Are War and Killing Worthy of Praise?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 28, 2016 0 comments


by Bill Seng

“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
    I, even I, will sing to the Lord;
    I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.” ~Judges 5:2

The Song of Deborah and Barak can either be seen as a marvelous work of art, or a bizarre song praising brutal acts of bloodshed. Our culture is definitely squeamish when it comes to the idea of war. A famous commentator puts it the best, “War is about breaking things and killing people.” When you get down to it, that’s about right. But the idea that killing is praiseworthy just sounds so strange to our 21st century Christian ears. Would the Song of Deborah be condemned by the New Testament Church?

When we turn to the words of Jesus, it sounds clear that we should not condone the act of killing anyone. He said not to resist evil, but if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other (Matthew 5:39). When the soldiers were going to take Jesus into custody, he told his disciples to stand down and that if it was his desire he could have called down 12 legions of angels to kill his attackers (Matthew 26:53). He didn’t do that. What’s more, he did not even lash out in anger when he was hanged on the cross; instead he pleaded for the forgiveness of those who did it to him (Luke 23:34). The Gospel message sounds 100% anti-violence. But what do we do with the instruction from John the Baptist when he was asked by soldiers what conduct they ought to practice? John told them to serve honestly. He did not tell them to depart from his service as a soldier (Luke 3:14).

This is because there are two dimensions in terms of the violence/non-violence discussion as the Bible details it. The first of which is on the personal level. The personal level is what Jesus is most clearly referring to. If you pay close attention to his teachings, he is not addressing matters of war. Rather, he is addressing personal relationships. War is a political matter.

The political dimension is the second dimension, and I believe the Bible makes it clear that war is condoned as a matter of national security and sometimes expansion. When we look at all of the war that happened in the Old Testament, we have to acknowledge the reality that Israel had become a political power and, although they were achieving God’s will, the national identity of any nation is rooted in politics. Even though the government of Old Testament Israel was not the same government system that the New Testament Church had to deal with, one thing it did share in common with the Roman government was that it was set in place by God. When Peter commented on the role of the state in relation to people’s lives, he stated that the government is appointed to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right (1 Peter 2:14). God has granted government the authority to judge between right and wrong and to punish those who act in an ungodly manner.

In terms of war, as I mentioned earlier, it serves for two purposes: national security and expansion. National security is the type of war we feel most comfortable with because it does not step on anyone’s toes and it is merely beating back oppressive forces. However, expansion has served its purposes in the past, particularly for the nation of Israel. I’m going to avoid elaborating on that for now, because there is an underlying aspect of these two purposes that only God knows of: judgment. War is so often used as a judgment, and when Barak and Deborah marched out onto the battlefield, God was casting judgment upon the other nations by using Israel as his instrument. The same thing has happened to Israel by the hand of the Babylonians. War is a very complicated thing!

Should we praise warriors and bloodshed? Maybe to simplify my answer, let me rephrase this: Can people do noble things through war? Yes! I think of the soldiers in the United States military. The more time that passes, the more respect I have for them. They have chosen to sacrifice years out of their lives to serve our country and to preserve the freedoms that we get to enjoy. That in itself is a very noble deed. It is only right that we honor them through holidays like Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July. The Song of Deborah and Barak might sound strange to our ears, but back then it may have sounded much like the Stars and Stripes Forever to them.

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Judges 5:1-18

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 27, 2016 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Back in early May, we wrote on the story of Deborah and Barak in Judges 4. Go check out that post for some context behind today’s blog post.

The victory that Israel experienced in Judges 4 against Sisera and his army was so significant that the people needed to remember it. If something like that happened today, it would be all over the media - newspapers, TV news reports, social media, Internet news sites, etc. Even things that aren’t significant are often all over our media, but that’s another topic for another day. A huge battle like this one deserved to be remembered, and they couldn’t easily just write down all the details or prepare a news story and report on it from every angle like we could today. So what did they do? They composed a song about it.

The chapter of Judges 5 is the song to remember the victory that Deborah and Barak had over Sisera. Today we’re specifically looking at the first 18 verses of it, but I’ll be going into some background and context of it as well.

This poem is often called the “Song of Deborah.” It is beautifully poetic, and it is a song of praise, thanksgiving, glory, and honor to God. It’s not honoring those who fought in the battle, but it’s honoring God, the true mastermind behind Israel’s victory. It is believed that Deborah is the author of this poem, though we do not know that for certain. It is also believed that this was composed not too long after the events actually happened, so that they would be accurately remembered.

The poem starts out in verses 2-5 by giving praise to God. Verse 3 is especially significant: “Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the Lord; I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.” Think about that for a moment. Deborah, the judge / commander of Israel’s army, just presided over this great victory. Assuming she is the one writing this, she is not at all praising herself. She is praising God completely for this victory! Now that’s some serious humility there.

The song goes on in verses 6-8 with discussing the conditions of Israel at the time of battle. Things were not all that great. Canaanite robbers were present in their area, so trade and agriculture were threatened - and those were their way of life as a people.

Verses 9-11 go on to encourage the people to share of this victory. They need to keep remembering God’s provision for them so that they don’t turn away from Him again - even though we know that they will as we keep reading the book of Judges.

The final section we’re looking at this week is verses 12-18. These verses encourage all of the tribes of Israel to work together to continue to go against their common enemy of the Canaanites. They are called to “Wake up!” which means they need to get up and take action rather than sitting idly by.

The people of Israel recognized what God had done for them, and they wanted to make sure to remember this victory and give God the glory for it. What has God done for you in your life? Are you giving Him the glory for it, and telling others about it to help honor God and remember what He has done? Or are you living your life thinking that you earned each little victory on your own? Think about it.

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Dare to Dream

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 26, 2016 0 comments


by Ami Samuels

Do you dare to dream? Or have we become so accepting of the statement “The grass isn’t greener on the other side,” that we are paralyzed and afraid to try something new? Statements like “It could be worse” are so ingrained in us that we often won’t attempt to change. But, what if it is better?

I love this quote by Erin Hanson: “What if I fail? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” We have become a society so petrified of failure that we have forgotten how it feels to fly. In Isaiah 40:31 it says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

We wonder why we feel hopeless and defeated, because we have become afraid to hope, scared to dream. We are so imprisoned by the “What if’s” that we don’t dare to dream.

What if I fail?
What if I disappoint?
What if I lose?
What if I embarrass myself or my family?

In my talk “Living in a Cinderella World,” I have a quote I like to share: “So many of us spend so much time worrying about who we aren’t, that we miss who we are in Christ.” I would agree that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

We can’t just quit every time things don’t go our way and move on, but we also shouldn’t become so set in this mindset that we never try anything new. Harry Kemp said, “The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream.”

The next time you are facing an opportunity, make sure your decision isn’t one solely based out of fear. If the only thing standing between you and an open door is anxiety, don’t allow fear to rob you of your dreams.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but sometimes it is.

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Why Does the Bible Suppress Women?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 25, 2016 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

As I prepared to write on this question we received, I interviewed a couple people in my family who lived through the “Women’s Liberation” era. It was a learning experience for me in seeing the historical threads they lived through, and how it helped give rise to where we are today. Much of what they shared helped me see a larger scope of American history, but it also helped me step back from my own assumptions in regard to ‘gender equality.’ I saw that what we in America seek as “women’s rights,” is really symptomatic of a much larger disconnect that we overlook.

Before I dive in, let me deal with the flaw in this question. To be somewhat blunt, the question of why the Bible suppresses women assumes God’s intent and is not a question seeking understanding - it is an accusation toward God. I have found this question usually comes from a very limited understanding of the Bible and its context. The simplest answer is that the Bible does not advocate suppression of women or ‘second class citizenship’ for females.

