What Does the Bible Say About Being Shrewd?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 17, 2018 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

The word “shrewd” is kind of a weird word, don’t you think? It’s not one I use often in my daily speech. But it is a concept taught in the Bible, so today we’re going to take a look at what it is.

Google’s definition of shrewd is, “having or showing sharp powers of judgment; astute.” Some synonyms for shrewd are “astute, sharp-witted, sharp, smart, acute, intelligent, clever, canny, perceptive, perspicacious, sagacious, wise.” The idea of being shrewd can be either a positive or a negative thing, depending on the circumstances. You can be shrewd in a crafty way to steal from others, or you can be shrewd in a positive way by making wise choices that help others.

The first Bible passage that comes to my mind when I think of the word shrewd is what’s known as the Parable of the Shrewd Manager (sometimes also called the Parable of the Unjust Steward) in Luke 16:1-13. In this parable, a wealthy man has a manager or steward to take care of his finances. The manager had been accused of wasting his master’s money, so when he’s faced with losing his job, the manager calls in each person who owes a debt to his master and decreases those debts, thus making friends with the debtors so they would return the favor to him once he lost his job. The manager then gets commended by his wealthy master for being shrewd since the master sees how the manager used his position to help himself. This is a negative example of being shrewd.

With this parable, Jesus is showing the difference between those who are of the world and those who are believers in Him. We as followers of Jesus should use the worldly wealth that we have to build relationships with others and to help them (shrewd in a positive way), not for our own selfish gain like the shrewd manager did (shrewd in a negative way). We should use what we have been given by the master (in our case, God, who has given us all that we have) for the master’s purposes, not our own.

Another example of shrewdness is the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders found in Matthew 7:24-27. The foolish man built his house on sand so it couldn’t stand up to the wind and rain, while the wise man built his house on a solid rock foundation and it could withstand whatever came. The wise man was shrewd in a positive way, making intelligent choices that took care of his possessions.

Jesus explains shrewdness also in Luke 12:42-46, with a similar account recorded in Matthew 24:45-51. Luke 12:42-46 says, “The Lord answered, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.’” Jesus shows the benefits of being shrewd in a positive way, by taking care of what God has entrusted to us, and the negative consequences of not doing so.

The book of Proverbs also has a number of verses about being shrewd or prudent. Proverbs 12:23 says, “The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.” Proverbs 13:16 says, “All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.” Proverbs 18:15 says, “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.”

How are you being shrewd in your own life? Are you being positively shrewd, or negatively shrewd? Ponder these parables and the shrewdness in your life as you go about your week.

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He is Seated at the Right Hand of the Father

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, September 16, 2018 0 comments


by Logan Ames

During Holy Week this past spring, my wife and I joined about 125 other believers from our community and packed a local movie theater to see the latest God’s Not Dead movie. The movie was fantastic, but I want to tell you how I, the pastor of one of the churches involved, represented myself in front of so many others that night. Clara and I got a big bag of popcorn to share and when we got to our seats, she put it on the armrest between our two seats and then went to the restroom. Before she walked away, she looked at me and said, “Be careful and don’t knock it over." I sort of half-listened because I was confident in my ability to not spill the popcorn. But as Proverbs 16:18 tells us, pride goes before the fall, so you can pretty much assume what happened next. A minute or so later, I turned to my left away from the popcorn to speak to the person sitting beside me. As I turned, the outer edge of the sleeve of my shirt on my right arm barely bumped into the bag of popcorn and it was instantly all over the floor in front of our seats. As my wife returned, she just looked at me, shook her head, and said, “Seriously?” How could I have possibly managed to do the one thing she told me not to do?

I’m thinking that Jesus probably felt similarly before he left his disciples and ascended back into heaven. As we learned in last week’s post, one of the last things Jesus told his disciples was to “stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). He had told them that the Holy Spirit would be given to them as promised, but they had to actually wait for it. This is not what we’re used to. Jesus normally wanted his followers to GO, not STAY. They were to go and share the good news with the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 10:6), and were later told to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). But here, Jesus is very clear that they are not to “go” anywhere without him or the Holy Spirit because they would have no power and would be in danger of “spilling the popcorn." Trying to operate in their own power with no help from the Spirit would be disastrous, so he commands them to stay and wait.

Jesus ascended into heaven when his mission on earth was complete, and it was time for his true followers to put their complete confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than continuing to depend on his physical presence. This was the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another one. So, with Jesus returning to the Father, he was about to give them the promised Spirit to guide them and remind them of everything he had taught them. It is recorded in Acts 1:8-9 that right after Jesus told the disciples that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit to help them live as witnesses wherever they would go, he was “taken up” right in front of them and was hidden from their sight. While this tells us that he “ascended," it does not tells us about where he went and what he is doing there.

For that information, we have to read a little bit further in the New Testament. Jesus told his followers right before he left that they would be “baptized by the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). The Apostle Peter then was able to understand the craziness that was happening on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) as the power of the Holy Spirit resting on them. However, seeing the power of the Spirit in physical form was just the beginning. As Peter and the rest of the apostles grew in their faith and practice of the Christian life, they began to learn what it was like to have the Spirit work in them and also through them. Sometimes, the power of the Holy Spirit allowed them to do supernatural things that others could see; sometimes it did the supernatural work of change within them. Peter describes this power in 1 Peter 3:21-22. He says the baptism of the Spirit, which is only symbolized by water baptism, gives us a “clear conscience toward God." Then, he says that this baptism “saves us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." In other words, unless there has been a change in our hearts that comes as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in us, how can we be sure we’re truly saved?

In the midst of talking about salvation through Christ, Peter says in verse 22 that Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand - with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to him." So, now we know that Jesus didn’t just ascend into air and evaporate; he went straight to heaven and is now seated at God’s right hand, which is why the Apostles’ Creed says as much. This is a big deal! If someone were at my “right hand," that wouldn’t mean a thing. But describing Jesus as being “at God’s right hand” meant that he is in a position of great power, lordship, and authority.

