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News

RP's 2024 Summer Photo Contest: Capture the Contrast!

From the first day of creation, God crafted stunning contrasts: light and darkness, dry land and waters, fur and feathers, work and rest. In this year’s photo contest what we’re looking for is a snapshot that captures one of the many astonishing contrasts in God’s creation.

As always, this theme is meant as a springboard for your creativity and not any sort of limitation on it. The contrast can be of any sort:

  • a bird bursting past a plodding turtle,
  • an in-focus foreground against a blurred background.
  • maybe the contrast is between something God made, and something His imager-bearers have come up with.
  • it could be a sharp difference in ages, heights, colors, locations…. anything!

Just try things, have fun, and share what you capture with all of us! So, get out there and start clicking!

Categories:

  1. Children and youth (under 18)
  2. Adults (18+)

Rules:

  • Maximum 3 entries per person
  • Must be an original photo, taken this year
  • Include a line to explain how the photo relates to the theme (max. 100 words)
  • Provide permission to RP to publish your photo online and/or in print if selected
  • Include the name of the photographer and photo title, and for the under 18 entries, the photographer's age.

Prizes:

  • Winner and runner-up, and a selection of other entries, for both categories will be printed in Reformed Perspective this Fall.
  • Winner of each category will receive a $100 gift certificate to ChristianBooks.com; runner-up will receive a $75 gift certificate.

Deadline:

News

Saturday Selections – May 18, 2024

Gray Havens: See You Again (3 min) This Gray Havens' song is an attempted answer to a question that many a married couple has wondered: how can there be no marriage in heaven (Matt. 22:30)? In my head I understand that as a part of the Church we will all be the very bride of Christ, and what we had here with our spouse was only a pale shadow of this perfected bond we will have with our Saviour. But if you were in a good marriage how can you help but wonder, what about the wonderful special relationship you've had with your spouse for so many years? How can that just be done?  The answer, I think, is that it won't be. We won't be married, but that doesn't mean we'll be strangers. As the song puts it: Gonna see you again On the gold streets Standing next to me, I know I'm gonna see you again Darling, won't be long Till every trace of trouble is gone We'll be together And I'm not sure what that means But I know it'll be better than we ever dreamed When I see you again I'm not sure what that will mean either, but I can trust my good and gracious God that it will indeed be better that any of us dreamed. 25 ways to provoke your children to anger "How much of the anger in my home is caused by me? That’s a painful question. As parents, fathers in particular, we must heed God’s Word from Eph. 6:4 Of course, this is not to say that all of our children’s anger is caused by us. Each of our children is personally responsible for his or her own sin. However, this warning from God is here for a reason. One of the ways our sinful flesh manifests itself is by provoking others to anger. And the easiest place to do that is in our own home." DeYoung: homework on Sunday? In his book The 10 Commandments, Kevin DeYoung shares how he has never regretted deciding to make Sunday a homework-free day. Green hydrogen: a multibillion-dollar energy boondoggle (10-min read) When ethanol-from-corn-production first started it probably took more energy to produce a unit of ethanol than that unit could then produce. So why did governments push it? Because it looked good, even if it didn’t do good. Increased farm efficiencies since then may have changed that net negative into a positive but the return is, at best, still modest, with estimates of 1.5 units of energy created for every unit of energy used in corn-ethanol production. By way of comparison, in the US, one unit of energy used in gas production returns 15-30 units of gas energy. Now the US is ramping up production of hydrogen, but a unit of hydrogen takes more energy to produce than that unit of hydrogen then contains. And according to this article, that’s a matter of physics, and no manner of technological advances will change that net negative result. We should not be surprised that a world that has rejected God isn’t concerned with doing actual good, even as it still wants to look good. Thus this showmanship instead of stewardship. Preparing our children to suffer well (10-min read) There are things we can do to better prepare our children for the challenges and pains they will inevitably experience. Pulling the reverse card on a woke feminist (1 min) When a feminist is offended by a guy wearing a "feminist for Trump" shirt, he reverses it on her, questioning why she presumed his gender. Think of it as an addendum to the Golden Rule (Matt 7:12) – we aren't supposed to do to others as they do to us, but what about when a little tit for tat would be highly educational? Then that could be the best thing for them... which is what we should want others to do to us, right? But turnabout is all this fellow's got. Meanwhile Christians can do one better by finishing the argument. As Paul writes in 2 Cor. 10:5, we should want to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God," but note what comes next: "we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, Pierre Poilievre and others can tear down the other sides' arguments. But if that's all they do, then they're leaving the world in the same state as the man in Luke 11:24-26, who after being freed from an evil spirit, replaced it with nothing, only to have that spirit return with seven others "and the final condition of that man" was even worse than before. Merely dismantling a lie leaves a person vulnerable to the infinite number of others lies out there. So we should learn how to tear down false idols, like we see many conservative commentators doing. But we need to offer the alternative too, doing what only God's people can do – pointing people away from the lie and towards God, and the truth that He made us male and female (Gen. 1:26-27). ...

Assorted

The Colson Center: a sibling we look up to

Growing up as the second youngest in a family of ten, I learned a lot about life from my older siblings. Once grown, most of us continue to lean on our siblings in Christ as we navigate what it means to run a business, parent children, or serve in a church. We’ll get in trouble quickly if we think we can figure things out all on our own. That’s why, through the years, we have introduced our readers to some of RP’s “siblings” – organizations and individuals that we have learned a great deal from and aspire towards. If you appreciate what we are doing, you will probably like them too. I have already shared about WORLD Media Group, which covers the news from a solid Christian perspective via a magazine, video program for kids, podcasts, and more. RP is taking steps in that direction (with more journalism). But we don’t want to give up something that has always been core to our identity – worldview training. And the organization that best models this to us is the good folks at the Colson Center, a Christian organization which exists to “equip Christians to live with clarity, confidence, and courage in this cultural moment.” The organization is named after Charles Colson, whose books Kingdoms in Conflict (now retitled as God & Government) and Loving God have been very influential to both RP’s Editor Jon Dykstra and myself. Colson had served alongside President Nixon, before being thrown into prison for his role in the Watergate Scandal. By God’s grace, he repented and became a born-again Christian. God used him in a powerful way, first through creating Prison Fellowship (a ministry in prisons around the world), and then in developing Christian worldview training. He was concerned by the emphasis among evangelicals about “getting saved” without understanding the life of thankfulness we are saved to. The Colson Center trains Christians through many mediums including their daily Breakpoint commentary (on many radio stations), e-newsletters, podcasts, conferences, and intensive courses/programs. Over the past year, my wife Jaclyn and I have been enrolled in the Colson Fellows training program, following a curriculum that requires daily, weekly, and monthly training commitments that average about an hour a day. If you are looking to grow in your biblical worldview, I highly recommend it. Like WORLD, the Colson Center isn’t explicitly Reformed. But a Reformed perspective is very evident in both the underlying principles that guide them, and the teams that lead them. Both organizations seek to be faithful to God’s Word, applying it to the issues of our day, and waging war against Satan’s lies that abound in so many other resources. And they do so with grace, maintaining a positive tone that should always be found among those who hold to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the sovereignty of God. I heartily encourage you to get plugged in to their short daily Breakpoint newsletter or podcast (available in both formats at no cost). You won’t be disappointed. To give you a taste, we included a Breakpoint article in the magazine on occasion, such as "When 'helping' kids hurts them" and "Is AI just another tool, or something else?" As Jon Dykstra explained in the March/April 2024 issue: Breakpoint has an American focus and is not specifically Reformed (though some writers are), so we differ in some notable respects: they are anti-evolution and RP is specifically 6-day creationist; we'll highlight problems with the Pope both when he is acting Roman Catholic and when he is not, while they stick to the latter. So, as with everything, there is a need to read with discernment. But when it comes to the hottest cultural battles of our day – sexuality, gender, the unborn, and God's sovereignty over "every square inch" of creation – they get it right consistently, and they are timely, often replying to events that happened just the day before. That's why Breakpoint articles have been featured in our online “Saturday selections” column for years now. You can also find more about them at Breakpoint.org and ColsonCenter.org....

