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Tidbits – August 2023

All sorts of time to talk with God

Some years ago a friend told me about a plan she had put into motion – she’d decided that on her drive to work each day she wouldn’t listen to anything in her car. Instead she would use that time to pray, to dwell on what God has done for her, and to sing to Him. She also brings different concerns to God each day of the week – I found out, for example, that on some Wednesdays she has prayed for me, asking God to equip me to be a good spiritual leader in my marriage. Every morning for the 40-50 minute commute to work it is just God and her, and she loves it. Then, on her afternoon drive home she listens to good audiobooks – anything from Narnia to Les Miserables or even an audio recording of the Bible.

by Hannah P. (Age 13)

At the time I’d occasionally listened to books in my car, but the one thing I never did was drive in silence. I think I’m part of a generation that finds too much silence an almost scary thing. I want talk radio; I want some music playing; I want the distraction. And consequently I wouldn’t have thought of talking to God in my car. But I’ve rethought that some now.

World’s toughest riddle

Can you answer this riddle? According to one (very unreliable) source 97 per cent of Harvard students wouldn’t have an answer within 5 minutes, while 84 per cent of kindergarteners would. Can you answer this riddle?

I turn polar bears white
and I will make you cry.
I make guys taller
and girls comb their hair.
I make celebrities look stupid
and normal people look like celebrities.
I turn pancakes brown
and make your champagne bubble.
If you squeeze me, I’ll pop.
If you look at me, you’ll pop.
Can you guess the riddle?

See the bottom of this page for the answer.

Neither banana-eaters nor half banana

“We also share about 50 per cent of our DNA with bananas and that doesn’t make us half bananas, either from the waist up or the waist down.” – Geneticist and evolutionist Steve Jones, making it clear that chimps and humans are not alike, even if they share some percentage of the same DNA.

Faith is…

On her long-running talk show Oprah would tell guests and audience members alike to just, “Have more faith!” But faith in what? That isn’t clear. During his Barrack Obama’s first presidential campaign he encouraged his supporters to vote for “hope and change.” But hope in what? In change? That’s a rather uncertain idea to place our hope in.

In his Truth Project video series, Dr. Del Tackett notes how the world has sucked the meaning out of words like “hope,” “belief” and “faith.” They want us to have hope in hope, and place our faith in faith. In contrast, our hope is anchored in, as Tackett puts it, the “truth claims of God, and the One who stands behind those claims.”

What does it mean then, to have faith? Tackett give the illustration of a child preparing to jump off a diving board for the first time, into the arms of a parent, swimming below.

“What an incredible faith we see in a child who stands on the end of the board. And everything within them tells them ‘Don’t jump!’ But they look at their mom or their dad and their faith and their trust in them overcomes what they feel. Our faith is not a feeling. Our hope is not a feeling. Our faith is what allows us to overcome our feelings….Those times you don’t feel like it, those times when you are sure there is no one there, what do we reach out and grab a hold of? Faith? No. Him! Even though you don’t feel it.”

To kiss or not to kiss isn’t even a question

While the movie Fireproof is only middling. it has strong message about the importance of marriage: the tag line for the movie poster tells us to “never leave your partner behind.” The lead actor, Kirk Cameron, has some pretty strong views about marriage himself, and one of his non-negotiables is that the only woman a man should kiss is his wife.

But how does an actor, who is playing the role of a husband trying to win back the affections of his wife, avoid kissing the actress playing his wife? The solution is simple enough, if a film’s producers are willing to get a little creative. To shoot the scene where the husband and wife characters kiss, Cameron’s real-life wife, Chelsea Noble, stepped in. It was shot in the shadows so that no one would notice the difference between Noble and the actress, Erin Bethea, who played the role of the wife in the rest of the movie.

by Hannah P. (Age 13)

Quote of the month

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

Why are Christians less gullible?

“When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing. They believe in anything.” So Chesterton is attributed with saying, though I’m not entirely sure you should believe that, because I haven’t been able to track it down to a specific book or article yet.

