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Human Rights, Pro-life - Abortion

Abortion supporters don't believe in equality

There are two ways society views human worth. Which leads to a better society?

****

In his now famous TedTalk, author Simon Sinek unlocks the secret to how the most powerful leaders shape their messages. They start with “Why?"  "Your Why", says Simon, “is the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do What you do." Simon illustrates with great clarity how powerful it is when leaders of any organization or movement start their message with an explanation of their purpose, their beliefs. I thought about this yesterday as I stood on the side of Main St. in Grimsby quietly participating in the Life Chain demonstration. I wondered how many of the people driving by really understood why we were there - our purpose, our belief. I wondered too if my fellow demonstrators really understood how people with opposite views on the issue of abortion can arrive hold the position they do. You can’t really take seriously the folks who drive by yelling at you and giving your kids the finger. But putting that aside for the moment, let’s be honest; demonstrations are not the most effective format for respectful and rigorous debate. They tend to polarize groups into opposing camps and do little to create empathy between people who hold different views. We’re content to consider each other crazy. However, at one point in yesterday’s hour-long demonstration a passing motorist rolled down her window and yelled to demonstrators “It’s my body, It’s my choice!” And I thought; There it is! Her “Why.” Her belief. And as horrifying as the consequences of that belief are, it struck me how perfectly logical it was that this woman might also support the idea that she has a right to end the life of another human being. There’s nothing wrong with her logic. She’s not crazy per se. She just doesn’t believe that the human growing inside her is...well, human. And that is precisely where we differ. Two views I believe that human life starts at conception. And that belief changes everything. I’m not crazy either. Far from it. Feminist author and pro-choice advocate Mary Elizabeth Williams (also a staff writer for Salon) would agree with me. In an article that Mary wrote titled “So what if abortion ends life?” she states the following:  "I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me. I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life.” She goes further:

"When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory....When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand.”

I totally agree. Which makes Mary’s following statement so confusing. She says "And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.” How can someone believing that the fetus inside them is human still claim the right to kill it? That does sound crazy to me. 1) All life is not equal But Mary explains...

"Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always."

And there it is: Mary's “Why." Her belief. Mary believes that some humans are more important than others. She’s forced herself to believe that or else her pro-choice position would be, to use her own words, "illogically contradictory.” Mary also thinks she should be the one to decide whose lives, in particular, are more important and whose aren’t. And this why I (and many others) stand in silent demonstration at the corner of Main St. and Christie St. each year. 2) All are equal because all are made in God's image I believe that I am not my own (Nope. Not my body. Not my choice) ie: I do not belong to myself. Rather, I believe that in both life and in death I belong to my faithful saviour Jesus Christ. I belong to and submit to the one (and only) creator-God who made me and who alone determines the purpose of my life. Therefore I personally am not the ultimate authority on what I can or cannot do with my life or the life of others. I believe that all lives including the lives of those who stand in direct opposition to what I believe are equally sacred and worthy of protection. I believe that the protection of life is everyone’s responsibility and so also my responsibility. My purpose here on earth is to love God, love my fellow human beings and to serve them by putting their life and well-being ahead of my own. I and those who believe as I do are not fighting for self-importance or survival. We're fighting to outdo one another in kindness. I realize that we can’t make you believe what we believe. But surely you can see that we’re not crazy either. Which kind of society do you want? And to those of you who don’t quite know what you believe consider this: What kind of society do you wish to experience? What kind of society do you wish to build for your children? What kind of leaders will you choose to support and follow? Will you follow those who believe that some lives are more important than others (who believe that their lives are more important than yours perhaps)? Or will you choose to follow those who believe all lives are of equal value, and who believe that leaders should put others ahead of themselves? Simon "Start-with-why" Sinek has another book out which may help you decide. It’s called Leaders Eat Last. This choice is indeed yours. I’m praying that you’ll choose wisely.

This article was first published in October 2016. Jason Bouwman is a graphic designer and author of the utterly unique book "Still Thinking" which we review right here.

