Commandment #9: Coveting, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 10, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.“ (Exodus 20:17a)

As we come close to wrapping up our look through the Ten Commandments, I’m again intrigued at how they’re numbered, as I brought up in my first post in the series. Many traditions put all of Exodus 20:17 into one commandment, while splitting the first commandment into two so it still make a total of ten. I can definitely see the logic in this method, since verse 17 is all about coveting, so why did the Lutheran tradition I grew up in make it into two commandments?

As it turns out, that commandment division goes all the way back to St. Augustine around the 4th century AD. Augustine is commonly viewed as one of the most important early church fathers, and his Confessions, both an autobiography and theological work, spanned 13 volumes! He followed the Talmud (the book of Jewish religious law) by putting verses 3-6 together as the first commandment, then then split up verse 17 into two. Both Romans Catholics and Lutherans continue using this tradition, although the wording of the last two commandments differs some between the two.

Now that we know that, let’s take a look at what this commandment means. First of all, what is this word “covet”? Coveting basically means a yearning, a longing, a craving, or a desire to have something. If I want that delicious looking piece of chocolate that you have, I would be coveting the chocolate. As we talked about last week, your neighbor is every person, no matter whether we have things in common with them or not.

This commandment specifically looks at coveting your neighbor’s house, so desiring the house of any other person. I enjoy TV shows about houses - remodeling them, selling them, redecorating them, etc. I also enjoy houses in general; my husband and I currently own 6 of them, 5 rental houses plus the one we live in. While I do like the house we live in, there are definitely times I covet other people’s houses, or even features of other people’s houses. I’m sure we could all find things in our own living spaces that we would like to change, where we see someone else having a better version.

But this commandment doesn’t apply to only the structure of the place where we live. According to Luther’s Small Catechism, the meaning of this commandment is: “We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.”

Coveting another’s house doesn’t just mean the place they live, but also their inheritance. An inheritance can be monetary, but it can also be the legacy they leave after they’re gone. We are commanded to not only not desire after his house or inheritance, but to actually help our neighbor keep his house.

I’m blessed to have pretty good neighbors where I live. Some neighbors keep to themselves while others are more outgoing and friendly, but they’re all respectful. But when a neighbor goes the extra mile to actually help us with things around the house, that really shows God’s love. One neighbor of ours will often mow our front yard for us when she does her own lawn; while that may be because they’d rather not look at our yard being long, we believe it’s because they truly want to help us out and it’s a way they can do that.

Coveting comes down to being a matter of contentment. If we are content with what we have, we will not want what someone else has. The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-12, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Paul was completely content while writing that, even while chained in a miserable prison. If we have place to call home, shouldn’t we be content as well with what God has given us?

Are you struggling with coveting your neighbor’s house? What can you do to change your attitude to be one of contentment toward what God has given you? Remember what Proverbs 14:30 says: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.“

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Jesus Christ: Peace for the Whole World

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, December 9, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As I sit here to write this post, the world is waking up to the news that President George H. W. Bush has passed away. That isn’t shocking news for anyone as he was 94 years old and his health has been failing for quite a while now, not to mention the fact that his dear wife passed away earlier this year. What IS surprising to me, not just right now but every time a high-profile political figure passes away, is the fast manner in which the news outlets jump right from their agenda-driven, political attacks of the opposing side to the peaceful, unifying remembrance of the individual’s service. Yesterday, every single time I turned on a certain media outlet on the TV in my home, there were negative opinions and attacks on our current president. I’m sure if I had turned on another one, it would’ve been relentless support of our leaders and negative opinions or attacks on those who oppose our president. Yet, just before I went to bed last night, all of sudden, both were doing the same thing - fondly remembering #41.

If we are Christians and seek to obey the word of God that has been inspired by the Creator himself right into the pens of his earliest followers, then we have an obligation to live for peace when and where possible. This was a common theme of the Apostle Paul’s teachings. In Romans 12:18 he writes, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Notice that he does not say to live at peace with only those who are peaceful toward you or who agree with you on important issues. Just a short time later in his same letter, Paul again writes, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19). From these verses, it is clear that we are not just to TALK about peace or to desperately desire it; we are to DO whatever is necessary and within our power to attain peace.

I don’t remember much about 41’s time in office as I was just a youngster then, but I do know that he is the last president we had who did not serve two terms, as he was defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. This morning, a letter written from President Bush to President Clinton on the day of the Presidential Inauguration in January 1993 was posted to social media. You can see it on Facebook here. The letter is full of encouragement and it ends with Bush telling Clinton, “You will be our president when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good luck." This is an example of doing something that leads to peace. Compare it to what we see now. Our current president still rubs his opponents’ noses in it that he won, and they still discourage him and seek his impeachment at every turn. It’s easy to look at what is happening in our country and world and wonder how we will ever achieve peace again. In reality, our Lord and Savior is both the way to peace and the reason it’s not likely anytime soon.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesied that a son would be given and that he would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This title of Jesus as “prince of peace” is a direct contrast to the devil. John Milton referred to Satan as the “prince of darkness." Ephesians 2:2 refers to him as “the prince of the power of the air." In other words, he is the ruler over the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). The devil has a plan to work evil, dissension, and hatred amongst believers, yet peace can be found by looking to Jesus as our authority. Satan is the authority for those who want to be disobedient and who are bent on destructive behaviors. But for those who are seeking peace, we must turn to Jesus. We cannot turn to conservative or liberal politics because while both claim to be in line with the teachings of Jesus, neither actually is. Jesus tells us how to stand for truth and still love those who oppose it by their words and actions.

At the same time, Jesus said in Matthew 10:34, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." How can this be true of the prince of peace? A look at the context of this verse reminds us that Jesus is sending out his disciples to evangelize the lost sheep of Israel. He tells them that the choice is up to each individual to either acknowledge or disown him before others, and that choice will directly impact whether or not Jesus acknowledges or disowns us before the Father in heaven (vv. 32-33). Because there are some who reject it, there has to be a difference between those who accept Jesus and those who rebel against him. The sword was used to fight, but it was also used to divide things. An example of this would be 1 Kings 3:16-28, when King Solomon asked for a sword because he was going to divide a child in two since two mothers both claimed he was theirs. The sword brought by Jesus is not used to fight or kill but to divide between those who have chosen peace through him and those who continue to live in rebellion. Since we don’t always know who is on what side, we are given the Biblical command to do everything in our power to live in peace with others, even though we know peace isn’t always possible in cases where someone has taken their stand against Christ.

This month, we celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior. When he came 2,000 years ago, the angels appeared and sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). The interesting thing about this verse is that there is a qualifier to receive his peace. While it’s offered to everyone, not everyone has it. The heavenly host of angels said the peace is to those “on whom his favor rests." Does God’s peace rest, or stop, on you? Or do you live in rebellion toward him, letting that peace offered to you move on to those who are ready and willing to accept it? Jesus came to the earth not to bring peace between all humans or between political parties, but between sinful human beings and a sinless Creator. He became our sin while we became his righteousness so that we could be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

This sacrifice and the peace of God that comes with it are offered FOR the whole world, but not everyone has accepted or will accept it. Those who already have are responsible to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on them, even those who hurt or oppose them. We need to be the ones to set the example of peaceful living in the midst of a politically-charged and hate-filled climate. For those who don’t have that peace, maybe this is the year. Maybe today is the day. Nothing can separate you from the peace that God offers you except your own rebellion and refusal to let it rest on you. It doesn’t matter how far you feel you are from God or how long you’ve been living apart from him. You’re never more than one step away. Take that step today and receive the peace that only comes through Jesus Christ.

