Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.” (Judges 16:28-31) In our passage from last week, Samson set the stage for what God is about to do. The Philistines were having a big party to worship their god Dagon with more than 3000 Philistines in attendance, and Samson was put on display as their great prize. Samson got in place by the main pillars of the building, and that’s where we pick up today’s passage. As he had previously, Samson once again called on the Lord for strength. He wanted to be obedient to God’s plan, and at this point in his humiliation, he likely realized (finally) that following God’s plan was the only way to get out of this. Delilah had cut Samson’s hair so that he had lost his strength, but his hair had begun to grow back. Samson likely would not have regained his full strength on his own, without God’s power back on him. So what does Samson do? He brings the roof down - literally! He pushes on the pillars with all of his strength (and help from God), and the whole place comes crashing down, killing all of the dignitaries inside and the 3000 Philistines up on the roof. While Samson had killed many Philistines a few times before, this was his largest slaughter yet. It also came at the greatest price - Samson too lost his life that day. Samson would gladly die with the Philistines according to God’s plan rather than continue to live a humiliated life among them. Because of this final act of faith, Samson was considered by the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews to be a “hero of the faith,” in Hebrews 11:32. He is only mentioned very briefly, but he is there. Throughout his life Samson failed to live up to the standards of the Nazirite vow that was placed on him, but God still used him. Samson was ruined by his own lusts, but God still used him. Samson was an example of great potential of working for God, but he did not have true obedience to God or good character, but God still used him. Samson did get revenge on the Philistines, but only in God’s timing and using God’s methods. I’m sure he would have preferred to kill thousands more of them in some spectacular way where he could live to receive at least part of the glory, but that’s not what God had planned. Samson had revealed the secret of his strength to the wrong person (Delilah), so he had to pay the consequences. God used Samson to be victorious over the Philistines. Do you feel unworthy of God using you and your life for His Kingdom? Just look at all the ways Samson messed up, and I bet you won’t feel quite so bad. God can and will use anyone for His purposes, and all we need to do is be obedient to Him. Although, like Samson, we will likely still mess up and need God’s forgiveness. But if we are willing to be used by God in the method and the timing that He sees fit, He will do miraculous things through us.
As I sit here contemplating obedience, I wonder, how readily obedient are we to the call of God on our lives? Do we respond with obedience or excuses?
In Exodus chapters 3-4, we find Moses in the very presence of the Lord. When the Lord calls him, he answers, “Here I am!” But then we see 5 times (5 times!) that Moses questioned and tried to avoid the call on his life.
He starts out by saying, “Who am I?”
“Well, suppose I go, who do I say sent me?”
“What if they don’t believe me?”
“I’m not a good speaker!”
Finally, Moses says, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it!”
We see in scripture that the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, BUT He didn’t give up on Moses. He didn’t say, “Forget it, Moses, I will find someone else!” No. What he said was, “What about your brother Aaron, he can speak well. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth, and I will help you both to speak and teach you what to do.” I love this because, God is telling him that He will help you to speak and teach you what to do.
As humans, when God calls us to something much bigger than ourselves, we immediately think of our inadequacies and short comings. But God says, “If you answer my call on your life, I will give you words to speak and teach you what to do.”
Are we obedient to God’s call? Or do we, like Moses, have a laundry list of excuses of why we can’t do what he is calling us to do?
The next time you feel the call to step out in faith, pray, spend time studying Scripture, and seek wise counsel from a pastor or someone who knows and understands the Word. If you still feel called, don’t give God your excuses, give Him your obedience!
by Ami Samuels
[This is a multi-part blog post series. Please be sure to read the previous weeks, starting here.]
A flashlight is a very simple and very practical tool. You only have to show a child how to use one once, and they immediately understand the value. When it’s dark, a flashlight helps us see clearly and move more confidently through the dark around us.
In the same way, we need Truth be our flashlight. Let’s go back to the book of Jude, as he shares the key to getting out of the “gray” and to dealing with the “gray” in our midst.
Read verses 3-4. Jude says we must contend for the faith. The Greek word he uses there for “contend” is epagonizomai – which means ‘struggle for the faith.’
This doesn’t mean to beat people over the head with religion. It means to know God deeply, and know how to share the Truth with others so they believe God. To “contend” in this context isn’t about protecting the religion. It is about struggling and fighting the “gray” - the lies and the deceit - in order to keep Truth in front of people. And as we do, people will have faith in God.
If you know anything about athletes who are contenders, they have a singular focus. CONTENDERS have a SINGULAR focus.