Movie Reviews

200 movies King David might watch

Great minds think alike, and this month two of those great minds belonged to a missionary in Brazil and an evangelist in California. The evangelist, Ray Comfort, passed along a story, first told by Jeremy Archer, about a man who invited all sorts of folks into his house to meet his family. Often the visitors would talk crudely and angrily with each other, teaching his children words he'd rather they not know. But these visitors could also get his whole family laughing so the man decided to focus on the good they did, rather than the bad. Over time the man could see the visitors were having an impact on his family, and it wasn't a good one. He found that his own children were now using crude language and making coarse jokes. What was worse, the visitors were behaving outrageously, even taking their clothes off right there in front of his family! That's hard to believe, isn't it? Why didn't the man just kick them out? Why didn't he protect his family from their influence? Well, it turns out this man had some sense, and as the visitors started getting naked the man acted. Together, with his family, the man finally "turned off the television." That same month the missionary, Rev. Ken Wieske, expressed the same concern, titling a Facebook post "David vows to get rid of his TV." Underneath he included the text of Psalm 101 which reads (in part):

I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.

The pastor's point was clear: most of what's on TV is worthless and if King David were here on earth today, he might well pitch his TV right out of the palace. Of course, it isn't quite as easy as that. Today we also have computers, and smartphones, so getting rid of the TV isn't going to restrict our access to fluff and filth that's so readily available. So let's take this a step further. Yes, much of what's on TV (and on YouTube, Facebook, etc.) is worthless. But some of it isn't. Some of it is quite good. Excellent even! So if we were to make the same promise King David makes in Psalm 101 – to put away all that is worthless – what sorts of film and videos might we still watch? I've got some suggestions, and I've listed them under 10 categories, with 15 or so movie recommendations in each category. My hope is that this list can help families find something worth watching. With over 200 suggestions I'm also hoping there will be something for everyone. Title, year, and length, are included, and, if there's a review available on ReformedPerspective.ca, or my movie review blog, ReelConservative.com, then I've indicated that by making the title all caps and clickable. I've also included an entertainment rating. This is out of 10, and in my books a 7 is a solid mark, while 8 is something special, and 6 is still watchable but there is some notable flaw (maybe corny writing, or a bad bit of acting, that sort of thing). The only reason I've included a few films that rate as low as 6 is because they have educational value. One other note: none of these films and videos take God's name in vain. That's important. While a degree of violence and even sexual content of some sort (kissing, hugging) can be appropriate on screen, the way God's name is abused on film just isn't.

More than a dozen of the films below have the tag "FREE ONLINE" and can be viewed for free by clicking on the link provided.