As we dig further into the core roots of our Christian faith, this is the first time that we are talking about Jesus in this light. We are used to Jesus being loving, humble, and even meek. When we think of Jesus, we see the suffering servant who was willing to endure the pain of the cross in our place. Yet, we must never forget that his suffering was only part of his story. When he was seated at God’s right hand, he became the judge over all. This means we should not take him lightly. We should not live as though he doesn’t care about our sins. We ought not mistake his kindness and love for weakness. He sees everything we do, hears everything we say, and knows everything we think. If he is truly our Lord, that means that we seek to do what he desires for us and what would please him. One day, regardless of whether you believe in him or not, you are going to stand before him as the Righteous Judge and Ruler of all. Will you be ready? Will you stand there assuming that he’s okay with your choices? Have you been living under the assumption that you’ve been “good enough” to get to heaven? I encourage you to take some time to get to know Jesus through his Spirit. Ask him to reveal the areas of your life where things need to change. Then, understanding his authority, make a choice to surrender anything that doesn’t belong in your life to Jesus. In doing this, you truly show Jesus and those around you that he is your Lord.

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The Nature of Information

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 14, 2018 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

One of the critical details about the monkey-typewriter argument that by chance it is possible to reproduce any work of man is the nature of information. This is another detail that it appears Evolutionists still have yet to grasp. It is also one so obvious that a child can understand it, and yet so complex even the most learned men have a difficult time explaining it. I want to address the nature of written language in this post. A few years ago, I addressed the topic of “Telenomy” which I wrote on the heels of reading A.E. Wilder-Smith’s The Natural Sciences Know Nothing of Evolution (a book which has been argued against but still has no refutation, despite being written in 1975). I want to take another look at this issue.

Perhaps the simplest language out there is binary code, also known as computer language. How is that simple? There are only two letters: 0 and 1. In an actual computer it is 5 volts or 0 volts passing through a reader. This physical detail makes it impossible to introduce a more complicated language for computers. All computer scientists have been able to do to create a more complex language for computers is group the binary code into certain length segments. We can represent any letter of the English Alphabet, with CAPS, numbers, and symbols with a set of 8 0s or 1s. If you have heard of ASCII Code, this is what that is.

One of the major computer architecture languages is called MIPS, and it puts the entire programming language into sets of 32 ‘bits’ (or 0s and 1s). Every letter, number, symbol, memory location, mathematical operation, logical operation, color, or anything a computer does is defined and set by groups of 32 bits. Now, this is critical. It is absolutely impossible for any computer programmer to take a plain set of binary code and tell you what it does UNLESS they know what context it is being used for.

Now there is absolutely nothing inherent about 5V and 0V which indicates anything resembling a code or language. It is something installed by programmers onto the voltage; we give these voltages meaning. The same concept is true for many different things. Wilder-Smith gives a very simple example of code being installed onto an object. He took a rope and he tied three knots into the rope. Each knot in its location was to mean something. So someone who understood the intention of the code could feel the knots on the rope, access the spacing, and get the message.

We do the same concept with flashes of light. Two kids will use a mirror to reflect light in a particular pattern that only they can understand. To anyone else, the pattern has no meaning, though someone outside the “circle” can judge that a pattern is there, therefore someone is behind the pattern. Any government spy agency understands this. During WWII the Germans had a special code system called Enigma that was virtually unbreakable, until the British code breaking agency Ultra found out the secret. Prior to that, the British knew and understood that information was being passed on between the Germans, however it was gibberish to them and did not make sense until with the help of Alan Turing, the Ultra Program broke through to decipher the code.

Letters in a written language convey information. We are taught these letters from infancy but we really do not grasp what a “letter” is unless we study information theory (even if indirectly through other language studies). An “A” in this blog post is not a ‘letter.’ It is a collection of pixels on a computer screen organized in a particular way that any person who can read the English language can understand to be the letter “A.” A letter in written language is just a symbol which represents a given sound in spoken language. Just like a written “number” like a “9” or a “4” is not a number; it is a symbol which represents how many objects are being discussed. Because you are able to read, you can take the vast arrangement of pixels, organized in patterns and structures, and you are able to understand what I am thinking. Language is what gives us the ability to pass on and understand each other’s thoughts. But that language must be understood by both parties or the information contained in those letters does not come through.

One of the great flaws of the Monkey-Typewriter Theory is that the typewriter already has information packed into the device itself. It is already designed and programmed to be able to read and deliver combinations of the 26 letters and ten numerals along with symbols. So when the ape (or computer) randomly puts out letters, yes eventually something will come resembling the 23rd Psalm or the works of Shakespeare. However, this is actually cheating, because in order for this set up to even be possible, you need an intelligent mind designing the typewriter to produce a text AND you need an intelligent mind able to READ the text and get something out of it.

If Thomas Henry Huxley’s argument were to be more accurate to the position he held, he would have to argue that you take infinite amount of ink and infinite amount of paper and throw the ink on the paper randomly so that when it dries it will be organized to land precisely in a such a way that a letter will be recognizable, let alone an entire passage. Any thinking person would know that such a notion is utterly ridiculous. And even if one were to argue that the ink could land in such a way to produce a readable text, the problem is that the text itself has to have information instilled onto it for anyone to make sense of it being text. If ink were to fall in such a way to produce “BOOK,” how would anyone have a concept that this collection of ink had any relation to a written collection of words UNLESS they already knew and understood what each symbol of “B” “O” “O” and “K” meant? To someone who has never seen English and only seen Chinese, there would not be any “information” received because they do not have the software to understand it. Any person is able to recognize that ink splashed on paper will NEVER produce organized “letters” by itself. He will know that someone intelligently put it there and may seek to find out what it is and what it means. This applies to an English-speaking person looking at Chinese or any person looking at a foreign language.

Now, Huxley made his argument well before the discovery of DNA. Each point I made here has a relation to DNA and such notions are completely destroying any hint of salvageability of Darwin’s model of Evolution. Next week, I’ll dig deeper into how Information and DNA work together.

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Origins of Hebrews

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 13, 2018 1 comments


by Steve Risner

Last week, we began talking about the descendants of Shem, Noah's oldest son. This was the sixth blog post in a series on the Table of Nations found in Genesis 10, which describes where all the people groups of the world came from. We're tracing those lineages to the modern people groups we see today. I've found it fascinating and hope you have as well. Aside from a few, “No, sir! That's not true!” comments, I've not found anything that can explain how these things can be and the Bible not be true. In other words, there is no refutation I am aware of that is greater than, “I don't want this to be true, so I'll call you names and make fun of the information.”