How can I be sure? Both the Old Testament and the New Testament have female heroes, celebrated for doing what men would not or could not do, in their faithfulness to God. In the Old Testament, Deborah and Jael are heroes as they were willing to do what Barak was afraid to do (Deborah also held a position as a Judge of Israel). Ruth‘s loyalty and faithfulness to Naomi saved an entire family’s legacy and established the lineage for King David. Esther was elevated to queen in order to rescue her entire nation, in the face of blatant bigotry and deception. And even Rahab the prostitute is a hero and is in the lineage of Jesus.

In the New Testament we see heroes like Mary, Elizabeth, Martha, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan Woman who has great faith, as well as the women who were strong supporters of the missions of the Apostle Paul, and of the ministry in the early Gentile churches. Lydia, for example, was a business woman who sold and used purple dye and supported ministry personally through her home. These are just some quick examples of women celebrated in the Bible.

So, let’s just deal with the ‘elephant’ we are being asked to swallow in the question. The question suffers from bias created by powerful cultural conditioning and propaganda. The Bible does NOT suppress women, nor does it even suggest validation for the suppression of women.

And at about this point those who think they are really really smart are going to say, “What about Paul? Doesn’t Paul advocate women being silent, not talking in church and only asking their husbands questions?” To which I will ask a logical question: why would a man who celebrates business women, even highlights their support and work within the church, advocate suppression? Clearly he is not afraid of them, and he appreciates what God has given them to contribute to the community of the church. So then why the statements about silence? Do you think something specific may have been going on at that time which he was trying to address? He specifically appeals to Genesis and the creation account to emphasize responsibilities between men and women; why? If these are sticking points for you, I encourage you to do some digging on these questions and see what you come up with. I am confident you will see that Paul is not suppressing women, but rather he appears to be dealing with an undercurrent in the community that was causing problems.

Whatever the specific issue was that Paul was addressing, I suspect it was rooted in the recurring issue that divides male and female constantly throughout history. The hard thing for us to realize is this is not just a male/female issue, it’s a relational issue for everyone. Feminism has, in part, conditioned us to ignore the roots of the issue. The agendas of feminism (as well as chauvinism) rely on celebrating the principles of independence and self-gratification, against the desperation of dependence and co-dependency. They cannot justify the distrust and control essential to their agenda, without amplifying the fear of manipulation, oppression, and abuse. What do I mean by that?

Let’s take this in one broad stroke for both men and women. Look at history, and look at the descriptions of historical events in the Bible. Is it too broad to say that EVERY moment of division, dissention, suppression, and oppression has begun from a people or person pressing their advantage for their own gain?

Think carefully about this. We are a people designed to be INTERDEPENDENT with others as we mature - not independent (autonomous), not dependent (subjected), not co-dependent (addicted/parasitic). I challenge you to look at every oppression of a people group (including women in every culture), and try to find suppression and oppression without some fracture of trust and interdependence. I am willing to bet that in every case you will find that someone pressed their advantage, someone broke trust, someone decided to take what they COULD without considering if they SHOULD. Every time that happens there is fallout, reaction, and consequence.

The Bible records and deals with those moments with grace and consistently points people back to the Truth of our need for one another. The Bible consistently exposes our need to be faithful and trust one another. And God even uses the picture of a healthy male/female relationship as the comparison for His relationship with the Church.

Read Ephesians 5:21. Look at this carefully.
- Notice it says, “submit to one another...”
- Notice we are reminded to do this, “...out of reverence for Christ [fear of offending Christ]”.
- Why would not submitting to one another be offensive to Jesus?

ALL Biblical pictures of male/female interactions MUST start with “submit to one another.” This is NEVER a one-way street for our relationships. And it offends God when we take selfish opportunities toward or against one another, because God Himself has never acted that way toward us. When men assert dominance over women, they break the example they are to be of God’s submission to His Church. And when women assert dominance over men, they break the example of the Church’s submission to God. All our relationships should reflect this, but especially as men and women. When we do not submit to one another, we create the kind of broken trust our country now suffers from. Our society and our families pay a horrible price when men and women cannot or will not submit to one another. This is the broadest statement of what I find the Bible addressing in regard to women (and men). From here, it gets much more specific, and our history has many examples of how broken relationships and larger events like wars, tragedies, etc. can create independence, dependence, or co-dependence - all at the price of trusting, interdependent, loving, and respecting relationships.

So, if the initial question has been something that has bothered you about the Bible or Christianity, I encourage you to start examining this whole gender equality issue from this perspective regarding interdependence. Start exploring the Bible and see how God addresses our selfishness toward one another. Consider what it would be like for us if we really did live the way God asks us to. Would gender equality even be an issue?

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Why Are You a Christian?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 24, 2016 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

This post is specifically for those who are born again believers and those who claim to be Christian. If you do not subscribe to be a follower of Jesus Christ, then this post is not directed at you. It may, however, help you see why many by the name seem to have problems living the life they claim to have.

Why are we Christians? Why is it that we call ourselves by the name of Jesus Christ? There may be some of you reading this that do not actually have an answer for that. It is a question I need to ask myself as well. Why do I call upon the name of Jesus? Why do I associate myself with that name? Especially in a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile towards it.

Many may say, “I was born a Christian. I was raised as one. I was baptized when I was a kid. I said a prayer.” Many others will say, “I trust in Jesus for my salvation from my sins and when I sin, I look unto him for mercy and grace.” Other still may say, “I really don’t know. I just am one.” A while back I wrote a post called “Christian in Name Only”. Unfortunately many people who call themselves Christian are so in name only.

The very word “Christian” means “little Christ.” The phrase “to follow Christ” is actually closer to “to mimic Christ.” The whole point of being a Christian is to be like Jesus. When Jesus said repeatedly, “Come and follow me,” he did not say, “Just come by at your convenience.” He meant we were to drop everything we were doing, do not return to it, and come after him. In Bible times, a disciple’s goal was to be so close to his rabbi that he could boast how must dust from the rabbi’s feet he got on his feet. How many of us seriously want to be like Christ? It is easy to say, but in reality it is “the most dangerous prayer any human being could every pray” (to quote Paul Washer, 2:32).

Jesus repeatedly said, “If you are to be my disciple, you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.” In reality, most of us want to follow Christ but want to retain ourselves in the process. If you really want to follow Christ as he said here, this is what it means, and again I will quote Paul Washer from the same video linked above: “I don’t care if you have to dethrone me. I don’t care if you have to tear apart my ministry. I don’t if you have to destroy it. I don’t care what happens. Make me like Jesus Christ.”

How many of us are willing to say that? To be willing to throw down all we are and all we do, even Kingdom work, to be more like Christ? I tell you what. That is a tough one. The whole purpose of Christianity is to be in process of being conformed into the image of Christ. How often do we spend time in prayer? That question was more directed at me than anyone else. I am putting thoughts together to start a series about prayer and I will be flat out honest: that is perhaps one of my weakest areas in my Christian walk. I have head knowledge some only dream they could have, but I see others with a prayer life that I know I don’t have. Why? Part of it is that deep down, I still want some control over some areas of my life. Because in some areas, I don’t want Christ to rule over it. That is my sinful, selfish, self-pleasing self that needs to be removed from the throne of my life and replaced by Jesus Christ.

Why do we claim to be Christians? Do we even believe what we claim to believe? I deal with many people who claim to be Christians but they completely disregard the Bible, they hardly go to church or fellowship with other believers, they speak as the world speaks, they act as the world acts, and I’m sitting there watching it and thinking, “Why bother with the title Christian?” Why do we even bother calling ourselves by a name we don’t live after?

Let me give several reasons. One is that people want to feel good about after life. They know and admit God is real and they want to be in heaven, not hell. That’s not a bad reason to want to be a Christian. But many treat the cross as a “get out of hell free” card and completely disregard what Jesus did on it. Romans 5:20-21 greatly states that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” Many people take that verse and say, “We have been forgiven. We can sin as many times as we want.” Really? How often does Paul continually reiterate that we need to die to our sin? Jesus will readily accept us as we are. He told the woman caught in the very act of adultery, “neither do I condemn you.” But too many people stop there. Jesus also said one more thing: “Go and sin no more.” There were times where Jesus said to repent and he said if they did not, their situation would be worse than it was before. Jesus will take us as we are, but he will not leave us as we are. If are going to claim the name of Jesus, but refuse to allow him to work in us and get our sin out from us, then we are illegitimate children and we never were his to begin with. We must be watchful of the false conversion.