Theology

Is the State of Israel a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

The nation of Israel has a special place in the hearts of many Christians. For one thing, the Savior once walked through the land that this nation now occupies. Furthermore, after the destruction of the Jewish state in the year 70 by the Romans, the reestablishment of the State of Israel on the same land after almost two thousand years can be considered to be nothing short of a miracle. So is the resurgence of Israel as a national entity a fulfillment of biblical prophecy? Many affirm this to be the case. In view of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, it is good to reflect on these issues. The longing for a return Through the centuries, Jews have cherished the hope that some day they could return to the land of their forefathers. After the very last remnants of Jewish political power were crushed with the defeat of the second Jewish revolt under Bar Kokhba (A.D. 132-135), the dream of a return was never forgotten. Synagogue prayers, no matter where in the world they were offered, were made in the direction of Jerusalem. A strong emotional connection with that city was maintained. Through the centuries, the poetry and literature of the Jews spoke of Zion and Israel. Each year the Passover festival would end with the words, “Next year in Jerusalem!” However, and this is striking, for well over a thousand years, no attempt was made to return to the old Jewish homeland to transform the dream into reality. The pious hoped for a miracle and insisted that it would be blasphemous to force the hand of God by trying to get a homeland on their own. Even in times of tremendous persecution, in which the Jews suffered innumerable atrocities, there was no mass movement to the old homeland. There were some minor exceptions with relatively small groups going to Palestine, but that was all. Far more Jews went to other places for refuge. In spite of the emotional connection to Palestine, it was not coupled with action, even though those few who went apparently had no problems apart from enduring poverty. But that was surely a small price to pay compared to the difficulties they faced with oppression and persecution. What made the 19th and 20th centuries the time for the emotional ties and dream to be translated into action for a new reality? Why was it that even areas outside Palestine were considered as a possible new homeland for the Jews? The explanation is often sought in the anti-Semitism of the 19th century. This was undoubtedly an important immediate factor. But anti-Semitism had been around for centuries. Determinative were the new notions of nationalism and self-determination of which the French Revolution was a dramatic manifestation. People started to think that a nation is made up of individuals who determine their own destiny. A nation is no longer defined by a king or ruler, but by the people who determine what laws are to be passed and how to be a nation. The rise of nationalism positively impacted Jewish thinking about striving for their own homeland. Zionism The development of nationalism meant that Jews scattered all over the world began to think of themselves as needing to determine their own destiny as a people, and so the soil was prepared for modern political Zionism. Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries did what their forefathers had not done. They sought to determine their own future. Zionism was a nationalist movement in which a people sought their own self-determination and future as a nation. It was therefore not of ultimate importance to two fathers of modern Zionism, Leo Pinsker (Russian) and Theodor Herzl (Hungarian), exactly where the nation of Israel was to be established. Both had independently come to see the need for a national homeland and that was the important thing. When Pinkster published his Auto-Emancipation in 1882, he pleaded for self-emancipation, preferably in Palestine, but, if that wasn’t possible, elsewhere would do. Herzl and others had the same view, as indicated by the seriousness with which they considered a proposal from the British government to establish a Jewish homeland in what was then Uganda. Zionism was a political movement and not a religious one. The religious overtones were certainly there and that helped clinch Palestine as the place where the new state should be established. The basis for the state was, however, to be secular, although Judaism was privileged. Nationalist fervor demanded the restoration of the language of the nation – Hebrew. This return to an ancient language is unique in history, but Hebrew would bind Jews from Russia, France, Italy and other countries into the one people that they are. It is interesting to note that before the rise of modern Zionism, Reform Jews had eliminated all references to Zion from their prayer book, insisting that Judaism had outgrown Palestine and that it was now the mission of Israel to be a light to the nations. They therefore opposed Zionism. Orthodox Judaism was also against Zionism because they considered it forcing the hand of God. Their God would miraculously restore them to their homeland, for that is what He had promised, in their view. They must therefore wait for Him. The establishment of Israel was motivated by secular considerations and had little to do with obedience to God. But could it not nevertheless be possible that the reestablishment of Israel as a state was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy? Does Israel have a biblical right to the land? We need to look briefly at some of the prophecies that deal with the land and the promised return of Israel to the land that is now Israel. The land God promised Abraham, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18; cf. 17:8). Dispensationalists, who make a sharp distinction between Israel and the Church, consider this promise to have been unfulfilled prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948. After that date, the prophecies about the land were being realized and so Israel will eventually get all the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates (which would include most of Syria). The New Scofield Reference Bible in its note on Deuteronomy 30:3 states that it is important to understand that the nation has never been in possession of the whole land that was promised to them. However, is this true? The answer according to the Bible must be “no.” God’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Old Testament times. This was most dramatically seen with Solomon’s kingdom. It extended from the river Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt (1 Kings 4:21; 2 Chron. 9:26). We can therefore say that the promise of the land given to Abraham has been fulfilled. God has no further obligations here, so to speak. The present nation of Israel has no special biblical claim to the land on the basis of God’s promise to Abraham. The return But what about the prophecies concerning the return? Many people regard the present situation of Israel in the Middle East as a partial fulfillment of the return to the land of which the Old Testament speaks. As a sample of what is usually quoted to support this idea, let us briefly consider promises made through the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah. In Jeremiah 23:3, the LORD promised: “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold.” Important here for Dispensationalists is the reference to “out of all the countries.” This must refer, according to The New Scofield Reference Bible note on this text, to a restoration other than the restoration from Babylon which is just one country. This prophecy still awaits fulfillment. However, that is not so. Why then does Jeremiah speak of a return “out of all the countries”? Because it was a customary practice to sell captives taken in war to other nations as slaves (see Joel 3:7, Amos 1:6,9). In this way Israelites could become scattered all over the known world (cf. Ezekiel 27:13). Representatives from both the northern and southern tribes returned. When for instance a sin-offering was brought at the dedication of the temple in the time of Darius, then it was “a sin-offering for all Israel, 12 male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel” (Ezra 6:17, also Ezra 8:35). The prophetess Anna belonged to Asher, one of the northern tribes (Luke 2:36). The New Testament also considers Israel as twelve tribes, whether literally or symbolically (Acts 26:7, Matthew 19:28). In view of the above, there is no need to take Jeremiah 23:3 and see the return mentioned there as referring to what is happening today. For further support to the notion that prophecy is now being fulfilled, Dispensationalists quote Isaiah 11:11-12: “The Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people … and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Dispensationalists consider the reference to this return being “the second time” as conclusive evidence that the Lord here refers to what is happening today, the first return having been from Babylon. But the first return was not from Babylon, but from Egypt. That was the first release from bondage for Israel. The Old Testament is full of that and even Isaiah 11:16 specifically speaks of it and connects it with the Babylonian return, which is clearly then the second return. Furthermore, Isaiah 11:14 goes on to say that the returned exiles “shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them.” The late William Hendriksen aptly noted that these predictions were fulfilled, as is clear from the First Book of the Maccabees. In addition, “those who believe that now, in the twentieth century A.D., these Philistines, Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites must still be destroyed or plundered or subjected will have a hard time even finding them!”1 Israel was restored after the Babylonian captivity. The prophecy of the return was fulfilled. The New Israel There is one other factor that needs to be mentioned before we leave the issue of the promise of the land. Dispensationalism makes a very strong distinction between Israel and the Church. However, according to Scripture the Church is now “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise” (Rom. 9:8). All those who have believed God’s promises belong to His children, “the Israel of God.” This identity of the Church has consequences for the promise of the land. The fifth commandment as given to God’s people at Mount Sinai stated: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12). However, when this command is referred to in the New Testament, the reference is to living long “on the earth” (Eph. 6:2-3). God’s children as the new Israel will inherit the whole world! That is also the point of Romans 4:13 which states that the promise to Abraham and his offspring was that “he would be heir of the world”! The promise of the land for the new Israel is far more than some real estate in the eastern Mediterranean. In this final age, God’s people have been promised the world! What makes Israel special and why should we care? Most Christians have traditionally held a soft spot for the Jewish people. After all, they were God’s special people and they have preserved for us the Old Testament Scripture. “The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2) which have come down to us because the Jewish people so faithfully transmitted the Word from one generation to the next so that we have the complete Old Testament. We owe them much gratitude that God used them to give us so much of His Word. However, as we have seen, the State of Israel today has no special biblical claim to Palestine. Like Abraham, Israel must look forward “to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Nowhere does the New Testament give a prophecy of restoration to the land of Canaan for Israel. The State of Israel is not the solution for the ultimate well-being and salvation of Jews. The New Testament clearly shows this to be the case because thinking that a national political restoration is the solution for Israel is an old heresy. When the Lord Jesus walked on earth, many in Israel were looking for a political messiah. But Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world and He disavowed notions of a political restoration for Israel. Instead he prophesied the destruction of the temple. We do Israel no favor by appealing to the Bible to justify their existence as an independent nation in the Middle East. Their existence is legally and politically legitimate but not founded on the basis of biblical prophecy. If we want to help the Jews, and we should, we can begin by praying more for them. Part of the Reformed heritage are the beautiful prayers, found in books like the Canadian Reformed Book of Praise. Among these prayers is “A Prayer for All the Needs of Christendom” which includes this petition: “we pray for the mission among Jews, Muslims, and heathens, who live without hope and without you in the world.” Note the order. We can and should pray this prayer because Christ came so that also Jews may inhabit the land of the LORD, that is, the new world that is coming. And not only Jews, but also Arabs who according to the flesh are counted as sons of Abraham. One day in the Promised Land, the true Canaan, there will be peace and joy. All the elect, including Jews and Palestinian Arabs, will be there in perfect peace and harmony. The Jewish people may sometimes be off our radar, but not God’s. They remain a special people in God’s sight. A question sometimes asked is: but have the Jews not been rejected? Have they not shown they want nothing to do with the crucified Christ? Has God rejected the Jews? God has not rejected the Jews. Although the apostles turned from preaching to the Jews because of their unwillingness to listen and went to the Gentiles, yet, the apostle Paul said of the Jews: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Rom. 10:1). Scripture teaches that the conversion of the Gentiles will stir Israel to jealousy so that as Gentiles are saved, God will also gather Jews to Himself, until “all Israel” will be saved (Rom. 11:1-11, 25-26). This “all Israel” can be Jews plus Gentiles as comprising the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16) or “all Israel” can refer to all the elect from Israel, all the believing Jews. In any case, the Bible gives no basis for the belief that there will be a mass conversion of Israel as a nation, but it does state that the total number of the Jewish elect will be saved (Rom. 11:26-27).2 We must never think that mission to the Jews does not concern us. In a sense we owe so much to them and they were God’s chosen instruments to prepare and to be part of the coming of our Savior to this world. The Jews remain a special people for the Lord and therefore also for us. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East reminds us of a sober truth. There is no abiding peace or political salvation here on this side of eternity. But there is hope and true salvation if eyes are lifted up on high and the God of Abraham is supplicated through our Lord Jesus Christ. Conclusion There is only one ultimate solution. It is found in the gospel and in embracing the glad tidings. The Lord Jesus gathers His Church, also in Israel, in the West Bank, and in Gaza. Messianic Jews in Israel are believers in Jesus Christ. In the West Bank and Gaza are also Christians who love and confess Christ under very difficult circumstances. They are a minority in a Muslim society. How God’s people would rejoice if the evil forces that function in nationalism and Islamism could be conquered by the Spirit-fed force of a joint Jewish-Arab Christian testimony in the Middle East. With such a testimony the importance of who gets Jerusalem or which piece of territory is relativized because of the overarching promise of a new Jerusalem which comes down from heaven to give the ultimate peace. There Jew and Arab can truly dwell in peace together. End notes William Hendriksen, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968), 21 (emphasis is Hendriksen’s). See Romans 11 and the clear explanation in Hendriksen, Israel in Prophecy, 32-52....

