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Tidbits – January 2020

Why fossil fuels are a blessing

According to Kathleen Hartnett White, in her study Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case “man-made emissions of carbon dioxide have risen three-fold since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.” But if some think that a decided downside, let’s not lose sight of the way we’ve been blessed by God’s provision of fossil fuels. As White explains:

“When innovative minds developed a steam engine which could convert the stored heat energy in coal into mechanical energy, the economic limits under which all human societies had formerly existed were blown apart. A life of back-breaking drudgery was no longer the inescapable condition of the overwhelming majority of mankind.

“Life expectancy had changed little throughout all human history until the Industrial Revolution; it thereafter tripled. Income per capita has since increased 11-fold…. Fossil-fuel powered mechanization revolutionized economic productivity, increased incomes, population, and life expectancy across all classes.”

Parental code: upping our game

As is true for many readers of this magazine, my parents spoke Dutch whenever they wanted to talk about things they didn’t want us kids to understand. That always got us listening all the more intently, and over the years we did learn a “klien beetje” of Dutch, but never enough to figure out exactly what they were saying.

But now, with kids of our own, and no second-language skills to turn to, I’m trying to figure out how I can talk to my wife without our kids clueing in.

For the last four or five years, ever since our oldest learned to talk, we made use of our ability to spell. But now she’s off to kindergarten and has managed to break that code. So we’ve turned to shorthand spelling – instead of spelling out the whole word, we’ll just spell out the first few letters. So if I want to suggest a trip to the library, I’ll ask my wife what she thinks “about going to the L-I-B.” As “lib” doesn’t sound all that much like “library” it kept our speller off the scent for a while. But after repeated usage she broke that code too, and now when I ask my wife if we should have “I-C-E for dessert” our oldest is already salivating.

Clearly, we had to up our game. Now instead of using actual letters, I’m using sound-alikes, in shorthand. So the last time I suggested heading to the library I asked my wife whether we should head to the “E-L-L-E, E-Y-E,  B-E-E.” That should serve us for at least the next little bit.

After that? How about sound-alikes, in shorthand, backwards!

Or we could just go to the other room.

Alzheimer’s and the hope of a Reformed  faith

Some years ago the then editor of Christianity Today, David Neff, while reviewing a book on Alzheimer’s, pointed out how little hope some theology offers the family and friends of Alzheimer’s patients. He didn’t use the word Arminian, but the description he gave of this troubling theology fit: it “requires Christians to act for their salvation/liberation.” The problem with a theology that asks us to hold on to Christ is that it, “is no comfort to those whose dementia leaves them without the capacity to act.”

After his father-in-law was stricken, Neff took comfort in a more Reformed understanding that instead emphasized, “that it is God who acts on our own behalf.”

“Do we have to go to Church today?”

In the September 2015 issue of New Horizons. Pastor Shane Lems shared how as a young lad he would complain to his parents, “Do we have to go to church today?” He didn’t understand the dangers of neglecting the church service – he wanted to stay home with his Lego. But, as he says, while “it’s one thing for a child to reason this way, it’s a very different thing for an adult to do it.” And he goes on to list some of the dangers to skipping church.

  1. It is against God’s will
  2. It hinders Christian fellowship
  3. It diminishes God’s praise
  4. It confuses/sets a bad example for other Christians
  5. It invites Satan’s temptations
  6. It is harmful to the Christian’s faith

Lems included 5 more and noted that while his list was a negative one, it could also be reframed in the positive. For example, we could also not that going to church is God’s will, and doing so “strengthens your fellowship with the saints.” There are certainly dangers to neglecting church, but clear benefits to going.

It’s inescapable: Husbands are leaders

“The Bible says the “husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23). Paul most emphatically does not say that husbands ought to be heads of their wives. He says they are…. Because the husband is the head of the wife he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to abdicate in some way, he may, through his rebellion, lead poorly. But no matter what he does, or where he goes, he does so as the head of his wife.”

Douglas Wilson in Reforming Marriage

Count your blessings

If the doom and gloom that fills our newspapers and social media feeds has you despairing, it’s time to start counting the many, many blessings God showers on us. Here’s a half dozen to get things started:

  • It used to be expensive to phone long distance. Now we can Skype grandma for free.
  • Most of us have a computer more powerful than anything NASA used to run the Apollo missions…and it’s small enough to fit in a pocket.
  • Life expectancy has jumped ten years since 1950.
  • Everyone used to smoke, even if they never touched a cigarette – the haze was everywhere! Now we don’t…mostly.
  • The percentage of people in the world who are living in extreme poverty has been halved since 1990.
  • Students in school today have no idea what a nuclear missile attack drill entails.

A reading tips for dads

Whenever I begin an Amelia Bedelia book I can hear a growing chorus screaming, “Noooooo! Don’t say her name agaaaaaaaaain!” Those are my brain cells…dying.

Still, my kids like these books and men are called to lead sacrificially, so I’ve had to figure out a work around. At first I had my daughters interject with Bedelia’s name each time it appeared …which meant they were reading half the book! But now I’ve come up with an even better solution that allows me to go entirely Bedelia-free: when her name comes up, I just swap in “Jane Smith.”

Aaaaah, sweet relief!

Give it a try dads; your brain cells will thank you!


Up Next


In a Nutshell

Tidbits - December 2019

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


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