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Saturday Selections - June 13, 2020

Dandelions: more amazing than you knew! (4 minutes) I've shown this to all my kids - same reaction from all of them: "Wow!" When someone says "There is no truth..." As Greg Koukl explains, uttering the statement, “There is no truth,” in itself establishes the truth of at least 17 different things. So when we meet radical skeptics – those who doubt everything – we should challenge them to be "intellectually honest skeptics." "...we must be as skeptical about our skepticism as we are about our knowledge. We should take the burden of proof to defend our skepticism instead of simply asserting our skepticism. Anyone can assert disbelief. Whether they can make sense out of it is a different thing." This is how we do it here With so many wanting just to tear down and destroy, here is an example to inspire: this is a town where police, churches, and Black Lives Matters protesters marched together. Why the media is biased, even when they don't mean to be It's the nature of the business for journalists to give more coverage to scandal, failure, and conflict, than for success, calmness, and competency. And what they cover, they encourage. Pursuing godly manhood "Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with beards, flannels, bonfires, work boots, pocket knives, pickup trucks, or hatchet throwing. In fact, it might do some of us a lot of good to put our phones down and spend some time in the woods. Nevertheless, God’s Word is more concerned with character than charisma..." On the age and origin of Pluto (11 min) While working as an engineer for the US military space program, Spike Psarris examined the stars and planets. The evidence drove him to first become a creationist, and then a Christian. To share his findings, he crafted a series of 3 DVDs that explore Astronomy and the creation of the universe. While he is a soft-spoken man, his facts pack quite the wallop. And now he has turned his gaze to Pluto: "I am in the process of updating my Solar System DVD. One of the major topics that needed updating was Pluto; my DVD was published several years before the New Horizons probe visited Pluto, and that spacecraft made many fascinating discoveries....This chapter is now finished, and you can watch it online for free here" "Just Thinking" Instagram goodies Are they devotionals, or doodles, or a wonderful combination thereof? For the last few years now, Reformed artist Jason Bouwman has been sharing thought-provoking pictures like the one below, and you can find hundreds more on his Instagram page. ...

News

Saturday Selections - June 6, 2020

Stepping up by stepping away Warren Barfield was once best known for his songs The Time is Now, and the one below, Love Is Not a Fight. But then, in 2017, the Christian singer, songwriter, and public speaker stepped away from the spotlight because, in his words, he didn't want to: "...be out building a career and wealth while my wife and kids built memories and a life without me. With my wife’s full support I walked away from the promise of material success, to pursue something priceless with her, a life.... Bottom line, I’m more interested in being an intentional husband and father and a good man rather than just playing one on stage or social media." And for three years now that's the last we've heard of him. Is there a settled scientific consensus about wearing masks? Should everyone in public wear a mask? Even as some call it "settled" science that we should, other experts disagree. While that tells us very little about the effectiveness of masks, it does tell us something about those who proclaim things settled when they aren't. Keep the good from the COVID quarantine Being forced to stay at home has brought with it some positives. When it is all over, will we be able to take those with us? Focus on the Family offering free movies/audiobooks Focus on the Family has produced some fun family-friendly material like a dramatized audio version of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, the Last Chance Detectives films, and the Adventures in Odyssey radio series. And they are now offering a lot of this content for free, with the only requirement being your name and email address. Parents should note that this Christian group, though conservative, is not Reformed and on occasion Arminian tones will pop up in their materials. Frontal lobotomies: a Darwinian mental health holocaust (15-minute read) Before the procedure was discredited, as many as 35,000 were subjected to frontal lobotomies. This "psychosurgery" was based on evolutionary beliefs, and it was those beliefs that led to harmful conclusions. There is a relevance to today because many secular psychologists are also evolutionists, and if they don't understand who we actually are and why we are here, that will have implications for how they try to restore us. Why Christians shouldn’t jump on bandwagon of progressive groups like Black Lives Matter "I can say, heartily, that black lives matter....however, I cannot support the organization Black Lives Matter. As I’ve noted before, their guiding principles include the promotion of the LGBT agenda and new and radical interpretations of gender (they want to “dismantle cis-gender privilege,” for example.) Their leaders are, without exception, radically pro-abortion..." What an NBA reporter's tweet reveals about Christianity (6 min) On May 25 a Minneapolis police officer killed an African American suspect, George Floyd, by placing a knee on the handcuffed Floyd's neck for more than 8 minutes. Some protests in bigger cities turned into riots, with police vehicles and businesses being set on fire. On May 29, the officer, Derek Chauvin was charged with murder. In this video, Whaddo You Meme's Jon McCray looks at what one reporter's reaction to the riots reveals about how if God were to judge us by even just our own standards, we would never measure up. ...