News

Albertos Polizogopoulos: lawyer for the Lord

On May 9, 2024, the LORD called Albertos Polizogopoulos to Himself, completing his task on earth at the age of 41. Not long after starting law school, Albertos was introduced to his wife-to-be Faye Sonier, a follower of Christ. Albertos decided to investigate the Christian faith for himself and was convicted by God’s Word. He proceeded to dedicate the rest of his life to his Lord Jesus Christ, who drew him closer and closer. Unlike the United States, Canada doesn’t have many Christian lawyers devoted to upholding constitutional freedoms. Albertos has been one of the few exceptions. He regularly defended life and freedom in Canada’s courts, including ten appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada. When I first met Albertos, through our mutual friend and colleague André Schutten, he jovially compelled us to stay up well into the early hours of the new day. He loved to tell stories and debate, while enjoying a good cigar. But as the years progressed, he changed his priorities and devoted his time to his family. ARPA Canada worked with Albertos regularly through the years, either by retaining him or intervening alongside him. He also wrote for RP recently about the coming battles over church property. His obituary testified to how the LORD continued to change Albertos and draw him closer, especially since he was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. “Albertos frequently spoke about how Christ changed his life. He exhibited peace about his terminal diagnosis and a profound trust that God was sovereign…. Days before his death, he looked at his wife from his hospital bed and said, ‘I don't think I know anyone more blessed than I am.’" There are very few lawyers who have the willingness and ability to devote their full-time career to upholding the value of human life, and our fundamental freedoms. I thank God for Albertos. His earthly race has completed, and I pray that more young Christians will pick up his baton and keep running....