Do we have a singular focus on God’s teaching, the Truth He has given us? Do we do the hard work of knowing His Word and then keep His teaching in front of people? Do we connect His teaching to real life examples, so that people see the Truth and have faith in God? If we are committed to that, then we will have no room for gray in ourselves. We will need to make clear the gray that is all around us in the culture, and in the church.
Consider your focus this week. Who or what is at the center of your attention? That influence either clarifies or clouds your ability to see - it is either a flashlight or a fog. Ask God to show you which, and then come back next week to continue our journey out of the gray.
by Nathan Buck
“Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.” Christian terrorism or Christians attacking other people is a favorite topic of atheists and other unbelievers. Recently, a friend on Facebook shared an article about a Muslim who “schooled” a white supremacist about Christian terrorism. There was so much misinformation given (without a single source, mind you) that I felt it was a great topic for a blog post. So here we are.
This stemmed from this article, as I said, that was shared on Facebook. We all know that Facebook is a wealth of knowledge and most of the memes and articles we read there are documented, factual, and vetted for accuracy. My sarcasm level there was turned to 11, by the way. You can see a great number of atrocities and terrible “Christian” organizations that this person references as being equivalent to ISIS—a Muslim terrorist group.
First and foremost, there is something very important to note here that nearly completely eliminates the need for further discussion (although I will discuss it further since that’s why I’m writing here). This point is simple: Islam's founder promoted, participated in, and taught violence. The Quran records much of this, as do history books. Violence in the name of Allah is what the founder of the religion called for and did. The insanity of political correctness has revised much of this, but the truth is easy enough to find. Over the course of 1400 years or so, Islam amassed an empire far larger than the British Empire at its height. The hordes of Islam have been imperialistic since its founder conquered Mecca in 624 AD. He conquered lands in Arabia until his death in 632 AD. His successors continued to conquer and subjugate neighboring nations for the next millennium and more. This has been the norm since this religion's birth: bloody conquest. Conversely to this is the fact that Jesus Christ never promoted violence. Forced conversion is absurd and Christ never advocated it. Killing unbelievers is also not something Jesus taught or did. Christianity is a faith built on grace, love, and forgiveness. If a person kills in the name of Jesus, it's difficult to make the claim that this is in line with Christ's teachings. If our actions are consistent with the faith we profess or the teachings of the founder of our faith, we are acting in line with that faith. If our actions are inconsistent or actually the opposite of what the founder of our faith taught or our holy book teaches, then we are not acting in the name of that faith. Does this make sense? The bloody history of Islam speaks for itself.
In this article I've linked above, the first glaring inconsistency is that the person who asks for the list of “Christian groups like ISIS” is a white supremacist. There is no such thing as a Christian white supremacist. It's not possible to follow Christ and hate people, especially if that hatred is born out of something as irrelevant as a skin color. The Bible clearly teaches that racism is 1) a man made idea, and 2) absolutely foolish. So the fact that this conversation even occurred is puzzling to me. But let's move on to the content here of the claim of Christian terror groups.
Let me say here, as well, that my intent with this post is not to slam Islam. The point is to use this Muslim's claims about Christianity to demonstrate the point that misinformation about Christianity is rampant and the misunderstandings about Christianity are huge.
He begins with the slave trade between Africa and the Americas and Europe. The very curious thing here is that the slave trade was fueled by Africans, many of which were Muslims. The slaves that were bought and sold were most often from central and western Africa and were sold by other west Africans. They were sold to the Americas, Europe, and even Muslim nations. In fact, because the Muslims of north Africa were attacking American trade ships and enslaving their crews, the US Marines were born. So the first thing this person brings up is something his religion promoted. Let's be honest here: the Muslim faith promotes slavery if we can take the Quran and acts of its leaders as a representation of Islam. Slavery is not so consistent with Christianity—a religion of freedom and grace (although, again, due to misinformation or Bible passages taken out of context or twisted, the unbeliever likes to say the Bible is for slavery). But the telling thing in this man's claim is the fact that he says the purpose of the slave trade was to bring the “heathens to Christ.” This is obviously not true, especially in light of the fact that Muslims were heavily involved, but he's trying to manipulate the information he's shared to mean something no one believes it means to further his point. A sure sign of weakness in your argument is that you need to lie about it.