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Love Always Protects, Always Trusts

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 7, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Love always protects, always trusts…” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV)
“…bears all things, believes all things…” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NKJV)

Love is a verb. It is not a state of being. It is a willful choice and it behaves in particular ways. Paul makes clear what love is and what it is not, because there are many people, especially today, who seek to confuse what love actually is. I could not believe what I was reading when Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis suggests the Bible leaves more questions than answers and used “Love your neighbor” from Luke as his example (page 31). He asks, “What does it mean to love?”, “Who is my neighbor?”, “The Bible doesn’t say, so it’s more confusing than clear.” My literal response to that was: “Did you not read the rest of the passage where Jesus addressed a Pharisee for asking that very question and gave the parable of the Good Samaritan? Did you not read 1 Corinthians 13?” This is the same man who wrote Love Wins a few years later, which promotes the false doctrine of universalism, the idea that everyone will get to heaven even if they do not receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The Bible is clear and while I am not perfect nor a great orator, when I speak and write I seek to give a clear message so anyone who hears and reads me knows exactly what it is they embrace or reject. I hope that has been the case in this series on 1 Corinthians 13. Today, I will l look at two actions of love: protection and trust.

Love Always Protects

Ray Comfort gives an account of being an assistant pastor when a couple was getting into a very heated argument. The man was not a Christian and he was a big man. The woman was quite small and as he arrived, he pushed her to the ground. Ray raced up to stand between the aggressive man and his girlfriend and he was about to punch his lights out. Then Ray’s wife, a very tiny gal, raced in front of him and said, “Don’t you touch my husband.” The man turned and punched the wall and left the church. Both of them were left shaking in fear. He described how his wife’s love for him drove fear out of her to protect him.

Love always protects. Love acts as a shield. Shields are designed to take the hit so you don’t have to. Girls, stop looking for a knight in shining armor; shining armor is armor which has never been tested in battle. You want a man who has seen battle and when trouble comes, he will rise up and defend you. I am a fencer and coach. I teach the Epee discipline at a local club. In Epee, the target is the entire body, and the weapon hand and arm is the most sought after target because its closer to you. The weapon has a large “bell guard” which protects that hand. Most fencers have “bell guards” which are totally dinged up and beaten up because they have been hit, protecting the hand and arm. Anytime I see a brand-new bell guard when I fence, I want to hit it. Love protects and to protect means you get hit instead of someone else. This is intercession in a nutshell. Love intercedes.

You cannot protect someone unless there is a viable threat against that someone. Why do you build a shelter? To protect you from heat, cold, rain, wind, snow, wild beasts, or strangers. You lock your doors at night. Why? Because you don’t trust those outside to leave your property alone. You lock things up because you want to protect the valuables inside your house and that includes you and your family. You love them so you will protect them.

Our churches today and our generation as a whole do not love anything but ourselves because we are not protecting others from legitimate enemies. We are quick to protect ourselves but that is as far as it goes. We have a generation with no warriors who will fight for a cause greater than self and self’s interests. Pastors are not standing up to false teachings or teachers who are devouring the sheep for fear of offending the goats, let alone the wolves. Anytime someone dares to do so, said speakers of truth are mocked, insulted, accused of legalism, or simply booted out of their position so they can’t speak it. Love protects and love takes the hit. Love stands up to anything that would harm that which is loves.

Love Always Trusts

Love gives the benefit of the doubt. I have seen no better demonstration of such love than in the conversion of Nikki Cruz (story found here). Cruz was the most violent gang warlord, wore a trashcan for protection, and had a nail-riddled bat, and create all kinds of havoc. Until a tiny preacher from nowhere Pennsylvania by the name of David Wilkerson came to the streets of New York City. He held a revival meeting, inviting multiple gangs to the event, when war was always on the verge of breaking out, and took an offering. Cruz was one of the “enforcers” and Wilkerson had Cruz finish by going behind the stage where the back door was visible before brining it to him. Cruz realized right before he was about to run with the money that Wilkerson trusted him with that money. He delivered it and was saved that night.

Love always is willing to give someone another chance. It is not gullible nor it is an enabler of sin, but it always strives to see the best in people. Love does not care how many times someone has failed, but it strives to work with that person to see it through to completion. Nothing can build confidence in an athlete better than a coach being willing to play him/her in a clutch situation, especially if that athlete had failed in a similar situation before. When someone trusts you and you succeed in fulfilling that trust, there is a satisfaction which cannot be described.

Trusting love is gradually built. It is not instantly mature. You trust a child with a small task here and there and then as they prove faithful in the small tasks, they soon are given bigger tasks. But if that trust is not built, then expectations are also kept low. Jesus trusted his Church upon a band of 12 misfits who had also sorts of problems, including giving the money bag to a thief who would eventually betray him. Was that trust misplaced or naïve? Not necessarily. Jesus knew who he was and he was giving Judas every opportunity to not take the path he eventually would take. Yet when the Holy Spirit took over at Pentecost, the eleven who remained turned the world upside down because Jesus put his trust in men whom the world rejected but had what was needed to do the job.

Love protects and love trusts. Next week, we will see how love always hopes and always perseveres.

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Commandment #8: Don't Be False

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 3, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)

You know how some things from your childhood have a way of sticking with you for years? This is one of those for me. I went to a parochial school, and at my kindergarten graduation ceremony, each student had to recite one of the ten commandments, usually with a partner. This, the eighth commandment, was the one I memorized and recited with my classmate Karla. The wording of it then was “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” and at 5 years old I didn’t fully understand those words, but I did get the general concept: don’t tell lies or in any other way be false with what you say.

Luther’s Small Catechism gives the meaning of this commandment as, “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.” As we’ve been seeing with the commandments, this meaning takes things further than being commanded to not do something, but rather it instructs us on what we should do instead. Don’t just not lie about or betray our neighbor, but we should speak well of him or her in all situations.

This brings up the question of who is our neighbor? Jesus answered that question very well with the story of the Good Samaritan, which you can find in Luke 10:25-37. The teacher of the law had this very same question of who exactly is one’s neighbor, though his motivation was to make himself look good. But Jesus’ answer remains true, that every person is our neighbor, whether they’re like us in certain ways or not.

We see many other places in the Bible where the idea this commandment is echoed. Proverbs 19:5 says, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.” Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Proverbs 6:19 says, “A false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

The opposite of speaking falsely is, of course, speaking truthfully. We honor God and show that we love Him when we speak truthfully to others instead of lying and saying false things. For more on what the Bible says about truth, check out this blog post.

In the original Hebrew, this commandment could be literally translated as, “You shall not answer your neighbor as a witness of deception.” When you’re a witness to something, you’re sharing your experience of that event or person. We should be witnesses of truth, especially God’s truth, instead of being witnesses of falsity and deception.

