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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 – November 2020

Famous phrases from the Bible The influence of God’s Word on our culture is such that even those who have never cracked open a Bible aren’t likely to name their kids Jezebel, Judas, or Cain. There are, however, some common phrases that even believers might not know have biblical origins. A drop in the bucket – Isaiah 40:15 says, “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.” The writing is on the wall – In Daniel 5, King Belshazzar sees “the fingers of a human hand” appear and write a message on his wall which he then gets Daniel to interpret…and it isn’t good news for the king who is killed that very night. Rise and shine – This morning wake-up call, common to mothers the world over, may come from the call for God’s people to “Arise, shine” in Isaiah 60:1. Seeing eye to eye ­­– Isaiah 52:8, in some translations, about watchmen on the city walls being in agreement. Go the extra mile – Jesus urges us to this in Matthew 5:41 Reading between the lines – This doesn’t come from any specific chapter or verse, but from a translating practice done to some Latin Bibles, where another language would be written directly above the Latin text. Asked and answered It’s a question we’ve all heard: how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  But does anyone know the answer? It turns out some researchers at Cornell University discovered that if you provide woodchucks with chunks of 2 by 4s, then they can chuck wood…even if they normally choose not to. "Chucking” of a sort does occur when they dig out their burrows, though this involves dirt, not wood. Naturalist Richard Thomas estimated that a woodchuck burrow is about 35 cubic meters. Making a bit of a leap of logic he then presumed, if they can throw that much dirt, then they should be able to throw just as much wood, right? And a pile of wood with that volume would weigh, around 700 pounds. So there you have it! SOURCE Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges Into the Universe, pages 445-446 J.C. Ryle on backsliding “It is a miserable thing to be a backslider. Of all unhappy things that can befall a man, I suppose this is the worst. A stranded ship, a broken wing, a garden overrun with weeds, a harp without strings, a church in ruins - all these are sad sights; but a backslider is a sadder sight still. “That true grace shall never be extinguished, a true union with Christ never broken off, I feel no doubt. But I do believe that a man may fall away so far that he will lose sight of his own grace, and despair of his own salvation. And if this is not hell, it is certainly the next thing to it! A wounded conscience, a mind sick of itself, a memory full of self-reproach, and a heart pierced through with the Lord’s arrows, a spirit broken with a load of inward accusations, all this is a taste of hell. It is hell on earth. Truly that saying of the wise man is solemn and weighty: ‘The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways’ (Prov.14:14). “Now, what is the cause of most backsliding? I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is the neglect of private prayer. Of course, the secret history of falls will not be known until the last day. I can only give my opinion as a minister of Christ and a student of the heart. That opinion is, I repeat distinctly, that backsliding generally first begins with the neglect of prayer. “Bibles read without prayer, sermons heard without prayer, marriages contracted without prayer, journeys undertaken without prayer, residences chosen without prayer, friendships formed without prayer, the daily act of prayer itself hurried over or gone through without heart, these are the kinds of downward steps whereby many a Christian descends to a condition of spiritual palsy, or reaches a point where God allows him to have a tremendous fall.” English is a weird language If you’ve ever wondered why English is thought to be one of the harder languages to learn, contronyms are a clue: these are words that mean their own opposite. These examples should have us commiserating with our immigrant parents or grandparents who had to somehow make sense of them all: Apology: repenting from an action or defending it Bolt: to keep from moving or to run away Clip: to attach something on or to cut it off Dust: to remove fine particulate matter or to add it. Fast: describing something stuck firmly or moving quickly Literally: factually or metaphorically Left: still here or already gone Resign: only a contronym in writing, where it means either to quit or to sign up again Transparent: being invisible or being obvious Weather: to be worn away by or to stand up to, the elements Advanced math "There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one." – G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday Did they or didn't they? The best quotes aren't always by the people they are supposed to be by. Sometimes they are altered, improved, and essentially abbreviated versions of something they really did say. Other times, it might be something they said, but no one can find a source to prove it. Regardless some are really worth repeating. Here's a collection of great quotes credited to the person who is popularly, but probably incorrectly, credited with saying them. “Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once and He volunteered.” - RC Sproul "Love is a game two can play and both can win." - Eva Gabor “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefront besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” - Martin Luther “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing – they believe in anything.” - G.K. Chesterton “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” - Winston Churchill “Telephone” with a twist In the game “telephone” one friend whispers a sentence to a friend, and the message gets passed along the line quietly one by one. By the time it gets to the end of the line the message, through repeated “mishears” has been altered, sometimes to an unrecognizable extent, and to the great amusement of all. In a version of the game called “Predicament and Remedies” the first person shares some kind of “predicament” and their neighbor passes along, not that predicament, but a one sentence, fairly detailed, remedy for it. The person who hears the remedy then has to pass along a one-sentence, detailed predicament that remedy might solve, and so on and so on. So, for example, if we start with “My scuba airhose is leaking” the next in line might whisper “Wrap duct tape around the hose” to which the next in line might say “my vacumn hose has a hole it it.” The trick here is to leave some room for ambiguity, but not too much. “Buy a new one” wouldn’t be a good fix for any remedy because it is too general and a match for too many things, but something like “learn how to read upside down” would be great fun. The more creative the predicament or rememdy, the funnier the result. ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - October 2020

