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In a Nutshell

Tidbits- May 2020

Graphic Pictures... The image is outrageous, but the act itself's okay? That picture's met with fury... But, the killing is okay? Imagine our sheer terror, when assailed with gun or knife But, since no laws are broken, you can take a pre-born's life? And therein lies the horror! Does the truth of this appall? You're incensed at that picture, but at murder? Not at all? You think you're acting civilized and raise the 'hue and cry' Yet, you'll not lift a finger while one-hundred-thousand die? Yes, this figure is repeated in our country year by year, Should reflecting on God's wrath, not invade our hearts with fear? Let us, call-out to our authorities and hold them to account! May Truth yet change the hearts of men, as these small corpses mount. And that's the greater tragedy, when folks like you resolve, This holocaust's not happening, plus, it's not mine to solve Yet, all must face His judgment in the fullness of our days And pay a price much heavier if we don't mend our ways. Proverbs 24:11,12, Deuteronomy 30:19b Aart Blokhuis Nov. 22/19 The quotable G.K. Chesterton At 6’4” and 286 pounds, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) had the body of a defensive lineman. But more notable was his massive mind – Chesterton was never short of wisdom and wit. What follows are four of his quippiest quotes. To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it. Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance. Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable. The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. What did the Sadducees believe? Pop quiz: what did the Sadducees believe? Don’t know? You’re not alone – 9 out of 10 North American kidney bean farmers can’t recall any of the key beliefs of this ancient Jewish sect. And when a control group of lawnmower repairmen was told that the Sadducees denied the existence of angels and the eternal soul and even life after death, these mechanics couldn’t recall any of those facts just minutes later. So what can we do to retain this information? Can anything be done? Yes, help can be found! Pastor William Pols, of the Orthodox Reformed Church of Edmonton, offered a stunningly simple solution for this vexing problem – a memorable definition of the sect’s beliefs: “Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they were sad, you see.” Once heard, can that ever be forgotten? What lurks on library shelves? It might not surprise you to know that in the teen section of your local library there lurks all sorts of books you don’t want your kids reading – sexually-charged anime books, books promoting homosexuality, and books with horrendous titles like: Sex: an uncensored introduction What if I’m an atheist? Zombies vs. unicorns 100% Official Justin Bieber. What may surprise you is what can be found amongst the picture books in the children’s section. My Princess Boy is about a cross-dressing four-year-old boy who likes to wear a pink dress to school. This made its way into our house because, at first glance, its pink cover looks like just another girl book. We don’t censor what our children grab too rigorously while we’re still in the library, in part because they are grabbing them by the dozens, and we can always nix them later on (our daughters know that mom or dad may deem a book they picked out “too silly to read”). But after our oldest daughter had already poured over the pictures of this one, mom thought it would be best to read it together. She used the opportunity to teach how God made boys and girls different from each other. “Should a boy dress like a girl?” That was an easy question to answer. As was the follow up: “Should we laugh at a boy who is acting strange?” No, they know better than that. So a very perverse book was put to instructive use because my wife was there, doing the reading. I already knew there was some odd stuff in the kids’ section – books about bratty children, and “Captain Underpants,” and other rude, peculiar material – but I didn’t realize that anything so starkly anti-Christian was lurking there amongst the picture books. My oldest will be able to read on her own in a few months and it was an eye-opener to realize that even in our conservative, church-going, small town, the public library is not to be trusted. We need to be aware of what our children are reading. “You should have seen the one…” A man gazed incredulously at a huge mounted fish. Finally, he said: “The man who caught that fish is a liar!” SOURCE: The Bedside Book of Laughter, with jokes selected from Reader’s Digest A president's prayer Ronald Reagan hated flying with such a passion that for decades he would traverse the country only by train, even traveling all the way from California to Washington D.C. by rail. But, eventually, the demands of his public office forced him to regularly use planes. Even then he was only able to deal with his fear by praying every time the plane took off and every time it landed. His daughter Patti asked him about these prayers: “Do you pray that the plane won’t crash,” I asked him assuming that would be a logical thing for which to pray. “No,” he answered, “I pray that whatever God’s will is, I’ll be able to accept it with grace, and faith in His wisdom. We’re always in God’s hands. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that, so I pray that He’ll help me just to trust His will.”… What my father had communicated to me, through his words, and between them, was that he believed God was in charge of his fate and the fate of everyone on the plane. He had told me once before that when we die is God’s business. So it wasn’t his place to second-guess God, or try to sell him a particular agenda by praying, “Please don’t let the plane crash.” And I thought of this, too: If I were falling through the sky, falling toward my death, would I want my last moments to be spent screaming at God for not obeying my wishes, or would I want to exit this earth in a moment of silent communion, a prayer for grace and acceptance? Of course, it isn’t wrong to ask God to keep our plane safe, or, if it were falling, to ask Him to bring it back under control. But what Reagan understood is that God is in control and we can trust Him. SOURCE: Paul Kengor’s God and Ronald Reagan A little respect… Twenty years ago talk show host Charles J. Sykes penned a memorable newspaper column on “Some rules kids won’t learn in school.” Number seven is as good today as it was then: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom. SOURCE Sykes’ column appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on Sept. 19, 1996 My brothers would have laughed I grew up in a house full of boys, and while I feel very blessed with my house full of girls I am, every now and again, struck by how very outnumbered I am. For example, at breakfast I noticed we had genuine maple syrup on our table so I took it as an opportunity to teach my kids how it was made. "It's basically tree blood," I told them. No one thought that was cool. Sigh…....

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...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – March 2020

It’s so easy to get things wrong While doing evangelism, Christian apologist Ray Comfort will often ask his conversational partner a series of quick trick questions. The goal is to provoke a little humility by highlighting how easy it is to get things wrong. So take this quiz (or better, yet, give it to a friend...who can take a joke) and then look at the bottom of this page to see how well you really did. How many of the unclean animal did Moses take onto the Ark? What is the name of that raised print that deaf people use? Spell the word shop. What do you do when you come to a green light? It's noon. You look at the clock, and the big hand is on the three, and the little hand is on the five. What time is it? You are the driver of a train. There are 30 people on board. At the first stop, 10 people get off the train. At the next stop, 5 people get on the train. Here is the question: What is the name of the driver of the train? Spell the word silk. What do cows drink? And here’s one Comfort doesn’t use, but should: What mouse walks on two legs?   I don’t know. Mickey Mouse! What dog walks on two legs?   Goofy? Right! And what duck walks on two legs?   Donald Duck! All ducks walk on two legs! Troublemaking Bruce Jenner, who now goes by the name of Caitlyn, was an Olympic decathlete in the 1970s, and his personal best in the 400-meter is still better than any woman has ever run. If feelings can determine a person’s gender, then why doesn’t Caitlyn own the women’s 400-meter world record? Lies and statistics, and spanking... Every now and again the mainstream media will splash news of the very latest spanking study, which will report that spanking is "linked to aggression, antisocial behavior, mental health problems, cognitive difficulties, low self-esteem, and a host of other negative outcomes." That study will then be used as evidence that spanking needs to be banned. But if we look beyond the headline we'll find that whatever the latest study might be, it makes two fundamental errors. First, it will label as "spanking" anything physical that a parent did as a punishment for their child. That a child who is regularly beaten by his drunken father will have problems at school, is presented as evidence that a child who sometimes gets three smacks to his behind will also have trouble at school. Second, despite knowing that correlation does not imply causation, the press will report as if this is the exception to the rule, instead of looking for any sort of possible alternate explanation for the findings. What might an alternative explanation be? If I were a betting man I would put all my fortune down on this: were we to do a study of children who crayola the hallway wall, and then go outside to make mud pies so they can feed them to their napping, open-mouthed big sister, we would find that they are more likely than their peers to get spanked. In other words, it might well be that spankings don't lead to these "negative outcomes" but rather that a child's disposition to negative outcomes requires a parent to spank them more often. As any parent with two or more children can tell you, one of their kids will require more discipline than the others. And it isn't the especially good one. Get ready to be reviled "Pastors need to teach their people about how to handle with grace being looked down on more then ever before. I heard of John Stott reflecting that as a young man at Cambridge when people said ‘O he's a Christian,’ what they meant was that he was a goody-two-shoes. But now to be called a Christian means that you are viewed as a morally-deficient person, because you have not swallowed the gay agenda.” – Dr. John E Benton, Evangelicals Now, July 2012, on how the world will change as gay marriage becomes the norm. More troublemaking Our culture is insane, as is on clear display with what they think about sexual education. To put that insanity on better display here’s an idea from frequent RP contributor Rob Slane that lays out a couple of pointed questions a brave troublemaking Christian could ask university professors or sex-ed teachers. "I imagine a teenager in a sex education lesson asking the following question: 'Miss. Assuming I take precautions, would it would be safer for me to have 3 partners or 300?' No brainer of course, and even the most progressive of teachers would have to admit that 3 is 'safer' than 300. Simple mathematical probabilities this one: the lower the number, the 'safer the sex.' "In which case a really mischievous teenager – a true rebel you might say – might ask the following question: 'Miss, is it safer to only have 1 partner for life, or multiple? And if it’s 1 – which it is – and if this is a safe-sex lesson – which it is – why do you not advocate it?'” Faint heart never won fair lady “Many a man has known a great woman, yet did not win her because, out of fear, he failed to pursue her.  Every man understands this, both the brave man who has risked it all (and won or lost) and the timid man who did not dare.  The battle to take the great action required at these ‘make it or break it’ moments is won or lost privately, deep in the heart.” – Patrick F. Fagan Answers for "It’s so easy to get things wrong" Moses didn't take any animals on the ark; Noah did. Deaf people don't need special raised print; Braille is for the blind. You certainly don't stop. We told you, it's noon. Remember, you are the driver of the train. While calves might drink milk, cows drink water. ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - February 2020

Lightbulb moment I was in my 4th-year neurophysiology course, learning about the brain, when the professor used a curious word: "think." As in, this is how science "thinks" things might work in our brain. What struck me was how tentative the professor had just become, and I wasn't the only student surprised to hear this modest word. A classmate popped up his hand and asked something to the effect of, "What do you mean 'think'? Don't we know how the brain works?" This got a definitive response from the prof. No, he explained, we don't have a clue how the brain works: all our theories are just guesses and don't begin to account for how much information is stored in our brains and how we access it. We even know our theories must be wrong – because they don't offer a sufficient explanation – but until something better is found, this is the best we have. His admission was quite the eye-opener for the class, who, to this point, had assumed we were learning something far more substantial than theories that were known to be deficient. The fact is, the human brain is a wonder, and even the smartest brains among us don't have a clue as to what is all going on. And to propose it was random chance that brought such a wonder into being, well, that just shows some folks aren't using the wonder they've been given. TV Trivia Fred Rogers, of the children’s show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, was a seminary classmate of R.C. Sproul. Reformed humor What do Martin Luther and birds have in common? A diet of worms! Arguing for infant baptism In Jay Adams' book Greg Dawson and the Psychology Class, the author poses an intriguing argument for infant baptism. One of the characters in the book, Brian, is trying to convince his girlfriend that infant baptism is biblical, and shares with her this scenario: "It's the day before Pentecost. Andrew, a pious Jewish father, has just had his child circumcised. He is happy because he now knows that little Simeon is a part of the covenant community – the visible church. The next day, he hears Peter preach and believes the Gospel. Now, according to Baptist thought, his child is no longer in the visible church. In for one day and out the next." While there is no explicit example of a child being baptized in the New Testament (nor is there any example of children being excluded or forbidden from being baptized) there seems a clear parallel to circumcision, made even more clear by this scenario. Words are not optional "Preach the Gospel. If necessary rebuke anyone who says 'If necessary, use words.'" - RC Sproul Jr. When he’s good he’s very good! Tim Keller gets stuff wrong (he’s a theistic evolutionist) but when he also gets stuff right, he’s gets them really right, like this, from his November 7, 2014 Facebook status update: "When I am loving to my wife when I don't feel loving to my wife I am more loving to my wife than when I am loving to my wife when I feel loving to my wife." Actress understands the holiness of God's name Actress Melissa Joan Hart hasn't always had everything figured out, but she has gotten one thing right: she refuses to take God’s name in vain, no matter what the script might require. Hart gained fame in the 1990s playing a good witch, then starred in a horror film, and posed in lingerie for a men’s magazine, but these days pops up on social media for her work with World Vision. While promoting her film God’s Not Dead 2, she told TheBlaze.com’s Billy Hallowell: You will not see me in a TV show ever saying, “Oh my God,” because I don’t take that word lightly...And that’s a very small example of how I’ve been able to influence my work a little bit. For me, it’s a big step today, because it’s written in every single script. ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - January 2020

