In a Nutshell
Tidbits - May 2023
Get ready to be reviled
"Pastors need to teach their people about how to handle with grace being looked down on more than 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, Managing Editor of Evangelicals Now in the July 2012 issue on how the world will change as gay marriage becomes the norm.
Do you think God can't use you?
When we reflect back on the mistakes we've made, the sins we've commited, the struggles we have, and the weaknesses that plague us, we might think there is no way that God could use us. But we would be wrong. As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 1:27-28 "God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.... so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."
Consider who God has used in the past: Abraham was near dead, Jacob a deceiver, Gideon afraid, Rahab was a prostitute, Jonah ran away from God, David was an adulterer and murderer, Job was ill and impoverished, the Samaritan woman was divorced, Peter denied God (three times!) and Lazarus was dead for three days!
Yes, we are too weak, broken, and sinful to do anything for God... in our own strength. But we're just the sort of folk that God has chosen to use for His own glory.
SOURCE: Inspired by a post on Eddie Eddings' Calvinistic Cartoons
Were there TULIPS on the Ark?
Cartoonist Eddie Eddings makes a pretty compelling theological point.
Martin Luther on sanctification
"This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness; not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way; the process is not yet finished, but it has begun; this is not the goal, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
The cleanest windshield...
The focus of Greg Dutcher's Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology From the Inside is about how Calvinists can make their doctrine – though it is the true-est, and most biblical – unattractive to other Christians. Part of the problem, as he sees it, is that we sometimes fall in love with our theology for its own sake, rather than for Who it allows us to see:
"I am concerned that many Calvinists today do little more than celebrate how wonderfully clear their theological windshield is. But like a windshield, Reformed theology is not an end in itself. It is simply a window to the awe-inspiring universe of God’s truth, filled with glory, beauty, and grace. Do we need something like a metaphorical windshield of clear, biblical truth to look through as we hope to marvel at God’s glory? Absolutely. But we must make sure that we know the difference between staring at a windshield and staring through one.
“The idle man tempts the Devil to tempt him.” - C. H. Spurgeon
Watch your language
Christians have their own vocabulary – we have our own jargon – which can be downright confusing to unbelievers. Think of the word faith. In his September 2012 newsletter, Christian apologist Greg Koukl noted that when Christians say we have faith, we mean we are confident that God – Who has already shown Himself trustworthy – will fulfill his promises.
The world, however, understands this same term as some "kind of useful fantasy, a 'blind' 'leap of' religious wishful thinking.'"
To clear away some of the confusion, Koukl suggests finding and using "substitute words – synonyms for religious terminology – to brighten" and improve our communication.
"For example, instead of quoting 'the Bible' or 'the Word of God' (both easily dismissed), why not cite 'Jesus of Nazareth,' or 'those Jesus trained to communicate His message after Him' (the Apostles), or 'the ancient Hebrew prophets'? These substitute phrases mean the same thing, but have a completely different feel. It’s much easier to dismiss a religious book than the words of respected religious figures. When referring to the Gospels, try citing 'the primary source historical documents for the life of Jesus of Nazareth.' That’s the way historians see them, after all.
"Avoid the word 'faith.' Substitute 'trust' for the exercise of faith ('I have placed my trust in Jesus') – which is the precise meaning of the original biblical term, anyway – and 'convictions' for the content of faith (i.e., 'These are my Christian convictions').
"For the same reason, don't talk about your 'beliefs.' It's too easy to misunderstand this word as a reference to mere beliefs, subjective 'true for me' preferences. Rather say, 'This is what I think is true,' or 'These are my spiritual convictions.'
"I’ve even found myself avoiding the word 'sin' lately, not out of timidity about the topic, but because the term doesn’t deliver anymore. Instead, I talk about our moral crimes against God, or our acts of rebellion or sedition against our Sovereign. By contrast, abandon 'blown it' and 'messed up.' They don’t capture the gravity of our offenses."
We want to communicate effectively, and when words start to lose their saltiness it is time to find a new way of communicating God's Truth. We need to, as Koukl writes, "watch our language."
SOURCE: The Page, September 2012 "A simple communication tip" by Greg Koukl, www.STR.org.
No such thing as an Arminian prayer
Douglas Wilson passed along a great quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the subject of Arminian prayer. Spurgeon said:
"You have heard a great many an Arminian sermon, but never once heard an Arminian prayer. You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say, but you have never heard an Arminian prayer, for the saints in prayer, appear as one in word and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot prayer about free will. There is no room for it."
He didn't see it,
the melting mutt's drooping tail.
Thus, "HOT DOG BITES MAN"
English - more important than you knew!
Students always want to know "Why are we studying _____ anyway?" When it comes to English, the answer is as simple as the old joke below: our littlest word choices (James 3:3-12), and even the way we emphasize what we say, can have an enormous impact on the message we send.
Now ignore the punctuation, and consider the different messages we can send simply by stressing a different word each time:
- Let's eat grandpa – we want to eat grandpa instead of grandma
- Let's eat grandpa – we want to eat grandpa rather than, say, hug him
- Let us eat grandpa – we want to eat him rather than let someone else
- Let's eat grandpa – we want to eat him even though someone disagreed
Same words; very different meanings communicated. That's a silly example so here's one more:
- I said I was sorry!
- I said I was so sorry.
Two very similar sentences, but one sentence all about sorrow and repentance, and the other very much not so. We all know which is which, but the stubborn child offering up the first might not. He doesn't understand that while he might have said the right words, he didn't deliver the right message.
So there's quite some power in the way we use words, and the ones we choose. And isn't that power worth studying, so we can best put it to use?
We are all religious
"Religion has no place in the schools," secularists declare, so they certainly won't admit to being religious themselves. But this is only smoke and mirrors - as Bob Dylan famously sung, all of us are "gonna have to serve somebody."
In his book Leaving God Behind, Michael Wagner notes that back in 1963, political philosopher George Grant made this point while he discussed the definition of “religion”:
"The origin of the word is, of course, shrouded in uncertainty, but the most likely account is that it arises from the Latin 'to bind together.' It is in this sense that I intend to use it. That is, as that system of belief (whether true or false) which binds together the life of individuals and gives to those lives whatever consistency of purpose they may have. Such use implies that I would describe liberal humanists or Marxists as religious people; indeed that I would say that all persons (in so far as they are rational beings) are religious…. It will, of course, seem unfair to the exponents of secularism that I have called what they advocate a religion…. all men are inevitably religious….
"Indeed the present controversy is not concerned with whether religion should be taught in the schools, but rather with what should be the content of the religion that is so taught. It is perfectly clear that in all North American state schools religion is already taught in the form of what may best be called 'the religion of democracy.' That the teaching about the virtues of democracy is religion and not political philosophy is clearly seen from the fact that the young people are expected to accept this on faith and cannot possibly at their age be able to prove the superiority of democracy to other forms of government (if indeed this can be done). The fact that those liberals who most object to any teaching about the deity are generally most insistent that the virtues of democracy be taught, should make us aware that what is at issue is not religion in general, but the content of the religion to be taught."
All schools will teach students to worship and the only question is, who will be worshipped?
4 words which should exist
Inventing words can be fun. Got any good ones?
