Showing posts from 2017

The Canadian Soviet Government

There has been a lot in the news recently regarding freedom of speech, which is intrinsically tied to freedom of religion. Lindsay Shepherd gained international attention because of her bullying at the hands of university professors at Wilfrid Laurier. What Lindsay intended as a neutral example of a debate about gender pronouns, turned into a prime example of the dangers of Bill C-16 and its impact on free speech. Although nobody got put in jail this time, that eventuality doesn't seem so far fetched anymore.

Christians need to take note of the governments increasing hostility to free speech and shift towards compelled speech because it is on the path towards criminalizing belief in the Bible. Another example of this shift is found in the Canada Summer Jobs program. The Canada Summer Jobs program subsidizes jobs for small businesses, non-profits, and the public sector. This year the government is insisting that employers attest to the following:
To be eligible, the core mandate of…

Social Media and Christianity - Part 2

Over the last couple of weeks I have discussed the topic of social media with a few different groups. It has been interesting to note that almost every group is concerned about some aspect of social media. But, more importantly, that most people had not previously to our conversation given in-depth consideration to the effects of social media on their lives. In this post, I would like to discuss a few of the dangers that we discussed.

Echo chamber: Social media is an echo chamber where we are only confronted with our own ideas. These platforms are designed so that we mostly see the stuff we are interested in. If another person is offensive to you they can simply be blocked without any more interaction with them.  This gives us the impression that everybody agrees with us and removes the possibility of being challenged meaningfully on our own views. The greatest effect, however, is that it polarizes people making a toxic environment for any sort of mutual understanding of disparate gro…

Social Media and Christianity

The Bible never says specifically that we shouldn't smoke, drink, do drugs, or gamble, but most Christian's discourage participation in these activities because of the harmful effects. We need to add one more to the list, social media.

Social media apps targets reward based behaviour which activates the brain's dopamine pathways, which are the same pathways that are hijacked by drugs, but are normally used to reward eating, sleeping, etc... The intended goal of these social media giants is to have you buy things from the companies that advertise on their platform.  It is true that this kind of advertising has been going on for years, so why should we be concerned now?

The difference is that companies now know so much more about how to manipulate you. In a article by The Guardian, it was reported that,
Facebook showed advertisers how it has the capacity to identify when teenagers feel “insecure”, “worthless” and “need a confidence boost”, according to a leaked documents bas…

Amusing Ourselves to Death

"Amusing ourselves to death" by Neil Postman is a great book regarding our addiction to entertainment.  In this book he persuasively argues that we are living in a Huxleyan world where there is nothing serious and everything is for our amusement. At the time of writing this book Mr. Postman did not think Orwell's prophecies applied to America, but I think if he where writing today he would retract that statement. Although it is not a heavy handed Government controlling our lives, it is the corporate bullies who are stepping in to fill that place (The government of course is quick to support them). They insist that nothing stands in the way of our amusement and if anybody does they are quickly removed.
In Amusing ourselves to death, it is argued that the rise of TV is what made us into an entertainment based culture. The reason is that it is the medium of conversation that has the greatest influence on the types of ideas that can be expressed. And the types of ideas that …

Gossip is Playing with Fire

Gossip is one of those sins that people don't really take seriously. As long as we are saying factual information and we would say it to someone's face we consider it information sharing, not gossip. Admittedly, I have gossiped over the years without giving it much thought, but that all changed when the tables were turned and I was on the wrong end of gossip.

God is very clear on what He thinks of gossip by the sins He compares it to:
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents (Rom. 1:29). Gossips and haters of God are found in the same sentence which shows God's classification for that particular sin. We also know that gossip can have profound effects from reading the book of Proverbs.

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.(Pr…

Grace or Apathy

This summer has been full of the usual business but two situations have caused me to wonder at the state of my heart. The first situation involves someone killing their baby and the other sexual assault of a vulnerable child. In both cases the criminal has claimed the forgiveness of God and expressed repentance and desire continued fellowship in the church.

Part of me wants nothing to do with them, but the other part wants to know if I should be extending them forgiveness of some kind. Biblically speaking they both deserve death for their actions (Gen. 9:6, Deut. 22:25-27), but they both will get off with far less than that. Since killing a baby is not considered a crime that person will receive no punishment from the state, and since a statement of repentance is all that is needed to convince Christians of remorse there will be no further consequences from the church or their friends. The person involved in the assault has been punished by the state and similar to other one who state…

NO - It is not okay to be angry with God

Over the last decade or so I have heard it said many times that it is okay to be angry with God. Anger is a "strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility." The problem is that God never does anything to deserve your anger, which means that whenever you are angry with God you are sinning. Although, many people use the Psalms to defend their position, it does not support their perspective. Let's look at one.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide you face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Ps. 13:1-2) These verses are not displaying displeasure or hostility or anger in any common meaning of the word, rather they are a cry for understanding and longing for God. This only is confirmed in the verses that follow:
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have preva…

