It's election time, and the campaign mudslinging is in full effect. Candidates are debating the values and plans of one another, and many are soaking up every report, update, posting, and carefully edited and slanted video.
I have noticed that this kind of behavior is rampant in our culture. People will wait till they have a "green light" to criticize someone else. All it takes is for someone to say something negative about someone else, and then the floodgates open. The president, senators, representatives, even our spouses and friends are all fair game. Oh, and so is the person on Facebook, who says something we don't like but can't avoid. It's sad really how flippant we are as a culture.
Is this healthy for us and for those around us? What does God think of all this chatter and character assassination? Read Romans 13:1-7.
My blog post this week is simply going to ask:
by Nathan Buck
- Are you talking about or rebelling against others in what you are saying or doing?
- Are you praying for those you are criticizing, and with a hope for their growth and success?
- Do those in authority get your support, or your resistance? What would our relationships look like, and how might our influence in society change, if we did what's written in this passage? When we withhold love, honor, respect, and submission from those in authority, we contribute to the mess we tend to blame them for. What is one specific step you can take to start unraveling the rebellious nature of our society?
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In a sermon by Eric Ludy called “The Most Unlikely Heroes,” I learned of a book titled The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein. This book is an analysis of our young adult generation and those coming up behind them. Ludy highlights the major points that Bauerlein makes and assuming Ludy’s portrayal of the points are accurate, I have to agree. The current young generation, the new adults that have grown in dependence upon modern technology, have access to the greatest technological achievements man has made and yet are in the worst possible state for living wise, productive lives that have been noticed throughout history. Please note that I consider myself right at the front of this generation (age-wise). So this applies to myself. What am I getting at? Let’s take a look.
In the US today, according to Bauerlein, 75% of the 18-24 year-olds are physically, mentally, and educationally ineligible to join the military. 75%. Three out of four. For reasons like obesity, incompetence (lack of education), lack of acute hearing, and other issues. Bauerlien also addresses several issues that are unique to this generation that was never seen before. What kind of issues? They are bibliophobes, scared of books. They are completely addicted to devices: TVs, games, cell phones, etc. They don’t know how to act in the real world without them. They are totally spineless. There are very few warriors who will rise up and stand for something greater than themselves or for a cause that is not exclusively for their desired benefit. But here is the one that boils my blood the most, and I say this knowing that I am right at the front of this generation and could be classified in this range that Bauerlein is addressing. This one point is that no generation ever has been more prone to betray mentors and teachers than any other in history.
Betrayal of mentors and teachers. A hatred for authority where the person will only listen for what they can get out of it. Once accountability starts playing a role or when they think they know enough to go on their own, they will just as quickly back-stab those who have fed them. We have a generation that thinks they know how to run things better than the generation before them. There is a total disregard for the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before them. And as Ludy describes it: “This behavior is DESPICABLE!”
Why is our young generation like this? Bauerlien seems to connect it to the dependence upon technology, but I think there is a much deeper reason. There is a very unique gap between this generation and the previous one. Never before has there been such a technological jump between two generations where how one generation lives is totally different compared to how the generation before them lived. The generations that fought in WWII and Vietnam had things like telephones, TVs, radios, and cars, and this generation is when the interstate system became heavily used. This young adult generation today grew up with cell phones, fast food service, instant meals, ready mobility, social media, and computers. The previous generation was still learning how to use computers. I personally grew up with an Apple II GS, one of the first computers with a color monitor. My mom has learned how to use a computer but is no expert. My dad, who grew up in the mountains of Colorado without as much as indoor plumbing until he was seven years old, is very technologically challenged. That is how separate these two generations are.
The technological difference between these generations has in part led to an attitude that the older generation is not as smart because they can’t use the technology the younger generation grew up with to the same extent. But technology is not the only issue here. Let us look back to this previous generation, the one that was predominate during Vietnam. What happened during those decades? We saw Spuntnik launched into the upper atmosphere. We saw the removal of prayer from public school in 1962. We saw a lot of social rebellion, both in a good way with MLK Jr’s peaceful protests and in a bad way with Woodstock (the icon of the Hippie movement) and the protests against Vietnam. This is also the time period when abortion was legalized in 1973. This time period sowed seeds of rebellion and now we are seeing the product.
Galatians 6:7 is important to understand: “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. A man will reap what he sows.” Two key things to grasp here. 1). This applies to both good things and bad things. 2). You will reap what you sow, you will reap more than you sow, and you will reap it later than when you sowed.
The generation before this one lived a time of rebellion against the authorities and thought they could go about doing whatever they wanted. And that attitude is what the current generation observed as they grew into adulthood and have picked it up. But it gets worse. This rebellious generation from the 60s and 70s have pressed the rebellion, trying to enforce it. What do I mean? We have psychologists that determined it was not profitable for a child to be disciplined because it would harm their identity and personality. Parents can’t set their kids straight anymore. Schools are encouraging illicit behavior by establishing peer-pressure systems (enabling bullying), encouraging sexual behavior (with sex education and passing out condoms etc). I can go on and on with what is wrong with this generation, but take note that “disobedience to parents” is one of the things Paul lists as a sign of the generation of the End Times.
What can we do about this? Steve Risner wrote a spectacular post about the need for Fathers in the family. Many of the problems we see today can be traced to the lack of a Biblical fatherly figure in the home. Either the father is missing entirely or he is present but not effective because of either working 80+ hours/week, or abdicating his role of being the authority figure. Look at how the media has portrayed fathers in the last 20-30 years. Bernstein Bears, Home Improvement, football commercials, modern sitcoms, etc. The mom is depicted as the sane, stable person and the dad is deemed a total dunce. If this is the model, should we not be surprised when our youth rebel against them?
Ultimately, this mentality is a reflection of a generation’s attitude towards God. There is no respect for any position of authority that is God-ordained: the father, the church, and the government. Regardless of who is in that position, it is the position that needs to be honored. Paul tells us this in Romans 13:1-7 and the Emperor at the time was Nero, one of the most godless dictators ever. We need to respect the authorities God has put in our lives, because that is respecting God.
Let me wrap up with how Ludy wraps up his sermon: This is the status of the generation we are in. Don’t let this be our title. Let God show himself mighty by using this generation in ways we could only hope to imagine. God has always loved to use the weak, the uneducated, the poor. Today, we have the “Dumbest Generation” ever. The very type of people God loves to use. Let him use you. Surrender to him and obey him. He’ll put you to you use and it will be good. And being part of this generation, I can say for certain that he has used me where every expert who has had a look at me and said I would never amount to much. God had other plans. And they are good plans. Do the job God intended for you to do. Stop rebelling and stop betraying the mentors God has placed over you. They are there for a reason. I am grateful for the teachers I have had. They have helped guide me to where I am today. Perfect? By no means, but they sought the best for me. I don’t want to be one that betrays the hands the feeds me. I’ve seen the harm this betrayal does personally and no good comes of it. Let us not be part of this title.
by Charlie Wolcott
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This is part 2 of “Love of the Bible.” I encourage you to read part 1 before getting into this one.
Moving on, we find that Tyler is, again, bashing Ken Ham. It's getting a little creepy. He's a bit obsessed, I guess. He oddly remarks that he's going to get into a 15-year-old article written by Ham. He seems to think 15 years is old and that for some reason evolutionists don't hang on to old things. He (Tyler) believes in a “scientific” idea debunked by Redi and Pasteur hundreds of years ago, so who's behind here? But he then quotes Ken Ham writing something that is spot on.
My paraphrase: Can you use the Bible alone and come up with millions of years? Absolutely not.
I guess this is one of those “old” arguments that just won't go away… because it's right. The truth doesn't have an expiration date. Genesis is written in a form that requires it to be read as historical. The language is clear. There is no reason or way to make it say something other than what it says. Tyler has first bought secularism and its ideas and has secondly tried to misrepresent the teachings of Scripture in a biased and slanted way to fit into the secular ideas he's apparently bonded with.