News

Saturday Selections - May 30, 2020

Dolphin sonar is incredibly designed! (4 min) The many different components of dolphins' echolocation system allows it such a level of precision it can tell the difference between a golf ball and a ping pong ball. The closer we look at God's creation, the more we have to praise Him about! This is an excerpt from the fantastic documentary Living Waters. How David Livingstone's brave publicity stunt helped end slavery (15-minute read) John Piper writes about how David Livingstone's famed expedition, supposedly to find the headwaters of the Nile, actually had a very different purpose – Livingstone wanted to bring British attention to the horrors of the Slave Trade. Are purebred dogs ethical? God calls us to be stewards of creation, and that includes the creatures in it. When we breed a creature for a particular look, knowing that this look also leads to specific health problems – as happens with many purebred dogs – aren't we being bad stewards? Cessationism: what it is, and the case for it, in just 10 minutes While most Reformed folk hold to cessationism – the belief that the gifts of tongues, and prophecy, and miraculous healing have passed (even as we acknowledge that miraculous healing itself has not) – but don't know why. Professor Robert Rothwell lays out the cessationism case here. Scientists often lie Every time we read another headline about "millions of years," or this evolving into that, conservative Christians are reminded once again of how mainstream science can be very, very wrong. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, some are encouraging us to "Just trust Science" and we know that's more than a little naive. Is Science now our infallible guide? There's good reason to be grateful for the guidance scientists can offer (Prov. 11:14, Prov. 15:22), but if we treat them as our one sure guide (ignoring, for example, the input of economists) – if we treat them as if they were God – then they are sure to disappoint. On the other hand, we shouldn't forget why we can be so certain scientists are wrong in some cases, and yet not be as certain in others. We can know they got it wrong when scientists' conclusions run right up against the Bible as they do on the subject of origins. Then we have God's infallible Word vs. fallible Man and it shouldn't be hard to know who to believe. But when scientists make declarations about things that God hasn't spoken to directly – like how harmful COVID-19 actually is – we might still have reasons to doubt what is said but not with the same degree of certainty. This is not what Man says versus what God says, but rather one group of experts vs. another. BC pastors appeal to government to free Christians to worship Occasional RP contributor Rev. Rob Schouten was one of those behind an open letter to BC Premier John Horgan asking for churches to receive attention as to when they can start to safely worship together once again. The letter is considerate, and well-argued, asking only for the same sort of accommodation as is being given to businesses and others. So far 85 churches have given their support to the letter. If you want to find out how you can too, or if you live outside BC and want to see a wonderful example of calm, winsome, yet persistent interaction with the authorities, then be sure to check out the website: ExpandBCWorshipServices.ca. The man behind Ravi (15 min) On May 19, the well-known apologist Ravi Zacharias died of cancer. God used him to "tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor. 10:5) via public events, often times on university campuses, around the world. God used Ravi in a big public way, but in this wonderful, tear-jerking (God is so amazing!) short film we get a glimpse at the "man behind the man," D.D. Davis, who God also called, but to work behind the scenes to equip and encourage Ravi. Few of us are called to be on the stage, in front of the mike, but all of us can be "Gospel patrons" – equippers, encouragers, and in smaller ways too, proclaimers – who can help those called to lead. ...

News

Saturday Selections - May 23, 2020

Surfin is illegal in the USA: A Beach Boys parody (2 min) There's no better way to kill the funny than to discuss a joke. But with all the vicious memes, and cruel editorial cartoons circulating the Internet, before I pass along this bit of parody it's worth considering what Christians can, and must not, say about our elected officials. Romans 13:6-7 instructs us: "Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." That rules out the careless insult, and the casual disobedience. We can't call our Prime Minister names, and can't disobey his lawful orders without being able to show how those orders violate God's commands. But in our democratic system, our elected authorities are also our employees, and one of our roles is to evaluate their performance – we could even describe that as an authoritative role God has given to the electorate. So there may well be a time when, in the process of a"performance review" on our authorities, we have to use language they'd rather not hear. But it isn't disrespectful or dishonoring to explain why Joe Biden is a hypocrite for insisting we should believe women except when one accuses him. And it isn't violating Romans 13 to question the intent of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent gun ban. That's legitimate job performance review material, even if the "interviewee" might prefer we don't go there. When it comes to our current COVID-19 crisis, we also aren't violating Romans 13:6-7 when we highlight governmental excesses, even when we do so with a dose of humor. The fellow behind this video below may or may not be a Christian, but his Surfin USA parody illustrates an important point: some of our authorities are not exercising their powers with restraint. These are the questions I asked about the viral "Plandemic" video An investigative journalist tracked down the documentary's producer and asked him some key questions. Michael Cook offers some sage advice as well, in his "How should we tackle conspiracy theories about COVID-19?" UN provides us some unintended comedy This week the United Nations tweeted out a request to have folks ditch the words "husband" and "wife" to "help create a more equal world." As Jonathon Van Maren shares, "the global community united in side-splitting gales of laughter." Why surrogacy is oppression "...surrogacy exploits the vulnerable....Increasingly, surrogacy is about two wealthy men using a woman for her body, while appropriating a role that only she can fulfill." John Stonestreet and Maria Baer followed up their article above with: "Adoption is beautiful; surrogacy isn't." Frog fossils found in the Antarctic Does a warmer earth spell our doom? Frog fossils in the land of ice and snow would seem to say no. Parents: slow down and listen Tedd and Margy Tripp with important advice for parents: "If your children are saying 'You never listen to me,' it is because they feel you never listen to them. Slow down and listen." The spread of the Gospel (2 min) "Every frame is one year in the last 2000 years of the Great Commission....It shows everywhere the Gospel has been preached, where churches and Christian gravestones first show external evidence of that work, and where churches and Bibles are accessible today." ...

News

Saturday Selections - May 16, 2020

What's the Reformed perspective on the UFO videos? (1-hour podcast) Last month the Pentagon declassified three videos of what they termed "unexplained aerial phenomena." The videos had previously been leaked to the Internet back in 2017, so what was newsworthy now was the official confirmation of their authenticity. What should Christians think of claims that we are being visited by alien civilizations? Pastor Jeff Durbin and his crew at Apologia Radio offer a fascinating take. If their 1-hour podcast is a bit too long for you, a Reformed perspective on UFOs can also be found in our review of Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection. The problem with mailed-in ballots With COVID-19 keeping people in, there's been pressure in the US for more States to switch from in-person voting to using mail-in ballots instead. While voting by the post might be more hygienic, it has a downside: mail-in ballots aren't secure. When we go into a voting booth, no one knows what choice we make, so no one can threaten or bribe us to vote as they want us to. But when someone can watch you fill in your ballot, then pressure can come from spouses, parents, friends, careworkers, and others. The false dilemma of Science vs. Faith  Dr. John Byl has a fascinating summary of a debate over Science and Faith that took place in the pages of the Dordt University publication Pro Rege. It began with an explanation as to how "Science vs. Faith" is "the Great False Dichotomy" (because the real battle is not Science vs. Faith, but actually between the Christian worldview and an anti-Christian worldview). and then heated up when Dr. Arnold Sikkema wrote a letter to the editor, against the original article. And then his letter garnered its own reply. 5 ways to protect your kids from pornography The most important way? Talk to your children early – be their first teacher, and therefore their go-to, for this topic. Don't let a video, seen on their friend's phone, be their first exposure to what sex is. Parents: don't shame your kids Tedd Tripp on how we parents have to come alongside our kids as fellow sinners, and not simply as judges. Quarantine stereotypes (10 minutes) The 5 friends at Dude Perfect offer up a slice of quarantine life. ...

