God's Provision: From Ohio to Houston, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 19, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

This is a continuation of the story of how my wife and I responded to the call to provide aid to Houston, Texas after hurricane Harvey ravaged the area. You can pick up part one here. I'll pick up where I left off…

Chase over at Findlay Warehousing had a contact that donated an entire pallet full of pancake mix, a pallet of Jiffy peanut butter, and a pallet of Smucker's grape jelly. We also received a floor buffer from the Tiffin Mall. We collected, with the generosity of the community and the grace of God, over 100 gallons of bleach, hundreds of pairs of work gloves, thousands of pairs of rubber gloves, 500-600 cases of water, a pallet of Gatorade, near 100 gallons of laundry detergent, several pallets full of food, and much more.

The truck was set to leave Wednesday morning. After Rob, the driver, got all the clearance and weighed, he had 78,000 lbs of stuff on his trailer—and there were 4 pallets of stuff left over! So Michelle and I had our original plan come back around to us—we would fill a pickup truck and trailer. I had a hard time finding a trailer I could borrow, so a generous local business owner, Jeff, paid the cost of renting a trailer from U-Haul. Michelle and I picked up a trailer, got loaded at Findlay Warehousing, and set sail on Thursday afternoon after a morning at work. We got by with closing our office for only a day and half. My estimation was that the semi would be in Houston in the early afternoon on Friday. However, I received a call from our driver, Rob, at about 5pm. “I'm about 2 hours from Houston and wondered where you were,” he said. I just sorta laughed and said, “I'm in Indiana—about 16 or more hours away.” He told me that was fine. He needed to take his 10 hour break. He'd get up early and get on the road to beat the rush hour traffic of the 4th largest city in the country. Because of this, however, it made me feel like we couldn't stop driving. Aside from restroom breaks and gas, we didn't really stop at all until we made it to the Worship Center the next morning at about 9:30am, after 21-22 hours.

When we arrived, we saw the truck was about 1/3 of the way unloaded and the guys working on it were having a tough time. The truck was loaded at a warehouse, so getting a fork lift in and out was easy. But plans to have the truck unloaded at another warehouse fell through. We had a fork lift, but all the pallets needed to be brought to the back of the trailer so they could be unloaded. Pallet jacks made this much easier, but the building materials refused to cooperate. The drywall, placed in the middle of the trailer, wasn't set high enough off of the floor of the trailer for a pallet jack to be used. This meant each pair of drywall sheets needed to be lifted overhead and set gently down on the pallet jack. That was hard work in the Houston heat and even more so in the metal box we were working in! Once the drywall was out, the remainder of the pallets came out easily enough until we reached the front of the trailer where we found two large bundles of 2x4's—588 in total. These too were not set high enough for the jack to be of use, so we had to use our heads. That didn't go well! We broke open the top bundle and drug the 294 boards to the fork lift and restacked them. The bottom bundle was a little better. I asked if we had any ratchet straps. The idea was to latch on to the bundle and use the fork lift to pull it to the back of the trailer. It took about the same amount of time as dragging the boards to the open doors of the trailer, but no one had to touch the boards, so I called it a win.

The church staff and those helping out seemed very appreciative for the generosity of those who contributed to this effort. Pastor Kellen, our contact at the Worship Center, told us there were 67 families they were planning to help who had contacted them seeking aid. These families had a partial to total loss of everything they owned and most were without insurance. It was stressed that a great number of these families suffered a total loss. While we were unloading the truck, in just the 4 hours we were at the church working, two more families stopped by to ask for assistance. A week later, as I was in communication with Pastor Kellen, he informed me that after the families they had originally committed to helping came through and got what they needed, they opened up the supplies to a much broader base. Over 500 families were able to come through and be blessed by the efforts of the Church. It broke our hearts to not be able to dedicate the time to helping these families at their homes with clean up and rebuilding. We were just not able to stay long enough to get involved that way. My brother-in-law's mission focused more on service while ours focused on delivering needed supplies.

After leaving Houston on Saturday morning around 11am, Michelle and I headed towards home. On the trip down, we went from Ohio to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and finally into Arkansas before getting into Texas. For the trip home, we decided to travel along the gulf more to see the aftermath of Harvey. We traveled through Beaumont, TX, which was ravaged by this record setting storm as well. The trip from Houston to Beaumont was about 90 min. The entire way there we could see neighborhood after neighborhood gutted and ripped apart. One pile of the contents of these homes stretched for nearly 200 yards, in my estimation, and stood at least as tall as a man. Looking down streets as we drove by, we could see both sides of the street piled high from end to end with the internal contents of so many homes. I'm sure many of these homes will never be lived in again. And to think that many of these families are without insurance to cover the damages is heart breaking. We noticed a farm that had a fence with straw snagged on it all along it for nearly half a mile. This straw line was about 2 ½ feet off the ground! As we approached the end of the fence, we found a large, amorphous heap of round straw bales jumbled together. These bales are often well over 500 lbs each and they were tossed into this mess by the rushing flood waters. I can't imagine witnessing that.

This is why we were called. This is what the church is supposed to be doing—helping. I read an article published shortly before our trip that stated that 80% of the aid going to Texas and to Florida was from the Church and that FEMA was lagging behind terribly. If you supported us in any way during this trip, you were part of that statistic! Thank you so much for the help and for supporting us in this endeavor. It was truly a privilege to be a part of this and we count ourselves blessed to serve.

The Church is called to be a light in a dark place; the world is a dark place. After a terrible event such as these hurricanes or tornadoes or other tragic events either natural or unnatural, we need to mobilize. I've seen lately that many people, especially on social media, revel in complaining. They live for it. They post article after article (many of which are editorial pieces masquerading as news or are unsubstantiated news articles) and make grievances. I find, in my experience, that such people have no interest in helping fix the problems they are so excited to voice their opinions on. I believe they are rarely actually interested or concerned with the problems they're referencing, but just want to complain, nothing more. We're not called to complain. We're called to help. Complaints don't fix devastated areas; actions do. Rather than registering your complaint online, why not pick up a hammer, send an envelope with a check inside, or drive to the area and get your hands dirty? Be the change rather than just being an irritant. If you simply cannot do any these things, you are all capable of prayer. Whether we get involved or not, we should be in prayer over these matters. I believe prayer got the semi-truck Findlay Warehousing donated filled over capacity, that it got my wife and I safely to Houston and back without any real issues, and that it'll bring peace to a these devastated areas.

I’m looking forward to what God has for us in the future. I feel a door may have just opened. Pray for us, friends, as we consider the future and what God may call us and you to do.

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.


Human Plight and God’s Solution: Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 18, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

The dead condition of humanity resulted from following its own evil inclinations in response to the spiritual ruler of the fallen world. God owes humanity nothing except the judgment and destruction which they have earned. Yet, God remains profoundly merciful, providing the gift of salvation and a new destiny for those who follow Christ.

Because of the Fall, humanity was plunged into death as Paul says, “By the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man” (Romans 5:17). According to Pauline theology, Adam is the representative head of humanity, and his sin caused an inescapable addiction to sin. Adam’s sin predisposed the entire human race to reject the reign of God and accept the reign of sin. Each person decides to be an authority for themselves. Paul describes this morbid state as the normal condition under which the entire human race suffers.

There are three observations that come to mind concerning this ongoing death in which humanity continually suffers. First, this dead condition is universal. When Paul says, “All of us also lived among them” (Ephesians 2:3), he leaves nobody out of the equation.

The second observation is that all humanity is complicit in this deadness; it does not fight against the deadness of it all, but rather has gotten used to it. The phrase, “and we were children of wrath by nature, as also the rest of them were” (Ephesians 2:3) seems to insinuate that the descendants of Adam may not be the prime originators of this fallen condition in the sense that Adam was, but neither are they completely passive—or acted upon—by the transmission of Adam’s death.

It is not as though aside from Adam’s sin, we would all be innocent. Rather, the murky corruption in which everyone is born conveys death to each one. And each person is also complicit in this corruption and willfully accepts and relishes in the morbidity it conveys. Humanity delights in their dead, rebellious condition; they thrive in death. Adam may have plunged the human race into sin, but humanity stayed there willingly.

