Judges 16:1-3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 27, 2017 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, 'Samson is here!' So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, 'At dawn we’ll kill him.'
But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.” (Judges 16:1-3)

At this point in the story of Samson’s life, he’s been looked to as a leader of Israel for the past 20 years. They respect him for his strength and how God empowered him against the Philistines. Because of how many Philistines he had killed, naturally Samson waited many years before venturing into Philistine territory again. Even in the remote reaches of the Philistines’ territory, Samson’s reputation was well known.

One of Samson’s weaknesses was women. He easily gave into temptation with a prostitute. The Philistine men saw him there, and they decided to wait and see if they could capture him. Even 20 years later, they could not have been happy with all the destruction Samson had caused their people. The men likely fell asleep while they were waiting, but they figured there was no way Samson could get out through the locked city gates overnight anyway.

But, they obviously forgot the amazing physical strength that Samson had shown previously. During the night, Samson goes out and rips loose the large, heavy gates, along with the structure that it was connected to! And he doesn’t just rip them off and just lay them aside; he carries them away out of the city!

The symbolism of the gates is significant. The city gate was the place where the city’s rulers or judges would sit to discuss the issues of the city, similar to a city council that we may have today. Samson showed that even the city’s leaders had no power over him.

Samson showed his physical strength and Israel respected him for that, but they should be trusting in God who is even more powerful than Samson. Samson would not have had those powers except through God empowering him. But even with Samson there as evidence of God’s power in their lives, Israel still chose to go astray from God and disobey Him.

Today, we have even greater power than Samson! As believers in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit living in us and empowering us. What are you doing with that power? How are we impacting our culture for God’s Kingdom? How are we (figuratively) ripping off the city gates and making an impact? Pray about how God would empower you to make a difference where you live.

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Above the Clouds

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 26, 2017 0 comments


by Ami Samuels

One day I was sitting out on my deck and I saw two eagles soaring high above the clouds. They were so high that I could hardly see them. They truly were soaring above the clouds. All the other birds I could see were flying in and out of trees, on the ground, and on power lines. These birds were much closer to where we live. The eagles were soaring above it all, and this made me think about the fact that we should soar above the drama, competition, gossip, criticism, and backstabbing of this world.

In Isaiah 40:31 it says, “Those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Not that we are ever above others, but we should remain above the chaos and drama. As Christians, we shouldn’t feed into gossip or fan the flames of drama. Instead, we should continually look to the Word of God for guidance and truth.

I am a people person and I love to talk, so there are certainly times when I enter conversations that I shouldn’t, or I repeat something I shouldn’t have. However, my personality type is not an excuse for this.

I have begun to ask myself these questions: “Does this conversation glorify God?” “Do my words or actions bring glory to my Father?” If not, then I move away from those conversations and situations. And when I do stumble and mess up, I ask God for forgiveness of my sin and spend time in prayer asking for strength to turn away from it.

Join me as we spend time in prayer, reflecting and asking God to show us how we can soar above the drama and chaos in our lives.

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Are You a Gray Hat? Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 25, 2017 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

In the world of computer hacking, there are terms, language “icons” if you will, for those who hack for a good cause, those who hack for selfish or evil causes, and even one for the hackers you aren’t really sure whose side they are on. These iconic images are borrowed from old-fashioned spaghetti westerns. The good hackers are called white hats, selfish or bad hackers are called black hats, and the ones who were not quite sure about are called gray hats. In the old western films, the sheriff and the good guys wore white hats, the bad guys wore black hats, and the characters who could be on either side would wear gray hats.

Ok, so that’s great, but what do computer hacking and hat colors have to do with us? Well, are we really brave enough to ask which hat we wear? Better yet, are we willing to let our assumption of what hat we wear be challenged by God? I encourage you to let this impact you and maybe re-frame what you believe about yourself. I have found that most people like to believe they are a white hat, even when they know what they are doing is wrong.

Read Psalm 1. In just six simple verses God gives a pretty clear picture, doesn’t He?

What happens to the person on the path with the wicked? There is a rush with crossing lines, getting away with something selfish, or breaking a rule. It feels good, it lures us deeper, and we go from rabbit trailing down that path to standing in a broken habit. We get stuck in a self-indulgent or rebellious sin that we let become part of experience, that we start to WANT as a part of our experience. And after we stop to stand, it’s not long until we sit down; we become unmovable, convinced we have a right to live this way, and we will mock or attack or tear down anyone who tries to show us anything different.

This is the gray hat becoming black. Notice there is only one direction this leads. God doesn’t see gray as a hat we put on or take off. It is a hook that draws us away from Him and eventually leads to denying Him and dismissing His ways.

