The Creationist

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 30, 2014 0 comments

by Bill Seng

We just wrapped up another session of Bible 101 and I remained in the lounge area and lingered as the same old questions filled my head. I thought that everyone had left, but then I heard a voice behind me, “So you like to hang out here when we’re all done?”

I turned around and it was Nick. I responded, “Not always. Normally I return to my room. But looking out these windows from this high up and looking down on the city relaxes me and helps me to think.”

“So what are you thinking about?”

“Nick, do you ever wonder about evolution?”

Nick grew noticeably excited about what I had just said. “You might say that. I have actually studied it quite a bit. Why do you ask?”

“I have this professor who seems to really hate what the Bible says about the creation of the world. I did a little bit of research on my own regarding the theory of evolution and right when I thought I found the answers to refute what he was saying, he destroyed my arguments.”

Nick, a little puzzled asked, “What did you read?”

“ID and Me.”

“I think I understand now. You know that the author of that book believes in evolution, right?”

“I do now. Unfortunately I didn’t know that someone who believes in the Bible could believe in evolution. It kind of confused me.”

“Yeah, I really don’t blame you. It confuses me as well. And that’s because the Bible and evolution do not fit together.”

I was a little frustrated. “I understand that, but it seems to me like we really have no evidence that trumps the evidence that is used for evolution.”

Nick got a mischievous grin on his face, “How old do you believe the world is?”

“I can’t remember for sure, but I believe that my professor said it is a couple billion years old.”

“Yeah… no.”

I was confused, “What do you mean?”

“This might surprise you, but if you read the Bible only for what it says you will see that the world is probably in the ballpark of 6,000 years old.”

“Oh come on, you really believe that? Where does it say in the Bible that the world is only 6,000 years old?”

“It doesn’t actually tell you the age of the earth, but it traces the genealogies of mankind starting from Adam onward. When you add up the genealogies you can get a good idea how old the earth is.”

I was perplexed, to say the least, “Okay, I think I have heard of this before but I didn’t think that anyone actually believed that stuff. I mean, there is so much evidence to prove that the earth is much older than that.”

“Oh yeah? Like what?”

“For one, fossils. Fossils prove that the world is at least millions of years old. And then you have the geologic column. Rocks are billions of years old. That’s not to mention the fact that if the world is only a few thousand years old, people would have been alive to see dinosaurs. If that’s true, wouldn’t we know what happened to the dinosaurs? And maybe the best evidence for the age of the earth is carbon dating. I mean, carbon dating pretty much proves that the world has to be billions of years old.”

“Ryan, we have a serious problem. The problem is that your professors have told you these things and you don’t even bother to question whether or not they are telling the truth about them. Now, let me ask you some questions. Is that fair?”

“Sure.”

“First, when did death enter the world?”

“I think that it has always existed. But I believe that spiritual death occurred when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, right?”

“You are half correct. If you read the Bible only for what it says, without allowing other people to tell you things that it does not say, you will notice that death itself entered the world when Adam and Eve ate the fruit. It does not call it ‘spiritual death.’ It refers to it is bare bones stone cold death.”

“But wait, Nick. Why has no one ever seen a dinosaur?” I thought for a moment. “Do you believe that the flood wiped them out?”

“No. If you read Genesis God preserved at least two of every kind of animal by placing them on the Ark. That would have included the dinosaurs.”

“Dinosaurs would have eaten the other animals though!”

“Not necessarily. This is the true problem that you have right now, and don’t take this personally: essentially, you have been brainwashed. You have been taught these things in school for so long that you believe them blindly. Think of it this way: For the first eighteen years of your life you have been wearing glasses that have been tinted green. What I have done is I am now telling you about roses that happen to be red and you just think that I am out of my mind. You only think I am crazy though because you cannot see red for what it really is. All you see are various shades of green. What I am doing is taking those glasses off of you.”

I was very skeptical. “How do you know that you are right?”

“Ryan, who do you think is telling the truth: your professor or God?”

“Can’t they both be telling the truth?”

“You are correct. They could both be telling the truth, but what your professor is saying directly contradicts the Word of God. Tell me, how long does your professor say it took for the earth to form before it was habitable for life?”

“I think a few billion years.”

“What does the Bible say?”

“Six days.”

“Okay, you can do the math. Who do you believe: the Bible or your professor?”

“I definitely see what you are saying now. And I suppose if God is powerful enough to create everything in billions of years he is certainly powerful enough to create everything in six days. I believe what the Bible says. But what about my other questions?”

“You are in luck, Ryan. I have some videos I want you to watch. Some of them are purely informational, others actually have debates between this creationist guy and college professors. I think you will like them especially with the classes you are taking.”
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Brain

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, April 29, 2014 4 comments

by Steve Risner

Ever put any thought into your brain? Strange question, right? The brain is arguably the most powerful super computer on the planet. It operates at extremely high levels while using relatively very small amounts of energy. The brain, brainstem, and spinal cord coordinate every function of your body every second of the day every day of your life. It doesn’t sleep. In fact, studies show us the brain is more active while we sleep than when we are awake. I thought taking a look at this marvelous structure would not only be interesting but also get you thinking about how amazing our Creator is and how absurd assuming this marvelous piece of anatomy we take for granted came about by random, undirected processes. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.

The brain weighs about 3 lbs. Your average laptop, which is much less productive than your brain, weighs between 5 and 7 lbs. This small but powerful computer will add 250,000 neurons per minute during early pregnancy and will continue to grow (at a slower rate) until about the age of 18 years. It will likely max out at about 100 billion neurons, each making 1,000 to 10,000 connections to other neurons. This is such an amazing network. Estimates for total brain capacity, in terms we use for hard drives, range from 3 to 100 terabytes of information! To make it a little more confusing, there are approximately 250 quadrillion connections in the brain. To further complicate it, each connection is not just an “on/off” sort of connection. There are different thresholds for different connections and the speed at which neurons fire plays a role, too. There are different cell types, as well, that do different things in the brain. There are different neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, axonal branches and dendritic spines, and that doesn’t include the influences of dendritic geometry, or the approximately 1 trillion glial cells which may or may not be important for neural information processing. Because the brain is nonlinear, and because it is so much larger than nearly all current computers, it seems likely that it functions in a completely different fashion.

This little computer will run your entire body using roughly 10-20 watts of power for the day. The average juice used by your laptop ranges from 15-50 watts per hour. Think about that for a moment! Your brain, which is coordinating digestion, your immune system, your endocrine system, your heart, lung, and vascular systems, your liver and kidneys, interpreting your 5 senses (which you are probably not aware of at the moment), muscle control of the eyes including your pupil and lens operation, interpreting what you’re reading and processing it, as well as thousands of other functions your body is performing right now, runs on hardly enough energy to power the computer you’re viewing this blog on for about 10 minutes—and this will run the brain all day! How amazing is that?

The human brain is, pound for pound, the largest brain of any animal on earth when compared to the rest of the body—accounting for about 2% of its weight and 20% of its oxygen consumption. The elephant’s brain is larger than a human’s but is about .15% of the animal’s body weight. These brains are also not put together the same way, making ours much more capable of complex calculations.

Your brain does not feel pain, but the coverings around it are exceptionally sensitive. On the subject of pain—many pain nerves actually travel more slowly than other nerves. There are different nerve fibers that send different types of information to the brain. Some send pressure sense. Others send temperature sense. Others are vibratory in nature. Some send impulses for proprioception (telling your brain where you are in space). Still others relay pain sensation or touch. There are many different types of nerves that send impulses at different speeds. Ever wonder why you grab, shake, or rub something when it hurts? The sensation of touch, pressure, or vibration will get to your brain first, essentially minimizing the amount of pain sense that can arrive at the brain. This is known as the “Pain Gate” theory. If you shove enough other stuff through the gate, the pain isn’t allowed in.

And this is just how marvelous the human brain is! There are many other organisms that have brains much smaller than ours that do amazing things. Have you ever watched a sparrow fly across your lawn at about 15 mph and stop instantly on the wire of a fence that’s 1/16 of an inch in diameter? How much calculation went into that act? Amazing! Or a cat leaping in the air to catch that sparrow as it darts across your lawn? To predict the speed, height, and trajectory of such a feat is breathtaking—and this happens all the time. If we were aware of ALL the work our brains were doing all the time, we’d be exhausted and wouldn’t be able to do anything else.