Now this is where the smoke and mirrors are thrown in to dazzle you and make you believe that the Bible is anti-science. The Bible doesn't tell us about earth's orbit (although it does tell us it's suspended on nothing and is a sphere). The Bible can't be used to make a microwave oven, a satellite dish, or do heart transplants. But the origins topic isn't any of these things. The origins topic is a topic very specifically talked about in Genesis, Exodus, many of the Psalms and prophets, as well as in the New Testament. But he uses very common atheist arguments against the Bible's reading (his friend, mind you) to make his point. The Bible doesn't necessarily say the earth is flat. It does use terms that seem to indicate the sun rises and sets, however. But don't we, the uber smart people of the 21st century, do the same thing? We talk like the earth is flat and like the sun comes up and goes down every day. So what? He's using a bait and switch type argument here and it's not very classy. He goes on about the Bible not giving us the diameter of the universe (which, uh, we don't know), black holes, and a bunch of other totally unrelated things. The Bible doesn't give us a recipe for rice crispy treats (unless, according to Tim Hawkins, you're reading the Message Bible) or a good formula for high quality gasoline either. However, this doesn't do anything for Tyler's argument.
Why is he trying to associate whatever randomly pops into his head with the authority of Scripture? I think it's because he's trying to make it look like Biblical creationists are inconsistent when, in fact, he is just nonsensical. He states the moon is not a light source—another atheist argument. To us, the moon does give light upon the Earth. The fact that it does so by reflection rather than emission is not relevant to the biblical passage. And a study of the words used in the passage he's talking about (Genesis 1:15) reveal the words used can mean to become light or to be lit up. Either way, it's a terrible argument atheists use to discredit the Bible, and this is exactly what Tyler is doing. I'm always a little uneasy about believers who join with atheists to fight against their fellow believers. In this case, he's joining with atheists to not just bash a believer but to bash the Bible (his friend that he loves so much).
Tyler gives several of these fallacious examples and then concludes “using the exact same argument” you can use the Bible to disprove anything. The trouble is it's not the exact same argument at all. We commonly see this type of argument from those who don't believe the Bible. It's called equivocation. They love to do this with “evolution” and “science” as well as calling any sort of change in anything in biological “evolution” and then say this is the same as molecules to man evolution. It’s a tactic of deceit.
He then states, “The problem is not in the interpretation of the science.” Sure it is. We have a Book that speaks fairly clearly on the subject. We have nature, often called a book, that we can also “read.” One is clear and intended to give us direct communication. The other is not so clear and is often misunderstood. Tell me which one is more likely to be misinterpreted? He tries to say Biblical creationists read the Bible like a science book. That's not really true. It's not a science book. It's a love letter generated by the mind of God. But found within it, we can trust whatever it says about history, science, psychology, society, human nature, etc. It's a pretty remarkable Book, indeed. He further states that we “...read the Bible in a way that it simply was not meant to be read.” This, to me, seems to assume a lot. Apparently, God has told him how He wanted the Bible to be read and we're doing it improperly, although the message is clear. I'll just leave that statement of his for you to ponder.
So Tyler begins to wrap up his blog post by saying the Biblical authors didn't know this or that about science (I would argue we still don't know much about any of the things he's listed) and then tells us exactly why his entire argument is bogus: why would they? The Holy Spirit must not have felt they needed to know these things. However, He did feel we needed to know a very detailed account of the creation event. Why doubt Him? Why not “take God at His Word” as Tyler mocked?
In an unexpected turn, Tyler then laughably states that science tells us “how” these things (biological origins of man and so forth) happened! Can you believe it? They never tell you “how” any of this stuff happened. When pressed, they generally tell you “why” it happened. They have no idea how any of it came about. It's one of the greatest examples of the emperor having no clothes in the history of science.
“It doesn’t take a 'highly respected world-class Hebrew scholar' to tell you which one is a proper use of the text, and which one isn’t.” Well, actually, sometimes it does. But in the case of Genesis 1-8, my 10-year-old can tell you what the text says and likely why. Do you find it odd that Tyler hangs on the authority of scientists who clearly disagree with the Bible but when the authority of a scholar whose specialty is Hebrew is sought after for a clearer Biblical understanding, he's opposed? Why use a scientist to clarify the Bible for you when you can use a Hebrew scholar? Why accept what a scientist says first and then distort the Bible to fit that incorrect assessment of the data?
The beauty we find in the creation account is that it tells us how God, in His majesty, created the universe and everything in it. But it also tells us why He did it. It tells of His indescribable glory, grace, love, and brilliance. Tyler thinks God's love is demonstrated in Darwinian evolution. This is one of the most absurd things I've ever encountered. God's love is found in the creation of man and in the redemption of man. Those two events are the single greatest demonstrations of love in the history of the universe (about 6000 years or so).
In short, don't ever believe for a second that science and Christianity are at odds. They never have been and never will be. In fact, science has progressed as it has because of creationists, not in spite of them. There's no way around this for the skeptic.
by Steve Risner
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Recently, a friend of mine posted on Facebook a video of Bishop T.D. Jakes talking about his 5 Steps to Happiness on The Steve Harvey Show. I decided to watch it hoping there would be some mention of the Lord within those steps but knowing that many people don’t want to hear about how their relationship with the Lord or lack thereof affects their daily lives. Fortunately, at least in this case, Bishop Jakes did not neglect the truth. When it came to his point about making relationships count, he declared that one’s relationship with God must come first. What’s the advantage, you ask? According to Bishop Jakes, you can know that you don’t have to bear the burden of “everything that’s going on in your life” and can just go “talk to the Boss”! It is important to know who is in charge and to recognize that authority. Without it, we can easily be overwhelmed.
Do you recognize that God is BOSS in your life? I mean, your answer to that question really doesn’t affect whether he is or isn’t. It only affects how you choose to live. You are either ignorant of that truth or accepting of it. But when Bishop Jakes stated that we can go speak to the Boss, he didn’t say “your” boss. He said “the” Boss. God is sovereign over all things and all people whether we admit it or not. When you get sucked into all the media coverage regarding who may or may not be in the presidential election that is still over a year out, God is still the true Boss. When you think he clearly doesn’t have a clue how he is running this planet, God is still sovereign. When you think you could do better, God is still in control.
In Romans 13:1-7, the Apostle Paul addresses the reality that God is over everything and how that should be evident in our lives. Specifically, he explains how God is above all governing authorities. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (verse 1). That phrase “established by God” is critical. Paul is telling us that this is the way we need to view the governing authorities, including the ones we don’t like. No matter what they are doing and what our feelings are about it, we are to be subject to them. In a democracy such as the United States of America, we recognize that WE play at least some part in the governing process and should take that role very seriously. As Election Day approaches next Tuesday, consider the candidates and issues up for a vote in your community.
Because God establishes all governing authorities, we certainly have to recognize that those who have been established have a lot of responsibility as servants of the Boss. Because in the democratic process we are, to some extent, both the authority and the ones subjected to it, we must contemplate how we serve the Lord in each role. This means we should not be voting based on our own personal desires alone, but also on what we believe the Lord wants to establish. Obviously, this means we ought to be in prayer for the direction of our nation rather than pushing an agenda or complaining about what we don’t like. It also means that we must be willing to accept when God chooses to establish something we didn’t want. In addition, it means that persons who are given a title that grants them some level of authority must consider how they are going to serve the Lord through their position. If God established the authorities, that means he is the Authority over the authorities.
Paul says that rebelling against the governing authorities is to bring judgment on oneself that is the same as having rebelled against God (verse 2). This means, in America, that we must submit to the authority of those elected, but they must also submit to our authority to overthrow them if they are rebelling against the will of the people. In countries ruled by non-elected officials, the people are commanded to be subject to the rulers. However, even there the rulers do not get a free pass. If they are “established by God,” they have a responsibility to serve him and will be judged as such if they do not.