News

Saturday Selections - May 9, 2020

A whale of an evolution tale (10 minutes) The evolution of whales has been touted as "one of the best examples of an evolutionary transition." This short, very amusing, animated presentation, uses evolutionists' own findings to ask "if this is one of the best evidences for evolution what does that mean for their other evidence that's not as good?" ‘My 15-year-old transgender son is going through menopause’ Christians need to hear and pass along stories like this, stacking them on the biblical foundation that God made us male and female: "The lunacy of allowing a child – a 15-year-old is still a child who cannot drive or vote – to destroy her capacity for bringing new life into the world suggests that we are witnessing a crisis of parenting, not necessarily a crisis of gender identity." A creationist responds to Plandemic (23 minutes) Creation.com's Dr. Robert Carter takes on what was this week's popping-up-everwhere excerpt from an upcoming documentary, Plandemic. That excerpt pitches a collection of claims about COVID-19 (as well as claims about other sort-of, but-not-entirely, related things). Plandemic is being shared widely and is being, if not wholly believed by many, at least seriously considered by many, including those who don't normally pass along these types of conspiratorial claims. That's because Plandemic looks good – this is professionally produced. And it is compelling, in large part because it makes lots of points, even as it leaves viewers with little time to evaluate each claim made. In critiquing this video, Dr. Carter is not trying to argue that everything said is untrue. His point is more limited: simply that this is not a reliable source. If you haven't already seen the Plandemic excerpt, you might no longer be able to – YouTube and Facebook have been actively taking down the video, in a paternalistic approach that will only, and ironically, feed the documentary's conspiratorial narrative. Abstaining from everything during the pandemic, except...promescuity? COVID-19 is transmissible via human contact so our governments shut down...everything. But when it comes to sexually-transmitted diseases, these same governments won't encourage abstinence. In fact, they often won't share the real risks, encouraging children to continue in risky behaviors that are sure to leave them with one STD or another. Michael Moore's new documentary knocks the halo off the environmental movement In a surprising twist, Michael Moore's new (and free) documentary takes on environmentalism. But while Planet of the Humans sees through the hypocrisy of the Green movement, the solution it offers is far from insightful.  The film pitches people, not carbon, as the problem. But this people-are-a-plague-on-the-planet perspective is the same anti-Christian, overpopulation-hype we've been hearing since Thomas Malthus and Paul Ehrlich. Dutch Supreme Court allows euthanasia for people with dementia Euthanasia is supposedly a person choosing for themselves when they are going to die. The idea that our lives are ours to dispose of as we wish stands in contrast to recognizing that God, as the giver of life, is in charge of it. It is on this Christian basis that we can tell the suicidal man that his desire is wrong – his life is not his to dispose of. But on what basis could those who worship autonomy condemn his wish? What the Dutch Supreme Court has approved now, is the killing of patients who have previously requested euthanasia but who presently lack the capacity to make that request. The case in question involved an elderly woman in advanced stages of dementia who had previously requested euthanasia but who, when the killers in white coats came, actively fought their attempts. So they held her down and injected poison into her veins...all in the name of self-determination. This isn't simply irony – this is a false god, autonomy, now being exposed as a sham and a lie. The world might not want to hear God's Truth, but if we are going to offer them genuine help, then we need to share that it is He, and not we, who owns our lives. What good does it do to merely expose the lie? There are any number of lies to follow, so if we leave it that then the world can simply switch from following one lie to following another. However, when we lead with God's Truth, and then expose the lie of autonomy, those who have ears to hear will know in Whose direction they should turn. Fear no one - a short documentary (7 min) On May 5, 1945, the whole country of the Netherlands was finally completely free. This year and this month mark the 75th anniversary of that final liberation. In the video below we are introduced to Jake who lived through it all and wants to give glory to the God he knew he could trust in the most trying of times. ...

News

Saturday Selections – May 2, 2020

An unborn baby kicking up a storm (30 seconds) Our value doesn't come from what we can do – it comes from in Whose Image we are made – but for those who say otherwise, this clip of a baby doing all sorts of things that newborn babies also do makes it hard for them to deny that this is, in fact, a baby. This active, energetic (mom is going to feel that!) unborn and unprotected child is busy showing off his or her many abilities! A podcast about John Calvin dealing with disease (10-minutes) While the two hosts of this podcast are likely not Reformed, their discussion on how "epidemics tore through John Calvin's Geneva five times" is interesting. The interview is just 10 minutes long, followed by 5 minutes of dated news that you can give a miss. Harvard prof wants a "presumptive ban" homeschooling An interview critiquing homeschooling portrayed the poor homeschooling student imprisoned inside a house built out of, among other books, a Bible. As Forbes' Mike McShane noted, it was as if the article's author and editors had never met homeschoolers. After all, it is not home schools, but public schools, some complete with metal detectors, that most look like prisons. Then there was the irony that the presumably public-school-educated editors didn't notice that another of the books imprisoning the child had a misspelled "arithmatic" on its spine. But these were only symptoms of the interview's underlying flaw – as John Stonestreet shared, the arguments were "ideology dressed up as advocacy." What skeptical scholars admit about the Resurrection (10-minute read) Even the skeptics acknowledge that something special must have happened. Psalms 101: congregational psalm-singing for those in withdrawal If the quarantine has you missing the sound of congregational singing, this site has 16 psalms as sung by various congregations around the world. The site also has a vast array of other psalms-related materials, including choral performances too. And if you want a strictly instrumental version of the 150 psalms, perhaps to sing along with, check out Dr. Ernst Stolz's YouTube channel here. (H/T to Marlene VanRootselaar and Thea Dora.) Is space travel our destiny? In his book and documentary, Privileged Planet, Guillermo Gonzalez argued that the Earth was not only uniquely suited for life but unusually suited to explore the rest of our Universe. In this article, he reflects on two recent studies that make the point that Earth is quite unusual in how our Sun is the right size, and our planet the right size, to allow for rocket travel. Some might call this a long string of coincidences, but Christians would be right to wonder if these might simply be preparations, with God so positioning us that we could, one day, go into the great beyond and explore even more of His amazing Creation. Why are fossil footprints curious evidence for the Flood? (3 minutes) The folks who brought you Is Genesis History? share how fossil footprints are evidence for Noah's Flood. ...

