The True Foundation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 20, 2019 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” ~1 Corinthians 3:11

Paul declares that no one can lay down a foundation for how they will live their lives, nor can there be any hope or salvation other than Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter echoed this sentiment in Acts 4:12 when he proclaimed to the Sanhedrin that, “There is no other name by which men might be saved other than Jesus Christ.”

I frequently speak and write about the importance of having a Biblical worldview, to see things as God sees them, using the Bible as our “lens” to view reality. But one thing that is easy to miss when talking about the Bible is to see what the Bible points to. As I write this, I was recently reminding myself of the importance of putting Jesus Christ as the center of your vision and the foundation of everything you say, do, think, and live. I often talk about Creation as a critical part to understanding Christianity, however the point of believing in Creation is not to believe in Creation but to believe in Christ. Christ must always be our end game, but He also must be our starting point and our foundation. He must be both.

Colossians 1:15-17 defines Christ as the Creator and for whom and by whom all things consist. Everything that exists was made by Christ and for Christ’s glory. Every single person, every single animal, every single plant, and every single atom exist because Christ made them, and they exist to tell His story. That means no matter what any of us think, say, or do otherwise, what we think, say, or do is going to bring glory to Christ. We can be obedient to Him and we can share in His glory, or we can be defiant in our sin, and our judgment from the fires of Hell will give Him glory. We don’t get to choose whether we will glorify Christ or not. We only get the choice of how we glorify Him. The world may shake its fist against Christ, but it too shall bend its knee to Christ one day because He is the King of Kings and He is returning to crush His enemies and will rule with a rod of iron. This rod will crush any who are His foes but will protect any who are His.

We must build our lives upon Christ as the only true foundation, or everything we do and build will be destroyed. Paul warns against building with wood, hay, and stubble: the temporary things of this world which come relatively cheap and in large quantity and are convenient. He instead recommends building with gold, silver, and precious stones. Here is the difference between these two sets of items. Wood, hay, and stubble can be readily used and easily replaced, however, when fire comes, they are completely consumed and reduced to useless ashes. Gold, silver, and precious stones have already been through the fire and refined. They will last. Gold and silver can melt, but fire never changes its composition. You never lose gold or silver to a fire, whereas wood, hay, and stubble are forever lost. Paul is making the claim that on Judgment Day, everything we’ve used to build our lives is going to be tested against the fire of God and only that which remains is going to last. This is also when there will be much weeping as all the works of men will be wasted. Only those which God did through us will remain.

Jesus gave a parable of a wise and foolish builder. One built upon a rock by listening to and heeding the words of Christ, making his house according to the shape, size, and strength of the rock it stood upon. The other built with sand, molding and shaping the foundation to fit what he desired. Yet that which is moldable by man is easily washed away. When we build upon Christ, everything He supports will last because He is the Solid Rock, and as the Solid Rock He will not give way. But if we build upon sand, all it takes is one bad disaster or a series of small ones to undermine the house and everything we built collapses. This is why some investors commit suicide after they lose their entire portfolio, because they poured everything they had into something that could not last. It’s also why so many people face depression and despair (that is not a blanket statement), because they poured so much into something that never satisfied nor lasted. They built their life upon sand and when a storm came, it didn’t make it.

We must build upon Christ. Paul put aside everything he knew to know Christ and Christ crucified only. He was the scholar among all scholars and yet he treated all his education as worthless dung when compared to the knowledge of Christ. That doesn’t mean he forgot everything, but that he understood the purpose of everything. Knowledge that glorifies God is valuable, yet knowledge that glorifies man is pride and is not worthy of retaining.

There are a lot of false teachings out there, yet with practice it is easy to tell a true teaching from a false one. Here is a big clue: look at the foundation. Is it built upon Christ, or is it built upon men? False teachings may include Christ, but if you listen carefully, He is used as little more than cosmetic covering for their own ideas. True teachings will start with Christ, build with Christ, point to Christ, and yield His fruit as a result.

Yet there are also many people who say we just need Christ and who needs truth about anything else like Creation, baptism, obedience, authority, etc. They just want Christ’s name for salvation and to leave the rest for themselves. According to Hebrews 6:1-2, there are seven foundational doctrines to the Christian life. I will liken these teachings to seven pillars which support our structure we call “Christianity.” The first is Christ which I have been explaining in this post. Christ is not only the foundation; He is also the central pillar of which everything else flows in and out of. Over the next few weeks, I will look at the other six. But in each topic, Christ is still going to be the center. He will be the foundation for the doctrine, the structure for the doctrine, and the end goal of the doctrine. But a caution: the author of Hebrews also says these are the elementary teachings, stating that we as Christians need to be moving onto deeper and better things. You can’t do that without a proper foundation laid down, and moving on to deeper and better things does not negate these core teachings by any means. I grow tired of drinking milk. I want meat, but our system cannot handle meat until we have drunk enough milk to build our system to handle it. So over the next few weeks, I’m going to go over the “milk” of Christianity so that we can move forward and eat some meat.

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.

READ MORE

Psalm 107

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 16, 2019 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)

If that verse sounds familiar, it could be because it’s also the first verse of Psalm 106 that I wrote about last week. But after that verse, this psalm differs somewhat from the previous one.

Psalm 107 begins the fifth and final book within the book of Psalms. These “books” are just groups of psalms to divide up the book. Some scholars believe that this was to mimic the 5 books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). This psalm is known as a thanksgiving-wisdom psalm because it starts out urging its reader to give thanks and it ends with encouraging its reader to have wisdom.

Verses 1-3 say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” Notice the focus on “the redeemed of the Lord” in these verses. It’s a common misconception that those who follow God live lives that are free of trouble; on the contrary, here we see that God has redeemed His people from adversity. God continues to redeem His people from whatever adversity we face, though not always in the way we might want.

While the reference to God gathering His people may have been a bit unusual for the nation of Israel since they were generally all living in the same place, this is especially relevant today in the context of following Jesus. Today, followers of Jesus are found all around the world, and God gathers all of us to Him as a part of His family.

Now, before we move on in this psalm, I want you to take a moment and start thinking of reasons that you have to be thankful in your life. You can probably come up with quite a long list, right? Well, verses 4-32 of this psalm are Israel’s list of reasons to be thankful! I encourage you to read it, but I’ll give you the highlights here.

Verses 4-9 speak of them being wanderers in the desert. While that doesn’t sound like a reason to be thankful, it is because God delivered them when they needed Him to. They were hungry and they were thirsty, and God gave them food and drink. They had no place to call their home, but God led them to a city where they could settle.

Verses 10-16 speak of them being prisoners, in chains and subjected to forced hard labor. Again while that doesn’t sound like something that would make people thankful, again God saved them from that. He broke away their chains and freed them from their captivity.

Verses 17-22 speak of them being a sick people. They were so sick they nearly died - a perfect time to be thankful for your life, right? But again, when they cried out to God, He healed them and delivered them from their physical illnesses.

Verses 23-32 speak of them being sailors on the sea. That doesn’t sound so bad, but the sea was a very dangerous place where one storm could end the lives of many. But God calmed the stormy seas and delivered them safely back to land.

When you started making your list of thing you were thankful for, did you include all the seemingly bad things that have happened in your life? Are you thankful for a loved one with cancer? Are you thankful for natural disasters? I’m guessing you’re generally not thankful for those things.

But here’s the thing. If you read that whole passage, you may have noticed that each one of these sections has a verse that says, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” Each and every time that God’s people went through difficult times, when they called out to God He delivered them. In spite of all that seemed so negative, they were called to give thanks to God for that! No matter what’s happening in life, God’s love will never fail and He will continue to do wonderful deeds for mankind, even if it doesn’t seem like it from our perspective.

The psalm continues in verses 33-42, giving reasons to praise God. Even though the people went through all this bad stuff, God was still working good for them. God has the authority to make bad things good, to make water flow in the desert, and to provide food for the hungry, just to name a few. He is always worthy of our praise, even if we don’t feel like He’s doing what we want Him to. Fortunately, He is God and we are not! We don’t know what’s best for us as humankind, but God does. He is always worthy of our praise for continuing to love and guide us through whatever happens in life.