It is alienation and separation from God. It is a wretched condition caused by our own sins. This creates a cycle of death, because sin increases an appetite for more sin; death unto death. But even if mankind chose the reign of sin and death rather than the reign of God, his addiction to sin is no excuse. Each person is accountable to God for their rebellious heart. All this creates a deadness to God and a deadness to life.

Everyone “lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Adam followed this ruler when he was enticed by Satan; his children still follow this ruler as they live in Adam’s death. Also like Adam, they chose to live out their lives in the cravings of their flesh, “indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind” (Ephesians 2:3). Hence, each person has lived in a manner controlled by the world, the flesh, and the devil. They have chosen to be ruled by the devil himself, rather than God.

The third observation is that this death is total. It is idiotic to ask how fatal this death is. There are no degrees of fatality. Humanity is utterly hopeless in ever reversing this death brought about by its own transgressions and sins. No one can raise himself from the dead. Everyone lives to gratify the cravings of this fallen nature. The only impulse that dead humanity possesses is the impulse to follow the ruler of this age into further gratification of the sin nature.

Not only is humanity taken captive by the ruler of the spirit of the air, but even if humanity could free itself from the chains of sin, it would not exercise that freedom. It has earned its judgment, ratified its intention to live independently from God’s ways, committed itself to vile tastes, and receives its sustenance and energy from the ruler of this present age, the evil one.

Humanity is a corpse ball looking for fresh enticements. Long dead lay the world, enticed to dark appetites by the ruler of this present age. Each person has lived to establish his or her own sense of what was right, instead of the standard of right and wrong being God’s unchanging holiness. Therefore, the world chose anarchy and alienation from God. It chose the serpent over the Savior.

The cycle of sin and death imprisoned every person; no one could escape. Somehow, someone from the outside had to break in and bring deliverance. Jesus Christ did that.

Though God owed nothing but judgment and damnation to those rebels, He Himself opened a way of salvation so that they might have opportunity to escape. He did this by virtue of Christ’s merit applied to those who received His gracious gift. He did it in order to blot out the traces of rebellion and shame. This act of God was based solely on God’s own mercy and Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, since it could not be earned by anyone.

God made believers alive in Christ. He gave them a completely new identity, gave them victory over the ruler of the spirit of the air, and gave them a new status all to showcase His great kindness and grace.

None of these things were earned by the recipients of grace, so that none of them could boast of any merit of their own. God offers each of us this gift of salvation. Make sure to catch part 2 next week.

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.


What Does the Bible Say About Hell?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 16, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Last week, we discussed what the Bible says about heaven, and we briefly touched on the idea of hell. Today, we’re looking a bit more into hell and what the Bible says about it.

One of the primary texts we have regarding hell is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Lazarus goes to heaven and is by Abraham’s side, but the rich man goes to hell and is in constant suffering there. What is hell like for him? Well, a drop of water to cool his tongue sounds to him like the most amazing thing he could ever have. I’ve gotten pretty thirsty at times, but that sounds pretty severe! He is also tormented by the fact that his family members will likely suffer the same fate as him, but there’s nothing he can do about it. Finally, the icing on the cake so to speak is that we know he can see heaven. That would be like being so close to that refreshing water in a time of extreme thirst, and even seeing someone else being refreshed by the water, and knowing you can never have it.

So why was hell created? We don’t see it listed in the original Creation account of Genesis 1-2, but that’s because it wasn’t really needed then. God created everything to be perfect (Genesis 1:31), so there was no need for a place for evil to dwell. Hell was prepared as a place for the devil (the first fallen angel) and his angels to dwell (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4). Hell is the place for those who have done evil, so they can face their condemnation there (John 5:28-29; Revelation 21:8; Matthew 25:46; Matthew 13:50; Psalm 9:17).

The devil is not necessarily in charge of hell, but he has been banished to live there forever (Revelation 20:10). Hell is eternal fire (Mark 9:43) and will destroy both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). We know that God cannot be and is not present there (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Those who dwell in hell are living in a place that is completely without God; we can only imagine the horror that that would be, since God does dwell and work in our world, even if we don’t acknowledge Him.

How do we get to hell? Well, it’s the opposite of how we get to heaven. We get to heaven by believing in Jesus as our savior, so we get to hell by NOT believing that. Unfortunately the way to heaven is much narrower than the way to hell. Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Hell is a real place. What are you doing in your life to make sure you’re going through the narrow gate to heaven, and escaping the eternal torment of hell?

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.


The Faith of Abraham - Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 15, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Like many people, I’ve had seasons of my life when, now that I look back on them, I can see that I was settling. One such time was after I graduated college. I had grown up in Pennsylvania and knew that God was calling me to go to seminary and eventually be a pastor, but that meant moving to a faraway land known as Findlay, Ohio, for a minimum of three years. That was going to be very uncomfortable. I’d have to move away from my family, lose a lot of friendships, and go where I had no network of support and little money. I had been preaching for many years and there was no doubt about my specific calling, but for the first time in my life I would have to seriously walk by faith and trust God. Needless to say, I decided against it.

Many of you who know my story are thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought he did go to seminary and live in Ohio." It’s true that I did, but I’m here to tell you now that I delayed my move quite a bit. And let me just tell you, when God calls you to something and you have no doubt about it whatsoever, never delay! I searched for comfort in relationships with women, in a good-paying job, in friends, in my social life, and in setting up ways to make sure all MY needs were met. But the more I resisted what God was urging me to do, the more I felt uneasy and unsatisfied. It wasn’t until a friend and leader in the church called me out on my sin of settling and told me I would continue to lack purpose and passion until I obeyed God that I finally decided to do so. Had I not gone to Ohio, I probably wouldn’t be a pastor, wouldn’t have met my wife, and wouldn’t even know what Worldview Warriors is, let alone be writing for them!

A man who we know as Abraham, who was originally named “Abram,” was prone to settling at one point in his life. Yet, he learned to obey God and walk faithfully. We will spend the next three weeks talking about this man, as there is much to learn and apply to our own lives. Hebrews 11 has more to say about him than anyone else. Our foundational verse of Hebrews 11:3 certainly applies to him. Abram was given a promise without many specific details, yet he knew that a God who formed the entire universe out of what is not seen could handle the details. That first step is basically where I got hung up before I followed the call. I was worried about all my needs and so many details that God had already figured out since before the world was created! If you’ve experienced such a time in your life, you can learn from Abraham’s faith.

Hebrews 11:8-9 tells us that Abraham “obeyed and went” when God called him to a place where he would receive what was promised “even though he did not know where he was going." We also see that he had to live as a stranger in a foreign land and basically camp in tents. He didn’t even have a house for crying out loud! Talk about trusting God for your needs! To make sure we’re all brought up to speed, you can learn about the promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-7. First, he is told to leave his home, his native land, his friends, and even his father’s household, but he is not provided with the destination. He is simply told that God will show him a land. God probably knew that Abram wouldn’t go just based on that alone and would just chalk it up to bad wine or a weird dream. So, God adds the incentive by promising to make Abram into a great nation and to bless all peoples through him. Let’s face it, we’re all promised things from time to time. The promise alone is irrelevant unless we believe we can trust the “promise-r” to fulfill it. Abram had to leave all of those comforts and trust God even though God wouldn’t even tell him where he was going. God wasn’t forcing him. He could have rejected the call and then went about his business. But he probably would’ve found, like I and maybe you did, that settling for less than the best God has for you only brings discontentment. Maybe he already knew it.

I find it interesting that we read this story and always tend to focus on the fact that Abram was not given a destination. We think God is being a little unreasonable with this call and we wonder how we could ever respond the way Abram did. But what if I told you that it’s not always about where you’re going? Sometimes, it’s about WHAT you’re leaving behind. Look again at what God says to Abram in Genesis 12:1. God does nothing by coincidence, so you better believe that he wanted to remind Abram of what he needed to leave rather than put his focus on where he was going to end up. Many biblical scholars believe that Abram’s father and his native people were big into idolatry. While we don’t know that for certain, I always think about the fact that we read about the faith of Abram but not of his father. In fact, that’s true about most of the heroes of our faith. But I have a free piece of advice for you: if you are currently operating in an environment that encourages participation in anything that you know is not acceptable in God’s eyes and it is bringing you down rather than bringing you up, I can promise you that God is “calling” you to leave that environment. He wants you to RUN, not walk, away from sin.