Move just one stick to fix the equation I thought there were three right answers, but after posting a version of this to Facebook, friends helped uncover three more. So there are at least 6…but 3 of them include what could be consider “cheats” (that’s a hint). You can find the answers at the bottom of this post. Reformed one-liners worth unpacking On the “Reformed Pub” Facebook group, member Matthew Mannucci started a discussion about “famous one liners” from some more recent Reformed leaders and he started things off with the first one below. Most of the offerings were not self-explanatory so a brief bit of context is provided but if your curiosity is sparked, be sure to google them. While these gentleman all have their different strengths and weaknesses, the sermons and conversations that spawned these one-liners are gold. “What’s wrong with you people?” – R.C. Sproul, in response to the question "Since God is slow to anger and patient, then why when Man first sinned was his wrath and punishment so severe and long lasting?" “I don’t know why you’re clapping; I’m talking about you.” – Paul Washer to a youthful audience that doesn't understand he is admonishing them. Tim Challies gives his 10-minute take here. “Steal his wallet.” – R.C. Sproul on how to respond to someone who says there is no such thing as sin. “Jesus wants the rose!” – Matt Chandler on who could ever want a broken, almost pedal-free rose that a pastor was using to represent anyone who had been sexually impure. “It is better to lose your life than to waste it.” – John Piper C.S. Lewis on the problem with materialism “If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e. of materialism and astronomy – are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milkjug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.” - C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics Glorying in ignorance When Charles Spurgeon met a fellow proud to be an agnostic, the preacher used a quick bit of translation work to illustrate how strange it is to be prideful on this point. One walking with me observed, with some emphasis, "I do not believe as you do. I am an Agnostic." “Oh,” I said to him. "Yes. That is a Greek word, is it not? The Latin word, I think, is ignor'amus." He did not like it at all. Yet I only translated his language from Greek to Latin. These are queer waters to get into, when all your philosophy brings you is the confession that you know nothing, and…enables you to glory in your ignorance.”  – “The rowers have brought thee into great waters” preached Dec. 12, 1886 Stewardship at the gas pump For years now the site GasBuddy.com has been helping thrifty folks in Canada, the US, and Australia find the best local prices for filling up our vehicles. Clarity can come from closeness When faced with any big decision Christians will pray for clarity because it becomes so much easier to take even very difficult tasks when we know that, yes, this is something we really should be doing. But how does God provide that clarity? In a blog post on fostering children, Jason Johnson (JasonJohnsonBlog.com) shares how clarity can come by moving closer. “Sometimes our prayers for more ‘clarity’ are answered with a call for more proximity. From a distance we say, ‘God show me the way!’ and He responds with, ‘Just move closer and you’ll see.’ And a lot of your questions about fostering are only answered through this kind of proximity. The closer you get the more you see and the clearer things become. You begin to see things you can never unsee, hear things you can never unhear, know things you can never unknow and then suddenly, nothing can ever be the same again. You simply cannot pretend it doesn’t exist anymore. “ Science's "sliding scare of trust" “Science” is often brought into discussions to end them. Whether we’re talking about overpopulation, or global warming, or evolution, or now the efficacy of masks and lockdowns, science will be invoked to declare that this or that is so, and that only “deniers” would say otherwise. What this mike-drop trades on is the reputation science has garnered via some of its greatest hits: cars, smartphones, heat pumps, microwaves, flat screen TVs, laser-eye surgery, gluten-free pizza, and so much more. The great and glorious "science” has given us much, so who would be foolish enough to question it? But wait just one moment: there’s science and then there’s science. In the Creation/Evolution debate a useful distinction is made between operational science and historical science. Discovering a good gluten-free pizza is all about the former: endless experimentation, and then, when one proves successful, duplicating that same experiment time after time. That’s where the reliability comes in: it is based on repeated experimentation – repeated checks – that can verify whether something is right or not. In contrast historical science is about events that can’t be repeated, like the origins of the universe, or the Earth, or Man. So, this sort of science is very different...and doesn't deserve the same sort of respect. What Paul Price and Robert Carter call science's "sliding scale of trust" is also relevant in modeling big events going forward too. It’s one thing to say we’ve discovered a good gluten-free pizza dough (and really, have we even achieved that yet?) and quite another to say we understand what the weather will be like one hundred, or even ten year hence. To explain just how uncertain such conclusions really are, Price and Carter quote from Michael Crichton’s book Jurassic Park where a key character, mathematician and philosopher Ian Malcolm illustrate that uncertainty: “Chaos theory says two things. First, that complex systems like weather have an underlying order. Second, the reverse of that—that simple systems can produce complex behavior. For example, pool balls. You hit a pool ball, and it starts to carom off the sides of the table. In theory, that’s a fairly simple system, almost a Newtonian system. "Since you can know the force imparted to the ball, and the mass of the ball, and you can calculate the angles at which it will strike the walls, you can predict the future behavior of the ball. In theory, you could predict the behavior of the ball far into the future, as it keeps bouncing from side to side. You could predict where it will end up three hours from now, in theory… "But in fact … it turns out you can’t predict