In a Nutshell
Tidbits – November 2023
Practice makes better
I had a friend who makes it a point of pride not to open doors for women because. “Women are just as capable of opening doors as men.”
True, but he's missed the point of this little politeness. Gifted with greater strength, men could use their power (and some brutes do) to dominate women. Proper Christian chaps in times past took a stand against this misuse and instead put their strength at women’s disposal, doing so in many different ways: helping with chairs, giving up their seat on the bus, carrying packages, holding the song book at church and, yes, opening doors for the fairer sex.
It wasn’t that women were incapable – men were just practicing using their strength to help. They were engraining a habit, and modeling it to others, showing how gentle men behave. And since brutes continue to abound it’s clear that many men still need to practice and model this gentlemanly behavior.
Put your biblical knowledge to the test. Order the following events as they occur in the Bible beginning with “1” for the earliest and “10” for the last. Answers are at the bottom of this page.
- Daniel in the lions’ den
- Noah’s ark
- The giving of the Ten Commandments
- Elijah and the prophets of Baal
- Solomon building the Temple
- Samson and Delilah
- Jesus feeding the 5,000
- Saul’s vision on the Damascus road
- Joseph and his coat of many colors
- The martyring of Stephen
Nellie: a life worth living (27 min)
“I’ll play football in heaven,” says John “Nellie” Nelson (1965-2009) who was born with arthrogryposis and couldn’t move any of his joints from his neck down. He was, nevertheless, an assistant football coach for one of the best football programs in the country. What he did with the little he was given showed these young men what living to God’s glory really meant.
I first saw this at a film festival a decade back, and was delighted to discover it is now available for free on YouTube.
Marital advice from the unmarried
I got married later in life, and in my single days I wrote down some advice for the married me that I hoped would be. It was a few things that I, and some other singles, noticed about the very happiest of our married friends.
- They make it a priority to hug or kiss their spouses hello and goodbye. That mushy stuff may make the kids groan but it sure seems to keep mom and dad happy.
- While Dutch folk do have a tendency to tease the ones we love, happy couples are also quick to compliment their spouses (men, see Prov. 31:10-31 for a little inspiration).
- "Dating” is common – they find ways to regularly spend time alone together.
- While tonight it may have been your wife’s job to make supper, that’s no reason not to thank her for the wonderful meal! The happiest couples regularly thank each other, even for the ordinary routine work they do for one another every day.
- And the happiest couples grow spiritually together, not just reading the Bible together, but really studying it and praying together.
A punny pastor
Pastor John Barach posted this bit to his blog some years back, on pulpit exchanges:
TERRY: "So when you have a pulpit exchange, you come here and our pastor goes to another church and that pastor goes to another church... It's kind of a domino effect!"
ME: "No, Terry. It's the dominee effect."
Fly the silly skies
WestJet is a Canadian airline known for its humorous flight attendants. The following are some quips attributed to these flying funsters:
- "Welcome aboard West Jet Flight 245 to Calgary. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."
- "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."
- "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive.
- After a very hard landing in Edmonton, the flight attendant came on the intercom: "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault… it was the asphalt."
Quote of the month
“People should know what they believe and why they believe it, and they should know what they don’t believe and why they don’t believe it.” – Dr. Glen Martin
A stolen gift
In June street evangelist Ray Comfort's new bicycle was stolen, so he ended up going back to the same bike store to buy the very same bike again. He has already spoken with the store owner about God the last visit, so this time he asked the man about his family, and discovered that while he had two children, and had been with their mom for 15 years, they were not married. And this is what Ray then told him:
"I told him that if he loved his girlfriend he would marry her. I talked about her eternal salvation and that he was making her a fornicator. I also told him that the Bible begins with a naked couple being commanded by God to have sex, that sex is a gift from God to humanity.... Then I told him a story of a little boy whose dad had a brand new $100 bill in his wallet that he was going to give him as a gift. Not knowing that, the son snuck into his dad’s room, opened the wallet and stole the money. The $100 was going to be his anyway, but he stole it and made something bad out of something that was going to be good. I said, 'That’s what you’ve done with God’s gift of sex.'"
SOURCE: Ray Comfort's Facebook post of June 10, 2014
Sometimes the exact same letters can be used to say the same thing in another way, as happens in the anagrams below.
- Astronomer: Moon starer
- The eyes: They see
- The Morse Code: Here come dots
- Slot Machines: Cash lost in me
- Snooze Alarms: Alas! No more Z's
- A decimal point: I'm a dot in place
- The earthquakes: That queer shake
- Eleven plus two: Twelve plus one
- Butterfly: Flutter-by
- Vacation Times: I'm Not as Active
Source: the world wide web
Dad joke of the month
Two atoms are walking down a road when one says, “Oh no, I’ve lost my electron!”
“Are you sure?” asks the second.
“Yes,” says the first, “I’m positive!”
Source: 3-2-1 Penguins – The Cheating Scales of BullaManka
Unromantic… or just thrifty?
Rene Gutteridge’s romance novel My Life as a Doormat has a rather creative introduction on being a romantic on the cheap:
"I’m practical. Practical people can be romantics. I don’t think the two contradict each other. Sure, I cringe when an insane amount of money is spent on a dozen roses, and as I watch them die their slow deaths despite the Evian and the aspirin tablet, I can’t help but wonder what better use there was for forty dollars. Can the feeling of holding roses really match saving the starving children of the world? I simply pose the question.
"I’m getting sidetracked. The fact of the matter is that I just see romance differently. I see it in defined spaces, with reason and structure attached. Romance doesn’t necessarily need spontaneity either. Scheduled romance is certainly a viable option for busy people. There’s no reason why a bottle of wine can’t be sought out days ahead of time, why a horse-drawn carriage can’t be ridden in the off-season to save ten dollars. Practicality is a simple frame of mind that in all honesty offers more perks and functionality than such frivolousness."
Bringing the Greek fire!