Another reason for claiming to be a Christian however is for the purpose of deceit. Wolves in sheep clothing are not to help build the body of Christ but to cause and create confusion and/or destruction. They look like sheep, but they cannot act like sheep. I saw a great post a while back saying, “When a sheep righteously attacks a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the other sheep complain, it is because of near-sightedness.” A wolf is different than a goat. A wolf has a purpose to deceive, destroy, and eat the sheep. A goat looks like a sheep, thinks he’s a sheep, but is not one. Jesus also had a warning about those in Matthew 25.

But there are others, and let us examine ourselves to see if we fit in this last category. The true believers, the ones that can authentically call themselves by the name of Jesus, are the ones who have recognized their sin. They know their short-comings. They know they were in rebellion against God and recognize that they truly deserve death, death of every kind. They know that apart from God’s grace and his mercy, they have no hope, so they turn to him and lean on him and depend upon him. Many accuse Christians of needing Jesus as a crutch. That is far from the truth. Jesus is no crutch. He is life-support. With a crutch, you can get by on your own. But without Jesus, we are dead. We need to stop treating Christ as a crutch and treat him as the very means for how we live. When we learn that, then true Christianity, walking in the power of Christianity, it all works. We cannot imitate Christ. We need Christ in us to imitate himself in and through us. That is what Christianity is all about. We get out of the way, and let him be God.

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The Stars at Night Are Big and Bright

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 23, 2016 0 comments


by Steve Risner

The universe is absolutely marvelous! I know I started last week’s blog post in a similar way, but come on! It’s totally awesome! Look at the stars on the next clear night with as little ambient light as you can. You can see all sorts of fantastic stuff that glorifies God and shows His creativity and His power. There are galaxies you can see. There are nebulae (huge fields of gas). You can see planets and huge colorful stars. You can often view a variety of planets depending on the time of night and time of year. During the summer, you can look up and see what looks like a dense cloud of stars stretching in a line across the sky. You are actually looking towards the center of the Milky Way galaxy! That’s right! The center of our galaxy is right there to be viewed. You’re looking at millions of stars all clumped together in this cloud. We’re in an outer arm of the Milky Way, so we can peer into the center of this gigantic group of stars—it’s about 100,000 light years across!

Sure, there are some galaxies we believe are over 1 million light years across, but who cares! Those distances, all of them, are totally unknowable to our little human brains. And the Milky Way is one of millions or more likely billions of galaxies each full of billions of stars.

Galaxies take a variety of shapes. Ours, the Milky Way, is a spiral galaxy and is likely the shape most people would think of when they think of a galaxy. There are lots of galaxy shapes, but many do take the spiral shape. There are also elliptical, lenticular, and irregular (which is one way to say all the other shapes they take) galaxies. As noted in last week’s blog post, there’s even a rectangular galaxy. Spiral galaxies are just that—they look like a spiral. Elliptical galaxies are more like a glob of stars with a lot more 3D shape than spirals (which are generally flat on edge). Elliptical galaxies look more like a mass of stars without a real defined shape other than sort of an oval. Lenticular galaxies are flat like spiral galaxies but don’t really have arms. Then there are irregular galaxies that look like anything else.

Each of these galaxies is filled with stars. Our sun is a star. They call it a small star, but it’s over a million times the size of the earth, so it’s fairly large from our perspective. There are stars roughly 30 times the diameter of our sun which is equal to about 27,000 times the volume. This star also burns so hot and massively that every 5 seconds it puts out the energy the sun will emit for a year. This star, R136a1, is the most massive star known, but is far from the largest. Confused? Mass is how much stuff is there while volume is the actual size in space it takes up. It’s like the difference between a balloon and a ball of lead that’s the same size. Their masses (on earth we could call it their weight) are very different even though they’re the same size. Another star, UY Scuti, is estimated to be 5 billion times the volume of our sun! It’s 1700 times the diameter of our sun. If UY Scuti was our sun, its outer edge would be beyond Jupiter! However, the brightest star in the sky (being almost twice the brightness of the second brightest star) is Sirius. Sirius is actually 2 stars and is relatively close to us at about 8-9 light years. Sirius is often mistaken for an airplane it flashes so beautifully in the night sky. As bright as it is, it’s not as bright as a few planets we get to see regularly. Venus, our neighbor a little closer to the sun than us, is the brightest “star” in the sky. However, you also will only see it for short periods because of its position relative to us. Jupiter is generally the second brightest “star,” and with a pair of binoculars you can easily make out its 4 largest moons—called the Galilean moons, as they are named Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Calisto. It’s truly amazing.

There are other really great things to see in the night sky this summer. You can see a slew of planets: Mercury and Venus can be seen in the early morning, although Venus may be a bit tougher to see in the summer. At night, you can see Saturn, Mars, Uranus, and Jupiter. Do some searching on the internet to find out what planets are visible in your area and when. There will also be meteor showers this summer to catch! I love them. The Delta Aquarid shower will be in mid-summer. You can also spot the International Space Station (ISS). On occasion, you’ll be able to see it with CYGNUS as well (that’s the US cargo ship that takes supplies to the ISS). You can go to https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/ and see when either will be visible from your location. It’s pretty cool.

As I ended last week’s blog post, I will end today’s. The purpose of creation is to glorify God. The universe—the stars, planets and our moon—are also given to us to keep track of time. This is according to Genesis 1:14. But the primary purpose of all of creation is to praise the Creator and to point man to Him. These awesome sights we can see in the sky shout praise to the Master and Creator of all there is. From stars that are 100 million miles in diameter to super clusters of galaxies to beautifully colored gas clouds that stretch for light years to comets and meteor showers—it’s all for God’s glory. He puts on a great spectacle, doesn’t He? Man thinks he’s something because he can generate a nuclear bomb or some such thing. Every second the sun puts out the same energy that roughly 2 billion of the largest atomic bombs ever detonated could put out. The forces we find in nature humble man on a regular basis. Praise the God that conceived nature in His mind! I highly recommend watching these two videos: Indescribable and How Great is Our God. They will totally wreck you… they did me. They’re a little lengthy, but so worth your time.

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Woman Empowered

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 21, 2016 0 comments


by Bill Seng

Forgive me for not being able to cite the source, but although Pope Francis has not been perceived to be the most conservative or traditional Pope ever to occupy Vatican City, a spokesperson of his made a very interesting statement when asked if the role of women in the Catholic Church would change. The answer that was given was along the lines of, “Inside the Catholic Church, it is church doctrine that only men can serve in the priesthood.  That does not mean that women do not play an important role within the church.” He then went on to cite people like Mother Teresa and the Virgin Mary. Women have always played a vital role in the Christian Church.

Despite this reality, there are groups of people that might try to convince you that the Church is an oppressive force towards women. They may say that if it weren’t for the Church, women would be able to enjoy more freedoms. There are many other religions and cultures across the world today that are perceived to grant lower status to women. Let me provide a few brief examples.

India is renowned for its Hindu people. Hinduism is perceived by Westerners to be enlightened, smart, and a far superior religion than Christianity. I don’t know official religious Hindu doctrine, but a common practice in India is if a wife does not bear her husband a son, sometimes he will burn her alive for failing to satisfy him.

In many Middle Eastern countries, a woman must stay completely covered head to toe when in public, must always be with her husband in public, and can’t even drive a car unless her husband is with her.

China, an atheistic country, has imposed a limit upon how many children a family can have. For a while, they were limiting each family to one child. Any additional children would need to be aborted. Parents would thus opt to abort their child if it happened to be a girl. Their reasoning was that girls do not have the earning power that boys have (when they grow up) and can end up being costlier when factoring in events like weddings and pregnancies.