ANIMATED VIDEOS (15) This mix of shorter videos (the longer ones are made up of several parts) can be ideal when mom wants to take a nap, but doesn't want the kids sitting in front of the TV forever. Anne of Green Gables, Vol. 1-3 – 2003, 150 minutes – 7/10 Adventures in Odyssey: The Knight Travelers – 1991, 27 minutes – 7/10 THE GRUFFALO  – 2009, 27 minutes – 8/10 Horton Hears a Who – 1970, 30 minutes – 7/10 JUNGLE BEAT – 65 minutes – 10/10 – FREE ONLINE Larry-Boy and the Fib from Outer Space – 1999, 30 minutes – 7/10 Lord of the Beans – 2005, 52 minutes – 7/10 Peppa Pig: The Balloon Ride – 2014, 60 minutes – 7/10 The Pond – THERE'S SOMETHING FUNNY IN THE WATER – 2005, 27 minutes – 8/10 – The Little Things – 30 minutes – 7/10 – The Rise and Fall of Tony the Frog – 30 minutes – 7/10 – Alligator Hunter – 30 minutes – 7/10 – Big Mouth Bass – 32 minutes – 7/10 Wallace and Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures – 1989-1995, 85 minutes –  7/10 THE WAY THINGS WORK – 2001, 300+ minutes – 8/10 ANIMATED FILMS (19) Looking for something good for a family "dinner and a movie" night? THE BOXCAR CHILDREN – 2013, 81 minutes – 7/10 THE BOXCAR CHILDREN: SURPRISE ISLAND - 2018, 82 minutes – 6/10  Chicken Run – 2000, 84 minutes – 8/10 Curious George – 2006, 88 minutes – 8/10 Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle – 2015, 81 minutes – 7/10 CURIOUS GEORGE: ROYAL MONKEY – 2019 / 86 minutes – 7/10 Finding Nemo – 2003, 100 minutes – 8/10 Fox and the Hound – 1981, 83 minutes – 8/10 LOST AND FOUND – 2013, 24 minutes – 8/10 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – 1977, 74 minutes – 8/10 Meet the Robinsons – 2007, 95 minutes – 7/10 MINISCULE - 2014, 89 minutes – 7/10 Monsters Inc. – 2001, 93 minutes – 9/10 SGT. STUBBY: AN UNLIKELY HERO - 2018, 84 minutes – 8/10 THE PEANUTS MOVIE – 2015, 88 minutes – 8/10 Tangled – 2010, 100 minutes – 9/10 Up – 2009, 96 minutes – 9/10 Wall-E – 2008, 98 minutes – 9/10 WINNIE THE POOH – 2011, 63 minutes – 8/10 BASED ON A BOOK (16) It's always hard to live up to the book, but some of these get awfully close! The Adventures of Robin Hood - 1938, 101 minutes – 8/10 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – 1939, 82 minutes – 7/10 Animal Farm – 1954, 72 minutes – 7/10 THE GIVER – 2014, 97 minutes – 8/10 Ivanhoe – 1952, 107 minutes – 7/10 THE HOBBIT – 1977, 77 minutes – 7/10 The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – 1979, 95 minutes – 7/10 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – 2005, 125 minutes – 8/10 Little Women – 1949, 121 minutes – 8/10 Little Women – 1994, 118 minutes – 9/10 THE LORD OF THE RINGS – 1978, 133 minutes – 7/10 POLLYANNA – 2003, 99 minutes – 8/10 The Prince and the Pauper – 1937, 118 minutes – 8/10 Pride and Prejudice – 2004, 104 minutes – 8/10 Sarah Plain and Tall – 1990, 98 minutes – 8/10 SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS – 2016, 96 minutes – 7/10 SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON – 1960, 126 minutes – 8/10 BLACK AND WHITE CLASSICS (13) These have all stood the test of time and are still being watched again and again. 12 Angry Men – 1957, 96 minutes – 8/10 THE ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR – 1961, 96 minutes – 7/10 Adam's Rib – 1949, 101 minutes –  8/10 Citizen Kane – 1941, 119 minutes – 7/10 High Noon – 1952, 85 minutes – 9/10 I Remember Mama – 1948, 134 minutes – 7/10 It Should Happen to You – 1954, 87 minutes – 7/10 The Man in the White Suit – 1951, 85 minutes – 7/10 THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE – 1962, 123 minutes – 8/10 Meet John Doe – 1941, 122 minutes – 7/10 Mr. Deed goes to Town – 1936, 115 minutes – 7/10 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – 1939, 129 minutes – 8/10 The Shop Around the Corner – 1949, 99 minutes – 9/10 BIOGRAPHICAL (21) Some of these are great, others only okay, but all are educational. Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace – 1999, 90 minutes – 7/10 THE CASE FOR CHRIST – 2017, 113 minutes – 7/10 C.S. LEWIS ONSTAGE – 2018, 76 minutes – 7/10 End of the Spear – 2006, 108 minutes – 7/10 Final Solution – 2001, 102 minutes – 7/10 God's Outlaw: The Story of William Tyndale – 1988, 93 minutes – 6/10 GOSNELL: THE TRIAL OF AMERICA'S BIGGEST SERIAL KILLER – 2018, 93 minutes – 8/10 Hellen Keller – 2005, 30 minutes – 6/10 JOHN HUS: A JOURNEY OF NO RETURN – 2015, 55 minutes – 7/10 – FREE ONLINE THE LONG GOODBYE: THE KARA TIPPETTS STORY – 2019, 88 minutes - 10/10 Martin Luther – 1953, 105 minutes – 7/10 The Miracle Worker – 1962, 106 minutes – 9/10 THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS – 1957, 135 – 7/10 Torchlighters: – THE CORRIE TEN BOOM STORY – 2013, 34 minutes – 7/10 – THE JIM ELLIOT STORY – 2005, 30 minutes – 6/10 – THE MARTIN LUTHER STORY – 2106, 34 minutes – 7/10 – THE RICHARD WUMBRAND STORY – 2008, 30 minutes – 6/10 – THE WILLIAM TYNDALE STORY – 2005, 32 minutes – 6/10 TORTURED FOR CHRIST - 2018, 77 minutes - 8/10 UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION – 2018, 98 minutes – 8/10 THE WRIGHT BROTHERS – 1996, 27 minutes – 7/10 CHILDREN (16) This is fare for younger children – not a lot of tension here. And that means, while the kids will probably like it, mom and dad might not. The Adventures of Milo and Otis – 1989, 76 minutes – 7/10 Buddy Davis' Amazing Adventures: – ALASKA – 2015, 25 minutes – 6/10 – EXTREME CAVING – 2013, 58 minutes – 7/10 – I DIG DINOSAURS – 2011 – 26 minutes – 7/10 – FREE ONLINE – SWAMP MAN – 2012, 45 minutes – 7/10 The Creation Adventure Team – A JURASSIC ARK MYSTERY – 2001, 45 minutes – 7/10 – FREE ONLINE – SIX SHORT DAYS, ONE BIG ADVENTURE – 2002, 38 minutes – 7/10 – FREE ONLINE Tintin: Destination Moon – 1992, 83 minutes – 7/10 INCREDIBLE CREATURES THAT DEFY EVOLUTION I – 2006, 47 minutes – 7/10 Lassie Come Home – 1943, 90 minutes – 8/10 A LEGO BRICKUMENTARY – 2015, 93 minutes – 7/10 MISTY – 1961, 91 minutes – 7/10 THE NEWTONS' WORKSHOP – 1997, 226 minutes – 7/10 The Runner from Ravenshead - 2010, 81 minutes – 7/10 THE WILD BROTHERS (8 episodes) – 2015-2016, 28-30 minutes each – 7/10 ON CREATION, EVOLUTION AND DESIGN (17) Evidence of all sorts, to the genius of our Creator... ALIEN INTRUSION – 2018, 109 minutes – 8/10 DARWIN: THE VOYAGE THAT SHOOK THE WORLD – 2009, 55 minutes – 8/10 DRAGONS OR DINOSAURS? – 2010 / 84 minutes – 7/10 EVOLUTION'S ACHILLES' HEELS – 2014, 96 minutes – 9/10 Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed – 2008, 95 minutes – 8/10 FLIGHT: THE GENIUS OF BIRDS – 2013, 63 minutes – 9/10 GENESIS: PARADISE LOST – 2018, 109 minutes – 8/10 Icons of Evolution – 2002, 52 minutes - 7/10 INCREDIBLE CREATURES THAT DEFINE DESIGN – 2011, 62 minutes – 7/10 IS GENESIS HISTORY? – 2017, 100 minutes – 8/10 LIVING WATERS – 2015, 69 minutes – 8/10 Metamorphosis: The Beauty and Design of Butterflies – 2011, 64 minutes – 8/10 MOUNT ST. HELENS: MODERN EVIDENCE FOR A WORLDWIDE FLOOD – 2012, 36 minutes – 7/10 NOAH'S ARK: THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX – 2008, 35 minutes – 8/10 THE PRIVILEGED PLANET – 2005, 60 minutes – 8/10 REVOLUTIONARY – 2016, 60 minutes – 7/10 – FREE ONLINE THE RIOT AND THE DANCE: EARTH – 2018, 83 minutes – 8/10 DOCUMENTARIES (26) The very best documentaries pack books' worth of knowledge into a short hour or two. And these are just that sort. 180: FROM PRO-CHOICE TO PRO-LIFE IN SECONDS – 2011, 33 minutes – FREE ONLINE BABIES ARE MURDERED HERE – 2014, 54 minutes – 8/10 – FREE ONLINE BABIES ARE STILL MURDERED HERE - 2019, 102 minutes – 7/10 - FREE ONLINE THE BIBLE VS. THE BOOK OF MORMON – 2005, 66 minutes – 7/10 – FREE ONLINE CALVINIST - 2017, 89 minutes - 8/10 Collision: Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson – 2009, 93 minutes – 9/10 Cool It: Are We Saving the World or Just Burning Money? – 2010, 88 minutes – 8/10 CITIZENFOUR – 2014, 113 minutes – 7/10 DEMOGRAPHIC WINTER – 2008, 56 minutes – 7/10 EXPEDITION BIBLE: JERICHO UNEARTHED – 2010, 34 minutes – 8/10 THE FOOL – 2019, 65 minutes - 8/10 – FREE ONLINE THE FREE SPEECH APOCALYPSE – 2015, 89 minutes – 8/10 HOW TO ANSWER THE FOOL – 2013, 85 minutes – 8/10 – FREE ONLINE INDOCTRINATION – 2011, 102 minutes – 8/10 IRREPLACEABLE - WHAT IS FAMILY? – 2015, 104 minutes – 8/10 LOGIC ON FIRE – 2015, 102 minutes – 7/10 March of the Penguins – 2005, 80 minutes – 8/10 Microcosmos – 1996, 80 minutes – 8/10 THE NARNIA CODE – 2009, 59 minutes – 8/10 NOTES FROM THE TILT-A-WHIRL – 2011, 51 minutes – 10/10 THE PURSUIT – 2019, 77 minutes - 7/10 THE RECKONING – 2006, 96 minutes – 7/10 RESCUED: THE HEART OF ADOPTION – 2012, 62 minutes – 7/10 UNPLANNED – 2011, 62 minutes – 7/10 WAITING FOR SUPERMAN – 2010, 111 minutes – 8/10 WAIT TILL IT'S FREE – 2014, 82 minutes – 9/10 FAMILY FUN (17) These are films that mom and dad can enjoy too, but that does mean that some of them have action or drama that may be too intense for younger children. So be sure to research age-appropriateness. BEYOND THE MASK – 2015, 103 minutes – 8/10 BORN FREE - 1966, 95 minutes – 8/10 CITY OF EMBER – 2008, 95 minutes – 7/10 CONDORMAN – 1981, 90 minutes – 7/10 The Court Jester – 1956, 101 minutes – 8/10 Greyfriars Bobby – 1961, 87 minutes – 9/10 Hangman's Curse – 2003, 106 minutes – 8/10 Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates – 1962, 90  minutes – 7/10 Love's Long Journey – 2005, 88 minutes – 7/10 The Last Chance Detectives – 1994, 47 minutes – 7/10 Old Yeller – 1957, 84 minutes – 9/10 Seasons of the Heart – 2003, 99 minutes – 8/10 Shark Boy and Lava Girl 3D – 2005, 93 minutes – 7/10 STORM: LUTHER'S FORBIDDEN LETTER – 2017, 105 minutes – 7/10 THE THREE INVESTIGATORS IN THE SECRET OF SKELETON ISLAND – 2007, 91 minutes – 7/10 Time Changer – 2002, 99 minutes – 7/10 Who is Simon Miller? – 2011, 85 minutes – 7/10 FOR MOM AND DAD (22) Films to enjoy with your better half...and sometimes the older kids too. 2081 – 2009, 25 minutes – 8/10 – FREE ONLINE ALLEGED – 2011, 93 minutes – 8/10 Anastasia – 1956, 105 minutes – 7/10 AUDACITY: LOVE CAN'T STAY SILENT – 2015, 50 minutes – 7/10 – FREE ONLINE The Caine Mutiny - 1954, 124 minutes – 7/10 COURAGEOUS – 2011, 129 minutes – 7/10 THE HOBBIT TRILOGY – An Unexpected Journey – 2012, 169 minutes – 8/10 – The Desolation of Smaug – 2013, 161 minutes – 8/10 – The Battle of the Five Armies – 2014, 144 minutes – 7/10 I CAN ONLY IMAGINE - 2018, 110 minutes - 8/10 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – 2001-2003 – 10/10 LIKE DANDELION DUST – 2009, 104 minutes – 8/10 Rear Window – 1954, 112 minutes – 8/10 Roman Holiday – 1953, 118 minutes – 8/10 The Second Chance – 2006, 102 – 7/10 The Song – 2014, 116 minutes – 9/10 TO SAVE A LIFE – 2010, 120 minutes – 8/10 The Ultimate Gift – 2006, 114 minutes – 7/10 A Vow to Cherish – 1999, 84 minutes - 7/10 Woodlawn - 2016, 123 minutes - 8/10 BONUS #1 - 4 SUPER SILENT FILMS If you've never gotten into silent films, be sure to start with the comedies – there the overwrought acting just adds to the funny. And Buster Keaton is the best! The General – 1927, 80 minutes – 8/10 The Gold Rush – 1925, 96 minutes – 7/10 Seven Chances – 1925, 56 minutes – 8/10 SHERLOCK JR. – 1924, 44 minutes – 8/10 – FREE ONLINE BONUS #2 - 12 WORLD WAR II FILMS MADE DURING WORLD WAR II The very best World War II films were made during the war... BATAAN – 1943, 114 minutes – 8/10 CASABLANCA – 1943, 103 minutes – 10/10 DESPERATE JOURNEY – 1942, 107 minutes – 7/10 Destination Tokyo – 1944, 135 minutes – 8/10 FLYING TIGERS – 1942, 104 minutes - 7/10 THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT – 1940, 120 minutes – 7/10 Objective Burma! – 1945, 142 minutes – 7/10 Sahara – 1943, 98 minutes – 7/10 SEA HAWK – 1940, 127 minutes – 8/10 THE SILVER FLEET – 1943, 88 minutes – 7/10 They Were Expendable – 1945, 135 minutes – 7/10 To Be Or Not To Be – 1942, 99 minutes – 8/10 BONUS #3 - WORLD WAR II FILMS MADE AFTERWARDS ...though there were some good ones made afterward too. Decision Before Dawn – 1951, 119 minutes – 7/10 Twelve O'clock High – 1949 – 8/10 BONUS #4 - FOREIGN FILMS This is a chance to see a different slice of the world. Children of Heaven – 1997, 87 minutes – 7/10 NOT ONE LESS – 2000, 106 minutes – 7/10 The Story of the Weeping Camel – 2003, 87 minutes – 7/10