- Arghument – assertions back by vehemence, not evidence
- Heil’d – Damned with faint praise, particularly by noting that he/she probably isn’t a Nazi
- Questian – someone in search of their next cause
- Squarcle – a square circle, synonym to “gay marriage” or "preferred pronouns"
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - April 2023
Media-created news If you feel a need to know all that’s going on in the world around you, it’s important to understand how little the media acco...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - March 2023
Why is so much Christian fiction bad? Back in the June 30, 2007 issue of WORLD magazine, Marvin Olasky “interviewed” the long-departed novelist F...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – February 2023
What Darwin didn’t know Darwin, ignorant of the inner workings of the cell, could imagine them to be simple. But the more we learn of the cell toda...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – November 2022
Chesterton saw it coming… A hundred years ago, in the Aug 14, 1926 edition of the Illustrated London News, G.K. Chesterton wrote a column that could be a commentary on our own time. The extreme skepticism that leads some to reject God was going to lead them to reject ever more of the real world. “The Declaration of Independence, once the charter of democracy, begins by saying that certain things are self-evident. If we were to trace the history of the American mind from Thomas Jefferson to William James, we should find that fewer and fewer things were self-evident, until at last hardly anything is self-evident. So far from it being self-evident to the modern that men are created equal, it is not self-evident that men are created, or even that men are men. They are sometimes supposed to be monkeys muddling through a transition stage before the Superman. But there is not only doubt about mystical things; not even only about moral things. There is most doubt of all about rational things. I do not mean that I feel these doubts, either rational or mystical; but I mean that a sufficient number of modern people feel them to make unanimity an absurd assumption. Reason was self-evident before Pragmatism. Mathematics were self-evident before Einstein. But this scepticism is throwing thousands into a condition of doubt, not about occult but about obvious things. We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four, in which furious party cries will be raised against anybody who says that cows have horns, in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening a mob with the news that grass is green. Thomas Sowell on those who can’t, critiquing those who do “The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society, except their constant criticisms, can feel both intellectually and morally superior.” Secular isn’t a synonym for neutral “It turns out that, however you might wish otherwise, you eventually wind up wherever it was you were going. If you get on the plane to Chicago, and I would ask you to follow me closely here, you are going to land in Chicago. We are now arriving where a godless education must necessarily go. The public schools in America were not secular, they were godless. The public schools in America were not neutral, they were godless. The public schools in America were not even agnostic, they were godless.” – Douglas Wilson Wit and wisdom of Benjamin Franklin While best known as one of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin was also a printer, postmaster, scientist, diplomat, and inventor. On top of all that, he had quite the reputation as a public wit, spouting such well-known aphorisms as “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead,“ “Fish and visitors stink after three days,“ and “Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.” While he was likely not Christian (he seemed to deny Christ’s deity) many of his common-sense witticisms have some depth to them. Might it be because he was riffing off of the inspired Word? What follows are a few Franklin selections paired with texts that say something similar. Is the connection real or imagined? “Well done is better than well said.” “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22 “Fools need advice most, but wise men only are the better for it.” “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” – Prov 12:15 “He’s a fool that cannot conceal his wisdom.” “A prudent person conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.” – Prov 12:23 “He that lies down with dogs, shall arise with fleas.” “One who walks with wise people will be wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Prov. 13:20 “Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.” “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” –Philippians 2:3 Lyric of the month This might be an oldie but it is a real goodie from the Newsboys: Real Good Thing Born to sin / and then get caught. All our good deeds / don’t mean squat. Sell the Volvo / shred the Visa, send the cash to Ma Teresa. Great idea / the only catch is you don’t get saved / on merit badges. Doctor’s coming / looking grim: "Do you have a favorite hymn?" Check your balance through the years, All accounts are in arrears. Guilt is bitter. / Grace is sweet. Park it here / on the Mercy Seat. When we don’t get what we deserve, that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve, that’s a real good thing. Why is only the other side quoting the Bible? In US politics one party is still acknowledging God’s Word as authoritative. And it’s not the Republicans. In an October debate with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Democratic challenger Charlie Crist alluded to both Matthew 7:1 and 7:12 to, blasphemously, defend abortion and to justify allowing double mastectomies and other genital mutilations on children. “I believe that we need to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. It’s called the Golden Rule…. we’re all children of God. And that doesn’t mean that you are the one who’s supposed to judge what others are supposed to do, particularly women, with their bodies.” A month earlier, another prominent Democrat, California governor Gavin Newsom, ran billboards in Mississippi and Oklahoma that read: “Need an abortion? California is ready to help.” This offer of abortion was justified with Mark 12:31, included underneath, which reads “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Such mangling of the Bible for political purposes is nothing new of course. In the 2004 presidential campaign, the Democratic contender, John Kerry, called “Honor your Father and your Mother…one of the oldest Commandments” seemingly unaware that God gave all Ten Commandments at the same time. But even as Democrats continue to cite the Bible, it’s worth considering, why does it increasingly seem that the only folks willing to quote God’s Word are the murderers and mutilators? They do so blasphemously, taking God’s Words in vain… but in a strange way they, at least, are treating God’s Word as both relevant and authoritative in the public sphere. Hit back? It is a Christian parent’s repeated role to explain to their pint-size progeny that Jesus did not tell us to“do unto others as they did to us.” But, as Greg Koukl recently pointed out, there can come a time in debate or discussion when that is good advice – you may need to give as good as you got. It is the appropriate response when someone tries to pin you with what’s called the “Kafka Trap.” In his novel The Trial, Franz Kafka presented a Soviet-style interrogation where the denial of something would be presented as proof of guilt. So, for example: I think you have a drug addiction What? I do not! That just proves it – drug addicts always deny it! Today this Trap is most often used to accuse people of racism: if you deny you’re racist, that just proves that you are. When you’re hit with this you’re-hooped-either-way attack, Greg Koukl offers this tactic: do unto them as they’ve done to you ...accept his approach, then turn the Kafka trap back on him. Here’s an example: “I knew you’d say that, and I’m glad you did.” “What! Why?” “Because it proves you’re wrong.” “Huh?” “No one says that unless they’re mistaken. Don’t you see it?” “No.” “That’s even more proof you’re wrong. Sorry.” Or… “Do you know what ‘social justice’ means?” “Of course I do.” “That proves you don’t. No one who really understands social justice thinks he understands it.” Doing to others as they’ve done to you isn’t wrong here because this isn’t about revenge, but rather clarity. You’re exposing them for just how insubstantial their rhetoric really is. Coaches with a parenting tip for us all It’s said that practice makes better… but better at what? A basketball player that practices badly will engrain those bad habits. Then, whatever he might be doing wrong, whether it’s a high dribble, or putting no arc on his shot – he’ll actually get more consistently bad by practicing at it. And parents, the same is true for our children: if they’re mouthing off with regularity, or responding with the right words but the wrong tone, they are practicing being bad. And if that’s left uncorrected then they’ll get really good at being bad… especially when they hit the teen years. So just as it is important to practice basketball the right way, our kids need to not just say the words, but practice saying them the right way… lest they be practicing and reinforcing and engraining the wrong way. Free vs. free “There are constant calls from NDP candidates and MPs for free post-secondary tuition, free childcare, free dental care, free drugs (both pharmaceutical and recreational), free housing, free wifi . . . even free money (Universal Basic Income). The only thing they don’t want free is ‘dom’ . . . (as in freedom). They don’t want a free press. They don’t want free speech. They don’t want parents free to raise their children as they see fit. They don’t want a free conscience. They don’t want free thinkers at universities. – Christian Heritage Party leader Rod Taylor, “Socialism …on the Instalment Plan”...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – August 2022
Great Communicator on communication and diaper changes Ronald Reagan was nicknamed “The Great Communicator” for his ability to connect with his listening audience. But that wasn’t something he was just born with – he thought a lot about it, as evidenced in this joke he told. I've always thought of the importance of communication and how much a part it plays in what you and I what all of us are trying to do. One day…a sports announcer, Danny Villanueva, told me about communication. He said he'd been having dinner over at the home of a young ball player with the Dodgers. The young wife was bustling about getting the dinner ready, they were talking sports, and the baby started to cry. Over her shoulder, his busy wife said to the ball player, “Change the baby.” Well, he was a young fellow, and he was embarrassed in front of Danny. He said, “What do you mean change the baby? I'm a ballplayer; that's not my line of work.” Well, she turned around, put her hands on her hips and she communicated. She said, “Look buster, you lay the diaper out like a diamond, you put second base on home plate, you put the baby's bottom on the pitcher's mound, you hook up first and third, slide home underneath. And if it starts to rain, the game ain't called; you just start all over!” God can use even a stolen book … A former homosexual, Rachel Gilson, recently explained how God turned her around. The author of Born Again This Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith, and What Comes Next, shared that it began with her girlfriend dumping her for a guy who was basically homeless, living in his van. Then at an acquaintance’s house, a non-practicing Catholic, she noticed a bookshelf. “…and one of my favorite hobbies is to look at people’s bookshelves and judge them, you know? So, I’m checking it out, looking up and down. And there was a copy – there was a book