News

Saturday Selections - April 25, 2020

Earth Day? Nah. (2 min) It was Earth Day this past Wednesday and once again the world celebrated creation even as it denied the Creator. Dr. Gordon Wilson encourages Christians not to hitch our wagon to the environmental movement and to, instead celebrate the Creator, not the creature. When a vaccine arrives, will it be ethical? ...or will it be developed using the cells of aborted fetuses? A defense of infant baptism (10-minute read) There's a lot of confusion in the debate over adult-only versus adults-and-babies baptism. In this 10-minute primer, Dr. Guy M. Richard clears a number of them away. Coronavirus and Christ: a poem by John Piper The Bible gives buckets of answers about COVID-19. You may not like them. Time magazine recently published an article by N.T. Wright with the title: "Christianity offers no answers about the coronavirus. It's not supposed to." Dan Phillips offers this corrective. Why Christian parents need to be extra careful about what shows their kids watch in quarantine Jonathon Van Maren highlights how Disney and others really are trying to corrupt our children. Is corporate worship "essential"? ARPA Canada weighs in with some biblical considerations for churches, as well as points to raise with our elected leaders. What's inside a caterpillar "cocoon"? (3.5 min) Did you know butterflies might be able to remember things they learned when they were caterpillars? ...

News

Saturday Selections – April 18, 2020

Are you tolerant? (4 minutes) This is as funny as it is informative! Environmentalism has killed its millions Earth Day, April 22, is upon us once again, and while it may have a different feel this year we can be sure all things environmental are still going to be celebrated by the secular media. However, there as an important aspect of environmentalism that is not praiseworthy: placing the interests of plants and animals either alongside or above those of people. This is a difference that distinguishes environmentalism from biblical stewardship, where we are entrusted with the responsibility of caring for creation (Gen. 1:28) but are also the pinnacle of it (Gen. 1:26-27, Ps. 8:3-9).  This article highlights the enormous damage done when that is forgotten. How long does it take to read each book in the Old Testament? (infographic) Would we dive into our Bibles more eagerly if we understood just how little time it takes to dig deep? Click for the full chart. Babylon Bee encourages us to hold our medical opinions with humility... The Christian satire site, in their own unique way, made their point with the headline: "Facebook to award everyone printable medical degree." FREE MAGAZINE: Ezra Institute's Jubilee Looking for a good deep read? The articles in Jubilee, a conservative Reformed publication, often require some investment but diligent readers will be rewarded. And while the print subscription is $25 a year, past digital issues can be enjoyed for free. As always, readers should practice discernment. Is opposing same-sex marriage like opposing interracial marriage? (4 minutes) You're in a conversation about marriage, and someone says, "The Church opposing same-sex marriage is like how the Church used to oppose interracial marriage" How would you respond? ...

News

Saturday Selections - April 11, 2020

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra: quarantine edition In this rousing, at-home rendition, the RPO plays Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," better known to many by the lyrics Henry van Dyke wrote for it in 1907: "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee." Freud the fraud He is one of the most influential figures of the modern age. But this past month a secular science magazine headline asked, "Was Freud right about anything?" The answer given? A decided, "No." So why did so many buy what he was selling? Was it because of the materialistic – the atheistic – worldview that came with it? Might it be, as Chesterton has sometimes been credited with saying, that, "When men stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing. They believe in anything"? Martin Luther on the coronavirus (20-minute read) The bubonic plague hit Wittenberg in the fall of 1527. It was highly contagious, painful, and in an earlier 1347 outbreak, might have killed as much as 60% of Europe’s population. While they didn’t, at the time, know what caused it, they were aware it involved being around sick people. So when the plague struck, healthy people would flee. But Luther did not. When another pastor asked him "whether it is proper for a Christians to run away from a deadly plague,“ Luther wrote a letter in reply, titled “Whether one may flee from a deadly plague,” that is applicable to our own situation. While the whole letter is worth reading, one excerpt, in particular, has been making its way around the Internet: "I shall ask God to mercifully protect us. Then I will fumigate, purify the air, administer medicine, and take medicine. I shall avoid places and persons where my person is not needed in order not to become contaminated, and thus perchance inflict and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God shall wish to take me, He shall surely find me. But, I have done what He has expected of me, and so I am not responsible either for my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but shall go freely. This is a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy, and does not tempt God." Should we outlaw child labor? Before you answer... The article title is, "When good intentions harm children" but the lesson it preaches is one that can be applied more broadly: everything comes with tradeoffs, so before we make any big decision, we should find out what the possible downsides are – we should count the cost (Luke 14:25-33). What I didn't learn in business school... "What I didn’t learn in business school is that good business principles didn’t originate in the halls of academia; they are in fact biblical principles." How can I explain sin to an unbeliever (1 minute) Sometimes sinners will dispute the obvious, and before we reply we need to hear Proverbs 26:4, where God warns: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him." If we treat a foolish question with respect, acting as if it really is a legitimate concern, then to onlookers we can look as foolish as the questioner. For example, if someone were to say, "Prove to me gravity exists!" the exact wrong sort of response would be, "That's a really good question - let me think about that." In this clip, Dr. RC Sproul is asked how to explain to a sinner that sin really exists. That fact sin exists is written on this unbeliever's heart (Romans 2:15) so he knows better and this is a question along the lines of "Prove to me gravity exists." Then RC Sproul shows how not to answer a fool in his folly – his answer treats the questions with the amount of respect that it is due. Brilliant! ...