Let's move on to the beginning of the Hebrew people—where did the Jews come from and why were they called Hebrews originally? Last week, we discussed a battle that took place and was written about in Genesis. This was a battle where Abraham went to war against several kings of Elamites to get back his nephew, Lot. That's where I'll pick up for just a moment as we look at a topic that is not only interesting but may be controversial. I hope not, but we'll see.

After this battle mentioned above, Abram (later Abraham) was met by a king and priest from Salem, which was a small town that eventually became Jerusalem. I think that's awesome! This king and priest (a priest BEFORE the Levitical priesthood and before the Law was given at all) was called Melchizedek. This name has been translated “King of Righteousness” but I've found that it is also accurately translated “My King is Righteous.” That's a very different rendering. What's right? I don't know. This was not likely the man's name but was a title given to him. However, it doesn't answer the question: who was this guy? Some say it may have been Jesus (a theophany). Maybe. The neat thing about this is we can speculate all we want and no one can tell us anything beyond what is written in Genesis, Psalms, and Hebrews (the three books of the Bible that mention him), as long as we don't get hung up on it and act like our belief has to be right since there is just not enough information to go from Scripture. Some say he was an angel that was sent to protect Salem and bless Abraham. Maybe, but I tend to think probably not. Jewish tradition holds this was Shem! That's right—the oldest son of Noah who lived 600 years (pretty impressive to most of those living at that time since he outlived most of his great grandchildren). He certainly did live during Abraham's life and, depending on the texts we view, possibly beyond Abraham's life. This is wild! I'm not saying Shem was Melchizedek. I am saying it could be and no one knows, but it would be pretty cool if he was. I don't think that diminishes the priesthood spoken of in Hebrews.

Traditionally according to the Jews, Shem created an academy in Salem (later Jerusalem) where people could acquire knowledge about the Most High. This is another reason it could be possible Shem and Melchizedek are one in the same—they lived in the same place. Yes, Hebrews says the man didn't have a genealogy or a funeral, but I don't necessarily think that needs to be taken 100% literally. He was simply saying this king and priest was exceptional and was making a big deal out of him since he was clearly greater than Abraham, the great patriarch. The writer was also indicating that his priesthood was greater than that of any descendant of Abraham since this priest preceded Abraham and his priesthood came before the priesthood of Levi's tribe. And perhaps, like many other things in Scripture, it may have a double meaning/attribute. There are several things from Scripture that are considered a “type” of Christ—Melchizedek being one of them. The Ark is another, Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac is another, and so on.

What is crazy is that from Adam to Abraham we have need for only 2 intermediaries—probably Methuselah and Shem. That's because Methuselah probably knew Adam (which, again, blows my mind) so he likely received information and history from him. Methuselah knew Noah and Shem. Shem would have had the history passed on to him from Methuselah, who knew Adam. He then could pass it on to Abraham. Crazy! The book of Genesis covers almost 1/3 of the world's history. Christians would do well to respect that and take the history as it was clearly intended by how it's written—as history. So, again, I'm not saying I know who Melchizedek was. I'm simply saying that, in my studies, I've found there is a case to be made for him being Shem. Why not? He was the oldest son of Noah. He is the great great grandfather of the Heber, who the Hebrews were named after. He was alive at the time and possibly the place. But who can say? There are other cases to be made for him being someone else. I don't know. It is true either way that the history of the creation through the Flood could easily have passed from Adam to Methuselah to Shem and then to Abraham who is considered the father of our faith. I find that very cool.

According to Josephus, Shem's son Arphaxad was the father of the Arphaxadites, also known as Chaldeans. Arphaxad had a son named Sala. His son was Eber. Eber, or Heber, is where the term Hebrew comes from. Eber was the great great great grandfather of Terah, who was Abraham's father. From Abraham come the Jewish people (so named after Abraham's great grandson, Judah).

Abraham's sons have been at war ever since this time. Abraham had a son named Ishmael. This son was from an unlawful union between Abraham and his servant, Hagar—an Egyptian or Hamite. So Ishmael is half Semitic and half Hamitic. The son of promise was Abraham's second son, Isaac. Arabian Muslims claim Ishmael as their father. The Israelites claim Isaac. These two family lines have been at war over land and spiritual authority for quite some time.

Again, as I stated in the previous posts, the evidence for this Table of Nations being accurate and true is found all over the world, especially in the Middle East and surrounding areas. Names of places, rivers, cities, peoples, languages, gods, and the like are found all over the place that confirm this list of families that descend from Noah were real people. Trust in the Bible. It's always found to be true. We'll look at this topic some more in the near future. Thanks for reading.

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Care for the Poor

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, September 12, 2018 0 comments


by David Odegard

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” -Ephesians 4:28

I have written extensively concerning care for the poor (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and of course, here). The reason that care for the poor must follow after a robust theology of work is that it is from private earnings that voluntary donations are made to care for the poor. To put it another way, one must work and then have something to share. Relief for the poor must be voluntary, not coerced, or it is not truly generosity. Capitalism has improved the lives of almost everyone on the planet.

In the early church, Christians were selling their lands and goods in order to share with other Christians in need (see Acts 2:45). All of this was voluntary, motivated by love and compassion. The early church continued in this way, holding their own possessions loosely and with an eye on the needs of the Christian community as a whole. Christians would “from time to time” sell a piece of land and give the proceeds to the church to distribute unto the needs of the church at large (see Acts 4:32-37).

Nothing in the text suggests that anyone was forced to do this, but that it was the overflow of generous hearts grateful to be saved by Christ. Then we read of Ananias and Sapphira who also sold a piece of land and brought some of the money to the Apostles. They lied about how much the sale was because they wanted to appear to be generous while still retaining some of the money. No problem would have arisen from this situation if they had not lied. Peter said to them, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?” (Acts 5:3-4).

I write all this to illustrate the point that care for the poor arises out of the fruits of productive labor; furthermore, it must remain voluntary for it to be an act of charity. If I threaten to clobber you over the head with a caveman’s club if you do not give me your money, it makes little difference what I do with the money afterward even if I give it to my poor friend so he can buy noodles. One can never call coerced transactions charitable. They are extractions or extortions, but never an act of generosity.

That being said, Christ has saved my life and therefore, I owe Him my life as a debt. He has become my Lord and Master because I have submitted to His lordship over me. He is my king. Jesus is an absolute monarch, but He is so very benevolent that His “yoke is light,” especially in comparison to the slavery to sin from which He set me free. Therefore, whatever demands Jesus might make on me, I am honor-bound to comply.

