Tag Archives: Compassion

Bible study: a good sermon on grace, shepherds and sheep

A good shepherd rescuing a lost sheep who had no hope
A good shepherd rescuing a lost sheep, who had no hope

My friend Wessel sent me this sermon a few days ago because I was looking for a good sermon on grace. Some of my friends pitched in with sermons, but this one from a South African church was BY FAR the best. I’ve listened to it 3 times already. The speaker sounds exactly like one of best friends from university, Andrew, who is from South Africa.

Here is the MP3 file. (7 megabytes, 30 minutes)

The text of the sermon is Genesis 48:1-20:

1 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him.

When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me

and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.

Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers.

As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground.

13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him.

14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger,and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,

“May the God before whom my fathers
    Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
    all my life to this day,

16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
    —may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
    and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
    on the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.

18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”

20 He blessed them that day and said,

“In your[c] name will Israel pronounce this blessing:
    ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”

So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

So, in this story, God continues his tradition of choosing the lowly people in the world instead of the people who are seen as “better”. God does this in many cases, because he has a big heart for people who are born in a bad position. Normally in the world, people always choose what they think is best for them. They choose the prettiest girl. They choose the most tallest man. Those who need a little extra help or care are passed over. God sometimes does the complete opposite of this. Instead of choosing the obvious “best person”, he chooses a much lower person, and he lifts them up to do great things.

Consider 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,

29 so that no one may boast before him.

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

The speaker in the sermon explains the idea of grace by talking about sheep and shepherds. He explains that unlike clever homing pigeons, sheep are prone to wandering off and they aren’t able to find their way home. Sometimes, they get lost, and sometimes they even wander into danger. A bad shepherd would just say that he only wanted to have the best sheep – the smartest ones or the richest ones or the best looking ones or the most popular ones. But a good shepherd is sorry for the sheep that needs the most help, and is the most lost, and in the most danger. God is like a good shepherd. God sends his Son to die to atone for the sins of the bad sheep in this world, even when they didn’t deserve it. (John 3:16-17) That’s grace. But he also arranges the world in a way that bad sheep have an opportunity to reach out and find him. (Acts 17:24-27) That’s grace, too.

In my own life, I have often found myself being excluded or discounted by people, usually because of my skin color or because of my early childhood poverty or because I just struggle to understand what I’m expected to say and to do. But a funny thing often happens. Right when I am feeling the worst about being excluded, God comes along and gives me something special to do, that makes me forget about being excluded. And that’s been my experience of grace, ever since I was little and even to this day. The honor of being allowed to participate in God’s plan makes me forget what it feels like to be excluded. The very best things I’ve achieved in my life are the times where God showed me someone who started out life in a terrible situation (usually because of the selfish decisions of their irresponsible parents) and then I participated in God’s plan to lead them out of the mess they started out from.

I think one of the biggest reasons why some Christians stick with Christianity through thick and thin is that they have this experience of grace. This experience of grace means that no matter what, that sheep is going to loyal to that shepherd who chose him when he was at his lowest and most vulnerable. The first part of the choosing is obviously Jesus dying on the cross to atone for your rebellion. But after that, God carefully reveals himself to the sheep. And then there is the guidance that helps the sheep to avoid destroying himself with sin. If the sheep makes mistakes, the good shepherd has already laid down his life to pay for them. This is a lot of effort being put into this rescue operation. It’s difficult for people who have never experienced grace to realize how real and life-transforming it is. For those who have not experienced it, I really recommend that you pray to God, in the name of Jesus, and ask him to give you grace.

There are still things in my life where God has decided that he is not going to fix it. And, strangely enough, that doesn’t make me disloyal to him at all. Why not? Well, you have to read the Bible and understand that Jesus was not spared from suffering or death in his loyal obedience to God. He wasn’t given everything he wanted to feel happy all the time. When you understand that this is the character of your shepherd, then it’s much easier for you to put up with the things you lack, too.

How should parents respond to teachers pressuring children to transition?

Catholic teachers march in favor of gay rights and perverted sex education
Catholic teachers march in favor of gay rights and perverted sex education

My plan for marriage was to have 4 children with my wife, then homeschool them right through to doctoral degrees. But one thing I knew for sure, I was never going to put my kids into public schools. My impression of public school teachers is that they are the source of moral relativism and cultural relativism. They break down morality and patriotism in children and call it compassion.

Abigal Shrier has noticed that the teachers in public schools are pushing transgenderism pretty hard, because they don’t want anyone making judgments about what is right or wrong, wise or foolish.

