Their Own Worst Enemy

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, August 30, 2016 0 comments


by Bill Seng

“When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.” ~Judges 7:22

I'm going to take a moment to talk politics without talking politics. I find politics and politicians to be interesting creatures. They defy common sense in oh so many ways. This election season is no exception as two supposedly reviled candidates have secured their respective party's nomination. But what I find most fascinating is how establishment politicians are quick to throw each other overboard.

One side of the political spectrum is particularly notorious for doing this. They vet their candidates so thoroughly (or so they want you to think) that whenever a serious charge arises against a candidate, to the chagrin of their opponents, they will force that candidate to withdraw from a race or even resign from their current position. There are documented instances of this happening where the accused is 100% proven innocent… after the election has taken place or even 10 years later. Sometimes, allies can be one’s own worst enemies.

In Gideon's conquest against the oppressors of Israel, the battle takes a bizarre and unexpected twist. Gideon's 300 men blow trumpets and somehow that causes their enemies to attack each other. What on earth is going on here?

There are a couple of possibilities, but my honest opinion is that the Lord allowed for the wickedness dwelling within these people to get the better of them. There is an instance in Mark chapter 5 where Jesus commands evil spirits to leave from a demon possessed man. The demons did not want to be disembodied, so they asked to be sent into a herd of pigs. The pigs immediately, after being possessed, ran into a lake and drowned themselves. Under the influence of the demonic, they sought only to destroy themselves.

I can think of subtle instances today where the friends of certain groups of people actually turn out to be enemies. In 2014, a movie was released called The Interview. It was notorious for its ending that included the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Apparently the North Korean government didn't find the ending too funny as they engaged in a cyber war against Sony (the company that produced the film). Studio execs are known to be good liberals – you know, social justice warriors that speak up for African Americans, homosexuals, and other minority groups in the name of multiculturalism. Well, the Koreans released some of the emails from one of the studio execs and lo and behold they were wrought with gay and racial slurs. In their secret thoughts, those who hate God hate others as well.

I would not doubt that the camp fighting Gideon's army wasn't much different. They were gathered to fight a common foe, but in their hearts they hated each other. Thus, the Lord merely turned them over to their inward desires to harm and kill those who they were fighting beside, allowing Gideon's victory to be a cake walk.

Do you harbor hatred against someone that you work alongside? The Bible tells us that "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness" (1 John 2:9). Hatred is likened to murder, and murder is of the devil. To harbor hatred is to become a subject of the devil, and hatred will surely lead to your own misfortune. Be unified in Spirit with those around you, particularly believers. It was the obedience of the camp of Gideon that unleashed the power of God against Israel's enemies and forced them to destroy each other. Though we don't desire those who hate us to face destruction, abiding in love tear down the barriers that the evil one sets up as we walk in faith, trusting the word of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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Judges 7:19-25

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 29, 2016 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, ‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’ While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, ‘Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.’
So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they seized the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah. They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan.” (Judges 7:19-25)

For the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at how God was preparing Gideon and his army to go into battle against the Midianites. I encourage you to go back and read those posts (here, here, and here) to get the full story.

Gideon had just given his army the instructions to blow their trumpets and shout as their plan of attack, so that’s exactly what they did. The primary weapons they were using were noise and confusion - trumpets, the sudden light of the torches, and their battle cry. Seems like that wouldn’t be too effective, right? Especially when they were outnumbered well over 400 to 1. But with God on their side, the odds didn’t matter.

The Midianites were surprised and confused. They were suddenly afraid of this supposedly large army, and they panicked. They got confused and thought their enemies were already among them, so they started fighting against themselves and killing one another! The Israelites didn’t have to kill the Midianites; the Midianites took care of that for them.

What was left of the Midianite army fled away, so Gideon enlisted help from another Israelite tribe, Ephraim. His own army had gotten their courage back after seeing what God had done for them, so they pursued Midian as well.

There was no way this battle would have had the victorious outcome that it did except through God’s providence. Think about how silly this would look, to have a huge army turn on itself simply because you surprised them and were loud! This makes no sense to human ways of thinking, but that is exactly the point.

If Israel had won the battle on her own strength, Israel would have gotten the glory. Because the battle was won in such a unique and improbable way, God gets the glory.

What’s going on in your life that seems like a long shot? If it’s truly of God, you will be victorious if you’re obedient to what God is telling you, just like Gideon was.

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Mission Confirmed!

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, August 27, 2016 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

There is nothing quite like that moment when you have clarity and confirmation on a big decision. I remember when my wife and I were praying through the invitation to start a new congregation in Findlay, OH. We didn't have any family near us, we were not well-connected in the community, and we had all sorts of concerns and questions about how everything would work - and I mean everything. We were just starting to have children, it would be our first time buying a home, our first time starting a new ministry, our first time being residents of Ohio, etc. Our list of questions and concerns for God filled two pages of a legal note pad.