on this shelf. The spine read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and so I thought, ‘Oh, I really want to read that book,’ but I was too embarrassed to ask my friend for it. So, I just stole the book because, again, I had no moral code, right?.... So, I was sitting in the library soon after that, reading Mere Christianity, and while I was reading it one day, I was just overwhelmed with the realization that God exists….. I was just overwhelmed with the reality of God. And not like a store brand, you know, like Zeus or something, but the God who made me and who made everything and who was perfect. It was like I could sense God’s holiness even though I didn’t know that vocabulary and the only thing I felt was fear. I’m arrogant. I’m cruel. I’m sexually immoral. I lie. I cheat. I’m reading a stolen book. It’s clear all of the chips are in the guilty category, right? I had no confusion at that moment either, but really quickly with that I also understood that part of the reason Jesus had come was to place Himself as a barrier between God’s wrath and me. And that the only way to be safe was to run towards Him, not away from Him. SOURCE: John Stonestreet’s “On being saved from confusion: the testimony of Rachel Gilson” posted to Breakpoint.org on June 10, 2022. Gratitude lurking… In his autobiography, G.K. Chesterton expressed how even in the depths of despair, a man might not be so far from optimism. Though there is a chasm between the two, the bridge over is that of amazement, leading to gratitude. “No man knows how much he is an optimist, even when he calls himself a pessimist, because he has not really measured the depths of his debt to whatever created him and enabled him to call himself anything. At the back of our brains, so to speak, there a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life to dig for this submerged sunrise of wonder; so that a man sitting in a chair might suddenly understand that he actually alive, and be happy." The Journalist In the past, he had to “pay dues” And develop “a nose for the news.” Well, he still has a nose, But, my, how it grows When the facts must conform to his views. – F.R. Duplantier (used with permission) Forgiving vs. excusing “I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality…asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology. I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’ But excusing says ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.’ If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense, forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites....When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.” – C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory 10 reasons English is a silly language Homophones – words that sound alike but have different meanings – are unique to the English language, but we have an awful lot of them. In looking at the examples below, I felt like I almost saw the thread of a story moving from one sentence to the next. If an aspiring student wants to try to make a coherent story using as many of these homophones as possible, please send it on in. You can reach the editor via our contact form. 1) The bandage was wound around the wound. 2) The farm was used to produce produce. 3) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert. 4) A weak spring means I have wind my wind gauge once a week. 5) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. 6) Excuse me but there’s no excuse for this. 7) I need to read what I read again. 8) Wait just a minute – that’s making a mountain of something minute! 9) I object to that object and I’m not content with this content. 10) As there’s no time like the present, they’re going to present their present. SOURCE: here and there on the Internet Marriage matters materially “What do you think distinguishes the high and low poverty populations? The only statistical distinction in both the Black and White populations is marriage. There is far less poverty in married-couple families, where presumably at least one of the spouses is employed.” - Economist Walter Williams (1936-2020) Someone wants you to talk Many a famous quote can’t be traced back to the person who was supposed to have said it. Here’s three of just that sort, the first two likely not said by who there are attributed to, while the third remains a maybe. So why pass them on? Well, after reading these three on the problem with silence you’re going to feel challenged to speak… even if you don’t know who exactly issued the challenge. “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth 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 Christ. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” – attributed, almost certainly falsely, to 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. – attributed to, but probably not by, Dietrich Bonhoeffer “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become your sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.” – credited to Abraham Kuyper (and it may be so) A law even a libertarian could love “Even many of us who believe in free enterprise have fallen into the habit of saying when something goes wrong: ‘There ought to be a law.’ Sometimes I think there ought to be a law against saying there ought to be a law. – Ronald Reagan...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – June 2022
If you ain’t Dutch… Readers from a Dutch background are undoubtedly familiar with the slogan, “if you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.” Those same readers might be surprised to know that the Dutch are not the only ones to come up with a bit of rhyming nationalistic bravado. Below are just a few of the many out there: “If you ain’t Greek, you must be weak.” “If you’re in a hole, look for a Pole.” (It’s admittedly unclear if this is a nationalistic slogan about how helpful the Polish are, or perhaps just a bit of practical advice on how to get out of pits.) “To be Swiss is bliss.” “Only a Czech deserves a peck on the neck." (As is well-known, Eskimos kiss by rubbing noses, the Tookinese do it by rubbing ear lobes, businessmen by rubbing elbows, and apparently, Czechs prefer pecks on their necks.) “Aussies rule!” (It may not rhyme, but they make up for it with vigor.) “Only the best of the lot, get to be a Scot!” "If you ain't Finnish... then keep going." "If you ain't Canadian, that's okay too." Imponderables • Do the “Alphabet Song” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” have the same tune? • How come wrong numbers are never busy? • Do people in Australia call the rest of the world "up over"? • How can there be self-help "groups"? • How do you write zero in Roman numerals? • Why do the signs that say "Slow Children" have a picture of a running child? • What was the best thing before sliced bread? • Why do people tell you when they are speechless? TV was pretty weird two decades ago too We've got thousands of channels and nothing good to watch, and so much weird stuff to avoid. But lest we despair, let's remember that the former days were not all that different than today (Eccl. 7:10). In 2004, this is what RP was warning readers to watch out for, as it was "coming to a TV near you." The Swan – Women undergo drastic plastic surgery and then compete in a beauty pageant. The Littlest Groom – Dating show. A 4-foot-5 man dates a bevy of similarly sized women, then gets to date some full-size ladies and must choose one. Playing it Straight – Another dating show. Woman seeks suitor from a group of good-looking guys, but some of them are gay. She wins if she picks a straight guy. My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancée – Yet another dating show. Woman tries to convince her family to let her marry a jerk. She wins big bucks if her family doesn’t love her enough to object. Temptation Island – Adultery show. Couples are separated and then sent to two exotic islands where models tempt them to cheat on their partners. Fear Factor – Gameshow. Contestants compete by bobbing in a barrel of cows’ blood, and by eating maggots, eyeballs, and worms. Rather than just lament the bad, we can celebrate the good, as we've done with our articles "200 movies King David might watch" and "100 documentaries that make learning a joy." Couldn't count, but had a way with words “There are only three ways to teach a child. The first is by example, the second is by example, and the third is by example.” – Albert Schweitzer Oh, what a feeling! Some years ago a minister heard several other ministers rave about the high-powered Christian meetings they had attended. They all talked about how warmly they had felt and what a great shared spiritual experience it had been. After overhearing this, the first minister decided to share with them his own experience of a meeting he had come from the previous night. He described in great detail the feelings that had come over him when 40,000 sang the same songs. What an unforgettable experience! His colleagues all agreed and wanted to know more about the extraordinary event. What was it all about, they wanted to know. Who was the special man who organized it? “Oh,” he replied, “It was a Paul McCartney concert.” This little story is told by Sjirk Bajema in the Feb. 2004 issue of Faith in Focus, and there is a moral to his tale: feelings alone are no guarantee of God’s presence or His approval. Christians who seek to experience God must not neglect His Word, lest they lose sight of the fact that while the love of God is an extraordinary experience, extraordinary experiences can (at least temporarily) be had apart from the love of God. Bad, like ham left out of the fridge all day The following are taken from an email that circulated some years back that was supposed to be a compilation of some of the worst/most brilliant analogies and metaphors written by American students. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever. To get your team going “Being defeated is often only a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” - Marilyn vos Savant “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice there is.” - Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – May 2022
A gentle answer to a rude question Christian comedian Phil Callaway recently told a story about a lady who thoughtlessly questioned whether he should ever have been born. Yikes! But rather than answering in kind, Callaway took his lead from Prov. 15:1 and offered a gentle word. “I spoke somewhere telling of my parents who were about 40 when I was born. Two ladies came up to me after. They were upset; they were clearly disagreeing. One said ‘I don't think mothers should have children after 35. What about you?’ I said ‘I agree completely – 35 is a lot of children.’ Well, they began to laugh, and away they went focusing on what united them.” A rude question to defend the unborn Abortion supporters are rarely willing to talk about the central issue in the abortion debate – the humanity of the unborn. They choose slogans instead, like “My body, my choice,” that beg the question: is there only the one body involved? (As Laura Klassen has noted "Our bodies, my choice" isn't nearly as catchy a slogan.) Isn't that the very point being debated? So when they try to evade talk about the humanness of the unborn, Greg Koukl has a quick way we can make clear there are two bodies involved. In Precious Unborn Human Persons he recounts that when he was confronted with a woman declaring the “my body, my choice” slogan, he has a question for her: “Do you have a penis?” “No!” “Is it possible your unborn could have a penis?” “Um…yes.” “Well then that clearly isn’t your body, is it?” Two questions too many Even if you've studied all the issues and put in the time to talk to your local candidates, the ballot you cast will have precisely the same weight as the one cast by your old college buddy who can't even remember who he voted for, or why, except that some celebrity told him it was important to go out and vote. So should dumb people be allowed to vote? A couple of decades back, writer R.W. Bradford said no, and proposed a basic bare minimum test that a person would have to pass before their ballot would be counted. His test had just two questions: Which of the following is the letter “B”? – A B C D E What does 2 x 2 equal? – 1 2 4 6 8 10 24 As attractive as this bare minimum might be, it becomes less so when we consider who is going to administer the test. Do we want a State that doesn't know when life begins, what makes us equal, or what a woman is, to decide who's smart and who's not? Consider how Christians, and liberal bureaucrats, might answer two equally obvious questions quite differently: Can men get pregnant? YES / NO There is no truth. TRUE / FALSE SOURCE: "'B' is 'B'" Liberty, January 2001 10 ways to be pro-life Got more we can add to this list? Contact the editor with your suggestions. Be foster parents, or support those who are Pray regularly, both for pro-life concerns and for abortionists too – God can work wonders, so let's ask! Attend pro-life rallies and “Life Chains" Donate money Wear pro-life t-shirts Vote only for completely committed, loudly proudly pro-life politicians Write letters, to your newspaper and your elected representatives Visit the sick and elderly Boycott pro-abortion businesses and support businesses that have taken a stand for the unborn Be loudly pro-life at all times, and at every opportunity Question the accusation Christians are sometimes labeled as a bloodthirsty lot and the accusation is made that Christianity is responsible for more bloodshed than anything else. The Crusades are then cited as proof-positive of this notion. But as Greg Koukl points out in Tactic in Defending the Faith, it is actually atheistic communism that "has been responsible for the most inhumanity to man" as the godless trio of Lenin, Stalin and Mao killed more than 100 million people between them. Life long commitment restored Star Trek tells us that in the 24th-century couples will have a number of options should they decide to marry, including 5-year, 10-year and lifetime marriage licenses. And should they choose one of the short-term licenses, upon its expiry they will be able to part ways with no muss or fuss. They could, of course, also choose to renew, or even upgrade to a lifetime license. Science fiction you say? Well maybe, but not particularly far-fetched. After all, we already have short-term marriage licenses, though they aren’t called that. Present-day marriage licenses don’t even require a 5-year commitment as spouses can divorced the very next day. But since 1997, in the American state of Louisiana, couples can choose between the traditional, easily escapable, marriage license, or“covenant” marriages. Covenantal marriages still allow for divorce but it is much, much harder to do. Couples have to undergo mandatory counseling should they want out, and then wait out a one-year separation before being allowed to file for divorce. Even then the divorce is only granted if one of the spouses can prove the other at fault for the marital breakdown (no-fault divorce is not an option). The grounds acceptable are restricted to adultery, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, habitual drunkenness, or a felony conviction. Quite the questions! •How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't live there? • How do you know when it's time to tune your bagpipes? • If people from Poland are called "Poles," why aren't people from Holland called "Holes?" • If some people can tell the time by looking at the sun how come I can never make out the numbers? You might be a Dutch Calvinist if ... your closet is divided into work clothes and Sunday clothes. you re-used plastic containers long before anyone had heard of the environmental movement. you have a two-volume address book: A-U & V-Z. all your cookies taste like almond. you make the bed in your motel room. you've ever been in church on New Year's Eve. you wipe the last of the butter out of the container with your bun. you've ever been interrupted by a waitress while saying grace. your main contribution to increased gender equity was that controversial switch from King to Wilhelmina brand peppermints. SOURCE: compiled from the Internet here and there and everywhere. Is Teddy right? "There is only one quality worse than hardness of heart, and that is softness of head." – Teddy Roosevelt Undeniable From the start, doubting has been common to God’s people: Adam and Eve doubted God’s trustworthiness, Sarah and Zechariah both doubted God’s ability to give them a son, and Thomas was skeptical about the resurrection. Today too, many of us will go through a season of doubt. But as common as doubting might be, that doesn’t make it right or reasonable, as Paul explains in Romans 1:18-23. As Christian rapper Toby Mac put it below, God is Undeniable! (See also, Romans 1:18-23) There are moments that I doubt You. Blind to the beauty that surrounds me, I try to push away the need that I’m needin’ proof. And this struggle that I have, it ain’t nothing new. But the evidence is piling up, yup You change my heart - isn’t that enough? You give me life that I can’t take credit for Call me to walk through an open door. Your work doesn’t stop with me. Your signature’s on everything we see, From the hills of Negril, Jamaica, To the kid that the doctor said would never make it. Which is harder to believe? That You don’t exist? Or that You orchestrated all of this? Living in the world that is so confusing You’re the argument I’m never losing ‘Cause I believe Undeniable, You are, You are, You are Unmistakable, You are, You are You’re the bright and morning star But still You speak to my heart Undeniable, You are, You are ...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - April 2022
Treasure your parents, pastors, and good teachers “You don’t live long enough to learn from experience.” – Jewish proverb “We freque...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – March 2022
Junior knows best? In a recent review, Roman Catholic film critic Steven D. Greydanus argues that we’re seeing an expansion of the old doofus/domin...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – January 2022
On books “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx When we ask, “Why Lord?...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – November 2021
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. "...if I can find the time" Harry Chapin was a one-hit-wonder with his 1974 top-of-the-charts single Cat's in the Cradle. That makes it an oldie, but one that continues to resonate with non-Christians; this song is a soundtrack staple for many recent sitcoms. This cautionary tale is also worth a listen for the many busy men in our churches. My child arrived just the other day He came to the world in the usual way But there were planes to catch and bills to pay He learned to walk while I was away And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad You know I'm gonna be like you" My son turned ten just the other day He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today I got a lot to do," he said, "That's ok" And he walked away but his smile never dimmed And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah You know I'm gonna be like him" Well, he came home from college just the other day So much like a man I just had to say "Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?" He shook his head and said with a smile "What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys See you later, can I have them please?" I've long since retired, my son's moved away I called him up just the other day I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind" He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad It's been sure nice talking to you" And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me He'd grown up just like me My boy was just like me Weird fact of the month Identical twins have exactly the same DNA…but different fingerprints. Every year God reaches out Genesis 22 is a strange chapter – in it God seems to ask Abraham for a human sacrifice, Abraham’s son Isaac. But have you ever considered how much stranger this chapter would be to a Jew? On an edition of the old CNN talk show Larry King Live, Jewish Rabbi Harold Kushner was asked for his thoughts about this chapter and he couldn’t provide an explanation: “The story of Genesis chapter 22 about the command to sacrifice Isaac is one I have never really been happy with. I’m sorry that we read about it every year at the High Holidays because I can never make sense of it….no, I don’t know what to do about that story…” Fortunately, another guest on the show, Protestant pastor John MacArthur, was there to provide a proper explanation: “I think the reason that, if all you accept is the Old Testament, you have a problem with this story of Isaac is because the story of Isaac is a picture of God giving his son Jesus Christ as an offering for sin.” We Christians can understand this passage as a foreshadowing of what was to come, and can see how God offered up what Abraham was never required to – His Son. But to a Jew this passage is inexplicable, and yet every year on the High Holy Day of Rosh Hashonah Jews read this passage aloud and ponder it. Of all the passages they could read, the one they do read every year, year after year, again and again, is a passage that makes no sense outside of Christ. Our God is a loving God. Have to be crazy to hate kids Since 1965, the world’s fertility rate – the number of births per woman – has dropped from an average of 5, to just 2.4. The United States and Canada come in at just 1.7, and 1.5 respectively, which is below replacement level – anything below 2 will eventually lead to a declining population, as two parents having 1.5 children are half a child short from replacing themselves. Immigration to the West will keep us from a population drop in the short term, but so long as Canadians and Americans prioritize their careers, income, and independence over the having of children, a decline is inevitable. That is both a curse for our country and an opportunity for Christians. If we act contra mundum – against the world – and embrace children as the blessing they are, we could present quite the illuminating contrast. But that would necessitate a change in our own priorities. Sure, Reformed couples are having more children than their secular counterparts, but are there as many 12-passenger vans in the church parking as there used to be? “While pro-abortion liberals are pushing the abortion and contraception wagon, Christian conservatives with their large families could dominate the culture in a generation or two if they believe and act in terms of ‘In God We Trust.’” – Gary DeMar “Those who have no love for children are swine, stocks and logs unworthy of being called men and women; for they despise the blessing of God the Creator and Author of marriage” – Martin Luther “When we had two kids, people began to ask ‘Are you done now?’ When we had three, they began to say ‘You are done now. Right?’ When we had four, some folks began to be rude. ‘Don't you know what causes this?’ When we had five, we faced the most reproach from folks. They could not wrap their minds around how we could be responsible adults when we demonstrated such an obvious lack of self-control. When we had number six, people mostly shut their mouths. When we had number seven, it was more raised eyebrows, but still silence. When we had number eight, it has been open-mouthed astonishment, over and over. And many admiring and incredulous questions, the most common one being ‘What?!? I only have two kids, and they are driving me crazy!’ I have been told this so many times that I have come to the conclusion that having two kids is the hardest job in the world.” – Jamie Soles Quote of the month "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." – C.S. Lewis...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – October 2021
