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Tidbits – November 2023

Practice makes better

I had a friend who makes it a point of pride not to open doors for women because. “Women are just as capable of opening doors as men.”

True, but he’s missed the point of this little politeness. Gifted with greater strength, men could use their power (and some brutes do) to dominate women. Proper Christian chaps in times past took a stand against this misuse and instead put their strength at women’s disposal, doing so in many different ways: helping with chairs, giving up their seat on the bus, carrying packages, holding the song book at church and, yes, opening doors for the fairer sex.

It wasn’t that women were incapable – men were just practicing using their strength to help. They were engraining a habit, and modeling it to others, showing how gentle men behave. And since brutes continue to abound it’s clear that many men still need to practice and model this gentlemanly behavior.

Pop Quiz

Put your biblical knowledge to the test. Order the following events as they occur in the Bible beginning with “1” for the earliest and “10” for the last. Answers are at the bottom of this page.

    1. Daniel in the lions’ den
    2. Noah’s ark
    3. The giving of the Ten Commandments
    4. Elijah and the prophets of Baal
    5. Solomon building the Temple
    6. Samson and Delilah
    7. Jesus feeding the 5,000
    8. Saul’s vision on the Damascus road
    9. Joseph and his coat of many colors
    10. The martyring of Stephen

Nellie: a life worth living (27 min)

“I’ll play football in heaven,” says John “Nellie” Nelson (1965-2009) who was born with arthrogryposis and couldn’t move any of his joints from his neck down. He was, nevertheless, an assistant football coach for one of the best football programs in the country. What he did with the little he was given showed these young men what living to God’s glory really meant.

I first saw this at a film festival a decade back, and was delighted to discover it is now available for free on YouTube.

Marital advice from the unmarried

I got married later in life, and in my single days I wrote down some advice for the married me that I hoped would be. It was a few things that I, and some other singles, noticed about the very happiest of our married friends.

  • They make it a priority to hug or kiss their spouses hello and goodbye. That mushy stuff may make the kids groan but it sure seems to keep mom and dad happy.
  • While Dutch folk do have a tendency to tease the ones we love, happy couples are also quick to compliment their spouses (men, see Prov. 31:10-31 for a little inspiration).
  • “Dating” is common – they find ways to regularly spend time alone together.
  • While tonight it may have been your wife’s job to make supper, that’s no reason not to thank her for the wonderful meal! The happiest couples regularly thank each other, even for the ordinary routine work they do for one another every day.
  • And the happiest couples grow spiritually together, not just reading the Bible together, but really studying it and praying together.

A punny pastor

Pastor John Barach posted this bit to his blog some years back, on pulpit exchanges:

TERRY: “So when you have a pulpit exchange, you come here and our pastor goes to another church and that pastor goes to another church… It’s kind of a domino effect!”
ME: “No, Terry. It’s the dominee effect.”

Fly the silly skies

WestJet is a Canadian airline known for its humorous flight attendants. The following are some quips attributed to these flying funsters:

  • “Welcome aboard West Jet Flight 245 to Calgary. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt; and, if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised.”
  • “In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite.”
  • “Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive.
  • After a very hard landing in Edmonton, the flight attendant came on the intercom: “That was quite a bump, and I know what y’all are thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendant’s fault… it was the asphalt.”

Quote of the month

“People should know what they believe and why they believe it, and they should know what they don’t believe and why they don’t believe it.” – Dr. Glen Martin

A stolen gift

In June street evangelist Ray Comfort’s new bicycle was stolen, so he ended up going back to the same bike store to buy the very same bike again. He has already spoken with the store owner about God the last visit, so this time he asked the man about his family, and discovered that while he had two children, and had been with their mom for 15 years, they were not married. And this is what Ray then told him:

“I told him that if he loved his girlfriend he would marry her. I talked about her eternal salvation and that he was making her a fornicator. I also told him that the Bible begins with a naked couple being commanded by God to have sex, that sex is a gift from God to humanity…. Then I told him a story of a little boy whose dad had a brand new $100 bill in his wallet that he was going to give him as a gift. Not knowing that, the son snuck into his dad’s room, opened the wallet and stole the money. The $100 was going to be his anyway, but he stole it and made something bad out of something that was going to be good. I said, ‘That’s what you’ve done with God’s gift of sex.'”

SOURCE: Ray Comfort’s Facebook post of June 10, 2014

Anagram arrangements

Sometimes the exact same letters can be used to say the same thing in another way, as happens in the anagrams below.

