In a Nutshell
Tidbits - January 2019
Why did the _____ cross the road?
One of the wonderful things about children is that they are a new audience. Dads, they haven’t heard any of your material before – they don’t know why the chicken crossed the road!
Another wonderful thing? They love to riff off of mom and dad, so if you get the jokes started, they may just take them places you’ve never been. Here’s a few selections from the Dykstra joke factory, starting with the classic that spawned all the rest. (What can you add?)
- Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side.
- Why did the cow cross the road? To get to the mooooooovie theater.
- Why did the horse cross the road? – To visit his neigh
- Why did the lamb cross the road even though his momma said not to? – Because he was being baaaaaaad
- Why didn’t the possum cross the road? – He tried but he died.
- Why did the child cross the road? – To get to the other
- Why did his momma cross the road? – To get to her child who cried.
- Why did the unborn baby cross the road? – She was along for the ride.
- Why did the donut cross the road? – I donut know
- Why did Benedict Arnold cross the road? – To switch to the other side.
Chesterton on valuing tradition and all those who have gone before us
“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.” – Orthodoxy
On the difference between Liberals and Conservatives
“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives . The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”
– G. K. Chesterton
When does a thief stop being a thief? It’s not when he stops stealing!
“The old child’s joke, ‘When is a door not a door?’ Answer: ‘when it is ajar’ is not funny….No, not funny, but quite useful as a paradigm. Run it this way: When is a not a ? When it’s a . Ah, now we have something. Just fill in the blanks. When is a liar not a liar? When is a thief not a thief? If your answers were “When he stops lying” and “When he stops stealing,” you’d be wrong.
“The true answers are found in Ephesians 4. There you see that the liar is no longer a liar only when he becomes a truth teller. The thief is no longer a thief only when he works for a living and gives from his earnings to those who are truly in need.
“You see, until he puts on the alternative lifestyle, he is a liar who doesn’t happen to be a lying at the moment. But put him under pressure and he will still lie. The thief is still a thief when he isn’t stealing — he’s just a thief between “jobs.” He will still steal when given the opportunity. This is why biblical counselors believe in the put off/put on dynamic of Ephesians 4, Colossians 3 and elsewhere.”
- Jay Adams in a February 24, 2009 post (reprinted here with permission)
Charles Spurgeon on discernment
"Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right."
What is socialism?
“Let’s first define the term socialism…. Socialism isn’t happy thoughts, nebulous fantasies, mere good intentions, or children sharing their Halloween candy with one another. In a modern political, economic, and social context, socialism isn’t voluntary like the Girl Scouts. Its central characteristic is the concentration of power to forcibly achieve one or more (or usually all) of these purposes: central planning of the economy, government ownership of property, and the redistribution of wealth. No amount of ‘we do it all for you’ or ‘it’s for your own good’ or ‘we’re helping people’ rhetoric can erase that. What makes socialism socialism is the fact that you can’t opt out, a point eloquently made here by David Boaz of the Cato Institute:
‘One difference between libertarianism and socialism is that a socialist society can’t tolerate groups of people practicing freedom, but a libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism. If a group of people – even a very large group – wanted to purchase land and own it in common, they would be free to do so. The libertarian legal order would require only that no one be coerced into joining or giving up his property.’
“Government, whether big or small, is the only entity in society that possesses a legal monopoly over the use of force. The more force it initiates against people, the more it subordinates the choices of the ruled to the whims of their rulers – that is, the more socialist it becomes. A reader may object to this description by insisting that to ‘socialize’ something is to simply ‘share’ it and ‘help people’ in the process, but that’s baby talk. It’s how you do it that defines the system. Do it through the use of force, and it’s socialism. Do it through persuasion, free will, and respect for property rights, and it’s something else entirely.”
– Lawrence W. Reed, in Rendering to Caesar: Was Jesus a Socialist?