God Speaks

There is a song that plays on our local family radio station that drives me crazy. Originally our family radio station was branded as a Christian radio station, but over the years and presumably for marketing reasons they changed their branding to be family radio. The content of this radio station is Christian in the broadest sense, including Catholic, Charismatic, and Evangelical content, but lacks so much discernment that it is not really Christian in the real sense. The song is written by Todd Agnew and is called "Written on the Wall." The chorus goes like this:
And I wish You still spoke through burning bushes
And I wish You still wrote on blocks of stone
'Cause the sound of this world's deafening
And I'm having a hard time listening
And I wish Your will was still written on the wall  Essentially, this is a call to return back to the Old Testament, which is step backwards, not a step forwards.
Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with su…

Hope for the Future

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). This is one of the most popular verses shared when people are going through trouble, but the context is often forgotten. The original recipients of this verse were the initial wave of exiles (people who had been taken into captivity) who were residing in Babylon. They were hoping for deliverance from their current situation immediately, but God had other plans.
For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are complete for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. (Jer. 29:10) Many of the people who first heard this verse would have died before it came to pass. God's plans are not individual but collective, and they are not necessarily fulfilled in our life time. We need faith to help us comprehend that whatever we are going through is for the best even if we don't understand it.
But seek…

Forgiveness without Repetance

The other night I gave a talk which touched on the topic of forgiveness. During the group discussion afterward the enduring question was brought up, do you forgive if the person does not repent? The answer to this question is a straightforward no, but the situations are not. How can you forgive if someone is not sorry? On the other hand, who is on what side of that equation?

The problem is that not all situations are black and white. In cases of rape, murder, and abuse it is clear that there is a victim and a criminal, but in cases of slander, gossip, and greed the line isn't so clearly etched. Naturally, the parties involved don't see it that way, but that should be expected. Although God is infallible, Christians are not.

Jesus, completely innocent and justified, on the cross said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." This example of forgiveness is what should guide our hearts when dealing with our fellow man. Jesus did not wait for man to come t…

Church Discipline - Part 3

Previously, I wrote about the importance of the disposition of the heart in church discipline. In this series of articles I want to expand on that a bit further with regards to the major biblical teaching on church discipline.

In Part 1 of this series we discovered that church discipline has a process that aims at restoration. The accused is given multiple opportunities to repent and to have their case heard to ensure that justice is done. Likewise, the accuser's claims are verified by multiple people to avoid false accusations and they are exhorted to have a heart of forgiveness like God's heart towards them. Those responsible for the discipline must also act in accordance with the will of God in order for it to be binding.

In Part 2 of this series we saw a practical example that illustrated that Christian's should shun someone who claims the name of Jesus yet their life is characterized by their sin and they refuse to repent, in order that this person might be restored a…

Church Discipline - Part 2

Previously, I wrote about the importance of the disposition of the heart in church discipline. In this series of articles I want to expand on that a bit further with regards to the major biblical teaching on Church discipline.

Part 1, covered Matthew 18:15-35, and Part 2 will cover 1 Corinthians 5. Part 3 will look at the practical application of discipline.

The Corinthian church had many problems one of which was not dealing with persistent sin in their midst. In chapter 5 we find a particularly startling example.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who had done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor. 5:1-2) It appears that the church in Corinth was arrogant with regards to their spirituality. They thought they had it all together when really they should have been in mourning that such a sin could be in …

Church Discipline - Part 1

Previously, I wrote about the importance of the disposition of the heart in church discipline. In this series of articles I want to expand on that a bit further with regards to the major biblical teaching on Church discipline.

Church discipline is necessary for at least two reasons: (1) Local churches can be easily corrupted by one bad apple. (2) It is a mechanism for restoration when people sin. Therefore, discipline is needed for the health of the church. In the Bible, there are two major passages that deal directly with discipline, Matthew 18:15-35 and 1 Corinthians 5.

In Matthew 18:15-35 we see the process, authority, and forgiveness required for church discipline.

Process (Matt. 18:15-17):
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he doesn't listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he …

Worldviews - Part 6

This is a six part series on worldviews by guest blogger Frank Allan. WorldviewsThe windows through which we interpret the meaning of our lives
Part 6. What is Truth? Pilate, who tried Jesus before He was crucified asked, “What is truth?” We are asking the same question today. You cannot trust the news sources from the right or the left since their innate biases colour the news they report on. One of our greatest challenges today is establishing what is true and what is not true. We are rapidly approaching the era of “post-truth,” if we are not already there.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to rely on the information you are receiving to be true because it is “fake” or so biased it does not correspond to reality. We need to reflect on how we know something to be true and something that is not true. How do we know we know and how do we know we don’t know? The Christian believes that truth is found in Jesus and in the Word of God as revealed in the Bible. It is revealed truth beca…

Worldviews - Part 5

This is a six part series on worldviews by guest blogger Frank Allan. WorldviewsThe windows through which we interpret the meaning of our lives
Part 5.  What is the Basis of Morality?

What many secularists do not address is the problem of establishing law and order independent of an objective morally. James Bryce, a British ambassador to the United States in the early twentieth century, in his book, The American Commonwealth, stated that “Christianity is in fact understood to be, though not legally the established religion, yet the national religion.” He was “startled by the thought of what might befall this huge but delicate fabric of laws and commerce and social institutions were the foundation it had rested on to crumble away.” Will and Ariel Durant also questioned the survival of a civilization cut from a religious moral base. “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.” Western civiliz…

Biblical Imagery - Show me His Glory!

