by Logan Ames As you think back to what you have experienced and learned over the past year, you’ll probably be reminded of both your joys and any tragedy or suffering you experienced. If we’re honest, most of us have a much harder time moving forward from the suffering than we do from the good times. We could have a thousand blessings come our way in a year’s time, yet our human nature often leads us to focus on the regrets or the things that didn’t happen the way we had envisioned. I believe that is why God’s Word has such a strong focus on the word “new”. It’s the joy and excitement of not only the coming Messiah at Christmas, but the brand new life we can enjoy because of him. King David stated that the Lord had given him a NEW song of praise to lift up to God after he was rescued “out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire” (Psalm 40:1-3). Jeremiah prophesied that a time would be coming when the Lord would make a NEW covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31:31). That covenant would be signed with the blood of Jesus. The prophet later declared that, even the midst of pain and suffering, we are not destroyed because God’s mercies are NEW every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). In the most joyful report in all of human history, the angel reported to the shepherds in Luke 2:10-11, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good NEWS of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (caps mine). The Christmas season has come and gone and for many people, it feels like a major letdown. But there’s a big problem with that. Christmas is not supposed to be the end, but the very beginning of the new life that includes God in the flesh. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus each year, it’s not supposed to be the end of the anticipation so we can merely get back to the way things were before we anticipated. The arrival of Christ means that things have changed in a big way. It means that whatever was before has passed away and it’s time to live in submission to him because his presence is GOOD. Take a look at the magi in Matthew 2. They were indeed “wise”, but not in the sense of Godly wisdom. They were wise in the sense that they were very educated, particularly in astrology. They didn’t know God, and really only followed whatever astrological signs were presented before them. As they followed Jesus’ star on a very long journey, they had no clue what they would find or how it would make them feel. But verses 10-11 are clear that they were “overjoyed” when they saw the Christ and then bowed down, worshipped him, and offered their gifts to him. There was something NEW about this trip, about this star, about this child. It presented a NEW experience that immediately changed their hearts and led them to worship a baby that was born in a lowly major rather than the evil king who thought they were on his side. The idea of God bringing new things through Jesus has a meaning both now AND in the future. Jesus’ entrance to the world gives us new hope as we continue to live in this fallen world, but it also points us toward that time when sin will be completely erased for those who follow him. Look at the words in Revelation 21:3-5 from the One seated on the throne: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. I am making everything new! Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true”. As you wrap up this final day of 2014, how is the revelation of Jesus affecting you? Where in your life do you see the need for this NEW presence? Where have you been feeling hopeless and helpless? I assure you that Jesus wants to make things new in your life. He wants you to forget about the past and focus on what is coming and what he has planned for you. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new year and you can make the choice today to follow, trust, and obey Jesus in 2015. He began his ministry by telling all who he encountered to “repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). You will see that his words are trustworthy and true if you only put your faith in him.
by Katie Erickson Well, we have approached the end of 2014. It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? It has definitely been a busy year for us at the Worldview Warriors ministry. In 2012 and 2013, we set the foundation by writing on a different word each week. In 2014, we’ve been answering tough questions - questions that we’ve actually been asked by people who follow this ministry, or know us personally. I encourage you to go through the archives of this year’s blog posts (over on the right) to see how we’ve answered these questions. This year, we’ve by far published the most blog posts ever on this blog. We have many amazing writers who have helped us in this endeavor, and who have expertise in a wide range of topics. We’ve talked about all sorts of things, from the identity of Jesus, to natural law, to learning what a worldview is, to debating creation vs evolution, to discussing how to pray, and many more. We have even shared some personal stories of how we see God working in our lives. This year we have built upon our solid foundation of defining words, to now having wrestled through many difficult questions surrounding faith and how to live a life that follows Jesus Christ. What has 2014 been like for you? Have you grown closer to God this year? Have you slowly drifted away from Him? Or has your faith remained somewhat stagnant? I encourage you to take this time to reflect back and compare where you’re at today to where you were a year ago this time, at the end of 2013. New Year’s is both a time for looking back, and a time for looking ahead. As we look to 2015 in the world of blog writing, we’re excited for a new year of new challenges. Starting next week, we’ll spend the whole year going through the entire book of Romans, a few verses at a time. Romans contains many foundational beliefs of the Christian faith, and it will be quite an adventure for us to walk through the whole book with you. It will be a new challenge for us as writers to go verse by verse, rather than writing on a particular topic for the week. But, just as this time last year we were looking at a different style of blogs (answering questions versus defining words), we’ll face this one head on and hopefully help encourage you in your walk with Christ, as we continue to grow closer to Him as well. Thank you for being a loyal reader and reading what we have to say on all the questions we’ve looked at this year, and please plan to continue following our blog this next year to walk through Romans with us! As Numbers 6:24-26 says, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
by Ami Samuels On January 1, 2014, my mom lost her valiant battle with cancer. She had fought for a year and a half, but a few days before Thanksgiving she fell and broke her hip. My mom was placed in a nursing home to recover, and when we returned to Illinois for Christmas she was very weak. We spent one evening with her upon our arrival and the next day she became violently ill and had to be hospitalized. We were unable to take her home for our Christmas Eve tradition and her presents went unopened. Mom was in extreme pain and we took turns staying with her around the clock as she was unable to communicate her needs to the nursing staff. A few days after Christmas we got the news that Mom’s cancer had spread to several of her vital organs and that she didn’t have long to live. I remember thinking, “How am I going to get through this day? Yesterday was the most difficult day I have ever lived through and today will only be worse.” As I looked up at the ceiling I said out loud, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Even this, God?” I felt like he whispered, “Even this, Ami.” That day I had the strength to get through the day and the days to follow. I asked to speak at my mother’s funeral. As I sat in the front row at the funeral home, listening to the songs that my family had chosen, I remember feeling as if there was nothing left of me to give. I was physically, mentally, and spiritually drained. As the words to the song “Go Rest High On That Mountain” by Vince Gill were coming to an end, I again prayed, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Even this, God?” I felt him whisper, “Even this, Ami,” as I stepped up to the podium to address family and friends. Please go listen to Kari Jobe’s song “Find You On My Knees” at this link. This song was very comforting to me during this difficult time in my life. I hope that it brings comfort to you as well. Paul wrote these words to the Philippians while he was in prison: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). I am certain if I were sitting in a jail cell I would have more than a few “Even this?” moments, however Paul writes of being content in all circumstances; this is certainly something to aspire to. Paul recognizes that his strength comes from Christ and his contentment comes from a relationship with him. If this post were longer I would share with you the other difficult situations that my family has faced this past year. Let’s just say 2014 was the most difficult year of my life, but God was faithful and gave me strength to conquer each day. What is your “Even this?” moment? What are you struggling with? What situations are you facing that are beyond your control? Have you had a difficult year? Remember, as you prepare for a new year “You can do everything through him who gives you strength,” EVEN THIS.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 26, 2014 1 comments