Why fossil fuels are a blessing According to Kathleen Hartnett White, in her study Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case “man-made emissions of carbon dioxide have risen three-fold since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.” But if some think that a decided downside, let’s not lose sight of the way we’ve been blessed by God’s provision of fossil fuels. As White explains: "When innovative minds developed a steam engine which could convert the stored heat energy in coal into mechanical energy, the economic limits under which all human societies had formerly existed were blown apart. A life of back-breaking drudgery was no longer the inescapable condition of the overwhelming majority of mankind. "Life expectancy had changed little throughout all human history until the Industrial Revolution; it thereafter tripled. Income per capita has since increased 11-fold…. Fossil-fuel powered mechanization revolutionized economic productivity, increased incomes, population, and life expectancy across all classes." Parental code: upping our game As is true for many readers of this magazine, my parents spoke Dutch whenever they wanted to talk about things they didn’t want us kids to understand. That always got us listening all the more intently, and over the years we did learn a “klien beetje” of Dutch, but never enough to figure out exactly what they were saying. But now, with kids of our own, and no second-language skills to turn to, I’m trying to figure out how I can talk to my wife without our kids clueing in. For the last four or five years, ever since our oldest learned to talk, we made use of our ability to spell. But now she’s off to kindergarten and has managed to break that code. So we’ve turned to shorthand spelling – instead of spelling out the whole word, we’ll just spell out the first few letters. So if I want to suggest a trip to the library, I’ll ask my wife what she thinks “about going to the L-I-B.” As “lib” doesn’t sound all that much like “library” it kept our speller off the scent for a while. But after repeated usage she broke that code too, and now when I ask my wife if we should have “I-C-E for dessert” our oldest is already salivating. Clearly, we had to up our game. Now instead of using actual letters, I’m using sound-alikes, in shorthand. So the last time I suggested heading to the library I asked my wife whether we should head to the “E-L-L-E, E-Y-E,  B-E-E.” That should serve us for at least the next little bit. After that? How about sound-alikes, in shorthand, backwards! Or we could just go to the other room. Alzheimer's and the hope of a Reformed  faith Some years ago the then editor of Christianity Today, David Neff, while reviewing a book on Alzheimer’s, pointed out how little hope some theology offers the family and friends of Alzheimer’s patients. He didn’t use the word Arminian, but the description he gave of this troubling theology fit: it “requires Christians to act for their salvation/liberation.” The problem with a theology that asks us to hold on to Christ is that it, “is no comfort to those whose dementia leaves them without the capacity to act.” After his father-in-law was stricken, Neff took comfort in a more Reformed understanding that instead emphasized, “that it is God who acts on our own behalf.” “Do we have to go to Church today?” In the September 2015 issue of New Horizons. Pastor Shane Lems shared how as a young lad he would complain to his parents, “Do we have to go to church today?” He didn’t understand the dangers of neglecting the church service – he wanted to stay home with his Lego. But, as he says, while “it’s one thing for a child to reason this way, it’s a very different thing for an adult to do it.” And he goes on to list some of the dangers to skipping church. It is against God’s will It hinders Christian fellowship It diminishes God’s praise It confuses/sets a bad example for other Christians It invites Satan’s temptations It is harmful to the Christian’s faith Lems included 5 more and noted that while his list was a negative one, it could also be reframed in the positive. For example, we could also not that going to church is God’s will, and doing so “strengthens your fellowship with the saints.” There are certainly dangers to neglecting church, but clear benefits to going. It's inescapable: Husbands are leaders “The Bible says the “husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23). Paul most emphatically does not say that husbands ought to be heads of their wives. He says they are…. Because the husband is the head of the wife he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to abdicate in some way, he may, through his rebellion, lead poorly. But no matter what he does, or where he goes, he does so as the head of his wife.” – Douglas Wilson in Reforming Marriage Count your blessings If the doom and gloom that fills our newspapers and social media feeds has you despairing, it's time to start counting the many, many blessings God showers on us. Here's a half dozen to get things started: It used to be expensive to phone long distance. Now we can Skype grandma for free. Most of us have a computer more powerful than anything NASA used to run the Apollo missions...and it's small enough to fit in a pocket. Life expectancy has jumped ten years since 1950. Everyone used to smoke, even if they never touched a cigarette - the haze was everywhere! Now we don't...mostly. The percentage of people in the world who are living in extreme poverty has been halved since 1990. Students in school today have no idea what a nuclear missile attack drill entails. A reading tips for dads Whenever I begin an Amelia Bedelia book I can hear a growing chorus screaming, "Noooooo! Don't say her name agaaaaaaaaain!" Those are my brain cells...dying. Still, my kids like these books and men are called to lead sacrificially, so I've had to figure out a work around. At first I had my daughters interject with Bedelia's name each time it appeared ...which meant they were reading half the book! But now I've come up with an even better solution that allows me to go entirely Bedelia-free: when her name comes up, I just swap in "Jane Smith." Aaaaah, sweet relief! Give it a try dads; your brain cells will thank you!...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - December 2019

Darwin’s theory and Kipling’s Just So Stories Brett Miller is a cartoonist for the website Creation-Evolution Headlines (CrEv.info). While his other cartooning efforts are great, this one below, titled “Leap of Faith,” (which he’s graciously shared with us) is my favorite. He’s packed so much in here, with the rainbow made up of key explanations that evolution is missing, and directly underneath all the “weasel words” that evolutionary accounts so often employ. And then, further down, a reference to how evolutionary accounts resemble a particular type of fiction: Just-So Stories. In 1902 Rudyard Kipling published his book Just So Stories with short chapters on topics like: how the elephant got its trunk, how the leopard got its spots, how the camel got its hump, and how this animal and that got their peculiar features. While evolutionists wouldn’t appreciate the comparison, often times their evolutionary explanations bear more than a passing resemblance to Just So Stories. Kipling tells us that the elephant got its long trunk because a crocodile stretched it. Evolutionists tell us that giraffes got their long neck because long necks help them reach high enough to get the leaves on the highest branches. Is one idea more scientific than the other? Were either observed or can either be proven by repeatable experimentation? No, no, and no. Both make for interesting stories…and that’s all they are. So keep Miller’s comic in mind the next time you hear a report about some new evolutionary discovery, and ask whether evidence is being offered, or simply a clever story. Factoids about your favorite Christmas songs Did you know… The text (though not the tune) of O Come, O Come Emmanuel has roots that could go as far back as the 6thcentury Isaac Watts based Joy to the World on the second half of Psalm 98, 96:11-12 and Genesis 3:17–18. Jingle Bells was not originally intended as a Christmas song, but was probably written for Thanksgiving celebrations. In 1700 While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Night became one of the very first hymns authorized to be sung by the Anglican Church (before 1700 only Psalms could be sung). Oh Canada! How do you get a mob of Canadians to disperse? You say, “Please disperse.” What do Canadians students get on their tests? Straight eh's. How do you get a Canadian to apologize? Step on his foot. Red and yellow, black and white… Creationist Ken Ham has a solution to the problem of racism. All we have to do is make people understand their true origins: “ says all people are descendants of one man and one woman, Adam and Eve. That means there’s only one race of people… I remember after talking on this once a man told me, ‘When I filled out my census form and it said, “What race are you?” I wrote down “Adam’s.”’” SOURCE: "Genesis: The Key to Reclaiming the Culture" DVD For sale, cheap: New Kids on the Block collection In a speech some years ago in British Columbia, Pastor Douglas Wilson laid out a way of evaluating music. He compared different types of music to different types of plates. Some music, he said, is like your grandmother’s fine china: it takes some effort to use, but it will last for generations. This is classical music like Bach or Beethoven. Other music is more like CorningWare – it isn’t quite as refined but might be more popular and it can be passed on from one generation to the next. Wilson thought this was like folk music. Finally, one type of music is more like paper plates. It is designed to be used and thrown away. We consume it, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to use, and we don’t hand it on. Into this category Wilson slotted pop music. So one of the easiest questions to ask when evaluating music is whether you’d pass it on to your kids. And if, in five or ten years, you’ll be embarrassed to own up to owning it, why are you listening to it now? The wit and wisdom of Winston Churchill Churchill had a way with words, inspiring his island nation in their darkest hours with just the right turn of a phrase. His most famous speech was given on June 4, 1940, after the British had been forced to flee the mainland. This was a massive defeat, but an even bigger miracle. More than 300,000 Allied troops were able to evade what seemed certain capture when, with the help of hundreds of private watercraft owned and operated by British citizens, they were able to retreat across the Channel to England. It was then that Churchill rallied his nation promising that should the Nazis come: “…we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” And that’s far from the only memorable sound-bite the man uttered. Here’s ten of his very best quotes: A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is - the strong horse that pulls the whole cart. The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me. A trick question When did Moses enter the Promised Land? Ah, you say, but that trick question isn’t all that tricky: everyone knows Moses never entered the Promised Land. God told him to speak to the rock at Meribah (Numbers 20) and water would come out, but instead Moses struck the rock twice, and for this disobedience God told Moses he would not lead Israel across the Jordan. He showed Moses the Promised Land from high atop Mount Nebo (Deut. 34:4-5) and then Moses died, never stepping a foot in it. But while it is true Moses died before entering, it turns out he probably did still visit the Promised Land. In Matthew 17 we read that Peter, James, and John went up with Jesus to the top of a high mountain where Jesus was then transfigured, “his face shone like the sun,” and his garments became “as white as light.” And then two people appeared next to Jesus and began talking with him: Elijah and Moses! So how’s that for a fun trick answer? But as trick questions go, the answer to this one isn’t as clear as we might like, because it’s not certain that this mountain (which isn’t named in the Scriptures) was actually in the Promised Land. Two hypothesized locations (and there are others) are Mount Tabor, which is within the boundaries, and Mount Hermon, which is not. So, maybe the better trick question is, when might Moses have entered the Promised Land?...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - November 2019

On breaking your TV habit Want to cut down on your TV watching but find it a battle? Gary North has an idea he put in place more than 40 years ago: “Put a price on your time.” He suggests putting a piggy bank next to your couch and whenever you watch a show you have to put in $1 for a half-hour show, and $2 for an hour show. If someone else is already watching something (and has already paid the price) you can join in for free (TV watching together is a step up from watching by yourself). Then at year’s end you count up all the money and send a check for that amount to your favorite charity. “In short, put a price on your time. Pay the price. Economics teaches: ‘When the price rises, less is demanded.’ You will cut your TV habit by 50%. If not, make it $3.” SOURCE: Gary North’s Tip of the Week, January 3, 2015 Luther and Aristotle on the need for balance and moderation I’ve read that in Martin Luther’s first year at Wittenberg he had to regularly lecture on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. And while Luther didn’t seem a fan of the Greek philosopher, one of Luther’s more famous quotes is an echo of sorts to a passage in Ethics. Martin Luther once said: “Human nature is like a drunk peasant. Lift him into the saddle on one side, over he topples on the other side.” Long before, Aristotle spoke of the need for balance, and that there are two equal and opposite ways of getting things wrong: “….the man who flies from and fears everything and does not stand his ground against anything becomes a coward, and the man who fears nothing at all but goes to meet every danger becomes rash; and similarly the man who indulges in every pleasure and abstains from none becomes self- indulgent, while the man who shuns every pleasure, as boors do, becomes in a way insensible; temperance and courage, then, are destroyed by excess and defect, and preserved by the mean.” Of course, that a Greek philosopher said something doesn’t mean it is biblical. So is the need for balance a biblical idea? It can indeed be, and alcohol is an example. On the one hand God forbids drunkenness, but on the other, doesn’t require us to completely abstain – instead He calls for moderation. Another example might be sexuality and dress. On the one hand, we are called to modesty so lascivious or scandalous dress is forbidden, but we don’t all have to go around wearing burkas. There is a balance point between perverse and prudish. The key then is to act as God commands us, and not simply react against one way the Devil is trying to lure us. Reagan on Big Government “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” – Ronald Reagan as quoted in The Reagan Wit by Bill Adler Doubters should question their doubts too “Some believers spend too much time doubting their faith, and not enough time doubting their doubts. Yes, there are some reasonable questions that thoughtful people have always raised about the Christian faith. But there are also some very good questions that faithful people should raise about their spiritual doubts: Have I studied what God has to say on this question, or have I been listening mainly to his detractors? Am I well aware of how this doubt has been addressed in the history of Christian theology, or has my thinking been relatively superficial? Have I been compromising with sin in ways that make it harder for me to hear God’s voice and diminish my desire for the purity of his truth? Is this a doubt that I have offered sincerely to God in prayer, or am I waiting to see if God measures up to my standards before I ask for his help?” - Phil Ryken, in Loving Jesus More  Udderly marvelous Back in 2013 Vince Rozmiarek got put in charge of his small town’s community center message board, and soon after starting posting puns to the big 6” by 4” outdoor sign. Now the two puns he posts each week are seen by the many driving by, and by the 84,000 folks who have signed up for the Indian Hills Community Sign Facebook page. While his puns tackle all sorts of topics, he can’t “steer” clear of farm jokes. Cows have hooves because they lactose. If a cow doesn’t produce mill is it a milk dud or an udder failure? Ban pre-shredded cheese. Make America grate again. Cheerful cowboys make jolly ranchers Amish banks have cash cows The pregnant cow soon became decalfinated Award-winning cow. Outstanding in field. I called my horse mayo, and sometimes mayo neighs. Man assaults his neighbor with milk and cheese. How dairy?!? If pigs could fly, imagine how good their wings would taste. Only God’s Word makes sense of it all "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen — not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis, in Is Theology Poetry...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - October 2019