more than a few seconds into the future. Because almost immediately very small effects—imperfections in the surface of the ball, tiny indentations in the wood of the table—start to make a difference. And it doesn’t take long before they overpower your careful calculations. So it turns out that this simple system of a pool ball on a table has unpredictable behavior.” If we have to be humble about where the pool balls will land, then we should know that even more humility is in order when dealing with systems or situations that are far more complex. SOURCE: Paul Price and Robert Carter’s Creation.com article: “Historical Science, Chaos Theory, and the sliding scale of trust” posted Oct. 1, 2020 Sound to sooth the savage baby breast When a baby would wake in the middle of the night, and nothing seemed capable of soothing her, I had one go-to trick that could. I’d boot up my computer and head to SimplyNoise.com, a site that offered different sorts of soothing noises that, when paired with a soothing backrub from dad, would send the little one off to sleep. That site used to be free and while it is no longer, I ran across another that is: Noises.online offers the sounds of crackling fires, calm rainstorms, babbling conversation, straight white noise and many more that you can even combine with one another. If you have a kid just cracking their first tooth, I highly recommend it! Answers to "Move just one stick to fix the equation" The first three below are the "easy" ones, and the next three required some serious thinking outside the box. 0+4=4 8-4=4 5+4=9 5+4≠4 9-4≠4 9-Y≠4 H/T to Martha DeGelder...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - September 2020

When the pastor fell asleep Maybe you already knew that Charles Spurgeon was called the "Prince of Preachers," with more than 3,500 published sermons. But did you know he didn’t even stop when he slept?  Marshall Shelley shared the story of how, one Saturday night, Spurgeon began to talk in his sleep. “His wife, Susannah, heard the noise and awoke. She realized her husband was preaching, so she listened attentively and in the morning gave her husband a detailed summary. A few hours later, he preached that sermon to his congregation.” SOURCE: “From the editor: Sleepy Preacher” Relationships take time Jay Younts wants parents to understand that they won’t be the biggest influence on their children’s lives if they aren’t investing time. "If teenagers are listening to three hours of TV every day and averaging five minutes a day talking with their dads, who is winning the influence battle?" And as a Frank Viola points out, what’s true for parents and our children is also true for us and God. "In Willard Harley’s marvelous book on marital relationships – His Needs, Her Needs – Harley observes that in order for couples to stay emotionally connected, they need to spend 15 hours a week together. The point there is that for any relationship to flourish, there must be intentional time spent for communication and presence..... It’s no different with our relationship to Jesus. If we neglect Him, we’ll eventually shrivel up spiritually. Our lives will be overtaken by 'the cares of this life,' 'the lust/desire for other things,' and 'the deceitfulness of money' – all of which choke out God’s life (Mark 4:19)." The 7 deadly medical conditions In the August issue of Faith in Focus in his article "The sin of gluttony," Dr. Hans Snoek discusses how we've "medicalized" many a sin: “…the seven deadly sins were Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath and Sloth. It is not for me to discuss the status of these sins as ‘deadly’ or otherwise but Scripture confirms that all of these characteristics of a human being are sinful….It is noteworthy that these seven sins have, in the 21st Century, become one virtue followed by six medical conditions! Pride is the 21st-century virtue, pride is being encouraged for all, raise your self-esteem is almost a mantra of the age.” Theistic evolution flips the script... “The Bible teaches that Adam produced death. The opposing view has to say that in some manner death produced Adam.” - Douglas Wilson Even the post-modernist knows there are absolutes Ravi Zacharias has a favorite story he tells about an encounter with a deconstructionist/postmodern building. As he describes it, “…inside you encounter stairways that go nowhere, pillars that hang from the ceiling without purpose, and angled surfaces configured to create a sense of vertigo.” What’s the point? Zacharias explained that when the artist was questioned the man answered: "If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?” But as Zacharias went on to explain, this postmodern building, with its dead ends and useless pillars was still very well designed, because even as the designer pretended to flout all the rules of design, he had to acknowledge them and submit to them. “When the rationale was explained to me, I had just one question: Did he do the same with the foundation? “The laughter in response to my question unmasked the double standard espouse. And that is precisely the double standard of atheism! It is possible to dress up and romanticize our bizarre experiments in social restructuring while disavowing truth or absolutes. But one dares not play such deadly games with the foundations of good thinking.”  Evil isn’t just out there Right since Adam and Eve, mankind has been very good at the blame game – it's always someone else's fault, isn't it? But no, as the gents below highlight, the battle starts closer to home. “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human heart.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago “Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What is Wrong with the World,’ I am. Yours truly.” – G.K. Chesterton Men ≠ women “A study in The Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: ‘Duh!’” – Conan O’Brien We honor God with obedience…not results Martin Luther is credited with saying, "If I knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, I would plant an apple tree today!" Whether the attribution is correct, it highlights that we don't know what tomorrow might bring, therefore it is the means and not the ends that are in our hands. It is only the means then, with which we can glorify God, and not uncertain results. Or as Mike Ratliff has put it: “…I had always assumed that when God gives us a message or lesson or sermon or counsel in which to write or teach or preach or give to those who need to hear it, He would also cause those hearing it to recognize it as the truth, believe it, and obey it. Reality hit hard. The principle I learned was that God is glorified when we obey Him whether the results of our obedience meet our expectations or not.”...