News

Saturday Selections – April 4, 2020

3 things to remember when you're feeling anxious (3 min) "It's striking that the most frequent command in the entire Bible is to not be afraid. Don't fear. Don't be anxious. And it's a very unusual command because it doesn't say, 'Repent,' or 'Try harder.' It's a command, but then the next thing said is a promise: 'I will be with you. Don't be afraid.'" – David Powlison New free Christian streaming service Looking for some good Christian viewing? Vision Video and the Christian History Institute have just started a new, free (donor-supported) streaming service (H/T Tim Challies). You have to give your name and email, and then you are good to go. A lot of it is middling content, some is Roman Catholic, but there are some gems worth checking out including a great children's film... Storm and Luther's Forbidden Letter  ...5 biographical dramas (I've ordered them from best to not bad)... C.S. Lewis Onstage Martin Luther Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace  John Hus - A Journey of No Return God's Outlaw: The Story of William Tyndale ... and, for the even more studious, a classic apologetics series from Schaeffer, and a series from James Kennedy... Francis Schaeffer's "How Should We Then Live" James Kennedy's "What if Jesus had never been born?" There's also the Torchlighter animated biographies, where some episodes are quite good (like the Martin Luther one). But despite being animated, these are not all-ages viewing - The Jim Elliot Story, for example, includes a brief depiction of his death by spearing. So, as always, parents should preview. We can't spend our way to prosperity This is not a Christian article but it makes a Christian point: it is not spending, but investment, that grows an economy. We see in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30) the lazy servant is taken to task for not investing his talent, while the two others are congratulated for making more out of what their Master gave them. The idea of "stimulus spending" flips this on its head, calling on us not to create more, but to spend what we have. To be clear, this article isn't critiquing aid to those in need – that's a different discussion. What's being critiqued here is sending cheques out with the goal of getting people spending. As the author notes, this has been tried repeatedly, and it has failed repeatedly: "More spending is a consequence of economic growth, not the trigger for economic growth." Fear of dying There's nothing like a pandemic to bring our mortality close to home. Lou Priolo lists 6 common reasons we're afraid of dying and lays out a "brief biblical remedy for each of them. Christian Psychology: an introduction & biblical analysis (15-minute read) This is a helpful article, highlighting the differences between secular psychology and two types of Christian psychology. It's not a quick or easy read, but it is an informative one. A Christian and a feminist almost agree (5 min) The world can often be spot on about what the problem is, and still be completely wrong about what the solution is. And unless someone tells them God's answer, they aren't going to figure it out on their own. ...

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Saturday Selections - March 28, 2020

John MacArthur on the coronavirus crisis (17 minutes) While the coronavirus quarantine led to the canceling of the Ligonier conference, it freed up some time for one of the featured speakers to address how Christians can respond to this crisis and use it as an opportunity to witness to how the Gospel is good news to us, as well as to any who respond to Christ in faith. Tips for talking to your kids about sex I once heard a pastor share what he called "The Law of First Explanations" – that one reason parents have to be the first to talk about sex with their kids (and be the first to talk with them about any other important topics) is because our kids will sift all subsequent information they get on that topic through the filter of the first explanation they get. Parents will often notice the impact of this law when they come in second (or third, or fourth...) because now, whatever we have to say, is going to be tested against the filter of "But my teacher said..." or "But my friends all think..." But it works in our favor too, when we act early. Or, as the article author puts it, "Better a year too early than five minutes too late.” In addition to the article above, a helpful book series – one you can read along with your daughter or son, with different books for different ages – is the "Learning about sex for the Christian family" series put about by Concordia Publishing House. Getting creative... When government restrictions made it impossible to gather inside our church buildings, one congregation came up with a creative way of still meeting together at their usual time. This past Sunday, the Christ Community Church in Blaine, WA met outside, singing and listening to the sermon from inside their cars, assembled in their parking lot. Teaching our kids how to manage their devices Tim Challies titled this article "When Parents Feel Like We Are Mostly Failing Most of the Time" because, when it comes to helping out kids figure out how to use their phones, tablets, and computers to best effect, we know we aren't doing it right. There's plenty of reasons for it, not the least of which is as trailblazers in this area (this is not something our parents could teach us how to teach our kids) we are bound to get it wrong. But that also means there is plenty of ways to improve. So, for the love of our kids, let's be the parents and take that leadership role. And Challies has some wonderful help to offer. How the coronavirus has revealed what's core to Roman Catholicism An Italian pastor explains how the Catholic Church's response to the coronavirus is revealing what's core (and consequently what's deficient) in their doctrine. In related news, the Pope has said that, due to the crisis, Catholics can confess their sins directly to God...at least until they can reach a priest once again. Choice42 with another tool for the pro-life toolbox (1 minute) There is a truth about the unborn that needs to be shared – that they are every bit as valuable as you and I because, just like you and I, they are made in the very Image of God (Gen 1:26-27, 9:6). And there are also lies that need to be knocked down – many, many lies. And as she shows here once again, Laura Klassen, and her crew down at Choice42, are among the very best at knocking down those lies. ...