Jesus once told a rich young man to sell everything and follow Him (see Mark 10:17-31). This young man was too possessed of his possessions; they held mastery over him. “No one can serve two masters,” Jesus said (Luke 16:13, Matthew 6:24). For this young man to follow Jesus and thereby receive eternal life, he had to lose a master to gain a master. He chose to serve the master of money and damned his eternal soul. Jesus can make any demand on me that He chooses, and I must comply. But only Jesus has this power over me. I have other obligations, to love my wife, to obey civil authority, to worship with the church every Sunday and more, to tithe, to read my Bible, etc., but all of these duties and obligations arise from my acceptance of the Lordship of Christ.

It is from the Lordship of Christ that I take seriously the command to care for the poor. Unless I become convinced that some specific action is required of me, I am able to decide how best to go about making provision for the poor. To put it another way, I might feel in my heart certain compassion for someone and take that as communication from the Holy Spirit to do something specific. I am then responsible to do so.

I recall on one occasion, I felt that God wanted me to give a missionary $50, but I only had $30 at the time (I was still a broke teenager). I shrugged off the suggestion since I obviously didn’t have the money, I plucked a book from my shelf and a $20 dollar bill fell to the floor. I do not believe it was supernaturally minted, but rather that I had long forgotten that it was there. The timing of the circumstances made a lasting impression on me to always respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Even if I do not sense supernatural guidance, however, I still have an obligation to care for the needs of the poor—especially those who are in the household of believers (see Galatians 6:10). I am able to use my reason to make solid lasting plans to not only meet the short-term needs of the poor, but also their long-term needs. We must teach the poor how to care for themselves. In so doing, we transform a negative situation into a positive one. I have always found joy from seeing someone on welfare subsidies come to Christ and be discipled in the proper use of money. To watch them no longer need welfare and to become a productive person who is then a giver to others and a supporter of the church is a tremendous blessing.

In our care for the poor, we must constantly guard ourselves from two conditions: apathy and creating dependency. Apathy is not caring enough about the condition of the poor to make a difference in their lives. Creating a condition of dependency is scandalous. Giving someone cash is almost always a way to create a dependent. Meeting a specific need is better: paying their heating bill, buying a bag of groceries, etc. The potential to misuse cash is too high. I am not talking only about someone using it for booze, gambling, or drugs, although that is a possibility, and in our society these are the main causes of poverty.

Sometimes poverty comes from just not knowing how to manage money or the proper value of things. Once, I helped a man get out of jail on the condition that he would get a job and remain in a counseling relationship with me. He did get a job, and the first paycheck he ever had was entirely blown on the stupidest things. I recall that he bought three ball point writing pens for $45. I explained that he had higher needs than expensive writing pens and that he should return them to the store. “I need some good pens,” was his stubborn reply. Of course, it was his money. But giving him more of it was not his greatest need, obviously.

Constant reader, avoid apathy and create no conditions for scandal. Be smart in your giving and always give as unto the Lord. Tithe, support the mission of the church, and get advice. And, if you see that your helping is actually hurting, please change your strategy.

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

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What Does the Bible Say About Followers?

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


by Katie Erickson

Last week I wrote on what the Bible says about leaders, so to follow that up (pun intended), this week I’m writing on what the Bible says about followers.

Really, the whole Bible is about followers. From the very beginning, humans were created to be in fellowship with God and to be obedient to what God calls us to do. That got a lot more difficult after sin entered the world, of course. Humans were also created with free will, which we used to disobey God and not follow His ways. We’re all following something, but the question is what or who are we following?

If we claim to be Christians, then we should be following Jesus Christ. This is also known as being His disciples, which you can read more about here. There are many passages that detail what that looks like, so I’ll highlight a few of them here.

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.'
Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'
He said to another man, 'Follow me.'
But he replied, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.'
Jesus said to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.'
Still another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.'
Jesus replied, 'No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:57-62)

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

“If anyone comes to me [Jesus] and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32).

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’” (Matthew 16:24-25).

From these passages, it’s pretty clear that being a follower of Jesus is not necessarily easy. But making the easy choice to follow the world is generally not the best choice in light of eternity, as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:13-14: “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.”

We can learn more about being a follower of Jesus by looking at His first followers and the writings they have left us, including Paul’s letters. Paul himself was a great example of a follower of Jesus. As he wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” We should all strive to follow the example of Christ, but we can use other people as examples as well.

But it is important that we are ultimately following only Christ, even as we use others as examples of how to do that. As Paul wrote in Philippians 3:7-9, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Who or what are you following in this life?

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He Ascended Into Heaven

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


by Logan Ames

I come from a family that does not embrace the latest technology, at least not to the extent that many other families do. My family of origin only obtained things after it seemed like everyone else did. We didn’t have a computer or email in the home until I was a junior in high school (and even then it was the annoying dial-up access), I didn’t get a mobile phone until I was out of college and working as a driver, and I didn’t join Facebook until late 2009 after I had already been away from friends and family in seminary for over a year. I still have no other social media accounts and honestly don’t even know what technological advances are out there.

For this reason, I found myself out of the loop when I visited my in-laws’ home a year or so ago and everyone was seemingly talking to the air. Then, to my shock and awe, the air started talking back. Even more surprising was that they had to address this “air” by name before speaking to it. Its name was “Alexa." Eventually, I discovered this was a physical device on the shelf or table and not some voice in the wind. For such a small device though, Alexa had power. She controlled the lights and music and even managed to irritate some people when she didn’t do what they wanted. Alexa also had knowledge. We were able to play a trivia game with her and anytime we needed an answer to something, we didn’t even have to type it into Google anymore. We could just simply ask Alexa and we’d receive the necessary information.

My mother-in-law has been visiting weekly to be with our daughter when my wife and I work, and just this past week she commented that “we live in an age where we don’t have to not know something." Double negative aside, she’s right. We can get an answer to almost any question with one or two clicks of a mouse, by asking our Siri, or by calling out to Alexa. It recently struck me that the disciples most likely felt the same way as they walked and ministered with Jesus 2,000 years ago. They didn’t have the technology we have today, but they had something far more powerful and knowledgeable - the Son of God in their midst! Jesus not only would’ve been every person’s favorite teammate in Trivial Pursuit, but he also guided them when it came to difficult moral and spiritual circumstances. Some people say that “knowledge is power." Well, Jesus had and WAS both! He never faced a question that he was forced to answer with, “I don’t know," and he never failed in following God’s commands because of “I can’t."