A perfect example of this is the ruthlessness of King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in the Old Testament. Take a minute to read Jeremiah 29:4-14, and then skip to the next chapter and read 30:16-24. Everyone loves to quote Jeremiah 29:11 which speaks of God’s plans to “prosper” us and “give us hope and a future.” Yet, we forget that just before that God told the captive Israelites in Babylon that they would be there for 70 years! When they were waiting for God to help them overthrow the horrible governing authority, God commanded them to “pray for it” (Jeremiah 29:7). They were basically told to get used to it! The Babylonians did a lot of horrible and even unspeakable things to the people of Israel as God used them as Israel’s punishment for their sins. However, God’s promise to them in the next chapter is that they would not need to worry about justice or revenge because those who oppressed them and devoured them would get what’s coming to them from God himself.
Paul’s words in Romans and a quick look at Israel’s history show us that we must pray for the authorities and respect them even when we would rather hate them and when we don’t understand why God would allow them to be in power. These words also reveal the responsibility that the authorities carry as those “established by God.” If the rulers fail to recognize the true Authority over them, they will be destroyed. With that in mind, how are you doing with this? How is your attitude toward the governing authorities you don’t like? As a member of the people, and therefore a part of the governing authority in this country, do you recognize God as your ultimate Boss? If you claim to be a follower of God’s Word and you see what Paul writes in this passage, then a view that “the people” don’t have a collective responsibility to honor the one, true God would not be consistent with your faith. It may be a popular view today, but it’s not the truth of a people whose authority is “established by God.” I encourage you to examine your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes as they relate to that phrase. Let it guide you in both your authority and your service.
by Logan Ames
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” ~Matthew 5:11-12
October 1, 2015. If ever a day should exist that politicians in power were to stand against genuine bigoted hatred, that day has come and gone. A shooter at Umpqua Community College, in the state of Oregon, demanded to know the faith affiliation of the classroom he terrorized. If the respondents said “Christian,” they were executed. What an opportunity for our President to stand up and say, “This blind hatred for Christians, that is displayed across the world, ends today.” Instead, the Church is treated as though she is the oppressive force in the world. It is as if attempting to live according to the standards of Jesus Christ is oppressive. What gives?
It is written that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Those who follow after Christ, striving to be conformed to his image, are innocent. Today, they also stand defenseless as the once great United States of America has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to those who made her very existence great. Satan is on the prowl. He has corrupted the minds of those in power to believe that those who are taught not even to be angry with their brothers and sisters are hate-filled murderers. Such a deception can only be attributed to the work of Satan who promotes lies and injustice.
Even so, we are called to a higher standard. Where people of other religions would demand the heads of their oppressors, we fight for their hearts. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
A few months back, a young man walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and started shooting. Nine were killed. Politicians and the media alike were frothing at the mouth as they had a wonderful narrative to force their agenda in a powerful way. “Young white racist male slaughters congregants at an African American Church with a gun.” To stir things up, they went to the surviving church members to ask them what they thought, hoping for a witty catch phrase like, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” or “I can’t breathe!” that would launch their community into riots on the street. What they got was a dose of Jesus. The church did the unthinkable and forgave the shooter, totally void of malice. The mainstream’s jaw fell through the floor.
Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice. The hate is undeniable. Jesus will be recognized. This is our call of duty. Now is the time to carry out the message of reconciliation through forgiveness. If we respond in anger, we will be seen exactly how the world wants to see us. If we respond in love and action, people will see Jesus.
by Bill Seng
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
by Katie Erickson
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1-7) If you like to obey the authorities, raise your hand! Is your hand raised? My guess is probably not. We as humans tend to have a problem with authority over us. We would often prefer to be the authority and boss other people around, rather than be bossed around by someone else. We like to set our own rules and do what we want to do, when we want to do it. But, if you’ve tried that approach to life, my guess is you’ve realized that it can often backfire on you. There is often someone who has gone before you and knows better that you choose not to listen to because you think you know better. (If it’s been awhile since your teenage years, think back to them and I’m sure these feelings will come back to you!) As followers of Jesus, we are called to submit to God and be obedient to Him. We do this because of His great love for us, and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. All He wants in return for the great gift of salvation by grace through faith is our love and obedience to Him. But what about obeying earthly authorities, such as your local or national government? Here in this passage, Paul explains that we must submit to them too, just as we would submit to God. Why? Because God has appointed those people to rule over us, so in a sense they are God’s liaisons. If that isn’t enough for you, it also says that if you disobey, you’ll be punished by God - and having the God of the universe punish you should definitely strike fear into your heart! At first glance, this section appears to be a rabbit trail from what we had just been discussing in Romans 12. Just previously, Paul had been writing about how we live out our lives in love, so what does this section about governing authorities have to do with that? A lot, actually. Early Christians in the first century, which is when Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, took avoiding worldly things to the extreme. Remember back in Romans 12:2 how Paul encouraged them to not be conformed to the ways of this world? That is extremely important, but not to the extent of not following the rules that have been set up for us in this world. The early Christians had decided that they didn’t have to follow the rules, because they’re only under God and not mankind. Paul counters this idea by saying that all of the governing officials were appointed by God to keep order in this world. That, in fact, is a good thing! “Not conforming” does not mean not following the government rules that God has put in place. So who are these authorities that we’re supposed to follow? They can be anyone from your local mayor or other city officials up to the president of the United States. These authorities are all called to be God’s servants, just as we are all God’s servants. If we disobey God’s servants, we are disobeying God. Public leaders are in place to serve God’s purposes and keep order to this world. Our attitude is important, not just our outward act of obedience. We’re encouraged in verse 7 to obey the authorities with respect and honor, which we do by doing what they ask, such as paying taxes. We may not enjoy paying taxes, but we need to do it because it fulfills a purpose of society and keeps order to our cities and towns. Even if our leaders do not appear to be following Christ with the same enthusiasm that we might be, it is still important to respect them and pray for them, so that they may draw closer to God and truly be His servants here on earth.
by Jason DeZurik A Definition of Terms Note: This is the beginning of a series of posts entitled: The United States: A Unique Endeavor As we’ve been going through the book of Romans all year at Worldview Warriors, I knew this day would come when we would get to Romans 13. It’s a very important chapter, as the entire book is important, but this chapter truly is unique, especially if you are a citizen of the United States of America. This chapter starts out with a very powerful verse: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” – Romans 13:1 As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to be subject to the government put into place by God. So, if you have been placed under a monarchy, this is the governing authority you are to follow. If you’re placed in a democracy, then this is what you are to be subject to. Even a dictatorship; if you are under that sort of rule, well, you are subject to that governing authority that has been placed there. (I will not spend time in this writing regarding lawful and unlawful rules but suffice it to say, in my humble opinion, that Scripture does leave open the door for Christ’s followers to stand up against things that go against God and His ways as well. This will be for another time though.) In the United States of America, we have been given a very unique responsibility and place in our government. I believe that the terms set forth in Romans 13 must be defined in order for its citizens to understand what this text is saying for our time and our culture. Without reading into the text and making it what one wants it to say, let’s just take a look at two terms from Romans 13 that I believe need to be defined. Those terms are “governing authorities” and “servants.” Who would be the “governing authorities” in the United States of America? Well, it’s really not difficult to figure out when one takes a look at our founding documents. The U.S. Constitution’s preamble makes it quite clear, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Did you see it? That’s right. “We the people.” We The People = governing authorities. The next term we need to define is “servants.”