It may not seem like a big deal if we tell a little while lie to someone else, and we may not experience immediate negative consequences for it. But any time we do not speak truthfully, we are sinning against God. Whenever we sin, we separate ourselves from God - and that goes for ANY sin, not just the ones we consider to be “big.” If we can’t be faithful and truthful in our speech, then it’s unlikely we’ll be faithful and truthful in the bigger things in life (Luke 16:10).

Where in your life are you struggling with being truthful? Are there particular people or situations who seem to bring out falsehood from your mouth? I encourage you to examine your speech this week to see where you can ask the Spirit to help you be more truthful and encouraging, rather than being false and bringing others down.

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Jesus Christ: The Hope of the World

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, December 2, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

One of the all-time great movies to watch during the holiday season is It’s a Wonderful Life. It wasn’t that long ago that I had never seen the movie and people wondered what my problem was. I even went to college in the town where Jimmy Stewart grew up and I was like, “Who’s Jimmy Stewart?” Now, I can honestly say that if you’ve never seen it, you’ve got a problem and you need to fix that! The movie is the story of George Bailey, who was down on his luck and down on his life. He has no hope for the future. Just as he is contemplating ending it all, an angel enters the scene, in the strangest of ways I might add, to begin to show him what the world and his town would be like if he were never born. Through this process, George sees that he has a purpose in this life and that purpose gives him hope.

What is it that gives you hope? I’ve decided this year that I will write on the four traditional themes of Advent during the weeks leading up to Christmas, which are hope, peace, joy, and love. Our faith in Jesus Christ tells us that we find each of these things in him. We may find them temporarily in other things, but Jesus is the ONLY way we find lasting hope, peace, joy, and love. So, I ask you again, what is it that gives you hope? If you’re feeling like George Bailey and questioning why you’d even want to keep going, then you need something to help you step back from the ledge, something to give you lasting hope.

Hope is more than just wanting something. Merriam-Webster defines hope as “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment." When we are lacking hope, sometimes it’s a desire that needs to change, and other times it’s an expectation connected to that desire that needs to change. Right now, I desire to see the Pittsburgh Steelers win another Super Bowl. But if I EXPECT that to happen to the point that I will be disappointed if it doesn’t, even after I’ve seen them blow great chances over the past few years, then the problem is with my expectation that I’ve allowed to give me false hope. True hope is not defined in the Bible, but it does give us the necessary formula for it. Romans 5:3-5a tells us, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame." If you’re wondering how you’re going to regain hope, there’s your formula right there. You might not like it, but the suffering is necessary. If you’re suffering today, I’ve got great news for you - you’re one step closer to hope!

Since hope involves desires AND expectations, I want to spend a little time talking about both. Too often, we just do whatever we can to avoid pain and suffering. We might even say that we are trusting God to take it away. We place our hope in the suffering being ended or removed according to OUR timing. What if God doesn’t see it that way? What if his plan is different than yours? What if he plans to continue to allow the suffering to last as he molds you into his masterpiece? I know that some of you reading this are dealing with very intense suffering right now, but this is even true with regular inconveniences. For the past two years at my church, it has rained during our annual Trunk-or-Treat event at the end of October. We have prayed against it and even trusted God to keep OUR plans from being altered, yet the rain has still come. Last year, we were even defiant. The forecast kept saying “100% chance of rain” and we kept saying that we would trust God and believe by faith that he would keep it away. How ridiculous! God was telling us ahead of time that it was going to rain and we should be prepared for it. Instead, we acted like we could will God into doing what WE want. It was a lesson for us to learn to trust his plan no matter what. Needless to say, we approached this year humbly.

We can keep expecting God to do things our way and we can even disguise it and make it sound “Christian” by calling it faith. But what good is it to have faith in something that God hasn’t even promised? Thomas Edison said, “For faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction – faith in fiction is a damnable false hope." It’s kind of like when we keep doing the same thing in life and keep turning to the same answers even though we know they haven’t worked. That’s the definition of insanity, often attributed to Einstein and others.

The Jewish people who lived through times of suffering and times of prosperity in the Old Testament had the desire for a messiah, but they also had expectations. They had good reason to expect a messiah because their prophets told them one would be coming over and over again. Yet, because of their expectations of what the messiah would look like, they ultimately rejected Jesus when he came and said he was the One (John 4:25-26 and Matthew 27:11). They rejected him because he didn’t look or act like their vision of a king and warrior (Mark 6:1-6). They rejected him because he didn’t fit into their box of what the Messiah would look like.

But Jesus cannot be boxed in. I mean, if we box Jesus into OUR expectations and then say "he is our hope," well then we don't have much hope, do we? Find the box closest to you. As you can see, it’s not very big. Hope should not be that containable. Jesus did not come as a battle commander ready to kill everyone who stood in his way. He came as a baby, to a very young and poor virgin woman and her faithful husband-to-be. He was born not in a rich and mighty palace, but in the humblest of circumstances, in a manger (a dirty feeding trough for animals) in a lowly stable outside of Bethlehem. Many of the Jews would've thought, how can this be the One? How many times have we missed God's blessing, or missed the hope he was giving us, because we were too obstructed by our own expectations?

Joseph and Mary were living in dark times. The Romans ruled over them and their people, and sometimes we forget how terrible that was for them. The Romans weren't necessarily caring people. Many were losing hope, but once Joseph and Mary received the word from the Lord that was so real they couldn't possibly ignore it, they knew they had reason to hope. Did Mary want to go through an unexpected pregnancy as a teenager, deal with all the judgmental stares and words that would come her way, and have to figure out how to raise and support a child she didn't plan for? Not a chance. If Mary experienced this today, would there be no shortage of people encouraging her to "get rid of it" and move on with her life? Of course. But Mary and Joseph were unwilling to allow their plans, their expectations, or their worldly hopes to box Jesus in. They opened their hearts, their home, and their lives to the hope of the whole world that could not be contained in a box. They were both separately visited by the angel who told them that God was sending his Son to the world through them, and they would name him “Jesus," because he would save the people from their sins (Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31). They may not have known how it would all work out for them, but they trusted in the hope that God was providing even through their suffering.

The name “Jesus” comes from the Greek Iesous, which is translated from the Hebrew Yeshua or Joshua. No matter what language we use to say his name, it means “the Lord saves." What do you need "saved" from today? If you've never come to know Jesus as your personal Savior, then you have not yet been saved from your sins. The angel told Joseph before Jesus was even born that he'd be the one to complete this work of salvation, but if you have not accepted that for yourself, then your sins still have reign over your life. You need a Savior, and Jesus is the only One. But even if you’ve already accepted him as your Savior, maybe you haven’t been living under the hope that he is also Lord. You see what’s going on in your life or in the world and you feel like evil is winning. Today is the day to declare that no matter what, you have HOPE because Jesus is still on the throne and still in control. May your Christmas season, and the rest of your life, be filled with this hope that will never put you to shame!

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.


Love Does Not Delight in Evil but Rejoices in Truth

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 30, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Love does not delight in Evil; but rejoices with the Truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6, NIV)
“…does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6, NKJV)

This one is much harder to truly grasp today than most would think. It is common sense, yet in our post-modern world what evil and truth are have almost completely been switched. Who in their right mind would rejoice in evil? That’s a very good question, but all it takes is to look at the news headlines to see that there is much rejoicing in evil today and much hatred of truth.