The person blessed by God doesn't take that path. They meditate on God's Word both day and night. The Hebrew word used for “meditate” in Psalm 1 is a word picture of a person “muttering under their breath.” It’s meant to convey the idea that God’s Word is always being repeated, reflected upon, and applied to their daily life circumstances. The Jewish idea of “learning the text” wasn’t so much about memorizing it just to repeat it. They memorized it to make it so much a part of them that their every decision was guided by God’s teachings and commands. They didn't have to run and check their Scriptures to see how God would want them to handle a situation; they already knew, because they knew the text.

This is the white hat: continuously learning and repeating the Word of God so that every action they take is in line with God’s will. This is the choice we are presented in Psalm 1.

So ask yourself: am I a mutterer, or a mocker? Do I live every day passionately seeking how God’s Word would guide me in each moment? Or am I spiraling down the path of the world?

Check out next week's blog post for more from Psalm 1 and to better see which hat you may be wearing.

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Clarity of Scriptures

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 24, 2017 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

There tends to be an impression that there are… *changes to deep voice* “HIDDEN MEANINGS” in Scripture. Are there things God has hidden from us? Or are the Scriptures clear that anyone could read them and get the same basic understanding? What about those scholars that indicate there are “deeper meanings”? What about these other books and different models and interpretations? How do we address all these?

Allow me to say this: There are certainly deeper meanings to Scripture. The Bible is the only book you can read over and over and over and over again and still get new stuff out of it. Men have dedicated their lives to studying this book. If you took every person who has ever lived or ever will live and give them absolutely nothing to do but to study the Bible, all that knowledge combined will still not even come close to exhausting the contents of this book. Here is my answer to this question.

There are deeper meanings, however a deeper meaning must not and cannot contradict a lower level meaning. For example, we can calculate the area of a triangle to be 28 square feet with the basic formula A = ½bh. But we can also calculate the area of a triangle by calculating the area under a curve with calculus and integration. Calculus does not contradict our basic area formulas, but they rather enhance them. I have heard some suggest that Young Earth Creation is a basic level understanding of Genesis and Old Earth Creation is a deeper understanding; the problem is that the two contradict each other. Last year I did a study (starting here) on the arguments of Matthew Vines in addressing homosexuality. The conclusions he arrives at are claimed to be a “deeper understanding,” yet it completely goes against the plain language. If what you believe contradicts what is plainly written, it is not a deeper meaning.

There are many who believe that God did not reveal everything in the Bible and has waited until more recent days to give a “new revelation,” and this “new revelation” is above and higher than what the Bible says. The Book of Mormon is one such example. Yet often these “new revelations” conflict with the Bible and fail each of the tests used to validate canonicity. 2 Peter 1:20-21 is clear that no prophecy or Scripture is of private interpretation, but written with the author’s personality and through divine inspiration. It was publicly known at the time of the writing to be God-inspired.

But where did this idea that the Bible has hidden meanings come from? Where did the idea that we need to depend upon expert scholars to find out what the Bible says? I am not knocking Biblical scholarship by any means here. It is noted most in the bulk of Roman Catholic Church history, but it is also prevalent in Protestant churches and it was often seen in Bible times, so no one gets a pass in this regard. Some would either prevent the Scriptures from being accessed by the public, or personal study of Scripture would not be encouraged, or they would teach the people that only the priests could read and understand Scripture. The “advantage” to any church with this mentality is that it makes the people dependent not upon God but upon the person/group/church to hear from God. This is an easy environment for cults to fester, especially when the people are being taught to not question the leadership. It is an idea to prevent the leadership from being challenged in their position.

That is on the leadership side, but the laymen have a problem in this regard too because many are simply too lazy to go look up the Scriptures themselves. They would rather hear from someone else, or read a book (even good ones) but never spend time in the Bible or with God. Now, there is nothing wrong with listening to pastors, reading good books, and studying the giants that have gone before us; however none of them can or ever will replace your own private time studying the Bible yourself and praying. See my post on “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” for more on this particular topic. Many don’t realize this but the Bible actually tells us to check it out and to validate what it says. The Bible NEVER even hints that we are to take it by blind faith. Luke praised the Bereans for not taking Paul and Silas at their word but going back to Scripture to validate them.

Not everything in the Bible is crystal clear where we can be spoon fed the truth. There are things God puts in the Bible to make us wrestle with it. That is part of why Jesus spoke in parables, so we would not just hear but that we would meditate and think and process the truths being said. But the truth was all there in plain sight. One of Jesus’ most popular phrases was, “He who has ears, let him hear.” We do see things through a glass darkly. We do not have the full picture, but anyone who seeks the truth and will not rest until they find it, will find it. And very often, when we get it, we will see that it was so plain and obvious from the get go.