Not doing what God commands is sin. And Abram’s father showed him how to sin in this manner. Acts 7:2-3 tells us that the call to head to the land of Canaan came to Abram while he was still in Mesopotamia. Abram’s family lived specifically in the land of Ur in that area, and Genesis 11:31 tells us that his father, Terah, took the family and set out from there to go to the land of Canaan. This was the actual Promised Land that God would give Abram and where Israel is still located to this day. But that same verse shows us that they came to Harran and “settled” there. When Abram followed God in Genesis 12:4, he set out from - guess where - Harran! That means it was only after they had settled for less than God’s best that Abram chose to follow God as he should’ve in the first place.

The name “Terah” means “delay." Friends, you may have learned to settle and even been encouraged to settle by your parents or those around you. But God wants so much more for you. He has promises for you. Abram’s name, which meant “exalted father,” was changed to Abraham, which means “father of many,” only after he began to trust God for his basic needs and also that what God promised would all come true. We’ll dig into this more next week, but keep in mind that we cannot get what we want in this world by trying to “exalt” ourselves and make sure WE are taken care of. 1 Peter 5:6 tells us that only AFTER we humble ourselves before God will he “lift (us) up in due time." Abram learned the idols of SELF and SETTLING from his father, but received the promise and the praise from God after he humbly obeyed and trusted him. In whatever area you know you are currently settling because you are worried about meeting your own needs, I urge you to trust the God who made everything you see from that which you cannot see. He will not fail you and he never breaks his promises!

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.


Why Do I Trust the Bible?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 14, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

This may be a very short blog post for me, but it represents decades of experience, research, study, and certainty formed from uncertainty.

My trust in the Bible starts first and foremost with the fact that nothing else I have ever read, studied, researched, or examined has ever passed examination. Nothing, not Eastern Mysticism, not Islam, not Hare Krishna, not Mormonism, not Jehovah's Witness, not Nihilism, not Gnosticism, not secular humanism, nor atheist philosophy, nothing has passed scrutiny beyond the most basic of tenets. Rational, philosophical, historical, archeological, scientific, and experiential proof is cohesive and astounding within the Bible, from the most basic of historical references to the most dramatic miraculous fulfillment of prophecy.

My trust is deepened by the fact that scientific method, social justice, racial and gender equality, freedom (from the most basic to the most misused), and law and order all begin with the roots of morality established in Judeo-Christianity. Then you add in those who grew up in cultures directly averse to the Bible, or those who have tried to prove the Bible wrong, who end up coming to faith in Jesus Christ. These are people like Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and the list goes on.

My trust is galvanized by experiences where I have encountered God and heard his voice. It is ratified by events that can only be explained by the presence of unseen spiritual beings (angels, demons, the Holy Spirit). It is verified by speaking or praying that resulted in miraculous emotional and physical healing. And it is multiplied by the lives of people who have been recreated from who they thought they were into who God always intended them to be.

When I read the Bible, the Word of God, I realize again and again that He is reading me. God's Word reaches into the depths of my brokenness and rebellion toward desires and destruction and calls me to freedom and life. I cannot disprove it, I cannot deny it, I cannot rewrite it, I cannot forget it, I cannot abandon it, I cannot stand against it, I cannot get around it, I cannot get past it, I cannot go beyond it, I cannot fake it, and I cannot escape it - BECAUSE "[His Word] is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Why do I trust the Bible? Because I have tried everything and everyone else, and His Word is the ONLY one that never fails. 

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.


The Parable of the Sower

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 13, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Parable of the Sower is likely Jesus’ most famous parable, in part because it is one of only two he actually explained in detail about what it means. It is also the one Jesus said would be the key to understand all the other parables. If you can grasp the Parable of the Sower, you will understand what all the others are about: true and false conversion.

I first heard that remark from a preacher in a Q/A session and that thought has been stuck in my mind: most, if not all, of the parables deal with true and false conversion. I began going through in my head all the parables I could think of and I have had a hard time thinking of any of Jesus’ parables that fail to illustrate the difference of what a true and false believer will be like. The Parable of the Sower is the key, according to Jesus, to recognize this.

I am not going to review the parable itself here, however if you are not familiar with it, please examine both it and the explanation Jesus gives. There are four types of soil: path, rocks, weeds, and good. Three of these failed to produce fruit, and only the last made it. When I have heard most people preach on this parable, they will typically suggest the path is non-believers, the rocks and the weeds are failed believers, and the good soil are the solid believers. I must disagree with this understanding. I have come to understand that all four of these soils are those who claim to be followers of Christ, but only one is a true one.

The path is a type of ground that is hard and compact. Seeds placed onto the path will not easily grow because they will not get buried into the ground. It is too hard. And because it is hard, the seed is exposed and the birds can come and take it away. Jesus described this soil as the kind of person who hears the word but the enemy comes and takes it away before it can take root.

Every one of us have dealt with hardness of the heart internally. How do I know? How often do we hear a great sermon on Sunday morning and get home and have no clue what it was about? I have a collection of 80 sermons and counting on my flash drive I listen to in the car. I choose sermons that are worth re-hearing, are dealing with issues I am working on, and are good reminders for me. However, I’ll hear a great comment in the sermon and by the time I get home, I lose track of what it was. Those birds are hungry, looking for any chance to take away a good word that can affect our lives. How much more do we hear a legitimate word from God and before the day ends we lose what it was, let alone attempt to take action on it? That is when we have an area that has become a hard, compact, trodden path.

Rocky soil is the kind where the seed initially takes root because there is some good soil, but a lot of hard material for the roots to cut through. The roots are shallow and do not have a firm grip. Because of the lack of grip and lack of access to the ground water, when the hot sun comes up, it does not have the strength to endure. Jesus likens this to people that are eager to jump into the fray, however because they have not been established, they fail.

Eric Ludy has a sermon called “Five Smooth Stones” in which he spends almost half the sermon talking about growing trees. It is about leadership and developing missionaries, and his main point is that in early years, trees are extra vulnerable to pests and diseases. The tree needs to get established and firmly rooted before facing the storms.

The enemy wants to get after us before we get established because he fears what we could be if we continue to be obedient to the Lord. So the moment we start to show growth, he’s going to come after us. Many people who are rocky soil are fickle. They tend to jump ship quickly at the first sign of trouble and then try to find another safe place. They are unwilling to go through the storm because of fear of failure among other things. Those who jump churches the moment something doesn’t go their way fit in this category. Now some do need to leave the churches they are in, but when they church hop each time they are offended, they need deeper roots. Rocky people like this also tend to be gullible because they are so quick to change direction each time the winds and waves of society shift.

Weedy soil is the type of soil where people serve two or more masters. You have competition for the nutrients of the soil. Weeds tend to grow en masse without any care, whereas good crops take heavy hours of maintenance to keep growing. These are the people that want one foot in with Christ and another foot still in the world. We are to be in the world but not of it. That does not mean we cannot watch a football game, play a video game, or watch TV and movies, however, which tends to dominate your thought life? Could it be possible that these entertainment venues is taking your energy and your thoughts away from God?

Crops CAN grow in weedy soil, however their fruit will be weak, the vine will be sickly, there will not be as much fruit, and the soil will be weaker for the next set of crops. There are a number of weeds that look at LOT like good crops, and that is what the Parable of the Wheat and Tares is about. The tares are false converts that suck away nutrients from the wheat and keep the wheat from being able to produce. When the tares leave, the wheat feel much better and freer to grow and develop.

Good soil is the real deal. It is well plowed and broken up before the Lord. Seeds are able to bury themselves into the dirt, die, and rise as a fruit-bearing plant. Rocks are broken up and the tap root is able to hit the ground water. The roots go deep, and while a tornado could bend the tree over, it will not uproot it because it has a firm grip. It is clear of weeds, and the sin and worldly things that entangle us are removed. This soil is able to bear good, rich, numerous fruit.