by Charlie Wolcott Two weeks ago, my church suffered a sad loss. We had a young girl, only five years old, pass away. Kemarah was our miracle child. She suffered from a bad heart. She spent nearly all of her last year of life at the Children’s Hospital in Houston. During the entire time, my church prayed for a miracle. We believed that God would deliver in ways that were totally unexpected and he did. Kemarah got a new heart, a reality that cost another child his/her life. There were times where we were concerned she would not make it, but we prayed and we prayed and she got a new heart. Things went well after that for a few months. The family was able to return home for a while. She entered kindergarten when school began, but then things went downhill again. We feared it was heart rejection, but it wasn’t that. We did learn there was a virus in there that was affecting it, the same virus that killed her first heart. They put her on life-support, dialysis, and a respirator and it came a point where the doctors said they had done everything they could do. We continued to pray and pray and pray. And a miracle took place. When she was not supposed to make it more than a day or two, she started to respond. They took her off her respirator. They took her out of the ICU. She was doing well. Again all odds she was making a dramatic recovery. She was off everything except dialysis. But two weeks ago, without any warning, her heart just stopped and she went to be with the Lord. It was a huge shock. We were expecting a miracle, we were witnessing a miracle, and still she died in the end. What went wrong? Why did this happen? How many of you reading this have dealt with the loss of a child when it was not expected like this? What did we do wrong? Could we have done anything better? Was there anything the doctors could have done differently? Those are all very real questions any parent who loses their child will ask. An important verse to remember is in Hebrews 11. This is known as the chapter about the “Heroes of the Faith.” These are the great Old Testament heroes who demonstrated their great by acting upon it. But look at Hebrews 11:39. It says those who believed in great faith and had such a great testimony did not receive what they had been promised. Was it all for naught? Did they not have enough faith? Do we know why Kemarah died? No, we don’t. We prayed and we prayed and we had good faith that God was going to do something significant through her. Did we ask amiss? Did we pray against God’s will? Did we have false expectations? My pastor was speaking to one of our deacons, who is Kemarah’s grandfather, earlier in the week before she died. And one thing he said (he repeated this during the following Sunday service) was that we can pray for a miracle and we can have faith that God will deliver, but we must leave room for God to be sovereign. ] In all that goes on, we have to understand that God is still in control. Kemarah’s passing did not take God by surprise. He knew this was going to happen. There are times where the enemy comes in a wrecks some havoc but when he does, God allows it. Why? We don’t always know. We see through a glass darkly. We rarely have a clear picture of what is going on. But we know God does. And we have to understand that God is the boss, not us. God is the one in charge, not us. He works in ways we don’t understand. Kemarah’s parents did not sin in a way that led to her death. She did not die because her parents “lacked faith.” I’ve heard of some well-meaning people saying that to parents who lost a child: “If you only had more faith, the child would not have died.” That is the worst thing you could say to a parent who lost a child. What we know is that God is in control. He knows what he is doing. We know that Kemarah knew Jesus and right now, she is completely restored and enjoying paradise with him. And we know that God is worthy of our worship no matter what the outcome of the situation is. There may be some of you who have a very difficult time with the holiday season because of tragic memories: the death of a loved one, the estrangement of a loved one, a disaster here or there. And while everyone else is having a jolly time, you can’t because that time has such a grip on you. This family in my church will deal with this every year because two weeks before Christmas their daughter, their miracle child who fought a great battle, died during the season. I could list all the “pat-on-the-back” answers that I’m sure many of you have heard, but I’m not going to do that. Why does God allow this to happen? That is a question I simply cannot answer. The only thing I know for certain is that God is sovereign. He is in control and he knows exactly what is going on. And God is worthy of our praise when he gives, but also when he takes away. Every single thing we own is actually his. We are just stewards of it for a time. Every child that is born is God’s child. He chose us to raise our children for the time he allotted, even if that time is short. We need to praise him in times of blessings and miracles and in times of tragedies and losses. We need to praise him in the good weather and in the storms. We wrapped up our worship the Sunday we all heard the news with these two songs. I recommend you listen to them. Blessed be the Name of the Lord
Praise You in the Storm If you are dealing with a loss, I pray this post encourages you.
Praise You in the Storm If you are dealing with a loss, I pray this post encourages you.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, December 24, 2014 0 comments
by Logan Ames I have not personally had children, but those of you who have been blessed in that way likely learned that a baby changes everything in your life. You go from having a lot of free time, adequate rest, and the privilege of focusing mostly on your own needs to putting someone else’s needs before yours 100% of the time. Whether your baby was planned or not, life as you know it is changed forever. There was one baby in history that not only changed the lives of his parents, but actually changed the whole world forever. Matthew 1:22-23 indicates that this particular baby was the fulfillment of the prophecy originally recorded in Isaiah 7:14, which declared, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”. An angel of the Lord would later appear to Joseph and tell him to give this baby the name “Jesus”, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew “Joshua”, which means “the Lord saves” (Matthew 1:20-21). But in fulfilling the prophecy associated with “Immanuel”, the arrival of Jesus meant that God is now with us. God had stepped out of heaven and into our fallen world as a human being. As John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. This was big news! There was no problem facing individuals, nations, or the entire world that didn’t pale compared to the knowledge that God was in the flesh dwelling among us. As you approach the day we celebrate this miracle tomorrow, does the presence of Immanuel (aka “God with us”) really put things into the proper perspective for you? It’s not just our problems that pale in comparison to the presence of God in the flesh, but our worldly pleasures as well. No matter what you do or do not get in the form of presents this year, do you realize that the greatest gift you could ever receive, and the only one that literally changes your life for all eternity, is the gift of the baby Jesus? Other material things and even experiences will fade away, but the hope that we have in Jesus never goes away and only gets stronger the more we put our faith in him. The question for many is, how do we know we can put our hope in him? I believe the answer to that question gets to the heart of why Jesus came to the earth as a baby and not a grown man. As Ricky Bobby (aka Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights) learned, Jesus did not always stay as a baby and eventually did grow up. Ricky may have liked the “Christmas Jesus” the best, but our Savior lived a human life with all its trials and temptations and became an adult like anyone else. However, there are several reasons based on Jewish Law why it was necessary for our Savior to be born as a baby and grow into a man. First of all, Jewish Law stated that boys are to be circumcised on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3). Had Jesus not been born a baby, this would not have happened. Secondly, the Old Testament stipulates that a man must grow to be thirty years old before he can enter the priesthood (Numbers 4:23). That’s important because Jesus is said to be “a great high priest...who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15). God could have just come as a full-grown man, but then that man would not have actually gone through thirty years on this earth but only had the appearance of a thirty-year-old. In order for us to trust Jesus as one who has walked through and defeated anything we might face, we need to know that he actually lived life here and didn’t just supernaturally bypass everything. You may be asking why these laws are so important in regards to Jesus. The point isn’t that everyone out there has to circumcise their male babies on the eighth day, or that we all have to wait until age thirty to enter vocational ministry. Rather, Jesus himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). How could he have fulfilled the Law if he had not been born under it? From the very start of Jesus’ life as a newborn baby in a manger, things were ordered so that the message of his presence here with us would provide truth, hope, and grace for the whole world. Imagine being Mary and Joseph, who did not choose to have this child but still in faith accepted the responsibility of raising and caring for the Savior of the world. Imagine being those who watched Jesus grow up, those who did business with him as a carpenter, and those who taught him in the synagogues. The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about Jesus’ years between age twelve and age thirty, but we can be certain that he did live a full thirty years before entering the ministry because that was the requirement under Jewish Law. Jesus, and the others that God placed in his life, changed everything forever. Christmas might be the “end” of our holiday season in our culture, but it is just the beginning of the new, hope-filled life that Jesus offers to you and me. It all started with a baby. Since you know that baby became a man and defeated sin and death, have you allowed him to reign in YOUR life? If the answer is “no”, may this Christmas be the beginning of your changed life and the hope that will never let you down.