With this being said, the spiritual things of God are spiritually discerned. They will not make sense to those who only think in the ways of this world. Now does that contradict what I have been saying about the plain meaning of Scripture? Actually no. Mark Twain is attributed to saying, “Most people are disturbed by the parts of the Bible they don’t understand. I am most disturbed by the parts I do understand.” Most of Scripture is simple and straightforward. The “difficult” parts are usually the parts that have to do with Christian living, which will not make sense until you are born again. The reason why many say the Bible is so difficult to understand is not because it is difficult to understand, but because it is difficult to believe and obey. So to cover their unbelief, people will say that Scripture is difficult to understand, so they can excuse themselves from following through with what it says. God’s commands are not complicated; they do not require scholarship to grasp. We love to make things complicated. The Gospel is so simple a child can understand it. Do not let your brain get in the way of truth and the Savior.

I’ll wrap this up with one last comment. If you really want to understand Scripture, the key is to study and learn about Jesus. Every word of Scripture points to him. The Bible is the Word of God in text. Jesus is the Word of God in flesh. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 made absolutely no sense to the Jews. What was said was clear and plain, but what it meant and what it pointed to was lost. Once you know about Jesus it all makes perfect sense. Study the Scripture, but study with Jesus as your central focus. EVERY passage has some road, some connection to Christ. In every passage you study, search for that road. You can find one without doing violence to the intended passage. The Bible was written to be read by his people, understood by his people, and lived out by his people. What he said to Israel then is the same message says to us and it is the same message to the jungle warriors of the Amazon. That message is Jesus. The whole Bible from Genesis through Revelation reveals him. Study the Bible, but don’t miss Jesus.

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The Ultimate Goal of Biblical Charity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, March 22, 2017 0 comments


by David Odegard

“There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes; Jesus died for nothin’ I suppose.” –John Prine, 1971.

There has always been a tradition in the United States and Britain which recognized that there is a certain moral hazard in handing out money, goods, and services. “England’s original Poor Laws, enacted in 1589, sought to ‘reinforce righteousness,’ to strengthen ‘the family bond,’ and to ‘set the poor to work’ and turn the country into ‘a hive of industry’” (George Grant, Bringing in the Sheaves). Because the instillation of virtue was a main part of helping the poor, determined policies were enforced to reduce graft and sloth. The poor laws were never perfect, but they were better in many ways than the current system popularized in the United States.

Last week, I pointed out that collusion with the government involves overlooking the fact that governments steal from people and pocket a heavy “collector’s fee,” sometimes increasing the number of poor. Perhaps you are pragmatic and decide that state sponsored theft is a tolerable evil in the face of doing so much good. We might have a conversation about how much good is being accomplished compared to how much good could be accomplished if we didn’t have to pay the bully, but that is for another time.

Instead, I want to point out one of the first causalities in federalizing charity. Besides making theft foundational, it also removes almost all of the accountability associated with local giving.

Biblical charity works much differently. First, 100% the funds have been given voluntarily. Second, there is a local Christian in charge of those funds who is in some way accountable to the people who gave the money. He must not allow a person who does not meet the criteria of neediness to drain the coffers. “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need” (1 Timothy 5:16).

The Bible sets up criteria to keep the system solvent. The church provides accountability with every dollar it hands out. Not only that, but many times a Christian can discern the deeper needs that a poor person may have. A majority of the financial counseling I do is with people who do not have an income problem; rather they have a management problem.

Other times people are poor because of an ongoing addiction problem like the case of Sam Stone from John Prine’s heartbreaking song. Giving addicts money only deepens the problem. Furthermore, someone had to work and not receive the benefits of that money in order to provide it. You cannot ask that person to sacrifice so that someone else can continue to feed an addiction.

Remember Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32? The younger son wants his inheritance early, and even though this would have put a strain on the rest of the business, the father agrees. The wicked boy goes off and lives the high life in the city with other wastrels. But when he runs out of money, all of his friends desert him. He goes down and down until he is living with unclean pigs in utter despair. His pride finally is destroyed and he repents and returns to his father’s loving and open arms.

But I wonder sometimes what would happen if there was a welfare system that would be willing to maintain that young man in his rebellion and folly. Would he ever have come to repentance if someone came along and began to pay all of his bills? The Bible teaches that some poverty is a judgment of God. The English system of old knew this and tried, albeit imperfectly, to implement poverty relief that was as close to the Biblical ideal as possible.

