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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 two 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.

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 - February 2020

Lightbulb moment I was in my 4th-year neurophysiology course, learning about the brain, when the professor used a curious word: "think." As in, this is how science "thinks" things might work in our brain. What struck me was how tentative the professor had just become, and I wasn't the only student surprised to hear this modest word. A classmate popped up his hand and asked something to the effect of, "What do you mean 'think'? Don't we know how the brain works?" This got a definitive response from the prof. No, he explained, we don't have a clue how the brain works: all our theories are just guesses and don't begin to account for how much information is stored in our brains and how we access it. We even know our theories must be wrong – because they don't offer a sufficient explanation – but until something better is found, this is the best we have. His admission was quite the eye-opener for the class, who, to this point, had assumed we were learning something far more substantial than theories that were known to be deficient. The fact is, the human brain is a wonder, and even the smartest brains among us don't have a clue as to what is all going on. And to propose it was random chance that brought such a wonder into being, well, that just shows some folks aren't using the wonder they've been given. TV Trivia Fred Rogers, of the children’s show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, was a seminary classmate of R.C. Sproul. Reformed humor What do Martin Luther and birds have in common? A diet of worms! Arguing for infant baptism In Jay Adams' book Greg Dawson and the Psychology Class, the author poses an intriguing argument for infant baptism. One of the characters in the book, Brian, is trying to convince his girlfriend that infant baptism is biblical, and shares with her this scenario: "It's the day before Pentecost. Andrew, a pious Jewish father, has just had his child circumcised. He is happy because he now knows that little Simeon is a part of the covenant community – the visible church. The next day, he hears Peter preach and believes the Gospel. Now, according to Baptist thought, his child is no longer in the visible church. In for one day and out the next." While there is no explicit example of a child being baptized in the New Testament (nor is there any example of children being excluded or forbidden from being baptized) there seems a clear parallel to circumcision, made even more clear by this scenario. Words are not optional "Preach the Gospel. If necessary rebuke anyone who says 'If necessary, use words.'" - RC Sproul Jr. When he’s good he’s very good! Tim Keller gets stuff wrong (he’s a theistic evolutionist) but when he also gets stuff right, he’s gets them really right, like this, from his November 7, 2014 Facebook status update: "When I am loving to my wife when I don't feel loving to my wife I am more loving to my wife than when I am loving to my wife when I feel loving to my wife." Actress understands the holiness of God's name Actress Melissa Joan Hart hasn't always had everything figured out, but she has gotten one thing right: she refuses to take God’s name in vain, no matter what the script might require. Hart gained fame in the 1990s playing a good witch, then starred in a horror film, and posed in lingerie for a men’s magazine, but these days pops up on social media for her work with World Vision. While promoting her film God’s Not Dead 2, she told TheBlaze.com’s Billy Hallowell: You will not see me in a TV show ever saying, “Oh my God,” because I don’t take that word lightly...And that’s a very small example of how I’ve been able to influence my work a little bit. For me, it’s a big step today, because it’s written in every single script. ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - January 2020

Why fossil fuels are a blessing According to Kathleen Hartnett White, in her study Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case “man-made emissions of carbon dioxide have risen three-fold since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.” But if some think that a decided downside, let’s not lose sight of the way we’ve been blessed by God’s provision of fossil fuels. As White explains: "When innovative minds developed a steam engine which could convert the stored heat energy in coal into mechanical energy, the economic limits under which all human societies had formerly existed were blown apart. A life of back-breaking drudgery was no longer the inescapable condition of the overwhelming majority of mankind. "Life expectancy had changed little throughout all human history until the Industrial Revolution; it thereafter tripled. Income per capita has since increased 11-fold…. Fossil-fuel powered mechanization revolutionized economic productivity, increased incomes, population, and life expectancy across all classes." Parental code: upping our game As is true for many readers of this