Twenty years ago, it was unfathomable that homosexuality would be embraced publicly, and to speak against it would be met with such opposition. Many are still alive today who remember when it was a crime to kill a baby in the womb, yet today more than ever before there is praise for doing it. I still remember the time that women who had an abortion were ashamed and broken because of it, and now we are seeing them boasting about how many they’ve had. And now it is considered ‘love’ to have sex with whom you want, when you want, how often you want, and don’t dare bring up the consequences for such action. In 1962, right when God was removed from the public square, there were only two known sexually-transmitted diseases. Today, there are over 60 and we have the government trying to enforce vaccines against some of them, even without parental permission for our young girls, instead of recognizing that if the girl stayed pure and the guy stayed pure through marriage there is a complete and total of ZERO percent chance of getting it. Today, there is much delight in evil.

But that’s the ever-increasing pagan world. What about us? Do we delight in evil? I would dare say many of us do far more so than we think. I know that because I see some of it in me. Where? How? The answer is easily found in our prayer life. I’ll never forget when David Wilkerson rebuked many who would rather see certain people dead than saved. While I deal with many frustrating God-haters (including some who claim to be Christians) and while I drive on our highways, many times I’d rather not deal with them than to seek and pray for their salvation. They only do what they do because they are lost and deceived.

Why do we seek the ill of those we don’t like? It is one thing to cry out for justice and ask for God to repay the evil they are doing. David frequently poured his heart out to God on those issues in the Psalms, yet David would not take any action upon himself to demand justice for himself. It is something else to want to go up to someone and slap them silly for doing something you didn’t like.

I want to make something very clear here. The kind of love we need for this task is something we cannot muster up on our own. It can only be given. It must be practiced, but it cannot nor will not be found within our own natural abilities. It’s much harder to conjure up when you know the truth and the other person does not want it. It must be given to us by God and it usually only begins to manifest in our lives when we embrace that love from God upon ourselves.

Love does not rejoice in anything evil nor does it seek the fall of those around us. It does, however, rejoice in truth. When judgment and truth prevail, that is a time to rejoice. When truth wins out, love celebrates. But even in the downfall of the wicked, love still seeks mercy. The person who best illustrates this aspect of love is Richard Wurmbrand, most famous for his book Tortured for Christ and the ministry The Voice of the Martyrs which he started.

Richard Wurmbrand spent 14 years in Communist Romanian prisons where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured. He could not wear shoes because his feet had been brutalized so much. Yet when the Communists were overthrown, Wurmbrand pleaded with the people to grant the Communist dictator mercy, despite being the one who completely destroyed the country. He rejoiced that evil had been defeated, but he did not delight in the revenge sought by the people.

Love seeks the repentant heart. Luke 15 contains three parables where Jesus describes how there will be greater rejoicing over one sinner who repents and is saved than there are those who never left or were lost. This does not diminish the reward of those who stay loyal and follow God without wavering, but we see a glimpse of God’s heart on how he longs for and seeks to save those who are lost. Quite often the greatest men God has used were once in the pit of sin, regardless of whether they were “in the gutter” or not. Love seeks after those who are lost and does not relent until they have been won.

Love does not play a role in supporting, assisting, or enjoying evil. It does not participate in coarse joking, telling them or laughing with them. It does not go “partying” with the world, take drugs, drink, nor talk or act like the world as it does its evil deeds. It does not plot ill-will towards any other, no matter how tempting it is.

Love instead draws the line between good and bad, true and falsehood, the clean and the unclean, and the holy and the unholy. It draws the line but always beckons those on the wrong side of it to come over. Love knows that judgment is going to come to that side and it constantly pleads for those in sin to repent and escape the judgment that is coming. It is not a threat in that if people do not turn from their sin God is going to wipe them out; it’s a promise. Every one of us is doomed apart from receiving the grace of God. Love is what God shows in offering us mercy because he has no obligation to give it to us.

Let us operate in true, Biblical love. So far we have seen the importance of love in all we do, that love is patient and kind; that it does not envy nor boast; that it is not rude nor self-seeking; that it is not easily angered, nor keeps records of wrong; and that it does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. In December, I will cover the good actions that love does. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and then above all it never fails. Then I will wrap up 2018 with how love is to be the greatest of all the gifts of God including faith and hope. Stay tuned.

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Commandment #7: Don't Steal

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 26, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)

Ever seen two toddlers fight over one toy? We’re a selfish people by nature, so we’re taught from a very young age that stealing is wrong - we aren’t supposed to take what doesn't belong to us. We realize how it feels when someone takes what is ours, so we should learn that just like it hurts us when our belongings are taken against our will, it hurts others when we do that to them. Seems simple enough, right?

But even that motivation is somewhat self-motivated in nature. Being stolen from makes us feel bad, so likewise we shouldn’t do that to others. It’s clear that taking what isn’t ours without the owner’s permission is wrong, but what about our motivation?

Luther’s Small Catechism gives the meaning for this commandment as, “We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.” Just as with the other commandments, this meaning starts out with, “We should fear and love God so that…” Our motivation for every action should always be our love for God. Because we love God, we love the people and things He has created and desire to treat them well out of that love.

The other part of that meaning is that we should “help him to improve his possessions and income.” That takes it one step further, doesn’t it? Not only should we not harm our neighbor (which, by the way, is every other person) but we should help them improve what they have!

Let’s say I ask my next door neighbor if I can borrow her lawn mower, and it has a full tank of gas. If I never return it, that’s clearly stealing. If I return it but with no gas in it and it’s filthy, I may tell myself that I didn’t steal it since I did return it, but in reality I did steal some of its value by not replacing the gas I used plus not cleaning my mess. If I return it full of gas and I cleaned it up all nice and shiny, even getting rid of some debris from her previous uses of it, then I have improved it. That’s what this commandment urges us to do.

How are you doing with this commandment? You may have been thinking you’re off the hook on this one since you’ve never shoplifted, but my guess would be we’re all guilty of some kind of stealing.

Stealing comes in more forms than simply taking a possession and not returning it, or taking something from a store without paying for it. We can also steal time from others. If I spend 3 hours telling you a story that I could have told you in 10 minutes, I stole your time. If I play solitaire at work for 8 hours instead of doing the tasks I’m supposed to do, that’s stealing time and money from my boss and the business. If I hear a great idea that someone else came up with and claim it as my own, that’s stealing. If I don’t give to God the money that He’s calling me to give to Him through whatever church or ministry, that’s stealing.

If we were able to love God totally and fully with our whole hearts, we would love Him so much that we wouldn’t desire to take anything (whether time, money, possessions, or anything else) from another person. I encourage you this week to take a look at where you might be stealing from others and therefore from God, and figure out how the Holy Spirit can help you correct that in your life.

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Room for the King

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, November 25, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

I remember a time when I was much younger and I was at a gathering of believers where the speaker pointed out something that I hadn’t thought of up until that moment in my life. He talked about the holiday season and declared that it’s the best time of year for Christians to talk to others about Jesus. He further explained that Christians have a unique opportunity during these times because society is not as quick to reject any mention of God or notion of his faithfulness. The name of Christ is spoken of much more freely during the holiday season and we ought to take advantage of the increased awareness and acceptance of our faith.