  • Astronomer: Moon starer
  • The eyes: They see
  • The Morse Code: Here come dots
  • Slot Machines: Cash lost in me
  • Snooze Alarms: Alas! No more Z’s
  • A decimal point: I’m a dot in place
  • The earthquakes: That queer shake
  • Eleven plus two: Twelve plus one
  • Butterfly: Flutter-by
  • Vacation Times: I’m Not as Active

Source: the world wide web

Dad joke of the month

Two atoms are walking down a road when one says, “Oh no, I’ve lost my electron!”
“Are you sure?” asks the second.
“Yes,” says the first, “I’m positive!”

Source: 3-2-1 Penguins – The Cheating Scales of BullaManka

Unromantic… or just thrifty?

Rene Gutteridge’s romance novel My Life as a Doormat has a rather creative introduction on being a romantic on the cheap:

“I’m practical. Practical people can be romantics. I don’t think the two contradict each other. Sure, I cringe when an insane amount of money is spent on a dozen roses, and as I watch them die their slow deaths despite the Evian and the aspirin tablet, I can’t help but wonder what better use there was for forty dollars. Can the feeling of holding roses really match saving the starving children of the world? I simply pose the question.

“I’m getting sidetracked. The fact of the matter is that I just see romance differently. I see it in defined spaces, with reason and structure attached. Romance doesn’t necessarily need spontaneity either. Scheduled romance is certainly a viable option for busy people. There’s no reason why a bottle of wine can’t be sought out days ahead of time, why a horse-drawn carriage can’t be ridden in the off-season to save ten dollars. Practicality is a simple frame of mind that in all honesty offers more perks and functionality than such frivolousness.”

Bringing the Greek fire!

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” – attributed to Plato

Answers for “Pop Quiz”

The correct order of events is 2, 9, 3, 6, 5, 4, 1, 7, 10, 8

or

  1. Noah’s ark
  2. Joseph and his coat of many colors
  3. The giving of the Ten Commandments
  4. Samson and Delilah
  5. Solomon building the Temple
  6. Elijah and the prophets of Baal
  7. Daniel in the lions’ den
  8. Jesus feeding the 5,000
  9. The martyring of Stephen
  10. Saul’s vision on the Damascus road

