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The Rest


In a Nutshell

Tidbits - April 2020

Are we only after better-behaved pagans? Christians have made a habit of advocating for Christians positions without advocating for them as Christian positions. So we raise practical objections and stand against trangenderism because it just isn’t safe allowing men into women’s washrooms. We oppose euthanasia by arguing it’ll put pressure on the aged who don’t want to be a burden to their families. We fight promiscuity because it leads to STDs. And we argue against abortion by highlighting how it might be linked to an increase in breast cancer. It’s true that were the world to live by God’s standards for only entirely secular reasons, their lives would likely be more enjoyable. But, as C.S. Lewis noted in Mere Christianity, that might also be accomplished if they followed any of the great teachers. “It is quite true that if we took Christ’s advice we should soon be living in a happier world. You need not even go as far as Christ. If we did all that Plato or Aristotle or Confucius told us, we should get on a great deal better than we do. And so what? We never have followed the advice of the great teachers. Why are we likely to begin now? Why are we more likely to follow Christ than any of the others? Because He is the best moral teacher? But that makes it even less likely that we shall follow Him. If we cannot take the elementary lessons, is it likely we are going to take the most advanced one? If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.“ If we’re only presenting “good advice” the world is as likely to reject it as any other advice. So what if promiscuity brings with it an increased chance of STDs, or abortion might result in breast cancer? We don’t know if we even have a tomorrow. So as Paul put in 1 Cor. 15:29-32, if there is no God – if we live only for today – then “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” So often we are looking for the savvy argument, the magic bullet that will sway even the unbeliever to side with us. But the truth is, we need to look for the God-glorifying argument. That is why we were put on this earth: not to convince pagans to be better behaved, but to glorify God. And we might just find that God has so arranged things that the God-glorifying truth is often also the savvy compelling one. Chesterton on war G.K. Chesterton was 40 when “the Great War” began, and he died three years after Hitler’s rise to power. So even though he didn’t see WWII, this journalist and Christian apologist lived through the lead up to both World Wars, and understandably has some pronounced views on the subject of war. “War is not the ‘best way of settling differences;’ it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you.” “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” “The only defensible war is a war of defense.” What kind of impact will you have? In the US, federal elections happen every two years, and in Canada too, whether it is federal, provincial or municipal, there always seems to be an election just around the corner. A lot of elections going on means there are a lot of opportunities for Christians to speak God’s truth in this sphere and have an impact. How can we have an impact? Occasional Reformed Perspective contributor Tim Bloedow thinks one of the best ways would be by imitating Dr. Glenn Martin. This professor was convinced that every serious Christian should try to influence the vote of at least 100 people. He himself wasn’t satisfied unless he attempted to influence at least 1,000 and the way he went about it was by writing these 1,000 people to tell them how they should vote, and why. So, with the ever-present next election just around the corner, what are some ways you can present a Christian witness in the political sphere? 