Dating

How I married your grandmother: dating advice for a young man

As best as I can describe it, the letter below simply materialized on my desk – it wasn’t there, and the next moment it was. Opening it only deepened the mystery: dated May 1, 2049, it is from a “Grampa Dykstra” to “Tim.” I can only suppose that a quarter century from now, an elderly me was working on this for a grandson I don’t yet have, and after placing the completed draft down on his (my?) desk, it somehow slipped back to the here and now through a crack in the time/space continuum. I’m sharing it with you because, really, how could I not? ***** Dear Tim, When I first married, I expected to write a letter like this to one of my sons, to share with him hard-won lessons on how a young man might go about meeting a godly woman. But God, in His wisdom and humor, decided to give me a passel of girls instead. Me and the cat, we were the only testosterone in our household for the next couple of decades… and it was wonderful! Then, one by one, my girls got married, bringing some fine young men into the family, and, soon after, some very fine little men too. And as those little men got bigger, I began thinking again to the letter I would have written a son, and concluded that, even if it skipped a generation, the letter was still worth writing. Some things are very different since I first courted your grandmother (including folks no longer using the word “court” – I’m not sure we even did back then). But to paraphrase the Preacher in Eccl. 3:15, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and I’m quite confident that you’ll find benefit in hearing how I met and married your grandmother. ***** I think I should begin though, with the story of how I almost didn’t marry your grandmother. 3 Ps stood in my way: priorities, pride, and poltroonery. First off, I wasn’t looking to marry. That impulse probably began way back when my friends were pairing off in highschool. There was pressure then to find someone, anyone, just to be paired off too. In my cousin’s school it started earlier, with Grade 6 and 7 kids trying to deal with their teen-esteem issues by laying claim to a “cute boy” or a “hot girl.” I wouldn’t have put it in these words, but I realized even back then that dating should be done for a better purpose than fitting in. But every good impulse can be taken too far. Or as Martin Luther may or may not have said, there’s two sides to fall off a horse. And in my case, that equal and opposite error was to make a show of not needing anyone. In pride I declared (thankfully, only to myself) that I was the only one not acting desperate. When our Grade 12 grad came, it would have been a great excuse to ask someone out for a fun night, but I, as a matter of principle (so I told myself) went it alone. That was just dumb (though it did lead to one fond memory – while everyone else got a picture with their date under the balloon arch, I got one with my own very elegant grandmother). For quite some time after that, I kept falling off the horse in that direction. When others headed off to Young People’s Study Weekends to see if they could meet someone, I wrote them off as “meat markets” and again, insisted I wasn’t that desperate. I’d date… if I met the right girl. But how could I meet the right girl if I wasn’t going where all sorts of right girls were congregating? To add to prioritization and pride problems, there was also my poltroonery. I don’t know if that’s a word kids are still using these days – it might be a bit too 2030s – so I’ll translate. I was a coward. I was too scared to risk asking anyone out. I did still date, but only because a few girls were willing to ask me. Now role reversal isn’t always a bad thing. A Sadie Hawkins dance, where the girls ask the guys, could give the ladies an opportunity to ask out some clueless guy who might still have potential. But it’s not me being old-fashioned to insist that, as a rule, the guys should do the asking. Why? I’ll take you right to Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” When it comes to dating, someone has to stick their neck out and do the asking. And sticking your neck out comes with the risk of getting your head lopped off and handed back to you. Rejection hurts, and as it’s our nature to avoid pain, many a guy simply won’t risk it. But if marriage is worth pursuing – and it is – then some risks are worth taking. And if someone might get decapitated, shouldn’t it be the guy? God says husbands have to give themselves up for their bride, and while you ain’t a husband yet, that is the role you’re auditioning for. That means if you want to impress the right sort of girl, you should start things the right sort of way, and take the risk so she doesn’t have to. I’m going to lay it on thick here, because I’ve seen many a young man shut themselves down for fear of failure. So let’s just imagine an absolute worst-case scenario. You stir up the courage to ask out the girl who’s been sitting two pews up from you in church and who hasn’t been far from your thoughts for months now. Her response is complete surprise, and she doesn’t just say no, but your invite prompts a quick nervous giggle. She’s not trying to be hurtful, but it’s clear she has just never, ever, even considered you that way. Pretty devastating. But now see that same situation as God does. She might have laughed, but God is smiling. He saw you act the very man He made you to be. Yes, you got your head handed to you, but to the glory of your God because you did it His way! You can honor God in failure, and many times that’s exactly what we’re called to do. You can’t honor Him in cowardice. Better to fail boldly than be a poltroon. ***** All this while, God was busy teaching, and I was slowly learning to get over those three Ps. (One hope with this letter is that you might be able to skip over them all together.) This, then, is how I met and married the love of my life. First, I made the decision to move. I hadn’t found the right someone where I was, so I headed a province over to BC, where there were all sorts of Reformed churches. I promised myself, introvert though I might be, that I would accept every invitation that came my way. And if, after a year, I hadn’t found anyone, I planned to head down under and give Australia a go. I was going to pursue marriage. Pursuit is not, of course, the same as success. But I was determined that, should I remain single, it was going to be because that was God’s plan, and not because of any lack of effort on my part. So I moved, headed to church, and met a lot of very welcoming people, especially my uncle and aunt who let me rent out their basement. And that brings me to the topic of “wingmen.” Finding your match is rarely a solo activity – talk to any married couple and odds are they’ll tell you a tale of some key friend, or two or three, who gave a needed assist. This is just one of the many reasons God gave us the blessing of the communion of saints. That help can sometimes amount to a firm push, as was applied by all the guys in Grade 12, when our buddy was dithering about whether or not to ask out the girl who was obviously crazy about him. Other times it can amount to actually walking alongside – I doubled-dated with one friend, us two guys heading to a hockey game with two new girls. The one girl was also a wingman – neither of us were interested in each other, but we were making that first date easier for the other twosome. In my own case, God gave me a few different wingmen, including my aunt and uncle. When they invited me to someone’s 40th birthday party across the border in the US, I said yes, because that’s what I’d pledged to do. But when I found out that they weren’t even going, and that it’d just be me walking into a room of strangers, that was too much. So my uncle and aunt went too. Turns out, they’d been talking with a couple across the border about a certain someone it might be nice for me to meet. I knew the fix was in… and I was up for it. I got there, made the rounds shaking hands, and exchanged just a few words with a very beautiful young lass. She was a sister-in-law to the birthday boy, and helping out with the food, so she didn’t have a lot of time to chat. Instead, I ended up talking for a good while with her mom. Not quite the way I’d imagined things going, but your great-grandmother made me feel welcome. After an hour or so, chit-chatting with one stranger after another, I needed a break and headed outside. There on the back patio sat a little boy, with a big dog, and the former was very happy to tell me all about the latter. God, in His providence had provided just the breather I needed: the beautiful night sky, a cool breeze, and a boy willing to share his dog. That was also the idyllic setting where I first had a chance to really talk to your grandmother. She was just popping out to get some more food from the outdoor freezer when she came upon a handsome young man showing kindness to her sweet nephew by taking an interest in his dog. So, another couple of wingmen had accomplished their work, one quite short, and the other four-footed. Your grandma came over, and we started chatting. I’d pledged also to make the first move, so I decided to ask her out. But I chickened out a bit, and made it a group thing rather than a date. I told her that a bunch of friends were heading down to an NBA basketball game in Seattle, and would she like to come too? She said yes! There was a problem though: when I got home that night I had to quickly organize this group event. Sure, I’d thought about getting a gang to head on down to the game, but I hadn’t actually invited anyone to this point. And as the invitations went out, one “no” was followed by another. No one else could make it to my “group” event. At this point, I decided to phone her up, come clean and actually ask her out on an official date. So I checked out when the next Vancouver Canucks game was, found out I could get a couple of cheap seats for $50 each, and decided to invite this American lass to her first hockey game. And she said yes! But there was a problem. In the time it took to phone her, all the cheap seats got bought up. Now the only ones available were more than $100 each. I was up for it, but I didn’t want your grandma to think I was trying to impress her as a big spender, so I briefly debated whether to get some scalped seats, originally $50, but now also going for more than $100, and as far as she would know these would be the cheap seats still. I was, however, too much of a Dutchman not to get my money’s worth, so I got the good ones. Getting ready for the big date I got some help from a female cousin – I didn’t have any sisters to go to for fashion advice – and she got me decked out in a nice shirt, and what she assured me were a great pair of jeans. (I later learned that your grandmother agreed.) But in addition to being the most expensive pair of jeans I’d ever bought, they were the most uncomfortable and I spent a good portion of that first date wondering if they were going to fall off. I also spent a good portion of that date explaining the game of hockey to this lovely American lass, only to figure out at one point that she was getting excited about a play that was still developing. It was almost like she knew what was coming. And that’s when I discovered this American beauty was a former Canadian. And that wasn’t the last surprise. One date led to another, and soon enough it was time to get to know your grandma’s parents. That’s when we both learned that her parents knew my parents... really well. I’d looked through my mom and dad’s wedding album before, and seen the picture of them with their wedding party. The flower girl and maid of honor were two of my aunts, but there, beside my dad, stood a tall young fellow I didn't know. It turns out my dad’s best man became my father-in-law! And some people think God doesn’t have a sense of humor. That, then, is how I was equipped, encouraged, aided and abetted, corrected, and even pushed to go out and meet your grandmother. And I’m so very grateful to God that she said yes. My hope for you Tim, is you’ll recognize sooner than I ever did that a godly spouse is worthy of pursuit. I’m praying that you’ll be the godly man that a godly woman would find attractive, and praying too, that you’ll be the sort of wingman you’d want your friends to be. I don’t know whether God intends you to be married or single but I do know you can honor Him in both success or failure. So don’t be a poltroon. Love ya kid, Grampa Dykstra      ...