Who are the servants in our form of government? When I was in middle school and high school, even though I didn’t listen very well at times, I was taught that being elected to serve the people of this nation was the ultimate act of service for our country. In our form of government, those elected to governmental office are the servants, to we the people. Servants = those who work for We The People Let’s keep this in mind, We The People are actually the “governing authorities” in the United States. We The People elect our representatives and even the office of president, to serve us. This is a very big deal. Why would this be? Well, according to Romans 13 and in our form of government, God has established We The People as the governing authorities in this nation, which is an incredible responsibility. If the servants, who are the elected officials and those who work for them, decide to rebel against the governing authorities, then we see in Romans 13 that they are rebelling against what God Himself has instituted and that they will bring judgment onto themselves. Now go reread Romans 13 in that light. We are in a very unique position in the USA. This series is to be continued. http://constitutionus.com/
So the answer to the joke “How do you eat an elephant?” is “one bite at a time” – unless of course you actually eat elephant and want to take that opportunity to share your recipe. Being a follower of Jesus Christ can be a huge challenge, and it can seem a bit like trying to eat an elephant, especially when it is not popular or could even lead to your life being threatened for being a Christian.
History is full of moments when Christians were shut out of society, threatened, tortured, hunted, and dismembered. (If you ever want an alternative to Halloween stories, read the Book of Martyrs and then celebrate “All Saints Day”
instead of a cultic religious practices dressed up in candy bags. Just saying.) In fairness, many groups of peoples have been killed for what they believe over the centuries, and I bring up Christian martyrs in honor of those who have been killed in recent months for their faith. None of us may know what we would actually do if we were faced with beheading from Islamic Fundamentalists or a shooter who came into our work place or school. I pray we would have the courage to finish the race, with the name of Jesus still on our lips as we fell. I also pray that we would be able to have Jesus on our lips and alive in our actions each day as we live – which in some respects may be just as hard, if not harder.
Read Romans 12:9-21. Paul starts this section with a summary of what we explored in the last two weeks, here and here. But he gets uncomfortably specific with us, doesn’t he? Love, detest evil, be devoted, be diligent (bring your best), rejoice in hope, persevere, devote yourself to prayer, give to others as they have need, practice hospitality, bless those who persecute and terrorize you, bless and do not curse, rejoice and weep with others as they do, be of the same mind toward one another, hang out with the downhearted and humbled, don’t trust your own wisdom alone, NEVER pay back evil for evil, respect what is right because others are watching (even if they don’t agree on what is right), as far as it depends on your actions, live at peace with all people, NEVER take revenge, make room for God’s perfect wrath, and if you have the opportunity, feed your enemy and give them drink, which will “heap burning coals on his head.”
There are many who have interpreted the expression “heap burning coals on his head” through certain practices of eastern cultures that pour ashes on their heads as a sign of repentance. If we interpret it that way, it would mean that by doing good, you will cause your enemies to feel shame and perhaps turn away from their evil ways. That interpretation may be true.
But what if another interpretation is true? What if it is about your enemy, who didn’t stoke his fire the night before and found his fire burned out and cold out in the morning? What if he is outside your tent begging for coals to start his fire for his family? Instead of just giving him a couple coals from your dwindling morning fire and sending him on his way saying, “Good luck buddy, hope you don’t freeze,” what if you choose to give him the majority of your coals? What if you trust God will provide what you need, and you fill the bowl he would put on his head to carry the coals back to his tent, and you gave him more than enough to ensure that he and his family would have a fire that morning? I think this expression by Paul is giving us this picture and example of how to handle our enemies when they are in need. Instead of taking the opportunity to kick them while they’re down, what if we choose to bless, even those who have harmed us - and in so doing point them to God’s love for them? Could that be the example that leads to them trusting God? Could it lead to them being changed from an enemy into a brother or sister in Jesus Christ?
Again, consider the actions/attitudes Paul encourages us to have. Are any of them disconnected from our daily moments with family, friends, co-workers, or enemies? NO – in fact we probably will face most of them several times a day. It seems that Paul is encouraging us to overcome evil with good, moment by moment by moment.
If you go back to our blog posts on Romans 1:17, Paul says there is a righteousness revealed in the gospel that is by faith “from first to last.” When he says that, the words he chose literally mean that our right living with God is from the first moment of faith to the last moment of faith, or more precisely moment of faith, to moment of faith, to moment of faith. So, God is not asking us to destroy all that is evil at one time, but rather to dismantle it in every moment that we face. Like eating the elephant, we overcome evil one bite (step) at a time.
So how are you doing, moment to moment, with your family? With your co-workers? With your enemies? When you face evil, do you know how to overcome the evil without running over the person it comes through? Are you able to lay your life down in service of those around you, in the same way you might for the enemy who may only meet Jesus through how you die?
If you are like me, you may need to write Romans 12:9-21 everywhere to remind yourself of how you should respond to each situation you face during the day. When you put them in context of the rest of Romans 11:36-12:8, it clearly challenges us to be a people who are secure in our relationship with God, trusting His plans, and willing to lay aside our self in order to do what is best in every situation, even in the small daily moments where we tend to be on auto-pilot. I honor the lives of those who have died for following Jesus. I also honor and seek to be someone who can be a living ‘martyr’ for Him just as passionately. What about you?
by Nathan Buck
I have been reading through Paul’s letters recently and one theme caught my attention: “Living worthy of God.” I first heard this at the 2006 Urbana Convention. The speaker was quoting the NIV of Ephesians 4:1. So when I was reading through Ephesians again, I came across this verse and remembered the speaker talking about that passage. But then I continued through Paul’s letters and I saw the same message again in Colossians 1:10 and then again in 1 Thessalonians 2:12. I had not seen this theme before and it stood out. When Scripture says something, we need to listen. When it says it three times, that is a hint of taking it even more seriously.
What does it mean to have worthy living? What does it look like to live worthy of God? Worthy of the calling of God? First, before anyone accuses me of talking about a “works-based salvation,” this is not talking about salvation. Too many people when arguing Scripture ask, “Is this important to salvation?” and then follow up with “If not, then it is not important.” This mindset is a problem because it completely ignores what these passages are talking about. Christianity is not about just getting saved and that is all there is to it.
Being born again is a crucial aspect of Christianity and I am not trying to disregard or diminish it. But this is just the beginning of Christianity, not the end of it all. Jesus did not die on the cross just so we could get saved and live our own lives. He died for much more than that. Salvation is when we are born again, but that leaves us as babies in our faith. God does not want spiritual babies. He wants spiritual adults, mature sons and daughters who can work his Kingdom business. There is nothing wrong with being a spiritual baby, but there is something wrong with STAYING a spiritual baby.
So again, what does living a life worthy of the calling of Christ mean? And what does it look like? First, what is our calling of Christ? Every born again believer has a job that God has for us to do. Paul talks about this in Ephesians 2:10. There are works, jobs, which God has prepared for us. He created each and every one of us with a set of gifts and talents. My post last week talks about how we need to work as a unit. In Romans 12:3-8, Paul addresses seven primary spiritual gifts. What are these gifts for? Put the Ephesians and Romans verses in this paragraph together. In Ephesians, Paul tells us there are works God has planned for us to do. In Romans, Paul tells us about these gifts. It is clear: God gives us these gifts so that we are capable of doing these works.
Now cut over to Matthew 25 and look at the Parable of the Talents. In this parable, a rich man gave three servants a certain amount of money, each according to their ability. To one he gave five talents, another he gave two, and another he gave one. The first two servants worked their gifts and doubled them. The third servant hid his gift and returned it unused. The man took his talent and gave it to the one who now had ten talents.
There are several things to note here. The talents were given in according to the servant’s abilities. He did not give a large responsibility to the servant who could not handle it. He also gave the one with a lot of skills the responsibility for handling more. Now here is a thought: the third servant was cursed for not using his one talent. What would have happened if the first servant had only used four of his talents and kept one hidden to himself like the third servant did? Just chew on that thought. This parable shows us the answer to this post’s key question.
We are to live our live worthy of what God has called us to be. This is simply a matter of using what God has given us and being obedient to how he wants us to use our gifts. The man did not directly give instructions to the servants, but they were servants who were trained to do their job. They knew what they were supposed to do with their resources.