Regardless of whether he said it, someone certainly should have. Some years back Gallup released a poll on “What Americans Really Believe.” It asked subjects about their beliefs on the occult. The report found that those who hold to traditional Christian beliefs were far less likely to hold paranormal beliefs than those who professed to be irreligious. For example, 31 per cent of those who never worship declared a strong belief in the paranormal and pseudoscience, compared to only 8 per cent of regular worshippers.

Why are Christians less gullible? In telling His people quite a bit about the real spiritual realm, God has equipped us to see through these frauds and fakes.

Easy 10-step program to raise a delinquent

John MacArthur had some thoughts on raising children right that he shared by detailing how best to do it wrong. This, here, is his 10-step program guaranteed to deliver a delinquent.

  1. Spoil him. Give him everything he wants so you can get him off your back.
  2. When he does wrong, nag him a little, but don’t spank him.
  3. Protect him from all those “mean” teachers who want to discipline him from time to time.
  4. Make all of his decisions for him because he might make mistakes…and learn from them.
  5. Criticize his father to him or his mother, so your son or daughter will lose respect for his parents. Criticize others openly; criticize others routinely, so that he will continue to realize that he is better than everybody else.
  6. Whenever he gets into trouble bail him out. Besides, if he faces any real consequence it might hurt your reputation. Never let him suffer the consequences of his behavior…
  7. Let him express himself any way he feels like it. Don’t run his life; let him run yours.
  8. Don’t bother him with chores; do everything for him…then he can be irresponsible all his life and blame others when things don’t get done right.
  9. Give him a big allowance and don’t make him do anything for it.
  10. Believe his lies because it’s too much hassle to try to sort through to get the truth.

Alien expert and apologist?

Gary Bates is one of a kind: a Christian apologist and an alien expert. In his brilliant book Alien Intrusion, Bates argues there is a definite link between the extraterrestrial and the spiritual. It turns out that most people who claim to have been abducted by aliens have also been involved in occultic activity. So while there are too many UFO and alien incidents to just dismiss – something really is happening – Bates argues that instead of extraterrestrials, these incidents involve devils in disguise. If you want to know more about his book  and the fantastic documentary based on it, check out his website AlienIntrusion.com.

Too learned

A young theologian name Fiddle
Refused to accept his degree.
He said, “It’s bad enough being Fiddle,
“Without being Fiddle, D.D.”
– author unknown

Answer to the “world’s toughest riddle.”

Can you answer the riddle? The correct answer is, no. That’s the answer kindergarteners might well give quickly, which is the correct answer, since this riddle has no correct solution. The hypothetical Harvard students would refuse to give up, and so wouldn’t give an answer within five minutes.