Animated, Movie Reviews

Animal Farm (1954)

Animated / Drama 1954 / 72 minutes RATING: 7/10 This is George Orwell's classic dystopian tale brought to the big screen. A farm setting is used to highlight a conflict between the "working class" – chickens, geese, cows, and pigs – and the wealthy, represented here by the farmer who owns everything. Orwell was anti-communist, but not blind to the problems of the arrogant elite who abused the poor, so his Farmer Jones here is a piece of work, shown whipping the animals in a drunken stupor. When Old Major, the most revered pig on the farm, calls a meeting, all attend. He gives a rousing speech, calling for solidarity against the oppressive farmer, and equality for all animals. But Old Major doesn't live to see the revolution he has called for – he punctuates his speech by collapsing at the end. But he has inspired action. The animals drive out Farmer Jones, and take over the farm for themselves. However, the animals soon learn the same lessons the poor Russians peasants learned when they overthrew the Tsar: being free of one tyrant isn't the same as being free. The pigs soon take the place of the farmer, because, after all, someone has to show some leadership. The pigs are soon eating the farmer's food, and sleeping in his bed too, even as the rest of the animals remain in the barn. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Caution The cautions are of two kinds. Parents could see the trailer and think this could make for a good family night flick. While the simple 1950s animation does mute some of the violence, there are still creature killed both onscreen and off. At one point it is a full out war between a dozen armed humans and all the animals. Not a lot of blood is shown, but way too much for children. That's okay though, because this really isn't intended for an audience too young to understand the moral to the story. The other concern is that teens, and even some adults, might miss some of the nuance here, in part because of changes to the film that aren't in the book. This is a more hopeful version of the tale that ends with the dictator pig, Napoleon, getting overthrown, trampled to death by the other animals. In the book, it ends with the pigs still in charge, now making deals with the humans, and it is getting hard to tell the humans from the pigs and the pigs from the humans. The film's more hopeful ending was likely made because the film was, in fact, produced by the CIA. They may have wanted it to end on a more "democratic" note, the people rising up against their communist dictator. But Orwell's unresolved ending was likely meant to highlight the growing communist encroachment even in the West. And viewers will not get that from the film. But both book and film do critique the abuses that can happen under the arrogant. Orwell wasn't saying that the West was perfect and that only communism was a problem; he was highlighting that communism wasn't a solution to the problems happening in the West, and would only make things worse. Conclusion This is not a film to watch for entertainment; it rates only middling on that scale. But it is a great presentation of one of the more important novels of our time. At a time when "equity" is thought to be the ultimate goal, it's important to teach the next generation where that road really takes us. So, this would be a great one for 12 to 112. You may also be interested in Animal Farm: the Graphic Novel. ...

News

Saturday Selections – April 27, 2024

Click the titles below to go to the linked articles... Strawman and other logical fallacies Here's a fun way to get our kids to really understand how logical fallacies can be used – deliberately or not – to misdirect and confuse discussions. Watch below, and click the title above for a list of fallacies (including the strawman) you can work with.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Brett Pike (@classicallearner) Horribly neglected patient "chooses" euthanasia A quadriplegic Quebec man, stuck on an emergency room stretcher for four days, developed a bed sore so bad it left bone exposed. After being denied even the bed he needed, Normand Meunier then "chose" to be euthanized. Having doctors murder patients is portrayed as compassion. What it really is, is cheap and easy. "Even the compassion of the wicked is cruel" (Prov. 12:10b). Are you financially literate? 5 questions to find out Christians are called to be good stewards of what God gives us but it isn't harder for some than others. Here's 5 questions to help you figure out where you are at. Why is teen anxiety on the rise? The author of Why is my Teenager Feeling Like This? shares 4 thoughts... Caring for the adopted child Our kids' frustrating misbehaviors will often be a matter of déjà vu for parents who recognize they acted similarly when they were kids. But adoptive parents can face the additional challenge of dealing with behaviors they haven't seen before, perhaps because of their children's very different history, or physiological repercussions that might have come from having an alcohol- or drug-addicted birth mom. So how can adoptive parents be sensitive to their child's different needs, without succumbing to the temptation of just excusing bad behavior? Two biblical counselors offer some helpful biblical advice. Global warming isn't making weather more extreme If you listen to David Suzuki, Al Gore, or Greta Thunburg, you'd have every reason to believe that global warming was causing an increasing number of, and severity of, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and forest fires. But a new study by the Fraser Institute says, it simply isn't so. Click on the title above for their report, or watch the video below for Dr. Judith Curry's take. And for why we might consider them both more credible than their more mainstream critics, see my "Catastrophic Global Warming? A brief biblical case for skepticism." ...

News

How much government is too much government?

In its recently released The Size of Government in 2022 report, the Fraser Institute detailed the levels of government spending across the country as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP, or how much the country produced including both goods and services). Canada overall – counting all three levels of government, municipal, provincial, and federal combined – spent just under 41% of the country’s GDP. This is down from the 52% they spent during 2020, which was higher because of both the COVID spending that took place that year, as well as the 5.5% drop in GDP that occurred due to the lockdowns. The Fraser Institute report also broke things down by province… and the range was enormous. In three of the maritime provinces, the three levels of government combined to spend more than half of GDP – Prince Edward Island (58%), Nova Scotia (63%), and New Brunswick (58%) – while on the other end, Alberta’s spending was 6 percentage points lower than anyone else at 27% of GDP. So what’s the right size of government? The Fraser Institute suggests that the optimum level is somewhere between 26% and 35% of GDP, basing that on studies that say that gets you the most economic bang for the buck. However, the prophet Samuel, in his “warning against kings” (1 Sam. 8:10-18), cautioned that the king might presume to demand the same percentage as God Himself required, 10%. Our governments presume much more, starting with more than double that. Presumption is evidenced also when our government recognizes no boundaries on their involvement. Sometimes their overreach is enormous, as when they run education, a parental responsibility. And sometimes it is just ridiculous, as was on full display south of the border this last month, when the White House announced it was going to investigate the problem of “out of order” soft serve ice cream machines. Ironically, it might be a good thing for the government to look into this, as they may be the source of the problem. Government rules seem to be blocking anyone but the manufacturer from repairing the machines. When the government is involved in everything, then whenever there is a problem it’s almost certain they are a part of it. So whatever the right size of government might be, it’s smaller and less presumptuous than what we currently have....