The psalm closes in verse 43 with this: “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” If we are unwise, then we’ll just get angry or depressed when bad things happen to us. But if we’re wise, we’ll take to heart the things listed in this psalm. Even when it feels like we’re going through the worst time of our lives, God still loves us! His love will never fail. When we call out to Him, He will deliver us! It may not be the way we want or expect Him to, but we can always count on His unfailing love. We can always give thanks to God because His love truly will endure forever.

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.

READ MORE

Western, Eastern, and Biblical Thinking

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 13, 2019 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

There are two major trains of thought and thinking in this world: Western thinking and Eastern thinking. Western thinking is very factually based. It is about logic, reasoning, explanation, and science. Eastern thinking is about purpose, the spiritual, honor, respect, and family. In a way, I am a Western thinking person because I am so fact-oriented and I really don’t think emotionally very often (though challenge me with a false teaching and you’ll see how strong I hold to truth). But that said, I am also a born-again Christian so I see the spiritual side of things too.

I frequently get “called out” by treating the Bible with my “Western Greco-Roman-Platonic thinking” when I declare what the Bible actually says about Genesis. I believe Genesis records the only accurate account of the origins of the earth, the universe, man, and the nations. But I also sense a Marxist tactic in that claim: to take what you are doing wrong and pin it on an opponent so they get defensive and so you can call them out for being divisive. It’s actually not me using the Western thinking to interpret the Bible, which was not written in a Western culture. It’s them. I can prove it too.

Western thought also separates each of our areas of life: job, family, career, science, history, religion, etc. What goes on in the church should stay in the church and not be brought into the career field. Your problems at work should stay at work. And when it comes to the Bible and Christianity, religion is a separate issue from your job and your education and your extra activities. What started with the Enlightenment in the 17th-18th centuries became very popular into the 19th century with Lyell, Darwin, Huxley, and others who pursued “naturalism” as the explanation for the origins of life, the universe, and everything. They promoted a “deistic” god that is only vague and general, and most certainly not the God of the Bible (the Athenians had a similar issue when they worshipped a God they did not know). Since those ideas exploded like stage 8 cancer (I know there isn’t such a thing, it’s hyperbole), where there are so few healthy cells left, Christianity has been pushed into smaller and smaller circles of influence. Now, if we dare take our faith out of the church or the home, expect a backlash.

Eastern thought is different however. Eastern thought focused more on the spirit of the matter: honor, respect, doing your job perfectly, being with family, doing the spiritual thing, prayer, etc. I heard of a Chinese missionary who came to America and said this: “When I see a Buddhist monk do his prayers and meditations, I think ‘holy man.’ When I see an American preacher, I think ‘business man.’” And that can very easily showcase the difference between Western and Eastern thinking.

Eastern thought is also sweeping through our country through New Age beliefs, the occult (Wicca is among the fastest growing religions in the country over the last 20 years), and other forms of mysticism. And there are Christians and Christian leaders I have met and read who promote this kind of stuff. That there is this “energy” in and around us (like the Force of Star Wars), and as long as we tap into that energy which is part of us, speak out our wishes, and visualize it, we can create what we want into reality. If you are thinking that is crazy, you are right, but some of the biggest names in American Christianity today are preaching this.

However, ancient Israel and Biblical Christianity do not fit either bill. Geographically, they were literally smack in between both major cultures, not to mention the cultures of Africa, which have not been addressed here. In their way of thinking, they were actually both. Those who deny the historicity of Genesis try to get us to emphasize on the “spiritual” or “theological” lessons of Genesis. Problem: the “lessons” they are trying to “get us to see” are not Biblical at all.

The Bible is unique from all these ways of thinking in that it doesn’t separate any area of life. Your spiritual life and your job are one and the same in Christianity. How you treat your family is a reflection of what you think about God spiritually. How you do science is to be a religious pursuit of God’s thoughts. How you study history is to be intertwined with what choices you make. In Christianity, our religion determines how we lead and how we operate in every area of our life. How and why? It ultimately is because we submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives. Unless God is center-stage and our end goal, all of our studies in science are null and in vain. Unless we seek God’s wisdom and submit to his leadership in our life, how can we govern others correctly? Why did we choose our current job? Because of the money or the prestige? Or is it because we sought the Lord on where he wants us planted?

Biblical thinking does not esteem correct thinking; it determines what is correct thinking. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How can we do that? First, we must discard the thinking of our world and our culture. One of the key themes of the Bible is holiness, that is separation from this world, from the ordinary, and from the very mindset of this world. It does not suggest going into isolation lest we be corrupted, but rather to go into the darkness to rescue people from it.

Christianity does not think like the rest of the world. It does not operate by worldly thinking. God frequently does things so opposite of how anyone else would do it that it baffles most of us. It is often to confound the self-proclaimed wise and to prove that only He can do it. He shrunk an army of 32,000 to 300 to defeat an army of about 125,000. He created plants before the sun. He uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. When Paul preached the Gospel, namely about the Resurrection, to the world’s top scholars in Athens, they all thought he was out of his mind, calling him a “babbler,” because a crucified Savior made no sense, let alone a risen one.

If we are going to think Biblically, it will not make sense to the carnal, natural mind. I’ve had people tell me that the 6-day creation is impossible because you can’t have plants before the sun because the nuclear fusion in stars are the only way to produce heavy metals. It appears to me that these people truly don’t understand physics, because even by their own time frames, we should not exist because there hasn’t been enough time for the stars to even produce carbon, let alone anything up to iron. They also refuse to consider that God operates supernaturally and is not limited by natural process. He spoke the universe into existence and He chose to take 6 days, to model for us how our bodies should operate. Think Biblically and you will find the True Christ. Do not think according to this world. It never will reveal the truth. Choose Christ. It will be worth it in the end.

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.

READ MORE

Genesis: The Polemic

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 12, 2019 1 comments


by Steve Risner

Continuing our detailed look at how one would be inclined to read the book of Genesis, especially the first 11 chapters (although there is no known break between those chapters and the other 39) we're going to look at a variation of the poetry claim. One of the popular things Christians will say these days about Genesis when they don't want to accept it for what it says is something like this: “The creation account in Genesis is an allegorical poem and polemic mythology.”

This is actually a direct quote from someone who believes in this manner. I've made a fairly good case, in my opinion, in several of my writings that Genesis cannot be read as poetry or simply as poetry. Truly, even if it is poetry (although it shows no resemblance to Hebrew poetry and would be a one of kind writing if it was to be taken as poetry), it doesn't change the historical nature of the text. This is much like a song about your day today doesn't mean the events described aren't true just because it rhymes. I have, up until now, not written or mentioned much about the polemic idea.

What does “polemic” mean? It's defined this way: a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something. So, the idea here is that Genesis (just the creation account, really) is written as a response to other religious groups in the area. There are several reasons why this idea is terribly unsupported and actually makes no logical sense. Let me explain.

People who think this way, that the creation account is a response to neighboring mythologies, will often say something like this: “I believe what the Bible says, I just don't believe what you say the Bible says.”

This is such an odd thing to say to a Biblical creationist because a Biblical creationist's whole belief system on origins in general is based on the text itself. We believe it says what it says. I and other Biblical creationists believe the Bible means exactly what it says as it's written. Those supporting the polemic idea (or any other variety of ideas that dismiss Genesis as allegory or myth or something other than what it clearly was written as) have a skewed idea and think that the Hebrews would have recognized Genesis as poetic (even though it's not) and would have understood that Genesis is merely a response to neighboring religious beliefs they thought were false.

Conrad Hyers, former Professor of Comparative Mythology and the History of Religions at Gustavus Adolphus College and contributor for BioLogos (a theistic evolution website), wrote:
“It becomes clearer what Genesis 1 is undertaking and accomplishing: a radical and sweeping affirmation of monotheism vis-à-vis polytheism, syncretism [merging of religious beliefs] and idolatry. Each day of creation takes on two principal categories of divinity in the pantheons of the day, and declares that these are not gods at all, but creatures—creations of the one true God who is the only one, without a second or third. Each day dismisses an additional cluster of deities, arranged in a cosmological and symmetrical order."