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Saturday Selections - March 21, 2020

How is the moon's design evidence for creation? (6 minutes) The unique characteristics of our moon – its size and distance from us relative to the sun's size and distance, the plane of its orbit, the ratio of its mass compared to the Earth, and more – make it a perfect aid to study our sun's corona and to stabilize our planet's rotation. RC Sproul's Ligonier Ministries makes all their teaching series free The best response to coronavirus fear? Learn more about our good, trustworthy, sovereign God. So as their response to the coronavirus crisis, RC Sproul's Ligonier Ministries is making their entire library of hundreds of teaching series free to stream online. C.S. Lewis on Modesty Lewis chips in on the Christian modesty discussion/debate. There's more to be said, but this is a helpful contribution. Eviction rights: "My building, my choice"? In this spoof of the abortion rights argument, reporters ask a political candidate about the "My Building, My Choice!” campaign that has the US government proposing rules to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants. How far is too far? When Christian young people are dating, "The question, 'How far is too far?' is often asked with the wrong motive. The real question usually being asked is, 'How much can I get away with?' Purity doesn’t ask that; purity asks, “How can I honor God in this relationship?” Many a reader won't agree with one of the suggestions in this article: no kissing before marriage. But whatever you think of that particular outworking, there are biblical principles here well worth discussing. 15 Reformed theologians on anxiety and fear The folks at the Westminster Bookstore have done something special, collecting key chapters from 15 Christian authors addressing the topic of anxiety and fear and then distributing those chapters for free (at the link above). These chapters include, in order: EDWARD WELCH - A small book for the anxious heart (4 daily readings) PAUL TAUTGES - Anxiety - Knowing God's Peace (4 readings) SARA WALLACE - Created to Care: God's Truth for Anxious Moms (Chap 8) MARK VROEGOP – Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy (Intro/Chap 1) JOHN CALVIN - Everyday prayer (Ps 130, 143) DAVID POWLISON - God's Grace in your Suffering (Intro) DALE RALPH DAVIS - In the Presence of my Enemies (Ps 29 - Chap 6) DAVID GIBSON: Living Life Backwards (Chap 1) JOHN MURRAY - O Death, Where is Thy Sting (Chap 13) PURITANS - Piercing prayers ALISTAIR BEGG - Pray Big (Chap 2) CHARLES SPURGEON - The Promises of God (5 daily readings) PAUL DAVID TRIPP - Suffering (Chapter 11) IAIN M. DUGUID - The Whole Armor of God (Chap 1) GROVES + SMITH - Untangling Emotions (Chap 13) TIMOTHY KELLER - Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (Intro) Crisis, Christ, confidence and the coronavirus (27 minutes) Two professors from the Westminister Theological Seminary, a doctor, and Martin Luther, weigh in on how God would want us to respond to the coronavirus crisis. ...

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Saturday Selections - March 14, 2020

The only question that matters in the abortion debate Greg Koukl shows how to simplify the abortion debate Christian myths and other famous quips (26-minute podcast) In this episode of the Abounding Grace Radio, Pastor Chris Gordon addresses three Christian myths: God helps those who help themselves God will never give you more than you can handle God is a gentleman who would never force Himself on anyone How to make your marriage blossom Ray Comfort, evangelist and closet comedian too, has 7 great tips. Coronavirus may lead to a mass homeschooling experiment? With school years being disrupted all over, will parents find out they don't need the government to teach their kids? Polyamory and the Overton Window How did homosexuality start getting "normalized" in evangelical Christian circles? With Christian leaders muddying what homosexuality entailed, giving them the opportunity, then, to condemn it only in part (the physical act itself), even as they praised what they called other aspects of it. Now we can see this same approach being used with polyamory. Don't be fooled! (Since posting this, it has been noted there has been some back and forth dialogue going on online. The article linked to in the title, by Denny Burke, critiqued this one by Preston Sprinkle and Branson Parler. And now Sprinkle and Parler have responded to Burke and other critics here. And one of the critics they respond to, Douglas Wilson, responds to their response here. Lots to read, but it is well worth the time invested - this is the newest front.) C.S. Lewis on the Coronavirus "Lewis never faced the coronavirus, of course, but in the late 1940s, the world was coming to grips with another threat..." Are women more important for business than family?  Joseph Backholm went to the Women's March to ask, do businesses need to have both men and women on their boards, and "is it equally important for men and women to be represented in the lives of children?" (ie. do kids need a mom and dad). His interviewees thought equal representation was important in only one of those situations. ...

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Saturday Selections – March 7, 2020

Caterpillars feed on exploding seed pods! (3 minutes) Wait for it....wait for it..... Don't leave kids to their own devices Should we trust kids with online privacy? No, says Breakpoint Ministries' John Stonestreet: "the least loving thing you can do as a parent is to leave your kids to their own devices on the Internet." How J.K. Rowling outsmarted the LGBT mob when it came after her The Harry Potter author simply stood her ground unapologetically... Euthanasia is increasing organ donations. What should we do? "'Medically assisted death' comes down to people at their most vulnerable trying to hold on to a sense of control. Organ donation gives one more illusion of control: the illusion that this apparent altruism will give your life and death a meaning it otherwise would not have. This illusion further masks the inherent dignity each human being has as an image-bearer of God – the God who, in health or sickness, is in control." University: to go or not go? One consideration Is college worth it, financially? There are many things to consider, and here is just one. US college students graduate with an average of $30,000 in debt. This article argues that, if instead of having to pay that off over the next ten years, they could instead be investing in the Stock Market each of those years at just a minimal amount of $3,648 per year, they could end up with almost a million dollars more in their retirement bank account. The lesson? Invest early (Albert Einstein called compound interest the "eighth wonder of the world") and consider only going to college or university if you have goals that require it. What is a worldview? (5 minutes) Everyone has one. But what is it? And why does it matter? ...