That must have been some luxury for the disciples. Sure, they had to deal with persecution and ridicule from those who didn’t worship Jesus. But having all knowledge and power available in their midst in the person of Jesus meant they always had someone to whom they could turn during tough times. I imagine having this comfort for so long and getting used to it would’ve made it all the more difficult for them to watch him suffer and die. Then, when he rose three days later, they were elated. But that circumstantial happiness would soon come to an end again as he told them he was leaving and going back to the Father in heaven. You can almost hear them complaining, “But, why, Jesus? We stood by you even when it was unpopular. Yeah, we left you alone at the cross but let’s just forget that part. Everyone needs a do-over at some point. We’re here now, together, and we are happy. Why must you insist on leaving AGAIN?”

Jesus’ perspective was probably a bit different. He had to be thinking, “I’ve made myself pretty darn clear about this and you knuckleheads still don’t understand!” For the record, they were Jesus’ friends and if you can’t call your friend a “knucklehead” from time to time, something’s wrong. Jesus knew “he had come from God and was returning to God” (John 13:3), so on the last night he spent with his disciples before he was arrested, he told them that they would only see him a little bit longer and then he would be going to a place where they could not yet go (John 13:33). Though he told them this, they struggled to understand. He tells them in John 14 that there is plenty of room in the Father’s house and that he is going to prepare a place for them so they can one day join him (vv. 2-3). He also tells them that they already know “the way” to where he is going (v. 4). That’s when Thomas gets tired of all the mysterious talk and asks directly, “How can we know the way when we don’t even know where it is you’re going?” (v. 5) Jesus responds that he is “the way and the truth and the life” (v. 6). He adds that he is the ONLY way to the Father because no one can go except through them and concludes that, because they know and have seen him, they also know and have seen the Father (v. 7).

Jesus proceeds to tell them all about the Holy Spirit in the next few chapters. He refers to the Spirit as an advocate or a counselor and describes in detail how the Spirit will work in, through, with, and for them. The key for them is to take the necessary steps to remain or “abide” in Christ. Jesus even tells them it is for THEIR good that he leaves because the Holy Spirit will not come unless he leaves (John 16:7). They don’t have a clue what any of this means yet, but once he appears to them after the resurrection, he does everything he can to remind them and give them hope. He supernaturally enters a room that is locked to the outside world, shows his body, and invites them to touch him so they know he’s real, eats fish with them to further prove that he’s truly alive and not a mere ghost, then sits down with them and teaches them the Scriptures and reminds them of the things he had said when he was with them before his death (Luke 24:36-47). From that point on, he gives them the greatest responsibility the world has ever known - to be his “witnesses” (Luke 24:48).

Their lives, their endurance through trials and hardships, their resistance to temptation when the rest of the world is giving in, their love for one another and for all of God’s children, and their preaching of the truth would all help to tell the world about Jesus and his victory over sin and death that makes forgiveness possible. Jesus puts this responsibility on their shoulders, and it WORKS! We see in Acts 4:13 that the priests and the Sadducees who arrested Peter and John for healing a crippled beggar in Jesus’ name were so surprised by their courage despite being “unschooled, ordinary men” that all they could conclude is “these men have been with Jesus." Even to those who refused to believe the truth, Jesus’ disciples were witnesses.

I said that Jesus put the responsibility to witness on their shoulders, and that’s true. That’s one reason he had to leave. As long as he stayed, they would’ve continued to enjoy this comfort and completely rely on his physical presence in their lives. But he wasn’t about to leave them completely hanging. Luke records that Jesus tells them to stay in Jerusalem until they are “clothed with power from on high” (24:49). He then records something more direct in Acts 1:8, where Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." There is certainly reason to believe this is the same reminder from Jesus recorded by the same writer two different ways in two different books. We can’t know that for sure. But either way, Jesus had told them about the Holy Spirit’s work that would only come AFTER he leaves, and then reminded them of this just before he left. You and I get to sit back and read each recording of it, which is not just a reminder to his first disciples, but a reminder to us as well. Sure, it’d be nice to have Jesus physically with us all the time - much better than Alexa. But through the Holy Spirit, WE get to be the witnesses for Jesus in his physical absence. What a great responsibility, and an even greater JOY!

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Monkey Typewriters, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 7, 2018 8 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Last week I introduced a central argument to the Huxley-Wilberforce Debate of 1860, including an analysis of a central argument to the debate, the Monkey-Typewriter Theory by A.E. Wilder-Smith. I believe Wilder-Smith had a good argument to make in answering Huxley’s charge that given enough time, a monkey could reproduce the 23rd Psalm by mere chance. However, in the short time he had, I believe there are other points he could have made and I will dig into those here.

One Evolutionist argument I keep hearing lately is that they do not support the idea that all life came about by change because the laws of science, namely natural selection, prevent it from being completely by chance. I would suggest these Evolutionists read more of the history of their own model because ‘by chance’ or rather ‘by time’ is absolutely central to their entire position. It’s not just Huxley who used this argument. Numerous Evolutionists pin everything upon time. That is why they are so virulent against a young earth model. Remove millions of years and everything they believe falls apart. The key is time. Give it enough time, and it is bound to happen. That is why so many of them will fight as though their very lives depend upon it for “millions of years.” They will be open to question any detail about their models EXCEPT millions of years. And when one dating method fails to produce for them, they dismiss it and move onto the next one without ever changing their mindset. I read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and while he mocks the very notion of God, he effectively replaces God with “natural selection,” giving it descriptions and jobs that it nowhere comes close to carrying out.

I actually laugh at the notion that Evolution is not guided by chance but by “natural forces” (namely natural selection) because they are shooting themselves in the foot. Pure random chance is actually BETTER odds for them than otherwise. Why? Because the laws of science we know are in place actually make the job they need to get Evolution going go against what they need to happen. As I mentioned last week, in order to get and maintain amino acids to create RNA and DNA, there needs to be a controlled mechanism which can lock the acids in place, prevent the reversible reactions from taking place, and keep their orientation correct.