The next point he makes is Native American genocide. He again claims this was done in the name of Christ. I say this is nonsense. The early American government did send missionaries to the Native Americans and paid for churches to be built for them, but the Native Americans were not murdered for the glory of Jesus Christ. The tragedy of the Native Americans is a very dark chapter in the Unites States, but to suggest it was out of America's Christian heritage that these people had their lands, and far too often their lives, taken is absurd. Not to beat it to death, but killing the Native Americans in the name of Jesus (which didn't happen) would not be in line with Christ's teachings.
He then goes on to the killing of Aboriginal peoples in Australia, trying again to claim such tragic violence was the result of Christianity. Not so at all. Christ never promoted such acts and saying that this was an result of Christianity, simply because the nation responsible claimed to adhere to follow a Christian worldview, is nonsense. He also notes that “90% of their population” was killed by Europeans. I'm not exactly sure where he got this figure, but what I've found is that Australia had roughly 250,000 natives when Europeans made first contact. Disease killed many of the Aborigines. Europeans killed many, as well. But the figure I'm finding is there were at least 60,000 left after disease and war. That's closer to 75% and it includes those who fell to sickness. Again, embellishing the figures to make your point seem stronger is a sure sign your argument is hollow. An interesting side note here is that because of atheism and its love for Darwinism, Aborigines were caught and forced into zoos in the West because the evolutionists believed they represented a less developed form of human. I don't feel that the conquest of Australia or the Americas is the same sort of thing as the Islamic conquest of the entire world, which was their goal. The method and intent are very different.
That's all I wanted to tackle for this week's post because these were related in that none of these things were done in the name of Christ—not by a long shot. To suggest they were is absolutely insincere. The politically correct crowd has decided that 15 centuries of blood shed on the part of Islam is nothing to write about, but manipulating history to seem like Islam was the passive victim is the way to go.
Christ taught something very different than Muhammad. John records for us a new command from Jesus that He gives us. He says, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” There’s nothing in there about killing infidels or suppressing unbelievers. No killing in the name of God. No calls for beheadings. Jesus and Muhammad teach polar opposite ideas. The difference is easy to see, and you can see it in how Islam spread over the world and compared to how Christianity spread. The former spread by the sword; the latter in love. These are consistent with the teachings of their founders.
Next week we'll look at a few things that are brought up here concerning past actions that were actually done in the name of Christ. This will be interesting and I think you'll gain a new or fresh perspective on the topic of the Salem witch trials, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Crusades. Thanks for reading.
by Steve Risner
When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
'Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.'
While they were in high spirits, they shouted, 'Bring out Samson to entertain us.' So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, 'Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.' Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform.” (Judges 16:23-27) If you want to catch up on what’s going on here, check out last week’s post. The short version is that Samson has been captured by the Philistines, thanks to him telling Delilah the truth about cutting his hair so that he would lose his strength. The Philistines have gouged out his eyes, imprisoned him, and humiliated him. The Philistines attributed their capture of Samson to their god, Dagon, which is curious since it was clearly Delilah who helped them. But who is this Dagon? 1 Samuel 5:1-7). Dagon was also noted as being the god of grain. This is pretty significant if you’ve been following Samson’s story. Remember the retaliation and revenge that occurred between Samson and the Philistines in Judges 15:1-8? One of the ways Samson wreaked havoc on the Philistines was to burn their fields of grain. Samson had dishonored Dagon, the grain god, in this act. It’s likely that the Philistines would have believed that this angered Dagon, therefore Dagon would have been out to catch Samson as well, which is why they praised Dagon for this capture. Even though 20 years or so had passed, the Philistines still remembered what Samson did to them. All the things they did to Samson were to further mock and humiliate him. Even this festival was humiliating to Samson, since he was put on display to the 3000+ Philistines in attendance, and because it looked like Samson’s God had abandoned him. At this moment in the story, things are looking pretty bad for Samson. He’s completely humiliated and both he and his God are being mocked. It looks like there’s no way Samson can be victorious over the Philistines now… or is there? Samson asks a servant to help him so he’s near the main pillars of the building, setting the stage for what is to come. Stay tuned next week (or read ahead in the chapter) to find out! So what does all this have to do with today? Are you in a situation where perhaps it feels like all is lost? Are things going from bad to worse, with seemingly no way out? It can be hard when we don’t see the end of the story just yet. Wherever you’re at in life, and whether you realize it or not, God knows how this chapter will end for you. It may be the outcome you want or it may not be, but that’s not what’s important; what’s important is that God gets the glory. In Samson’s life, God was not yet getting the glory at this moment, and the thousands around him were praising Dagon. While those around you likely don’t have a physical idol image that they worship, people are often falling into sin by worshiping things other than God. What is God inviting you to do about that? Near the end of today’s passage, we see Samson setting the stage for what God is about to do. He wasn’t just going to sit idly by and watch all of this Dagon worship; he was ready to do something about it, even if it came at great price. Even when all seems lost, God will still come out victorious, both in Samson’s life and in yours.