“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” – attributed to Plato
Answers for "Pop Quiz"
The correct order of events is 2, 9, 3, 6, 5, 4, 1, 7, 10, 8
- Noah’s ark
- Joseph and his coat of many colors
- The giving of the Ten Commandments
- Samson and Delilah
- Solomon building the Temple
- Elijah and the prophets of Baal
- Daniel in the lions’ den
- Jesus feeding the 5,000
- The martyring of Stephen
- Saul’s vision on the Damascus road
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - October 2023
Halloween in a small American town I live in a delightful and occasionally comical small town where the church-attending Christians make up a solid m...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – September 2023
Season your words "Every day, our words could write a book of 50-60 pages (cited by John MacArthur in his sermon 'Exposing the Truth About Men’s He...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – August 2023
All sorts of time to talk with God Some years ago a friend told me about a plan she had put into motion – she'd decided that on her drive to work e...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - June 2023
Those wild and crazy Vikings! You may have learned in school that Vikings visited North America long before Christopher Columbus did, but I bet you never learned how they did it. Their marine tech wasn’t anything close to what Columbus had, but what they lacked in equipment, they made up for in chutzpah. To get to North America, the Vikings had to “surf” the north edge of nasty storms. As Glenn Sunshine explains in his book 32 Christians Who Changed Their World: “We don’t often appreciate the difficulties the Vikings faced sailing west across the Atlantic. Their ships had square sales, which means they could not tack into the wind; the wind had to be blowing from behind them for the sails to propel the ship. Since prevailing winds in the north Atlantic blow from west to east, to sail west the Vikings had to rely on storms. Severe storms turn cyclonic, that is, the winds circulate counterclockwise around the eye. This means that by riding the north edge of the storms, the Vikings could take advantage of westward blowing winds to propel them across the ocean.” Gary North on breaking your TV habit Gary North (1942-2022) was a Christian economist and such a prolific writer he must have followed the advice he offers here and entirely kicked his TV habit. “Put a piggy bank next to the couch where you watch TV. Every time you watch a one-hour show, put $2 into the piggy bank. If someone else watches, and you're a free rider, have that person put in $2. Then break the piggy bank – or at least empty it – in the last week of December. Put the money in your bank account. Then write a check for this amount. Send it to a charity. In short, put a price on your time. Pay the price. Economics teaches: ‘When the price rises, less is demanded.’ You will cut your TV habit by 50%. If not, make it $3.” Source: Gary North’s Tip of the Week, January 3, 2015 Those guys are right too? It’s been a crazy few years, what with too many of yesterday’s conspiracy theories turning into the next day’s headlines. So when I heard that there was now irrefutable proof the earth was flat I didn’t know if I could handle it. Could it be possible? Could those guys be right too? Well, prepare for your mind to be blown! As you know, most of the world is water – 71% of the planet is covered with it. But what they never told you, what you probably never thought about before, is the fact that none of it is carbonated. Not even a single percent. Ergo, the world really is flat! Source: inspired by a Douglas Wilson quip Learn the right lesson The trouble with learning from experience is the inbuilt tendency to overreact. If drunkenness has ruined someone close to us, we could conclude Christians should abstain. A child who tries out for a basketball team and gets cut might think they’ll never be good at any sports. A young man mocked by the first girl he asks out will wonder whether he should bother with a second. That many a Hollywood movie is vile, has some convinced all movies must be. That 95 songs on the year’s Top 100 list are vulgar, could lead parents to conclude that rock and rap is purely the Devil’s domain. And that dirty dancing is a thing, will have some thinking pure dancing is not. But Mark Twain has a warning for us to consider: “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it, lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will not sit down on a hot stove-lid again – but also she will not sit down on a cold one either.” Experience is quite the tutor, but we can learn too much from the lesson. That’s why we must test our experiences against the Bible. Then we can understand that despite the frequent abuse of wine, there remains a legitimate use (Isa. 25:6, 1 Tim. 5:23) and instead of banning it, we need to model right usage. Dancing might be dirty, but it can also be done to the Lord (2 Sam. 6:14). And the gun-shy young man can be assured that a good woman is worth risking rejection (Prov. 31:10-31). 4 thoughts on education “I am much afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which means are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must be corrupt.” – Martin Luther, in his Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation “The surest way to keep a people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family.” – James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey (1875-1927) "The family is the main engine of education. If we use schooling to break children away from parents... we're going to continue to have the horror show we have right now." – John Taylor Gatto (1935-2018), New York City’s 3-time “Teacher of the Year” “Education is the process of selling someone on books.” – Douglas Wilson That explains a lot Who are smarter, men or women? A good test might be to ask this question in mixed company and see who’s dumb enough to answer. A case for men could be made by pointing to the greater number of males who win top prizes, like the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (183 to 8) or the Abel Prize for mathematics (25 to 1). But the case for women could be made by pointing out how men take many more unnecessary risks, like driving while drunk, which leads to 3 times more men than women dying, according to US stats. So which is it? Well, according to the late Walter Williams, economist and educator extraordinaire, both cases are correct. “Male geniuses outnumber female geniuses 7-to-1. Female intelligence is packed much closer to the middle of the bell curve, whereas men’s intelligence has far greater variability. That means that though there are many more male geniuses, there are also many more male idiots. The latter might partially explain why more men are in jail than women.” Source: Walter Williams’ “Are We Equal?” posted to WalterWilliams.com May 27, 2013 If we really believed in recycling… …why don’t we stop charging tax on recycled goods? They’ve already been taxed once, when they were new, so the government has gotten their pound of flesh. Should a good be taxed twice, just because it has been refurbished or in some other way made useful again? We live in a throwaway culture, and what an incentive it would be if used goods could be sold tax-free. Giraffe necks are neat Did you know a giraffe doesn't need its neck muscles to hold its neck up, but rather to bend it down? As a ruminant (an animal that chews its cud) the giraffe has to be able to bring food back up its neck to chew again. It also has to have an enormous heart to create enough pressure to get the blood up to its head. And then it has to have shut-off valves of a sort, to relieve the pressure when it bends its head down to drink, otherwise the blood pressure would cause it to blow out its own brain. The brilliance of their design comes out more and more, the closer you look....