Christianity can’t even be compared to these examples. In fact, it is not oppressive at all to women.

There are a few passages that are often cited when this conversation comes up. Let’s look at them.

“If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head” (1 Corinthians 11:6).

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1 Timothy 2:12-15).

Wow, these sound somewhat harsh, right? So women have to cover their heads and they are not allowed to talk or hold authority. What this is often times translated into is that women cannot preach, they must bear children, and it is imperative that they dress funny. Let’s dissect this really quick.

First, let us acknowledge that if these Scriptures, read as literally as possible and outside of their proper contexts, do mean what they appear to say, these are minor restrictions upon women compared to the cultures that will not permit women to learn to read.

With the 1 Corinthians passage, when we put it into context, it makes more sense. It is not saying that women must always wear a head covering or shave their head. The context is specifically addressing when a woman publically prays or prophesies. To the best of my understanding, this appears to be the only time that Paul says that women need to cover their head. He explains why, but frankly, I still don’t fully understand and it seems to be something that our culture dismisses as not being a priority. Does it matter in the long run? I have no idea.

But notice, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is permitting women to preach. There are many female preachers throughout the Bible. The first of which that we discussed in Judges 4 is Deborah, who was a recognized prophet. One of the first evangelists, so to speak, was a woman. In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well who ends up declaring that she may have just spoke with the Messiah (v.28-30).

In the letter to Timothy that I cited earlier, Paul asks that women learn in quietness and would not exercise authority over men. There has been a lot of debate over Paul’s intentions in this passage which has created two camps: those who believe that women should be allowed to be ordained as pastors inside of the church, and those who do not. Regardless of which side you take, I would like to encourage you to respect anyone who might be preaching the Word of God.

The Prophet Joel revealed that there would be a day when God would “pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy” (Joel 2:28). Not everyone in the camp that thinks women should not be pastors believe women should be allowed to preach. I am in this camp and I disagree. I think the Bible is full of examples of female evangelists. Furthermore, I can only recall one person of whom Jesus said, “Wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 16:13). He said this of Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha.

To me, there is nothing that needs to be defended concerning the status of women in Christianity. I think there are groups that might restrict them too much and I think there are groups that empower them too much. But compared to other religions and cultures, women enjoy freedoms that they would never have been granted had it not been for Jesus. Did I mention that the first people to proclaim Jesus had been raised from the dead were women (Matthew 28:7-8)?

In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter refers to women as the weaker partner. Men, this ought to make us a little jealous (I’m half kidding), because Jesus said that in heaven the last shall be first and the first shall be last (Luke 13:30). If anyone wants to be great, he needs to humble himself and serve others (Matthew 20:26). Perhaps that is why Jesus empowered and respected women the way he did. I cannot recall a single woman in the Gospels that he rebuked, but he was frequently rebuking men for lack of faith and arrogance.

This post could easily go longer, but I want you to digest the examples I have already given of how the Bible has elevated the status of women. Mind you, I didn’t even talk about the status of women before Jesus came. It is only because of his arrival that they are able to enjoy the freedoms they have today.

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Why Does God Hate Women?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 20, 2016 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

A few years back, I had the opportunity to preach at my congregation on the passage of 1 Timothy 2, where the apostle Paul offers some instructions for worship. We had staged a number of women purposefully doing distracting things as I began preaching, including talking loudly, being obnoxious, and even throwing things! That in itself was pretty ironic given the content of the passage, as well as me reading aloud and preaching on verses such as verse 12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” I respect the fact that some denominations of the Church prefer that women do not preach, but I do not practice that restriction myself.

But, the point of this blog post is not to discuss specifically the roles of women in ministry, but what the Bible says regarding women as a whole and their role in society. The question that provoked this post was someone asking us, "If the Bible is such a great book, why does it seem to suppress women and their advancement in society?" It may seem to some that God oppresses women and treats us as lesser beings in the Bible, but follow along here and see what conclusion you come to after reading some passages.

First off, what does oppression mean? According to Google, oppression is defined as “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.” Keep that in your mind as we go through this post.

It all starts with creation, of course. Take a look at Genesis 1:27: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Men and women were created as distinct but the same in that they’re both created in God’s image. In the detailed account of the creation of humans in Genesis 2, the man was created first then the woman was created out of the man. But both genders still seem pretty equal, right? In Genesis 3, both the woman and the man ate of the fruit that they were not supposed to eat, thus both sinned. Again, still pretty equal, and women aren’t yet seen as oppressed.

But, that’s the root of the problem right there: sin. If there is one sin that I would bet we commit more than any other, it’s pride. In our prideful, competitive, “all about me” culture, somebody has to be the best. We can’t all consider everyone as equals because of our pride. We’re always finding ways to make ourselves look better, often by putting someone else down. Although the means and methods have changed, the fact that humans always want to be better than each other hasn’t changed since Genesis 3. Very early on in the history of mankind, man got the idea that he was created first, therefore he should be better than woman. Men started treating women as their possessions, as property, and for whatever reason, women let this happen; perhaps it was due to men having more physical strength and therefore more pride. But whatever the reason, men have considered themselves better than women since essentially the fall into sin.

The Bible is a book that is inspired by God and the true Word of God, and much of the Bible’s content is reporting human history. The Bible tells it like it happened. Because humans are sinful and men did treat women as property, that is how the Bible reports it. Does that mean that is how God sees women? No; that is how men in that culture saw women, and the Bible is reporting that historical fact. Men did oppress women in that culture, but that doesn’t mean God did. For a few examples, take a look at Rahab, Ruth, Esther, or Deborah.

Later, in the New Testament, we see passages in Scripture such as Ephesians 5:21-33 and 1 Peter 3:1-7 that seem to confirm that men should be in authority over women. If men are in authority, that means the women are oppressed, right? Wrong. Take special note of Ephesians 5:21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submission is not taking orders from someone; it is honoring their wishes and honoring God. Yes, women are commanded to submit to their husbands, but men are also commanded to submit to women (hence the “to one another”) out of reverence for Christ. Is that oppression? I’d definitely say no.

So yes, there are times in the Bible that we see women oppressed. But does that mean God oppresses women? Nope. I see nothing in the Bible that says He loves women any less than He loves men. Men have treated women poorly throughout history, but that doesn’t mean God does. Men and women are different, but yet we are all created in God’s image and He loves every one of us (1 John 4:9-10). We, too, are called to love one another. Oppression is only in the picture at all because of sin, which was caused by both the first man and the first woman.

What are you doing today to perpetuate the love that God has for all people? How does your life show that love and cause no one to be oppressed?

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A Matter of Interpretation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 17, 2016 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

I have lost track of how many times I have heard the phrase, “That’s your interpretation,” or some variation of it. I will say something that the Bible very clearly says in plain language and someone who does not want to believe it says, “That’s your interpretation,” or “That’s your opinion.”

I am the kind of person that puts the Bible in the place where God puts it: as the highest authority and the primary tangible source of information that provides the framework on how to analyze anything and everything. I have written extensively about worldviews here and how they answer five key questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Who am I? Where am I going? Who do I listen to? A Biblical worldview uses the Bible as the source to answer each of these questions, and uses the Bible to filter what any other input has to say on any issues.

The Biblical worldview also reveals God’s worldview because the Bible tells us how God sees us and everything around us. God would answer these questions about himself differently than he does about us, but he would use the same reference for how to answer them: the Bible, his revealed Word in text form. If the Bible is indeed God’s Word, as it clearly claims in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21, then because God cannot lie, we can conclude that the Bible contains no lies.

Though if the Bible has no lies and is inerrant, then does one interpretation or understanding of what the text says have the same or equal weight as another? I often defend Biblical authority regarding origins and I take the plain language understanding of Genesis, leading to what we know today as the young earth creation model. But when I say, “This is what the Bible says” or I speak of the Bible as having authority, it is often quickly dismissed as being “my interpretation.” Often young earth creation is mocked as being “a particular interpretation,” as though there are others we do not consider. But is this so?