This post first appeared on www.ReelConservative.com.

Dating, Parenting

Marriable Men

Two qualities dads should look for in boys who want to date our daughters

*****

Here's a topic that's best to get to too early rather than too late - what sort of men should our daughters marry? Dads are going to have a lot of input in this decision, one way or another. If we actively try to influence our daughters – by example, through conversation, and by requiring interested young men to talk to us first – we'll point them to a certain sort of man. And if we don't talk about what makes a man marriable, if we aren't a good example of a godly man and good husband, and if we have no role in our daughter's dating life, then we'll point them to another sort of man. What kind of man do we want for our daughters? The answer is simple when we keep the description broad: a man who loves the Lord, and will be a good leader to his wife and children, who’s hardworking, and also active in his church. But what does this type of man look like as a boy? If our daughters are dating and getting married young, they'll unavoidably have a "work in progress." That's a description that fits all of us – sanctification is a lifelong process – but which is even more true for a boy/man in his late teens who hasn't yet shouldered the responsibilities of providing for himself, let alone a family. It's hard, at this point, to take the measure of the man he will become. How do we evaluate potential suitors when there isn't a lot of track record to look back on? We need to find out how they react to light and to leadership. 1. Light

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” – John 3:19-21

Does a young man love the light? This is a characteristic that is easy for us dads to check up on. It's as simple as asking his parents if they know where he is on Friday and Saturday nights. Does he think it's no big deal to tell his parents where he will be? Or does he want to keep what he's up to a mystery? Does he have a problem with having his parents around when friends come over? Or has he introduced all his friends to them? When he goes out to other friends' houses does his group pick spots where parents are home? Or do they want their privacy? Many young men in our congregations are planning or attending events that take place late at night and far away from parental, or any other type of, supervision. They may not have a specific intent to get drunk or do other foolishness, but by fleeing from the light they've created the opportunity. A teen who tells his parents that it is none of their business where he is going is a boy who loves the dark. Another question to ask: does he have monitoring software on his computer – Covenant Eyes, for example – and would he be willing to show his smartphone to you? Would he be happy to let you know where he's been on the Internet? This would be a young man who is unafraid of, and loves, the Light. 2. Leaders

