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Current Issue, Magazine

Jan/Feb 2020 issue

WHAT’S INSIDE: The great moon hoax of 1935 / "Seven Wondrous Words" book excerpt / Why we should be life-long learners / Complementarianism is not misogynistic / This isn't your parents' Katy Keene...or Archie Andrews / "The Gospel comes with a house key" review / The case for biblically-responsible investing / Canada has no "right to abortion" / When the Word of God is not preached / Christian fantasy fiction for teens and adults / What you should know to survive and thrive in your secular science class / Four films to see for free online / I started my business for the wrong reasons / and much more...

Click the cover to view or right-click to download the PDF

News

Saturday Selections – February 29, 2020

Could giraffes fit on the ark? Answers in Genesis has made a 30-second commercial for their Ark Encounter in Kentucky. It's based on all the children's bible storybooks that depict Noah's Ark with giraffes that have to stick their necks out a window. As the Giraffe family discovers, those pictures don't capture the true scale of things. If you've ever thought of visiting the Ark Encounter this might be the year to go – in 2020 kids 10 and under are free. Catholic mass to be offered to Protestants in Calvin's Cathedral today As Adam Ford noted, this is something that should not only get Protestants angry, but even Catholics. There are real differences between us about who God is and what He has done for us. Rather than addressing those differences, this pretends that the truth of the matter is inconsequential. So this isn't Catholic theology sneaking into a Protestant church, but rather relativism and apathy showing they already run the place. Christian atheists? Though they won't worship God, some prominent atheists still recognize that Christianity is good for the world. Is Transhumanism uncomfortably tempting? Is Transhumanism – the idea that we can use technology to reshape ourselves – the next thing coming? Transhumanism includes things as minimal as Google Glass, a pair of glasses we slip on that provide us additional information. It can also be much more radical, involving the replacement of body parts with cybernetics. Artificial limbs designed to help those who have lost their own arms or legs via accident or disease might be grafted onto people who want to substitute their healthy arm for a bionic one. Inconceivable? Not in a world in which men are being told that they can become women, and vice versa. What is the Christian response? Denyse O'Leary provides a partial answer. Reformed sermon site has 1,500+ TheSeed.info has collected 1,679 sermons from pastors in the Canadian and American Reformed Churches and their sister denominations. One fantastic feature is that it can be searched by biblical text (with at least one sermon available for every book of the bible except, somewhat mysteriously, 1 Chronicles) so it can be used as a study resource, or as a source of reading sermons. All Bob's money.... (3 min) Now that Bernie Sanders is the Democratic presidential front runner, this spoof of the Beatles' "All my loving" is making the rounds again. Sanders has spoken of banning billionaires, not for any specific evil they've done but simply because they have more money than he thinks they should have. This is what breaking the 1oth Commandment looks like at a governmental level – he's looking over the back fence at what the billionaires have, and he's coveting. But is that the only Commandment Sanders is breaking? If you have libertarian friends you may have heard one claim that "all taxation is theft." Libertarians will argue that the government derives its authority from the people, and thus only has the same powers that we as individuals have. And since we can't force people to give us money – that would be stealing – it's still theft even when the government does it. In contrast, Christians know that governments are put in place by God, and derive their authority from Him. They can tax us because, as Roman 13:6-7 shows, God has given them the authority to do so. So, no, not all taxation is theft. But where Christians can go wrong is in believing that since the government is allowed to tax that means taxation is never theft. But when King Ahab wanted his neighbor Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21) he couldn't simply take it, even though he was the king – even though he was the government – because that would have been a violation of the 8th Commandment, Do not Steal. So he found a couple of men to bear false witness against Naboth, accusing him of blasphemy, and then had him stoned to death, and only afterward took his vineyard. Do we imagine, as Douglas Wilson recently asked, that "if Ahab has done what he did to Naboth via a program of land reform, or eminent domain, or zone redistricting [then] Elijah would have nodded to himself saying, 'That's more like it'?" Whether we think Sanders' billionaire ban violates the 8th Commandment or not, it violates the 10th. God made Abraham wealthy, and Jacob, and Solomon too. While Jesus warned that wealth comes with temptations (Matt. 19:24), being rich is a responsibility God gives, not an injustice the government needs to correct.