by Bill Seng My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant. (Luke 1:46-48) Before Jesus was born, an angel came to Joseph, his earthly step-father, to tell him what was going on with his pregnant wife-to-be. The angel told him “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The very name, Jesus, means “God is salvation.” To call Jesus our Savior is to call him by name. But if he is our savior, what is he saving us from? Matthew 1:21 very clearly states that Jesus would save his people from their sins. But what does that mean? The other day, my wife had a conversation with a very kind person who said that they do not believe in hell because a loving and just God could not punish someone eternally when his or her sin was only carried out for 70 or so years. That implies that if people do not go to heaven, then the worst punishment for them is to be obliterated from existence when he or she dies. If that is the case, the atheists may as well continue living as they are and believing as they do because that is what they are expecting anyway. Hell, however, is a very real place and it is entered through our sin. Sin is separation from God. Hell is eternal separation from God. The reward for sin is death and the place where the spiritually dead reside for eternity is hell. Regardless of what the nature of the torment is, the New Testament makes it very clear that hell is a place of torment. In the Old Testament God made provisions through the Law that he gave to Moses so that people could have their sins covered over through animal sacrifices. Since sin warrants death, something had to die in order for people to be made right with God (if this does not make sense, think of it in legal terms). In all reality, in order to bring about true justice, a human would need to be sacrificed. This human would also have to be perfect in order to cancel out the sin of the offender. The problem we have is that there is no perfect human and even if there was, the power of sacrificing one human would either be limited or non-existent. Jesus, God’s Son, fulfills every requirement to make mankind right with God through his sacrifice. Being in very nature God, his sacrifice had the power to wash away the sins of the world. But that’s not all! I would like to add that Jesus introduces a new lifestyle to those who have accepted his sacrifice. The world wallows in purposeless existence. Jesus wants us to spread the good news of the Gospel. The world drowns out their sorrows with destructive behaviors. Jesus wants us to engage in a lifestyle that yields treasure for eternal life. The world is bitter towards everyone. Jesus wants us to love everyone, even our enemies. Because he has saved us from our sins, he has saved us from the pattern of a normal life and has reserved us for a supernatural life. This is the time of the year to remember our Savior. We put our hope in so many things that do not matter. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is God, and it is only God’s Son that gives us eternal life.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 22, 2014 0 comments
by Katie Erickson Who is Jesus? It is fitting that we started off 2014 talking about this very question, and we’re (almost) ending 2014, still talking about this question. The identity of Jesus is key to being a follower of Christ; after all, you can’t truly follow someone you don’t know (except maybe on Twitter). This week we’ll be looking at some words that describe who Jesus is, and some of the roles that He plays, both in our lives and in God’s grand plan of all time. Today I’ll give a brief overview of a few of these words - Creator, Redeemer, Savior, and Friend. Jesus is the Creator of the world. While in Genesis 1:1 it says that “God” created the heavens and the earth, that doesn’t just mean God the Father. The Spirit was there too (Genesis 1:3), and Jesus was there too, because Jesus is God. Jesus didn’t just start to exist at His birth in Bethlehem; that’s when His human body came to earth, but He has always existed, even before time. Jesus’ role in creation is evident in Colossians 1:15-17: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” A very similar thought is echoed in John 1:1-3, where “the Word” is Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Jesus is the Redeemer of the world. To redeem means to buy back or rescue, and you can read more about that here. Jesus came to this earth to pay the price needed to bring us back into right relationship with God. The world was created in perfection, but humankind messed that up and separated ourselves from God. Only a perfect person could redeem us back to that right relationship, and Jesus is that person. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 describes Jesus as the redeemer in this way: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” Jesus is the Savior of the world. This idea is very similar to that of a redeemer. Because Jesus lived that perfect life to redeem us, or buy us back, from the power of the world, He is our savior. Jesus is the only way that we can be saved from the evil of this world. He is our only hope for salvation! Jesus is the Friend of the world. Even though Jesus is one with the almighty, powerful, God of the universe, He is still our friend. Friendship and companionship are important to us as humans; friends can even be closer to us than actual blood relatives at times. I knew a guy who came to a church and received Holy Communion, and the only reason he kept coming back to church was because he was certain the pastor had said “buddy of Christ” (instead of the usual “body of Christ”) when handing him the bread. He wanted that friendship relationship with Jesus, and he had found it. It is only because Jesus completed the work of redeeming us and saving us that He can be our friend. Without that redemption and salvation, we could not approach the holy, creator God of the universe, because we would be unworthy. But because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we can all be in relationship with Him.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 19, 2014 0 comments
by Charlie Wolcott This week at Worldview Warriors, we have been discussing the effects of Adam and Eve’s sin upon the whole world, and the main theme is: how can we be responsible for someone else’s actions? I’ve seen several memes on Facebook that shows a picture of a native tribesman, often a Native American or an Eskimo, and the meme says this: “So you mean to tell to tell me that if I did not know about your Gospel, I would still go to heaven?” “Yes.” “So why did you tell me?” A very interesting question I hear that has a valid point is this: How does God handle those who never hear the Gospel? What about those tribes in the jungles that have never read the Bible or heard about Jesus? Christianity is very clear that the only way to get to heaven is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. So how can these tribes who have never heard the Gospel get to heaven? This reminds me of a very similar question. How did the people of the Old Testament get to heaven? Jesus had not died or rose from the dead yet. Or did he? Paul makes it clear that Christ was crucified from the foundations of the earth. Jesus died for the sins of the past, the sins of the present, and the sins of the future. Abraham did not know Jesus, but Paul tells us in Romans 4:3 that Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. What did Abraham believe? He believed God’s promise that through his line, a Savior would come. But it wasn’t just an accepted belief and he left it like that. He believed it to the point where he acted as though it would come true, despite the fact that he never saw it in his lifetime. He believed in the coming Messiah. He looked forward to the Messiah. Today, we look back to Jesus. Abraham looked forward to him. It all points to Christ. Answers in Genesis has a good summary of world history in accordance to the Bible called “The 7 C’s of History.” The 7 C’s are Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consummation. These are 7 major events in Scripture that impacted everyone in the world. The Creation, Adam’s sin, Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel language dispersion, Jesus’ birth and ministry, the cross and resurrection of Christ, and the end times. I have not studied every single culture out there, but I have 22 years of missions experience, had a lot of encounters myself, and heard a lot of testimonies. And one thing in relation to this topic that I have noticed is that every culture has some kind of legend or myth related to these seven major events. Not each of these legends are exactly the same, but each of these cultures speak about something about a deity creating the universe, something about man’s rebellion against the creator, something about a world-wide flood where only a few survivors made it on an ark full of animals, something about confusion of languages, something about someone coming to save them, and something about the deity bringing everything to a close. What I am I talking about? Don Richardson describes his encounters with the Sawi tribe in New Guinea in his book Peace Child. He was having the most difficult time trying to describe what Jesus’ actions on the cross did for us, because the Sawi had no words for such things like propitiation of sin, or atonement. But they had a legend that perfectly fulfilled what Jesus did: The Peace Child. When two tribes went to war, the way they would make an offer for peace was that the chief of one tribe requesting peace would offer his son, the heir to the “throne”, to the other chief to be raised as his own. And as long as that child lived, there would be peace between them. This is a legend of Christ. God gave his son as a peace child. Bruce Olsen, as a 19-year old from Minnesota, traveled without the aid of any mission organization (they all turned him down), to Columbia into the Amazon jungle to bring the Gospel to the Motilone tribe, one of the most feared and violent tribes. They had a legend that someone would come and open up bananas and that would bring them salvation. This made absolutely no sense, but when Bruce, aka Bruchko, opened up his Bible, the legend became true. Jim Elliot and Nate Saint were two of five missionaries that lost their lives witnessing to the Wadoni tribe of the Amazon. When their wives decided to stay, they learned of the legends of the Wadoni and by bringing the Gospel, they were able to help the Wadoni abandon their violent ways. If you have not read the book or seen the movie End of the Spear, do so. This list goes on and on. These people who have never heard the Gospel are looking for the Gospel. These tribes and these people who have never once heard about Jesus are waiting to hear about him. And as Christians, it is our duty to bring the Gospel to them. Would they go to heaven if they never get a chance to reject him? That is the logic and reasoning some people use to never go out and speak of their faith. Is that really faith? To get all you can get from God, sit on the lid, and poison the rest? Do we want to be there on the Day of Judgment and see someone who will look at us and tell us: “Why didn’t you tell me?” In my own experiences, I had times where I did not want to be that person that was telling someone else the Gospel. I wanted to be behind the scenes, helping out, but not the one doing the speaking. And looking back, I have to ask myself, “Why was I so concerned about what they would think of me, or my stuttering? Why did I feel so much fear about sharing my faith?” And I was on the mission field. I grew up in that environment. And I did not want to be the one to do the sharing. I don’t want to be that way anymore. I don’t want to be one of those Christians where my peers know I am a Christian but never hear from me about why I believe what I believe. If these people have never heard of the Gospel or Christ and they die, do they go to heaven? I cannot make that call. That is between them and God. But I am responsible for doing what God tells me to do, who to say it to, and when. I cannot stay back and stay silent. That is part of why I have taken part of this ministry with Worldview Warriors. That is part of why I am writing my novels. To get word out that what I believe is real and to share the truth with others. We estimate that about 15,000 people die and go to hell every day. And the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What are we doing about it? Eric Ludy has a list of tough questions that many of us would say “no” to. Let us pray and let the answers be “Yes. I am willing. Lord, send me.”