I hope this was informative and, if nothing else, interesting for you. The human brain is simply far more complex than could ever been dreamed. Believing it could have developed by some sort of series of accidental mistakes…well, how is that even conceivable?

Where did this amazing computer come from? Check out Psalm 139:13-16.
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Is There Truth in Other Religions?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 28, 2014 4 comments

by Katie Erickson

We have often said on this blog that Jesus is the Truth; in fact, He said it Himself in John 14:6: Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. When I say this, I am referring to the religion founded on Jesus Christ - Christianity. But what about other religions - Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc? Do those religions have truth, or are they completely based on falsehood?

It is truth that God made everything we see in this world, and it was good (Genesis 1:31). We do live in a fallen world, so creation is no longer perfect as it was originally. But what happens when we worship the creation that God made, rather than the Creator Himself? That distorts the truth. The truth is that creation is good and God made it; that truth is distorted when we worship the creation instead of God. This is one aspect of the religion of Wicca - worshipping nature as god, rather than worshipping God.

It is truth that a Messiah, a Savior for the world, was foretold as early as Genesis 3:15, and numerous other places throughout the Old Testament. Jesus Christ was (and is) that Messiah, because He fulfilled every single one of those prophecies. For example, it was foretold in Micah 5:2 that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Even though Jesus’ earthly parents lived in Nazareth, they were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born (Luke 2:4-7). It was prophesied in Psalm 34:20 that the messiah’s bones would not be broken. It was common for the legs of those being crucified to be broken, to speed up their death, but when the soldier went over to break Jesus’ legs, He was already dead (John 19:32-33). In Zechariah 12:10, it was prophesied that the messiah would be pierced, which was fulfilled in John 19:34. So, the truth is that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. The Jewish religion is based on the truth of the promised messiah, but it stops short of the whole truth. The Jews are still waiting for the messiah, but they miss the truth that He already came.

It is truth that there is one God, as in Deuteronomy 6:4, John 10:30, 1 Corinthians 8:6, and 1 Timothy 2:5. Islam is founded on the truth of one God as well, but it distorts that truth. The God of the Bible is a Trinity, meaning three distinct persons who are all part of one God. It’s a concept that our human brains cannot fully understand, and so it’s easier for us to just make it simpler - one God, and that’s it. But making God only one person is distorting the truth of the Bible, and the way that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit interact. While Islam recognizes the person of Jesus as a great prophet, it stops short of the truth and does not recognize Him as fully God as well.

It is truth that human beings were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). We were given the capability to understand, to learn, and to gain knowledge of the world around us. It is truth that we can be enlightened about how this world works through studying it with the brain God has given us. But, that is not our true purpose in life; our purpose is to worship God, serve God, and obey God - that is truth. A distortion of that truth occurs when knowledge, or enlightenment, is our sole goal and purpose in life, such as in Buddhism. While knowledge is not wrong, putting it above our Creator is a distortion of the truth.

While I am by no means an expert on any of these other religions, as you can see, they were all founded on truth. After all, everything that was created was done through Jesus Christ (John 1:3 and Colossians 1:15-17); even these other religions are out of that same foundation. Each of these religions has taken the Truth of Jesus Christ and either not quite gotten the whole picture, or distorted that truth in some way. While there are aspects to other religions that are true, they have major things that are not truth, so they cannot be trusted or relied on.

Where in your life have you started with truth, but then distorted it? Where in your life are you not living the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? I challenge you this week to examine truth in your own life, based on the authority of the Bible.
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Reboot

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 27, 2014 0 comments
by Loren Walz

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my computer just needs a reboot to get back up to speed and start functioning properly again. You see, I’m not always good at regularly closing applications on my computer, and shutting it down at the end of each day. Often, I leave multiple applications up and running non-stop, and never shut my computer down, let alone putting it to “sleep” mode for the night.

When my computer functions like this for a few weeks, I start to find that it no longer does what I want it to do - it somehow can’t handle even simple tasks like connecting to the Internet. In the worst of situations, I have to do a hard reboot and press the power button mid-task to close all the applications, and free up the processing power so my computer can do what I want it to.

I think my experience with computer is representative of the way we tend to live our lives. Often we have so many things going on in our lives that we are worn down, too busy processing too many things. We cut our rest short, plagued each evening by the many tasks on our to-do list floating around our head into the late hours of the evening. Our priorities get jumbled up, and eventually we forget to take the opportunity to pause and connect with God the Father. Sometimes we even forget how…

As we are lost in the midst of our personal chaos, often forgetting who our Almighty Creator is, He is still with us each day. Each day He longs for us to do one thing: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

It’s that simple. God’s Word says to “be still,” or shut down all the other things filling up our time, and then to “know that [He] is God,” or reconnect to Him.

Camp is a great place to be still and know that He is God. It’s a place to clear your mind of all the things that fill up each day, to reboot with fresh awareness of who God is, and reconnecting to the source of all love, strength, and mercy. Reboot your life and reconnect with God this summer at Camp Otyokwah.
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The Nail in the Coffin of Addiction

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 26, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

“It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

In previous weeks I touched on addictions and gave some key things to help you break free from addictions and addictive behavior. Once you taste the freedom from addiction, it is very easy to let your guard down, and fall back into the spiral downward. How do we put a nail in the coffin of addiction, once we have broken the physical and emotional hold it has over us?

The first key is to never assume that “sober” means we cannot be tempted. Although we know we can be tempted and feel the desire at times for those old behaviors, its easy to create an illusion of freedom where we fool ourselves into thinking those desires/temptations no longer exist. Usually, that is just before we find ourselves spiraling out of control again. It is foolish to ever let ourselves think we are invincible and untemptable. We should live our daily life vigilantly as if a temptation could come from any source – because it can. Living – not fearful, not defeated, but personally proactive to manage our focus, boundaries in relationships, and spiritual health to ensure we can trample any trigger/temptation with the power and authority of God through Jesus Christ.

That being said, then what is the nail in the coffin from the verse I shared at the beginning?

Paul is writing to early believers who are being manipulated and persuaded by a cult group of Jews. These “Judaisers” were telling non-Jewish early followers of Christ that they had to go through Jewish rituals (particularly circumcision) in order to be truly acceptable to God. Paul reminds them, that if they needed the religious rituals to be acceptable, there would be no point in following Jesus as Lord and Savior. It would be that something was lacking in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and His resurrection for us to live in relationship with God. What this cult was teaching was not only untrue, it made no sense when compared to the example of Jesus’ life and sacrifice. Jesus fulfilled the law, took the full brunt of the penalty for sin, and overcame death itself, so that we could live free from sin and death in Him and by His Holy Spirit.

So when Paul writes that it is for “freedom that we were set free,” that is significant, not just for our restoration of relationship with God, but also for us to remain free from addiction. We know addiction is bondage – slavery to desires and broken expectations, hurts and fears. Once the power and transforming work of Jesus begins to set us free, we are being FREED to live in FREEDOM – not expectation of law and judgment. His power can quench that inner turmoil and bring live to hurt and broken places, far better than any ritual or tactic we may try.

That final nail in the coffin where we lay our addiction to rest is in realizing God has no broken expectations over us, and neither should we have disappointment and shame for ourselves anymore. We were freed to be FREE and live FREE – and each step along the way the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will continue to remind us we are FREE – living in grace – and having compassion and grace for ourselves and others. Even if our addiction came from self-medicating a huge wound or past hurt that was inflicted on us, the freedom of no longer being a victim – but rather a survivor and overcomer – propels us into the uncertainty of freedom with excitement instead of fear.

Escaping the chaos of addiction can be terrifying at first, because for some it is all they have known. Freedom at first feels unhinged, unsafe, and we fear our own wildness and rebellion and brokenness in the new place. When we realize that God is not afraid of our wildness or ashamed of our brokenness, when we realize He wants to help us live away from the cycle of chaos and addiction, when we feel Him help us step over that first hurdle and then the next, we begin to remember our innocence as children and breathe the air of freedom again. And God takes our hand, and leads us once again with renewed innocence, confidence and trust in His power, and we find ourselves satisfied in Him – and FREE.
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The Armor of God: The Shield of Faith

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 25, 2014 5 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“In addition to all this, take up the Shield of Faith with which you can extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one” Ephesians 6:16.