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... – Ephesians 5:25

There's a reason that young women are attracted to "bad boys." When the other young men they know are doing nothing all that bad and nothing at all remarkable, then an arrogant kid who doesn't care what anyone thinks can look like leadership material. He, at least, is not lukewarm. But this is the last man we would want for our daughters. His "leadership" recognizes no authority but his own. In contrast, God tells us that as heads to our wives we are called to serve, imitating Christ. Godly men don't dominate their wives; they die for them. So how can dads spot this sort of servant leadership in young men? It shows itself in big ways and little. In a church service, does he hold the songbook for his sister? Or does he have his hands in his pockets while his sister holds the book for him? Does he sing? Or is he too cool (too lukewarm) to praise God with enthusiasm? How does he treat his mom? If he treats her with respect – if he readily submits to authority – that is a good sign that he can be entrusted with authority. If he treats his mother shamefully, yelling at her, and ignoring what she asks, every young lady should beware! If he's a terror to someone placed over him, we don't need to guess how he will treat those under his authority. Another question to consider: did he take the servant-leader role in the relationship right from the beginning? In any boy-girl dynamic, someone has to be the first to say "I like you" and with that comes the very real risk of being the only one to say it. When that happens, it stings. So was this boy willing to stick his neck out for your daughter? Was he willing to risk looking the fool so she wouldn't have to? Or did he wait for her to take the lead and ask him out? How does he take correction? Any boy who dates our daughter is going to be, at best, a godly man partly formed. While we are all works in progress, not all of us recognize this – arrogant young men think themselves beyond the need of correction. If a potential suitor bristles at any suggestion from his elders, or if he's unwilling to apologize when he's wrong, then he is definitely the wrong sort for our daughters. We, instead, want the young man who, as we read in Proverbs 15:32, "heeds correction [and] gains understanding." Conclusion Young men hoping to get married are aspiring to a leadership role. But while marriage makes a man a leader, it won't magically make him a good one. Fortunately, leadership is a skill that can be learned, and love of the Light something we can grow in. So fathers shouldn't be expecting perfection. But we also shouldn't settle for lukewarm. It's one thing for a young man to not yet be the leader he could be, and something else entirely for him to not be aspiring to this role or preparing for it. It's one thing for a young man to not be seeking the Light as consistently or vigorously as he should, and another for him to be fleeing from it. Fathers, we want our daughters to marry young men who love the Lord and want to honor Him in their roles as husband, father, and elder. Let's be sure, then, that we teach them to look for true leaders who love the light.

A French version of this article can be found by clicking here.

Assorted

Hull humanity

“Hey, here’s your sandwich,” I called across the lunchroom to Caldwall, the kid we picked on. He was fat and unathletic, and we kept him in his place. Right in style, I threw the sandwich I had swiped from him. He reached, missed, and the waxed paper burst apart against the lunchroom window. A smear of mayonnaise streaked the glass, a flap of bologna hung over the back of the desk, a lettuce leaf and a tomato slice lay on the floor. I smiled triumphantly, the boys’ lunchroom laughed adoringly, and then we heard Mr. Leonard’s voice. He had stepped in without our noticing.

“Caldwall, here is my sandwich. Enjoy it. Sietze, May I see you out in the hall?”

“OH oh.” “Naughty Sietze.” “Now you’ll catch it.” I was afraid.

In the hall, Mr. Leonard said quietly, “People throw food only at animals.” “Yes, Mr. Leonard,” I said. He did not need to tell me to go for Mop, cloth, and soapy water. From then on Caldwall was different for me and I was decent to him. Once or twice later I have felt as alienated as Caldwall must have then. Depressed, I can always find comfort in how efficiently a waitress pours my coffee, in how a check-out girl smiles as she makes change, in how you, dear, ladle me a bowl of cheese soup

and wipe the inside of the rim so that the line of yellow-green soup will be sharp against the brown pottery,

and I remember that people throw food only to animals, and I tell myself, “Sietze, you're not such a dog as you think you are.”

From Sietze’s Buning’s “Style and Class,” copyright the Middleburg Press, and reprinted here with their gracious permission.


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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. “The best argument against democracy is a five- minute conversation with the average voter.” “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...