by Steve Risner This week I wanted to touch on a process that is basic to every form of life we are aware of on earth—the Krebs' Cycle, or Citric Acid Cycle. At first, I wanted to outline it in detail and talk about its complexities and the silliness of the thought that it arose by chance. However, I quickly realized that such a blog would not be read by anyone because it would be similar to reading a higher-level science text - a.k.a. boring. So I've decided to just write a bit on energy and how life—all life—depends on it. Brian Thomas of creation.com says this concerning ATPase (an enzyme used to break ATP and extract its energy): “Since evolution by natural selection requires reproduction, and since reproduction requires life, which requires ATPase, the enzyme is therefore a prerequisite for evolution. But with evolution out of order until ATPase ‘appears’, evolution is not even in the running as a model to explain the origin of the molecular motor.” Let's reflect on the fact that God is the Creator and Sustainer of life.
Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
1 Corinthians 8:6, “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
1 Corinthians 8:6, “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
by Logan Ames Several weeks ago, I held a Bible study meeting at the church where I pastor. We do this two or three times a month and for this particular meeting, I decided to ask the people what things were on their minds with the promise of guiding the discussion with a heavy dose of Scripture. One elderly gentleman decided to share that he has been thinking a lot about the “end times”. I asked him specifically what about them he has been thinking about and he instantly made a statement that started with the words “I believe”. He went on to share what we so often hear in church, that we have reason to believe that Christ is returning very soon. I didn’t take issue with that because even the Apostle John wrote that “the time is near” (Revelation 1:3). What I did take issue with was what the man continued to share, that we can basically narrow it down to a time frame that Christ will return based on what is prophesied in Daniel. Now, before I go further I want to recognize that some of you reading this have strong opinions about Christ’s return and I am not here to refute those opinions. My goal is simply to present Scripture and let you decide for yourself whether what you “believe” is consistent with what God’s Word says or not. And that is what I did with the Bible study group. We didn’t really discuss anyone else’s beliefs about the end times. Instead, I shared the words directly from Jesus in Matthew 24:36-44, which declare that he will return in such a way that we will not see it coming. He specifically says, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (v. 36). When I shared these words with the Bible study group, the elderly man who brought up the topic said, “Well, I believe we can get it down to the year even if we don’t know the day or hour”. I then shared more words from Jesus in Acts 1 after his disciples asked him if it was time for him to do what they expected him to do. His answer was, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (1:7). Despite these verses, the man continued to tell our group what he “believed.” Are your core beliefs so important to you that you’ll continue to believe them even in the face of Scripture that directly challenges them? This is a major issue in the church today. It’s almost like we’ve gotten to the point of trusting in OUR beliefs over God’s Word, like if we believe something strongly enough and convince enough other people to think like us, then we’re right. This causes us to depend more on our own minds and judgments and to believe based on what makes the most sense to us, rather than on God’s unchanging Word. Once you start down this slope, it gets very slippery and before you know it you are no longer simply compromising God’s Word but believing outright things that are contrary to it. In regards to our question at Worldview Warriors this week - whether or not the sin of Adam and Eve condemns unsaved “innocents” to hell - it can be dangerous to believe strongly one way or the other. You may have come to this blog looking for an answer, but it would be incredibly dangerous for me to give you one. The reason? It simply isn’t crystal clear in the Bible. However, I will tell you about some things that are crystal clear. King David wrote, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Unfortunately, even infants are affected by the sins of Adam and Eve, since infants do sometimes die and the penalty for the original sin was eventual death for all human beings. Romans 5:12-21 tells us that sin and death came to all mankind through the disobedience of one man. This means that even infants are born with sin. However, the same passage tells us that “through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (v. 19). The “one man” in the first part is Adam and the “one man” in the second part is Jesus Christ. So from all this, we can deduce that no human being, including babies or mentally and physically handicapped individuals, are without sin. But we can also deduce that Christ’s act of obedience on the cross was enough to cover ALL sins. More confirmation of this is found in 1 John 2:2: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” The Bible says throughout that God is holy and because of this he cannot tolerate sin. A perfect sacrifice was needed to cover our sins. Since all sins are covered by Christ’s sacrifice, the only way to not be covered is to reject his sacrifice, which can happen by denying him with our mouths, denying him with our actions, or both. This would mean to me that God clearly can accept Christ’s blood as payment for the sins of even those who were not able to choose to believe in his sacrifice. However, I will stop short of saying that he does make that judgment because Scripture doesn’t make it abundantly clear and I am not God! Other characteristics of God that are clear in the Bible are that he is loving, merciful, holy, gracious, just, and good. We can rest assured that whatever God does will be the right thing. Therefore, the real challenge in answering these sorts of difficult questions is in choosing to trust him enough to let go of the need for a definitive answer. As a pastor, I feel I must tell people that I cannot guarantee their baby or other loved one is in heaven, but I can certainly tell them about God and his goodness and invite them to trust him with their questions that must remain temporarily unanswered until they meet him face-to-face themselves. Too often, Christians and even whole denominations feel they need to take a stance on this question. We want to know for sure what God has not yet chosen to reveal, so we are fascinated with questions about the end times, heaven, and eternal judgment. Some Christians believe in the “age of accountability” and say that God will not send a child to hell before they have reached a certain age. Some believe that infant baptism leading up to a child’s confirmation is what covers them. I say that we must remember that these are OUR beliefs, and that none of them are expressly endorsed in Scripture. To say our answer is the right one when God alone knows the heart of every man, woman, and child and knows what opportunities they do and don’t have is to place our “I believe” statements above simply trusting in God and his nature. Honestly, he’s the only One who can handle it and we should all be thankful we don’t have to judge. It doesn’t mean that what you believe is automatically wrong, but we do have to accept where the true authority lies. Our feelings will lead us astray, but God is the Perfect Judge!
by Bill Seng “There are billions of people out there who have never read the Bible, don't practice Christianity, yet still know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.”
“And it's far more sad when people do have the opportunity to hear about Buddha and STILL reject it. And it's far more sad when people do have the opportunity to hear about Ra and STILL reject it. And it's far more sad when people do have the opportunity to hear about Zeus and STILL reject it…Do you sense a pattern here?”
“… you do certainly come off as arrogant when you say: 'There can only be one God and that is my God.'
That flies in the face of the other 6 Billion people on this planet that have other religious affiliations or no affiliation at all.”