Redeemed that serves as a wonderful reminder for us. It says, “Stop fighting the fight, its already been won, I’ve been redeemed.”
Jesus wins! As believers, we win in the end!
The Greek translation for this phrase “It is finished” is the word “tetelestai.” It was generally written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to show that a bill had been paid in full.
It is finished!
This Easter, join me as we reflect on what Jesus has done for us: His death and resurrection. We should not lose sight of the fact that because of His ultimate sacrifice, “It is finished” - the debt has been paid in full. The enemy has no power over us as long as we are in a right relationship with the Lord.
Take a few minutes to look at all the objects in the above picture and the meaning found there. What a powerful avenue to share the Easter message with our family, friends, and neighbors without saying a word.
by Ami Samuels
For context on this next series of blog posts, read my previous posts "Are You a Gray Hat?" starting here.
There was something I learned in criminal justice courses in college, and I found it to be true in every sphere of life. Someone who uses the letter of the law to undermine the spirit of the law is still a lawbreaker. Why is that important to us today? Well this thought touches the focus of this series of blogs as we explore how to get out of the "gray" way of living.
Look at the book of Jude. It’s one chapter, 25 verses. And in it Jude not only confronts the "gray" we live in, but he shows us how to deal with it and escape it.
Read verses 1-2. Right there in his greeting he says he is a “bondservant” of Christ. This is someone who is a slave by choice. Slaves in Jesus’ day were not slaves in the same way as we have known them in American history. Yes, there were people who were forced to be slaves, but typically salves in Jesus’ day were people who owed a debt and were indentured. These people had to serve as a slave until they had paid the debt. Slaves were to be cared for by their masters then released as a freedman when the debt was settled.
A bondservant was different. They were someone who was free, but chooses to bind themselves as a servant to a master, for life. They and their family would serve that master as long as the bondservant (or the master) lived. They would usually pierce their ear with something to indicate their status as a bondservant, and they were well cared for by their masters.
If we call ourselves Christians and Christ followers, are we just are we following Him through religious habits, or are we dedicated to Him above all else? Have we satisfied the technicalities of “getting saved” in the Bible, or are we living out the Spirit of that? Are we like Jude, a bondservant? If not, there may be a whole lot of gray we need to deal with.
Take time this week to consider who or what you really serve and how that displays what you believe. Come back next week and continue exploring how to get out of the "gray" in the next part of this series.
by Nathan Buck
In last week's installment, we looked at the obvious nature of design when it comes to living things or life in general. You would think a person was crazy or on drugs if they told you your smart phone was the result of random, undirected processes that involved no planning or forethought. Your smart phone is actually quite dumb when compared to the workings going on in every cell of your body, let alone the immense coordination of all the systems that make up your totality. To suggest all that came about through mindless, uncoordinated processes is ridiculous. We exposed some of the statements evolutionists have made where they either accidentally call living things designed or where they marvel at how complicated the “programming” of a living thing is and still want to call it a wonderful accident of nature. Let's look at some more things that have been stated on this topic of design:
Voltaire was no friend to Christianity, himself being a deist. But he interestingly said, “We are intelligent beings: intelligent beings cannot have been formed by a crude, blind, insensible being: there is certainly some difference between the ideas of Newton and the dung of a mule. Newton's intelligence, therefore, came from another intelligence.” It's nice he mentioned Newton, even though he and Newton would have disagreed on quite a lot, especially in regards to Christianity. Newton is regarded by many to be the greatest mind science has ever known. He lived long before the IQ test was a thing, but many believe his intelligence was at least as great if not greater than Einstein's. Voltaire, who was not a Bible-believing Christian at all, saw the absurdity in believing that human beings were nothing but the result of “blind, insensible” natural processes. A Designer is required, simply put.
Many argue that Intelligent Design (ID) cannot be scientific because it stands on the Bible or some other sacred text as its foundation. It's true, for me anyway, that the Bible is the absolute authority on matters. When the matter is origins, it undoubtedly should be the final authority for a Christian. But the fact is that design in living things is so obvious, that it IS scientific simply because it's observation nearly goes without saying. This statement by Michael Behe, PhD puts it very well: “The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself—not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day.” A remarkable thing can be found reading the above Wikipedia link. The school Dr. Behe teaches at says this: “While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.”