God is our provider, and as a good manager he will never give us a task without also giving us sufficient resource to get the job done.* Yes, I put that asterisk there on purpose because there is a disclaimer. That disclaimer is that those resources do NOT solely reside within us. We CANNOT do this in our own strength. We must depend on God himself providing what it takes to do it, and when we carry out God’s plan our response should be, “We are but unworthy servants. We have only done that which we ought.” Living a life worthy of the calling is not about you. It is about God. All we need to worry about is to believe God and obey him. That’s it.
Let me give you a list of recent names of those who have lived the life worthy of the calling. You won’t hear about these people in the media or the major news headlines. You won’t find their names on historical monuments. But you will find them on a list of those whom God has written to have great honor because they were obedient servants. I have heard of their stories, read about some of them, and plan to learn about them in more detail soon. This list includes: J. Hudson Taylor, Reece Howels, CT Studd, Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Bruce Olsen, Dom Richardson, William Booth, David Wilkerson and more. These are great modern missionaries and preachers that have changed the world because of their obedience to God’s callings.
Most of us would hear of these men and women and be quick to admit that we are not worthy even to carry their suitcases, let alone tie their shoes. But why can’t we be on this list? In Eric Ludy’s book “Wrestling Prayer,” he writes about David’s Mighty Men and calls them a generation of the Holy Gibborim (or Mighty Men). Ludy describes the spectacular efforts David’s men did in 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11. And throughout this book, Ludy asks, “In how we do our spiritual battles, why can’t we be like David’s Mighty Men in their physical battles?” Good question. Why can’t we? Here is the primary answer: because we don’t believe it will work.
Can we live worthy of the calling? Yes we can. The question is: Will we? Will we live worthy of the calling? Remember that doing so is not about boasting in ourselves. It is simply about obedience. Let us practice this more and strive to reach this place of humble service, doing that which we are asked to do, and being someone God can trust to get the job done. Can God trust you? Can he trust me? This is our chance to show him that he can trust us to listen and obey without question or reserve or doubt. It’s not about you, but doing what he wants done. That is living a life worthy of the calling.
by Charlie Wolcott
[This blog post is part of a series. The previous one is here, and the next one is here.]
This week we’re back to taking a look at a blog post by Tyler Francke that he calls “How to use the Bible to disprove just about anything.” This is a link within another blog post, “10 theological questions no young-earth creationist can answer” that I’ve been dismantling for the last couple of months. It’s time consuming, I know. But the implications of his theology, if we’re calling it that, are important enough to systematically demonstrate just how inconsistent theistic evolutionists are and how they really have no idea what Biblical creationists believe or what the Bible says, in my opinion.
A couple weeks ago, the Worldview Warriors blog began chapter 12 in Romans. The second verse says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” How applicable this is to the discussion of worldview clashes (which is exactly what this entire discussion is about).
So Tyler starts out by saying that he loves the Bible and thinks it’s a wonderful book if you read it correctly. Who decides how to read the Bible in his world? Well, secularists, of course. Atheists and other non-believers appear to be the authorities on what God’s Word actually says. Rather than use thousands of years of tradition and study from dedicated followers of God, they would use people who admittedly set out to remove Christianity from just about every aspect of life. That’s saying something. Let that settle in for a moment. He states, “If you read it incorrectly, you can use it to discount virtually all modern science and send humanity tumbling back into the Dark Ages.” This is such a tired and deceptive position. Namely, if we think science is championed by secularists, we’re wrong to a very large degree. You can read quite a bit about that here. But his entire statement reveals how educated he isn’t on these matters. It’s okay to not be educated on something. I’m not educated on a lot of stuff. But I try not to publish writings on those topics if I can avoid it. I stick with what I know.
The Dark Ages… ugh. This is a very tired and unenlightened argument (see what I did there?). The trouble here is that Tyler has bought what was peddled to him by liberal teachers and likely by the mentors that influenced him to accept Darwinian evolution over the clear presentation of creation in the Bible. It was commonly taught (I was taught this and likely Tyler still believes it) that Columbus sailed westward on the Atlantic in 1492 to reach India, even though everyone believed the earth was flat. And this was the belief because the Bible said it was true. The truth is, however, nearly everyone knew the earth was round long before Columbus or Magellan sailed the oceans. It was taught that the Church stumbled over this for years and Columbus resisted them greatly before finally deciding to disobey the church leaders and set sail. This is all nonsense. A book published admittedly to discredit Christianity states these lies. Andrew Dickson White published “A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom,” which was literally full of bogus information solely printed for the purposes of discrediting Christianity. In fact, the entire notion of a war between Christianity and science is purely a lie used to further atheism and nothing more. For someone who claims to champion intellect, truth, and being unbiased, Tyler is severely lacking in all of those things in this blog post. The unfortunate part is I'm still in the first paragraph.
Unfortunately, there is much more to say on the topic of the made up “war between science and religion.” This, in my opinion, is pure deception. There is no honesty (unless ignorance is the explanation) in claiming Christianity has a problem with science. The truth is that science owes everything it was built on to Christians—literally all of it. First the misnomer of “Dark Ages:” there was no such time period and historians will tell you so. The so-called Dark Ages were littered with technological advancements and a great deal of learning and discovery. The term was coined to discredit the Church in the 19th century (although some research may suggest it was first used 200 years earlier). It's really remarkable that it's commonly taught still that such a time existed after the fall of Rome. Rodney Stark states, “The reason we didn’t know the truth is that … for more than three centuries [the claim of inevitable and bitter warfare between religion and science] has been the primary polemical device used in the atheist attack on faith. From Thomas Hobbes through Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, false claims about religion and science have been used as weapons in the battle to 'free' the human mind from the 'fetters of faith.'”
It's interesting to note that the “Scientific Revolution” of the 16th century (generally noted as being 1543-1680) was initiated and fueled by Christians beginning in the 11th century. This is all stuff I would highly encourage a believer to investigate for themselves. It's amazing the amount of spin a person can be taught and never be aware of it. Rodney Stark goes on to ask why Europe birthed science and not some other place. Science was born once and in one place. It’s probably the same reason Europe first spoke out against slavery—it was predominantly Christian. History is full of amazing causes that Godly men and women fought for that later became the norm of society. Science is no different. Stark says, “It is the consensus among contemporary historians, philosophers and sociologists of science that real science arose only once: in Europe. The leading scientific figures in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were overwhelmingly devout Christians who believed it their duty to comprehend God’s handiwork.” Read that quote again if you have time. It's a good one. Thus we can say with confidence that if atheism was in charge of such matters, we would have actually had a time we could call the “Dark Ages.”
I can write a great deal on why the “Dark Ages” never happened, but I have a long way to go to get through this blog post by Tyler. I will conclude this portion on why his statements concerning a Biblical belief in creation and some connection to a period in history known for its lack of progress due to the Church are incorrect, disingenuous, distasteful, and likely heaped in ignorance. This, of course, is only my opinion. But when the 52 most notable scientists that sparked the “Scientific Revolution” are predominantly Christian (all, in fact, but perhaps 2 and at least 30 could be considered devout Christians), it makes you wonder if he cares at all about being accurate and about what the truth actually is. I say bring on the Christians and let them move us forward. Just imagine how advanced we may be if creationists could get funding!
by Steve Risner
Nine years ago this month, an Amish community in Pennsylvania not far from where I grew up became the center of the national news when a disturbed gunman took a classroom hostage at a local schoolhouse and shot ten innocent girls, killing five of them. As is the case with most tragedies covered by the media, there was instant outrage from many people both locally and nationally. Some were angry because the man had guns and believed that stricter gun laws would have prevented the crime. Others were simply angry because the man took his own life and they believed in the name of justice that such an end was too easy for him. Amongst all the media coverage and statements of judgment and anger from all over, there was one community that chose a vastly different response - the one who seemingly had the most right to be angry.
Even now, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who remembers anything about the incident without also remembering the overwhelming response of the members of that Amish community who had just lost five children. Their willingness to love and forgive became as much a part of the story as the act itself. According to this article, a grandfather of one of the girls killed stated that they “must not think evil” of the man who committed the heinous crime. Others focused on the needs of the killer’s grieving widow and children and trusted the fate of the killer to “a just God.” Within hours after the shooting, members of the Amish community visited and comforted the immediate and extended family of the killer, later attended the killer’s funeral, and even set up a charitable fund for the family.