Evolving "facts" When a student visited his old university during a 20-year reunion he discovered that his old Evolutionary Science professor was still working there. He decided to track down the professor and found him in his old classroom grading exam papers. The former student was surprised to see that the questions on the test were the exact same ones he'd answered two decades before. So he asked his professor, "With the tests always the same year to year, aren't you worried that your new students will be able to cheat off tests from your previous classes?" The professor smiled as he answered: "The test questions might stay the same, but the answers are always changing." Wearing your convictions A friend used to visit with the “reproductive rights” group on campus every time they set up a display. He went there to talk to them, and I followed along to grab a copy of all of their pamphlets, which I’d later shred. I knew what I was doing was petty and pathetic, but it still struck me as more useful than what my friend was doing. What good would talking ever do with these people? Except… he reached one of them. It took repeat visits, and I don't know that he changed her mind. But what she said made it clear she did finally hear him: “You really think it’s a baby, don’t you? I always thought you guys just wanted to control women's bodies.” Many on the other side of the abortion debate don’t know anyone pro-life. Or if they do, they don’t know that they do, because the slaughter of the unborn isn't a topic most pro-lifers are eager to raise. But for the unborn’s sake, we must. For the sake of the unborn, we have to start putting our pro-life convictions out there – that our value comes not from our size, abilities, or age, but being made in the Image of God (Gen 1:27, Gen. 9:6) – so that anyone who is open to the truth will know who to talk to. And one way to brand yourself clearly and loudly is by wearing a pro-life shirt. There are lots to pick from online, but some options include: USA LiveAction.org Abort73.com ParacleteTees.com ProlifeShirts.com Canada MarchForLife.ca Sequel to The Screwtape Letters Over the years radio commentator and columnist Paul Harvey (1918-2009) shared a few different versions of a curious column that, like C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters before it, seemed to provide insight from the Enemy’s side. This excerpt is from a 1996 version of his “If I were the Devil” column: “…I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’ To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square. And the old, I would teach to pray after me, ‘Our Father, which are in Washington …’” The Christian rooster? You’ve seen them on barns, but did you know rooster weather vanes have a history on churches? The Farmers’ Alamanac says it started with a couple of popes. Gregory I (c 540-604) declared that the rooster – already an emblem for Peter who denied the Lord three times before the rooster crowed – should be the emblem for Christianity. Then, a few hundred years after, Nicholas I (c 800-867) was said to have ordered churches to display a rooster on their buildings. One problem with this account is that the rooster is said by some to be a specifically Protestant symbol. For example, in 2011 a reporter for the Star News asked the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC why they had a rooster topping their steeple. Dr. Ernest T. Thompson explained that in Europe roosters had been used to distinguish Protestant churches from Catholic ones, which were topped with crosses. “Our rooster reminds us then of our Protestant heritage. It points to the dawning of a new day, and to the joy of the resurrection. The rooster also points to Peter’s threefold denial of Christ ‘before the cock crows,’ and so is a reminder to us not to deny our Lord.” Here we have the rooster being associated with not just Peter, but the new day’s herald is also said to symbolize the new beginning that we have in Christ’s victory. So if you see a rooster on a church, that’s what it might represent. But if you really want to know, you best ask someone from that church. R.C. Sproul on why public schools have to go Why do we have our own costly Christian schools when a free education can be had at public schools? It’s because, as Dr. Sproul explains, of what the public system is teaching children about God. “There is no such thing as a neutral education. Every education, every curriculum, has a viewpoint. That viewpoint either considers God in it or does not. To teach children about life and the world in which they live without reference to God is to make a statement about God. It screams a statement. The message is either that there is no God or that God is irrelevant. Either way, the message is the same.” But if public schools are being used to teach that God is irrelevant – if they are doing the work of the Adversary – why aren't we trying to defund and dismantle them? Is it because we aren’t as concerned as we ought to be about other people’s kids? Or is it because we don't know what to offer as an alternative? Sure, we have our own Christian schools but what’s everyone else going to do? What if they can’t afford their own private schools? One short-term fix is homeschooling, an often inexpensive alternative readily available with loads of online help. Another fix is a voucher system where the government still hands out education dollars, but to parents instead of schools. Then parents can decide what schools they want to support. Of course, so long as the government is paying for things, they'll try to control it. That's why the ultimate goal has to be to get them out of education entirely and return responsibility to parents. That's no small task – it might take generations to take back a role the government had dominated for decades. Not a small task, but as R.C. Sproul makes clear, it is a necessary one. The Amish on smartphones and social media In a recent column, "What we can learn from the Amish," Jonathon Van Maren shares this anecdote: "...an Amish historian was once giving a lecture to a room full of academics on how the Amish live. To illustrate the Amish mindset, he asked his audience how many of them felt they watched too much TV and thought their lives would be better off without it. Nearly every hand in the room went up. Having admitted this, the historian went on, how many of you will go home and get rid of your TV? And every hand in the room went down. That, the historian explained, is where the Amish differ from the rest of society: they have decided to reject those things that will interrupt or inhibit the sort of lives they wish to live, while most of us remain voluntary slaves to things we know we would be better off without. Van Maren then applies that to our technological age, to smartphones and social media, and how often we will complain about them, but how few of us are willing to forsake them or even put any sort of limits on them. The challenge the Amish present us is to consider, "Does this help or hinder the sort of life I should live? And if it does not, why am I allowing it to influence and shape my life for the worse?" Evolution is a non-starter People can make more people. Dogs and cats can make more dogs and cats. The regularity of it might be why we're not struck by the sheer wonder of this self-replication. That we’re under awed is one reason too many are overly impressed with evolution, which makes the absurd claim that this self-replication arose on its own, with no intent or intelligence behind it. As an exasperated Granville Sewell notes, over at EvolutionNews.org: "...with all our advanced technology we are still not close to designing any type of self-replicating machine. That is still pure science fiction. So how could we imagine that such a machine could have arisen by pure chance?"...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – August 2021
Now, that’s a Nicaean pun! A self-described “heretic,” famous for formerly being the lead singer of a popular Christian band, got some attention this summer for this tweet: Jesus was Christ. Buddha was Christ. Muhammad was Christ. Christ is a word for the Universe seeing itself. You are Christ. We are the body of Christ. The best response in this case might seem to be no response at all, as this fellow already knows what the Bible actually says and doesn’t really need more publicity (which is why I’m not sharing his name). But for those getting confused by the singer, the best response might have been the clever rejoinder by Andrew Snyder: “If you can’t say something Nicaean, then don’t say it at all.” Can we have a witness? "It is not your primary calling to change your culture.... Instead, you must constantly remember that the Lord has called you to be his witness before the lost and condemned world in which you now live." – John MacArthur (from his daily devotional Moments of Truth, with empahisis added) Pluck out the internet? “Most of the publications I write for are online…. I would still get rid of the Internet tomorrow if I had the chance, just to get rid of porn because of how poisonous it is. People are saying ‘Well the Internet has brought so much good.’ I wouldn’t take the tradeoff. 53% of American divorces court cases cite pronography as one of the key reasons for that divorce. 80% of young people view porn by the time they are between the ages 9 and 11. It’s tearing at the social fabric of families, of couples, relationships, churches. None of that is worth are ability to get a hold of each other faster, and to email each other quicker and to sell junk online. …. None of it is worth the cost that we pay for having it turn into the largest distributor of sexual violence in human history.” – Jonathon Van Maren on the Real Talk podcast Why marriages last On the occasion of his 23rd anniversay, Greg Koukl asked his daughters why they thought he and his wife had stayed together this long. One daughter quickly answered, “because you looooooove each other.” Koukl’s response: “That’s not it.” That, he noted, was the Hollywood answer, but as couples who have been married for any length of time know that there are times where you might not feel all that loving towards your spouse and yet God calls on you to still love your spouse. How is that possible if you’re just not feeling it? Part of it is that love isn’t simply a feeling, but also an action, and even when you don’t feel it, you can still act it. Koukl shared this story: “I heard a priest once, at a wedding, say something very profound on this line. He said: ‘You have come together this day, for this wedding, to get married because you love one another. From this day forward, that order is reversed. That is, you love one another, because you are married. ‘“ Bring the condemnation with concern This is an abbreviated version of a joke recently passed along by Douglas Wilson. At the risk of ruining the joke, I’m going to frontload an application. The moral of this joke is something we need to have in our hearts when we talk to people caught up in sins that disgust us. Do they hear concern, or only condemnation? When a little Methodist chapel up in the boondocks lost their pastor of many years, the congregation wanted another of the same stock. Their old pastor was old school, from beginning to end. He was a fiery fundamentalist, and he believed the Bible, all of it, and the people loved him. So they wrote their bishop down in the city, and requested he send them a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher, and not one of those new-fangled kinds. This threw the bishop for a total loss, because he wasn’t sure he had one of those, but he made a few delicate inquiries. Much to his astonishment, he found one, and shipped him up there. And to his dismay, about three weeks later, they sent their new man packing. The following week, they sent the bishop another letter, asking for a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher. The bishop wasn’t sure he was going to be able to help