God wants to make us into good soil. Each of us start as path, rocky, or weedy soil but as a good gardener, he knows how to clear it, plow it, and prepare the soil. Let us be good soil, so God’s word can grow, take deep root, and have such a grip on our lives that no matter what storms come it will not let go.

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.


God's Provision: From Ohio to Houston, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 12, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

After some time to rest and reflect, I thought it would be nice to write a blog post about the trip my wife Michelle and I took to Houston, TX. If you follow the Worldview Warriors Facebook page (which you should if you don’t already), you would have seen about a month ago that Michelle and I responded to the call to take supplies down to Houston following the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. I'll share the whole story.

Michelle's brother Jono and his wife April felt led to take a truck and trailer full of supplies down to Texas for disaster relief. He and his wife were going to stay for a few days to help in whatever way they could before returning to Ohio. In the process of collecting supplies—food, water, cleaning supplies, etc.—they acquired more they they could take. This led them to believe they needed to turn people away if they wanted to donate. This is where Michelle and I came into the picture. Hearing this, we felt strongly that God was asking us, “Why can't you take the rest?”

You see, one of my passions is helping. It's just the way God made me. I love giving a hand, providing some help or finances, letting someone use a machine or tool I have, etc.. Whenever I would hear of these events like Harvey or when Joplin, MO was hit by a gigantic tornado and those sorts of things, I feel like we should act. As followers of Christ and, quite frankly, as decent people, we should be moved by such things and try to help if possible. But anytime the need seemed to arise, it was difficult to find others who were willing and able to participate. And, truthfully, with owning our own business and having a family of 7 to deal with, it was easy to find excuses for not getting involved. We might send a donation here or there, but we rarely got our hands dirty so to speak. Honestly, it never occurred to me to act on my own until my brother-in-law jumped at the chance. I appreciate him for that. Sometimes we need to be shown something before we realize it's possible.

Jono was having some issues with the ministry he had chosen to contact to help with (understandably, they are very large, heavy with red tape, and were in the middle of a crisis). I have a friend in Houston that I was sure would have some contacts or at least an idea of where Jono could find direction. Dr. Ramirez got us in touch with Pastor Kellen at the Worship Center in north Houston. This was a terrific blessing and made the job of connecting down there much easier. Eventually, my brother-in-law did get word from Samaritan's Purse and he did do some clean-up work with them.

So Michelle and I announced fairly sluggishly on Thursday, August 31st that we, too, would be making a trip down to Houston to provide supplies. We didn't mention it to many people until the following Tuesday when everything broke loose. Let me explain: I stood up in a Business Network International (BNI) group I'm involved in—Flag City BNI—and told them about our plans. This seemed pretty benign at the time. However, after hardly mentioning it to anyone else until Sunday at church, I received a message from a friend in this BNI group. On Tuesday, September 5th, Chase of Findlay Warehousing informed me that his company would like to donate a semi truck, 53' trailer, and driver for the trip! This was terrifying! What am I supposed to do with a semi truck? I thanked him and immediately got the wheels in my head turning. How am I supposed to fill up a 53' trailer? In my mind, I had already determined it was not possible and told Chase we may just need to use a box truck if that was available. But we moved on.

That day, a very nice woman I know stopped in my office. I hadn't seen her for a few weeks as was her custom. But she stopped in and I just happened to mention what had transpired earlier that day. It turns out Patty knows everyone within a 50-mile radius (or so it seemed) and immediately started in with, “Have you talked to this organization? I'm good friends with the president. What about this company? I know their CEO. How about this radio station? I know the guy in charge over there really well.” And thus a firestorm began.

Michelle and I had placed a video on Facebook on Labor Day. Within 24 hours, that video was shared about 70 times and clicked on some 2500 times! It was unbelievable and I thank everyone who participated in that. However, it seemed like that was the end of the enthusiasm. After all of that, still no donations were coming in. I was concerned.

I contacted the United Way here in Findlay, OH, to see if they had some help they could provide. They could not. They were trying to fill their own two semi trucks and, therefore, did not have any resources available. However, they advised us to take the truck to Tiffin, OH where, as far as they knew, there was no coordinated effort. I did just that. I contacted a friend, Lenny, who knows the mayor of Tiffin to see if he had a suggestion for getting in touch with him. He helped me out and Mayor Montz and I got connected. Patty, again, went to work and got us a place in the Tiffin Mall parking lot where Mayor Montz and I met for some pictures. He used those pictures on his social media to get the word out. That was picked up by WTOL, a local television station out of Toledo, OH. That helped in getting the word out, but to be honest, I believe the majority of the donation we accepted from Saturday, September 9th to Sunday, September 10th were by passers by who saw us. My children, Zeke and Judah, held large, bright yellow poster boards up saying, “Help us help Houston!” and “Help us fill this truck for Houston.” People responded. But the task was huge and I still was not sure. But by the time we finished in Tiffin on Sunday, after my parents and my aunt and uncle worked with me for about 6 hours, the truck was about two-thirds of the way full (though I believed the pros at the warehouse would likely get that packed a little tighter than we did).

I called a friend, a local business owner and pastor of a local church, and asked if he may be able to help. His response with very little hesitation was, “Would $5000 help you out?” Of course, I was shocked and very appreciative. That with all the other donations we received totaled over $7000! The bulk of that went through New Beginnings Assembly of God in Tiffin although some cash was used for the trip down and back. But this leads to my next big deal!

I was at the truck in Tiffin while donations came and decided, because I had the help of some wonderful people from our church—Don, Cathy, and Lisa—that I would run down to Lowe's and see if they would be willing to give a discount on any building materials for me. I had talked with Pastor Kellen and he gave me a short list of important items. I started my truck and saw someone pull in out of the corner of my eye. “Another person bringing a donation,” I thought. I waved and put my truck in gear before I realized I knew this person. So I put the truck back in park and got out. It was Josh, a friend of mine for nearly 20 years and of my wife's family for much longer than that. We got to talking and I told him I was heading down to Lowe's to see about getting a great deal. “Oh, I'm really good friends with the store manager down there. Let me go talk to them for you,” he said. That was a huge relief. He came back to tell me they'd help however they could! This was after the store employees had stopped by with about 30 flashlights, batteries, and about 50 pairs of work gloves, among other things.

I went down to find that Steve, the manager on duty, was an excellent guy. He gave me whatever I wanted at cost! So I decided to purchase 238 sheets of drywall, 588 2x4's, 4 wheelbarrows, 100 lbs of drywall screws, and 50 batts of insulation. In so doing, with their discount, I saved nearly $3000. Because of some confusion with the semi truck, I had to get a trailer to haul this stuff to Findlay Warehousing on my own. This was about 17,000 lbs of materials! I got to the store an hour before closing and left an hour after closing. It took a quarter of a tank of gas to drive the 30 miles to the warehouse! They unloaded me in an hour and I got that trailer, generously donated by Ogg Brothers Concrete in Sycamore, OH back to them around 1am on Wednesday. While at the warehouse, the guys I was working with were excellent. They were nice and helpful and didn't seem bothered by the fact that I was there interrupting them. My wife had the same experience as she stopped in there several times with a truck load of stuff as we acquired it. We had locations in Tiffin (Heritage Lanes, New Beginnings church, and Heavenly Pizza), in Upper Sandusky (AJ's Heavenly Pizza), and in Findlay (Risner Spinal Center, Heavenly Pizza, and Flashover Indoor Sports). This was starting to come together really well. “We might fill this truck after all,” I thought.

We will complete this recollection of our journey next week. I greatly appreciate you reading and your prayers and support for our trip to Texas. God moved and lives were changed, including my own.

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.


Bell and the Dragon

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

I’ll begin with an over-simplification of an important issue: One cannot know who Jesus is without accepting the Bible as the absolute, inerrant Truth. The Sadducees missed Him, as did the Pharisees (though not all), and you will miss Him too if you do not accept the Scripture as without error.

By debasing the validity and accuracy of the Scripture, its authority is undermined. Once the historical validity is sufficiently weakened, just about any concept of who God is and who Jesus is can be set forth. This is a great comfort for those who don’t want to follow the Jesus of the Bible.