What made the Amish community able to forgive and love so quickly after experiencing a tragedy beyond what most of us will deal with in our lives? Did they really “get over” their hurt that quickly? Was it all fake and for show? I don’t believe so. The community faced some criticism for their quick forgiveness and critics equated it to being in denial of the evil that exists, but I believe they rightly viewed the evil acts and their RESPONSIBILITY to show mercy and love as two separate things. I intentionally emphasize that word because we have to remember that claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ gives us no choice but to forgive. And it’s time we stop treating it like it’s an option based on how we feel at any given point.
In Romans 12:9-21, the Apostle Paul gives us a series statements about what love actually looks like when it is acted out. Not surprisingly, roughly two-thirds of this section is devoted to teaching us how we are to respond when met with evil or persecution. In verses 14-21, it’s pretty clear that Paul is telling us to do good to those who harm us. We are told to bless those who persecute us rather than look for ways to get them back (verse 14). We are supposed to live in peace and harmony with others to the best of our ability (verses 16-18). Could you imagine if the entire Amish community where the girls were killed did the opposite of this? That would mean they would band together to satisfy their desire for revenge against the dead killer and his family. His widow and children wouldn’t stand a chance. The response of the community toward that family meant everything. They did what they could to promote peace and unity, which allowed for healing and restoration to take place. I’m sure it didn’t always feel good. I’m sure they had thoughts of anger and thoughts straight from the devil about taking matters into their own hands. But they knew that if Jesus himself and many other martyrs could extend forgiveness to the very people who were taking their lives, how could followers of Jesus do anything else?
Paul tells us to not take revenge but to leave room for God to do so when and where necessary (verse 19). This reminds me of James, the brother of Jesus, who wrote that “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). In other words, God is the ONLY One whose anger can bring about righteousness. So, if we leave the revenge to him, we can trust that he will give the perfect measure of justice and mercy to the one who has offended us. They will be forced to deal with their actions one way or another. Ultimately, we are to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Just think about it. If we become consumed with thoughts of bitterness and revenge, then we have been overcome by evil. Those who criticized the Amish community, in an effort to make sure they weren’t denying the existence of evil, were being overcome by it. In contrast, the response of forgiveness and love from the community literally overcame the evil that was done in a very short time. The killer’s widow now speaks publicly around the country about the love she received instead of being forever haunted by the knowledge that it was her husband who killed those girls and planned to do much more to them.
The words in this passage are not merely suggestions from Paul. They are teachings that come directly from the words of Jesus himself. “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?” (Matthew 5:46-47) Jesus’ words show us that, if we want the reward of eternal life, we have to ACT like it. We cannot simply live as the pagans and tax collectors do, yet expect to receive a better eternity than them. The reference to the tax collectors wasn’t just about the profession. In that culture, they were commonly associated with wrongdoing because they had great incentive to overtax and cheat people out of money. This made them mostly despised by all. Jesus, who would later call Matthew the tax collector to be one of his disciples, uses THEIR cultural view of these people to stress his point that his followers are called to a higher standard than just loving and being kind to only those who don’t hurt us.
Are you ready to be more than a tax collector? Who do you have in your life right now that has hurt you and makes you think about revenge? What can you do this very day to begin to overcome that evil with good? Jesus has given a clear standard that you can’t act like a “tax collector” or “pagan” on earth but expect to be treated better than them in heaven. If we want to consider ourselves saved and redeemed by the blood of Christ, then forgiveness and mercy towards those who harm or persecute us is not optional. Start today by asking God to show you who you need to forgive. Ask him for strength, then leave any necessary vengeance to him.
by Logan Ames
“Greatness is revealed not in vast miraculous actions, but daily positive attitudes.” ~Chuck Swindoll
Not long ago I read a hit piece on one of the top GOP candidates fighting for his party’s nomination to run for President of the United States of America (I will let you speculate regarding the identity of the candidate). The criticism directed at this candidate stemmed from his relationship to a pastor by the name of Norman Vincent Peale. Peale is the author of a controversial book titled The Power of Positive Thinking. The book itself rightfully faced heavy criticism, to my understanding, because it has exaggerated the effects of both positive and negative thinking, and for being a religious book based on Christian principles, it promotes the power stored in man more so than the power of God. Having said that, because of how profoundly he has exaggerated the teachings in his book there has been a horrible plague of Christian pessimism.
I have never read Peale’s book, nor do I care to waste my time reading about his feel good theology and fudged science, but he is right to say that we should have a positive attitude. The main point of his book seems to be that one ought to maintain a positive attitude in all circumstances no matter what, and that everything will work out for the best. Granted the fudginess of his book, it is still somewhat disturbing to see how many Christians think that it is some sort of a sin to be positive all of the time. In a class I took with Dr. Gwen Ebner at Winebrenner Theological Seminary, she asserted that we should believe in ourselves, because God believes in us. His belief in us is rooted in the fact that he created us.
I do not intend to misrepresent Peale and make it sound like this was what he was trying to get across. More or less, my understanding of Peale’s teachings is rooted in name-it claim-it theology. In other words, if you want something, name what it is and then claim it is yours even before you obtain it, in faith that God will make it yours in due time. This starkly contrasts with my professor’s teaching, which dealt with the spread of the Gospel. Her point was that we should have confidence in God that he has equipped us to minister effectively in our given circumstances. And in the areas where we lack sufficient gifting, then God assures us that when we are weak, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Has not God gifted us in ways that make us stand out from the rest of the world for the sake of his glory?
Let’s be honest with ourselves. We have all said at some point in time, “I can’t stand so-and-so because nobody can be that happy, all of the time.” We are all guilty of that. You would think that people who are always positive are some sort of horrible criminals. Come to think of it, I was once of being accused of “being too nice”. I found it odd that I was accused of such an atrocity, but then wondered why the person who said this was so concerned over my kind demeanor.
Anyway, are we not commanded to have confidence in Christ? Is not our confidence in him made manifest in this world? Are we not told to rejoice in all circumstances? Paul added to this command, “Again I say rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) Is rejoicing gloomy and negative? No! The apostles annoyed their captors by rejoicing for suffering for the sake of Christ. Most Christians that I have encountered seem to think we ought to have some sort of cynical realist perspective on the world (I consider myself a realist, by the way). The apostles rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ.
To clarify, I am not endorsing Peale or his teachings. In context, I think many of his teachings are dangerous. When we place our confidence in the One who is in control of all things, we can have confidence that our lives will bring him glory. This is mistakenly called health and wealth Gospel. I think that we have forgotten the joy of knowing Jesus and can’t stand those who always have a reason to rejoice. I would prefer that they honor Jesus appropriately. In the words of Chuck Swindoll, “When your attitude is right you reveal the grace of God.”
(I realize I have not directly quoted Peale at all in this post. If you want some quick hits of Peale’s teachings, check out this page.)
by Bill Seng
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
by Katie Erickson
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21) How do you love? Is love just a feeling, or is it something you do? How do we show our love for someone? Here, Paul gives us a long list of commands to explain to us how to live out our lives in love. Paul’s writing style changes pretty dramatically here, which you can see if you read any part of the book of Romans before this. He goes from long, thought-provoking sentences to short, brief commands. Nearly every verb (action word) here in this passage is what’s called an imperative, which is the fancy grammatical word for a command. These aren’t merely suggestions, but commands for us. It almost appears that these are all disjointed thoughts without a unifying theme, but the overall idea is to have a humble attitude and keep peace with one another, whether they are fellow believers in Christ or not. These attitudes demonstrate the love that we should have for others, because of the love we have for Jesus and the love He has for us. These commands all fall under the heading of sincere love, as verse 9 starts out with: “Love must be sincere.” All of these commands demonstrate for us what sincere love is - actually putting love into action with good intentions, not just going through the motions to do what appears to be loving. Beyond that brief introduction, these commands can be broken up into 3 groups. Verses 9b-13 show us the many ways we can show sincere love to one another. Verses 14-16 show how we can live in peace and harmony with one another. Finally, verses 17-21 show how can should overcome evil with good, particularly in the act of not retaliating on evil. Taken all at once, these commands may seem completely overwhelming. You may be thinking, how am I going to remember all of these, much less incorporate them into my everyday life? Well, that’s where the power of the Holy Spirit comes in. We can’t do these things on our own, since they are contrary to our human nature. If we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2), these things will come a little more easily to us. When we strive to live a life like Jesus Christ, this is what it will look like! These commands are giving us the details on how to live out the big picture of a life like Jesus lived. If you focus on Him, all the rest will fall into place.