I'm not sure why this would mean that the historical account isn't true if, in fact, this idea is correct. However, one of the obvious issues with this is that the Hebrews would have been unlikely to be very familiar with foreign idolatrous peoples beyond Egypt. They had just spent 400 years in Egypt (unless, of course and conveniently, we're going to say this isn't true either). The only gods they'd be familiar with were those in Egypt, most likely. I actually like the idea that the Genesis narrative shows how the creations/creatures God created cannot be gods at all since He doesn't share His magnificence with any other and He made them from nothing. But this doesn't take away from the fact that the narrative is exactly that—a narrative.

Hyers is considered theologically to be a liberal and was known to hold other ideas that we now know are debunked. This idea of the polemic is no different. One of his major errors is his starting point that Genesis was written far later than it actually was. He believed Genesis was written in the 5th century BC, which flies in the face of most Biblical scholars and certainly would mean Moses didn't write/compile it. He's literally 1000 years too late on this which completely discredits his entire idea. Again, if the people in question were unaware of the other cultures' beliefs, why would they write another myth to counter them, especially if they only knew of Egyptian myths? Answer: they wouldn't.

Although it seems quite clear that the text could be used as a polemic—a response to any culture that doesn't recognize the One True God—there is no justification from the text itself that this was the intent of the writing. Some may argue that the structure points to this, but we'll get into why that doesn't hold water either in my next writing. But first, let's entertain what I feel is a very serious problem for this entire idea if we hold that Genesis is nothing more than a response to neighboring idolatrous peoples.

If the facts presented in the narrative aren't true, then they mean nothing—literally. Essentially, what someone supporting this view is saying is the Jews invented a new mythology—a made up story of how great their God is—but it's not actually true. So, these other idolatrous people could argue that the polemic is just as false as theirs. Do you see how that works? This argument is the Jews invented a replacement myth of fanciful thinking to be better than the other myths of the locals. So who's to say the Jews' myth is right and the others' are wrong?

If the narrative is true, however, now you've got something. This is why the narrative can certainly throw down any false god you want to bring to the table. This only works if the narrative is true. If it's not a factual account of what took place, what good is it? But to suggest a response to other religions was the sole purpose of the writing is laughable and a huge stretch. This is especially true if the writing was done prior to the 5th century BC. This is one reason the entire idea of the polemic intent of Genesis is irrational. It just doesn't hold up. Said another way, it would make no sense to write a response to pagan myths by writing another myth. This is illogical at best and makes the Judeo-Christian belief system no different than ancient pagan belief systems. A response to false teaching should be true teaching, right? Genesis puts down paganism because it's true, not because it's another mythology to replace pagan mythologies.

It seems like this idea puts far too much weight on the man/men who actually penned the works in question rather than putting the majority of the influence on the God who inspired it. In reality, we're talking about a communication from the mind of God to mankind. But this idea of the polemic makes it seem, to me anyway, that the idea is that the Hebrews (or the Jews depending on if you believe the erroneous time frame mentioned above) wanted to directly combat foreign gods with this writing. Again, it's fine to think it does this since it, by its nature, casts down all false gods, but to suggest it was the purpose is preposterous and unsupported.

Next time, we're going to go over the alleged similarities in the creation days, how they're “paired” and why there are few similarities if we actually understand the details. And, again, even if there are similarities (the argument is, then, that this is parallelism and marks the text as poetic) what does that prove? That the narrative is a myth? Or is it more likely that it supports that the narrative is telling us that God had purpose and meaning in how He organized the creation of everything that is? Although that question puts the argument to rest, it doesn't even need to be asked since the creation days aren't near as neatly “paired” as those suggesting the polemic mythology and poetic allegory want them to be. Stay tuned, and thank you for reading and sharing.

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.

READ MORE

Psalm 106

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 9, 2019 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

If you look at today’s contemporary worship songs, how many of them feature long, detailed descriptions of what we’ve done wrong as God’s people? I really can’t think of many. Why is that? We always prefer our focus to be on good things, whether the good things that God has done, the good things we can accomplish as His people, God’s love, etc. But Psalm 106 is different than that. It is considered to be a hymn of the ancient church, but it doesn’t just talk about good things; in fact, there’s a large section of this psalm that discusses Israel’s unbelief and disobedience toward God!

But before we get to that, this psalm starts off with praise of God in verse 1: “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Even though we will see how Israel was rebellious, it’s important to focus first and foremost on the goodness of God, thanking and praising Him for His love. The wording of verse 2 indicates that no one can ever fully declare God’s praises or share all of His mighty acts.

Verses 3-5 move on to a prayer for God to bless, save, and restore His people. The psalmist wants to make sure that He is included in the blessings that God has promised to give His people - the prosperity, the joy, and the inheritance.

Verses 6-7 show the contract between God and His people. Where this psalm started out praising God for His goodness, now it tells of the people’s wickedness. The current people of Israel have sinned, and so have their ancestors. They are wicked people who do not deserve God’s blessings. But, verse 8 gives the good news: “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.” God clearly didn’t save Israel because they were good but because He is good, and this mighty work of grace would make His name known.

Verses 9-12 go on to tell of God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt, which was a founding time for them as a nation. All that God did for them was because God chose them as His people, not because of any merit they had.

Then we get into the big section of Israel’s unbelief and disobedience, in verses 13-43. Go read it for all the details, but verse 13 sums it up pretty well: “But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” Israel was impatient, they were jealous, they practiced idolatry, they didn’t believe God, they rebelled against Him, and they adopted pagan cultures, just to name a few. What wonderful things to sing about, right?

Finally, in verses 44-46, we hear more about God’s love for His wicked people. God heard His people crying out to Him in distress when they suffered the consequences of their disobedience to Him. He still loved them and caused their captors to show them mercy. In spite of all their disobedience, God continued to love them. Once they repented and called out to Him, He showed them His grace and favor.

In verse 47, the psalmist echoes the prayer of verses 4-5, praying for God’s salvation. It’s interesting to note that the psalmist has shifted from the singular (“I”) to the plural (“we”). He has embraced his place in the community. It is not only he who has sinned but all of Israel, so it’s not only the psalmist who has to ask for God’s grace but the entire nation does. Finally, the psalm ends in verse 48 the same way it started: with praise to God.

What would our worship services be like if we sang songs like this one - praising God but also confessing all that we have done wrong as His people? What about in our personal worship - are we modeling this idea and telling God how we have messed up, then asking for Him to save us? It’s not easy to admit our sins, especially not publicly, but I encourage you to follow the model of this psalm in your prayer life. While praising God is great and we should do so, our praise has no meaning if we don’t recognize all the ways that we’ve messed up and yet God has loved us anyway. Praise Him today for His continual grace in your life when we truly don’t deserve it.

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.

READ MORE

The Truth About Love

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, September 8, 2019 0 comments


by Logan Ames

Without a doubt, love is one of the most talked about subjects in the Bible. This makes perfect sense when we consider what else the Bible says. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul declares, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." One reason why it’s the greatest is that 1 John 4:16 tells us, “God is love." No single word can truly sum up the Creator of the universe, but perhaps “love” comes the closest to doing so. Jesus spoke of love often. He told Nicodemus that God loved the world so much that He willingly gave up His only begotten Son so that anyone who believes in Him could have everlasting life (John 3:16). He told His disciples that “laying down one’s life for his friends” is the greatest love (John 15:13). And of course, Jesus summed up the entire Law and Prophets by saying that the two greatest commandments were to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40). These passages reveal just a fraction of the truth about love according to the whole counsel of Scripture. Yet, there is probably no subject about which true followers of Jesus are lectured more than love.