~Anonymous Blogger Is salvation a matter of “my way” or the “high way”? Do we have a relationship with God based on our own terms or does God have a standard with which we must first comply? This anonymous blogger, aside from rejecting God, questions the fairness of God according to Biblical standards of how we can have a relationship with him. So is it a matter of salvation through my way or the high way? Is there only one way to God? Is the only exclusive way to heaven through his Son, Jesus Christ? What about the people who have never heard about Jesus Christ in their lifetime? Aren’t there many good people in the world who have never heard of Jesus that deserve to go to heaven? What about children that do not understand the Gospel message? What is their fate in the afterlife? There is no simple answer to these questions and frankly, during a meeting where my fellow bloggers and I were gathered, I guarantee you that although there were 8 people in the room it felt like there were 9 because that’s about how many different opinions were expressed while we were discussing this topic. In other words, it does not have a simple answer. But let me highlight some points to consider concerning this debate. First of all, in the Bible Jesus clearly says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If you are a Christian, you must submit to the fact that Jesus stated very clearly he is the only way to heaven or to the Father, as he puts it. The way that I read this statement it can only be taken one way: if you die and have not accepted Jesus, you will not go to heaven. John 3:18 (also the words of Jesus) states, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” I think that the Bible is very clear on that topic. The book of Romans provides Scriptures that elaborate on this subject, but I am going to save these insights for our upcoming Romans series. Regarding those who would be considered “good” by human standards, I still think that such a person is condemned if they have not received Jesus even if they have not heard about him. Although someone might appear to be a good man or woman, human standards are not the standards by which God holds us. That might sound harsh, but that is because we are so utterly depraved in our thinking that we truthfully cannot grasp God’s ideals, which is why he gave the law to Moses. After mankind originally sinned, God judged the world and made a covenant. As he was promising never to send a global flood again, he stated: “Every inclination of his [mankind’s] heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21). We have a problem starting with our core that we are born into sin and truly cannot overcome that sin nature on our own will. But what about infants? There are answers to this question that are rooted in pure theology, but I will instead approach it from strictly a Scriptural perspective. I have heard it mentioned that there is an age of accountability before which God essentially does not hold you accountable for your sins. I used to think that there was a Scriptural basis for it rooted in the Old Testament law, but have been unable to find it. The only Scripture reference that I truly see about children that might not understand the Gospel is 1 Corinthians 7:14. Paraphrasing, it implies that children are “made clean” through their believing parent. Nonetheless, there must be some sort of age of accountability because every adult is responsible for accepting or rejecting Christ. But do all children go to heaven? Some people would make the case that Matthew 18:10 is evidence that all children go to heaven. Jesus stands a child in front of a crowd and states, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Is that what this statement is really saying, or does the context give a different message? I will leave that up to debate. Ultimately we have to trust that God is just. We do not know the hearts of everyone around us and even those who might appear to be devout Christians may one day be proven to be frauds, posing as Christ-followers for their own benefit. As Ravi Zacharias said, on the Day of Judgment, there will be surprises. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). If God is so good, why has he only provided one way to go to heaven? This question from our skewed human perspective might seem reasonable, but it neglects a very serious reality. And that is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In other words, NOBODY DESERVES TO GO TO HEAVEN. EVERYONE DESERVES TO GO TO HELL. Not my way, but instead the High way. Thank God that he has provided A way!
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 15, 2014 0 comments
by Katie Erickson There are many parts to this week’s question of whether the sin of Adam and Eve condemns unsaved innocents to hell. We at the ministry of Worldview Warriors have been often asked this question, so it’s now time to answer it. The first part is, what is the sin of Adam and Eve? To find out more about this, please go read this post on original sin. Here’s the short version: God told Adam and Eve (the first people) not to sin, but they did anyway, and at that time evil and sin entered the entire world. To read the story of their sin, check out Genesis 2 and 3. The next part of this question is who or what is an “unsaved innocent.” This can have multiple interpretations depending on your point of view. Unsaved typically refers to anyone who has not experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ. But what about “innocent”? I just wrote that sin and evil entered the entire world when Adam and Eve sinned, so is anyone really innocent? Nope. We are all born with original sin in us, even kids who are too young to understand what sin is. But, many people believe that before kids understand sin, they are considered innocent because they don’t know they’re sinning. From that point of view, then, unsaved innocents would be infants and children too young to understand. The third part of this question is what or where is hell. Read more about my views on hell here, but I’ll give you a summary too. Hell does exist because the Bible tells us about it, but we really don’t know many details. The gist of hell is that it is an existence completely without God, which will be torture. Even if you don’t believe in God, He is still present around you in this world; but He won’t be in hell. The context of this question is also important when looking at the answer. Often it is asked in the context of an infant’s death, whether through a miscarriage, stillborn, or even after they’re born. Another form of this question is often asked as well, but speaking of those who have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ’s salvation for us, whether they are condemned to hell or not. So after all that setup, what’s the answer? Are unsaved innocents condemned to hell because Adam and Eve sinned? The answer is that we don’t know. God is the one true judge, and the choice in judgement is His and His alone. Does He love everyone and desire for everyone to be with Him forever in heaven? Yes - just read 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9, and John 17:21-23 for evidence of that. But, God also set the rules pretty clearly back in Genesis 2:16-17. God promised that the first man and woman would surely die if they disobeyed Him, which they did. God is a just God, and He follows His Word to judge people for their actions and the choices they make, even as He loves each one of us. Personally, I know I’m glad that God is the judge and I am not. It’s not my choice whether any particular person goes to heaven or hell, except for being responsible for my own life. All we can do is be as obedient to God as we can, both by making right choices and by sharing His good news to as many people as we can. Beyond that, we trust in God’s good and perfect will to do what He deems right.
by Ami Samuels The holiday season is a time of year that our senses come alive. Beautiful lights adorn our houses while Christmas trees and candles fill our homes with vibrant color and light. We hear Christmas music in the stores and on the radio and quietly hum the tunes under our breath. The scrumptious seasonal treats tease our taste buds and seduce us with scents of vanilla, cinnamon, and chocolate. And who can forget the dense, rich, jelly fruit filled fruitcakes. Well, maybe not the fruitcake. Every family has their own traditions. Your family may gather for a Christmas Eve candlelight service. Maybe you enjoy driving around looking at Christmas lights together. I know of families that gather all of the supplies and spend a day baking their favorite holiday treats. It could be that you watch a favorite Christmas movie while eating popcorn curled up on the couch, snuggled in blankets. Of course there are pictures to be taken for the family Christmas cards, gifts to purchase and wrap, parties to organize and attend, and the list goes on and on. This Christmas I challenge you to evaluate your activities and traditions to ensure that you have a joy filled, peaceful holiday season. In my book The Christmas Basket, the main character Maralee Jones realizes that she has lost the joy of Christmas. In her attempt to accomplish her holiday tasks and traditions, she has lost the true meaning of Christmas. Maralee finds that she isn’t patient, kind, or loving to those she encounters throughout her day. She is rushed, impatient, and rude. Maralee slips into a situation that reminds her of the true meaning of Christmas and what truly is important during the holiday season. Maralee Jones is a fictional character, but a few of the life lessons she learns hit close to home with me. As a matter of fact, I can remember more than one Christmas that I wasn’t as joy-filled or peaceful as I should have been because I was so busy checking items off of my to do list to enjoy the season. I wanted everything to be perfect and I didn’t want my family to miss out on anything, but in the process I would become tired, frustrated, and grumpy. I was so busy running errands, picking the perfect Christmas cards, decorating, purchasing, and wrapping gifts, baking, attending Christmas programs and parties, that I was the exact opposite of Christ’s example. Like Maralee, I took a hard look at my actions and whose reflection others were seeing in me. I wasn’t proud of what I saw. If we find ourselves becoming overwhelmed by the tasks that need to be done and our never ending to do list, we need to re-evaluate and pick the things that mean the most to us and choose to do a few things well. Enjoy the holiday season as we celebrate Jesus. In Luke 10:40, we find that Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him (Jesus) and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Jesus replied to her in verse 41, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Like Martha I was distracted (busy) by all of the preparations and I neglected to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen and be filled with Him, like Mary. As the poplar Disney character Elsa sings in the movie Frozen, “Let it go, let it go…” I have had to learn to let a few things go. As we celebrate Jesus’ birth and sharing his love with others, I encourage you to also celebrate Jesus’ character by being Christ-like this Christmas. If we want to reflect Jesus’ character, it is important that we remember to spend quiet time in Bible study, prayer, and quietly sitting at his feet. This Christmas, take control of your calendar instead of allowing your calendar to control you. Together as a family (or as parents) decide what activities and traditions you will participate in and what things you can let go. The holidays are a time of family, fun, and festivities, but don’t allow overscheduling to crowd Jesus out of Christmas. If you want to read more about the story of Maralee Jones finding the true meaning of Christmas, you can purchase Ami’s book the “The Christmas Basket” here.