Within in two weeks of starting to pray, God gave us a clear calling to start the new congregation in Findlay. He didn't answer every question on our list individually, but by giving us the clarity of our calling and location, He redirected every question toward His answer and trusting Him to provide.

In Judges 7:9-18, Gideon is standing on the edge of battle with the Midianites. They have literally overwhelming numbers of soldiers and camels. Gideon has the 300 soldiers God selected - by sending the 31,700 other people home. Now on the eve of battle, Gideon must be having doubts, and must be wondering if He heard God right. In fact, we know he's afraid because he does what God tells him to do in verses 10-11: "If you are afraid, take your servant and go down to the camp and listen to what they say, afterward your hands will be strengthened."

When Gideon goes to the camp he hears an amazing confirmation that God had already put the "W" in Israel's column, the victory was already set. Read verses 13-15 to see what Gideon heard and his response.

Let me encourage you. If you are standing on the edge of something big or something scary, God already knows the outcome, and He already knows where and how He wants you to engage. Trust Him. Seek His counsel. And let Him show you the confirmation.

As for our story, we did what God called us to. It was scary, exhausting, painful, and wonderful all mixed into one. The lives we connected with and the lessons learned along the way have been priceless to us. When we left that place, we again had His confirmation and guidance into another journey, and He lined up all our questions with His answer. Let Him do the same for you.

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Praying God’s Prayers

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 26, 2016 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here.]

One of the things the Bible makes clear is that if anything is to be successful, it must be initiated by God and completed by God. Anyone else is doing it in vain, and it will ultimately collapse. This goes with any plans we make, any project we do, and it also goes with any prayers we pray. Jesus said he could do NOTHING his Father was not doing. He also said, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus had a unique way of praying. He only prayed for that which God initiated. And that should be a model for us.

Many of us who strive to pray tend to have a list of our common prayer requests. We pray for our families, our friends, our church, our jobs, our neighbors, the persecuted church. We keep them on note cards that we go through every day or every week. We post them on our walls to keep track of them. I actually take time to go through my topic list for this series and pray about developing my prayer life. These are GOOD things to be doing so do not hear what I am not saying in this next paragraph. God, however, has been taking my prayer life a different direction.

For the last few weeks, I have asked God what he wants me to pray for in preparing for my quiet time. It’s been a very interesting exercise. A number of times, I’ve been rather weak and flabby about it (I’ll address that issue in two weeks). But other times, I’ve had some good prayer sessions with God, when I follow his lead. A while back, before this school year started, I spent a day at my church to just pray. I did not know what to pray for, but God brought up an issue in my life (which I will address near the very end of this series) that has been lacking, and I just poured out my heart to God on the matter. It was not sin, but bearing a frustration of wanting someone to teach me how to do this, and not having anyone other than Christ himself. Another issue God has been bringing to my attention is 2 Corinthians 10:5: “Take every thought captive to the will of Christ Jesus.” He keeps bringing that verse to my attention and I know I need to practice this. I need to learn how to take EVERY thought captive and make it submissive to the will of Jesus Christ. And my mind loves to go many different directions (distractions will be covered next week). But I’ve been practicing asking God what to pray for, before I start praying.

There is a really neat account my pastor gave about this topic. He was at a revival meeting leading worship, and the preacher that night was a healer. He was praying for people left and right and God was moving, healing people left and right. In the back of the tent was an older man who had stage 4 cancer. During this revival meeting, the Spirit of God had descended and filled the tent, miracles were taking place, and this man was in prime position to be the coup de gras, the cherry on top. The man approached the front, the preacher grabbed the man’s hands, and simply stood there for about five minutes doing nothing. My pastor, watching the whole incident from the piano, understood exactly what was going on. In the end, the pastor simply said, “God be with you,” and the man was not healed. He died a few weeks later.

Why did I say this was a neat story? The man did not get healed. What is neat about that? Here is the neat thing: the pastor was in position to follow the hype, to follow the crowd, and to follow what God had been doing the whole evening, but instead he was praying for each individual need and sought God’s will if this person or that person was to be healed. This pastor knew to only pray for healing with those God had said to pray for healing. I have a LOT of respect for this person because he knew to listen to God for each and every circumstance and to not make any assumptions before he moved. I can understand many would have their image and understanding of God be questioned by this account. Why would God not heal this man? Why did he let him die? Let us look at Jesus’ ministry. There were times where Jesus healed everyone. There were times where Jesus healed just one person. John 5 at the Pool of Bethsaida is a prime example. Many people went to the pool to get healed when the water stirred. Jesus was there. Why didn’t he heal everyone? He only healed one person: a cripple.