Current society likes to emphasize only the love of God. Rob Bell declares that in the end, love wins. Bell departs from the Bible in many ways, having decided beforehand how God will act. He then superficially imports his view of God onto the Bible, even in contradiction of the Bible itself! This is simply idolatry: making a god for myself. In Rob Bell’s concept of the Bible, Jesus is a good guy, the Bible is whatever readers make it, hell doesn’t exist, and everyone goes to heaven or whatever because God is just that awesome. But Rob Bell misunderstands God because he does not understand or believe the Scriptures.

The real situation that the human race finds itself in is that we are a fallen creation. Humanity has made an “appalling commitment to usurp the Creator’s place” (page 46 of this book). This commitment destroys every relationship, whether with God or the people who bear His image. As ridiculous as a mouse shaking its fist in the face of a giant is the maniacal assertion of mankind that “I shall be God!”

This is a prideful, rebellious stance and it strikes at the very heart of who God is. God opposes the proud. God is sovereign, but humans insist on deciding for themselves what is right and wrong. This is the stance of humanity: “We don’t care, God, if our ways produce death—we judge for ourselves! If you don’t like it, we will make our own gods! Gods that will love our death and decay—gods like us!”

So what is a God who loves His own creation to do? Creation belongs to God, all of it! It is for this reason that all of creation remains under God’s righteous wrath. Shall God allow death to reign in His own creation or should He destroy the works of the devil?

God is sovereign and therefore creation OUGHT to reflect the character of its Creator. But creation stands in suicidal opposition to God. Creation persists in darkness, death, and deceit. God is none of these things; He is truth, light, and life! As John wrote, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:5-6).

Lucifer is an ideal god for fallen man! He promises knowledge divorced from God, freedom from God’s moral law, power to utterly destroy one another in an all-or-nothing bid to be the ruler of the world. Fallen man uses this arcane knowledge to wring every drop of the human essence out of his fellow man with a lust for more. They are wrung out in turn by the devil himself, consumed by the god of this world. This is the way fallen humans like it; it suits our nature.

But creation belongs to a good and benevolent creator; it does not belong to the usurper nor his small-hearted conspirators. God has now become the judge. He can’t just sit and watch the world burn; He will not allow this “bondage to decay” to continue. The Good News is that God Himself has initiated the salvation of the whole world in Christ. The world must “be reconciled to God.”

But the individuals in the world do not want God nor His plan of redemption. They prefer to make their own gods and their own way of salvation.

This is where the trouble that people have with the Bible arises. The Bible comes pre-interpreted. You either accept God’s point of view or you do not. Jesus Christ is the “exact representation of [God’s] being” (Hebrews 1:3). The Bible expressly testifies to the person and work of Jesus Christ, God the Son. The Bible confronts us in our sinfulness and lostness. Jesus Christ comes into the world confronting the world in its evil. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5).

The distance between Creator and creation is seen in heart-shattering clarity in the opening lines of John’s answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?” He writes, “The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him” (John 1:9-10). God is fully aware of this gap and has opened the way for us to reconcile to Him.

Unfortunately, however, the Christ that Rob Bell and other post-evangelicals invoke is not the Jesus of the Bible. They have reimagined Jesus, and he bears little resemblance to the Word made flesh! Alas, Jesus is in the world, but Rob Bell cannot recognize him. Among other diversions from the Bible, Bell’s view is that essentially Jesus changed God; Jesus reconciled God to sinful humanity.

In spite of the deficiencies of post-evangelicalism and their selective reading of Scripture, the Gospel writers did not exclude God’s justice, holiness, or perfection. They call sinful humanity to repentance and agreement with God’s righteous condemnation of fallen humanity. We must reconcile to God, not recreate Him in our own fallen image.

Rob Bell and other post-evangelicals insist that there is no hell-fire, that no one is ever judged. But the Bible says that Jesus Himself will be “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near; this is the reality to which Jesus reconciles us.

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.


How Followers of Jesus Should Respond to Race

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, October 10, 2017 0 comments

by Aaron Felty

A few weeks ago (here), I began writing about the Christian response to the “racial” divide. I am always reluctant to use the word “race” because it creates an unnecessary distinction between us as people. There is only one race, the human race, so strictly speaking to says races is inaccurate.

The running definition of race for students in the dictionary even includes the words divided. Race can be defined as a group of people who share a common culture or history. I would like to operate from that definition moving forward. When I mention race, I am talking about people who share a common culture or history.

I am a pastor at a church that is intentionally multi-ethnic. I know it seems like splitting hairs to use the word “ethnic,” but we do not believe we are different races. We have different cultural and historical backgrounds, but we all belong to one race. Genesis 1:27 says that God created us male and female in His image. There is no room for multiple images or distinctions by skin color, cultural background, or geographical location. We see in Genesis 11:1-9 that God scattered humans all over the earth because of their selfish ambition and maybe even racial pride. It is from this point forward that we experienced what we might call “racism” today. People groups fought over differences in how they lived in their particular region. Of course, not all cultural or regional practices are equal or to be lifted up (such as white supremacists or members of ISIS), but I believe the origin of modern racism had its roots shortly after the tower of Babel incident.

Why did God scatter them anyway? Genesis 1:28 gives us the answer. God told them to fill the earth, but they didn’t. The tower of Babel incident was a way for the earth to be filled. Ultimately, God’s plan was to create a place that had a variety of languages, cultures, tribes, and nations. In some ways this was God’s plan to display His beautiful creativity. Consider how boring life would be if the only culture was Swedish or African or Asian. Since God scattered people across the face of the earth, we have a picture of how He does not discriminate by geography, skin color, or culture. He offers us a view of His heart. God Himself inhabits and is reflected collectively by all the variety. We distort that variety and attempt to create a pecking order based on our political, military, religious, and/or cultural practices. Do not get me wrong, I do not believe all religions, politics, or cultures are equal; clearly that is not the case. The religious practice of honor killings is unfathomable, a political system that exploits the poor or only works for a few is deplorable, a military used to suppress its citizenry is abusive, and a culture that attacks another for not being like them is completely ungodly.

In my lifetime as a biracial person, I have never experienced such obvious and covert racial tension (remember my definition of race). It seems like many white people are exhausted trying to figure out what to call black people, what they can and can’t say, how they should address the racial tensions of the day, if their opinion even matters, and they often suffer from what some call “white guilt.” White guilt is the belief that white people are sympathetic to black causes because they feel guilty about what has happened to blacks in the U.S. up to the present day.

Many blacks are exhausted by the constant pressure of skepticism they feel in our society. Blacks feel mistreated or unfairly handled by the law. Occasionally black people have to behave a certain way so others are not afraid of them, they feel like their opinion doesn’t matter where the most power resides, and they feel left behind and minimized. Ultimately, they feel like the deck is stacked against them in nearly all areas of society: government (even though we just had a black president, most black people do not feel represented), education, finance, law, and health care.

I know people on either side will bristle at some of these things. I also have to say that I am not the authority on what white people or black people think; this is my experience based on 44+ years of life. It is not comprehensive and there are many reasons for all of these and perhaps some other important things I omitted. Please comment if you think I missed things or just want to add to this conversation.

So, how should followers of Christ respond? I believe one of the strongest responses we can have is to defend the cause of the marginalized or exploited. Martin Luther King Jr. said it powerfully from a Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46 that whatever you have done for one of the least of these you have done for Him. I want to list a couple things we could do today:

  1. Ask God to help you engage in conversations with people from different “races.” Ask good questions about their experience and simply listen. It all begins with prayer and conversation.
  2. Ask what someone like you could do, or share things you think you could do that would be helpful, and then ask their input. As you listen you may have ideas; share them and allow them to be critiqued.
  3. Provide alternative points when others engage in Godless chatter about people from different “races.”
  4. Do something! March, donate, serve, write, lobby, etc. 1 John 3:16-18, James 2:16, Luke 10:25-36, Matthew 9:36

My hope is to spur on conversation, not provide all the answers. I know that we are one race and it is in our best interest to defend the cause of those who are marginalized. That means we have to humbly acknowledge what being marginalized looks like and do what we can to provide remedies.

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.


What Does the Bible Say About Heaven?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 9, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This week begins our new series of topics regarding what the Bible says about a variety of topics. Last week, we explored why the Bible is an authority on such matters.

