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Denison Forum on Truth and Culture Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Denison

Dr. Jim Denison engages contemporary culture with biblical truth
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Forty percent of American's teenagers are using an app called Kik. Why does this matter?
 
Kik allows users to text anonymously. All they need is a user name which they can make up. As a result, it is difficult for parents and law enforcement to trace conversations. And that makes Kik popular with predators.
 
Nicole Madison Lovell was a thirteen-year-old liver transplant and cancer survivor. Two Virginia Tech freshmen communicated with her via Kik and are now charged with her murder. Several other cases involving child abuse are linked to the app. The company does its best to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. However, it does not retain the information sent on its app, so its help is limited. 
 
One expert on child abuse cautions us against "technophobia." He says the problem has to do with character traits, not technology. Those who are depressed, socially isolated, dealing with parental conflicts, or bullied at school are at higher risk. 
 
Social media provides an unprecedented platform for bullying and abuse, making the need for biblical self-esteem greater than ever. What can we do?
 
One: See ourselves as God sees us. 
 
In John 17, Jesus stated that his Father loved his disciples "even as you loved me" (v. 23). "Even as" can be translated, "to the same degree as." Think of it: the Father loves you as much as he loves his Son. Now base your self-esteem not on how you see yourself or how others see you, but on how your Father sees you. Because he is love (1 John 4:8), he loves you because he loves you. He will never love you more, or less, than he does right now.
 
Two: See others as God sees them.
 
Every lonely or hurting person you know is a candidate for abuse and depression. Look for people who need the hope of Jesus. Commit time and resources to sharing his love in yours.
 
To that end, I want to tell you about the Bee Friendly Boot Camp. It "delivers exciting, engaging and effective tools that empower kids to banish bullying through character and leadership that will last a lifetime." The program partners with schools and communities to provide digital character and leadership training and tools for students, parents, and teachers. Please go to their website for more information.
 
C. S. Lewis: "I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important."
 
How does God think of you today?
 
Note: For more on bullying, please see Nick Pitts's When Bullies Win, Communities Lose.
 
 
Publication date: February 11, 2016

 

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Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won last night's New Hampshire primaries. What do their victories mean for the rest of us?
 
The winner of New Hampshire's primary doesn't always wins the nomination. Since 1952, primary voters have elected the eventual Democratic Party nominee only five out of ten times (excluding incumbents). New Hampshire voters have elected the eventual Republican nominee seven out of ten times (excluding incumbents). 
 
The New Hampshire primary has often been more significant for those who lose than those who win. After President Truman lost New Hampshire in 1952, he dropped out of the race. When President Johnson barely won the primary in 1968, he withdrew as well.
 
Last night's results are important politically, but I think they're even more important culturally.
 
A foreign reporter experiencing his first American political season went to New Hampshire, where he found a "dark and defensive America." He asked, "Where was all that sunny optimism—the Apollo missions and Ronald Reagan's 'shining city upon a hill'—that made the United States the world's role model? I didn't see much of it. In its place were angry candidates playing to even angrier supporters."
 
Such anger is understandable. According to Gallup, Americans consider our top three problems to be terrorism, the government, and the economy. Our fear of terrorism is higher than at any time since 9/11. Just nineteen percent of us trust the federal government to do what is right always or most of the time. Only thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults say the economy is "getting better," while fifty-eight percent say it is "getting worse."
 
It's no surprise that two candidates widely perceived as political reformers won the nation's first primary. Whether Trump or Sanders will win their party's nomination is uncertain, but the anger their supporters feel is real.
 
Jesus cares about that anger. He cares when our enemies attack us, our leaders fail us, or our economy worries us. He offers us security, integrity, and compassion no candidate can match. And he sends us into our broken culture to give others what he gives us.
 
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Millions of Christians will wear crosses traced on their foreheads, reminders of Jesus' sacrificial love for us. But long after the ash crosses fade, the truth of the cross remains. Jesus would do it all again, just for you.
 
And for the next person you meet.
 
 
Publication date: February 10, 2016

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

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A Doritos advertisement made the Top Five Super Bowl ads in USA Today's poll. It depicts a pregnant mother getting an ultrasound. The father holds a bag of Doritos chips. Each time he eats one, the baby in its mother's womb reacts. I thought it was the best Super Bowl ad this year.
 
Not everyone agrees. NARAL Pro-Choice America immediately tweeted their complaint about the ad's "antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses." Their strategy is logical: when people realize that a fetus is human, they are less likely to support abortion.
 
So here's the science. At the moment the sperm penetrates the egg, the twenty-three chromosomes of the sperm unite with the twenty-three chromosomes of the egg, producing a new forty-six chromosome cell. It has the human chromosome pattern with all inheritable factors and can never grow into anything but a human. Its chromosomal uniqueness is immediately distinct from the mother.
 
At that moment, the new organism is alive. Ethicist Robert Joyce: "At any given moment, a whole living substance—be it a peach tree, a rabbit, or a person—either is or is not alive. . . . There is no such thing as a potentially living organism. Every living thing is thoroughly actual, with more or less potential. . . . That single-celled individual is just as actually a person as you or I."
 
By the fourth week of life, a baby's brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop. At six weeks, facial features begin to form, the skeleton is complete, and brain wave patterns can be recorded. At eight weeks, all organs are functioning and all systems are intact. At twenty weeks, the unborn child has hair and functioning vocal cords, sucks her thumb, kicks, and grasps with her hands. She feels pain even more intensely than adults.
 
In other words, we don't need Doritos to "humanize fetuses"—God has already done so. Now it's our turn to value life as much as our Father does. Here's how:
 
One: Pray for mothers to choose life and help provide for mothers and children in need. 
 
Two: Treat every person you meet today as the unique creation of God. 
 
Three: See yourself as God sees you. You are "wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). Whether you won the Super Bowl or feel defeated by life, you matter to God.
 
For Christians living in a secular culture, it is absolutely critical that we see ourselves and our world as God does. Begin with yourself. Your Father considers your eternal life worth the death of his Son. 
 
Do you agree?
 
Note: Beyonce's Super Bowl halftime performance highlighted today's theme that every life matters. For more, please see Nick Pitts's Beyonce, Black Lives Matter, and her new song 'Formation'.
 
 
Publication date: February 9, 2016

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

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