Doing homework on Sunday? “When I was in college and seminary, I made what was a bold decision at the time and committed, along with a friend, that we would not do homework on Sundays. No reading assignments. No papers.  No studying for tests. It meant rethinking my Saturdays, which meant being more thoughtful about my Friday evenings. I couldn't sleep till noon on Saturday, watch football, hang out with my friends all day, and go out to a social event at night and then play catch-up on Sunday. I had to make pretty drastic changes. “But I never regretted the commitment. Setting aside Sunday was a habit that served me well throughout all my studies. Sunday became my favorite day of the week. I was freed up to go to church more than once. I could go on a long walk or read a book or take a nap. The day became an island of get-to in an ocean of have-to. “How many of us think, ‘You know what?  Life is a little underwhelming.  I'm not very busy.  I wish the days could be more crowded.  I wish life could be more hectic.’ Very few people think that way. So don't you want a day where you can say no to many of the oughts in your head? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a day of freedom, one day in seven where the other six days have no claim on you?” – Kevin DeYoung, in The 10 Commandments (h/t to Dr. Wes Bredenhof) 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 A better sort of straw I've been pricing things out, and as near as I can figure: Plastic straws cost 4-5 cents each but they are becoming harder to find, and if you use one people think you are Hitler. Paper straws cost something similar or even cheaper...but they are paper straws. Enough said. Bamboo straws are 10-15 cents each and they still aren't as good as plastic. Meanwhile, you can buy a pack of Twizzlers for 2.99 at Wal-Mart with 60 pieces in it, which works out to 5 cents each. Nip off the top and bottom and you have not only a straw that works way better than paper, and is cheaper than bamboo, but it's even better than plastic in that you can eat it afterward. And it keeps getting better: turns out Twizzlers are even a "low fat" straw. More consistent inconsistency “Gender is constructed, but an individual who desires gender re-assignment surgery is to be unarguably considered a man trapped in a woman's body (or vice versa). The fact that both of these cannot logically be true, simultaneously, is just ignored.” – Jordan Peterson Atheism doesn't have answers On his website ProofThatGodExists.org, apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate has a collection of more than 50 of his favorite quotes. If you like these four, be sure to check out his website for more. “The atheist can’t find God for the same reason that a thief can’t find a policeman.” – Author Unknown “The theory that thought is merely a movement in the brain is, in my opinion, nonsense; for if so, that theory itself would be merely a movement, an event among atoms, which may have speed and direction but of which it would be meaningless to use the words ‘true’ or ‘false’.” – C.S. Lewis “Someone once said that if you sat a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don’t wonder whether it came from chance and monkeys. Why then does the atheist use that incredibly improbable explanation for the universe? Clearly, because it is his only chance of remaining an atheist. At this point we need a psychological explanation of the atheist rather than a logical explanation of the universe.” – Peter Kreeft “If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true, but rather because of a series of chemical reactions…. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else.” – Douglas Wilson ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits – July 2019

Doubt your doubts… “We don’t just need answers for people’s difficult questions. We need questions for people’s easy answers.” – Andrew Wilson (as seen at Challies.com) Long term planning Reader’s Digest has a number of columns in which readers can send in their true, humorous stories. This one came from an obstetrician: “I sometimes see unusual tattoos when working in labor and delivery. One patient had some type of fish tattoo on her abdomen. ‘That sure is a pretty whale,’ I commented. “With a smile, she replied, ‘It used to be a dolphin.’” SOURCE: Laughter the best medicine II Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics It’s not clear whether Robert Conquest (1917-2015) ever stated the “Three Laws of Politics” commonly attributed to him. But whether he did or didn’t, someone should have because there’s insight here worth sharing, particularly in his second law: 2. Any organization not explicitly conservative will, sooner or later, become liberal. That’s quite the claim, but history bears it out. How many of our universities were founded by godly men, but how welcome are Christians on these campuses today? Hospitals begun by churches now kill their patients upon request. Amnesty International went from being an advocate for political prisoners to advocating for legalized abortion. Closer to home, Reformed denominations that stopped teaching their confessions have started ignoring and opposing them. But why do things flow in just the one direction? Why don’t we ever see an abortion-loving, man-hating feminist organization drift from their founders’ feelings and decide that, hey, unborn babies and men aren’t so bad after all? Why couldn’t they take a conservative or even Christian turn? It doesn’t ever happen like that, but why doesn’t it? It comes down to this: getting things wrong is always easier than getting them right. There’s no end of ways to raise our children wrong, or do our taxes wrong, or assemble IKEA furniture wrong, but there’s only one Truth, and only a narrow path to it. This has implications. Unless we are actively heading in the right direction, we are heading in the wrong direction. That’s true in politics, certainly, but it’s just as true when we are charting the direction for other organizations in our circles. Business leaders, school board, pastors and church consistories can’t let themselves drift. We mustn’t be quiet about what we know and believe. If we don’t actively hang on to God’s Truth, both energetically and loudly, then drift is inevitable. Or, as Jesus described in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matt. 7:24-27) if we don’t build on a solid foundation, we will be swept away. That sounds scary and it would be if we had to chart the right course on our own. But God has given us His Word. Now all we need is the courage to follow Him both loudly and proudly…and we can ask Him for that. Consistently inconsistent “Gender is a social construct but I am woman hear me roar but anyone can be a woman but not uterus no opinion but transwomen are women but I demand women’s rights but men are women but men are scum but drag queens are beautiful but appropriation is evil.” - Matt Walsh in a May 14 tweet 4 things you didn’t know about the Bible? How big is the Bible? At almost one million words, it is as long as 10 typical thrillers, or 15 mystery novels. The word Bible comes biblia, which is Greek for “books.” Biblia, in turn, was probably derived from the name of the Lebanese port of Byblos, where the Greeks got their paper supply The 1229 Synod of Toulouse forbade anyone but priests from having the Scriptures. The Bible didn’t come with the chapter and verse divisions we have today. Stephen Langton (c.1150-1228) is credited with dividing the Bible into the chapters our Bibles have now. Jewish Rabbi Isaac Nathan ben Kalonymus might have been the one who came up with Old Testament versification, back in 1440, while a French printer (Robert Estienne (1503-1559) is credited with creating the verse divisions we use for the New Testament. SOURCE: Jerry MacGregor and Marie Prys’ 1001 Surprising things you should know about the Bible. A political upgrade? “Could one start a Stagnation Party—which at General Elections would boast that during its term of office no event of the least importance had taken place?” – C.S. Lewis writing to his brother in 1940  And now you know the rest of the story… In their heyday, the 1980s big hair band Van Halen made the news for a diva-esque demand they had in their contract. Each venue was to provide them with a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones taken out. Critics saw this as a ridiculous extravagant request that showed just how kookie Van Halen had become. But some years later lead singer David Lee Roth explained that the “no brown M&Ms” rule wasn’t silly at all – it was a test. At the time the band traveled with a huge set, packed away in a whole fleet of semi-trailers, that had to be constructed at every venue. And it had to be done just right or there could be major safety concerns. Every venue received a thick instruction book to follow but because it was so big Van Halen was worried that the construction crews might not look at it all that carefully. That’s why the band “hid” their M&M demand somewhere in the middle. That way when the band arrived at a new venue one of the first things they would do is check the backstage area for a bowl of M&Ms. If it was there, and there were no brown ones, then they could be confident that this venue’s staff had read through the instruction book carefully. If there were no M&Ms, or the bowl still had brown ones, then they had heads-up that this venue might be taking shortcuts, and they would have good reason to double-check everything. This story shows (and what Proverbs 18:17 teaches) is that we really can’t have a good understanding of something if we just hear from the one side. It was only when we heard from David Lee Roth that further details came out. That’s particularly important to keep in my mind in our increasingly quick-to-judge era....

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - June 2019

As seen on a t-shirt We live in an emoticon, headline-reading, 280-character tweet, fly-by-level-of-engagement world. But short doesn’t always mean shallow, and to demonstrate here’s a collection of clever but concise slogans, as found on t-shirts. Short and sweet might be just what’s needed to get a long conversation started! Capitalism makes; Socialism takes Chapter and verse, please! Sure, you can trust the government. Just ask the Native Americans. Free Speech: more important than your feelings Former fetus The NSA: Listening to all your crazy conspiracy theories when nobody else will Preach the Gospel at all times. Always use words. You can love your country without having to love your government. Make Orwell fiction again. Life starts at conception, not perception   Two-sided danger When interacting with the world around it, a church can face two dangers that amount to being the flipsides of a coin. The first is the danger of being absorbed by the culture, or as author Alistair Begg puts it: “You have a lot of people to talk to, but nothing to say.” The second danger is being isolated from culture. Or as Begg puts it, “You have a lot to say, but no one to talk to.” Two dangers, and being safe from the one only makes you the more susceptible to the other. Which of the two do you think our churches are more susceptible to? THANK YOU, THANK YOU CAPITALISM! T. Norman Van Cott wants to know, "why is everyone saying "thank you'?" This economics professor noticed that when we buy something not only do we say thank-you, but the salesperson does too! Why do customers and salespeople both say "thank- you"? Why isn't one of them saying "You're welcome" instead? It's because in the free market people make voluntary exchanges. That means the reason they are going to make an exchange is because they believe they will benefit from it. For example, when a person buys an iPad for $800 they do so because they want the iPad more than $800. When they receive it, they are grateful for the exchange and thus say “thank you!” Meanwhile, the salesperson, and the company they represent, wants $800 more than the iPad so they are grateful for the exchange too. Both have reason to be grateful. So both say "Thank you!" The wonder of the free market is that it leaves both parties happier. A ONE-QUESTION TEST FOR POLITICAL CANDIDATES If you could ask your local political candidates just one question (and you can!) what should it be? How about this one: “What position do you hold that you would keep on holding even if you knew it was going to cost you an election?” Whatever their answer – even if they refuse to answer – it will give you the measure of the man. Its been said “politics is the art of compromise” but a politician who won’t stand firm on anything is the sort that will be tossed to and fro by everything. Vote for them and you aren’t electing a leader but simply a limp, languid sort who will bow to whatever side tops the polls. However, there are some politicians made of firmer stuff. Some are willing to lead – to risk it all – on issues that are near and dear to them! A couple years back now US presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, told voters: "I just believe deeply that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws....I would rather lose an election than be wrong on the issue of life." Here in Canada an example of this firmer sort is former prime minister Stephen Harper. In 2010 he said: "There are, after all, a lot more votes – a lot more – in being anti-Israeli than in taking a stand. But as long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the United Nations, the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost." Rubio was willing to risk it all to speak up for his country’s smallest citizens. In Harper’s case he was willing to risk losing votes to defend the citizens of Israel (though not to defend Canadian unborn children). God says we can know true vs. false prophets by their fruit (Matt. 7:15-20). It's the same thing here – when it comes to politicians we can know them by their non-negotiables. LET THEM EAT CAKE...SOMETIMES "...the reasons certain professions have been singled out is because they are the glorifying professions – photographers florists, bakers. They are the professions that give approval, that render societal applause. This is why be happy to bake a cake for a homosexual’s birthday party, but not for a wedding." – Douglas Wilson This is sure to end badly “A 5th grader with an iPhone is like a 5th grader with the briefcase containing the nuclear codes. It's staggering people will pay for Christian school yet give their 5th grader an iPhone.” – Christian counselor Heath Lambert (as relayed by Tim Bloedow) The wit and wisdom of G.K. Chesterton A story is told of how The Times asked various famous people to submit essays as to “What’s wrong with the world?” Chesterton is said to have replied: “Dear sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.” It’s a great story, showing a man humbly aware of the evil that exists in his own heart. But as well-known as this story is, and as well as it fits the man it is attributed to, no original source for it can be found so there’s reason to doubt Chesterton actually said it. There’s no doubt, however, about whether he said the quips and quotes that follow. “Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice.” “Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.” “The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.” “The aim of good prose words is to mean what they say. The aim of good poetical words is to mean what they do not say.” “It is assumed that the sceptic has no bias; whereas he has a very obvious bias in favour of scepticism.” “The average businessman began to be agnostic, not so much because he did not know where he was, as because he wanted to forget. Many of the rich took to scepticism exactly as the poor took to drink; because it was a way out.” ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - May 2019