News

Saturday Selections – February 29, 2020

Could giraffes fit on the ark? Answers in Genesis has made a 30-second commercial for their Ark Encounter in Kentucky. It's based on all the children's bible storybooks that depict Noah's Ark with giraffes that have to stick their necks out a window. As the Giraffe family discovers, those pictures don't capture the true scale of things. If you've ever thought of visiting the Ark Encounter this might be the year to go – in 2020 kids 10 and under are free. Catholic mass to be offered to Protestants in Calvin's Cathedral today As Adam Ford noted, this is something that should not only get Protestants angry but even Catholics. There are real differences between us about who God is and what He has done for us. Rather than addressing those differences, this pretends that the truth of the matter is inconsequential. So this isn't Catholic theology sneaking into a Protestant church; this is relativism and apathy showing they already run the place. Christian atheists? Though they won't worship God, some prominent atheists still recognize that Christianity is good for the world. Is Transhumanism uncomfortably tempting? Is Transhumanism – the idea that we can use technology to reshape ourselves – the next thing coming? Transhumanism includes things as minimal as a pair of high-tech glasses that access the Internet. It can also be much more radical, involving the replacement of body parts with cybernetics. Artificial limbs designed to help those who have lost their own arms or legs via accident or disease might be grafted onto people who want to substitute their healthy arm for a bionic one. Inconceivable? Not in a world in which men are being told that they can become women, and vice versa. What is the Christian response? Denyse O'Leary provides a partial answer. Reformed sermon site has 1,500+ TheSeed.info has collected 1,679 sermons from pastors in the Canadian and American Reformed Churches and their sister denominations. It can be searched by biblical text (with at least one sermon available for every book of the bible except, somewhat mysteriously, 1 Chronicles) so it's a great study resource and quite the source of reading sermons. All Bob's money.... (3 min) Now that Bernie Sanders is the Democratic presidential front runner, this spoof of the Beatles' "All my loving" is making the rounds again. Sanders has spoken of banning billionaires, not for any specific evil they've done but simply because they have more money than he thinks they should have. This is what breaking the 1oth Commandment looks like at a governmental level – he's peeking over the back fence at what the billionaires have, and he's coveting. But is that the only Commandment that Sanders is breaking? If you have libertarian friends you may have heard one claim that "all taxation is theft." Libertarians believe the government derives its authority from the people, and thus only has the same powers that we as individuals have. And since we can't force people to give us money – that would be stealing – it's still theft even when the government does it. In contrast, Christians know that governments are put in place by God, and derive their authority from Him. They can tax us because, as Roman 13:6-7 shows, God has given them the authority to do so. So, no, not all taxation is theft. But where Christians can go wrong is in believing that since the government is allowed to tax that means taxation is never theft. However, when King Ahab wanted his neighbor Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21) he couldn't simply take it, even though he was the king – even though he was the government – because that would have been a violation of the 8th Commandment, Do not Steal. So he found a couple of men to bear false witness against Naboth, accusing him of blasphemy, and then had him stoned to death, and only afterward took his vineyard. Do we imagine, as Douglas Wilson recently asked, that "if Ahab has done what he did to Naboth via a program of land reform, or eminent domain, or zone redistricting Elijah would have nodded to himself saying, 'That's more like it'?" Whether we think Sanders' billionaire ban violates the 8th Commandment or not, it breaks the 10th. God made Abraham wealthy, and Jacob, and Solomon too. While Jesus warned that wealth comes with temptations (Matt. 19:24), being rich is a responsibility that God gives, and is not an injustice the government must correct. ...

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Saturday Selections - February 22, 2020

Roe vs. Wade trailer Coming soon, a film about the politics, ignorance, and deception behind the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision (this is the court ruling most responsible for abortion in the US). Based on this trailer it looks like it could be as impactful as Gosnell. "I have three minutes to live!" Witnessing to cults Ray Comfort has an interesting response for cultists when they come knocking at his door. "I warmly ask for their names, and then say, ‘Someone stabbed me in the back. I am dying and have only three minutes to live. What do I need to do to enter heaven/paradise/the kingdom of God?’” Is evolutionary tail-telling affecting Bible translation? In Job 40:15-18 the Lord describes a beast with a tail that "sways like a cedar." What sort of creature might that be? Would you believe some translators rendered is as a hippopotamus? Why would they do that? Might a compromise with evolutionary thinking have blinded them to a more likely possibility? The euthanasia slippery slope is real Once killing patients is deemed medicine, then on what basis are we going to withhold this "treatment"? It turns out that once we give up on all life being precious – given as it is by God – then any subsequent lines we draw are arbitrary, and it is a simple matter to erase and redraw them further down the slope...again and again. Biblical history in broken pots "Stop me if this sounds familiar: Archaeologists digging in Israel discover artifacts buried for about three millennia. Upon close examination, their find either confirms the biblical narrative or at least undermines a long-accepted dismissal of a biblical claim. Okay, don’t stop me. After all, it won’t matter if you try, because I never get tired of telling stories like these...." My 3-year-old son is a girl now "Who am I to question my three-year-old?" ...

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Saturday Selections - February 15, 2020

Newsies learn to clickbait (4 minutes) Who knew that fake news could be so toe-tapping? Canadians waiting longer to receive healthcare Free healthcare comes with a cost, and it isn't just the taxes we pay – when the government is the only provider, then there is no competition to push innovation or efficiencies. It shouldn't surprise us, then, that by the Fraser Institute's estimates, Canadian wait times to receive healthcare have more than doubled since 1993. You can see the infographic at the link above, or the longer Fraser Institute report here. Yes, you can trust the gospels...even when they seem to conflict (10-minute read) Some scholars argue that the gospel writers didn't care about the facts, but were just trying to send a message. Christian philosopher Lydia McGrew explains the message only has meaning if it is factual, and shows a way how alleged discrepancies can be resolved. 5 ways you are probably not a Calvinist Dr. Wes Bredenhof lays out 5 views that John Calvin held that most Reformed folk probably don't... Follow your passion? The Christian vision of work We've been telling young people to "follow your passion," but is that a biblical view of calling? Separating Church and State? (3 minutes) The Devil is all about twisting truth right around so that what is good and right is then used for evil. So it is with the separation of Church and State. As Dr. Michael Wagner explains here, Church and State should be separate. But it is a very different thing to say that the government should be separated from Christian beliefs. Of course, the Devil would like God's truth silenced. And our godless government doesn't want Christians shining their reflected light in the halls of Parliament. That's what they're after when they speak about the separation of Church and State. However, by their own standards, they have no basis on which to shut us up. We don't ask anyone else to abandon their beliefs when they pursue political office, so why should Christians be expected to? Everyone hates double standards (Matt. 7:2). ...