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 – March 2020

It’s so easy to get things wrong While doing evangelism, Christian apologist Ray Comfort will often ask his conversational partner a series of quick trick questions. The goal is to provoke a little humility by highlighting how easy it is to get things wrong. So take this quiz (or better, yet, give it to a friend...who can take a joke) and then look at the bottom of this page to see how well you really did. How many of the unclean animal did Moses take onto the Ark? What is the name of that raised print that deaf people use? Spell the word shop. What do you do when you come to a green light? It's noon. You look at the clock, and the big hand is on the three, and the little hand is on the five. What time is it? You are the driver of a train. There are 30 people on board. At the first stop, 10 people get off the train. At the next stop, 5 people get on the train. Here is the question: What is the name of the driver of the train? Spell the word silk. What do cows drink? And here’s one Comfort doesn’t use, but should: What mouse walks on two legs?   I don’t know. Mickey Mouse! What dog walks on two legs?   Goofy? Right! And what duck walks on two legs?   Donald Duck! All ducks walk on two legs! Troublemaking Bruce Jenner, who now goes by the name of Caitlyn, was an Olympic decathlete in the 1970s, and his personal best in the 400-meter is still better than any woman has ever run. If feelings can determine a person’s gender, then why doesn’t Caitlyn own the women’s 400-meter world record? Lies and statistics, and spanking... Every now and again the mainstream media will splash news of the very latest spanking study, which will report that spanking is "linked to aggression, antisocial behavior, mental health problems, cognitive difficulties, low self-esteem, and a host of other negative outcomes." That study will then be used as evidence that spanking needs to be banned. But if we look beyond the headline we'll find that whatever the latest study might be, it makes two fundamental errors. First, it will label as "spanking" anything physical that a parent did as a punishment for their child. That a child who is regularly beaten by his drunken father will have problems at school, is presented as evidence that a child who sometimes gets three smacks to his behind will also have trouble at school. Second, despite knowing that correlation does not imply causation, the press will report as if this is the exception to the rule, instead of looking for any sort of possible alternate explanation for the findings. What might an alternative explanation be? If I were a betting man I would put all my fortune down on this: were we to do a study of children who crayola the hallway wall, and then go outside to make mud pies so they can feed them to their napping, open-mouthed big sister, we would find that they are more likely than their peers to get spanked. In other words, it might well be that spankings don't lead to these "negative outcomes" but rather that a child's disposition to negative outcomes requires a parent to spank them more often. As any parent with two or more children can tell you, one of their kids will require more discipline than the others. And it isn't the especially good one. Get ready to be reviled "Pastors need to teach their people about how to handle with grace being looked down on more then ever before. I heard of John Stott reflecting that as a young man at Cambridge when people said ‘O he's a Christian,’ what they meant was that he was a goody-two-shoes. But now to be called a Christian means that you are viewed as a morally-deficient person, because you have not swallowed the gay agenda.” – Dr. John E Benton, Evangelicals Now, July 2012, on how the world will change as gay marriage becomes the norm. More troublemaking Our culture is insane, as is on clear display with what they think about sexual education. To put that insanity on better display here’s an idea from frequent RP contributor Rob Slane that lays out a couple of pointed questions a brave troublemaking Christian could ask university professors or sex-ed teachers. "I imagine a teenager in a sex education lesson asking the following question: 'Miss. Assuming I take precautions, would it would be safer for me to have 3 partners or 300?' No brainer of course, and even the most progressive of teachers would have to admit that 3 is 'safer' than 300. Simple mathematical probabilities this one: the lower the number, the 'safer the sex.' "In which case a really mischievous teenager – a true rebel you might say – might ask the following question: 'Miss, is it safer to only have 1 partner for life, or multiple? And if it’s 1 – which it is – and if this is a safe-sex lesson – which it is – why do you not advocate it?'” Faint heart never won fair lady “Many a man has known a great woman, yet did not win her because, out of fear, he failed to pursue her.  Every man understands this, both the brave man who has risked it all (and won or lost) and the timid man who did not dare.  The battle to take the great action required at these ‘make it or break it’ moments is won or lost privately, deep in the heart.” – Patrick F. Fagan Answers for "It’s so easy to get things wrong" Moses didn't take any animals on the ark; Noah did. Deaf people don't need special raised print; Braille is for the blind. You certainly don't stop. We told you, it's noon. Remember, you are the driver of the train. While calves might drink milk, cows drink water. ...