Parenting, Popular but problematic

Patricia Polacco gets woke

In my idyllic and very Christian small town I keep forgetting that even here there’s a spiritual war going on. This past weekend I got a reminder in amongst the books we borrowed from the public library when two titles were pushing the same agenda. The first was by well-loved children's author Patricia Polacco about a family with two moms. God's view of marriage – as being between a man and woman – was represented in the story by a snarling, glaring neighbor. The second was a chapter book about a girl competing in a TV game show who had two dads. While we parents should know what our kids are reading, if you have a child who reads a lot this becomes harder and harder to keep up with as they get older. But, as the Adversary knows, you are what you eat. And if he can sneak in a diet of "homosexuality is normal," he can win our kids over before parents even know a battle is happening. So, what's the answer? Should we monitor our children’s book intake closer? That's part of it. Should we rely on Christian school libraries more (if you have access to one)? That seems a good idea. Would it be wise to invest in a high-quality personal home library – only fantastic (and not simply safe) books? That’s a great idea. But, as our kids get older, it's going to come down to talking through this propaganda to equip them to see through it. It will mean explaining to them that we oppose homosexuality because God does, and that even in prohibiting homosexuality God shows his goodness. As Cal Thomas put it:

“God designed norms for behavior that are in our best interests. When we act outside those norms – such as for premarital sex, adultery, or homosexual sex – we cause physical, emotional, and spiritual damage to ourselves and to our wider culture. The unpleasant consequences of divorce and sexually transmitted diseases are not the result of intolerant bigots seeking to denigrate others. They are the results of violating God’s standard, which were made for our benefit.”

We have to share with our children that our Maker knows what is best for us, and homosexuality isn't it. Like many an idol (money, sex, family, career, drugs) it might even bring happiness for a time, but, like every other idol, it doesn't bring lasting joy, it won't save us, and it will distance us from the God who can.

Drama, Movie Reviews

Tortured for Christ

Historical drama 77 minutes / 2018 RATING: 8/10 Tortured for Christ is a must-see film about Richard Wurmbrand’s courageous and faithful stand against the Soviets when they took over Romania. Shortly after the Soviet Union moved in, the new rulers invited all of Romania’s most prominent religious leaders to attend a “conference of the cults.” At this conference – broadcast over the radio – these leaders were supposed to, one after another, talk about how respectful to religion the new rulers would be. Except it is a lie. And all the religious leaders know it. But the people don’t. And none of the religious leaders have the courage to tell them. In the auditorium audience sits Pastor Richard Wurmbrand and his wife. As they listen Wurmbrand turns to his wife: “If I speak now, you will have no husband" His wife’s reply? "I don't need a coward for a husband." Woah! So up he goes to the podium, he has his say before the mike is taken away, and he makes himself a stench in the nostrils of the authorities. Wurmbrand is eventually arrested, and then imprisoned and tortured for 14 years for his absolute refusal to deny his love for his Lord. For a time the torture happened every day, as Wurmbrand would be beaten for doing his nightly devotions. In one scene the guard asks him what he could possibly be praying to God for: he was in prison, his wife was too, and his children were basically orphans. So why, the guard wanted to know, was Wurmbrand still praying? "I am praying for you," Wurmbrand tells him. He wanted the guard who beat him every night to know the love of his Lord. While the torture scenes are muted, this is not family viewing. But it is a film I wish that everyone 16 and up would go and see. The trust that Wurmbrand has in his God, and the way that the Lord equipped him is so very beautiful and encouraging to see. It can be rented online at this link and you can watch the trailer below. Americans can also find it on Amazon Prime here.

Assorted

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!

 

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 [we should] 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.”

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