Because the world grossly misunderstands and misrepresents love and then points at those of us who adhere to Biblical teaching and refers to us as “not very loving," it is appropriate for me to end my current series on the Book of James - and my Worldview Warriors writings for now - with a post about Christian love, as the New Testament writers saw it. Since most of you who have faithfully read my posts and supported me over the years do not know, this is my last weekly post for Worldview Warriors. I’ve been blessed to be with the organization since 2011 when I lived in Ohio and have written over 300 weekly posts. After taking one previous break, I returned to writing weekly almost exactly two years ago after my wife and I moved to Pennsylvania and I accepted a full-time pastor position. Since then, I’ve learned and lived the stress of full-time ministry, both on myself and my family, my wife and I bought our first house, and we’ve welcomed our precious daughter (now almost 15 months old) into the world. On top of all this, we anticipate more ministry and family opportunities in the future, so it is time once again for me to step away from writing weekly. I need to be focusing my efforts on showing the true love of Christ to my family and those in my current community and ministry context. I will leave the door open regarding lesser involvement with Worldview Warriors going forward, so you may still hear my name or see me around. For now, though, I bid you farewell with this post and I thank you for your support and encouragement.

It just so happens that James wraps up his letter to the early church by talking about true love, though it is not obvious at first glance. In James 5:19-20, he writes, “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins." While the word “love” is nowhere to be found in these verses, there is no question in my mind that James “knows what love is” (cue the Forrest Gump line). It’s interesting that he chooses a specific phrase when addressing accountability and repentance, that the one who holds a person accountable and helps them repent “covers over a multitude of sins." You’re probably wondering where else you’ve heard that phrase, and I’m here to remind you that it’s exactly what love does. Peter, another early church leader, wrote, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). We can be certain that James and Peter knew each other as leaders and spokesmen for the assembly of believers (Acts 15:6-21). While James does not use the word “love” in his final thoughts where he urges the brothers and sisters to turn each other back to the truth, there is no doubt in my mind that he is promoting sharing the truth in love.

In a world where it is constantly hammered into us that refusing to condone one’s selfish or evil behavior is akin to not loving them, the truth about love that James and Peter express needs to be promoted. In a world where those of us who acknowledge sin according to God’s Word are considered by many to be hateful, bigoted, and out of touch with Jesus, we must be willing to turn one another away from behaviors that lead to destruction and toward righteousness. Refusing to do so is refusing to love each other with the truth. Paul says that “love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). When I point out a sinful behavior that is being widely accepted in the church, I’ve heard other pastors tell me that “Jesus would love these people, not condemn them." It is true that Jesus does love all sinners, including you and me. But this argument is used to insinuate that Jesus doesn’t approve of Christians addressing sin directly when speaking to the sinner. It’s an argument that completely ignores the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. Jesus shows us that it is possible to love someone, refuse to condemn them as people, and still acknowledge that their behavior is sinful. When all the Pharisees and hypocrites just want to stone the woman, Jesus sends them away and then chooses to let the woman go, but not before He commands her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (v. 11). If He said, “Go now and keep doing what you did before, even though it will ultimately destroy you," He wouldn’t have been speaking the truth in love.

Getting back to the closing words of James’ letter, it is clear that he is writing about Christians who fall away, not those who have never known true freedom and righteousness in Jesus. He addresses brothers and sisters, then writes, “If one of you should wander from the truth…" James is not advocating for Christians to go around and hammer a lost world regarding their sins. That’s not very loving. If someone does not know Jesus, we should assume they are caught up in sin because they have yet to experience freedom from it. However, WITHIN the church, sin should always be addressed. Paul declares this truth in 1 Corinthians 5:12. James has already supported in his letter the resistance toward sin and the confession of it, so now he encourages repentance from it. He recognizes that when we are caught in sin, it is more that we “wander from the truth” without even realizing it than a deliberate decision to reject the truth. This is why we desperately need other Christians who can see with clearer eyes to point it out to us. It is popular to talk about how this must be done in love, and I agree. But so often people determine whether it’s being done in love by how it makes them FEEL. That’s not reality. None of us celebrate the exposure of our sin. It hurts. It feels awful. But it MUST, because Godly sorrow is the only way we’ll come to repentance and never look back (2 Corinthians 7:10).

My friends, I’m leaving you with this post regarding the truth about love because I believe there is nothing more important to the success of the church’s efforts to impact the world for Jesus today. Don’t ever be afraid to look at a brother or sister in Christ who is caught up in sin and address it with them. Don’t ever be ashamed to admit your own sin and allow someone else to hold you accountable for it. This is VITAL to our mission in the world. Yes, you have to consider if what you’re doing and saying is loving. But that has more to do with your own motives and potential hypocrisy than it does how the other person feels. People in the church will tell you to mind your own business and to stay out of theirs. But don’t allow their rejection of you to keep you from doing what James, Peter, and Jesus all agree is LOVE. Remember that to “turn a sinner from the error of their way” will rarely be a quick fix. You’ll need to build loving relationships, you’ll need to allow them to walk away from you, and you’ll need to love and forgive them even after they falter yet again, which means you’ll start back at square one addressing the sin. These are all the things that Jesus does for us. His blood, His truth, and His love for us have already covered the multitude of our sins. Go and do likewise for one another. God bless you 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.

READ MORE

Miracles: The Resurrection

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 6, 2019 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

I have enjoyed this study on miracles, and I hope you have too. If I were to rank the three greatest miracles of all time, they would be these three: Creation, the resurrection of Christ, and the born again Christian. The Creation is something I’ve talked about many times. God, using only His spoken voice, created the entire universe and everything within it out of nothing. Nothing existed prior to Him and nothing that was made exists apart from Him. But the other two miracles are closely related so I will focus on them.

While we don’t have a specific date for the resurrection, most scholars believe it to be around 30 A.D. This means in just over ten years, we might be able to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the resurrection. This was no ordinary event, even for miracles’ standards. In all the miracles I have addressed so far, they were intercessions upon the natural order of things. They were completely impossible by natural, physical laws by themselves, but they did not change how the natural, physical laws operated. In the previous miracles where someone was raised from the dead, that person eventually died again. The resurrection of Jesus was vastly different.

The only time in history that the world’s entire mode of operation was changed prior to this was at the Garden of Eden when God cursed the ground for Adam’s sin. Sin was a foreign entity to the universe, as was death until man brought it in. With the curse came death, decay, disease, thorns, weeds, and the overall descent into chaos. Things break down and it always takes more energy to put something to use than it produces. There is no such thing as a 100% efficient machine in this sin-cursed world. Yet, the resurrection changed the nature of the world.

When Jesus rose, He acquired His glorified physical body. It’s a body that does not operate as it did in the sin-cursed world that could be hurt and age. His body is everlasting. It is a new entity. It will not wear down, get old, nor have to fight disease or sickness. It will live forever. But this was no mere exception to the general rule. This is a promise made to every believer. We have not received our glorified bodies yet, but we have something else which is a “down-payment,” a guarantee that we shall receive them: the Holy Spirit.

The Christian is also something that is brand new. Prior to Christ, a “Christian” did not exist. A Christian is not merely someone who is a believer and follower of Christ, but a born again creature. A new entity. The Christian is someone who is born, not with a nature of sin with an inclination to rebel against God and do as we ought, but someone who is born of God, with a longing and desiring to please and honor Him. But there is more to this.

The Christian does not operate by the “laws of man.” I am not merely talking about the society we live in but by the very means of how we think, operate, and act. A man of this world thinks about his physical needs: food, shelter, water, resources, and even his family and country. But a Christian thinks about something entirely different: the Kingdom of God. The Christian, operating as a Christian should, does think about physical needs but only in context of a greater purpose.

The Christian also has something that no one ever had before: the equipment and ability to overcome sin and temptation. This is completely impossible without the Holy Spirit in action, however the Christian is not subject the law of sin and death, not just legally but naturally. Satan no longer has dominion over the Christian, and neither does death. Hell has no victory and death has no sting. With Christ and the resurrection, along with born again Christians, the universe now operates on a new set of laws.