I see pastors abandoning the spiritual world of the gospel to engage the world in the political arena. They trade the thing that has the real power to transform sinners for a powerless life of social work. Sam Stone’s only hope is the gospel of the risen Jesus; he needs a revelation that Jesus did not die for “nothin’,” but for salvation.

If we examine the current model of government welfare against the standard of the attempt to “’reinforce righteousness,’ to strengthen ‘the family bond,’ and to ‘set the poor to work’ and turn the country into ‘a hive of industry,’” the government fails on each of these four criteria. It reinforces sloth, weakens the family bond, keeps the poor in generational poverty, and does not reinforce righteousness in any way. Government welfare is a failure. It is time to replace it with Biblical charity. I would be willing to support any measure from anyone that only uses money that has been voluntarily given. We can be so much more creative than the bureaucrats in Washington.

If there was one thing that the church could do to regain the mission of Christ in the world, it would be to stop colluding with secular powers and begin to administer Biblical charity. The ultimate goal is to see people restored to a right relationship with God. You are never going to get that from the welfare department, but you will get that in the local church!

Lord, may your kingdom come, your will be done, give us our daily bread, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us—to Thy name be the glory.

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Judges 15:14-20

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 20, 2017 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
Then Samson said, 'With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.'
When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.
Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, 'You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?' Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi.
Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.” (Judges 15:14-20)

Samson was hiding from the Philistines, and his own countrymen in Judah found him and turned him over to the Philistine army. Judah was not willing to fight with Samson to stand up for what was right; they simply handed him over, likely thinking that Samson would die at the hand of the Philistines. They had the opportunity to rise up and potentially dominate over the Philistines, but they didn’t.

But Samson didn’t die! He was empowered by God’s Spirit, and his amazing strength was shown by killing 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey. While this was an amazing feat, remember that Nazirite vow that Samson had on his life since before he was born? Part of that vow was that he could not have contact with anything dead. The donkey whose jawbone Samson used would have had to have been dead, so Samson was violating that part of his vow (again).

After Samson’s great victory, he comes up with a poem for his victory chant. His poem does make more sense in the original Hebrew, since the words for donkey (“hamor”) and heap or pile (“homer”) sound more similar. The carcasses of donkeys were often through outside the city wall, which is similar to the disgraceful death that the Philistines received.

In Israelite culture, names are often significant. The place where this happened was originally called Lehi, which means “jawbone,” but then it was renamed Ramnath Lehi, which means “jawbone hill.” The name change was likely in honor of the “hill” of dead Philistines caused by Samson.

Samson acknowledged God’s victory in that battle and didn’t take the credit for himself, but he was still physically drained after it. I would imagine that killing 1000 Philistines would be a lot of work, especially with only a donkey’s jawbone for a weapon! God provided for Samson’s physical needs, just as he had many generations earlier for the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6).

Samson may not have been proclaimed an “official” judge over Israel, but after this incident the people looked to him as their leader for the next 20 years.

Samson allowed God to empower him to victory, while the rest of Judah was still cowering in apathy. They just didn’t care about their situation enough to do anything about it. In your life, are you empowered, or are you apathetic? Do you care about what’s going on in the world around you enough to be motivated to do something about it? Or are you just sitting back and letting others rule over you, because you don’t care enough to do anything about it? Ask God to empower you with His Spirit like he did with Samson (though that likely doesn’t mean for you to kill anyone!). Be empowered this week instead of living in apathy.

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Consistent Christian

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 19, 2017 0 comments


by Ami Samuels

In a recent conversation with one of my sons, he was sharing that he wanted to be a consistent Christian, not a “conditional Christian.” His example was that he was more willing to drive right at the speed limit if he saw a cop car up ahead, immediately slowing down to the correct speed limit. He went on to say that this is sort of like how we behave if the pastor is in our living room, or you are with Christian friends.

He made some valid points, so don’t act like he is the only one who thinks or acts this way.

It made me examine my own life. Are there areas that I am being a conditional Christian instead of a consistent Christian? Am I living out my Christian values on a daily basis, or am I conditionally behaving that way in certain situations? As I truthfully considered these questions, I realized that I am better than I used to be, but I still have some work to do.

Other people are watching our example. Do they see us consistently behaving in a Christian manner? Or do they see us with conditional responses, depending on who we are with?

I’m not saying that consistent Christians are perfect; no one is. Rather, we should consistently reflect Jesus in our day to day lives, not being perfect but being consistent.

Truthfully examine your life. Are there areas that you are being a conditional Christian instead of a consistent one? Let’s make the changes necessary to consistently reflect Jesus in all situations.

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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