SOURCE: adapted from something making the rounds

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In a Nutshell

Tidbits – July 2023

When they call God “she” Remaking God in their image, homosexual “pastors” are professing Him to be a “her.” That’s blasphemy by God’s standards, of course, but is objectionable even by their own replacement rules. After all, as Tim Barnett recently noted, they aren’t doing to others what they want others to do unto them (Matt. 7:12): “God has chosen to reveal himself using singular masculine He/Him pronouns. Why won’t they use God's preferred pronouns?” Chesterton on drinking “The sound rule in this matter would appear to be like many other sound rules – a paradox. Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.” Wonders to behold by John Hultink Imagine living in a world where a pair of robins built their nest in a wreath attached to your front door. This spring and summer they lay their eggs twice – the first time three eggs and the next four. Yes, on two separate occasions. Robins sit on their eggs for only a few weeks before they come to life. Then, for a few more weeks, it’s a feeding frenzy. All day long. The newly hatched robins grow by leaps and bounds. And then, in just a few more weeks, these new creations hesitatingly abandon their nest, the one hatchling with more finesse than the other leading them off. And so, these new creations take their place in God’s creation. All this took place twice in a nest built in a wreath attached to our front door. It was as if God said: “Here, take a look at this.” My wife and I had a “grandstand view” of the entire proceedings from one or the other side windows in which that door is set. And on occasion, when both parents were out hunting for food, we could open the door and carefully take a closer look at this new life. It was a wondrous development to behold. We witnessed God’s display of the origin of life played out day by day from start to finish, the entire process taking only weeks. Kind giving birth to kind, exactly as God had Moses describe it for us in the first chapter of Genesis. Thank-you God for that eye-witness account of your creative power! Famous first words When Alexander Graham Bell first succeeded in getting his invention, the telephone to work, his first words were, “Mr. Watson – come here…” When Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, one of the first devices capable of recording a sound and playing it back, he tested it by reciting “Mary had a little lamb.” In contrast, just a few decades earlier, when Samuel Morse sent out the first official message on his invention the telegraph he wrote, “What hath God wrought?” This is from Numbers 23:23, where Balaam is, to the frustration of Moab’s King Balak, the man who hired him, prophesying how God is going to do such mighty things for Israel that it’ll be said, “What hath God wrought!” My daughter says that if she invents the next big whatever the first words she’ll speak into it, to be recorded for all of history, are “Stop abortion and turn to God.”  Media lies of omission Just ahead of June, American retailer Target began featuring a line of “Pride” wear. Some reports also said they were selling “tuck friendly” girls’ swimsuits for boys (with extra space for their male parts down below) and while that last point may or may not be true, it got people calling for a Target boycott. Mid-June the Washington Post reported: “Target stores see more bomb threats over Pride merchandise.” Did this headline have you worried that some Pride opponent had lost his mind and threatened to get violent? If you clicked through and started reading the opening paragraphs you’d be left with the same impression: “Target stores in at least five states were evacuated this weekend after receiving bomb threats. Though no explosives were discovered, the incidents tie into the backlash over the retail chain’s Pride Month merchandise.” It’s only after you get eight paragraphs in that you’d find out who the real culprits are. The letter writers “…accused Target of betraying the LGBTQ+ community…” What? Yes, the bad guys were Pride sympathizers. They were angry that in response to the boycott calls, Target had moved the Pride displays from the front of their stores to further back. In my first-year journalism class, years ago, the prof explained that if a story “continued on page A6” you could count on losing 80 percent of the readership at that point. So biased reporters could bury any inconvenient facts in the back end of their story where hardly anyone would see them. The Washington Post pulled this same trick knowing that headline-readers and article-skimmers – the majority of media consumers these days? – would be left with an impression that was exactly opposite of what really happened. In Proverbs 4, Solomon tells us wisdom is something to grab hold of – it can’t be had by flipping through your social media feed. It might mean reading the whole article. It might mean skipping the paper and diving into a great podcast, or book. So yes, the media lies to us… but many, like this one, can be easily spotted, if only we ingest with intent. It starts with salvation “Look, folks, the reason the Church today is having so little impact is too many Christians view their faith only in terms of a personal relationship with Jesus. But Christianity does not stop with salvation: That’s only the beginning. We’ve got to learn how to present our worldview in a winsome way. And if we don’t do this, it simply dooms our churches to isolation and irrelevance – just when our culture desperately needs the hope of the Gospel more than ever.”  – Chuck Colson (perhaps riffing off of Hebrews 5:11-14) Christians give more reverence to the F-word I sometimes get sent “screeners” for an upcoming Christian movie – a free online viewing before it hit theaters. This time it was a sports film, so I thought I would take a look. But three minutes in, one of the game’s announcers took God’s name in vain. I didn’t watch the rest of it, but I know no one ever used the F-word. Not a single time. That doesn’t happen in Christian films. Christian novels follow the same practice – never a single instance of the F-word but you will find about every second title taking God’s name in vain. I emailed the movie publicist asking for answers. Why never the F-word – even though it’s such a common part of everyday speech – and yet God’s Holy Name is regularly abused? I didn’t hear back. Amazing animals The blue whale is the largest animal that ever lived, larger even than any dinosaur. Its heart weighs 400 pounds and its tongue weighs more than two and a half tons, roughly the equivalent of two Volkswagen Beetles or one Tesla Model S. An elephant’s trunk has 40,000 muscles (we have 600 in total) and their nose’s abilities extend to being a hose, spade, spoon, and backhoe. It is strong enough to uproot a tree, and delicate enough to pick up a pin. While your backyard rooster doesn’t always crow this loud, at their loudest they can get up to 130 decibels, which is “about the same intensity as standing 15 meters from a jet taking off” according to Science.org’s Kimberly Hickok. One rooster even got up to 143 decibels! While the crowing only lasts a couple seconds, a rooster might do it several times, and cries out morning after morning, so how come they don’t deafen themselves? It turns out when the rooster opens its beak wide open, that closes a quarter of their ear canal – God gave them built-in ear plugs! Materialism can’t account for meaning or reason Sam Harris, one of “the four horsemen” of atheism, once wrote a book about how man had no free will, because all we are is just the matter that we’re made of, which will interact as it will with the environment around. There’s some logic to what he says, if indeed there is no God. He then went on a book tour in which he also encouraged people to treat prisoners more kindly because, after all, they couldn’t help what they did – their misdeeds weren’t the result of choices they’d made but just the chemistry that they amounted to. Harris’ audiences didn’t recognize that his clemency request rebutted his presentation. He wanted to convince us to treat prisoners nicer because our lack of free will means they aren’t really responsible for their crimes? He was asking us to choose to be nicer to the prisoners, because choices don’t exist. He should have read more Chesterton and Lewis. “If the materialist view is true, our minds must in reality be merely chance arrangements of atoms in skulls. We never think a thought because it is true, only because blind Nature forces us to think it. We never do an act because it is right, only because blind Nature forces us to do it.” – C.S. Lewis “The great human dogma, then, is that the wind moves the trees. The great human heresy is that the trees move the wind. When people begin to say that the material circumstances have alone created the moral circumstances, then they have prevented all possibility of serious change. For if my circumstances have made me wholly stupid, how can I be certain even that I am right in altering those circumstances?” – G.K. Chesterton It ain’t enough to show they are hypocrites... The folks at PragerU will often visit US campuses to challenge students who hold to the “latest thing” whether they can defend what they believe. In one of their latest videos, “If you can choose your gender can you choose your race?” they went to UCLA to set a trap of sorts. The interviewer first showed students some celebrities who’d used black make-up to caricature blacks. After the students all condemned this “blackface,” he then raised the term "womanface" to describe guys who say they identify as women. He argued it would be hypocritical to object to someone saying they are transracial, if you think transgenderism is valid. It's a good point, and it is a fantastic video. But it has a problem, and the same one that all secular "apologetics" have – the interviewer is attacking a lie without presenting the Truth. God made us male and female (Gen. 1:27) – that’s the corrective here. But when he just confronts students with their hypocrisy, they are left knowing they have made an error, but not knowing which way to head. It's like the old joke about a man who insisted to his family and anyone who’d listen that he was dead. They finally took him to a doctor, hoping he could help. The doctor thought he had just the thing, and asked the man, "Do dead men bleed?" to which the man replied, "No, of course dead men don't bleed." The doctor then pricked the man's finger and, after the man saw the drop of blood forming, the patient shook his head, amazed, then stood up and gave the doctor a hug in appreciation. "I'm sorry doctor, I was totally wrong,” he said, “It turns out dead men do bleed." These students could also choose to resolve their hypocrisy the wrong way. They could decide: "I guess blackface – I guess transracialism – is okay." To be a light to the world, Christians have to go one step further. We should get inspired by videos like this so we can tear down the lie using our creativity to highlight the world's silliness. But we need to do so while standing unashamedly on God's Truth. ...