I get asked from the old earth creation crowd often, “Could God have used evolution? Why aren’t you considering other options?” Well, let’s examine these claims. Could God have used millions of years? Yeah, sure. He’s powerful enough. But the real question is not “Could he?” The real question is “Did he?” Take notice of everyone who suggests, “There are other interpretations to consider.” “That’s not how other people see it.” “Could God…?” I cannot think of any person who has offered these statements or a variation of them actually consider the plain language reading of the text. But it gets worse than this.

Most of the interpretations I have heard regarding Scripture that do not take the plain meaning of the text tend to take a meaning that is completely opposite of what it actually says. This is not just in the creation issue. When God said “in six days” he meant very clearly “in six days.” He did not mean “long, undefined periods of time.” Those who seek to make it a matter of “interpretation” pick a very obscure definition that maybe fits the predetermined model they have. Can the word “day” mean “period of time”? Yeah. But when it does it means a very specific time period when a significant thing in history happens. It never means what old earth creationist try to make it mean.

I also see it in the homosexual discussion as well. The Bible very clearly states that homosexuality is a sin, but now people (not just Matthew Vines, whom I addressed in December and January) are saying, “The Bible was not talking about the loving, committed relationships. Just the lustful ones.” Really? Since when did the perception of love and commitment change what is sin or not?

When you reduce the Bible to “It’s your interpretation,” you end up with what I described a few weeks ago with being “above Scripture.” The whole idea is to reduce the Bible into something that you can make whatever you want out of it. In this mentality, you do not submit to the Bible, the Bible submits to you – to your reasoning, to your intellect, to your wishes.

Yet, that is not what the Bible is made to do. The Bible was written to reveal what God says about any issue. The Bible reveals God’s worldview and it exposes us for what we are: lost sinners in rebellion against God and in need of a Savior. If there is a question or a problem, where is the flaw – in us or in God? Those who question the authority of Scripture never seem to consider that they don’t have the answers. They never seem to consider that God might. Why? I think it is because they know what God has to say about it and that would require them to humble themselves. Pride is a very dangerous thing. That is why God abominates it.

It is prideful to say “This is what the Bible says”? No it is not. It is not arrogant to take God at his word, believe it, and proclaim it. But it is prideful to think that you might know more than God, that while God may mean well, he might need “your” help to get his message across. It is arrogant to think that with all our scientific advancements that we have surpassed God’s knowledge and records of history. Keep in mind that most of those I am talking about here are those who claim to be Christians. The ones that are not do not try to interpret the Bible a particular way to support their flesh; they just dismiss it outright.

The whole tactic here is to remove the Bible from having a position of authority. Yet this exactly what Moses dealt with in Numbers 16-17. Korah, Dathan, and Abriam asked the same question: “Who put you in charge? Why is your interpretation correct? We have access to God just as much as you do.” What happened? God smote them. The earth swallowed them alive and then closed up after them. What immediately followed was God established his Word through Moses by making Aaron’s rod blossom.

There is only one true and correct interpretation of Scripture: that which God has. But he gave us the tools we need to arrive at his interpretation: the rest of Scripture. The best way to understand Scripture is to interpret it in light of the whole of Scripture and look at the big picture. Look at Jesus as the centerpiece. All Scripture is there to reveal Jesus. Make him your focal point. And remember, the spiritual things are spiritually discerned. If someone cannot see the spiritual side of it, then consider they may be using their carnal minds. They will not see the truth, nor consider it to be an option, because they are working out of their own mind and not seeking God’s. Yet we have access to the mind of Christ. When we seek that, the correct interpretation of Scripture becomes quite clear. Let us put ourselves below Scripture, where God tells us what he meant and let us not try to outguess God. It is not a matter of interpretation. It is a matter of where God has the final say or not.

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To Infinity and Beyond

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 16, 2016 8 comments


by Steve Risner

The universe is AWESOME! I generally reserve the word “awesome” for God or things related to/from God. I think this is a perfect occasion to use the term. The universe is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve been in love with the cosmos since I was a child. I’ve studied it. I’ve stared at it. I’ve wondered about it. Science in general is something I truly enjoy the study of, but one of my favorite college courses was in astronomy—the study of celestial bodies, space, and the universe in general. In fact, the course wasn’t required. I elected to take it. Today’s blog post is going to be sort of setting the stage for future posts. Today, we’ll be looking at some of the amazing things about our universe that we know, or at least think we know. The truth is, we’re on this little spec in the middle of an arm of the Milky Way galaxy looking out at something we truly cannot conceive in our minds—not even a little bit. What we “know” about the universe today is probably going to be laughed at in the future as we discover more and more, much like lobotomies for mental health or alchemy in chemistry.

It’s easy to look up at the stars at night and just get lost in awe and wonder. We’re looking at billions upon billions of huge fusion reactors that are melting the elements that can easily exceed 15 million degrees Celsius. Those numbers—billions upon billions and 15 million degrees Celsius—are far beyond anything my mind can wrap itself around. But that’s just our galaxy which is one of billions. Here we are about 93 million miles from the sun, our perfect little star, which again is a distance I can’t relate anything to in my experience. And at 93 million miles and through our thick atmosphere, we can still get burnt by this thing. Our sun could hold 1.3 million of our earths within it and earth is 25,000 miles around! The sun makes up 99.9% of the mass of our solar system. Even Jupiter, which is larger than all the other planets of our solar system combined, is 1/1000th the size of the sun. That blows my mind. And the sun is perfectly balanced for us on earth. In other words, it’s not too hot nor is it too cold. Combined with the rotation rate of the earth, we have the perfect scenario for maintaining a good life supporting system here on earth. If the earth spun a little slower, we’d freeze to death at night and burn up in the day. A little faster would likely increase the strength of severe weather (although this is highly debatable and nearly impossible to prove one way or the other). Life on earth depends on the sun. Plants use the sun to produce energy to thrive. Animals eat plants and other animals. Without the sun, the earth wouldn’t just be dark. It would be lifeless.

But our sun is one of billions in our galaxy, which is one of billions of galaxies we have seen. I firmly believe we have seen a fraction of the universe with the Hubble telescope. I also believe that the James Webb Space Telescope will see more than the Hubble but will still fall short of seeing all of this glorious place. Images from Hubble are astonishing. I could sit and look at them all day. From huge clusters of stars to enormous clusters of galaxies—yes, clusters of hundreds of galaxies each with billions of stars. Some of these galaxies are colliding with each other. Some are majestic and beautiful. Some are even rectangular! You can see the massive power held in a star as it explodes and expels gas and energy covering light years of space. What makes these stars go supernova is a mystery. In fact, the universe is full of mysteries. Even things we can look at and observe are often times totally baffling to us as human beings. We have pulsars—stars that emit a rhythmic pulse of light or radio frequency—which is essentially unexplained. There are quasars—quasi-stellar objects—which are totally confusing. They look like stars but are extremely bright and usually fairly remote in their locations. Black holes and their peculiarities are worth mentioning as are white holes (the opposite of a black hole). Gamma-ray bursts and cosmic rays are something we see quite often but have no idea where they originate. How do galaxies form? What forms first—stars, black holes, galaxies? We have no idea. How do solar systems come about? No clue. Sure, they’ve got stories to tell about how they think it could have happened, but in terms of our solar system especially, there is no reasonable idea as to its origin naturalistically. Our solar system is very special. I’ll probably get into that another time, but it’s clearly one of a kind.