magazine, my parents spoke Dutch whenever they wanted to talk about things they didn’t want us kids to understand. That always got us listening all the more intently, and over the years we did learn a “klien beetje” of Dutch, but never enough to figure out exactly what they were saying. But now, with kids of our own, and no second-language skills to turn to, I’m trying to figure out how I can talk to my wife without our kids clueing in. For the last four or five years, ever since our oldest learned to talk, we made use of our ability to spell. But now she’s off to kindergarten and has managed to break that code. So we’ve turned to shorthand spelling – instead of spelling out the whole word, we’ll just spell out the first few letters. So if I want to suggest a trip to the library, I’ll ask my wife what she thinks “about going to the L-I-B.” As “lib” doesn’t sound all that much like “library” it kept our speller off the scent for a while. But after repeated usage she broke that code too, and now when I ask my wife if we should have “I-C-E for dessert” our oldest is already salivating. Clearly, we had to up our game. Now instead of using actual letters, I’m using sound-alikes, in shorthand. So the last time I suggested heading to the library I asked my wife whether we should head to the “E-L-L-E, E-Y-E,  B-E-E.” That should serve us for at least the next little bit. After that? How about sound-alikes, in shorthand, backwards! Or we could just go to the other room. Alzheimer's and the hope of a Reformed  faith Some years ago the then editor of Christianity Today, David Neff, while reviewing a book on Alzheimer’s, pointed out how little hope some theology offers the family and friends of Alzheimer’s patients. He didn’t use the word Arminian, but the description he gave of this troubling theology fit: it “requires Christians to act for their salvation/liberation.” The problem with a theology that asks us to hold on to Christ is that it, “is no comfort to those whose dementia leaves them without the capacity to act.” After his father-in-law was stricken, Neff took comfort in a more Reformed understanding that instead emphasized, “that it is God who acts on our own behalf.” “Do we have to go to Church today?” In the September 2015 issue of New Horizons. Pastor Shane Lems shared how as a young lad he would complain to his parents, “Do we have to go to church today?” He didn’t understand the dangers of neglecting the church service – he wanted to stay home with his Lego. But, as he says, while “it’s one thing for a child to reason this way, it’s a very different thing for an adult to do it.” And he goes on to list some of the dangers to skipping church. It is against God’s will It hinders Christian fellowship It diminishes God’s praise It confuses/sets a bad example for other Christians It invites Satan’s temptations It is harmful to the Christian’s faith Lems included 5 more and noted that while his list was a negative one, it could also be reframed in the positive. For example, we could also not that going to church is God’s will, and doing so “strengthens your fellowship with the saints.” There are certainly dangers to neglecting church, but clear benefits to going. It's inescapable: Husbands are leaders “The Bible says the “husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23). Paul most emphatically does not say that husbands ought to be heads of their wives. He says they are…. Because the husband is the head of the wife he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to abdicate in some way, he may, through his rebellion, lead poorly. But no matter what he does, or where he goes, he does so as the head of his wife.” – Douglas Wilson in Reforming Marriage Count your blessings If the doom and gloom that fills our newspapers and social media feeds has you despairing, it's time to start counting the many, many blessings God showers on us. Here's a half dozen to get things started: It used to be expensive to phone long distance. Now we can Skype grandma for free. Most of us have a computer more powerful than anything NASA used to run the Apollo missions...and it's small enough to fit in a pocket. Life expectancy has jumped ten years since 1950. Everyone used to smoke, even if they never touched a cigarette - the haze was everywhere! Now we don't...mostly. The percentage of people in the world who are living in extreme poverty has been halved since 1990. Students in school today have no idea what a nuclear missile attack drill entails. A reading tips for dads Whenever I begin an Amelia Bedelia book I can hear a growing chorus screaming, "Noooooo! Don't say her name agaaaaaaaaain!" Those are my brain cells...dying. Still, my kids like these books and men are called to lead sacrificially, so I've had to figure out a work around. At first I had my daughters interject with Bedelia's name each time it appeared ...which meant they were reading half the book! But now I've come up with an even better solution that allows me to go entirely Bedelia-free: when her name comes up, I just swap in "Jane Smith." Aaaaah, sweet relief! Give it a try dads; your brain cells will thank you!...