Assorted

That I may declare it boldly

Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. – Ephesians 6:13-20 **** When I was a baby my mom dressed me, often in clothes which she herself had made. Gifted with creativity, she knitted sweaters, booties, skirts, jumpers (and you name it) – all for me. Later on, my oldest sister was given the task of helping me and I still remember sitting on the baby dresser, feet dangling over the edge, as she washed my face, chose my clothes and carefully decked me out like a precious doll before she took me down to breakfast. How blessed I was! Care, clothes and food – all provided for me before I even understood what great provisions these were. And later, after breakfast was finished, my Father would add to the list of benefits by awarding me with an unequaled present, the reading of the Bible. As I grew older, I learned how to dress myself. And so I did. Putting on undershirts, underpants, socks, skirts, tops, dresses, etc., all grew into skilled appareling techniques which I mastered with growing ease. As my Father kept on reading the Bible to all of us gathered around the table, I was continually instructed in the wearing of an armor. Although there were no mail accoutrements hidden under the dining room table, and no chain link vests hanging in the hall closet, nevertheless, I slowly imbibed the knowledge that I needed to be girded by this protection. 80,000 conversations Although it is somewhat of an impossible statistic, it has been calculated that the average person will meet approximately ten thousand persons in his lifetime. That is mind boggling! These people will not be intimate acquaintances. Rather, they will be people whom we meet once, perhaps twice, in our lifetime and then probably only in a casual way. Nevertheless, they will pass through our lives – in shops, at malls, on streets, on buses, in classrooms, at baseball games or in restaurants. Ten thousand folks, each with a beating heart and a living soul! Ten thousand people! Enough to populate a small town! When I was first married, I had to walk through the downtown streets of Hamilton each day to get to my place of work. No matter what the weather had in mind, sunshine, snow, rain or wind, every morning I would pass a woman at approximately the same spot. She was a thin, middle-aged lady with dark hair tied back in a severe bun. The woman always avoided my gaze and would never look at me directly. I began to say “hello” to her, but she never responded. I tried “good-morning” and “good day” and, after a few weeks, it began to be a sort of game for me. Will she react to me today? Will she smile back at me? What shall I do this morning to catch her attention? In the end, after about eight months, just before we moved from Hamilton to Guelph, she smiled back. And then, I never saw her again. ***** One piece of data I read posits the thought that if you have conversations with three new people each day for 73 years, an average life span, the number of conversations you would have during your lifetime would be 80,000. That's a lot of conversations! And this number of people are as many as would fill an Olympic stadium! Time to clear your throat, or rather, time to think about putting on the armor. Once, many years ago, my husband and I stayed in a small motel in Whitney, Ontario, a town bordering Algonquin Park. We were there for a few days of holidays and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The three children we had at that point were being looked after by family and we reveled in sleeping late and in long nature hikes. Next to our little motel was a small trading post with a lady proprietor. She was a very sociable woman and whenever we stopped in to make a purchase, she talked incessantly and enthusiastically about the beauty of the park and about the delight she took in the wildlife around her store. She also went out of her way to show us some of the unique artifacts displayed in her shop. Friendly, good-natured and personable, she made us feel special. On the morning we left to drive back home, we stopped in to say good-bye. After briefly chatting, another customer arrived and we slowly faded into the background towards the door. Behind us, the woman chattered away to the newcomer. And then she swore. Her voice had turned raucous, loud and exclamatory, puncturing the air. We went on our way. I distinctly remember that it was raining hard outside. My husband had the windshield wipers of the car going quickly. Back and forth they went, as if they were trying to wipe out the memory of that swear word. We never saw the woman again. What sort of letter are you? We are letters. Paul tells us this in 2 Corinthians 3. We are letters which are read. When people are more intimately involved with us, they are more likely to read us more carefully (and between the lines), than those who know us only a little bit. Yet all the people who pass us, and that includes strangers who only see us for a moment or two, will scan us to some extent. And what will they read? When I was in business college, there was a girl in my class. Her name was Ellie. She was a quiet girl with an appealing roundish face and glossy, bobbed, reddish-brown hair falling sleekly about her cheeks. Ellie gave the impression of vulnerability. Her large, brown eyes observed the world questioningly above a multitude of freckles. During one of those first days of school, we both chanced to be going down the elevator at lunch hour and somehow ended up eating lunch together in a local park. Ellie boarded in the downtown Hamilton YWCA. She had a room there and invited me to see it. Her family lived on a farm, too far away for her to travel back and forth every night, she told me. I thought nothing of it until a few weeks later, when it became obvious to me, naive though I was, that Ellie was pregnant. It was difficult to broach the subject, but I did. Ellie cried and told me that she had been adopted and that her adoptive brother was the father. She loved the baby growing within her, but her parents had told her that she could only come back home if she would give up the baby for adoption. Both empathetic and horrified after her revelation, I promised to help her. I was a Christian, I told her, and Christians always help others. It was a Friday and I went home full of plans, immediately contacting two local pastors to ask if they could help me find a solution to Ellie's problem. Neither was particularly enthusiastic and, thinking back on it now, I cannot really blame them. Although my eagerness to help knew no bounds, the information I had was scanty. When I came back to school that following Monday, Ellie was not in class. Walking to the YWCA during lunch hour, I discovered that Ellie had disappeared. No one at the desk was willing to give me her address. I never saw her again. ***** If you go shopping, it is inevitable that you will pass a great many people whom you will never see again during your lifetime. It is unlikely that you will hold a conversation with each and every one of these people. But the sheer breadth and width of the scope of individual lives who intersect with you for only the space of a moment is mind-boggling. It can make you conceive of yourself as part of a huge multitude; it can make you conclude that you are immensely small; and it can make you regard God as incredible beyond comprehension. For He knows the minds and hearts of all – every step, every thought, and every hair on their heads. Go out into the world, He said. We tend to hide behind devices now – we speak to a lot of people on these devices, without actually really speaking to them – and feel good because people respond to our trivial questions and remarks. There is a need for people to belong – the need to build up a facade of relationships – the need to look as if we are not alone. The sad truth is that most people don't know how to belong any longer. If there is any sort of pandemic in the world which is in dire need of a vaccine, it is the pandemic of perceived friendships with inanimate cellphones. It is a deafness, an inability to interact, and a numbed knowledge of what real fellowship actually means. Detached and indifferent, many have lost the wisdom of how to live in community, of how to love your neighbor as yourself. Catholic conversation A number of years ago, I accompanied my husband to Montreal where he had to attend several meetings. While he was participating in his conference, it was my privilege to wander through the streets of Montreal. It cost me five dollars to get into the Notre-Dame Basilica. And thinking about it, maybe the five dollars went to a wrong cause and I should have resisted the desire to see the insides of this monumental structure. But I didn't. I handed my ten-dollar bill over to a man behind a dark desk, a man who was neither friendly nor gracious and, after receiving my change, I pushed open the heavy, creaking door to the Basilica's sanctuary. An overwhelming smell of wax assailed me almost immediately upon entering. Electric light bulbs were hidden away high up on the ceiling or inside niches; and rows upon rows of flickering sweet-smelling candles were situated under every pillar. I made my way past these little flames with the wooden boxes in front of them, every one of them inviting poor, unsuspecting supplicants to put their dollars and dimes to bad use. Side aisles were flanked by stained glass windows. Haloed statues overshadowed these aisles every few steps. I strolled towards the front of the massive church. An English guide was stationed next to the first few pews, where she was giving a group of non-French tourists a brief history of the Basilica. The friendly, short-haired guide motioned to me that I should sit down with the rest of the group in those first few pews. She asked us, "Did you know that the Notre-Dame used to be just a small chapel?" The huge ceiling above our heads almost belied this fact, and we all stared up at the vast space above our heads because the guide made a sweeping upward motion with her arm. "Yes," she continued, "and by the way, my name is Gabrielle, you know, like the angel." This evoked chuckles. "Now we will just go around and everyone else can say their name and where they come from." There were people sitting next to me from Norway, from BC, from Michigan and California. "You know," the little guide went on, "you are in a place where many famous people have been." We did not respond but looked at her expectantly. We knew she would tell us who else had been there. And she did. "In 1873, Sir George Cartier's funeral was held here. And in the year 2000, Pierre Elliott Trudeau's funeral took place here as well. And in 1994, Celine Dion was married in this very church. The truth is that one hundred or more marriages and approximately one hundred and twenty baptisms are celebrated here every year. We have a special chapel attached to the Basilica. It is the Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart) Chapel, also known as the wedding chapel." We took all this information in silently. "And then, of course, in 1984, the Pope, that is, John Paul II, visited. He raised the status of Notre-Dame from church to basilica. He did this because of the church's historic, architectural and artistic value. It is very beautiful, do you not think so?" Heads nodded. Who could deny the architectural immensity of this place? A stooping figure hung on the cross straight overhead, surrounded by what I presumed to be the apostles. But above the cross was another representation – that of Mary being crowned by God. The guide was not long in pointing this out. "Mary has first place here," she said. "It is, after all, her church. That is why," and she motioned upwards again with her arm, "the ceiling is blue. Blue is her color, you know." We all gazed up once more. It was true. The magnificent ceiling was a sky-blue. The guide continued to recite a litany of cultural events which regularly took place in the Basilica and how the Montreal Symphony Orchestra had performed there several times. Then, after telling us we were free to walk around and browse, she excused herself and left us on our own. I never saw her nor any of that group again. A key conversation But then there is this story. A long time ago, a traveler reached the fork of an old Roman road. It was about suppertime and he, being quite weary, sat down. In the west, he could see a mountain and to the north was the city which today is called Nablus. There was a well nearby. In the present time, that well is surrounded by the walls of a convent, but at that moment it was quite out in the open. It was a deep well, almost 100 feet deep. The traveler was thirsty and when a woman appeared, a stranger, carrying a water-pitcher on her shoulder, he spoke to her. She had walked some ten minutes from the nearby city to get to the well and she was alone. "Give me a drink," the stranger said. His accent and pronunciation immediately told the woman that he was not native born to the area but that he was Jewish. And she was also quite aware that Jews were usually not of a kindly disposition towards people from her area. As a matter of fact, they wouldn't even use the same cutlery or drink from the same vessels. She was therefore puzzled by his request. "How is it that you," she countered his question, "a Jew, ask a drink of me, a Samaritan?" The stranger merely looked at her and then made use of her curiosity to further the conversation. He said, "If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is that said to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have been the one to ask Him, and He would have given you living water." She said to Him, "Sir, you have no rope-bucket, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Surely, you are not greater, are you, than our father Jacob who gave us this well and he himself drank from it, and so did his sons and his flocks." To the west of the woman, Gerizim, the mountain of blessing, stood. And to the northeast of Gerizim stood Ebal, the mountain of the curse. And the stranger said to her, "Whoever drinks this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will in no way be thirsty again forever, for that water which I shall give him will become in him a spring of water that keeps on bubbling up unto everlasting life." The woman, who had walked ten minutes in order to get to the well and who had to walk ten minutes down and back each day in order to satisfy her physical needs, immediately yearned for this water of which the stranger spoke. "Sir, give me this water," she pleaded, "that I may not get thirsty or have to keep on coming so far to draw water." The stranger responded, "Go, call your husband and come back here." Impressed by his friendliness, and by His interest in her life, the woman, who was usually avoided by the people of her town, responded. In offering the woman a few moment of His time, a moment which led to a taste of eternity, Jesus begins to quench her inner thirst. Spurgeon commented that Christ has different doors for entering into different people’s souls. Into some, He enters by the way of understanding; into many, by the way of the affections; to some, He comes by the way of fear; to others, by the way of hope; and to this woman He came by the way of her conscience. All sorts of conversations to be had After Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman, He told His disciples that the fields were white with harvest. He intimates that there are numerous multitudes ready for them to meet. He declares that there are countless people ready to be spoken to, ready to be brought into the kingdom of God. By knowing Him and by wearing the “so very useful” armor He gives us to wear, we also are able to meet with, speak to and listen to at least some of the host of villagers, innkeepers, musicians, businessmen, housewives, gender-lost and value-lost people we will meet on our way. Jesus never saw the Samaritan woman again. Or did He?...