This piece of the Armor of God is one of my favorites: The Shield of Faith. There is very little that describes what faith is and what it does better than a shield. Every soldier in an army depends on his shield to survive in battle. Today, our soldiers don’t carry shield, but they rely on a variety of types of cover that shields them from a rain of bullets from enemy forces. But in Paul’s time, a Roman soldier’s shield did so much more.

One Roman defense tactic is called “turtling.” What they did is that they would gather their soldiers tight together so that their shields would overlap each other. One row of soldiers would stand side by side with their shields covering the front of the regiment. Then another row of soldiers would stand behind with their shields angled upward, also overlapping the tops of the shields of the soldiers in front of them. This formation made the soldiers impervious to countless arrows. And when they moved forward as a unit, the enemy had a hard time breaking them up until they were in point blank range. One way enemy armies would get around that tactic is by lighting their arrows on fire. Most shields were made with a wood base and coated with bronze. This made the shields lighter and firm so they would not get bent out of shape throughout a battle. But this also made them weak to fire. A fiery arrow would pierce the bronze coating, light the inner wood on fire, and by the time the soldiers engaged sword-to-sword, their shields would be useless. So to counter this, the Romans would wrap their shields in leather and soak the leather in water. Leather retains water for a very long time and during a battle, the water-soaked leather would extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy.

So that is the historical background to the shield. A shield is often more important to a soldier than a sword. A sword in a hand does no good if the soldier is dead because of no shield. A soldier depends on the shield for his protection. He hides behind a shield because even though he does not know that the shield will hold, he trusts that it will. If he did not trust in that shield to cover him, he would not use the shield to hide behind.

And this is the concept of faith. With every attack a soldier endures, he cannot know in the future that the shield will protect him. But he has the confidence in the shield, in part due to past experience, that it will hold against the attacks he receives. As Christians, we have faith that is not blind or without evidence. Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as assurance of things hoped for, evidence of things unseen. I will say it again. Faith is not blind. I challenge you to look up how every other religion describes faith and you will find it described very similar to how the Bible describes it. Everyone exercises faith more than they realize. Just by reading this post, you exercised faith. You demonstrated a trust that the computer or phone you are reading this post on would pick the link up and upload this webpage in which you are reading this post. When you go to work or school every day, most people exercise faith that their car will start. You don’t actually know it will, but you have the assurance or confidence that it will. When you sit down on a chair, do you check it out to make sure all the screws are in or that it will hold you? Most don’t. They are exercising faith that the chair will hold them up. If the chair broke, then you have faith that is misplaced. But very few people understand faith in an object as a soldier has with his shield.

Those are very basic examples. But you also have faith in a person. You trust that what they say they will do, they will do. Even though you do not know they will, and that they could change their minds, you trust them to do what they say. Or you trust them to break their word in some cases. And here is a sad reality: many people, including Christians, will demonstrate more faith in Satan than in God. That’s quite a statement, but I find it to be true. Here is what I mean. We have more confidence, more assurance, that Satan will be successful in harming us, in harassing us, in defeating us, than we do in God to protect us, to deliver us, to rescue us, and to guide us to victory. We would rather look at the enemy, toss our shield to the side, and say “Just hit me and get this over with.” Why? One of the reasons is that we think our enemy is bigger than God. I know that sounds silly but how often do we seriously behave like that? I know I have. I’ve had times where I’ve felt that my problem is too big for God to deal with.

But we don’t have to stay that way. As Christians, we serve a God who specializes in the impossible. My life is living testimony of that. I should not have lived to see my first birthday, yet God showed up. I had no reading comprehension until I was 12 and yet now I am a regular blogger for Worldview Warriors and I am an author. (I will share the details of my first book being published when I conclude this series.) I was not expected to graduate from college, let alone attend. The list goes on. My life is living testimony that we serve a God who specializes in doing the impossible. The miracles of Jesus’ ministry? I’ve seen a number of them in action. And I’ve learned that no matter what the odds are, no matter how impossible the situation seems, no matter how big and powerful and numerous the enemy seems to be, when we face impossible odds, that is when we need to be bold and rise up with the war cry Chazak and Amats to prove to the world that our God is faithful. Because in our weaknesses, that is when God demonstrates his strength. Take up the Shield of Faith. Trust in the Lord. He knows what he is doing. And he will never fail.

Next week, I’ll be writing on the Helmet of Salvation.
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Kingdom of God - You Need to RSVP

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 24, 2014 3 comments

by Logan Ames

Editors Note: Just a reminder as you read this blog post, The Kingdom of God is not a place, an institution or a program. The Kingdom of God is a mindset, it’s a spiritual awakening, it is a lifestyle. Part of the RSVP that Logan is writing about that we need to accept, in this post is deciding to live out the Kingdom here on earth. Here and now. You Need To RSVP! Thanks for reading!

If you’ve ever received any type of formal invitation to any party or event, you probably saw somewhere on it a request for you to “RSVP”. Those letters are an abbreviation for a French phrase that I’m not even going to begin to try to spell or pronounce, but it will suffice to say that it essentially means, “Let us know whether or not you are coming”. Receiving the invitation is a big deal, but it’s not enough to get you into the party. Some action is required on your part. If you choose not to respond but show up anyway, there may not be room for you and you might be taking a spot away from someone who did RSVP. This probably won’t make the one who sent out the invitations very happy. If you say you are coming and then don’t, there might be an empty seat and whatever cost has been put forth on your behalf is wasted.

Matthew tells the story of one of Jesus’ parables in which he taught the chief priests and Pharisees (aka the most self-righteous people around) that “the kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son” (22:2). The “kingdom of heaven” is the phrase used all throughout Matthew because the Jews (Matthew was a Jew and also wrote primarily for a Jewish audience) considered the name of God so sacred that they felt it was wrong for mere men to even mention it. Keep in mind that Jesus is talking directly to Jews who thought they were better and more deserving of God’s favor than Gentiles simply because of their obedience to the Law. While they were wrong to think they were more deserving, the rest of the parable and many other Scripture passages certainly show that they were the first to be invited to the king’s wedding banquet.

I encourage you to read and study the rest of this parable in Matthew 22:1-14 because it is so rich. For now, I will point out some key parts that I happened to see. The king sends out the original invitations and then sends servants to those who had been invited, but they refuse to come to the party. The king, who longs to have them join him for the feast, sends more servants, this time to advertise that the “dinner is prepared and the oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered” (v. 4). Again they simply have to respond and come, but again they refuse. This time, several of the invited guests simply ignore the servants while the rest of them “seize, mistreat, and kill them” (v. 6). The king is obviously enraged and deploys an army to take out those who had tortured and killed his servants. Then he tells his living servants that the invited guests “did not deserve to come” and orders them to “go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you can find” (vv. 8-9). Eventually, the party is completely filled with guests from the street, “both good and bad” (v. 10).

You might be wondering what the meaning of this parable could be. I’d like to share what I believe God has revealed based on context and the surrounding parables. The “king” is of course our Father in heaven and the wedding banquet is heaven itself where we can celebrate with our Father forever. The invited guests are the Jews, the very people to whom Jesus is talking. The fact that they are invited first does not mean they are favored. What it means is that they were the first to know about the banquet. They were foretold of the kingdom that would come through the Messiah in the Old Testament and by the prophets, then were told by Jesus himself. But what was their response? They persecuted the prophets and then killed Jesus. All they had to do was RSVP to the greatest party of their lives, but they chose instead to mistreat those God had sent to them. This shows that they didn’t take the “king’s” invitation seriously and did not believe there would be consequences for their actions. They were wrong.

The consequence for not accepting God’s free invitation and for harming his servants was death! Their places at the banquet were taken by those off the streets who didn’t receive the initial invitations. The meaning of this portion of the parable can best be described by Paul’s words in Romans 1:16. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile”. The description of “good and bad” people isn’t about how Jesus himself viewed them. He was talking to Pharisees who believed they were “good” and Gentiles were “bad” and “unclean”. His point here was that they would be surprised to find that heaven would be filled with BOTH Jews and Gentiles, including those who did things they thought for sure would keep them out. At the end of the day, all that truly mattered was whether the invitation had been accepted, and those on the streets jumped at the chance to leave their present circumstances and join the king at his banquet table.