4 for video gamers to consider Phillip Telfer has been speaking about media and teens for a couple decades now, and in his latest booklet he offers a number of “considerations” for video gamers, and their parents, to, well, consider. Four of them are: TIME-STEWARDSHIP: Video games can be a huge time sink. Yet time is one of God’s gifts, one of the talents, we are supposed to invest wisely so video gamers should make a deliberate decision about how much time they are going to spend – going to invest – and then stick to it. ADDICTIVE: Video games can be habit-forming and addictive. In moderation some games might be just fine, but we need to understand that these games’ programmers aren’t trying to promote moderation. So, recognizing this, what can we do to prevent or counter video games’ addictive nature? ESCAPISM: Video games foster escapism. It is easier to play video games with people half a world away than to deal with our own family, or to go out and make friends. FALSE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Video games often give a false sense of accomplishment. The stereotype of a gamer is the 30-something-year-old living in their mom’s basement. But it doesn’t need to go to that extreme to be undermining real-world ambitions. Telfer’s 29-page booklet, 7 Considerations in the age of video games, can be downloaded for free here. Why are great quotes great? What makes a quote memorable? One key is a clever turn of a phrase, as in Yogi Berra’s “It ain’t over till it’s over” or Alexander Pope’s “to err is human; to forgive, divine.” But the very best quotes have another essential ingredient: wisdom. And it’s no coincidence, then, that the best quotes have parallels in Scripture, or echo biblical principles. “The cure for crime is not the electric chair but the high chair.” – J. Edgar Hoover “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Prov. 22:6 The FBI Director makes the same point as King Solomon: parents, for good or for ill, set their children out on a course that, in general, they will follow for the rest of their lives. “With great power comes great responsibility.” – Spiderman’s Uncle Ben “To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48 Uncle Ben’s statement might be the most famous in superhero movie history, and the reason it rings true is because it echoes what Christ says in Luke 12:48, and a point He makes in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” – Matt. 7:12 We all know how others should behave, and, in fact, prefer to preach rather than practice. But as Jordan Peterson put it last year: "If you can't even clean up your own room, who… are you to give advice to the world?" In Mathew 7 Christ confronts this hypocritical tendency a few different ways, urging us to think first of the beam in our own eye, rather than the mote in our neighbor’s (Matt. 7:3-5), and then calling on us to do to others as we would want done to us. We are responsible first and foremost for our own behavior. Some good news on the homefront In his short review of Glenn Stanton’s The Myth of the Dying Church, Marvin Olasky shares some big news. While we regularly hear about declining church attendance across the US (and the rest of the Western world), Stanton pointed to polling that shows there’s a decided upside too. From 2007-2014 there has been an increase in the percentage of Americans who: “say their faith is ‘very important to them’” “identify as Christian and say they pray daily, beyond a church service” “say they read the Bible at least once a week” “say they attend a small group for prayer, Bible study, or other religious education” In addition, over this same period, there has been an increase among regular church attendees, of those “who say they speak about their faith with others.” The Devil wants us to despair and forget that Christ has already won. Let’s not blind ourselves to the work God is doing even here in the supposedly “post-Christian” West. Gotta serve somebody “So many political and theological liberals need a cause to substitute for their moral obtuseness on such issues as abortion and homosexual behavior. They’ve found it in the worship of animals and plants. “ – Cal Thomas...