The Bible is full of images. Images typically have a different kind of value than what they represent, but there are certain images that derive their value by what they embody. An example of this type of image from our every day life is money. The cost of the polymer used to make a $20 bill is insignificant, but its value is determined by what it represents. In fact,  destroying the polymer image also destroys its value even though the physical value of the image has little to no value on its own.

As Christians we need to be careful to view the images revealed in Scripture according to their value, and not simply as physical images. Western Christianity has a tendency to consider the material world as non-overlapping with the spiritual world, but those two worlds are intrinsically intertwined. Our actions in the material world reveal our beliefs about the spiritual world.

The clearest example of this is Jesus. Jesus "is the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15). Jesus is no…

Worldviews - Part 4

This is a six part series on worldviews by guest blogger Frank Allan.
WorldviewsThe windows through which we interpret the meaning of our lives
Part 4. The Worldviews of Solomon in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes

From a practical viewpoint there are two books in the Bible, written by Solomon, that express the reality of theism in contrast to agnosticism and atheism. His Book of Proverbs gives us practical help and direction for our lives based on the fear of God. That is, God is a holy and just God who created us in His image and holds us accountable for how we live our lives. In Ecclesiastes we are given the experience and reasoning of man as he views everything “under the sun” with little reference to God or His instruction. The writer appears to be without hope, or a personal relationship with God. In the writer’s mind, God is there but he is silent. This is essentially deism which eventually descends to naturalism and nihilism.  It is not that God is not recognized but that He is not s…

Worldviews - Part 3

This is a six part series on worldviews by guest blogger Frank Allan. WorldviewsThe windows through which we interpret the meaning of our lives Part 3. What is your Personal Worldview? In the story of man’s fall in Genesis, there are two questions that are relevant to each of us.

But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13)

Where are you?  What “box” are you in?  Have you confessed that you have rebelled against God, as we all have? Have you acknowledged that in your natural state you had “no hope and [were] without God in the world”? (Ephesians 2:12)  Being destitute of ultimate meaning in your life, have you cried out to God as the tax man in the Gospel of Luke did? Luke 18:13)

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Luke 18:13)

This is the reality that…

How to live on the Animal Farm

The 24x7 news cycle about American politics is rather tiresome. Unfortunately, like a car accident at the side of the road it is hard not to look. What is becoming increasingly clear is the polarization between the left and the right is quite large and growing. This gap is due in large part because people do not bother to get the facts, insist on making the most divisive issues the central issues, and make everything political. The scary part, which I keep bringing up, is this ultimately will end in violence. As Christians we should do our best not to be part of the problem.

As I discussed in my last post, Christians should listen and attempt to understand the different aspects of any issue. If you are posting articles about Trump's immigration executive order and you have not read the order itself, you shouldn't be posting. The blanket statements of most media outlets are rarely correct and need some qualification. Conceding certain points of an argument does not mean you agr…

Is Anybody Listening?

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? (The Gulag Archipelago, pg. 168) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn understood something that America desperately needs to understand today. Evil is not only found in other people it is found in ourselves. God says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it. (Jer. 17:9)" We impute the purists of motives to ourselves and the worst to our opponents, even though we should all recognize the frailty of our own hearts. The end result is no one is listening.

There does not seem to be any middle ground and I don't mean a compromise between two radically opposing world views. Rather, I am referring to people who make an effort t…

President Trump and the War for Freedom

The United States of America has a new president, Donald Trump. His climb to the presidency has brought to the forefront the conflict for freedom within America and essentially the Western world. Donald Trump was not elected because he was an outstanding candidate, he was elected as the best of two bad options. Almost 63 million people were more afraid of the liberal progressive agenda than they were of Donald Trump. The heart of the progressive agenda was on full display at the women's march that was held on January 21, 2017, as they marched for the death of the weakest in our society.

In the name of freedom of choice they campaigned to take away the choice of other people. Hypocrisy is nothing new, but it is staggering how blinding it can be. It is sad to see the number of people who don't bother to take the time to investigate another point of view. Unfortunately, this seems to be the majority of people which is scary, but not unexpected. Mass destruction of human beings al…

Funerals - Traveling to the limits of our understanding

Funeral's often bring out the best in us. They help us set aside differences and focus on what really matters, and they also challenge us to make the most of the time that we have. But more than all of that, they teach us the value of even one human life.

Knowing what to say at a funeral is almost impossible. How can words capture the essence of one person or the relationships they had? Can a father really explain how much he loves his daughter or a husband his wife and the impact of that loss? Can a person adequately express their condolences for such a loss? A picture is worth a thousand, but silence is worth billions in situations like these. These are the times in life where we intuitively understand that there is more to life than time + material.
Unfortunately, it is so easy to forget this when the times are good for us. One person's wedding anniversary is another person's worst day. Pain, suffering, joy, and happiness are all mixed together in the fabric of human re…