them, but he made further inquiries, and found another one. He sent him up, but he only lasted two weeks. When the same scenario played out the third time, the bishop had almost given up hope. When he found a third preacher who seemed to fit that description, he commissioned him and sent him off, but without much hope. To his great surprise, this third man conducted a long and fruitful ministry at this little chapel, preaching hellfire and brimstone up there for two or three decades. This mystified the bishop, and he couldn’t make any sense. But one day he was at an ecclesiastical conference of some sort or other, and he spied an old-timer from that church who happened to be attending. His curiosity getting the better of him, he walked up to the old-timer and said, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” The old-timer said sure, and the bishop said, “I sent you people three hellfire and brimstone preachers, and you rejected the first two out of hand, and kept the third one for years. Do you mind explaining that for me?” At this, the old-timer grinned, and said, “It is pretty simple, bishop. The third one sounded like he didn’t want us to go.” How to live in an atomic Covid age Corrie Ten Boom and C.S. Lewis died long ago, but have some thoughts to share on living in our current Covid age. The Lewis quote is from his essay, “On living in an atomic age” while the quote from Ten Boom isn’t properly sourced. It is widely dispersed online but as Abraham Lincoln once warned in another quote widely dispersed online: “Don’t believe everything your read on the Internet.” But whether it was Ten Boom or not, there’s wisdom to be had for today. “In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.” “In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty. This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.” – C. S. Lewis “Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom What’s really in your job description? Christians, in an effort to impact their culture, will choose to mute their Christian witness. We enter the public square promoting God’s morality on abortion and sexuality, but without ever mentioning it to be such. When we do that we’ve misunderstood the purpose for which God created us. “…in your public involvement, don’t conceal the roots of your convictions about what is right and wrong. Don’t try to get a better hearing through downplaying your dependence on Christ and his Word and the gospel. “This is where many Christians, it seems to me, lose their saltiness and their light. Advocating for behaviors that are Christian is not the light of the world. Advocating for restraining behaviors is not the light of the world. There is nothing gospel in it. The light of the world is Christ and all that God is for us in him, all his gospel, and all his promises. If Christians become practical atheists in public, but simply advocate for behaviors that correspond to Christian ethics, they may see a little more political acceptance and affirmation in the short run, but they will lose the larger battle for the eternal good. “Do we really want to invest in a society whose outward behaviors are moral while everybody goes to hell?” – John Piper interviewed on DesiringGod.org April 26, 2016 on the question “Should Christians partner with non-Christians on social issues?”...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - July 2021
Is it in the Bible? Many common phrases either have their origins in the Bible, or are direct quotes from the Bible. But some phrases are only thought to come from the Bible. Out of the ten phrases below can you tell which are straight from the Bible, and which aren’t? Answers can be found at the bottom of this page. God works in mysterious ways Fly in the ointment The lamb will lie down with the lion How the mighty have fallen God helps those who help themselves Can a leopard change his spots? Pouring oil on troubled waters A house divided against itself cannot stand To the victor goes the spoils Pride goes before a fall Christians did better during the pandemic In a June 15 article in Scientific American, psychologist David H. Rosmarin outlined that in the midst of the loneliness caused by Covid lockdowns, there was a group whose mental health actually improved: In the past year, American mental health sank to the lowest point in history: Incidence of mental disorders increased by 50 percent, compared with before the pandemic, alcohol and other substance abuse surged, and young adults were more than twice as likely to seriously consider suicide than they were in 2018. Yet the only group to see improvements in mental health during the past year were those who attended religious services at least weekly (virtually or in-person): 46 percent report “excellent” mental health today versus 42 percent one year ago. As former congressional representative Patrick J. Kennedy and journalist Stephen Fried wrote in their book A Common Struggle, the two most underappreciated treatments for mental disorders are “love and faith.” The psychologist takes these findings in a secular direction, proposing that his collegues consider encouraging essentially a faux form of spirituality in patients, for their mental health’s sake. What he’s managed to miss, Christians can see clearly: that this demonstrates how our God knows us, and knows what we need. In giving us a day of rest where we can gather – even if only in a virtual sense – God, every week again, reminds us of Who remains in charge, and gives us the opportunity and encouragement of being a hand and foot to one another. There’s real comfort in knowing that God remains in control, and also in experiencing the fellowship of being with His people. On the need to read right Encouraging our children to read for reading’s sake is a popular notion, but akin to encouraging them to watch TV for TV watching’s sake. If there’s no quality to the content, then our goal shouldn’t just be to have them consume more of it. As Katherine Patterson put it, “It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading.” “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” - Ray Bradbury “The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.” - Mark Twain “I believe we should spend less time worrying about the quantity of books children read and more time introducing them to quality books that will turn them on to the joy of reading and turn them into lifelong readers.”–James Patterson “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – attributed to Groucho Marx “Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else.” - Albert Einstein We read to know we are not alone.” – William Nicholson (putting the words into C.S. Lewis’ mouth, in his play Shadowlands) How your phone is hindering you When teacher Julie Holland Griggs’ class was studying Fahrenheit 451, she decided to run an experiment. She had her students: “…make a tally mark each time they got a notification on their phone. Grand total for today: 1,687 notifications. That’s 1,687 interruptions to learning caused by cell phones. One of the central ideas of 451 is that constant, mindless distractions prevent people from developing authentic relationships and suppress deep thought. Hmmm...” Griggs is a highschool teacher in Alabama, but when she posted about the experiment news of it spread to some pretty far corners of the world. A teacher in Iceland, Hrönn Árnadôttir tried it out on his 7th graders, and by day’s end his 20 students had received 1,963 notifications, or an average of 98 per student. Most of them were not personal messages – just notices from Snapchat, etc. – but the lure to check it remains nonetheless. Then, when it was lunch time, the students turned to chat with each other via their phones, rather than face to face. Going really old school in school Even as our schools are getting decked out in technology – with laptops and tablets replacing textbooks and binders – can a case be made for the efficacy of chalk and slate? As Carol Wilson has described it, the process of education is about: Inputs – the teacher presenting Understanding – the student taking in Demonstration – the student shows they understand Retention – the student uses the information in different ways, so as to remember it One reason big classes can be hard to manage is this third step, demonstration. Just consider that if a teacher was to call on students in oral discussions, if they had a class of 30, each student might only have to offer an answer every few days. If a student kept their head down, the interval might even be weeks. Then the teacher migth not know until quiz time, or when an assignment comes in, whether the class understood the day’s lesson. To remedy this – to allow for more instant feedback, from more – Carol Wilson suggests a return to the slate, relaying how a class might look with the tool in hand: Material to be taught has been presented, and the discussion is in progress. The teacher asks a question, and this time everyone writes an answer on his board. …the students turn their boards at the request of the teacher, and in a matter of seconds he knows who gets the point and who does not. Then the teacher very quickly makes an appropriate comment to each child, usually taking up his most pressing mistake, but not forgetting praise where due, either. Here, again and again, in a short time many crucial knowledge transactions take place. These boards are highly versatile for all kinds of classroom work: dictation of sentences, spelling lists, sentence diagraming, math problems, vocabulary sentences and tests, as well as all kinds of comprehension questioning and interpretation… Her suggestion was first made 42 years ago, in the October 1979 edition of the Biblical Educator, but even as we’d update her individual chalkboard to whiteboards instead, might the merits of this old-school approach remain? You might be a Dutch Calvinist if ... you can sing "Ere zij God" even though you can't speak Dutch you’re suspicious of the environmental movement but reuse plastic margarine containers your post-church Sunday lunch has cake as the entree and soup for dessert you can quote Lord’s Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism you've ever had an advocaat headache You consider hagelslag on bread a major food group You’ll sugar coat your food, but not your words you've got more lace on your windows than on your laundry line your closet is divided into Sunday clothes, and everything else Source: As adapted from items seen on the Internet Answers to "Is it in the Bible?" No – though the idea seems to be expressed in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. No – but while it isn't a direct quote it probably has its origins in Ecclesiastes 10:1, which reads: “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench.” No – the closest the Bible comes to this phrase is in Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25, where a lamb and a wolf are paired together. Yes – David uses this phrase in 2 Sam. 1:19,25 as he laments the death of Jonathan. No – and in one important sense the Bible teaches the very opposite. Yes – in Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” No - it is very old though, appearing in writings from the 1st century AD. Yes – Jesus uses this phrase as a defense against the accusation that he was casting out demons using the power of Satan. No – this was said by New York senator William L. Macy No – though it is an abridgment. The phrase comes from Prov. 16:18 where it says: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” ...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - June 2021
Proverbs for social media Solomon was born 3,000 years before tweets and status updates became a thing, yet his wisdom applies all the same. “...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – May 2021
Walter Williams on his income inequality with Michael Jordan Does the tenth commandment still apply if our neighbor is Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Mic...