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 - August 2018

Help wanted: men “Imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and their had said: ‘The world is out of order. But if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’ “Such conduct on their part would have us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the infectious bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. It is today as it was in the Reformers’ days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man – where is the man for the day?” - Charles Spurgeon College more hazardous than joining the Normandy invasion? “We've seen a number of surveys that have demonstrated that of kids who are attending church regularly in their senior year in high school, by the time they finish their freshman year in college three out of four of them will have walked away from their faith and they're no longer involved as Christians….One of the statistics, a visual image that I think helps parents to think about it is, if you were to sign your children up to be in the boats on the Normandy Beach Invasion they would have a better chance of surviving that than surviving spiritually in colleges now. That experience is not something most parents are eager to sign their children up for, but we do it in a pretty unthinking way right now.” – Dr. Ben Merkle Chesterton on miracles In their book, How Should Christians Approach Origins?, professors John Byl and Tom Goss note that atheistic science is often based on assumptions, rather than evidence. For example, our physical laws are assumed to be “valid universally throughout time and space.” Yet, we can only observe a very small portion of the universe, so we are simply assuming everything acts the same everywhere else. And then, when someone comes across something extraordinary – something miraculous that seems to violate those laws – it will be rejected based on this assumption. And here Goss and Byl include a wonderful quote from G.K. Chesteron’s Orthodoxy. Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. Be like the Reformers – like something good on Facebook! Over at the Sheologians Facebook page, a tip on how we can be like the Reformers. “The Reformation could not have happened without the creation of the printing press and the revolution of mass communication. Social media is our printing press. Like things. Share them. Be the Reformers…” Galileo: the Church’s real mistake “Keep in mind that the battle between Galileo and the church was not a battle between science and mindless fundamentalism. It was a battle between new science and old science, and the error of the church had been that of getting into bed with the best science of the day. And we all know, as Max Planck put it, science advances funeral by funeral.” – Douglas Wilson (in Writers to Read)  The wit and wisdom of George Hebert George Hebert was best known as a Christian poet, but he published a collection of proverbs he collected over his lifetime. Here are a half dozen of the best. The scalded dog fears cold water – experiences can teach the wrong lesson Who gives to all, denies all – saying yes to every person who ask for your time is sure to shortchanges everyone A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders see farther of the two – even those with amazing parents should aim to do better than them, since you get to build on their work. Were there no hearers there would be no backbiters – it takes two to gossip; don’t listen Good and quickly seldom meet – most often it is one or the other Better suffer ill than do ill – better to be bullied, than be a bully ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - July 2018

A most wonderful secret "What does it feel like?" I asked. "To have a whole new person growing inside you?" My mom sat down on the couch and leaned back and thought for a while. A pretty smile spread over her face. "That's a big question," she said slowly, "A big answer. But I'll try. It feels like...it feels like you have the most wonderful secret that makes everything...Oh I know! Remember what you said when you got your kitten? You said that afterward, it sounded like all the regular noise in the world had turned to music. Well, that's what it's like, Clementine. The wonderful secret of having a baby coming makes all the world's noise turn into music." "Did you feel that way when you were going to have me too?" I asked. "Oh honey," my mom said, putting her arm around me. "I still feel like that with you." – author Sara Pennypacker, in her Clementine and the Family Meeting Dealing with fake news Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer has advice on what to do if we still can’t tell whether a story is fake or not. "…don't post it. If you have not, will not, or cannot confirm a story, do not share it. As Christians, we have a higher standard than even the journalist. We aren’t protecting the reputation of an organization or a website, we bear the name of our King. If our friends and families cannot trust us with this type of news, many will not listen when we seek to share the good news of the gospel." One flesh “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” – From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Genesis 2 One of God's favorite verses in the Bible? We all have our own favorite verses in the Bible, many of them comforting passages. The world’s favorite verse is probably Matthew 7:1a “Do not judge.” The verse that is share with the world most often might be John 3:16, written up large on poster board and displayed at football and baseball stadiums around North America. But Baptist pastor Jeff Durbin suggests that one of God’s favorite bible verses strikes a very different tone. Psalm 110:1 is the Old Testament verse that is most cited in the New Testament, and it proclaims Jesus’ sovereignty: "The Lord says to my Lord: “'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'” The wit and wisdom of George Hebert George Hebert was best known as a Christian poet, but he published a collection