The world's love hurts In a presentation by Jonathon Van Maren on euthanasia and assisted suicide the pro-life apologist repeatedly cited Proverbs 12:10b "...the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." He raised the verse as an explanation for what's happening in the euthanasia debate, where the Liberal government is pretending it is compassionate to help a desperate person kill himself. But this is also a good explanation of the abortion debate, where abortion doctors tell themselves they are helping women by killing their offspring. They do this in the name of love, but it is a love that isn't in accord with what God says is loving. It is tender cruelty. And what about our society's tender mercies to men who want to be women? God says He created male and female, and these fellows say, no it isn't so. Our society, in their tolerance and understanding, encourages these men to lop off bits that they will never get back. We'd call it mutilation if they did it to an arm or leg, but because this act is in direct defiance of what God says about gender - that He defines it, not us - the world celebrates these amputations. What tender cruelty indeed. A mother-in- joke Having been married twenty years a couple decided to celebrate by taking a little trip. While talking over their plans one evening the husband now and then glanced into the next room where a little old lady sat knitting. “The only thing,” he finally said in a hushed voice, “is that for once I’d like to be by ourselves. I’d like to take this trip without your mother.” “My mother!” exclaimed the wife, “I thought she was your mother!” Why are things so bad? Aleksander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was a Russian historian, most famous for his three-volume The Gulag Archipelago, which recounted his own, and others, experience in the Soviet Union’s cruel forced labor prison camps. His lifetime spanned the complete history of the Soviet Union, so he was often asked to explain why it was that the USSR became the horror that it did. In his 1983 Templeton Address he credited it to one thing: More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years… I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.  The tolerance buzzsaw “The diversity crowd has two fundamental tenets. The first is that they have an absolute commitment to free speech. And the second is, ‘Shut up!’” - Douglas Wilson How idolatry sneaks up on us We aren’t in any danger of bowing to big stone statues, or wooden totems – that sort of obvious idolatry isn’t going to trip us up. But there is another sort that sometimes catches us unawares, which Luke Gilkerson describes in his new (and excellent) book Parenting the Internet Generation (which can be downloaded for free here): The things we turn into idols are often not, in themselves, bad things. Most of the time they are good things that have become ultimate things to us – anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. An idol is most often a good desire that has become a very bad master. Family is important, and friends too. A successful business can employ many, and allow you to donate generous sums to God’s work. A running or workout routine can help keep you healthy. Christian political activism can save unborn lives. These are good, wonderful, and important things, and that is precisely where the danger lies. Clear evils sometimes grab hold of us – many professing Christians are hooked on pornography – but then we at least understand (hopefully!) that a battle needs to be fought. However, when the idol is something good, then the devil can hit us with a more subtle attack. All he wants us to do is bump up a secondary priority one notch. Gender differences and Christian common sense Dr. Leonard Sax is a rude and daring man. He’s daring because he’s willing to highlight the differences between the genders. And rude because he not only points out areas where girls outpace boys but also highlights ways in which boys outperform girls. The author of Why Gender Matters explained in an interview with the National Post (Feb 24, 2005) that one of the most interesting differences that exist between boys and girls is how they deal with stress, and how they regard sex. For example, he notes that educational ads that stress the harm drugs do to brain cells will affect boys and girls very differently: Girls don’t want to ruin their brains. But risk-taking boys – who are exactly the boys who are most at risk for using drugs – will see an ad like that and think “Way cool! Drugs fry your brain! Where can I get some?” Girls and boys also have premarital sex for very different reasons: High self-esteem decreases the odds of a teenage girl having sex, but increases the odds of a teenage boy having sex. Participation in competitive sports such as soccer and basketball decreases the odds of a girl having sex, but increases the odds of a boy having sex. The Bible makes it clear that God gave men and women different roles, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to us that He made men and women quite different. As Sax has found out, boys and girls really are different. In the world that’s a controversial idea, but to us it should be just a matter of common sense - Christian common sense. ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - April 2019

Strong men can laugh “Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.” – G.K. Chesterton An iPhone Hack to Try “Two months ago, I pulled the trigger on a revolutionary move for me: I deleted the internet from my iPhone. I have access to all my essential apps, but I no longer have social media or access to any websites. I can do a quick Google search, but nothing more. I. Am. So. Glad I did. “It broke my addictive habit of staring off into iPhone-world, and I don't miss it a bit. I wish I did, actually: it would justify the *3 hours* of time (according to Screentime) I've saved every day NOT looking at my phone. “Here's how to do it: Under Settings > Screentime > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Web Content choose "Allowed Websites Only" and don't choose any except a few that you need access to (the only one I allowed was my bank account's website, connected to my banking app). “Do it. Try it for a week. Write me then.” – Nicholas McDonald, reprinted with permission from his email newsletter The Bard Owl (ScribblePreach.com). Two jests are better than one A horse walks into a bar and orders ten beers which he quickly downs. The bartender says, “Wow – don’t you think you’re drinking too much?” The horse ponders for a minute and then responds, “I don’t think I am.” And poof, he disappears. It’s at this point that the philosophy students reading this joke start to snicker, familiar as they are with Descartes’ postulate: “I think, therefore I am.” The rest of us might have wished for some mention of the postulate right at the start. But that would have been putting Descartes before the horse. SOURCE: A Joke making its way around the Internet On giving “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill Don’t do the “dismal science” dismally "It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a 'dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance." - Murray Rothbard (echoing the wisdom of Prov. 10:19) Curing the postmodern disease During the two years RC Sproul Jr. taught university freshman English it became clear that many of his students had succumbed to the sickness of postmodernism. But Sproul was ready with a cure for their disease. In a 2006 speech he recounted how he administered the cure to one student: “ student in the back blurted out, ‘There’s no such thing as objective truth.’ Just like that. “And I said to him ‘you get an F in this class for this semester’ and then I went back to the conversation we were having. And, of course, in the corner of my eye I could see his blood pressure rising, and his face getting redder and redder. And he’s holding his hand up. “‘Yes what is it?’ “What do you think he said? ‘That’s not fair!’ “I strung him along a little longer. I said, ‘I’m sorry. You must have misunderstood me. I’m not giving you the F because anybody stupid enough to say there’s no such thing as objective truth obviously deserves an F. That’s not my thinking at all! You misunderstood. No, I’m just giving you the F because I want to.’ And then I went back to the rest of the class. “He got madder. By now some of the students had figured it out. Some of them hadn’t, including that one. And he said, ‘I’ll tell the administration!’ “Finally I had pity on him and I said, ‘What are you going to tell them? Are you going to tell them I have failed to measure up to some external, objective, transcendent standard of what’s right and wrong? Because you told me there is no such thing!’ “‘Oh… okay. Well… I guess there is.’ “‘Welcome back to the human race,’ and then we went on with our business.” SOURCE: Speech entitled: “The Weapons of our Warfare: Beauty” If it can’t be bad, it can’t be good "Where people might say, 'well, that's a bad Hopper, or a bad El Greco,' I've never seen anyone say 'that's a bad Pollock.' Either they're all bad, or they're all good." - Robert Cenedella arguing that abstract paintings (such as the work of Jackson Pollock) with its uncertain standards, are not great art.                 Picture credit: neftali / Shutterstock.com...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - March 2019

Chesterton on whether love is blind The world tells us that we shouldn't try to change those we love, that if we really love them then we will be able to look past their faults. Love, we are told, is blind. G.K. Chesterton knew better. As he explained in Orthodoxy "Love is not blind; that is the last thing it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind." If we love only because we believe our spouse to be perfect, then what will happen when their faults are found out? That sort of "love" will fall to pieces. But if there is commitment – if the two are bound tightly as one – then there is no need for blindness. Then we can acknowledge our flaws, and as a couple work together to fight them. In love we can help one another's sanctification. Bound is so much better than blind. How many types of people? While there are just two types of people in the world – those willing to ask for directions, and men – that has become a contentious point. But after doing some extensive research we’ve discovered that even as the binary nature of Mankind is being disputed in the broader culture, in the world of humor the consensus still leans heavily towards just two. There are 10 types of people in the world: those who get binary and those who don’t. There are 3 types of people in the world: those that can count and those that can’t. There are 2 types of people in the world: those who have the paper come up over the toilet roll, and monsters. There are 2 types of people in the world: those who think there are 2 types of people in the world, and those who don't. There are 2 types of people in the world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data There are 2 types of people in the world: those who finish jokes... The quotable Churchill Britain’s bulldog was never short of witticisms worth pondering. “In politics when you are in doubt what to do, do nothing... when you are in doubt what to say, say what you really think.” “The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.” If you were to invent a god... There are many invented gods and the inventions are easy to spot. Like most fiction, they are based on what the authors already knew. Consider the Greek and Romans gods: petty, combative, lustful and jealous... just like us. These gods had very human foibles and follies, only magnified. But, as Charles Colson notes in his book God and Government the one true God is very different. "...for those who insist that God is created by man, perhaps the most telling argument is to consider the nature and character of the God revealed in the Bible. If we were making up our own god, would we create one with such absolute demands for justice, righteousness, service, and self-sacrifice as we find in the biblical texts? (As someone has said, Moses didn’t come down from the mountain with the Ten Suggestions!) "Would Israel’s powerful elite have concocted such declarations as, 'He defended the cause of the poor and needy...Is that not what it means to know me?' Would the pious New Testament religious establishment have created a God who condemned them for their own hypocrisy? Would even a zealous disciple have invented a Messiah who called His followers to sell all, give their possessions to the poor, and follow Him to their deaths? The skeptic who believes the Bible’s human authors manufactured their God out of psychological need has not read the Scriptures carefully." Teaching our kids media literacy “As your kids get a little older, if they want to spend time consuming media, get into the habit of rather than saying yes or no, instead say, 'Convince me.' Ask them to articulate why a specific TV show, movie, or game benefits their life in some way. This is not to be glib, but to really hear what they have to say. It forces them to not treat media time as a default mode, but to see it as a privilege that impacts their hearts and minds.” – Luke Gilkerson, in his free e-book Parenting the Internet Generation. (You do have to give your name and email address but it is highly recommended.) Geoffrey Chaucer on the pull of porn on your kids too Some parents make the mistake of thinking it is only bad kids – other people’s kids – who get sucked in by the lure of pornography. Well, Geoffrey Chaucer has a thought for you. Ful ofte tyme I rede that no man truste in his owene perfeccioun, but he be stronger than Sampson, and hoolier than David, and wiser than Salomon. If you didn’t quite catch that, here’s an updated version: I’ve read that no man should trust his own perfection unless he is stronger than Sampson, and holier than David, and wiser than Solomon. These here are the strongest, wisest, and most devoted, men in the Bible and they all succumbed to sexual sin. Do we really think our kids are so much better than them? Let’s not be that naïve (1 Cor. 10:12). While our children are not strong enough to stand up to temptation on their own, they can run to Jesus, relying on His strength and not their own. This means regularly talking to Him in prayer and hearing from Him by reading His Word. We also need to teach our children how to use God-given wisdom in fleeing digital sin by using accountability partners (Eccl 4:12), or by going to the seemingly extreme measures of “cutting off” (Matt. 5:29-30) certain apps, and eliminating or severely curtailing their smartphone or Internet access. But we can't go on doing nothing, and pretending our kids are, "stronger than Sampson...holier than David, and wiser than Solomon." ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - February 2019