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. Idle hands... “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." Headline haiku 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 account may actually represent reality. Jonathon Van Maren makes that point in his article “Malcolm Muggeridge on Christ and the Media”: In his slim 1977 volume Christ and the Media, Malcolm Muggeridge describes a scene instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with political protest in our TV age. He was in Washington, D.C. working as a correspondent and came across a group of protestors moping about, holding slackened signs, chatting. Bored police were also present. What were they waiting for? The cameras, as it turned out. Once they showed up – action! “Whereupon placards were lifted, slogans shouted, fists clenched; a few demonstrators were arrested and pitched into the police van, and a few cops kicked until, ‘Cut!’” Moments later, the streets were again silent. On TV that evening, it all looked very impressive. “On the television screen,” revolutionary Jerry Rubin once observed, “news is not so much reported as created.” Reasons to read “A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.” – C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory If Dad told only dinosaur jokes As you might expect with dinosaur jokes, all of these are oldies. And some of them are even goodies. What do you call a dinosaur that never gives up? Try-try-try-ceratops What dinosaur makes a good police officer? Tricera-cops. What did the dinosaur call her blouse shop? Try Sarah’s Tops. Why don’t dinosaurs drive cars? Too many Tyrannosaurus wrecks. What do you call a T-rex in a cowboy hat? Tyrannosaurus Tex How do you invite a dinosaur to a cafe? “Tea, Rex?” Where does the T-rex spend its money? At a dino-store What do you call a sleeping T-rex? A dino-snore What do you get when a dinosaur scores a touchdown? A dino-score What did the dinosaur use to build his house? A dino-saw Why did the dinosaur wear a bandage? It had a dino-sore SOURCE: Charles Keller’s Colossal Fossils: Dinosaur Riddles, and the world wide web A need for the outrageous? There’s a fellow I read occasionally because he has some unique insights into our culture. But I rarely quote him, because the way he talks is generally outside the bounds of what even Christians find acceptable. I’m not talking about truly offensive speech, but more that he’ll call spades spades right when everyone else is avoiding mention of dirt-moving equipment altogether. He explained: “…I personally decided to say things that are outside the Overton Window, knowing that this came with risks. My bet was that the good I could do was likely to outweigh the possible negative outcomes. You might make similar choices. The idea then is not to live in fear, but to be smartly and strategically courageous.” The “Overton Window” is a term to describe the range (window) of acceptable discourse – what makes for polite conversation. And this Window can be shifted. For example, publicly stating that homosexuality is sinful fell inside this Window when I was kid, but it doesn’t anymore. Why did things shift? Because some on the outside were willing to publicly state outrageous things like “homosexuality is good!” By repeatedly making these “out of bounds” statements they normalized the thought, and started pulling the Window in their direction. The eventual result was that what they were saying wasn’t viewed as outrageous any more. This Christian writer has taken that lesson, and decided to state his positions baldly, even when they fall well outside the Overton Window. He’s doing so in an attempt to pull that Window back where it belongs. The problem with his approach is that he’ll sometimes sound rude and crude, even to the Christians who agree with him. I’ve had a different approach, generally trying to make my case in as winsome a manner as possible. I want to frame what are becoming outrageous positions – that euthanasia is murder, the unborn are as valuable as you and me, etc. – as if they actually fall within the Overton Window, as they obviously should. But the problem with my approach is that no matter how reasonably I might present something today, unless God brings our country to repentance, it’s only a matter of time (only a matter of weeks?) before what was once acceptable is deemed bigoted. And then I’ll either have to be okay with being outrageous, or I’ll have to take back what I’d previously said. So whose approach is better? Well, when saying “what is a woman?” will get you in trouble, then the time might be now for all of us to get comfortable with being outrageous. Don’t go it alone "In more than a decade of pastoral ministry, I've never met a Christian who was healthier, more mature, and more active in ministry by being apart from the church. But I have found the opposite to be invariably true. The weakest Christians are those least connected to the body. And the less involved you are, the more disconnected those following you will be. The man who attempts Christianity without the church shoots himself in the foot, shoots his children in the leg, and shoots his grandchildren in the heart." -- Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness A turn of a phrase “Paraprosdokians” take a common figure of speech and put a twist on the ending. Comedian Groucho Marx (“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it”) was a master, but the authorship of the very best examples is hard to track down. And what makes the very best good too, is that they are in fact true, the proof being in how they parallel Scripture. Don’t argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience. (Prov. 26:4) – Mark Twain? When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water. (Prov. 15:1) – unknown Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak. (Prov. 17:28) – attributed, probably incorrectly, to Einstein Truth is hate to those who hate truth. (Prov. 9:7-8) – unknown The Andy Griffith Show on children "choosing" their gender In a Nov. 13, 1961 episode of The Andy Griffith Show titled “Opie’s Hobo Friend,” Sheriff Andy Taylor is concerned with the influence a hobo is having on his son. So he decides to have a talk with the man, David Browne. Browne wonders why the boy, Opie, can’t just figure things out on his own. BROWNE: “Who’s to say that the boy would be happier your way than mine. Why not let him decide?” SHERIFF TAYLOR: "Nah, I'm afraid it don't work that way. You can't let a young’un decide for himself. He'll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it. Then, when he finds out there's a hook in it, it's too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter that it's hard to convince ‘em that other things might be better in the long run. All a parent can do is say 'wait' and 'trust me' and try to keep temptation away." I almost titled this, “More sense in the 60s” but realized this wasn’t an example of things being better and people being smarter back in the day. Instead, it was the opposite, showing that they were wrestling with similar problems then too. Maybe that’s one reason why Solomon warns us “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions” (Eccl. 7:10). We won’t appreciate the blessings of today, nor the courage of our parents, if we keep imagining that yesteryear was so much better. Gary North on breaking your TV habit Gary North (1942-2022) was a Christian economist and such a prolific writer he must have followed the advice he offers here and entirely kicked his TV habit. “Put a piggy bank next to the couch where you watch TV. Every time you watch a one-hour show, put $2 into the piggy bank. If someone else watches, and you're a free rider, have that person put in $2. Then break the piggy bank – or at least empty it – in the last week of December. Put the money in your bank account. Then write a check for this amount. Send it to a charity. In short, put a price on your time. Pay the price. Economics teaches: ‘When the price rises, less is demanded.’ You will cut your TV habit by 50%. If not, make it $3.” Source: Gary North’s Tip of the Week, January 3, 2015...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - March 2023