The far-left UK Daily Mail reported:

‘I often get parents telling me they’re not able to take binders (a cloth which flattens breasts by the use of constrictive materials) away from their children, and I say to them, “Would you give your children cigarettes?”.

‘Because we know binders are really harmful, they can deform breast tissue, cause rib cracking and shortness of breath. They’re quite dangerous for your 14-year-old to be going around with.’

Sharing her experience of parents’ concerns, she said: ‘Parents often say to me “I don’t want to be seen as a transphobe”, and it’s very clear to me that sometimes these parents feel like they can’t speak the truth or go against their own children’s wishes.

[…]’I’ve never seen parents so beaten down and undermined. They send them to school in good faith and now schools are helping them fill out forms with new names as different sexes and hide it from their parents. They turn their kids against their parents.

‘Medicine has become so politicised that parents can’t even rely on honesty from medical professionals even when it comes to transition.’

You might remember that I blogged about a particularly scary case of this from socialist Canada, which doesn’t respect parents’ rights at all. There, the teachers, administrators, counsellors, doctors, layers and judges, all conspired to transition a child from female to male against the parents’ wishes. If you haven’t read that post from March of this year, you should definitely go read it, to find out where our own public schools are trying to go with students.

Anyway, in another article from The College Fix I found an excerpt of her new book, where she offers advice to parents. She talks about not giving them smartphones, not abdicating the leadership role, monitoring the schools for gender ideology, keeping family business private, being open to pulling the children out of their communities, etc.

And there is some pushback against the transgender agenda being promoted by teachers. Some people are regretting their transitions, and blaming the adults who affirmed them on their way to self-harm.

Here’s an article from Sky News:

A woman who was treated with hormone blockers to reassign her gender as a teenager is taking the NHS to court, saying she “should have been told to wait”.

Keira Bell said the care she received for gender dysphoria, a condition where a person experiences distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity, steered her towards medical treatment.

Ms Bell, who used to identify as a boy, was 15 when she went to the Tavistock Centre in London. She said after “roughly three sessions” she started receiving hormone blockers.

Eight years later, and after undergoing surgery, Ms Bell is de-transitioning to return to a woman.

[…]She said: “I am angry about the whole situation because of how things have turned out for me based on the medical pathway that I was put on, but I’m now just trying to focus on changing the system for the better and making it better for minors and children.

“I should have been told to wait and not affirmed in my gender identity I was claiming to have and given intensive therapy basically to make sure that I was on the right track for things and investigate the feelings I was having to figure out how I got to that stage.”

Ms Bell said she felt “trapped and alone”, and the Tavistock Centre should have taken into account the “confusion” teenagers experience before offering her treatment.

What I’d like to see is conservative lawmakers craft legislation to allow victims like this to charge the teachers, administrators, doctors, lawyers and judges with criminal negligence. Because I really feel that it is criminal to lie to young people so that you will feel good, and people will like you. That’s all that this focus on feelings and compassion is. The secular leftist adults aren’t capable of moral reasoning. They don’t want to do good for the children, they want to feel good and be popular, even if it harms the children’s long-term well-being and happiness. The adults should be punished.

Why don’t men go to church anymore? The decline of male church attendance

Church sucks, that's why men are bored there
Church sucks, that’s why men are bored there

I most recently spent half a year at a PCA church, and then another half a year at a Southern Baptist church. I attended Sunday services as well as Wednesday night Bible study. I am now looking for a new church. For now, I just look around for a sermon I like and listen to that. In this post, I’ll explain why I think men don’t like church.

There are three areas where churches fail to attract men:

    1. Apologetics
    2. Feminism, sex and marriage
    3. Policy and current events

Apologetics

The PCA church discouraged me from becoming a member of the church because they said that conversion to Christianity due to reason and evidence was contrary to their teachings, and a “red flag”. Their words. I didn’t try to fight them on it, because they are Reformed Presbyterian, and this is their actual view. Their approach to apologetics was “pre-suppositional”, which is to say, they try to convince people to become Christians by asking them to assume that the Bible is infallible, without any argumentation or evidence. Naturally, this doesn’t work, so they aren’t trained to answer any serious questions from non-Christians. (1 Pet 3:15-16)

The Reformed Baptist SBC church is led by people like Russell Moore and Al Mohler, who take the “magic words” approach to evangelism. I.e. – they think that people become Christians just by speaking Bible verses out of context to them. So, when the atheist asks “do you have any evidence for God’s existence?” or “do you have any evidence for Jesus’ resurrection?”, their response is to quote Bible verses to the atheist, which have nothing to do with those topics. Christianity has lost so much influence in the culture under their approach, which is not even Biblical. (Mat 12:38–41)

These approaches to evangelism are not used in any other area of human endeavor. No one replies to questions about auto mechanics, or software engineering, or gardening, or cooking, by spouting Bible verses. In literally every other area of human endeavor, the laws of logic and supporting evidence are seen as assets when making claims to know something about the world to someone who disagrees with you.