Satire, impactful satire Turnabout is fair play Rebutting a secular argument can be as simple as applying its logic more broadly. Samuel Sey (@SlowToWrite), a Reformed black blogger, gave a pro-life example of this with his January 14 tweet: Her: "You're a man. You can't say abortion is wrong!" Me: "If a White cop wanted to shoot me in my face, would you defend me?" Her: "Yes, I would." Me: "But you're White. You can't say racism is wrong" Her: O_O Me: "My gender, your ethnicity, doesn't mean we can't speak up." Who do you want to know better? In a holiday ad (for Spanish speakers) the furniture giant IKEA gathered several families, seating each clan around a large table where a holiday feast was prepared with all the trimmings. Then a quiz started: if a person answered the question correctly they could stay and keep eating, but if they got something wrong they had to leave. Initially, everyone found the quiz easy, correctly answering questions like: What animal filters can you find on Instagram stories? Can you demonstrate the “swish swish” (or “floss”) dance? What is the latest Instagram feature? Can you finish a lyric from this current song? What does this text message abbreviation mean? How did this celebrity couple meet? But when the questions became more personal the answers stopped coming: How did your parents meet? What exactly is your dad’s job? What degrees does your grandma have? What’s your son’s favorite group? What’s your wife’s dream? What has your mother been studying recently? Some family members tried to guess the right answer, but one after another, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, grandparents too, had to get up and leave. Finally, there was one solitary figure remaining, a lonely grandpa. A teen daughter summed up the embarrassment everyone felt: “What I’ve discovered is that I don’t know as much about my family as I do about some celebrities.” There was a happy ending. Everyone was invited back to the table, but this time smartphones were placed in a box in the middle of the table and the lid was firmly affixed.  If only… “You’ve heard about the merger that’s coming next year between Facebook, YouTube and Twitter? It’s going to be called YouTwitFace.” - Dr. Joe Boot Don’t give your kids smartphones. Let them use yours. In a mid-December Facebook post on his page, Tedd Tripp shared a strategy for parents wondering how to guide their children in the area of smartphones. While Christmas has passed, his advice is just as valuable for the new year. This is what he wrote:  Don't give your kids a smartphone for Christmas! Do your kids need a phone? Are they ready for a smartphone? If so, I have a suggestion, don't give them a phone. Let them use yours. Here is the conversation you want to have, "I have a phone here, it is my phone, I bought it, it is on my plan and I would like to let you use my phone. Here are the conditions... "(whatever conditions you deem appropriate) "as long as you honor these conditions, you can use my phone. Oh. and since it is my phone, I have the passwords and I can look at my phone whenever I think it is appropriate. If you can accept these conditions, I would love to have you use my phone." Think about it. Once I say, "Here, I bought you a phone." Whose phone is it? So, don't give your kids a phone, let them use yours. Our children’s mentors “We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.” – Dr. Voddie Baucham To disagree is not bullying…and everyone knows it “ argue that anything short of full acceptance is homophobic bullying. That means unless you affirm and approve of all LGBT+ lifestyles, you are a bigot, a phobe and, yes, a bully. “The Christian, by contrast, wants to say that it is possible to be anti-bullying of all forms without necessarily affirming everything about them….. “Of course, we all recognize that the Christian position is entirely legitimate. None of us have to affirm all the views and practices of Islam, for example – nor do we have to attend pro-Muslim marches – in order to be clear that we don’t think Muslims should be bullied. Most people would agree that it would be entirely wrong, not to say untrue, to call me an Islamophobe because I won’t affirm my belief in Allah as the one true God and Mohammad as a prophet….. But to insist I affirm it or else I am bullying them, everyone who isn’t a Muslim evidently agrees that is nonsense.” - Stephen Kneale Déjà vu all over again G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) lived 100 years ago but the quotes below seem to show that the time and culture he spoke to was not all that different from our own. “We are learning to do a great many clever things… The next great task will be to learn not to do them.” “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.” “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” “The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.” “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.” ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - January 2019

Why did the _____ cross the road? One of the wonderful things about children is that they are a new audience. Dads, they haven’t heard any of your material before – they don’t know why the chicken crossed the road! Another wonderful thing? They love to riff off of mom and dad, so if you get the jokes started, they may just take them places you’ve never been. Here’s a few selections from the Dykstra joke factory, starting with the classic that spawned all the rest. (What can you add?) Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Why did the cow cross the road? To get to the mooooooovie theater. Why did the horse cross the road? – To visit his neigh Why did the lamb cross the road even though his momma said not to? – Because he was being baaaaaaad Why didn’t the possum cross the road? – He tried but he died. Why did the child cross the road? – To get to the other Why did his momma cross the road? – To get to her child who cried. Why did the unborn baby cross the road? – She was along for the ride. Why did the donut cross the road? – I donut know Why did Benedict Arnold cross the road? – To switch to the other side. Chesterton on valuing tradition and all those who have gone before us “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.” – Orthodoxy On the difference between Liberals and Conservatives “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives . The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” – G. K. Chesterton When does a thief stop being a thief? It’s not when he stops stealing! “The old child’s joke, ‘When is a door not a door?’ Answer: ‘when it is ajar’ is not funny….No, not funny, but quite useful as a paradigm. Run it this way: When is a                  not a                   ? When it’s a                . Ah, now we have something. Just fill in the blanks. When is a liar not a liar? When is a thief not a thief? If your answers were “When he stops lying” and “When he stops stealing,” you’d be wrong. “The true answers are found in Ephesians 4. There you see that the liar is no longer a liar only when he becomes a truth teller. The thief is no longer a thief only when he works for a living and gives from his earnings to those who are truly in need. “You see, until he puts on the alternative lifestyle, he is a liar who doesn’t happen to be a lying at the moment. But put him under pressure and he will still lie. The thief is still a thief when he isn’t stealing — he’s just a thief between “jobs.” He will still steal when given the opportunity. This is why biblical counselors believe in the put off/put on dynamic of Ephesians 4, Colossians 3 and elsewhere.” - Jay Adams in a February 24, 2009 post (reprinted here with permission) Charles Spurgeon on discernment "Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right."  What is socialism? “Let’s first define the term socialism…. Socialism isn’t happy thoughts, nebulous fantasies, mere good intentions, or children sharing their Halloween candy with one another. In a modern political, economic, and social context, socialism isn’t voluntary like the Girl Scouts. Its central characteristic is the concentration of power to forcibly achieve one or more (or usually all) of these purposes: central planning of the economy, government ownership of property, and the redistribution of wealth. No amount of ‘we do it all for you’ or ‘it’s for your own good’ or ‘we’re helping people’ rhetoric can erase that. What makes socialism socialism is the fact that you can’t opt out, a point eloquently made here by David Boaz of the Cato Institute: ‘One difference between libertarianism and socialism is that a socialist society can’t tolerate groups of people practicing freedom, but a libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism. If a group of people – even a very large group – wanted to purchase land and own it in common, they would be free to do so. The libertarian legal order would require only that no one be coerced into joining or giving up his property.’ “Government, whether big or small, is the only entity in society that possesses a legal monopoly over the use of force. The more force it initiates against people, the more it subordinates the choices of the ruled to the whims of their rulers – that is, the more socialist it becomes. A reader may object to this description by insisting that to ‘socialize’ something is to simply ‘share’ it and ‘help people’ in the process, but that’s baby talk. It’s how you do it that defines the system. Do it through the use of force, and it’s socialism. Do it through persuasion, free will, and respect for property rights, and it’s something else entirely.” – Lawrence W. Reed, in Rendering to Caesar: Was Jesus a Socialist?...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - December 2018

Feminism’s two errors “ the heresy that women and men are not fundamentally different and that women ought to be as much like men as possible, especially as selfish and aggressive as possible. The two most ridiculous errors about men and women are unisexism and male chauvinism. The unisex feminist says that women and men are not different in value, therefore they are not different in nature. The male chauvinist says that men and women are different in nature, therefore they are different in value.” - Peter Kreeft, as interviewed by Marvin Olasky in “Dangerous Waves” Context is key There are many an inspirational bible text that turns out to mean quite something else when read in context. Two of the more famous are: 1) I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me Philippians 4:13 is used to inspire Christians to take on impossible tasks. In context we can see Paul is speaking not to all he can accomplish in Christ, but all he can He is speaking here of how in good times and bad (which includes beatings, shipwrecks, and prison) God has taught him to be content. It might be better understood as "I can endure all things in Christ who strengthens me." 2) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 is used as a frequent college graduation verse or marriage verse to alert the graduate or couple as to the material good God has in mind for them in the near future. But the context of this verse is God telling Israel that it will take 70 years before He returns them from exile. A meme making its way around the Internet offers up the very best verse to illustrate the importance of context. Luke 4:7 reads: “There if you worship before me, it shall all be yours.” Seemingly just the thing for an inspirational bookmark or piece of wall art, it is, as the meme notes, “less inspirational if you know who said it.” Spurgeon on who’s leading whom by the nose “I believe that one reason why the Church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the Church.” - Charles Spurgeon Fake news won’t cover it, but God is pouring out his blessings The media makes its money telling us about all the horrible things going on in the world. But while examples of Man’s total depravity abound, we should not lose sight of how God’s restraining hand is at work, and his blessings abound. As Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan report in their chapter of FEE’s Essential Guide to Navigating the News what the public perceives, and what actually is, can be very different. For example, over half of Americans think gun violence is getting worse in their country. But Davies and Harrigan note: “According to the FBI, the rate of firearm deaths today is half — and the rate of non-fatal firearm crimes is one-quarter — of what they were just 20 years ago. Even with mass shootings, gun violence today is a shadow of what it was a generation ago.” And if you’re under the impression that violence is increasing around the globe, consider this: “During World War II, 300 out of every 100,000 people on Earth died annually in war. During the Korean War, the number dropped to 20. Today, it is 1.” The good news continues: “Humans are not only eradicating violence, they are also eradicating poverty. The number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped from 70 percent of all humans in 1900, to 55 percent in 1950, to 35 percent a generation ago, to less than 10 percent today.” Worldwide child labor rates have been halved since the 1950s, and education rates, longevity, and income, have all “risen almost 20 percent over the past generation” by United Nation measures. The world isn’t perfect – not by any means – but we shouldn’t let the media blind us to the blessings God continues to shower on this world. Don’t be change-resistant In 2008 Barack Obama promised “Hope and Change.” The slogan resonated – voters’ hope was that the change he brought would be an improvement. And while it was undeniable he brought change, in 2012 he got ten million fewer votes. This bloc of voters concluded change and improvement are hardly synonymous. When we look around us at an ever more liberal Western Church and increasingly pagan culture, we might be tempted to believe that change is synonymous with decline. But just as we shouldn’t support change for change’s sake, we mustn’t resist change for resistance’s sake. “We’ve never done it that way,” is a reason to proceed with caution, but it is not (as some treat it) a discussion ender. “Thus says the Lord” is a final word with no appeal (if indeed the Lord has said thus) but we must never give “That’s the way we’ve always done it” the same sacred status. Whole lot of change going on “We obviously live in a changing world. Consider a few of the following realities: the world’s largest taxi company, Uber, does not own one vehicle. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Alibaba, the world’s largest retailer, owns no product. Some fairly significant changes in the world order, the way we do business.” – Tim Van Soelen, “The Seven Last Words of a Dying Church ?” English is…interesting Words that should rhyme: cough and tough, boot and foot Words that shouldn’t rhyme: Pony and bologna; money and funny Words that don’t rhyme with anything at all: bulb, angel, silver, purple, husband, and woman ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - November 2018

Lame Dutch joke of the month A Canadian and a Dutchman were out riding horses. Canadian: “We’ve got quite the set of fine horses here. How do you say ‘horses’ in Dutch?” Dutch equestrian: “Paarden.” Canadian: “I’m sorry…WHAT I SAID WAS HOW DO YOU SAY ‘HORSES’ IN DUTCH?" Apologetic on homosexuality? “Imagine this. Imagine I'm standing up here to preach a message about adultery. And as I introduce my message on adultery I say, ‘I just want everyone to know I love adulterers. I have friends who are adulterers. And I think we need to be kind to adulterers. We need to embrace adulterers.’ "That would sound kind of odd, wouldn’t it? If I was talking about pedophilia, or if I was talking about drunkenness, it would sound odd. But folks, that's the way almost every sermon on homosexuality starts today. With a thousand excuses and explanations and apologies for what's about to come.” – Voddie Baucham There is a hell. Jesus says so. Some theologians, including big names like Rob Bell and John Stott, don’t believe in hell, or at least that it is eternal. Instead, Stott suggested that lost souls might be annihilated and cease to exist. However, as Thor Ramsey notes in his book The Most Encouraging Book on Hell Ever, this doctrine does serious damage to our understanding of God’s holiness and justice. And what then are we to make of what Jesus says in Matt. 26:24: “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born”? “Jesus is saying for Judas, non-existence – having never existed at all – would be better than something else….Jesus is clearly saying Judas is on his way to hell. But from the perspective of annihilationism the question becomes: Is non-existence better for someone than an eternity of non-existence? Huh? “If annihilationism is true, then what Jesus said here about Judas is pretty much nonsense….Jesus was basically just babbling. And he didn’t do that.” Hell does exist; Jesus says so. And the world needs to be told to turn from their sin and flee God’s coming wrath. One verse to rebut them all Christians know that while there are many groups battling it out for influence and position in our cultural wars, there are only two sides: God’s, and the other. And that dividing line is spelled out right in the very first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” As Henry Morris has noted, in his The Genesis Record this short verse presents a stark contrast to so many of the ideologies of the past and present. It rebuts atheism (God created), pantheism (because God is separate from His creation), polytheism (because one God created), materialism (because something before and beyond matter created matter), humanism (because God, not Man, is the measure of all things), and evolutionism (because God created). Dr. Joel McDurmon has noted that this verse also seems to (though less explicitly) rebut unitarianism too, which says God is one person, because, even as the verb created here is singular, the word for God here Elohim is in the plural, giving a hint as to God’s Triune nature. Direction matters “So if one man wants to drive to the East Coast in a Ford, he has more in common with a man who wants to do the same thing in a Chevy than he does with another man driving to the West Coast in a Ford. Couple this with the fact that it is possible to pass someone on the road who is going the opposite direction, and at the precise moment when you do that, you are in exactly the same spot. Further, somebody else who is going to the same place you are might be a hundred miles behind you” – Douglas Wilson in Empires of Dirt On the real reason for democracy "Thus the principle of democracy does not in itself testify that everyone is so competent that their opinion must be acted upon. The principle of democracy testifies that everyone is so subject to corruption that the reins of power must not be left for long in anyone's hands without check." – Harry Blamires...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - October 2018