I cannot give the answer to why God only heals some and not all. But I can tell you that this pastor and Jesus were obedient to God’s will and only prayed what God told them to pray. This is what I am practicing. I am practicing asking God what he wants me to pray about so I can pray for it. I recall another prayer meeting my pastor spoke about. This one was at a home group.

They were praying for a particular need and they were just going and going. Finally, my pastor said they all had to stop praying. He told the group that they needed to quiet down and listen to God. Then God would tell one person to pray very specifically for the need. They waited about an hour and finally one woman spoke up and said, “I think I’m the one that is supposed to pray.”

So many times, we get straight to praying what we want to pray, and nine out of ten times it is about our wishes and our desires. They may be very good intentioned, such as the healing for a person or the financial rescue of another in crisis. Nothing wrong with wanting to see restoration in those circumstances. But how about we ask God what his will is in that situation, BEFORE we start praying. I am finding out more and more that our prayers will be far more effectual and powerful when we do this. Why? Because when we know God’s will on the matter, then we know exactly how to pray about the situation. We won’t have generic prayers that attempt to cover the bases. We won’t have to pray with contingency plans in the back of our minds. We will instead be praying with an engine that has power.

Seek God’s will in every situation. That’s one of the secrets to prayer that I am learning. When you know God’s will in the situation, when you are praying God’s prayers, not only can you guarantee that your prayer will be answers in the affirmative, you can pray in that pure, innocent faith that it will be done. God will never leave a prayer he initiates unanswered. He may not answer our own prayers as such, but if he initiates it, he will see it through to the end. Next week, I am going to write about distractions that keep us from praying or from praying effectively. I’ll be straight up with you here: I’m weak in this area. Then after that, I am going to write about praying with endurance, another issue I need to strengthen.

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Conversation with an Atheist, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 25, 2016 0 comments


by Steve Risner

This is part 2 in a series inspired by a conversation I had with an atheist that I graduated from high school with. You can visit part 1 of this conversation here. I hope you find this information helpful in your discussions with atheists or scoffers or anyone that may bring up similar sounding things. We'll begin today with this quote:

“After all, sooner or later, we all die, our awareness stops with our brain chemistry, and we all become compost, and no amount of praising a deity that isn’t there is going to change that.”

We do agree here with his first point. We do all die. That's a fact. But some of us will spend eternity in the presence of Almighty God and some of us will spend it in eternal torment. I would prefer eternal paradise with Christ. I've often heard it said, “I'd rather live like there was a God (or like Jesus is the truth) and find out I was wrong when I die, rather than living like there is no God (or like Jesus was not the truth) and find out I was wrong when I die.” I completely agree with this. But I don't think it's even that difficult of a choice. The evidence for the veracity of the claims of Scripture are confirmed by science, archeology, history, and logic as well as a variety of other means. Take a look at my blog post called “The Birth of the Way” for a conversation starter on that. Unfortunately, that's the only point we've found where the atheist and the Christian will agree thus far. Christians prefer evidence and logic, mixed with some observation and our experience with reality. Atheists dabble in fairy tales.

My friend quoted above claims that awareness is about brain chemistry. As I pointed out last week, there are leading researchers into consciousness that do not agree with this atheist's claims concerning our awareness stopping with our brain chemistry. Dr. Sam Parnia believes that the consciousness can live on beyond the physical body. Some scientists hypothesize that consciousness doesn’t arise from cell activity alone—potentially meaning our minds don’t always need a body to function. You can read more about that in last week's blog post as well. I alluded to his point about becoming “compost” last week as I mentioned the hopelessness of atheism represented by us becoming worm food in the end. This is only partially true. He's correct when he says we all die and become compost. He is, of course, not realizing he's relaying an idea found in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis. “...for you are dust and to dust you will return.” He believes this is the end, but we know that it's really the start of the next chapter—for some it will mean eternal joy and peace as we celebrate the God of all grace and love, while for others it will mean their suffering has only begun. This makes me sad.

He then goes on to say that praising God (who he further reminds us he does not believes exists) will not change this. He's correct to a degree, I suppose. Praise to God is not likely to stop you from passing from this world to the next. However, I believe he is implying that we will physically cease to exist and since there is nothing more to us than our physical bodies, everything we are will decay into nothingness, essentially. Even scientists who study the mind don't believe such rubbish. The mind and the body are two very different things and even how they interact or respond to each other is little understood. But what leading researchers believe is that the mind is independent of the body, meaning we are much more than a complex machine. I will go so far as to say we are made in the image of God, which means we are not just physical beings. We have a spirit which is far more important, in my opinion.

In the past I have presented what I believe are three very solid arguments for the existence of God. These are referred to as the Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument and the Moral Argument. There is a great deal of evidence that God exists. These three arguments are only three; there are many, many more. There is actually a great deal that cannot be explained otherwise. Denying this gives testament to the fact that the atheist isn't interested in logic and reason or in evidence. He's really only interested in denying God exists. This gives him the feeling of control and removes any notion of accountability. It has nothing to do with evidence. Keep this in mind when you're talking with an atheist. The evidence, according to God's Word and according to reality, is all around us.