Years later, I heard a song about our response to Jesus that I’ve really come to enjoy because it is so thought-provoking. Casting Crowns recorded it, and it’s called While You Were Sleeping. If you haven’t heard it before, go check out the lyrics and music at that link. The song targets three different geographical locations that either have ignored or are ignoring the King of kings even though they had every reason to get excited about his coming. While it’s easy for us to hear the song and point fingers at each of the places that are mentioned because of their collective disregard for the Savior, the point is for each of us to look at their examples and ask ourselves whether or not we have room in our lives and hearts for the King.

The first place mentioned in the song is Bethlehem. What can we learn about this town and its people? I learned in seminary that the town’s name literally means “house of bread," as it comes from two different Hebrew words. I then listened to a sermon by Ray Vander Laan who said that “our Savior was born in a bakery!” Jesus later on would say that he is the “bread of life” (John 6:35) and that the bread he gave at the Last Supper was “his body” (Luke 22:19). It’s only fitting that the bread of life would come from somewhere that is named “house of bread."

But there was even more reason for the people of Bethlehem to be ready for the Savior. Many of them would have been aware of the words of the prophets which are recorded in what we now know as the Old Testament. One such prophet was Micah, who said about Bethlehem, “Out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2). The people of Bethlehem who worshipped the God of their forefathers in Israel had to be expecting the Savior. Even the evil King Herod had the chief priests and teachers of the law inform him that the Savior and king of the Jews was to be born in Bethlehem by looking at the above Scripture (Matthew 2:6). Everyone in and around Bethlehem should’ve been anticipating the Savior, yet the night of his birth came and his desperate parents couldn’t even score a local guest room because none were available (Luke 2:7). No one stopped and said, “You know, I’d love to give up my room for the Savior of the whole world." Like Casting Crowns says, Bethlehem will go down in history as a “city with no room for its King."

Not too far from Bethlehem is the city of Jerusalem, which is the second place mentioned in the song. The name “Jerusalem” is from the Hebrew for “city of peace." They too had reason to believe that they would encounter the Messiah. Isaiah 9:6-7 tells us that the Messiah would be the “prince of peace” and also that he would reign on David’s throne. Jerusalem was first the center of Judaism with the temple and all the chief priests and teachers of the law, but with the ministry of Jesus it became the center for Christianity as well. Jesus preached that loving God was most important, but you can’t really know if you love God unless you are also loving those that he puts in your path (Matthew 22:37-39). He also preached to them that he was “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and that God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son and that the only way to everlasting life was to believe in him and be born again (John 3:3-17). At first, his teachings were interesting and even exciting for many in the crowds. But, as the chief priests opposed him more and more boldly, as Judas betrayed him, and as his other closest disciples deserted him, the crowds who cheered for Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday demanded his crucifixion just five days later. They should have accepted the peace that he brought between them and God, but they rejected him as Messiah because he didn’t come to defeat Rome. No, he came to defeat the much more significant enemy of sin. Jerusalem will go down in history as a city with no room for its King.

The final geographical location mentioned in the song is right where most of us are sitting as we read this - the United States of America. The difference between us and the other two cities is that we haven’t totally missed our chance yet. We weren’t there to ignore Christ’s birth or demand his death, though we likely would’ve been in the same boat as those other two cities had we been there. The writer of the song turns his attention to our country because he realizes that we are well on our way to “going down in history as a nation with no room for its King." We are being “sung to sleep by philosophies that save the trees and kill the children." For Bethlehem and Jerusalem, they had no room for Jesus the first time around. As the song says, the question for us is whether we will have room for him when he returns to take his “bride," the Church, away with him. Will we be ready? Will we reject false teachings and humbly stand firm in the faith we have been given?

Here’s the thing: you can’t answer that question for the United States of America. But you CAN and MUST answer it for yourself. As you begin the busy season of Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, family gatherings, and much more, will you have room for the King in your life? Don’t “fall asleep” and miss out on a relationship with the Savior of the world. Learn from the examples of so many who have missed him because they didn’t have room for him. Open up your heart and ask Jesus to make his presence known to you this Christmas season.

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Love is Not Easily Angered nor Keeps Records of Wrongs

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 23, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV)
“… is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV)

As I have mentioned over the past couple weeks, sometimes it is easier to show what something is not to describe it than it is to show what it is. Here I will look at two more things that love is not and what love does not do. Love is not easily angered and love does not keep records of wrongs. This post is about how love properly handles grievances.

Love is not easily angered

When something goes wrong, love is not easily irritated or upset, nor does it blow up on others. This ties in very closely to how love is patient or long-suffering. At the slightest infraction or grievance, love chooses not to get angry. It is not easily provoked and instead it takes time and appropriate measures to respond correctly.

Those who are easily angered respond off the cuff and typically do not think about it. Many times they have a correct refutation to the wrong, but they usually do it with a motive of revenge and pay-back or “I’ll show you.” Those easily angered usually have very quick tongues. They do not take the time to listen to what is being said but instead are already preparing their response.

Many who hold to false teachings, like deep time evolution over millions of years or hold to Prosperity Gospel teachers as some kind of idol, often mistake the addressing of false teachings as being angry and divisive. That said, sometimes those who make a stand for truth can also address the false teachings with an unrighteous anger response. We have a right to be angry when something is legitimately wrong. Righteous indignation is certainly a thing, but righteous anger responds one way and sinful anger without love responds another way.

I am not exactly innocent of this. I have been accused of being angry when all I am doing is addressing a false teaching, but there have been times where I have responded in anger and frustration with those who want nothing to do with truth. While I have been better at controlling my tongue, I often spend some time ‘fuming’ in which I am refuting what they are saying in my head. While it is good mental exercise to know how to refute arguments, we have to be careful in our motive in doing so.

When dealing with false teachings or anything else that harms someone, we have to carry a righteous anger against that which harms the person, but at the same time understand that those who support these false teachings are victims of them. They defend these false teachings as though their lives are at stake, in part because they have attached their identity to those teachings. When we speak the truth in love, we have to separate the person from the teaching and show them how Christ gives them a much clearer and better identity. We must train ourselves to not be angry at these people who are victims of deception but angry with powers of darkness perpetually deceiving the simple, even or especially if they are ‘educated.’

Love keeps no records of wrongs

Love does not hold grudges nor count how many times people have messed up. When one holds a grudge because of a grievance against them, it quickly becomes a root of bitterness which is well capable of eating and destroying anything good in our lives. Love does not hold grudges and thus does not allow bitterness to take root. This requires an active choice to love because grudges have a wonderful way of slipping in unnoticed and taking root.

That said, love is also not gullible. Do not confuse love with letting someone do whatever they want. While love keeps no records of wrongs, it is also not an enabler of letting wrongs take place by turning a blind eye. Many heathen seek to take advantage of people, especially Christians, because they are supposed to be nice, not seek revenge, and not retaliate. Yet if we truly love others, we could be set up and perhaps be taken advantage of, but we will not fall. Few illustrate this better for me than John Hyde does.

John Hyde constantly had people berate him because he truly did live a “holier than thou” life, despite never boasting about it nor giving the impression he thought that. He was so close to God it simply glowed off him. Instead of keeping tabs on those who tried to bring him down, he would simply say, “They were misunderstanding” and never thought twice about it. In another incident, he had a man go to live with him but he was an enemy plant. Hyde took him in and after three or four days he ran out and proclaimed Hyde was a god because he had no fault. I look at that and compare it to my life and I have a long way to go before anyone who observed me in my daily routine could say I had no fault. Hyde never took offense to the setup. He kept no record of it.