How to be a revolutionary When a Christian conference is titled “How to enrage the culture” you might think it would be encouraging radical and revolutionary means. And you’d be right, when you consider that getting married, having kids, and raising them in the fear and love of the Lord are pretty radical and revolutionary ideas these days. How radical and revolutionary? Well, one of the conference speakers, Pastor Toby Sumpter, shared this illustrative anecdote: “A few years ago, I’d come home from work, and my wife was finishing making dinner in the kitchen, and I was reading. She gets a phone call….some kind of alumni survey, and at the end they’re doing the demographic stuff. And I hear her say: ‘Homemaker….homeMAKER…HOMEMAKER!!! I’m a wife and a mom – that’s what I do!’ She gets off the phone a couple of minutes later and she shares, ‘The girl I was talking to had never heard of a homemaker.’” Hitler had help We raise our children to be obedient and to respect those in authority. But have we also taught them that a time may well come (doesn't it seem inevitable?) that their country, their boss, their co-workers, union, friends and maybe even their parents, may ask of them something that the only proper response will be "No, I cannot do that, because that is contrary to what God has said"? In this book Hitler, God, and the Bible, author Ray Comfort explains that the only reason Hitler was able to kill as many as he did was because he had so many obedient followers. Almost every part of Germany's bureaucracy had a hand in the killing process. Churches and the Interior Ministry produced the necessary birth records identifying those who were Jewish. The Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish wealth and property. The Postal Service delivered the notices of deportation and denaturalization. The Transportation Department arranged for trains to transfer Jews to concentration camps. Even the private sector cooperated in the efforts. Businesses fired Jewish workers. Pharmaceutical firms tested drugs on camp prisoners. Companies bid for contracts to build the crematoria. Universities fired Jewish professors and expelled Jewish students. It seems that the whole country unified to make the procedure work like a well-oiled machine. One of the lessons we must pass on to our children – a lesson for all time – is that it is no excuse to say "I was just following orders" when you know those orders are evil. Why you should quit “Cigarettes are like squirrels. They are perfectly harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it on fire.” Source: a meme circulating the Internet 11 words that should exist Arghument – assertions back by vehemence, not evidence. Also, a debate between pirates Caffé’d - as in, “he was sufficiently caffe’d to finish off the paper.” Chick-fil-A’d – to be cut to pieces for all the right reasons Friendzy – involves inviting everyone ever encountered to be your Facebook friend Heil’d – Damned with faint praise by noting that he/she probably isn’t a Nazi Lastest – the latest and last draft Questian – someone in search of their next cause Trans-fluid – a vital engine lubricant, or someone who both does, and doesn’t, identify as gender fluid Complimentarianism – the view that husbands and wives need to say more nice things to each other Squarcle – a square circle. See “gay marriage” Oopsidentally – "accidentally" may already cover it, but isn't this way better? Losing Hell undermines the Gospel message “ bestselling Christian author says…the preaching or teaching of hell is ‘misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world so desperately needs to hear.’ “If his viewpoint is true – that ultimately everyone ends up in heaven – then preaching eternal punishment subverts nothing. If we all end up in heaven, why do we even need to find forgiveness here on earth? Even us monsters who believe in hell will end up in heaven. I find it interesting that many contemporary preachers want to save people from the idea of hell, rather than from hell itself.” – Thor Ramsey (in The most encouraging book on Hell ever) Teaching media literacy In his free e-book Parenting the Internet Generation, author Luke Gilkerson talks about the steps we can take to teach our children discernment when it comes to the various forms of media they watch and interact with. Gilkerson writes: Media literacy can be taught starting at any age, but starting around the age of 7, children start to become ripe for more critical analysis of the media they see. Prior to this, the focus should be primarily on selecting good media for your kids. After this, the focus should start to be more on discussing media with your kids. Media literacy is vital in our media-rich age for many reasons, but especially for parents who want to prepare kids well for our over-sexualized age. If our children aren’t used to thinking critically about any of the media they consume, then this will extend to sexually charged and objectifying media as well. When kids lack media literacy skills, it is like death by a thousand paper cuts. Will one uncritical, passive viewing of a video or movie with poor values ruin your child’s life? No, of course not. But if our children develop a habit of merely passive media consumption, if they aren’t trained to think about media messages, they will eventually soak up the values they consume. Download Parenting the Internet Generation here (you do have to give your name and email address) - it's highly recommended!...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - September 2018

What parent wouldn’t love this present? One of the biggest, most expensive presents we will ever give our children is Christian schooling. But do our children understand the real value of this gift they’ve been given? Some do. A friend, Sharon Bratcher, recently rediscovered this 30-year-old certificate that she and her sibling gave her parents way back when. Reading it, I couldn’t help getting a bit misty-eyed; this is a present every parent would treasure. It said: Whereas Marvin C. and Helen A. Osborne have unselfishly deprived themselves of some of the material goods and financial security which could have been theirs, in order to provide a high quality Christian education for each of their four children during the past 18 years, We do now, on the date of the final graduation ceremony, this 6th day of June in the year of our Lord 1985, join together to express to them our deepest love, and gratitude for the sacrifices which they have made and the love which they have expressed this way. Thank-you Dad and Mom. May God bless and reward you. Knock, knock A good one, from Andy Simmons in the Sept 2014 Reader's Digest: “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “To.” “To who?” “No, to whom.” And speaking of grammar nazis.... Nazi: "Sir, we're mining too many useless pyrite nuggets." Hitler: "Then mine less of them." Grammar Nazi: "Mine FEWER!" Hitler: "Yes?" SOURCE: slightly modified from a joke making its way around the Internet Succinct, on spanking “The child is regarded, indeed is described in law, as ‘a dependent.’ Because children are deemed unable to realistically foresee the consequences of what they’re doing…they are denied the rights to such things as tobacco, drugs, sex, credit cards, automobiles and freedom from education. Therefore the child is seen to be dependent’ on its parents. Should the parents shirk this responsibility the law holds them culpable. But another ancient principle of justice applies here. Society must not confer a responsibility without conferring sufficient authority to carry it out. You cannot expect a man or woman to do something unless they have the power to do it. That’s why the Criminal Code recognizes this right of parents, teachers and legal guardians to physically discipline children.” – Ted Byfield, as quoted in Michael Wagner’s True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada Lurking on the public library shelves When I noticed A Tale of Two Daddies among the books we’d picked up from the library, I was hoping my first grader hadn’t read it yet. No such luck. But she reassured me, “Don’t worry dad, it’s a good book – it’s about a girl with a daddy and a poppa.” “A poppa?” “Yup.” No harm done – our neighbor’s girls call their grandpa “poppa” and my little one, in her blessed naiveté thought this book was about a girl, her daddy, and her grandpa. But it was another reminder of what lurks on the library shelves, even in the picture book section. C.S. Lewis on democracy “I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure… The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.” Gossip vs. Flattery Blogger Annie Kate Aarnouste recently passed along the difference between gossip and flattery. The quote is from Disciplines of a Godly Woman. "Gossip is saying behind a person's back what you would never say to her face.  Flattery is saying to a person's face what you would never say behind her back."...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - August 2018

Help wanted: men “Imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and their had said: ‘The world is out of order. But if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’ “Such conduct on their part would have us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the infectious bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. It is today as it was in the Reformers’ days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man – where is the man for the day?” - Charles Spurgeon College more hazardous than joining the Normandy invasion? “We've seen a number of surveys that have demonstrated that of kids who are attending church regularly in their senior year in high school, by the time they finish their freshman year in college three out of four of them will have walked away from their faith and they're no longer involved as Christians….One of the statistics, a visual image that I think helps parents to think about it is, if you were to sign your children up to be in the boats on the Normandy Beach Invasion they would have a better chance of surviving that than surviving spiritually in colleges now. That experience is not something most parents are eager to sign their children up for, but we do it in a pretty unthinking way right now.” – Dr. Ben Merkle Chesterton on miracles In their book, How Should Christians Approach Origins?, professors John Byl and Tom Goss note that atheistic science is often based on assumptions, rather than evidence. For example, our physical laws are assumed to be “valid universally throughout time and space.” Yet, we can only observe a very small portion of the universe, so we are simply assuming everything acts the same everywhere else. And then, when someone comes across something extraordinary – something miraculous that seems to violate those laws – it will be rejected based on this assumption. And here Goss and Byl include a wonderful quote from G.K. Chesteron’s Orthodoxy. Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. Be like the Reformers – like something good on Facebook! Over at the Sheologians Facebook page, a tip on how we can be like the Reformers. “The Reformation could not have happened without the creation of the printing press and the revolution of mass communication. Social media is our printing press. Like things. Share them. Be the Reformers…” Galileo: the Church’s real mistake “Keep in mind that the battle between Galileo and the church was not a battle between science and mindless fundamentalism. It was a battle between new science and old science, and the error of the church had been that of getting into bed with the best science of the day. And we all know, as Max Planck put it, science advances funeral by funeral.” – Douglas Wilson (in Writers to Read)  The wit and wisdom of George Hebert George Hebert was best known as a Christian poet, but he published a collection of proverbs he collected over his lifetime. Here are a half dozen of the best. The scalded dog fears cold water – experiences can teach the wrong lesson Who gives to all, denies all – saying yes to every person who ask for your time is sure to shortchanges everyone A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders see farther of the two – even those with amazing parents should aim to do better than them, since you get to build on their work. Were there no hearers there would be no backbiters – it takes two to gossip; don’t listen Good and quickly seldom meet – most often it is one or the other Better suffer ill than do ill – better to be bullied, than be a bully ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - July 2018