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 ...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - February 2021
Sign seen on a… Whatever your business, there’s a pun for you. Here are some signs that probably never were but definitely should be… IRS building: “It’s better to give than deceive!” Lumberyard fence: “Come see. Come saw.” Locksmith shop: “Let me help you out…or in” Electric company van: “Power to the People!” Blood bank: “Don’t let us be caught with our pints down!” Home security store: “Been burglarized? Get alarmed!” High-rise condominium elevator wall: “Do under others as you would have them do under you.” SOURCE: Collected from Art. Moger’s The Complete Pun Book The leaders we should look for “We are perpetually being told that what is wanted is a strong man who will do things. What is really wanted is a strong man who will undo things; and that will be the real test of strength….We do not need to get good laws to restrain bad people. We need to get good people to restrain us from bad laws.” - G.K. Chesterton God comes to us “…if we are really to know anything about God it will probably be because God has chosen to tell it to us. Many persons seem to go on a very different assumption. They seem to think that if they are to know anything about God they must discover God for themselves. “That assumption seems to me to be extremely unlikely. Just supposing for the sake of the argument that there is a being of such a kind as that He may with any propriety be called 'God,' it does seem antecedently very improbable that weak and limited creatures of a day, such as we are, should discover Him by our own efforts without any will on His part to make Himself known to us. At least, I think we can say that a god who could be discovered in that way would hardly be worth discovering. A mere passive subject of human investigation is certainly not a living God who can satisfy the longing of our souls. “A divine being that could be discovered by my efforts, apart from His gracious will to reveal Himself to me and to others, would be either a mere name for a certain aspect of man's own nature, a God that we could find within us, or else at best a mere passive thing that would be subject to investigation like the substances that are analyzed in a laboratory. “I think we ought to stick to that principle rather firmly. I think we ought to be rather sure that we cannot know God unless God has been pleased to reveal Himself to us.” – J. Gresham Machen, Is the Bible Inspired? A fearsome pun Three creatures – a hawk, lion, and skunk - were arguing about which was the most feared. The hawk insisted that his ability to swoop in suddenly, from above, had everyone scared of him. The lion said his loud roar and scary teeth were far more frightening. The skunk made the case that his spray could keep anything and everything at bay, so he must be the most feared. But as the three were arguing a grizzly bear showed up and, with just one bite, swallowed them, hawk, lion and stinker. SOURCE: Adapted from Art. Moger’s The Complete Pun Book It won’t ever happen, but when it does… Back in 2013 commentator Rod Dreher coined the “law of merited impossibility” (LMI) to describe what was going to happen with gay “marriage.” He defined his law thusly: “It is best summed up by the phrase, ‘It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of gay rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.’” So it is that the very same folk who asked then “How does letting gays marry hurt you?” now want to fine photographers, and bakers who don’t want to celebrate these “nuptials.” In our current context it's not hard to see the LMI's application to conversion therapy bans: it is impossible that Christians would ever be fined for speaking the gospel to homosexuals…but if they are, it’s because they have it coming! The transgender debate too: “Me being transgender has no impact on you, but if you won’t use my new pronouns you deserve to get fired.” Dreher’s LMI is a helpful warning. Those who reject God’s Word aren’t going to abide with Romans 12:18 either and live peaceably with others in as far as it is possible for them. They are after capitulation. So how exactly is that helpful to know? Well, if you’ve ever been tempted to compromise your Christian convictions for the sake of keeping the peace, keeping friends, or keeping your career, then it is a peculiar and emboldening blessing to know that such peace can’t be had. God is making it all the easier for us to take up the battle, by eliminating any options for retreat. Now that’s punny! Is a minister, busy rehearsing his sermon, practicing what he preaches? SOURCE: Art. Moger’s The Complete Pun Book Flies’ eyes Flies don’t have eyelids but they do still need something to help keep the dirt and water away from their peepers. So God has given some the equivalent of a Teflon non-stick coating for their eyeballs, to repel the water. This anti-adhesive coating has gotten scientists’ and engineers’ attention because, as Dr. Margaret Helder notes in the Winter 2020 Creation Science Dialogue, it is “highly versatile, stable and eco-friendly” which are improvements on the industrial coatings we currently have. Looking to nature for design inspiration is a field of study called biomimcry, and other examples include investigating how geckos defy gravity while climbing across ceilings, and, going years back, turning to birds to figure out how to fly. There’s another lesson to be learned here. When creatures exhibit design that is more fantastic than the best Man can produce, even using the smartest brains, biggest labs, and most powerful computers, is a clear indicator that an even greater Designer is at work here. The sin of omission If Margaret E. Sangster’s (1838-1912) poem is in need of an addendum it would be only this: when we repent Jesus can wash us clean of this sin too. It isn't the thing you do, dear, It's the thing you leave undone That gives you a bit of a heartache At setting of the sun. The tender work forgotten, The letter you did not write, The flowers you did not send, dear, Are your haunting ghosts at night. The stone you might have lifted Out of a brother's way; The bit of heartsome counsel You were hurried too much to say; The loving touch of the hand, dear, The gentle, winning tone Which you had no time nor thought for With troubles enough of your own. Those little acts of kindness So easily out of mind, Those chances to be angels Which we poor mortals find - They come in night and silence, Each sad, reproachful wraith, When hope is faint and flagging, And a chill has fallen on faith. For life is all too short, dear, And sorrow is all to great, To suffer our slow compassion That tarries until too late: And it isn't the thing you do, dear, It's the thing you leave undone Which gives you a bit of heartache At the setting of the sun. Did you know? Did you know that the word “incorrectly” is spelled incorrectly in every single English dictionary? And the word "wrong" is spelled wrong! Thankfully at least the word “correctly” is spelled correctly. “You are that man…” I once heard RC Sproul Jr. lay out a useful, but unusual tool to help a reader better understand the point of a Scripture passage. The key, as he explained it, was that when you’re reading the Bible and you come across someone doing something very stupid, you should not say “How could they be so dumb?!” Instead, you should ask, “How am I doing something stupid just like that?” Or, as the prophet Nathan put it to David in 2 Samuel 12, “You are that man!” No doctor in this house A young theologian named Fiddle Refused to accept his degree. He said, “It’s bad enough being Fiddle, Without being ‘Fiddle D.D.’” SOURCE: Art. Moger’s The Complete Pun Book...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - January 2021