Then there is dark matter and energy, which allegedly comprise some 95% of the universe although neither has ever been observed or has any directly measurable emission. Essentially, these are two things that have been made up to explain something we know very little about. Creationists are mocked quite often for saying, “Well, God did it” if we don’t understand something (which is not really true—that’s hardly ever an explanation offered) but the humanist is permitted to make up something out of thin air to explain a completely erroneous result and it’s okay. Dark matter and energy must exist because man has assumed he knows what he’s talking about and the numbers don’t add up. Why do these things exist? Because if they don’t, our equations don’t work. This is “science.” Now, in all honesty, I’m not saying these things can’t exist. I’m saying there is no evidence for their existence other than we don’t understand it otherwise. This is what scientists like to do to fill in gaps. If creationists do something even close to this, they are mocked and ridiculed. Sounds like a double standard, right? It is and always has been. It’s difficult to not name this pseudoscience because the bulk of their model—the Big Bang cosmology—is based on it. In fact, as stated, at least 95% of the universe must be this stuff we’ve never seen or interacted with. They appeal them so their model cannot be falsified, in my opinion.

This introductory post is just to whet your appetite. I love astronomy. I’ve spent many nights gazing at the stars, studying the planets, looking at photos of deep space, or reading about the wildest things we can see in the cosmos. These things do one thing in particular for me: they make me praise and glorify God for His masterfully and elegantly created universe. The visible universe is close to 100 billion light years across! A light year is nearly 6 trillion miles. Multiply that by 100 billion and that’s the depths to which we’ve peered into the night sky! That doesn’t compute for us in reality. The universe is filled with trillions of objects to view, from nebulae to planets to stars and comets to asteroids to quasars and pulsars and supernovae. At this point there’s literally no end to what we can view. The point of this masterpiece is to bring glory to God. All of creation has a purpose—to bring praise and glory to its Maker. A universe so unimaginably huge and so beautifully decorated is necessary or the God Who created it would not receive the glory He deserves. Does that make sense? Something so marvelous was necessary to adequately express the greatness of God. Carl Sagan foolishly stated, “The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” The universe is exactly as God wanted it—the right size and everything. It screams of the majesty of its Creator. Its purpose is not to house millions of untold civilizations from galaxy to galaxy. Its purpose is to point man to his God. The size of the universe is absolutely necessary to explain to us the majesty, the depths, the glory, the brilliance, the wisdom, and the mystery of our great great God. We’ll be discussing some of these majestic things of the cosmos in the weeks to come. I hope you enjoy it as much as I know I will.

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Philistines and Bullies

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 14, 2016 0 comments


by Bill Seng

You know who the Philistines are. That’s not a question. You know who they are even if you don’t. Anyone who has heard the story of David and Goliath has had exposure to who the Philistines are. Goliath was the champion of the Philistines when they were battling against Israel’s army, led by Saul. In those days the Philistines were the arch nemesis of the Israelites.

The Philistines were born to be bad guys. In the earliest days after the world’s creation, a man named Cain was born and he became the living icon of wickedness. He murdered his brother and was cast into exile (Genesis 4). His bloodline was destroyed by the flood in Genesis, but he was later succeeded in his wickedness by Noah’s son Ham. Ham had a son named Casluhim who gave birth to the Philistines (Genesis 10:14). Of the three sons of Noah that the Philistines could have descended from, it was the one from whom a curse would be transmitted. The Israelites and the Philistines hated each other.

Ultimately, the relationship between the Israelites and the Philistines could be summed up by two bullies: Samson and Goliath. Samson was a man chosen by God to inflict damage to the nation of the Philistines (Judges 14:4) while Goliath was chosen to bring glory to God through David’s victory.

Goliath defined the Philistines: mighty, fierce, and blasphemous. When he stood before the nation of Israel to challenge them to fight, he cursed the name of the Lord and swore by his own gods (1 Samuel 17:43). He was a bad man, but he wasn’t too different from many people alive today. We tend to think that the battle doesn’t only belong to the biggest and strongest, but the most belligerent and irreverent. The Philistines were a ruthless and immoral people as was demonstrated through the Israelites’ champion bully, Samson.

Samson was gifted by God with long hair that would give him strength. The Philistines, despite Samson’s cruelty, were also cruel. They stole his first wife from him and then burned her and her father alive (Judges 15:6). Samson became full of rage and ripped into the Philistines with an animosity that was probably matchless to any other warrior in history. In a single battle he killed 1,000 Philistine warriors (Judges 15:15). Samson’s downfall, though, would come about due to his arrogance. He gave away the secret to his strength, was robbed of it, and was blinded by the Philistines (Judges 16:21).

The Philistines were used as a whip to test the faith of the Israelites and to be an instrument of judgment against them. Samson exemplified the hatred that the Israelites would harbor against the Philistines for a long time, while Goliath was an example of the pure wickedness that the Philistines stood for. Although Goliath was a true bully, in the respect that he boasted in his strength and size and used it to oppress people, Samson was only a bully in the respect that he allowed his success to make him arrogant. It was in this that God again used the Philistines as a judge against him and remind him of his need for God to overcome his greatest obstacles.

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Who Are the Philistines?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 13, 2016 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

This week, we’re wrapping up our series on the different peoples mentioned in the Old Testament with discussing the Philistine people. If you want to review, so far we’ve learned about the Canaanites, Amalekites, Amorites, and Midianites.

The most famous time we see the people of Israel interact with the Philistines is the story of David and Goliath, which you can read about in 1 Samuel 17. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it’s where young David has the courage to go up against the Philistines’ giant Goliath in battle, and David easily defeats the giant with a slingshot, some stones, and the power of God, bringing victory to Israel.

But who were these Philistine people, and why were they Israel’s enemies? They were a part of the primitive race of the Phoenicians. They lived in various parts of the Mediterranean, including in the valley of the Jordan River. We see in Exodus 13:17, Joshua 13:3, and 1 Samuel 4 that they inhabited the area between Judea and Egypt.

Throughout the Old Testament, it seems as though there’s almost a continual war between the Philistines and the people of Israel, especially the southern tribes. Sometimes the Israelites were enslaved by the Philistines (Judges 15:11 and 1 Samuel 13:19-22) and other times Israel defeated them (1 Samuel 14). This war between the peoples did not stop until the reign of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), but they still occupied the land until they were ultimately defeated by the Romans.

So why do the Philistines matter to us today? Do you have a person in your life with whom it seems like you’re constantly fighting? They just keep turning up where you don’t want to see them and causing you grief. Maybe you had an incident that sparked the disagreement, or maybe it’s just malice for a reason you can’t explain. But for whatever reason, you just don’t get along. That’s the kind of relationship that the people of Israel had with the Philistines - they just didn’t get along and were often fighting.

How did Israel handle the Philistines? That depended on the situation. At times, they followed God’s leading and were victorious over them; at other times, they followed their own way of thinking and were beaten and enslaved. How are you dealing with the difficult person in your life? Are you listening to God’s leading in how to treat them, and therefore being victorious in having a better relationship with them? Or are you following your own way of thinking, and continuing to strain that already damaged relationship?

Use the example of Israel and the Philistines to take a look at difficult people you have in your life, and how God would want you to interact with them.

[Note: Much of this material was taken from the Easton Dictionary of the Bible.]

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Praises and Grumblings

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 12, 2016 0 comments


by Ami Samuels

There are always things to praise God for, as well as there are always things we could grumble and complain about. What do we choose to focus on? Do we spend more time praising God with a grateful heart or do we find ourselves grumbling and complaining?

Even on my darkest days I try and start my prayers by praising God and being thankful. There were days that I felt the only things I could be thankful for were a healthy family, my husband’s job, clean water to drink, and food on the table. Wait, if that is the only things we have to be thankful for, I’m pretty darn lucky and so are you! It is a matter of looking for the positives in our lives.

No matter what I was facing in life, taking a few moments to praise God and be thankful for my blessings forced me to focus on what I do have, instead of always longing for what I didn’t have. I also found that praising God instead of complaining took my focus off of me and my problems and redirected my focus to Him, to who He is and all that He has done.

What can we do to turn our grumblings into praises? Here are some suggestions:
Begin difficult days with praise music.
Start a gratitude journal. Write down 5 things each day to be grateful for. It is amazing how this small step can change your attitude for the day.
Start your prayers with praises and thanksgiving.

Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

Together, let’s begin each day with praises and learn to leave the grumbling behind, so that we can shine like stars in the universe.

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Putting God to the Test

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 10, 2016 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Jesus said these words to the devil when he was tempted in the wilderness. Satan took him to the peak of the temple and told him to throw himself down, citing Psalm 91. After all, Scripture is true, isn’t it? Can we not trust God’s promises to protect us in times of trouble? Why did Jesus deny God’s promise to protect him? Did Jesus not trust God to protect him?

What is the deal with this situation? Jesus said to not put the Lord your God to the test. What does that mean? The Bible also says that God is faithful and true and that none of his promises are void. Can we not call on God to fulfill them? In Malachi 3:10, God tells us to put him to the test. Contradiction? Let’s get to the bottom of this.

There are two types of scenarios we are dealing with here, two situations. What was Satan tempting Jesus to do? The temptation was to be presumptuous about what God would do. Jesus lived the perfect example of the Christian life. He only said what he heard his Father saying and he only did what he saw his Father doing. Satan told him to leap from the pinnacle of the temple, not his Father. Jesus knew how to discern between the two voices.

Satan’s temptation is very similar to what we see today because it sounds religious. He is saying, “Go ahead and do it. If you don’t, you prove God a liar. You prove that you don’t believe him.” This temptation has other forms. Carman did a song/music video titled A Witch’s Invitation. In this account, Carman gets invited to the house of a Satanist and is challenged to present what God could do to rival the “miracles” the Satanist had done through demonic powers. Carman, in the song, got wisdom from God and said he would not compare Satan’s miracles to God’s, but rather compare the conditions of his soul to that of this Satanist.

This challenge is echoed in reality in apologetics. When the atheists tells me, “Prove God exists,” they are not interested in proof. They are interested in a heated discussion where God is put on trial, where they are the judge. Many people did not like the movie “God’s Not Dead” because the main character even said he was going to do that. But if you look closer, that’s not what he did. Yes he said he was putting God on trial, but that was mostly to appease the professor. In reality, what he did was expose the flaws in the challenges against God and showed how they did not have any real weight.

I myself have fallen for this tactic. There have been times where someone has challenged me to prove the Bible is true and give evidence for God’s existence, when they had only interest in mocking and ridiculing anything I had to say. I have learned from those experiences and I often don’t bother trying to address that question to the mockers. They will say that is because I don’t have the answers, but they already think I am an uneducated, blind, moronic idiot. Not showing them any evidence is not going to make that opinion any worse. I do not care what they think of me because their opinion has no value to reality. And I find when I get a bit too heated in the discussion, it is because I am set to “prove them wrong,” not to show the truth. I have learned greatly in my experiences in how to better deal with this, but I still have a lot more to learn.

Are we putting God to the test? Are we being presumptuous about what God is going to do? I have seen some do that when going to the mission field. They know God has called them to go, but then they assume God is going to take care of their needs and go unprepared. This is most easily seen regarding finances. We will spend our money however we want and assume God will provide for us when we come up short.

But here is a good example of how NOT to put God to the test. On the mission field, I saw “feeding of the 5000” miracles regularly, to the point where we expected it to happen. However, we were not presumptuous. We did not pack lightly and say, “God will provide when we run short.” We planned for the most realistic situation we could, but we’d often have way more people than we planned for. That wasn’t due to poor planning. One example is when a small group went to a children’s home with a sloppy joe meal. We planned for 40 people: the group, the staff, and the kids. We did not know the colonia came over as well. We decided to trust God to provide and gave everyone else full plates and the team would fast if necessary. God gave us seconds and leftovers. We had food for 40. We had 75+ people, and things like buns, apples, plates, could not be stretched.

This example is perfect for this post because it shows both sides of putting God to the test. On one side, it is being presumptuous and acting foolishly, expecting God to come through. A local pastor here in El Paso often says, “God can’t help stupid.” And why should he? What obligation does God have? If Jesus had thrown himself down, God had no obligation to save him because he did not say he would in that case. But there is another side of putting God to the test: the call upon God to deliver on his promises, when we have no other choice.

Jehoshaphat did that in 2 Chronicles 20. He was surrounded by three nations and had absolutely no chance at winning. He turned to the temple to seek the Lord. He called upon God to fulfill his promises to protect his people if they turned to him. He was not being presumptuous; he was calling upon God’s faithfulness. He was putting his full trust in the Lord to take care of the situation. Now when God gave his orders, Jehoshaphat sent out the singers and musicians to be the front line of their army. Had he just done what Joshua did without receiving orders from God, he would have put God to the test and gotten squashed. But because he sought the Lord and trusted him, he could stand on God’s promises and prove that God is faithful and true.

God will not break any promise he makes. But we have to be watchful for assuming God is going to come through on a promise we actually did not get from him. God is obligated (if that is the right word to use) by his character to fulfill his promises that are his “rhema,” his revealed Word, the one he specifically gives to his people for a given situation. But there are also many “if / then” promises that are not guaranteed. We cannot easily say, “God said it for this person, therefore he is also saying it to me.” Let us not presumptuously put God to the test. Let us not assume he is going to deliver us in the way we want him to. But we can trust God to carry out what he said he would do. We can trust him to be faithful. It has to be on his terms, not ours.

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The Series Wrap-Up: Straw Men, Cherry Picking, and Milk Drinkers

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 9, 2016 0 comments


by Steve Risner

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

This week is an exciting one! It’s the post response wrap-up! Last July I set out to respond to a theistic evolutionist’s claim that he had 10 theological questions no young earth creationist could answer. I decided not to head straight to the questions but take each point he attempted to make from the intro to the closing including the questions. My count says there are just short of 40 installments in this series. If you’ve not followed me through this entire series you can find the first one here if you want to start from the beginning.

So what does one include in the concluding post of such a very long series? Good question. Let’s see where we end up.

Let’s start with the basics: how did this process begin? Before beginning this series, I gave the author of the blog post I was responding to (Tyler Franke) the courtesy of informing him of my intent. I felt like that was just the right thing to do. His response was a little Jekyll and Hyde. He began nice enough, but shortly into his reply, he became rather coarse. I let that go and began writing. About half way through or so, I sent him some links in case he hadn’t seen any of the writings I had done up to that point. I did not receive a response at all to that. However, not long after, I was informed by Charlie Wolcott, a brilliant writer for the Worldview Warriors, that I had indeed caught Tyler’s attention, and that he had decided to write a scathing blog post directed at me and others. I received no alert from this person whatsoever and, to date, have not read a single sentence from this blog post reported to me as filled with vitriol for people he claims to share a Savior with. At no time during my series did I make personal attacks on Tyler. I did criticize his reported beliefs repeatedly, however, at no point do I feel I attacked him personally. Throughout his posts, you can read Tyler’s opinions and how glaringly inconsistent he is. His beliefs are riddled with double standards, nonsensical circular talk, and his disdain for Biblical creation is founded wholly on irrational, made-up arguments, aka straw man arguments. His representations of “young earth” creationism were appalling and it’s hard to believe he has any idea what Biblical creationists believe or what the Bible actually states. His writing is also often less than appropriate and his word choice and imagery is a little too vulgar for my liking. But what did we learn through this very long series?

I learned a great deal and was excited to dig deeper and deeper, to not only expose the ridiculous made-up positions he claimed Biblical creationists have but also to report for him what the actual correct position of the Biblical creationist is. It was encouraging to find a great deal of evidence that what Biblical creationists believe is founded on sound Biblical understanding that has existed since before the time of Christ, but also that the position of the Biblical creationist is easily supported by our current scientific knowledge.