A most wonderful secret "What does it feel like?" I asked. "To have a whole new person growing inside you?" My mom sat down on the couch and leaned back and thought for a while. A pretty smile spread over her face. "That's a big question," she said slowly, "A big answer. But I'll try. It feels like...it feels like you have the most wonderful secret that makes everything...Oh I know! Remember what you said when you got your kitten? You said that afterward, it sounded like all the regular noise in the world had turned to music. Well, that's what it's like, Clementine. The wonderful secret of having a baby coming makes all the world's noise turn into music." "Did you feel that way when you were going to have me too?" I asked. "Oh honey," my mom said, putting her arm around me. "I still feel like that with you." – author Sara Pennypacker, in her Clementine and the Family Meeting Dealing with fake news Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer has advice on what to do if we still can’t tell whether a story is fake or not. "…don't post it. If you have not, will not, or cannot confirm a story, do not share it. As Christians, we have a higher standard than even the journalist. We aren’t protecting the reputation of an organization or a website, we bear the name of our King. If our friends and families cannot trust us with this type of news, many will not listen when we seek to share the good news of the gospel." One flesh “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” – From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Genesis 2 One of God's favorite verses in the Bible? We all have our own favorite verses in the Bible, many of them comforting passages. The world’s favorite verse is probably Matthew 7:1a “Do not judge.” The verse that is share with the world most often might be John 3:16, written up large on poster board and displayed at football and baseball stadiums around North America. But Baptist pastor Jeff Durbin suggests that one of God’s favorite bible verses strikes a very different tone. Psalm 110:1 is the Old Testament verse that is most cited in the New Testament, and it proclaims Jesus’ sovereignty: "The Lord says to my Lord: “'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'” The wit and wisdom of George Hebert George Hebert was best known as a Christian poet, but he published a collection of proverbs he collected over his lifetime. Here are a half dozen of the best: A fool may throw a stone into a well which a hundred wise men cannot pull out – being destructive is easy; being constructive takes real effort Comparisons are odious – they are the root of discontent and covetousness One hour’s sleep before midnight is worth three after – we all know it He that steals an egg will steal an ox – there aren’t degrees of trustworthiness Luke was a saint and a physician, yet is dead – the prosperity doctrine is bunk The fat man knoweth not what the lean thinketh – we shouldn’t assume that just because we were once hungry (or young, or poor, or single, or jobless, or etc.) that we still completely understand what it is like. How to be a revolutionary When a Christian conference is titled “How to enrage the culture” you might think it would be encouraging radical and revolutionary means. And you’d be right, when you consider that getting married, having kids, and raising them in the fear and love of the Lord are pretty radical and revolutionary ideas these days. How radical and revolutionary? Well, one of the conference speakers, Pastor Toby Sumpter, shared this illustrative anecdote: “A few years ago, I’d come home from work, and my wife was finishing making dinner in the kitchen, and I was reading. She gets a phone call….some kind of alumni survey, and at the end they’re doing the demographic stuff. And I hear her say: ‘Homemaker….homeMAKER…HOMEMAKER!!! I’m a wife and a mom – that’s what I do!’ She gets off the phone a couple of minutes later and she shares, ‘The girl I was talking to had never heard of a homemaker.’” It’s time for the men to act like men “Imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and their had said: ‘The world is out of order. But if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’ “Such conduct on their part would have us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the infectious bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. It is today as it was in the Reformers’ days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man – where is the man for the day?” - Charles Spurgeon...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - June 2018

FUTURECASTING Dr. Kathy Koch has a saying that reflects the biblical thought Paul express in 1 Cor.15:33. She notes, “Show me your friends, and I will show you your future.” ALL MARRIAGES ARE MISTAKES “Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgment concerning whom, amongst the total chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the 'real soul-mate' is the one you are actually married to.” – JRR Tolkien, The Letters of JRR Tolkien (H/T to Nicholas McDonald) WEST COAST WHINE Sue arrived in BC on a rainy day. When she woke up the next day, it was raining. It also rained the day after that, and the day after that. And the day after that. Going out to lunch, she saw a young boy jumping in the puddles, and out of despair she asked, "Hey kid! Does it ever stop raining around here?" The boy replied, "How should I know? I'm only 8." SOURCE: Modified from a joke floating around the Internet BEING BEREAN The folks at WrathAndGrace.com have come up with a T-shirt that’s a challenge to fellow Christians. We have lots of beliefs, we have lots of opinions, lots of positions, but have we searched the Scriptures to find out if they match up with what God says? WHY THE END DOESN'T JUSTIFY THE MEANS “What have you and I to do with maintaining our influence and position at the expense of truth? It is never right to do a little wrong to obtain the greatest possible good… Your duty is to do the right: consequences are with God.” – John MacArthur, as cited in Iain Murray’s John MacArthur SATIRE'S KING KNEW A GOOD JOKE WHEN HE MET ONE Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) showed generations how to do satire right and it seems his comic genius came from an ability to spot humor wherever it was to be found. A story is told of him trudging through a field, when he spotted a boy leaning lazily against a fence post. Swift asked the boy for direction to the nearby town to which the boy’s only reply was to shift his boot slightly, pointing the way with his toe. Swift laughed, and offered the boy a shilling if he could manage anything any lazier than what he had just done. The boy replied, “Put the shilling in my pocket.” SOURCE: Fintan O’Toole’s “The Genius of Creative Destruction” in the Dec. 19, 2013 edition of The New York Review ON PRAISING EFFORT, NOT TALENT Luke Gilkerson is best known for his expertise in helping parents protect their children from online dangers. But in his book Parenting the Internet Generation, he shows he’s got wisdom to share on all aspects of parenting. Resist the urge to praise your children in a way that labels them. Statements like “You’re so smart,” “You’re so kind,” “You’re my little Picasso” do our children very little good. Research shows when we praise children like this, labeling them as “smart” or “good,” this does not give them confidence. Instead they become highly sensitive to failure. Rather focus on praising the effort they put forth. If they show kindness to their sibling, tell them you’re glad they are working on paying attention to the needs of others. If they get an A on an exam, instead of telling they must be the smartest kid in class, ask them how they studied for the test and commend them for their work. Instead of giving our children an identity as “good” or “smart,” commend them for using their God-given talents and energy wisely. ABRAHAM LINCOLN ON TRANSGENDERISM? How's this for a great illustration for the transgender debate? Abraham Lincoln once told the story of a boy who was asked, how many legs would a calf have if we called its tail a leg. The boy replied, that it must be five. But he was corrected, because, after all, simply calling a tail a leg, doesn’t make it a leg. So it would seem that Lincoln understood that no matter what words we might use, words can't change the nature of a thing – a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, and a man by any other name is still what he always was. But here's the problem – he told this story in the context of considering whether he could, simply by Executive Order, free the slaves in the South. It seems, people wanted him to, and his response was, in effect "Guys, Executive Orders don't have that power, and you can't just make them have that power by saying that they do." And then, shortly afterward, we all know what happened. He issued an Executive Order called the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. And it worked...eventually (first, they actually had to conquer the South). So this is one of those great illustrations that, on closer examination, serves to make almost the opposite point. It seems you can change the nature of some things just by saying so - if you just declare an Executive Order can free slaves (and enough people agree) then it can. So does that mean men can become women? Nope. It just shows that some things are changeable. Just as Lincoln's Proclamation did actually free the slaves just because he declared the Order to have that power, so too I can (sometimes) change a dour mood by declaring my happiness with as much gusto as I can muster. I've become happy just because I've said it is should be so. This clarifies one point in the gender debate – we were never trying to say that all things are fixed and unchangeable. We were only arguing that gender is not one of those changeable things. And roses too. Roses are still roses, and smell just as sweet, even if you call them limburger cheese. Of course, Lincoln's quip about the 5-legged calf does still highlight that some things are fixed. But there are no shortage of good illustrations for that point. So this one is best left tucked away in the history books.  ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - May 2018

“Pastor, I already know how to farm better than I do” In an April 16 post at nouthetic.org, Donn R. Arms recounts how, as a young pastor in a rural western town, he eagerly shared with one of the deacons about his plans to attend “the latest and greatest conferences on church growth.” The deacon gave a surprising response; he said: “Pastor, I already know how to farm better than I do.” As Arms notes: “It was, of course, his kind and gentle way of telling me we simply need to do the things we already knew to do rather than constantly seeking the next big thing to make our church grow.” In praise of peppermints “…William Dember, a professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati, has conducted a study of the impact of the scent of peppermint on people required to do "sustained vigilance tasks." What did he find? That the mere smell of peppermint increased attentiveness and concentration by 15 percent! ….If the mere smell of peppermints can increase concentration, think what the smell and taste can do! It appears, then, that Reformed people have been entirely correct in maintaining the custom of eating peppermints at the beginning of the sermon.” – Bert Witvoet, as quoted in the July 10, 2017 Christian Courier The media…on the media “It’s a business. People are like, the media has an ethical pshsss… All the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable. Yeah, this is a business.” – CNN Senior Producer John Bonifield, as caught on a video published June 27 by James O’Keefe’s undercover investigative unit, Project Veritas Write your eulogy “…it's time to write your eulogy -- your good (eu) word (logos). What would you like someone to be able to say honestly in seven minutes? ….There should be more to your life than your résumé. If there isn't, start working on improving your eulogy. Then work backward.” – Gary North in the March 18, 2017 edition of Dr. Gary North’s Weekly Tip Different sorts of smart Our children have their unique gifts, and if they are going to develop these gifts we need to help identify them. For some kids that’s easy: they are good at school, and so it is no problem to spot that they are “book smart.” But God blesses our children with a variety of talents, so there are other sorts of “smart.” As Dr. Kath Koch has put it, some kids are: Music smart – some kids have a song in their heart and head from day one. Body smart – good at sports, and maybe working with their hands too Nature smart – love and appreciate God’s great outdoors and everything in it People smart – they connect while with all sorts of people, and can empathize Self smart – they understand their own gifts, and can work on their own These are good categories to consider, but we could make up quite different ones if we wanted to. The point is that God has given our children different gifts and abilities, and instead of dwelling on what they might lack, we’ll do better to ask: “What sort of gifts has God given my child?” Failure to launch – one reason why “Summarizing relevant research in 2013, The Boston Globe reported a staggering statistic: Only a quarter of Americans 60 and older had discussed anything important with anyone under 36 in the previous six months! Exclude relatives and that figure dropped to a mortifying 6 percent. How alien this would have sounded to the Apostle Paul, who in Titus 2 urges older men and older women to teach the younger.” - John Stonestreet, in a May 16, 2017 Breakpoint.org commentary To arms! “Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win victory.” – J.C. Ryle in “What it costs to be a Christian” Atheism explains nothing “Atheism…is the ultimate non-explanation, ‘explaining’ by denying that explanations exist. ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ No reason. ‘What caused everything?’ Nothing. ‘What accounts for Morality?’ There is no Morality to account for. ‘Why is there Evil in the world?’ There is no real Evil in the world since there is no real Morality. ‘What is wrong with the world?’ Nothing. It just is. ‘How do we fix the world?’ We can’t fix what’s not broken.” - Greg Koukl, in Stand to Reason’s January 2, 2018 Solid Ground newsletter...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - April 2018

“Wait…what?” As our family has been reading through the Bible, certain passages (starting right off with Genesis 4) make it necessary to at least touch on the “birds and the bees” with kids. But I wasn’t ready to hear my six-year-old say: "Dad how do you spell 'sex'?" "Wait...what!? What do you mean?" "Well, I've already got I and N and I need to know what comes next." "Oh, okay. It goes S - E - C - T - S." Gender confusion clarified "The two most ridiculous errors about men and women are unisexism and male chauvinism. The unisex feminist says that women and men are not different in value, therefore they are not different in nature. The male chauvinist says that men and women are different in nature, therefore they are different in value.” – Peter Kreeft  Big and burly, but… “If you, Professor Glover, were stranded at the midnight hour in a desolate Los Angeles street…and you saw 10 burly young men who just stepped out of a dwelling coming toward you, would it or would it not make a difference to you to know they were coming from a Bible study?” – Dennis Prager making it clear to atheistic philosopher Jonathan Glover that the Bible does indeed have a positive effect on society, as recounted by Ravi Zacharias in The Real Face of Atheism Are you influencing, or being influenced? “If the Church is not transforming the culture around her, then the culture around her is transforming the Church. There is no static equilibrium point.” - Douglas Wilson On the need to read what’s old “Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means that old books.” - C. S. Lewis Was Noah’s Ark a local flood? Some Christians – those trying to reconcile evolution with creation – will say that Noah’s Flood was just a local affair, maybe widespread, but certainly not something that covered the whole Earth. There are a few problems with that idea, but one that isn't often mentioned is God’s promise in Genesis 9, to “never again” send “a flood to destroy the earth.” The type of flood God is talking about here is the sort to “destroy all flesh.” That doesn’t sound local. But if it is merely local, then we have a different problem. Local floods have happened a plenty since this promise was made, so, if we interpret the Flood, to just be one a local flood, then when God promised not to send another, we have the problem that God doesn’t seem to be keeping His Word. And we know that can’t be. So here's the end of the matter: we can either go with the eyewitness testimony of the Bible and accept it all, or we ignore what the Bible says and adopt Man’s theories instead. But the one choice that just isn’t open to us is to reconcile the two to each other. Here's one example of how it just can’t be done. Don’t put God off, and don’t ever assume it is too late “The Bible, which ranges over a period of 4,000 years, records but one instance of a death-bed conversion – one that none may despair, and but one that none may presume.” – Rev. Thomas Guthrie (1803-1873), in Early Piety If you don’t know, you can’t kill In Michael Wagner’s new book True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada, he details an encounter between pro-life journalist Ted Byfield and abortionist Henry Morgentaler, and the question that stumped Morgentaler. From early on Ted Byfield was a spokesman for the pro-life cause. He has been an outspoken defender of unborn children. In one instance he was asked by the CBC to be on a television program with the infamous abortionist Dr. Henry Morgentaler. In the course of this program Byfield presented Morgentaler with a particular hypothetical situation of the kind social studies teachers were being encouraged to present to their students: Several men are out in the woods hunting. Suddenly one of them sees something move in the bush. At last, he rejoices, a deer. Then a warning flashes through his mind. That might not be a deer. That might be one of the other hunters. Question for the class: Should the hunter fire at the thing if there’s a chance it’s another human being? The approved answer is no. After posing his question the television program was never run and he was never invited back. Morgentaler was a CBC hero and Byfield’s question exposed the wicked cause that he was promoting. The question may have been considered unfair. : The question may be hypothetical but it is certainly not unfair. The doctor, along with other liberals who defend this hideous practice, in effect argues as follows: We do not know at what point during pregnancy a fetus or an embryo becomes, in fact, a human being—whether at the instant of conception, or at the instant of birth, or at some intervening stage. Because of this uncertainty, abortion may be permitted at some elementary phase of growth. In other words, since we do not know whether the thing is human or it isn’t, then it is all right to kill it, the very reverse of the conclusion that sane people would reach in the case of the hunter. The moral principle must surely be: If you don’t know, you don’t kill it.  You can purchase True Right at Merchantship.generationalfamilies.net. Reagan’s high school principal was a good sort President Ronald Reagan once told a story about why he had such “a warm spot for principals.” "I was in the principal’s office once…and I wasn’t there just to pass the time of day. Well, at one point he said to me, 'You know, I don’t care what you think of me now, I’m only interested in what you think of me fifteen years from now.'"...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - March 2018