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In a Nutshell

Tidbits - October 2023

Halloween in a small American town I live in a delightful and occasionally comical small town where the church-attending Christians make up a solid majority of the population. This is such a Christian town that when Halloween comes around, one of the local churches will set up a hot chocolate stand for our area, and you'll see a dad or two dressed up as a monkish Martin Luther, tonsure and all. When I first moved here Halloween fell on a Sunday, and I was impressed to see most of the kids did their trick-or-treating on Saturday instead. Then I was quite surprised when one of the trick-or-treaters at my door – a little princess – told me "my brother is the devil." Sure enough, there he came toddling up the path, a two-year-old dressed in a bright red satin, forked tail wagging behind. Lynden: it's a town where trick or treating on Sunday is verboten, but dressing up as Satan ain't no big thing. “The free market is a bathroom scale” “The free market is simply a measurement. The free market tells us what people are willing to pay for a given thing at a given moment. That’s all the free market does. The free market is a bathroom scale. We may not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale, but we can’t pass a law making ourselves weigh 165. Liberals and leftists think we can.” – P.J O’Rourke Are you wearing anything ten years or older? About ten years back, Christian Courier's editor Angela Bick shared that her friends were surprised to learn that they weren’t wearing anything as much as ten years old. The surprise was probably prompted by the realization that 40 years ago the situation would have been quite different. Kids’ clothing in particular was treated differently then, with patches (and patches upon patches) being far more common. Darning socks was more common, and the resoling of shoes too. Whenever one generation decides to do something differently than the previous, it is worth a moment’s reflection - if you aren’t wearing anything from a decade ago, why might that be? Is it a result of shoddy manufacturing and living in a throw-away culture? Are clothes simply not made to last like they once were? Are we financially blessed, to the point that we don’t need to wear worn out clothes? Are we financially irresponsible, spending money on clothes when that money could be put to better use? Is it a matter of clothes being less expensive to replace than they once were? Might it mean we are overly concerned with keeping up with the latest fashions? The way it was… and could be? In the 1940s, in the Netherlands, most men worked six days a week at physically-taxing jobs. So, come Sunday it could be quite a struggle for these men to stay attentive through the church service, especially when it came time to pray and eyes were shut and heads were bowed. And to make it harder still, the prayers were quite often fifteen minutes long. In his wartime biography The Way It Was, author Sid Baron notes that to help these men stay awake it was the practice then to allow the option of standing during prayer. So throughout the church, as most bowed their head to pray, many farmers and laborers would rise. This practice is no longer common anywhere in Reformed churches, most likely because ministers no longer tax their congregation’s attention with fifteen-minute prayers, and because far fewer members do heavy physical labor. Still, it might be a practice worth reviving for some particularly sleep-deprived folk: the mothers and fathers of newborns! Brother, can you spare a dime? by Gregory Koukl You can't help having mixed feelings when people beg for food on the street. Your heart goes out to them, but you have reservations too. Is there a real need here, or is this just laziness disguised? Here's a simple solution. Give food to the poor by helping fill the cupboards of your local church feeding program. If your church doesn't have one, find a Christian facility that does. They make sure food goes to people with a genuine need, and the Gospel goes out along with it. Another alternative is to make up a couple of bags of food and keep them in your trunk. Include the kinds of things that can be opened without tools and eaten without cooking. Include plastic silverware that's sealed together with a napkin that you get from take-out food places. Then give it in Jesus' name. Welfare is not God's answer to the needs of the poor. Instead, He asks for charitable, responsible, obedient giving. Don't give money to someone begging in the street. Instead, send your money to a reputable Christian agency in your area, or give food in prepackaged parcels. You'll have the peaceful confidence you've really done something for the poor and homeless. SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from www.str.org Biblical, musical ABCs Jamie Soles is well known among conservative Reformed churches in Canada, but for those that don’t know of him, below are the lyrics of a song from one of his children’s albums “The Way My Story Goes” which is available (along with more info) on the artist’s website SolMusic.ca. “These Are They” Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures For in these, you say, your life will never end, Don’t be misled; the life you’re looking for Is found in Me, for I am found in them. And… "These are they, these are they, These are they which speak of Me.” Adam, Abel, Abraham, Aaron, Ammon, Amnon, Andrew, Abishai, Abishag, Abigail, Ahab, tell the world of Me. Ahaziah, Amaziah, Ahimaaz, Ahasuerus, Ahithophel, Abiathar, Ahitub, too, Asahel and Absalom, Abner and Abednego, Asa and Amasa, just to name a few. Now… These are they.... Boaz, Balaam, Barzillai, Balak, Barak, Baal, Babel, Baasha, Baruch, Benjamin, all tell the world of Me. Barnabas and Bethel, Bezalel and Bilhah, Benaiah, Belial, and Bashan, too, Bethlehem and Ben-Hadad, Beelzebub and Babylon, The Bible bubbles over with Me; how ‘bout you? Now… These are they.... Caesar, Caleb, Caiaphas, Canaan, Cain, and Chedorlaomer, Cushi, Chloe, Claudius, all tell the world of Me. Corinthians, Cyrenians, Cyrus and the Cretans, Cornelius, Capernaum, and Chimham, see? These are only part of it This is but the start of it Stories are your biblical ABCs! Now… All these stories, they show My glories These are they which speak of Me. Top 10 verses: important omission BibleGateway.com is a website that includes dozens of different translations of the Bible. It gets more than 8 million visitors each month, and back in 2011. when they listed their site’s most-searched for verses of the Bible, Collin Hansen at TheGospelCoalition.org noticed a startling omission among them. While the top ten includes verses that are often emblazoned on shirts, or are held up on signs at sports events (John 3:16 was the #1 verse) none of the top ten most-searched-for-verses talked about sin! It isn’t until verse #19 that sin is mentioned: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” It’s not surprising that talking about sin is unpopular. But the Good News of the Gospel only makes sense after we understand our own sinfulness, and God’s hatred of sin. Then it is good news indeed that God has sent us a Savior and Mediator! So it isn’t a surprising omission, but it is a glaring one. It should be polite to ask a woman’s age Our culture worships youth, so it’s no wonder they think it’s rude to make mention of someone’s age. But why do we think it’s rude? After all, the Bible speaks quite highly of the elderly, as it is with age that wisdom can come (at least among the righteous). That’s why Proverbs 20:29 notes that “gray hair is the splendor of the old” and Prov. 16:31 tells us: “the silver-haired head is a crown of glory.” Among Christians old should be excellent! 30% of Gen Z Americans would welcome gov’t monitoring inside their homes Nearly a third of Americans under 30 would welcome a government surveillance device in their homes, in the name of reducing spousal and child abuse. Clearly they haven’t been taught about the surveillance states of the past, like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. And they must not know about China’s current “social credit system,” where citizens are constantly monitored and granted freedoms based on how obliging they’ve been to their government’s every requirement. And they haven’t read 1984 or any other dystopian fiction. That a third of American young people trust the government to watch their every move isn’t an endorsement of our political leadership’s trustworthiness, but is instead an indicator of how badly they are educating our youth in their public schools. Now Christians might think that if we aren’t doing anything wrong what does it matter if we are being watched? But do you spank your children? Might some government official somewhere want to recast as abuse what you know to be appropriate and measured? Do you teach your children that God made us male and female? Do you insist that marriage is between one man and one woman? What might the government think about that? To be constantly monitored is to be constantly assessed. And knowing, as we do, that our governments don’t measure right and wrong by God’s standards, we should fear the prospect....