Keeping no records of wrongs has a simple term that goes with it: forgiveness. I describe forgiveness as not holding the person responsible for their wrong. It does not mean the crime is forgotten nor does it mean trust is automatically restored. It means we will not hold that person responsible for making things right with us. I like to use the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant to illustrate this. When the master forgave the servant’s extensive, unpayable debt, the debt did not go away. He simply did not make the servant pay it back and instead he ate the debt himself.

God does not keep record of our sins, not because he lets us off the hook, but because Jesus Christ paid the debt on our behalf in full. The debt was settled, even though another paid for it. He has separated our sins as far as the east is from the west. The thing about latitude is that you can keep going east and you will never end up going west. If you go north or south, you get to a point where you start going south or north. But east never becomes west. When we are born again, God keeps no records of our sin because he does not see us in our wicked sinful state, but he instead sees us covered with the clothes of righteousness provided by Jesus Christ. As God has forgiven our sin and keeps no records of our sin, should we not do the same with those around us?

Next week I’ll address how love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.

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The Promise of Individuality: Inalienable Rights

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, November 21, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

I am an individual. I believe in human rights being guaranteed at the individual level. My rights are not derived by my belonging to a group. I believe the State has to maintain what I call the libertarian minimum. That is, it must only guarantee the security of life, liberty, and property to its citizens and go no farther! The State is to guarantee that I do no harm to someone else or use force or violence against another person.

The State’s position is a purely defensive one. It is the amalgamation of every free person’s right to voluntarily unite for the common defense against the aggression of others. It is all the nerds on the playground standing together against a bully saying, “If you fight one of us, you fight all of us.” We have the right to use violence only in self-defense, and we have the right to empower the State to use that defensive power on our behalf in a civil way. But that is as far as the violence can go.

The State may not be used to wield power against others. Our nerds can persuade stronger students into standing with them in solidarity against the bully, but they may not hire the bully to wreak havoc on others. The State is to guarantee that we have rigorous freedom and leave us mostly to ourselves. (Read more about that here.)

There are basically three kinds of freedom: libertine, libertarian, and virtuous (or the pursuit of the good).

Libertine freedom denotes casting off moral restraint and doing whatever gives you pleasure.

Libertarian freedom implies the ability to make choices that can be harmful or destructive, as long as that harm or destruction does not spill over onto another person—that is those actions do not impede another’s life, liberty, or property.

Virtuous freedom is freedom from restraint (chemical, moral, etc.) to pursue the good life. It is the ancient idea of Eudemonia. You can read more about that here.

The State is unable to allow libertine freedom, because that would be unjust. The State cannot allow persons to harm one another. Libertine freedom allows a person to live without moral constraints including theft, murder, fraud, debauchery, etc. It is antinomianism run amuck.

On the other hand, the State is powerless to provide you with virtuous freedom. That is, it cannot compel you pursue the good life, because virtue must be voluntary for it to be virtuous. The State can only prevent others from using violence against you, thus providing everyone with the equal opportunity for the good life. But you must pursue it for yourself at your own expense and to the risk of your own person.

That leaves only libertarian freedom; that is why I call it the libertarian minimum. The State has a responsibility to guarantee this minimum, and any attempts to do otherwise become tyranny and injustice. No one can be allowed to take your life, liberty, or property without repercussions from the law. The libertarian minimum is the only just course for the State regardless of how much persons might wish it could produce a utopia. It can’t.

Asking the State to do otherwise would mean that the State must become a bully and shakedown others on your behalf. The State would have to choose those for whom it would provide benefits and those whom it would subjugate in order for those benefits to be provided. Any service that is mandated as your right must be taken from someone else, who is forced to comply with the State’s demand. The result is that the State treats everyone unfairly—some with benefits and others with burdens. Even though this is the exact opposite of actual justice, it is the current state of affairs in the United States.

If you are to have something you did not earn, someone has to earn it and have it taken away—if that isn’t injustice, what is? Of course, someone could voluntarily give something away from the goodness of her heart, and that would be virtuous. But can you see how forcing her to do this removes the virtue? It is no longer a gift; it is theft by a bully.

The concept of justice is nearly as old as human beings. Christianity places the source of justice in God Himself. He is maximally good and perfect. He is holy and just and He cannot leave sin unpunished (Nahum 1:3). While God does punish nations, and innocent members of the community have to suffer along with those who actually caused the problems, justice is primarily about individual response to God’s way of life. The ultimate day of justice, Judgment Day, is executed toward the individual. See Ezekiel 18, especially verse 20: “The soul that sins, it shall die.”

If this is how God carries out justice, it behooves us to follow suit. We do not condone punishing families for the crimes of one of its members; rather, holding individuals accountable for their own actions is considered just. As obvious as this sounds, the idea is quickly eroding on college campuses and elsewhere where your membership to certain groups is all the signal of character one needs to condemn or praise a person. It is on your group identity that you are judged, not individual character. (Look for my future post concerning intersectionality.)

I believe in the autonomy of the individual. I am not you, you are not me. There is in impassable barrier between my “self” and your “self.” We are distinct from one another. You cannot read my mind, though you may guess what I am thinking. I am innocent of your crimes and vice versa. But there are limits to individualism, which I will discuss in my next post.

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Commandment #6: Don’t Commit Adultery

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 19, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)

Just as with last week’s commandment on not murdering, this one may seem like an easy commandment to follow for some people. If you’re not married and haven’t been romantically involved with a married person, you may think you’re definitely in the clear on this one. Or if you are married and haven’t had an affair with someone else, you may think you’re doing just fine on this. But as we’ll see, the truth of this commandment goes deeper than that.

Jesus elaborates on the meaning of this commandment in Matthew 5:27-30: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

That seems a bit harsh, right? Even looking at a woman (or a man) lustfully means you’ve committed adultery. This commandment is not quite so easy to follow now, especially in our culture today where it seems that so many advertising campaigns are trying to get people to look at others in a lustful manner, just to sell their product.

While we know that breaking any of the commandments is sin and punishable by death (Romans 6:23), we see in the Old Testament that adultery specifically carried that consequence. Leviticus 20:10 says, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” Similarly, Deuteronomy 22:22 says, “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.”

Why is adultery, or any sexual sin for that matter, to be dealt with so harshly? All other sins are committed outside a person’s body, while sexual sins are committed inside one’s own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us this: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” For more on this, check out this post or this post.

As with the other commandments I’ve written about so far, I’d like to look at what Luther’s Small Catechism says about this one’s meaning: “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.” This is a good paraphrase of what we should do, instead of simply hearing what we’re not supposed to do. It all comes back to loving and honoring God and therefore loving and honoring one another - in this case our spouses. To learn more about this, check out what the Bible says about sexual relationships both before marriage and after marriage.

How are you doing at staying pure on this commandment? Are you making intentional steps to keep your eyes away from the things that may cause you to break it? I encourage you this week to look at your life and what you allow yourself to see, and examine where you may be breaking this commandment.