Why is so much Christian fiction bad? Back in the June 30, 2007 issue of WORLD magazine, Marvin Olasky “interviewed” the long-departed novelist Flannery O’Connor by asking her questions he then answered with excerpts from O’Connor’s book Mystery and Manners. Most interesting was O’Connor’s thoughts on Christian fiction: OLASKY: Why do you call lots of religious novels “sorry”? O’CONNOR: The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that because of his belief, he is somehow dispensed from the obligation to penetrate concrete reality. He will think that the eyes of the Church or of the Bible or of his particular theology have already done the seeing for him, and that his business is to rearrange this essential vision into satisfying patterns… by beginning with Christian principles and finding the life that will illustrate them…. The result is another addition to that large body of pious trash for which we have so long been famous. The 3 ways Hollywood gets truth wrong While reviewing 2011's Water for Elephants, WorldNetDaily.com’s Drew Zahn exposed the flaw underlying most Hollywood fare. Zahn noted that for “more than a century now four very distinct worldviews have been competing to answer one critical question: ‘What is truth, and how can you know it?’” The four worldviews include the one right one, and three that deny God is the source of all truth. From first to worst they are: Truth is from God: “Reality is revealed by Divine Truth (John 14:6)” so it is through God’s Word that we may know Truth Truth is defined by our reason: “The idea that God would define truth was eventually challenged by another notion, that man – in all his scientific, progressive wisdom – could determine truth on his own. This gave rise to the second competitor, rationalism, which argues that what we reason to be true must be true.” Truth is what you feel: “Yet a third worldview agreed that man defines truth, but insists it is a matter of the heart, not the mind. Sometimes called romanticism, this worldview argues what we feel to be true is true.” There is no truth: Finally, we have the notion of Relativism – that there is no truth at all Zahn notes that while the various worldviews have been debated among philosophers and theologians, “average Joes” all subscribe to the same one: “When push comes to shove, most folks eventually do what… feels right (romanticism). What we really, really want to be true, we usually insist is true, then stretch all bounds of reason and theology to prove it is true. In the end, romanticism usually wins.” In Water for Elephants this romanticism is evident in the central plot, when a young man connects with an older married woman, and the audience is expected to cheer this illicit affair because, well, the two of them just seem so right for each other! But if Water isn’t any better than typical Hollywood fare, one good thing can still be said about this film: it spawned Zahn’s insightful review! In need of laughing gas I haven't been to a dentist in a couple of decades. This joke had me rethinking that decision. Dentist: It’s a very good thing you came to see me. You’ve got the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen – the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen! Patient: I can hear you Doc, no need to repeat it! Dentist: I didn’t – that was an echo! SOURCE: A joke a day keeps the doctor away by Bob Phillips A musical Matthew 7:2 moment... As much as she tries not to, my daughter can't help but smile every time I hit a false note. So this one spoke to me. On our way home from church my young son asked me about Mr. Smith, a man sitting behind us during the service: “He can’t sing very well, can he?” It was true, but I didn’t want my son critiquing everyone’s singing so I explained to him: “Son, Mr. Smith sings from his heart, and that’s what makes it good.” Several days later my son and I were singing along to the car radio, when he stopped, turned to me, and said: “Daddy, you sing from your heart, don't you?" SOURCE: Adapted from a joke making its way around the Internet Can’t do better than the Bible… In the last couple of decades atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have hit the top of the bestsellers list with their attacks on the existence of God. These prominent atheists were hoping to make doubters of us all. But Philip Yancey has a ready answer. Yancey may be staunchly Arminian, but he’s struggled with doubt for years and has a couple of insights worth sharing. He offers doubting Christians this bit of advice: “Learn to question your doubts just as much as you question your faith.” After all, atheists and the doubts they raise and the arguments they make are nothing new. Yancey sees their disciples on every campus he visits, but they don’t bother him. “When I speak on college campuses I like to choose the most skeptical, the most rebellious people - the kids who are reading newspapers instead of listening – and speak to them. And I tell them this, ‘I challenge you to find a single argument against God from the great atheists – David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, people like that – that is not already included in the Bible!… I can find every argument – in the book of Job for example – that these great philosophers have used against God.” SOURCE: When God is hiding: A candid conversation with best-selling author Philip Yancey Red and yellow, black and white… Creationist Ken Ham has a solution to the problem of racism. All we have to do is make people understand their true origins: “ says all people are descendants of one man and one woman, Adam and Eve. That means there’s only one race of people… I remember after talking on this once a man told me, ‘When I filled out my census form and it said, “What race are you?” I wrote down “Adam’s.”’” SOURCE: DVD entitled Genesis: The Key to Reclaiming the Culture Curing the postmodern disease During the two years that RC Sproul's son taught university freshman English it became clear that many of his students had succumbed to the sickness of postmodernism. But Sproul Jr. was ready with a cure for their disease. In a 2006 speech he recounted how he administered the cure to one student: “ student in the back blurted out, ‘There’s no such thing as objective truth.’ Just like that. “And I said to him ‘you get an F in this class for this semester’ and then I went back to the conversation we were having. And, of course, in the corner of my eye, I could see his blood pressure rising, and his face getting redder and redder. And he’s holding his hand up. “‘Yes what is it?’ “What do you think he said? ‘That’s not fair!’ “I strung him along a little longer. I said, ‘I’m sorry. You must have misunderstood me. I’m not giving you the F because anybody stupid enough to say there’s no such thing as objective truth obviously deserves an F. That’s not my thinking at all! You misunderstood. No, I’m just giving you the F because I want to.’ And then I went back to the rest of the class. “He got madder. By now some of the students had figured it out. Some of them hadn’t, including that one. And he said, ‘I’ll tell the administration!’ “Finally I had pity on him and I said, ‘What are you going to tell them? Are you going to tell them I have failed to measure up to some external, objective, transcendent standard of what’s right and wrong? Because you told me there is no such thing!’ “‘Oh… okay. Well… I guess there is.’ “‘Welcome back to the human race,’ and then we went on with our business.” Quote of the month For your next road trip If you’ve gotten tired of the old favorite “99 bottles,” or thought it weird to hear your kids singing endlessly about consuming vast sums of a beverage they aren't even allowed to drink yet (some parents make it "99 bottles of pop" but that has its own problems), there is another song to drive you mad on your family expeditions. It's also an oldie, first being sung way back in the ’60s on The Shari Lewis Show. This is the song that never ends Oh it goes on and on my friends Some people started singing it Not knowing what it was And they’ll continue singing it forever just because This is the song that never ends…...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – February 2023
What Darwin didn’t know Darwin, ignorant of the inner workings of the cell, could imagine them to be simple. But the more we learn of the cell toda...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – December 2022
Just ain’t the same “Watching church on a livestream is like watching a fireplace on TV: you can see everything with no warmth.” – Charlie Ki...