Documentary, Movie Reviews, Pro-life - Abortion, Watch for free

The Missing Project

Documentary 2019 / 75 minutes RATING: 8/10 2019 was the 50th anniversary since Pierre Trudeau’s government first legalized abortion in Canada. To mark the occasion a number of pro-life organizations came together to make this film. This is, in part, a history lesson, detailing the country’s sad descent to where the unborn today have no protections under Canadian law. The Missing Project begins by explaining the divisions that exist among pro-lifers, between what’s called the “abolitionists” and the “incrementalists.” As ARPA Canada’s André Schutten clarifies: “In Canada, the pro-life movement is very split on the question of, 'How do we implement a law?' So some people within the pro-life movement are adamant that we can only ever advocate for a total ban on abortions . Whereas others, including myself and my team, we certainly believe that we can make incremental changes .” One of the film’s strengths is how it gives time to representatives from both these sides. Whatever camp pro-lifers might have fallen into, it was a confusing time after the abortion law was struck down in 1988 and the Mulroney government proposed Bill C-43. No one knew at the time that this would be the last abortion restricting legislation proposed by a Canadian government. Some pro-lifers opposed it, hoping for much more. In a horribly ironic twist, these pro-lifers were joined in their opposition to the bill by abortion advocates who didn’t want any restrictions at all. They say hindsight is 20/20 but that isn’t true in this case. Pro-lifers today still fall on both sides. We hear some arguing the bill would have done almost nothing, and then get to hear from one of the bill’s crafters who argues that it would have at least done more than the nothing we’ve had in place since then. Bill C-43 was defeated in the Senate on a tie. After hearing from the various sides, viewers will probably be grateful that they weren't Members of Parliament at the time, and didn’t have to decide whether to vote for or against this bill. After the historical overview, we start hearing about the many things that have been missing in the public debate about the unborn. First and foremost, there are all the missing children, millions killed before they saw the light of day. Missing, too, is any media coverage of their plight. While that violence is committed behind closed doors, Jonathon Van Maren notes the media also have no interest in covering violence done in broad daylight against pro-life demonstrators. "...abortion activists often take their core ideology to its logical extent, which is that they can react with violence to people they find inconvenient - that's the core message of the abortion ideology." A missing answer At one point an atheist lists herself as one of the missing voices in this debate. It is odd, then, that while she was given time to make her argument – that we need to present secular arguments so as to reach atheists like her who don’t care what the Bible says – we don’t hear anyone making the argument for an explicitly Christian pro-life witness. There are many Christians in the film, but no one answering this young atheist, explaining that if we are only the chance product of an uncaring universe, why, from that worldview, would anyone conclude life is precious from conception onward? She believes it, but not because of her humanist stance – it's only because God's Law is written on her heart (Romans 2:14-15). So not only is it our joy and privilege to glorify God in all we do (1 Cor. 10:31), even from a very practical perspective, proclaiming the triumph of the Author of Life is the only answer to a culture of death. Conclusion That said, this is a film every Canadian Christian should watch because there is something here for everyone. Even if you've been involved in the pro-life movement for 20 years, you are going to hear something you’ve never heard before.  If you don't want to watch, because the death of 100,000 children a year is simply too depressing a topic, the filmmakers made sure this film is also encouraging. For example, about two-thirds of the way through, when we could really use a brief reprieve, the director gave us a moment of delight. Dr. Chris Montoya explains how we know a baby is able to learn from the time of the first detectable heartbeat. I won’t give it away, but it involved a tuning fork and thumping mom’s tummy. In a film full of muted horror, this was a moment of wonder – a kid at two months can already respond!  Another reason The Missing Project is encouraging is because of the challenging note it ends on. We learn there are things that can be done to help these babies. We don’t have to just toss up our hands in despair.  Another reason for hope is that, although God is not mentioned, Christians can fill in the blanks. We can see God at work in these various organizations, and it isn’t hard to imagine how His people can ally with and make use of these groups to offer our own Christian pro-life witness. So watch, learn how to spot our culture’s pro-abortion lies, be challenged, discover all the opportunities, and then go spread the truth that every one of us is made in the very image of God, right from the moment of conception.  The Missing Project can be viewed, for free at WeNeedALaw.ca/MissingProjectFilm where you can also find discussion questions and tips on how to host a movie night. Check out the trailer below. For more, you can also check out the 50 individual interviews that started this project – one for each year abortion has been legal in Canada. You can find those on the Life Collective website and also on YouTube here. Some of these individual interviews do raise an explicitly Christian perspective. ...