So what does the Bible say about heaven? A lot, actually. First of all, heaven was created by God: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God created the earth as a dwelling place for His people (more on that in a couple weeks), and the heavens as the place where God was to dwell. After the fall of mankind in Genesis 3, heaven became a place that humans could no longer go without a right relationship with God. God cannot be in the presence of sin, and humans had sinned. Heaven (and more importantly the presence of God there) is where we should all long to be, because it is a perfect place, free of any sort of sin or evil (Revelation 21-22).

While heaven may be known as a big, big house with lots and lots of rooms, that is essentially how Jesus Himself described it. John 14:1-3 says, “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

How do we get to heaven? Jesus answers that question, just a few verses after the previous passage, in John 14:6: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” We know that Jesus Christ will reign in heaven, seated at the right hand of God, and we will get to go there to join Him if we have faith in Him (Colossians 3:1-4).

We learn a number of things about heaven (and hell - more on that next week) from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. We know that a person cannot cross between the two. Heaven is the reward for those who have faith, and our life circumstances on earth don’t matter there. This is the only passage where we see any correspondence between the two sides of heaven and hell.

Read Revelation 21-22 for a pretty detailed description of what heaven will look like and it’s physical characteristics. But remember that language is limiting; John (the author of Revelation) probably had no words to describe the majesty, glory, and perfection of the glimpse of heaven that he got to experience. Our limited human minds and vocabulary just can’t grasp or understand the complete and inexplicable brilliance of this glorious place!

Have you ever wondered about Revelation 21:1, which says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” This same idea is echoed earlier, in Isaiah 65:17-25. The new earth makes sense, since this one is full of sin. But why a new heaven? The answer is in the concept of the current heaven versus the eternal heaven.

The current heaven is the heaven that exists right now, where all believers in Jesus who have physically died now exist. We who believe will all go to the current heaven when we physically die, assuming Jesus’ 2nd coming has not yet happened. The current heaven is like when you’re waiting to get into a really great concert, but they haven’t opened the doors yet; it’s still awesome to be there, but it’s not quite the main event yet.

We know that if we have faith, we will get to go to the current heaven immediately when we die (Luke 23:39-43). What’s happening in the current heaven? We can eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7) and experience that eternal life that is promised to us. Those who have been killed for their faith are there, crying out for justice on earth and praying (Revelation 6:9-11). The saints there will serve God day and night, they will never hunger or thirst, and they will not have any sorrow (Revelation 7:13-17).

So what’s the deal with the new heaven then? The new heaven is the eternal heaven, that will happen after the second coming of Jesus. This is like when the concert doors finally open and you’re let into the main event - it will be way beyond the most amazing thing you can imagine! This is the house of many rooms that Jesus spoke of in John 14:1-3. We know from Matthew 22:23-33 that earthly family relationships really won’t matter there, since we’re all the family of God. We as believers will get to live on forever there (Isaiah 66:22). The eternal heaven is where God’s righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). If we have followed Jesus in this life, we will receive our eternal reward there (Matthew 19:28-30).

Do we know exactly what heaven will look like? Nope. But do the details really matter? If you’re only concerned about things like how big your room there will be or who will get the room next to yours, then I’d encourage you to check your focus. The point of heaven is for God’s creation to finally be able to dwell with Him forever and spend our days doing the best thing ever - giving glory to God. How awesome is that!

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.


The Faith of Noah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 8, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

There’s a joke that goes around in churches that states, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him about your plans." A movie came out about ten years ago with a scene where God actually does laugh at the main character’s plans. The movie was called Evan Almighty and many of you have probably seen it. Evan Baxter is a politician who just moved from Buffalo to the Washington D.C. area to begin his term as a U.S. Congressman. His plan and his motto state that he is going to “change the world." Then one day, signs start appearing in his life to show him that he may be doing something he hadn’t “planned." Eventually, God (Morgan Freeman) appears to him a couple times and tells Evan he wants him to build an ark for a flood that will be coming. Evan starts talking about all the plans he had and how he doesn’t have time for the ark, and God just starts cracking up. It takes awhile, but Evan slowly begins to get the picture that life is only going to get more difficult if he doesn’t do what God is commanding him to do.

It’s not that God is literally sitting up in heaven laughing at our plans. But the point of the joke is that God doesn’t necessarily consider OUR plans, especially the ones we’ve made without consulting him, when he asks us to do something big or even just something different. Making plans is not a bad thing. Football teams have a game plan. Those who want to lose weight or get healthier have a workout plan and maybe a diet plan. Businesses have a marketing plan. Couples make wedding plans. You get the picture. But what happens when God allows something to come into your life that you weren’t expecting? Is there enough flexibility in your plans and goals that you can consistently follow God by faith when it doesn’t seem to line up with the direction you thought you were heading?

Evan Baxter is a fictional character, but he was purposefully created to give us a sense of what it may have been like for Noah in the Bible. Noah is the next hero of our faith in this series where we take a look at the examples of others who went before us and had to put their trust and hope in the Lord even in the midst of difficult or unexpected trials. Let’s remember that the foundational verse is Hebrews 11:3, where we see that we, like each of the heroes that are then mentioned, actually reason that God created the entire universe out of nothing. Once we’ve established that foundation, it makes logical sense that he could be trusted to work any miracles that we need as we follow him. Hebrews 11:7 then tells us about Noah’s faith, which caused him to fear the Lord and build an ark to save his family.

Have you ever thought about what an ark actually is? Because of the story of Noah, it’s now mainly defined as the boat that saved people during the worldwide flood. But here’s the thing, it wasn’t a boat back then! In fact, it still wouldn’t really be an accurate definition today because it cannot be steered or sailed. The only thing it can do is float. At the time of Noah, an ark was basically a wooden box or chest used for storage and protection of valuable items. So, when God spoke to Noah in Genesis 6:13-14a and told him that he was going to “put an end to all people” because of their wickedness and then commanded Noah to make a wooden ark, he was probably initially very confused. On the one hand, he would’ve assumed the ark was no different than any other arks that had been made, so he could have it done by that night! On the other hand, he had to be thinking, “Lord, how is a little wooden box going to save me from worldwide catastrophe?” But then God gives him the rest of the command. In Genesis 6:14b-21, God tells Noah to “make rooms in it” and then reveals the monstrous dimensions of the ark and also how it will be used during the flood. When I picture Noah hearing this, I sense that he went from thinking, “Piece of cake" to “That’s impossible!”

There is no way Noah could have expected what God was going to ask him to do. Genesis 6:9 tells us that he was righteous and faithful to God, so he may have been spiritually and physically prepared. But it most certainly was not in his plans. Like all of us, he probably had other plans that involved a daily routine and taking care of his family. At best, he was waiting for God to show him how he might fulfill the promise his father made at his birth. Genesis 5:29 tells us that the name “Noah” sounds like the Hebrew word for “comfort," and his father Lamech said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord had cursed." Try living with that pressure. The story of the curse has been passed down from Adam to each generation and you’ve been told that YOU are the one who will bring comfort. Maybe that’s what caused him to walk closer to God.

I’m sure Noah had to spend some time dealing with his feelings about what God commanded, just like Evan Baxter in the movie. Thousands of years later, Jesus would do the same (Matthew 26:38-42). We all have those moments when doing what we know God wills seems overwhelming. But, while the Holy Spirit helps us process those feelings, it’s ultimately how we respond in action and not how we feel that matters going forward. Genesis 6:22 tells us, “Noah DID everything just as God commanded him” (caps mine). He followed every detail, and Hebrews 11:7 says he moved with “holy fear." It also says that by his faith, he condemned the world. Noah wasn’t the only one who knew about the coming flood. God didn’t tell him to keep it a secret. If you were Noah and you received that kind of information, you’d share it with people. But Noah was the only one who lived by faith. Once the flood came and Noah, his family, and the animals were securely in, Genesis 7:16 tells us that “the Lord shut him in." Judgment came for those who didn’t believe, whether they planned and were prepared for it or not.