Feminism, Sex and Marriage

First wave feminism simply asked for women to be given the same liberty and opportunity as men. That was good. But later versions of destroyed all distinctions between men and women. By destroying femininity, feminism directed women away from the traditional life plan of marriage, children and home-making.

Feminism changed how women voted. Today, about 75% of young, unmarried women vote for policies like taxpayer-funded birth control, taxpayer-funded abortion, no-fault divorce, affirmative action for women in schools and in the workplace, taxpayer-funded daycare, public schools, single-mother welfare, social security, etc. These policies and programs raised tax rates, and grew government, making it easier for women to have children without having to choose a marriage-ready man she wasn’t attracted to. Instead, she could choose men she was attracted to, and just use government programs as a substitute provider if it didn’t “work out”. Thanks to feminism, we have a 42% out-of-wedlock birth rate, and it’s rising. Few female college graduates are debt-free. About 5% of women emerge from college as virgins.

Under feminism, the traditional male roles and virtues were deemed “sexist”. Women were shamed for choosing early marriage, large families, and stable men who were good at being husbands and fathers. Instead, women today chose men based on appearance. They spend their 20s and early 30s giving men who will not commit to them premarital sex. The men who are getting sex thrown at them have no interest in Judeo-Christian values, chastity, fidelity, commitment or raising children. Women mistake the men’s willingness to have sex and cohabitate as signs that they are close to marriage. But in fact, chasing the hot bad boys just eats up the chastity, youth and beauty that could have made them interesting to the marriage-minded men they scorned. Later on, they realize that they’ve wasted their 20s on bad boys, but by then they are not attractive for marriage.

What has the response been to feminism from pastors and churches? They accept the anti-male, anti-marriage policies, that came out of feminism. They accept the promiscuity, and the marriage-delaying that came from feminism. Today, pastors just try to bully the men who were passed over to marry the women who had previously rejected them, despite the higher risk of divorce caused by the women’s past behavior.

Policy and current events

Most pastors are anti-intellectual, and they believe that this is a virtue, since they are focused narrowly on what the Bible explicitly says. Because of this, they aren’t able to understand which laws and policies allow Christianity and Christian families to flourish. I agree that what the Bible speaks about is of the highest importance. But we need to understand how to achieve the goals that the Bible states, as well as how to counter the forces that threaten the achievement of those goals.

For example, Christianity thrives when marriage thrives. Christianity is passed on from parents to children. Anything that threatens marriage, or interferes with parental authority, weakens the influence of Christianity. So, policies like higher taxes, no-fault divorce, SOGI laws, all harm the Christian family, while policies like lower taxes, protections for Christian businesses, protection for Christian schools (statements of faith, moral codes), etc. are all good for Christian families. But most pastors never talk about policies or laws, because they don’t think about how to defend the Christian worldview, how to educate Christian children, how to promote marriage, how promote Christian moral values in the public square. Even protecting the right to life of unborn children is ignored.

As the churches lose relevance, it becomes tempting for pastors to accept what the secular left promotes as good and true and beautiful. The big one is pastors pushing for redistribution of wealth by the secular government as a solution to “poverty”, even though the Bible only sanctions voluntary charity. This diminishes the cultural relevance of the church and elevates the secular government. SBC leaders like Russell Moore champion amnesty for refugees and unskilled illegal immigrants, not realizing how it will harm Christian institutions and values down the road to import large numbers of people who will eventually vote for policies like higher taxes, bigger government, etc.

UK parents accuse school of secretly brainwashing their child into transgenderism

Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like individual liberties
Where do young people get their positive view of LGBT issues?

Last week I blogged about a case from Canada where the teachers and administrators conspired with doctors to get a child onto the transgender track. Here is another case that was just reported on the weekend, this time from the UK. What was shocking to me was that this school is apparently a “free school” – the UK term for a private school.