The Pharisees’ problem, like many today who “grow up in the church”, was thinking their spot at the banquet was set no matter how they responded to the invitation. The hard truth is that whatever you think you’ve done to DESERVE a place with the king, you’re wrong. The end of the parable explains that a man is at the banquet who is “not wearing wedding clothes” and cannot answer as to how he got into the party (vv. 11-12). The king orders him to be “tied hand and foot and thrown outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 13). Symbolic of the Pharisees and Jewish chief priests, the man was still clothed with his own self-righteousness and not the righteousness that comes by faith in Jesus. The other guests could have said they got in because of Christ and Christ alone, but this man had no answer. His self-righteousness might not have been able to be seen by the other guests, but it was noticed immediately by the KING when he walked into the party. The man’s consequence was eternal separation from God, which would always come with unimaginable sorrow and hopelessness. Whether you’ve grown up in a Christian home or not, please heed Jesus’ warning in this parable. He told it to the very people who needed it most. He did it out of love, not condemnation. Many in the Church need this warning today. Your good works alone will never earn you a spot in the “banquet”. You need to RSVP – and stick to it!
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Down But Not Out

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 23, 2014 3 comments

by Bill Seng

I was discouraged. I felt embarrassed and stupid. I had walked into Derkins’ office thinking that I had some really serious questions for him to consider and he essentially squashed me like a bug. Why did I still believe the Bible? Did I really have a genetic disposition that forced me to believe in God like evolution teaches? If God were not real, then why could I not stop believing in him? I had to seek answers. I returned to my room and consulted God.

“Lord, why did you let that happen? I thought this book might help me to defeat Derkins’ teachings. It didn’t and now he may be further from you than ever and I will not know how to save people from the lies that he teaches. I need you to speak to me. I need answers. If you are willing, I will find the answers.”

I paused and sat in silence. I reflected on everything that had happened at that meeting. Derkins was so confident of what he was saying and did not hesitate to answer my questions. But then I started to think about everyone else: Tim, Stacey, Stu, Ashley, Margaret, Nick, my teammates, the Radical Ministry team. These people were dear to me and I did not want them to fall for the same lies that Derkins was teaching. But most of all, I thought about Megan. What hurt had she previously experienced that caused her to be the way she is? Regardless, Derkins was definitely harming any faith she may have had left in God. If no one else was vulnerable to this man’s teachings, she was. I had to find the truth.

Finally, the Lord spoke in a still, quiet voice. I became immediately confused, but understood full well what was being said. I was reading the wrong book. I turned and saw my Bible resting beside my computer. I walked over and picked it up. I prayed, “Lord, show me what you want me to read and reveal to me what it is you want me to know.” I knew I had to read Genesis.

I opened my Bible and started reading from verse one onward: “In the beginning…” I read about the six days of creation, the creation of man, and then I read about the entrance of sin into the world. After reading about how the serpent deceived Adam and Eve I knew I had found my answer, but I still did not understand what that answer was. It had something to do with the book of Genesis. The problem I had was that there was no science presented in the Bible. How could Genesis hold the key to my predicament if it does not present anything to be considered scientific? Instead of dwelling on this question, I replied to God, “Lord, thank you for revealing this to me. I will wait patiently for it to become clearer. Amen.”
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Baton

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, April 22, 2014 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Recently, I was at a men’s conference in Columbus. The first night, we had a very powerful message spoken by 3 generations—a son, his father, and his grandfather. The grandfather, an 88-year-old preacher from Kentucky, told the story of his father who was a hard man who was drunk much of the time and was known for his violence. This is the sort of man this Kentucky preacher was growing up to be when he found Jesus at the age of 22. His life was radically changed immediately. Because of this event—meeting Jesus Christ—this man dramatically changed the destiny of his children, his children’s children, and their children. In fact, it’s impossible to know just how far reaching this one event will be but we know it will be for generations. We have a family of pastors now—three generations of them so far—who have emerged from the family line of a man whose life was turned around by Jesus Christ. The family curse of alcohol and violence was broken when this Kentucky man invited Jesus into his life. He chose, at that moment, to pass on something different to his children than what had been passed onto him. So my question to you is: what are you passing on to the next generation?

We’re all in a relay race—every last one of us. We’re carrying a baton right now that we’ll eventually hand off to the next generation. Now before you decide this isn’t for you—that you’ve already passed on your baton or you don’t have kids or whatever the excuse—let me stress that, regardless of who you are or where you are in life, you have something to offer to those who follow. Whether you choose to pass on good things or bad things is completely up to you. You see, that’s the great thing about carrying the baton right now. You get to choose what you pass on to the next runner. As the next runner, you have no say in what gets passed on to you, but as the one with the baton, you decide what you impart to those who follow.

If you read my blog from February 25th of this year, you’ll recall that the role of the father in the home is more influential than any other factor. If you didn’t get to read that, you can read it here. It’s true that the actions of fathers influence their kids’ decisions more than anything. But this doesn’t let the ladies or those men who aren’t fathers off the hook. We’re all passing on something. We all have people in the generation behind us that we’re pouring into. Are we pouring in good things or bad things?

We can choose to pour life and goodness into the next generation or we can choose to pour bitterness and dissatisfaction into them. Are you passing on integrity, honesty, and a good work ethic? Or is it more of doing what’s necessary to get ahead, lying if it benefits you, and doing the least amount of work necessary to collect a check? Are you passing on the idea of an honest day’s work for an honest wage or something more like an attitude of entitlement? Are you passing on honor and respect? What about alcohol and anger? Kindness and gratitude are in short supply these days. What a powerful thing to pass on to the next generation.

The truth is we’ll all pass something along. Most likely, we’ll pass several things along—good and bad. I encourage you to focus on passing on those things that are good and try to minimize those things that are negative. Pray for God’s guidance and start surrendering ALL of you to Jesus Christ. In so doing, you’ll allow Him to produce the best version of you possible. For some tips on doing this, read my blog from last week on Beachhead. It was eye opening for me. I hope it’s the same for you.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

The choice is yours today, to choose what you'll pass on to those that follow. You choose life and blessings or death and curses. With the power of the Holy Spirit, you can stand and say, “No! It stops with me.” You can break that family curse and refuse to pass those negative traits on to the next generation and join Joshua as he proclaims, “Choose this day Whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” --Joshua 24:15
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What is the Kingdom of God?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 21, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20b-21)

Based on that sentence spoken by Jesus, we can’t even observe this thing called the Kingdom of God, so what is it and what do we do with it? How do we know it’s actually in our midst like Jesus said, when it’s apparently unobservable?

The kingdom of God is not an earthly kingdom, like we would think of with a king and queen, knights, a castle, etc. God’s kingdom does have a king, however, and that King is God Himself. But He doesn’t rule over us like a tyrannical king would; instead His rule is one comprised completely of love. God rules over all people in earth, regardless of whether or not they acknowledge Him as the supreme Ruler, and whether they obey Him or not. (For more on how we can disobey God because of our free will, check out this post.)

So what do we do with the Kingdom of God? In last week’s post, I wrote about how the church isn’t a building or a place, but it is a gathering of people who are called by God. The function of the church is to build up and expand the Kingdom of God. Our mission as the church is to glorify God as our King by doing what He wants us to do. In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus said:

““You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

That is exactly how we live out the Kingdom of God on earth - through love. As I wrote earlier, God is a God of love, so His Kingdom is love. We live it out by first experiencing that love ourselves, and then by sharing that love with everyone.

How do we know that the Kingdom of God is in our midst, like Jesus said? Think of it like the wind. We can’t actually observe the wind since it’s invisible, but we can observe the effects of the wind. We can’t directly observe the Kingdom of God, but we can definitely observe its effects. God’s love shown through us is observable in many ways - helping someone in need, showing kindness to a stranger, and caring for others.

What are you doing in your life to show others that the Kingdom of God is truly in our midst? How do you observe the effects of God’s Kingdom around you?
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The Armor of God: The Feet of the Gospel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 18, 2014 0 comments

In continuing my series on the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, this week I will discuss the Feet of the Gospel. For quick reference, you can review my previous posts on The Belt of Truth and The Breastplate of Righteousness. The next piece of the Armor of God is having your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. There is quite a bit about this piece of Armor that seems so minor and yet is so critical.