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 - May 2019

The world's love hurts In a presentation by Jonathon Van Maren on euthanasia and assisted suicide the pro-life apologist repeatedly cited Proverbs 12:10b "...the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." He raised the verse as an explanation for what's happening in the euthanasia debate, where the Liberal government is pretending it is compassionate to help a desperate person kill himself. But this is also a good explanation of the abortion debate, where abortion doctors tell themselves they are helping women by killing their offspring. They do this in the name of love, but it is a love that isn't in accord with what God says is loving. It is tender cruelty. And what about our society's tender mercies to men who want to be women? God says He created male and female, and these fellows say, no it isn't so. Our society, in their tolerance and understanding, encourages these men to lop off bits that they will never get back. We'd call it mutilation if they did it to an arm or leg, but because this act is in direct defiance of what God says about gender - that He defines it, not us - the world celebrates these amputations. What tender cruelty indeed. A mother-in- joke Having been married twenty years a couple decided to celebrate by taking a little trip. While talking over their plans one evening the husband now and then glanced into the next room where a little old lady sat knitting. “The only thing,” he finally said in a hushed voice, “is that for once I’d like to be by ourselves. I’d like to take this trip without your mother.” “My mother!” exclaimed the wife, “I thought she was your mother!” Why are things so bad? Aleksander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was a Russian historian, most famous for his three-volume The Gulag Archipelago, which recounted his own, and others, experience in the Soviet Union’s cruel forced labor prison camps. His lifetime spanned the complete history of the Soviet Union, so he was often asked to explain why it was that the USSR became the horror that it did. In his 1983 Templeton Address he credited it to one thing: More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years… I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.  The tolerance buzzsaw “The diversity crowd has two fundamental tenets. The first is that they have an absolute commitment to free speech. And the second is, ‘Shut up!’” - Douglas Wilson How idolatry sneaks up on us We aren’t in any danger of bowing to big stone statues, or wooden totems – that sort of obvious idolatry isn’t going to trip us up. But there is another sort that sometimes catches us unawares, which Luke Gilkerson describes in his new (and excellent) book Parenting the Internet Generation (which can be downloaded for free here): The things we turn into idols are often not, in themselves, bad things. Most of the time they are good things that have become ultimate things to us – anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. An idol is most often a good desire that has become a very bad master. Family is important, and friends too. A successful business can employ many, and allow you to donate generous sums to God’s work. A running or workout routine can help keep you healthy. Christian political activism can save unborn lives. These are good, wonderful, and important things, and that is precisely where the danger lies. Clear evils sometimes grab hold of us – many professing Christians are hooked on pornography – but then we at least understand (hopefully!) that a battle needs to be fought. However, when the idol is something good, then the devil can hit us with a more subtle attack. All he wants us to do is bump up a secondary priority one notch. Gender differences and Christian common sense Dr. Leonard Sax is a rude and daring man. He’s daring because he’s willing to highlight the differences between the genders. And rude because he not only points out areas where girls outpace boys but also highlights ways in which boys outperform girls. The author of Why Gender Matters explained in an interview with the National Post (Feb 24, 2005) that one of the most interesting differences that exist between boys and girls is how they deal with stress, and how they regard sex. For example, he notes that educational ads that stress the harm drugs do to brain cells will affect boys and girls very differently: Girls don’t want to ruin their brains. But risk-taking boys – who are exactly the boys who are most at risk for using drugs – will see an ad like that and think “Way cool! Drugs fry your brain! Where can I get some?” Girls and boys also have premarital sex for very different reasons: High self-esteem decreases the odds of a teenage girl having sex, but increases the odds of a teenage boy having sex. Participation in competitive sports such as soccer and basketball decreases the odds of a girl having sex, but increases the odds of a boy having sex. The Bible makes it clear that God gave men and women different roles, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to us that He made men and women quite different. As Sax has found out, boys and girls really are different. In the world that’s a controversial idea, but to us it should be just a matter of common sense - Christian common sense. ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - April 2019

Strong men can laugh “Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.” – G.K. Chesterton An iPhone Hack to Try “Two months ago, I pulled the trigger on a revolutionary move for me: I deleted the internet from my iPhone. I have access to all my essential apps, but I no longer have social media or access to any websites. I can do a quick Google search, but nothing more. I. Am. So. Glad I did. “It broke my addictive habit of staring off into iPhone-world, and I don't miss it a bit. I wish I did, actually: it would justify the *3 hours* of time (according to Screentime) I've saved every day NOT looking at my phone. “Here's how to do it: Under Settings > Screentime > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Web Content choose "Allowed Websites Only" and don't choose any except a few that you need access to (the only one I allowed was my bank account's website, connected to my banking app). “Do it. Try it for a week. Write me then.” – Nicholas McDonald, reprinted with permission from his email newsletter The Bard Owl (ScribblePreach.com). Two jests are better than one A horse walks into a bar and orders ten beers which he quickly downs. The bartender says, “Wow – don’t you think you’re drinking too much?” The horse ponders for a minute and then responds, “I don’t think I am.” And poof, he disappears. It’s at this point that the philosophy students reading this joke start to snicker, familiar as they are with Descartes’ postulate: “I think, therefore I am.” The rest of us might have wished for some mention of the postulate right at the start. But that would have been putting Descartes before the horse. SOURCE: A Joke making its way around the Internet On giving “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill Don’t do the “dismal science” dismally "It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a 'dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance." - Murray Rothbard (echoing the wisdom of Prov. 10:19) Curing the postmodern disease During the two years RC Sproul Jr. taught university freshman English it became clear that many of his students had succumbed to the sickness of postmodernism. But Sproul was ready with a cure for their disease. In a 2006 speech he recounted how he administered the cure to one student: “ student in the back blurted out, ‘There’s no such thing as objective truth.’ Just like that. “And I said to him ‘you get an F in this class for this semester’ and then I went back to the conversation we were having. And, of course, in the corner of my eye I could see his blood pressure rising, and his face getting redder and redder. And he’s holding his hand up. “‘Yes what is it?’ “What do you think he said? ‘That’s not fair!’ “I strung him along a little longer. I said, ‘I’m sorry. You must have misunderstood me. I’m not giving you the F because anybody stupid enough to say there’s no such thing as objective truth obviously deserves an F. That’s not my thinking at all! You misunderstood. No, I’m just giving you the F because I want to.’ And then I went back to the rest of the class. “He got madder. By now some of the students had figured it out. Some of them hadn’t, including that one. And he said, ‘I’ll tell the administration!’ “Finally I had pity on him and I said, ‘What are you going to tell them? Are you going to tell them I have failed to measure up to some external, objective, transcendent standard of what’s right and wrong? Because you told me there is no such thing!’ “‘Oh… okay. Well… I guess there is.’ “‘Welcome back to the human race,’ and then we went on with our business.” SOURCE: Speech entitled: “The Weapons of our Warfare: Beauty” If it can’t be bad, it can’t be good "Where people might say, 'well, that's a bad Hopper, or a bad El Greco,' I've never seen anyone say 'that's a bad Pollock.' Either they're all bad, or they're all good." - Robert Cenedella arguing that abstract paintings (such as the work of Jackson Pollock) with its uncertain standards, are not great art.                 Picture credit: neftali / Shutterstock.com...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - March 2019

Chesterton on whether love is blind The world tells us that we shouldn't try to change those we love, that if we really love them then we will be able to look past their faults. Love, we are told, is blind. G.K. Chesterton knew better. As he explained in Orthodoxy "Love is not blind; that is the last thing it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind." If we love only because we believe our spouse to be perfect, then what will happen when their faults are found out? That sort of "love" will fall to pieces. But if there is commitment – if the two are bound tightly as one – then there is no need for blindness. Then we can acknowledge our flaws, and as a couple work together to fight them. In love we can help one another's sanctification. Bound is so much better than blind. How many types of people? While there are just two types of people in the world – those willing to ask for directions, and men – that has become a contentious point. But after doing some extensive research we’ve discovered that even as the binary nature of Mankind is being disputed in the broader culture, in the world of humor the consensus still leans heavily towards just two. There are 10 types of people in the world: those who get binary and those who don’t. There are 3 types of people in the world: those that can count and those that can’t. There are 2 types of people in the world: those who have the paper come up over the toilet roll, and monsters. There are 2 types of people in the world: those who think there are 2 types of people in the world, and those who don't. There are 2 types of people in the world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data There are 2 types of people in the world: those who finish jokes... The quotable Churchill Britain’s bulldog was never short of witticisms worth pondering. “In politics when you are in doubt what to do, do nothing... when you are in doubt what to say, say what you really think.” “The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.” If you were to invent a god... There are many invented gods and the inventions are easy to spot. Like most fiction, they are based on what the authors already knew. Consider the Greek and Romans gods: petty, combative, lustful and jealous... just like us. These gods had very human foibles and follies, only magnified. But, as Charles Colson notes in his book God and Government the one true God is very different. "...for those who insist that God is created by man, perhaps the most telling argument is to consider the nature and character of the God revealed in the Bible. If we were making up our own god, would we create one with such absolute demands for justice, righteousness, service, and self-sacrifice as we find in the biblical texts? (As someone has said, Moses didn’t come down from the mountain with the Ten Suggestions!) "Would Israel’s powerful elite have concocted such declarations as, 'He defended the cause of the poor and needy...Is that not what it means to know me?' Would the pious New Testament religious establishment have created a God who condemned them for their own hypocrisy? Would even a zealous disciple have invented a Messiah who called His followers to sell all, give their possessions to the poor, and follow Him to their deaths? The skeptic who believes the Bible’s human authors manufactured their God out of psychological need has not read the Scriptures carefully." Teaching our kids media literacy “As your kids get a little older, if they want to spend time consuming media, get into the habit of rather than saying yes or no, instead say, 'Convince me.' Ask them to articulate why a specific TV show, movie, or game benefits their life in some way. This is not to be glib, but to really hear what they have to say. It forces them to not treat media time as a default mode, but to see it as a privilege that impacts their hearts and minds.” – Luke Gilkerson, in his free e-book Parenting the Internet Generation. (You do have to give your name and email address but it is highly recommended.) Geoffrey Chaucer on the pull