News

Saturday Selections - December 28, 2019

John Piper: You are not addicted to pornography (5 minutes) "The fact is 99 percent of those who give way to lust in pornography or fornication or adultery are not decisively controlled by their sexual desire. They are decisively controlled by what they believe..." Building friendships with your young children This article shares eight ways we can foster friendship with our children (and none of them involve being a pushover). The inner workings of your cell are as complicated as a city! (10-minute read) We need DNA to make proteins and proteins to make DNA. So which came first? Ann Gauger gives a fascinating overview of just how brilliantly even our cells have been designed. Conservatives face off: should we ban porn? (10-minute read) Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could ban pornography? Strangely, some conservatives don't think so, worried that if we impose our morality on others, the Left will try to impose theirs on us. Jonathon Van Maren lays out the contrasting conservative positions here, and it is certainly worth reading. But what we don't hear is an explicitly Christian position: that we shouldn't impose our morality, but God's. We get our morality from God, so that might not seem all that different. But consider this: when Christians try to impose God's morals without making mention of God, then we seem to be doing exactly what the Left does. We seem to be imposing our arbitrary standards – merely our own opinions – on everyone else. So we have to stop presenting God's standards as if they are simply our own, or simply a good practical approach – we need to argue for God's standards as God's standards, which is the reason they are applicable to all of His creation. Pornography is, of course, a health issue – flouting God's Law often results in bad health consequences (ex. drunkenness, promiscuity, homosexuality, all lead to health issues). But it is first and foremost a sin issue. If we lead with the health aspect, we're not standing on God's solid foundation, and then we shouldn't be surprised when we find we're on shaky ground. One example: pornography might result in some health issues, but frequent users have been found to be more tolerant of "alternative lifestyles" like homosexuality and transgenderism. So, from a secular perspective, sure, it might have downsides, but this upside too! The key then is that we need to address this issue (and all others) not as conservatives, but as Christians. In this case, that means speaking of why God created sexuality, and how He has made each one of us in His very Image, and how, when we depart from our Maker’s plans for us, it is to our own hurt. That’s a harder conversation to be had than: “Porn use leads to erectile dysfunction!” But it is the conversation that brings honor to God in a way that trying to impose Christian morals via non-Christians conservative reasons doesn’t. And only then are we addressing the heart of the issue: rebellion against God. Does that mean we have to start quoting chapter and verse when the speak to this issue? No. But it does mean that we need to lead with God, our Solid Rock. That might look like this: "God says that sex is something special, saved for marriage, and a private act. That's why social science also shows that sex, in that setting, binds hearts closer together, helps keep families intact, and ensures the children that may result will be born with a mom and dad. Pornography treats sex as cheap, dirty, and a throwaway. And that leads to promiscuity, disease, unexpected pregnancies,  erectile dysfunction, addiction, and so much more. God made us, so He knows what's best for us. And pornography is just so very harmful..." How I was (temporarily) deceived There's a lot of impressive-seeming "scholarship" out there that attacks God's Truth, and as a young man Dr. Wes Bredenhof got stymied by one bit of it – the Documentary Hypothesis. He soon discovered, though, that there are answers to be found for the Bible's many critics...if we'll look for them. How long does it take to read each book of the New Testament? Sometimes it might seem like reading the Bible front to back is an intimidating task. But would we dive in more eagerly if we understood just how little time it takes to dig in deep? For the full chart click on the link above or the picture below. And for a number of different Bible reading plans (from Ligonier Ministries) click here. ...

News

Christians now forced to stand on the Bible, not the dictionary

“Ain’t” is in the dictionary, and something else you might not expect is now too. In September, the US’s oldest dictionary publisher, Merriam-Webster, announced they were adding in a “nonbinary” definition for the word “they.” According to the new entry, “they” can be “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” In other words, if a guy who thinks he isn’t a guy wants us to call him “they,” he’s now got the dictionary backing him. But lest this depress, there is a shiny silver lining to this story. With the addition of this definition, God has taken away one of the worst arguments Christians might otherwise be tempted to use: an appeal to the dictionary. But that was never an authority we should have stood on. We don’t know we’re male and female because the dictionary says so, but rather because God says so (Gen. 1:27, Mark 10:6). Our stand isn’t based on the authority of the dictionary but on the authority of God’s Word! And now that’s all we’ve got. We can thank God, then, for giving us all that we need, and thank Him also for taking away a red herring that might otherwise tempt or distract us from standing on His Truth....