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 coul...
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 frequently know more, not because we have moved ahead by our own natural ability, but because we are supported by the mental strength of others, and possess riches that we have inherited from our forefathers. Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to puny dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.” – John of Salisbury Against a mob mentality In a recent conversation on the Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson podcast, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel made this interesting observation on a crowd’s wisdom: THIEL: I think the Judeo-Christian is always extremely skeptical. For a biblical scholar I would ask the question, is there a single incidence in which the unanimity of the crowd is right? I think it’s always wrong. Joseph is right, his brothers are wrong. The Tower of Babel – everybody, the global crowd is completely wrong. Christ is abandoned… ROBINSON: Pilate begs the crowd for Christ to be freed… THIEL: The crowd always gets it wrong. So somehow reason tells to believe in the wisdom of the crowds, Revelation tells us to be skeptical. Thiel argues there is good reason to question the prevailing narrative. But can we think of a time in the Bible when the crowd was right? The only example that comes to my mind is that many shouted “Hosanna” for Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Mark 11... though it was only a short time later that the crowd was shouting for Jesus’ death. So, the case for skepticism remains, but it’s worth noting that the crowd isn’t so reliably wrong that we can just automatically go with the opposite of what they're shouting. It’s also worth noting that God does speak to the wisdom of consulting others (Prov. 11:14, 12:15, 15:22, etc.). But with what we know about Man’s rebellious heart, we shouldn’t expect wisdom from the mob. The Church and the coming Metaverse... Many of us worship in churches with limited technology: Bibles in the pews, rather than the text projected overhead, and not a fog machine to be seen. But even our churches haven’t escaped the impact of technology. as Ian Harber and Patrick Miller explain in a recent article: “Henry Ford didn’t set out to create megachurches. But before the advent of the personal vehicle, most Christians seeking a church faced a simple denominational decision: do you attend the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Catholic church around the corner? With a vehicle, Christians could suddenly attend whichever church had the best children’s ministry programming, youth activities, and rock ’n’ roll Sunday morning worship – as long as it was within 10 to 30 minutes of driving. We became consumers because we could be consumers.” They were urging the Church to get ready for the Metaverse – the online world that Facebook is trying to create – but also noted we have some time, as it is probably years away from really coming together. But, like the car, the Internet, and the smartphone before it, this new tech will probably present us with both new opportunities, and new temptations to deal with. English oddities In her book Highly Irregular, Arika Okrent shares a 140-year-old poem that deserves to be remembered today. I saw a version of it titled somewhere as: “I wrote it in my jolonel”: “There was a brave soldier, a Colonel, Who swore in a way most infolonel; But he never once thought As a Christian man ought He imperiled his own life etolonel.” SOURCE: Arika Okrent’s Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme and other oddities of the English Language (H/T Douglas Wilson) First-date questions In Dating with Discernment, author Sam Andreades has an appendix full of 40 “first date questions.” He offers them as a way to calm the nerves, if you can’t think of something to talk about, so many of them are lighthearted: What animals would you like to be? SciFi or RomCom? Deep down, do you think Pluto should be recognized as a planet? But he includes others that could be categorized as “time savers.” There are issues that divide us, and if your date thinks one way, and you know it has to be the other, you might be able to save you both a lot of time by finding that out quickly. That doesn’t mean the question can’t still be fun. It just means it isn’t just fun. So here are a few of his more pointed queries: Tell me about your family? Are you close with them? What is the most wonderful feeling in the world for you? What is the biggest need you see in the Church? What was a time when you couldn’t stop laughing? Can Christians believe in aliens? When is Jesus coming back? What was the subject of your last prayer? What do you think God has been trying to teach you recently? Are you learning it? Women in combat “Here’s the problem: in opening combat roles to women, we send out messages to both sexes that are either untrue, offensive or both. We are telling women that they are functionally equal to men, which everyone knows is false. And we’re telling men that the social goal of gender neutrality is more important than their own security, which is offensive and demoralizing.” - Barbara Kay Cheesy Jokes Edam is the only type of cheese that is made backward Never believe what your cheese is saying when it’s too gouda to be true! What did the photographer tell the Monterey Jack? “Say ‘People’!” What did the Mozzarella say when someone threw tomato sauce at him? “You wanna pizza me?” Train up your kids in the Internet usage they should follow “You need to put off foolishness and embrace responsibility. Today we are handing our children power tools and then acting shocked when they cut off their hands. This is absurd, and we should expect that our children will make serious mistakes if we do not guide them. So parent, you don’t need only to educate yourself, but also your children. You need to have a plan for introducing new technologies to your children and for monitoring them as they use them. This is your responsibility – the responsibility of having a plan.” – Tim Challies, “Parenting well in a digital world” Forgiving vs. excusing “I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality…asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says 'Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology. I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.' But excusing says 'I see that you couldn't help it or didn't mean it; you weren't really to blame.' If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense, forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites....When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.” – C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory 10 tips to make your life (or the world!) better On Jan. 1, 2000, and then again on the first day of 2022, the British paper The Guardian, published an article with 100 tips on “improving your life” or “making the world a better place.” Out of those 200 offerings, here's a Top 10: On the fence about a purchase? Wait 72 hours before you buy it. Keep a book in your bag to avoid the temptation to doomscroll. Nap. Keep your keys in the same place. Be polite to rude strangers – it’s oddly thrilling. Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher. If you buy something from a charity shop, consider paying double. Stop yourself saying “I.” Volunteer at your church or Christian school Paint the outside of your house for the pleasure of those walking past (not just the inside for you). ...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – March 2022