As a competitive fencer with nearly 16 years of being involved in the sport, there is one thing I know is drilled more than any other thing: footwork. Why is this so important? It is your footwork that gets you where you need to be to make your attacks, to get out of an opponent’s attacking range, and positions you to move in and out as needed. What is more is that a fencer must be able to execute his/her footwork without thinking about it. Fencing is an incredibly fast sport. Scientifically speaking, out of every Olympic sport, there is only thing that moves faster than a fencing blade: the bullet out of a rifle. The electronic scoring machines can distinguish the different between a simultaneous hit where both fencers hit each other at the same time within a 1/25 of a second. No time to think about footwork at those kinds of speeds. We have to be able to think only about our opponent’s blade and our blade and train our bodies to move our feet automatically. And this is so true on a spiritual level. We need to train ourselves to be so familiar with who our God is, what the Bible says, and what he has done in our lives that we can easily move in and out and use what needs to be used in a particular situation by instinct.

What do I mean by all that? This is what Paul is talking about with the word ‘readiness’. Peter even mentions this in 1 Peter 3:15. We need to be ready to give an answer and know what we believe. What does it mean to be ready? As a fencer, readiness speaks of one thing: On Guard. For a fencer to be on guard, they need to be in a position that enables them to perform every basic move in the sport. To be on guard, means you need to have your feet positioned roughly under your shoulder blades so that you can advance forward easily or retreat quickly. If your feet are too far apart, you can’t move either direction. If they are too close together, it puts a nasty torque on your knees which makes you stand up, and an easy target. Being on guard means you have your body upright. If you lean backwards to avoid being hit, you still make yourself an easy target but you are off balance. If you lean forwards, you really don’t gain much reach, but it brings your shoulder so much closer to your opponent’s blade. Being on guard also means have your blade up and ready for action. Fencing has eight primary defensive parries and three basic attacks. All of these are able to be executed from the on guard position.

We need to be spiritually on guard. We have to be ready and anticipating needing to move on offense or defense. It is tiring to maintain a constant state of readiness. It is easy to drop our guard, especially when we don’t sense the enemy is going to do something. And that is exactly what the enemy is waiting on: for us to drop our guard. But beware. Even if we drop our guard, the enemy may not attack right away. A favorite attack I have seen the enemy do is to wait for us to drop our guard, move on for a while so we get comfortable with our guard down. Then he will wait until we get engaged in another battle, and then make his move. While we are occupied with one battle, he will come in and flank us from another direction. We must be alert and know how the enemy moves. He doesn’t change tactics, only how the tactics are packaged. Study the book of Nehemiah. You will find many of the enemy’s tactics used there. And we must be on guard and ready for whatever is thrown at us.

All this rests on the Gospel of Peace. I will do another post on the Gospel of Peace itself at another time, but we need to understand peace. Peace is often misunderstood as the absence of war. This is not so. You can have peace in the midst of war. It is a confidence in the God of Peace that no matter what circumstances we are going through, we know God has it under control. Peace in the midst of war can come from knowing the outcome before it arrives. We may lose some battles here and there, a skirmish here, a confrontation there, but in the overall grand scheme of things, we serve a God who has already told us how the Great War will end. We know the end of the book before we get there. God wins! No matter how dark and hopeless it may seem, God wins in the end. So why fear what the enemy can do? After all what can they do to us? Mock us? Ridicule us? Torture us? Kill us? As Christians, we have eternal life. The worst they can do is threaten us with heaven. So why fear them? We can have peace now because we know the end results. We win.

Have your feet set and ready to move with the Gospel of Peace. Train yourself to move fluidly by the instinct that God wants to train you with. Keep your guard up and be ready for anything that may come your way. The Gospel will carry you where you need to go, when you need to go, and position you to move in any way God needs you to. It will give you sure footing so that you do not slip. Have your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace.

Next week, look for my post on the Shield of Faith.
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The Church - Called Out, Cut to the Heart, and Convinced

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 17, 2014 0 comments

What does it take for you to admit that you are wrong? It usually depends on how far along you are in the process of growing and becoming like Christ. Jesus never admitted he was wrong because he never was, but he certainly exemplified humility in that he submitted to the will of the Father even when he desperately prayed at Gethsemane that the cup might be taken from him (Matthew 26:39). This meant that pride was not an option. He was humble and obedient to his Father’s plan. For you and I, pride usually gets in the way. To admit we are wrong is damaging to our egos. Maybe you’re okay with it and hearing someone else’s point of view causes you to admit that you could be wrong. Or maybe you’re like me and you pretty much need clear and convincing evidence before you’ll even consider surrendering your position. A third group of people are those who simply refuse to relinquish their pride, even when the proof that they are wrong is right in front of them. If you find yourself in that group, I challenge you to think about whether you can be part of the Church.

In Monday’s post, Katie talked about how the Church is those who are “called out” as separate from the world. We’ve talked before about how that group essentially started in the Old Testament with the Israelites. Abraham was “called out” from his father’s house and his homeland and was commanded to go to a land God would show him as that which would be promised to his descendants (Genesis 12:1-7). When those descendants were captive in Egypt, they were then “called out” and brought by faith and God’s daily provision to that Promised Land. After that, the entire Old Testament describes the reason why God did this for them – so that they would be a shining example among the nations. This is why God sometimes dealt so severely with their sins which polluted his Name. Nevertheless, he promises through the prophet Joel to restore them and “repay them for the years the locusts have eaten” (2:25), then promises to “pour out his Spirit on all people”, beginning with their sons and daughters (2:28). Finally, he says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” and that “there will be deliverance among the survivors whom the Lord calls” in Jerusalem (2:32).

So we’ve seen that the church is not only “called out” but also “calls on the name of the Lord”. What about this business of the pouring out of the Spirit? The Worldview Warriors team will be writing more about the Holy Spirit in July, but for now I’ll just tell you to look at Acts 2. In my opinion, this is the most important moment in the whole Bible for the Church. In this story, many Jews witness firsthand the fulfilling of the promise I shared above from Joel 2. It’s the day of Pentecost, an annual festival for the Jews that is held fifty days after the Passover. The entire Church, which Acts 1:15 tells us is about 120 people at that point, are together in one place when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. You can read about this dramatic event in vv. 2-13. As a crowd of Jews who had come from all over to celebrate the festival are trying to figure out what in the world is going on, Peter boldly proclaims to them that they are witnessing the fulfilling of the prophecy. He then does what he could not do the day before Christ was crucified – he stands up for Jesus! Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit, tells the Jews that they killed Jesus with the help of “wicked men” (aka Gentiles), but that God raised him from the dead (vv. 23-24). He explains to them using other Old Testament Scriptures that David prophesied about it as well.

Peter finishes his sermon by saying, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v. 36). How do you think you’d feel in that moment if you were those Jews? You’re being told and shown with unmistakable proof that you helped your enemies crucify your Messiah just a few months prior and that his promised Holy Spirit is now resting on those who believed him. You were so sure that Jesus was a blasphemer and a liar, but now you must either admit you were wrong or put on your blinders and continue your stubbornness, which would be considered lunacy at this point. The next verse tells us that the people were “cut to the heart” when they heard this, and simply asked what they should do about it (v. 37).

The rest of the story tells us how Peter challenged them to repent and be baptized, and how many of them did just that. I’ve talked a lot about repentance before, but it will suffice to simply say here that these people were convinced that they were wrong about Jesus, convinced that they needed their sins forgiven and that Jesus accomplished just that, and convinced that they were now “called out” away from the corrupt generation around them. Acts 2:41 says that “about three thousand were added to their number that day”. Wow! I’m reminded of what pastor and author Rick Warren said at a conference I attended 3 years ago. He said, “Because of the power of the Holy Spirit, on the first day of the Church, they had a mega church”. As current pastor of a small congregation, I long for something like this. I want to see unsaved people come from all over and repent and be baptized, but it can’t happen without the Holy Spirit, leaders who are willing to boldly declare truth, and people admitting they were wrong and Jesus is right.