News

A secular defense of the Sabbath, and how it falls short

Fast Company is a secular business magazine, as likely to pass on presentation tips from industry leaders as it is to pass on marketing tips from drag queens. So this isn't the first place you'd look to find a defense of Sabbath rest, but there it was in a Sept. 14 piece titled: "Let's bring back the Sabbath as a radical act against the always-on economy." The author, William Black, overlooks the core of Sabbath rest – that we take our rest in the Lord, coming together to worship Him. But because God's Law is written on our hearts (Romans 2:14-15), even unbelievers can recognize the Law's validity, at least in part. A practical case for the Sabbath Black began his article by pointing to the religious roots of the commandment, but he certainly wasn't making a religiously-based appeal for it. Implicit in his argument was that, despite how "the commandment smacks of obsolete puritanism" there was still something radical and vital about it. "When taken seriously, the Sabbath has the power to restructure not only the calendar but also the entire political economy. In place of an economy built upon the profit motive – the ever-present need for more, in fact the need for there to never be enough – the Sabbath puts forward an economy built upon the belief that there is enough." In a materialistic world, whose gods include "career advancement" and "more take-home pay" there's no end of the work that can be done to earn the gods' favor. Enough is never enough, because extra work can help you advance further and faster, and help you earn more. In that kind of world, the idea of taking one day off every week is not only radical, but downright blasphemous – such a break can only be enjoyed by those who recognize the materialistic gods are not worth giving our full devotion. Black continues by sharing how Sabbath rest was a benefit for the whole community: "The fourth commandment presents a od who, rather than demanding ever more work, insists on rest. The weekly Sabbath placed a hard limit on how much work could be done and suggested that this was perfectly all right; enough work was done on the other six days. And whereas the pharaoh relaxed while his people toiled, Yahweh insisted that the people rest as Yahweh rested: 'For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.' "The Sabbath, as described in Exodus and other passages in the Torah, had a democratizing effect. Yahweh’s example – not forcing others to labor while Yahweh rested – was one anybody in power was to imitate. It was not enough for you to rest; your children, slaves, livestock, and even the 'aliens' in your towns were to rest as well. The Sabbath wasn’t just a time for personal reflection and rejuvenation. It wasn’t self-care. It was for everyone." While Black repeatedly mentions the Jewish origins of Sabbath rest, his is still a secular case for the command - he's touting the practical benefits, and not that this is God's authoritative command. Black may or may not be a Christian himself, but his approach – praising God's Law, without praising the Lawmaker – is one Christians commonly take. Whether it's abortion, sex-ed curriculums, or refusing to bake cakes for same-sex marriages, Christians regularly argue for the godly position while avoiding any mention of our God. We do that for tactical reasons – the world's not interested in God, so they'll just ignore us if we start any argument with His Name, right? Without God the argument fails But the problem is, all of God's Law – every position we're arguing for – stands on Him. Take abortion as an example. Christians will often argue that abortion is wrong because killing babies is wrong. And because God's Law is written on everyone's hearts, that's an argument the other side will concede. But they'll dispute that the unborn are babies and question how something so small and immature can really be of the same worth as much larger, already-born human beings. So the real argument is not, "Is killing wrong?" but "Where does our worth come from?" Only God provides a satisfactory answer to that question: our worth comes not from any abilities we have, but is intrinsic in being made in His Image (Gen. 1:26-27, Gen. 9:6). That's why an unborn baby has value, no matter how small, and doesn't gain worth as it gains in abilities. This intrinsic value is also why a disabled adult isn't of lesser worth even though he can do less, and why an elderly adult doesn't lose their worth as they lose some of their abilities. Our worth comes not from what we can do, but from in Whose Image we are made. Even as the world rejects this explanation, they can offer no viable alternative. Why do they believe we – at least those of us who have already been born – are of equal worth? Where does the basis for equality come from? Some are bigger, or smarter, or faster, or more inventive, or more artistic, and some are less so – in every which way, no two human beings are exactly alike, so on what basis would we ever talk about equality? There is no worldly justification for it. The world holds to equality, but can't offer an explanation for it. But we can. Only God makes sense of the world Isn't that something we should be pointing out? That's God makes the world make sense? It's no different with Sabbath rest – any argument for it needs to be built on God, and if it isn't, the argument will fall short. In his article Black speaks of an economy that embraces Sabbath rest as being one "driven, not by anxiety, but by...enoughness." And he contrasts that with our current 24-7 "anxious striving for more." Black wants our society to make the switch; he wants us to leave the "always-on economy" and start trusting in "enoughness." But what Black can't explain is on what basis his secular audience can confidently make that leap. Is there always going to be enough? Can we really depend on that? His readers will know that in some spots on our planet there isn't enough right now. They'll also know that if our economy takes a downward turn, there might not be enough here too. That's why the secular soul always has a reason to strive for more – so they can build a better cushion against whatever difficulties the future might bring. In short, as much sense as Sabbath rest makes – as great as the practical benefits are for mental, physical, emotional, and even relational, health – it doesn't make near the same sense without the Sabbath Lord. The world always has reason to fear the future, so they always have reason to continue striving anxiously. It is only the Christian, trusting in the Lord, who can not only take a break each week from the constant demands of work, but who can take rest where it can truly be found: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). That the secular argument for the Sabbath doesn't stand up on its own isn't a reason to give up on the practical arguments for obeying God's law. But it is a reason to start with God – to start with Him as our cornerstone – and build up from there....