Have you ever watched good dancers on a dance floor? It is like they are one person they are so in step. Good dancers flawlessly follow their partner’s lead. They can anticipate their partner’s steps because they have practiced together for so long that they trust and follow them.
Picture Jesus as our dance partner. Our goal is to be so in tune with Him that we can anticipate the next step, to be so intimately connected to him through a committed relationship that we trust his leading and following Him completely.
However, God showed me that we have a choice. Who are we choosing to dance with? Are we dancing with Jesus, or do our steps line up more with the enemy? Who are we following? Who are we in tune with?
When we allow our mind to be caught up in sin, worry, guilt, bitterness, fear, or doubt, we aren’t choosing to dance with Jesus. We are choosing to dance to the beat of the world.
As we are choosing to follow Christ’s lead, we are choosing to love God and love others. As it says in 1 John 5:2-3, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God; to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”
Our goal is to be in step with Jesus and to become so intimately connected with Him that we follow and trust His leading.
Join me in choosing Jesus as our dance partner and aligning our lives with Him and LET HIM LEAD!
by Ami Samuels
There is a moment in the movie "Facing the Giants" that just wrecks me every time. The football coach asks his strongest player, Brock, who has a defeated attitude, to take a 160lb teammate on his back and do the 'death crawl' - while blindfolded. The coach asks him to promise to do his very best - no matter what, his VERY best.
In the following moments that young man carries his teammate on his back, crawling on hands and toes for the length of the field. He's hurting, he wants to give up, and the coach keeps his mind off the pain, encouraging and yelling encouragement to keep him focused. When Brock finally collapses in exhaustion, the coach removes his blindfold to show him that he's in the end zone. Brock had no idea what his VERY best could do, and we realize the coach was also discovering how his very best could build the team.
The reason that wrecks me is because that is the kind of coach (and player) I want to be. I want to bring my VERY best to every opportunity I have in front of me.
Read Romans 12:3-8. Pay close attention to Paul's description of our gifts, our connectedness to one another, and the specific ways he challenges us to live out God's gifts and calling in our lives.
There is an interconnectedness we all are meant to have with one another. It is complimentary and diverse. And when we live it with proper humility, it causes all believers to function together in perfect unity, harmony, and purpose. That happens because God already is and has UNITY in His nature. When we function together in the ways He designed us to, and intentionally connect our gifts in SUPPORT of others’ gifts, we begin to function in His unity. If there is division or dissention, then someone is considering their position or perspective as more important than they should. That's the gist of Paul's key point.
I want to take a moment and pull out something specific from verse 8. Paul is listing specific spiritual gifts from God and how we should use them in service to one another. In regard to leaders he says, "and if leading, do so diligently." That Greek word translated as 'diligently' is the word 'spoude.' It means to "do your VERY best."
Many leaders, and many Christians, think they are doing their very best when they are seeing bigger and better church worship services, or more donations, or more people deciding to be "Christian." Some think they are doing their very best when they have protected the congregation from worldly influences, or when they have gotten everyone to 'play nice' in regard to the music, or when they have gotten everyone to like them and to let them call all the shots. Honestly, the list goes on and on for how people score themselves on doing their very best.
Sadly, too many leaders use their position to drive toward pet projects, to maintain power for themselves, to satisfy their own insecurity, or to secure their retirement. And if we are honest, so do many non-leaders. It's a human issue, because we normally don't know how to leverage authority or wield power for anything beyond ourselves. It gets all mixed in with our motives and insecurities and becomes a trap. The only way to stay on track is to do as Paul says: "Think of yourself with sober judgment, and consider others better than yourselves."
This is really hard to do. Truly collaborative leaders know how to listen. They seek an honest critique from others (prayerfully taking corrective action), and they use the power and authority of their position to make others powerful. It's amazing to see the spiritual temperature of a community rise when leaders clear the path for peers and younger leaders. Its energizing when they bring others to the table to truly have a voice and when they set the example of service, not in hand holding and placating expectations (though there is a place for this), but rather by helping others learn to do their VERY best with their gifts.
Leaders who do their VERY best are ones who help others do THEIR very best, and they develop people who know how to use their best to bring out the best in others. When too much freedom, too much control, or too much insecurity replaces intentional refining, resourcing, and releasing of others, a leader has failed to lead diligently.
So, I ask you, leader or not, are you doing your VERY best with what God has given you? Are others strengthened to do their best because you are intentionally using your gifts in support of them? (And for you talented independent loners, are you letting others also support you with their spiritual gifts?) Yes, leaders have a special obligation to bring their VERY best, to help others do their VERY best. And I believe it's so we all learn to live that way with one another.
Leaders, I appeal to you to relinquish your personal kingdoms, agendas, and self-protection hierarchies. Set the example of bringing God's best through your diligent effort to support and release others into His calling and purposes. As you show us how to do it, and keep nothing for yourselves, what do you think will really happen? If you are afraid of where it might lead, could that be a sign of what kind of leader you have been?
by Nathan Buck
One of the most important things to understand in Christianity, let alone any business or organization, is that there are many different parts and each part must do its job for the whole together as one unit. Worldview Warriors blogger Steve Risner has written numerous posts about the different parts of our body and how each part is necessary for the whole body to work.
This concept is critical for any organization. I worked as a stocker and a sacker for a local grocery store and while I did not see it as much at the time, every person’s job was necessary to get the work done. We needed people in the front of the store checking all the purchases. We needed people in the aisles keeping the merchandize on the shelves. We needed custodians keeping floors and restrooms cleaned. We needed people working in the warehouse to keep our extra stock organized and stored so the stockers could easily get them. We needed managers to help direct things but also to make the decisions the regular employees could not make, including having access to the money for the cashiers. All these positions needed to be filled and each person needed to understand their job.
You name the organization and you will find a similar structure. A school needs teachers, coaches, special education instructors, department heads, custodians, administrators, and, yes, students… lots of students. The military has a structured organization or chain of command that enables order to get to the individual troops while maintaining the overall vision of the general.
And the church has the same concept and this is one of the themes of Romans 12:3-8. The church is also comprised of many parts but functions as one body. Paul then lists seven different primary spiritual gifts: prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and mercy showing. Let’s briefly examine them.
Prophecy is often viewed as “telling the future,” but it is more than that. It is simply “telling what God is saying at the moment.” Prophets are not easy to get along with because they see things as black and white and they often don’t care what you think about it. I’m not knocking them, I’m just saying this is the type of personality they have.
Servers are those that love to work and love to do anything to help others out. They are often handymen and love to work with their hands. They are often not high-level intellectuals nor are they academic-based. They love a good hard day’s work.
Teachers are pretty obvious. They teach. They are the academic type. They love the facts, they love the stats. And they love the trivia that no one else seems to care about. They are the ones that will research and look for the knowledge and head-level base for how we should act and behave.
Encouragers are the people that lift others up. They are often emotional based and they cannot stand it when people are grumpy. They always try to keep a positive spirit in the room. They are optimists and pick-me-uppers.