Judgment will come for each of us as well. The fact that God is the one who shut the door and not Noah is one of the most fascinating and commonly overlooked things in the Bible in my opinion. Think about it. Did Noah want people to die? Of course not! He was a righteous and faithful man, so there is no reason to assume he wanted to condemn anyone to death. Chances are he was yelling for people to get on the ark even until the last day! What a burden it would’ve been on him had he been the one to close the door and keep people out. It also would’ve been inconsistent with God’s character. He alone is faithful and just and he alone judges the whole world. Noah may have been righteous and faithful, but he was not perfect.

Friends, we so often try to condemn people with our words and judgments. If you’ve ever decided that you think someone is in heaven or hell based on what YOU know about them, that’s what you’re doing. Maybe God just wants us to shut up and focus on living by faith, and let him be the Judge. Trust and follow him. You’ll be set apart by action from those who don’t.

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.


Check Your Vertical, Part 6

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 7, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

In recent weeks, we have seen back to back destructive storms that leveled massive parts of the southern United States and many Islands in the Caribbean and Atlantic. The storms, the destruction, and the outpouring of compassion and aid were initially unprecedented. But, within days of these storms landing their blows, even the chart topping Category 5+ hurricane Irma is already obscured by political theater and people losing their minds with over-reactive media grenades and “cause pawns.”

We are so saturated by the culture and the media that we actually struggle to think for ourselves. The interconnectedness of all our technology also gives the media and our culture more power over us. Did you know that companies can actually track where you look, touch, or click on a web page most often? There are advanced programs that not only track your actual interaction with a webpage, but can also predict your interests and choices so that advertisers can position the types of products or news you would be most likely to respond to.

They use this technology to spy on your web browsing and your TV and other media consumption. Why? Because when we have even a false sense of “privacy,” we are more likely to make choices that are more emotionally transparent. When we don’t feel the need to be aware of how others may perceive us, we let our rational “filter" for our decisions relax. Typically, the more emotionally charged a thought or decision is, the more likely we are to act upon it, even bending our reason to justify it. So, the media, consumer-oriented companies, and cultural influencers all pay more attention to your “automatic" choices when your rational brain is at rest, because they know it will be a better predictor of your future choices. This is why companies stopped using surveys and random interviews as their primary consumer research. They noticed that often sales and decision making of consumers did not match what they were told in interviews. This is because when we are asked direct questions from a rational discussion, we will give thoughtful answers including what we know we “should" say to reflect the values we say we uphold. But as we stand in front of the refrigerator or pantry with an emotional need to snack, most of that is disregarded for whatever we feel will satisfy our tummy.

It’s no different in politics, social justice, religious practices, or any other aspect of human existence. If you want to know what someone's highest priorities are, if you want to predict their decisions, then find a way to observe their choices when they think no one is watching. Funny, when I say it that way, it just reminds me that we really are prone to behave like mischievous children when we think we won’t get caught.

So, how do we break the cycle of making emotionally-charged decisions, especially irrational, immoral, and stupid ones, when the culture and the media keep feeding us more and more reactive content, to keep us emotionally charged on all the issues they want to control? Well, as simple as this may sound, it starts with closing our eyes. If we stop staring at the screen, if we stop searching the fridge and the pantry, if we simply tune out the emotional stimulation, we will be able to wind down the emotional spin. It’s essential that we do this, so that we can make thoughtful decisions about society, politics, diet, family, education, etc. As soon as we do this, we will be less stressed, and we may even lose a few pounds if we aren’t stalking the fridge.

Once we tune down the emotional noise, we can start to tune into an important principle found in 2 Timothy 4:3-8. Notice how Paul encourages Timothy. What are the priorities that he gives Him?

  • Keep your head
  • Endure hardship
  • Draw others to God (“do the work of an evangelist“)
  • Serve in all the ways you have been given responsibility for (“fulfill your duties of ministry/service”)

Notice WHO he charges Timothy to do this for. Is it for himself? Is it for Paul? Paul points to his own example and charges Timothy to do the same. Paul leads by example and expects Timothy to serve God fully, undistracted, for the sake of others, with all of his ability, and to the very end.

We could say that Paul mentors Timothy with this understanding: Your HEAD is JESUS, not GOOGLE.

We work for the Lord, we serve others in the name of the Lord, we love in the name of the Lord, we teach how to live for the Lord, we live and move and have our being in the Lord, so that we can move forward, so we can grow forward and use every gift and ability and skill for His honor and glory.

If you have read this whole blog post series (starting with part 1 here), I hope you feel encouraged and challenged by everything that was shared. As followers of Jesus, we are called to live as a reflection of His standard. We are to move away from our self-centered and horizontal chatter and get squarely under His ‘plumb line’ - knowing He always sees us, and intentionally helping others see Him. We should breathe our last breath with joy, knowing that regardless of the gains or losses, pleasures or pains we faced, we finished the race blessed by God and blessing His name.

If we close our eyes and ears to the distractions, reactions, and chatter, keeping our eyes and actions on Him – in line with the true vertical – then we will always know when to stand, when to kneel, and which way is forward. We can maximize our learning by teaching others, so we are always growing in our relationship with him. We can set aside delusion and allow every aspect of our thoughts and actions to be from DISCERNMENT of who God is and what He wants. We can keep our heads by keeping Jesus as our head - not looking to Google, or actors or anyone else for our value, our hope, our life, our direction, or our VERTICAL.

Will you run the race God has mapped out for you? Or will you follow the wild goose chase the culture wants you addicted to?

God has marked out each step along the way, so that we can be confident of what is right and where we are going, even when it’s hard to see. He has asked us to focus on Him so when we finish, the goodness and the greatness of His standards can be clearly seen by anyone willing to see. Remind yourself daily to check your vertical.

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.


The Sufficiency of Scripture

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 6, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This week with Worldview Warriors, we have been talking about why the Bible should be our authority as we prepare to address a collection of questions about what the Bible says about certain topics. Today, I want to address a not-so-commonly addressed topic: the sufficiency of Scripture.

Many people have no issues talking about the inerrancy of Scripture or giving it a “high view,” however few will speak about the sufficiency of Scripture. You can have a decent conversation with many people about if the Bible is just held as a high level book even without error, but the moment you talk about the Bible alone in answering the issues we face, watch their teeth and claws come out. Is the Word of God enough to answer ALL aspects of our lives? Or do we have to supplement the Bible with the science and expertise of our worldly methodologies?

A constant theme throughout the Old Testament is the departure of Israel from God to other gods, like a wife leaves her husband to go sleep with other men. Proverbs 5 warns about the adulteress and her draw to lead a man astray. Here, the wife never fully leaves the husband. She still returns to him and lives with him, however for whatever reason, she finds her husband to be insufficient. She still likes him and his provision and his protection and his benefits, but she does not find her satisfaction completely in him.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 is commonly used to show that the Bible is God-breathed, but it also shows the sufficiency of the Bible. The Bible is useful for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. This is the basic summary of every area of life. Doctrine: it is not only about the Gospel, but for discerning what is true and what is not. Reproof: the encouragement for how to stay on the right path, and to show what the right path is. Correction: how to identify what the wrong path is and how to get off it, back to the right path. Instruction in righteousness: how to live and act in every area the right way.

The skeptic will often attack the sufficiency of Scripture by giving very specific examples: Does the Bible talk about microbiology? Does it talk about playing video games or watching sports? The Bible does not address the politics of America. However, it gives principles that apply to any and every of life without having to address specific cultures. Proverbs is useful for many areas of life from personal to business to politics and others. The history parts are useful to know how God acted with his people, but also how others actually lived to know how we should or should not act. The epistles (letters) give us instructions on not only how to run a church and also how to live our lives in our daily walks. And the prophecies are impeccably accurate.

Skeptics will ask: “If you get sick, who do you trust? Prayer or real medicine?” How about checking in with the Master Physician to find out what is going on and asking him what you should do? Yes, many have turned down medicine in favor of prayer but they were being presumptuous about God delivering. God did provide the resources for medicine, but he wants us to trust him more than anything else. The doctors had no valuable input when dealing with C.T. Studd or Rees Howells, or even me when I was a child. But God did.