of proverbs he collected over his lifetime. Here are a half dozen of the best: A fool may throw a stone into a well which a hundred wise men cannot pull out – being destructive is easy; being constructive takes real effort Comparisons are odious – they are the root of discontent and covetousness One hour’s sleep before midnight is worth three after – we all know it He that steals an egg will steal an ox – there aren’t degrees of trustworthiness Luke was a saint and a physician, yet is dead – the prosperity doctrine is bunk The fat man knoweth not what the lean thinketh – we shouldn’t assume that just because we were once hungry (or young, or poor, or single, or jobless, or etc.) that we still completely understand what it is like. How to be a revolutionary When a Christian conference is titled “How to enrage the culture” you might think it would be encouraging radical and revolutionary means. And you’d be right, when you consider that getting married, having kids, and raising them in the fear and love of the Lord are pretty radical and revolutionary ideas these days. How radical and revolutionary? Well, one of the conference speakers, Pastor Toby Sumpter, shared this illustrative anecdote: “A few years ago, I’d come home from work, and my wife was finishing making dinner in the kitchen, and I was reading. She gets a phone call….some kind of alumni survey, and at the end they’re doing the demographic stuff. And I hear her say: ‘Homemaker….homeMAKER…HOMEMAKER!!! I’m a wife and a mom – that’s what I do!’ She gets off the phone a couple of minutes later and she shares, ‘The girl I was talking to had never heard of a homemaker.’” It’s time for the men to act like men “Imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and their had said: ‘The world is out of order. But if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’ “Such conduct on their part would have us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the infectious bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. It is today as it was in the Reformers’ days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man – where is the man for the day?” - Charles Spurgeon...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - June 2018

FUTURECASTING Dr. Kathy Koch has a saying that reflects the biblical thought Paul express in 1 Cor.15:33. She notes, “Show me your friends, and I will show you your future.” ALL MARRIAGES ARE MISTAKES “Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgment concerning whom, amongst the total chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the 'real soul-mate' is the one you are actually married to.” – JRR Tolkien, The Letters of JRR Tolkien (H/T to Nicholas McDonald) WEST COAST WHINE Sue arrived in BC on a rainy day. When she woke up the next day, it was raining. It also rained the day after that, and the day after that. And the day after that. Going out to lunch, she saw a young boy jumping in the puddles, and out of despair she asked, "Hey kid! Does it ever stop raining around here?" The boy replied, "How should I know? I'm only 8." SOURCE: Modified from a joke floating around the Internet BEING BEREAN The folks at WrathAndGrace.com have come up with a T-shirt that’s a challenge to fellow Christians. We have lots of beliefs, we have lots of opinions, lots of positions, but have we searched the Scriptures to find out if they match up with what God says? WHY THE END DOESN'T JUSTIFY THE MEANS “What have you and I to do with maintaining our influence and position at the expense of truth? It is never right to do a little wrong to obtain the greatest possible good… Your duty is to do the right: consequences are with God.” – John MacArthur, as cited in Iain Murray’s John MacArthur SATIRE'S KING KNEW A GOOD JOKE WHEN HE MET ONE Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) showed generations how to do satire right and it seems his comic genius came from an ability to spot humor wherever it was to be found. A story is told of him trudging through a field, when he spotted a boy leaning lazily against a fence post. Swift asked the boy for direction to the nearby town to which the boy’s only reply was to shift his boot slightly, pointing the way with his toe. Swift laughed, and offered the boy a shilling if he could manage anything any lazier than what he had just done. The boy replied, “Put the shilling in my pocket.” SOURCE: Fintan O’Toole’s “The Genius of Creative Destruction” in the Dec. 19, 2013 edition of The New York Review ON PRAISING EFFORT, NOT TALENT Luke Gilkerson is best known for his expertise in helping parents protect their children from online dangers. But in his book Parenting the Internet Generation, he shows he’s got wisdom to share on all aspects of parenting. Resist the urge to praise your children in a way that labels them. Statements like “You’re so smart,” “You’re so kind,” “You’re my little Picasso” do our children very little good. Research shows when we praise children like this, labeling them as “smart” or “good,” this does not give them confidence. Instead they become highly sensitive to failure. Rather focus on praising the effort they put forth. If they show kindness to their sibling, tell them you’re glad they are working on paying attention to the needs of others. If they get an A on an exam, instead of telling they must be the smartest kid in class, ask them how they studied for the test and commend them for their work. Instead of giving our children an identity as “good” or “smart,” commend them for using their God-given talents and energy wisely. ABRAHAM LINCOLN ON TRANSGENDERISM? How's this for a great illustration for the transgender debate? Abraham Lincoln once told the story of a boy who was asked, how many legs would a calf have if we called its tail a leg. The boy replied, that it must be five. But he was corrected, because, after all, simply calling a tail a leg, doesn’t make it a leg. So it would seem that Lincoln understood that no matter what words we might use, words can't change the nature of a thing – a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, and a man by any other name is still what he always was. But here's the problem – he told this story in the context of considering whether he could, simply by Executive Order, free the slaves in the South. It seems, people wanted him to, and his response was, in effect "Guys, Executive Orders don't have that power, and you can't just make them have that power by saying that they do." And then, shortly afterward, we all know what happened. He issued an Executive Order called the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. And it worked...eventually (first, they actually had to conquer the South). So this is one of those great illustrations that, on closer examination, serves to make almost the opposite point. It seems you can change the nature of some things just by saying so - if you just declare an Executive Order can free slaves (and enough people agree) then it can. So does that mean men can become women? Nope. It just shows that some things are changeable. Just as Lincoln's Proclamation did actually free the slaves just because he declared the Order to have that power, so too I can (sometimes) change a dour mood by declaring my happiness with as much gusto as I can muster. I've become happy just because I've said it is should be so. This clarifies one point in the gender debate – we were never trying to say that all things are fixed and unchangeable. We were only arguing that gender is not one of those changeable things. And roses too. Roses are still roses, and smell just as sweet, even if you call them limburger cheese. Of course, Lincoln's quip about the 5-legged calf does still highlight that some things are fixed. But there are no shortage of good illustrations for that point. So this one is best left tucked away in the history books.  ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - May 2018

“Pastor, I already know how to farm better than I do” In an April 16 post at nouthetic.org, Donn R. Arms recounts how, as a young pastor in a rural western town, he eagerly shared with one of the deacons about his plans to attend “the latest and greatest conferences on church growth.” The deacon gave a surprising response; he said: “Pastor, I already know how to farm better than I do.” As Arms notes: “It was, of course, his kind and gentle way of telling me we simply need to do the things we already knew to do rather than constantly seeking the next big thing to make our church grow.” In praise of peppermints “…William Dember, a professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati, has conducted a study of the impact of the scent of peppermint on people required to do "sustained vigilance tasks." What did he find? That the mere smell of peppermint increased attentiveness and concentration by 15 percent! ….If the mere smell of peppermints can increase concentration, think what the smell and taste can do! It appears, then, that Reformed people have been entirely correct in maintaining the custom of eating peppermints at the beginning of the sermon.” – Bert Witvoet, as quoted in the July 10, 2017 Christian Courier The media…on the media “It’s a business. People are like, the media has an ethical pshsss… All the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable. Yeah, this is a business.” – CNN Senior Producer John Bonifield, as caught on a video published June 27 by James O’Keefe’s undercover investigative unit, Project Veritas Write your eulogy “…it's time to write your eulogy -- your good (eu) word (logos). What would you like someone to be able to say honestly in seven minutes? ….There should be more to your life than your résumé. If there isn't, start working on improving your eulogy. Then work backward.” – Gary North in the March 18, 2017 edition of Dr. Gary North’s Weekly Tip Different sorts of smart Our children have their unique gifts, and if they are going to develop these gifts we need to help identify them. For some kids that’s easy: they are good at school, and so it is no problem to spot that they are “book smart.” But God blesses our children with a variety of talents, so there are other sorts of “smart.” As Dr. Kath Koch has put it, some kids are: Music smart – some kids have a song in their heart and head from day one. Body smart – good at sports, and maybe working with their hands too Nature smart – love and appreciate God’s great outdoors and everything in it People smart – they connect while with all sorts of people, and can empathize Self smart – they understand their own gifts, and can work on their own These are good categories to consider, but we could make up quite different ones if we wanted to. The point is that God has given our children different gifts and abilities, and instead of dwelling on what they might lack, we’ll do better to ask: “What sort of gifts has God given my child?” Failure to launch – one reason why “Summarizing relevant research in 2013, The Boston Globe reported a staggering statistic: Only a quarter of Americans 60 and older had discussed anything important with anyone under 36 in the previous six months! Exclude relatives and that figure dropped to a mortifying 6 percent. How alien this would have sounded to the Apostle Paul, who in Titus 2 urges older men and older women to teach the younger.” - John Stonestreet, in a May 16, 2017 Breakpoint.org commentary To arms! “Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win victory.” – J.C. Ryle in “What it costs to be a Christian” Atheism explains nothing “Atheism…is the ultimate non-explanation, ‘explaining’ by denying that explanations exist. ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ No reason. ‘What caused everything?’ Nothing. ‘What accounts for Morality?’ There is no Morality to account for. ‘Why is there Evil in the world?’ There is no real Evil in the world since there is no real Morality. ‘What is wrong with the world?’ Nothing. It just is. ‘How do we fix the world?’ We can’t fix what’s not broken.” - Greg Koukl, in Stand to Reason’s January 2, 2018 Solid Ground newsletter...