News

Saturday Selections – April 13, 2024

Click on the titles below to go to the linked articles... If people did everything as a trick shot Evolutionists have no explanation for the origin of life Christian chemist James Tours has been challenging "origin of life" researchers to put up or shut up. He has offered to take down all his published videos and never speak on the topic again, if only someone will show how they are making any real progress in explaining how life could come from non-life (as evolution would require). Tours did get a chance to debate, but under hilarious conditions. He agreed that after his 20-minute talk, that in the dinner discussions that followed, he would not talk at all unless asked a question, and if interrupted, he would stop talking. The linked article and video are not an easy read or watch, but even the gist of it underscores how the opposition isn't guided by the science, but by their ideology. Though the science shows that life can't come from non-life (scientists can't even create life on purpose, let alone explain how it could happen by chance), the scientific establishment still clings to the notion that it must have, because they need it to have done so to justify their rebellion against God. Euthanasia as a cost-saver for public healthcare Luc Van Gorp, head of Belgian's biggest health care fund, Christian (?!?) Mutualities is saying the quiet part out loud – they could save a lot of money if they murdered their old people. Once murder is medicine, it becomes quite the attractive treatment: cheaper and quicker than anything else. In related news, Belgium has lightened the penalties for "illegal euthanasia." It will no longer be treated as murder. They did it because if doctors had to fear getting charged with murder every time they murdered someone without following the approved procedures, then there might be less doctors willing to murder people. So one way to save lives here in Canada might be to ensure that "illegal euthanasia" is treated as murder. Maybe we can scare bloodthirsty, but self-preservation-seeking "doctors" from this line of business. How is our economy really doing?  The Fraser Institute argues that while Canada had one of the better expansions of its economy compared to other G7 countries, the real picture is horrible when you consider just how much the population increased. So they are pitching a better measure than just GDP – GDP adjusted for population. Big surprise for me here is that two Liberal PMs – Chretien and Martin – did better by this measure than the last two Conservatives. Atheist Richard Dawkins likes Christian culture Dawkins might be the world's most famous atheist, and he made news last week for praising Christian culture: "If I had to choose between Christianity and Islam, I’d choose Christianity every single time. It seems to me to be a fundamentally decent religion in a way that I think Islam is not." But as John Stonestreet notes, you can't have Christian fruit without the Root. The strange truth about the pill The birth control pill was embraced because it enabled sex outside of marriage by separating sex from conception. But as this BBC article highlights, the pill's nine different hormones come with side effects, some of which "have subtle 'masculinizing' effects." Identifying misinformation (5 min) In an online world awash with misinformation, here are three simple ways to identify what's not true. ...