The Bible does not need any supplement, and you will be hard pressed to find a church today that understands this. The Bible does not need the help of modern science to explain itself. I’ve had many people struggle to comprehend how I can be a young-earth creationist without referencing any of the YEC organizations. I was a YEC over 10 years before I even knew anyone would even try to read Genesis any other way. How? I read the Bible and nothing else. If I were to scrap every bit of apologetic knowledge I know, I still would believe the earth is only a few thousand years old, that death entered the world via man’s sin, that a world-wide flood wiped out the earth save for those on the ark, and that people dispersed according to their languages from the Tower of Babel. Why? Because the Bible not only has the authority on all topics, but it is sufficient to address every topic of life, including history and origins.

Many will tell me I need to get more up to date with the times and that there are other ideas out there, that the Bible is outdated and no longer relevant. These people are telling me I need to include the secular ideas of this world into my worldview and particularly to get rid of the Bible. The really disturbing thing is when I hear these comments from proclaimed Christians.

Here is my question: Where is the wise man? What value does he have? What gives any of these other authorities any position to speak on their topics? Because they are experts? What made them experts? Years of experience? Many people do the same thing wrong for many years because they don’t know any better. Proper education? What makes the educators correct? When you boil it all down, all the world’s experts are only experts because they put themselves in that position. All their wisdom is not built upon the Word of God and as a result, nothing they say can ever be true. Anything they happen to get right either already agrees with what the Bible originally said or they actually got it from the Bible and aren’t claiming it as the source. That’s known as plagiarism. ALL the wisdom this world has to offer is either false or is plagiarized from God.

Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar each had the wise men of their culture, but they always failed to deliver when the dreams came. Only the wisdom of God prevailed. When we turn to other authorities besides the Bible, we proclaim it to be insufficient and like the man of Proverbs 5, we turn to the adulteress. We proclaim our lack of faith in God to provide what knowledge we need. You can claim to follow God and the Bible all you want, however if you are turning to other authorities, you show you do not follow God wholeheartedly or not at all. And as Jesus told the Laodicean church. He’d rather you be hot for him or cold against him, but not half-and-half.

Is God enough for us, or do we have to look to other lovers to complete us? Few people today trust the Bible to be sufficient to tell us where we came from. Few trust the Bible to be sufficient on how to run a local church. Few trust the Bible is sufficient to tell us how to manage our families. There are many out there who do, however they are getting fewer and fewer in this day and age of apostasy. Jesus wants followers who believe him and him alone. He is a jealous God and he will not share his glory with any other. So why do keep leaving him and going to other sources of authority? The answer is simple: because we don’t believe him. We don’t believe he is enough. If we did, we’d stay with him.

Let us return to the Bible. If we reject the sufficiency of Scripture, we will reject the authority of Scripture. We reject both when we turn to other ideas instead of God and commit spiritual adultery with him. The Bible is sufficient. What God has provided for us is sufficient. And the more we learn to depend upon Christ and Christ alone (including Scripture, which reveals him and his grace) the deeper and richer our lives will be. The resources of this world will never satisfy, the authorities of this world are in direct opposition to God, and so let us forsake the world and its system and stand wholly upon Christ. Christ is always better and purer. As we at Worldview Warriors begin to explore a bunch of questions relevant to our day and age, let us trust in the sufficiency of Scripture in answering them.

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.


Why I Trust the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 5, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

This week, the writing team of Worldview Warriors is focusing on the subject of the Bible, or “Why the Bible?” in fact. I would like to briefly discuss why I believe the Bible should be taken as the very Word of God and trusted. I'll try to keep it brief.

The Bible is a one of a kind collection of works. There is literally nothing to compare it to in all of literature. The Bible is a collection of 66 different books with over 3 dozen authors spread out over 1500 years. The miracle here is that all of these authors, from peasants and prophets to kings and scholars and spread out over 15 or more centuries, carry a unified message from cover to cover. Through the ages, from the oldest books penned to the most recently written shortly after the time Christ walked the earth, the message is consistent and unified. This in and of itself sets the Bible apart. However, there is so much more.

The Bible is, without any rival, the most accurately kept record of anything from the ancient world and was literally recorded thousands of times nearly flawlessly. The next closest ancient document scarcely has a handful of copies to review. Some laughably suggest the Bible's pages were manipulated over the centuries by kings and rulers to make laypersons submit to their power. Please don't take anyone seriously who suggests these things, which are easily verified as false. The oldest copies of the Bible's pages are identical to today's most recent copies. If there are changes that can be found, they are most frequently punctuation, spelling errors, or even modernizations of names of places. There is no argument to be made suggesting the actual content of the message has been altered in any way. The process by which scribes would copy the text to preserve it for us is amazing. To emphasize, this means it is thousands of times more accurate than any other ancient writing. We have the very words of God preserved for us from ages past. That's awesome!

The Bible's books are a collection of different types of literature: narratives on history, prophetic books, songs of praise, proverbs, and letters from one person to another or to a group of people. It speaks on many different subjects and has been found to be accurate on every topic. Archaeology repeatedly supports the Biblical narrative. Its pages are filled with details about historic events with real people doing real things in real places with real dates ascribed to them. This is different than many other religious texts. The Bible is not a science text, but when it speaks on such matters, it is accurate. The Bible tells us about the psychology of man in very deep ways. It reveals and explains much about the human condition. It goes into details of how man struggles against sin and wars against God. It also gives us great detail concerning how we can know God, walk with Him, and receive the salvation that only He can provide for us. It gives us a general code of conduct as well. 

One of the amazing things about the Word of God is fulfilled prophecy. The Bible is littered with prophetic words that often times contain exquisite details that have been fulfilled. Without getting into too much detail, simply reviewing the prophecies concerning Christ's first coming and His fulfillment of those makes skeptics out to be fools, in my humble opinion. The chances of the hundreds of prophecies concerning Christ's first appearing coming to pass without Divine guidance is literally not possible, and that's just the prophecies concerning Christ. There are many, many others. These are rarely generic or broad utterances that could accidentally be fulfilled. They are detailed, including names of kingdoms that didn't exist at the time, names of people who hadn't been born yet, or details of events no one in their right mind would have believed would happen. It's actually something you could take a decade to study and still not find all the fascinating information. Suffice to say, if you research the fulfilled prophecies of Scripture, you'll find a great deal of support for its Divine inspiration. Sure, there are websites that claim to have evidence for why none of this is true, but most of them are not reputable or have claims that are purely speculation at best.

But all of this pales in comparison, for me, when we look at what I believe is the greatest support for the Bible being the very Word of God: changed lives. Countless men and women have had their lives radically changed with an encounter with God. Very frequently, those encounters involve the Word of God being read or spoken to them. The Truth is found in the pages of Genesis to Revelation, and it's life-changing without a doubt. I've written before on the radical deliverance of my father from being a partier, drinking beer and smoking pot. He met the Lord and his life was instantly changed. I've often recommended Brian “Head” Welch as another “for instance.” He was/is the guitarist for the band Korn. His testimony can be found here on YouTube. It's amazing. His life was drastically changed when he met the living God after his real estate agent shared the Truth of God's Word with him.

There are a number of fairly famous (and some not so much) people whose testimonies are recorded by “I am second.” I know so many people personally who have been delivered from drugs, pornography, alcohol, anger, lying, and so much more, and quite frequently it's at the instant they encounter the God of the Bible. Who has studied atheism and had their life set on a better path? Who has been addicted to drugs and promiscuous sex and, after an in depth look at humanism, was instantly delivered? Who was angry and would beat their spouse, only to find peace and harmony and fulfillment in life because they had an encounter with an atheist disciple? What other faith on earth can boast of such radically changed lives? Who has been set free from some addiction or bondage in the name of humanism or science? 

I believe, with all of the amazing things we find within the Word of God—its historical accuracy, its depiction of real people, places and events, its probing of the human psyche, fulfilled prophecies, and its terribly accurate preservation through the ages—the single most awe-inspiring and greatest evidence for the Bible's authority and authenticity is without question the lives that have been changed by it. If none of these other things were true, I would still find that the Word of God is unlike any other work in literature as it has the power to move people to be something more, something they naturally are not. The power locked within its pages is more evidence than any honest person would really need. All the other evidences are simply icing on the cake.

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.