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Tidbits – September 2023

Season your words

“Every day, our words could write a book of 50-60 pages (cited by John MacArthur in his sermon ‘Exposing the Truth About Men’s Hearts’). As you consider the book that might be made of your words, what would it look like? Would it be a book you would like to give away as a birthday present? Would it be a book you could read to the grandkids? More importantly, would it be a book you would be content to sit down and read with the Lord?”

– Rev. Andrew de Vries, in his article “Talk the talk” in the May 2013 edition of Faith in Focus

Willpower!

“I can’t even imagine the self control required to work at a bubble wrap factory.” – attributed to Bill Murray

Technically true can be completely false

Proberbs 18:17 tells us how important it is to hear both sides of a story: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” In his book, How to know God exists, Ray Comfort recounts a story, that while not true, shows what can happen if you are stuck with hearing a story from just one source.

“The story is told of a symbolic foot race that took place between Russia and the U.S. during the Cold War. The very best athlete from each country compete to see who was superior. The Amerian runner won. The next day, the Soviet newspaper headline read: ‘Russia comes in second in big race; US comes in next to last.'”

Best bumper stickers

As seen on the back bumpers of cars all over…

  • What if there were no hypothetical questions?
  • Eschew obfuscation
  • If you can read this, I can hit my brakes and sue you.
  • If you ate pasta and antipasta, would you still be hungry?
  • How is it possible to have a civil war?
  • A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
  • Five out of four people have trouble with fractions

Evolution is a non-starter

“Survival of the fittest doesn’t explain the arrival of the fittest.”

– Dr. Donald Batten, explaining in the documentary Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels, that while the process of natural selection can whittle down the a species to only the fittest few, it isn’t a creative force – it pares things down, but can’t explain the orgin of anything new.

Host as you are

Have you ever said, We’ll start asking people over when…

  • we tidy up the house,
  • our kids our older
  • our kids are better behaved
  • we move into a larger place
  • we get a proper dining room table
  • we have time to shop for/cook a special meal

But blogger Jack King encourages us to do away with the excuses and consider offering our guests “scruffy hospitality.” He explains:

“Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together. Don’t allow a to-do list to disqualify you from an evening with people you’re called to love in friendship….. We tell our guests ‘come as you are,’ perhaps we should tell ourselves ‘host as you are.’ ….What does it look like to welcome people into my humility rather than my standard of excellence? The playroom may not be tidy. Our kids, who are lovely and enjoyable, may become noisy and cranky around 7 pm. Dinners may be sponsored entirely by Trader Joe’s frozen section…. But why would I withhold an invitation simply because I can’t make dinner from scratch?”

On reading children dramatic works 

“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” – C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature  

Jesus’ impact on our culture today

Twenty years ago Preysbyterian pastor D. James Kennedy wrote a book exploring the question What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? As Kennedy noted, Christ’s influence has been such that the whole world counts times as Before Christ (B.C.) and Anno Domini (A.D.) which is Latin for “in the year of the Lord.” It is an irony, Kennedy writes, “that the most vitriolic atheist writing a propagandistic letter to a friend must acknowledge Christ when he dates that letter.”

But the irony doesn’t stop there. The very same people who shake their fist at God benefit from Christ’s influence. The following is a short list of some of the very best features of our culture and civilization that can be attributed, as Kennedy does, to Jesus’ lasting impact:

  • hospitals were started back in the Middle Ages by Christians
  • slavery was abolished by Christians
  • most universities were begun by Christians
  • literacy for the masses was begun so that even peasants could read the Bible
  • modern science was developed by Christians to investigate the wonders God has wrought
  • we owe the seperation of powers in government to the Christian understanding of man’s corrupt nature – if we can’t be ruled by angels, then let us at least ensure no one devil gets his hands on all the power
  • Capitalism and free enterprise are based on property rights found in the Bible
  • the common man was elevated, and we began to have a higher regard for human life, based on the understanding all of mankind is made in God’s image

Henry VIII to Pope: “Go away, but the title can stay “

For almost 500 years now, to this present day, British monarchs have gone by the title “Defender of the Faith.” We were until last year ruled by Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith. The current King Charles is no longer officially known as “defender of the faith” in Canada, but retained the title as Great Britain’s king.

This title finds its origin back in 1521, when as a reward for service rendered, the Pope gave the English king this “Defender of the Faith” designation. What did Henry VIII do to warrant such an impressive title? He wrote a pamphlet titled, Declaration of the Seven Sacreaments Against Martin Luther. In it Henry defended the Pope and attacked Luther.

But a scant nine years later this Roman Catholic “Defender of the Faith” broke with Rome, and started the Anglican church. In response the Pope revoked his title, but the English Parliament later restored it. So the official head of the Anglican church bears a title first awarded to the very first Anglican King by none other than the Pope.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/ Michael Tubi

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In a Nutshell

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. Spoil him. Give him everything he wants so you can get him off your back. When he does wrong, nag him a little, but don’t spank him. Protect him from all those "mean" teachers who want to discipline him from time to time. Make all of his decisions for him because he might make mistakes…and learn from them. 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. 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... Let him express himself any way he feels like it. Don’t run his life; let him run yours. 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. Give him a big allowance and don’t make him do anything for it. 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...