This demonstrates the terror that ID strikes in evolutionists. They cannot tolerate a rival idea. As such, they will sling mud at any idea contrary to Darwinism and will even attempt to reduce it to being unscientific simply on the merit that it is at odds with evolutionism. This isn't science at all. This is consensus and is anti-science. I've written on this as well in the past, but it cannot be stressed too much or too frequently. The insecurity of evolutionists is striking and they don't even seem to care that their primary weapon against dissension is shunning or public ridicule. There are many examples of this, including the above mentioned statement by Lehigh University. Dr. Behe's statement is spot on. Design isn't something we arrive at simply because the Bible says so, although we certainly do come to that conclusion based on the Bible. Design in life is an obvious observation that nearly anyone of nearly any age can realize.
William Dembski states the simple nature of the issue: “The fundamental claim of intelligent design is straightforward and easily intelligible: namely, there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence.” The idea that nature (never mind where nature came from) accidentally built a wide variety of extremely ingenious designs in the living world, including multiple super computers and sensors without any idea what it was doing goes beyond logic and reason. All scientific experiments on the origin of life have come up empty handed in providing a viable way for life to arise from non-life. Even if they did stumble onto a method by which they built a living thing in a test tube, they would be proving ID is required and in no way would be able to support that such a thing happened accidentally in eons passed. DNA is a wonder in and of itself and is so complex we cannot begin to rival its sophistication and scale.
Last week I mentioned the bacterial flagellum and how it, as “simple” is it may be, has some 40 different parts that would need to be accidentally made at the same time and in the proper sequence for the thing to work. This is also the case for the clotting cascade. Have you ever wondered about your blood's ability to clot? It's actually pretty fascinating and absolutely necessary for life. If we didn't have this ability, we'd all be dead. But if our blood clotted randomly all the time, we'd also all be dead. The balance is essential and how something with over 20 different sequential components to it randomly and accidentally just popped into existence is a thing of fairy tales. If it works “too well” we die from stroke or some other form of blockage. If it doesn't work well enough, the smallest cut can easily result in us bleeding out. It has to work correctly and had to since the dawn of the first organisms with a circulatory system.
This same idea is true for an endless number of different things in the living world. You may hear perfectly arranged stories as to what may have happened for these amazing anatomical and physiological things to exist, but no evidence exists for such stories. I guess there's no evidence beyond the fact that these things do exist—the bacterial flagellum exists, the clotting cascade happens, etc. The evolutionist, because he or she has already determined that evolution has happened, will say some such made up story as to the origins of a structure or function must be correct. In fact, quite often it will be presented to us as though they watched it happen and are are reporting on what they saw. Their arguments quite often boil down to, “I'm here. We're all here.” And they'll end it up with, “Therefore, evolution.” They'll arrange things in groups or lineages or trees or whatever and act as though they've presented discovered facts when, in truth, they've only discovered that they can arrange things in groups or lineages or trees and nothing more. They've agreed before looking at any evidence that evolutionism is a fact, which will result in them interpreting all the evidence to support their origins myth or claim any evidence they cannot incorporate into their myth as unscientific.
We've touched a little on irreducible complexity and specified complexity in these two posts without getting into a great deal of detail. These ideas are clear and easily seen in nature. Irreducible complexity is the idea that something, when it is broken down into its simplest form, is still marvelously complex and could not have arisen by random, undirected, uncoordinated processes—like the flagellum or clotting cascade. Specified complexity is a little tougher to tackle, but the idea is explained by Dembski this way: “Life is both complex and specified. The basic intuition here is straightforward. A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex (i.e., it conforms to an independently given pattern but is simple). A long sequence of random letters is complex without being specified (i.e., it requires a complicated instruction-set to characterize but conforms to no independently given pattern). A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified.” While we can find lots of shouting down of such ideas, the merit of the arguments against such things is void of much intellect at all. Again, when something counters the evolutionism world, it is mocked and berated and called unscientific. Interestingly, Behe responds to such attacks with, “It might be tempting to imagine that irreducible complexity simply requires multiple simultaneous mutations - that evolution might be far chancier than we thought, but still possible. Such an appeal to brute luck can never be refuted... Luck is metaphysical speculation; scientific explanations invoke causes.” There is nothing scientific about Darwinism beyond the observation that there is biodiversity—a variety of living things on earth. Mutations happen. Organisms that survive pass on their genes more frequently. None of these ideas is unique to evolutionism. None of this leads to evolution from a single common ancestor unless you're already committed to such an idea before viewing the evidence.