Givers are very generous with their resources. They are often very wise with how to manage their resources, particularly money. They can often work miracles with budgets and giving away large portions of money is not a problem to them. If there is a need, they are the first responders to meeting that need.
Leaders are also a challenge to get around with. They make their living by fixing things or building a project. Leaders are project-based and not often people-based. They have the project in their minds and will direct people to get the project done. They tend to be perfectionists, and when the project is finished, they look for the next one to start or fix up.
Mercy-showers are the compassionate people. They won’t blame anyone for anything, but will rather seek to restore and rebuilt. They are similar to encouragers, but this is not emotionally based. Mercy-showers see a broken person and move to see that person healed, rebuilt, and back on his/her feet.
So how does all this work together? We cannot have a church of prophets, or a church of encouragers, or a church of teachers. We need some of everything. And we need each person who has their primary gift doing their job. One of the big problems is that very few are doing their job. A general “rule of thumb” in the church is that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. Just look around in your church. Is this generally the case? Don’t change churches just because of this, because you’ll find this in most of them. Instead, make sure you are not part of the 80% not doing anything.
Each person with each gift needs each other. The prophets need mercy-showers because the prophet will call it the way it is, while the mercy-shower will strive to pick up the pieces the prophets tend to leave behind (and necessarily so). Mercy-showers need prophets to call sin as sin so the person can deal with the root of the problem. Servers need leaders. Servers know how to work, but they need a leader to see the overall project and show them where they can work. Leaders need servers to help them carry out the project. That being said, both need encouragers to help keep the peace. We need teachers who can take the standards of truth and the facts and pass them on. We need givers who can manage the resources and help the leaders know what they have to work with.
The list goes on and on and on. Everyone has a job to do and everyone needs each other make the whole system work. But none of this works if we live according to our flesh, according to how the world says we should act. Remember the backdrop leading up to this verse: Romans 12:1-2. Present yourselves as living sacrifices. Do not conform to the pattern of this world. The body of Christ will not function properly if its parts are focused on what each one wants to do. It will function properly if we get where we are supposed to be and do the job we are supposed to do. How do you know what your job is? What do you seem to find yourself doing? The more I’ve learned, I find myself as a teacher. I still have pieces of the other gifts, but my primary one, at least in how I am functioning, is teaching. What is your gift?
And let us not forget who the head of the Body is: Jesus Christ. Just like our brain is what guides and directs how our body functions, so does Jesus guild and directs how his body functions. As your heart and your lungs listens to your brain, we should listen to Christ. When we obey Christ, everything works smoothly.
by Charlie Wolcott
by Steve Risner
I generally write blog posts on the creation/evolution debate or something along those lines. But as I was reading Romans 12, I was reminded of something my pastor said in a message he gave probably earlier this year. To be honest, I’m not sure why Romans 12 reminded me of this, but I feel it must be for a reason. Romans 12 is about being a REAL Christian. It’s about the “doing” of Christian life.
The chapter starts out with the highest call: worship God with all you have and all you are. Do not be like the world, which cannot please God, but be like God wants you to be. (That is the Steve Risner paraphrase.) It then goes into a list of ways to relate to mankind. In short, it’s Paul giving a bit more detailed account of what Jesus said are the two greatest commandments: Love God and love people.
What’s this mean and why am I talking about it? The church as a whole, I believe, has lost the love of the lost. I find it’s far easier for Christians to come down on unbelievers for their bad behavior rather than just love them. You will not find anywhere in God’s Word the command to judge the unbeliever. That is, in fact, God’s job. Our job is to love God first and love people second. Everything else is a detail. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying the moral law and other things aren’t of importance. They’re obviously very important. But if we’re not loving God and loving people, our morals are fake. We need, I believe, to stop building a church out of wood, grass, and stubble as 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says. Our acts of service toward God and people should be Godly—made of gold, silver, and precious stones. Wood, grass, and stubble will be burned away, showing God that our strength was found in ourselves and that our motives were not pure.
The thing is, today in the church most of us are working without the Spirit, I feel. We are working in human strength for human goals and calling it by spiritual names. God is not interested in what we've accomplished of ourselves. He is not concerned with our strengths or our abilities. In fact, it's out of our weakness that God truly uses us and is found in our actions. We fail often times to pray for the Lord's leading or to wait on Him for an answer. We frequently pray for God's blessings on OUR work, but we are seldom about His work. We trust more in our strength and ability than we trust in His. We need to rest more in His power and His leading than in what seems to be the right thing or the Christian thing to do. There are many occasions where the “right” thing or the thing that seems the “Christian” thing to do is not what God has called you to do. Does that make sense? If you're a missionary, were you called into that or was it just what seemed right to do? If you're a pastor, was it God's call on your life to be a pastor, or was that just what a good Christian should be? This can be applied to any situation.
So Romans 12 is full of wonderful things God expects of us—things that show Him we love Him and things that show others our love for Him and our love for them. These are the basics, I think. As I said, Jesus said to love God and love people. Paul is here expounding on that—showing us how to do those things.
So what are you going to do about this? This reminds me of an analogy my pastor used: You are a parent (not a big stretch for me since I have 5 kids), and you tell your child to clean his room. “I need you to clean your room. Put your clean clothes where they go. Put your dirty clothes in the laundry. Get rid of your broken toys. Organize your good toys. Put trash in the garbage. Make your bed.” Your son says, “Oh, dad, what a great idea!” and he goes upstairs to his room. He comes back down in an hour or so.
“Did you clean your room?” you ask.
“Well, I thought your direction was great. It was clear and perfect. Your thoughts on what I should do were excellent. I believe what you told me to do was exactly right.”
“So did you clean your room?”
“I really thought about what you said. I studied the words you used in your command and really liked this particular translation of it. I found it most helpful in drawing out the more subtle meanings of your words to me. I meditated on them for some time and I believe I really know what you intended when you told me to clean my room.”
“So did you clean your room?”
“I sang songs about cleaning my room. I wrote poems and shared your words with my friends. They, too, felt like they connected with what you said about cleaning my room. For hours I sang heartfelt songs about room cleaning and organizing in general—how your thoughts on a spotless room were perfect.”
“But did you actually do what I said?”
“Oh, I got online on a forum that discusses clean rooms. They were very helpful in expounding on what you meant and how, over the centuries, the true meaning of your words likely changed. They went into detail as to what 'clean' means and what 'organize' means as well as why you wanted this to be done in the first place. It was very enlightening.”
“I just need to know if you cleaned your room or not.”
“I went to a seminar about parental expectations on room cleaning. We shared each other’s struggles. We made cute little phrases to share with each other that really don't have any meaning because we said them so much. But I really felt like after I cried about it for a little while and held my hands up, I truly felt the calling on my life to be an excellent room cleaner.”
“I really just want your room clean. Can you please do that? It's been long enough.”
This is a strange story, I realize. It's maybe not even connected to the passage of Scripture the way I feel it is in my mind. But I think some have been about the business of studying God's Word, in spending time in fellowship with other believers, in discussing in groups the Word of the Lord and the Christian life and our struggles. We spend time telling other believers why non believers are so bad and why this Christian isn't really a Christian or why this book has it all wrong. God just wants us to love Him above all else and wants us to love people—whether they're easy to love or not, whether they're right or not, whether they're moral or not, whether they're lovely or not, whether they're a believer or not… you get the idea. Love all people. Don't confuse what I'm saying: I am not saying accept all people. Love and acceptance are not the same thing. In fact, sometimes it's an act of love to reject something. But rather than spending all this time heaping up a huge pile of wood, grass, and stubble, we should be building out of gold, silver and precious stones. Yes, study. Yes, fellowship. Yes, do all those things. But don't lose sight of the goal—win every person you come in contact with to Jesus.
Again, this blog post is a little different for me and, to be honest, I'm a little uncomfortable even throwing it together because I'm not sure if it makes sense. However, I believe, after praying and reading God's Word that God wanted me to write this. It's for someone. Maybe it's just for me. I need to live this Romans 12 life much better. Blessings.