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Thank You for the Cross

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, November 18, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As we move further into our season of holidays, we have more and more opportunities to reflect on our lives and what truly is most important to us. This week, that reflection will be most likely regarding the things for which we are thankful. God reminds us to BE thankful many different places in the Bible. But it truly is something we have to be. Thankfulness doesn’t just happen TO us. Even when things are not going well, we must be intentional about considering how blessed we are and all of the reasons we have to be grateful. If you ever read President Abraham Lincoln’s “Thanksgiving Proclamation” from 1863, just 3 months after the decisive Battle of Gettysburg, you see that being intentionally thankful in the midst of the darkest of circumstances is what our national Thanksgiving holiday is all about. In the midst of the devastation from the Civil War, Lincoln talks about all that God has done and provided for them and the need to set aside a day to remind ourselves of God’s benevolence.

Long before President Lincoln, the people who had to suffer the most excruciating of pains in the Bible demonstrated for us the need and the ability to be thankful and hopeful in the midst of those times. The prophet Jeremiah wrote a short book of the Bible called Lamentations. It can be found in the Old Testament. The Jews had suffered at the hands of the Babylonians who forced them into exile, and Jeremiah himself had suffered at the hands of ungodly leaders who would not listen to his words from the Lord. Jeremiah is lamenting everything that has happened, yet right in the middle of it he finds a reason to be thankful and hopeful. “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:19-23). In other words, Jeremiah finds comfort in knowing that no matter how bad things get, he is not going to be destroyed, and each morning that he wakes up and is able to breathe is a new mercy from God. This gives him hope that God is always in control no matter what.

Likewise, Job was a man in the Old Testament who had the worst of the worst happen to him. He had been a wealthy man who honored and followed God. But then, over a short span of time, he lost his entire family, his home, and his wealth, and he even began to experience painful sores all over his body. In the midst of his darkest times, he did not immediately sin or curse God. However, he did get to a point where he complained and questioned why God would allow all of this to happen to him. His complaint lasted for most of the Book of Job, yet right in the middle of it, he has a moment of clarity and hope. “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). Job found the strength to go on despite all his pain because he knew he would one day see God.

In the New Testament, Jesus himself continued this practice of being thankful even in the midst of horrific circumstances. As he was gathering with his disciples the night before he was handed over to the authorities to begin his suffering for our sins, he ate what we now know as “the last supper” with them. Luke 22:17-19 tells us that Jesus “gave thanks” after taking both the cup and the bread and giving them to his disciples. He knew what was on the horizon for him personally, yet he gave thanks to the Father. He demonstrated for his closest followers what it means to thank the Father in ALL circumstances. Jesus certainly wasn’t thankful for all the physical pain, torture, and death he was about to experience, but he knew what the Father was up to and he trusted his ultimate plan. Therefore, he had legitimate reason to be thankful.

Do you have legitimate reason to be thankful? You cannot answer that question by only thinking about the way you feel right now. If you focus only on your difficult circumstances, you won’t find many reasons to be thankful. You have to take time to reflect on what God has done for you and where you’d be without his love, mercy, and grace. The Apostle Paul tells us why this is so important and why we must keep a joyful and thankful heart. He tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Those weren’t just mere words on a page for Paul. He was sitting in a Roman prison cell when he wrote this letter. Those prison cells were not like the ones we have today with cable TV, comfortable beds, and at least a little bit of room to move around. The prisoners of that era were usually shackled to a hard bench so that they could barely move at all, AFTER being beaten or flogged. You can read an example of this in Acts 16:22-24. I saw such a prison cell with my own eyes just a month ago when I was in Jerusalem - which was under Roman control at the time of Jesus - and I couldn’t believe how restrictive it was. Paul literally would not have been able to move his legs or find relief from any of his pain at the time he wrote the letter to the Philippians, yet he stressed the need to ALWAYS rejoice.

In the next few verses, he reminds the believers in Philippi, and us, that we must not be anxious about anything in our lives, but we must come to God in prayer and present our requests to him WITH THANKSGIVING (Philippians 4:6). The Greek word for “thanksgiving” in this verse is eucharistos, which is where we get our English word “Eucharist." The Eucharist is what we call the ceremony in which we commemorate the Last Supper, where Jesus himself gave thanks. In other words, what Paul is saying in this verse is not just that we have to count our blessings in our lives so that we can “find something to be thankful for," but that no matter how bad things are getting we can always be thankful for the cross. If literally everything else in life is going to hell in a handbasket, we would still have reason to be thankful, and that reason is what Jesus did for us on the cross.

As you gather this week with friends and family for food, football, and fun, I encourage you to take time to just thank God for what he has done for you to give you freedom. Thank Jesus for what he did on the cross to give you victory over sin. Even if this has been a devastating year for you and you can’t think of things in your immediate circumstances to be thankful for, everyone can be thankful for the cross. Jesus loved you so much that he left the comfort of heaven, came to our messed up earth, and died the most horrible death so that you wouldn’t have to see the true and full consequences of sin. I realized and accepted that he did the same for me when I was 12 years old in 1994, and my life has been different because of it. When I can’t find any other reason to rejoice, I just thank him for the cross. I pray you do so as well!

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Love Is Not Rude nor Self-Seeking

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 16, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV)

Two weeks ago I gave two descriptions of what love is, and last week I describes two things love does not do. Today, I continue my study of 1 Corinthians 13 by describing two things love is not. Love is not rude and love is not self-seeking. There are times when it is faster to show the opposite of what something is rather than showing the full list of what it is. That is part of why the Bible gives longer lists of what not to do than it does on what to do, because the do-not-do list is shorter. So what does love not do and what is the opposite of it?

Love Is Not Rude

Love is not rude. In all its attributes, love is not rude nor will it behave rudely. What is rudeness? Perhaps the easiest way to describe being rude is to act out of turn or to disrupt the order of things. Rude people constantly interrupt others when they are talking. They will bump others, often going out of their way to do so, many times for no particular reason. Rude people do not wait their turn, nor offer others the ‘right-of-way,’ whether it be on the road or in entering a doorway.

Rude people strive to knock down anyone they perceive to be in their way of their goals and ambitions. They will cut off speakers from their talks and not let someone else get a word in. If they don’t shout to cause disruptions, they may be on their phones playing games or texting someone else, or talking to a neighbor. Rude people only have their own interests and own desires in mind and are either oblivious or mad when anyone else is in their way. Put simply, rude people have no respect for the other person.

Love is not any of that. Love is always outwardly focused. While love is aware of the actual needs of self, it is ready and willing to lay aside those needs for another. Even if you have the right-of-way, love will often defer to the other if there is any remote hint of possible confusion. Love patiently waits its turn to speak and often keeps silent even if there is an opportunity to speak. When others are speaking, love gives them their full attention and listens, seeking to understand what they are trying to say. Even if said person is wrong in every regard to what they say, love will listen and care to hear it.

Love always takes the lowest seat in humility, whereas rude people always seek the best seat. Jesus told a parable about that. If we take the lowest seat willingly, the seat of a servant, then God will honor us by putting us into a position of prominence. Yet if we are rude, God will take the seat we sought greedily, offer it to someone else, and we will be left with the lowest place left.

Love Is Not Self-Seeking

Love does not seek after self and self’s interests. If you have not noticed a pattern yet, every description Paul gave of love up to this point is comparing and contrasting serving self vs serving others. With possible one or two exceptions, each description Paul gives love in this chapter makes this distinction between self and others.