Junior knows best? In a recent review, Roman Catholic film critic Steven D. Greydanus argues that we’re seeing an expansion of the old doofus/domineering dad cliché to now include moms too. Pixar’s new Turning Red is the latest example of an increasing shift to overbearing maternal figures, from young Mirabel’s and Miguel’s domineering abuelas in Encanto and Coco to middle-aged Joe Gardner’s loving but controlling mom in Soul. Antecedents for this trend of mothers as functional antagonists include Merida’s demanding mother Queen Elinor in Brave and Tangled’s actually villainous Mother Gothel…. In Turning Red, Meilin “Mei Mei” Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl living in Toronto in 2002, comes from a long line of tightly controlled and controlling maternal figures, including her tiger mom Ming and her grandmother as well as a half dozen aunts. When both parents are portrayed as problems to overcome rather than guides to turn to, this leads to what Greydanus calls the “Junior knows best” trope: the kid himself is the smartest person in the room. Don’t confuse this with the dead or otherwise absent parents trend that’s also common on the screen and in many a kid’s book – that exists only because if parents aren’t absent, they’d deal with the danger themselves, and the children wouldn’t even have an adventure. There’s a difference between a kid relying on his own smarts because missing parents leave him with no other option, and a child relying on himself because his parents are idiots. If you spot a “Junior knows best” moment, why not hit the pause button and discuss it with your children? You can ask them to look up Proverbs 1:8 – “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” – and flip to Isaiah 3 too, which in verse 4 talks of God cursing Jerusalem and Judah by placing children in leadership positions. Spell out for them the difference between what this film is preaching and what God says. The call to pro-life witness Deut. 21:1-9 has interesting implications for us today. Here God gives instructions for what to do when a murder victim is found in a field, and no one knows who did it. Then the elders of the nearest town are supposed to come, sacrifice a heifer, and declare they had nothing to do with it. With this sacrifice and public declaration, they then would have “purged from yourselves the guilt of shedding innocent blood…” What relevance might that have for Christians today? Confronted as we are, with 200+ legally sanctioned murders per day in Canada, could we understand the principle behind this text as being an encouragement – a call even – for us to publicly dissociate ourselves from our nation’s abortion guilt? Were we to publicly declare that we have no part in these unborn children’s deaths, we would uphold the wickedness of this crime, and ensure that it is not normalized or ignored as inconsequential. How can we make such a public pro-life witness? In addition to public protests – flag displays like ARPA Canada has done, or March for Life events – we can also buy or make pro-life t-shirts, using slogans like: Fetus is not a species…” – Albany Rose Every unwanted child a dead child. Doesn’t sound so nice anymore, does it? Former fetus If you don’t believe in miracles, perhaps you’ve forgotten you are one. My size does not affect my worth Abortion is the death penalty for someone else’s actions I will shut up about abortion when it has been abolished I have my own DNA – I’m a person Speak for the weak If abortion isn’t wrong, then nothing is wrong Did you get all your deductions? In a 2012 article, Christian economist Gary North wrote about just how complicated the US tax was already then 4 times the length of all Shakespeare’s works combined, and US taxpayers were spending 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements (that doesn’t even include the hours needed to fulfill state requirements). And even the experts couldn’t agree on how to understanded it: “Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly. For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household. All 46 of them came up with a different result…. In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household. All five of them came up with a different result.” As of 2016, Canada’s tax code has only just over a million words, which, at a quarter of the US length, might seem downright simplistic. But, the country’s auditor general found that it was too complicated for even the Canada Revenue Agency, which was giving the wrong answer to queries from the public 30 percent of the time. Only Earth has rainbows Life on Earth requires a lot of “fine tuning,” with our planet just the right distance from the Sun to allow freezing and melting, and the planetary axis tilted just so for seasons, a moon for tides to circulate and cleanse shores and oceans, an atmosphere to distribute heat (otherwise the sun-side would cook as the night-side froze), and a magnetic field that contributes to our protection from harmful solar radiation. That all these needs were met (and many more) is all a big coninkydink for evolutionists – we just lucked out and got exactly what we needed. But we didn’t need rainbows. And yet, as Guillermo Gonzalez recently noted, we’re on the only planet in the Solar System to get them. What’s needed for a rainbow is: “suspended water droplets in the atmosphere and the direct sunlight that results from the sun being between the horizon and 42 degrees altitude. This typically occurs just after a thunderstorm has passed and small droplets are still in the atmosphere, and the sky is clearing in front of the sun. Seems like a simple setup. This must be a common phenomenon in the cosmos, right?” But it isn’t so simple. Our moon doesn’t have the atmosphere. Mars doesn’t have the moisture. Venus has too thick an atmosphere and as we head further out, the other planets don’t have liquid water. So the only planet to have rainbows is the only one with people on it to see them. To evolutionists that’s just one more coinkydink. To God’s people, just another example of His love and care. (For another fun "coininkydink" check out this article on how we're the only planet with a moon just the right size to allow us to study the sun). Puntastic The editing tool Grammarly regularly passes on puns and other wordplay jokes. Here’s a few of their best, with few thrown in from the Indian Hills Community Sign too: It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs, because they always take things literally I was walking past a farm, and a sign read: “Duck, eggs!” I thought, “That’s an unnecessary comma.” Then it hit me. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. A word in this sentence is misspelled. I have an irrational fear of overly intricate clusters of commercial buildings. It’s a complex complex complex. Irony is the opposite of wrinkly Puns about communism aren’t funny unless everyone gets them. To be frank I’d have to change my name. What do you give a man who has everything? Antibiotics! It’s only rock and roll “It's so funny being a Christian musician. It always scares me when people think so highly of Christian music, Contemporary Christian music especially. Because I kinda go, I know a lot of us, and we don't know jack about anything. Not that I don't want you to buy our records and come to our concerts. I sure do. But you should come for entertainment. If you really want spiritual nourishment, you should go to church...you should read the Scriptures.” - Rich Mullins , July 19, 1997 Sass, or not sass? by Sharon L. Bratcher How do you talk to your children? Do you always speak to these little Image-bearers as you, yourself would like to be spoken to? Recently an acquaintance told me about how he often tells his 5-year-old, "Hurry up, we have to go, I can't wait all day." Then, the other day as his wife was changing their 3-year-old, the child