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - December 2018
Feminism’s two errors “ the heresy that women and men are not fundamentally different and that women ought to be as much like men as...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - November 2018
Lame Dutch joke of the month A Canadian and a Dutchman were out riding horses. Canadian: “We’ve got quite the set of fine horses here. How do yo...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - October 2018
How to be a revolutionary When a Christian conference is titled “How to enrage the culture” you might think it would be encouraging radical and r...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - August 2018
Help wanted: men “Imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and their had said: ‘The world is out of order. But if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’ “Such conduct on their part would have us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the infectious bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. It is today as it was in the Reformers’ days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man – where is the man for the day?” - Charles Spurgeon College more hazardous than joining the Normandy invasion? “We've seen a number of surveys that have demonstrated that of kids who are attending church regularly in their senior year in high school, by the time they finish their freshman year in college three out of four of them will have walked away from their faith and they're no longer involved as Christians….One of the statistics, a visual image that I think helps parents to think about it is, if you were to sign your children up to be in the boats on the Normandy Beach Invasion they would have a better chance of surviving that than surviving spiritually in colleges now. That experience is not something most parents are eager to sign their children up for, but we do it in a pretty unthinking way right now.” – Dr. Ben Merkle Chesterton on miracles In their book, How Should Christians Approach Origins?, professors John Byl and Tom Goss note that atheistic science is often based on assumptions, rather than evidence. For example, our physical laws are assumed to be “valid universally throughout time and space.” Yet, we can only observe a very small portion of the universe, so we are simply assuming everything acts the same everywhere else. And then, when someone comes across something extraordinary – something miraculous that seems to violate those laws – it will be rejected based on this assumption. And here Goss and Byl include a wonderful quote from G.K. Chesteron’s Orthodoxy. Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. Be like the Reformers – like something good on Facebook! Over at the Sheologians Facebook page, a tip on how we can be like the Reformers. “The Reformation could not have happened without the creation of the printing press and the revolution of mass communication. Social media is our printing press. Like things. Share them. Be the Reformers…” Galileo: the Church’s real mistake “Keep in mind that the battle between Galileo and the church was not a battle between science and mindless fundamentalism. It was a battle between new science and old science, and the error of the church had been that of getting into bed with the best science of the day. And we all know, as Max Planck put it, science advances funeral by funeral.” – Douglas Wilson (in Writers to Read) The wit and wisdom of George Hebert George Hebert was best known as a Christian poet, but he published a collection of proverbs he collected over his lifetime. Here are a half dozen of the best. The scalded dog fears cold water – experiences can teach the wrong lesson Who gives to all, denies all – saying yes to every person who ask for your time is sure to shortchanges everyone A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders see farther of the two – even those with amazing parents should aim to do better than them, since you get to build on their work. Were there no hearers there would be no backbiters – it takes two to gossip; don’t listen Good and quickly seldom meet – most often it is one or the other Better suffer ill than do ill – better to be bullied, than be a bully ...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - July 2018
A most wonderful secret "What does it feel like?" I asked. "To have a whole new person growing inside you?" My mom sat down on the couch and leaned back and thought for a while. A pretty smile spread over her face. "That's a big question," she said slowly, "A big answer. But I'll try. It feels like...it feels like you have the most wonderful secret that makes everything...Oh I know! Remember what you said when you got your kitten? You said that afterward, it sounded like all the regular noise in the world had turned to music. Well, that's what it's like, Clementine. The wonderful secret of having a baby coming makes all the world's noise turn into music." "Did you feel that way when you were going to have me too?" I asked. "Oh honey," my mom said, putting her arm around me. "I still feel like that with you." – author Sara Pennypacker, in her Clementine and the Family Meeting Dealing with fake news Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer has advice on what to do if we still can’t tell whether a story is fake or not. "…don't post it. If you have not, will not, or cannot confirm a story, do not share it. As Christians, we have a higher standard than even the journalist. We aren’t protecting the reputation of an organization or a website, we bear the name of our King. If our friends and families cannot trust us with this type of news, many will not listen when we seek to share the good news of the gospel." One flesh “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” – From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Genesis 2 One of God's favorite verses in the Bible? We all have our own favorite verses in the Bible, many of them comforting passages. The world’s favorite verse is probably Matthew 7:1a “Do not judge.” The verse that is share with the world most often might be John 3:16, written up large on poster board and displayed at football and baseball stadiums around North America. But Baptist pastor Jeff Durbin suggests that one of God’s favorite bible verses strikes a very different tone. Psalm 110:1 is the Old Testament