by Charlie Wolcott How often have we had times in our lives where we have no clue what is going on, we see no purpose of moving forward in a particular direction, but we know we have to press on? As I was growing up, if you wanted to see me in a meltdown, the quickest way to do that was to change my schedule on me and not tell me what was going on. When I was in elementary school, summers were the worst for me because during the summer there was no regular routine for me to follow. I was the kind of person that had to have that predetermined structure, but if you deviated me from that structure, things did not go well. Even today, I do not like being interrupted from a task I am in the middle of doing, unless I know I am at a good break point. I am much better than I used to be, but it is still an issue I deal with. One of the big ways both God and my parents used to help me deal with this challenge was through mission trips. My first one was a total disaster. The specialists working with me insisted that I not go and when we got back, I lost about ¾ of the progress I had made just before going. But my parents said they would take me again and again and again, and it paid off. They knew that this would help me in the long run. And they demonstrated a level of patience and trust that many specialists working with me did not have. Today, I am in a position where I could easily feel I am in limbo. I know God has called me to be a teacher. I have my certifications to teach math and physics, but in 2 ½ years, I have not been able to find a full-time teaching position. I’ve been able to make ends meet as a substitute in the meantime, but God has just not yet opened this door for me to be a teacher yet. Did I miss what God said? Am I looking in the wrong direction? My degree is in computer science, not education, and I know I can make a heck of a lot more money as a programmer than I can as a teacher. Why would I pursue teaching? I have student loans, and I still have 8 years scheduled to pay off my debt. What is going on? I’ve been asked these questions. Do I know I am supposed to be a teacher? Did I go off a tangent from what God told me to do? Many of the answers I have to these questions are, “I don’t know.” But I do know that God does know and he is the one I am trusting. A good friend of mine said this: “If you are lost and you do not know what to do or where to go, go back and find out what the last thing you know for certain that God told you to do, and go do it.” That is where I am at. The last thing I know for certain God told me to do is to pursue teaching. He did not say where I would be teaching, or what grades I would be teaching, or in what format I would be teaching. He just told me to pursue teaching. I’ve been in this path before. When I was in college, I was 1 ½ years into my civil engineering program when I decided I did not want to pursue this the rest of my career. I knew I could do the work, but it was not a career I wanted to do. But I did not know where else to turn. I knew better than to just switch majors and bounce around all over the place. So I stuck with it for one more year, and during that year, I found a very interesting program called computer science. And I enjoyed it. So at that point, I switched. But I know now if I gave up on civil engineering before I should have, I would not have ended up where I am now. Another area where I have been struggling with this is with my publisher. I love them and they have done what very few other publishers would do. My first novel was self-published, and when an author self-publishes, it has to be a very impressive seller for any other publisher to pick it up. My sales were not that great, but OakTara loved what they saw and decided to offer me a contract not just for my first novel Call to Arms but also the next two in my trilogy. Those two are now written but since I submitted my manuscripts, I have not heard a word from them. I’ve tried contacting them on a regular basis, but I simply have not gotten anything from them. I have been praying about this and the word God gave me was to be patient. Call to Arms was released in May 2014, and in reality most books in a series are released a year at a time. So while I know they are contractually bound to publish my books, I have to learn to be patient, even in this time of not knowing where things stand. If I know where things stand, I am usually okay, but God is using this time to teach me to be patient and to trust him even when I do not have a clue of where things stand. I have a good publisher and they have done an incredible job with Call to Arms. I trust they will do the right job at the right time with the next two. Where are you at? Are you in a place where you do not know what is going on around you? Do you feel lost where the world seems to be moving on without you and no one is telling you why? Does not having an understanding of your circumstances make you flustered and stressed out? If so, you are not alone. Trust God. Be patient. He knows what is going on. There is nothing that takes him by surprise. He has the whole picture in mind. I know that if I knew every step of what I would go through before I did it, I likely would not have taken the journey. But I know the journey has been worth it. Be patient. There are things that need to take place before God is ready to act. And what God has in mind is always better than anything else we could have in mind. Believe him and trust him. And put yourself in a position where when the opportunity comes, you will be able to jump into action. Be ready for the miracle when it comes and believe that God will come through. I know what I am expecting from God is going to come through, even if it is not here yet. That is what faith really is. I know I will have a teaching position. I don’t know where or when I will have it, but I know I will have one. I know that my next two books will be released. I don’t know when, but I know they will be. Because I am trusting God to do what needs to be done for these things to be successful and to give him glory. Keep fighting. Keep pressing forward. God is in control.
by Steve Risner We are in the wonderful time of year where we first take time to be grateful—to truly be thankful for the things we have and for family, the land we are blessed to live in, and the spiritual blessings to boot—followed by a time of giving and sharing and, once again, taking time with family. But is that really what this great nation, the most prosperous nation on earth, really does on this day that Abraham Lincoln ordained as a day to give thanks for the blessings of our Maker? Stats for Black Friday (which is no longer Black Friday but Thanksgiving evening and Friday all day as well as the following Monday) show that, in general. Americans spend over $2 billion over a weekend on stuff. Over 20 million people hit Walmart in a 4-hour period on Thanksgiving night. Is this really how we as a people say, “Thank You, God, for showering us with the blessings You so generously give”? Leave it to Americans to celebrate a day of thanks and follow it immediately by fighting huge crowds of people to save a few bucks on junk we don't really need. Yes, I said fighting and I meant it in the most literal sense. Since 2008, we have murdered 8 people and reportedly caused nearly 100 injuries on Black Friday! Does that bother anyone else? We celebrate thanks and gratitude (which I honestly feel most of us fail to do on the holiday named “Thanksgiving”) and follow it up with murder and maiming to save 40% on a piece of junk that will literally be thrown away in 2 years because it's broken or obsolete. We are a nation that has sacrificed honor and respect for the acquisition of things—most often meaningless things. On Thanksgiving day this year, I sat down with my wife and children to a meal—a meal we first expressed thanks for (which we do at every meal)—and talked about what we were thankful for. I asked Israel (my oldest) what he was thankful for. He said, “That Jesus died on the cross.” That's a good one, I thought. When asked, Zeke (my second oldest) said, “My family.” Another good one. I'm thankful that my kids see the value in the family unit and they appreciate the support they receive from their family. Judah, my 3rd son and the most talkative kid I know, responded with, “Jesus dying on the cross, my family, my friends, church, school, Jael [his sister]....” he really went on and on and I can't recall it all. He loves to talk. That was nice. Then I turned to my youngest boy, Uriah, and asked him what he was thankful for. I really didn't expect a response. “Eat!” he said. Yes. He loves to eat and I'm sure he was genuinely thankful for food. My wife said she was thankful for our daughter, Jael, who was just born in September. She followed that with saying she was grateful for the boys, too, so they didn't feel bad. I took the time to make sure my kids knew it was important at that moment but also in all things to be thankful. We set aside a day in this country to be thankful, but it should be a lifestyle. The grateful heart is a happy heart. A man of gratitude is one everyone enjoys being around. We then read the proclamation that Abraham Lincoln gave in 1863 declaring the 4th Thursday in November as a day to remember our God and His blessings. I encourage you to read it. I don't write these things to brag or puff myself up or anything like that. In fact, I admit I have been lost in the craziness at times and forget the point. I miss it completely and look back at the last 4-5 weeks and say, “Whoa! I'm a jerk. I didn't take any time to be grateful or to think of anyone else.” It gets hard in our society. I confess. So then we move in to a season of sharing and giving. How ironic is that! We're thankful. We destroy people at the big box stores to save a couple bucks. And then we act like we're generous. Lincoln made the statement that “we are prone to forget the source from which they [blessings] come” and I tend to agree. Thanksgiving originally had nothing to do with pilgrims and Native Americans or turkeys. It had to do with genuine thankfulness for the blessings our God bestows on us. President Lincoln said, “They [the blessings] are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” And here we are today hitting Target at 6 pm on Thanksgiving so we can trample men, women, and children literally to death to buy a Bluray player for $15 less than we can on Saturday. That's because we want to be generous, right? Probably not. Even though the average American family spends a whopping $800 on Christmas and nearly $300 per child, statistics show us that the average American will spend nearly $150 on something called “self gifting.” Don't get me started on the stuff we buy each year that we fully intend to throw in the trash on December 26th. This time of year we celebrate the most amazing gift the universe has ever known. We celebrate the time in history where heaven literally