Before the attack of “quote mining” is used here against these writings, let me be clear here on what a “quote mine” is and is not. A “quote mine” is taking something out of context for the purpose of making it appear the one making the statement meant something completely different than their intent. A “quote mine” is not taking a quote and exposing the person's inconsistency within their own philosophy. No ideas were presented here that were intended to mislead anyone into believing any of these evolutionists quoted were supporting ID. They seem to by their statements, but we know they do not. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment.
by Steve Risner
Do you have certain behaviors or things that you do when you are stressed? When I am anxious, I catch myself biting the inside of my lower lip or holding my breath.
When my mom was in the hospital dying of cancer, my family and I watched helplessly as our loved one slipped away from us, little by little each day. As horrible as that day was, we knew that the next day would be worse, and it was. During that difficult time, I remember catching myself biting my lower lip and holding my breath, reminding myself to breathe. Just breathe and survive the moment.
I can relate to the words of the Jonny Diaz song “Breathe”:
“When the stress is on the rise
by Ami Samuels
In my heart I feel you say
Come ad rest at my feet
But all you really need
Is to take it in fill your lungs
It’s the peace of God
Just Breathe” Philippians 4:6-7 instructs us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Maybe today you aren’t dealing with a life or death situation, but rather you are worried about something, wracking your brain for an answer, trying desperately to find a solution. God wants you to breathe, just breathe, resting in the knowledge that He has you and your situation, whatever it is, in the palm of His hand.
[This blog post is part of a series. Read the previous post here.]
The last two weeks I have been writing a series, using the hacker imagery of “gray hats.” Be sure to go back and read the previous blog posts by clicking here and here.
So, what if we think we are doing good, because the culture says something is good? What if we are just joining in the Facebook and Twitter frenzy on an issue and trying to help convince other people of what we think is good? What if we think the Bible is “old fashioned” on some principle, and we just want to find a way for people to be happy with their life?
Read Psalm 1 (again). The end of the psalm says that the wicked will not stand on the day of judgement before God, and they will not be able to stand in the crowd of those who have followed God with their life. Why? What are they missing? If they thought they were doing good, why would God not pardon that?
If anyone decides to rewrite God’s teachings to fit their perspective of the culture, then it is no longer God’s teaching - it is theirs. And they do not have the ability to see all outcomes, to know what is truly good and what may only seem good at the time. Truth and facts don’t always feel good, but they are right. And in their correctness and accuracy, they are good guides for decision making, even if we don’t like the facts or don’t feel good about what the truth reveals. So if we abandon God’s truth for something that ‘feels’ good to us, we are on dangerous ground.
For example, we may think that human rights and social justice are good things. There may even be aspects of what we fight for in them that are good according to God’s teaching. But there is also a problem. Often, the idea of “human rights” is extended beyond mutual respect for persons in society, and it is pointed toward God as if He OWES us something. We presume we have a right to question Him and a right to demand healing or provision or some other answer from Him. The truth of the matter is, He owes us NOTHING. Our very existence is a gift. (For further learning on this idea read the book of Job in the Bible, and see what Job learns at the end.)
If we are studying God’s Word, if we are content that He owes us nothing and trust that He knows best, then we will be delighted by Him, delighted by His promises, and delighted by His presence even in the most difficult times. We will be delighted for the grace that placed us in His care, and delighted to consider whatever situations we experience. We will be delighted to share what we can with others as an expression of our delight that God has provided for us. We will be delighted that no matter how desperate or fierce the challenges we face, His presence satisfies and comforts us more than any “human rights” laws or cultural recognition could.
If we find ourselves discontent and frustrated with God, or if we find ourselves redefining the words of the Bible or the moral principles of God to try and bring comfort or validation or “modernize” the faith, we will find ourselves more and more reactive, and closer and closer to the mocker’s seat. If we are marching for causes and demanding rights we have never been promised in the Bible, we risk traveling down the path of the wicked, thinking we are bringing social justice. If we trample authority and disrespect the position of others because we disagree with their position, we are standing in a sinful place of our own pride and judgement.
Whenever we pursue human rights, in human effort and with human standards, we worship the idol of rights and just start picking fights. Look at any Facebook or Twitter feed or public forum. We do not discuss and learn and grow from opposing ideas; we are off the rails because we are on the wicked trail, and we are all watching and learning and being entertained by the dark art of mockery.