verse that is most cited in the New Testament, and it proclaims Jesus’ sovereignty: "The Lord says to my Lord: “'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'” The wit and wisdom of George Hebert George Hebert was best known as a Christian poet, but he published a collection of proverbs he collected over his lifetime. Here are a half dozen of the best: A fool may throw a stone into a well which a hundred wise men cannot pull out – being destructive is easy; being constructive takes real effort Comparisons are odious – they are the root of discontent and covetousness One hour’s sleep before midnight is worth three after – we all know it He that steals an egg will steal an ox – there aren’t degrees of trustworthiness Luke was a saint and a physician, yet is dead – the prosperity doctrine is bunk The fat man knoweth not what the lean thinketh – we shouldn’t assume that just because we were once hungry (or young, or poor, or single, or jobless, or etc.) that we still completely understand what it is like. How to be a revolutionary When a Christian conference is titled “How to enrage the culture” you might think it would be encouraging radical and revolutionary means. And you’d be right, when you consider that getting married, having kids, and raising them in the fear and love of the Lord are pretty radical and revolutionary ideas these days. How radical and revolutionary? Well, one of the conference speakers, Pastor Toby Sumpter, shared this illustrative anecdote: “A few years ago, I’d come home from work, and my wife was finishing making dinner in the kitchen, and I was reading. She gets a phone call….some kind of alumni survey, and at the end they’re doing the demographic stuff. And I hear her say: ‘Homemaker….homeMAKER…HOMEMAKER!!! I’m a wife and a mom – that’s what I do!’ She gets off the phone a couple of minutes later and she shares, ‘The girl I was talking to had never heard of a homemaker.’” It’s time for the men to act like men “Imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and their had said: ‘The world is out of order. But if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’ “Such conduct on their part would have us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the infectious bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. It is today as it was in the Reformers’ days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man – where is the man for the day?” - Charles Spurgeon...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - June 2018
FUTURECASTING Dr. Kathy Koch has a saying that reflects the biblical thought Paul express in 1 Cor.15:33. She notes, “Show me your friends, and I will show you your future.” ALL MARRIAGES ARE MISTAKES “Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgment concerning whom, amongst the total chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the 'real soul-mate' is the one you are actually married to.” – JRR Tolkien, The Letters of JRR Tolkien (H/T to Nicholas McDonald) WEST COAST WHINE Sue arrived in BC on a rainy day. When she woke up the next day, it was raining. It also rained the day after that, and the day after that. And the day after that. Going out to lunch, she saw a young boy jumping in the puddles, and out of despair she asked, "Hey kid! Does it ever stop raining around here?" The boy replied, "How should I know? I'm only 8." SOURCE: Modified from a joke floating around the Internet BEING BEREAN The folks at WrathAndGrace.com have come up with a T-shirt that’s a challenge to fellow Christians. We have lots of beliefs, we have lots of opinions, lots of positions, but have we searched the Scriptures to find out if they match up with what God says? WHY THE END DOESN'T JUSTIFY THE MEANS “What have you and I to do with maintaining our influence and position at the expense of truth? It is never right to do a little wrong to obtain the greatest possible good… Your duty is to do the right: consequences are with God.” – John MacArthur, as cited in Iain Murray’s John MacArthur SATIRE'S KING KNEW A GOOD JOKE WHEN HE MET ONE Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) showed generations how to do satire right and it seems his comic genius came from an ability to spot humor wherever it was to be found. A story is told of him trudging through a field, when he spotted a boy leaning lazily against a fence post. Swift asked the boy for direction to the nearby town to which the boy’s only reply was to shift his boot slightly, pointing the way with his toe. Swift laughed, and offered the boy a shilling if he could manage anything any lazier than what he had just done. The boy replied, “Put the shilling in my pocket.” SOURCE: Fintan O’Toole’s “The Genius of Creative Destruction” in the Dec. 19, 2013 edition of The New York Review ON PRAISING EFFORT, NOT TALENT Luke Gilkerson is best known for his expertise in helping parents protect their children from online dangers. But in his book Parenting the Internet Generation, he shows he’s got wisdom to share on all aspects of parenting. Resist the urge to praise your children in a way that labels them. Statements like “You’re so smart,” “You’re so kind,” “You’re my little Picasso” do our children very little good. Research shows when we praise children like this, labeling them as “smart” or “good,” this does not give them confidence. Instead they become highly sensitive to failure. Rather focus on praising the effort they put forth. If they show kindness to their sibling, tell them you’re glad they are working on paying attention to the needs of others. If they get an A on an exam, instead of telling they must be the smartest kid in class, ask them how they studied for the test and commend them for their work. Instead of giving our children an identity as “good” or “smart,” commend them for using their God-given talents and energy wisely. ABRAHAM LINCOLN ON TRANSGENDERISM? How's this for a great illustration for the transgender debate? Abraham Lincoln once told the story of a boy who was asked, how many legs would a calf have if we called its tail a leg. The boy replied, that it must be five. But he was corrected, because, after all, simply calling a tail a leg, doesn’t make it a leg. So it would seem that Lincoln understood that no matter what words we might use, words can't change the nature of a thing – a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, and a man by any