Here’s the story from the UK Daily Mail:

A school has been accused of secretly allowing a 13-year-old girl to attend ‘radicalising’ mentoring sessions that convinced her that she was transgender.

Ashleigh and Ged Barnett allege that until the one-to-one sessions began last September, their daughter appeared comfortable in her body and showed little interest in transgender issues.

But they say she had changed completely by November, sporting a short haircut and talking about feeling that she was really a boy.

They were confused by the transformation until they met her headteacher to discuss another matter and learned that their daughter had been having weekly sessions with the head of the school’s LGBT group.

[…]‘The teaching assistant also pointed her in the direction of a YouTube website of a trans activist, which featured a video where they showed off their mastectomy scars and told how well the operation had gone.’

The couple said they were furious when they found school staff had let the teenager attend the sessions ‘behind our backs’. 

Mrs Barnett said: ‘The school didn’t think it was fit to tell us. We are her parents, but responsibility to care for our child has been taken away. The attitude is that it’s the child’s choice and it’s got nothing to do with us.

The teachers are very clear that although they are being paid to do a job by parents, they are not going to their job. They deserve to be paid by parents to do whatever they want. Not what parents want. In fact, the schools are in league with organizations on the radicl left, and the teachers and administrators are much more interested in getting the approval of these far-left groups than the parents who pay their salaries.

Mrs Barnett also claimed that the teaching assistant encouraged their daughter to change in a boy’s cubicle and that staff began using a male name for her.

She alleges the teaching assistant had no formal counselling qualifications and only received training from local charity Eikon that provides ‘LGBT+ awareness sessions’ for schools.

In recent email correspondence with the couple, headteacher Jane Davies said she believed their daughter should be left to use the changing facilities she preferred.

‘We will continue to provide a safe environment for [your child], but it is not our place to alert you to how she feels,’ she wrote.

‘It is important that you understand that she is old enough to make her own decisions.’

This is not an unusual attitude for teachers to take about handling the children who are entrusted to them. There was a time in the past when teachers were more humble, and saw themselves as partners with parents. But that went out of fashion way back during the time of progressive President Woodrow Wilson.

He said this:

The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible. By the time a man has grown old enough to have a son in college he has specialized. The university should generalize the treatment of its undergraduates, should struggle to put them in touch with every force of life.

Instead of seeing their purpose a serving parents, they see themselves as masters of the child, and the parents just pay their salaries and feed and clothe the child. The worldview transfer is done by the teachers, because they are the keepers of all wisdom and morality.

Well, as always in these matters, it’s good to look at the studies. So let’s look at a recent one that should help parents to understand transgenderism.

Here’s how the study was first reported by Science Daily:

This month, a Brown University researcher published the first study to empirically describe teens and young adults who did not have symptoms of gender dysphoria during childhood but who were observed by their parents to rapidly develop gender dysphoria symptoms over days, weeks or months during or after puberty.

[…]The study was published on Aug. 16 in PLOS ONE.

Peer pressure / The Internet:

The pattern of clusters of teens in friend groups becoming transgender-identified, the group dynamics of these friend groups and the types of advice viewed online led her to the hypothesis that friends and online sources could spread certain beliefs.

[….]”Of the parents who provided information about their child’s friendship group, about a third responded that more than half of the kids in the friendship group became transgender-identified,” Littman said. “A group with 50 percent of its members becoming transgender-identified represents a rate that is more 70 times the expected prevalence for young adults.”

This article at The Federalist had a few examples to illustrate the conclusion of the study. I’ll pick two.

The study includes other eye-opening information, such as case studies of several children’s stories.

  • “A 14-year-old natal female and three of her natal female friends were taking group lessons together with a very popular coach. The coach came out as transgender, and, within one year, all four students announced they were also transgender.”

  • “A 14-year-old natal female and three of her natal female friends are part of a larger friend group that spends much of their time talking about gender and sexuality. The three natal female friends all announced they were trans boys and chose similar masculine names. After spending time with these three friends, the 14-year-old natal female announced that she was also a trans boy.”

I thought this quote from that article was interesting as well, given the culture’s obsession with “bullying”, which is a nebulous term that can mean actual bullying, or mere disagreement.

The study also may indicate that school “anti-bullying” programs typically created by LGBT activist organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign may help accelerate children identifying as transgender by pushing peers and authority figures to profusely express their support.