This will wrap up this week's installment. Short and sweet. I know it's out of the ordinary for me, but I thought this was a good place to stop.

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Gideon’s 300: The Human Element

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, August 23, 2016 0 comments


by Bill Seng

“If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” ~Judges 7:10-11

A few months back, I watched a UFC fight featuring Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt as the main event. Brock Lesnar had been my favorite fighter in the UFC ever since he threw his hat into the ring because he has a background as a NCAA wrestling champion. On top of this, he was also a UFC champion at one time in his career until an illness debilitated him. I watched a fair amount of the prefight leading up to the event and I was surprised to hear, for the first time leading up to the fight, apprehension in Lesnar’s voice. Mark Hunt has a reputation for having massive punch force and, this being Lesnar’s comeback fight, he really did not know how he would fair against Hunt’s power. Looking at the two fighters, there should have been no doubt that Lesnar was going to win. But for some reason, Lesnar was not fully convinced of this reality before the fight.

God was proving himself to be among Gideon’s camp, but the army could not see the power that they had on their side. They were assured by God that they would be victorious, but after God trimmed their numbers down from 20,000 fighting men to only 300, they were a little nervous. This was not a good military strategy. Sensing there was fear in the camp, God told Gideon that he would permit him to sneak in among the camp of the enemy to hear what they were saying so that they would be encouraged.

Humans are strange when it comes to trusting God, but he fully understands our predicament. We aren’t always aware of the power that backs us up when we are walking in obedience to God’s commands. We see that, in this story, God is patient. He saw that doubts were rising in the minds of Gideon and his men and they needed some reassurance.

Remember, Gideon wasn’t used to the idea of submitting to the will of God. He hadn’t seen all of the miracles of past generations. His experience had mostly been with Israel’s humiliating defeats against her enemies. Who could blame him for still having a little apprehension? Nonetheless, we see that he was still willing to follow through with God’s command to fight the Midianites and Amalekites.

An advantage we have over Gideon is that we have an entire book to remind us of how faithful God has been to all who call on his name. We are able to read about Gideon’s victory. We can read about Moses, David, and Elijah. We can read about how God grew the church in the midst of intense persecution. God is always faithful. It is okay to have a little apprehensiveness when going out on a limb to do God’s will. But always remember God’s faithfulness and do not allow any factor to discourage you from following through with his commands.

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Judges 7:9-18

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 22, 2016 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“During that night the Lord said to Gideon, 'Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.' So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. 'I had a dream,' he was saying. 'A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.'
His friend responded, 'This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.'
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, 'Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.' Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.
'Watch me,' he told them. 'Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’” (Judges 7:9-18)

Last week we read about how God took Gideon’s already outnumbered army from 32,000 men down to only 300, so they could fight the huge Midianite army.

Naturally, Gideon was afraid going into this battle. He had less than 1% of his original army left, and the odds were definitely not in his favor. God had a plan, however, and the huge difference in the size of the armies was to show His glory. Gideon was getting discouraged and desired another sign from God, so that he could be convinced that God really would make them victorious over the Midianites.

God gives Gideon a sign in the form of a dream, but not his own dream. In that culture, dreams were considered an important means of communication from the divine. Think back to Joseph (of the coat of many colors fame) and the dreams he had, foreshadowing how God would bless him by making his brothers and father bow down to him (Genesis 37:1-11). After sneaking into the enemy camp at God’s insistence, Gideon overhears one of the Midianites telling another about a dream he had. In that dream, it was clear even to the Midianites that God was going to make Israel victorious over them.

This eavesdropping was entirely not coincidence, so that was exactly the sign that Gideon needed. He worshipped God, then got Israel ready for a sneak attack battle.

The trumpets used in battle were more for noise-making and signaling to other parts of the army than for playing music. Normally only the leaders would have trumpets, so having 300 of them (one for each man) in this case made it sound like they were a much larger army than they were. That was part of the plan to surprise and confuse Midian’s army.

Gideon’s instructions to his army probably sounded weird to them. After all, who could win a battle simply by blowing trumpets and yelling? (Apparently they had forgotten about Jericho back in Joshua 6.) This sounded like a strange way to win a battle, but Gideon and his army needed to have confidence in God’s plan, as weird as it may sound to them. They knew that without God’s power, their puny army didn’t stand a chance against Midian’s large army.

Size doesn’t matter when you’re dealing with God’s plan. The little guy can win over the giant with God’s help (think David and Goliath). Do you feel weak, powerless, and insignificant? That’s the best time to have trust in God and let Him use you and your life to fulfill His purposes. How are you letting God use you?

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

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