Biblia, in turn, was probably derived from the name of the Lebanese port of Byblos, where the Greeks got their paper supply The 1229 Synod of Toulouse forbade anyone but priests from having the Scriptures. The Bible didn’t come with the chapter and verse divisions we have today. Stephen Langton (c.1150-1228) is credited with dividing the Bible into the chapters our Bibles have now. Jewish Rabbi Isaac Nathan ben Kalonymus might have been the one who came up with Old Testament versification, back in 1440, while a French printer (Robert Estienne (1503-1559) is credited with creating the verse divisions we use for the New Testament. SOURCE: Jerry MacGregor and Marie Prys’ 1001 Surprising things you should know about the Bible. A political upgrade? “Could one start a Stagnation Party—which at General Elections would boast that during its term of office no event of the least importance had taken place?” – C.S. Lewis writing to his brother in 1940  And now you know the rest of the story… In their heyday, the 1980s big hair band Van Halen made the news for a diva-esque demand they had in their contract. Each venue was to provide them with a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones taken out. Critics saw this as a ridiculous extravagant request that showed just how kookie Van Halen had become. But some years later lead singer David Lee Roth explained that the “no brown M&Ms” rule wasn’t silly at all – it was a test. At the time the band traveled with a huge set, packed away in a whole fleet of semi-trailers, that had to be constructed at every venue. And it had to be done just right or there could be major safety concerns. Every venue received a thick instruction book to follow but because it was so big Van Halen was worried that the construction crews might not look at it all that carefully. That’s why the band “hid” their M&M demand somewhere in the middle. That way when the band arrived at a new venue one of the first things they would do is check the backstage area for a bowl of M&Ms. If it was there, and there were no brown ones, then they could be confident that this venue’s staff had read through the instruction book carefully. If there were no M&Ms, or the bowl still had brown ones, then they had heads-up that this venue might be taking shortcuts, and they would have good reason to double-check everything. This story shows (and what Proverbs 18:17 teaches) is that we really can’t have a good understanding of something if we just hear from the one side. It was only when we heard from David Lee Roth that further details came out. That’s particularly important to keep in my mind in our increasingly quick-to-judge era....

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