Coming out as transgender means instant fame and popularity, because you’re a victim, and everyone has to be nice to you… or else:

“Great increase in popularity among the student body at large. Being trans is a gold star in the eyes of other teens,” wrote one parent on the study response form. Another wrote, “not so much ‘popularity’ increasing as ‘status’ … also she became untouchable in terms of bullying in school as teachers who ignored homophobic bullying …are now all at pains to be hot on the heels of any trans bullying.”

People on the left are always faking hate crimes against themselves or making false rape accusations. Being a victim gets them attention and makes people treat them nicely.

The response from LGBT activists to this study was to claim that it was full of errors, so it was pulled and submitted to rigorous review. You won’t be surprised to find that the second review process found no major errors in the paper.

Canadian government cuts funding to hospital that refused to kill patients

Price of healthcare per Canadian household (Source: Fraser Institute)
Price of healthcare per Canadian household (Source: Fraser Institute)

It’s election time in the United States, and many of the Democrat candidate are putting forward government-run health care as an improvement to our current system. Candidates like Bernie Sanders are pointing to the “success” of health care in countries like Canada. I’ve blogged previously about single-payer health care in Canada, but this new story from last week even shocked me.

Catholic News Agency reported:

A hospice in Canada has lost its funding and is being forced to close after refusing to offer and perform medically assisted suicides.

The Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta, British Columbia, will lose $1.5 million in funding and will no longer be permitted to operate as a hospice as of February 25, 2021. Fraser Health Authority, one of the six public health care authorities in the province, announced on Tuesday that it would be ending its relationship with the hospice over its refusal to provide medically assisted deaths to its patients.

Per Fraser Health’s contract with the Delta Hospice Society, which administers the Irene Thomas Hospice, a one-year notice had to be provided before funding could be withdrawn without cause.

“We have made every effort to support the board to come into compliance and they have been clear that they have no intention to,” said British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix in a statement.

Government-run health care is very popular in Canada, even with many self-described Catholics. They probably couldn’t foresee that handing all the money for health care to the government would cause them to have to choose between being fired from their jobs and killing innocent people. Fortunately, they chose to leave their jobs in order to not kill innocent people. I would expect that people in Nazi Germany or Communist USSR were faced with similar choices: kill others or starve.

Health care in Canada

So, it’s important to understand how health care works in Canada. You pay into a system based on your ability to earn, and then when you need care, you get in line behind people who never paid. That’s called “equality” and “fairness”. You can’t pay a doctor directly to get faster or better care, because in a single payer system, paying a doctor to get immediate or better treatment is illegal.

So while you’re waiting in line, who decides whether you get treated? The secular leftists in government decide, because they decide what the government will pay for. You work and pay into the system. You pay the salaries of the government workers. And then they dole out health care as they see fit, according to their secular leftist worldviews.

If you need an abortion, that’s free and taxpayer-funded. Drug needles? They’re free. In vitro fertilization? You get two rounds for free. Sex-reassignment surgery? That’s free too. But if you’re old, then you might not get any treatment. After all, your days of voting are behind you. Many people die on waiting lists, especially poor people who can’t fly to America for better care. That’s Canadian health care.

People die on waiting lists in Canada

Here’s an example, reported in the UK Daily Mail:

A girl who died of leukemia was given a final send off after her friends signed her casket with loving messages on January 30.

[…]Laura might have experienced a few more milestones if a Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, hospital had been able to accommodate a bone marrow transplant for the young woman.

Numerous donors were a match with Laura and ready to donate, but Hamilton’s Juravinski Hospital didn’t have enough beds in high-air-pressure rooms for the procedure.

Hospital staff told her they had about 30 patients with potential donors, but the means to only do about five transplants a month.

[…]Dr. Ralph Meyer, Juravinski’s vice-president of oncology and palliative care, told Ontario’s TheStar.com there are plenty of others facing the same situation as Laura in Canada.

It just wasn’t important for the government of Canada to spend a lot of money buying one vote. It was much more cost-effective for them to spend a little bit of money on many voters who just needed birth control and abortions. There are a lot of votes to buy from people making reckless decisions with sex. But they don’t have the money for one expensive cancer patient. They let her die because they didn’t need her vote to get re-elected.

And keep in mind, her parents wouldn’t have been able to pay the doctors to do anything. They paid for all the health care they got through their taxes. And those taxes were used to pay for all the people who needed birth control, abortions, sex changes, IVF, etc. When it was time for the government to pay for their daughter, the government had no money left to save her. And her parents had no money left to take her to America, because they trusted the atheist elites in the government to provide their family with health care. That’s why they paid them up front with their taxpayer dollars.