It didn’t end there, friends. In the book of Acts, the realization of the promise of the Holy Spirit extends to Gentiles, which is really the beginning of the global Church in which you and I may participate to this day. Read Acts 10 on your own and see how Peter is obedient to the Spirit, goes to the home of a Gentile named Cornelius, and learns that God accepts all who fear him (v. 35). Cornelius and the other Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit, and a new “nation” of God’s chosen people is born. Today, we call this “the Church”. We have many differences, but we are united in our need for a Savior AND in our belief that Jesus was he. We are called out of a corrupt generation, cut to the heart when we realize the need to repent, and convinced that Jesus is Lord and that we don’t have all the answers. If you accept those terms, come join us.
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The Challenge

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4 comments

I was ready. I needed to talk to Dr. Derkins about the topics in this book. The author of ID and Me, Stanley Robe, exposed many crucial problems with a godless existence from a scientific perspective. After the next class I had with Derkins, I approached him so that I may ask him for some time to speak with him.

“Hi Dr. Derkins, my name is Ryan Carpenter.”

“Hello Ryan, what can I help you with.” Derkins seemed pleasant enough when I approached him. He had a joyful smile on his face and a warm demeanor, although I could tell he was in a hurry.

“I hope this doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, but I would like to have a discussion with you about God and science. I am a Christian and I have been studying the topic a little bit and would like to schedule a time with you where we could chat.”

Derkins demeanor slightly changed due to his confusion. “What is it specifically you want to talk about? Did I say something that offended you in class?”

“Actually, what I would really like to do is ask you some questions about evolution so that I could get some more thorough answers regarding why you believe what you believe.”

He seemed satisfied with my response. “Absolutely. What works best for you?”

“When’s the soonest you are free?”

“I don’t have anything going on right now. Want to come to my office? All I have going on right now are my regular office hours.”

“Sounds great.”

Derkins and I travelled up to his office. I was nervous because I did not know what to expect. He did not seem shaken by this challenge of mine at all. We entered the office and he offered me a seat.

“So, Ryan, you want to discuss God and science? What would you consider yourself, someone who believes in Intelligent Design, or a Creationist?”

I was slightly confused by the question. “I think a little bit of both.”

“Either way, I admire your willingness to discuss the topic with me. You seem like you must have an inquisitive mind. Are you preparing to be clergy, though?”

“No, I want to do something in the medical field.”

“Oh, fair enough. You said you have some questions? How about we get started? I know your time is valuable.”

“Certainly. First of all, I have read this book called ID and Me – “

“Oh yes, by Stanley Robe, right?”

“You’ve heard of it?”

“Well, I’ve heard of him.”

“Okay. One of the points he makes is that it seems as though the universe was designed to support life –

“The Anthropic Principle?”

“Exactly. Since you are familiar with the Anthropic principle, I’m going to summarize it and then ask my question. It basically states that the universe is so fine-tuned that if its variables were even slightly different from what they are right now, life would cease to exist. It appears as though the universe was designed to bring forth life and perhaps even humans to discover the mysteries of the universe. Are you aware of this and if so how can you explain this without God?”

“Yes, yes, I am definitely aware of this. In fact, I actually believe in the Anthropic principle to some extent. Except, you would say that the universe seems as though it was designed to accommodate our existence, but I see our existence as being the product of adaptation. I believe that life evolved to suit the conditions of the universe, not that the universe was designed to accommodate life. In other words, as life evolved it was molded to the conditions of the universe. This is how evolution works and it would not make sense for someone to say that life could not evolve due to harsh conditions. Evolution occurs in spite of these conditions. Does that make sense?”

I was not really expecting his answer. It actually did make sense to me. “Yes, that makes sense.”

“Good, next question.”

“You said that evolution occurs in spite of harsh conditions. However, can evolution occur in spite of the second law of thermodynamics?”

“There is a particular misconception about the second law of thermodynamics. That is the law of entropy - that all things in an orderly state decay into a less orderly state over time. It is true that this is universally acknowledged and is rightfully a scientific law. The misunderstanding comes when we consider the type of system that is the earth. It used to be thought that the earth was a closed system. A closed system is typically destroyed when energy is added. But earth is not a closed system. It is an open system. This means that the sun’s rays and other phenomena that exert energy upon it actually cause things to happen, to keep it simple. The energy is converted so that it can be used and that is why life emerged. The energy transferred to the earth somehow activated the necessary components that were necessary for life and, a few billion years later, here we are.”

My head was starting to hurt. This was not going the way that I planned. Derkins was apparently a very intelligent person who had thought these things out before we met.
“But what about the emergence of life itself? We know that life can only be created by life. This is called the law of biogenesis. Do you deny the reality of this law?”

“Personally, I would say that the law of biogenesis is more of a theory. The term law is only used because there is no known instance of it being contradicted. That does not mean that it has never been contradicted in the past. Besides, evolution is a slow moving process. It is possible that in earth’s existence, we may never see the evolution of non-life to life ever again. Since I believe that the earth and the universe are billions of years old, despite the fact that the likelihood of the emergence of life is low, life’s emergence would still be possible. Besides, I am left with one other known option to explain the origin of life and it does not even come close to registering on the radar of science. That of course is the special creation of life through a divine Creator.”

I was somewhat dumbfounded.

“You know Ryan, you might want to look up more information on Mr. Robe. You might find it surprising that despite the fact that he does not believe in what is known as Darwinian evolution, he still believes in evolution. Given that fact, I personally find it hard to take him seriously. He wants to argue against evolution when he knows as plain as day that it is real. I believe that people like him insert God into the equation when they cannot explain a scientific phenomenon. Instead of remaining patient so that the answers to their questions might emerge, they immediately retreat to the notion that ‘God did it and that is all I need to know.’”

I had to go. This was getting way too discouraging, especially after all of the work I had just put into reading my book. “Dr. Derkins, I would like to thank you for your time. You have given me a lot to think about. Maybe we can speak again sometime?”

“I would love to. I hope I answered your questions sufficiently.”

I looked up more information on Mr. Robe that night and surely enough, Derkins was correct. Thus far my efforts have been futile. Despite the fact that, to me, the arguments from both sides brought each other to a standstill, it troubled me that the ID position seemed to be accepting of the evolutionary theory. In that sense, what Derkins was saying seemed to be true that the ID crowd was inserting God when they were stumped on something. Regardless, I know that God is real. Even if I cannot find any solid evidence I know that God is real. I was missing something. I could feel it. There was a piece missing from the puzzle that would transform this debate that I was having with Derkins. Soon, I would find the missing piece.
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Beachhead

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, April 15, 2014 0 comments

A beachhead was something used late in WWII to reclaim the Pacific Islands taken by the Japanese. The Allied Forces would bomb the snot out of a section of the island at the shore and move in quickly, taking a small section of the beach. From here, they would relentlessly push and push and push until they expanded their influence to encompass the entire island. They would then move on to the next island and repeat the process.

Getting a strong foothold and never surrendering it back is critical. But a foothold is only a small piece of the island if you don’t keep fighting. I think there are two very important applications to focus on here: one is positive and one is negative.

We’ll address the negative first. Many of us know there are lots of things we do that are contrary to the life Christ has led us to. Some things a lot of Christians do that aren’t right would be gossiping, telling little white lies, cheating, if only a little, to get ahead, listening to trashy music or watching movies that are clearly not good for us, swearing, or angry outbursts. There are also lots of big things we need to try to be free from—substance addictions or even the occasional drinking binge, gluttony, lust or porn, etc. There are all sorts of things that work to build walls between us and God. Most of these things we are aware of and know we need to get rid. However, we hold on to them for very long periods. Most often, I believe, this is because of pride or our unwillingness to make Christ our Lord. If you make a list of negative things you’re doing that you know are not good for a personal progressive relationship with Christ, pick a habit or an activity or whatever and give it up. Surrender this thing to Christ, even if that means a slow and steady advancement to freedom. Once you’ve surrendered it totally, rejoice in that and move on to the next thing until you’ve conquered it. Then move on to the next one. If you feel it’s not too personal, tell a brother or sister in Christ about it so they can celebrate victory with you and possibly help keep you accountable.

The positive is equally important. We all are in a certain place in our relationship with Christ. Some have an acquaintance. Others have a deep meaningful relationship. But either way, we can take more ground if we work at it. Many of us know there are things we can do to enhance our relationship with Christ. A short list of things that would positively impact your spiritual depth would include: daily Bible reading, reading books about spiritual things, listening to Christian/worship music fairly often, dedicated prayer time, tithing, regular church attendance, participation in various meetings/things at church, being part of an accountability group… there’s a lot we can do. What you need to do is pick one—any one of these things—and start doing it. Once it seems you’ve totally surrendered all of it to the Lord, move on to another one. And keep going until your list is exhausted, if it ever gets there. Again, celebrate your victories with another believer.