John Calvin on abortion “…the fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being…and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.” – John Calvin, Commentaries on the Harmony of the Law, Vol. 3 Standing still It’s only a short quote – from the Christian philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal – but something I plan to share with my kids: When everything is moving at once, nothing appears to be moving, as on board ship. When everyone is moving towards depravity, no one seems to be moving, but if someone stops, he shows up the others who are rushing on, by acting as a fixed point.” God can use individuals who will not be moved. Some are pastors like Luther, and Knox, others politicians like William Wilberforce, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan and more recently Pierre Lemieux. He can use regular folk too, like Aaron and Melissa Klein (bakers who lost their business because they wouldn’t help celebrate a gay “marriage”). And He can use us to – by standing on His Word, and refusing to move, we can be a light in our home, in our community, and in our classroom. We can help others even just by standing still.  The wit and wisdom of George Hebert George Hebert was best known as a Christian poet, but he published a collection of proverbs he collected over his lifetime. Here are ten of the best: None is a fool always; everyone sometimes All truths are not to be told Better to speak truth rudely than to lie charmingly Be what thou wouldst seem to be. Many things are lost for want of asking. More have repented speech than silence Old wine and old friends are good provisions Who spits against heaven, it falls in his face. A gift much expected is paid, not given. An oath that is not to be made is not to be kept 1984 vs. Brave New World “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” – Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death Three little letters that would help so much "Look at the Black Lives Matter movement. I get the issue. The evidence is out there about the criminal justice system and African-American males. But the tone is totally wrong. I want these issues addressed, but I want them addressed in a way that finds solutions.... I’ve said to some who defend the slogan, 'Why not add three little letters: "black lives matter too?’” That way we’re not saying that all lives don’t matter, we’re just saying that black lives have been neglected. Yet when I suggest this, there’s a big backlash. That makes me think this is not about finding a solution that all can live with. It’s about imposing a solution..." – George Yancey The first Adam vs. the Last “The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride. The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns. The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife when man opened God’s side. The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse. While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said 'take and eat,' the Last Adam told His followers, 'take and eat, this is my body.'” – John Stonestreet, “Jesus, the Last Adam” Chris McKenna’s 7-day rule for any new app Chris McKenna is an Internet expert times two – he works for the Christian Internet filtering and monitoring service Covenant Eyes, and also for his own group, Protect Young Eyes, which, via information to parents, does what its name suggests. So when he has tech advice for parents, well, it’s worth hearing. Earlier this year news came out that several dozen apps on the Google Play store contained a hidden bit of coding, that would show the user pornographic ads. In response McKenna shared what he calls his “7-day rule”: kids don’t get to use an app until after their parents have tested it out for seven straight days. Seven days will allow parents to check out whether the type of ads displayed (many apps have ads) are acceptable, and whether they are acceptable not just on the first day, but on day seven as well. Seven days allows parents to test it out with their child in mind, asking themselves, “Is my son or daughter ready for everything that I just experienced?”  ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - February 2018

Never a better time… It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s going wrong with the world that we can lose sight of all the wonders God is working in the here and now. Pastor John MacArthur reflected on this, in his eulogy given at Sproul’s funeral on Dec 20, and noted how very blessed we are to live at a time such as this. “I think you have to understand this. This is the greatest time in this history of the church for the expansion of sound doctrine. You might say this is the greatest explosion of the Truth in history. And the truth, of course, is captured in the doctrines of grace, and Reformed theology. People look at the Church today and what’s going and very often they say to me: ‘This is a very sad time, there is so much bad preaching, so much unbiblical ecclesiology, there so much poor spiritual leadership, there is so much disinterest in the doctrine of sanctification. There’s no real sense of holiness and worship.’ You know all these things. At the same time there has never been a time in the history of the world where sound doctrine is so available in a split second anywhere on the planet.” Treat animals like people isn’t elevating animals “The fact is that people who think that animals should be treated with all the respect and tenderness due to human beings will end up treating human beings like animals.” – Michael Cook What is true freedom? In his new book True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada, Michael Wagner explains the difference between what many today understand as freedom and what true freedom really entails. Link provides a brief description of how the meaning of the word “freedom” has changed since the 1960s. Freedom means doing what we want rather than doing what we should. He explains the older conservative view this way: A synonym for freedom is “self-government.” If we are self-governed, we can say we are free. It means that we have control over ourselves. And it also means that if we have lost control over ourselves, we have lost our freedom. We descend either to a state of slavery or to a state of anarchy; in our case, the latter. The idea of freedom as “self-government” is important for understanding the difference between classical and modern conceptions of freedom. Take, for example, the case of a man who is in a position to view pornography without anyone finding out. He is strongly tempted and is faced with the choice of giving in to the temptation, or turning away from it. In the modern view, true freedom means doing what he really desires, so he views the pornography. This is what he feels he wants, so he does it. He is “free” to fulfill his base desires. In the classical view, however, true freedom means he forces himself to turn away from the pornography and ignore it. How can this be called “freedom”? Because his mind overrules his passions so that he could do what is right. He is in control of himself rather than being controlled by biological urges. When a man gives in to his physical desires he is not free, he is controlled by his physical desires. Every animal gives in to its desires, so in following this path the man who views the pornography is actually a slave to his animal desires. He is controlled by his passions and therefore cannot be considered “free.” You can buy True Right by visiting Merchantship.generationalfamilies.net. Worried about your reputation? Don’t be “Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him. For you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.” – Charles Spurgeon On euphemisms, and the power in our word choices Christians know words have power. It was through words that Creation came to be (Ps. 33:8-9) and we know that Jesus is, Himself, the Word become flesh (John 1:14). The Devil also knows words have power, which is why he spends so much time trying to twist their meaning. The nonsensical distinction between gender and biological sex is his work. So too is the push for gay “marriage.” This battle was never over legal status or else it would have been over with the securing of civil unions. No, the goal was to obscure the meaning of marriage so that the term could be used to grant an aura of legitimacy to sinful same-sex unions. Euphemisms obscure the truth in all sorts of ways. Consider how the debate might be shaped if, instead of talking about “physician-assisted dying,” we used the more accurate term “physician-assisted killing.” And consider, the point that IntellectualTakeout.org’s Jon Miltimore recently made about how we glamorize pornography in the terms we used to describe it. We speak of “porn stars” but in what sense are they stars? Wouldn’t “pornographic actress” be more to the point? And instead of “adult entertainment industry” how about the less alluring term: “pornographic movie business”? Christians then, should be careful in the word choices we make - we can't go along with attempts to use language to obscure the truth. That’s why Pastor Douglas Wilson consistently refers to gay “marriage” as gay mirage, and why I make use of quotations marks, which, as my children know, means “not really.” It is why, while we might call a boy named Sue “Sue,” we should not call him a "girl." Words matter, whether to obscure the truth, as in an Orwellian doublespeak, or as Christians must do, to clarify and reveal God’s truth. A reason not to gamble Fred Couples recounts when he first learned that there is no such thing as a sure bet. The lesson was learned when the late tennis player Bobby Riggs, challenged him to a golf money match. There was one condition though – Riggs wanted one “throw” per hole. Even with one throw it seemed highly unlikely Riggs could beat the professional golfer, so Couples took the bet. “On the first hole I hit my approach shot to 15 feet. Meanwhile it took Riggs four shots to reach the green,” said Couples. “But just as I got set to putt Riggs walked over, picked up my ball and threw it out-of-bounds.” Riggs started laughing and wouldn’t accept Couples money. “You’ve heard the lesson before, but here it is again,” Couples said, “If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” SOURCE: November 2000 Golf Digest On truth vs. love I've learned that truth without love is cruel; love without truth is cowardly. – Phil Callaway, author of To Be Perfectly Honest Can’t do better than the Bible… Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens discovered that the surest way to make it to the best sellers list is to write a book attacking the existence of God. But while these prominent atheists want to make doubters of us all, Philip Yancey has a ready answer. Yancey may be staunchly Arminian, but he’s struggled with doubt for years and has a couple of insights worth sharing. He offers doubting Christians this bit of advice: “Learn to question your doubts just as much as you question your faith.” After all, atheists and the doubts they raise and the arguments they make are nothing new. Yancey sees their disciples on every campus he visits, but they don’t bother him. “When I speak on college campuses I like to choose the most skeptical, the most rebellious people - the kids who are reading newspapers instead of listening – and speak to them. And I tell them this, ‘I challenge you to find a single argument against God from the great atheists – David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, people like that – that is not already included in the Bible!…I can find every argument – in the book of Job for example – that these great philosophers have used against God.” SOURCE: When God is hiding: A candid conversation with best-selling author Philip Yancey    ...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - January 2018

On one-issue candidates “Never voting for a pro-abortion candidate makes you a one-issue voter, as never marrying a serial killer makes you a one-issue fiancé.” – John Piper We can’t count on any biblical literacy It used to be, not so long ago, that even unbelievers knew a little bit about the Bible. Ours was a culture with Judeo-Christian roots so it only made sense, even for the most ardent atheist, to read and study the Bible. I was struck by how much that has changed when a friend told me about an exchange she’d had with a co-worker. The co-worker knew this friend went to a nearby church, so when that church posted a text on the display in front of their building the co-worker knew just who to ask about it: “I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but that message your church put up, well, it just kind of seems racist. Why did you guys post that?” What was the message? The church had posted Psalm 51:7b: “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” The phrase, “whiter than snow” caught the co-worker’s attention. In a world where the phrase “it was a matter of black and white” is being banned from some government departments due to its perceived racial insensitivity, it's important to understand how even the Bible’s least offensive parts can be misconstrued and seen as offensive. This friend was able to clarify things with her coworker. But what about all those who read this and didn't have a friend to explain it? Is that a reason not to post such verses? Or is it a reason to go out into the community to be there for those who have questions and need answers?  Calvinism, Arminianism, and splitting the difference “Some try to split the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism. They say something like, 'I want to be 75% Calvinist and 25% Arminian. If they mean that literally, then they are 100% Arminian since giving any determinative place to human will is Arminian. Usually they mean that they want to stress the grace of God and human responsibility. If that is what they mean, then they can be 100% Calvinist for Calvinism does teach both that God's grace is entirely the cause of salvation and that man is responsible before God to hear and heed the call to repentance and faith.” – W. Robert Godfrey God’s sense of humor In Roland Bainton's The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century he shares the amusing story of how William Tyndale found someone to fund his translation work. A curious tale is related of how he contrived to turn the devices of his foes to advantage. The Archbishop of Canterbury was buying up his translations for burning and commissioned a certain Packington to scour the continent for more. The man went straight to Tyndale himself and informed him that he had discovered a merchant who would clean out his stock. "Who is this merchant?” said Tyndale. "The bishop of London,” said Packington. "Oh, that is because he will burn them,” said Tyndale. "Yea, marry,” quoth Packington. "I am the gladder,” said Tyndale, “for these two benefits will come of it: I shall get money from him for these books and bring myself out of debt, and the whole world shall cry out on the burning of God’s Word, and the overplus of the money shall make me more studious to correct the said New Testament, and so newly to imprint the same once again; and I trust the second will much better like you that ever did the first.” And the account concludes: “And so forward went the bargain: the bishop had the books, Packington had the thanks, and Tyndale had the money." SOURCE: H/T to Dr. Joel McDurmon...