Christians know that death with come, but death does not scare them because they know what is on the other side of it. The Christian is the only one who receives persecution and trouble and grows from it. No other group ever actually grows when governments try to crack down on them. The Christian does not operate by the natural laws that the rest of mankind does. We are in this world, which means our bodies are still subject to the physical laws, however we are not to be of this world, which means we are not to operate as the others do. We are to be unique and separate. The Christian’s very existence is a miracle.

How did God make this happen? Jesus’ physical body was comprised of atoms and cells that were under the curse of sin. He aged. He could bleed. He could (and did) die. The food He ate was under the curse as was the very air He breathed. Yet He was without sin. Some may argue that Jesus cheated because of this, however due to this sin-cursed body, Jesus had temptations which in many cases were strong. It was Jesus’ spirit and mind that had no curse, so He could think and act purely with God’s heart and mind. But Jesus’ glorified body was not made of sin-cursed atoms and cells but of an entirely different substance that no science of ours can comprehend.

Yet when the Christian is born again, it is an even bigger miracle. While God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing, and while Jesus who was without sin rose from the dead, God took sin-cursed man and made him new in spiritual birth. This too only happens through death, which is part of why we physically will still die. However, when we become attached to Christ, and position ourselves in Him, then His death becomes our death and His resurrection becomes our resurrection. It is the greatest miracle. God took a sinful, selfish, God-hating Charlie Wolcott and turned me into something I cannot describe accurately: someone who knows God, seeks Him, seeks His truth, and longs for His name to be glorified. I’m far from a finished product and the miracle God started in me is not finished, but when He is done, I will be a sight to see, as will every born again believer. As the bride is a sight to see as she walks down the aisle for the wedding, so will we as we approach our Groom, Jesus Christ.

The greatest miracle was not overcoming a physical law God established, but taking sinful man and making him new all the while maintaining His integrity and His righteous standards. I cannot give this miracle its proper due, but every one of us should simply sit back and glory in our Savior giving Him the praise and honor and worship He deserves. I pray this series gave you a new perspective on God and that you might worship Him has you have not worshiped before. He is the Miracle Maker and all so that we might know Him. Let us know Him deeper and deeper.

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.

READ MORE

Losing My Religion...

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 3, 2019 4 comments


by Chad Koons

Today you won’t get my diplomacy; today you will hear my heart. I am upset, and maybe you should be, too. Normally I will carefully labor over my blog posts, cautiously choosing my words and deeply considering how my message might be coming across… but no, not today.

There have been several public declarations of Christian leaders falling away from their faith, have you heard?

Warning: Straight talk ahead. I advise you, don’t read if you can’t handle it.

For one, Joshua Harris has quite famously abandoned Christ. But that’s not all. He’s also leaving his family and marching in gay pride parades. As a man of God, this infuriates me. Way to go, Joshua. Way to man up. It’s not like you owe anything to anyone, like allegiance to your wife and children, respect and attention to the flock of God entrusted to your care, or most of all your undying devotion to the Lord God Almighty who created and established you. I hope that you are enjoying the celebration that you’re receiving from those outside of the church, because you surely aren’t finding a warm reception from within the church. Nor should you expect to. In fact, the only reception that you’ll receive from the Lord is that of a prodigal son, should you choose to repent of your sin, which I sincerely hope that you do.

Next, famed worship leader Marty Samson has publicly stated that he is “genuinely losing” his faith. While I cannot fault him for his struggle—as quite frankly we all struggle at times—we’re just too self-conscious to show much of it. But Marty, did you need to openly lay it all out there? Your statements are extremely saddening. They portray a complete lack of respect for God and His ways. Almost as a slap in the face to Jesus and His Body, you had concluded by saying that you’re okay with it. Really? Have you really forgotten the fear of the Lord (hopefully you once knew it)? Here’s what really gets me about this: To me, Marty’s words do not sound like the words of a man genuinely struggling with his faith; they sound like the words of a man choosing to become his own lord by making up his own rules, deciding to pick and choose truths from the Bible as it suits him. If Marty’s plight affects you somehow, please genuinely pray for him.

I’ve observed that somehow many professing “Christians” are supportive of this sort of behavior, even emulating it themselves. How is it that we so lightly esteem Christ? Have we created a church culture wherein rebellion is celebrated as “being real”? Where is our consecration? How are we actually set apart?

People whom I’ve literally worshipped alongside of are currently on social media vehemently promoting abortion while mocking the Christians who are defending life. This is literally scripture come to life!

“From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (James 3:10).
“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” (Titus 1:16a).

Those who we have lavishly ministered to are giving themselves over to every whim of false teaching, allowing separation from the local church as they engage in drunkenness and promiscuity. They have deceived themselves and are seemingly quite happily living a double life.

I have watched while nearly every student from one particular local youth group has either fully embraced the gay, lesbian, or transgender lifestyles or are vocally supportive of it. Your LGBT social media filter betrays you, “Christian.”

These are but a few examples; I could go on all day. There are even entire ministries who have bowed the knee to sin and compromise while continuing to claim the banner of Jesus. Beloved, you have not so learned Christ.

Dear friends, culture is not your example. The Lord is. Come out from the darkness and live in the light of the Lord.

John Cooper of the band Skillet has recently stated that the Church needs reminding of the preeminence of the Word of God. Wait… the Church needs reminding?! Shouldn’t we already know this?

I would normally resolve a blog post with something positive. But not today. Let’s leave this right here. Raw, bleeding, and painful as it really is.

We don’t get to decide the truth. God does. If we don’t like it, then we must change, because no matter how we spin it, we are powerless to change the eternal Word of God. It is time to wake up, people. Fear the Lord before it is too late.

Are you afraid that we may turn people away? The more that we quietly “love people to Christ,” the quicker billions will slip unaware into Hell, and we will be left with blood on our hands. Open your mouth and declare the gospel, Child of God. The most impactful moments of our lives have come through confrontation.

It needs to be said. Get in or get out, but don’t play games with the Lord. You’re not doing any good by just sitting on the fence, lukewarm. God resists the proud but extends grace to the humble. Repent. Surrender. Only God can judge, and rest assured that He will. I leave you to make your choice in the light of His Word: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

(Huge shout out to Elisabeth Allen, editor and dear friend, for her contributions, time, and expertise!)

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.

READ MORE

Psalm 103

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 2, 2019 1 comments


by Katie Erickson

I attended a Lutheran high school, and each school year we would have a Bible passage as the year’s theme. One of the years (I honestly don’t remember which), our theme passage for the year was Psalm 103, I believe verses 1-5 specifically. I decided to memorize that passage because memorization is a great way to keep Scripture close to your heart. I know I did memorize those verses pretty well (I still remember them), but somewhere around verse 7 or 8 I fizzled out on my memorization. But even without having memorized the whole 22 verses of this psalm, it’s still a great one to read through and take a deeper look at!

This psalm is one of general thanksgiving and praise to God for the blessings that God has given to us. While much of it does have to do with Israel specifically, we as followers of Jesus Christ today can still relate this psalm to our lives.

It starts out full of praise in verses 1-5: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

When we praise God, it begins with our self and our attitude. When the psalmist talks about praising God with his “soul” and all his “inmost being” (verse 1), that’s his whole person - there’s no part of him that is not praising God! I can only imagine what it would be like to be so lost in praising God that we may praise Him that fully with our entire selves. It’ll be awesome when we finally get to experience that in heaven someday.

Praising God focuses first on His “holy name.” Remember God’s name, which is linked very closely to His reputation in Hebrew culture, causes us to remember all the things that God has done for us and the benefits that we have received by being His people (verse 2). He forgives our sins, He heals our diseases, He redeems us, He gives us love and compassion, and He satisfies our desires (verses 3-5). Now, all that doesn’t mean we’ll get everything we ask for since our desires are often rooted in our sinful nature; but it does mean that when our desires are aligned with God’s will, He will give them to us.