said, "I can't wait all day." We both laughed, and the dad said something about his child's “sass.” But was it really sass? I don’t think it was. The child had learned from his father what to say when he is impatient and wants to move along to another activity. Was it sass when the dad said it to his 5-year-old? If not, then it wasn't sass when his child copied him. How could a little child even know it wasn't something that ought to be said? If we don't want them saying certain words or phrases anymore, then we must stop doing it ourselves. As in this case, it really wasn’t accomplishing the dad’s desired goal anyway! It’s too easy to rationalize showing disrespect to our own children. We might assume that they won’t even catch it, but eventually they will. And then we’ll hear them sounding just like us. Stress reliever Before I overhype this tip, I’ll note that while it does seem to work for everyone, that isn’t to say it does a lot for everyone. Still, a little relief is better than none, right? This is from Andrew Huberman, billed as a “Stanford Neuroscientist” during an appearance on the Kevin Rose podcast. “This is the fastest way that I’m aware of that’s anchored in real known biology to calm oneself down and the cool thing is it works the first time, and it works every time, and it takes about a second…. It’s an inhale through the nose, and then it’s another inhale at the top, and then a long exhale. That’s the fastest way to slower your heart and calm down.” Just a breath in, and before you exhale, another breath in – a “double inhale” – then a slow exhale. I’ve tried it, and found it helpful, and instantly, though, of course, only partially. Still, a nice tool to have in the toolbox when the going gets tough. A better way of getting rich “Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.” – Walter E. Williams (1936-2020)...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – January 2022
On books “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx When we ask, “Why Lord?...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – December 2021
Seasonal dad joke When a hotel sponsored a chess tournament they held it in their main lobby. That was a mistake, as it turned out the players did a ...
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 a...
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. “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” – Proverbs 10:19 "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." – Proverbs 18:2 “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” – Proverbs 20:3 “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears.” – Proverbs 26:17 If animals are people, why not flowers too? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) want us to stop using "anti-animal language" and they have some alternatives to propose. Instead of "bringing home the bacon" they want us to say "bringing home the bagels." And instead of "take the bull by the horns" they offer "take the flower by the thorns." What's funny about this – besides everything – is how easy it is to imagine this actually being taken seriously. Of course, such a change would be followed by – in ten, or maybe just five years' time – another group complaining about how PETA's substitutions are insensitive to the gluten-intolerant, and, even worse, to flowers. On Friends, and our other TV viewing habits In his recent article, “The dark enduring legacy of Friends,” Jonathon Van Maren reflected on Christians' viewing habits. “...when religious people consumed the same entertainment as everybody else, it created a sort of moral schizophrenia—laughing along about everything from porn binges to promiscuity one day while attending church to hear a pastor explain how such things were so wicked God Himself had to be crucified to save people from these sins the next. Most mainstream TV shows offered people the opportunity to entertain themselves by laughing at sin, although few realized it or saw it that way.” Two on a woman’s calling “Sometimes marriage and motherhood are celebrated at the expense of all other things God calls women to do. Some say a woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and a mother. But a woman’s highest calling is really to follow Jesus. Some are called to do that as wives. Some are called to follow Him as a wife and mother, and some are called to follow Him as single people. The Bible gives us an elevated view of both modes. We Christians have tended to downplay or denigrate singleness in order to elevate marriage. But the negative contrast to marriage isn’t singleness. It’s having multiple partners in non-monogamous sexual relationships. An important piece of the puzzle, therefore, is actually those women who are called to follow Jesus as singles.” – Rebecca McLaughlin "One of the biggest lies that women believe is that working for an employer is liberating, while working for one’s own family is a burden." – Angela Mitchell @raisingapologists (Instagram) Evil in unvarnished english "Abortion is the world's resounding answer to the question: 'If you had to murder in order to have an unfettered sex life, would you do it?'" - unknown The moment when the Holy Spirit opened a Roman Catholic priest’s eyes In a recent blog post, Dr. Wes Bredenhof told a story about Franco Maggiotto (1937-2006), “one of the most memorable men I’ve ever met.” At one point in his life, he’d been a Roman Catholic priest in Italy. The papal hierarchy saw potential in Franco and he became involved with the Vatican. One day, Father Franco was saying mass at a basilica. In the process, he happened to read to the congregation from Hebrews 10:11-12: “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…” When Franco read this, the Holy Spirit suddenly opened his eyes to the reality of the gospel. He told the congregation, “I’m fired! You should go home now. It’s all done. I’m fired. Jesus has done it all!” Two ways God has spoken to us outside the Bible “…God has spoken to us through the majesty and beauty of the world that He has made. But there is another way, still apart from the Bible, in which God has spoken to His creatures. He has not only in the wonders of the world outside of us but also through His voice within. He has planted His laws in our hearts. He speaks to all men through the voice of conscience. He speaks through the majestic words which all but the most degraded men utter, the words: "I ought." He speaks through the majesty of the moral law. A law implies a lawgiver. Conscience testifies of God.” – J Gresham Machen, Is the Bible Inspired? Some are shorter, older, smarter – in what way are we equal? No two of us are alike in any measurable way: neither by height, breadth, income, intellect, speed, or strength. So what’s all this about us being equal? Well, as John Stonestreet notes, there is only one basis for equality: that we are all made in the very Image of God (Gen. 9:6, etc.). “The image of God is essential to understanding the notions of human equality, human dignity, and human value. We all know that the Declaration of Independence says that ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ Yet, if you look around a room full of people, the most evident thing is not that we're equal. Instead, we're actually quite different. If there's anything about our humanity that grounds equality and dignity and value, it can't be any quality that we share on the outside, because there is no quality that we all share on the outside. Some of us are older. Some of us are taller. Some of us have higher IQ's. And so on. Even atheist thinkers have recognized that the only source in history that has grounded equality, dignity, and value and given us an understanding of a shared humanity is the image of God.”...