A very popular Creationist argument against the origins of life is the 747-tornado analogy. If a tornado were to fly through a junkyard for long enough time, it would produce a fully functional 747 airplane. That is what abiogenesis sounds like to a Creationist. It’s utterly foolishness. However, there is a detail often forgotten in such an analogy. This analogy assumes all the parts to a 747 are there and already designed to do what they are supposed to do. Evolution has to account not just for the organization of the 747, but also the origins of the pieces of the 747, able to be placed in the correct location and with the right number with the right shape and size to make the plane work.

The typewriter analogy fails to apply to the Evolutionist position because while typing at random can mathematically produce a completed piece of literature, it does not account for the typewriter itself. How, by chance, could a typewriter come together, ready and able to produce 26 English letters, not counting 10 numeric digits nor spaces nor symbols? The Evolutionists needs the typewriter BEFORE he can start looking at paper. With genetics, the Evolutionist needs the cell which produces the DNA BEFORE it can start looking at amino acid order and structure. It’s a Catch-22.

This is the reason why Evolutionists are so determined to divorce Evolution from Abiogenesis. They know that WE know they have no answer to abiogenesis, and we also know that abiogenesis is the engine that drives Evolution. They say it doesn’t matter how it got started. It did, and biological evolution is all that matters. I’m sorry but that logic does not fly. My favorite analogy to this is trying to talk about the dealings of a space shuttle orbiting earth but not being concerned about the launch. If you have no launch, you have no orbit. Wilder-Smith uses electrical power for his analogy in his book The Natural Sciences Know Nothing of Evolution. You can talk about individual outlets all you want, but unless the mains are on, you will get no power. No abiogenesis, no Evolution… PERIOD! As far as I am concerned, trying to separate the two is a dishonest admission of defeat.

The Evolutionist has a quandary to solve. Many are honest enough to admit they don’t know how it all came together, however, these things are central to the very theory they are calling absolute fact, and they mock us for not buying it. We are not asking for every minor detail, however, we are asking that if you are going to call it science, then the general mechanism you are citing should be doing what you claim it is doing. The Evolutionist does not like us citing God because God is obviously more than capable of doing whatever he wants. But the “God Hypothesis” is able to do the job. Can the Evolution Hypothesis get the job done? So far, it has yet to produce anything to show for it. Maybe the scientists haven’t figured it out yet? I’m okay with that, but don’t call it fact or “settled science” until they do.

A funny side-note on this Monkey-typewriter theory is that this actually was put to the test. They put some typewriters in a cage with a few chimps to see what they would do. They bashed them with rocks, flipped them over, and in actuality did nothing remotely indicating typing. But for argument’s sake, put a computer there instead of an ape and the core argument is still intact in that regard. However, I still want to see a text-producing device show up without intelligent input BEFORE I hear this argument being used again. Speaking of which, next week I’ll get into what information is because that alone is still another problem for this theory and all Evolution.

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The Sons of Shem

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 6, 2018 1 comments


by Steve Risner

This week we will discuss Shem and his descendants. If you've not been following along, we are several posts into a series on the Table of Nations found in Genesis. This tells of the origins of many people groups (all of them actually at the time) and who they descended from. We've discussed the lineage of Japheth here and here and the lineage of Ham here and here. We are now looking at the people groups that came from Noah's oldest son, Shem, from whom we get the term Semite or Semitic. Semitic people are people whose family line goes back to Shem.

According to Genesis 10, Shem had 5 sons—Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. Let's take a look at them.

Lud is the father of the Lydians who claimed territory in what is now Turkey or Asia Minor, then called Anatolia. Herodutus tells us that the Lydians were a light skinned people. The Egyptians and Assyrians make mention of this people group who are named after this grandson of Noah. It's believed that the Lydians eventually mingled with the Etruscans of Chaldea and migrated to an area in northern Italy. Tuscany is actually named after the Etruscans since they were also known as the Tusci.

Aram is the Hebrew word for Syria. Anytime you see Syria in the Bible, it's translated from the word Aram. The Syrians call themselves Arameans and spoke Aramaic. Aramaic was essentially the international language of the world for a time and Jesus even spoke an Aramaic phrase on the cross. It's likely, with some small changes over time, that Aramaic is a language that was created at the Tower of Babel and, though not extremely common, is still in use today. The Syrian people had their capital at Damascus. Damascus is considered by many to be the oldest continually inhabited city on earth.

Elam fathered the Elamites. Elam is the ancient name for Persia, which is the ancient name for Iran. After Cyrus, the people were generally known as Persians, although the first century AD has record of them being called Elamites still. The Medo-Persian Empire consisted of a mixed people then—Madai being a son of Japheth and Elam being the son of Shem. They've been known as Iranians since the 1930's. The book of Genesis records a battle taking place between the king of Elam and 3 other kings who fought against Abraham. These kings had taken Lot, Abraham's nephew. Abraham soundly defeated the four kings and rescued Lot. It gets very interesting here, but Abraham is a descendant of Arphaxad, and we're not discussing him yet. Stay tuned for some intriguing ideas about Shem and the sons of Eber (whose descendants are the Hebrews). Let's move on to Asshur.

Asshur is the father of the empire named after him—a large, fierce empire that ruled the Middle East, Egypt, parts of the Mediterranean and Turkey as well as Iran and Iraq from 900 BC to 600 BC. As early as 1250 BC, they were using iron weapons which were far superior to other weapons of the time. At the end of their powerful and ruthless reign, the capital city of Nineveh was conquered by the Medes, Persians, and Babylonians. Nineveh was the largest city on earth for nearly 50 years until it was destroyed in a rebellion that brought the end of the Assyrian Empire. Nineveh is where Jonah first refused to go preach against but eventually, after a series of events, went to the city to speak against it. God was going to destroy it because of its wickedness. Because of Jonah's warnings, the entire city repented and turned toward God. This actually angered Jonah because he despised the Assyrians due to their ruthless behavior and disregard for life. They were a people who made war an industry which profited their nation economically quite a lot. The Assyrians managed the largest empire on the planet up to that point. The Mesopotamian god Ashur was likely named after this grandson of Noah, Asshur. Ashur was the head of the Assyrian pantheon. Asshur also passed his name onto the first capital of the “old” Assyrian Empire which was called Assur. Its ruins are along the Tigris River. Today, they reside in parts of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

Next week we'll discuss the final son of Shem, Arphaxad. He fathered the Hebrews as well as others. I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am. I find this all fascinating stuff and feel it's very unfortunate that most if not all of it is avoided by most secular teachers. The information lends far too much to the credibility of the Bible, so they cannot bring themselves to discuss it. The evidence is fairly strong—in fact, I'll say the evidence is exceptionally strong and overwhelming for the validity of the Bible. The evidence that points to the Bible's authenticity is found all over the world in the names of cities, peoples, rivers, and regions as well as other things.