met earth—two realms would collide to give us God in the flesh. We celebrate the giving of this gift and the gifts given by the Magi by sharing with others. Yet we spend so much on ourselves, kill for a deal, and throw away a huge portion of the things we acquire. In fact, we fight and kick and scheme to save a few bucks on something that will be thrown aside or away in 2 years or less. Many of us, myself included, will get so caught up in the hoopla and hubbub that we'll miss the point completely. We'll fret about the turkey and forget to be thankful for it and the rest of the bounty we harvest each year. We'll worry about the “perfect gift” while trying to get it at the best price and forget about the person we're buying it for. We'll fail to turn our eyes to heaven and say, “Thank You for the generosity—You owe me nothing yet You pour out blessing after blessing and thank You so very much for the indescribable gift of Your Son Who came into this world as a baby to live the life of a man, die a terrible death in my stead, and rise again so I can live in Your very presence for all eternity.” We get worked up and exhausted so it's all just right. What did the tablecloth look like last year at Christmas dinner? What were the sweet potatoes like? Was your sister's hair amazing? Was the house you spent the most time at spotless or was it a little cluttered? Was the paper on your gifts something you'd see from a professional? You probably can't recall any of this. It's meaningless. Jesus Christ, family, blessings and so much more: that's what this time of year is dedicated to—or was. Let's get back there. Why do I write these things? “Why so serious?” as the Joker would ask. Let's take a moment to ponder the season. Let's recall that Easter is the only reason Christmas is a holiday. Let's consider the miraculous birth of our nation and the supernatural founding of this great place—the most blessed nation on earth, which I truly believe. Take some time and stress with your kids and grand kids or your family members how thankful you are for them and for the things God has given you. Tell your friends you appreciate them and relay a message of gratitude for the undeserved gifts God has given you. Ponder God's generosity in Jesus Christ. Consider He left a place you cannot possibly imagine in its splendor and greatness to be born in a barn as a vulnerable child who slept in a trough a donkey would eat from, only to live a perfectly sinless life and die for your sins and mine and rise again from the dead and ascend to the right hand of the Father. Man, that's awesome stuff!!! Have you considered it today? I encourage you to forget the trappings and particulars and celebrate what He's done for you and for us. He's worthy of our praise. After considering His generosity, go out of your way to be generous. We all know families or individuals who have fallen on tough times. Sneak them a gift without their knowing. Bless them financially. Have you ever given a gift that hurt a little? Be open to His leading. I'm sure He could find someone you can bless. What an awesome privilege it is to be His hands to someone in need. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 3:15-17 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
by Logan Ames This week, I am sharing with you all how the Lord is currently at work in my life. While we often think of personal testimonies as “feel-good stories” that leave us encouraged and uplifted, not every work that God does in us actually feels good. Sometimes he does things that hurt but are desperately needed so that we are not completely destroyed. Let me be clear that God has not really done anything to me that hurts. Everything that hurts has been done by one person - ME! Yet, God is still there and still working. He is allowing me to experience consequences of my sins and other poor choices because he is drawing me back to him. How do I know he is doing this? It’s simple, really - he’s done it before! Anyone who has seriously walked with the Lord knows that it’s not always easy. It’s not always a clear path that we can’t miss even if we try. The walk with God is not about religion, but relationship. That means that it’s not just following a list of rules, it’s going through life with God right there with you. One of my former pastors, current Worldview Warriors blogger Nathan Buck, once prayed for me during a time of struggle that I would experience what it’s like to truly walk with God in the sense that even when I start to go in the wrong direction, he simply puts his arm around me and says, “That’s not what I want for you, Logan, so let’s try this way”. It doesn’t mean God isn’t provoked to anger when we disobey repeatedly or isn’t heart-broken when one of his children walks away from him. What it does mean is that, as long as I’m still alive, it is impossible for me to walk so far away from him that I can no longer hear his voice calling me back to his path. King David summed it up this way: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139:7-8). Whether I want to walk away from God or my choices pull me away from him, like the prodigal son I am never too far to come back until he determines my time is up. My relationship with the Creator has also shown me just how much I am dependent on him, whether I realize it daily or not. A verse from the prophet Isaiah comes to mind: “Yet, oh Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). God made us in the sense that he created us, but it’s more than that. God doesn’t just leave us to fend for ourselves, he CONTINUES the process of making. He gives us what we need, whether it’s what we want or not. God has used a recent contemporary song to speak to me about this over the past few weeks. The song is called “Keep Making Me” and is by the group Sidewalk Prophets. You can find a video of the song online and can find the lyrics here. The song is a prayer in which the singer asks God, “Make me broken, so I can be healed, ‘cause I’m so calloused, and now I can’t feel”. Later, the singer makes other strange requests with “make me empty” and “make me lonely”. Think about it. Those are three things NOBODY wants to be - broken, empty, and lonely. As a matter of fact, we do just about everything we can in this world to avoid those three states of being. But we can’t be healed or remade unless we are first broken. We can’t be filled unless we are first emptied. We can’t know what it’s like to be loved and belong to someone unless we are first lonely. This is the essence of what God is doing in my life right now because it’s what I need. There have been times when sin was so common in my life that I barely even recognized it. Without the Holy Spirit revealing it, I would not have. Sin has made me calloused to where I couldn’t even feel anymore, so I’m asking God to break me in those areas so I can be truly healed. The singer in that song says he needs to be made emptied of his own will so that God can fill him back up. Again, this is me. Even when I know it’s not getting me anywhere, I’ve had the tendency to hold onto my own will. I’m asking God to make me empty. Finally, loneliness has certainly been one of my biggest fears as I’ve gotten older and has certainly contributed to sins in the other two areas. But I recognize that I can’t truly understand what it means to be loved by God and communicate that to others until I understand what it feels like to be lonely. I have felt broken, empty, and lonely at times before in my life. So I know what those feelings are like to an extent. But, like most of you I presume, God gives me blessings that fill those areas and it’s not long before I’ve forgotten about God and simply cherished his blessings rather than adoring him. I hope that my openness about my life at this point has encouraged you to take a look at yours. Do you, like me, need to be made broken, empty, or lonely? God’s promise is that he will never leave you in that state. He is a God of restoration, abundant life, and love. Do you trust him enough to take you through the valley before bringing you to the top of the mountain? Or are you trying to get to the top of the mountain by your own power? No matter how much I fight what he is doing daily, I still KNOW that he is in the process of making me. Since Psalm 121:2 says he is the “Maker of heaven and earth”, I figure he can handle my life. It’s time to let go and trust him.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, December 9, 2014 0 comments
by Bill Seng This might seem a little delayed, but I would like to share some thanksgiving and praise from my life. I would have to embellish quite a bit to make my story sound exciting, so instead, I am just going to describe things in my life that have been a real blessing. First of all, I have been blessed with a new job. It was a great blessing working for my previous employer and now that I am working for a new business, I have had the opportunity to make new friends with different backgrounds. I have really enjoyed getting to know my new co-workers and finding ways that I can be a blessing to them. Second, my wife has recently been hired in to a new job as well! To me it is not ideal that my wife holds a permanent position, since we both agree that she has been happy staying home with our son for the past year and a half. But for the time being it is a true blessing to have the extra income to help us pay our bills. Third, our son, Jaden, is almost a year and a half old! It is so incredible how quickly time passes and it is incredible how quickly he is growing. He has been a true blessing to our family. He brings a degree of joy to everyone that we never knew was possible. This has especially been a blessing because God has made it clear to us that he would be a blessing to everyone around him. We ask only that others would pray for us and him as he grows and matures. The Lord also has many things in store for my wife and I for this upcoming year. I am currently in the process of revising my book The World That Then Was so that I can re-release it through Amazon's self-publishing tool, Create Space. My wife and I have been managing a business outside of our jobs that both of us have been stepping up our involvement in. And I am probably going to be seeking more preaching opportunities in this new year with churches, nursing homes, and other venues if at all possible. I am excited about everything coming our way. I believe that God has great plans for our family, as he does for everyone in his family. Although I don't like the cold weather that much, this time of year is a wonderful time to reflect on what God has been doing for us and what he has done for us. It is incredible that we get to have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s so close together since they are very complementary in their intentions so long as we keep in mind what the true meaning of each holiday really is. I hope everyone is able to enjoy this season to the glory of God!