The next section of this psalm (verses 6-19) is a little more specifically geared toward God being the King over Israel. Verse 6 introduces this section by saying, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” God’s focus is on righteousness (right living) and justice. God desires to right what is wrong with this world by judging the oppressors.

In verses 7-12, the psalmist discusses God’s character as revealed to Moses. Through Israel’s sins in Moses’ day such as the people making the golden calf, God revealed that He will be gracious and forgive them. God does not give us the punishment we deserve either but instead He continues to love us with His great love and give us His grace.

The psalm goes on in verses 13-19 to explain God’s compassion on His children because He is our Creator and our Father. God’s love will be with us forever because our identity is in Him! We should never take His grace and forgiveness for granted, because we will keep messing up and He will continue to be perfect and loving toward us. Verse 19 concludes this section: “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” God created us and this world that we live in, so He is in charge over it. We should praise Him because His Kingdom is one of love, grace, and forgiveness when we are His followers, instead of one of harsh judgment for our continual sins.

The last few verses of this psalm return to praising God: “Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul” (verses 20-22). It’s not just us as created people who praise God but all of the angelic hosts praise Him too! All creatures, whether in heaven or on earth, are called to praise God because He reigns over us all.

What has God done in your life to deserve your praise? If you can’t think of anything, remember the fact that you are a living human being; that only happened because God wants YOU in this world. You are part of HIs plan to redeem this world back to that perfect state where all of creation will be praising Him forever. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God will forgive all your sins - praise Him for that. He will satisfy our desires with good things that line up with His will - praise Him for that. Praise Him for the life that He has given you and what is yet to come.

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.

READ MORE

The Heart of God

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, September 1, 2019 1 comments


by Logan Ames

Theologian J.I. Packer, author of the popular book Knowing God, spent a lot of time studying and writing about the subject of human beings attempting to understand the mind of our Creator. In a separate work called Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God, he established this conclusion: “A God whom we could understand exhaustively, and whose revelation of Himself confronted us with no mysteries whatsoever, would be a God in man’s image, and therefore an imaginary God, not the God of the Bible at all." We’ve probably all either gotten frustrated ourselves or known others who have gotten frustrated with trying to figure out what God is up to in their lives and getting absolutely no answer. This quote from Packer reminds us that we worship a God who is unattainable, indescribable, and beyond what we can fathom. Sometimes, we just have to accept that we cannot know and will not know until we are with him face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Of course, this acceptance does nothing to help us overcome the frustration of not understanding why the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth would allow certain circumstances to happen in our lives. In my view, the only way to begin to deal with what we can’t understand is to stop trying to figure out the mind of God and start seeking the HEART of God. It is true that God Himself says in Isaiah 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." However, nothing is mentioned there about God’s heart. You might ask, “What’s the difference between God’s mind and His heart?” I’d answer that by suggesting you consider the difference between your own mind and heart. After all, you were made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). The mind is how we process things and make decisions, but the heart is whatever we are passionate about at our very core. My wife and I have to use our minds to process decisions regarding finances, food choices, and parenting, but we are passionate about the Lord and our heart has been stolen by our precious daughter, Evangeline. We just melt when she laughs, cries, does something for the first time, or learns new words and phrases. In my ministry context, I use my mind to handle administrative tasks and make sound decisions, but my heart and passion are definitely in teaching and proclaiming God’s Word!

It seems to me that James has the idea of seeking God’s heart in mind when he writes to remind his readers of the prophet Elijah. In James 5:17-18, he explains that Elijah experienced great results from his “earnest prayers," both when he prayed for no rain and when he prayed for rain. Now, we must not misunderstand this: Elijah could not “make it rain." Elijah didn’t have some special power to turn the raindrops off and on. Though he got the results he prayed for, Elijah did not change God’s mind. Rather, he sought God’s heart. James is directing the early Christians regarding their prayer life and encourages them to take everything to God in prayer and to do so fervently. But an unspoken theme and message has emerged in this section of his letter: pray the heart of God.

If you’re not sure that unspoken message is there, just go back and take a look at James 5:13-16. Check out the specific situations and things that James mentions regarding the need to pray. He says we should pray when in trouble and when happy, both of which can come from God to fulfill His purposes. He says we should “sing songs of praise," which obviously bless God. We should seek the Lord when we are sick and we should also confess our sins to one another and to God. All of these things are important to the Lord! James doesn’t write that we should seek God for the lottery winnings we wish we had, because that would not be consistent with the heart of God. In fact, James directly opposes that type of prayer earlier in his letter as “asking with wrong motives” (James 4:3). One of the most important things when we pray is to pray about and for that which we know or even sense is what God wants. It’s an effort to align our human will with God’s rather than trying to convince Him to do what we want.

Getting back to the example of Elijah, James declares to his audience that “Elijah was a human being, even as we are” (v. 17a). He wants them to know that being imperfect human beings does not mean we cannot seek the heart of God. To properly understand Elijah’s example, you have to know his story. I encourage you to go back and read it, but I will give you the cliff notes. Elijah entered the scene of ancient Israel during a horrible time. 1 Kings 16:29-34 gives us just a snapshot of what was going on at that time. King Ahab was on the throne and “did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him” (v. 30). He considered previous sins of the king of Israel to be trivial, married a foreign king’s daughter named Jezebel, and began to worship foreign gods. His evil reign also resulted in the deaths of many prophets of the Lord at the hands of Jezebel, as well as the rebuilding of the cursed city of Jericho that the Lord had already wiped out during the time of Joshua. All of these evil things are taking place in the land of Israel, the land that was promised to their forefathers for the people who were set apart by God as they trusted in Him to bring them out of captivity in Egypt. Elijah had to be thinking, “God has done all of this for you and your ancestors and THIS is how you respond to Him?”

Elijah had to have sensed that God would not tolerate this kind of blatant disobedience. Though He would always love Israel and never leave them without hope and a plan for the future, there were many times throughout their history where God chose to discipline them rather than bless them. God talked to Jeremiah about His plan to do this based on how the people behave and what is best for them (Jeremiah 18:5-12). Elijah, believing that this had to be one of the times of national discipline, comes to Ahab in 1 Kings 17:1 and boldly declares, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." This discipline had to hit Israel and Ahab where it counted. Without rain, the land would not produce the abundant harvest it was designed to produce. Without the abundant harvest, food would be scarce and people would die. Ahab even later calls Elijah the “troubler of Israel” (1 Kings 18:17), but Elijah reminds him that his disobedience toward God is what has caused the great famine and lack of rain. Elijah proved that he was close to God’s heart, while Ahab was far from it and couldn’t have cared less.

My friends, when you sense the heart of God, don’t be afraid to pray and pray earnestly for His will to be done. Sure, God might do it anyway, but He certainly wants to know whether you care about the things that are important to Him or just what feeds your own personal gain. You can read much about His general will and desires in Scripture, you can seek His more specific will in prayer, and you can fellowship with others who will help you understand it. Those things are all part of the process. Once your will has been aligned with God’s, even if only for that day, that is when James urges you to pray earnestly and watch God work!

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.

READ MORE

Miracles: Mastery over Inanimate Objects

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 30, 2019 1 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

God has mastery over inanimate objects – tools, weapons, and even celestial objects. When I started this series, I addressed how when God does miracles, He intercedes upon the natural order He established. God did set up a natural order for which things would happen by the laws of science that we have only recently discovered and were able to articulate. Gravity, forces, momentum, chemical reactions, biological activity, etc. were all established by God and do what He has told them to do.

There are two major events in the Bible outside of Creation itself in which God controlled solar objects. The most well know is Joshua’s long day. Joshua was in a battle, claiming the Promised Land for his people, and he knew that when the sun set it would turn the tide, so he commanded the sun to stand still. And the sun did not move from its spot for about a 24-hour period. Some people claim this is an argument for a flat earth or a geocentric model, but this was ultimately a statement about perspective, not a scientific model of the solar system. We still talk about the sunrise and sunset daily in weather reports and the phrase “the sun went behind a cloud” is still used, when in actuality, it was a cloud that moved in front of the sun. But what we can say is the Bible records the sun not moving from a human, “on earth” perspective for about a day.