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The Hidden Facts of the Founding Era Quiz

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 4, 2018 0 comments


by Bill Fortenberry

Whenever I am invited somewhere to speak or to sell my books, I take with me a little 9 question trivia quiz about American history. I thought you might enjoy taking the quiz as well and perhaps sharing it with your friends. All of the questions are from my book Hidden Facts of the Founding Era, and most people only know the answers to 2 or 3 of them. Here is the list of 9 questions with the answers given at the end.

1. In what year did America become an independent nation?
     a. 1775
     b. 1776
     c. 1777

2. Who was the head of the American government before George Washington was elected President?
     a. John Adams
     b. Charles Thompson
     c. Thomas Jefferson

3. Which founder created his own Bible by cutting out all the portions the New Testament that he did not agree with?
     a. Thomas Jefferson
     b. James Madison
     c. John Hancock
     d. None of the above

4. What kind of religion did Benjamin Franklin believe in?
     a. Deism
     b. Christianity
     c. Rationalism

5. Who was Thomas Paine?
     a. A founding father whose writings sparked the Revolution
     b. A world renowned champion of liberty
     c. A rebel and an outcast who was despised by the founding fathers

6. What was John Adams’ opinion of the great Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot?
     a. That they were the source of his political philosophy
     b. That they were men of noble character
     c. That they were an ignorant lot of cowardly atheists

7. Where did the freedom of religion come from?
     a. It was a Jesuit plot designed to subvert true Christianity
     b. The founders were secularists who wanted to be free from religion
     c. It was a distinctly Baptist doctrine founded on the teachings of the New Testament

8. What was George Washington’s involvement in the Masonic Lodge?
     a. He left the lodge before the Revolution and referred to it as mere child’s play
     b. He was Grand Master of all the lodges in America
     c. He was Grand Master of the Lodge of Alexandria

9. Who wrote that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion”?
     a. George Washington
     b. John Adams
     c. The King of Algiers

Answers

1. 1775: On December 22, 1775, the British Parliament passed the American Prohibitory Act which removed all protection from the American colonies and commanded military action against them. According to British law, this act made the colonies free and independent states.

2. Charles Thompson: Mr. Thomson was the Secretary of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1789. After retiring from Congress, he provided the world with the very first English translation of Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) which he combined with his translation of the New Testament to create the first American translation of the Bible. He also published a Harmony of the Gospels which Thomas Jefferson praised very highly.

3. None of the above: The so-called Jefferson Bible was not a Bible at all but rather an abbreviated collection of events and sayings from the life of Jesus that Jefferson thought would be useful for teaching Christian philosophy. The title Jefferson gave to this collection was “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.”

4. Christianity: Franklin recorded in his autobiography that he was a Deist as a teenager, but at the age of 29, he wrote: "Christ by his Death and Sufferings has purchas'd for us those easy Terms and Conditions of our Acceptance with God, propos'd in the Gospel, to wit, Faith and Repentance."

5. A rebel and an outcast: John Adams called Paine's pamphlet Common Sense "a poor, ignorant, short-sighted, crapulous mass" and claimed that Paine "understood neither government nor religion." Gouverneur Morris was content to let Paine rot in a French jail, and even Thomas Jefferson did not refrain from insulting his reasoning.

6. An ignorant lot of cowardly atheists: John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson the following statement about the Enlightenment thinkers: "And what was their philosophy? Atheism, -- pure, unadulterated atheism." He then proceeded to call them cowards and to condemn them as being completely destitute of common sense.

7. A distinctly Baptist doctrine: The very first English book on the freedom of religion was written in 1611 by Thomas Helwys, the founder of the first Baptist Church in England. The first colony to establish religious freedom was the Baptist colony of Rhode Island, and historian George Bancroft wrote that "Freedom of conscience, unlimited freedom of mind, was, from the first, the trophy of the Baptists."

8. He left the lodge before the Revolution: Washington told Jonathan Trumbull that Masonry was "merely child's play," and he wrote to G. W. Snyder that he did not preside over any lodge, "nor have I been in one more than once or twice within the last thirty years."

9. The King of Algiers: This phrase appeared in the Treaty of Tripoli as part of a letter written from one Arab king to another encouraging friendly relations with the Americans. It has often been attributed to the founding fathers, but it was not written by any of them nor even by an American.

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What Does the Bible Say About Leaders?

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


by Katie Erickson

For some inspiration to start writing this post, I searched online for “quotes on leadership” and wow - there are tons! When there’s a link titled “620 Leadership Quotes That Will Make You Feel Unstoppable,” you know there’s a lot of quotable phrases out there on the topic. There are also many, many books on leadership, both from Christian and secular viewpoints, and I even took a class in seminary on Christian Leadership. But, for those of us who consider the Bible to be our primary source of authority, what does it say about leaders?

If we consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus Christ, then He is our ultimate leader. Jesus gives us the best example of servant leadership in John 13:13-17, right after He washed the disciples’ feet: “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” A leader is one who can humble themselves to even the most menial tasks when needed.

This idea of being a humble leader is also explained by Jesus in Mark 10:42-45: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In some of his letters, Paul provides us with character qualities of good leaders. Titus 1:6-9 says, “An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” 1 Timothy 3:1-13 provides a similar description.

In Exodus 18, Moses got a lesson on leadership from his father-in-law Jethro. Moses was trying to handle every dispute that came up among the massive nation of Israel, and it was just too much for him. Jethro urged Moses to appoint additional judges: “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (verse 21). This is a great example of delegating, with those judges handling the smaller cases and only bringing the more difficult ones up to Moses. We still apply this principle in organizations and governments today.

The Bible is full of stories of leaders, some good and some bad, and there are too many to list all of the stories here. You can find many of these in the heroes of the faith series that Logan Ames wrote here.