We’re in process all the time. When we get saved, Christ accepts us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way. He calls us to a higher standard. But I don’t think He expects us to drop everything in the world and be a perfect being. We’re in process—we’re always working on something. He lets us know He doesn’t like this, so we should stop. He tells us He’d like us to start doing this, so we do it. Once we figure that out, He moves us to the next level and we keep advancing. So pick something negative to stop doing and fill that spot with something positive. Keep moving forward.
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What is the Church?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 14, 2014 0 comments

On Sunday mornings, do you go to church? Do you belong to a church? You’re probably thinking that “yes” is the right answer to both of these questions; if so, you need to change your thinking.

Like me, you may have been raised going to church every Sunday. You may have gone because you wanted to, or you may have gone because your parents made you. For me when I was young, I never really thought about why I went to church - I just went. But here’s the thing: church is not a place, it is people. Reggie McNeal writes in his book Missional Renaissance, “Church is not something outside of themselves that they go to or join or support; it’s something they are.”

The Biblical Greek word that’s often translated as church is “ekklesia” (pronounced ek-lay-SEE-ah). It comes from a root word meaning “to call out,” so the church is the people whom God has called. It means a gathering or assembly of people, not a building or a place.

The Apostle Paul uses ekklesia multiple times. For example, in Philemon 2 he writes, “…also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier —and to the church [ekklesia] that meets in your home.” In Colossians 4:15 he writes, “Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church [ekklesia] in her house.” In 1 Corinthians 10:32 he appears to consider the church similar to a race of people: “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church [ekklesia] of God.”

Do you see the church being a building or a place in any of those passages? I sure don’t. But that’s how many of us see the church - that place we go to on Sunday mornings, or that institution we support and are a part of. That’s not the Biblical definition of church at all; church is not a place, but an ekklesia - a gathering of people called by God. Yes, it helps to have a place for that gathering to happen, but the place is not the important part.

I am a part of the body of believers called the Catalyst Church in Findlay, Ohio. In case you’re not familiar with Findlay, we have a river through the city that floods pretty often. The building where the Catalyst meets is in the flood zone. In the seven years I’ve attended there, I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve had to get out of that building due to flooding, but it’s at least half a dozen times. We’re pretty efficient at packing and unpacking all our stuff, and needless to say we don’t keep a lot of extra things around! But here’s the thing - when we have to be out of our regular building for a month or so, the church doesn’t fall apart at all; in fact, it often gets stronger as we build stronger bonds with one another. Yes it can be a challenge with all the organizational details of being at a different location for a time, but the building is not what matters - the people are what’s important.

In contrast to that, back in 2003-2006 I attended a church group in Sylvania, OH. There came a point when that church had the opportunity to sell our land and building and merge with another church nearby. However, the majority of the people decided that the building was more important than furthering God’s Kingdom and investing in the people around us by joining with the other group. That body of believers is now very small, and not flourishing at all.

See what a difference it makes when we consider the church to be what it really is - an ekklesia, a gathering of people called by God - rather than just a building or a place where we go! I challenge you this week to consider what you believe the church is, and change your mindset to a Biblical one of people, not a place.
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The Armor of God: The Breastplate of Righteousness

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 11, 2014 2 comments

This is the second post of my series on the Armor of God. To refresh, the six pieces of the Armor of God are the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, Feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit. Last week, I wrote about The Belt of Truth. I wrote about how the Truth is our source of balance, what holds us together, and what carries our tools of our trades and our weapons of our warfare. This week, I will discuss the Breastplate of Righteousness. The context of the Armor of God is found in Ephesians 6:10-18.

So what is a Breastplate and what is Righteousness? Let us break that down. The Breastplate was a solid metal plate that covers the chest from frontal attacks. But too often, we tend to picture medieval knights with their full body armor that make them equivalent to walking tanks. This is not the image that Paul had. The Roman breastplate only covered the front. It did not cover the back. Why?

The smaller plate would deflect all but straight and piercing weapons. Arrows could only penetrate it if it was a straight on hit. Swords would have to hit straight on as well, but the swords the Romans used in battle and often faced were not often used for thrusting due to their fighting style and due to fragile bronze they were made of. Any straight-on attack would be handled by the shield, and that I will address later. The Breastplate was light-weight which enabled the soldier to be able to move with much greater speed and agility. They could cover more attacking distance and close in on the enemy quickly without tiring. A third reason is that the Romans did not intend for their soldiers to retreat from battle. They expected their backs to be covered by the soldier behind them who was also not retreated. And Paul makes this point by using this piece of armor: we are not called to run away from the spiritual battles we face. God does not send us out to war to lose. He sends us out to win. So instead of hunkering us down with armor to protect an area not meant to be exposed to the enemy, God gives us armor that protects what will be exposed and enables us to be quick and agile.

What does the Breastplate protect? By its name, the Breastplate protects our breast, namely our internal organs: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines, etc. The organs that keep our bodies functions. Without them, we die. But here is a very interesting fact. The organ with which we put the seat of our emotions is located here and is protected by the Breastplate. In western civilization, the seat of the emotions is the heart. What do I mean by the ‘seat of the emotions’? Love the Lord with all your heart… I love you with all my heart. My heart is not in it today. You’re breaking my heart. Create in me a clean heart, O God. It goes on and on. Everything that we associate with our emotions is represented by our heart. But other cultures don’t do it that way. Some of them use the kidneys. Some of them use the liver. The Old Testament uses the bowels. No matter which organ is used to represent our emotions, it is protected by the Breastplate. And what protects our emotions? The Bible says that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. That is because it did not have protection from the poison that is sin. But when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ covers our sin with his blood. What is more is that Isaiah 1:18 says “Though our sins are like scarlet, they will be whiter than snow, though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” Now get this. Our sin is red as scarlet or crimson. The Blood of Jesus covers us and that is red covering red. But did you know that if you look at a red object through a red lens, that object will appear white? When God looks at our sinful, wicked heart through the lens of the Blood of Jesus, our hearts appear pure and white. Just think about that for a minute.

Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sin. Jesus’ blood does more than cover our sin. It removes it. Ever tried to remove corrosion from your car battery? That corrosion is caused by the acids in the battery. To neutralize an acid, you need a basic material. This is covered in standard chemistry. When the acid and the base mix, you often get a substance that very easily washes off and leaves the battery clean. The same idea here. Christ’s blood mixes with our sin, detaches the sin from us, and washes off, leaving us with a clean heart. And the Breastplate of Righteousness then protects our clean heart from any further oncoming sin.

As we live in accordance to God’s commands, sin cannot affect us. I am not calling for legalism and rule-keeping. In several places in Scripture, it says Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as Righteousness. That is all it is. That is all it takes. Believe God and obey. All we have to do is believe God and act on what he says as though we know it to be true. That’s faith in a nutshell. Act on faith, believing that it will be so, even if what we hope for is not made manifest in our lives yet, and it will be credited to us as Righteousness. And it starts by believing in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, so that we may bear his righteousness. Then let us stand with that Righteousness on as our protection from that which seeks to lead our hearts astray and corrupt it. We do not have to live in sin any longer. Block it out by wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness.

Next week, I will discuss the Feet of the Gospel of Peace.
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Why does God allow suffering? Is it even the right question?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 10, 2014 0 comments

“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10b)

This rhetorical question was spoken by Job directly to his wife after he told her she was “talking like a foolish woman” for urging him to give up on his faith in God because of all the intense suffering he had experienced (vv. 9-10). Before we bash Job’s wife, let’s remember that she went through significant suffering as well. In Job 1, we read that Job, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, loses oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, servants, his house, and finally, all of his sons and daughters. All of those things would have been just as much of a loss for Job’s wife as it was for him. Then in Job 2, he is inflicted with painful sores all over his body. Who do you think probably had to try to help him through his condition? One could understand how his wife could arrive at a point of overwhelming grief, frustration, and even anger towards God.