There were a few things that I wasn’t as familiar with that I was able to study up on during this series. I’ve enjoyed looking more into alleged impact craters, the purpose of the Tree of Life, the starlight problem, Hebrew word usage, and a number of other things. If you’ll notice, in nearly every instance, Tyler put forth arguments supportive of his beliefs that were only half true at best. He mentioned only things that would support him, rather than pointing out the other half of the information that debunks his position. But the actual depth of the Christian faith and how interconnected all of Scripture is is astounding. Tyler would generally mention a Scripture verse or two, possibly out of context, that seemed to agree with him. I did my best with the space I had to expose his cherry picking. How easy it is to only scratch the surface (as I believe most theistic evolutionists do) and have very little depth to your faith is something to be wary of. Paul talks about drinking milk rather than eating solid food. The shallowness of theistic evolution and how it treats the Word of God, as well as watering down the foundational doctrines of Christianity, is really something that makes me sad. How much the theistic evolutionist misses or glosses over! It’s a faith based on humanism sprinkled with Christianity.

Through all of this, we found that the basis for theistic evolution is smoke and mirrors. You can find many theistic evolutionists who sound eloquent when they communicate. They can sound like they’ve really studied up on their theology and married that quite well with alleged scientific knowledge to create a very convincing argument. This, of course, is not what we encountered in the writings this series was in response to. But we should be cautious not to be baffled by well-groomed talk when it doesn’t fit with the Word of God at all and is really just surface deep. There was very little in any of the writings I read of Tyler’s that actually made statements about what he believed. Most of his words were spent mocking and misrepresenting what the Bible says. I think if your position is so stout, you at least would be willing, if not excited, to share what it is. Instead, we find paragraph after paragraph of childish arguments against beliefs no one has, rather than the substance of what he actually believes. We’ve discovered that a large difference between young earth creationists and theistic evolutionists is that theistic evolutionists have very little respect for the Word of God. Oh yes, they’ll say they love it and respect it, but they ridicule it and mock it and reduce it to a book of fables no different than any other religious work or ancient writing. The Bible is in a class all its own. A very large difference between the Bible and other religious works is that the Bible is filled with accurately recorded historical accounts. Theistic evolution (and some old earth creationists) discredits this historical accuracy.

We’ve often heard God has left us two books—the Bible and the book of nature. I tend to agree to a point with that. But the big deal here—the thing to remember—is that one of these was a message from God Himself directly written for us to read and understand. The other was designed solely for our benefit and to point the way to the author of life. One is a clear communication recorded for us to read and glean a specific message. The other is easily misunderstood and often errors are made in its translation. How often do we hear of science being rewritten because what we thought we knew was way off? It happens all the time. But the time-tested Word of the unchanging God is as true and trustworthy today as the moment it was penned. If we read the book of nature and it seems to disagree with the written Word of God, the choice as to where the error occurred seems fairly obvious to me. His Word is Truth. From one of the first blog posts I wrote in this series: “To think that your interpretation of the natural features we see is the only one possible and then to assume God must have intended for us to view them as you do is just a strange idea to me.” This is especially true if that interpretation contradicts the written Word. It’s often argued that many of these passages are up for interpretation. This really is a gross misrepresentation of reality. Most of the passages in question concerning origins and the Flood (the only parts of the Bible that theistic evolutionists apparently aren’t sure how to take) can only be “interpreted” one way—the clear context and word usage makes the message very easily understood. If we can’t know what it’s saying, then communication of any kind can’t be trusted at all. Words have meaning. Context is key.

We are fighting for the souls of our children here. This is a very big deal to me as I have 5 beautiful children that I desperately want to live life to the fullest (which can only be done with Jesus Christ) and to spend eternity with in heaven. If they are led away by humanism and its tales of expanding singularities, soups that come alive, and man being nothing more than a smarter animal, they’ll walk away from the love of their lives—the Lover of their souls, Jesus Christ. This is because if we cast doubt on the obvious meaning behind the creation account, it’s very easy to come to the conclusion the entire thing is a fable with nothing of truth revealed in it. You see, the very foundation of the Gospel—the reason for the entire Biblical time line being recorded—is found in the first book of the Bible. If we minimize the importance of Genesis, the basis for everything in Scripture literally erodes away until we have nothing left but fables, myths, and traditions. If we understand that every major Christian doctrine is rooted in the first few chapters of Genesis, our faith is then founded on things that actually happened to people that actually lived. If the first Adam was a myth, how could the second Adam be any different?

This debate is over much more than science. In fact, it has little to do with science. It’s about authority. It’s about distinguishing God’s children from the world. It’s about humanity, where we come from, how we got this way, where we’re going, and Who has saved us from it all. It’s about how, at our core, do we interpret the world around us—i.e. our worldview. If we trust God FIRST and allow His Word to be the final say and means by which we see the world, rejecting humanistic philosophy disguised as intellectually stout, well-established scientific knowledge is actually very easy. But we need to understand also what science is and is not and what it can and cannot do.

In the origins debate, we are clearly talking about history, right? History—what happened in the past—is the real question. History is not science at all. If someone wants to challenge you on this debate being over history, don’t back down. With origins, we are talking about one-time past events that no human saw. In terms of the Flood, we are talking about a one-time past event only 8 people lived to tell about. These are not scientific topics. It’s true that we can use scientific procedures to validate some of the ideas the Bible states. The humanistic view of origins is also nothing more than history and not science—many one-time past events in some order that we cannot reproduce in a lab and cannot verify with testimony. The Big Bang and all its chapters from the singularity to the expansion to star and solar system and planet formation is all just a story. It’s a story that defies logic and reason as well as observed scientific knowledge. The origin of life on earth from non-living matter is not only just a story, but it is one contrary to everything we know about biology and chemistry. The evolution of pond scum to more complex life forms and ultimately to people is a myth that has no evidence that is not extremely overextended. And any evidence that seems to support Darwinism is generally easily accounted for by Biblical creationists in their models. If evidence can be used by either side of the story, it’s obviously not supportive of only one version and shouldn’t be touted as such if we are honest.

In the blog posts I responded to, we quite frequently not only saw the Biblical creationist’s position misrepresented, but we also saw that evidence that is not exclusive to evolution was pushed as such. Tyler would frequently say the only way to interpret this piece of evidence or that piece of evidence was in such a way as to support his story. Most often (if not every time), that evidence was easily incorporated into the creationist account. It seems like most of Tyler’s blog post was written for people who just want to agree with him anyway, so investigation and critically analyzing the data was likely not done by most of his readership. If this were not the case, he wouldn’t have mentioned much of what he claims are either problems for the young earth creationist position or strengths for the evolutionist position.

And finally, this entire series was taken on because I thought the questions involved were going to be deep. They’d be tough. They’d really force me to dig and muse and really do some work. As I got into them, I found that not only were they NOT unanswerable “theological” questions, but they were most frequently quite shallow. Most of them were not only answered thoroughly by many Biblical scholars and theologians (not young earth creationists but simply Bible-believing Christians) but had been answered, in some cases, for hundreds and hundreds of years. Here I thought we’d be exploring new territory and breaking new ground only to find these were tired old arguments that have little substance and were answered for centuries (again, supporting the idea that this debate is not and has not ever been about science). There is nothing new under the sun. The theory of evolution is nothing more than humanism, period. The Big Bang is nothing more than humanism, period. Trying to meld them and the Bible is like mixing dirty water and clean water. Once you do that, you no long have anything clean—it’s all contaminated. There is no value in mixing the Truth of God’s Word with humanistic philosophy. In fact, not only is there no value in it, there is no reason to consider it. Let’s be critical thinkers rather than blind sheep that follow the currently popular (and likely later replaced or revamped) humanistic philosophy on origins. I pray this series of posts was helpful in understanding the Biblical worldview and why the Bible is not compatible with Darwinism at all. I hope it also has opened your eyes, as it has mine, to the desperate need we have for educating our young people and helping them know how to critically think for themselves rather than soaking up whatever secularism throws at them. It’s also helped me have a renewed sense of urgency for the theistic evolutionists I know. We need to lift these folks up in prayer and love them. Get out there and knock ‘em alive!

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

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