by Katie Erickson As I pondered on what to write about for this post, a good friend pointed out that I should write about what God is doing through me by way of the ministry of Get REAL inC here in Findlay, OH. At first my response was that I’m not really doing much for the ministry, but as I pondered it more, I realize that God is using me in a bigger way through this ministry. The ministry of Get Real was started in Indianapolis by an amazing woman named Katie Wolfe, who grew up in the Findlay area. Not too long after it started in Indianapolis, Get Real came to Findlay in 2010. I heard about it through a mutual friend, and since I was just graduating seminary at that time, I was looking for ways to be in ministry. I volunteered at the first event that summer, and got connected with the ministry. The name of Get Real inC is significant in a few ways. We encourage everyone to be totally real and authentic with each other, because without honesty and vulnerability, you can’t have real relationship. REAL is also an acronym, standing for Respected, Educated, Able, and Loyal - all traits which we women to be, and encourage the girls to be as well. The inC stands for in Christ, not incorporated. The point of Get Real is to be a mentoring ministry for girls in grades 6-12, to connect women to teen girls, to help them learn from each other and grow in Christ together. We meet as a group once a month for what we call a REALity Check. We have food, do some fun games, listen to someone speak, and just hang out together. If girls are in a mentoring relationship with a woman, they would meet more often, maybe each week or every other week, depending on schedules. In the just over 4 years I’ve been a part of Get Real, I really haven’t participated in the mentoring part. I’ve gone through seasons of life where other commitments prohibited me from even going to the monthly meetings, but I’ve attended when I can. For a few years now, I’ve taken care of the communication for our meetings and events, via email, Facebook, texting, etc. Now, on to the story part of this post. A few years ago, I was asked by the leaders if I would be a mentor to 3 girls. I said I would do it, and we tried to get that started… and failed. I hadn’t met the girls, but through a few phone conversations I discovered they were all very involved in gymnastics, so between that and school their schedules were pretty full already. I work a full-time job and had a few other things going on outside of work, so my schedule was relatively full too. There just wasn’t a regular time that we could all make work. One of the girls did end up attending a number of REALity Check meetings later on so I did get to know her and her mom, but not the other two. After that happened, I figured I must not be meant for being a mentor. In talking with the other ladies who lead our local group, they shared how they’ve discovered that “arranged” mentoring situations like that just don’t really work. They said mentoring usually works best when there’s some kind of connection already between the woman and the girl. Fast forward to this past summer. I was hanging out at one of our REALity Check meetings, and one of our younger girls (she’s 11) started chatting with me. I learned more about soccer than I really wanted to know, but it was really fun talking with her. She was new to Get Real being so young, so I think she appreciated getting to know me a bit too. Over the next couple meetings, we chatted more and got to know each other a little more. It just so happens that I’ve known this girl’s mom for a few years now, as she had previously helped out with one of our big events. So we already had that connection, and now that the daughter and I had connected a few times, a mentoring relationship seems to be starting to form. In the last couple months, I’ve taken her to a local Youth Theater play, hung out with her at a local concert event, and gone to her ice skating show. She and I have similar aspects to our backgrounds, having both been raised in the church and Christian families. I find it’s nice to be with someone who shares that with me, and she’s just fun to hang out with too. Am I “officially” mentoring her? Not at this time, but that’s still a possibility. I’m currently working through how to move forward with this, and figuring out God’s direction. My schedule is quite full with my job and ministries I’m involved in, plus trying to schedule in some down time too, and I don’t want mentoring to be a “have to” but rather a “want to” - something that just naturally happens rather than forcing it. I appreciate the structure of a program like Get Real to provide us time to hang out together, and I hope we can continue building our relationship outside of those meetings too. Whether it’s called mentoring or discipleship, living out this idea is so vitally important! Looking back at my life, I’ve had so many people who have come alongside me and supported me, that I want to do the same for others. Everyone needs someone to encourage them and help them go through life, and we are called to do this by Jesus himself (see our posts on discipleship here and here for more on this). What are you doing in your life to sink into someone else? How are you walking through life with others in a mentoring or discipleship sort of relationship - whichever side of that you may be on?
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, December 7, 2014 0 comments
by Preston Hunteman A disciple by definition is one who follows a given teacher. In antiquity, if a 13-year-old Jewish boy wished to be a Rabbi one day, he had to become a disciple of a current Rabbi. It was the Rabbi’s choice to accept or decline the disciple. If the young boy was accepted then he would literally follow his Rabbi everywhere all day, from the time his Rabbi rose till the time he went to sleep. Today, disciples don’t follow their teachers everywhere, at least not to my knowledge. That would just be uncomfortable in today’s world. Often the disciple will meet with his teacher regularly. The disciple needs to see what he is being discipled for. As the common phrase goes “actions speak louder than words.” When the disciple hears what the teacher says and then see the teacher exhibit that action or behavior, the underlying message will stick more readily with the disciple. Ultimately Proverbs 27:17 rings true, and that when the teacher and the disciple are together they will sharpen each other. Growing up I was a disciple. I was blessed with a handful of wonderful mentors and teachers who took it upon themselves to train me. Each of my mentors had a different teaching style but I believe they worked together to help me create my views. Let me give you a very simple example of how I was discipled. I have been learning Biblical Hebrew for over 5 years now, and thus far I have found each of my Hebrew teachers write their Hebrew letters slightly differently. If you were to compare my Hebrew letters before I was being tutored and what they look like now, you will find some of my Hebrew letters are very similar to those of my teacher. I picked up on how my teacher wrote her Hebrew letters and I in turn tried to mimic that style. In today’s world, discipleship is greatly needed. Matthew 28:18-20 holds what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission. In that chapter of Matthew, Jesus is telling His disciples to go forth and make disciples. The one thing Jesus did not say was, “Make disciples until such and such year A.D.” This command was given with the context of an ongoing effect. The teaching styles vary from teacher to teacher, but the concepts are the same. Discipleship is a growing experience, which will take time. In Luke 6:40 it says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” I believe that everyone is a disciple and a teacher. We are all being taught and we are teaching all of those who watch us.