The other incident was when King Hezekiah faced an illness. He immediately sought the Lord, and Isaiah came to reveal that God would extend his life 15 years. It seems that Hezekiah had doubts that God indeed meant that so the kings was asked which sign would validate the word. Hezekiah asked for the sun’s shadow to go backwards ten steps. He was asking for a reversal of the flow of time, and God gave it to him. Now whether the sun’s position in the sky actually went back ten steps or whether God simply shifted the shadow is not explicitly said, but we know that this was a completely impossible thing to happen in the natural. Hezekiah knew this, which is why he made that request. To push it ten steps forward would have been too easy.

A big argument that creationists have to deal with is the fabled “Starlight Distance Problem.” The argument is this: these stars are so many billion light years away, how can we see them if the universe is only 6000 years old? This argument assumes pure naturalism as the explanation, however, God has mastery over this physical universe including stars and the light they emit. We know this for certain: the stars were made on Day 4 and man, when he was created on Day 6, could see them. The mechanism is not explicitly given. But that said, the scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what light is, let alone how it really works. I’m certain the more we learn, the more we’ll find out that the actual description of the physical universe will only reveal the Bible was right all along.

God does these miracles for more than just celestial objects. Elisha made an ax head float. We all know the laws of buoyancy, and metal doesn’t float. Yet here, a man had borrowed an ax head, which was not cheap, and he likely would have to sell something major, possibly himself as a slave, to pay it back. So, Elisha caused the ax head to float so it could be retrieved. I can easily see God reaching down, picking it up, and simply supporting it on top of the water. This is not a violation of physics, but an intercession through the natural realm. God didn’t change the law of gravity or of liquid pressures to do this miracle. He simply picked it up the same way we would.

I mentioned earlier in this series about a pastor/missionary friend of mine who planted several churches in Juarez, Mexico. A gang of three men entered and attempted to shoot him, but the gun never went off, until he left the church and some in the congregation pursued them.

God controls many other objects as well. One pastor was in a near panic because he was bi-vocational and he lost his secondary job and the benefits that went with it. For three years he didn’t have a secondary job and God finally told him: “Did you notice throughout those three years, you never had a major appliance break down, a major car repair, or any medial issues?” God preserved this pastor’s resources so he would get through without the second job.

Sometimes God will kill an engine or make it so you can’t find keys readily to delay you on the road so you are not in the wrong place at the wrong time and get killed in a wreck. Sometimes, he’ll provide you a “bubble” while driving so you don’t have to face traffic while merging. I have seen that happen with my mom, who doesn’t like driving in the city. God will take the inanimate objects and position them to do what He needs done and ultimately so we will recognize He did it and give Him glory.

God is the master of this universe. He created it and can do with it whatever He pleases. While I would suggest God encourages us to seek out His mind as we study His creation, let us never get to a point where we want to become “academics” and/or “theologians” for that purpose and in the process lose the awe and wonder and worship of our Creator.

Next week, I will conclude this series with one final post on the greatest miracles of all: the resurrection and the Christian.

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.

READ MORE

Psalm 100

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 26, 2019 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100).

After 8 months of writing on the psalms, we made it to triple digits! I haven’t been writing on every psalm of course, but getting to #100 still feels like a great milestone. We still have 4 more months of psalms to go, so we’re not done yet!

We have seen a number of psalms of praise in our look through this book, but each one has its own character and feel, just as each of our modern songs has a unique feel to it. This one is short, only 6 verses, and it follows a repeating pattern of calling us to be thankful, remembering God’s promises, calling us to be thankful again, and again remembering God’s promises.

Verses 1-2 are the first call to thankfulness in this short psalm. “All the earth” is commanded to come before God to praise Him. Everyone is to worship Him with “gladness” and “joyful songs.” The Hebrew word in verse 2 that we see translated as “worship” also means to work or to serve. It’s our occupation and our obligation to praise God, but we should not simply praise Him out of a sense of duty but because we desire to.

Verse 3 tells us to “know that the Lord is God.” This verb for knowing is the most intimate way that someone can be known; don’t just know that God exists, but really get to know who He is. He made us, so as our creator He knows us intimately. We have the opportunity to get to know Him as well. He’s not some far off, distant God, but He promises to us that we are His people. He wants to be in relationship with us. The image of a shepherd and his sheep would be a common one for the era when this psalm was written. It depicts how God truly does take care of us and care for us, and how much greater His knowledge is than our own.

Verse 4 is another call to thanksgiving in this psalm. While verse 2 said “come before” and verse 4 says “enter,” those are actually the same root word in Hebrew, and these sections of the psalm have similar verbs to each other. Thanksgiving and praise go together. When we are truly thankful for what God has done, we naturally want to praise Him.

Verse 5 gives us more reasons to praise God for who He is. He is good, and He promises that His love and faithfulness will continue forever. The word translated as “love” here is a Hebrew word that we really don’t have a good English equivalent for. It’s like a combination of mercy, kindness, love, and loyalty all wrapped up into one. God is all of those things, and we should praise Him simply because that is His character and He will never stray from it.

Have you pondered God’s character and your relationship with Him lately? Perhaps today would be a good time to take a few moments and do that. Pray Psalm 100 to God and remember that He made us and will always love us. There’s nothing we can do to make God love us any less, and there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us any more. We are His people, and He loves us because of that relationship we have as His family. He will always be loving, merciful, faithful, and good to us.

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

READ MORE

Aim High, Pray High

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 25, 2019 0 comments


by Logan Ames

I may be a pastor, teacher, and author right now, but those are far from what I thought I’d be doing when I got older, had you asked me about it when I was younger. Like everyone else, I have had different passions over the course of my life. At one point, I wanted to be a sports broadcaster, announcing baseball games and other events. I was a weird combination of a jock who loved sports and a math nerd who loved numbers and statistics. Basically, I was fantasy football before fantasy football was cool! What proved to me that sports announcing wasn’t going to be something I truly cared about was finding out that I’d likely have to go to college and major in journalism. That sounded like no fun, so I ignored that childhood passion. My first real job, other than landscaping for my neighbors, was working as a walking candy bar in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I had tons of fun in that job and I was passionate about making people smile, but short of making it to the big time (you know, like Mickey Mouse), I knew that wasn’t my future. In high school, I started going to my church youth group and that was where I discovered my true passion for God’s Word, studying it and teaching it, and that was one passion I would not ignore.

I was willing to go through all the necessary training and hard work to become an approved, reliable teacher of the Scriptures and I believe that was and is God’s will for me. Yet, I’m aware of how many other passions I ignored simply because it would’ve been difficult to pursue them. I’m sure you can relate. I’m blessed enough to be doing what I love right now and earn a living doing it, but I know so many who have just settled for way less than what God wants for them. I definitely settled early on in my life until God made it clear what my true passion was. What about you? What do you REALLY care about in life? Do other aspects of your life reflect your answer? It’s necessary for all of us to step back every once in a while and take inventory of ourselves to see where and how we are “settling," which is almost always the enemy of progress regarding our faith and obedience to the Lord.

While my focus here so far has been on our overall passions in life, I want to use it as a springboard to discuss our prayer lives. The title of this piece comes partially from a sermon series I did at the church I pastor on the book of Acts. In Acts 20:24, Paul says, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." Paul’s life reflected that he didn’t care about much else and was willing to go through every trial and give up every possible thing to complete this task. Earlier in the sermon series, we came across Acts 12, which tells us of another apostle who gave up everything to obey Christ and do God’s will. It’s the story of Peter being put in prison by the ruthless King Herod, who intended to make a public example out of Peter and execute him (Acts 12:1-4). But in Acts 12:5, we read, “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him." This shows us that Paul and Peter taught the early church, the same people to whom James writes, to not only aim high for that which God wills, but also to pray earnestly, fervently, and powerfully about the things they care about. David Guzik says that our prayer is often powerless because we are busy asking God to care about things we don’t care too much about.