Let me bring this home a bit more. The Bible says we are to heal the sick, to cast out demons, to provide for the poor and the needy, and to care for the widow and the orphan. The Bible says my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). It doesn’t say that President Trump supplies my needs, or President Obama supplies my needs, or the government, or my employer, or my welfare office, or my meals on wheels, or my affordable healthcare, or my rich neighbor up the street, or my lottery ticket. It says my GOD shall supply them, and the promise in Psalm 1 is that if we are delighted in Him and His Word, then we shall be planted by His life-giving streams, thriving in Him, and producing enough to share with those that God has prepared for me to share with.
Is it wrong to pool our resources, make our efforts systematic, or create organizations to better distribute support to others? Of course not. But when those institutions become an excuse for us to “mail in” our care for others or to coerce by law the contributions from others, or if the organizations just become a cardboard cutout of charity that helps us feel good, we have departed from God’s social justice into institutional legalism, theft, and apathy.
The power of the early church wasn’t because they wore down Caesar and debated the philosophers into submission and somehow gained access to power and passed laws ensuring justice and provision for everyone. The early church thrived in a culture where they had NO access, and where many temples to Roman gods had charitable programs that may have even rivaled what we have done in America.
The early church thrived because they devoted themselves to God and He showed them the way forward, staying rooted in timeless principles that He established the universe with. Those temples and those governments lie in ruin, but God’s Church continues and His Kingdom will last forever. Are we delighted in Him and His teaching for how we should live, or are we seeking other ways? Are we relying on Him and caring for others from His provision and love, or are we just creating charitable ‘vending machines’ with no lasting eternal impact?
If we are honest with ourselves, we are more likely to be wearing a ‘gray hat’ because that is the only hat our culture considers ‘safe.’ And if we can see that clearly, then we might just begin to see how much of what we consider ‘good’ in our culture is really just ‘gray.’
I invite you to read Psalm 1 again and again, asking yourself the questions we have asked in these last three blog posts. Be honest, and have the courage to admit when you have replaced God’s way with something you thought might be better. Ask God to lead you to see clearly which hat you may be wearing. Be brave enough to go against the culture to pursue God’s ways, and see how He will bless the work and the lives He leads you to.
by Nathan Buck
Design is something anyone can see has taken place, especially if the object of our attention is exceptionally complex. The more sophisticated and complex a thing is, the more easily we can determine if it was designed. Something that was designed would necessarily have someone or something that designed it—a Designer. Whether it's a spoon, a satellite, a robot, or a frog, there are hallmarks of design that are frequently not difficult to notice. I've written in the past on the Hallmarks of Design. I feel the idea is worth revisiting.
Design is something that often a child can identify. In the above linked blog post, I mention an arrow head—a rock that has been roughly shaped for a purpose—is something so lacking in complexity and sophistication but is still so clearly designed. Only a person devoted mindlessly to their philosophy, in my humble opinion, could look at something like a cell and the amazing world within, an eye, an ear, a nose, a strand of DNA, the human brain, or the hand and suggest it wasn't designed. To be fair, the “mindless person” in question could just be fooling himself. But this is even worse, is it not? If a person is so intent on believing something that they know is false or if they cannot acknowledge any information that suggests their belief may be false, that person is not honest and is lying to himself as well as anyone he would discuss such things with. The atheist must hold on to ideas that are absolutely contrary to his belief system in order to uphold his belief system. The atheist believes in miracles, actually, but he would never admit that. I need to move on before I get carried away concerning atheists and their absolute need for miracles. Perhaps that's another blog post subject.
Rather than say a lot of stuff others have said on the subject of the obviousness of design in nature—i.e. the essential nature of a Designer for life to exist—I'll just quote a few people.
We'll start with something Richard Dawkins said because it perfectly shows the need for the atheist to defy his own logic and mistrust his own ability to think rationally so he can hold on to his irrational belief that there is no Designer. Mr. Dawkins says, “Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.” He will go on to say that to believe in such an idea, that life was designed and did not evolve from non-living chemistry that eventually morphed into every type of living thing we see today, means you're stupid, insane or evil. The contradictions are amazing.