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 Michael Jordan? Then why are concerns about income equality (rather than poverty) now treated as downright virtuous, and a matter of justice? In the quote below Walter Williams doesn’t argue coveting is still a sin, but he does make the case that concerns about income inequality are arrogant, belittling the freely-made decisions made by millions who happily gave money to Gates, Bezos, and Jordan for what they were offering in exchange. “Why is it that Michael Jordan earns $33 million a year and I don’t even earn one-half of one percent of that? …my problem is with my fellow man, who’d plunk down $200 to see Jordan play and wouldn’t pay a dollar to see me play.… The bottom line explanation of Michael Jordan’s income relative to mine lies in his capacity to please his fellow man. The person who takes exception to Jordan’s salary or sees him…as making ‘little contribution to society’ is really disagreeing with decisions made by millions upon millions of independent decision-makers who decided to fork over their money to see Jordan play.” Is it okay for me to do “x” on Sunday? “When Christians ask: ‘Is it ok for me do X on Sundays?’ the first response should normally not be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but ‘Why would you be doing it?’ The most common answer to that question is probably ‘Because I don’t have time for it in the rest of the week.’ This highlights the importance of understanding the whole of the fourth commandment. The problem here is not how we spend Sunday; it is how we are using Monday to Saturday. We are living the week the wrong way around, as if there had been no resurrection! Use Sunday as a day of rest, worship, fellowship first and we will almost inevitably begin to discipline our use of time in the other six days of the week. Grasp this and the Sabbath principle becomes one of the simplest and most helpful of all God’s gifts. The burden-free day at the beginning of the week both regulates the days that follow and refreshes us for them. “(p.266) – Sinclair Ferguson, in Devoted to God (h/t to Wes Bredenhof) We have to keep telling our kids... The folks at MamaBearApologetics.com recently put their own spin on the popular “7 things every child needs to hear” meme that’s made it’s way around the Internet” I love you I’m proud of you I’m sorry I forgive you I’m listening Communism has failed everywhere it has been tried You’ve got what it takes Life crafted by chance? They can’t do it on purpose “Assemble the dream team you want and build a cell…. You assemble the teams of biologists, chemists, origin of life researchers, YouTubers, however many people you want on that team. And you give them all the RNA, DNA, and proteins that they want, the enzymes that they want, and you give them the lipids that they want, and say ‘Go ahead make a cell.’ Because somehow on an early Earth this happened under a rock in a little pool somewhere. Why can't you do it in your laboratory? They can't. ….But we're supposed to believe that somewhere in some hydrothermal vent or underpool all of this came together? Come on!” – Biologist James Tour, in his lecture "The Origin of Life has not been explained" Apply the Golden Rule to lockdowns? Back when shutting down the economy was still unprecedented, doing it was quite something. But now that we've lived through more than a year of such lockdowns, off and on, there's good reason to worry that this will no longer be viewed as "nuclear option" and that it will be invoked ever more readily. So how can we again make it a measure of last resort? The Golden Rule, (Luke 19:18) to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," should serve as inspiration for legislation we can push for, that would only allow politicians to shut down the economy (or any portions thereof) for as long as they themselves are willing to go without a paycheck. On one-issue candidates “Never voting for a pro-abortion candidate makes you a one-issue voter, as never marrying a serial killer makes you a one-issue fiancé.” – John Piper We can’t count on any biblical literacy It used to be that even unbelievers knew a little bit about the Bible but that has changed! A friend, known in her workplace to be a Christian, had a co-worker ask her about a text her church had put up on their front lawn sign. The coworker just didn't get it: “I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but that message your church put up, well, it just kind of seems racist. Why did you guys post that?” What was the message? The church had posted Psalm 51:7b: “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” The phrase, “whiter than snow” caught the co-worker’s attention. In a world where the phrase “it was a matter of black and white” is being banned from some government departments due to its perceived racial insensitivity, it's important to understand how even the Bible’s least offensive parts can be misconstrued and seen as offensive. My friend was able to clarify things with her coworker. But what about all those who read this and didn't have a friend to explain it? Is that a reason not to post such verses? Or is it a reason to go out into the community to be there for those who have questions and need answers? Calvinism, Arminianism, and splitting the difference “Some try to split the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism. They say something like, 'I want to be 75% Calvinist and 25% Arminian. If they mean that literally, then they are 100% Arminian since giving any determinative place to human will is Arminian. Usually they mean that they want to stress the grace of God and human responsibility. If that is what they mean, then they can be 100% Calvinist for Calvinism does teach both that God's grace is entirely the cause of salvation and that man is responsible before God to hear and heed the call to repentance and faith.” – W. Robert Godfrey God’s sense of humor In Roland Bainton's The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century he shares the amusing story of how William Tyndale found someone to fund his translation work. A curious tale is related of how he contrived to turn the devices of his foes to advantage. The Archbishop of Canterbury was buying up his translations for burning and commissioned a certain Packington to scour the continent for more. The man went straight to Tyndale himself and informed him that he had discovered a merchant who would clean out his stock. "Who is this merchant?” said Tyndale. "The bishop of London,” said Packington. "Oh, that is because he will burn them,” said Tyndale. "Yea, marry,” quoth Packington. "I am the gladder,” said Tyndale, “for these two benefits will come of it: I shall get money from him for these books and bring myself out of debt, and the whole world shall cry out on the burning of God’s Word, and the overplus of the money shall make me more studious to correct the said New Testament, and so newly to imprint the same once again; and I trust the second will much better like you that ever did the first.” And the account concludes: “And so forward went the bargain: the bishop had the books, Packington had the thanks, and Tyndale had the money." (h/t to Joel McDurmon)...