In his letter to the early church, James concludes his writing by focusing on what it means to pray in faith for the things we care about and the things we know God cares about. In James 5:15-16, he specifically identifies several components of the prayer of faith. First, he writes, “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (v. 15a). This is a very interesting sentence. It appears that James is telling us that as long as we have enough faith, God will heal our loved one who is sick. This could be detrimental to the faith and growth of seekers if it were to be understood that way. What if God chooses not to provide the healing? Does that mean the person praying doesn’t have enough faith? A closer look at the original language is necessary here. The phrase “to make well” in the Greek is the word sodzo, which means “to save." It’s where we get the theological word “soteriology," which is the study of salvation. James has much more loftier goals in mind than simply a temporary, physical healing.

The question is, what do you really care about? James is encouraging the believers to ask God for physical healing while understanding that a person’s sin and separation from God is of much greater concern. It reminds me of the story of Jesus and the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus heals all ten guys of their condition, but nine out of ten never even come back to praise God and give thanks. The one who does is a Samaritan, and Jesus is astounded at the lack of gratitude shown by the Jewish men. He then looks at the Samaritan and says, “Your faith has made you well” (v. 19). The Greek word for “well” in that verse is also sodzo. Jesus is making the point that all ten lepers were physically healed, which is only temporary, but the one who gave thanks and praised Him showed faith that SAVED him permanently, beyond the sickness of this world. I believe that James has the same focus in his letter. It’s important to ask the Great Physician for healing and to explore practical methods for getting healthier, but if our focus remains only on the present physical condition of ourselves and our loved ones, then we aren’t aiming high or praying very high.

James tells us that if we are made well (aka “saved”), then our sins will be forgiven. But we have to walk in that forgiveness and walk away from the sin. An important first step to walking away from sin is acknowledging it, and an important second step would be surrounding yourself with those who will hold you accountable. Hence, James continues, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (v. 16a). This is a part of prayer and seeking God that today would be seen as an awkward and foreign concept, yet right there it is in Scripture. There are some obvious guidelines we should follow when confessing sin, particularly if it’s done publicly, to avoid causing greater distress for the hearers and potentially tempting them into further sin. However, James considers confession a necessary part of the prayer of faith. The Greek word for “confess” can actually be translated “to agree." In other words, confessing sin is important because the sinner acknowledges before others and God that the behavior was a sin. Keeping it in the dark breeds opportunity for the offender to justify it, and for the offended party to wonder if the offender even understands what they did. When the sin is confessed and brought into the light, it breeds unity, forgiveness, and healing.

Finally, James says that the prayer of faith must be “powerful and effective” (v. 16b). Other translations say that the prayer is “fervent." I shared earlier about the church earnestly praying for Peter when he was imprisoned by King Herod. That’s an example of fervent prayer. It’s not that our spiritual fervor will in any way influence God or convince Him to do what we want. That’s not the point James is making. He’s simply saying that we ought to be fervent about the things God is fervent about. We ought to truly care about God’s will and that which we are seeking Him for in prayer. In the rest of the chapter, which we’ll look at over the next two weeks, James uses the example of the fervent prayers of Elijah in the Old Testament.

What do you really care about? What things really are important to you? Does your prayer life reflect your answers? How much time do you spend in prayer each day? Are your prayers fervent and earnest, with a fire that won’t be put out until you see God move in some way, or are they more lukewarm, with an attitude of indifference? These are important questions to answer so you can determine whether you have been settling for a mediocre prayer life because you haven’t gotten the immediate results you want. If so, I urge you to seek the Lord with all your heart and all your might, to pray even to the point of exhaustion. You cannot ask God to care about the things you don’t even truly care about.

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.

READ MORE

Miracles: Mastery over Biological Life

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 23, 2019 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

As I continue my series on miracles, our next topic is that God has mastery over his entire creation. This also includes the biological life forms He created including animals and plants. Throughout Biblical history, God used both animals and plants to prove He was indeed God to His people.

Twice, Jesus had Peter puts his nets down in a time a place when no fish should be caught and yet he had the biggest catches of his career. In the first instance, Peter was just being called to become a disciple and in the second, Jesus had just risen and Peter would be reinstated as a disciple. Peter was an expert fisherman. He knew when the fish were around and how to go after them. He did everything he knew to do to find the fish and caught nothing. Then Jesus comes around and tells him to drop the nets one more time and Peter, knowing that Jesus did not know a thing about fishing professionally, still believed Him and caught his greatest catches.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the Gospels made a point to address that it had never been ridden. Colts are young donkeys and this one had never been tamed. It is nearly impossible to ride an untamed donkey, yet this one carried Jesus without objection. He had mastery over animals.

In the Old Testament, God showed mastery over animals as well. He prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah and carry him back to Nineveh. Exactly what kind of fish, we don’t know. Some have suggested a sperm whale, but we cannot say for sure.

He brought the animals that would be spared from the Flood to Noah. Noah didn’t have to go get them; God brought them to him. For surviving the Flood on the Ark, it’s likely a number of them went into hibernation or a low energy state. Many animals take shelter during storms, and when major disasters are about to take place the animals often flee their natural habitats or retreat to them. God may have put them into a subdued state to survive the Flood.

He gave one animal, a donkey, the power of speech. Balaam was supposed to be a priest of God, someone who knew God and spoke what His standards were to be. Yet, Balak king of Moab was able to buy him out. Balaam still refused to actually curse Israel, but the lure of money was too strong, so instead of directly speaking a curse on Israel, he told Balak how to get Israel to curse itself by getting them to sin against God. In one of the trips to Balak, the Angel of the Lord blocked Balaam’s path, yet only the donkey could see Him. After receiving multiple beatings, the donkey spoke and that is when Balaam saw the Angel of the Lord.

In another instance, a gang of hoodlums mocked and jeered the prophet Elisha shortly after Elijah was taken up to heaven. These 42 youths (who were not little kids) didn’t merely mock Elisha for being bald but were actually telling him to go up to heaven with his master and leave them alone. Elisha merely cursed them, and two bears came out of the woods and mauled them to death.

God controls the animals. In my personal life, I have not seen an incident where I knew that God directed an animal to act in an unusual way for a purpose. I’ve heard some stories across the internet, like an ant carrying a contact lens because a rock climber had lost it on a mountain and couldn’t see without it. I have no idea of the validity of that story, but I’ve heard similar stories. I know of one incident where a couple of missionaries in the jungles of South America were captured by guerilla soldiers and on a Sunday, a group of birds came in and sang for the duration of the church service they were supposed to be in. What I do know though is that the animals, while left to their instincts, will obey God upon command.

Plants are the same. While classified as biological life, they do not have the breath of life as animals have. God has mastery over them too. When I wrote about how God has mastery over time, I talked about Day 3 of Creation. The plants grew to maturity in one day. That was a creative, miraculous act that does not follow the normal patterns of life and growth we measure today.

Jesus cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit when he expected it to. All he did was speed up the inevitable curse of death that was already upon it. God also made a tree grown for Jonah, then withered it away in a day. Jonah was complaining about the heat while watching for Nineveh to perish, then he complained about the tree dying. God had to deal with him on that issue.

God is the one who controls and has mastery over crops and our food supply. He used Joseph to foretell to Pharaoh about a seven-year famine which would follow seven years of bounty. He blessed the crops of those who were obedient, but often put a curse on them when sin abounded.

God has mastery over the animals and plants. After Adam sinned, God cursed the ground so plants would produce thorns and thistles. Ever notice how with the tiniest bit of rain, weeds grow exponentially but your desired garden battles to produce anything? We can thank sin for that. After the Flood, God put the fear of man in the animals, because He gave us permission to eat them. But the day will come when that will be undone. Predation will cease, crops will produce what they used to produce, and there will never be a shortage. I look forward to the day when animal and plant life is restored not merely to their original function but to an even better form.

Next week, I’ll look at how God has mastery over inanimate objects before wrapping up this series about the one greatest miracle of all time: the Resurrection of Christ.

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.

READ MORE