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Saturday Selections - February 8, 2020

Long story short: Homology (8 minutes) One of the main arguments Darwin used for his theory was homology – that very different animals have some odd similarities, like how a whale, human, and bat have similar "arm" bone structures. Darwin asked, how could these similarities exist other than that we're all related? But it turns out, homology is no proof of evolution! Time to hit pause on gene-editing When it comes to human gene-editing, China is acting more responsible than the West, where "we insist on charging ahead despite our imperfect knowledge with an unbounded confidence in our abilities." Woodpeckers are freaky cool! Football players get concussions at impacts of 80 g, but woodpeckers deal with impacts amounting to 1,200 g. How do they escape brain injuries? This article is not from a Christian perspective, but in laying out how wonderful these critters are, it points us to their amazing Designer. Watch the embedded video to see the impacts in slow motion! (h/t to Crev.info) Your face was designed to show emotion Did you know about half the muscles in your face are there to make facial expressions? A license for your thoughts? "You need to get a government license for many things in Canada; so far, publishing your thoughts is not one of them. But in recent weeks two warning shots have been fired…" The Riot and the Dance: Water (3 minutes) Riot and the Dance: Earth (reviewed here) was one of the most original nature documentaries made, exploring not just the beauty, but also the "riot" of what is going on in this created, marvelous, but also fallen, world. Now there is a sequel coming out, and the trailer looks good! ...

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Saturday Selections – February 1, 2020

World's largest pro-life march, in 60 seconds This past week hundreds of thousands came to march in Washington D.C. to highlight the need to protect the unborn. May God bless these efforts on their behalf. Roger Scruton on beauty Philosopher Roger Scruton (1944-2020) was a favorite among many Christians, though he was not one himself, disputing the resurrection. But in the same way that Jordan Peterson gets many things right because, even in his unbelief, he takes much of the Bible seriously (and more seriously than many self-professed Christians) so too Scruton has some valuable insights on art that are discussed here. 3 ways boys can benefit by reading "girl books" "Reading about women will not lift the veil and reveal all the mystery that women will always have for the young man. It can, however, help a young man know the difference, to borrow characters from Pride and Prejudice, between an 'Elizabeth' and a 'Lydia.' If it helps in this way, it is worth so much." Sesame Street pushing an agenda Billy Porter, a cross-dressing LGBT activist, will make an appearance on the upcoming 51st season of the children's show. Free Documentary: By what standard? The Southern Baptist Convention is a large American denomination with a Calvinist leaning, it is the home of Albert Mohler and also Beth Moore, and it has been wrestling with the issues of complementarianism, social justice, and also something called "Critical Race Theory." This 2-hour documentary certainly isn't for everyone, but it is eye-opening in showing how troubling worldviews can sneak into the Church via the best of intentions. CNN helps Christian satire site grow... (5 minutes) It's amusing to see how attacks by Snopes.com and CNN have only helped the Christian satire site Babylon Bee grow. It's also instructive to watch how Babylon Bee enters the fray. Christians needn't be fearful – after all, we know God has already won! – so we can contend with a spirit of joy. This is what winsome looks like. ...

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Saturday Selections - January 25, 2020

The Gospel vs. Sorcery in Papua New Guinea (30 minutes) In Papua New Guinea the fear of  "sanguma" – sorcery – is such that it leads people to stone and kill supposed witches. What is the answer to such fear? We know Jesus can defeat demons both supposed and real. But how can the people of Papua New Guinea know unless someone tells them? In this half-hour video, we get to follow along as seven men squeeze themselves into one Land Cruiser and, over the course of one week, take the Gospel to thousands who show up and listen in the marketplaces. As Pastor Ryan Dejonge notes at one point, "We have this window of opportunity in Papua New Guinea. You can't do this in Australia...you can't do this in Canada. You would just get people fighting you – you're not going to get people hearing the Gospel . God has given us a window of opportunity. He's given us this open door. And we've realized this is a real and a useful way to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ....Our moment is now." (The link below might look broken but give it a click because it does work.) If you won the lottery, would you be at work tomorrow? Most people, if they came into a fortune, would quit their job instantly. But what about Christians? Harvard study shows the dangers of early school enrollment The Foundation for Economic Education's most popular article this decade wasn't about economics. Instead it asked: "Are ADHD rates rising because we send children to school at younger ages?" Man to "woman" to "non-binary" and back again James Shupe declared himself a woman, then declared himself non-binary, but has now asked to be legally recognized once again as the man he is. The Darwin Dictionary Seemingly inspired by Ambroise Bierce's Devil's Dictionary, Keaton Halley has crafted his own Darwin's Dictionary to highlight the creative ways evolutionists employ language. Here are a couple of examples: Abiogenesis, n. – Rocks begetting life, in violation of the most basic, observed law of biology. Big bang, n. – The logic-bending theory that everything was produced when nothing at all exploded. Each entry includes a link to a great article explaining the creationist perspective. How does the Women's March define what a woman is? (3 minutes) Joseph Backholm has a history of asking questions the Left can't, or won't, answer. A few years back he hit a college campus asking "Am I a 6-foot-5 Chinese woman?" This time around he went to the 2020 Women's March in Washington D.C. to ask the marchers three things: How would you define what a woman is? Are there any innate differences between men and women today? Do you think anyone can be a woman? They found these tricky questions. Why? Because the modern feminist movement celebrates women as something special, even as it holds that men and women are identical which means there has been a longstanding conflict between the answers feminists give to questions 1 and 2. Question 3 only exasperates the problem: if men can now become women, it makes it all but impossible to celebrate the distinctly feminine. In fact, when there are no differences between men and women, and men can become women, then the term woman is rendered meaningless – a word that can mean anything at all means nothing at all. There's one other reason his interviewees were reluctant to chat. I think, on some level, they were worried about the question that would come next: this white male asking them, "Can I be a woman?" And what could they answer to that? (WARNING: One of the marchers in this video takes God's name in vain.) ...

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