Movie Reviews, Pro-life - Euthanasia

Euthanasia film highlights horrors, but offers the wrong solution

This 15-minute film explains what's going on in Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002. It shows how euthanasia, first offered only to those who were supposed to be near death, has now been expanded. Now nurses can do it. And non-terminal people can get it. And children. And the mentally ill. And people who are sick, but whose conditions are not irreversible. https://youtu.be/r7ME2HKsUd4 This is not how it was supposed to be. But in Belgium they have found as one doctors puts it "The supply of euthanasia, stirs the demands," so the legalization created the pressure to allow more and more to qualify for euthanasia. This is a film that should be viewed by all, and liked and shared, so it can have the widest possible reach. People need to understand where this slippery slope is taking us. But it is also a film that should be critiqued. It was produced by a Christian group – the Alliance for Defending Freedom – and yet it is an entirely secular presentation. They likely thought this approach would allow their film to reach more people. After all, non-Christians who aren’t interested in God might still be horrified if they heard about the man in this film who only discovered his physically healthy mother had been euthanized after the fact. But avoiding mention of God is a huge mistake. Their secular defense can only highlight how euthanasia isn’t happening as it was promised. This secular strategy means their complaint can’t be "Euthanasia is wrong" but only, "Euthanasia is not as it was advertised." By avoiding the moral argument, they have to rely on mere practical objections; they can only show where the system failed. And the problem with practical objections is that they invite practical solutions. The man whose mother was killed? Ah yes, regrettable, Belgian officials might admit, but that could be prevented in the future with a bit more paperwork requiring children to be notified. As a strictly secular objection the film can only be a cry for the system to be tweaked, rather than overturned. But, of course, tweaks won’t work. Our problem isn’t merely the expansion of euthanasia – expansion is a given so long as any euthanasia is allowed. Why? Well, any strict rules we bring forward will always end up excluding someone just on the border of the rules. Then, since their case is not all that different than the cases already approved, on what basis can we exclude this poor suffering individual? That’s why the rules will always be stretched – because so long as no fixed moral standard is applied, there is nothing to prevent the rules being nudged a bit, and then nudged again, and again, until they’ve expanded to include any and all. That’s where we will inevitably end up when we stick to a secular argument. Will it be any different if we share the real reason euthanasia is wrong? Will the world listen when we explain that the reason euthanasia – all euthanasia – is wrong is because all life is precious, and a gift from God? Will they care if we tell them that euthanasia is wrong because our lives are not our own to take and dispose of as we please? Will they be convinced when we explain that our lives belong to God? I don’t know. But God will be glorified by it. And we can help Christians who might be wavering - Christian doctors, and nurses, and sons and daughters with aging parents - we can help them understand what God thinks, and what He demands, and what HE says compassion looks like. God says that putting a light under a bushel is foolish – why then do we insist on making godless argument to combat immorality? The world is only hearing lies, and we do it no favors when we keep the Truth from them. Who knows how God might use us if we but have the courage to be a light?...