You probably know people in your life who don’t want to believe in God because of how they feel he has failed in their tragic circumstances. One such person is at the very center of the plot of the fantastic new movie “God’s Not Dead”. If you’ve been one of those people yourself, you know what Job’s wife was going through. It probably made her angry that her husband could still be choosing to trust in God after everything he had allowed them to experience. I dare say that she may have even taken it to mean he didn’t really care about their lost children! But I believe Job’s point of view toward his suffering was determined by something greater than his momentary grief. Job 1:1 says that he was “blameless and upright” and that he “feared God and shunned evil”. To fear God is to know that you are NOT him, no matter how good life is or how comfortable you become in your wealth, power, and self-righteousness. Knowing that you are not God is knowing that you didn’t create yourself, which means you are not owed a thing!

Job was able to maintain his appropriate attitude toward God during his intense suffering that was unlike anything most of us experience mainly because he was active in developing it while life was good. Job 1:5 tells us that it was Job’s “regular custom” to offer daily burnt offerings to God just in case his children had sinned. Maintaining the faith when life is good is usually where you and I struggle. We take for granted each blessing and each day that is filled with good things and little or no trials. We assume tomorrow will come and that we will be blessed in it. If you read last week’s post, you know that James calls this “boasting”. Remembering that tomorrow is not guaranteed may not help us in dealing with today’s suffering, but it certainly should make us feel better about each day and blessing we receive because we understand that God didn’t owe it to us but loved us enough to give it anyway.

Many of the Jews in the New Testament had a misunderstanding of suffering. In Luke 13:1-5, we see a story in which Jesus is approached by some Jews who evidently believed that tragedy struck those whose sins were greater than their own. They specifically bring up Galileans who were slaughtered by Pontius Pilate while they were offering animal sacrifices. Jesus adds the example of eighteen people who died when a tower fell on them. While the Jews are standing around wondering how bad the deceased must have been that God would allow such suffering, Jesus simply warns them they would “all likewise perish” if they do not come to repentance. I’ll never forget a sermon I heard by notable author and pastor John Piper about this very passage. He challenged his hearers to think about more recent tragedies in our nation and world. For you and me today, maybe we think of the Malaysian flight that literally disappeared or the recent mudslides that led to a large number of lives lost in Washington. Piper said that the question we should be asking isn’t why all of these lives had to be lost, but rather why WE have been spared! This is the right question not because God doesn’t care about us, but because the consequence of sin is death and every day we are given is undeserved. Think about it, even right now as you read this. Is there anything you can do this day to guarantee yourself another one? No matter what security or technology is available to you, the answer is still NO.

While this writing may not have seemed encouraging or uplifting to you, my prayer is that it will cause you to want to dig deeper to understand all that God has given you and how gracious he has been to you. When we understand that and also come to know by faith what awaits us when this life is over, there is no better encouragement for daily living in my opinion. I’ll leave you with the words of one whose life was marked with suffering for the name of Jesus – the Apostle Paul. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Take some time to thank God today for all the good things he has given you, and then remember he is still the same God when suffering comes. Trust in him and do not lose heart because your troubles will be only a fraction of time compared to the eternal blessings that will come through faith in him!
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ID and Me

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 9, 2014 0 comments

ID and Me arrived in the mail the next day. I was so excited to start reading it because I knew that it held answers to some of my biggest questions concerning God and science. Immediately I unwrapped the book from its packaging, took it to the lounge area in our dormitory, and started to read.

“Too many people take it for granted that they know that the God of the universe loves them. Before I began my journey I held people who believed in God in contempt. God was nothing more than a hypothesis. He was not even that! He was something that someone thought up a long time ago to frighten their children from going outside into the dark or from running too fast, climbing trees, having sex, or being disobedient. The idea of God was laughable, but I was not laughing. “I was bitter. I would not say that I was full of hatred, but I certainly did not enjoy life. To me, life was about achievement. I was a hard worker and could definitely get the results I always desired. I went to the most prestigious schools and sparred with the most intelligent minds. Then one day, my life changed. I got married.

“I am not sure what my wife saw in me. I am convinced that maybe she enjoyed being around people that made her feel miserable. The only thing that disproves my conviction is that she was never miserable. In fact, there were days where I treated her like dirt and she continued to be her sweet old self. Granted, I was aware of her Christian faith before we got married, but really? I was a jerk, plain and simple. She was an angel that was showering me with grace.

“One day, she invited me to church with her. I had turned her down many times in the past, but it was Easter! I agreed because I thought it would make her feel special to be seen at church with her husband. I was in for quite the treat. The Pastor was cheerful and boisterous. He preached about the resurrection of Jesus, eternal life, and the life that God has called us all to live. What really disturbed me was that he truly believed what he was saying. First of all, I thought to myself, ‘how can he possibly believe what he is saying?” Second, I asked myself, “Why don’t you believe what he is saying?” Today, I question whether or not that second voice was the Holy Spirit.

“My answer to the second question was, ‘Well, science disproves the existence of God. And if not the existence of God, at least the necessity of God. If science can prove that, why should I believe what this man is saying?’ I stayed after church and spoke with my wife and then her pastor, and then some of the people from the congregation. I was thirsty for information. Finally, they directed me to a professor at Good Shepherd Seminary. It was there that I got many answers to the questions that troubled me.

“This book does not detail my journey from disbelief to belief, but it will answer the questions that troubled me most before I gave my life to Jesus. What you are about to read are ten interviews with renowned professors in the fields of science and theology that will challenge the philosophy of our day. If you are a skeptic and desire to remain that way, you might want to stop reading this book right now. If you truly want to challenge your blind faith in the material world continue reading and prepare to have your world turned upside down.”

I had a chill run down my spine. This was exactly what I was looking for. I could not wait to continue reading. Once I read this book from cover-to-cover I would be able to go toe-to-toe with Dr. Derkins.
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Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 7, 2014 2 comments

I would venture to say that this is the biggest question that many people have, both Christ followers and not. If God is so loving, why does He allow suffering in this world?

The easy answer is two words: free will. But what does that mean, and why?

Free will is the term for God allowing us, His creations, to make choices on our own. We are autonomous beings, and the God who created us does not control us. I enjoy knitting stuffed animals as a hobby, but when I create one, I still control it; it isn’t a living being that can make choices on its own. Not so with us! God created us to make our own decisions, right from the very beginning. God allowed the first humans, Adam and Eve, the choice between obeying Him and disobeying Him. He gave them one rule - don’t eat from this one particular tree (Genesis 2:16-17). They had the free will to choose what they did, so did they obey that one, single rule? Nope. You can read the full story in Genesis 3.

God is omniscient (all-knowing), so He knew ahead of time that at some point, His beloved Creation that was so good would disobey Him. So why did He even give them free will to begin with?

We know that God is a loving God, and in fact that God is love (1 John 4:7-21). There is no question in the Bible that God is good. God created us in His image, so that we could love Him. If God created us with no free will, with no choice, then we would love Him because that’s how we’re wired, not because we want to.

Have you ever seen young children get into a fight? When a parent intervenes and determines who the offending party was, it’s almost certain that they’ll say something like, “Now you say you’re sorry to her.” Does the kid do it? Yes, but usually his heart isn’t in it. He only says he’s sorry because he’s forced to, not because he truly is sorry.

That’s how it would be with us if God had not given us free will. We could only love God because we’re forced to, not because we want to. Just like with fighting children, love that’s forced isn’t really love at all. You wouldn’t want someone to love you only because they’re forced to, would you?

So free will has been explained, what about that question of why such a good, loving God allows suffering? God allows suffering because we choose to do things that cause it. Our free will allows us to make choices that disobey God, and we suffer the consequences for them. If you disobey the traffic rules choose to drive your car into another car, you will suffer the negative consequence of a smashed car and bodily injuries.

But what about bad things that happen to us, that we had no effect on? What if you’re the car that got run into, through no fault of your own?

That, too, is indirectly the result of a choice to disobey God. Before Adam and Eve sinned, creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). There was no death; no pain; no thorns and thistles even. When Adam and Eve sinned, the earth suffered the consequences too, along with humankind. Death and disease entered the world, and humans became susceptible to them.

But the fact remains that God is still good, even though His creation has been corrupted by evil. We humans have original sin, and we are continually suffering the consequences, until the day comes that those of us who believe in Jesus can join God in heaven forever.
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