Paris Reidhead’s most famous sermon is “Ten Shekels and a Shirt.” Towards the end of this sermon, he gives a tale of a pastor who approached him. This pastor had a growing church, a radio program, excellent Sunday school classes, and yet he admittedly lacked the power of the Holy Spirit. Reidhead knew full well what this pastor was going through because that spirit had shown itself through him too. Reidhead compared this to driving up with a Cadillac and saying “Fill her up with the best you have.” He wanted God’s power to push his own agenda even further. Reidhead suggested to drop everything and give God complete control to every single thing he was doing; only then would God actually do anything for him.

This pastor was self-seeking. He did not love God as he should have. He did not love the Bride of Christ or his church as he should have because he was seeking his own agenda and his own reputation. Was he sincere? Very likely. Did he have good intentions? Sure. But was he doing what God wanted him to do? No, because he was doing his operations without God.

Sadly, much the same can be said about many of us. Do I write for Worldview Warriors because this is where God lead me, or because it gives me a platform for me? Do I seek to speak because I want to be seen, or because God is putting me in that position? There are times where I cannot necessarily answer appropriately. It is so easy for me to give a message and then seek out the praise of others for how I did or to get accolades for great points I made.

Biblical love does not serve for what you get out of it, but it serves even if you get nothing in return. Biblical love does not serve only when there is interest or reason for you to be there. It goes above and beyond that. I recall a time not long ago when the mayor of El Paso, Texas, came to serve the homeless during Thanksgiving. The media was all set up and he served exactly one dinner plate while the cameras were rolling and then left. The newspapers and news outlets then boasted about how the mayor took time to serve the homeless for Thanksgiving. He received every bit of praise he would get for such action that day, and will not get anything else for it. That was self-serving and not love by any means.

Love puts self to the side and lifts up others. Love never puts self in front of what God has laid before us. Love will set aside our schedules and not get angry or frustrated with interruptions. Love never pushes others out of the way nor makes a point to fulfill self’s interests. Love only has what God has in mind and that is to use all our resources to serve his Kingdom. Next week, we will see how love handles grievances in how it is not easily angered nor keeps records of wrongs.

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Language Families and Babel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 15, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

The last two weeks we have looked at the origin of language (here and here). It seemed to me to be fairly conclusive—language did not come about through the means that evolutionists must believe it did. There is no evidence for their theories, and in fact the evidence stands, for the most part, in contrast to their preconceived ideas. This, I think, is strong evidence for the Divine origin of language in general.

Language is an amazing thing that truly is a major divider between God's image bearer—man—and the animals. Dr. Noam Chomsky, arguably one of the world's leading linguists and a staunch evolutionist, said about language: “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world… There is no reason to suppose that the ‘gaps’ are bridgeable. There is no more of a basis for assuming an evolutionary development of ‘higher’ from ‘lower’ stages in this case, than there is for assuming an evolutionary development from breathing to walking.” Language is such a part of being human that there has never been a people group found that did not have a very complex form of language. Another formidable linguist, Derek Bickerton, in his work Babel's Cornerstone, in regards to Terence Deacon's work on language says, “Time after time, in sorting through the countless proposals put forward by language evolutionists, Deacon makes the right choices. Could language have come directly out of some pre-human trait? No. Does it resemble forms of animal communication? No… no ape, despite intensive training, has yet acquired even the rudiments of syntax, and many language acquisitionists insist that syntax is there even at infants’ one-word stage… Deacon does not begin to grapple with the really difficult problems—how words emerged, how syntax emerged. But these problems lie at the heart of language evolution.” These men are strong supporters of evolution, but they are openly admitting that evolution has no real answers at all for the origin of languages.

But what about language families? That is, what about the fact that there are several (dozens really) different language types that seemingly have absolutely no relation to each other whatsoever? This, again, seems to confirm what the Bible says about the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. It equally makes it more difficult for evolutionists to explain. It's similar to convergent evolution—the outlandish idea that two or often several completely different and unrelated organisms developed nearly identical anatomy or physiology. This is what needs to happen for language as there is no evidence for a single language in all the world. There are multiple (how many we can't say... 20s to 70s or even 100) language families that have diversified into about 6000 languages across the globe. Let's look into that in more detail.

There are inherent problems with looking back in time at language. The fact that there are a number of different languages in and of itself creates a problem for Darwinists. There is literally no evidence that would suggest there was one proto-language or one original language. There are a large number of language types. How many language families there are/were is never going to be known. As languages devolve from their primary source, they can do so rapidly. In fact, some estimates suggest the rate of words being replaced over time is so fast, you couldn't recognize a language by a single word within 10,000 years of its genesis. This is according to Terry Crowley's book An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. So over time, it becomes increasingly more difficult to compare two languages to see if they're related or not.

This brings up a good question: why would man create/develop a form of communication that would actually prevent him from talking to other members of his own species? Many animals can be uprooted and taken to thousands of miles away to others of their species and still be able to interact. Often times man cannot do this because of language barriers. What would be the advantage to having a large number of languages? There is none, really. In fact, according to the Bible, it's the exact opposite. It's because of its hindrance that language barriers were created. This in and of itself helps to confirm the Biblical account and should help us to reject the evolutionist's claims.

We know from our previous posts that language, as I alluded to above, actually becomes simpler over time; it devolves. This is clearly seen in many examples like Latin and Greek/Sanskrit and is the opposite of evolution (simple to more complex). These languages are so complex and consistent it's inconceivable that random chance caused these highly sophisticated communication systems to come into being. How did they amass such a large number of adherents? The Indo-European group is another that, according to some experts, seems to have originated about 3000 years ago or more. That's nice for the Bible believer, since that neatly coincides with the Biblical timeline for the Tower of Babel (give or take a little time). The Indo-European language group is very large—covering nearly all of Europe and parts of Asia and the Middle East. English is from this group, as well as Hindi, Iranian, German, Russian, Spanish and a great deal of others. It's the largest group, with just short of half the world's population having an Indo-European language as their primary language. There are dozens of other language groups. Some of them are a single language while many are larger groups.

We know from the above that languages can actually replace themselves in a matter of 100 centuries or so. From this, we can determine that the secularist's timeline for the migration of Asians to North America (Native Americans) must have been much more recent than is believed. The time frame they give is some 11,000 to 25,000 years ago. This couldn't be. There are connections between languages spoken by Amerindians and by Eastern Siberian people. If they splintered off that long ago, there should be no detectable similarities, yet the connection is fairly strong.

How is this relating to the Tower of Babel? Let me tell you: Genesis 11 begins with “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.” Everyone spoke the same language, which meant it was easy for everyone to work together to do whatever they saw fit. They hunkered down and stayed in one place, building a city with a great tower to “make a name for ourselves, otherwise, we'll be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” So, according to verses 6-7, God confused their languages. It's possible each family group received its own separate language family. Over time, these 70 or so language groups would differentiate into the thousands of languages we have today. Five thousand years is plenty of time for this to happen. After God confused their languages, the people scattered—some as far away as North and South America. I covered many of the different people groups earlier in this series. This separation would further distinguish one dialect from another. This can easily account for the miracle of language in general as well as explain the origins of the multiple families of languages we see today. The Word of God answers those questions that evolutionists and atheists have literally no answer to at all.

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.