other name is still what he always was. But here's the problem – he told this story in the context of considering whether he could, simply by Executive Order, free the slaves in the South. It seems, people wanted him to, and his response was, in effect "Guys, Executive Orders don't have that power, and you can't just make them have that power by saying that they do." And then, shortly afterward, we all know what happened. He issued an Executive Order called the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. And it worked...eventually (first, they actually had to conquer the South). So this is one of those great illustrations that, on closer examination, serves to make almost the opposite point. It seems you can change the nature of some things just by saying so - if you just declare an Executive Order can free slaves (and enough people agree) then it can. So does that mean men can become women? Nope. It just shows that some things are changeable. Just as Lincoln's Proclamation did actually free the slaves just because he declared the Order to have that power, so too I can (sometimes) change a dour mood by declaring my happiness with as much gusto as I can muster. I've become happy just because I've said it is should be so. This clarifies one point in the gender debate – we were never trying to say that all things are fixed and unchangeable. We were only arguing that gender is not one of those changeable things. And roses too. Roses are still roses, and smell just as sweet, even if you call them limburger cheese. Of course, Lincoln's quip about the 5-legged calf does still highlight that some things are fixed. But there are no shortage of good illustrations for that point. So this one is best left tucked away in the history books. ...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - May 2018
“Pastor, I already know how to farm better than I do” In an April 16 post at nouthetic.org, Donn R. Arms recounts how, as a young pastor in a rural western town, he eagerly shared with one of the deacons about his plans to attend “the latest and greatest conferences on church growth.” The deacon gave a surprising response; he said: “Pastor, I already know how to farm better than I do.” As Arms notes: “It was, of course, his kind and gentle way of telling me we simply need to do the things we already knew to do rather than constantly seeking the next big thing to make our church grow.” In praise of peppermints “…William Dember, a professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati, has conducted a study of the impact of the scent of peppermint on people required to do "sustained vigilance tasks." What did he find? That the mere smell of peppermint increased attentiveness and concentration by 15 percent! ….If the mere smell of peppermints can increase concentration, think what the smell and taste can do! It appears, then, that Reformed people have been entirely correct in maintaining the custom of eating peppermints at the beginning of the sermon.” – Bert Witvoet, as quoted in the July 10, 2017 Christian Courier The media…on the media “It’s a business. People are like, the media has an ethical pshsss… All the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable. Yeah, this is a business.” – CNN Senior Producer John Bonifield, as caught on a video published June 27 by James O’Keefe’s undercover investigative unit, Project Veritas Write your eulogy “…it's time to write your eulogy -- your good (eu) word (logos). What would you like someone to be able to say honestly in seven minutes? ….There should be more to your life than your résumé. If there isn't, start working on improving your eulogy. Then work backward.” – Gary North in the March 18, 2017 edition of Dr. Gary North’s Weekly Tip Different sorts of smart Our children have their unique gifts, and if they are going to develop these gifts we need to help identify them. For some kids that’s easy: they are good at school, and so it is no problem to spot that they are “book smart.” But God blesses our children with a variety of talents, so there are other sorts of “smart.” As Dr. Kath Koch has put it, some kids are: Music smart – some kids have a song in their heart and head from day one. Body smart – good at sports, and maybe working with their hands too Nature smart – love and appreciate God’s great outdoors and everything in it People smart – they connect while with all sorts of people, and can empathize Self smart – they understand their own gifts, and can work on their own These are good categories to consider, but we could make up quite different ones if we wanted to. The point is that God has given our children different gifts and abilities, and instead of dwelling on what they might lack, we’ll do better to ask: “What sort of gifts has God given my child?” Failure to launch – one reason why “Summarizing relevant research in 2013, The Boston Globe reported a staggering statistic: Only a quarter of Americans 60 and older had discussed anything important with anyone under 36 in the previous six months! Exclude relatives and that figure dropped to a mortifying 6 percent. How alien this would have sounded to the Apostle Paul, who in Titus 2 urges older men and older women to teach the younger.” - John Stonestreet, in a May 16, 2017 Breakpoint.org commentary To arms! “Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win victory.” – J.C. Ryle in “What it costs to be a Christian” Atheism explains nothing “Atheism…is the ultimate non-explanation, ‘explaining’ by denying that explanations exist. ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ No reason. ‘What caused everything?’ Nothing. ‘What accounts for Morality?’ There is no Morality to account for. ‘Why is there Evil in the world?’ There is no real Evil in the world since there is no real Morality. ‘What is wrong with the world?’ Nothing. It just is. ‘How do we fix the world?’ We can’t fix what’s not broken.” - Greg Koukl, in Stand to Reason’s January 2, 2018 Solid Ground newsletter...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - April 2018
“Wait…what?” As our family has been reading through the Bible, certain passages (starting right off with Genesis 4) make it necessary to at lea...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - March 2018
John Calvin on abortion “…the fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being…and it is almost a monstrous crime to ...