of porn on your kids too Some parents make the mistake of thinking it is only bad kids – other people’s kids – who get sucked in by the lure of pornography. Well, Geoffrey Chaucer has a thought for you. Ful ofte tyme I rede that no man truste in his owene perfeccioun, but he be stronger than Sampson, and hoolier than David, and wiser than Salomon. If you didn’t quite catch that, here’s an updated version: I’ve read that no man should trust his own perfection unless he is stronger than Sampson, and holier than David, and wiser than Solomon. These here are the strongest, wisest, and most devoted, men in the Bible and they all succumbed to sexual sin. Do we really think our kids are so much better than them? Let’s not be that naïve (1 Cor. 10:12). While our children are not strong enough to stand up to temptation on their own, they can run to Jesus, relying on His strength and not their own. This means regularly talking to Him in prayer and hearing from Him by reading His Word. We also need to teach our children how to use God-given wisdom in fleeing digital sin by using accountability partners (Eccl 4:12), or by going to the seemingly extreme measures of “cutting off” (Matt. 5:29-30) certain apps, and eliminating or severely curtailing their smartphone or Internet access. But we can't go on doing nothing, and pretending our kids are, "stronger than Sampson...holier than David, and wiser than Solomon." ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - February 2019

Satire, impactful satire Turnabout is fair play Rebutting a secular argument can be as simple as applying its logic more broadly. Samuel Sey (@SlowToWrite), a Reformed black blogger, gave a pro-life example of this with his January 14 tweet: Her: "You're a man. You can't say abortion is wrong!" Me: "If a White cop wanted to shoot me in my face, would you defend me?" Her: "Yes, I would." Me: "But you're White. You can't say racism is wrong" Her: O_O Me: "My gender, your ethnicity, doesn't mean we can't speak up." Who do you want to know better? In a holiday ad (for Spanish speakers) the furniture giant IKEA gathered several families, seating each clan around a large table where a holiday feast was prepared with all the trimmings. Then a quiz started: if a person answered the question correctly they could stay and keep eating, but if they got something wrong they had to leave. Initially, everyone found the quiz easy, correctly answering questions like: What animal filters can you find on Instagram stories? Can you demonstrate the “swish swish” (or “floss”) dance? What is the latest Instagram feature? Can you finish a lyric from this current song? What does this text message abbreviation mean? How did this celebrity couple meet? But when the questions became more personal the answers stopped coming: How did your parents meet? What exactly is your dad’s job? What degrees does your grandma have? What’s your son’s favorite group? What’s your wife’s dream? What has your mother been studying recently? Some family members tried to guess the right answer, but one after another, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, grandparents too, had to get up and leave. Finally, there was one solitary figure remaining, a lonely grandpa. A teen daughter summed up the embarrassment everyone felt: “What I’ve discovered is that I don’t know as much about my family as I do about some celebrities.” There was a happy ending. Everyone was invited back to the table, but this time smartphones were placed in a box in the middle of the table and the lid was firmly affixed.  If only… “You’ve heard about the merger that’s coming next year between Facebook, YouTube and Twitter? It’s going to be called YouTwitFace.” - Dr. Joe Boot Don’t give your kids smartphones. Let them use yours. In a mid-December Facebook post on his page, Tedd Tripp shared a strategy for parents wondering how to guide their children in the area of smartphones. While Christmas has passed, his advice is just as valuable for the new year. This is what he wrote:  Don't give your kids a smartphone for Christmas! Do your kids need a phone? Are they ready for a smartphone? If so, I have a suggestion, don't give them a phone. Let them use yours. Here is the conversation you want to have, "I have a phone here, it is my phone, I bought it, it is on my plan and I would like to let you use my phone. Here are the conditions... "(whatever conditions you deem appropriate) "as long as you honor these conditions, you can use my phone. Oh. and since it is my phone, I have the passwords and I can look at my phone whenever I think it is appropriate. If you can accept these conditions, I would love to have you use my phone." Think about it. Once I say, "Here, I bought you a phone." Whose phone is it? So, don't give your kids a phone, let them use yours. Our children’s mentors “We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.” – Dr. Voddie Baucham To disagree is not bullying…and everyone knows it “ argue that anything short of full acceptance is homophobic bullying. That means unless you affirm and approve of all LGBT+ lifestyles, you are a bigot, a phobe and, yes, a bully. “The Christian, by contrast, wants to say that it is possible to be anti-bullying of all forms without necessarily affirming everything about them….. “Of course, we all recognize that the Christian position is entirely legitimate. None of us have to affirm all the views and practices of Islam, for example – nor do we have to attend pro-Muslim marches – in order to be clear that we don’t think Muslims should be bullied. Most people would agree that it would be entirely wrong, not to say untrue, to call me an Islamophobe because I won’t affirm my belief in Allah as the one true God and Mohammad as a prophet….. But to insist I affirm it or else I am bullying them, everyone who isn’t a Muslim evidently agrees that is nonsense.” - Stephen Kneale Déjà vu all over again G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) lived 100 years ago but the quotes below seem to show that the time and culture he spoke to was not all that different from our own. “We are learning to do a great many clever things… The next great task will be to learn not to do them.” “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.” “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” “The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.” “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.” ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - September 2018