Romans 12:9-13 is about living out our love for others, but it’s also a good description of what a leader should do: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

While we may be leaders among people, the most important thing to remember is that we’re all called to be followers (disciples) of Jesus Christ. Even the highest leader here on earth still has to submit to the Almighty Leader, God Himself. Where better to learn our leadership skills from than the One who is truly in charge!

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On the Third Day He Rose Again from the Dead

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


by Logan Ames

Just two months ago, the world watched, first in horror then in global jubilation, as an entire soccer team was trapped several miles inside a cave in Thailand for 18 days before a daring rescue effort worked to near-perfection and got every single one of them out safely. Sadly, a retired Thai Navy SEAL who was volunteering died several days before the escape as he passed out underwater due to lack of oxygen while he was placing extra air tanks along the route which was being organized to bring the boys out of the cave. Outside of his death, however, the plan that was put together by volunteers, divers, and military personnel from all over the world worked just about as smoothly as possible.

According to this article, a major general in the Third Army region said, “The most important piece of the rescue was good luck." He then added, “I still can’t believe it worked." Now, I’m not sure what the man believes about God, but Christians around the world who were praying for a safe rescue and who have seen the power of God at work in their own lives would say that “luck” didn’t have anything to do with it. What do we really mean when we talk about “good luck” or “bad luck”? Who decides who gets which? Is it some random force in the universe that makes this critical decision for so many? Even Christians say it sometimes. I said it myself at least three times on the golf course yesterday when I made putts I wouldn’t ordinarily make!

I think that maybe it makes us feel more independent of God to talk about some other randomness that doesn’t actually exist. If we truly praise God for the good things that happen and the work he does in our lives, that means we also have to go to him when we do NOT get the result we wanted. And that can be a heck of a lot harder to deal with, especially when the lives of our loved ones are on the line. It’s simpler to just say we had “bad luck” so we don’t have to address God regarding what went wrong. The reality is that God is always in the details and the results, whether good or bad. God is worthy to be praised for giving those teams and divers what they needed to succeed on the rescue mission and for allowing them to be successful. But God doesn’t always work mysteriously. Sometimes, it’s as simple as staying connected to your source of life.

In the case of the Thailand rescue operation, their source of life was a rope that they sometimes couldn’t even see and had to locate by feel. The rope led them through the entire winding, hilly, underwater path to freedom. As we look at our own source of life that God has given us, it all goes back to an event that happened roughly 2,000 years ago that changed the world for every single person ever. After Jesus had been tortured, crucified, CONFIRMED dead, and buried in a tomb with a large security contingent guarding it, he rose from the grave on the third day after he was killed. This wasn’t luck. As Andy Stanley told us at a conference earlier this year, “Anyone who can successfully predict their own death and resurrection and then pull it off is someone we ought to be willing to listen to." Jesus had already covered our sins by being the atoning sacrifice to God on the cross. But it did not end there and only in his victory over the grave can we truly find victory in our own lives.

Because Jesus has already demonstrated that God has the power to raise the dead, you and I can choose to tap into that “resurrection power as our lifesource." No matter what trials we’re going through, they are not more powerful than resurrection power. I remember watching a talk show one time that had Terry and Rebecca Crews on it. Terry is a well-known actor and his wife of 28 years is a successful singer. During their conversation, they revealed that Terry had a past addiction to pornography and had gone so far as to be unfaithful to his wife many times. Rebecca talked about how she was so close to leaving and the talk show host asked why she stayed. She talked about the power of God and added, “There was a death, but from death there can be a resurrection." God resurrected what was a dead marriage.

What is it for you? Do you have faith and hope in the resurrection power of God? Take a look at Hebrews 11:17-19, which references a story originally found in Genesis 22. The writer of Hebrews talks about Abraham’s faith when God tested him and had him climb a mountain to sacrifice his son, Isaac, who had been the heir of the promise of many descendants for Abraham. These verses help us see the spiritual dilemma that Abraham faced. He was about to sacrifice the ONLY son of the promise because God said so. But, wait a minute? God had ALSO said that Isaac was the one through whom the offspring would come. How can this be? Abraham had to be thinking either he or God had gotten something wrong at some point. How could he go through with destroying the only son God gave him to meet the promise? Hebrews 11:19 gives us the answer: “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death." That is some kind of faith, hope, and reasoning! No one had ever been risen from the dead before, but Abraham reasoned that it could happen because God would not tell him to do something seemingly so against his own Word without a plan. You and I have more reason to believe in the resurrection power of God because we live on the other side of Jesus and KNOW that it happened.

Do you believe it can happen in your life? What needs resurrected? A marriage? A desire for God? A body wrecked by drugs and alcohol? If you believe in Jesus and his power, even if you’re not quite believing it for your own personal situation yet, be like the father of a demon-possessed boy in Mark 9:21-24 who cried out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” You see, it’s only by faith that he could say that. It takes a little faith to realize you need a lot more of it. If you have no faith whatsoever, you don’t even realize you need more! The man was desperate for his boy to be healed and was somewhat resigned to not seeing it happen. He told Jesus to take pity on them IF he could do anything to help them. Jesus was somewhat surprised by the “if” qualifier and tells them anything is possible for those who believe. After the man admitted his unbelief and need for more faith, his boy was healed. Maybe you need to cry out to Jesus today to help your unbelief.

I’ve been saying that YOU have resurrection power if you believe in Jesus. If you’re wondering how that could be possible when you weren’t the One raised from the dead, take a look at Ephesians 1:18-20. Paul calls the power that comes to believers “incomparably great." He then specifies that it is the SAME POWER that God used when he raised Christ from the dead and took him back to heaven. How amazing is that! You can sit there right now in whatever mess you feel is happening in your life, and if you’ve trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can KNOW beyond all doubt that resurrection power is available to you. It’s not even “maybe." It’s there!

Are you ready to speak it into the dead areas of your life? Nothing in this world has power of you. Porn doesn’t. Drugs don’t. Alcohol doesn’t. Infidelity doesn’t. Your past doesn’t. Abuse doesn’t. Fear doesn’t. Your feelings don’t. Money doesn’t. Your sin doesn’t! This is the greatest thing about being a follower of Jesus. God used mighty strength to raise Christ from the dead and 2,000 years later, that power is available to you. You have resurrection power and no longer have reason to live in darkness and death. Believe it, claim it, and walk in it today!

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