Another unreasonable statement is by Daniel Dennett. He says, “Wherever there is a design that is highly successful in a broad range of similar environments, it is apt to emerge again and again, independently - the phenomenon known in biology as convergent evolution. I call these designs 'good tricks.'” He believes that design is the result of an accident and even uses the word “design” to describe things he doesn't believe are designed. He would suggest the 40 different parts necessary for a bacterium to operate a flagellum (a tail that gives it the ability to propel itself) was accidental and occurred over time. But this is literally impossible and defies common sense. If any of these parts are not working, the thing doesn't work. It would be necessary for all of these parts to accidentally be brought together at the same time and in the right configuration for this little “motor” to work. If they evolved independently, there would be no need for them to remain in the genetic code for that bacterium and would likely disappear, especially when we consider 40 different parts! For me, this is totally nonsensical and, again, demonstrates the lengths atheists will go to hold on to their origins myth. They will pull some smoke and mirror nonsense about how the parts may have come about individually, but this is wishful thinking. There's no sense in beating their failed attempts at explaining it to death. My hope is we can all understand that this one thing (which is not very complex in the grand scheme of things) cannot have come about through some blind, mindless, uncoordinated process.
Then we have interesting comments concerning the computer-like workings of the brain and of DNA. Ray Kurzweil said, “Biology is a software process. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells, each governed by this process. You and I are walking around with outdated software running in our bodies, which evolved in a very different era.” What's hilarious is that he states the software is outdated! Far superior to any man made software, but it's outdated? Really? Nearly 10 years ago, the prediction was that by 2030, we may be able to make a computer that rivals the brain! I believe this prediction is incorrect now as they are suggesting the technology has advanced even faster than they predicted. But think of it! We're only now beginning to be able to approach the abilities of the human brain. Now, let's take a look at this marvelous thing. The brain is allegedly an accidentally manufactured super computer that man is now, possibly in the next 10 years, going to be able to duplicate in its computing power. Does the naivety of that seem as obvious to you as it does to me? Essentially, the idea is “Mother Nature” created a super computer without wanting to and having no idea how to. Saying “Mother Nature” did it is akin to saying the thing invented itself. The fact that many of the men and women who believe this stuff are exceptional thinkers blows my mind even more.
The huge elephant in the room that I've tried to dance around in all of the blog posts I've written on this subject is simply this: how can anyone suspend their intellect long enough to suppose that something so naive and so obviously counter intuitive happened, and it happened accidentally by random, natural processes? Super computers that run on an extremely low amount of wattage (far less than a laptop) don't spring into existence by themselves, and they don't form from the dirt. They require planning and great amounts of knowledge to produce.
This is further evidenced by a a statement made by Bill Gates: “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” DNA is a super computer that's found in every cell of the body and has within it the instructions to build the super computer we call the brain. Bill Gates is saying the software is far beyond anything we've ever produced. Ray Kurzweil is suggesting the software is outdated. Interesting, isn't it? We get these sorts of contradictory statements from people musing over things they know very little about. I say this not to insinuate that they are not intelligent or don't have the information. I say this because none of us has any idea how this stuff works. It's that complex. In man's arrogance, he will believe he's got it figured out, but it seems rather obvious that this is nonsense.
To add to the absurdity, Richard Dawkins went on to say, “I'm fascinated by the idea that genetics is digital. A gene is a long sequence of coded letters, like computer information. Modern biology is becoming very much a branch of information technology.” The idea that DNA—your genes—is coded has long been assumed by nearly everyone involved. But a code, by definition, must be generated and deciphered by an intelligence. A code doesn't just randomly pop into existence, only to be decoded by something else that randomly popped into existence. And in this particular instance, we're talking about a coded message containing instructions on how to build and maintain the most complex machines in the known universe. Now, to me, it seems rather comical to think this coded information that turns two gametes (sperm and egg cells) into Einstein or Newton and also can turn carrots or animal flesh or whatever else we eat into usable proteins and energy came about accidentally by random, natural processes. What do you think? Does that seem like a strange fiction or fairy tale?
Consider it like this: someone tries to tell you your car or your computer or smart phone was not built by someone. They want you to believe it was the product of natural processes that had no mind or idea what they were doing—it wasn't planned. Over the years, through a series of quadrillions of fortunate accidents, nature was lucky enough to build something like your car. But to be fair, in comparison to all the sophistication and complexity of the human body—from DNA and organelles to cells to all the sensory and internal organs and, finally, the brain—your car is like a polished rock. Not really that impressive. In fact, the most complicated and intricate work man has done is nothing when held up to the standard set forth by life. Living things are truly miraculous and accomplish amazing things. Praise God for His immense diversity in His creation and the amazing workmanship that He displays.
In my next blog post, we'll take a look at a few more interesting comments by evolutionists and intellgient design advocates. Many of them fantastically expose the obtuse nature of the evolutionist's origins myth. It's remarkable. I think it is, anyway. I hope you can see just how silly the “theory” is.
by Steve Risner