What parent wouldn’t love this present? One of the biggest, most expensive presents we will ever give our children is Christian schooling. But do our children understand the real value of this gift they’ve been given? Some do. A friend, Sharon Bratcher, recently rediscovered this 30-year-old certificate that she and her sibling gave her parents way back when. Reading it, I couldn’t help getting a bit misty-eyed; this is a present every parent would treasure. It said: Whereas Marvin C. and Helen A. Osborne have unselfishly deprived themselves of some of the material goods and financial security which could have been theirs, in order to provide a high quality Christian education for each of their four children during the past 18 years, We do now, on the date of the final graduation ceremony, this 6th day of June in the year of our Lord 1985, join together to express to them our deepest love, and gratitude for the sacrifices which they have made and the love which they have expressed this way. Thank-you Dad and Mom. May God bless and reward you. Knock, knock A good one, from Andy Simmons in the Sept 2014 Reader's Digest: “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “To.” “To who?” “No, to whom.” And speaking of grammar nazis.... Nazi: "Sir, we're mining too many useless pyrite nuggets." Hitler: "Then mine less of them." Grammar Nazi: "Mine FEWER!" Hitler: "Yes?" SOURCE: slightly modified from a joke making its way around the Internet Succinct, on spanking “The child is regarded, indeed is described in law, as ‘a dependent.’ Because children are deemed unable to realistically foresee the consequences of what they’re doing…they are denied the rights to such things as tobacco, drugs, sex, credit cards, automobiles and freedom from education. Therefore the child is seen to be dependent’ on its parents. Should the parents shirk this responsibility the law holds them culpable. But another ancient principle of justice applies here. Society must not confer a responsibility without conferring sufficient authority to carry it out. You cannot expect a man or woman to do something unless they have the power to do it. That’s why the Criminal Code recognizes this right of parents, teachers and legal guardians to physically discipline children.” – Ted Byfield, as quoted in Michael Wagner’s True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada Lurking on the public library shelves When I noticed A Tale of Two Daddies among the books we’d picked up from the library, I was hoping my first grader hadn’t read it yet. No such luck. But she reassured me, “Don’t worry dad, it’s a good book – it’s about a girl with a daddy and a poppa.” “A poppa?” “Yup.” No harm done – our neighbor’s girls call their grandpa “poppa” and my little one, in her blessed naiveté thought this book was about a girl, her daddy, and her grandpa. But it was another reminder of what lurks on the library shelves, even in the picture book section. C.S. Lewis on democracy “I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure… The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.” Gossip vs. Flattery Blogger Annie Kate Aarnouste recently passed along the difference between gossip and flattery. The quote is from Disciplines of a Godly Woman. "Gossip is saying behind a person's back what you would never say to her face.  Flattery is saying to a person's face what you would never say behind her back."...

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 - January 2018

On one-issue candidates “Never voting for a pro-abortion candidate makes you a one-issue voter, as never marrying a serial killer makes you a one-issue fiancé.” – John Piper We can’t count on any biblical literacy It used to be, not so long ago, that even unbelievers knew a little bit about the Bible. Ours was a culture with Judeo-Christian roots so it only made sense, even for the most ardent atheist, to read and study the Bible. I was struck by how much that has changed when a friend told me about an exchange she’d had with a co-worker. The co-worker knew this friend went to a nearby church, so when that church posted a text on the display in front of their building the co-worker knew just who to ask about it: “I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but that message your church put up, well, it just kind of seems racist. Why did you guys post that?” What was the message? The church had posted Psalm 51:7b: “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” The phrase, “whiter than snow” caught the co-worker’s attention. In a world where the phrase “it was a matter of black and white” is being banned from some government departments due to its perceived racial insensitivity, it's important to understand how even the Bible’s least offensive parts can be misconstrued and seen as offensive. This friend was able to clarify things with her coworker. But what about all those who read this and didn't have a friend to explain it? Is that a reason not to post such verses? Or is it a reason to go out into the community to be there for those who have questions and need answers?  Calvinism, Arminianism, and splitting the difference “Some try to split the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism. They say something like, 'I want to be 75% Calvinist and 25% Arminian. If they mean that literally, then they are 100% Arminian since giving any determinative place to human will is Arminian. Usually they mean that they want to stress the grace of God and human responsibility. If that is what they mean, then they can be 100% Calvinist for Calvinism does teach both that God's grace is entirely the cause of salvation and that man is responsible before God to hear and heed the call to repentance and faith.” – W. Robert Godfrey God’s sense of humor In Roland Bainton's The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century he shares the amusing story of how William Tyndale found someone to fund his translation work. A curious tale is related of how he contrived to turn the devices of his foes to advantage. The Archbishop of Canterbury was buying up his translations for burning and commissioned a certain Packington to scour the continent for more. The man went straight to Tyndale himself and informed him that he had discovered a merchant who would clean out his stock. "Who is this merchant?” said Tyndale. "The bishop of London,” said Packington. "Oh, that is because he will burn them,” said Tyndale. "Yea, marry,” quoth Packington. "I am the gladder,” said Tyndale, “for these two benefits will come of it: I shall get money from him for these books and bring myself out of debt, and the whole world shall cry out on the burning of God’s Word, and the overplus of the money shall make me more studious to correct the said New Testament, and so newly to imprint the same once again; and I trust the second will much better like you that ever did the first.” And the account concludes: “And so forward went the bargain: the bishop had the books, Packington had the thanks, and Tyndale had the money." SOURCE: H/T to Dr. Joel McDurmon...