Interview with an artist

Hetty Veldkamp’s landscapes began with a birthday

Interview with an artist ***** Lighthouse at Snug Harbour36" x 24”“Taken last year when a friend gave us a boat ride to Snug Harbour, near Killbear Park. As we were entering the harbor, the sun was low and casting a warm glow on everything. It was such a beautiful moment and i tried to capture it in this painting.” Years ago, Hetty Veldkamp retired from a successful career in graphic design to raise her family. But then, two decades later, a birthday gift she created for her husband launched her second artistic career, this time as a landscape painter. She’d always been drawn to art. When she was younger Hetty would often create pencil drawings, just for fun, based on photos from magazines or advertisements. Her high school art teacher saw potential in her work and encouraged Hetty to consider art as a career. After studying illustration and graphic design at Sheridan College, Hetty accepted a job as a graphic designer/coordinator with the Alberta government’s Public Affairs Bureau. She designed brochures, report covers, and logos for the various government departments. Then in the evenings Hetty would work on freelance projects or paint small watercolor paintings which she sold to friends and colleagues. “I was busy with everything art.” But when she and her husband decided to have a family, Hetty took a break from art-making. That break would last 25 years. For as long as she can remember Hetty has also been drawn to nature. She grew up beside the sea, living in a quaint fishing village in the Netherlands. She later settled in the rural Niagara Region in southern Ontario after immigrating to Canada with her parents. In the years that followed, Hetty and her family explored the many different regions of Ontario’s “cottage country” and Hetty became “hooked on the peace and beauty found there.” “I have always enjoyed the great outdoors, hiking, camping, and cottaging. The vistas of Northern Ontario, Kilarney, Algonquin, and Killbear Provincial Parks; Georgian Bay and the landscapes of northeastern Ontario are a real inspiration to me.” Lily on a Summer Day40" x 20"“This one was inspired while kayaking near a friend's cottage. It was summer and so peaceful, the lilies just seem so calm and serene. Lilies are a popular subject, and I paint them often.” For her, they all brought the words of Psalm 8 to mind; “How majestic is your name in all the earth!” It was those experiences and memories of those landscapes, previously painted by members of the famous Group of Seven, that inspired Hetty to pick up her brushes again. First she painted a painting as a gift to her husband for his birthday. She didn’t stop there. Many more paintings followed, some successful and some not so much. But Hetty persevered. She now has no problem selling everything she produces. Scenes of Ontario’s north feature prominently in her vast portfolio on her website. Judging by the number of paintings that are labeled “SOLD,” the scenes are popular with buyers too! Hetty lives and works in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Working primarily in oil paint she works to capture her love of the outdoors and the peace she finds there. “The lakes, trees, islands and rocks are beautiful; the ever-changing skies and water continue to inspire me.” I remember Hetty speaking at my high school for a career day – she was one of the people who inspired me to pursue illustration and design. I even studied at the same college as she did! You can see more of Hetty’s artwork on Facebook, Instagram, or at ArtByHetty.com. You can also email her at [email protected]. Jason Bouwman loves landscape painting too. Find his work at JasonBouwman.com and send him suggestions for artists to profile at [email protected]....

Assorted

When “helping” kids hurts them

Why the generation accessing the most mental therapy is the most mentally unhealthy  ***** As the old saying goes, “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Among the hammers today is psychotherapy, and too many wielding it are convinced that every human problem is a nail. However, the unprecedented rise of mental health problems in Generation Z suggests that the overuse of this tool has done as much harm as good. In a bold new book, Abigail Shrier confronts the idea of psychology as an all-consuming ideology. In Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up, Shrier argues that much of what is now taken for granted about psychological and emotional “trauma” is wrong and has left millions of young adults more “traumatized” than if they’d had no therapy at all. This thesis aligns with that of her previous book Irreversible Damage, which exposed the reckless push to medically transition gender-dysphoric kids, especially girls. This push has been driven by the mental health industry. In Bad Therapy, Shrier points out the many indications that the whole approach of our therapy-obsessed age is awry. Most obvious is that despite living in one of the most objectively prosperous and safe times in human history, our young people are, en masse, mentally sicker and emotionally sadder than ever. In fact, over 40% of young adults have a mental health diagnosis, twice the rate of the general population. So, the generation most treated for psychological wellbeing is doing the worst psychologically. How did we get to this point? In a podcast with former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, Shrier told the story of her grandmother, Bess, who grew up during the Great Depression. Bess was orphaned and so malnourished that her teeth grew in gray. She then contracted polio and spent a year in an iron lung. Yet, despite her suffering, she managed to recover, get married and have kids, go to law school, and become one of the first female judges in her state. She was also, as Shrier puts it, “One of the most optimistic and can-do women” she’s ever met. Today, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and teachers would tell Bess, because of her “trauma,” to lower her expectations for what she could achieve. They’d constantly watch her, waiting for confirmation of her permanent damage. Eventually, Bess, like millions of children today, may have even believed them. The central thesis of Bad Therapy is that the anti-adversity worldview that has been embraced by everyone from therapists to parents to self-appointed TikTok influencers hurts children. Therapy has become an ideology, an entire way of looking at life. Experiences that previous generations understood as a part of the human condition are diagnosed and “treated” and, in the process, a generation has been robbed of resilience, responsibility, and character—things that, as Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang recently noted, only come from facing adversity and, at times, failing. As she told Weiss, Shrier is “no more anti-psychotherapy than… anti-chemotherapy.” Interventions are necessary sometimes but, like chemotherapy, mental health treatments carry risks. Shrier believes we must begin taking these risks seriously, especially when it comes to the youngest patients who have neither the experience nor the authority to argue when adults tell them, “You’re sick.” For Christians who understand that human beings are more than matter that can be molded and medicated, the need for a book like this is even more obvious. Divine revelation and millennia of insight suggest that much of what passes for “psychological trauma” today is spiritual brokenness. Spiritual healing can take the form of counseling and medication, but to put it simply, no amount of psychotherapy alleviates our need for a Savior. In the meantime, Abigail Shrier has, once again, launched a cultural conversation that is a vital corrective. Not only can it help curb the excesses of bad therapy and pop psychology and make us better, wiser parents, but a book like this can help us rethink the true complexities of who and what we are as human beings. For believers, it is a chance to show what it looks like to live redemptively amid the groaning of this fallen world while using all the tools at our disposal. This Breakpoint was first posted to Breakpoint.org March 20, 2024, and is reprinted here with their gracious permission. We're sharing it because Christians need to understand where and why secular counseling can fall so short. The world understands Man as simply matter, and sees Man’s purpose as self-actualization, or perhaps the pursuit of our own happiness. Our "Owner’s manual," the Bible, describes Man’s nature as both body and spirit, and our purpose as being built to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. So, secular psychology could have tips and tricks and drugs to modify our behavior and feelings, but it misunderstands Man at the foundational level. No wonder then, that some of its help hurts instead. If this article caught your interest, then you may want to sign up (see the subscribe button on the top right of the page) to get their free daily commentaries delivered right to your inbox....

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