Silent Cal speaks American president Calvin Coolidge was so close-lipped his nickname was “Silent Cal.” A popular joke told about him had an attractive young lady approach the president to explain that she had made a bet with her friend that she could get him to say more than two words. "You lose," the president replied. But while he didn’t say much, when he did speak up, it was worth hearing. Here are some of the best quotes from Silent Cal. "Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." "No man ever listened himself out of a job." "No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." "Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped." "Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business." “I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant.” History majors can be wise before they're gray “History maketh a young man to be old, without either wrinkles or gray hairs; privileging him with the experience of age, without either the infirmities or inconveniences thereof.” – Thomas Fuller It is scientific to say the Sun goes around the Earth Some Bible critics say that Joshua 10:12-14 can be used to show that the Bible is not trustworthy when it comes to scientific matters. Here we read that at Joshua’s command the Sun stood still, and yet as we all know, it is the Earth that moves, not the Sun. So this passage gets it wrong, right? Not so fast! Even today, we talk about the Sun as if it moves – setting and rising – and no one complains that we’re unscientific when we do so, or doubts our ability to be clear about other matters. When a house builder says his latest building project will be done in six days, we won’t assume he actually meant six million years just because we also heard him talk about seeing the sun rise that morning. Days still mean days even when someone talks about the sun rising. But let’s pick nits for the moment and consider if there is any way at all we can find fault with Joshua’s statement. Sure, it makes sense in common terminology, but it still doesn’t make sense scientifically speaking, right? Not so fast! It turns out it is perfectly valid, scientifically speaking, to talk of the Sun being in motion around the Earth. Why? Because all motion is relative – i.e., it is measured compared to some other object. Most of the time, the other object we are comparing our motion to is not explicitly stated – when we go driving, running, or even biking, we measure our motion relative to the ground, but we never actually state that. So when we say a train is traveling 20 miles an hour east, it would be more scientifically precise to say it is traveling 20 miles/hr. east relative to the ground. But the ground isn’t the only frame of reference we use – we can choose to use another. If a fellow was on this train and walking 10 miles an hour towards the back (westward), we could say he was traveling 10 miles an hour eastward, relative to the ground, or we could say he was moving 10 miles an hour westward relative to the train. When it comes to our Solar System, we most commonly – because it has the strongest gravitational pull – speak of motion compared to, or relative to, the Sun. And relative to the Sun, it is the Earth that is doing all the moving. But we could choose a different frame of reference. Relative to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, the Sun is moving too! From this vantage, the Earth isn't simply orbiting the Sun, but spiraling around it...and have you ever heard someone describe it like that? Now, if we chose the Earth as our frame of reference (a logical choice, since this is our vantage point) and described all motion relative to the Earth, then we could say, scientifically and accurately, that it is the Sun that goes around the Earth! And that’s the reference point that Joshua chose to use. So Joshua 10:12-14 can’t be used to undermine the clarity of the clear six-day creation account in Genesis 1 and 2. In fact, if you find someone trying to do just that, we should instead understand this attempt as undermining the critic’s credibility – they have no interest in being fair. The wit and wisdom of Winston Churchill “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” “Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.” “Everyone remembers the remark of the old man at the point of death: that his life had been full of troubles most of which had never happened.” Words that mean their opposite (or close to) Stylist to customer: I can clip your hair, certainly, but would you like me to clip it off or together? The sales manager was tired of his job and wanted to resign. But the money was too good, so instead, he decided to resign, this time with a four-year contract. Giving the very forgetful Fred oversight of the packing led to many oversights. The UN gave us sanction to impose sanctions on Iran. C.S. Lewis on humans' historic, hopeless quest for happiness apart from God “The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first – wanting to be the center – wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake... What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – Mere Christianity...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – December 2020
A million monkeys “Someone once said that if you sat a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don’t wonder whether it came from chance and monkeys. Why then does the atheist use that incredibly improbable explanation for the universe? Clearly, because it is his only chance of remaining an atheist. At this point we need a psychological explanation of the atheist rather than a logical explanation of the universe.” – Peter Kreeft, in Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics Kipling on Canada Rudyard Kipling was a world traveller, and, as his limerick below shows, must also have made it to Canada. There once was a boy in Quebec Who was buried in snow to his neck. When asked, “Are you friz?: He replied, “Yes! I is But we don’t call this cold in Quebec.” Why I ain’t a grammar purist There is an apocryphal story about how, after submitting a draft of an important wartime speech to the Foreign Office, Winston Churchill was surprised to see upon its return there were no comments on its content. But where he had ended a sentence with a preposition a Foreign Office purist had transferred the preposition to its stiffly grammataical position. At this Churchill dashed off a note to the offending purist. “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.” SOURCE: The Reader’s Digest’s Bedside Book of Laughter Smart people can believe dumb things How come so many very smart people believe the world is millions of years old? It’s because smart people can still get caught up in a philosophy that blinds them to the truth. This has happened in the past as David Berlinski and Uncommon Knowledge host Peter Robinson highlight in this exchange: PETER ROBINSON: “So how is it that Darwin comes along and within what seems like twenty seven seconds he’s carried the field. That is to say, intellectually, in the academy, he’s just carried the field. By the turn of the twentieth century Darwin is the dominant way of looking at the development of species. How did that happen?” DAVID BERLINSKI: “How did it happen that Marxism swept its field, swept it so thoroughly and completely that a hundred million people had to die before someone realized? You know that’s not such a swell theory at all.” “Son, we need to talk” The November 2015 issue of Faith in Focus tackled the topic of maturity and men. While the whole issue was wonderful, Pastor Andrew de Vries’ article “Son, we need to talk” packed particular punch. He was addressing the many ways that boys can resist becoming men, one of which is to lose sight of any sort of play/work balance. Son, I’ve noticed that you tend to play a lot. I know you’ve got a job, and you’ve got your studies, but your “play dates” do seem to take up a lot of your schedule. Is it possible that your “playtime” is stunting your spiritual growth? The video games into the early hours of the morning, the DVD collection, the weekends away motorbiking or tramping, the fitness regime Monday through Saturday (and just a light workout on Sunday of course). Isn’t that an excessive play regime? Please don’t think I’m opposed to such activities. These are all legitimate pursuits to play at. I have no interest in binding your conscience with a list of what is good and what is bad, or rules about the appropriate amount of time that you should be spending on these pursuits. But you have to ask yourself the question, ‘are these things really helping to further your spiritual growth?’… Or have they become distractions which are keeping you in spiritual diapers when by now you should have been able to put childish ways behind you. Best mistake Our magazine’s wonderful proofreader marked it as a typo; some friends thought it might have been ego. While writing about a Pride parade in an issue some years back I defined transgenders as being made up of: "...men who want to be women, and women who want to be me." I did end up adding an “n” at the end, but, really, wouldn’t it have worked either way? Will our pets be on the New Earth? While some might questions whether pesky critters like mosquitos will be there, most Christians seem to believe we’ll find animals on the New Earth. After all, there were animals before the Fall, so why wouldn’t they be there when the world is perfect once more? But it is a matter of some debate as to whether animals there will be ressurected versions of the ones who died here – perhaps there will be cats, but might we find our very own Mr. Fluffy Wussles there? Douglas Wilson says yes, pointing to 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul speaks of the ressurection. In verses 35-44 the apostle talks of the dead rising and our flesh being like seeds sown, put in the ground to die, to then emerge with a body so much better than what we have now. But we aren’t the only ones to have “flesh/seed” – the birds, animals and fish seem to as well. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish (vs. 37-39). If our flesh is to be sown and then to “sprout” into new life again, it would seem that animal, bird and fish flesh is likewise seeds that will sprout, and thus some reason to think that our pets, Mr. Wussle included, might be seen again. Note also that while animals, birds, and fish are mentioned as seed/flesh to be resurrected, those pesky mosquitos are not!...
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. ...